by Barbara Sherf
— First of two parts
Question: What is the most interesting store in Glenside with the most uninteresting name?
Answer: The Glenside Store at 251 Keswick Ave.
That’s one of dozens of handwritten signs made and posted by Dr. Milton Jacobson, 84, a retired psychologist, advertising man, teacher, journalist, widower, father, grandfather, minor league baseball player and wearer of many more hats.
Who knew that most businesses in Glenside’s Keswick Village are closed on Mondays? However, The Glenside Store, housing a variety of historical artifacts, furniture and knick-knacks along with plenty to read in the form of handwritten signs and posters with Jacobson’s philosophies taped to the front window, was jumping.
On a recent trip, Milt was sitting outside on a chair chatting up this window shopper about his philosophies and desire to find a woman. “Like the look,” he said of my summer dress and hat. “Are you married?”
“Thanks, and yes” was my reply.
“Happily?” he persisted.
And so began a two-hour conversation, occasionally interrupted by a handful of customers looking for a particular collectible or just something that caught their eye on a steamy July afternoon.
“I’m open every day except for Sunday from 10 to 4. Sometimes I come in on Sunday if I don’t have anything better to do,” said Jacobson. “And I’ll wait around during the week if I know a customer is coming after 4.”
When business is slow, he writes his humorous and sometimes outlandish signs.
Here is his “2 Do” list: 1. break up with Carrie Underwood. She’ll get over it. 2. Turn down Biden’s offer to be Obama’s speechwriter. 3. Work on my lecture to Mensa this weekend. 4. Protest tax increase on those of us earning $750,000 or more. 5. Speak up to my shrink and express my anger about his diagnosis of “Grandiose Personality Disorder.”
Jacobson, who holds both a master’s and doctorate in psychology, taught at Penn State Abington, Temple University and Hahnemann University Hospital. His undergraduate degree in journalism from Temple University landed him a job at TV Guide and then in the advertising field, where he eventually opened his own agency.
Jacobson also had a private psychology practice on Limekiln Pike in Dresher for 25 year. He started out working with learning-disabled children but later worked mainly with adults. He still has former clients who recognize him when they stop in his store.
Milt writes in his journals every day and shares his philosophies on the window, and his stories “live” with anyone willing to listen. One of his favorite stories is about the time he “saved” Lou Gehrig’s life. The baseball Hall of Famer who eventually succumbed to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease that was eventually named for Gehrig after his death, is a classic.
“After school was out during the summer when I was 12 or 13, I would ride my bike to Shibe Park,” Jacobson reminisced. Shibe Park was where the National League Phillies and the American League Philadelphia Athletics both played their home games.
“I would wait for the players to get to the stadium and get their autographs as they were coming to and from the game. One day I was waiting outside, and Lou Gehrig, who had already retired due to his illness, was in Philadelphia for a Yankees game,” said Jacobson, his eyes opening wide.
“He was standing next to me, and a Western Union boy drove up on a bike and screeched to a sudden halt, startling everyone, including Gehrig, who tripped on the pavement and grabbed my arm, which stopped him from falling. He looked at me and said, ‘Kid, you saved my life,’” recalled Jacobson, as customers in the store leaned in to listen.
A 1948 Central High School graduate and team baseball player, he still keeps in touch with a group of Central High buddies from that era including Gerry Schultz, owner of The Antique Gallery in Chestnut Hill, who went on to play major league baseball for the New York Giants and who credits Jacobson for making it happen.
“It was because of Milt that I went on to play on a professional basis because of his inspiration and dedication to wanting me to succeed. He simply pushed me and he was and continues to be a sweetheart of a guy,” said Schultz.
After his high school graduation Jacobson went to play baseball for the San Angelo Colts in the Class D West Texas League, but was sent home after the summer due to stomach problems.
“My coach referred to me as ‘The Jew.’ ‘Stick The Jew in,’ he’d say. I brushed it off as I was just really happy to be playing and thankful that it got me into the Army league and kept me out of combat in the Korean War.”
Milt eventually tried out for the Washington Senators and New York Giants, but again, nerves got in the way. “In 1950, the Giants were playing the Phillies in Shibe Park. I was asked to take Giants Bobby Thomson’s place at third base during infield practice. I threw the ball wild and messed up and that was the end of the tryout,” he noted, while looking at a photo of him in a Giants uniform next to his father, Jacob Jacobson, a Russian Jew “whose religion was baseball.”
If Milt had had the patience to get a new permit, he would have named his store Milt’s Odyssey. However, after his retirement as a psychologist, he and his late wife ran The Glenside Children’s Store for 20 years. His beloved Merylyn, who was 13 years younger and supposed to take care of him in his old age, died of breast cancer in 2008. A Depression-era child and thrifty at heart, he decided not to get a new permit for the store but to simply take the “Children’s” reference out of the company name and open a collectibles store.
The store is filled with unique items like newspapers dating back to 1833 advertising a reward for the capture of runaway slaves, tea sets, baseball cards and sports memorabilia, silver, old-time toys, war items, autographs, comic books, advertising signs, watches, artwork and so much more. (Milt can be reached at 215-680-4193.)
CONTINUED NEXT WEEK