February 2011 Archives

I passed by the firehouse up in Bloomingdale on North Capitol Street NW several days ago and noticed windows. That or the bus that I was on was driving so fast I was only under the great impression that I saw people working on the building and there were honest to goodness new windows.

Anyway, there is to be a presentation regarding a liquor license for the Firehouse at tonight's Bloomingdale Civic Association Meeting at St. George's Episcopal Church (basement). Meeting time is at 7pm and the church is located at 2nd and U Streets.

And speaking of liquor licenses, this is really old news, but Big Bear Cafe does now have beer and wine.

Bakeries of Shaw

| No Comments

You've probably already seen this post by Streets of Washington about bakeries in the Shaw neighborhood. It makes good use of Library of Congress photographs.

HT- DC Blogs

Sewing Classes and unrelated crime

| No Comments

First, sewing classes. There is a temporary space at the corner of 7th and NY Ave NW and they are offering sewing classes. It's called the DC Garment District and it's currently open and will be at that location until March 20th. They also have musical performances and it's a gallery space but that isn't what grabbed my attention when I was taking the bus home. No. It was the bank of sewing machines.

I'd been meaning to take a refresher class in sewing. I used to know how to sew. I had clothes I made in high school and college that were in my closet (up until I got too big for them), so at one point, I knew how to sew. Anyway, while the DC Garment District is there they are offering a variety of craft classes, such as the Two Hour Skirt, Digital Textile Design and Fabric Printing, Learn How to Knit a Hat, and crocheting.

Now for the crime. A resident. I gather someone slightly new, as in moved here in the past year new has just noticed our friendly neighborhood drug dealer. The dealers have cut back since I moved here. I no longer have to pass by a gaggle of men on the corner 'just hnaging out' as I was coming back from work. In the begining, that was everyday. Then they moved from one corner, then another and then cut back on the days and hours they were hanging out and today their presence is occassional. 

I am aware that the screaming teenagers and adults with nothing better to do do occupy the same space at different times. The adults are a mix of homeless served by the Korean PCA Church and the 7th Day Adventists and possible dealers. So what are we doing about it? Well right now I'm not particularly motivated to do much as whatever drug activity that's going on seems (based on past experience) low. I don't count a neighbor's gang of friends coming over and smoking weed (yes, it could be stinky ciggys) in the basement reason to call the cops.... Unless its a lot of weed and I'm outside doing yardwork and it is annoying my sinsus and I'm 100% sure it's weed. But then I got the issue of calling the cops on neighbors that I have a fairly decent relationship with (as opposed to neighbors I don't know or like). Come Spring residents, old and new will be more motivated to tackle any encrochment on sidewalk space by dealers. Right now it's just cold.

Yes, taxes cheaper in DC but that's not why I'm here

| No Comments

There is a active debate over at Greater, Greater Washington about the report showing that in most cases it is cheaper to live in DC in regards to taxes. I've lived in Arlington, Hyattsville, College Park and the District and yes, over time the District has lower taxes. I say over time, because I distinctly remember getting less take home pay after I moved from Maryland to the District and looking at my taxes now, they aren't bad.

To those who say you can't live in Arlington without a car (re: VA car tax), I lived in Arlington for 2 years without one and did fine thank you very much. Hell, until I married the Help, this household has been carfree since 1993.

I didn't move to the District because of the property taxes or the income taxes or the schools. I moved here because of my commute and what I wanted my future commute to be. Also because I wanted to own a house and compared to the surrounding areas, DC has the best set up with programs, tax incentives, and helpful non-profits for 1st time homebuyers. As a homeowner the lower property tax for staying in my current home is an incentive to stay put, as well as the 20-30 minute commute and the ability to walk home on a nice sunny day.

We have been pondering a what if of moving to a spot where The Help's commute would be nicer into PG Co, and well the property taxes there would have us factoring that into the price. Yes, the houses are cheaper in PG but watch out for the property tax and the locality rates for income taxes.

And schools not a factor for us. There are no children in our house now. I have cousins in Virginia who send there kids (my 3rd cousins) to a private Christian school. Not because the schools in that area are bad but because their kids really liked their school, and that's where their friends go. And some other friends in Maryland, their kid goes to a private secular school for his 'special needs', adult siblings went to Catholic schools. And we know some people who (gasp!) homeschool in Maryland. My first cousins who grew up in Laurel, went to public school, probably because my aunt was a teacher there. Then we've got DC friends and neighbors carting their kids off to charter schools. So in our circle of friends and associates no one goes to the 30K a year elite private school that gets dragged out in these conversations. And no, DCPS is not the worst in the nation. I compared Dunbar to my old high school and Dunbar was better. I went to school with rednecks and fared ok. If and when children become part of our household, we'll do the charter and out of boundary lotto dance.

But that's years away, if at all. Who knows I could wind up getting my high paying dream job in Florida or Northern California and this would be moot.

Census data gathering done

| No Comments

Now the hard part starts.

I love gathering data and researching things. Writing, not so much. The Cousin has submitted her final blob of data, which I will share (1930censusNJave.pdf). It's still raw. Infants show up as being 3,000 years old and that needs fixing. But you get to see what I see. You'll see a primarily African American neighborhood with a few white immigrant families and a white Homeopathic Hospital.

I have a deadline for myself. The data for the 1940 census comes out 2012, so I want to write what I'm going to before then. But as I said, I enjoy the data gathering and I've been gathering this data for years now. I've paid my cousin and others a several hundred dollars to compile the data into an electronic format, and now that's sort of over. I could go back over 1880 but considering how few people were around then that shouldn't take more than a few days to put in.

So far with the end of the data gathering I've been struggling with how to organize it and what story does the data tell. Regarding the issue of segregation I'm drawing inspiration from the segregation map I discovered showing South West DC to show demographic patterns. But beyond race I also saw something about women and women's work and family structures in the data that I cannot ignore. Now I'll be trying out ways to approach the data in a way that I can get my brain around.

Just say no to booze on North Capitol

| No Comments

Saw this on the Bloomingdale Blog:

Some unknown person -- MTN1414 at hotmail.com -- who might live in the neighborhood asked to have this message posted:

I went to the Capitol Food Mart at 1634 North Capitol NW this weekend and saw that they have applied for a license to sell alcohol. It seems like there is little upside to another establishment selling alcohol within a block or two of the Florida Avenue intersection. Plus, unlike the liquor stores, the food mart would be able to sell alcohol on Sundays - likely bringing the people who loiter at the Florida Avenue intersection north. Given the recent shootings in the area, I can think of better ways to expand business in the neighborhood. Just wanted to give a heads up and see if others have concerns - I know there are ways to protest the license application. I believe there is a hearing on March 24.


Yeah, the previous store that was there, if memory serves me, had about 7 different flavors of MD 20/20. It may be the crowd is going in looking for their favorite get drunk quick drinks... unless there is something about the store that hints at something different.


Mice and School Miscellaney



It's winter and they found a way into the house, I gotta kill them.

So, right now the center of my universe is killing a mouse, or mice as you never have "a mouse" problem but a mice problem. Damned things are pooping on my stove top. There are several bait stations in the house left by the pest control guy and if they are eating the poison they aren't dying fast enough. I don't care about humane capture. You take a dump where I make food, your ass has gotta die. Also these rodent bastards are smart. I suspect they pretty much know to avoid the white glue traps. There was an instance many years back where I had cornered a mouse and surrounded it with glue traps, it got on top of my bookbag, where it was hiding behind, surveyed the situation and tried to Evil Kenevil itself over all the big flat glue traps I laid. It fell short and hit a trap.

I suspect the cellar is the weak point. So we've made it our goal to save up for a basement renovation to plug up any holes or whatever they're getting into. Not a pretty renovation, just one to make the cellar, or the basement for short people (and thankfully we're both short), a functional and secure storage space where mice can't get in and eat up my food stores.

Misc- MVSA and replacing Cary

Tonight there will be a short meeting to elect a new MSVA prez, because Cary Silverman who was the prez is moved to the boonies because he's going to be a father soon. Rob Amos is listed as being on the ballot and I see no challengers.

Misc- Parents moving

A chat with one of my co-workers who lives within the Beltway, in the Hyattsville area mentioned he an his wife were moving even farther into Charles County because their oldest was getting school aged. And then there is Cary's move and I was wondering is there a word to describe this, I don't know, when parents feel a need to move further and further away from their jobs in pursuit of a 'better' school or environment for their kids. They are not the only ones. I've had neighbors who moved here single or childless and married/partnered, then as soon as a baby is expected, they take action to move far away. Not just over the border into Silver Spring or Arlington or Alexandria, but completely outside of the Beltway into Fairfax or counties that don't even touch the boundaries of DC. It happens often enough there must be a word for it.

And I'm not criticizing, as the Help/Mr. InShaw and I have discussed what-ifs. So far in any of those scenarios the farthest we'd go is Beltsville, MD, if that, and NoVa is a NoGo.

Misc- School Lottery You Can't Win If You Don't Play

There is a useful discussion for those parents who do stay in the city over at PoP regarding the Out of Boundary Lottery. Read the comments because I'm glad someone addressed the 'being the only white kid in class' issue. These things need to be discussed, along with issues of class, 'cause otherwise, parents will move to Charles or Fairfax county. I also liked that someone mentioned the convenience factor, you know how easy/hard it is to pick up your kid. Then I just remembered another neighbor who walks their kid to Two Rivers, crossing the New York Ave, so there is one more family that has an incentive to make that road more pedestrian friendly. I know another Truxton Circle family whose kid goes somewhere around Columbia Heights and is picked up sometimes by parent via metro, sometimes by car. So at least two families making use of the walkabilty and the easy transit of the city.

I should give a shout out to one of my favorite families' schools Yu Ying and Bridges.

Sq 551 circa 1919

| No Comments


Well another day another map. This one is from 1919 and shows the layout of Sq. 551 where the Northwest Co-op sits. Now if you notice there is a street that no longer exists, Reeves Court and an alley with no name, or I just can't make out a name. There are several brick structures facing the garage on No Name Alley. It also could be an extension of Reeve's Court. The yellow denotes a frame house or structure.

Also in news, absolutely unrelated to anything.... He Who Shall Not Be Named, has a pro-LT blog, called Shawcivic.org. He, or someone blogging on his behalf, has a backhanded comment about Cary Silverman who is departing Mt. Vernon Square to the boonies of Maryland for reasons relating to a kid. In the post LT or whomever, writes: "Silverman who shortly after moving in Shaw which he and others refer to as Mount Vernon Square to avoid the the identity of Shaw large Black population." Cat Poop! Bull shyte is actually a useful product in agriculture, unlike cat poop is destructive and useless. Mt. Vernon has been a separate neighborhood since well before Cary was born, and isn't and wasn't part of the initial Shaw borders. Crazy.

Square 521 circa 1932

| 1 Comment

1932-Sq521Baist.jpgThis is from the 1932 G.W. Baist map. You can find a copy at the Washingtonia Collection at the MLK Library in Gallery Place. You can also find a digital copy at HistoricMapworks Dot Com, and maybe the Library of Congress' American Memory site (but I can't seem to find a stable link). Now I realized I cropped the names of the streets off, so Square 521 is between P and Q Streets and 3rd and 4th Streets.

So where where the Bates Market/ Commerical Space that needs leasing, there was a coal yard there. Considering the amount of space the market takes up, not a particularly big coal yard. The Mosque I'm guessing is sitting on top another coal yard.

The reddish/hot pink in the map denotes a brick building. Those clear buildings in the rear of some brick buildings.... I'm guessing poop shacks/ outhouses. But that's a guess, they could be tool sheds too.

Monday Miscellaney

| No Comments

For one, something is on fire near my workplace, but I can't see what's on fire. And it is far away enough that I see the edges of commotion (traffic, fire department vehicles, etc)...anyway...


Attended a few parties this weekend. One neighbor and his partner hosted Tet party to celebrate the New Year. Best. Springrolls. Evah. But anyway one my other neighbors asked about what was going on over at 7th and S Street. Well, at another party the Help and I attended last month we discovered another neighbor's architecture firm is involved with the 7th and S project and that it is nicely chigging along. On the Shaw Neighborhood Yahoo group Martin (CCCA prez) put up some nice photos of the project.7thandS-1.jpg

 and see another pix here.

After years and years, and years of talk it is good to see heavy equipment and scaffolding over sidewalks. Now if only such activity would move itself a few blocks south to 7th and P (yes, I'm never happy) where there is abosolutely nothing. Nada. Zip. Going on at the old O Street Market. Well okay, the blocks of bricks got some tarps put over them and a Clark Sign appeared. But really, what I'd like to see are a bunch of guys (and some gals) in hard hats running around, or standing around, a big hole in the ground and heavy expensive machinery. 


Also, if you haven't heard. Dan Snyder is an ass. Anyway, in the name of freedom and the 1st amedment and the ability to call jerks, jerks, the City Paper has a legal defense fund. There is a PayPal donate button at the bottom of the page. I gave them $10. Please give what you can to fight the powers of jackassery.


Yes, I know the ground is still frozen, but it's time to order seeds. I got a bunch of seeds this week, planning for Spring. Peas can and should go into the ground around the end of this month. If you want to know what to plant I highly recommend checking out the Weekend Gardener's Grow guide. Throw in April 18th as the last frost date and October 28th as the first frost.

1930s Census Project

Got another batch from my cousin and a quick scan has a few white families in a sea of African American neighbors that stand out. I'm going to ask an indelicate question. Is Borak  a Jewish name? Because my sense is that these oddball families from Poland and Russia are Jewish immigrants. The Boraks came over to the us in 1923, the Litovitzs at 1401 3rd St came over in 1913, and the Sitnicks at 200 P St NW came from Poland in 1924. With the Sitnicks, lived the Katz family, daughters of the Sitnicks (it's confusing) who just arrived from Poland that year.

Correction- I was looking at the wrong column. Going down the list:

The Rosenblatts of 300 P St, married in 1925. Jean the wife immigrated in 1914 from Russia.

The Sitnicks of 200 P St NW, married in in 1924, both immigrated from Poland in 1914. Their sons Dave and Joseph in 1923, and their daughters with the different last name in 1914.

The Litovitzs of 1401 3rd St, NW, married in 1913 came over from Russia and Poland the same year in 1907.

The Boraks of 1420 3rd St NW, married in 1923, immigrated from Poland in 1922 (husband)and 1912 (wife).

Preserving with booze

| No Comments

Sometime in the summer of 2010, when cherries were in season, I did my cherry liquor thing, which is:

  1. Take a butt load of cherries
  2. Wash and clean cherries and pull out seriously bruised and damaged cherries
  3. Put in large glass pickle jar or quart sized canning jar, filling 1/2 way
  4. Pour in sugar covering cherries (maybe add a vanilla pod too)
  5. Then pour in good vodka, the better the vodka the better the end product
  6. Cover with jar cap, but not tight
  7. Over the next few days add a little more vodka to container
  8. Put on top fridge or in pantry or back of a closet and ignore for at least 3 months

In my case I ignored it for about 7 months. Now I do this for the liquor made, but a nice product are the cherries that have been sitting in the vodka. The recipe I was using said the cherries were suppose to break down. After two years of doing this, they've never broken down. Instead they are preserved.

But be warned these cherries can get quite boozy and give a buzz. After I pour off the liquor, I put the cherries in the freezer. I've had them sit in the cabinet for a week, but once out of the vodka I don't know how long it stays good.

History ain't pretty

| 1 Comment

RG302-P1Bx5This is a picture in an alley in DC, but not in Shaw. I have yet to get around to wandering over to College Park to get into Record Group 302 and scan any of the photos of Shaw area alleys. I gave The Help (Mr.InShaw) that task, so it won't get done anytime soon. The photo is circa 1930 something taken of Bellevue Court which is on Square 3040 or 3042. I have no idea where that is. 

Those little shacks, not tool sheds. People would poop there. Good Lord, I love indoor plumbing.

One of the reasons why I'd like to get some Shaw alley pictures is to show a historically accurate slum. Ray "O Sunshine" M went on another one of his entertaining anti-Historic District rants regarding the work stoppage at 9th and Q, which got me thinking. When talking about buildings around here 'historic' sometimes have little to do with actual history.

Yes, indoor plumbing existed in many homes in the 30s, but not all homes. Shaw was referred to as a slum in the 1940s & 50s, based on number of homes lacking indoor plumbing. Oh and the crime, but plumbing played a part too. For several Shaw dwellings, being historically accurate would mean having it be appropriate for poor black laborers and laundresses. Nothing fancy. Possibly overcrowded due to racial covenants and rules.

Historical accuracy also means you should have a poopshack.

It's illegal to scream drunkenly after 10pm

| 1 Comment
Okay well what's your interpretation of the Disorderly Conduct Amendment Act of 2010 (Summary of leg./ PDF of law)?