I stealthily maneuvered around in the pouring rain taking pictures waiting for Ron Paul to address thousands on Independence Mall yesterday. The same event I photographed 4 years earlier. I wasn’t there to hear the message, I know the message. I was there to be in the moment. I was there because I like to go back and see the same things and take comfort when they remain the same. For me, yesterday was all about that.

I first went to Little Pete’s on 17th and Chancellor about 30 years ago. It was one of the few places to eat which was open 24 hours in Center City Philadelphia. On any given day in the wee hours of the morning it wasn’t uncommon to see a celebrity sprinkled amongst the drunks at the large kidney-shaped counter. If you were unfortunate enough to need to use the bathroom you got a glimpse of the kitchen which was somehow connected to the bathroom in some weird way. From the cigarette machine that’s built into the vestibule when you walk in with the back of the machine sticking out into the restaurant to the hanging plastic planters to the tiny booths that flank the right side of the place each with a sign stating 2 or more only! Little Pete’s remains an oasis of unchanged nostalgia. We don’t go there for the ambience though it has immeasurable amounts of that. We go for the Little Pete’s Reuben.

If you’ve ever read a history of the Reuben sandwich you’ll see all sorts of conflicting stories as to who invented it or how it’s supposed to be crafted. None of this matters after you taste a Little Pete’s Reuben. They use corned beef, Swiss, Russian dressing and a small amount of sauerkraut on rye. Then they put the whole sandwich on the griddle like a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s easily one of the best sandwiches you’ll ever eat and nothing like the pile of meat over kraut, completely covered with Swiss cheese that everyone else seems to pass off as a Reuben here in the northeast.

As I sat with my friend of 30 years in one of the 2 or more booths eating my favorite sandwich in my favorite familiar city I felt content knowing that some things remain unchanged for the better.