The  Beat: True Stories From the Streets

Page 16  by Harry Martin Polis
                Artwork by Jaynee Levy-Polis

 Joey Bishop is a well-known comedian who grew up in South Philly.  He traveled with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr. and other famous performers of that time.  Joey’s father owned and operated a bicycle repair shop on a small street near 4th and Snyder Avenue.  Joey’s real last name was Gottlieb.  Joey used to hang around 4th and Snyder at the pool hall in the middle of the block.  He was friendly with my father, who, like Joey, had grown up in South Philly.  There was a police station on the corner.  Dad would tell me that he saw Joey Bishop shooting pool with the boys and they would all talk.  It wasn’t a big deal.  Joey was one of the boys.  He was a good guy. 
 I used to go to Joey’s dad’s store when my bikes needed repairs.  I talked with Mr. Gottlieb senior.  Joey’s father was always nice to us kids.  I can still picture his shop as though I was in there yesterday.  After a while, Mr. Gottlieb retired.  Joey had made it big in show business and took Mr. Gottlieb to California.  Joey was good to his father and wanted the older man where Joey could watch over him.  That’s the way it was in the old days.  If you became successful, you bought your parents a big house and had people cook, clean, and take care of them.  You visited often and shared your good fortune with the people who raised and nurtured you.  They had worked hard all their lives and you rewarded them for it.  Today, some of this feeling still exists but not on the scale of previous times. 
 South Philly was a very exciting place to grow up.  We all knew celebrity’s families and the celebrities themselves.  Mostly, the famous people were just like the working people we all were.  South Philly felt like a small close-knit community.  I’m glad I spent my childhood there.  I have memories I will cherish for the rest of my life.  They have shaped me and helped me to know goodness and compassion.  What more could anyone ask?
Copyright 2000 by Harry Martin Polis
Harry is available for lectures and entertainment with stories and poetry.  Contact SCOOP USA, or e-mail Harry.

Tony’s Tale

 Many years ago, when I worked downtown in City Hall as an investigator, I worked with another police officer that had had a heart attack at a young age.  He was assigned with me to a unit in the “Hall”.  Tony was a unique kind of guy.  Like me, he’d grown up in South Philly.  His claim to fame was that when Tony was just out of high school, he was on the path to be a Rock and Roll star.  He traveled around the country with all the top-named stars of the 60s.  Tony is a very funny, talented guy.  He is easy to like and he knew a lot about life and it’s foibles. 
 Tony once brought into work a 16mm film of himself from when he appeared on “Dick Clark’s Bandstand” show.  It was amazing to see Tony singing and dancing on television, albeit as a teenager, dressed to cause the girls hearts to swoon.  Tony was on his way up as a Rock and Roller, having fun, performing and seeing the country.  He told us interesting stories about his adventures.  Once his tour bus broke down in “Nowhere”, North Dakota.  Most of his stories were fun and enlightening.  He fascinated us with his revealing stories about the Rock Stars. 
 So what happened to Tony? And why did he become a policeman?  A very down-to-earth South Philly mother brought him back to reality.  Mom told him in no uncertain terms that he needed to settle down, get a real job, and eventually get married and raising a family.  Thirty years later, Tony was still on the job telling jokes and anecdotes.  He was real, and lively. 
 I haven’t spoken to Tony in a while, but I hope to shortly.  I am not sure if he has returned to active duty, but if he has, I wish him good health.  I’ll look forward to seeing him again. 
Copyright 2000 by Harry Martin Polis
Harry is available for lectures and entertainment with stories and poetry.  Contact SCOOP USA, or e-mail Harry.


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