Look Tony! Boathouse Row!

When I started The King’s Jubilee, it was just me driving our red Subaru Justy to Center City on Wednesday night. I would have a couple loaves of sandwiches and maybe some clothes and blankets to give away. I would bring the cups and spoons. I would meet Deacons Les Bodger and Marvin Walker of the New Jerusalem Pentecostal Holiness Church. They would have coffee, creamer and sugar, more sandwiches and the end of day leftovers from Le Petite Boulangerie, this magnificent French Bakery by the Wanamaker’s. We served at JFK Plaza (Love Park) and in front of the Eliza Shirley House women’s shelter, if there were any leftovers. I put out our first newsletter TKJ Schematic, outlining my “scheme” for addressing poverty and homelessness in the region, on our Apple//c.

In response to that newsletter, our first donation came in along with a job offer from Wally Wolff. I started working at Diseroad & Wolff Architects in Hatfield and Wally started coming down to the city with me a couple times a month.

A cashier at the grocery store asked why I was always buying so many cups and spoons each Wednesday. She arranged for us to pick up the Campbell’s scratch and dents. Bethann started combining these to make large kettles of soup on Wednesdays.

My boss, Les Bucher, took an interest in the ministry. He persuaded his wife, Joan, to let us use her van to make the trip on Wednesday nights, and he drove. At that time, I was leading a Bible Study on Wednesday afternoons at Graterford. So Bethann would make the soup. I would swing by home, load up and head back to work. We would transfer the soup into Joan’s van along with any clothes and blankets that I had gathered and left at work and Les and I would head down to the city. We would arrive at the Love Park about 7pm.

More people got involved. For a year or two, almost every Wednesday night it was Les, Dave Shellington, Tony Lancanese and me, going down together in the van. We would jokingly refer to it as our poker night, as it was a night out with the guys. The first time Tony came with us, we entered the city on the Schuylkill Expressway. I said, “Look Tony! Boathouse Row!”

He went on and on about the crew team members he knew and how pretentious they were. He was so vehement that Les and I couldn’t help but laugh. We hadn’t seen that coming. So, from then on “Look Tony! Boathouse Row!” became known as the official TKJ tour of Philadelphia.

On two occasions, when we were giving away the clothes and blankets after serving the food, I found a nice plaid stadium blanket in a clear zippered case with a carrying strap. I thought, how thoughtful! God bless the person who donated this! That was perfect for a homeless person. I gave it away. The day after the second time I did this, I got a call at work from Joan Bucher. She asked where her stadium blanket was. It was missing from her van. I thanked her for it and told her how generous and thoughtful that was to provide that for a homeless person. God would surely bless her for this.

She told me that it was her emergency blanket and that she didn’t mean for me to give it away. I told her God would bless her anyway, especially for giving two. She told me if I gave away a third, we wouldn’t be able to use her van anymore. I told her I wasn’t to be trusted and that if she really wanted to keep it, she had better remove it from the vehicle on Tuesday nights.

Through the years, I have been guilty of giving away several jackets, hats, sweatshirts and umbrellas that were left in the vehicle by volunteers. I almost gave away Myron’s jacket last night, but I recognized it as I picked it up, and restrained myself.