Neighborhood Note

Neighborhood Note:
My Trip to the Papi Store
by Kadija Koita

​Re-PLACE-ing Philadelphia is building an expanded archive of cultural memory that includes multiple histories, re-place-ing the established with new narratives and understandings. Notes consider place via the street, sound, food, trees, and other portals.

In partnership with educator Joshua Block, students from Philadelphia's Science Leadership Academy are creating and publishing their Philadelphia Field Notes. Kadija Koita describes her visits to the neighborhood "Papi Store."


“Can I get a large hoagie with everything on it, light on the oil?” I say, when I walk to the back to order my hoagie from Papi. He is a slim coffee man who never spoke too much English. I wasn't mad, he had a way of speaking that language of his. I wait for my order and walk through the aisles, as if looking for something I hadn't seen before. I listened for little words that I knew as they spoke. It seemed like it was a recording and somebody just hit the forward button, that's how fast they would speak.

This place was more for the black people in the community.

“I know I would not find one of these stores downtown,” said my friend as she picked up snacks.

I know that this was placed in low income areas, but I didn't really know why. I mean yeah, it was junk food, but it was convenient. Although people never called it a convenient store, usually called it the “Papi Store” because it was filled with Spanish speaking men, with an occasional woman at the front that rang all your food up, and never put napkins in your bag when you ordered something from the back. She always looked like one of those Latino ladies from somewhere warm, like she wasn't meant to be around in the winter, only in the summer.

“$6.25 mami.” She would say as she sat my bag to the side.

I pulled out my credit card, because I knew you had to spend at least $6 before using your credit card, or I mean close to it.

“Thank you.” I said grabbing my food and opening that door that always made that annoying sound when you opened it. I think it was a bell that went off when you left, or maybe bells placed right above the door. I`ll tell you the next time that I go there, which is probably tomorrow.


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