Folks come to the Chinese takeout at 19th and Gerritt for more than the food, which is said to be good. Blunts - cigars that can be filled with marijuana - are sold at the bulletproof window along with egg rolls. Open until 3 a.m., it's a natural hangout. Last Sunday, it may also have become a place that young killers could boast of their deeds on the white walls in a cryptic missive - the hieroglyphics of death.
This appeared in big, black letters just after Anthony Williams, 15, was shot and killed on his grandmother's front porch on the 1500 block of South 19th:
1 down, 3 ta go.
Nearby, the boy's nickname, "Ant Will," is written, and crossed out.
Some believe the message refers to the fact that the homicide was the third attempt on Anthony's life; he'd been shot at a few days earlier. Others think that three more kids may be targeted.
But nearly all in the community believe they know why Ant Will - who loved to joke, rap, and play basketball and faithfully attended school - was killed. It's a saga that makes West Side Story look like Gangs for Dummies.
"It was because we live on 19th Street," explains his aunt, Kim Hartsfield-Stokes. The kids on 19th Street "hang with 16th Street boys, and 20th Street don't like 16th Street." The 19th and 16th Street kids had formed an alliance called "196," which angered the 20th Streeters and may have made Anthony a target - for spending time with the wrong kids.
His family says Anthony spent more time at an after-school program than on the corner. Still, in the geographic call to arms that haunts this part of South Philly, location would be everything.
Monday night, 19th Street is crying by candlelight and one of Anthony's uncles, Rasheed Bynum, is asking: "Are you tired of getting killed for nothing? Because one of you lives on one side of the street and one the other? You tired of that yet?"
Contact staff photographer April Saul at 215-854-2872 or firstname.lastname@example.org