Donald D’Angelo drove his new Ford Tempo around the block several times hoping someone would finally pull out and give up a parking space. This was the one thing he hated most about coming to his parents’ house in South Philly—trying to find a parking space. The blocks of old row homes ran one after the other, interrupted occasionally by a corner storefront, a church or a school. The D’Angelo house was in the middle of the block, but still close enough to Pat’s and Gino’s cheesesteak stands that the aroma of fried thin beef, onions and melted provolone cheese was a long-accepted part of the environment.
The streets here are narrow, lined on one or both sides by bumper-to-bumper parked automobiles. Most of the streets are one-way, making a repeated circular route looking for a parking space all the more difficult to navigate. Donald D’Angelo had already watched two cars pull away from the curb, but each time the car in front of him quickly maneuvered itself into the vacant slot. Not surprisingly, seasoned South Philadelphia drivers were professionals at parallel parking and had no problem maneuvering into an open space no matter how tight. In South Philly, parallel parking was a skill learned at an early age and one that easily identified native sons from outsiders who had no concept of how to move a car sideways and wedge it snugly between two others.