Footprint Journeys, "Start Here": Priscilla "Pat" Ruber

by City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and The Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Dancer and choreographer Amanda Miller and video artist Tony Rothlein incorporated oral history, video and movement with Start Here, a work — part of Journeys South — that drew on first-person stories of individual or familial journeys to South Philadelphia. At the heart of their exploration was the question: "Where do the paths of immigration intersect?"

Priscilla "Pat" Ruber

Pat Ruber has lived above the barbershop founded by her great-grandfather her whole life. After her father’s death, the business closed. But the shop remains intact, a shrine to daily life in South Philadelphia.

“My great-grandfather bought the property in 1914. They came from Italy. From Sicily, actually. Originally they were at Seventh and Carpenter. They moved here around 1910, 1911. They were four doors down. They had a barbershop there. They lived on Iseminger. This property became available and they moved. They moved their barbershop and their home all into one building.”

“I’m very happy to see that they’re putting in new stores and they’re generating new business. It’s a neighborhood that is in a great deal of change. No one moves from these small streets. You have to kinda pry them out. They’re very old and they’re dying, so many properties are now going up for sale because their families have moved away. So a new group is coming in and that’s an exciting change. Change is always good, so we just have to wait it out and see how they settle in.”

Click here to read the full interview with Pat Ruber!

This project has been funded by The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage through the Heritage Philadelphia Program.

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