Friday, April 25, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

The Philly Phiat Rides Again

A masterman geogrpahy teacher makes a lesson out of a Phillies stunt.

The Philly Phiat Rides Again

Borda´s Philly Phiat even made the rounds inside Citizen´s Bank Park.
Borda's Philly Phiat even made the rounds inside Citizen's Bank Park.

Remember that funny school teacher who drove his tiny red Fiat around Citizen's Bank Park on the morning of every Phillies playoff game last fall, to bring the team good luck? 

Luigi Borda decorated his car with a lot of big Phillies P's and christened it "The Philly Phiat." Then he drove that thing around the park, beeping it's horn like a world championship depended on it.

Which, it turns out, it kind of did.

Now, Borda has driven his Philly Phiat off the road and onto the pages of a book he's written called Andiamo ... Let's Go! Luigi Discovers Philadelphia.

It's the first in a sweet series of self-published geography books for children. In them, Borda's main character, an Italian immigrant teenager named (ahem) Luigi drives his "Phiat" through all 50 states, delighting in the wonders of his strange new country.

The book is loosely autobiographical. Borda came to the States from Italy in 1969 with his parents and two siblings, and they all jammed into a South Philly row house with his aunt, uncle and five cousins. Forty years later, Borda, now a geography teacher at Julia R. Masterman Middle and High School, still lives in South Philly, close to the crowded place he once called home.

Presumably, Borda, his wife and two daughters have more elbow room than he had growing up.

Ronnie Polaneczky Daily News Columnist
About this blog

When my phone rings here at the Daily News, nine times out of ten the caller begins the conversation with, “Yeah, so what happened was…”.

Because this is Philly, the caller doesn’t say, “My name is Bob” – or Mary – “and I wonder if I could have a moment of your time?” Philadelphians are too direct for that. They just say, “Yeah, so what happened was…”, and then tumble into a tale they think oughta be shared with a wider audience. I love getting these calls (even the ones where it becomes clear, after 30 seconds, where the caller sowed the seeds of his own misery), because they give me chance to connect with fellow citizens in a way that no other job allows. Well, okay, no other job for which I’m remotely qualified.

That’s why my blog is titled “So What Happened Was…”. To me, it’s the quintessentially Philly way of saying, “Once upon a time.” When I hear it, I know a good story is coming. And I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Ronnie Polaneczky has been an award-winning columnist for The Philadelphia Daily News since 1999, offering a front-steps perspective on every aspect of city life, from the sublime to the stupid. In her past life, she was the editor-in-chief of Atlantic City Magazine, associate editor at Philadelphia Magazine and a fulltime freelancer published in Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Reader's Digest, Men's Health, MarieClaire and others. She lives with her husband, daughter and various pets in the city's Fairmount section, where she dreams of one day singing The National Anthem at an Eagles game. In addition to her column and blog, you can enjoy Ronnie's musings in podcast form here.


Read more from Ronnie Polaneczky at Earth to Philly, the Daily News blog on anything and everything "Green Reach Ronnie at polaner@phillynews.com.

Ronnie Polaneczky Daily News Columnist
Also on Philly.com
Stay Connected