Philadelphia RowHome Magazine Fall 2021

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Home for the Holidays

Tony “Papa Luke” Lucidonio Founder, 1992

39 East Oregon Avenue Philadelphia, PA 215.551.5725 Get the real taste of South Philly online:

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18_ LIFE

Yo South Philly! “Phestivals” are back!


Miracle for Mia Hope by Maria Merlino


58_ MENU





Sisters on a Mission by Pat Ciarrocchi

Historic Homes Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion 200 W Tulpehocken Street

Home for the Holidays Stop & Shop at our Local Spots!

Pumpkin Ricotta Fritters courtesy of John Nacchio


Makeup Giveaway from Bella Angel Enter to win!


Fashions fit for a Queen Designer Kenny Bonavitacola reflects on his custom couture for Aretha Franklin by John Nacchio



FABSCRAP Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Re-think by Geno Thackara



Phil ly





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John J. Dougherty Business Manager IBEW Local 98


The World Needs Your Light






These Boots are made for walkin!

10_ NEIGHBORHOOD NOIR January 1954. Jerry Blavat dances around the living room at 1534 McKean Street at age 13.

Parking Lot Protocol Courtesy of Ron Rabena Chief Client Officer, Allied Universal

12_ HANGIN’ OUT PRH writer Larry Gallone is hangin’ out with Ray Didinger at a book signing for his latest book - Finished Business

16_ ROWHOME REMEMBERS Things We Forgot by Tony Santini

54_ THE MENU The perfect Pot Roast courtesy of Lombardi’s Prime Meats

64_ BRIDES GUIDE John & Nicole Brennan A dream come true at Water Works by Joe Volpe

26_ HEALTH Chef MJ’s Corner Brent Celek: Life after Football by Chef Mitzi Jackson



73_ MUSIC & ARTS Philly 45s “When Will I See You Again” by The Three Degrees by Geno Thackara

96_ PRESSED Sweep your Stress Away by Dorette Rota Jackson




ON THE COVER ||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||


PRH Holiday Gift Guide 2021! Home for the Holidays

Go Home Philly! Stop & Shop at our Local Spots! There’s no finer gift than something from a neighborhood business! Now more than ever, shop LOCAL this holiday Season! See Page 48.


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Family owned & operated since 2004 Mission Statement Our mission is to preserve the traditions, showcase the neighborhoods and promote the local businesses that strengthen the economy and improve the quaility of life for all of us. PRESIDENT | PUBLISHER


Dawn Rhoades EDITOR






Joseph Volpe

Northeast Cardiology Consultants, Inc.


Nazareth Hospital - Physicians Office Building 2701 Holme Avenue, Suite 105 Philadelphia, PA 19152

(215) 335 -4944




Andrew Andreozzi Phil Kramer Maria Merlino ACCOUNT MANAGER


Michael Rhoades CONTRIBUTORS Mark Casasanto Santina Pescatore David Cava Lou Pinto Joei DeCarlo Michael Rhoades Frank DePasquale Jr., Esq Marialena Rago Victoria DiPietro Jane Roser Larry Gallone Jade Rota Brett Jackson Debbie Russino Matt Kelchner Charles Sacchetti Maria Merlino Anthony Santini John Nacchio Geno Thackara Vincent R. Novello, Jr. Dominique Verrecchio Stephen Pagano Robert “Woody” Woodard Anthony Panvini Published by Philadelphia RowHome Inc. P.O. Box 54786, Philadelphia, PA 19148 Phone – 215.462.9777 | Fax – 215.462.9770 | Philadelphia RowHome (PRH) Magazine and its contents are copyrighted. Content printed in the magazine may not be reproduced or reprinted, in whole or in part, by any other party without the expressed written consent of Philadelphia RowHome Magazine. 2021 Philadelphia RowHome Inc. All Rights Reserved. Printed in the USA. Published by Philadelphia RowHome Inc.

October / November / December 2021




pa· tron· ize| ˈpātrəˌnīz, ˈpatrəˌnīz | verb frequent (a store, theater, restaurant, or other establishment) as a customer While you’re making your list and checking it twice, make sure it includes the names of our local businesses as the go-to spot for all those holiday gifts! PRH loves our locals! Those familiar faces that have been serving us for generations. From the coffee shops that brew our first cup of the day to the bakers, chefs, florists, and butchers that cater to our every need. They cook for us, clean for us, watch our children, starch our shirts, and keep our closets full of fine fashions. They deliver our furniture, install our carpets, sell our homes, and fix our cars. They are the main reasons why our region has remained as strong as it has been since row homes first lined the streets.


If it’s been a while since you’ve taken a walk through the neighborhood, do yourself a favor. Park your car and take to the streets! Stop and shop in one of many local boutiques, specialty shops, jewelry stores and salons that we have all come to know and love. Buy a gift certificate from some of the finest restaurants in the country! Whatever you need, buy your gifts from a local business. The perfect present is waiting for you at local spots on these streets where we live! Our network of advertisers is strong and spans the region. From Philadelphia to the Jersey Shore. In this season of giving, let’s start with kindness. Shop local! Are you ready, boots? Start walkin’!

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photo by ANDREW ANDREOZZI photography

from the PUBLISHERS Dorette & Dawn River to River. One Neighborhood.



Exceptionally Built. Eternity of Beauty.

RowHome continues to do what they do best. It’s one resource that teaches with class - whether it is a story about family traditions, recipes shared from generation to generation, or accomplishments made by our fellow neighbors. Philadelphia RowHome Magazine never disappoints! Nicole Montecalvo


1721 E. Passyunk Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19148 215.551.9070


John Nacchio’s piece on Sinatra [a review of the book Sinatra and Me: In the Wee Small Hours by Tony Oppedisano and Mary Jane Ross] was phenomenal. He’s my favorite! My dad followed him everywhere. He had his picture taken with Sinatra and every Sunday, the 33s were on the stereo while my mom was making gravy and meatballs. I know every song and everything about Frank. Thank you, Tony, and Mary Jane. My dad passed away when I was nine (he was 37). This book brings back memories and that’s why I know all about Frank Sinatra...because of my dad. Linda Ricciardi


It was a great pleasure meeting you at the [Blue Sapphire’s photo shoot last year]. The articles you did for these entertainers were “bio big” and “photo fab!” Congratulations to you both and your staff, for the continued success of RowHome Magazine. Kenny [Jeremiah] and I had a great time spending that afternoon with you all. My very best to you. Donna DiToro Conte


I was raised in South Philly, went to St. Monica’s and SP High (1979). 19th and Ritner was my neighborhood. I missed my cheesesteaks and hoagies so much that I opened Philly Sandwich Co. in Hagerstown, Maryland, in 2019. I have your magazine in my shop and show it to everyone. Love it! Christopher Marquez

Paul Stolfo, Director • Marianne Stolfo, Director

The Tradition Continues the Fourth Generation

The Stolfo

Funeral Home Where Everyone is Treated Like Family 2536 So. Broad Street • Philadelphia, PA 19145 215.334.7376 8

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

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Paid for by Daniel Peliciotti. Approved by Lou Barletta for Governor.

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1. P RH’s On the Corner Mark backstage at The American Music Theater with Philly Native Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys before a recent concert celebrating the 40th anniversary of the iconic song, “Elvira.”



2. J oAnn Vacca & friends hang out at Jerry Longo’s Meatballs & Martinis at Bally’s AC. 3. K ait hangs out at the Skógafoss waterfall in Iceland. 4. V entnor Square Movie Theater with Denise LaRosa & Company. 5. P RH writer Larry Gallone is hangin’ out with Ray Didinger at a book signing for Ray’s latest book - Finished Business. 6. L aura Galdo-Sessa, Kim Lawson & Mia Abbruzzi hang out at a Miracle for Mia (Andrilla) fundraiser. See more pics from this event in our health section.


7. S andy Hall, founder of Philadelphia’s Kick It Out - A Tribute to Heart band, celebrates her win for Artist of the Year in Rock from The Josie Awards. 8. H angin’ Out with childhood friends during an impromptu reunion on Smedley Street! Lisa DiFlorio Davis, Dawn Retallick Rhoades, Anthony Tarducci, Danielle Rocco DiNapoli & Nancy Hinkie with a guest appearance from Elle Rhoades! 9. B renda, Teri-Ann, Amanda & Meg hang out in Gettysburg. 10. Nancy Hinkie & Rob Fanelli catch Retro Live at the Trio Tavern. 11. Coraline is ready for her first day of first grade!

12. On the Corner Mark & Edward Aponte from Imperial Events Security Services hang out backstage with Country Music star Lily Rose at Citadel Country Spirit USA. 13. Denise & Danny Vanore (The Business) are hangin’ out in Wildwood for summer vacation. 14. Jane, Anne, Becky & Brenda hang out the Patsy Cline Historic House in Winchester, VA. 15. Jeanne & Tom Polizzi celebrate their 20th anniversary in Aruba. 16. Pat Ciarrocchi & RowHome photographer Andrew Andreozzi hang out with Sr. Jeannette Lucey & Sr. Constance Touey at St. Matthew’s School in NE Philly. 17. D ahlia Wacker gets her bedroom ready for Halloween! 18. Joseph Grimes celebrates his birthday at Popi’s Restaurant with Jerry Blavat & Kimberly Sachse. 19. The “F4L” crew kids hang out on the peach farm! 20. Jane Roser hangs out in the Back to the Future DeLorean at DC’s AwesomeCon. 21. A great afternoon of “Celebrating Casasantos” with big sister and little brothers all together again in the same city after five years and joined by nieces and nephews. 22. Vacca family celebrating at Atlantis in the Bahamas! 23. The Costello family - Ed, Lisa, Kristen, Eddie & Elena - are hangin’ out in Wildwood for a vacation getaway with Lucia in the driver’s seat!

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sking me if I have a favorite movie is like asking me if yellow M&Ms taste any different than green ones? Do people even go to the movies anymore? Is that still a thing? These days, going to the movies is nothing more than an expensive ticket to take a two-hour nap. And of course, piss off your date. But I guess if I could relive my glory days and maybe launch a few Milk Duds at unsuspecting lovers in the night, that would be something…right? I can recall taking either of my children to a movie only twice. Considering I had a serious head injury in the year 2000, no doubt there’s a few I may have forgotten. I recall a Star Wars prequel or sequel with something called a Jar Jar Binks that I honestly thought was a coin bank. And an early version of Harry Potter. And that was only because I had some history with Albus Dumbeldore when he was still simply known as King Arthur. I’m sorry, I meant Richard Harris. Go ahead, you can say it, “Wow, what a bad dad!” Truthfully, though, that was another father’s task for our circle of friends. I was the sports dad - Coach Mark. I’d drive a vanload of kids anywhere, anytime, if it involved winning and sometimes losing, but pizza afterward. Even though I spent a couple years coaching baseball while my

children grew up, collectively, we were a soccer family. Two coaches, two players. In fact, being a former Philadelphia Phillies employee for 15 years, surprisingly, baseball is the least favorite of my sports indulgences. It’s way too long and dreadfully boring. They don’t play in the rain, either. I signed on for a temporary gig late last summer to make a few dineros to pay off a west coast trip I planned for the fall. Since I work in the event planning industry, I approach most getaways as just another job. Don’t misunderstand me. I still get pumped. I just approach events in a more even keeled kinda way. Two nights before departing for Iowa, I did a little thing. Faced with the uncertainty awaiting me amid the flowing fields of Midwest corn and unrelenting flies, I figured out – on my own – how to stream Field of Dreams onto my bedroom TV. (Yes. I am proud of myself. Thanks for asking!) I was certain this would be a quick drift off to dreamland. Wrong! Surprised to see Ray Liotta in the opening credits, I immediately perked up. Talk about an actor that amuses me. Before too long, I was looking at a full count, headed for extra innings and fully engaged. What the hell, I thought, already ladened with insomnia, another couple of waking hours weren’t going to hurt. Preceded by my son who was

already on-site in The Hawkeye State, off I went to join the rest of the team for a rendezvous in Chicago. There, arriving from three different locations, six industry professionals met for the first time. Soon, we loaded a support vehicle, and I took the wheel to begin the three-and-a-half-hour journey to our accommodations. Small talk flourished as we got to know each other. One of the ice-breaking topics of conversation was a top five list of personal movie favorites. Aside from my full disclosure of what little knowledge I had of Field of Dreams, I went ahead and named my five. Nothing was even remotely current. Arriving on-site the next day, there was a hint of something special in the early morning air. Surreal almost. Our assigned staff parking was visibly close to the actual Field of Dreams movie site. Pristine and preserved as if it had been filmed only yesterday. Just west of it, a major league baseball stadium was being primped and primed for its coming-out party. But there were meetings ahead and work to be done. Early days and longer nights came and went quicker than the summer storms that pounded us each afternoon exactly at 4 pm. And… then… just like that, it was the night before one of the coolest events I have ever experienced in my 37-year career of “doing this.”

While walking back to our vehicle after almost 20 hours on-site, my son and I oddly drifted onto the movie site as the others headed to staff parking. As we stood and silently stared, I snapped a picture and off we went. A few hours later, now game day morning, I realized the significance of that picture. It captured our shadows standing side by side, gazing at “the field.” Surreal… definitely. Later that evening, Major League Baseball pulled off one of its grandest moments as The Field of Dreams Game went off without a noticeable hitch or glitch. We had a deservingly late crew call the day after the actual game, but my phone was ringing off its charger earlier than expected from the big bossman Rococo. “Hustle up, don’t ask why, just hustle up…” I reluctantly rounded up the troops and hit the gas. There, laid out before us, on that mystical, magical, movie field of dreams… bats, balls and gloves. Arranged in part by our hosts and Rocky as a parting gift of gratitude. Quietly, I looked for a lefthanded glove. Found it. Perfect, I thought. I waited for my son to finish batting and after his at bat, I watched him reach for a glove. Perfect. I knew. “Hey son, wanna have a catch…?” Life is but a dream. Catch it while you can. PRH

October / November / December 2021


Row Home Remembers  PRH Life

Things we’d like to forget...

a Public



byTony Santini kay. It’s time to fess up. Through the healing power of public atonement, I’m suggesting that you take this opportunity to openly apologize for those things you did as a kid. If your kids did that same thing, today, you would probably chastise them and punish them for a week. You know what I’m talking about. Let’s face it, some of us were mean as kids, especially when it came to nicknames which usually had reference to physical characteristics. I’m sorry for calling Pauly by the name “Fingers,”

Carl “Foggy,” and Petey “Meatball,” among other names I perpetuated. I’m sorry for all those instances in grade school when I shot rubber bands with my fingers, hurled spit balls with the BIC pen casing, put thumbtacks on desk seats, burned ants with a magnifying glass during outside recess, and any instances of terrorizing the nuns and teachers. I was no angel after school, either. I’m sorry for throwing water balloons at the trolleys on 11th Street and the busses on 19th Street; spraying cars with water from the open fire hydrants (AKA fireplugs); Ringy-Dingy-Doorbell; crank phone calls; making designs in window air conditioner vents; and all instances of throwing eggs at girls or soaping car windows on Mischief Night.


You would think that when I got to my teenage years, I would have matured a little but, no-o-o-oooooo! I’d like to apologize for driving my elderly neighbors nuts when I used our cable remote control to repeatedly change their television stations by pointing our remote control at their TV through their front window. That was just plain mean. For some odd reason, my friend Vinny thought it would be funny to remove everyone’s door mats from their front steps when we walked home from a night of hanging on the corner. He wouldn’t steal them; he would just put them on other people’s steps. I apologize for laughing at his childish behavior, although, looking back on this now, it was funny. Shame on me!

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

I will not apologize for the streaking incident in the Fall of 1973. That wasn’t me! We dared a friend to put a bag over his head and streak down 12th Street with his pants off, which, of course, he did. The next day, one of the neighbors knocked on my door and told my mother that she saw me running past her house the night before with no pants on and a bag over my head. My mother asked the woman how she knew it was me if I had a bag over my head. The woman said she recognized me! My mother (God rest her soul) told the woman to get lost! Even as an adult, I need to apologize for regrettable behavior. While dining at Dante & Luigi’s one night, our food runners were Robert and Sammy – two teenage sons of some very dear friends. I asked if they would do me a favor and ask the chef if he would make a dish of stuffed lentils for me even though it was not on the menu. The busy chef threw them out of the kitchen. I’m sorry, fellas. For these discretions, I apologize publicly to all those who deserve it. I hope you can do the same. PRH


Gene Foschini

a Daydream Believer


by Debbie Russino ene Foschini is an eternal optimist. He has suffered great loss and disappointment in his life, as we all have, but his faith, positive attitude and humorous and gentle nature have seen him through these storms. I admire him for his talent, but most of all, his relentless and independent spirit. Foschini’s philosophy is this: Life is short, so it is important to do what you are passionate about. Imagination has no age limit. Our only failures in life

are the dreams and opportunities we didn’t have the courage to chase.


Q: In case any of our readers aren’t aware, can you introduce yourself ? A: My name is Gene Foschini. I was born and raised in South Philly. Still living there. I have been involved in masonry work since I was 13, along with my brother Jerry who passed away in 2013. Since then, I have worked with my nephew Nicky, who owns and operates Foschini General Masonry. I’m also a local actor and have been for over 30 years. I am in the process of writing a script based on my experiences

growing up in the streets of South Philly. The first episode is titled, “Anthony and the Pimpleball.” Q: When did you realize you had a passion for acting? A: I was about 12 when I joined the Mummers Parade and got that first glimpse of what it would feel like to captivate an audience. I was hooked! My dad and his family were all very musically inclined and born entertainers. Growing up around such theatrics, I would find myself writing songs in my head and wondering what it would be like to be on a real stage. When I was in high school, the drama teacher asked if I wanted to star in Guys and Dolls, but I gave into peer pressure. I was a teenager hanging on the

corner of 10th & Winton with a reputation to uphold. My friends would have never let me live it down. I missed a golden opportunity to do something I loved, but there would be more to come. I also love to paint - a great escape that I sometimes need to cope with the everyday struggles of life. Both sides of my family have always been very colorful and creative people so you could say, acting is in my blood. Q: What are some of your favorite art organizations and venues? A: I belong to the SAG-AFTRA and Actors Equity Association. I have always enjoyed working with The Wilma Theater, too. I am also the Captain of the Landi Mummers Brigade and hope to be strutting in 2022! Q: What are some of your acting credits? A: I’ve been in about 20 plays, but I will mention the ones that have meant the most to me: A Streetcar

October / November / December 2021

Named Desire, It’s A Wonderful Life, When She Danced: The story of Isadora Duncan, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and Over The River and Through The Woods. Some of my short films were Moon Juice with Jerry Blavet and Tiramisu. The TV shows I have been featured in are Hack, Sex and the City and Mare Of Easttown, just to name a few. Q: What performance are you most proud of and why? A: Although I enjoyed playing every character along this journey, I will have to go with A Streetcar Named Desire. I was 40 years old playing Stanley, a part written for a guy in his twenties. It was a huge commitment, but well worth the sacrifice. As a method actor, I have always admired Marlon Brando, who was referred to as, “The Godfather of method acting.” In my opinion, with the exception of Al Pacino, he has never been matched. I will always be grateful for the chance to play one of the best! PRH



Yo’ South Philly

Phestival fills the air with music! The Yo’ South Philly Phestival returned for 2021! The annual community event, produced by Dan Vanore of local band The Business, brings together the neighborhood’s local musicians, vendors, family, and friends for a daylong phestival of entertainment, food, games, and fun. Presented by Messa & Associates, this year’s event was held at Stella Maris Schoolyard and included performances by Carmine Yusko, Gabby Delisi, Tony Mecca & the Heavy Mental Gypsies, The Mike Raymond Jr. Band, Ryan Sab courtesy of JBCMUSIC, Reason for Revenge, The Business, and Charlie Gracie.


| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

Posh Painting by Rita llc.

Rita Coccia Trombetta 856-986-0252

Specializing in interior and exterior painting

BALLY’S BIKE RIDE Raises Money for Bar Industry photos courtesy of Bally’s Atlantic City


ally’s Atlantic City recently held a 25-mile bike ride to benefit the Helen David Relief Fund with support from the USBG National Charity Foundation. The Helen David Relief Fund supports those in the bar industry undergoing cancer treatment by awarding financial grants to qualified individuals. Through this year’s charity bike race, $15,000 was raised. “It’s great to see the kindness extended by our industry sponsors to host Atlantic City riders from many New Jersey and Northeast restaurants, bars, and casinos for this bike ride,” says Frank Martucci, USBG National Charity Foundation Board President and Director of Beverage and Nightlife for Bally’s Corporation. “During these challenging times in our industry, we need to continue to promote health and wellness amongst all of our peers. To get outside and bike along coastal South Jersey surely gives all our riders a great opportunity to relax, exercise, and enjoy catching up with fellow industry peers while raising funds.” More than 40 riders set out at 10:30 a.m. local time from Bally’s Boardwalk base and finished with a complimentary lunch and happy hour at Bally’s Beach Bar, courtesy of

the HDRF Team Negroni. The route spanned the length of New Jersey’s scenic coast, passing through towns like Ventnor, Margate, Longport, Somers Point and Northfield. Bally’s Atlantic City thanks partners Angel Envy, Bacardi, Boston Beer Company, Campari USA, FIJI Water, Heineken USA, Mr. Finger’s Alibi Gin, Teremana, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, and Whistling Andy Distillery for their help with this event. HDRF is a philanthropic grant program of the USBG Foundation, honoring the memory of a Michigan bar owner Helen David who had breast cancer twice during her lifetime. HDRF financially assists those in the bar industry fighting breast and other types of cancer. If you or someone you know in the bar industry could benefit from this program, please visit www. The USBG National Charity Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose mission is to advance the lifelong stability and well-being of service industry professionals through education and charitable activities. The USBG Foundation was formed in 2012 to expand the charitable impact of the United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG). Visit www.usbgfoundaiton. org for more information. PRH

Nick Liggio (609) 923-4069 | Nick DiValentino (856) 481-2211

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October / November / December 2021


PRHON THE WATERFRONT Smooth Jazz & Football Fanatics



PHILADELPHIA by JUSTIN MOORE, Rivers Casino Philadelphia General Manager

Now is the time to visit Rivers Casino Philadelphia! After a successful summer season, capped by the Labor Day Fireworks & Festival – and a free outdoor concert – we continue to bring new entertainment to Delaware Avenue. Rivers is now expanding an eclectic musical lineup. Metal and rock bands Great White and Slaughter take The Event Center stage on Friday, October 29, while smooth jazz will fill the venue with monthly performances. You’ll also notice excitement throughout the casino this fall, especially on Sundays in the Birds Nest Party Pit. There’s something for everyone at Rivers Casino and we look forward to seeing you soon!

Jazz Series Comes to The Event Center

As the Rivers entertainment schedule continues to expand, we’re thrilled to present the monthly Rivers Casino & SOUTH Jazz Series. Philadelphia music lovers and jazz fans alike know that you’ll find the city’s premier jazz performers at SOUTH Restaurant & Jazz Club. At Rivers, we’re taking that intimate setting and bringing it to The Event Center, where guests will be able to enjoy the same vibe and experience but with a few more friends and family. After Dave Koz’s soulful and successful horns show in September, here’s what’s on tap:

Rivers Casino & SOUTH Jazz Series

Free Parking at Rivers Casino

Norman Brown & Euge Groove Friday, Oct. 22, at 8 p.m. $35 tickets Najee, Michael Lington & Paul Taylor Friday, Nov. 26, at 8 p.m. Tickets starting at $49

Birds Nest Party Pit — Every Sunday During Football Season Football fans are welcome to enjoy the Birds Nest Party Pit, located next to the BetRivers Sportsbook, when the Birds play New Orleans on Sunday, November 21. Every Sunday throughout the pro football season, the Party Pit will feature swag, prizes, drink specials and more. Guests will enjoy playing blackjack, roulette, and craps with a great view of the casino’s massive 56.5-foot-by-10.5-foot LED monitor.

Jack’s Bar + Grill Sunday Football Specials — Jack’s will

be open every Sunday from noon to 10 p.m. and will offer guests tasty specials, delicious drink options – like $8 pitchers of Miller Lite – and more throughout the season. The Tailgater Menu — Enjoy the ultimate tailgate platter at Jack’s featuring 10 wings, two eggrolls, a pretzel, and fries, all for just $40.

Happy Hour Touchdown Menu — This menu features

wings, Jack’s burger sliders, grilled shrimp tacos, Philly cheesesteak fries, buffalo chicken dip and more for just $7 each. For more dining and entertainment information, please visit

Rivers Casino Philadelphia is a member of the Philadelphia RowHome Magazine (PRH) Business Network.


| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

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by Maria Merlino


Big Charlie’s Saloon on 11th and McKean recently hosted the Miracle for Mia Hope fundraiser. With tears in his eyes, Marc Andrilla could barely speak as he looked out over the crowd that spilled into the streets. “As her dad, it’s very hard for me to talk about it. It’s extremely devastating. Today, the emotions are running high, and I’m overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support.” His daughter, Mia, is a bright, vibrant 19-year-old, whose life was turned upside down on August 11th. One minute she was beginning her morning routine and the next minute, she found herself on the floor paralyzed by an extremely rare and critical


medical condition known as a spinal stroke. According to her parents, she was fully paralyzed from the shoulders down. Her mother Stephanie Andrilla, an oncology nurse, took leave from her job to care for her daughter full time. Currently, Mia is in a rehabilitation hospital, where she faces each day with determination and high spirits thanks to the outpouring of love and support from her family, friends and community. Friend Denise DeMarco coordinated the event and was thrilled to see such a positive response from the neighborhood. “Everything from food to entertainment was donated,” she said of everyone’s generosity. “DJ Mark Messina, Stephie’s Caterers,

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

Stogie Joe’s, Mike’s BBQ, City Pizza, Celebration Caterers, Acme Market, Philip Sessa’s Bouncy House, Passyunk Avenue and 9th Street - everywhere from New Jersey to Kansas City – participated and so many more that are too numerous to name,” she said. “We’re so grateful for all of them. Not one person said no.” DeMarco said the money raised will go towards retrofitting Mia’s house to make it more accessible for her. The cost of renovations, both interior and exterior, can run in the tens of thousands of dollars so friends of the Andrilla family started a GoFundMe page with a goal of raising $75,000. For details or to donate, log onto, Miracle for Mia Hope. PRH


October / November / December 2021



Dr. Richard Vassallo Keeping patients on track with a healthy heart by Maria Merlino


Growing up, Dr. Richard Vassallo says he had a good Catholic education. He is happy to cite a list of academic accomplishments that motivated him along his personal and professional paths in life. He started his schooling at St. Mary of the Eternal and Roman Catholic High School, where he received the Archdiocese’s Distinguished Graduate Award. He also was awarded a track scholarship to St. Joseph University where he won the Catholic League Championship in the 200yard dash and the 110 hurdles. To this day, his record remains unbroken. While at St. Joe’s, tragedy struck. His father died of a heart attack. That motivated him to pursue a medical career specializing in cardiology. After graduating in 1963, he was accepted and served at Hahnemann University with a residency from 1968 to 1970 and maintained a cardiology fellowship for the next three years. As a doctor of internal medicine in cardiology, he headed the cardiology department at Nazareth Hospital for 40 years. He also was an advisor for three decades on Roman High School’s Board of Advisors and an associate professor at Hahn-


emann - now Drexel University. “In 1971, bypass surgery, angioplasty and stents were initiated and now we can replace the aortic valve without open heart surgery, but with minimally invasive procedures,” Dr. Vassallo says. “These are major advances in cardiology over the last 40 years. We also do lasers and ablation for atrial fibrillation, electrophysiology studies to convert the rhythms back to normal, revascularization for coronary artery disease, repair of aortic aneurysms and pacing.” Dr. Vassallo thinks back to the early days when medical therapy was the only way to treat patients. “Major advances are everywhere in cardiology,” he says. “Mortality and ischemic infarctions have decreased. We can reverse the situation by doing catheterization, opening up the artery by angioplasty and putting in stents in the arteries that are occluded. “We couldn’t do that in the early ‘70s as the technology did not exist,” he adds. “We can now do things without open heart surgery. We are now repairing the mitral valve leaks by going through the arteries of the heart and repairing the valve. Plus, there are major advances in congenital heart disease in pediatrics.”

Today, the lifespan of the heart patient has been extended because of these advances, he explains. In the past, patients would have been treated with medical therapy. “Initially, there was the Vineberg method originated by Canadian surgeon Arthur Vineberg, but that was not successful. Then we had the bypass surgery. If the patient had severe coronary artery disease, there was a 10 percent mortality per year, so in 10 years, most of the people would be dead.” “With bypass surgery, people have extended their lives considerably. Also, if the grafts have become occluded, you can open them up with angioplasty and put in stents – tiny expandable metal mesh coils – surgeons insert into the newly opened area of the artery to help keep the artery from narrowing or closing again, not only in the new arteries of the heart, but also in the artificial vessels.” There are two types of risk factors for the development of coronary artery disease, according to Dr. Vassallo. There are the uncontrollable factors such as age, gender, family history and race. And there are risk factors that you can control, like lifestyle and behavior. “Smoking, high blood pressure,

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

high blood cholesterol, high blood sugar (diabetes), obesity, physical inactivity and stress. These controllable risks are especially important if you have uncontrollable risks in your life,” Dr. Vassallo says. “Early on, plaque build-up can be controlled by healthy lifestyle choices, such as switching to a heart-healthy diet, exercising and not smoking. If those efforts are unsuccessful over time, we now have riskcontrolling drugs such as statins and other medications to lower cholesterol levels, benefit the arteries and prevent further damage.” Dr. Vassallo is the recipient of the Papal Honor of Knights of St. Gregory the Great. This prestigious award, honoring individuals for their personal service to the Catholic Church, was given to him by the Archdiocese and Pope John Paul II. He is a member of St. John the Evangelist parish in Yardley, where he lives with his wife, the former Mary H. Kierans. They have eight children and 19 grandchildren. PRH Richard W. Vassallo, MD Northeast Cardiology Consultants 2701 Holme Avenue #105 Philadelphia, PA 19152 215.335.4944

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The brain is an organ and just like any other part of our body, it requires healthy habits to function optimally and reduce cognitive decline. There are many things that we can do for our brains to keep them fit, such as a good diet, exercise, and sleep habits. But did you know that you can exercise the brain, too? Ways to exercise the brain include challenging yourself, learning new things and taking care of your emotional health. Brain training is something that neurologists and psychologists utilize to help engage the brain and keep those neurons firing. Crossword puzzles, sudoku and word searches are classic ways to train your brain. Recently, though, many apps have appeared with games for brain exercises. Lumosity, Peak and Elevate provide specific games to target focus, memory, problem-solving and other cognitive functions. Give them a

try! Another way to train the brain is to teach someone something. By volunteering to teach your favorite hobby at your local senior center, you can reinforce your own knowledge and help build a stronger community which will keep you more socially engaged. An engaged brain is an active brain, and an active brain is a healthy brain. Another way to maintain brain health is to simply take care of your emotional health, too. An individual’s response to stress can manifest in a lot of ways. You may experience anxiety, fear, anger, sadness, depression, irritability, or loneliness. Stress affects us in numerous ways but most surprisingly it can kill brain cells and chronic stress can even cause the prefrontal cortex region of the brain to shrink. Talk about your mental health with your friends and family, your doctor or a mental health professional. Take care of yourself by taking extra good care of your brain. PRH

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from the


BRENT CELEK Life After Football courtesy of Chef Mitzi Jackson-Robinson @mj_thechef

Welcome to Chef MJ’s Corner, where we will feature stories about food, nutrition, health, the latest trends and hotspots and last but not least, stories that inspire each reader. You know my motto, “Food is a segue into intimate conversation!” So, take a load off and get intimate. 26

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021


Brent Celek is an NFL football executive and former tight end for the Philadelphia Eagles. In fact, when you hear his name, you immediately think of him as one of The Eagles. He played his entire 11 season football career with them. Celek also helped the team win Super Bowl LII over the New England Patriots during the 2017 season; he subsequently retired that offseason. Now he runs a successful real estate business here in Philadelphia and has three children (with another on the way) with his wife Celeste.

Chef MJ: You played football with the Philadelphia Eagles for 11 seasons. How was the transition from football to your career now? Did you start planning before your retirement? BC: The transition for me was a little easier because [The Eagles] won the Super Bowl and that was the last game I ever played. However, transitioning when that’s all you ever did your entire life is really tough. There are times that can actually be a little depressing if you don’t know what you don’t know. I just happened to have something that I loved, which was real estate. I tried it while I was playing and loved it, so it made [the transition] a little easier. I created a team and we have a family vibe very similar to the one I had in the locker room.

Chef MJ: How important has a healthy diet been to you to maintain your

body? Also, has mental health and your diet been important to you, as well, since retiring to fight the battle against depression? BC: Yes, I think it is. I don’t think I eat as healthy as when I was playing, because I don’t have to. But I will say this, since I’ve retired, I realized I need working out in my life. I need to sweat. Otherwise, I feel like my brain doesn’t work properly. Then obviously, eating healthy helps you feel better when you do work out. As you get older, inflammation is tough, so anything to keep it down helps. I eat a ton of vegetables. In fact, I eat a lot! However, I don’t eat bad food and I love to cook.

Chef MJ: What advice would you give players who are leaving the NFL or have had to leave the NFL because of injuries? What advice would you give them in trying to start the next chapter in their life? BC: Try to find something outside of football that you can do to stay active. For me, I play basketball. It’s not super competitive, just getting out there running and having fun. It’s a great release!

Chef MJ: You have a beautiful family. How do you balance work life and home life? BC: This is one of the reasons I’m in real estate. I have a little more time to do things with the family that I didn’t have when I was playing football. In football, you’re all in. Football life wasn’t bad, but if I wanted to stay in that

world as a coach, it’s tougher on coaches than on players. I really wanted to be around my kids while they are growing up. I wanted to be the father figure that they need; that every kid needs. My kids mean everything to me, and my wife does an amazing job, as well.

Chef MJ: Do you ever see yourself coaching? BC: Not right now. I’d like to watch my kids play sports. Maybe, be their coach if they need it. I do love it! Maybe one day when the kids are out of the house, I might consider coaching, if it makes sense.

Chef MJ: You were with the Philadelphia Eagles for 11 seasons, so what advice would you give to players trying to have a successful season? To add to that, the Super Bowl was the Eagles’ most successful season. What did it take for you guys to get there? BC: Treat every season like it’s your last! If you were to know you were gonna die next year, how would you treat your life, this year? You would do everything you could do to put a smile on your face. Let me experience this, let me do that. In football, you can be done tomorrow so you want to treat every day like it’s your last. Every season like it’s your last. Every team will be different. Players will be different. But if you can do this, you can have success. Lastly, do your job! Focus on your job and be great at it, but also inspire your teammates to be great, as well!

October / November / December 2021





irections Outpatient Center in Philadelphia, PA offers therapy for those struggling with substance use disorder and cooccurring disorders with evidence based treatments. We have a family atmosphere that treats individuals and their loved ones with healing. We offer various levels of care, MAT, individual therapy, family therapy, and group therapy.

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While the opioid epidemic has been the center of the drug abuse problem in Philadelphia, a new drug is now plaguing the city and causing concern for the professionals who help those struggling with substance use disorder. Methamphetamine use is on the upward and alarming rise. Prior to this year, meth misuse in the city and surrounding counties seemed to be very small and isolated incidents. Whatever the reason for a sudden cause in the spike, meth use looks very different then opioid use and is just as dangerous. Meth use releases an incredibly large amount of dopamine in the brain making it highly addictive and an extremely hard habit to break. Meth use typically causes people to be more hyperactive, awake, unable to sleep. It causes a decreased




by Theresa Collins BA CADC Facility Director/Primary Therapist Directions Outpatient Centers

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

appetite, irregular heartbeat, and increased breathing. Because meth is the most powerful stimulant, when meth use stops, there is a depletion of dopamine in the brain causing increased depression, fatigue, and low energy. Unlike other drugs that can be treated with medical assisted treatment, currently there are no medications to help with methamphetamine misuse. Meth abuse can be treated through behavioral interventions and cognitive behavioral therapy approaches. Like other drugs, education on prevention is always the best tool to help curb the problem. Directions Outpatient Center is working hard to help those who have fallen victim to meth addiction and will continue to work on using the best evidence-based practices in our clinical program. PRH

Directions Outpatient Centers is a member of the Philadelphia RowHome Magazine (PRH) Business Network. Directions Outpatient Centers 2300 S. Broad Street | 1 877.228.2073

Superfood Smoothies

Antioxidants are substances found in foods that may protect your body against free radicals, which, if consumed regularly, may reduce a person’s chances of developing heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Flavonoids are a type of antioxidants found in plants. Here are some great “superfoods” to incorporate into your smoothies. Recipes below! Berries: High in fiber, full of antioxidants and flavonoids, good source of Vitamin C Cherries: High concentration of Vitamin C and anti-inflammatories Pomegranates: High concentrations of antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and shown to reduce blood pressure, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides

1 blood orange, peeled, cut into rough 1-inch chunks and frozen I cup leafy greens (spinach or kale) 1 cup plain, 2% Greek yogurt 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk 1 tbs almond butter 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Cherry Vanilla Smoothie 1 cup frozen cherries 1 cup plain, 2% Greek yogurt 1/2 cup pomegranate juice 1 tbs almond butter 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Very Berry Smoothie

Acai Berries: High concentration of antioxidants and flavonoids, shown to reduce levels of triglycerides, blood sugars and insulin Citrus: High concentration of Vitamin C, magnesium, potassium and fiber Leafy Greens: High in fiber, good source of Vitamins A and C, as well as calcium and several phytochemicals courtesy of Jamie Flowers

Creamsicle Smoothie

1 cup mixed berries (frozen works too) 1/2 cup acai berries 1 cup leafy greens 1 frozen banana 1 cup coconut water Blend all ingredients. Add water until you reach your desired consistency. Enjoy!

Nuts: High in protein and good source of monounsaturated fats

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| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021




by Pat Ciarrocchi photos by Andrew Andreozzi

n an Autumn afternoon in Philadelphia’s Mayfair neighborhood, the sun turned its golden beams onto two women in a borrowed, yellow VW convertible. Though the sunlight caught the edge of the metal rim of their eyeglasses, their faces beamed with the light of a love you find only in the rarest souls among us. These two women are indeed rare. They are, as we would say in Catholic Philadelphia, “a couple of nuns.” On this September day, Sister Jeannette Lucey and Sister Constance Touey, members of Sisters of the Immaculate


Heart of Mary, were ready - needing very little prompting - to engage the ignition of that “rag top” and “hit the road again.” They laugh at the thought of their IHM headwear - the veil, the true symbol of Women Religious, lifting in the breeze, with the top down. “I don’t want to sound disrespectful, but does anyone ever call you Thelma and Louise?” I ask. “Sure! All the time,” Sr. Jeannette grinned. I couldn’t help but add, “Thelma and Louise in a veil.” Whenever they hear “a call,” Sister Jeannette and Sister Constance answer with a joyous, “YES!” A joyous response is embedded in their hearts and souls. They are women in service to God and anyone in the world who needs them. In April 2021, “a call” came from Catholic Charities USA to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Catholic Charities asked for “Nuns” to volunteer to go to the Southern Border to help with undocumented immigrant teenage boys living in a shelter in San Antonio, Texas. “The calling” was loud and clear. The Sisters describe volunteering immediately, worried about being labeled “too old.” Fortunately for that shelter of teenage boys in Texas, and for their additional assignment a month later helping immigrant families resettle with young children in El Centro, California, Sister Jeannette at nearly 80 and Sister Constance at 83 years of age, were not too old. Within days, the Sisters were packed up,

gassed up, and headed South from their convent at St. Matthew’s Parish on Cottman Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia. They both work at St. Matthew’s School, leading the Development/Fundraising team, since August 2015. In fact, it’s accurate to say they lead the “Fun Raising” team, too. At 3:00 AM on Thursday, April 22nd, 2021, they weren’t in that yellow convertible. They loaded up their trusty white Ford hatchback with more toothbrushes, flip-flops and supplies than they could count. They had to report for “work” three days later at 7:30 AM Sunday, April 25th. They were two Sisters on a Mission! A soulful adventure of an adventure-filled lifetime was awaiting them. Sister Jeannette and Sister Constance have been “an education team” for decades, beginning in August 1984, at St. Francis De Sales School on S. 47th Street in West Philadelphia. Sister Jeannette taught eighth grade. Sister Constance was Principal. It turned out to be a match made in Heaven. Immigrant families had found homes in West Philadelphia. They wanted a Catholic education for their children. Even though English was not a first language for those parents and children, Sister Jeannette and Sister Constance always seemed to find a way to help. A “calling” to be an educator was in their souls. That assignment at St. Francis De Sales began a partnership to wholly educate children that

stretched 60 years and thousands of miles. Last spring, the “thousands of miles” became literal. The Freeman Coliseum in San Antonio loomed large at 6:45 AM, on Sunday, April 25th. With Homeland Security and local police everywhere, they had been told to report to Warehouse 19 – a metal roofed expanse of a building that had been converted into a shelter for the undocumented, immigrant teenage boys. “The place took our breath away,” Sister Jeannette told me. They stood at the door trying to grasp the scene. Covering the floor of this massive warehouse, which had been divided in half, were cots. “There were a thousand cots set with barely enough room for a boy to stand up. A thousand boys matched the cots. The other half of that warehouse had another thousand cots and boys to match. There were 2,000 boys in that shelter. “We were given total charge of a Pod ourselves!” Sister Jeannette exclaimed. “We were POD 23A – with 22 boys between ages 13 and 17. We first saw our ‘muchachos’ [young men in Spanish] while they were still under blankets, sleeping. The air conditioning, though good against the 90-degree heat outside, made it cold inside. They had eaten breakfast. They would be getting showers and clean clothes, as they did every other day. We needed to quickly learn the routine and follow directions.” Adjusting to “orders and protocol” was an easy pivot. Sister Jeannette and Sister Constance are Nuns in the Catholic Church. The premier protocol was security. Badges of the volunteers were scanned repeatedly. Even 80-plus yearold nuns wearing a veil weren’t exempt. For the boys, strict protocols were followed for mealtime to feed the thousands. Recreation was monitored inside and outside. There

October / November / December 2021



was a regular daytime rest period, too. To stay ahead of the Covid 19 pandemic, Covid testing for the boys, workers and volunteers was done every three days. Each boy was checked for physical and mental health concerns. Many had lacerations on their feet from running through wooded areas in bare feet to make it to the border. Sister Jeannette described some of the boys as depressed. “If the boys felt they needed help, they could ask for it. The doctors, nurses and mental health professionals were really responsive.” The Sisters watched the boys “quake” with emotion when it was phone call day. Though the boys came to the shelter undocumented, the staff, working with Homeland Security, helped to create a record of their personal history with names and phone numbers. In some cases, those phone numbers had been written on their chests. It was a dedicated effort to try to find their families in the U.S. and make connections. Any cell phone calls - even to family in their home countries - were monitored and would last by stop-watch 12 minutes precisely. Sister Constance explained, “The boys would be so happy to speak to their mother, or the priestsponsor from their little town. Then they would cry, missing them. Their parents sent them away because the boys were being harassed to join drug gangs in their home countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador in Central America. They feared their sons would be killed. Though we were instructed to not ask the boys about their experiences, we knew their effort to escape.” The Sisters described the FBI as working “24 hours a day, behind the scenes” to make family connections in the United States for the boys. The first day, Sister Jeannette was startled. “Suddenly, I heard this loud, reverberating noise get even louder. There was yelling and cheering from the boys. The sound bounced off the tin roof, amplifying it. I didn’t know what was happening. Then, we noticed the boys were hugging one of their pod-mates. Slapping him on the back in a congratulatory way. The FBI had found


his family in the U.S. and that boy was leaving the shelter to begin a new life.” That joyous scene among the boys would erupt with each connection. For the Sisters, it was heartening. Tucked into the boys’ pockets as they left were dozens of colorful yarn bracelets. They had made them while sitting on their cots, passing the time. Sister Constance learned the boys loved working with yarn and beads. They would teach each other, coming to ask the Sisters to “corte” the yarn. The boys weren’t permitted to have scissors. They would repeatedly ask for beads with letters on them. They were making personalized gifts to give to their family members when they would be reunited. As the Sisters held hope for them on some dark days when morale would be low, they found that the boys most often held hope in their own hearts as they waited. “Cesar learned he had a cousin in Houston who was coming for him,” Sister Jeannette explained. “His friend Christian didn’t stay still long enough to tell us where he was going. They were grabbing their clothes. They hugged us. We answered, “Vaya con Dios- Go with God- in Spanish. We believed God would take care of them. They had come so far with God already.” With decades of experience with boys in close quarters, Sister Constance used her “gentle and compassionate touch” as Sister Jeannette described it, that is the hallmark of her work with children. Sister Constance asked the boys to see themselves as brothers. She’d say, “Brothers help each other. They encourage each other. They don’t push and shove.” She knew that could trigger a fight. The boys became “brothers in flight” in POD 23A. The assignment in San Antonio was just two weeks. On Saturday, May 8th, Sister Constance and Sister Jeannette said good-bye. They were leaving the next day. “Four boys came up to us and said they needed to go to the “bano.” We always had to accompany them to the bathroom,” Sister Constance said. “Once they got there, they said, ‘We really didn’t need to go. Tomorrow in

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

the United States is Dia de la Madre - Mother’s Day. And we want you to know that you have been mothers to us.’ And they cried and we cried.” The Sisters had wanted the boys to feel welcome here. They cherish the yarn bracelets embedded with their names in the colors of the Mexican flag. The country that became the bridge to their new lives. After a two-week rest with family friends, Sister Jeannette and Sister Constance were back behind the wheel of the white hatchback. They headed West this time to their second Catholic Charities assignment in El Centro, California. There, teenage boys were rarely in sight. The Sisters helped in the resettlement of immigrant families with young children. The families some mothers were nursing their infants - had survived great suffering to find a new life. Being in a clean motel room with beds, a bathroom with running water and a little cooktop was Heaven. The Sisters were their Angels of Mercy. Sister Constance and Sister Jeannette would shuttle families in vans to the airport. That first day, they turned a corner and saw a towering black wall that seemed to stretch endlessly into the distance. It was the border wall. Its immensity created an intimidating presence that made them gasp. The families in the van buried their faces. At the airport security desk, Sister Constance became known as “the little one, who is a pusher.” She forcefully advocated for the families. She made sure each had their proper boarding pass. But what about the rest of the airport protocol? Be a teacher again, they thought. The Sisters instructed families on what to expect, where to wait, how and where to buy food for little ones on a long flight and where to find the bathroom. That was a good start, but not enough. Then, the compassionate creativity of Sr. Constance again kicked in. Or was it an angelic whisper of an idea? “I saw an American family waiting for the same flight as our immigrant family. Perhaps they would like to become the guardian angels for this nervous family, completely unfamiliar with air travel. I asked. They agreed. I introduced the two families and explained in simple Spanish that the immigrant family now had “a guardian angel” they could trust to get them on the plane at the right time. I just kept creating guardian families. I was relieved.” Do guardian angels feel relief when they get one of their charges through a life crisis? Or do they just say, “Good! Mission Accomplished!” We could ask Sister Jeannette Lucey and Sister Constance Touey, both “Mighty Macs.” Our Sisters on a Mission are back home at St. Matthew’s carrying in their hearts prayers, especially for the “muchachos of Pod 23A.” Yes, Sisters. Mission accomplished! Gracias and Vaya con Dios. PRH

LIVE YOUR LIFE ON PURPOSE I came across something I had written some time ago. I was feeling down and lost some of my outlook on my life and where I was headed. In these past two years or so, a lot of you - my family, my friends - have expressed adversity in your lives and losses of loved ones. I wrote this at a time when I needed to help myself snap out of a bad place in my head. I hope, in any small way, this helps you, too. by Lou Pinto


a stranger), but when you first see them, you know at that very moment that they will change your life in some profound way. Sometimes, things will happen to you that may seem horrible, painful, and unfair, at first, but in reflection, you will find that without overcoming these bumps in the road, you never would have realized your true potential, strength, willpower or heart. Everything happens for a reason, both good and bad. The universe

poignant ones. If someone hurts you, betrays you, or breaks your heart, forgive them for they have helped you learn about trust and the importance of being cautious when you open your heart. If someone loves you, love them back unconditionally, not only because they love you, but because, in a way, they are teaching you to love and how to open your heart and see things in ways that maybe you weren’t aware of. Make every day count. Appreciate every moment and take from those moments everything you possibly can for you may never be able to experience it again. Talk to everyone – family, friends and yes, even people you never talked to before. And actually listen! Let your heart and emotions lead

you in the right direction. Live your life on purpose! Set goals. Hold your head up and be proud of what you accomplish at the end of every single day. Tell yourself that you are a great individual and believe in yourself. If you don’t believe first in yourself, it will be hard for others to believe in you. Create and make your life anything you wish. Get out there and be proud to live it with absolutely no regrets. Most importantly, if you love someone, tell him or her. You never know what tomorrow may have in store. Always be thankful for your blessings. Let life teach you a lesson every day. Today is the tomorrow you were worried about yesterday. Was it worth it? PRH

October / November / December 2021


ometimes, people come into your life and you know right away that they were meant to be there. They are there to serve some sort of purpose, teach you a lesson, or help you figure out who you are and who you want to become. You never know who these people may be (your neighbor, teacher, long lost friend, lover, or even doesn’t know the difference. Nothing happens by chance or by means of luck. Illness, injury, love or sadness. Lost moments of true greatness and sheer stupidity all occur to test the limits of our souls. Without this test, life would be like a novel where you always know how it ends before you get there. It would be safe and comfortable, but boring and pointless. The people you meet help to create who you are and who you will become. You will learn from every experience - both good and bad. In fact, the bad ones can be the most




| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

“Technology will not replace great teachers, but technology in the hands of great teachers can be transformational.” - George Couros


On March 13th, 2020, teachers, students, and parents around the world were about to face a dramatic change in their lives. Education was about to be transformed. In response to the Covid-19 Pandemic, the world suddenly changed from face-to-face instruction to an alternate way of teaching. What does this mean? How will we do this successfully? Here is what it meant and here is how we did it.


circumstances. I had to become best friends with technology and put into perspective what is going to be realistic to achieve virtually. In a 25-year career, this has indeed been the most challenging year. Everything that I know and love about education now looks very different. I am a secondgrade elementary school teacher at Philadelphia Performing Arts Charter School (one of three String Theory School campuses). This year has caused me to reflect on my philosophy of education and the passion I have for my career. The pandemic has forced me to change my usual instructional approach and standard classroom habits. In a typical year, my teaching approach is very handson. Delivering instruction is all about student engagement for me. Throughout the learning process, students discover themselves and I, as their teacher, discover their interests and, most importantly, what they need. Teaching remotely

greater connection between home and school. It forced parents and guardians to be active participants in their children’s learning. Remote learning has created an effective partnership between parents and teachers and fostered a relationship which opened a continual line of communication. Personally, I loved seeing the empathy that was developed among the students towards each other. The pandemic gave us a unique opportunity to witness and understand how others are experiencing the exact same thing we are experiencing. All the uncertain feelings, the frustration, the confusion, the fear, and the sadness resonated through all of us. Navigating this new world was difficult, but just knowing my feelings of anxiety were shared by everyone in the teaching profession made the experience manageable. Knowing that everyone was in the same boat eased all those uncertain feelings. We all were navigating through uncharted territory and living in a very unprecedented time. I just kept playing the ever so famous Beatles song, “All You Need Is Love,” in my head and thought, “Just keep doing what you’re doing, as long as you are doing it with love.” It

was obvious that the students loved each other, and I loved the empathy that it fostered among them. So, here we are with another school year upon us. We are back in the classroom, and with much enthusiasm. I believe that we are better than ever, and I am looking forward to a promising school year ahead. I have so much more digital and technical knowledge than I did before the pandemic, and I am more introspective than ever before. Is there a silver lining here? Yes, there absolutely is. I have grown as an educator in many ways. I always loved teaching and could never imagine doing anything else as a profession. This experience has confirmed that my passion for teaching has no boundaries. It confirmed that teaching is not what we learn from books. It can’t be memorized. It can’t be taught with a paper and pencil. Teaching comes from the heart. We made it. We succeeded. And I believe we are all a little more patient, a little kinder, and so much better from this experience. Oh, and of course, more tech savvy. “The love and joy behind your teaching is perhaps the strongest impression you will leave with your students.” Meena Srinivasan PRH

October / November / December 2021


aking a very deep breath, I immediately changed my mindset from, “This is going to be impossible to anything is possible.” I decided to be very reasonable with myself, my students, and my parents. It is all about trial and error and letting go of the expectations that we are so used to under normal changes that engagement. I focused more on explicit instruction and delivering information rather than exchanging information. Methods of instruction have now shifted and the struggle for what is being successfully delivered is real. Technology, which I have used in the past to enhance my lessons and instruction, will now become essential. I am now relying on technology to deliver meaningful and quality instruction. The technical resources I discovered were innovative and impressive to say the least. Maximizing the digital tools that are available certainly enhanced my teaching and introduced me to a new world of how to embed technology into my instruction. Moving forward and back into the classroom, I will utilize all the knowledge that I gained. The technical resources as well as the parental engagement were remarkable. Although parents were presented with many challenges at home, the pandemic has brought about a


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East Passyunk Crossing Arboretum receives high honors from ArbNet

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he East Passyunk Crossing Civic Association (EPX) recently was awarded with a Level 1 Accreditation for the East Passyunk Crossing Arboretum by the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program and The Morton Arboretum. The EPX Arboretum is only the second urban neighborhood in the United States to be accredited by ArbNet. It’s also the first neighborhood in Pennsylvania to achieve this standing. To secure this achievement, Tree Tenders (tree enthusiasts trained by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society) worked diligently to create an arboretum plan, research the appropriate trees, oversee planting the trees,


| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

apply for and document their work over a couple years to secure this accreditation achievement. The types of trees specifically chosen for this neighborhood must be able to survive and thrive as street trees because the neighborhood has limited green space. EPX spans Broad to 6th Streets, Tasker Street to Snyder Avenue. Tree canopy coverage in the area is in the range of 3 percent - one of the lowest in the City of Philadelphia. EPX’s goal, through the arboretum accreditation and its partnership with Tree Tenders, is to continue its work and increase the tree canopy cover to the City’s goal of 30 percent. Doing so will help reduce heat and beautify the neighborhood. PRH




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Patty Jackson holds up her street sign with Patti Labelle & Councilman Kenyatta Johnson

A Street Named


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Honors Longtime Radio Host photo courtesy of ANN CATANIA


Thanks to Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, D-2nd District, the 2300 block of West Ellsworth Street, where she grew up, was recently renamed Patty Jackson Way at a ceremony in her honor. Jackson, who currently hosts the midday program on WDAS-FM, is a household name in Philadelphia and the city has been listening to her radio shows for close to 40 years. Others in the Philadelphia music scene including Patti LaBelle, Carol Riddick, Kathy Sledge, Jeff Bradshaw, Kindred the Family Soul, and Bob Pantano all came out to the street naming

to show their support for Patty and her illustrious career. “I was just a girl from South Philly dreaming of being on the radio,” she tells Philadelphia RowHome Magazine. “I am still in awe! I am a South Philly girl through and through and I hope to inspire others from their neighborhood and row homes to dream and dream big. God will make the dream even better.” Almost seven years ago, Patty Jackson suffered a stroke. She lost her vision. She couldn’t walk. But this legend never gave up. Jackson was featured in the 2018 edition of PRH’s Real People, Real Stories issue. PRH

October / November / December 2021



FLOWER SHOW will Bloom again at FDR Park in 2022



The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) recently announced that the 2022 PHS Philadelphia Flower Show will again take place in South Philadelphia’s FDR Park. This event is the nation’s largest and the world’s longest-running horticultural event. Make plans to visit Saturday, June 11 through Sunday, June 19, 2022. The theme will be “In Full Bloom” which connotes good health, a positive well-being, and a passion for life that culminates in a gorgeous and colorful spectacle! Come to encounter outdoor garden beauty that will inspire everyone to plan for a better tomorrow. FDR Park is a 348-acre park carved out of the tidal marshes in South Philadelphia. It’s just a small portion of over 10,200 acres of public land and waterways protected by Philadelphia Parks and Recreation. PPR promotes the well-being and growth of the city’s residents by connecting them to the natural world, to each other and to fun, physical and social opportunities. PRH

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Warm & Cozy

are trending this season

Gray & Yellow top the color charts for 2021 by Brenda Hillegas


The season’s trending colors are warm and earthy with names like Amberglow, Classic Blue, Green Sheen, Fired Brick, Magenta Purple, Peach Nougat, Rose Tan, Samba, Sandstone and Ultramarine Green. Ultimate Gray and Illuminating (bright yellow) are Pantone’s Colors of the Year for 2021. The gray provides a solid foundation for any color you want to pair with it. Yellow is bright and cheerful.


To complement your fresh coat of paint, look for materials that connect you to nature when decorating your home. Cotton, wood, and hemp pair perfectly with just about any scheme. Warm and comfy fabrics like faux fur and velvet are inviting for blankets, throws and pillows. Dark reds and greens are great for fall and winter. You will see plenty of plaid, too. Look for durable fabrics that can be washed over and over without wearing out.


| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021


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It’s hard to resist going overboard with decorations this time of year. From spooky season to winter wonderland, now’s the time to go all out if you’d like. But for a simpler look or a smaller budget, try to limit what you display. Focus on fewer knickknacks on your table or mantle. Choose a favorite family heirloom and pair it with a fun new find to update your décor. Indoor plants bring the calm of nature indoors. They can serve as a piece of art when placed on a table or shelf. Geometric shapes and sleek lines in framed art, sculptures, and conversation pieces are timeless. Mantle scarves are great to swap out between holidays, seasons, or moods. Go with solid colors but purchase a pattern or two for fun. An apothecary jar on the kitchen table filled with anything related to the season is simple and encourages creativity.


Just in need of a new coat of paint? Try making the kitchen fun and bright with an accent wall in yellow or burnt orange. Not that bold? Try two or three shades of the same color throughout.

A NEW PIECE OF FURNITURE “Grandmillennial” or Grannychic is a style that brings back warm, cozy memories of your grandparents’ home but with a modern twist. Embrace those vintage furniture and accessory finds. Look for pieces in pinks, mustard yellow and green.


Lavender is perfect year-round. Other comforting and earthy scents include myrrh, frankincense, and sandalwood. Potpourri will fill your home with seasonal scents all day long. Sample combinations of cinnamon, clove, orange blossom, nutmeg, rosemary or cedar.

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Thinking of a remodel soon? In keeping with the nature theme, the demand for ecological natural materials is high. This is especially true for countertops. Wood, marble and granite are popular picks for 2022. Metals have been popular in the past decade - copper, brass or stainless-steel knobs, appliances, accents, and cabinets are always great choices.

October / November / December 2021




Construction & Improvements LLC

Ebenezer Maxwell Mansion 200 W Tulpehocken Street

historic Licensed and Insured

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Homes by Brenda Hillegas interior shots by Kyle Kielinski

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Your favorite South Philly father/son real estate duo for all of your real estate needs in PA and NJ! 1608 E. Passyunk Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19148 Cell: (calls and texts) 267-688-1449 | office: 215-334-3333 42

Located in West Germantown, this mansion was built in 1859 by Ebenezer Maxwell, a wealthy cloth merchant in Civil War era Philadelphia. The cost - $10,000. The 17-room house and garden are open to tours and offer a unique showcase into Victorian-era Philadelphia. The mansion is two-and-a-half stories and includes a three-story tower. The main roof is mansard style, also called a French roof. The earliest known example of this style was built around 1550 by Pierre Lescot on part of the Louvre. Features include three porches and four stone chimneys. The original architecture has been attributed variously to Joseph C. Hoxie (the Arch Street Presbyterian Church is an example of his work) and Samuel Sloan (who specialized in Italianate villas and country houses, churches, and institutional buildings). In 1965, the mansion was restored by the Germantown Historical Society. It’s Philadelphia’s only house and museum that focuses on the Victorian period. The first floor has been restored to the 1860s

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

when the Maxwell family lived there. Maxwell installed all modern conveniences that were available at the time such as a gravity hot air system that first became available in the 1850s. On the second floor, you’ll find the style to be of the 1880 time-period. The upstairs hallway is inspired by the Centennial Celebration that took place in Philadelphia. Attendees learned about cultures such as the Far East and Egypt. The Mansion is one of the few house museums in America that retains Egyptian styled and stenciled wall decoration. Even the nearby Tulpehocken Station historic district was among the nation’s first railroad suburbs. There, you’ll find suburban houses, built from around 1850 to 1900, in a variety of styles including Carpenter Gothic, Italianate, and Bracketed. In the 1870s, styles were High Victorian and Second Empire (a mix of earlier European styles such as Baroque and usually combined with mansard roofs and/ or low, square-based domes). For tour info, visit

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2645 S. 9th Street Philadelphia, Pa. 19148 $319,900 This open concept, move-in-ready rowhome features a contemporary style with an attention to details! Light, bright & waiting for you to turn the key. Features include 3 bedrooms / 1 ½ baths / finished basement / eat-in kitchen with stainless appliances, tile flooring / new windows / central air / original exposed brick wall / front porch and so much more! Located in the heart of South Philadelphia, within walking distance to the Stadium District, Marconi Park & the shops & restaurants of nearby East Passyunk Avenue! Easy access to all major highways & public transportation. Contact Michael Giangiordano II Century 21 Forrester Real Estate O: 215.334.3333 / C: 267.688.1449 Century 21 Forrester Real Estate is a member of the Philadelphia RowHome (PRH) Magazine Business Network.


| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021


De Fino Law Associates, P.C. Don’t Settle for Less

Those Pesky Records! What do I need to keep?

The basic retention period. Federal tax return substantiation is generally three years from the later of the tax return filing due date OR the actual filing date.

State guidelines could be different. Understand your state and local audit timelines. Often, states can review tax returns after your federal return is officially closed to a potential audit. Keep some things forever. Some items should be kept indefinitely. These include, but are not limited to, copies of your 1040 tax return, major asset purchases and sales (i.e. home mortgage, home closing documents, documentation for stock and investment transactions, major asset purchase and sale documents, insurance documentation, and birth/death/marriage certificates).

Keep valuable item receipts. Keep records of any other valuable items purchased. This includes jewelry and other collectibles.

Nicholas J. Starinieri

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Attorney at Law

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Stock and investment companies are now required to report the cost of your investments to the IRS. So, you will not need to dig around for old transaction information to prove what you paid for your investment. On the other hand, any errors on your investment statement also get sent to the IRS, so make sure the information provided is correct or it may create an audit trigger.

Serving the Community since 1937

Others may want your documentation.

You may need records for non-tax related purposes. Copies of divorce decrees, records of insurance, and home sale closing paperwork are common examples of documents needed for other reasons.

Federal recordkeeping guidelines could become longer.

Federal guidelines for record retention are generally 3 years. However, errors on your tax return for over 25% of the tax obligation require record retention of 6 years. If fraud is determined, the record holding period is indefinite.

The CPA Firm of David M. Spitzberg is a member of the Philadelphia RowHome (PRH) Magazine Business Network.

Vincent Anthony De Fino

Attorney at Law

Courtesy of the CPA Firm of David M. Spitzberg

Each of us needs to keep records that substantiate our tax return or other important life events for as long as they are needed. So, what does this mean?

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October / November / December 2021





courtesy of RON RABENA Chief Client Officer, Allied Universal Many people drive or walk in a parking lot daily. We often let down our guard and overlook the hazards we face when doing so. Surprisingly, one in five vehicle accidents in the U.S. occurs in parking lots. Often, drivers and pedestrians are distracted. With eyes increasingly on smart phones and not paying attention to where one is headed, this lack of focus increases our risk of collision and injury. Here are some tips to keep drivers and pedestrians safe in parking lots.


Be cautious and aware of your surroundings when walking in a parking lot. Put your mobile device away to avoid distraction. Do not assume drivers can see you when you can see them. In many cases, the pedestrian sees and hears a vehicle before a driver can see the pedestrian due to blind spots in vehicles. Treat the parking lot like a street. Look both ways before

crossing. Use crosswalks and sidewalks whenever possible. Walk down parking lot aisles and not in-between vehicles. Try to avoid areas like loading docks where it’s hard for a driver to see you. Try to walk in groups to be more visible to drivers. Prevent a slip/fall injury. Avoid stepping on painted lines in wet weather. Wear appropriate footwear for adequate traction in winter wet weather conditions.


It is generally safer to park further away where there is less pedestrian and vehicle traffic. Avoid moving in reverse whenever possible. It is safer to back into a parking spot than back out. Drivers of motorcycles and bicycles are to follow the same traffic rules as vehicle drivers. All drivers must obey stop signs. Slow Down! The speed limit is 10 mph in parking lots. Faster speeds can result in a fatal injury to a pedestrian.

Ron Rabena is the Chief Client Officer at Allied Universal Security Services. He can be reached at


| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

Reduce speeds in bad weather. In wet weather, vehicles can skid. Turn off the radio and crack open the windows so you can hear better and prevent a collision. Keep your mobile device out of sight and out of hand to avoid distraction.


Did you know that 25 percent of parking lot collisions occur when a driver is moving in reverse? Drivers are limited in their ability to see and react to hazards when moving in reverse. Ideally, avoid backing out of a space by pulling through when parking. When a pullthrough space is not an option, back into a space when parking. You have better control and view of the area. If you must back out of a parking space, walk around the vehicle before getting inside, crack open the windows, and tap the horn before moving slowly in reverse. Watch for moving vehicles or pedestrians.

Ron Rabena, Allied Universal Security Services, is a member of the Philadelphia RowHome Magazine (PRH) Business Network.


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Q: Can employers make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for their employees? A: Yes. Employers can require their employees to be vaccinated as a condition of their employment to protect the health and safety of their employees and of their clients, customers, and patrons. However, there are exemptions that can be used by employees who refuse to get the COVID19 vaccination. Each exemption request is made on a case-by-case basis and is rarely granted. There is a medical exemption that must be supported by competent medical evidence. For example, an individual may be entitled to an exemption if he or she suffered from a medical condition to which components of the vaccine were contraindicated. Pregnancy was also initially used but is now rarely granted because

the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology recommended vaccines for pregnant women. There is also a religious exemption which requires the individual to establish a sincerely held religious belief that prohibits taking the vaccine and is able to explain how that belief violates the vaccine mandate.

Q: Are mandates being

required by educational institutions? A: Yes. Some colleges and graduate programs are requiring vaccines for those students who want to attend in-person classes and living in dormitories.

Once again, Frank DePasquale has been recognized by his peers as a Pennsylvania Super Lawyer for 2021. He heads DePasquale Law Offices, 2332-34 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19145. P: 215.755.4410. Email him at or visit

The Ferullo Insurance Agencies LLC has your best interests in mind. At the Ferullo Insurance Agencies LLC it’s not just our job to help guide you to a future worth looking forward to, it’s our passion. The way we see it, putting you first means understanding your needs and making sure you get coverage at the right price.


LET’S TALK TODAY. John Ferullo 1636 S FRONT ST PHILADELPHIA, PA 19148 215-468-4116





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October / November / December 2021




Gift Guide Go Home Philly!

Stop & Shop at our Local Spots!

Now more than ever, shop local this holiday season. There’s no finer gift than something from a neighborhood business. A gift – a memory – from generations of families – the heirs and entrepreneurs – that are the economic backbone of this city. The Philadelphia RowHome Magazine Business Network is filled with restaurants and shops that will make all your celebrations memorable! Here are some gift ideas straight from our friendly neighborhood businesses. Many also offer catering, gift cards, delivery or shipping nationwide. Be sure to call with any special requests and get your orders in early! And while you’re there, pick up something special for yourself! 48 | ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

Chef Mitzi Jackson FABSCRAP

Anthony’s Italian Coffee & Chocolate House All you need to know is right in the name! Coffee and chocolate. What more do you need for the perfect gift? Anthony ships gift baskets, tea, coffee subscriptions and a variety of other specialty products. Choose a variety of best-selling gift boxes for the holidays (or anytime) like the Sfogliatelle (Italian pastry), Cannoli, Stuffed Figs in Chocolate, Torrone (Italian nougat), Taste of Palermo Italian gift basket or, of course, the finest selection of coffee! If you’re gifting to a local fan of the shop, a gift card is always a great idea!

Later in this issue, you’ll read about FABSCRAP - a great one-stop textile reuse and recycling resource! Affordable fabric by the yard, scrap packs, lace, upholstery, leather, and sets in complementing tones can be purchased on the site! Give the gift of creativity while saving unused materials from the landfill! There are also a few pay-what-you-wish options and gift cards are available!

Spice Blends by Chef MJ are a one-stop shop for seasoning all your favorite dishes. Flavors include Veggielicious, Sex on the Beef, Kickin’ Chicken & Seafood Bang Bang. A set of four is $58 including a holiday gift bag.

Cedrone’s Flowers

Allen’s Cell Phone Caddy

Beer Peddlers It’s a one-stop shop for all your beer needs in South Philly. With such a huge selection of craft, import, and domestic beers, you’ll find something to bring to the party! Yuengling Hershey’s Chocolate Porter or Founders Cinnamon Vanilla Cocoa will taste great in the cold winter months. Bonus - there’s plenty of free parking for easy in and out. Located close to I-95!

This company’s latest product is available for preorder now! The jacket caddy is a unique gift for anyone heading to a concert or game at the stadium. Never worry about dropping your phone in large crowds again as you can attach it right to your jacket. If you or someone you know constantly needs to have their hands free but their cellphone nearby, this is the gift. Models are also available for your car, bicycle or lots of colors!

The Christmas Hurricane Centerpiece with red roses, berries, baby’s breath and a candle is a best-selling item year after year at Cedrone’s Flowers. Their arrangements can be ordered for a wide array of special occasions. Or choose from among a variety of flowers and plants for every season, including high quality roses and exotic blooms.

Philly Gran Caffe L’Aquila Maybe This Year A new holiday tradition? If you root for the Eagles as much as the die-hard fans in this documentary, then gather your friends and family for a movie night! Beginning on December 7th, Maybe This Year will be available on all major platforms including Apple TV, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, Google Play, and Vimeo on Demand. Read all about “Eagles Shirley” and Barry Vagnoni in this issue’s sports section.

GlowLab Spray tans, bronzing and a wide variety of skin treatments are available on-site if you’re looking to pamper yourself or a loved one. GlowLab welcomes everybody - no matter shape, size, race, gender or age! There’s a service and package just for you! All products are natural, non-GMO, gluten free, paraben free and cruelty free! Their website also sells (and ships) gifts like shirts, hats, jewelry and accessories.

Hot Waves Salon Head to Hot Waves Salon for a gift card and one of their favorite new product lines! Every guest is different and Total Results by Matrix has products to take care of individual needs and all types of hair. It’s all so beautifully fragrant and will leave your hair smelling fresh for days at a time. Plus, how can you say no with clever names like “A Curl Can Dream” or “Moisture Me Rich!”

October / November / December 2021

More than just a restaurant! Send a subscription of their signature Gran Caffé gelato, Italian coffee or olive oil. Sweet or savory gift boxes are available on their website, too. We think someone deserves the Dolce Experience box which contains various sweets of the Italian peninsula! And if you’re planning an epic holiday dinner, visit the Gran Market for Italian cooking products, luxury chocolates and sweets, traditional snacks, specialty desserts, and basic groceries like fruits and vegetables!


11th Hour Theatre Co. Head over to page 74 to learn more about this boutique musical theatre company based in South Philly! With so many of our theatres finally returning for in-person performances, a pair of tickets or a season subscription are ideal gifts for anyone who is ready to get back out there and support the arts! See what’s coming up at

Boaggio’s Bread Inc. This specialty wholesale bakery with clients from favorite Philly restaurants, casinos, and even airlines, is now open to the public so you can pick up breads, cakes, pastries, family style meals, freshly made sandwiches, pizza and pasta. All products are prepared to order and next day pick up is available, so plan in advance! Gift cards are the perfect choice for the carb lovers in your life or bring them something tasty for the holidays like a rum cake, cranberry white chocolate chip tea biscuits and handmade rolls in a variety of flavors and styles.

Hot Hands Massage & Facial Spa The name says it all. Grab a gift card for massage and skin care services. Hot Hands’ wellness team consists of top licensed massage therapists and estheticians in PA/’ll literally be in good hands! Book an appointment for yourself or a loved one online or through their “Hot Hands Studio” app. Hot Hands also carries Dermalogica Pro products for your skin, which is great for a stocking stuffer and some athome “me time.” Hot Hands can also order anything that may not be in stock and ship it to you for free!

Popi’s Italian Restaurant

Olivieri Jewelers Jewelry is a beautiful, timeless gift. But make it unique! Olivieri Jewelers suggests a Bulova watch. The shop also features the brand’s Sinatra line. Or how about a gorgeous diamond tennis bracelet? Initial necklaces are simple and meaningful. Contact the shop to create something custom made.

Family-owned & operated since 1993, Popi’s tried and true recipes are a local favorite. If you want to give the gift of authentic family food in the heart of Philadelphia, look no further! Pick up a gift card for everyone on your list!

Philly Pastificio Homemade Pasta Co. Return of the Prodigal by Michael Caudo This is a must for anyone who loves to read – especially if they love to read thriller novels! Nick has three days to turn over a stolen masterpiece, or he’s dead. The first problem is, he can’t seem to find it. The second problem? It might not even exist. And nothing is more valuable than something that doesn’t exist. Nick is stalked by a psychopathic killer, a crooked F.B.I. agent, and a Russian oligarch who are all convinced that Nick’s father kept the painting hidden for decades after it was stolen in the Gardner Museum heist. The clues Nick finds along the way reveal the one true masterpiece more valuable than any painting – a father’s undying love for his prodigal son.


PHL Athletics South Philly’s elite training gym isn’t as intimidating as it sounds! The team really prides itself in creating a community that feels like family. An amazing gift idea? How about an unlimited membership which gives full access to Fitness Works, the saltwater pool, sauna and more than 50 additional classes! Pick up some PHL swag, too, like a t-shirt or hoodie.

The Cutting Point This total image salon has a variety of hair products from many topof-the-line brands! The staff at The Cutting Point has been expertly trained to help you select the best products for your lifestyle and hair needs. Not sure what works best for your gift recipient? Grab a gift card instead. It’s always the right color and size!

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

Stop in or call to see what specialty packaged products they currently have in store! Need something traditional and Italian for your holiday baking marathons? They might just have it - like anise oil! Pastificio is also the only place in Philly that carries Martorano’s Spicy Sicilian and traditional Marinara jarred sauces! Consider some of Pastificio’s homemade pasta (obviously), meatballs or sauces when deciding what to bring to a party this holiday season. Or pick up a favorite packaged item. Hosting your own? Catering is an option, here! Oh, and give them a call and ask if they’ll bring back their Turkey Gobbler sandwich, this year - hot oven roasted turkey in gravy, stuffing and their signature cranberry-mayo sauce. You may not be able to wrap it up and give it as a gift, but you can certainly treat yourself!

Lombardi’s Prime Meats If you’re looking for a true taste of Philly this holiday season, head to this family-owned butcher shop for the finest USDA Choice & USDA Prime meats & prepared specialties. Beef, lamb, pork, veal, poultry, ready-to-eat favorites like chicken cordon bleu, turkey London broil, chicken stuffed with spinach and daily specials to tempt the palates of everyone on your gift list. Check out their Freezer Specials online & click or call to order. Family-owned & operated and three generations strong.

The Petal Pusher Florists & Decorators

Monica DiDonato and Nadia Petruzelli, owners

Maxine’s Uptown Boutique New to this shop in Pitman, NJ, is the recently installed aura and chakra reader that can read a customer’s electromagnetic energy. Interested? This feature is by appointment only. Owner Jinger Cahill also has more than 100 crystals in store. As a Certified Crystal Practitioner (CCP), she can share a wealth of facts and info on the pieces in her beautiful collection. Great gift ideas also include jewelry (most based in the stone) and luxury handbags. Gift certificates are available. Everyone is welcome. www.facebook. com/maxinesuptownboutique

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(near Nordstrom Rack, 2nd floor). Handicap elevators available.


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Call now for holiday suggestions and to book your deliveries! The Thomas Kinkade Warm Wishes Bouquet will be popular this year and includes a ceramic keepsake figurine. Telaflora’s rainbow or confetti bouquets are the perfect pick-me-up – filled with bright, fun colors.

Ten Pennies Florists

Pezone Cello A twist on the traditional limoncello with a wide selection of seasonal and year-round flavors. Pumpkin spice, chocolate mint, and eggnog flavors are available through December. Visit for a list of places to pick up a bottle.

Ten Pennies Florist has provided unmatched flower delivery to Philadelphia for the past 30 years. Not sure what would be the best gift? Get the best of the season by letting the designers at Ten Pennies flex their creativity and make a custom arrangement just for you! Need a last-minute gift? Same day delivery is no problem. Ten Pennies has also partnered with the DoorDash app so you can place a delivery order even if you miss the cut-off on their website!

Pre-order at W W W. A L L E N S C E L L P H O N E C A D DY. C O M

This new product will be a game changer for many people who lose their cell phone. The Jacket Caddy attaches to your jacket just like the military medals are installed. The holder is designed to allow your phone to slide in and out freely and is easily secured with a built-in set-screw to tighten the phone while in the holder. Allows hands-free conversation and can be used as a body cam immediately. Never lose or misplace your phone at a stadium game!

October / November / December 2021




Rolls photo of Jordan & mom Christine



❍ 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast ❍ 1/2 cup warm water ❍ 1/2 cup sugar ❍ 3/4 cup warm milk ❍ 2 large eggs ❍ 7 tbsp butter, divided ❍ 5 1/2 - 6 cups flour

Pour water and sugar into bowl, sprinkle yeast over top and stir. Let stand for 5-10 minutes until the mixture becomes foamy. Meanwhile, melt 6 tbsp of butter in a microwave safe bowl; set aside to cool. When the yeast mixture is ready, add the milk, eggs, and melted butter. Add in 4 cups of flour, one cup at a time. Pour mixture onto counter and slowly add remaining flour until the dough



❍ 1/2 cup butter, softened ❍ 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar ❍ 2 1/2 tbsp cinnamon


❍ 2 sticks butter, softened ❍ 1 box powdered sugar ❍ Vanilla to taste ❍ Milk for consistency


becomes a ball. Knead for 10 minutes. The dough should be tacky but not sticky and should bounce back when poked. Melt remaining butter into bowl and place dough inside. Cover with a towel and allow to rise for 60-90 minutes or until doubled in size. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon to make filling. Once dough is doubled in size, roll out into an 8x11 rectangle. Spread softened

butter around the dough, leaving a one-inch border. Evenly distribute brown sugar and cinnamon on top. Roll dough into a log by rolling the dough into itself from the top down. Use water to seal closed if needed. Cut down into 16 equal pieces and place into two greased baking pans. Cover with a towel and allow to rise for another 60 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and bake rolls

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE |July October / August / November / September / December 2017 2021

for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Use a hand mixer to beat two sticks of butter until creamy. Slowly add in powdered sugar until combined. Add vanilla for taste and milk to make the icing spreadable. Once the rolls are done, allow them to cool for 5 minutes before adding half the icing. Allow them to cool completely before adding the remaining half.

The Birthplace of Freedom

Still Has a King. 9th & Passyunk Avenue




Anthony, Vince & Vincent “Three generations; a team that is a cut above the rest.”

1801 Packer Avenue / Philadelphia, PA 19145 P: 215.940.2211 / P: 215.334.1212 / F: 215.940.2210 Photo by Andrew Andreozzi


❍ One 3lb. to 5lb. chuck roast ❍ 2 or 3 tbsp olive oil ❍ 2 whole onions, peeled and halved ❍ 6 to 8 whole carrots, unpeeled, cut into 2-inch pieces

❍ 1 cup red wine (optional) ❍ 3 cups beef broth ❍ 2 to 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary ❍ 2 to 3 sprigs of fresh thyme ❍ Salt & freshly ground black pepper



Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Generously salt and pepper the chuck roast. Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add in the onions, browning them on both sides. Remove the onions and set aside on a plate. In the same pot, add in carrots and toss until browned (about a minute). Set carrots aside. If needed, add more olive oil to the hot pot. Place the meat in the pot and sear it for about a minute on all sides until it is brown all over. Remove the roast to a plate. With the burner still on high, use the red wine or the beef broth (about 1 cup) to deglaze the pot. Scrape the bottom with a whisk. Place the roast back into the pot and add enough beef stock to cover the meat halfway. Add onions and carrots back in along with the fresh herbs. Place lid on pot and roast for three hours if you are using a 3 lb. roast. For 4 to 5 lb. roast, plan for 4 hours. The roast will be ready when it’s fall-apart tender.

1805-07 Washington Ave Philly, PA 19146 215.546.2233


W W W. C H I C K S P H I L LY. C O M Large selection of CRAFT BEERS available for Dine In or Take Out. Signature Cocktails. Wine. Spirits. 54

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021


A Taste For Tradition 700 Haddon Avenue Collingswood, NJ 08108 Call 856-854-2156 for reservations w ww . kitconcafe . com

Monday – Thursday: 4pm – 9:30pm

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Book your private parties | Home catering available

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Sunday: 12pm – 9pm Vo Sout ted “De he li 2013 rn Italia sh” Zaga n Far e, t Ra ting

Diner’s Choice Winner 2014- Voted One of the Top 10 Restaurants in the Philadelphia Area Zagat 2013 Exclusive Caterer of Fralinger String Band, Contact: or 856-854-2156





POINSETTIA Lehigh Valley with Love Media


Philly When it comes to holiday staples, one of our favorites is the cranberry. From can-shaped cranberry sauce to strings of popcorn and cranberries, cranberries and Christmas are the perfect pair. Start with a champagne flute to craft the always classic holiday cocktail, the Poinsettia! ❍ 1/2 oz Orange Liqueur ❍ 3 oz Cranberry Juice


❍ 3 oz Champagne


❍ Fresh Rosemary sprig

❍ Fresh cranberries

DIRECTIONS To a champagne flute, add cranberry juice and orange liqueur. Give it a good stir. Top off with the champagne. Add garnish to your discretion. That’s it!


1. This recipe doesn’t use ice. Make sure your ingredients are chilled before you start. 2. It’s preferable to use 100% cranberry juice, not cranberry juice cocktail. The cocktail version can be too sweet. But if you only have that version available, it’s fine to use in a pinch. 3. Same goes for the orange liqueur. You will want to use a nicer brand, however, if you have something else in your cabinet, it’s also acceptable. A small orange peel twist works, too. Just top off with more champagne. 4. Since the cranberry is so prominent, the champagne can be a little easier on the wallet. Many budget-friendly sparkling wines and champagnes work well. 5. Lastly, just have fun with it! If you’re looking for a fun, simple cocktail the whole family will enjoy, or if you want to sip on something tasty while you get some online Christmas shopping done, the Poinsettia is the perfect pick! (Bonus: It also makes Bing Crosby and Mariah Carey Christmas songs extra magical!)



Traditional Cacio e Pepe is a Roman pasta dish that literally translates to “cheese and pepper.” This recipe marries together the simple yet enjoyable comfort dish with the classic combination of peas and bacon, and one of my favorite winter squashes.


❍ 1 large spaghetti squash ❍ olive oil ❍ 1 tsp salt, plus more for seasoning ❍ 2 tsp Italian seasoning ❍ 2 tsp fresh cracked

black pepper ❍ 1 cup cooked peas ❍ 1/2 cup cooked bacon pieces ❍ 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese ❍ 1 cup mozzarella cheese

DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and pulp. Lightly brush the inside and edge of each half of the squash with olive oil. Season the oil-brushed squash with 1 teaspoon of salt and the Italian seasoning. Place the squash - cut side down - on the baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the squash from the oven, flip the squash over and let cool for a few minutes. Use a fork to shred the cooked squash so it looks like spaghetti strands. Shred most of the squash from each half but be sure to leave a thin layer of the squash in the skin to maintain the shape. Do not discard the two empty halves. Place the shredded squash into a large bowl. Drizzle a bit of olive oil and stir to lightly coat the squash. Season with additional salt to taste. Add the cooked peas, bacon pieces, pepper and Parmesan cheese to the bowl. Mix well. Fill the empty squash halves with the mixture. Top with the mozzarella cheese. Bake for an additional 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese starts to melt.

November / December 2021 g





A family recipe from her Dad, Dr. Richard Wright

The historic rebirth of one of Italy’s premier cafes

Authentic Italian on-line market & restaurant Mail Order Gelato Award Winning Coffee Luxury Chocolate Italian Olive Oils DOP Salumi & Formaggi Bath/Beauty * and more

You don’t have to stuff the Bird with this one. It’s delicious on its own.

yields 9 servings ❍ 1/2 cup of margarine ❍ 1/2 cup of chopped green pepper ❍ 1/2 cup of chopped Spanish onion ❍ 1/2 cup of chopped celery


❍1 1/2 lbs of crab meat ❍1 /2 cup of mushrooms (optional) ❍1 /2 cup seasoned dry breadcrumbs ❍2 tbsp of white sugar

❍ 1 box Jiffy cornbread or Krusteaz cornbread mix ❍ 2 cans of condensed cream of celery soup ❍ 1 (14.5 oz) can of chicken broth


DIRECTIONS Melt the margarine in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the green pepper, celery, onions, mushrooms, and crabmeat. Cook for about 5-7 minutes. Set aside. Follow the instructions on your box mix until cornbread is cooked throughout. In a large bowl, stir together the stuffing, the cornbread, the breadcrumbs, and the sugar. Fold in the vegetables and crab meat. Add the cream of celery soup and as much chicken broth as you like. Spoon into a 9x13 baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes in a preheated oven on 375 degrees.

1716 CHESTNUT STREET PHILADELPHIA, PA 19103 215.568.5600 W W W . G R A N C A F F E L A Q U I L A. C O M

Eat well while eating well.

October / November / December 2021





There are many traditional Italian foods used to celebrate the holidays. As a child, my grandmother would whip up a batch of dough batter and, with a large spoon, scoop a small ball of it into boiling olive oil until golden brown. She would toss them into a plate and sprinkle them with 10x powdered sugar. Smiles abounded - simple and sublime! This pumpkin version is perfect for enjoying autumn and Thanksgiving.


❍ 1 1/2 cups flour ❍ 3 tablespoons granulated sugar ❍ 2 teaspoons baking powder ❍ 1/4 teaspoon salt ❍ 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon ❍ Pinch of nutmeg

❍ 8 ounces fresh ricotta cheese, well-drained ❍ 1/2 cup pumpkin puree ❍ 2 large eggs, lightly beaten ❍ 1 teaspoon vanilla extract ❍ Oil, for frying ❍ Confectioners sugar

DIRECTIONS Fill a heavy-bottomed deep saucepan halfway with oil. Heat the oil to 375ºF degrees. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices together in a medium bowl. Add the ricotta cheese, pumpkin, eggs and vanilla extract to a separate medium bowl. Beat with a fork until mixed well. Pour over the flour mixture and stir until wet and dry ingredients are incorporated. Do not over-mix. Drop a small teaspoon of the mixture at a time into the heated oil. Fry until light golden brown, about 30 seconds on each side. Drain on a parchment lined baking sheet. Sift powdered sugar on top of the plated fritters.


| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021




or as long as I can remember, my trips to Chinatown would always consist of going to a Chinese bakery after having Dim Sum with the family. Almost always, there would be this very inconspicuous cupcake amongst all the pastries inside the paper box. My entire family always erred on the side of sweets and most of the pastries would usually be savory, but this one little cupcake would fit the bill for satisfying a mild sweet tooth. Hong Kong style cupcakes, pronounced as “tzee bao dan go” in Cantonese, are sponge cakes baked in tulip-shaped paper liners. Their texture is light and fluffy, very similar to their chiffon cake counterparts, but without the butter taste. Every time I get my hands on one of these, the smell and taste immediately bring me back to sitting at a table with either my dad or grandfather accompanied with a pot of freshly brewed jasmine tea. As an adult who’s moved out of Philadelphia with no Hong Kong style bakeries nearby, the internet provided the recipe to recreate these fluffy treasures with my daughter and build memories with her as she grows. *The original recipe was listed in grams, so I did the best I could with converting it to tablespoons and cups. ❍ 4 eggs ❍ 2 tbsp white sugar (to mix with egg yolks) ❍ 3 tbsp white sugar (to



mix with egg whites) ❍ 2 & 1/4 tbsp vegetable oil ❍ 1/2 cup milk ❍ 2/3 cup cake flour

DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 350˚F (or 180˚C). Line baking pan with cupcake liners, preferably taller or fluted liners. Separate egg yolk from egg whites and place in separate mixing bowls. Put egg whites in the fridge until ready to use. Whisk egg yolks, add sugar and whisk again. Add oil, milk, and cake flour. Whisk until blended and smooth. Set aside. Beat egg whites until foamy. Add sugar in 3 parts until mixture is stiff. Fold egg white mixture into egg yolk mixture until mixed. Do not over mix. Fill cupcake liners to 90%. Bake for 18 minutes. Use the toothpick test to check if it’s cooked through. Remove from oven and lay them on their sides to prevent the top from sinking.

A toast to the past with a taste of the future. PEZONE CELLO is a traditional Italian liqueur with a modern row home grown flair.

For purchases visit us at PEZONECELLO.COM or call us at (267) 374-7590 October / November / December 2021






Family-owned artisan specialty wholesale bakery with legendary, personalized service & unconditional commitment to quality since 1988. Shop at or in-person Wednesday to Friday: 11am – 5pm Saturday: 10am – 4pm 823 Eastgate Drive, Suite #3 Mount Laurel, NJ 08054

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Boston, March 18th, 1990. The greatest unsolved art heist of all time. South Philadelphia, present day. The search for the Rembrant continues.

❍ (4) figs, fresh (in season) ❍ 3/4 lb. prosciutto ❍ 1 cup of ricotta


❍ 1 large egg ❍ 1 tsp grated Romano cheese ❍ Fresh parsley

❍ Salt ❍ Cracked black pepper ❍ Golden honey


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“Nick has three days to find a stolen painting or he’s dead.” A gripping art heist thriller set in South Philadelphia.

Wash and quarter figs. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta, egg, parsley, grated cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Place blended mixture into a large ramekin or single serving size cobbler dish making sure either is microwave safe. Microwave for approximately 2:30-3 minutes until the center is firm but not dry or crumbling. Set aside to cool. In a small dessert dish, place quartered figs in the shape of a star leaving the center open. Fill with a helping of baked ricotta. Roll four individual slices of prosciutto and tuck in the outer sieves created by the shape of the aligned figs. Drizzle the entire presentation with good quality golden honey. Don’t overdo it. Repeat for four servings. You can use more parsley as decorative garnish. Hint: you can freeze fresh figs after washing and quartering them in a freezer bag for use all year long.

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021



RUSTIC BREAD SALAD INGREDIENTS ❍ I loaf of Boaggio’s rustic bread (or any other crusty bread) ❍ 1 can cannellini beans, not drained ❍ 1 cup prepared broccoli rabe or chopped broccoli ❍ 2 packages of cherry tomatoes, seasoned & roasted

❍ 1 yellow pepper ❍ 1 red pepper ❍ 1 orange pepper ❍ Sea salt to taste ❍ Coarse ground pepper, to taste ❍ 1/2 cup of granulated garlic (do not use fresh)

❍ A good extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), to taste ❍ A good wine vinegar, to taste ❍ 1/4 cup parmesan cheese ❍ 1/4 cup Romano cheese ❍ 1/4 cup asiago cheese

DIRECTIONS Simply cut up the bread into big chunks. In a large salad bowl, toss the beans, broccoli and tomatoes. Set aside. Saute all peppers and add to the above ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix together the sea salt, pepper, garlic, EVOO, wine vinegar and cheeses. Pour into the salad

bowl. Add in the bread and toss again. Let sit for about a half hour or longer to capture all the juices. Serve!

Meet me at the Penrose

PENROSE DINER 20th & Penrose Avenue Philadelphia, Pa.

215.465.1097 Open 7 days S-Th: 6 am to midnight F&S: 24 hours

Food for thought

S E RV I N G B R E A K F A S T, L U N C H & D I N N E R

October / November / December 2021






In memory of Concetta Mascitti INGREDIENTS

❍ 1/2 lb. butter ❍ 2 cups unbleached flour ❍ 2 cups chopped pecans

❍ 5 tbsp sugar ❍ 2 tsp vanilla ❍ 1 tbsp water ❍ 1/2 tsp salt


Cream butter. Add sugar, vanilla and water. Sift flour and salt together, stir into mixture. Add pecans. Mix thoroughly. Using portions about the size of a small walnut, roll into crescent shaped cookies. Bake at 325 degrees (about 20 minutes). While warm, you can roll the cookies in powdered sugar.


| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

Pat & Anna Scioli

Brand Name Designer Suits from Italy Sports Jackets • Pants • Dress Shirts Ties • Cashmere Top Coats Custom Alterations for men & women 1744 E. Passyunk Avenue 215.334.0990




LECHES CAKE (My copycat version)

I’ve seen many videos of how it is made, but there were too many steps and that is not for me! My sister knew of a bakery that sold this cake and we bought one for Easter, so I was willing to take a shot at making one myself. I decided to try a simpler, less expensive version and use a box cake mix to cut the time in half. Tres Leche, meaning “three milks,” is a cake for all seasons and a very requested family favorite. We will be adding this version to our holiday dessert table. ❍ 1 vanilla box cake ❍ *Follow directions/ ingredients but add a box of vanilla instant pudding


and an extra egg. ❍ 1 can evaporated milk ❍ 1 can sweetened condensed milk

❍ 2 cups heavy whipping cream ❍ 2 tbsp granulated white sugar



DIRECTIONS / DAY ONE Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the cake as per directions, including the additional egg and pudding mix. Pour into a greased pan. Bake for about 25 minutes or until done. Pour 1 can of condensed milk and 1 can of evaporated milk into a separate bowl. Mix. After the cake has cooled down, poke holes in it and pour the mixture over top until it is completely saturated. Cover with tin foil and refrigerate overnight. This will give it time to set.

DIRECTIONS / DAY TWO Pour 2 cups of heavy cream and 2 tablespoons of sugar into a bowl. Beat with a hand mixer until firm peaks form. I use this entire mixture to cover the cake, adding thick layers of this delicious whipped cream. Refrigerate for about an hour and it’s ready to serve. Dust with cinnamon and/or strawberries. Enjoy!



1921 South Broad Street Philadelphia, PA 19148 215-336-3557 800-248-3557

October / November / December 2021


PRH Brides Guide

John & Nicole Brennan A Dream Come True at Water Works by Joe Volpe



ello Philadelphia and all our Brides Guide readers! A new season is upon us, and we are so excited to welcome our classic fall and winter weddings! Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Philadelphia natives and Penn State alumni Nicole DeFino and John Brennan about their incredible Water Works wedding amidst the pandemic. I am happy to share their journey to each other, and ultimately, to Cescaphe!

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

Where did you meet? We met while attending Penn State. How did the proposal happen? It was a very intimate proposal with just us two, my sister and her now fiancé. He scrapbooked photos and memories of us through the years with the last page asking if I’d marry him. It’s one of my most treasured keepsakes. I keep it on my coffee table. Why did you choose a Cescaphe Wedding? I knew I was in the best of hands! Since I was a young girl, my dad always

said he wanted to give his daughter a Cescaphe wedding. John and I consider ourselves professional wedding guests and we always had the best experiences at Cescaphe weddings! What was your favorite part about wedding planning? The excitement! What was your favorite part of your wedding? Other than getting to finally marry John, and celebrating with all our family and friends, the ceremony under the gazebo at the Water Works. Unfortunately,

the Grand Pavilion was under construction at the time of our rescheduled wedding, but it ended up working out even better! What did you do to make your wedding day extra special? I took in and enjoyed every moment of it. What advice would you give to future brides and grooms? Just go with it. Be happy and take it all in! Your wedding day is one of the happiest days of your life. There may be some hiccups, but you should never let that take away from the bigger picture!

CESCAPHE Credits Client Development Associate: Lisa Lucke

Event Coordinator: Nikki McNelis

Event Manager: Nikki McNelis

Maitre D: Vince Wisniewski

Head Server: Elsa Puci


Cescaphe is a member of the PRH Business Network.

Ever keeping his eyes focused on the latest wedding trends, Cescaphe CEO/Chef Joseph Volpe is recognized as the area’s leading authority on ballroom bliss. With his innovative approach to the most important celebration of your life, his award-winning Cescaphe Ballroom, Tendenza, Vie, The Down Town Club, The Water Works and The Lucy combine a captivating ambiance with exquisite cuisine for an unforgettable experience. Visit or call 215.238.5750.


Venue: Water Works by Cescaphe

Band/DJ: In the Mix Event Group

Photographer: Dyanna Lamora

Florist: Beautiful Blooms

Invitations & Stationery: Chick Stationery

Transportation: Cescaphe Trolly

Dress Designer/Dress Shop: Berta / Wedding Factor

Hair: Alexis Burkhardt / Mane Bridal Makeup: C.E. Facial Artistry

Menswear Designer/Shop: Rudi’s Formal Wear

October / November / December 2021






by Dominique Verrecchio ounded in 1978, Rudi’s Formal Wear has been providing customers with fashionable tuxedos and custom designs for the most important affairs of their lives. Rudi’s credits their continued success to a few key factors. Quality. They deal with only the top manufacturers in the industry. Service. Customers enjoy an automated reservation and inventory control system that tracks your order from the time it is placed to your final fitting (with on premise tailoring).

Great pricing. Top trends and a best value guarantee keep Rudi’s customers coming back. PRH talked with Lisa Rudi about the business she runs with her husband Frank and the trending styles for 2021.

Q: How did Rudi’s Formal Wear get its start?

a: My father-in-law, Nazzareno Rudi (commonly known by his last name “Rudi”), opened the store on Oregon Avenue in 1978. At that time, Rudi was working in 66

the garment industry as a tailoring supervisor. The garment industry began to migrate down south from Philadelphia and he did not want to move his family. Rudi’s was originally a retail store selling designer jeans as well as offering custom tailoring, tuxedos, and alterations. In 1983, the store was converted to a men’s formal wear store offering both alterations and custom tailoring on the premises. In 1999, the business was passed to his son, Frank, and a second location was opened in Sewell, NJ. In 2018,

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

Rudi’s Formal Wear was invited to join the Tuxedo by Sarno network. This network of independently owned stores currently spans the East Coast from Virginia to Massachusetts. As a member of this network, our customers can choose to get measured, then pick-up or drop off at any one of our network partners. This network has added value for our customers and has expanded our buying power.

Q: What styles have you noticed are “in” for this season?

a: Slim, short length pants as well as jackets are currently the trend. Wedding parties and prom customers are looking for this type of fit. Velvet and a variety of tuxedo and suit colors (black, pink, burgundy, royal blue) are becoming very popular, too. Bow

ties are back and people want to look formal. Also, many grooms are interested in changing into a second jacket for the reception.

Q: What style of suits do people generally rent for the RowHome Magazine Blue Sapphire Awards?


a: Unlike 10 years ago, the rental

market offers customers a chance to express their individual style! Going to a black-tie event, like the Blue Sapphire Awards, is an opportunity for people to express themselves and we have many options available.

Q: What suits do you recommend for holiday parties?

a: We offer a complete line of suits in addition to tuxedo and dinner jackets that can be worn for holiday parties. Brown shoes with navy and gray suits and tuxedos are very popular. These items are available for both purchase

and rental. Velvet jackets in a variety of colors are also very popular.

Q: What’s in style for teens going to holiday dances at school or proms?

a: Again, tight fitting party

jackets, short pants at the ankle, formal loafers and bow ties are very popular. A touch of color to coordinate with your date’s dress, like a bow tie or pocket square, is a must. Many teens, as well as young adults, are now wearing designer sneakers with their formal attire. When this is done, pants are typically hemmed just above the tongue of the sneaker so that the designer’s logo/name is visible.

Q: What are people wearing for fall and winter weddings?

vest in lieu of the traditional V shaped vest, as well as fly front shirts. We are also finding that most brides are not wearing pure white. To coordinate properly, we carry a line of diamond white shirts.

Q: Does Rudi’s have a signature tuxedo or formal wear item to recommend?

a: Each event is unique in and of itself. Our recommendations depend on the venue, time of day/ year, your companion’s attire, and the customer’s style. It is our job to blend all these items together to achieve the best possible look for your event. We are here to help you create your vision. Q: What colors are in right now?

a: Weddings are elegant. Black is

always popular, however, navy blue and varieties of grays are also just as popular. Material vests to match the color of the suit, suspenders and bow ties. We also carry a scooped

a: Black is always in, but blue and gray are very popular. Q: What is your favorite style of suit?

black tuxedo and bow tie!

Q: Do you have any team members that you’d like to acknowledge?

a: In this time of personnel shortage, we have relied on our past employees to help us when they can. Several of our past employees have become like family and continue to come back and work during times of high volume. A few who come to mind are Nicole Cirillo and Samantha Landi. Both women are currently teachers and have worked with us throughout high school and college. They continue to work when asked and when they can. Also, everyone loves “Aunt Vera.” Although she has slowed down due to health issues, she worked with us for the past 20 years. Just like every industry, we are currently looking for reliable staff to join our team. PRH

a: Nothing beats a well fitted

Rudi’s Formal Wear is a member of the Philadelphia RowHome (PRH) Magazine Business Network.

October / November / December 2021


t ing a r b e l Ce ARS!


from the

50 YE


Staying HOT When it’s Cold Outside

“The Unusual Is Our Specialty”

Instagram: @bellaangelbrides Facebook: BellaAngelLLC

FLORIST & DECORATORS John & Joann Vacca Flowers For All Occasions

Winner- 2018 Readers' Choice Award!


2515 S. Broad Street / Philadelphia, PA 19148



WINTER MAY BE A COLDER TIME OF YEAR, but it is jam-packed with wonderful holidays. With masks coming off, this holiday season, the focus should be on your lips. We’ve been covering them up for so long! But as Coco Chanel once said, “If you’re sad, add more lipstick and attack.”

Lipstick is a must

Bella Angel Bridal Hair & Makeup

We come to you! Locations in Old City Philadelphia & Cherry Hill, NJ

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Choosing the best color before your attack is important. Basically, anything that draws more attention to your lips is the “right” lipstick. You want your lips to speak for you without saying anything. Plums and Reds are always a great choice. If you don’t wear any other makeup on your face, then lipstick is a must. You will feel confident, sophisticated, and powerful. My favorite from Charlotte Tilbury™ is Tell Laura. It’s the perfect warm orange red matte. If you love MAC™ then check out Diva. That shade is a bold classic red burgundy that’s sure to draw attention to your lips. If you’re not looking to break the bank on lipstick, another wonderful option is Fire & Ice by Revlon™. This lipstick is infused with vitamin E so it’s extra creamy and has been a best seller for more than 60 years.

Go Goth

Just in time for Halloween, those windows to your soul should be looking very “goth” this winter. Yes, I did say “goth.” If you don’t know what that means, think Morticia Addams but with more black eyeliner.

Magnetic Lashes are the rage

False lashes are a must, too. If you don’t know how to apply them, that’s okay. Most people struggle when applying lashes because they are difficult to apply, or the glue doesn’t work as one would hope. Companies have caught on and now you can purchase magnetic lashes. Magnetic lashes are all the rage. They are so easy to apply and stay in place all night long. Two big names in magnetic lashes are Glamnetic™ and Tori Belle™. There is no glue to apply, just magnetic eyeliner. Apply the eyeliner and wait two minutes for it to dry then apply your magnetic lashes and voila! It’s simple and great for a beginner.

Bejewel your face & body

Finally, it’s time to pretend you’re five years old again and get your crystals out to bejewel your face and body. I have talked about crystals in past articles, mostly because I love bling so much. This year, break out that crystal face and body jewelry and choose a color that works with your outfit. I always choose clear because it works with any outfit. It adds so much glamour and attention, and this winter season, we want to sparkle like the ice outside. Here’s wishing you a warmer winter – one you can heat up with these makeup tips.

Victoria DiPietro, Bella Angel Bridal Hair & Makeup, is a member of the Philadelphia RowHome Magazine (PRH) Business Network.

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

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Oldies cover band is back to booking gigs


by Jane Roser hris Rosato has been playing guitar for most of his life; along with keyboards, bass and drums, making him a true Renaissance man. In 2017, he decided to start a band dedicated to the Baby Boomer market - iconic, toe-tapping genres such as 1960s British Invasion, Memphis Stax and Motown. Rosato recruited his old high school buddy, Joe Pellegrino, to play bass, and mutual friend Al Fortino on drums. This trio formed the core


of the group then called Retro 5. They performed everything from The Beatles and The Rolling Stones to Aretha Franklin and Linda Ronstadt at bars, restaurants and private shows throughout Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Delco. Then COVID-19 hit. Bars were shuttered, restaurants closed or pivoted to take-out only and the country turned into a virtual ghost town. “We had to shut down,” Pellegrino recalls. “We were playing every two weeks before lockdown. A lot of the rooms we’d played closed for good. We were booked at this one venue every five weeks and they went out of business. We began practicing again once everything started reopening, but by then, two band members had left.” Renaming the band Retro Live, Pellegrino and Rosato recruited guitarist Rob Fiordimondo and vocalist/keyboardist Kristina DiSanto, which opened a whole new world of


possibilities. “We’re more versatile now,” Pellegrino says. “Kristina adds so much life to the band and we’ve adjusted our set, adding more songs suited to a female vocalist.” DiSanto laughs when I ask her how she joined the group. “I found them on Craigslist!” DiSanto never sang in front of a live audience before but decided to face her fears and discovered an oldies cover band on Craigslist looking for a vocalist. “I thought, well that seems safe!” Fiordimondo’s wife is the one who encouraged him to find a band to play with instead of constantly playing guitar in the basement. His brother found their ad looking for a guitarist. “Sure enough, I called, and these guys gave me a chance.” Retro Live held their first gig in a year-and-a-half this summer at The Fainting Goat in Glenolden. DiSanto’s brother traveled down from Boston to see her first show and the band was excited to play in front of

a live audience again. “We’re currently working on some new songs so we can switch our repertoire around more easily,” DiSanto says. “Joe and Chris had a lot of songs before Rob and I joined, but I can’t sing all of them because they don’t work with my vocals. So, we’re learning songs like “Runaround Sue,” “Brandy,” “My Girl,” “Stand By Me,” “I Will Survive.”” When I ask the group what they enjoy most about playing shows in Philly, they wholeheartedly agree that Philly audiences know how to have a good time. “I love that everyone knows the songs and are singing along,” DiSanto says. “You can see they’re having a great time because, you know, in Philly, no one hides their emotions! If we weren’t doing a good job, I think we would know.” Fiordimondo mentions how surprised he was when people started applauding at the end of every song. “I wasn’t used to that. Wow! It’s just a great feeling.” “When you start playing, you kind of flip a switch,” Pellegrino says. “You’re doing what you love, and people are enjoying it. It just makes it all worth it.” You can find upcoming shows announced on Retro Live’s Facebook fan page. They are also available for private show hires. PRH

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

Lightning Round Q&A! Favorite songs to play? Pellegrino: “I Will Survive,” “Be My Baby,” “(Love is Like a) Heat Wave” DiSanto: “Chain of Fools,” “(Love is Like a) Heat Wave,” “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” Fiordimondo: I like them all!

Toughest song to play? Pellegrino: “I Saw Her Standing There.” It’s non-stop bass! DiSanto: “Play That Funky Music” because there are so many freakin’ words! Fiordimondo: “Let it Be”

Which songs get the biggest audience reaction? Pellegrino: “I Will Survive,” “Play That Funky Music,” “Be My Baby” DiSanto: “I Will Survive.” That one always gets people up and dancing.




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by John Nacchio photo by Andrew Andreozzi he swinging smooth vocal styles of Rick Baccare have entertained and captured devoted audiences in the Philadelphia and New Jersey regions for more than 40 years. His musical selection has been dedicated to keeping alive the songs of one of the richest eras in music history known as the “The Great American Songbook.” Bobby Darin, Bobby Rydell, Paul

Anka, Sinatra, and Elvis Presley are all part of Baccare’s set list at any given performance. He also admires Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, Vic Damone, Jack Jones, Doris Day, Connie Francis and Mario Lanza, and pays homage to them on his musical journey. Baccare speaks passionately about Mario Lanza, a fellow Philadelphian, saying he has “one of the greatest natural musical voices of all time. His strength, range and quality exceed all others. I have been inspired, time and time again, by listening to this master voice.” Baccare was born and raised in South Philadelphia to Italian American parents. His childhood home was filled with music from the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s; songs composed by the Gershwin brothers, Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart and


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| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

Irving Berlin, plus the rock ‘n’ roll and doo wop sounds of that era. “I was surrounded with music and a special moment stirred me emotionally when a favorite aunt gave me a small portable record player with dozens of vinyl recordings.” He played them, listened closely, and fell in love with the musical sounds, emotions, and lyrical phrasing. In 1979, following graduation from St. John Neumann High School, he joined a band that made a smash appearance at the famous entertainment restaurant and nightclub Palumbo’s. The venue he says gave him the most experience at perfecting his art is Frederick’s Restaurant in the Queen Village section of Philadelphia. He went on to perform there for 14 years. Entertaining at Frederick’s also gave him the opportunity to meet and sing with some of his favorite celebrities who frequented the

restaurant including Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon and James Darren. “Singing on stage with Bobby Rydell – and Rydell playing the drums as part of the spontaneous musical jam – was an unforgettable and phenomenal memory,” he says. Baccare’s personal demeanor of “gentleman’’ is an asset his fans have come to admire through the years. Although he often has been a DJ or reflected styles of Frank Sinatra, he plans to be out of the shadows of great vocalists by exploring his very own musical style via upcoming album releases. “They will be a salute to my idols,” he says. “A Star Up My Sleeve is a salute to Elvis with soft crooner style vocals, and Lonely Town is dedicated to Sinatra’s saloon singer style. A third release will be a collection of swing numbers called Sharpen Your Fingers.” The wonderful vocals he continues to bring audiences in presenting his unique musical talents are at many private events either solo or in an ensemble. Listen to his music on Reverbnation or see him live and in person on Sunday afternoons at Stogie Joe’s Tavern on East Passyunk Avenue. PRH

45s Philly

“When Will I See You Again” by

The Three Degrees


by Geno Thackara


phia certainly has its share of the best. According to the folks behind Guinness Book of World Records, the city can also claim the longest-running female singing group out there. The Three Degrees have lasted from early 1963 to the present day - almost as long as the Rolling Stones, and without the endless old-age jokes. Granted, it hasn’t been the same group all along. Fayette Pinkney, Shirley Porter and Linda Turner started singing together between classes in high school. Even when they caught the ear of producer Richard Barrett and started to work on weekends, they never really considered it work. Everyone was in it for the joy of singing. With hard work and dedication, the group persisted. Even when life lured two of them in different directions, Pinkney carried on with new trio mates. Adapting to changes was already a habit by the time the Degrees

ing the iconic label’s support behind them, it meant working with Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff. 1973’s selftitled The Three Degrees included three songs co-written by the pair, and it’s no coincidence that they were the ones to become singles and ultimately hits. “Year of Decision” and “Dirty Ol’ Man” were catchy and sassy enough to earn some decent radio play. Even so, there’s one defining tune that most people associate with the group. “When Will I See You Again” is a time capsule of the ‘70s for sure. There’s the warm electric piano, the coating of slow-flowing strings, and the Latin-flavored percussion that helped define the sound of Philly soul. The timeless theme beneath the dressing is even more universal than it first sounds. As love songs go, Gamble and Huff keep this one more mysterious than most. The title is one that relates to everyone, especially with today’s levels of isolation. Beyond that, there’s still a wealth of possible meanings one can read into it. The ladies lead with some angelic cooing harmonies about precious moments. Ferguson soon takes the lead asking the key question, equally sad and sweet. Interestingly for a love song, though, there are more and more questions to follow. “Will I have to suffer / and cry the whole

night through?” could refer to being apart or being together (and for vastly different reasons). “Are we in love or just friends?” is a worrying thought between new partners and even worse for old ones. It’s never clear just what the relationship is or how it might turn out. There’s no tidy chorus to shed more light on things, either - just the ladies continuing to wonder and wonder again until everything fades out. Well, love songs aren’t always happy, after all. And there’s always going to be some mystery in life whether we want it or not. The single resonated with enough people to merit a #2 spot on the charts which arguably should have been #1, considering that it was only topped by Carl Douglas’s disco novelty, “Kung Fu Fighting.” Despite that small injustice, the Degrees’ biggest hit has only continued to resonate from then to now, much like their catalogue and, indeed, the group itself. Scott (who returned in the mid-’80s) and Holiday are still going today, most recently accompanied by Freddie Pool for the last decade. If it wasn’t for the ongoing pandemic, they’d doubtlessly be performing somewhere right now. As it is, the question of seeing each other still lingers - though hopefully with an actual answer still to come. PRH

October / November / December 2021


ew York City had the Ronettes and the Shangri-Las; Atlanta had Gladys Knight and the Pips. San Francisco gave us the Paris Sisters, the Pointer Sisters and Love Unlimited. The most famous mother lode of R&B girl groups came from Motown - the Marvelettes, the Jones Girls, Martha and the Vandellas, and the Supremes. Regardless of which area produced the most, Philadelrecorded their first single, “Gee Baby,” in 1965. Helen Scott, who stepped in as one of those early replacements, soon stepped out to trade the music biz for married life and family. Her replacement, Sheila Ferguson, hung around for a couple of decades before moving on to a solo career. A remarkable 15 Degrees have come and gone and come again during the group’s existence. Pinkney, Ferguson and longtime mainstay Valerie Holiday happened to make the lineup at the Degrees’ highest peak. It was one step up after another through the mid ‘70s: they hit the top 10, appeared in the occasional movie and TV sitcom, and worked their way through several record companies before landing at the iconic Philadelphia International Records. They’re the ones singing the only lyric line in MSFB’s otherwise-instrumental hit “T.S.O.P. (The Sound of Philadelphia).” It was natural that their own next release would hit gold. Besides hav-



have a deep, passionate love for musical theater. I love when a character is too emotional to speak how they are feeling, so they sing or put it to movement, instead. But I know that musicals can be seen as “cheesy” or “fluffy” to many people. Enter 11th Hour Theater Company, a boutique musical theater company based in South Philly. Flashy showstoppers and big budgets won’t be found here. 11th Hour brings small, intimate, character-driven musical theater to Philadelphia with 21 full-scale musicals prior to this season. Steve Pacek, who co-founded the company 17 years ago, recently transitioned from Artistic Associate to Artistic Director. He and his team strive to find an accessible way for audiences to come and experience the magic of a musical. “We want to find a way that doesn’t scare people but also celebrates all parts of the musical.” The company has received more than 50 Barrymore Award nominations (with 15 wins) since its inception. When asked why 11th Hour solely focuses on musicals, Pacek says it comes down to the obvious - music. “We all have a passion and a love of music and the power of music. It’s a time machine that can transport you to different emotions, different memories, different feelings. So, musicals are that part of theater that has that magic portal to be able to transport an audience to places far away from reality.” 11th Hour likes to push the limits of what people expect from musicals. In fact, Pacek is thinking of new and immersive ways of presenting them. “What I’m really interested in exploring is how people experience theater differently. What I mean by that is by thinking outside of the box of a theatrical space and possibly doing some more site-specific things. How do you take something like a show and put it into a real-world environment like a bar and still create the art form we create which is musical theater?” The 21-22 season will take place at Christ Church Neighborhood House in Old City. The venue is the biggest that the company has used at 126 seats, but the feel is still going to be small and intimate. The first show, Soon, follows a woman as she hunkers down in her home during the end of the world. Sound familiar? Though Pacek didn’t say the show was necessarily inspired by the pandemic, it was part of why it was chosen for their first production in 18 months. “Hopefully, we provide some gateway for our audience to see situations that they have been in, or they can kind of see people working their way through difficult situations so if they are in a difficult situation, they’d be inspired because they’ve seen something like that happen,” he explains. “They have an example to help them get through it.” As for theater in a post-covid world, Pacek is looking forward to a time where we can be in our own “Roaring ‘20s.” “I definitely hope we can experience being in a room with people, laughing and singing along carefree without having to wear a mask; where we can get back to that point and enjoy ourselves again fully.” In the meantime, Pacek is on a mission to inspire kindness. “If I can help inspire the community here at 11th Hour... and help inspire the world around us to practice empathy and what that looks like, I believe the world can start to get back to being a kinder experience and place.” Soon opens on October 28th and runs through November 7th. A world premiere concert, PROUD: A Cabaret in Color, takes place January 14th to 23rd. A final production, running April 23rd to May 1st, is Sweetwater, about the female pilots of World War II. For tickets and up-to-date health/safety info, visit PRH


On a mission to inspire kindness

by Marialena Rago


| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021


FASHIONS FIT FOR A QUEEN Designer Kenny Bonavitacola reflects on his custom couture for Aretha Franklin


| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

by John Nacchio


enny Bonavitalcola, the South Philly born and New York based fashion designer, and a PRH Blue Sapphire Award winner, recently celebrated the release of the new Aretha Franklin biopic Respect by talking to me about his time designing outfits for the Queen of Soul herself. The movie, starring Jennifer Hudson as Aretha, concentrates on the singer’s early years, prior to Kenny becoming an exclusive designer for all her concert attire. Respect is available to rent now on Amazon Prime Video.


Q: Many people do not get the opportunity to meet or work with famous people. How did you meet Aretha and become her designer?

a: In January 2001, I received a

call from my friend and former business partner, Ira Rosenfeld. He had become friends and a business associate of Aretha Franklin. The Queen of Soul was going to be honored by VH1 with a live television special, VH1 Divas Live: The One and Only Aretha Franklin. It was to take place at Radio City Music Hall on April 10, 2001. As such, Ms. Franklin would need an extensive wardrobe that included pieces for her performance plus the receptions before and after the show. She was very

clear that this would require made-toorder pieces on a couture level and that she wanted to collaborate with a designer. She asked Ira if he could introduce her to a designer and act as a liaison. Ira immediately thought of me, knowing that I had the expertise required for this project. What he did not realize was that I had the qualifications, but not the time. I had just started a very time-consuming position and had to decline taking on the project. My friend asked me to reconsider. I requested 24 hours of reflection. It happens to be that I’ve always had an affinity for dressing very curvy women. To anyone who knows my South Philadelphia roots, they are aware of my father’s sister, Aunt Marion. She was my most avid fan and supported my dream to become a fashion designer. Aunt Marion was (as they would describe her back then) “big

boned.” In my teens, I would design many of her special occasion gowns. My maternal grandmother, an accomplished dressmaker, Elizabeth Scopi, would make them from my sketches. Aunt Marion passed away in July 2000. I was heartbroken. But I knew how proud she was of me. I needed to muster up the tenacity to continue moving forward toward the path of realizing her dreams for me. On the way home that evening, I stopped in a bookstore. Low and behold I happened upon the Aretha Franklin autobiography, From These Roots. The opening page read, ‘Aretha Louise Franklin was born on March 25, 1942, in Memphis Tennessee.’ March 25th was my Aunt Marion’s birthday. I had to take on the project!

Q: Can you share a personal interaction moment revealing a bit of what Aretha was like?

a: I’ve many memorable moments with

Aretha Franklin. Many took place during the fitting process. There are times when a couture fitting could take hours on end, and they require patience and stamina

October / November / December 2021



from the client. It always astonished me that no matter how tired she may have been, there was never a time where she was not focused and willing to respect the process by giving her undivided attention to details. Although she was demanding, she knew what she was talking about. During the fitting process, while my technical team was busy making adjustments, I would find myself chatting with Aretha about our mutual love of classic films and the costumes in them, on Turner Classic Movies, as well as her favorite singers. She was a big Bette Davis fan. So am I. Along with Aretha Franklin, my two favorite singers are Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland. I was a bit surprised when she told me they were her favorites, too. ‘I’ve never heard either one of them sing a false note!” she told me. On a personal note, the story that always brings tears to my eyes is from 2006. Aretha was appearing at Caesars in Atlantic City. Since my parents have a home close by in Longport, I asked her management to see if it was possible for me to attend one of the concerts with my mother and father. Aretha told her people to give me as many tickets as I wanted and that she would like to meet my parents after the show. I was also told that she gave explicit instructions that no one was allowed backstage that night except my guests and me! Needless to say, my parents were ecstatic. We, along with my sister and brother-in-law, were escorted backstage to meet The Queen. My mother extended an invitation for Aretha to come back to our house for White House Subs cheesesteaks and hoagies. She declined, saying, ‘Oh, thank you! I love me a good Philly cheesesteak, but I’m watching my waistline!’ And then - this is


the part that always gets me choked up - as she got up to walk to her limousine, she looked straight in my parents’ eyes and said, ‘You did good.’ My father has since passed but knowing that Aretha Franklin said those words about me to him will live on in my heart forever.

Q: What were her favorite pieces that you designed for her? Where are the dresses now?

a: The answer here is what is bet-

ter known as a ‘no brainer.” Over the 15+ years that I was Aretha’s exclusive designer for all her concert gowns plus a few cocktail dresses I created – the white silk satin faced organza ruffled jacket and matching mermaid gown that I designed (and stitched myself) for her triumphant return to Los Angeles’ Greek Theatre in 2004 was her personal favorite. I know this because upon putting on the pieces in our final fitting, she exclaimed, ‘Kenny, I doubt that you’ll ever top this! I responded with, ‘Maybe. But that won’t stop me from trying!’ And for all the years that followed, it became a running ‘joke’ between us. I would ask her, “So, how about this one? Does it top the white ruffled number?” ‘Close. But no cigar!’ she replied. As to where the approximately 30+ pieces that I designed for Aretha Franklin are presently – the person that they were bequeathed to recently informed me – in storage. It has not been decided yet what is to be done with them. I have heard that there are auction houses, along with museums, that are interested in them. I hope that someday in the near future, I will be asked to view them in an effort

to assess whether or not some of them need any restoration.

Q: What did Aretha think of Jennifer Hudson?

a: Jennifer Hudson’s American

Idol audition song was a cover of Aretha’s “Share Your Love With Me.” During the 2014 season, when Jennifer Hudson was a contestant on American Idol, Aretha and I would discuss Jennifer’s abilities. She had nothing but praise for her. She’d say, ‘It doesn’t matter if she wins or not. That girl’s got it!’ Jennifer Hudson was voted off in seventh place. A few days following that night, I was on my way to a fitting with Aretha Franklin in NYC. Jennifer was in town doing the talk show circuit. As I turned a corner, holding the garment bag with Aretha’s gown in it, there stood Jennifer Hudson. I would normally never approach a celebrity on the streets of NYC, but this was one occasion where I simply could not resist. I apologized if I was invading her privacy, then explained that I was Aretha’s designer and that the gown in the bag was for Aretha. She responded, ‘Oh! It is not. You are not!’ I said, ‘I know. Sometimes I can’t believe it myself. But I am!’ I added, “Someday in the future, I would love to design something for you!’ ‘Well. ALL RIGHT!’ she exclaimed. Then we were both on our separate ways. On August 11, 2021, 17 years after that chance meeting, the film’s incomparable costume designer, Clint Ramos, invited me to the NYC premier. Upon entering the after party, standing alone in front of me was Jennifer Hudson. Realizing that within seconds she’d undoubtedly be surrounded by a gaggle of fans, I wasted not a moment. I walked right

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

up to her. She grabbed my hand as if we had known each other forever! To call her gracious and welcoming would be a gross understatement. I introduced myself then recalled, never expecting her to remember, the first time we met in 2004. I reminded her of my desire to design something for her. Although it was quite noisy, I could swear she said the same thing as the first time I expressed my wish to design for her… ‘Well. ALL RIGHT!’ Whether or not this will come to fruition – I’ve no idea. But the intention is out there in the Universe now.

Q: What’s next in your career?

a: First and foremost, on my

agenda for 2022 is a retrospective of my work from 1977 through the present day. The title of the installation is Kenny Bonavitacola REFLECTING FORWARD. I’m in the process of amassing as many of my vintage pieces as possible. The exhibition will launch at a venue in New York City with the goal to move it in the Fall of 2022 to a venue in Philadelphia. As well, I’m creating Haute Couture pieces that reflect the influences that my past designs have on these new designs. Also, I am developing an original musical play entitled, “WOW!” inspired by the lives of a group of friends who moved from Philadelphia to New York City in the mid 1970s to pursue their dreams of ‘making it’ in the worlds of fashion, beauty, art and theatre. The sets, costumes, lighting and multi-media effects will create a visually compelling theatrical experience. The arc of the libretto spans over 50 years, from 1960 to present day NYC. PRH

Byberry Asylum


ear has a way of taking hold as it washes over you. Shallow breathing, rapid heart rate combined with a splash of adrenalin is your body’s way of preparing you to run. Nervous energy, along with a heightened awareness of our surroundings, amplified the sounds of the night as we ventured onward, crunching over dried leaves towards our macabre destination. I grew up a few miles from the

Philadelphia State Hospital at Byberry. Byberry was a psychiatric hospital

photo by Matt Derrick


in Northeast Philly that opened its doors back in 1907 with the best of intentions to assist the mentally and criminally insane. Lack of funding, scathing reports of mistreatment and deplorable living conditions, among other things, led to its shutdown in the late eighties. With more than 50 buildings, most of which connected via underground passageways, it seemed like a perfect place to go exploring at the time. At the time - no one warned us of the Curse of Byberry Asylum. Nor did anyone warn us that nightmares were real. Mischief night was as good a

time as any to explore our deepest fears. Tortured screams followed by childish laughter joined the choir of muffled voices echoing incoherently inside and outside our heads. As we ventured through the darkness, we suspected we were being followed. Autumn’s crisp evening air crept through my dungaree jacket finding an uncomfortable resting place directly on my spine. In the shadowy glow of a harvest moon, whispers thick as cigarette smoke regaled the troops with stories of neglect, torture and Satanic worship inside the asylum. Trying my best to shake the chill of October from my body, I questioned which of the vacant buildings we would enter first.

Those fortunate enough to grow up in the ’80s are the product of what I’ll gratefully describe as out of sight, out of mind free-range parenting. Don’t ask, don’t tell was a common theme from my generation. It wasn’t out of the ordinary for parents to be somewhat unaware of what their children were doing once they left the house. In fact, everything was fine and dandy. Even when their kids were off confronting their inner darkness inside a house of horrors. All was well as long as they were home by curfew and didn’t track mud across the carpet. We shivered and shook our way from room to room inside the asylum. We swore never to speak about what we witnessed. In the distance, we heard a door slam and the shattering of glass and then we were gone. Back home, sleep eluded me as I laid in my comfortable bed, wide-eyed under several layers of warm sheets. In the proceeding weeks, my imagination created

October / November / December 2021



The Curse of

some scary scenarios of what might have happened in those rooms. I often wonder how much worse it really was. I have little doubt that Byberry was haunted by hundreds of restless souls that were mistreated, tortured, and experimented on over the years. Stranger things and unexplainable happenings were well-documented by hospital staff and Philly Police over its 70 years in operation. I realized some years later that what followed me and my friends on that evening and throughout our childhood wasn’t the Curse of Byberry Asylum, but the freedom to explore our creativity. Whether we were building tree forts, racing go-carts, making movies, or holding our annual spook house, my friends and family always provided the spark needed to ignite creativity’s fiery blaze. At times, I try to keep it at bay, but it digs and scratches at me until I let it out to feed. Happy Halloween. PRH



Celebrating Thanksgiving the

Italian way by Josephine B. Pasquarello


he “City of Brotherly Love” is known for the Liberty Bell, the Mummer’s Parade, and is home for many Italians that sailed across the ocean in search of a better life. Proud of their new home and even more proud of their history, they combine traditions to show their Italian American heritage.


Today is Thursday, November 26, 1959. Thanksgiving Day! The entire family is busy in the kitchen. Glancing in the oven, my mother and sisters are laughing at how big the turkey is, but once the smell of the sage and poultry seasonings begins to escape, we all breathe in at once. During that small silence, my stomach begins to growl, and everyone looks at me and begins to laugh. I head back to the table to fin-


ish my breakfast with some of my brothers and sisters. Next to our table is the working table where my oldest four sisters are making the dough and the filling for the raviolis. We younger kids are being told by our bossy sister, Trudy, to hurry and eat because they need our table for the homemade food. George and John go over to the pot on the stove for another meatball before Trudy and Christine throw them out of the kitchen. Growing up in a 2nd genera-

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

Life & Wellness Coach

“Get out of the kitchen unless you want to help!” tion Italian home was all about love, respect, loyalty, and most importantly, food! We are always eating. My mother makes everything from scratch with love. It is just as much fun making homemade Italian food as it is to eat it. Grace is calling out to us kids from the living room, “The Gimbels Parade is on the television.” To prove her point, she turns the volume up on the television, once we run in to watch it. She says, “This parade has been around since 1920.” We stop paying attention to her as we see the beautiful costumes with all the bright colors. My favorite part of the parade is the end when I get to see Santa. We all sing, “Santa Clause is Coming to Town,” as we watch him climb the ladder and go into Gimbels store to enter Toyland. He is busy till Christmas making all the toys with his elves. I always think to myself, I better be good or Santa won’t like me. But with 12 kids and my father dying four years ago, my mom can’t buy us toys. That’s okay with me, I have my family. However, when I get old enough to work, I am going to buy everything I want. You can smell the meatballs and braciole cooking in the pot of gravy. Today is going to be a feast in our Italian American house. I run into the kitchen, grab a piece of crusty Italian bread, and let it soak up the gravy and pop it into my mouth. That’s the best! Trudy sees me and yells, “Get out of the kitchen unless you want to help!” I couldn’t get out of there any quicker than I did! My brothers are yelling at Carmella, Antoinette, and Anna. “When the football game comes on the television, it belongs to us! So, enjoy your parade while you can.” Our brothers love to torment us four younger sisters. Our older sisters would knock them out if they gave them any lip. When my sisters start to argue with them, John says, “We have to watch the football game, it’s a tradition!” He puts his hand up to silence us and says, “The first Thanksgiving football game took place here in Philly in 1869!” My other brothers nod their heads at us to bring home John’s

point. Carmella stamps her foot and says, “Who cares!” But Carmella doesn’t get far with them. John and George tell her to shut up and now she’s crying. She always cries when she argues with them. I just watch and laugh because she doesn’t know when to be quiet. Mom is calling, “Carmella, Josephine, Antoinette and Anna! Your sisters need your help.” We all run in the kitchen like soldiers! We all have a spot to stand at by the table, just like a pasta factory. I get to put the ricotta on the pasta. I love this job because at the end, I get to eat some of the ricotta. And oh my, it is so tasty with the parmesan cheese in it. The boys are all yelling because their team is losing. Ralph’s cursing at the television. I quietly go over to John on the couch and sit next to him. He looks down at me and I give him an innocent smile and call him a “sissy boy!” I see his eyes widen when he realizes what I said to him, and I jump up to run upstairs. I feel a shoe fly by my head and start to laugh because I know he purposely missed me. My brothers would never hurt one of us girls. Mom comes out into the living room and says the words we have all been waiting for, “It’s time to eat.” The three tables are set. First, our Italian food is put out on the tables. I am in the dining room sitting next to John. He is always fun to sit next to because he always has a joke to tell. He just makes me laugh even when he isn’t talking. I eat ravioli, meatballs, salad, and bread. Next comes the turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, and most importantly, the roll with melted butter! It wasn’t Thanksgiving without these rolls. Mom comes out with roasted chestnuts and red wine. For dessert, pizzelles with anise seeds, and pumpkin pie. I have the pumpkin pie because I am American now. As I sit and watch everyone enjoying themselves, I am filled with happiness. Every time I think of this memory, I feel so happy and thank God for everything he has given us. Especially my Mother. Happy Thanksgiving! PRH

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October / November / December 2021




Salute to Good Neighbors by Robert L. Woodard The Wynnefield Barber


o be a good neighbor, respect for the highest form of life, a human being, is essential. Unlike material things in this world, the loss of a human life is irreplaceable. At Woodard’s Barbershop, on the corner of Bryn Mawr and Lebanon Avenues, we have “Barbershop Talk,” where we work on the head and in the head. We experience the miracle of many gifts by bringing wisdom and knowledge together to witness the creation of an explosion of our universe called understanding. In all our getting in this life, we should all seek the gift of more understanding. Thinking outside the box allows us to see where we really are in the present. We live on earth, yet earth lives in space. Hence, the question becomes, “So where do we really live?” We are all one big family in the vastness of a wonderful place called space. With that thought in mind, ask yourself, “How do you view race? Is it singular or plural to you?” This


question makes you pause to think. Yet, in your heart and soul, you already know the answer is singular, not plural. The reason for your hesitation to answer the question is because we all have been taught to believe that there is more than one race. This divisive way of thinking has divided us as human beings. The future of our children depends on how we teach them in the present. The fighting we see around the world and on the streets of this nation is happening because we are not taught to regard the value of what it really means to be a human being. All forms of life on earth deserve esteem, but we first must start with ourselves. We must learn to respect ourselves as “One Race.” Then, we as “One Family” can start to teach all children of our future how to save life and not take life. Seeing our race as singular not plural opens a new door of thought with our seniors and our youth, to love your neighbors, around the world and in every community, as you love yourself. Hence, if you change your thoughts, you can truly change the whole world.

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

I respect and salute all good neighbors of every color, shape, and size, in every neighborhood, because each one reflects what we can be. Loving our neighbors, as we love ourselves, puts the ultimate value on human life. By educating our youth equally and properly, we can help our society remove systemic educational discrimination in our public schools. Each child deserves an opportunity for a fair and just quality education. Good neighbors can change the world for the better. I salute them because they are the glue that holds communities tightly together and they help to bring our communities out of darkness into light. Remember, the truth is light, and the truth will set an entire community free of violence. We recently observed the 20th year remembrance of 911, where I lost one of my best neighbors, Mr. Kevin Bowser, who worked at the World Trade Center. Kevin will forever be an example of what a good neighbor should and can be. Take the “RACE Test” today for a better way at PRH


is a

Puzzlement by Jim Gildea


Not everybody thinks the way you think, knows the things you know, believes the things you believe, or acts the way you would act. Remember this and you will go a long way in getting along with people. -Arthur Forman n June of 2014, I said goodbye and thank you to my 43rd – and final – group of English classes, as well as Room 113, at Neumann-Goretti High School. I then positioned myself the following September two doors down the hallway for several hours a day during the next four years in our Guidance Office, as a way of dipping my toes slowly into the waters of full retirement. During my final year that was spent overseeing the progress


of transfer and first year students, I had cemented the decision to downsize from two residences to one in order to spend my retirement in Longport, New Jersey, when 2018’s academic year came to an end. I am now poised to tackle my fourth winter at the shore. Swinging on the pendulum between the soothing peacefulness and biting isolation that living at the beach

conjures up during the off-season months, I have come to adjust both my expectations and my routine. One of my morning distractions involves online crossword puzzles. I have managed to boost my vocabulary while the wintry winds whip around my house, as well as strive to erase a significant imperfection in my character. Many crossword clues have more than one sense, part of the craftiness of the skilled folks who piece together these pastimes. I might

interpret a prompt one way, such as assuming that “bridge term” refers to a card game, to discover that it’s not the intention of Merl Reagle or Barb Olson, realizing as I tackle their other puns and word plays that I am to view bridge as something cleaned by Polident. If I want to enjoy the satisfaction of completing a puzzle, it’s really not about how I interpret the clues, is it? A good friend of mine cautioned me that my biggest problem is expecting people to think and act the way I think they should think and act. I see that such a mindset stands in the way of tackling any crossword puzzle. More so, I work to continue reminding myself that I must approach the words and actions of my friends and family in precisely the same way. PRH

October / November / December 2021



The Ultimate Sneaker by Charlie Sacchetti


t is safe to say that there were very few, if any, people in my Southwest Philly neighborhood that could be called “bluebloods.” Very few dukes and earls worked in the factories of Westinghouse and General Electric, the two largest employers in our area. What my neighborhood could boast, however, were hundreds of hardworking, honest, and moral men who carried their lunch buckets each day and gave 100% to the jobs that allowed them to provide for their families. In the ’50s, when I was a kid, things were different. Mothers rarely worked outside the home. They


were too busy caring for their kids and handling the endless business of managing the home. These capable women generally did a wonderful job and I’m proud to say that my mother was one of them. Like most factory workers, my dad never made a lot of money. At the Westinghouse plant in Lester, PA, he was a member of the Electrical Union and wages depended on the current terms of the contract. Back in those days, like now, salaries were never quite enough to put one on “easy street.” Therefore, it was incumbent


upon Mom to make every dollar stretch. Boy, she sure could do that. I distinctly remember Mom buying Welch’s grape juice. She realized that drinks like lemonade and grapeade were part juice, part water, so she cut out the middleman by mixing one part water with four parts Welch’s. The result was 25% more volume of a tastier drink as compared to the others. However, I must confess: On the QT, I would pour a few ounces of the high test into a cup and enjoy the juice as nature intended it. Mom always knew which stores had the best prices for the assorted items

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

she needed. Vic’s Cold Cuts, at 64th Street and Buist Avenue, was the place to go for lunchmeat. Vic’s wife ran the store and was a true believer in her products. The rolls of Genoa salami, ham and provolone were no match for the slicer and her agile hands. The best part of the slicing process was when she would help herself to a fresh piece of salami and give you one, too. No doubt this practice was done only in the interest of quality control! The Acme, on the corner of 65th Street and Elmwood, was the best supermarket, while Al’s was the butcher shop of choice at 64th Street and Dicks Avenue. Now, I must note here that Mom didn’t drive, so while we were at school, she had to walk to all these places and carry the bags. She and the other neighborhood mothers were happy to make that sacrifice to guarantee the best values for their families. So, knowing the frugality of

dear Mom, it was with some trepidation that, at the age of 12, I approached her with an idea. I was a kid who was always outside playing sports. Day in, day out, if given a chance, outside I would be. Like most kids my age, I was very tough on footwear, especially sneakers. Mom would buy me a pair of PF Flyers or the like, and they would only last me three weeks or so before my big toe saw daylight! About this time, I became aware of the sneaker of all sneakers: Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars. Aside from looking great, they were reputed to wear like iron and help you perform to your athletic pinnacle. Every NBA basketball player wore Chuck Taylors, as did just about every college player. Simply put, they were the best, but I knew I would have to overcome one big hurdle if I hoped to successfully persuade Mom to buy me a pair. PF Flyers cost about $3. Converse sneakers cost almost $9. After being extra sweet for a whole week and getting into no trouble, whatsoever, I decided to open my proposal by giving Mom a big hug and telling her how much I loved her. At that point, she knew something was up, but her little Sicilian smile told me I had a shot. I promised her that the Converse high-tops would last me at least six months because of their superior workmanship. I vowed to take extra-good care of them. No running through puddles, tree climbing, etc. Then I delivered the clincher.

Our neighbor was the manager of the South Philadelphia Boys Club at Broad Street and Oregon Avenue. He had a contact at a large sporting goods store on Spring Garden Street in Center City and could arrange for us to get a discount on the sneakers. Mom would pay $7.25 instead of $9. To my relief, all my points were well-received, and she said, “Yes.” I have shared the next part of the story with my kids as one of the best examples of how a parent can teach her child a valuable lesson while demonstrating sacrifice and love. On a very hot August day, Mom and I hopped on the number 36 trolley car to City Hall and walked eight blocks to the sporting goods store. The total trolley fare for both of us was 88 cents. I got my sneakers. Including the trolley fare, we saved about 90 cents on the transaction. What did I learn that day as a 12-year-old? I learned that if you can present your case in a way that makes sense, you have a good chance of prevailing. I learned that even limited funds might be spent if the cost can be justified. Lastly, I learned that seeing the smile on my face was worth far more to Mom than that 90 cents. Charles Sacchetti is the author of two books, It’s All Good: Times and Events I’d Never Want to Change and Knowing He’s There: True Stories of God’s Subtle Yet Unmistakable Touch. Both are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other online outlets. Contact him at PRH

I was a kid who was always outside playing sports. Day in, day out, if given a chance, outside I would be.



Celebrating 86 Years of Catholic Secondary Education in South Philadelphia

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October / November / December 2021



FABSCRAP Reduce, Reuse, Recycle - And Re-think by GENO THACKARA images courtesy of FABSCRAP


If clothes are your hobby, fashion is your job, or you’re just into sewing or quilting for fun, pay attention to the name FABSCRAP. The small nonprofit has become a hidden but very effective craftsperson’s resource through the New York City area since 2016, collecting and recycling tons (literally tons) of clothing-industry materials discarded by manufacturers before the final product makes it onto the rack. “I was working at New York City’s department of sanitation and overseeing the city’s clothing-recycling program,” founder Jessica Schreiber explains about the company’s small-scale start. “I started hearing from some fashion companies who were wondering what 86

they could do with their textile waste that wasn’t clothing yet - extra fabric and leather, buttons, zippers, yarns. There really wasn’t a great place to send them. You don’t go to Goodwill because you’re looking for three yards of silk, for example. I realized that we needed a thrift infrastructure for the raw materials, the same way we have a thrift infrastructure for used goods.” Since then, FABSCRAP - a small staff of a dozen joined by a large army of volunteers - has kept more than 891,000 pounds of waste from going to landfills, simply by connecting mountains of discarded material with people who can use it. Fresh off celebrating its five-year anniversary, the outfit’s next step will be a retail store and warehouse due to open

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

in South Philadelphia this November. While expanding into Los Angeles (the nation’s other biggest fashion hub) seemed like a logical plan until early 2020, the Covid crisis left Schreiber and crew looking a little closer to home. She explains, “Philadelphia is a great next step for us. We can drive there in a day and back. It also extends our service capacity all the way to DC and Baltimore, so we can cover a lot more of the [clothing] brands on the east coast. “We’ve done quite a few pop-up sales in Philadelphia, already. We’re really excited to have a permanent location there, where students and local artists can volunteer or come and shop. I didn’t even realize how many fashion companies were headquartered there, but

215-467-2050 215-467-2051 there are quite a few. It’s also great for them that they no longer have to ship this material to us but have this service in their own area.” On our side of the equation, the Philly population gets a new lode of resources for people of all stripes. “We’ll have retail space in the warehouse,” Schreiber continues. “Fashion students, emerging designers, artists and home hobbyists can all shop here. It’s really highquality fabrics in small quantities at thrift-store prices, all really affordable and accessible.” Being a nonprofit, FABSCRAP is even more interested in benefits and services that go beyond the shopping. “Our goal is to give away as much fabric as we sell,” she relates. “We’ve worked with women’s shelters and pet shelters. We’ve even worked with boxing gyms to help stuff their punching bags. We’re really looking forward to getting to know more organizations down there we can work with.” Of course, that’s a lot of moving and hauling for a small staff, which is why anyone local is welcome to get involved. “Volunteers can sign up to help with sorting, and as a thank-you, we let them take five pounds of fabric. So, lots of students help out, for example. They can learn a lot about fabric just by sorting through all this material, maybe do a little trend forecasting, and then they also get to take home a bunch for free,” she says. The idea is to keep finding these little win-win connections to make the whole infrastructure work better for everyone. They started a program of virtual workshops for all kinds of crafty folks to learn from each other during the Covid shutdown. Schreiber says that sharing knowledge is key to paying FABSCRAP’s mission forward. “We want to explain about textile waste, not just from the fashion industry’s standpoint, but as an individual - how to care for your clothing, how to repair it and make it last. So, the next generation of designers, or people at home who are mending and taking care of their clothing, will have more resources to help reduce textile waste themselves.” Besides making economic sense, there’s the little matter of addressing the global climate crisis. Schreiber agrees that growing awareness and pressure on corporations is increasingly paying off. “There’s a shift happening right now because there’s a lot of attention on the fashion industry,” she says. “It’s often cited as being one of the worst polluting industries, and so I think there are a lot of companies really eager to find ways they can do better. This is a change in their process that maybe costs a bit more than using landfills, but it also has marketing potential for them that can


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change the reputation of the industry.” She acknowledges that if there’s one way people are learning how to increase that pressure, it’s to vote with their wallets. “I think customers, particularly younger customers who have been told to shop their values, really look into these things. They want to know that they’re spending their money on companies that align with their values and what they think is important. There’s definitely more attention on sustainability and social-impact issues today. “Getting companies more involved in the fight against climate change is really important,” she summarizes. “For a corporation to make a change in how they handle their waste at a corporate level, that has far greater impact than what I individually decide to do with my clothing. That’s our next step: to actively reduce, not just recycle and reuse.” To that end, the next steps for FABSCRAP are to go even further, making these changes not just personal but eventually legal and systemic. Regarding their broader goals, Schreiber speculates, “Hopefully we can start to put together an advisory council of brands, and I’d really like to start working on some policies that change the way fashion waste and incoming material is regulated. There are a lot of wasteful intentionally wasteful - policies that the industry could collectively address.” And it has to start somewhere. If they can encourage changes at small levels, why not the big ones, too? “Yep,” she laughs. “Definitely. Yeah, we’re thinking big.” PRH

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October / November / December 2021

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Film Tells the Story of some Die-hard Eagles fans


by Anthony Panvini

sk any Philadelphian what excites them most about September and there’s a good chance the answer will include words like “Eagles” and “football.” This was especially true after the Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl run – arguably one of the best moments in Philadelphia sports history. Released in 2019, the documentary Maybe This Year follows some of the team’s most die-hard fans, capturing raw emotion from their implausible Super Bowl LII win. Two of those fans, Barry “The


Hatchet” Vagnoni and Shirley Dash, a.k.a. Eagles Shirley, have been fans since the day they were born – giving credit to their family members for getting them hooked. Vagnoni, of Reading, PA, has been an Eagles fan since 1954. His interest in the team came from his father, who worked in show business in New York. Vagnoni explained that his family had a tradition they followed every Sunday. “Six days a week, [my father] would be in New York. Saturday night after the Broadway show he was in ended, he would


get a train into Philadelphia,” Vagnoni says. “Sunday mornings without fail – it didn’t matter how tired he was – we went to church and when we came home, it was a big lunch, a big dinner, and we would settle in and watch our Philadelphia Eagles on a black and white 21-inch TV. That’s how I got hooked. Ever since, I call myself a nut-job Eagles fan.” The tradition of watching the Birds together started in the late ‘70s in Vagnoni’s recreation room with about 25 family members and friends. And it continues today...except with a slightly larger crowd. One night, when he couldn’t fall asleep,

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021


Philly SPORTS Vagnoni remembers watching Field of Dreams and thinking to himself, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ A short time later, Vagnoni presented his wife with his idea of halting their plans for a Florida vacation home and building an extension onto their house for friends and family to gather on Sunday for the Eagles games. “She said, ‘Honey, you worked hard all your life. If that’s what you want to do, that’s what we’re going to do.’” The 2,000-square-foot Eaglesthemed addition on their home is dubbed “The Locker Room.” It’s equipped with 16 TVS, a 35-foot bar, tons of Eagles memorabilia, and can fit 100-150 people on gameday. He started garnering attention from local media as a “superfan” and was making more appearances on TV and in articles. At the end of the 2016 season, Wavelength Productions reached out to Vagnoni about being featured in Maybe This Year, which would follow him around during the 2017 season. “Whenever I can talk about Philadelphia Eagles football, I’m all for it,” Vagnoni says. “It just turned out that it was fate…you couldn’t have sat down and wrote the script for that. It was fantastic.” He also credits the film for giving his life a little boost. “I was so honored that they included me. It was a lot of work but when I saw the finished product at the Philadelphia Film Festival, it was one of the greatest nights of my life. I’m nothing special, just a diehard crazy Eagles fan and for all of this to happen to me at this stage in my life, I’m very thankful, overwhelmed, and blessed.” The film also highlights North Philly native Shirley Dash, more commonly known as Eagles Shirley. Like Vagnoni, Dash credits her father and brother for first getting her interested in sports. Particularly football. Growing up, her brother played football on multiple teams. Being so heavily involved, Dash took an interest in the sport and wanted to learn as much as possible. “I didn’t understand why the players were jumping on each other,” Dash says. “I didn’t know that was the offensive lineman maybe pushing the running back

or the wide receiver to get an extra yard or first down. Every time there was a game on, I would keep asking him questions and he would explain to me what was going on.” Dash’s brother also exposed her to 94.1 WIP FM sports talk radio with Angelo Cataldi and the morning team, and the Big Daddy Graham show. Dash quickly became a regular caller and her knowledge of the game led her to make appearances in commercials for the Philadelphia Eagles. The recognition led filmmakers to approach her about starring in the documentary. “It was an honor,” Dash says. “I take nothing for granted when people reach out to me, and I am so humble and grateful. I was skeptical at first because I didn’t know them and was hesitant to share my personal information. But as we were filming, they were like family, and what they captured on film was real. Working with them was beautiful – how they treated my home, my family. It was awesome. I was grateful to represent the city of Philadelphia and North Philadelphia in a positive light. And my Philadelphia Eagles.” Despite these accomplishments, Dash still wanted more out of football. She wanted to make a larger impact in the community. Following the passing of her mother, football took a back seat. Dash stopped calling into the radio station regularly and made fewer appearances. After encouragement from a colleague, Dash reached out to Cataldi for advice on how to get involved with football in other ways. Cataldi recommended The Connecticut School of Broadcasting. “It was the best medicine I could have taken,” Dash explains. “From there came ‘A Dash of Shirley’ show. From there came me doing sports interviews, news, and other things I love to do.” ‘A Dash of Shirley’ is a combination of the important aspects of Dash’s life: her faith, career experience, football knowledge, acting, singing, and other topics. Dash even found a way to combine her faith and football by holding sessions at Beloved St. John Evangelistic Church to explain the game and basics of football to women who want to learn more about the game. With more knowledge, they

will feel more included at tailgates, football parties, or talking about the game with other enthusiasts. “Women would come up to me and ask me questions about football. And I said, ‘Oh my gosh, this would be awesome if I had the opportunity to teach women about the basics of football.’” Although they have different backgrounds, both Vagnoni and Dash share an intense burning passion for the Philadelphia Eagles and have positive expectations for the team during the current season. “I’m excited because the team is young and full of energy. You can see it. The passion is there. I love the draft class that they brought in this year, the free agents. You

put all that young talent together and mix them in with the veterans - I think the sky’s the limit. I think they’re going to surprise a lot of people,” Vagnoni says. Dash echoes his statement. “I really like what I’m seeing so far with them communicating. I like the body language. We have leadership like Brandon Graham, Jason Kelce - they play a big piece in making sure the young rookies and young coaching staff all come together as one. If they continue to do what they’re doing in creating a space where they just worry about the team and not the outside noise, we will have a successful season.” For info on the documentary, visit PRH

October / November / December 2021


St. Monica School


RowHome Remembers


Senior School:

2500 S. 16th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19145

Junior School:

1720 W. Ritner Street, Philadelphia, PA 19145

Since 1908 Proud of Our Past Committed to Our Future Early Learning Center (Pre-K / ages 3-4) Kindergarten – Grade 8

After school Programs Register today To visit or register, call the Senior School Main Office at 215.467.5338 For information about St. Monica Early Learning Center (ages 3-4), call 215.334.6001 Pastor

Reverend Joseph Kelley Principal

Sister Mary Regina Matulka, IHM Early Learning Center Director

Sister Rosemary Peterson, IHM 90


recent news story had me scratching my head. “Effective May 14, 2021, Target will no longer be selling Major League Baseball Cards in any of their stores in order to ensure the safety of our guests and team members.” Excuse me? Reading further, the story explained that due to recent incidents of adult customers behaving badly and ending with one customer brandishing a gun to purchase multiple boxes of MLB Baseball Cards, Target felt it was not worth the risk to continue selling this merchandise in its stores. Seems these adults were practicing what they consider

to be the principle of supply and demand where they buy at cost; stockpile the product; and sell it at higher prices to willing consumers on eBay. Either that, or they are speculating that the initial amount of money laid out is worth the risk if they find a valuable Rookie card in the box. In effect, these “entrepreneurs” just destroyed another childhood memory of mine. Back in the day, circa 1967, I could not wait until I got some cash to be able to buy a fresh pack of Topps Baseball cards and start my summer collection. You could find the cards in just about any corner grocery or candy store. The cost was just 5 cents a pack and that included a stick of bubble gum! When Grandma gave me a dollar for a good report card, I’d run to Burgio’s Candy & Ice Cream Store on my corner and quickly buy 20 packs of Topps Baseball Cards. No hesitation! I’d open all 20 packs during the walk home and probably stuffed all 20 sticks of gum in my mouth. Fresh, stale, broken pieces. It didn’t matter. I’d get home and arrange my cards by team: 10 teams in the National League; 10 teams in the American League. I would have my favorite team (the Phillies of course) arranged by the starting line-up. I had other piles of cards sorted by my opinion of the NL All-Star Team and AL All-Star Team. My friends were doing the same thing in their row homes. When the cards ventured out of the house (usually only my doubles or bench players), my friends and I would play various games to try and win cards off each other. Most common was the game of Shooting cards against the wall. Closest card to the wall wins all the cards tossed in that round. We also played Flip Card which involved a player flipping a card in the air and letting it



by Tony Santini

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

land face up or down. You would then flip your card and a win would be if you matched face-up or face down. We even played WAR just like the playing card game. The winner would be the player who flipped the better baseball card player based on mutual consent of the two friends playing. If two cards flipped were baseball players on the same team, then you had a WAR. Three cards down; final card flipped; better baseball player determined by consensus of the friends was the winner. Final cards flipped were also on the same team…another WAR! Good times. As any good father my age would do, I tried to get my son involved in collecting baseball cards when he was about eight years old. It held his interest until he was about 10 and then Super Nintendo took over. Recently, a doctor in Florida passed away and left his family his baseball card collection which was estimated to be worth $20 million dollars! The collection included a 1933 Babe Ruth card, which, alone, was estimated to be worth $5 million dollars. I never had a Babe Ruth card in my collection, but I do remember having a 1967 Mets Tom Seaver Rookie Card, which is now worth $900. I also remember having at least three Baltimore Orioles Brooks Robinson cards, which would now fetch me $225 each if I still had them. I sure wish I would have saved them. Well, I have saved my son’s collection. Maybe, someday, I’ll bequeath them to him and, who knows, there may be a 1993 Rookie card in that box that is now worth millions of dollars. And my son will remember that his Old Man bought him that card when he was just around eight years old and more interested in playing Super Nintendo. PRH



t is hard to believe yet another academic year is upon us. In August 2017, I sat down and penned the first “Greetings from 10th Street” and here we are four years later. From an enrollment low of 424 students just five years ago, to 590 students today – SNG continues to grow and move towards the overall goal of becoming the finest academic secondary school in the city of Philadelphia. In just four

There’s no need to leave the

Neighborhood to get a great


Joseph M. McColgan

President, Ss. Neumann-Goretti High School

Greetings from 10th Street!

years, the average GPA of incoming 9th graders has increased 14 points. In 2020-2021, graduating seniors earned more than $28,000,000 in scholarships. Seniors earned full academic scholarships to the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, Saint Joe’s University, La Salle University, Emory University, and the University of Virginia. Students earned 300+ college credits through 20+ advanced placement courses and/or college partnerships last year alone, and the accomplishments continue to surpass expectations. We have a great team of faculty, staff, and administrators here at SNG so there is no need to leave the neighborhood to get a GREAT education! Last year was a challenging year to educate students, but SNG managed to exceed expectations and the challenges of COVID. We got through the year by saying let’s get through the day and we’ll worry about tomorrow, then. It was stressful at times, but the students, faculty and staff went above and beyond the call and rose to the occasion. Were there bumps in the road? Of course. But we played the cards we were dealt and did not lose many hands. In September, we opened our doors for the first time in 18 months to a full complement of students, faculty and staff and we did not miss a beat. Teachers are teaching, students are engaged, and we are doing our best to keep COVID at the front door. Fingers crossed. Over the past 12 months, we have made major improvements to the facility, replacing the entire roof over the auditorium; adding a completely new food service line in the student cafeteria; and upgrading ventilation and air conditioning.

October / November / December 2021

This fall/winter, we hope to add an additional nine security cameras around the perimeter of the building for the safety of all who enter our building. Future projects in the planning process include the installation of a wrought iron fence around the building and parking lot; major upgrades to our auditorium – lighting, ventilation, and sound; upgrades to the gymnasium; painting all classrooms and installing new lighting. We also are in the process of creating a 21st Century Classroom loaded with 21st Century technology that will be a prototype for all classrooms to follow in the near future. As you can see, SNG is on the move! None of this can be accomplished without your continued financial support. So, whether you are an alumni or alumnae, or a member of the community, remember SNG is an anchor in this community and our roots are only going deeper.


NG vs Southern Thanksgiving Day football game is back! A historic South Philly tradition returns in 2021! Yes, it’s back. The 2021 Thanksgiving holiday will be one to remember as we revive the beloved Neumann-Goretti vs Southern Thanksgiving Day football game. The longstanding tradition of Turkey and Touchdowns is the centerpiece of a cornucopia of planned events throughout the week with the theme #ThanksgiviNG. Go to thanksgiving for more information. See you at the game on Thanksgiving Day! Until then – be well, be safe.



Chums & Alums Ss Neumann Goretti HS invites Grads to be part of its Future by Joseph Myers image courtesy of Neumann Goretti Staff


emory lane’s path will never lack for visitors. So, as it marks another year of offering a stellar Catholic education, Ss. Neumann Goretti High School hopes that its proud graduates will head down the trusty thoroughfare, yet again. Owing to growing enrollment, building enhancements, athletic distinction, academic gains, and aspirations to grow its Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) donor group, the East Passyunk Crossing-based haven is striving to attract increased involvement from graduates to enhance present attendees’ maturation and the site’s legacy. “We would love for them to come back to be a part of the future,” Sara Canuso says of the thousands of individuals who sharpened their skills at Neumann Goretti and its predecessors—Southeast Catholic, Bishop Neumann, St. John Neumann, and St. Maria Goretti high schools. “I think with the present state of the world, people are seeing that there are so many things that kids need to obtain their goals. Through donations, mentorship programs, scholarships, naming opportunities, and other means, they can feel confident that they’ll be well-adjusted and productive adults.”


As a 1969 product of St. Maria Goretti High School, the Old City dweller and distinguished businesswoman has walked the walk at the present institution through a Stepping Out seminar geared toward building learners’ self-confidence. Knowing how impressionable children are, she never wants them to lack resources, so the vast amount of assistance that the corps of alumni can provide has made her even more ambitious to connect with those notable figures. “From the Stepping Out program, I used to tell the students that ‘What’s meant to be is up to me,’” Canuso says. “I still believe that wholeheartedly, but we all need help to see that potential within us. ‘Help’ is such a key word, an emotional trigger, I’d say, so we’re hoping that we can blend graduates’ talents with the current kids’ places in life to build even more pride in what it means to say you attended one of our schools.” Her pride in the learning destination’s prowess dovetails perfectly with how Joseph M. McColgan, president, and Duke Doblick, director of institutional advancement, feel about their school’s plusses. Having welcomed about 20 percent more pupils this year than last, installed a new auditorium roof, increased academic quality and outcomes dramatically, added several named scholarships to benefit

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

qualified students, and resuming the Neumann Goretti-versus-South-Philadelphia-High-School Thanksgiving Day football tilt in 2021, the shining light in South Philadelphia has much to tout as it presents itself as what McColgan and Doblick dubbed “a sensible choice” for parents. Given the cost of a Catholic education, need will always be present, and, holding that such tutelage will lead to the best outcomes in life, they certainly want as many community members as possible who hold diplomas from the various incarnations of the school to give time, financial assistance, or any other type of aid. “We’re diligently working towards increasing our EITC donor pool by reaching out to businesses and individuals who have a Pennsylvania state tax liability to participate in this unique program, which provides scholarship dollars for our most financially distressed students,” both McColgan and Doblick share. “We’d love to discuss all the ways that our hallowed halls can take on even more meaning for today’s youths,” Canuso says, noting the “Get Involved” section of Neumann Goretti’s website as a great way to explore the possibilities. “There’s really no place as caring as South Philly and, therefore, no better place to help our kids to grow.” PRH

Where have all the People Gone? by Eileen

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sweep your

Stress Away


Jackson ta o R e tt e r o D By


ife really is like a box of chocolates, Forrest. You never know what you’re gonna’ get. If I could pick, I’d choose toffee. Dawn is more of a peanut butter girl. Which brings me to this issue’s topic – stress-eating. It’s that thing you do when the wheels in your head spin faster than your good judgement. While you’re trying to process the dilemma of the day, you spy a piece of week-old spice cake on the kitchen counter. You vaguely remember it tasting like cardboard seven days ago. Your common sense tells you to toss it into the Hefty-lined can, but your wheels ask, why not? You stuff it into your mouth on your way out the door. With the holidays coming, our senses can take a leave of absence. Not only when it comes to food, but when it comes to everything! Like sparkle and shine. As with the beads,


bangles and bows of the season. And the surfaces in your home. Spit shined to a glistening finish when you finally shift attention from the Milky Ways of Halloween to the cleaning supplies under your sink. Dawn’s cleaning supply of choice is the hardwood floor steamer. Followed by the hardwood floor shiner. And the hardwood floor sealer. She says floors absorb negative energy from our shoes. “All day long, we’re tracking energy through the house. All the places we’ve been during the day. All the people who’ve walked on those pavements. That’s a lot of emotion on these floors,” she flaps as she walks around the house blowing steam from her machine. I shimmy over to the freezer in search of the Milky Way I hid there the day before. Gone! Whose negative footsteps snatched the chocolate bar I hid under the frozen peas? Who would suspect the peas? I mumble out loud.


‘I want to get these floors in shape for the holidays,’ she’s still talking, as I dig deep behind the Shoepeg and the Eggos. ‘If you’re looking for the Milky Way, I ate it,’ she says when she sees me stressing in the freezer. ‘I ate the Reese’s Cup and the Milk Duds, too.’ No! Not the Milk Duds! I huff to myself. Total invasion of privacy. There are rules! If you didn’t hide it there, you don’t eat it. Basic social etiquette. Dawn’s cleaning binge started during summer vacation, when she Edward-Scissorhanded my mother’s hydrangeas at the shore house. The overgrowth of trees and shrubs was out of control after several rainy summer weeks. By the time we finally got there, it looked like Gene London’s Quigley Mansion. Dawn decided to tackle the job to give the landscaper a jump start. She plopped a lawn hat on her head like Nights in Rodanthe and grabbed a pair of white rubber gardening clogs, a scissor and gloves and went to work on the

| ROWHOME MAGAZINE | October / November / December 2021

Rose of Sharon and the Chinese Rose bushes. I never saw anyone clip so fast. ‘You need sheers, not scissors,’ I holler over. And spray Off on your arms! Says here on Google to wear loose white clothing so you can see ticks if they get on you.’ She was annoyed as I rattled off more gardening tips from my handy dandy app. ‘You know what you need,’ she glared into my eyes. ‘How ‘bout you grab a broom and start sweeping all this negativity away.’ I figured I’d better grab the broom and partake in this manic gardening spree. Before long, the bushes were as manicured as the Disney shrubs in Orlando. I think one was in the shape of Tinkerbell! As we teeter on the threshold of a New Year, I think Dawn is right. Now may be a good time to buff those floors. And hide a few Hersheys in your freezer. Happy Holidays. Be kind to one another. PRH

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