Near Southeast DC: Past News Items - Jan 09, 2011
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Off-Topic Rearview Mirror: Family Memories of the Hill
Jan 9, 2011 11:01 AM
As I've always tried to emphasize when I'm asked about the origins of JDLand, I'm a historian at heart--I love knowing about how areas I'm familiar with looked and functioned in the past, especially the more recent past, when you can still see of few of the strings tying that era to the present day.
This is very much the case for me for Capitol Hill, land of my birth, and I'm lucky enough to have two very good resources to turn to whenever I want to hear some good stories about what my neighborhood was like back in the Mad Men era: my mother and father. Jim and Shirley each moved to DC in 1959, got married a few years later, and lived on the House side of the Hill until 1969, and it's no secret that they look back upon those years with great fondness.
Since I'm all about documenting stuff before it disappears, I recently asked Mom and Dad if they would write up for me their memories of what it was like to live on the Hill during the 1960s. Luckily it's the offseason for both bicycling (Dad) and golf (Mom), so they agreed to squeeze some writing into their schedules, and while the resulting reminiscences are mostly for the family's benefit and enjoyment, I thought that some readers might find them of interest as well, and since the web site has infinite space, and since it's wintertime, when news is slow...
First up is a short post by my dad, talking a little about when he moved to the Hill in 1959, living in the 400 block of New Jersey Ave., SE., with his brother, for $100 a month. (I also tossed in at the bottom some of the home movies showing Hill scenes, most of which I've linked to before, but I figure some multimedia can't hurt.)
If you have questions for Dad about his post or just want to pick his brain for other memories of his, post here in the comments, and I'll make sure he reads them and replies. He's already working on his next offering, so maybe some queries from the peanut gallery will rattle loose some additional nuggets to pass along.
(And hopefully before too long I'll get a submission from Mom, so that she can tell the stories of shopping at Weisfeld's when it was still in the 100 block of E and how Mrs. Weisfeld would just write what you owed on the back of a brown paper bag, and then give you a bill at the end of the month. But I don't want to steal her thunder.)
UPDATE: Like his daughter, Dad has discovered that writing about something interesting can take on a life of its own--he's submitted his second post about the Hill in the early '60s, with tidbits on the Kennedy inauguration (and its accompanying snowstorm) and the construction of the Rayburn House Office Building, along with a few famous names, memories of biking around the Hill, and even a little bit about Southwest. I'll post it in a couple of days.
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