Claire Chappelle had passed by the Handcraft Workshop in Germantown for a year before she ventured in and took a pillowcase-making class. So enthusiastic was she about the experience that in the days leading up to Christmas she was coming in to sew dozens of pillow cases for gifts to friends to family. On the Friday eve before Christmas Chappelle, attended an Open Sew and was putting the finishing touches on some pillowcases while proprietress Heather Hutchinson Harris was cutting fabric and giving instructions to a gentleman working on pajamas. Harris says the pajama making classes are popular with students who take the introductory pillowcase class and then want to move on to a more challenging projects that require working with a pattern. Harris sewed up a career as a teacher and geriatric social worker before launching her shop. Husband Andre Harris, an IT professional, was on hand at the Open Sew helping out.
Lee Bierie generates leads for Logan Heating and Cooling at a table inside the Home Depot store in Dublin, Ohio. And he pitches "buckeye boys" handmade by his wife for $10 a piece. Also known as the "Brutus" it is the mascot of Ohio State University football team.
Saleece came smiling and protectively gloved out of the brand new Goodwill Donation Center in Mount Airy as soon as I pulled up in my car. Located on Lincoln Drive below the CVS Pharmacy at Mount Pleasant where a gas station used to be, the facility caught my eye with a large “NOW OPEN” banner.
Saleece was happy to accept the jigsaw puzzles and books I had stored in my trunk for a planned drop-off either at the Whosoever Gospel Mission store in Germantown or the Salvation Army store in Roxborough. She says the Goodwill facility has seen a lot of traffic in the short week and some days it’s been open and credits advertisements in the Mt Airy Times with sparking anticipation in the community in advance of the opening.
Already, large cardboard bins in the garage staging area were nearly full of clothes and toys. The items get sorted here and then will be shipped to Goodwill’s retail outlets in South Philadelphia and the Northeast.
Saleece knows of no plans for the current, and relatively small building, to serve as a retail outlet.
Donations benefit Goodwill’s training and assistance programs for youth, seniors, disabled and those with a criminal background in getting jobs. See www.goodwill.org
Claudia Stemler (right) and Laura Belmonte (left) are cramming bookshelves wherever they can into their“ brunettes’ bookshopbakery” – in a low swinging door and into upright support columns. They hope customers will buy cupcakes and books and talk books while the pair is baking away in their new shop in the Market on the Fareway (formerly the “Chestnut Hill Farmers Market”) Prices for the “gently used” books are $5 for hardbacks and $4 for trade paperbacks. Since people have been donating books, the brunettes are not yet accepting trade-ins. Additionally, they are cooking up plans for book-of-the-month picks and a book club. watch video here
Christina Lee of BonLynn Cleaners was listening to a Korean language radio station when I asked her about the current tense situation in the Koreas. Lee came to the U.S. in 1986 from South Korea and does not know anyone living in North Korea nor of anyone who travels there. From what she has seen on Korean news, she believes the current North Korean leader, 29 year-old Kim Jung-un, is too young, which she thinks could be very dangerous. But Lee’s friends and family in South Korea don’t take North Korea’s [militaristic] threats seriously. She thinks reunification is inevitable but that it will bring tension and be accompanied by economic hardship, similar to when East and West Germany were re-united. To make the transition a lot smoother, she believes, the two Koreas must come up with a clear plan and follow it step by step.
Watch video interview here. (Sorry for shakiness of camera)
With a shiny turquoise gown and spiked Statute of Liberty hat to match, bearded Tom Humphrey waves at cars passing by on Ridge Avenue in Roxborough to drum up business for Liberty Tax Services. “It’s a fun job,” and he gets to meet a lot of people and see his neighbors, says Humphrey who works four-hour shifts, morning, noon or night, depending on his schedule. Some “wavers” who work other shifts are not so keen on the rainy, sleety or snowy conditions that, he hints, don’t faze him. According to Humphrey, this is Liberty’s signature and effective way of advertising, as the company does not advertise on radio, TV or in newspapers. Watch video here.
Everett Staten sells Obama for President clothing and paraphernalia from a boutique storefront in Mount Airy, Philadelphia. By purchasing items, Staten says, people can both show their support for the President and help fund his re-election campaign. One T-shirt has the outlined letters of the phrase, “Why I Vote.” Each letter is a window on a photograph of some significant even in the civil rights movement – the freedom riders’ bus that was set on fire, a police dog attacking a college student at a rally in Greensboro, a malt being thrown on an African-American woman at a lunch counter, Rosa Parks who refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white person, fire hoses being directed at protesters in Birmingham, an imprisoned Dr. Martin Luther King from where he wrote the “Letters from a Birmingham Jail”, one of the Little Rock nine girls braving segregationists to enter high school and Congressman John Lewis who, as chair of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, got pummeled Everett says this t-shirt is especially needed to remind people why they need to vote – now to fight voter suppression in the form of the voter ID laws which a Pennsylvania Republican lawmaker boasted would guarantee Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney a win in Pennsylvania. Watch video here.
WHAT WAS THAT ABOUT? It’s like appreciation for this country. [referring to another song he played but not appearing in this video] My intuition, my intuitionish expression. I cannot explain well so that’s why I play. IS SOME OF YOUR MUSIC JAPANESE INSPIRED? Yes. Like the third song I played, “Takibi,” bonfire, it’s inspiration from my grandparents. HOW DID THEY INSPIRE YOU? My childhood. When I recall my childhood. That scenery made me write that song. The bonfire and the smoke going up in the sky. YOU GREW UP IN KYOTO? I’m from Kyoto, a very traditional city. But somehow I picked up a five-string banjo because my Dad was a crazy guy. And he brought me a banjo one day and asked me to play it. A new instrument for me. I didn’t know how to do it so I was just playing around with it. Yeah, that’s the story.
Guitarist/composer Hiroya Tsukamoto at the Walk a Crooked Mile Bookstore concert series, Mount Airy Philadelphia.
Greg Roussos is a new barber doing old style barbering at the Wissahickon Barber Shop in Roxborough. Old style is spending more time with the customer, doing scissor over combing and straight razor shaving, he says. Roussos feels that guys these days are often forced to go to “girlie” shops and that they really prefer the old time experience where they can hang out, get a cut, talk sports. But he does women’s hair too. The friend who was helping Roussos put flyers on car windshields on Northwestern Avenue near the horse stables says Roussos always does her hair. “He’s the best.” Watch video interview here.
I ask mural artist Ann Norththrup to take a break and hold up her paint-spattered hands. We chat about the watercolor she painted of the Wissahickon Park that she and her crew of helpers are now installing on the wall of Bredenbeck's Bakery, the first mural in Chestnut Hill, Northwest Philadelphia. Watch video here.
Video transcript below