Tag: 1910s

Seasons of Darkness and Light

“The altar at St. Francis de Sales’ Church arranged for Solemn Pontifical Mass, November 12th, 1916,” 
(Catholic Historical Research Center)

A pair of evocative photos turned up recently in the Archdiocesan CHRC Archives, capturing our church in solemn and celebratory moods long ago.

The first is labeled on the reverse “The altar at St. Francis de Sales’ Church arranged for Solemn Pontifical Mass November 12th, 1916. Presented by Father Lallou to A.C.H.S.” (American Catholic Historical Soc.) The occasion was the fifth anniversary of the dedication of the Church, and Father Lallou, of St. John the Evangelist Church, gave the sermon. Bishop Thomas J. Shahan, D.D., rector of the Catholic University, presided, assisted by Rev. James T. Higgins, pastor of MBS. The Philadelphia Inquirer noted at the time that “All the officers of the mass are alumni of the Catholic University.” Our Pastor, Rev. Michael J. Crane, and Rev. Higgins – both now memorialized on our rectory lawn – had graduated together, among its first alumni. The exuberant electric lighting (imagine climbing up to replace those burnt-out bulbs!) is a reminder of how much clean, bright electricity – the new light of knowledge — was prized in 1916.

The second photo, showing the rear of the church, is unlabeled but also very early, and captures the magnificent serenity of the church at rest.

Look around you and compare these photos with our church today   — eerily the same and different. Check out the old full altar rail, the big hanging cross-shaped sanctuary lamp, the “cake stand” electric candle stands, and the early view of the organ. The old church was both darker, with the ornate dark pews and old flooring, and brighter with its multitude of light stands and bare bulbs.

Pope Francis quotes composer Gustav Mahler: “Tradition is the guarantee of the future,” adding “It is not a museum piece. It is what gives us life, as long as it makes you grow.” Our parish treasures its past, while continuing to move ahead: trying new ideas to engage families, planning updates to facilities for modern energy awareness, and looking at feasibility of adding wheelchair cuts to our 1960s pews to make the church more accessible. The shared sacrament of the Eucharist is what anchors us, connecting our past, present, and future.

 Interior of St. Francis de Sales Church, Philadelphia, Pa., with balcony and organ. (Catholic Historical Research Center)
Saint Francis de Sales Church, modern view
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A Bell Named Edmond

St. Edmund of Abington shown in the Nuremberg Chronicle,

Who was Saint Edmund of Abington and why is one of our bells named after him, but with a different spelling?

Edmund was a 13th century British teacher of Mathematics and Dialectics (similar to Debate), who studied Theology, was ordained, and became celebrated for his integrity. Pope Gregory IX appointed him Archbishop of Canterbury, but he came into conflict with King and Pope over politics. He died while traveling in Poitingy, France, was buried there, and canonized in 1246 after miracles were reported at his grave. St. Edmund’s Hall Oxford, and St. Edmund’s College Cambridge in England were both named for him. Closer to home, the Society of St. Edmund, a religious order established in his name in France in 1843, moved to the U.S.in 1889, and became active in Alabama in the 1930s, supporting African Americans through the Civil Rights era. Today, the saint’s right arm relic is in a shrine near Mystic, CT – at St. Edmund’s Retreat, a house for all, including “those whose life experiences have alienated them from God and the Church.”

Philadelphia Archbishop
Edmond Francis Prendergast

Philadelphia’s Edmond name connection dates back to Archbishop Edmond Prendergast (Auxiliary Bishop 1897-1911; Archbishop 1911-1918), whose patron saint and inspiration was “St. Edmond of Abington” (which he spelled with an o) and who named a number of local institutions in the saint’s honor. Our Faith-Filled Heritage states that “in 1912 the archbishop founded Saint Edmond Parish in South Philadelphia and in 1914, a new residence building for students at Saint Charles Seminary was named Saint Edmond’s Hall. He also saw to the founding of Saint Edmond’s Home for Children, at 44th Street and Haverford Avenue. This home…was the first Catholic school in the United States to provide educational opportunities for severely handicapped youth.”

Bishop Prendergast was a fairly busy guy. According to Encyclopedia.com, in addition to his various Saint Edmond projects, “During his episcopate he increased the number of parishes from 297 to 327, provided parochial schools for 23,000 more children, erected the free West Catholic High School for boys, and opened the free Hallahan High School for girls… He opened the Archbishop Ryan Memorial for the Training of Deaf Mutes, the Madonna House for Italian immigrants, a similar home for the Spanish-speaking immigrants, St. Francis Country Home for Convalescents… a boarding home for working girls, and three new orphanages… He established the Catholic Home Bureau, sponsored the erection of the Misericordia Hospital, and provided a Catholic hospital for Allentown.. Under his direction the forerunner of the Newman Club was established at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Reverend Michael Crane – our Second Pastor – knew the Archbishop well, having been his Assistant at St. Malachy’s Church from 1889 to 1903 – through the period when Reverend Prendergast was appointed the first Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia in 1897. When Reverend Crane, himself, became an Auxiliary Bishop at SFDS in 1921, the Catholic Standard reported that he paid homage: Bishop Crane’s chosen motto “‘Ut Sim Fidelis’ – ‘That I may be faithful’ – is the same as that of the Most Rev. Edmond F. Prendergast, D.D., the late, lamented Archbishop who departed this life on February 26, 1918.

Our church tower bells, installed in 1916, were called Adolph, Michael, Elizabeth, Anthony, Cecilia, Theresa, Edmond, John, Thomas, Maurice and Gervase. They were ostensibly named after saints, but the names also had other associations. Adolph probably referenced sculptor Adolfo de Nesti, who went missing that year; Michael would have been the pastor, Rev. Michael Crane; Elizabeth likely honored Elizabeth Lippe, donor of the bells; Gervase probably honored the pastor’s sibling, Mother Mary Gervase, IHM; and the bell named Edmond almost certainly honored the Archbishop.

Today, there’s another Edmond of note, perched in the choir loft by the bell tower: look up and wave to Edmond Collins after Mass, who manages our parish livestream video and Youtube channel along with Susanna Collins!

Find it here and please help by subscribing:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkJF5ohnZQGikuhxV6OJV5w

First SFDS Ordination: Philip Hasson

Marist Mission Band ca. 1930s-1940s. Hasson third frm left in back.

Rev. Philip Hasson, who grew up at 4931 Pentridge Street, was the first boy from our parish school to enter the priesthood – ordained as a Marist (Society of Mary) in 1919.

Hasson’s father was an Irish immigrant stonecutter. We have no information about where he may have worked; it’s even possible that he was one of the labourers who built our church, which would open the way to all sorts of reflections on Biblical cornerstones and builders!

Born in 1893, as the eldest of seven children, young Philip attended SFDS Parish School with his sisters. He was admitted to the Marist Seminary, a prep school for boys training for the priesthood, in 1908, at age 15 (That would have been just as our church was being built). He entered the Marist College associated with Catholic University in Washington DC when he was 20; spent his Canonical Novitiate year at St. Mary’s Manor in Langhorne, PA, in 1914; then returned to Marist College to finish his studies. Hasson was ordained by the Rector of Catholic University, Bishop Thomas Shahan, on June 19, 1919.

When I contacted the Marist archivist, looking for information on Hasson, she mentioned that he had been a member of their Mission Band. Since I had recently researched Captain James Cousart and the SFDS Boys Battalion marching band, my mind naturally went to music, and I asked “Do you know what instrument he played?”

I guess the correct answer would be “hearts”!  It turns out the Mission Band (shown in the photo) were traveling missionaries. For fifteen years, from 1927 to 1941, Hasson crisscrossed the country and “preached Missions, Retreats, conducted Triduums, and preached at Forty Hour Devotions.” It was said he “endeared himself to all.”

Before he became a missionary, Hasson spent the first few years of his career teaching, then as an Assistant Pastor in Georgia. After his missionary years, he was appointed pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church and the Missions of SE Georgia “and was Superior of the Marist Fathers who served with and under his direction.” Later, he assisted at several other parishes in different states.

Hasson returned to Pennsylvania in ill health and died of esophageal cancer at age 65 in 1958. He was buried on the grounds of St. Mary’s Manor, Penndel, where he made his novitiate.

Hasson’s obituary notes that “he was the first of many pupils of St. Francis de Sale Parochial School to be ordained priests. This was a thing of much joy to his devoted and saintly Pastor, the late beloved Bishop Michael J. Crane as well as to his beloved parents and sisters.”

Marist Seminary. Hasson third from left (tallest) in back.

Captain Cousart, Prisoner of War

Capt. J.B. Cousart Prisoneer of Huns” blazed a headline in the Inquirer on August 12, 1918. The news was worrisome, but likely a relief to family and friends, who had previously been informed that he was missing in action.

James Burke Cousart

Captain James Burke Cousart was known in the neighborhood for helping to start the De Sales Boys’ Battalion — a military-style precursor to the Boy Scouts – at the parish in 1916. The paper reported that “The news that he has been made a prisoner of war was received almost solemnly among members of that parish. His wife, who., before her marriage four years ago, was Miss Marie Mauch, and two small children, live at 5034 Willows avenue (apparently staying with her parents while her husband was away). Captain Cousart made his home at 5030 Willows avenue.

The Inquirer later reported on the circumstances of his capture during the Second Battle of the Marne in 1918: “It was four companies of the 100th who won distinguished honors at the Marne when they scientifically and coldly held up a superior German force, split it in two at terrible cost and made a way for advances which later turned the whole tide of battle in the American favor…Captain James B. Cousart of Philadelphia, was singled out in this engagement as one of the men who had fought with the greatest bravery against seemingly hopeless odds…

Research has turned up a treasure: a copy of Cousart’s WWI POW diary/letter to his wife https://captcousart.tripod.com/intro.html, posted online twenty years ago by his grandson. The description of his life in captivity at Villingen, could be oddly relatable:

August 9/18: Trying hard to forget the fact that I am a prisoner and no more use to my country as a fighting man; I joined a class of men here and arose at 7:15 to go thru body exercises of a rather strenuous type for 15 minutes then a 1/2 mile run, all this in our pajamas, and to finish a cold shower and this followed by a rubbing given by onself to bring life to the skin and perhaps harden the outside coating a bit.”

At 8:30 a breakfast of coffee-black bread and a bit of salmon cooked into crackers.”

At 9 AM roll call where the forty Americans were this day joined by a new American, Lt. Vaughn who had been wounded in neck and shoulder by a bit of shrapnel.

At 9:30 Gave our word of honor not to attempt to escape and 21 Americans went for a walk of 8 kilometers (5 miles) and then returned to our prison camp, to wait 2 days for a similar treat.

At 12 noon a dinner of soup (barley) and sauerkraut& potatoes and some detestable style of meat or fish which spoiled the kraut and potatoes.

The morning was rainy and damp, but not as chilly as the three preceding days which were really too cool to be comfortable.

Some of the officers here find their pleasure, in bridge, some 8 or 9 in poker, some 3 or 5 in playing pinochle and the rest decide their time, between studying…”

At one point, he notes:

No chance to go to church today as for 3 sundays in succession however we look forward to the advent of Chaplains for all religions here soon.

Released after the Armistice, Cousart made his way home in May 1919, aboard a military ship full of Pennsylvanians that “bore her big keystone proudly. Three days ago, when the men learned they were coming straight home to Philadelphia, they got out a huge bolt of khaki and one of the ship’s quartermasters made them a yellow flag with a keystone on it which could be seen almost as far as the ship itself… There were many men on board we will learn to know as heroes,” but “they seemed to think more of comrades lost than of citations won.” Among them was Captain Cousart, whose “reward came when he saw Mrs. Cousart on a tug and was yelled at through a megaphone.

According to parish records, 379 young people from SFDS served in World War I, and of these, 14 never returned; more than 400 served from MBS. Sadly, the SFDS memorial plaque has gone missing.

Page from Captain Cousart’s scrapbook
The old Boys’ Battalion insignia can still be seen above an SFDS School door

Interested in other local history? Check out our new sister webpage https://streetofhistoryphiladelphia.wordpress.com/

The Edge of History

DSCN6590 (2)
St. Francis de Sales historic Pew Rents book shows Ramspacher and Feeser in pew 31 in the West Transept of the 1911 Church.

Ordinary life often unfolds just outside bigger world events, and that is certainly true for early parishioner George Ramspacher.

Ramspacher’s death notice lists him as German, while census data describes him as French. In fact, he was born in 1842 in Alsace, a region claimed by both countries. Britannica notes that during the period, “from 1815 to 1870” Alsace was considered French; “at the end of the Franco-German War (1870–71), however …Alsace was detached from France and annexed to the German Empire….” remaining under German control until the end of World War I — so Ramspacher was, in his lifetime, both and neither.

Ramspacher arrived in the United States around 1864, during the American Civil War, “engaged in the baking business at 208 Delancey Street,” and married Miss Julia Kempton of Philadelphia in 1866, after the war ended. When he retired from the bakery in 1894, the couple moved out to our neighborhood with several adult children, including daughter Mary and her husband Theodore Feeser, all living in the same house at 510 South 48th street. The Ramspachers joined our parish just a few years after its 1890 founding, and when the new church was built in 1911, they rented pew 31 in the West transept (47th Street side) with the Feesers, who also donated a dome window.

In 1916, just a month before Woodrow Wilson was narrowly re-elected President with the soon-to-be-ironic campaign slogan “He kept us out of the War,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that “With their eight children, sixteen grandchildren and six daughters and sons-in-law present, Mr. and Mrs. George Ramspacher…celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of their wedding on October 1.” The paper casually noted that “the celebration was originally called for September 23, but because of the absence of some of their children at the seashore and the fear of infantile paralysis (polio) the event was postponed until last Sunday…

Daniel J. Wilson reports that “The 1916 polio epidemic was one of the largest in the United States and the largest in the world to that date…Pennsylvania’s 2,181 cases ranked third behind New York’s 13,223 and New Jersey’s 4,055…Polio typically struck during the warmer months of summer,” and in Pennsylvania, numbers escalated rapidly from three cases in May, to 120 by July, 747 in August, and 804 in September, before falling to 379 in October. “Polio was a new and frightening disease in 1916,” without a cure. Public health officials quarantined patients and their families. “In late August, the state health commissioner closed the schools until September 18. Some communities tried to prevent children from epidemic areas from entering their borders. However, since doctors in 1916 did not understand how the disease was transmitted, these measures were largely ineffective in preventing polio’s spread…” Fortunately, apart from the postponement of the party, the Ramspachers appear to have escaped its vengeance.

George Ramspacher had one more near-encounter with history, when he died on June 4, 1918, at age 76, due to “myocarditis/edema of the lungs” – heart failure and fluid in the lungs – shortly before the official September arrival of the deadly 1918 Influenza pandemic. His wife, Julia, passed in 1922. They were both buried from SFDS at New Cathedral Cemetery (2nd and Butler Streets).

 

Henry Amlung and the Motor Bandits

amlung furs

Today, neighbors routinely fret about parking spaces and inattentive drivers, but in the early 1900s,  parishioners like Henry Amlung (who owned a fur store in a time when furs and cars were both desirable luxuries) – and city government – had to adjust to some “new normal”  challenges at the dawn of the automotive age.

On February 11, 1919, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s front page reported an innovative crime wave: “Motor Bandits Get Furs Worth $5000; Terrorize W. Phila.” The news story continued:  “Motor bandits — believed by the police to have been the same who were frustrated in an evident plot to hold up storekeepers in the vicinity of Sixty-second and Race Streets…made a $5000 haul just twenty-four hours later from the fur store of Henry T. Amlung at 4810 Baltimore avenue.” (today, an empty lot behind a wooden fence).

“Discovery of the thieves in the very act of transferring furs from the store to a waiting automobile led to an alarm which saved the balance of the stock, valued at close to $50,000…”

“Mrs. Letitia Hanganer, who occupies an apartment on the third floor of 4808 Baltimore Avenue, directly adjoining the Amlung establishment, first heard the robbers at work, but thought it was Amlung trying to enter his store and for a few moments returned to bed. She had been attracted to her window by the noise of someone in the adjoining sideyard below. She thought Amlung had locked the store up leaving his key inside, and was trying to re-enter by the window.”

“A few minutes later she was again attracted by the same noise, this time accompanied by the subdued voices of men. She returned to the window and for a moment was struck speechless by witnessing one man tossing furs out of the window, and into the arms of an accomplice who was putting them into a limousine automobile…Mrs. Hanganer …awakened William Brooke, who conducts a tailoring establishment on the first floor of 4808 Baltimore avenue, and he ran to a second-floor window, shouting at the thieves.”

“Without abandoning the bundle of furs they then had in their arms the men dashed for their car, clambered in and fled.”

Police, on foot, stopped a trolley driver, who “saw the car drive east on Baltimore avenue as far as Forty-fifth street, at which point it might either have turned or continued on toward the central part of the city.” The police couldn’t chase them without vehicles! The paper reported that “an interesting development of the day was the loan to the police of the station at Fifty-fifth and Pine Streets of two fast automobiles for the purpose of waging war upon the motor bandits…” by local garage owners, but it wasn’t enough, and “motor bandits” just became bolder.

It wasn’t until the end of the following year, on December 23, 1920, that the Inquirer reported “Philadelphia’s Christmas presents for motor bandits are ready..: One hundred and fifty armed motorcycles, most of them with sidecars. Six fast automobiles for bandit-chasing owned by the city and a fleet of privately owned automobiles at the call of the police. A stack of short-range sawed-off shotguns, each pumping six shells of buck shot in rapid succession…” The sawed-off shotguns were thought to be a kinder and gentler approach to crimefighting than the submachine guns proposed in New York City to deal with its similar automotive crime wave.

Sadly, it came too late for Henry Amlung, a member of the Holy Name Society and Knight of Columbus – he died a month after the incident, of “cardiac decompensation,” possibly weakened by influenza, and, perhaps, by worry. He was buried from our parish in an “auto funeral” (with an automotive, rather than horse-drawn, hearse and procession of cars driving from SFDS to Holy Cross cemetery) on March 29, 1919.

Remembering the Past: Influenza 1918

influenza news clip bulletin oct 5 1918
Philadelphia Evening Bulletin October 5, 1918

A History Mystery column about the 1918 influenza pandemic published in July 2014, pondered: “Imagine not being allowed to go to church in a time of troubles…”

Well…now we know.

Influenza arrived in Philadelphia in September 1918, aboard a Navy ship coming from Boston. It spread quickly in the Navy Yard, then at a military parade in Center City attended by 200,000 people, promoting sales of Liberty Bonds to fund the war effort – a parade at which our parish was particularly well represented due to the school’s very successful Bond drive.

All public and parochial schools in Philadelphia closed for three weeks afterwards, to try to stem the epidemic. Medical personnel were still overseas aiding in the war effort, so IHM teaching sisters volunteered as nurses, tirelessly tending bedsides of many races, ethnicities, and religions, especially in the MBS boundaries.

Police closed places of worship citywide from October 6 through October 26, 1918, with few exceptions. Our church was one of these: the October 5, 1918 Philadelphia Evening Bulletin reported that: “Placards have been posted within the confines of the Catholic parish of St. Francis de Sales, announcing that by permission of the Board of Health, masses will be celebrated tomorrow morning in front of St. Francis’ Church, 47th St. and Springfield Ave. at 7:30, 9:30 and 11 A.M.” The outdoor Mass on the front steps “did not meet with general approval,” however (curious phrasing!), and the practice ended after October 13. Catholics were exhorted to pray in their homes for a speedy end, both to the epidemic and to the war.

October 1918 was a rough month for SFDS. The parish Death Register recorded eight deaths in September; then jumped to 40 between October 6 and October 31, 1918. Fatalities tapered off again to five in November, nine in December, and a few more in January. In the end, parish losses from influenza probably totaled about 60 people; the names of the deceased are recorded in the parish ledger, but not all of the death certificates are available to confirm the cause.

Who were the victims? Geographically, most of the deaths in our parish occurred in the less-prosperous section south of Baltimore Avenue. Victims were married and single; many were in their 30s; a few were infants and children. Most had been born in Philadelphia, many to immigrant parents. The death certificates provide a snapshot of their employment: a stenographer; a policeman; a sheet metal worker; a number of housewives and several salesmen including a cigar salesman; a female Bolter at J.G. Brill’s trolley manufacturing co.; a telegraph operator; a young lady in the women’s Naval Reserve; several bartenders; a soldier; a watchman; and a motor inspector among others. Above Baltimore Avenue, victims included the Assistant Treasurer of Standard Steel Co. and the Treasurer of the Broad Street Theatre.

The epidemic slowed down considerably by November 11, when the First World War officially ended.  Catholic sisters (who tended bedsides), Catholic seminarians (who dug graves), and clergy in Philadelphia were especially commended by the city for their heroic efforts during the crisis.  Worldwide, more people died of influenza than died in World War I, and more people died of influenza in Philadelphia than anywhere else in the world – a dubious distinction for our fair city!

 

DSCN6422 (2)Coronavirus 2020

Rectory offices have been closed since March 13 and Masses are being celebrated privately. Find Morning Prayer livestreamed on the Matt Guckin Facebook page at 7 AM (Monday to Friday) and 9 AM (Saturday and Sunday); Night Prayer at 9 PM.  

HOLY WEEK AND EASTER SERVICES TO BE CELEBRATED PRIVATELY. On March 25, 2020, The Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship issued the Decree in Time of Covid 19 (II) stating that “Given that the date of Easter cannot be transferred, in the countries which have been struck by the disease and where restrictions around the assembly and movement of people have been imposed, Bishops and priests may celebrate the rites of Holy Week without the presence of the people and in a suitable place, avoiding concelebration and omitting the sign of peace. The faithful should be informed of the beginning times of the celebrations so that they can prayerfully unite themselves in their homes. Means of live (not recorded) telematic broadcasts can be of help….”

SFDS Holy Week 2020 Services, celebrated privately,  will be available on Youtube and Facebook:

April 5 Palm Sunday Mass at 10:15 AM

Thursday April 9 Mass at 7:00 PM

Friday April 10 Passion at 3:00 PM

Sunday April 12 Easter Sunday Mass at 10:15 AM

Thomas V. Lilly: Human Cork

DSCN6400 (2)SFDS has had its share of “quirky” personalities through the years, but, as far as we are aware, only one who was described as cork-like or “corky”!!

The story of parishioner and Knight of Columbus Thomas V. Lilly seems at first unremarkable: he was born and grew up in Philadelphia, left school after eighth grade, and started as a draftsman in a machine shop, according to the census – possibly employed by his brother-in-law, James Dunton, a Machine Shop Superintendent. In 1897, the two men shared a patent for a bicycle bell. At some point, Lilly joined the Dunton household and moved with his sister and brother-in-law to 920 South 50th Street, where he would spend most of the rest of his life – first with the Duntons and then on his own — until he transferred to a nursing home shortly before he died.

Lilly dreamed of escaping from machine shop work, though, so when Cedar Park opened at 50th and Baltimore in 1911, he took an appointment as its first Park Superintendent. Collier’s magazine reports this left him time for hobbies: “Lilly was an amateur boxer, professional tap dancer and amateur diver before he became a cork. It happened on his fifty-fifth birthday when skeptical friends bound his ankles, knees and wrists with sash cord and tossed him— fully clothed—into a swimming pool. Lilly shucked off the ropes, undressed (to his trunks), wrung out his wet clothes, stored them on his stomach, floated around for a bit, then dressed and swam to the pool ladder.”

Lilly kept escaping. In 1932, he made the news with an exhibition of floating and diving, as “the 65-year-old natator (swimmer) who is still able to show the youngsters a few tricks about the water sport.” Collier’s Magazine reported in 1948 that “Thomas Vincent Lilly of Philadelphia…recently celebrated his eighty-second birthday by asking his neighbors to throw him, bound and gagged, off a diving board. They obliged. Thomas Vincent wiggled out of the ropes in one minute and five seconds. Lilly, a pensioned city employee, modestly discounts any element of risk. “I can’t sink,” he explains. ‘I float all day without twitching a muscle. Doctors have examined me plenty of times but they can’t account for my corkiness.’

 In November 1950, Lilly’s obituary noted that he “was famous for his aquatic feats, and demonstrated his ‘Houdini’ rope escape trick in the West Branch YMCA pool two years ago.” Parishioner Joe Ruane, whose Dad had an Electrical shop at 4830 Baltimore Avenue, offers “I don’t know anything about Thomas Lilly, per se. I do recall the legend of a person who did Houdini escapes at the YMCA which in those days was on 52nd Street…The rumor was something I heard from someone in my Dad’s store when I was about 13 or 14.

Lilly was known for rope tricks in his lifetime, but he surprised with one final stunt as a magician at investments. In June, 1951, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported “for 23 years Thomas V. Lilly…was Superintendent of Cedar Park, a public square at 50th St. and Baltimore Ave. Appointed to the post in 1911 by the Bureau of City Property at a per diem wage of $1.50, he never earned a wage more than $3.75 a day, which he was receiving when he retired in 1934. Yet, through profitable investments in securities and stocks, started with his small savings, he amassed a $50,000 fortune, the bulk of which he bequeathed to charity…” a sizeable amount at the time. Among his bequests was a large sum for St. Francis de Sales Church; in addition, the residue of his estate was willed to Bishop Lamb – then pastor of St. Francis de Sales – “to be used for charitable purposes as he sees fit.

lilly BikeBellPatent