If I mention Jack Hall to you — you most likely would not know who I mean. It is a different story if I say “Jack the Street Cleaner.”
Jack is an icon in downtown Phoenixville. His route of operation is on both sides of Bridge Street from Starr Street to Gay Street, both sides of Main Street to Church Street, along with parts of Gay and Church Streets.
He has many friends along the way; the merchants love him — and he loves doing this for the borough. Jack receives no pay for his services. He mentioned that he actually inherited the job from the popular street cleaner — George Hinkle.
Jack was born in Springfield, Delaware County. When he was 10 years old the family moved to the East Pikeland area. He has four brothers and two sisters.
Due to his mental illness, Jack was not educated in the traditional manner. He was shifted around facilities in Delaware and Chester counties. He recalls the teachers that mentored him along the way.
Jack came to Phoenixville and settled in at St. Peter’s Place on Church Street — 30 years ago. He is one of the longest residents there. Jack and my mother were neighbors there for 15 years.
If you don’t know Jack — he may seem unapproachable. His manner of speech and movement are choppy and he can be loud. Underneath this facade is has a brilliant mind. He has a photographic memory. His specialty is sports and politics — at any given time he can pull up a fact and recount it like it just happened.
Jack does not have a computer, tablet or cell phone. He believes in the pen and pencil. He is a deep thinker who believes that you have to look at both sides of an issue before chose and defend a side. But he does have opinions and they can be strong.
He likes classical music as well as being a student of the Old & New Testaments.
Jack fondly recalls when Tori Woodill (Taste of Tori) from CBS3 interviewed him during one of the town’s festivals. So, there was Jack live on television news for one whole weekend.
For those of you who do not already know him — go up to him and say "hi." He will be a whole other person than you expected.
Jack is very fond of spaghetti & meatballs. As he is not good in the kitchen here is my easy meatball recipe. You can use with your favorite spaghetti recipe. A reminder — meatballs can be featured on its own as part of other dishes — such as Italian, Asian and Latin cuisines.
MEATBALLS MADE EASY
1 lb. ground beef
1 lb. ground loose pork sausage
½ cup Italian bread crumbs
1/3 cup milk
¼ cup diced onions
½ to 1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried Italian seasonings
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
salt & pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Mix all ingredients together until combined. Shape (with wet hands) into 48 meatballs — approximately 1½ tablespoons each. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until thoroughly cooked.
Use meatballs with sauce from last week’s interview with Barry Cassidy. Meatballs can be used many in other dishes not just with spaghetti. They can shine on their own or part of another recipe.