At 6221, the former MOVE house, yellowed junk mail lies on the small patio, and insulation flaps in the breeze.
There are moments seared in a life's story - a graduation, a wedding day, the birth of a child. There are times to celebrate and mourn, and remember.
Since the May 13, 1985, MOVE disaster, the residents here have been victimized over and over again, their homes destroyed, their community devastated, their lives upended.
But Rice, a petite woman with short graying hair who works part-time at St. Cyprian School, decided long ago - when her blood pressure "shot up" - not to dwell on the ugliness of that day, or the failed redevelopment efforts and legal challenges, or the millions of dollars wasted to rebuild.
She has watched worry rush others to their graves.
"I ain't going to let it eat me up," she said. "I can come in my house and close my door and do what I want to do."
Over a span of 25 years, life goes on. Rice's four children have married and blessed her with 10 grandchildren. There have been graduations, vacations, and family reunions.
Yet a bitterness remains.
"The blight is really what bothers me," Rice said. "I would love to see the city open these houses up, do the repairs on them, and either sell them or rent them."
She pauses. "We didn't ask the city to bomb us out."
For other neighbors, the symbolism of a quarter-century carries added weight.
"Twenty-five years later, we still have not gotten closure," said Gerald Renfro, his face tight with anger. Renfro lives four doors down from Rice and serves as president of the Osage-Pine community association, which last month rallied outside Mayor Nutter's office, demanding some type of justice. Said Renfro: "We still have not been made whole."
50 years on Osage
Earnestine Rice has lived on Osage Avenue the longest, 50 years.
"We had a beautiful block," she remembered. "We did everything together."
The neighbors, a working-class community, held picnics and cookouts and shared their lives; they watched one another's children and enjoyed Carrie Fosky's golden fried chicken.
Then came MOVE, with its dreadlocks and militant philosophy; the raw meat piled outside; the rotten stench; the children rummaging for food; the incessant tirades and threats over a loudspeaker; and the constant tension that something bad was going to happen.
Nights turned to weeks, months to years.
"Like living in a war zone," said Lucretia Wilson, 62, sitting in her modest house, next door to the MOVE house, where she has lived since 1976.
On Mother's Day 1985, MOVE was finally being evicted. Police told residents to pack a bag for overnight. But what they carried would be all that remained. The next day, the bomb and the six-hour, six-alarm fire destroyed everything else.
"I saw my house burning on television," Wilson said. "It was surreal. I still don't believe it. As time goes on, it's even more unbelievable."
Mayor W. Wilson Goode promised to rebuild the homes by Christmas. Residents returned a year and a half later to new houses. They looked nice at first, until they started falling apart.
"They gave us these little dollhouses made with balsa wood and Krazy Glue," said Fosky in disgust.
The city spent more than $16 million to rebuild and repair the properties, which had a 10-year warranty. Yet resident after resident testified to roofs collapsing, floors separating from walls, nails dropping from the ceiling, sewage backing up in kitchen sinks, and electrical problems. (In 2000, Ernest and Ester Hubbard's house burned to the ground because of faulty wiring.)
Stained and buckled ceilings still leak when it rains. Neighbors stomp on uneven floors and knock on hollow walls to show just how shoddy their houses are. One developer landed in prison for skimming millions off the project. Many of the homeowners say they cannot afford to remedy the problems.
Goode's successor, Ed Rendell, pledged to fix the mess. But in 2000, Mayor John F. Street declared the houses unsafe and halted repair efforts. Thirty-seven families took a $150,000 buyout, an amount Street said then was "far, far, far in excess of the value of the properties."
Those remaining sued the city in federal court, charging that Street had conspired to "terrorize" them into leaving. They demanded compensatory and punitive damages, insisting that the city should repair rather than condemn their houses.
In the spring of 2005, a federal jury awarded the remaining homeowners $534,000 each. The city appealed, and that December a federal judge slashed the award to $250,000, ruling that the city and its officials were immune from punitive damages. In 2008, a federal appeals panel dismissed the $100,000 allotted for emotional distress, leaving residents even more outraged.
"Since they dropped that bomb, it's been chaos," said Clifford Bond, block captain when police dropped the chemical C-4 on MOVE's bunker.
Bond cannot seem to get over the sheer gall of the city's actions. "I'm stuck on C-4."
Renfro fumed, "This is a city-created blighted area."
"I refuse to fix it," said Milton Williams, vice president of the block association, of the leaks and cracks in his home. "That's the way this city left it."
Others see conspiracy in the ugly, boarded-up houses, an opportunity for gentrifiers to seize the block for redevelopment.
Rice said: "They're waiting for us to die."
Some like Renfro are angered that their property values have "gone to null." Others like Williams fear redevelopment will cause their property taxes to "skyrocket."
Fosky wants the city to tear the block down and start all over again.
"Obviously, there's not a whole lot that I can do about the past," Nutter said. In May 1985 as a staffer for Councilman Angel Ortiz, Nutter tried to get MOVE members to negotiate with the city. Now, to address plans for Osage, he cautions that everyone must be "clear and realistic about what's possible."
"But we want to have a better situation up there. What we have to try to do is make sure . . . a devastated neighborhood gets reclaimed and is built back up, that the spirit of the people and their feelings, their humanity, continues to be recognized with dignity."
Like living in a ghetto
On Osage Avenue, someone has spray-painted a wall with "W-Boyz" in big, black letters, like a crude welcome sign.
Residents say the number of ghostly houses has made their area vulnerable. They feel like they're living in a ghetto.
"People think nobody lives here," Renfro said wearily.
In the barrenness, drug dealers have set up shop.
One night, by the headlights of a van, someone cut the electrical wires to one of the central air/heating units, took it, and drove off. Since then, more units have been stolen.
Another night, someone set a stolen car on fire.
And when night gives way to day, neighbors must sweep up drug vials and condom wrappers before their children run out to play.
"This used to be a community," Williams said. "This is what the city took from us, a sense of community."
With so much taken from them, people ask why they stay.
"Why should I leave?" said Nadine Fosky, Carrie Fosky's daughter. "This is my life. I was born and raised here. This is my family."
But facing life's uncertainties, Wilson agonizes over whether to take the settlement. She said she must make some "hard decisions."
She wrings her hands. "I don't want to move. . . . I guess I'm just tired by this whole situation, that I would spend 25 years in this situation. I do have to make some choices. I want a normal life."
Contact staff writer Kia Gregory at 215-854-2601 or email@example.com.