The supernatural: graves and ghosts at Temple University

By Christopher Wink | Oct. 30, 2007 | The Temple News

Temple University has been built on the backs of the dead. It’s late October, and we think about the old, the hidden and the dead. Temple has its ghosts, indeed.

TEMPLE BY GRAVES

In the 1880s, Russell Conwell was laying the groundwork for what would be Temple University. He was tutoring young men by low light in the back of Grace Baptist Church, in a room called “the Temple.”

Across North Broad Street was a rambling grave site called Monument Cemetery, already half a century old and filling quickly.

By 1929, Monument had been filled to capacity with 28,000 burial services. Its 11-acre compound had been encircled by a dense urban landscape of rowhomes filled with Philadelphians of German and Irish descent. It sat like that for nearly thirty years, assuring Temple remained a decidedly east-of-Broad institution.

CONWELL WALKS

Conwell was one of the last notable Philadelphians to be buried in Monument Cemetery. He died in 1925, 15 years after his wife. After his wife’s passing, Conwell turned cold and perplexing. He stayed on in his fine home at 2020 N. Broad St., along with at least one maid, but Sarah was on his mind.

Not long before his death, Conwell was searching for his Civil War discharge papers but neither he nor his staff could find them. Legend has it that his wife came to him in sleep and told him where to find them. The next morning, the dream proved prescient, prompting Conwell to celebrate his wife’s reemergence to a maid.

Of course, the maid labeled it lunacy. To counter, Conwell had his maid hide a pen, without telling him where. That night Sarah came to her husband and told him where to find the pen. The next morning, Conwell came to his maid, pen in hand. Sarah, it has been said, was insulted by her husband’s desire to prove her. She never visited Conwell again.

GROWTH UNCOVERS

Like most city neighborhoods, North Philadelphia had a population jump after World War II, before a precipitous decline in the 1950s. Monument Cemetery became an obstacle. For growth. For homes. For Temple.

In September 1955, a court order was passed, ordering the city to begin transporting the remains from Monument to Rockledge’s Lawnview Cemetery in Montgomery County. Russell and Sarah, together once again, were entombed at West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, an act paid for by Temple.

By 1956, Temple bought the cemetery site. The rock walls that separate the Broad Street sidewalk and the parking lot between Montgomery and the Student Pavilion are the last visible reminder of 28,000 dead in Temple’s neighborhood.

Three years later, in June 1959, Temple welcomed two back home. Russell and Sarah were buried in the sidewalk alcove that rests along North Broad Street between Conwell and Wachman Halls. There were photos and coverage from all the major media of the day.

It took more than a decade, though, for the Conwells to have a final resting place, then with much less attention. Just a single clipping from a yellowed copy of The Temple News is all that presented itself to show the last trip Russell and Sarah took. That a short walk to what was then a newly constructed Founder’s Garden. They were settled there late in the summer of 1968. Questions remain whether they have explored other homes for the future.

Text as it appeared in The Temple News on Oct. 30, 2007. See it here.

Attendance spotty at event to improve attendance

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How about having an event to increase attendance and… no one shows up? Ouch.

Well, that’s what happened for a consortium between the business school and the athletic marketing at Temple University. For The Temple News, I covered the finals of a competition that asked Temple students to make suggestions of how to increase fan turnout for athletics event. Outside of me, the pep band, the judges and the contestants, there were scarcely more than ten people there at the widely publicized event. Read the full story here or check its start below.

Earlier tonight, a pep band member submitted his name three times to a raffle in the Fox Gittis Room of the Liacouras Center. He won each time.

Attendance was indeed thin at an event intended to help improve just that, attendance at Temple athletics.

“We are very disappointed,” said Jaine Lucas, who coordinated the event, the finals of the Temple’s sports enthusiasm competition. Lucas is director of the university’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute.

At times, less than 30 people, including just a scattering of fans, watched five Temple students present the six top ideas to help further attract fans to the games, matches and meets of NCAA sports at this university.”

Read the full story here or check its start below.

Photo courtesy of Ron Davis of The Temple News.

First place Keystone Press Award

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The winners of the Keystone Press Awards for 2007 were announced recently, both professional, academic and collegiate levels. The prizes are awarded by the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association.

I will be sharing first place in the personality profile category with Tyson McCloud for a feature we wrote for The Temple News on a Temple University alumni who found and lost love in World War II. There are 16 categories in the collegiate level, and nine staff members of The Temple News were recognized in seven different categories. Last year’s award winners.

(Above photograph depicts me with a 2006 Keystone Press Award for a first place standing from news coverage covering a SEPTA strike in 2005. I shared that finish with others.)

Mark Helpin, Kornberg School of Dentistry and Temple University saving young teeth

As filed last week for today’s edition of the Philadelphia Business Journal.

You just have to protect those teeth.

Temple University’s Kornberg School of Dentistry, in conjunction with Henry Schein Inc., a Melville, N.Y.-based distributor of medical, dental and veterinary supplies based, did just that last week.

“Poor dental care is the most prevalent disease in childhood,” Mark Helpin, acting chairman of Temple’s department pediatric dentistry, said. “We’re not just trying to teach people to treat their mouths, we’re relating the health of the mouth to the overall health and well being of a child.”

As part of the annual Give Kids a Smile day, more than 80 children, many from the Kenderton Elementary School at 15th and Ontario St., received free dental care from nearly thirty dental students, faculty and staff. Schein did its part by giving $40,000 in dental supplies to Temple and the University of Pennsylvania’s dental school, part of the $2.1 million sent nationwide in order to treat an estimated 1 million children in the country.

At Temple, children were given oral hygiene instruction, a cleaning, fluoride application and more if necessary. Schien sent disposable mirrors, toothbrushes, toothpaste, bibs, cups and other materials necessary for the event, Helpin said.

“This shows that corporate America can be involved in worthwhile and people orientated pursuits and projects that have meaning in the most personal way and the most human level,” he said. “Temple University itself has an unusual and extraordinary commitment to Philadelphia. The dental school is staying true to that.”

Temple is hosting a smaller, similar, citywide event on March 20.

“We’re part of the community and have a responsibility to serve the community. We’re concerned about children, not just one day, but after. ” Helpin said. “We want people to know they can have a dental home for their children at Temple.”

See other examples of my reporting here.

Dreamah's nightmare

By Christopher Wink | Feb. 5, 2008 | The Temple News

She was young and energetic and fun.

And then she was dead. Ejected through a windshield and pronounced dead on the pavement of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, amid broken glass and unlived expectations.
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It is so rare that we are affected by what we expect. Much more often it is what blindsides us on an otherwise anonymous trip home.

Ciara Deprill was born on Aug. 20, 1986. Less than 7,000 days later, in the dark and forgotten morning hours of Feb. 3, 2006, she had other places to be.

It became a story. Deprill was riding shotgun with Dreamah Knoll, who was driving with a blood alcohol level a few ticks over the legal limit. They were coming back to the city, going westbound on the Ben Franklin. Those lanes can seem so narrow. A concrete barrier can change so many things.

Deprill is gone, but what might be worse is the risk of losing Knoll. There is no pain like the pain of those who survive. Those who are granted the privilege of living with unwarranted guilt and irreversible anguish.

Continue reading Dreamah's nightmare

Dreamah’s nightmare

By Christopher Wink | Feb. 5, 2008 | The Temple News

She was young and energetic and fun.

And then she was dead. Ejected through a windshield and pronounced dead on the pavement of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, amid broken glass and unlived expectations.
wink-christopher.jpg
It is so rare that we are affected by what we expect. Much more often it is what blindsides us on an otherwise anonymous trip home.

Ciara Deprill was born on Aug. 20, 1986. Less than 7,000 days later, in the dark and forgotten morning hours of Feb. 3, 2006, she had other places to be.

It became a story. Deprill was riding shotgun with Dreamah Knoll, who was driving with a blood alcohol level a few ticks over the legal limit. They were coming back to the city, going westbound on the Ben Franklin. Those lanes can seem so narrow. A concrete barrier can change so many things.

Deprill is gone, but what might be worse is the risk of losing Knoll. There is no pain like the pain of those who survive. Those who are granted the privilege of living with unwarranted guilt and irreversible anguish.

Continue reading Dreamah’s nightmare

Gary Foster: a weighty new challenge

Interview and article prepared for the Philadelphia Business Journal, as filed last week, without edits, to run in last Friday’s edition.Gary Foster is moonlighting.The director of Temple University’s Center for Obesity Research and Education has assumed the presidency of the Obesity Society, an interdisciplinary group based in Maryland that is considered to hold preeminence in the field ofgary-foster.jpg obesity. The commitments are demanding.“It’s a challeneg and opportunity. The presidential activities take considerable time and effort,” said Foster, 48, who grew up in Levittown.The benefit for Temple is the increased visibility Foster is giving CORE, which opened in March 2006 on Temple’s health sciences campus.“The work is not all unreated, so there’s lots of synergies,” said Foster, who was courted from his position as clinical director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Weight and Eating Disorders to start Temple’s program. He traded 25 years at Penn for the chance to chair the largest school-based obesity prevention trial in the country, based in more than 10,000 square feet of dedicated research and clinical space.In 1981, he took a research assistant position at the University of Pennsylvania. There he worked under the legendary obesity physician Dr. Albert J. Stunkard, among other “luminaries,” including Kelly D. Brownell, who is now the director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University.“It was pretty clear for me,” he said. From then on, a man who never had a weight problem himself was determined to find a reason why so many others do.He went back to school. He got a masters in psychology from Penn and his PhD in clinical psychology from Temple. And his interest continues.“We don’t know as much about obesity as the lay public thinks we do,” he said. “We eat too much and don’t exercise enough… it’s more complex than that.”He has been a part of the group for nearly 20 years. Now, as president, he thinks it’s time to decide for what the group wants to be known.“Obesity is the most prevelant, serious public health issue of our time,” he said. “We at the Obesity Society need to be poisted to address that…”

University does something illegal to puppy

Canine solicitation has been criminalized.

The signature item at Temple University’s fourth annual Owl Club auction, held on Saturday, was a cute golden retriever puppy, in addition to Wing Bowl passes, Philadelphia Eagles tickets, and golf packages with Temple football Head Coach Al Golden.

Turns out, though, that only a licensed kennel can sell a dog, as the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

So while proceeds from the auction benefit Temple athletics, including the reported $700 that women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley paid for the dog, Temple might run into more trouble, as they face a citation for the infraction.

Men's college basketball video

For The Temple News, the college newspaper for which I work, I filmed yesterday’s men’s basketball game between Temple University and crosstown Big 5 rival St. Joseph’s.  A friend and colleague, Sean Blanda, edited it. The quality is less than stellar because of some technicalities – this was our paper’s first foray into adding video to our Web site – but check it out. Temple lost on a buzzer beater.

A publishing meeting

banner2_top.gifToday, I briefly met with a representative from Temple University Press, set up by a professor-friend of mine.

I had forwarded two query letters to the rep, one on a collection of writing I had done while in Japan, another regarding my desire to compare the lives of a handful of North Philadelphia residents whom I had come to know through my coverage of the community for The Temple News.

He was kind and offered a great deal of insight into the publishing a world, a place I have long wanted to visit but never understood how to arrive. That said, I have no reason to believe the publisher was a place to shop my two ideas for published work.

He did suggest I write a full chapter of my suggested Japan manuscript and have him give it a read. It can only be considered a small step in the direction of a career in writing.