The Space Between


   What happened to the White House? This afternoon the water was wet and the rain was warm, so I took the White House Candies box to one of its points of origin – 639 Penn street in Reading.

   The address no longer exists. There is an urban space. The space was created between 601 Penn street, the Sovereign building and 645 Penn street – the former Exide Battery World headquarters, where my father worked for a while – now home to the Reading Royals ice hockey front office and store, a Quiznos sandwich shop and Berks Community Television.

  Several benches collect falling leaves. Four posts display banners for local soldiers killed in Iraq. You can see their pictures. You can see Age 19 written below the smiling man’s image. He died in 2008, Baghdad.

   A modified Japanese zen garden soothes the rectilinear plaza. A few granite shapes poke out of a sea of tranquil white stones enclosed within a serpentine line of red brick in a boxy area about 18 inches above the sidewalk. It is deserted. Pedestrians cross to and from the offices of the commonwealth  and federal government on Cherry street, to the south.

   The Greater Reading Area Chamber of Commerce and Industryhas vacated the address I have listed on my paperwork: 601 Penn St. Inside, a freehand sign taped to glass doors reads: “Moved to 201 Penn / Gateway Building.”

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