Guest Blogger: Claudette Benton
PAL was the most focal point of my formative years in growing up in West Philadelphia. It was during the 1960’s, and gang rivalry was running rampant. As children in an urban environment, we faced these issues on the streets, and some of us also lived in single-parent households. PAL was a home away from home for me, and Officer Drummond served as another father figure to many of the kids in the neighborhood.
We looked up to Officer Drummond as our confidant. He taught us how to overcome our problems, whether they were in school or in our home lives. He also introduced an art that we had never heard of – ceramics. It was really cool going to PAL on Saturday afternoons and getting our hands all messy with clay. We tried our best to do pottery and were able to see the finished products the following week. It was so exciting to go home and show our mothers what we had made for them!
When I was in the eighth grade at St. Carthage School., located at 63rd and Cedar Avenue, Officer Drummond came to my classroom to present me with a plaque in front of my peers. The award acknowledged my “outstanding achievements as a young adult member of my community.” To this day, I still have the plaque on the wall in my TV room.
I was also presented with the award on the “Ed Hurst Show.” This was the most exciting accomplishment that I received on my own — for Officer Drummond to think that much of me, (with the added fame of being honored on TV) really lifted my self-esteem.