Events and People

Ees Da Sa Sussaway- Lets Get Started

To many, “ees da sa sussaway” would simply be syllables, but generations of Philadelphia children know differently. They know that these are the magic words of Chief Traynor Ora Halftown, beloved children’s entertainer and Philadelphia legend.

Chief Halftown began broadcasting his self-titled children’s television program in September of 1950. Originally intended to be a simple cartoon show, it grew into the longest running local children’s program in the history of television. For nearly 50 years, Chief Halftown was a part of the lives of Philadelphia children.

Chief Halftown was a full-blooded Seneca Indian born in upstate New York. His parents were both born on an Indian reservation near Buffalo and his grandfather had toured with Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show. He moved to Pennsylvania with the hopes of becoming the next great crooner and enjoyed moderate success until after WWII. While those dreams were never to be fulfilled, he did find his way to fame. When his children’s show began broadcasting, he had to rent his own costume from a shop on Chestnut St. Throughout the years, he always appeared on camera in native headdress, beads and buckskin. These signature marks were not just an aesthetic choice but also a teaching tool. His show, which began as a cartoon show, grew into a place to showcase the talent of local children and to teach about Native American traditions and culture.

In 1950 Chief Halftown was battling a prevalent stereotype. On television and in movies, there were very distinct depictions of Native Americans, generally as so-called savages or sidekicks. John Wayne and Jimmie Stewart both starred in films about Native American wars that year. If there were good roles for Native Americans, such as Cochise in Jimmy Stewart’s Broken Arrow, they were generally not portrayed by Native American actors. Fortunately, Chief Halftown refused to play to stereotype. He famously claimed, “I had no idea what it would come to, but I vowed that I would be myself. I wouldn’t talk like a Hollywood Indian…I made it clear that I was an Indian and no one was to tell me how to be an Indian.

Chief Halftown’s formula worked, making him an incredibly popular part of the Channel Six lineup here in Philadelphia. In addition to his television show, Chief Halftown made lots of appearances in and around the city. On the weekends each summer he could be found at Dutch Wonderland, a family amusement park in Lancaster, entertaining and educating children in person. He not only entertained children though. He also visited senior centers, schools, store openings, and charity events. When his show went off the air in 1999, Chief Halftown was 82 years old but that didn’t end his career. He continued making public appearances for several more years. He moved to Brigantine, NJ in 2002 to be near his children and passed away there in July of 2003.

Chief Halftown didn’t live an outlandish existence. He never considered himself a celebrity, yet he was a part of the lives of children here in Philadelphia for nearly half a century. Never pandering and always staying true to himself, he succeeded in the local television market in a way that is no longer possible. As national networks have increased their children’s programming, local shows beyond the news have died away. Chief Halftown was a pioneer. While he and his show may be gone, memories of his teachings will remain for years to come.


Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Website –

TV Party: Philly Local Kids Shows –

WHYY Website: Philly’s Favorite Kids Shows –


Philadelphia’s Italian Market


In the late 1880s, 9th and Fitzwater was outside of the plan for Philadelphia. Not included in William Penn’s original outline for his city, the neighborhood sprang up quite by accident. Antonio Palumbo built his boarding house there, and received an influx of immigrants looking for work in the developing city. As the community grew they began to open up stores along 9th Street until it took on an appearance not dissimilar to what one finds in the same neighborhood today. Some of the many stores included butchers, cheese shops, cook ware stores, and the vast variety of goods one might find in a European outdoor market. There was nothing that the new immigrant could not purchase on 9th Street. Several shops survive to this day in a vibrant market that is the oldest and largest of its kind in the United States.

Even today, wandering between stands and storefronts, visitors feel transported. Despite the fact that William Penn did not include this area in within his planned city limits, it has been lovingly embraced by city residents and has become a major economic and tourist draw for the city. The Italian Market, and the residential area surrounding which borrows its name, is still a vibrant community with year round shopping. In the winter, fire barrels keep shoppers warm as they browse beneath awnings. Cannuli’s Meats and Isgro Pasticceria have both survived since the first decade of the 20th century. Shoppers may buy their food in the same store their parents, grandparents, and possibly great grandparents did.

Of course, the market has not remained static through the years. As immigration patterns and the neighborhood changed, so did the market. In the past 30 years the market has diversified well beyond its name and sells a variety of ethnic foods from Vietnamese to Mexican, as well as jewelry, souvenirs, and even Philadelphia’s famous cheesesteaks. Many Philadelphia restaurants even buy their ingredients straight from the market, to support local business and get the freshest ingredients possible. The cobblestones and carriages may be gone, but the market has not lost its rustic charm.