Deck the (South Philly) Walls With Neighbors – And So Much More!

Family responsibilities have kept us from blogging regularly this year,  but there’s one tradition we can’t abandon:   lighting up our South Philadelphia corner with smiling neighbors and their irresistible dogs.

So,  if you’re dining or playing near the restaurant-packed “Singing Fountain” between now and January 6,  check out our well-decked windows at East Passyunk Avenue and Tasker Street….

18_11_29 1 Neighbor Windows DC_0177We’ll keep the lights on for you ’til 2 a.m.

DECK  THE  WALLS

It all started  in 2013 when we sat in our third-floor kitchen,  waving to neighbors who couldn’t see us.

“Maybe we should put life-sized photos of ourselves in the windows to let people know we’re here,”  Kate joked.   “Then we wouldn’t feel like we’re spying on them.”

Within seconds,  it morphed into something bigger.

“Wow – what if we took photos of the neighbors and put them in the windows, too?   We could do it for the holidays!”

18_11_29 2 Dave Holiday Windows CM_3953Another family tradition:  Kate captures Dave’s best side as he lifts a photo into our windows.

And so,  15 months after moving to South Philadelphia,  we found ourselves explaining to people we barely knew why we wanted to photograph them.

Fortunately,  South Philadelphians have a sense of humor – even if they did roll their eyes after we left.

That first year, we signed up 26 neighbors,  4 dogs and a baby.  The baby moved on,  but – this being Passyunk Avenue – our dog population has grown….

17_12_01 3 Dog WindowsClockwise from top left:  Lucia,  Barney (twice),  Amelie,  Bella,  Milli and Maizy show off some favorite humans.

And after worrying that it’d be a total bust (you mean we need to clean our windows — and light them?),  we landed on the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer on Christmas Eve and a family tradition was born.

DON’T  MISS  THESE  HOLIDAY  STARS!

While you’re here,  don’t miss these truly fabulous displays that make South Philadelphia the city’s hottest holiday neighborhood:

  • 1600 block of South 13th Street,  between Tasker & Morris (2 blocks from us)

15_12_09-02-miracle-on-south-13th_9828Click here to read about the annual  “Miracle on 13th Street”.   (And,  yes,  they add new surprises each year!)

  • 2700 block of Smedley Street,  between 16th & 17 and Moyamensing & Oregon

2015_12_28-2-smedley-cm_0763The 2700 block of Smedley Street is always a traffic-stopper.   Click here to read our past post about it and Colorado Street.

  • 2700 block of Colorado Street,  between 17th & 18 and Moyamensing & Oregon

2015_12_28-6-colorado-cm_0797

Leave time to explore the whole area between Oregon,  Moyamensing,  16th & 18th Streets,  where you’ll literally find hundreds of homes and front windows festooned for the holidays,  each grander than the last.

GREETINGS  FROM  KATE  &  DAVE

Although we’re not posting as frequently,  we still have fun planned for the new year:   Kate is wrapping up her research on that great 1960s South Philadelphia photo album before handing it over to Temple University’s Urban Archives….

18_11_29 3 Fabian“Oh, wait – isn’t that….?”  Check out the 1960s album photos here on our website and read the stories behind them in this group of blog posts.

And we plan to unveil another improbable Philadelphia Dumpster Diver house tour this spring — this time featuring our own South Philly home….

18_11_29 4 Kitchen Ceiling Stars CM_8850We are definitely in a pre-home-tour improvement panic,  plastering stars on our kitchen ceiling and constructing a valence of toy cars and postcards for the living room.

AND,  YES,  MOM  WAS  RIGHT

To quote Kate’s mom, “You two always did have more guts than brains…!”

18_11_29 5 Catherine MellinaCatherine Mellina – 1922-2018  (Miss you, mom!)

Happy holidays to all!

Kate & Dave

 

The Great Photo Album Adventure (Part 13): Who Are We?

If you’ve followed the story on our blog,  you know that a friend gave us a fabulous housewarming gift:  a 12-pound photo album from the 1960s,  packed with images from nightspots in and around South Philadelphia.

You also know that we’ve been on a grand hunt to identify the hundreds of entertainers,  sports figures,  business people,  politicians and  “just plain folks” cavorting on its pages, with the goal of donating them to Temple University’s Urban Archives for safe-keeping.

WHO  ARE  THEY?

The photos were collected by South Philadelphia newspaper columnist Arthur Tavani, and many are already on our website,  along with whatever identifications we have.  

In September,  2015,  we added our  first section of “Who Are We?” photos,  asking for help in identifying the many unknown women in them.   Today,  we published 27 new photos on our website,  all showing at least one person we can’t identify.

Some photos include famous Philadelphians….

17_02_02-1-197-waw2-al-martinoYes,  that’s South Philadelphia singer Al Martino second from right,  with columnist Art Tavani (far left) and Philadelphia council president Paul D’Ortona (far right).   But who’s the man with the flower in his lapel?

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Holiday Windows Are Back – & Don’t Miss These Other South Philly Displays!

They’re back!  This evening,  we lit our 27 holiday windows with portraits of the many great neighbors,  shop owners,  and dogs  (lots of dogs…)  we’ve met since moving to South Philadelphia in 2012.

So,  if you’re dining or playing near the  “Singing Fountain”  between now and New Year’s Day,  we hope you’ll check out our windows at East Passyunk Avenue and Tasker Street.

16_09_27-12-neighbor-windows-dc_6507
Our first holiday display in December, 2013.

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Flip the Script (Part 11): And So This Is….Thanksgiving

It’s been two weeks since the presidential election,  and we’d like to thank the more than two dozen artists,  writers,  and performers who offered words of pre-election encouragement from our South Philadelphia windows….

16_10_21-1-vote-tasker-side-dc_8280Click here to learn about the 28 inspiring Philadelphia artists who spent the pre-election month smiling  from our windows.

…and the hundreds more warm-hearted souls who let us photograph them for our blog….

composite-photoClick here to scroll backwards through all 11 of our pre-election posts,  starting with this one.

HOW  IT  ALL  BEGAN….

We dreamed up our non-partisan photo project this summer,  during a depressing campaign week that painted America as a failed experiment — with a candidate who somehow made it okay to overlook insults against minorities,  women,  the disabled,  the armed forces,  prisoners of war,  our allies – seemingly against basic human kindness itself.

And we did our best to put aside our own political leanings to remind people  (including ourselves)  of the goodness that built our country and the goodness we can still create together.

…AND  MOVING  FORWARD

But healing is largely missing from the holiday menu this year:  No one could have predicted that the candidate with almost three million more votes would be declared the loser,  and that the Ku Klux Klan would be planning a public victory parade – or that the election results would be hailed with racist graffiti and taunts against children and adults in cities all around America,  including our own.

This Thanksgiving  will be an especially hard one,  with families split along ideological lines and feelings so raw.

So where do we start?   There’s only one clear path….

16_10_28-270-tahi-nahl-neil-benson

BRINGING  IT  ALL  BACK  HOME

And so this Thanksgiving – when radio stations all over the country traditionally play “Alice’s Restaurant”,  that rambling folk ballad – what better musician to quote than self-described “folkslinger”  Arlo Guthrie,  in a fun-but-true riff built off a comment by fellow musician Pete Seeger:

 “If the world was perfect and everybody had money,

everybody drove a BMW,  nobody was homeless,  nobody ever got sick,

everybody was smart and…happy all the time,

you’d have to go an awful long way out of your way

to make a difference in this world.  

You’d have to do a whole hell of a lot to improve the way it was.

“But in a world that sucks,  like this one,

you don’t have to do very much at all.

 ♦

“There was never a time in the history of the world

where you could do so little and get so much done.”

16_11_24-arlo-guthrie-alices-restaurant-tour-dc_4575
Amazing Grace”:  Check out Arlo Guthrie’s fun,  inspiring,  and always rambling riff here on YouTube .

Time to get moving again….!

make-america-kind-againAnd,  yes,  we’ve been handing out dozens of these pins,  available at Via Delia,  to make ourselves feel better.   Sometimes,  you just have to get back in the game.

Happy Thanksgiving to all,

Kate & Dave

Flip the Script (Part 10): Nov. 8 Is Here, & It’s Now or Never

Well,  it’s come down to this….and there’s no do-overs after Election Day….

16_10_02-4-passyunk-windows-cm_5590Corny perhaps, but indubitably true:  Click here to learn more about these smiling faces in our South Philly windows – and about the hundreds more big-hearted Philadelphians we’ve photographed for our blog this month.

And,  yeah,  it’s easy to say that both major candidates are flawed,  and you don’t want to vote for either of them.  But their agendas are polar opposites,  and one of them will be elected this week.

And you  – and all the other smiling faces on our blog – will be living with the consequences for years to come.

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Flip the Script (Part 9): 48 More Ways to Beat That Pre-Election Stress

Over the past four weeks,  we’ve photographed scores of optimistic Philadelphians in our home studio,  as part of our pre-election,  anti-angst photo campaign…

16_10_25-01-vote-corner-view-dc_0137Click here to learn more about the smiling artists in our windows at E. Passyunk Avenue & Tasker Street – and our quest to show hundreds more upbeat Philadelphians on our blog.

ON  THE  STREET  WHERE  WE  LIVE…

Today we’ll stroll our South Philadelphia neighborhood to introduce you to just a handful of the equally upbeat business people and customers we’ve met during our four years here….

Metro Mens Clothing,  Halo Hair

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Flip the Script (Part 8): Our VOTE Windows on ABC’s Nightline & philly.com!

They say that a bad day is when you wake up and find a  60 Minutes  crew on your lawn.

Fortunately,  the same didn’t hold true for  ABC’s Nightline  last week.

16_11_4-3-nightline-kate-dc_5307_No warrants in sight:   Kate (second from left) with Nightline’s Ignacio Torres,  Jasmine Brown and Dan Harris.

STRESS?  WHAT  STRESS??

Nightline co-anchor Dan Harris and segment producers Jasmine Brown  (the lead producer that day)  and Ignacio Torres were in town to gauge the pre-election stress level in our hotly contested swing state.   (Hint:  Think high – very high.)

They also offered relief in the form of a daringly co-ed  (i.e., mixed Democrat and Republican)  meditation session.

In between,  they talked to us about our upbeat South Philadelphia window display….

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