The Great Photo Album Adventure (Part 2)

Kate continues the story….  (Click here for Part 1.)

It was January, 2013. Our 8,001 moving boxes had been emptied and recycled, and our new walls were painted — sometimes three or four different times.  And, yes, we could have easily opened a used-paint store from our kitchen colors alone….

15_6_23 1 Kitchen

Finally, there was no use delaying it:  It was time to open the 1960s  mystery photo album.

Arthur Tavani Album

It was certainly no ordinary album: There were 200 photos of singers, actors, comedians, athletes, and people who just looked famous.  There were judges, politicians, and packed banquet halls.

And almost every photo included this man…..

15_6_23 2 Tavani

Who was he?  How did he meet all those people? And where did he get those fabulous suits…?


Sadly, only four or five photos were actually labeled. But there were hints that even I couldn’t miss, like the photos showing a testimonial dinner honoring our Mystery Man:

15_6_23 3 Tavani Banquet

Art Tavani!  Finally I had a name!  Excited, I ran outside to the “singing fountain” where my South Philadelphia neighbors gather.

“Does anyone know Art Tavani?” I asked, showing them the photos.

“No,” said Frank from around the corner, “but those banquet photos were taken at Palumbo’s.”

“What’s Palumbo’s?” I asked — and the next sound I heard was my credibility hitting the concrete.  (And, yes, I’ve since become intimately familiar with Palumbo’s, the CR Club, the Venus Lounge, Sciolla’s Supper Club, and other legendary ’60s nightspots.)


Soon I found more clues:  Several photos had the words South Phila. American – a long-gone neighborhood newspaper – scrawled on the back.  Could Art have been a journalist?

15_6_23 4 Ravell

(Art Tavani interviews dancers Nick and Claire Ravell at Palumbo’s)

Others were stamped with his name, along with the words Philadelphia Exclusive (another South Philadelphia newspaper) and an address near Ninth and Federal Streets.

“Come on, Dave, we’re taking a walk – maybe somebody there will remember that newspaper!”

The address turned out to be row house.

“Do you think Art Tavani lived here?”

“Art Tavani?” said a passing dog-walker, exactly on cue.  “That’s his family’s house.  His sister Virginia still lives there.  She’s probably home.  Why don’t you knock?”

To be continued….  (Click here for Part 3.)