The Great Photo Album Adventure (Part 12): South Phila. Movers & Shakers

This past year,  we’ve told you the continuing story of a magical 1960s photo album compiled by South Philadelphia nightlife writer and photographer Arthur Tavani.

And we’ve shared dozens of Art’s celebrity photos on our Unexpected Philadelphia website.


Today,  we’re publishing a new set of images showing mid-century business owners and government officials from right here in the neighborhood – and we need your help identifying everyone.

16_07_30 1 060 Verna Trombetta EspositoArt Tavani shakes hands with local photographer Carl Verna.  Mildred Trombetta was the editor and publisher of the South Philadelphia American newspaper,  for which Art was a columnist.  Louis Esposito  (right)  still reigns as a second-generation owner of Esposito’s Meats in the Italian Market.


If Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods,  then South Philly is its beating heart,  with close-knit generations sharing family vocations as lawyers,  barbers,  funeral directors,  realtors,  butchers,  cheese-makers,  restaurant owners,  and elected officials.

And many of those people – or their parents or grandparents – appear in Art’s album.

16_07_30 2 192 - Master BarbersThe Penna. League of Master Barbers gathers at Palumbo’s: Guests include city council president Paul D’Ortona  (seated second from right in back),  Master Barbers president John Monachelli  (standing second from left)  and Judge Adrian Bonnelly  (standing far right).


We’ve now shown Art’s album to hundreds of people,  ranging from singer Bobby Rydell and Palumbo’s band leader Carmen Dee,  to celebrity haircutter “John the Barber” Valente and members of the South Philadelphia Older Adult Center,  to the children of comedians Phil Jaye,  Lou Marks,  and Donny “Day” DeGaetano.

And they’ve helped us identify scores of album subjects.

Some are familiar faces,  like Philadelphia District Attorney and future Senator Arlen Spector, or basketball star and City Controller Tom Gola….

16_07_30 3 172 Coppolino Specter GolaArt Tavani  (front left)  cuts-up with Tom Gola (right).  That’s future city judge Matthew Coppolino and Arlen Spector in back.

Others,  like attorney and future judge Genevieve Blatt,  took a bit more digging….

16_07_30 4 044 Mirarchi Blatt Della PortaHere comes the judge(s):  Art Tavani stands between future Philadelphia judges Charles P. Mirarchi, Jr. and Genevieve Blatt. That’s Assistant District Attorney Armand Della Porta at right,  whose namesake son also practices law.


But we have many more album subjects to identify…

16_07_30 5 113 Trombetta DeFino Anna VernaFuture judge Anthony DeFino  (standing center)  introduces Art Tavani at his Palumbo’s testimonial dinner.  Newspaper publisher Mildred Trombetta is at the head table  (left).  The woman in the white oval is likely future city council president Anna Verna.   Who else is here?

And – a half century after the photos were taken – people sometimes warn us that their memories may be  a bit shaky…

16_07_30 6 058 Turchi Verna SammartinoWrestler Bruno Sammartino at Palumbo’s:  The man at left has tentatively been identified as Italian-American advocate Anthony DiProspero.  Next is funeral director Severino Verna,  realtor John Turchi,  Sammartino,  Art Tavani,  an unknown man,  and either Judge Adrian Bonnelly or Vincent Capitolo.


Our goal is to donate Art’s album to Temple University’s Urban Archives so this unique record of South Philadelphia’s cultural history won’t be lost.

But first,  we want to ensure our identifications are as accurate as we can make them.

16_07_30 7 098 Palumbo BiagiJohn Joseph Palumbo (left),  publisher of the Philadelphia Exclusive newspaper,  peruses the March,  1965 issue of Movie Secrets magazine with  (from left)  an unknown man,  Ernest Biagi (tentative ID) and Art.  Biagi was a Sons of Italy official and the author of several books about Italian-Americans.

 Which is why we need your help.


Do you recognize anyone in our new South Philadelphia business and government photo section,  or in our previous photo sections,  who we haven’t yet identified?  (And,  yes,  you can click on any thumbnail photo to scroll through much larger versions of all the photos in that section.  You will also see a caption below each photo if you are on a non-mobile device like a laptop or PC.)

If you recognize anyone,  please send us an email with a contact phone number.   We’d love to hear from you.

16_07_30 8 138 J&A Catering

Standing from left at Broad Street’s J&A Catering:  funeral director Severino Verna,  unknown woman,  Joseph Tavani  (Art’s brother),  unknown man,  attorney Anthony Minicozzi,  Art Tavani,  attorney Robert Arangio,  two unknown women and an unknown man,  attorney Charles Mirarchi,  Jr.  Seated are Mary Jo Christinzio  (now DeFino)  and Connie Greco.

And please let us know if you spot any errors,  so we can fix them…

Thanks and enjoy!

Kate & Dave





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