This evening, while I waited for my first oral history interview for the Philadelphia Public History Truck on a street corner in East Kensington, a neighbor came out of his home, crossed the street and despite the language barrier between us, let me know when to expect my interviewee based on when she normally gets home. Then, he went back inside his home only to come out a moment later and point across the street. I wasn’t sure at what, but then I realized he was pointing to a chair. Before I could get to it myself, he had brought it to me and told me to, “Sit and relax.” Then, he and I chatted until my interview showed up. This kind neighbor friend is named Bill (which I learned from asking the one question I recall easily in Spanish!).
To Bill, I am sure offering that chair to me was nothing, but it actually impacted me very much– because today, standing on a street corner in East Kensington as I waited for my first oral history interview, I was welcomed by a neighbor who had never seen my face or heard mention of my project.
Thank you, Bill.