E pluribus unum refers to thirteen colonies peacefully becoming a single nation. But it applies to Philadelphia in a different sense. Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods.
Customs, Culture and Traditions
Abundant seafood made it easy to settle here. Agriculture takes longer.
During the Twentieth Century, the society editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Ruth Seltzer, got fed up with trying to attend six or seven weddings on the same day and decided to do something about it. She established a social calendar, where hostesses could list their planned events after first checking to see if there was significant competition for the date. The book, or "The Book", was kept at Caldwell's Jewelry shop across the street from City Hall, and was no doubt good for their business as well. Caldwell's alas is gone, and so is the book.
But the need for a central clearinghouse remains, and some of the same issues continue to surface. There are many more weddings in June than other months, many more Christmas parties at Christmas than other seasons of the year. Unofficial rules were laid down and tactfully suggested by the nice lady at Caldwell's. It was suggested that charity benefits might usefully avoid taking place during the United Fund drive, just as an example. And of course, people will rush to reserve a date far in advance, but then back off if a big Kahuna comes along and squats on the same date. Big Kahunas are a problem if they have already staked out the right to a certain night between Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you have the brass, you can go ahead and schedule a head-on collision with the big Kahuna; if you triumph, you are now recognized as the new bigger Kahuna. If you fail, you have to eat canapes for a month.
Originally published: Friday, November 07, 2008; most-recently modified: Wednesday, May 15, 2019