Meet Your Neighbor: Eileen Eubanks

Eileen and Joe in their amazing garden

Name: Eileen Eubanks

How long have you lived in LoMo? 3 years

Where are you originally from? Reading, PA. My father was born and raised in South Philly. My family has always been in South Philly. I always liked visiting as a child and I ended up staying.

And you work in the area? I do! I work down the street at Bomb Bomb Barbecue Grill.

Do you have a favorite dish there? The ribs! [laughs] We’re known for our ribs. We’ve won many awards for our ribs. It’s a family owned restaurant, it’s been there since 1951. Frank Barbato Sr. originally started and his son Frank Jr. and his wife Debbie now run it, but the father still sits there every day [laughs], still watches over the place. He’s like the patriarch of the place, which is nice.

Other than Bomb Bomb, what are your other favorite local spots? I love the neighborhood itself, just the locality of it. It’s easy to go shopping; you don’t need a car to live in South Philly. It’s the people too. You can count on your neighbors. Anything you need you can yell out the window. It’s nice.

What’s something you would add to the area that it doesn’t have? Hmm… more parking for people who do have cars [laughs].

One word to describe our neighborhood? Comfortable.

During the tour, Eileen’s boyfriend Joe, who really has a green thumb, was steadily tending to their beautiful garden, which is located near 12th & Wolf Sts.

Can you tell us a little about your garden? My landlord – and the building is owned by her daughter now – was originally Catherine Corolli, who unfortunately passed away a year ago. But when she passed but she allowed us to have access to her garden. My boyfriend, Joe, stepped in and this is what we got.

How long did this take to cultivate? This garden has been here for years, this is our first summer [tending it].We have eggplants, we have tomatoes – we have more tomatoes than God! [laughs]

Do you have a favorite plant? Well unfortunately they did not come up this year — my squashes. Other than that my eggplants are gorgeous.

Joe: We have hot peppers, cucumbers. I’ve always had a garden. My parents were World War II vets and it was called the victory garden. The garden in our neighborhood was an excuse for people to hang over the fence and chew the fat and get to know each other again and catch up and share vegetables.

Eileen: And that’s what we’re doing with this place. Like with all the senior citizens in the neighborhood, Kim [Massare, LoMo President] will call me and say, ‘Will you bring some over?’ and we do that. We share with the nuns, with whoever needs them. There’s only two of us, we can’t eat that much.

After the interview Eileen and Joe insisted I take some of their beautiful vegetables home. I left with a bag of tomatoes, hot peppers, and an eggplant so huge that it almost broke the bag. If you ever walk by the garden don’t be afraid to pop your head in the fence and say hello!

— Interview by Tylor Augustine

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