The Great Photo Album Adventure (Part 1)

Sometimes the biggest adventures are the ones you don’t see coming….

It was April, 2012 and we had just moved into our South Philly home, which meant we could barely find the bed, let alone the sheets, and we needed a trapeze to navigate the shoulder-high boxes.

After three frustrating days and many tears (some of them Kate’s), we finally did the sensible thing:  We ran away to the Columbus (NJ) flea market.  At least if we bought junk there, we’d be able to find it.

But when we hooked up with our  friend Jerry at the Bagel Bums booth, he announced that he had a housewarming gift waiting in his trunk.  Jerry (not his real name; we’ll get our revenge later….) has a wild sense of humor, so we followed him through the parking lot with more than a little trepidation.


What could it be?  A Mayor Rizzo bobblehead doll?  A second-hand Eagles beanbag chair?  But when he threw open the trunk, we saw…..well, something we couldn’t quite identify:

Arthur Tavani Album

“Wow,” I said, “I’ve always wanted one of those…”

“Pick it up!” he told us, and that’s when we realized it was an old three-ring binder covered with wood-grain Contact paper (pure ‘60s nostalgia!), stuffed with photos….and it weighed a full 12 pounds.

Jerry had gotten it from a flea market dealer who had bought it at an auction.  Flipping through, we saw dozens of 1960s celebrities like Tony Bennett, Bob Hope, Al Martino,….

Tony Bennett, Bob Hope, Al Martino

….Bobby Rydell, Fabian, Liberace and Johnny Mathis.  We also saw hundreds more people we couldn’t identify….

Al Alberts & Unknown

(And, yes, that turned out to be Philadelphia’s own Al Alberts on the far left, underneath that awesome pompadour).

“Uhm, great!” we told Jerry.  “But who’s the shorter man in every photo?”….

Al Alberts & Arthur Tavani

“I have no idea,” he said.  “He probably owned the album.  But look:  One of these photos says Passyunk Avenue on the back.  I knew that was your street, so these photos were probably taken in South Philadelphia.”

“Do you know anything else about it?”

“Not really – but I thought you’d have fun identifying everyone.”

Suddenly, the idea of a fuzzy, used, and possibly bedbug-infested Eagles bean bag chair looked pretty appealing.

“Great!  I’ll take a look as soon as we unpack….!”

And so the mystery album sat untouched for almost a year on an office shelf.

(To be continued.   Click here for Part 2 of our story, or here to look inside the mystery album.)