Christine Rich invites us into the hearth of her heart recalling familial stories of life on HOPE STREET. A narrow road somewhere in the Kensington section of Philadelphia, seemingly as unassuming as the performer herself. Rich shares illustrious stories of the Great Depression Era and her grandfather Jimmy, who at any time was working three jobs, with the endearing reverence of a seasoned comedian. Excavating humor from the limitations of the times and the many character flaws of her “crazy family.” Flanked by a projector screen and her father’s boxing robe. One occasionally flashing black and white pictures of dead relatives she references as if they were in the room. The other just hangs victoriously over a manikin with her father’s name stitched in gold.
On HOPE STREET, wealth is not measured by net-worth but by the community’s strength to get each other through. A place where death bed promises are kept. Where mothers’ give birth without the assistance of doctors or painkillers, and children occupy cribs made from bureau drawer lined in blankets. “My gawd…” Rich often ends or starts a story, “Can you imagine…”An era where cops compassionately allow “wanderers” like her uncle Eddie to stroll through the neighborhood, and little kids to play dodgeball in the streets.
These tales are a contemplation on humanity and full of mirth. They roll off her tongue, one after another, as the room warms up as if she were your favorite, crazy Aunt. A promising start for Rich who’s currently working on turning this rich collection of stories into a novel. Bravo, Christine Rich, your grandfather Jimmy’s Irish eyes surely are smiling down on you.