Ed Rendell and His Bitches

Why is the most important Philadelphian of the past 25 years eating microwave dinners at home alone with his golden retrievers? Because a man’s life changes. That’s why

We turn onto Riverside Drive, and Dave parks the car. We hop out, and Ed leads us across the street to a small neighborhood park with tall trees. “My father and I used to play baseball right between the trees over there,” he says. “There’s a stretch of about 25 or 30 yards that’s unbroken, and you can see where there isn’t much grass.”

The wind stiffens a bit as we all look over at the park. “When Jesse was about eight, he was into baseball,” Ed continues. “And we were invited to visit a friend of Midge’s who lived in one of these townhouses. I told Jesse to bring our gloves and our ball, and I went into that stretch and threw the ball with him. And the same patches of ground that didn’t have any grass when I was 10 years old were still there.”

Ed looks across the street and points out the apartment building where he, his parents and his older brother lived—90 Riverside Drive. “Our dining room looked out over the river,” he remembers. “And when we were in school, every time there was a report of clouds and it was wintertime, before I would go to bed I would open the dining room window and look up at the sky, hoping it would snow.”

The moment doesn’t last long. Before I know it, we’re back in the car and heading downtown, but our minds are still on the past. I ask Ed if he was interested in politics as a kid. “Yeah, ’cause my dad was. He loved the Democratic Party. Thought it was the only salvation of the working guy. Loved FDR.”

Did Ed see himself going into politics even as a kid? “Nah. Although in sixth grade, I could name all 96 senators.”

Which gets Ed remembering that there were other things he memorized as a kid, including the starting lineup and pitching rotation of the 1954 New York Giants.

“Let’s see, there was Willie Mays, Alvin Dark … ”

He gets all the way through the lineup, then looks out the window and sees a small dog, and with that, the past snaps shut.

“I wonder what that is,” he says with that boyish enthusiasm of his. “A terrier?”

Yeah, Eddie, I think you’re right. It looks like a terrier.

WHEN YOU ASK ED why he’s working so hard at this point in his life, why he doesn’t just sit back and watch sports, what all this activity is about, he gives two answers. One is that work is all he knows. “The idea of seeing Prague? No interest,” he says.

The other is about finances. “I never really made any money in my life. I would like to make some money to take care of a couple of people in my life—Jesse and [his wife] Beka, and people like that.” Ed is obviously uninterested in money for himself. When I say it must be nice to be cashing all these paychecks now, he scoffs: “I’m not a money guy. I don’t need thousand-dollar suits. And right now I’m alone—what would I need a fancy house for?”

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  • Amanda

    A story about Ed Rendell is usually not appealing to me. The title and first few sentences drew me in and I couldn’t stop reading. Although it’s not Shakespeare, I loved every word of it it…especially the title!

  • Diana

    That picture is the most disturbing thig I’ve ever seen.

  • Mandy May

    I loved reading this story. The writer managed to turn an article which would normally be boring into something funny and intriguing. After reading the story I have a new perspective on Ed Rendell…and his bitches!