Welcome to Delco, South Philly. Here's what you need to know
Congrats and condolences, South Philly.
We congratulate those parts of South Philly slated to join Delaware County (Delco!) to make up the new Fifth Congressional District, thanks to a new congressional district map that was released by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Monday.
Alternatively, we offer our condolences to those same parts of South Philadelphia that could be forevermore intrinsically connected with Pennsylvania's strangest county, one that often feels like it's the Florida of Southeast Pa.
For those from South Philly who, by no fault of their own, may now find themselves in Delco or may now be mistaken for Delconians, here's what you need to know:
1. The Beer
Delconians are connoisseurs of cheap beer, especially Genny Cream Ale, so don't walk into a bar asking for a style of barley wine or a bock you'd find at the P.O.P.E. They don't have it. If you want to be a hipster order a can of PBR and be happy about it, but remember you're outside Philly so citywide specials do not apply. And we're pretty sure Marcus Hook doesn't have a borough-wide special.
The only exception to the cheap-beer rule is Delco Lager from 2SP Brewing Company in Aston. It's the classiest beer you can drink while still repping Delco.
2. The Municipalities
When in Delco, remember that if you take four steps in any direction, you've probably crossed into another municipality. This county of 562,000 people is broken down into 49 municipalities, many of them with their own governments and police departments. It's more fractured than the mirrors Isaiah Zagar smashed to create Philadelphia's Magic Gardens. When driving, it's fairly typical not to have any clue just what township you're in, or which one you just left.
3. The Grit
Delco is the blue-collar suburb of Philadelphia, as noted in this fantastic entry in the Urban Dictionary. It doesn't have Longwood Gardens or Peddler's Village, it's got grit — and industrious Girl Scouts selling cookies outside the liquor store on MacDade Boulevard. Put your kids to work young and give them totally realistic expectations, that's Delco.
4. The Convenience Store
Time has proven that, along with democracy, Wawa was one of the Philadelphia region's greatest gifts to humanity. Well, you know where Wawa was birthed? Delco. The Wawa chain was actually named after a community that spans from Middletown Township to Chester Heights, and predates both municipalities. Wawa is a Native American word that means Canada goose.
And it is in Delco that you can find a Wawa every three blocks. On a mile-and-a-half stretch of MacDade Boulevard alone, there are three Wawas — but only one is your Wawa and that is the only one you shall visit for all of eternity.
5. The Vices
Delco doesn't tax your vices. Unlike Philadelphia, Delco does not impose additional taxes on sweetened beverages or cigarettes. So party on, Wayne, and party on, Garth. And don't be surprised if you find people who still dress — and party — like Wayne and Garth in Delco.
6. The Crimes
People commit really strange crimes in Delco, like clogging an apartment toilet with potatoes and then pulling the fire alarm when maintenance doesn't arrive in a timely manner. As a colleague once said, the city may have more crime but the crimes in Delco have more panache.
7. The Celebrities
Tina Fey and Jim Croce both lived in Delaware County and attended Upper Darby High School. They are the most famous people to ever come out of Delco and you will be reminded of this by a native Delconian at least once a year.
8. The Language
Nobody pronounces the 'r' in Swarthmore.
9. The Dating Scene
Dating is weird in Delco. If you're under 30 you'll probably either go to a Barnaby's or a Barnaby's.
10. The People
Despite its eccentricities, Delco — like everywhere else in this world — is filled with many kind people who want to help when they can. Last month, firefighters from all over the county gathered on a bitter night to salute fallen Philadelphia Firefighter Lt. Matthew LeTourneau's body as it was taken to a funeral home in Springfield.
And in 2014, law enforcement officers from across Delco came together to give a terminally-ill, 3-year-old boy a police escort home. And when he arrived, it seemed like the entire town of Springfield was waiting to welcome him.
We hope the new congressional redistricting will bring together people who otherwise might never have met, but even if the South Philly and Delco folks don't connect around these parts, don't worry — they'll all see each other downashore at the Ocean Drive bar in Sea Isle City.
Staff writer William Bender contributed Delcoisms to this report.