A fan's tribute to Spectrum

   The Spectrum, whose farewell tour has lasted for more than a year, will close at the end of the month and is giving fans a chance for one last stroll through the venerable building _ Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

   The stroll is free and open to the public.

    With the Spectrum about to close, Haddonfield's Geoff Snelling recently e-mailed his heartfelt tribute to the building _ he actually wrote it last year _ and I thought I'd pass it along. He calls it "Ode to the Spectrum." Enjoy.

 Ode to the Spectrum

"How can they tear it down?" I thought, a tear dropping on my cheek as I walked four children into my beloved venue, the Spectrum.

Nostalgia blankets memories with a rose-colored tint, and underneath the emotional questioning, my love for and confidence in the entire Flyers organization gave rational clarity: there must be a good reason. A September afternoon in the storied venue, highlighted by an all-star lineup of Flyers captains and my eternally favorite team answered the question, and gave closure to a lifetime chapter of joy, happiness, and experience in a very, very special place.

  For a venue whose construction in 1967 was briefly halted by contractors mistaking slapshots for gunshots, the Spectrum is one of those places that gives an unmistakable, undescribable, but certain feeling of Positive. It's not haunted - some longtime Philly fans might disagree - but if it were, its resident would be a Good Ghost. You feel positive energy and intimacy when you walk in - that moment of passing through the turnstyle to me feels just as good and just as safe as walking through the door at home after a long day.

My sister watched Jimi Hendrix play there. My mother took me to see The Harlem Globetrotters when I was 8. Ten years later I saw Springsteen play there on the night Lennon was shot. My step-grand-father-in-law was an Episcopal priest, and his son will never forget watching Father Al walk into his Haddonfield home in the early morning of May 20, 1974, drenched through to his white collar in champagne and beer. The concession and usher staff tolerated 53 Grateful Dead shows, where one can be certain they saw just a little bit of everything.

But for me, the Spectrum is The Hall of The Broad Street Bullies. If I were to have a Day-Timer schedule of my early youth, there would be large carve outs of time where no matter what else was happening, I had blocked out 2 1/2 hours to watch my heroes. In between periods I would work on my sunburst Bernie Parent mask, or tighten the chicken wire stapled into the 2x4s of my perfectly measured hockey goal.

All those memories came flooding back when I walked into the Spectrum this past September, giving me the privilege of some tears and a moment where I just sat and thought - I am the luckiest guy on Earth. I am here today watching these legends, and not one of my last 38 years has been without an event in this circular hall.

What fascinated me was how other memories had faded away - until they were jarred back to the concious by the realities I saw that afternoon. The Spectrum simply can not serve fans at the level they now expect of a sports venue in 2008. I'd forgotten that the end of each period is followed by 20 minutes of sheer gridlock on the ring surrounding the venue. I am still convinced there is only one set of bathrooms in the whole place, even more convinced that it is much better to be a man than a woman if you need a bathroom at the Spectrum. I'd forgotten that the well-hidden MEN and WOMEN bathroom signs are above two separate staircases that lead down to the same place, and how each time you descend the steps you are greeted by an uncomfortable-looking line of women, strung out their bathroom door and ascending straight back up their steps.

The Spectrum probably produced the largest number of look-alike, petite, dyed-hair, sometimes polite, sometimes ornery aged ladies serving beer and hot dogs in event history. To this day, they still tally your purchases longhand, on that little notepad using a yellow No. 2 pencil.

I would bet that somewhere in that glorious venue, there's a notepad and No. 2 pencil from the opening day in 1967. The Good Ghost of the Spectrum will make sure of it, demolition or not.

Thank You Flyers!
(And thank you for sharing, Geoff)