Even though I was born in Philadelphia and lived there for the first year of my life, I can’t really call myself a Philly guy. My family moved to the suburbs in 1958 and I’ve been there ever since.
I’ve always been a little jealous of the people who grew up in Philly, they seem to have a little bit of attytood that has served them well.
And even though I go into the city quite often, it’s still as a visitor, an outsider.
Back in the day, we use to go to Pat’s Steaks quite often, and driving around South Philly in the summer I loved seeing the neighbors hanging out on their steps. And as great as our neighborhood is, there was nothing like step sitting in the suburbs, and I secretly wished I could be part of one of those step-sitting groups.
Well as you can see in the picture above, tonight that wish was fulfilled.
One of my nieces lives in South Philly, and she invited my wife and I over to celebrate her mom’s birthday.
After dinner, we slowly drifted outside and the steps seemed like the perfect place to just hand out and chat. It was also one of those classic summer nights, warm and humid, and I couldn’t think of a better way to be spending the evening.
Philadelphia Magazine just had a story about stoops in its June issue, “In Praise of the Philly Stoop.” Author Brian Howard claims that you can forget about planning a trip to the French Riviera or down the shore; the best summer spot is the stoop.
Everyone has one. It’s at once impossibly ordinary — it’s the steps to your door, the basic building block of community, the perch for her famous “eyes upon the street.” In a year when social media has made us increasingly antisocial and politics have rendered us hopelessly divided, it’s time for a re-appreciation of the humble stoop and the centuries-old tradition of hangin’ out on it. There’s nothing to stoop sitting. You just do it.
Howard states the beauty of the stoop much more eloquently than I can, but I can now attest to what a perfect place it is to spend a summer night.
So thank you to my niece and her boyfriend for sharing their stoop with us.
I think all I need to do now to be considered a real Philly guy is to successfully run for some public office in the city, and then be convicted of corruption.
P.S. There is some debate about what to call these steps; it seems as if some people call it a stoop, but apparently that’s more of a Brooklyn thing…