Pamela Miller Interview

Dublin Core

Title

Pamela Miller Interview

Subject

Tacony Creek Park

Description

Pamela Miller was interviewed on December 27 for the Oral History Project.

Creator

Ambrose Liu

Date

12/27/2018

Contributor

Olney Cultural Lab

Rights

Copyright of this site is held by Manor College Library under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC which restricts commercial use.

Relation

Tookany/ Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership, Inc.

Format

mp3

Language

English

Type

[no text]

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Interviewer

Ambrose Liu

Interviewee

Pamela Miller

Location

[no text]

Transcription

Pamela Miller intw TTFWP

AMBROSE LIU: OK. OK. Today is, uh, December 27th, 2018, and my name is Ambrose Liu. Uh, I’m about to interview --
PAMELA MILLER : Pamela Miller.
AL: -- for the Tookany Creek Park Oral History Project. And, uh, we are about to, uh, talk to Pamela Miller and have her share with us some of her history, uh, working on behalf of the park and, uh, engaging with the park. So, uh, Pamela, thank you for doing this. Um, can you first start by, uh, sharing, uh, about y-- h-- uh, your -- how you got started with -- with the park?
PM: Yeah.
AL: Well, maybe how long have you lived near [01:00] Tookany Creek Park?
PM: Well, I lived here about 23 years, but my, um, association with Tacony Creek has only been about three years.
AL: Oh.
PM: So, um -- and [that happened?] when I saw flyers in certain places about the cleanups and about their events that they have. And I had an interest in it because I always wanted to be a part of make, you know, parks look better, and cleaner. Uh, when I saw, like, the advertisements of nature walks, and things like that, I always had an interest in that.
AL: So what was your relationship with the park before you saw the advertisements. How would you describe that?
PM: Oh. Always been a park lover, always, like, been a nature lover. So I came to the park, Tacony, before [I met them?]. It wasn’t as safe as it is now. So, [02:00] like, early in the morning, I would come, but it wasn’t a place that you could just go anytime because, during the day, there are other people there, doing things, you know, that have nothing to do with nature. (laughs) So, um, I would only come in the mornings. And I used [go to?] get the berries off the bushes.
AL: Uh-huh.
PM: They -- they would [fill up our?] bushes with those red berries. So I used to get those, take them home, wash them, and eat them.
AL: Oh.
PM: But back then, there was no spraying or anything [done?], so everything was safe.
AL: What kind of berries were there? Did you find -- find out, like --?
PM: Well, they were, like, uh, mulberries. They’re the dark purple ones.
AL: Oh.
PM: And then they had the raspberries. Yeah.
AL: So they were wild?
PM: Yeah. Mm-hmm.
AL: You knew they were edible?
PM: Oh, yeah. Mm-hmm.
AL: Well, you’re still here, obviously, so -- (laughter) Um, so three years ago, you saw advertisements, uh, from, I’m assuming, the Tookany [Water Share?] Partnership?
PM: [03:00] Right. Mm-hmm.
AL: Um, what was it like, uh, getting to, uh, participate in those activities?
PM: Well, it was fun, actually. Um, uh, I would show up to come to a cleanup and I liked being a part of that, so helping to clean the park, um, it was a good thing with so many people with the same [focus?]. So, uh, I enjoyed it.
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: Still do. We still do the cleanups.
AL: Mm-hmm. And, uh, how frequently do you participate in activities, uh, sponsored by the partnership?
PM: Um, there was always a nature walk during the summer --
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: -- or a bird walk. And so I would go to all those, and then they would have those type of things up until December.
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: Then they would stop and start up again in -- in, uh, March.
AL: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
PM: So I participated in it a lot and that’s --
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: -- one of the reasons [04:00] why I got an award. (laughs)
AL: Oh.
PM: Helping to kick off the, um, what they were trying to do.
AL: Um, before you share some of that, uh, stuff with us, um, could you tell me a little bit about, you know, where you’re from originally --
PM: Mm-hmm.
AL: -- and then how you came to this neighborhood? And, first of all, we got to say, we’re in Juniata Park?
PM: Yes.
AL: OK.
PM: Right.
AL: All right. But where were you originally from?
PM: Well, before I moved here, I was living in West Philly --
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: -- right near the Mann Music Center.
AL: OK.
PM: And so that’s near a big park out there. Now, I used to live right across the street from the park. So always, you know, wanted to go over to the park, and just sit there, and walk through. And, for some reason, a lot of people that lived in that area didn’t go to the park. Very few people would be in that big part that you live right across from, [so?] --
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: Um, I [don’t understand?] that but I always liked to be [05:00] in the park.
AL: Do you have any, uh, ideas why they may not have used the park, or --?
PM: Um, my ideas are that, um, their interest wasn’t on nature, natural things, like, nature things.
AL: Hmm.
PM: Their interest was more on things they had to do and --
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: -- uh, interests outside of nature, so --
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: --they didn’t really think about it.
AL: Where did you get your interest and love for nature?
PM: (laughs) Uh, from growing up.
AL: So your family, uh, helped you with that, or do you -- did you grow up in a different place?
PM: Um, no. My family didn’t really do things much in the park. It was just a love that I had for it, for myself, I guess, for myself because I wasn’t, uh, raised going to parks and things like that.
AL: Uh-huh.
PM: But I always loved birds, and nature, and flowers, and -- and the -- the smell of the grass, [06:00] and things like that. (laughs)
AL: All right.
PM: So --
AL: [Great?]. So you were more, uh, attracted to it?
PM: Yeah.
AL: Less afraid of it?
PM: Right.
AL: Uh-huh. Um, and so did you grow up across the street from that park, the Fairmount Park, I guess?
PM: Um, I lived there about 15 years.
AL: OK.
PM: Yeah.
AL: As an adult or as a child?
PM: As an adult. Yeah.
AL: Oh, OK. And then before that, did you also grow up in West Philly?
PM: Um, well, before that, because, let me see. I was living with my mom in Southwest Philly.
AL: OK.
PM: And I got my first apartment when I moved over to 42nd and Parkside --
AL: OK.
PM: -- which is right across from the park.
AL: OK.
PM: And so I lived there for about 15 years. Then I moved from there to 52nd and Jefferson. They had just built these new townhouses, [I know?]. I got one of those townhouses, so I moved over there, and that’s, like, a few blocks away from the Mann Music Center.
AL: Mm-hmm. And then [07:00] you said you’ve lived in Juniata Park for 23 years.
PM: Yeah. Mm-hmm.
AL: Uh, what brought you to Juniata Park?
PM: Well, um, I decided I wanted to move because of, uh, different crimes and things that was going on in the neighborhood.
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: And so I was looking for a place and I found it out here on Shelbourne Street.
AL: Hmm.
PM: So that’s what made (inaudible).
AL: Were you aware that the park was nearby --
PM: No. [Mm-mm?].
AL: -- when you first moved here? No? How d-- how did you discover the park after you moved here?
PM: Well, you know, walking around the neighborhood, um, I would walk around and see, you know, what’s in the neighborhood, and I saw that [there were?] parks in the, um, paths and stuff you can go up, so that’s how I found the park. And also, on, um, Wyoming Avenue and H Street, when you walk up there, between H and going up to [Castor?], there’s the, um, golf course you go by, and there was always, uh, [08:00] geese down there, or deers down there. So I was standing, and just look at the deers and stuff like that. And, uh, there was always those, uh, big trees, full of berries. (laughs) So I would collect berries from there, but I always walked past there, just to look down at the golf course because it was so beautiful, and then you could see deer. So (laughs) when I was little, I did see the movie Bambi.
AL: OK.
PM: And so that probably an effect on me. (laughs)
AL: Um, I -- I have a couple questions, but let me just start with, in addition to berries, sounds like you have been collecting wild edibles for a while.
PM: Mm-hmm.
AL: Is there anything else that you’ve collected from the park?
PM: Oh, yeah. Rocks.
AL: Oh, rock-- but you don’t eat them, do you?
PM: Oh, no.
AL: No, no, no.
PM: Rocks are for the collection (inaudible).
AL: Oh, OK.
PM: Put in the ground, plants, and things like that.
AL: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Uh, [09:00] but anything else that you’ve collected that you’ve eaten?
PM: Just the berries.
AL: Oh, just the berries.
PM: Yeah.
AL: Oh, OK. Um, so back then, you saw geese and you saw deer. What other animals did you encounter?
PM: Um, raccoons not too often, and beavers, and possums.
AL: OK.
PM: And, um -- yeah, that’s pretty much it.
AL: Yeah. What was the park like? I mean, you s-- y-- you said that it’s changed, but so what was it like 15-20 years ago? Like --?
PM: Well, it was just -- um, was just not safe. You know, I mean, there were paths there, but --
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: -- there was always, um, trash and -- and bottles of -- people drinking stuff --
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: -- and stuff, and other activities that people would do in the park that weren’t good. Um --
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: Um, [with?] other animals, [10:00] and sacrificing, and stuff like that, so it wasn’t safe.
AL: How -- how many years ago did you start noticing, let’s say, a change?
PM: Well, I noticed the change when I became a part of Tacony Creek.
AL: Oh, OK.
PM: And they -- they were the ones that made the change.
AL: Mm-hmm. Um, so how would you describe the park now in terms of the way it looks and the way it feels for you?
PM: I describe it now as a safe environment.
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: Uh, and -- and a place of beauty and, you know, things to look at, and there’s more paths and everything. And you walk by the water sometimes and it’s just a lot safer and --
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: -- a lot more interesting.
AL: Mm-hmm. Um, how -- how has your involvement with the park and the partnership, uh, how [11:00] has that changed your -- your relationship with nature, but through the idea of environmentalism? Like, have you ever thought about environmentalism as something that you are an environmentalist?
PM: Mm-hmm. Um, well, just -- um, working on places where there was not, uh, good to be walking through because it was kind of dangerous and --
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: And be-- uh, becoming a part of, uh, making paths and -- and planting trees [and then?] (inaudible), that’s what they did a lot, plant trees and --
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: -- take down a lot of the, um, weeds and stuff that, you know, that make everything look bad. So that’s --
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: -- I liked being a part of that.
AL: Mm-hmm. Um, well, tell me [12:00] about the awards that you received.
PM: Oh, OK. This was, um, two awards. One was in, uh, May of 2017 in, uh -- in, uh, certification of special congressional recognition presented to Pamela Miller. So this was for me being a part of, uh, making changes for the park.
AL: Oh, let’s see. It’s from, uh, Brendan Boyle, Congressman Boyle.
PM: Mm-hmm.
AL: And this neighborhood is in his district?
PM: Yeah.
AL: OK.
PM: Yeah. I always get Christmas cards from them, too. (laughs)
AL: Right. Right.
PM: And, uh, I think this was the first one. Well, and it’s the same date. Uh, Friends of TTF [13:00] Watershed, Pamela Miller. And this is, uh, another award that they thought --
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: -- I deserved. (laughs) [I didn’t?] --
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: -- really see what I did that great. (laughs) And then a year before, uh, “For your continued dedication in improving Tacony Creek Park, Pamela Miller.”
AL: Hmm.
PM: So that was December 20th of 2016.
AL: Hmm. Yeah. Congratulations on those.
PM: Thank you.
AL: Yeah. Um, has this particular neighborhood -- when I say “neighborhood” I mean, like, the -- the residents surrounding the park --
PM: Mm-hmm.
AL: -- have you noticed the change in terms of how the people relate to the park, or have you noticed maybe less of an interest, or, I mean, how would you describe people’s relationship, [14:00] like, this particular neighborhood’s relationship, to the park -- this piece --
PM: Right.
AL: -- of the park?
PM: Well, it’s -- it’s been hard trying to get other people interested, you know, to come to the park.
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: [There are?] different flyers we give out and leave at their homes. Um, we haven’t had a lot of participation from a lot of people that live in this area.
AL: Uh -- uh, and --
PM: Usually, when [we have an affair?], there are people that’s coming to the, uh, like, the nature [parts?], but they usually come from different areas.
AL: What -- what, if anything, have your neighbors shared with you about their interest, or lack of interest, or, like -- like, why --?
PM: Mostly, they think it’s not safe.
AL: Oh.
PM: Yeah.
AL: So -- OK. Hmm. A--
PM: Which is one of the main reasons they don’t come.
AL: What do you say to that? Like, how do you respond? I mean --
PM: Well --
AL: Obviously, your [15:00] perception of it has changed.
PM: Yeah. I tell them about how the -- the, uh, parks have changed, and they made paths, and now like, you can do nature walks, and it’s a safe environment, and, um, it’s, uh, nothing to, um, be concerned about now, because it’s changed. We have paths there. We have trees planted. Um, there’s beautiful things to look at, you know, flowers [in the quarter?] and -- and, uh, talk about how we -- um, how we’ve been changing, uh, the water systems in -- in there, you know, so -- um, they still have that fear, though.
AL: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
PM: Especially if they don’t come and see for themselves.
AL: Right. Yeah. Um --
PM: Then a lot of them don’t really have the interest in nature, for some reason. [Yeah, that’s mainly a?] big --
AL: Right.
PM: -- factor, too.
AL: Right. Um, what are your hopes [16:00] for the future of the park?
PM: My hopes for the future is that we can get more people to participate --
AL: [Right?].
PM: -- in all of the politics that we do.
AL: Yeah. Um, do you have any ideas h-- how to attract more people? (laughter)
PM: Well, I know one of the things that attract people, they see something and it says free something, like, that usually attracts people. (laughs)
AL: Uh-huh.
PM: You know, when you offer free food and something like that --
AL: Right.
PM: -- that does attract people.
AL: Right.
PM: But, um, that’s the main -- main thing [that would attract them?].
AL: Um, I know in the course of my talking to you over the phone, um, you have s-- I think you’ve indicated that you have some faith, you know, in terms of, [17:00] like, what religious background are you?
PM: Well, I’m a Christian.
AL: You’re Christian.
PM: Mm-hmm.
AL: Uh-huh. Um, I’m just curious, do you see any intersection between your, um, belief in God and nature -- and the nature that you love (inaudible)?
PM: Oh, yeah. Definitely. Yeah.
AL: And how would you des-- how would you describe that?
PM: Well -- well, God’s not separate from nature (laughs) because he created it. So when I -- when I’m in the park, it’s like, um, a, uh, creative spirit out there that I feel from God --
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: -- you know --
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: -- so it’s all connected --
AL: Right.
PM: -- together with the animals, and the flowers, and the trees, and the, you know, the smell of the trees. I love that smell of the nature. So it’s all connected together. You know, I can’t enjoy that without, um, God being a part of it.
AL: [18:00] Uh, you mentioned, uh, when you first moved here, you saw deer.
PM: Mm-hmm.
AL: Um, are there still deer around here?
PM: Yeah. They’re still --
AL: Wow.
PM: But it’s not as many because, every year, you know, they can kill but so many, so it’s not --
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: -- as many as it used to be.
AL: Right. Um --
PM: But there was a time --
AL: Uh-huh.
PM: -- when I was walking up to Castor Avenue. It was in the daytime. And as I left H Street, walking towards Castor --
AL: On Wyoming?
PM: On Wyoming, yeah. And right before, when you see all the bushes that come up in the park, there were four deer standing there. It was three female and one male.
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: And so when I saw them I got so excited to see these deer right before me. And they were all full grown. And, of course, the male had the antlers. And I had no fear of them. I just was amazed to see them. And so I stood there for a few minutes, looking at them. [19:00] They were looking at me. And I said something like, “You’re so beautiful.” When I said that, they all turned and they jumped over the bushes and -- and left. (laughs)
AL: Yeah.
PM: So --
AL: Yeah. It reminds me of an encounter I had with s-- with some deer. But unfortunately, uh, I -- I’m -- I -- I’ll tell you about it after the --
PM: Mm-hmm.
AL: -- interview itself. Um, is there, uh, anything, uh, any other stories like that that you have? Uh, e-- encounters with wildlife or, um, just stories of -- of the park that you might recall that --
PM: Yeah.
AL: -- are colorful like that?
PM: Yeah. There’s a story about possums that were in, um, my neighbor’s trash can.
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: It was a mother, and she had these babies, and they were all in the trash can in front of her house. So we called her and told her that, [20:00] you know, what was there, and she said, “Well, if you can take the trash can and, uh, just turn it o-- turn it over and let them out.” But we al-- we also called environmental people, you know, animal control, to see what they would say to do.
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: And they said, “Well, just, you know, turn it down so they can walk out.” But it was me and my son. We didn’t feel like that was a safe thing to do because of the babies, you know?
AL: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
PM: So he took the trash can, and carried it over to the park --
AL: Uh-huh.
PM: -- and walked up near where all the bushes and stuff are, and he let them out there.
AL: Oh.
PM: So that was a safer environment, then. (laughs)
AL: Um, you mentioned having a son. Do -- uh, do you have other children, as well?
PM: Oh, just my son.
AL: Just your son?
PM: Grandchildren.
AL: Mm-hmm. And, uh, what do you share with them, with respect to your, uh, interest and love of nature --
PM: Mm-hmm.
AL: -- and, also, the park? Have -- have they interacted with --?
PM: Well, when they were living with me, I would take them over to [21:00] the park.
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: Yeah. You know, that was when they were really young, little kids. And they stayed with me for a number of years. And so I really enjoyed having my grandkids living with me because I would take them to the park at different times and they liked it.
AL: And what would they be interested in --
PM: Uh --
AL: -- as children?
PM: Like, playing and, uh, running up [the paths?] and -- um, just playing and -- and running.
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: Mm-hmm.
AL: Yeah. Um, I feel like you’ve shared a lot and I think, uh, unless there’s nothing else you want to mention, um, I feel like I’ve learned a lot about your love of Tookany Creek.
PM: Mm-hmm.
AL: And, um, this, uh, will conclude our interview now, and I’m going to share this with the Library of Manor College.
PM: Mm-hmm.
AL: And do you use [22:00] the internet at all?
PM: Uh, sometimes.
AL: OK. Well, um, I could send you a link, where all the other interviews are, and --
PM: Mm-hmm.
AL: -- we will include yours with that one.
PM: OK.
AL: Um, but I’ve enjoyed learning and hearing about your stories, and your time living here, and --
PM: Mm-hmm.
AL: -- um, if there’s nothing else --
PM: Well, I -- I do have a story about birds.
AL: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.
PM: (laughs) Because I’ve always had this interest in birds. And, um, in the ’70s -- um, because I was living, you know, near the park, and, um, there was a bird’s nest. And there were three birds in there. And, for some reason, I always had this experience with seeing three birds in the nest that were babies.
AL: Hmm.
PM: And so, from that experience, it had a big impact on my life. You know, from time to time, when I would see birds flying in the sky. [23:00] And if I ever see three birds flying in the sky, then that was, like, to me, a sign that, wow, everything is good and things are looking up, you know?
AL: Uh-huh.
PM: So, th-- throughout the years, up until now, I’ve always seen three birds together, and it’s always been, like, a really special meaning to me.
AL: Right.
PM: Like, if I’m feeling down, and I see that, and it makes me think about, things are going to get better. And, uh, it’s been that way ever since. And I would see three birds in my tree --
AL: Hmm.
PM: -- at different times. When we had, um, a really big storm, [but?] the winds were strong, I looked out my window, and I’d see three birds in this puddle of water, bathing. (laughs) And so, you know, those kind of things excite me. [They’re out here?] in all this weather and they’re bathing. And another time, it was cold in the winter time, I look out my front window, and there’s three birds [24:00] outside the window. So -- (laughs) that’s been a very special thing for me.
AL: And is it only birds that -- that --?
PM: Yeah.
AL: Only -- OK.
PM: Only birds.
AL: So it’s not like i-- if you see three racoon or three deer, to you, it’s the birds that are --
PM: Right.
AL: Wow.
PM: Because that’s the only thing I’ve ever seen three of at one time.
AL: Hmm. Mm-hmm. Well, three is the magic number, some say. Yeah. The trinity and all that.
PM: Yeah.
AL: Yeah. Um, have you been on, uh, the bird walks with Robin?
PM: Oh, yeah.
AL: Yeah.
PM: Mm-hmm. Yeah.
AL: Um -- yeah, I really enjoyed, you know, he shares so much.
PM: Yeah. Mm-hmm.
AL: And all the other people that they bring with the -- the --
PM: Yeah.
AL: Yeah. Um, no, that’s a great story. I’m glad --
PM: (laughs)
AL: I’m glad you shared that.
PM: Thank you.
AL: Um, because, you know, sometimes, you know, you h-- get signs.
PM: Mm-hmm.
AL: And -- yeah. Oh, that’s a great one. [25:00] Um, anything else like that? I mean, that’s -- that’s --
PM: Um --
AL: Do you see beavers anymore?
PM: Uh, not too often.
AL: OK.
PM: You know, I see more possums than beavers.
AL: OK. But when you saw the beavers 20-some-odd years ago here, did they build the dams or --
PM: Well, that -- that was at the other park I lived at in West Philly.
AL: Oh, OK.
PM: I would see beavers.
AL: That was in Fairmount.
PM: Yeah, but --
AL: Oh, OK.
PM: -- when I came here, I saw beavers here, too, but you don’t see them too often.
AL: Yeah.
PM: And -- and they’re such cute, little animals --
AL: Right.
PM: -- there was one that was in our neighborhood a --
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: -- few years ago.
AL: Uh-huh.
PM: And when kids see something like that, of course, they want to throw stones at it.
AL: Oh.
PM: So that’s what they were doing.
AL: Yeah.
PM: So we had to go over and ask them not to do that, you know?
AL: Right. Right. Yeah. Um, well, thank you so much.
PM: You’re welcome. (laughs)
AL: Yeah. This was really enjoyable. Um, [26:00] and I guess if there’s anything else that you -- you remember, or want to share, you can always call me. We can always do the interview part two, if you want.
PM: OK. Well --
AL: Um -- actually, there was one thing I did did think of that I wanted to ask you. Uh, did you know [Judy?] before you joined the -- the --
PM: Yeah. Uh-huh.
AL: Oh, you did know her already.
PM: Yeah.
AL: Oh, OK. I was going to ask you if, you know, you became friends as you volunteered, or if you knew each other as [members?].
PM: Yeah. Yeah. We knew each other. And we both had the same interest in the neighb--
AL: Uh-huh.
PM: -- in the parks and things.
AL: OK.
PM: Yeah.
AL: Um, but what’s it like actually having joined this group? Like, like, what’s it like socially, like, to be among other nature lovers?
PM: Um, it’s really good because there’s always something to do, always something to go to. And you --
AL: Hmm.
PM: -- get a chance to be around people that have the same interests, so we always have good conversations.
AL: Mm-hmm.
PM: And I enjoy being around a lot of the people and sharing, you know? It’s a lot of fun.
AL: Yeah.
PM: Yeah. And --
AL: [27:00] All right, Pamela.
PM: Yeah.
AL: I think we’re good. And, like I said, if you have anything else you recall and you want to share, you can always let me know.
PM: Yeah. OK.
AL: And we can sit down for another interview.

END OF AUDIO FILE

Duration

27:14

Time Summary

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Citation

Ambrose Liu, “Pamela Miller Interview,” Hands On History- Oral Histories of the Northeast Philadelphia area, accessed May 31, 2020, https://manorcollegehandsonhistory.omeka.net/items/show/5.