“I’ve been here for years,” Pfenninger says. “I know everyone, the truckers, the neighbors, I’ve seen them all.”
Pfenninger only pauses to help pedestrians cross the intersection at Oregon Avenue. Some neighbors approach him to give him money. They walk away with a handout from Pfenninger--a photocopied printout of the banjo tablature to Earl Scruggs’ ‘Worried Man Blues’ with his favorite bible passages scribbled on top. In the past, he has used the money people give to him to buy food for the homeless.
“I’m here to represent all seniors and veterans,” Pfenninger says proudly.
Pfenninger, originally from Flemington, N.J., joined the United States Marine Corps in 1956, when he was still 17 years old. He followed a series of stints as an amateur boxing champion, cook, window cleaner and dishwasher. Pfenninger moved to Philadelphia in 1991 after a divorce, and bought a banjo shortly after.
“Retired, rewired,” reads the cardboard sign propped up next to Pfenninger, his banjo-playing days another chapter in an already eclectic library of life stories.
Previously, Pfenninger had played on South Street and Broad and Christian. He prefers his current location at Oregon Avenue near 7th Street because it is a few blocks from his home on Ritner.
Pfenninger says he will be playing at Oregon Avenue for the entire summer provided the weather cooperates.
By Jimmy Viola, Group 37, Spot News