Old Shoeshine Boys and New Ballgames

Jessie Foyle's war with Comcast is over; she's enjoying her beloved Phillies again at her seniors' home. Now let's talk about Joe Rothman . . .

Just got a call from an old shoeshine boy, looking to catch a ballgame.

Frank Marcellino, 93, had read today's column about Mrs. Jesse Foyle. He wanted to know if he retired to Simpson House whether he'd be able to watch Phillies games on Comcast SportsNet.

"You can as of Thursday," I told him.

Then he launched into a personal history that made me want to chuck what I was doing and write this down:

"I had a shoeshine box. My father made it," said Marcellino, a retired mechanical engineer from Havertown. "I had brushes and black and brown polish. And I had a washing brush. I'd wash shoes, too. That would cost an extra nickel."

The whole job was a nickel or dime - he's not sure which, but it wasn't that much money. He'd get an extra nickel from bus drivers if he shined their leggings. He'd set up summer mornings around 12th and Market and work until he'd made a dollar. Unless it was raining.

He'd made friends with a woman who worked in the box office of the Family Theatre, and when it rained she'd let him stow his shoeshine box in her office and look the other way while he snuck into a seat for the matinee.

He did this was he was 10 or 12.

This does get around to baseball.

His mother set up an account for him at the PSFS bank at Broad & Snyder, and when he there was an As or Phillies game, he withdraw 75 cents and head north to Shibe Park or the Baker Bowl.

"I'd take the 16th Street Trolley up to Lehigh and then walk  I'd spend 50 cents for a seat in the bleachers, and then I had 10 cents for a hot dog and a soda. That was my 75 cents."

I mentioned how things are a bit more expensive now, and that the reason some residents of retirement communities are shut out of Phillies games on CSN has to do with a high-stakes game between Comcast and DirecTV with the fans caught in the middle.

Which is what today's column is all about.