Meet Our South Philly Heroes (Part 2)

In our last two posts, we told you about our uplifting new holiday windows, featuring 27 South Philadelphia Essential Workers (click here to read more about the project). We also introduced you to a dozen of our glowing subjects (meet them here).

The new view from our corner at East Passyunk Avenue and Tasker Street in South Philly, with windows lit from 4:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. daily through January 10.

Today,  we’ll introduce you to the remaining 15 local heroes lighting up East Passyunk Avenue’s popular “Singing Fountain” plaza.


Some you undoubtedly know from local restaurants and shops….

Heather was our longtime favorite server at Cantina Los Caballitos, while Jesus can be found delivering takeout orders from P’unk Burger.

Others are in the public service sector….

Still making house calls is Philadelphia Gas Works’ repairman Fnu. (And, yes, like all our conscientious subjects, Fnu donned his mask as soon as we snapped his socially distanced photo.)

Read on to meet them all….


Dean is the popular manager of Acme’s wine and beer department. He’s also a martial arts aficionado who is working towards his online organizational leadership and management degree from Southern New Hampshire University.
Scott is a 13-year Acme employee and South Philadelphia native who can most often be found helping customers in the self-service lanes.
Tom is the third-generation owner of Bertolino’s Pharmacy. He started running deliveries there when he was only 8 or 9 years old, and has been the store pharmacist since 1987.
Heather is the owner of two Halo Hair salons who sacrificed profits (and delayed the grand opening of her new Old City shop) for our safety during the long spring COVID-19 lockdown. She is a bike rider, dog owner, and punk rock bass player.
Eric is a CVS supervisor and has been a welcoming presence there for 17 years. You may also recognize this East Passyunk area native from his waiter gig at Broad Street’s Ristorante Pesto.


Shane is a Bing Bing server (and former Black ‘n Brew counter man) with a goal of making customers’ lives as normal as possible in these scary COVID-19 days. He enjoys kicking back with his family and pup in his spare time.
Nate is a Noord restaurant sous chef and Dallas native with a saucy alter ego as the drag queen Hyde Eclair.
David is the Tamalex restaurant owner who partnered with his brother-in-law Alejandro to donate 165 free food packs to Latino families in the early days of the COVID-19 shutdown. He then joined forces with several other South Philadelphia businesses to give away hundreds more food bags.
Heather is a longtime popular server at Cantina Los Caballitos who recently transitioned to her dream jobs of costuming and theater work. She performs drag as Grampy Knockers.
Jesus is the always reliable P’unk Burger bicycle delivery person. A native Californian, his hobbies including bike riding (surprise!) and music.


Steve is a 27-year U.S. Postal Service letter carrier, working against tough odds this year to deliver mail along with our full 19147 and 19148 post office staffs. (And yes, Jason, we’re looking at you, too….!)
Paul has racked up 30 years as an always-dependable Philadelphia Inquirer delivery man. He enjoys cooking and life in South Philly “with so many things to offer”.
Fnu is a cheerful Philadelphia Gas Works in-home repairman whose COVID-19 pastimes include biking around the Navy Yard.


Of course, there’s one more vital link in our neighborhood’s Essential Worker chain and that’s, well…the rest of us.

Nissa & Devin are our newest East Passyunk neighbors, who always keep their masks on to protect us and all these Essential Workers. Nissa is a social worker who loves puppeteering, reading sci-fi and speculative fiction, and biking the city. Devin loves computer programming, making music, playing with synthesizers, and watching cartoons.


Needless to say, our holiday windows barely scratch the surface of the thousands of selfless Philadelphians who have put themselves on the line for us this year in both medical and non-medical roles….

….or the many beloved service and restaurant people who continue to lose their livelihoods due to the pandemic.

We owe them all a debt of gratitude and honor this season.

Happy (safe) holidays!

Kate & Dave

Meet Our South Philly Heroes (Part 1)

In our last post, we told you about our new and inspiring South Philadelphia holiday windows, featuring 27 non-medical Essential Workers who are courageously risking their health for us in this COVID-19 world – everyone from local pharmacy and grocery employees, to restaurant staff, to sanitation workers.

The Tasker Street view, lit nightly from 4:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.

You’ll find them smiling from our windows through January 10 on the corner of East Passyunk Avenue and Tasker Street, across from the iconic “Singing Fountain”. 


Starting today, and continuing in our next post, we’ll introduce you to these South Philly heroes who daily put themselves on the line.  Some you can’t miss as they roll down the avenue…

Stepping out from behind their masks for a quick photo: Captain Brian (in truck) and firefighters Jason, Brendan and Matt from the Philadelphia Fire Department’s Engine 10 station.

Others, like Adam Leiter, executive director of the East Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District, are working miracles behind the scenes. Adam’s keeping local businesses apprised of COVID-19 regulations and opportunities — and promoting a wide variety of socially distanced events for Avenue fans. (Click here for the latest list.)

Adam takes a rare break to pose for our windows.


So read on to meet the first dozen Essential Workers whose images appear in our 2020 holiday windows….


Tyrone is a city sanitation truck driver who overcame daunting odds this summer to keep our trash pick-up timely with crew mates Drissa and Ransell (below). He’s also a personal trainer and a former collegiate basketball player.
Drissa is a hard-working, 14-year city Sanitation Division worker who enjoys watching and playing soccer.
Ransell is another member of our neighborhood’s crack sanitation team. A West Philly resident, he is also a mechanic and creates custom jewelry.


Jason is a four-year firefighter with the Philadelphia Fire Department’s Engine 10 who enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with family, and watching movies with his girlfriend.
Matt has served two years as a PFD Engine 10 firefighter. His interests include working out, cooking and skiing.
Officer Jim, our always helpful avenue bicycle officer since 2018, has been a member of the Philadelphia Police Department since 2003. He’s a father of two and a native Philadelphian.


Ed is a Philly native and a 26-year SEPTA bus operator. You can catch him on the 45 line running along 11th and 12th Streets.
Deneen has been a SEPTA employee for 31 years – 28 of them as a Broad Street subway line operator. Her not-so-secret collecting passion? Shoes!
Otis has been a SEPTA bus operator for 10 years on routes including the local 29 line that runs along Tasker and Morris Streets. He’s a native Philadelphian who enjoys deejaying in his spare time.


Adam is the executive director of the East Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District, and is the hard-working hero who’s kept local businesses informed of COVID-19 rules and opportunities. When not on the job, he enjoys spending time with family, cycling, skiing, and the local music scene.
Leroy is a member of the Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corp. (PARC) team that daily cleans and maintains our local commercial corridor. Energetic and fun, his pastimes include football (Fly Eagles!) and working out.
John is another dedicated PARC team member who makes our avenue sparkle. He enjoys basketball and cooking in his spare time.


In our next post, we’ll profile the remaining 15 Essential Workers who are gracing our holiday windows.  In the meantime, please do your part to help them and the many other courageous souls who are selflessly helping us:  Pull up those masks!

John and Leroy at East Passyunk Avenue’s “Singing Fountain”


Kate & Dave (Click here to meet more of our South Philly heroes)

Deck the Walls With South Philly Heroes!

Several years ago, we started an improbable (even to us) holiday tradition by filling our 27 windows with lighted photos of South Philadelphia neighbors and merchants. 

Home for the holidays at East Passyunk Avenue & Tasker Street — but definitely not alone!

And this being South Philly,  everyone brought their dogs – lots and lots of dogs….

A half-dozen enchanting subjects show off their favorite humans.


This spring,  COVID-19 tore a hole in the familiar workings of our East Passyunk neighborhood. But while we safely cocooned at home,  we couldn’t stop thinking about the Essential Workers who courageously kept us going.

Some – like grocery and pharmacy staff,  sanitation and utility workers,  bus and delivery drivers,  mail carriers and firefighters – put their health on the line simply by showing up for work.

Tom Bertolino has been on the front lines of S. Philly’s pandemic response as the pharmacist and third-generation owner of Bertolino’s Pharmacy.

Others – at restaurants, salons and gyms – took major financial hits by closing their doors for months or opening them at limited capacity. Heather Garden was only days away from the grand opening of her second Halo Hair salon when pandemic restrictions shuttered salons throughout the state.

Halo Hair is back open in East Passyunk and Old City with new COVID-19 protections. (And, yes, that’s Dave sliding in for a quick shot of Heather touching up Kate’s natural blue highlights.)


This summer,  we decided to photograph a cross-section of South Philly’s non-medical heroes.  Some – including bike officer Jim,  CVS manager Eric,  and Acme manager Dean – we’d already met.

Others – like our local trash collection crew and SEPTA drivers – had kept our lives humming for years,  even if we didn’t know their names. 


And,  yes,  we went out of our way to keep them safe,  photographing them from afar and having them remove their masks only for the seconds it took to snap their smiling faces.

Three of 2020’s hardest-working (and most essential) local workers: Tyrone, Drissa and Ransell from the Streets Dept.’s Sanitation Division.

On Thanksgiving eve,  we proudly lit their photos in our annual holiday windows….

David Piña of Tamalex was among the many Passyunk area restaurant owners who donated free food to needy residents during the pandemic shutdown.


Need some inspiration?  You can visit our holiday heroes at East Passyunk Avenue and Tasker Street, across from South Philadelphia’s “Singing Fountain”.   They’ll be smiling there through January 10,  lit daily from 4:30 pm ’til 2:30 a.m.

As always, we’ve posted a sign on our corner door telling you who everyone is – and how they spend their spare time (everything from deejaying to shoe collecting!) when they’re not working for all of us.


Can’t visit in person?  Check out our next two blog posts to read about all 27 of our glowing window subjects.

In the meantime, tie on those masks,  stand 6 feet apart,  and wash those hands for 20 seconds when you get back home.  We want to see you  (and them!)  around the fountain for many holidays to come.

Nissa and Devin, our newest neighbors, always mask up in public. (And, yes, someday we hope to see what they actually look like!)


Kate & Dave (Click here to see our next Essential Worker blog post!)

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time….

“You will do foolish things,  but do them with enthusiasm.”   Colette

After four years of postponing outside repairs on our South Philadelphia home,  we finally decided to bite the proverbial paintbrush.

Not because the building desperately needed painting,  but because our metal bump-out windows had so many leaks that birds were nesting inside….

16_09_27-1-linn-street-before-dc_6305“Besides,  I am so over this green and tan color scheme….”


So this summer,  we dug into our piggy bank and hired Mexcon,  the  cheerful, talented, and very popular local cooperative that has helped us with everything from kitchen cabinets to sidewalk repair…

16_09_27-2-linn-scaffolding-cm_3860Heaven bless those Mexcon guys,  who spent endless days in the 90-degree heat sanding and repairing our vintage bay windows

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