Page 1


Queen Village Celebrates Season THE

A Queen Villager decks the halls

Traditions lighten up the holidays

An encore for Mario Lanza Park

Three culinary ventures make their debut

Contents 3 4



President’s Letter

Out and About Our resident food writers and restaurant enthusiasts visit three new Queen Village culinary ventures making their pandemic debut.

QVNA Spotlight QVNA welcomes its 2020 volunteer board of directors and bids a warm thanks to outgoing board members. Plus, the Crier pays tribute to Inez Green, a beloved and tireless advocate for Queen Village.


South Street Beat


It Takes a Village

As COVID turned life upside down, the South Street Headhouse District formed partnerships to ensure the safety and quality of life in Queen Village.

This fall, cadres of community volunteers pruned, planted, raked, swept, and bagged their way through Weccacoe playground and our pocket parks.



26 16

Above and cover photos by Jenny Lynn

Feature To celebrate the season, one Queen Villager decks his halls with festive decor that reflects a world of traditions.


Feature In the coldest and darkest time of the year, holiday traditions from around the world brighten up the winter season.

The Commons The Bethel Burying Ground Historic Memorial project targets late spring for groundbreaking, and Mario Lanza Park sports a new look.

Then & Now The Crier looks back at the pandemic that ravaged Philadelphia more than 100 years ago.

QV Life Things to do—and places to shop— during the holiday season. Plus, Phestivus—the holiday for the rest of us—brings out the best of us.



VOLUME 2 | ISSUE 3 WINTER 2021 Online at QVNA.org/crier

PUBLISHER Queen Village Neighbors Association EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Eleanor Ingersoll president@qvna.org EXECUTIVE EDITOR Lucy Erdelac wecare@qvna.org MANAGING EDITOR Nancy Brokaw editor@qvna.org PROOFREADER Jamie Bischoff DESIGNER Alec Meltzer meltzerdesign.net

My name is Quincy.


I’m an elegant beauty with a tan-and-brown coat, black spots and stripes, and gorgeous green eyes. I’m very loved and very missed. I’ve heard there’s a reward for information about my safe return.


AD SALES advertising@qvna.org 215.339.0975 qvna.org/advertise

QVNA provides community stewardship, advocacy and service to help improve quality of life for Queen Village residents. BOARD OF DIRECTORS OFFICERS: Eleanor Ingersoll—PRESIDENT Justin Fishman—VICE PRESIDENT Meredith Piotrowski—SECRETARY Tom Bonney—TREASURER Cait Allen Caroline Allen Matt Atkins Joseph G. Brin Mark Grabarits

DIRECTORS: Michelle Grimley Rosamond Howard Mike McPhilmy Noah Swistak

EMERITUS DIRECTORS: Kathy Conway Michael Hauptman QVNA OFFICE 744 S 4th Street Philadelphia, PA 19147 info@qvna.org 215.339.0975 © Copyright 2021. Queen Village Neighbors Association. All rights reserved.

Queen Village

Volunteers Sign up @ QVNA.org/Volunteer




ait and Michael Allen joined the Queen Village community in March 2019. Cait is the director of engagement at the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, and Michael is chief operating officer of Wills Eye Hospital. Jamie Bischoff is an editor and a recently retired copyright and trademark lawyer, who has lived in Queen Village for the past 37 years. Terry Buckalew is a Philadelphia historian who has conducted extensive research on the Bethel Burying Ground. His blog, BethelBuryingGroundProject.com shares the histories of thousands of African Americans buried there. A freelance opera singer, Sage DiPalma has sung with Lincoln Center, Center Stage Opera, and New York Lyric Opera Theatre. She is founder and artistic director of the Philadelphia-based nonprofit PavarOpera Company. A Row House blogger, Suzanne Dreitlein has been a Queen Village resident since 2007. She enjoys living in a 19th-century row cottage, wearing 18thcentury clothing, and writing about the great things going on in QV!

Photo-based artist Jenny Lynn’s work, which ranges from photographs to sculptural/functional pieces, has appeared in The New Yorker, Photo District News, and other magazines and is in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Norton Museum of Art, and others. Chair of the Friends of Mario Lanza Park Lisa Mell particularly loves caring for the park’s beloved trees. A longtime Queen Village resident, she also enjoys gardening in the Southwark Queen Village community garden. Martha Morowitz is a writer who moved to Queen Village in 2016 with her husband, Cory, and their poodle, Gus. Her creative endeavors include cooking and baking, paper arts, and the occasional acting gig. Duncan Spenser, who studied archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania, moved across the street from Weccacoe Playground in 1992. Gardening led him to become a founding member of the Friends of Weccacoe Playground, where he currently serves as chair. ■


Pragmatic)Counsel.))Diligent)Advocacy.) !

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Queen Village Strong By Eleanor Ingersoll, QVNA President

Hello Neighbors, etter Together, that can be a supportive mantra as we settle into the (sometimes daunting) winter. Knowing that the City’s Safer at Home initiative strives to minimize both the COVID infection rate and its burden on our healthcare systems does not make the prospect of minimized social and business interactions any easier. Hence, the mantra that reminds us that it’s a sacrifice that we are making for each other. During the pandemic, it’s more important than ever to buy locally; your gifts, your food take-out, and everything in between. It will take a village to come out on the other side of this with the spirit of our unique business community intact. The challenges of this pandemic have made for some positive developments; more and more neighbors are participating in Zoom Community meetings where topics have been directly sourced


from local concerns for discussion to engage with the professionals and City agencies than can directly affect outcomes. (For any of our recorded Fall 2020 meetings, visit qvna.org.) The pandemic has also spurred this Association to review how it can fine-tune its engagement with, and support of, community gems. A fringe benefit and a hopeful salve in these challenging times: offering neighbors an avenue for social interaction and community investment. Look for more opportunities to participate safely in pocket park clean-ups with the Clean and Green Committee, planting trees with Tree Tenders, contributing to the aspirations of the re-energized Safety Committee, volunteering for partnership building and with Courtyard Apartments and their youth enrichment programs, submitting articles ideas to the Queen Village Quarterly Crier magazine, brainstorming projects funded by the QVNA Grants Program,

and supporting Santore Library and Shot Tower Recreation Center. In the New Year, QVNA welcomes new and returning Board members excited to develop these goals with the primary purpose of engaging and supporting the community that makes Queen Village the unique community that it is. But there is always the opportunity to do individual outreach with random acts of kindness— a warm hello to a masked stranger, sweeping the sidewalk of a fellow resident, or making muffins for a neighbor— just because you can. I look forward to seeing more of you, weather permitting, around the neighborhood. Here’s to a safe and happy holiday season to you and yours. It’s going to be a great 2021 because we are Better Together.



Three new culinary ventures make their pandemic debut By Michael and Cait Allen

Family Fare at Mexi-Talian Grill


ousins Fernando Cristobal and Juan Garcia worked for many years in Italian restaurants. When they chose to make the leap to become chef/ owners, they settled on the 400 block of South Street to realize their dream. Then, moments before opening, COVID hit. It would be weeks before L&I would even come to inspect them. When they finally opened for take-out, “we could treat each person like a king,” Juan says, and his warmth is immediately infectious (in a good way). Everything at Mexi-Talian Grill is made fresh to order, and the fusion of cuisines explodes with unexpected adventures. The Chorizo Chicken Pasta lit


Photo: Michael Allen

fluency. Look for more novel creations at Mexi-Talian Grill, especially, in seafood and vegetarian dishes. “We are going to go NUTS!” Fernando says.

Photo: Michael Allen


Original chalk art graces the walls at Mari.

A Special Home Away from Home at Mari Kevin Addis, chef/owner of Entrée at 1608 South Street, chose the former location of Dimitri’s at 3rd and Catherine for his plunge into modern American seafood with a rustic Sicilian flair. When asked about inspiration, Kevin says, “I remember the simple, good-tasting food that my grandmother made, especially the feast of the seven fishes.” His entire family is creative. Even his sisters contributed: They made the chalk art that adds hip energy to the atmosphere.

Photo: Michael Allen

Try the Caesar salad, featuring heirloom garlic from California. Kevin promised the best Caesar salad we'd ever had—and he delivered. And what is special about opening during COVID? Ask Felix and Tina from Bella Vista, who are sitting too far away to talk, but not too far to shout. “We have been here every Friday for four weeks!” they declare. They joke with Kevin as we dig into the incredible Crab Pasta, featuring a cluster of Dungeness crab on top. We see the most important thing Kevin has created from COVID—a delicious escape that still feels close and cozy, like a home away from home.

Calm and Respite at Three Graces

And a stunning Octo Bucatini graces its table.

Photo: Michael Allen

As a lawyer in New York, owner Yulee Park enjoyed her best productivity in neighborhood coffee shops. “Every neighborhood needs a coffee shop,” she says. “And kids need a good, safe place to hang out after school.” Yulee left an active law practice to raise her children. On a visit to Paris, a guide likened her and her daughters to the Three Graces, daughters of Zeus. Hence, the name of the café at 730 South Fifth Street, where Yulee aims to create a relaxed and serene atmosphere. COVID restrictions allowed her to begin slowly and carefully. People craved normalcy during those times, and we were among

A welcoming sign at Three Graces

them. A Saturday morning coffee and walk in the open air was a godsend amid so much worry and disruption. Yulee’s balance extends to her choices of coffee and the selection of 15 teas. Each day, the baristas need to find the perfect grind size to match weather, temperature, and humidity. “It’s amazing how much the flavor of coffee changes with these variables, especially the amount of bitterness,” Yulee says. Surrounded by the environment she has created, we appreciate the chance to immerse ourselves in her vision of balance and serenity. ■

Also on the menu: hot matcha latte



Meet the Board The members of QVNA’s Board are members of our community. Their responsibilities include business planning, budgeting, determining programs and services, and association oversight. The 2021 board term begins January 1.



President Eleanor Ingersoll (2021-2022)

Cait Allen (2021-2022)

Joe Brin (2021-2022)

Rosamond Howard (2020-2021)

Caroline Allen (2020-2021)

Mark Grabarits (2020-2021)

Mike McPhilmy (2021-2022)

Matt Atkins (2021-2022)

Michelle Grimley (2021-2022)

Noah Swistak (2020-2021)

Vice President Justin Fishman (2021-2022)

Treasurer Tom Bonney (2020-2021)

Secretary Meredith Piotrowski (2020-2021)

17 Seasons of

Holiday Help

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Thank You, Inez Green Improving Queen Village through a lifetime of service


VNA Vice President Inez Green is retiring from the association’s board of directors, effective December 31, 2020. In 2015, during her first year of board service, Inez co-founded Summer at Courtyard, the free learning enrichment program for Queen Village children ages 5 through 11, which has helped educate more than 100 students since its inception. Community leadership is second nature to Inez. For more than 25 years, she has served as President of the Courtyard Residents Council (CRC) and Chief Executive Officer of its Board of Directors. Within the Courtyard Apartments community, Inez has garnered a reputation for being a person of her word and a persistent advocate for residents and their quality of life. More than 1,298 residents live in the Courtyard community.

Advocacy When Courtyard Apartments sought much-needed funding to replace 25-year-old heating/air conditioning systems, major appliances, the elevator in its senior citizen apartment hi-rise, and needed upgrades, Inez worked closely with the Philadelphia Public Housing Authority and Courtyard’s management company, The Michaels Organization, to obtain it. Necessary funding was obtained through a federal grant program and city tax subsidies.

were relocated to temporary housing and back to their homes, and Inez was credited with putting residents at ease throughout the process.


Stewardship When $32 million in funding for necessary renovations and upgrades became available, Inez led a carefully planned, staged rollout and kept the community informed. Then she worked directly with each Courtyard family before and during their move to temporary housing while their home was under renovation. When it was time to replace the elevator in Riverview Apartments at Courtyard, Queen Village’s senior center, Inez telephoned each resident with advice on what to expect. In addition, she met with seniors if they had questions about the replacement of their appliances or carpet. The project was completed in 2019, 1,298 residents

Inez and Jerry, her husband of 34 years, are grandparents to four, but Inez is also a grandmotherly figure to dozens of Courtyard children who fondly call her “Miss Kandi.” While President of the CRC, and during her first year as a QVNA Director, Inez co-founded Summer at Courtyard, a six-week learning enrichment program, designed to help stem the typical summer reading learning loss experienced by children ages 5 through 11. Since 2015, Summer at Courtyard has provided Queen Village children with six weeks of structured learning experiences and weekly field trips during late June and July. More than 100 children have benefitted from this program. Had it not been for the pandemic, 2020 would have been the sixth year of Summer at Courtyard.

Future Focus Although Inez (a.k.a. Kandi) is retiring from QVNA’s board, she will remain an ardent QVNA volunteer and leader of next year’s Summer at Courtyard program. Thank you, Inez for your leadership and community to the Queen Village community! ■

In Salute of Service to Our Community



by Thomas Paine In a chariot of light, from the regions of the day, The Goddess of Liberty came, Ten thousand celestials directed her way, And hither conducted the dame. A fair budding branch from the gardens above, Where millions with millions agree, She brought in her hand as a pledge of her love, And the plant she named Liberty Tree. The celestial exotic stuck deep in the ground, Like a native it flourished and bore; The fame of its fruit drew the nations around, To seek out this peaceable shore. Unmindful of names or distinctions they came, For freemen like brothers agree; With one spirit endued, they one friendship pursued, And their temple was Liberty Tree.


hank you, Anita Dupree Brook for your service as a Director on the QVNA Board. A Queen Village resident since 1979, Anita has seen enormous changes in our community and, as a result, brought a unique balance of longtime resident perspective and a deep love for our neighborhood to board discussion. A former teacher at Meredith Elementary School, Anita raised three children in Queen Village. Her love of children and education helped identify educational equipment needs at our public high school, Horace Furness, and her encouragement led the school to apply for a QVNA Community Grant. The need was such that a grant was awarded. QVNA sincerely appreciates Anita’s volunteer contributions and her caring for our community. ■


hank you, Mike Seidenberg, for your service on QVNA’s Board. Shortly after his election as Director, Mike accepted a presidential appointment to the position of Board Treasurer and Chair of QVNA’s Finance Committee through December 2019. In this role, Mike oversaw QVNA’s financial reports, worked closely with staff, and was instrumental in the development of the association’s 2020 budget. His unique skill set, combined with his willingness to serve out the remainder of the Treasurer board term, will always be appreciated. In January 2020, Mike resumed his elected role of Director. His strong desire to support QVNA’s mission led Mike to contribute generously of his time and share his unique perspectives with the board. Mike, we appreciate your service. ■

Beneath this fair tree, like the patriarchs of old, Their bread in contentment they ate, Unvexed with the troubles of silver or gold, The cares of the grand and the great. With timber and tar they Old England supplied, And supported her power on the sea; Her battles they fought, without getting a groat, For the honor of Liberty Tree. But hear, O ye swains (’tis a tale most profane), How all the tyrannical powers, Kings, Commons and Lords, are uniting amain To cut down this guardian of ours. From the East to the West blow the trumpet to arms, Thro’ the land let the sound of it flee; Let the far and the near all unite with a cheer, In defense of our Liberty Tree.

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Strategy for Survival With the world turned upside down, the South Street Headhouse District has been forming partnerships to ensure the safety and quality of life in Queen Village. By Martha Morowitz


he combined events of COVID-19 and social unrest this past spring and summer created an atmosphere that encompassed robust civic engagement and entrepreneurial ingenuity as well as growing safety concerns and pointed frustration. On South Street, pandemic-restricted life, compounded by an uptick in illegal activities, put many on edge and created problems requiring strategic and coordinated action. In the South Street Headhouse District (SSHD), just such a coordinated effort brought pressure to bear. Led by SSHD Executive Director Mike Harris, multiple city agencies, politicians, business owners, and civic organizations responded to the challenges with moxie, creativity, and sensitivity to the needs of our diverse community. To address illegal tailgating, SSHD is restricting late-night parking Thursday through Sunday, with help from Street Department signage and Philadelphia Parking Authority (PPA) tow trucks to enforce the new regulations. The police department continues to work hard to provide effective enforce-

ment and a safe environment for residents and visitors of South Street. Districts 3 & 6 helped enforce weekend closures after SSHD was able to have some feeder blocks shut to disrupt dirtbikes and ATVs from continually and dangerously cruising South Street. But there have been unintended consequences; neighbors to our north have concerns of increased traffic routed through surrounding streets resulting from the closures. As restaurants were permitted to extend dining into street parking spaces and “streeteries” were born, SSHD worked to support restaurants and cafés by closing various blocks of South Street, allowing streeteries to expand from curb to curb. Summer and fall evenings, the Headhouse Shambles had five restaurants sharing the covered space and, when closed to traffic, the cobblestone street. In anticipation of colder weather, a collaboration between the food delivery service DoorDash and the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association have been making grants available to install tents, coverings, and heaters to extend the season as far as possible.

Photos by Jenny Lynn. During the pandemic, “streeteries” blossomed as Banh Mi & Bottles (712-14 South Street), Twisted Tail (509 South Second Street), and the Shambles opened for fine dining.

Stay Informed


n October 21, QVNA convened a community meeting to provide residents information on community safety and an update from City Hall. Guest speakers included Capt. Brian Hartzell, 3rd District; Deputy Commissioner Trina Bodnik; and Councilman Mark Squilla. To view the video, visit http://bit.ly/QVNA_Oct-27/. At an earlier meeting in September, Police 3rd District Lt. John Landis of the South Street Mini Station discussed actions being taken to control and enforce traffic flow and the prevention of overcrowding between 10th and Front streets. To hear what he had to say, visit https://bit.ly/ QVNA_Sep-16

In other ongoing efforts, Temple Tourism and Hospitality graduate students are working with SSHD to promote local history, diversity, and local artists. There are several recent installations of public art, both temporary and permanent, along South Street. The Fourth Fridays night along 4th Street returns with the addition of outdoor dining and live music. Going into the holidays, we can look forward to the Christmas tree lighting and tree sales under the Shambles as well as a menorah lighting conducted by three

neighboring synagogues. By year’s end, the Plaza improvement project should be complete, and as always, there is the indispensable weekend Farmers Market year-round under the Shambles. You can keep up with all the latest by following @ southstreetphilly on Instagram. This has been an unprecedented time, and some strategic plans are still a work in progress, but the safety and quality of life for everyone in the community is always the highest priority for SSHD, as illustrated in June’s mission statement: “to build and support an equitable, vibrant, and all-inclusive commercial corridor . . . intended for people of all races, ages, nationalities, religions, and sexual orientations to feel safe and welcome.” ■

Photos by Jenny Lynn. 4th Friday found shopkeepers staging sidewalk sales: pictured, Juju Salon and Organics, Bus Stop Boutique, Walter Pine Floral Studio, Moon + Arrow and Fabriq Spa.



Good Things Happen in Queen Village Recounting community service by volunteers caught in action.

Keeping Up With The Commons


n breezy warm Saturdays in October and November, clean and green activities were in the air. As cadres of community volunteers pruned,

planted, raked, swept, and bagged their way through Weccacoe playground and our pocket parks, QVNA cameras caught the action.

Love Your (Mario Lanza) Park How many leaves can 18 neighbors rake and bag? Mario Lanza Park’s last count was 57 (or was it 59?). Volunteers Brad Aronson and Marcel Ricciardelli tied for first place in the leaf bag-lifting competition.

Rediscovering The Bainbridge Triangle In late October, the Triangle on Bainbridge (where East Passyunk meets 5th Street) was transformed from a tent of weedy vines to a tailored garden with a freshly pruned tree. From left to right are Matt Atkins,

Heather Simmons, and Mike Harris. Two more hardworking volunteers (hiding from the camera) are Dana Feinberg and Ed Bell. And a big shout-out to Gigi Pizza for providing pizzas to our crew!

Volunteer Karl Janowitz left no leaf unturned, un-raked or unbagged!

Introducing Two New Carbon-Eaters

Favorite Picks As seen behind the scenes of our photo shoot by volunteer Jenny Lynn:

In mid-November, nine trees were planted under Queen Village’s tree canopy. Queen Village’s Tree Tenders plant curbside trees specially selected for their carbon-eating appetites. Longtime volunteers Chris and Carolyn Murray proudly planted two new curbside trees near the corner of 4th and Bainbridge.

Behind the Ballot Box

Jenny’s still life with Father Christmas.

Due to COVID and per QVNA bylaws, 10 days of in-person voting preceded the November Board Election. Working hard behind the scenes were members of our Nominating Committee. Volunteers Maria Frizelle-Roberts and David O’Donnell interviewed first-time candidates. Marion Blow tallied the

votes, and Caroline Allen chaired the committee. Certifying and announcing the election results was QVNA Treasurer Tom Bonney. With 10 candidates on the ballot and 203 neighbors voting in the election, Marion unfolded, straightened, and carefully counted a record number of ballots.

While taking photos of a holiday diorama seen in this issue of the Crier, Jenny wanted the light just right. With a blackboard held behind her and balancing a pillow on her head, she got the shot.


2020 in Review:

What QVNA did for


uring 2020’s uncertain and fast-changing times, QVNA continued to provide the programs, services and relevant information that neighbors have come to expect.

Proving We Care The pandemic impacted all of us, in many different ways. That’s why QVNA went far beyond our standard weekly eNews to uncover information for neighbors from both city and local charitable sources about: n

Free food programs

Services for seniors-in-need, the newly unemployed, shut-ins, new mothers, students and families n

City service availability on vital topics such as COVID testing, mental health and housing assistance n

Fighting Graffiti and Litter In 2020, QVNA: n Removed 12 tons of litter from Queen Village’s curbs

Erased graffiti throughout the neighborhood n

Organized three, socially-distanced volunteer cleanups at our parks and Weccacoe Playground n

Helping You Stay Planted at Home By May, neighbors told us they wanted to be “safer at home” by being outside in their yards. So QVNA gave away 500 flowering plants, free to neighbors. We partnered with Southwark/Queen Village Community Garden for plants and with Cohen’s Hardware for our contact-free pickup location.

Investing for the Future As community organizations, schools and volunteers continued to plan for the future, QVNA continued to help fund their projects and programs by: Awarding more than $16,500 in community grants n

n Funding for the Mary Street Park Committee to develop a garden plan.

More Accessible Off-Street Parking On-street parking in Queen Village is a decades-old challenge. Back in the '90s, QVNA created an offstreet, discount-priced parking lot at Front and Christian streets for our community. Today, our lot can provide monthly, gate-controlled parking for more than 180 cars, but that's not all. QVNA's monthly parking rate is significantly lower than those charged by neighboring lots. And in July 2020, when the city increased parking lot taxes, we didn't raise our rate, but that's not all either. In October, QVNA completed three parking lot initiatives that improve accessibility, safety and function. First, we upgraded our call box and entrance gate technologies. Then, we relocated and enlarged each handicapped parking space and aisle. In addition, we installed more visible Reserved for Handicapped Parking signs. Finally, we painted new reflective directional arrows and completely restriped the lot.

Our Sources of Funding QVNA is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit. For more than 50 years, our programs and services have been paid for through fundraising. Our current funding sources include parking lot rentals, advertising, sponsorships, donations, and our most important — association memberships.

Please Renew your Membership or Join QVNA We depend on neighbors like you not only as volunteers, but also as QVNA members. Our work is made possible in part through the generosity of tax-deductible memberships. You can renew your membership or join us online at QVNA.org/join — or use the envelope in this magazine. Every membership in QVNA collectively supports our community in a meaningful way: Membership Contribution What it Buys

Individual Family Sponsor Benefactor

$40 $60 $120 $250



50 leaf and yard bags 1 truckload tree mulch 2 weeks graffiti removal 25 blocks curbside litter removal 1 community grant (at minimum funding)

At QVNA "it takes a village" because all that we do depends on neighbors like you.

Community Service:

The Heart of Our Mission Queen Village Neighbors Association cares about and for our community. Neighbors like you decide everything we do. As volunteers, our Board of Directors determine the programs and services we provide. QVNA’s committee members volunteer their skills and experience in other important areas of community service. And QVNA’s “Friends Group'' volunteers clean and green our parks and maintain Weccacoe Playground. As volunteers working together, QVNA lives our mission: QVNA provides community stewardship, advocacy and service to help improve quality of life for Queen Village residents.

Always at Your Service Throughout 2020, QVNA remained open and available. As we transitioned to “Shelter at Home”, QVNA mapped open-for-business food markets, restaurants and essential services within walking distance of neighbors. n

n Despite losing our lease and moving our office, QVNA never missed a beat.

Our community meetings Zoomed with guest panelists discussing timely topics including safety, nuisance traffic, election integrity, and COVID vaccine updates (Youtube.com/ queenvillage). n

Community Stewardship. Advocacy. Service. 744 S. 4th Street n 215.339.0975 QVNA.org/join n QVNA.org/volunteer


To celebrate the holiday, a Queen Village home welcomes a world of cultures. By Lucy Erdelac with photos by Jenny Lynn QUEEN VILLAGE QUARTERLY CRIER \\ WINTER 2021

The glow of a circa 1840 wood burning fireplace reflects warm hospitality as you enter Ron Peck’s home.


on Peck is a collector’s collector, living surrounded by art and culture with occasional antiquities from China, Greece, and India. Buddha mingles with Balinese puppets and (from the movie set of Cleopatra) a sunglasseswearing sarcophagus. Every inch of wall, shelf, alcove, and hearth tells a story— part period, part fun—as does Ron’s twin stairs, the legacy of conjoined sister houses from the 1840s. At Ron’s house, decorating for the winter holidays starts in October. His eclectic ensemble meets an equally diverse collection of festive decor and represents cultures from around the world. Two months of layering ornaments, ribbons, greenery, and berries add lighthearted joy. No two rooms are similar, yet each imparts the spirit of the season and a feeling of peace. Every year, Ron decorates each room differently than the year before, then each is photographed and catalogued. In so doing, his holiday home is reconfigured yet made whole by the sum of its parts. Rather than subscribing to a particular system of belief, Ron celebrates all traditions based in compassion, kindness, and love. In his world, Dickens and Yuletide; Father Christmas and Guan Yin; and the gods and goddesses of the seasons reign equal. One of the most compelling delights is Ron’s assemblage of vintage toys, each still wearing love from the child who owned it more than a century ago. Pre-COVID, Ron’s holiday party was the event of Gaskill Street—the lights on his three-story tree outshone only by his jovial entrance as Father Christmas. ■

Handcrafted by Ron Peck, Dashing Through the Snow is just one of his holiday-themed dioramas displayed on walls and shelves throughout his home. Each of his miniature, three-dimensional story scenes are showcased in custom frames behind museum glass. More than five dozen of Ron’s dioramas have been sold to collectors.


Tucked within interior walls grows a three-story serenity garden, its stones and perennials bedecked with silver ornaments suggesting snow and simple offerings to Bacchus, the god of wine. In Greek mythology, this son of Zeus died each winter and was born again each spring.

Prominently perched in Ron’s reading room is Guan Yin. According to East Asian belief, Guan Yin symbolically represents kindness, compassion, and love. Neither male nor female, it reminds us to be as gentle with ourselves Throughout his home, Ron captures the spirit of the

as Guan Yin is in holding the reindeer. Indigenous people

season, but perhaps never more so than in a quiet, sky-

of the Arctic believe that reindeers are spirits of endur-

lit alcove where stands a shimmering silver wall and

ance and teachers of adaptability. Queen Villagers, how-

hidden deep within it, the Sleeping Beauty of Winter.

ever, prefer to believe in the magic of Rudolf’s red nose.

Raising the Spirits of Christmas


ur neighborhood’s charm peeks through in the retelling of a holiday classic. In 1843, Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol. In 2011, Ron Peck retold the tale with a neighborly twist. Ron and his family decked halls (and the stores of 2nd Street) in Dickensian style.

A century of toys from Santa’s workshop.

The Ghost of Christmas Present peeking out from the book’s cover is none other than its author Ron Peck.

Working from home isn’t new since COVID. Back in the day, Ebenizer Scrooge turned Peck’s dining room into his office. A Christmas Carol in Philadelphia is available at headhousebooks.com. ■



A Season of Light Holiday traditions from around the world brighten up the coldest and darkest time of the year. By Suzanne Dreitlein


nder normal circumstances, many different emotions can get packed into the winter holiday season. Perhaps it is a time of joy and fellowship, or it may be a time of quiet reflection and remembrance, or for some, it can be an emotionally challenging time. This year, things are not normal. We have been asked to adapt to new standards of safety and refrain from some of our usual gatherings and traditions. But this new normal has also presented us the opportunity to pause and ask ourselves, “Are holiday traditions intentional or a little autopilot? Are there new aspects to contemplate or traditions to adopt?” There is a lot of talk about what makes us different; what divides us. However, a surprising number of holiday traditions from various origins share a common theme: the transition from darkness to light. Candles, evergreens, contemplation, and singing are also seasonal practices from ancient times that have been incorporated into most modern religions and are activities that can be enjoyed alone or with small family groups. Fol-


lowing are some of the traditions we are adapting for this holiday season. The Hindu celebration of Diwali (11/14) started off the season with a fiveday festival of light. To prepare for Diwali, celebrants give their homes a thorough cleaning—a good start to the season even for non-Hindus! Although large indoor gatherings for Thanksgiving were off the table for many this year, virtual gatherings meant everyone could fit in a Philly row housesized dining room. And that time spent in traffic could be devoted to exchanging family stories. A bonus of our new virtual

life meant we could use online scheduling to visit with everyone this year instead of having to choose one side over another. We often think of the holiday season as a time to be rushing around on the go, but this year there are simply fewer things to do. For Christians, the time before Christmas, called Advent (11/29-12/24), is a time of reflection and prayer. The previous “rushing around” time can transform into a season of contemplation. On St. Nicholas’ Day (12/6), German children—at least those who haven’t been abducted by Krampus—left their

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ost holiday traditions include gift-giving. And, even in the pandemic, many of our local small businesses are open while, of course, practicing distancing and maskwearing. This year, step away from the computer and step out to one of the neighborhood shops.

shoes by the door for St. Nicholas (a.k.a. parents) to stuff them with the lebkuchen, the classic German spice cookie. (Even now that the day has passed, you can find authentic lebkuchen at the South Philly Aldi.) Hanukkah (12/10-12/18), the Jewish festival of lights, extends over eight days. You don’t have to be Jewish to enjoy latkes (potato pancakes) and chocolate coins. Every year, Gloria Dei (Old Swedes’) celebrates its Swedish Lutheran roots with an annual St. Lucia Day (12/13), when girls wearing white robes and candle crowns process through the neighborhood. The Saturnalian Fancy Brigade (Mummers) gets their name from the celebration of Saturnalia (12/17–23), an ancient Roman winter solstice festival celebrated with a sacrifice, a banquet, gift-giving, and a carnival. Make a “sacrifice” of something you’ve been holding on to for too long or a bad habit you need to let go of.

Another solstice holiday is Shabe Yaldā (12/21), an Iranian festival celebrating the victory of light over darkness. Celebrants stay up all night to observe the Persian Yaldā tradition known as Shab Chera, meaning “night gazing.” For Christmas (12/25), you should still be able to decorate a tree, attend services virtually, bake cookies, and even exchange gifts—all while adhering to guidelines. Just remember to wear a mask, keep distance, and gather outside in limited numbers. Traditionally, there are activities during the 12 days between December 25 and January 6 so not everything needs to be packed into one day. Please do not send partridges, turtle doves, hens, swans, or other aves to your neighbors. Finally, Kwanzaa (12/26-1/1) is the African-American celebration of family, community, purpose, creativity, faith, and culture. Heading into the new year is the perfect time to reflect on these tenets, find ways to give back to the community, and help each other in the new year. ■

Raise Your Voice


he holidays are a time for song! So try a holiday carol karaoke over Zoom—a new twist that may prove especially amusing. Studies say singing lifts the spirits even if it’s done poorly, so carry on—even if you can’t carry a tune.



Making History The Bethel Burying Ground Historic Memorial project targets late spring for groundbreaking By Duncan Spenser


ast Spring, the office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy, (oACCE) was shuttered to help bridge the city’s $740-million budget shortfall due to COVID-19. But one of the office’s priorities, the Bethel Burying Ground (BBG) Historic Site Memorial, is still conducting business as the project remains fully funded with a timeline in place. As chair of the Friends of Weccacoe playground, I sit on the City-appointed committee for the BBG Historic Site Memorial, along with locals Eleanor Inger-

soll (QVNA president), Mark Tyler (pastor of Mother Bethel Church at 6th and Pine), representatives from oACCE, plus artists, activists, historians, and public figures (see http://bit.ly/QVNA_BBG). The memorial will be built in the southwest quadrant of Weccacoe Playground (400 block of Catharine Street) because underneath the land there, some 5000+ congregants of Mother Bethel AME Church and members of the AfricanAmerican community remain interred. The site operated from 1810 to 1864 and

An 1862 map including the Bethel Burying Ground at the corner of Queen and Cobb (now South Lawrence) Streets.

may be the first independent cemetery of the African-American community. Historic records show some of the interred to have been the architects of the Black suffrage movement and the desegregation of the city’s transit system. An estimated 40 percent of those buried were young children. For a deeper dive on this topic, see Terry Buckalew’s comprehensive website The Bethel Burying Ground Project at bethelburyinggroundproject.com/. The City of Philadelphia has earmarked approximately $1.2 million toward a fitting commemoration for these important Philadelphians. The committee has been working since 2017 to develop the parameters for the project. Before the halt to in-person meetings, the committee worked together to select five teams to become finalists in proposing a vision for the project. The selected artists, who come from this region, other parts of the country, and around the world are: • Muhsana Ali: American born, lives in Senega; studied with Izaiah Zagar • Sara Zewde: American born; founder of Studio Zewde • Karyn Olivier: Born in Trinidad and Tobago; based in Philadelphia • Shawn Theodore Jackson: American born; Philadelphia, NYC , LA • Juan Logan: Born in Nashville, Tennessee; work can be found at Philadelphia Museum of Art

THE COMMONS While an artist meet-and-greet with the committee and a walk-through of the playground site had to be cancelled this spring, a fluid timeline is in place to continue the progress to completion. The committee’s meetand-greet with the finalists took place

in October, and the artists then met separately with City officials to review technical aspects of their proposals and the project. In the new year, there will be opportunities for public review and input with a late spring target for construction to begin. ■

The Timeline* December 14, 2020 Written and visual proposals due, including 2-3 minute video December 28, 2020–January 22, 2021 Public input on proposals solicited March 3, 2021 Art commission presentation March–May 2021 Contract execution May/June 2021 Begin building removal and memorial construction

The headstone of Amelia Brown, discovered during an archaeological excavation of the site and now in the

*Schedule subject to change

Artist: Evan Thornburg

Artist: Evan Thornburg

Artist: Evan Thornburg

archives of the Mother Bethel African Methodist Church.








Our Urban Oasis A neighborhood haven gets a new look. By Lisa C. Mell, Chair, Friends of Mario Lanza Park


Color new banners add a bright note to Mario Lanza Park.

Photo by Jenny Lynn.

here’s something about sunlight pouring through maple leaves that conjures up images from my childhood and hikes in the woods. Voices from an impromptu family gathering mingle with the laughter of children, dogs barking, and the hum of the neighborhood— but in the midst of it, there is the strength of the trees and the depth of history in the ground beneath them. Welcome to Mario Lanza Park, our neighborhood haven. Between the leaves you can glimpse its name on the new banners adorning our lampposts; from the walkway, their brightly colored birds beckon you to the patio. These were the brainchild of local designer Martin Duffy (www.martinduffyworks.com) and are our first introduction to a “rebranding” of the park: a continuing salute to both Mario and the migrating birds that rest in our canopies—as well as a vibrant greeting to neighbors and young families who grace the lawns and walkways. In these challenging times, we are fortunate to have this respite: Here we can escape home offices, home-schooling, and quarantine—and picnic on the lawns, do yoga and play on the patio, exercise dogs in the run, all while taking care to socialdistance and wear masks out of respect for each other. Our new banners symbolize this dynamic community, and we plan to use the colorful graphics on flyers and additional merchandise for future fundraising efforts.

The Friends of Mario Lanza Park is one of the oldest park groups that operate with support from the Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation. Sprung from a group of determined neighbors in the late 80s, it is now one of more than 120 park groups in the city. As the chair of The Friends, I maintain the trees and interface with the wider community and am proud to coordinate our core group: Gail Chapman, treasurer/master gardener; Don Ackerman, legal counsel; Betsy Johnson, Marcel Ricciardelli, and Amy Rivera, who spearhead lawn care, events, and fundraising; Sam Olshin, resident architect; and our many dedicated volunteers, to whom we are deeply grateful. We rely heavily on financial donations for tree trimming/treatments, extensive garden care, lawn and irrigation maintenance, and for many events that we sponsor throughout the year, including: Clean-ups in the spring and fall, Kidfest in June, Movie Nights in July, and Music Month in September. We are also hoping for corporate matches and capital funding to repair our historic iron fencing and brickwork. Kindly direct inquiries/donations to: https://bit.ly/MarioLanza_QVNA—and thank you in advance for any assistance you might give. In the meantime, take a breather in MLP—and stay well. ■

Local Hero


n the center of Mario Lanza Park’s plaza is a dedicated memorial to its namesake, the celebrated tenor opera singer and Hollywood film star of the late 1940s and 1950s. Born Alfredo Arnold Cocozza (his stage name was a tribute to his mother’s maiden name, Maria Lanza), he lived just five blocks away at 636 Christian Street, the site now identified by an historic marker. He made nine movies and sang on opera stages all over the world. Lanza died at the age of 38 from a pulmonary embolism. On September 29, 1967, Queen Street Park was dedicated as Mario Lanza Park. January 31, 2021, marks the 100th anniversary of his birth. You can pay tribute to one of South Philly’s finest by: • Visiting the Mario Lanza Institute and Museum at 1214 Reed Street (by appointment only, mask required, www.mariolanzainstitute.org), • Listening to one of his most famous movie songs from The Student Prince http://bit.ly/QVNA_ MarioLanza, • Stopping to read the Memorial on a stroll through the park, or • Even listening to a Mario Lanza-inspired song by a fellow artist: “A year after Lanza's death, Elvis recorded an English translation of O Sole Mio. It's Now or Never, went on to be one of Elvis’s all-time best-selling songs.” (Wikipedia)





4:30 vigil mass: St. Philip Neri Church 6:30 vigil mass: St. Stanislaus Church



8:30 a.m. mass: St. Stanislaus Church 11:00 a.m. mass: St. Philip Neri Church


Direct: 267-225-3678 Office: 215-627-3500 deidre@deidrequinn.com deidrequinn.com 1619 Walnut St, 5th FL Philadelphia, PA 19103

Knowledge and Experience Combined with Your Best Interests in Mind

I just want to give a shout out to Deidre Quinn. She listed and got me to closing on my condo in just one month(!!!). Not only is she just the best realtor but she is also a lovely person and a dream to work with. If anyone in Philly is thinking of selling I can't recommend her highly enough. - Pam Q. QUEEN VILLAGE QUARTERLY CRIER // PAGE 25


1918 Pandemic in Philadelphia As the coronavirus pandemic ravages a global community, the Crier looks back at the Spanish Flu pandemic that ravaged Philadelphia in particular. By Terry Buckalew

The Liberty Loan Parade, held on September 28, 1918, was organized to promote the government bonds issued to help pay for World War I. With more than 200,000 Philadelphians in attendance, it led to one of the country’s largest outbreaks of the 1918 flu.


he morning of September 28, 1918, was cool and clear. It was a beautiful day to have a War Bond rally and a parade in the city of Philadelphia. World War I was raging in Europe, and citizens needed to show their patrio-

tism by supporting the troops. Tragically several weeks later, the families of 15,000 dead Philadelphians would mark this day with dread. There were only 47 cases of Influenza (“Spanish Flu”) reported in the city by this

time. However, there were 600 stricken men in the Philadelphia Naval Base Hospital. City and military officials were congratulating themselves, believing that they had curtailed the spread. But the city’s health director, Dr. Wilmer Krusen,

of money in the floats advertising their companies. It also had become a contest among the business owners to see who could create the best floats accompanied by the largest number of their employees. Starting at noon on the 28th, more than 200,000 cheering and singing men, women, and children lined South Broad Street for 23 blocks. The crowd roared as 2,400 sailors and Marines from the Naval Base passed by, led by the Marine Band from the same base. They were followed by 10,000 marchers. The next day newspapers proclaimed the parade the best the city had ever seen. The same newspapers also mentioned Dr. Krusen’s justreleased statement that citizens should avoid crowds if possible. Three days after the parade the city experienced a viral “explosion of great force.” On October 4, Dr. Krusen ordered the closure of all schools, churches, restaurants, and saloons. All 31 city hospitals were quickly overrun. A call went out for volunteer gravediggers to help bury the corpses that had piled up outside the morgues and cemeteries. In the end, Philadelphia had the highest death rate in the county. Almost 10 percent of the 150,000 who caught the disease died. It was a devastating loss to the population and the fabric of the city. ■

A Philadelphia tram offers timely advice, c. 1918.

knew differently. Starting in August, a viral wave crashed down on the East Coast, killing thousands and overflowing hospitals, military and civilian, with the seriously ill. Dr. Krusen knew it was just a matter of time but foolishly hoped he had one more day of grace. The disease took an exceptional toll on Southwark residents. The southeast neighborhood was overcrowded with Italian, Russian, and Russian Jewish im-

migrants packed into ramshackle tenements. Add to this, the influx of 500 African Americans a week, escaping the Jim Crow Southern states, and it made for a perfect breeding ground for a plague. Warnings came from numerous sources about the danger that the parade could pose to the city. However, the very powerful industrial leaders in the city, who controlled the Mayor and City Council, were against it. They had invested a lot

To learn more, visit the exhibit “Spit Spreads Death: The Influenza Pandemic of 1918-19 in Philadelphia” at the Mütter Museum (in person or virtually) at muttermuseum.org/ exhibitions/going-viral-behind-the-scenesat-a-medical-museum/. For a really deep dive into the story of the 1918 pandemic, see John M. Barry’s The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History.



Winter Events in and around Queen Village By Sage DiPalma Gloria Dei Church (Old Swedes) Church / 916 S Swanson Street


xplore the conspiracy theories surrounding the disappearance of the SS Poet. Built in 1944, the military troop carrier was refitted in 1979 to be used for bulk cargo. On October 24, 1980, Captain Leroy Warren, 33 crew members, and 13,500 tons of yellow corn were set off for Gibraltar from Girard Point Terminal in South Philly. But after it departed, the ship disappeared. To learn more, visit preserveoldswedes.org/ features/exhibits/the-poet/

Magic Gardens / 1020 South Street Every second Sunday through December, January, and February. Participate in Peco Family Jams, a virtual building session with prepared craft boxes available at the Magic Gardens location. Don’t want to pick up a prepped box? Build your own virtual box with items from home. To learn more, visit www.phillymagicgardens.org/publicprograms/family-jams/

Paradigm Gallery / 746 S 4th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147 On display through the winter; open by appointment only. View work by award-winning German photographer and interdisciplinary artist Shawn Theodore, who examines the role of the photographer in storytelling and Afromythology. Learn more at Paradigm-Gallery.com. To make mosaic medallions, all you need is a jar lid, white glue, and beads or other odds and ends.

The Eyes Gallery / 402 South Street

Shawn Theodore’s The Salon of Oluchi Oneya and Leenos The Forgiving.

November 1 (Day of the Dead) through the winter. Shop for artwork inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic and other work by folk artists and artisans. Proceeds help fund Mexican craft artists impacted by the pandemic. Visit www.eyesgallery.com and www.eyesvintage.etsy.com ■

The Best of Us


n a cold December evening in 2008, the Friends of Moyamensing Point founded a holiday they call Phestivus. Inspired by Festivus—the holiday introduced in a 1997 episode of Seinfeld—the celebrants have gathered each year since, bearing gifts of new, unwrapped toys for distribution within Queen Village and to city outreach organizations. As in years past, 2020 found Phestivus bringing out the best of us with donations of toys—and letters to Santa—pouring in at a December 12 toy drive at the Moyamensing Point (2nd and Christian streets) and to Lucky’s Last Chance (848 South 2nd Street). Getting into the spirit, QVNA has been collecting small gifts for the Festivus Grab Bag held at Queen Village’s senior center, Courtyard Apartments at Riverview. Monday to Friday through December 18, we’ve been collecting small, unwrapped gifts for seniors at our office (744 South Front Street). Inspired? Consider donating winter clothes you won’t be wearing this season. Throughout the winter, drop off gently used, warm clothing in closed, plastic bags at either The Bagel Place (401 Queen Street) or Old Pine Community Center (Corner of 4th and Lombard streets). Happy Phestivus to all! ■

We r ou s Volunteer !!! With vision and compassion for future generations, volunteers care for our our parks, playgrounds and trees. When powerful forces threatened to divide our neighborhood, volunteers unified, fought and won the battle and saved our community. Whether cleaning and greening; serving on a committee or the Board; contributing to our magazine; distributing the Crier; helping in the office—whether regularly or for an hour here and there—QVNA appreciates your volunteer service.

Thank You Queen Village Volunteers

Your Caring Enriches Our Community. Since 1969, QVNA has depended on volunteers to lead and advance our mission of community stewardship, advocacy and service to help improve quality of life for Queen Village residents. To those who have helped bring positive change to our community, and to the volunteers who sustain it today,

thank you for your service.

Community Stewardship. Advocacy. Service. Find opportunities @ QVNA.org/volunteer


Kathy & Patrick Conway and the Conway Team Once again recognized among BHHS Fox & Roach affiliates:

1 of the Top 100 Producers out of 68,000 in the United States REAL Trends America’s Best:

29th in Pennsylvania Top 10 in Philadelphia As seen in Philadelphia Magazine:

Our record speaks for itself!

Top 100 Agents in Philadelphia

In these changing times, you deserve the best!


Pat and Kathy brought us an excellent deal for our townhouse in Queen Village. They sold it quickly and at a price that met more than our expectations. Their commitment to Queen Village and knowledge of the neighborhood is exemplary and an important force in the quality of life in Queen Village. - Bob Blacksberg

215.266.1537 215.850.3842 215.627.6005 conwayteam@gmail.com

Profile for Queen Village Neighbors Association

QV Quarterly Crier Winter 2021