Halloween reminders

Kid in babyshark costumeOkay some quick reminders about Halloween tonight:

  1. If you don’t want people coming to your door, turn off your porch light, draw your curtains/drapes, and lower the lights on the first floor.
  2. Yes, people trick or treat. Ask your neighbors what it was like last year.
  3. Yes, adults and teenagers not in costume will come to your door. That is why I get crappy candy, just for them. The good stuff, the Reese’s, the Snickers, and the like go to the people in costume.
  4. Trick or treating starts around 6:30-7PM and I stop giving out candy around 8:30-9 when the uncostumed to costumed ratio gets to be a bit much.

UPS My Choice Hell

If you are stuck in UPS’ My Choice where they will not deliver your packages to your home because it is set to reroute your packages to an alternative location, just cancel your enrollment.
Here’s my story.UPS Cancel Membership
So many years ago I suspect someone, probably my mother in law (who is currently sitting on my bookshelf), sent a Christmas gift which was stolen by porch thieves. I also had an eBay purchase that I didn’t notice that I didn’t get until weeks later (I was ordering a lot of things, don’t judge me). So I contacted UPS, signed up for their My Choice program to make sure packages were sent to a nearby liquor store. I didn’t have things sent to the house, they usually went to the Help’s work. Fast forward and because of some changes at the Help’s job, he couldn’t accept packages for a period of time.
Fine. So I ordered something off Amazon that I figured would fit in our mailbox. A few days later I get this email from UPS saying there is a problem and the alternative location I picked many eons ago is no longer available. Okay. I contact UPS and after a while on the phone manage to get them to send the package to my house. I go on-line to their My Choice website and try to change things there, but encounter a technical problem. I figured I could fix it later. I was wrong.
I had seen a few package delivery boxes outside of residences and thought I could make or buy one and have inconsequential stuff, like diaper pail inserts, parts, Keto candy, etc delivered to the house, and limit expensive stuff to the Help’s workplace. So I order a box off Amazon. UPS was to deliver it. A few days after ordering, I get an email from UPS saying they can’t deliver it. After over an hour on the phone, I get UPS to agree to send it to my house. Day of the delivery, no package. I look on line, it says it was delivered to my house 15-30 minutes before I arrived home. It was a large unwieldy package and I was doubtful someone swiped it. So I ask my neighbors with cameras if they have a UPS driver on the street at the time. Then a day later I notice on my answering machine a message I was ignoring. I ignored it because people want to buy my house. I don’t want to waste time on their messages. But it wasn’t some buyer. It was a guy one street over with the same house number who had my package. Thank goodness that my land line was listed on the label with my address. So we go over in the car to get the large, unwieldy package.
Then I test it out by ordering cheap things, like paper towels and shower caps. When delivered by USPS, no problem. But an item that was to be delivered by UPS, that stayed in limbo.

UPS Technical Service is a lie

So I kept going back to the website to fix the package redirect. But every time I tried it wouldn’t let me or said there was a technical problem. So I tried the website chat bot, and got a chat human. Who after telling me to go through the same steps I’d been going through with no success said I needed to call their technical service number, but at the time it was after hours, so I waited until the next day. So I call the technical service number, and I get a lovely young lady who tells me to go through the same steps I’d gone through before with the chat human. She tells me I need to call the technical service number and I inform her that I called that number and got her.
At the same time I had emailed UPS and tweeted my frustration. As it would be no surprise, they tell me to go through the same steps as everyone else.
On the phone the young lady pushes me over to “technical service.” Guess what? It’s a guy who tells me to do the same steps but assures me that if there is no alternative location then my package should arrive at my house. Yeah….. I decide not to argue with him, because, what would be the point? So I wait. And the package does not come to me, it is in limbo.
A fellow from UPS reaches out to me and tells me he can provide technical service. Great. Guess what? He tells me to go through the same damned steps I’d gone through with the other customer service people.
At this point I don’t believe UPS has a technical service department. The problem I was having with the UPS site was a technical problem. After about 3 hours combined dealing with UPS, I am convinced they were all reading from the same incorrect script.

So then Amazon notices the package did not arrive. This forces me to contact them. They are also limited. I can’t redirect it and I can’t get another service (USPS) to deliver it. So a refund it was.

In Conclusion

I decided to just cancel my membership and see what happened. Once I cancelled, packages, UPS packages arrived in my package delivery box.

Black Businesses of 1968 Shaw: Morton’s Thrift Store

Morton’s Thrift Store was located at 1330-1332 7th Street NW. There are apartments there now, formerly the Immaculate Conception Apartments. The survey says the shop just got glass and smoke damage. However, a Washington Post image has a burned out building on the corner, so it must have been more towards the center of the block, in the current parking lot.

Anyway, in this survey conducted several months after the April 1968 riots, the business was still running and repairs had been made. But by then sales were down 60%. Knowing in general what happened to Shaw I don’t think business got any better.

The owner of Morton’s Thrift Store was Matthew Morton 1721 Jones Bridge Road in Chevy Chase, MD, and he was an African American. At least according to the survey.

Morton's Thift Store- 1… by Mm Inshaw on Scribd


1957 Church Survey: 12th Street Christian

0275-0053 So once again I dip into the 1957 Northwest Urban Renewal Area Church Survey, this time it is Twelfth Street Christian Church tucked back at 1812 12th Street NW.

Looking at the survey, it was a black church, still is, and very active. It was 50% white collar at the time of the survey, with the next biggest group being skilled labor.  When asked about relocating, the respondent wrote that they believed African Americans were still moving to the area, but if they had to relocate it would be to NE DC where the majority of their congregants lived. Yeah, this was a commuter church in 1957, and I guess it remains so in the current year.

CS 45 Twelfth Street Christian by Mm Inshaw on Scribd

Thoughts on DC Education

Because of some posts I’ve written for the DC Area Mom’s Blog about school and education, the Spouse (aka the Help) decided that private school is in Destructo-kid’s future. Just how far in the future is the question. I’m willing to give public Pre-K and elementary school a chance.

Some time ago there was an ad for a gay dating site in the Shaw metro. I would look at the bear and the dweeb and wonder, who is the customer and who is the product? I ask the same question with DC schools, who is the customer and who is the product? Are kids the customers? Are parents? The more I read it seems more that elected politicians are the customers, and test scores are the product. There are various stakeholders, of which parents are one. But as a parent, I don’t feel like I’m really the customer and my child’s education and development is the product.

Similar to public transit. I’m a rider, not a customer. I know the $2.35 to get me from work to home does not cover the full cost of my ride. That’s covered by the various governments the WMATA system covers. And even then, that fare is really paid by my employer the US Government. If I really were the customer, WMATA would do more about safety and quality.

The Truxton Circle Book Group is reading The Urban State of Mind: Meditations on the City. There’s a part in there about urban schools I wanted to share:

This explains why, for example, not only have taxes gone up, but things like schools and other basic services have declined so badly in places like California. Traditional primary and secondary education is not important to industries where California is betting its future, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and biotech draw their workers from the best and brightest of the world. The source globally, not locally. Their labor force is largely educated elsewhere. Basic education and investments in poorer neighborhoods has no ROI for those industries.

This sounds horrible to say, but because DC gets its talent from elsewhere, it has little incentive to really invest in the kids of Washington and help them become the accountants, lawyers, and middle class of the future. My incentive to invest in Destructo, is that I’ve seen the Medicare funded nursing homes, and I pray he is kind and well off enough to help mommy & daddy avoid those places. Also I love Destructo, and he’s getting a little less destructive each day. Louder, but less destructive.

Last thought, when I moved to the DC area, the public schools sucked. I dare you to tell me that the DCPS circa 1995-2000 did not suck. Say what you will about Michelle Rhee, but she was a needed shock to the system. My fear is even with the charter and out of boundary options, DC education could go back to sucking. I also have my doubts about funding. Because the city is not dependent on a home grown local workforce, there is little incentive to spend funds wisely to really get the kind of future worker needed. I look at the per-pupil spending and some of the worse performing high schools schools get the most per student funding.

Black Businesses of 1968 Shaw: Delaney’s Pool Room

Okay the only reason why I know this was a black owned business is because of the survey the government conducted right after the April 1968 riots. They asked business and property owners in the riot corridors about their race and those who bothered responding, self reported their race. Or not.

Anyway, John Delaney owned a pool room at 1720 7th Street NW, where a post riot building currently sits. He did not suffer any fire damage. Instead he got a lot of broken glass and some things were stolen. It is unknown if he put “Soul Brother” on his shop to keep it from getting torched.

Delaney’s Pool Room Post Riot Survey by Mm Inshaw on Scribd

I don’t know if I’ll make this a series, like the 1957 Church Surveys, but who knows. My reason for posting this is to show that history is messy. The present is messy. There is no clean narrative where you can say, there were no black businesses in the Shaw ghetto. There were. There were plenty of black owned businesses, and some of them got hit by rioters. Some closed shop, and some, like Delaney thought Shaw was a perfectly fine neighborhood to do business.

Black Home Owners of 1940: Let’s clean up some data

Disclaimer: This has been sitting in drafts for a year. I forgot what was wrong with it. I’m gonna roll the dice and publish it.


So I have a goal to create a big ole spreadsheet of all the residents for all the censuses. Buuuuuut I need to clean up the data. The problem with the Census is sometimes I swear some of the enumerators were raging alcoholics who couldn’t find a job doing anything else. The census data is not pure, nor perfect. Sometimes a person’s only appearance is in the census, but sometimes they’ll appear elsewhere. They’ll be men who had to sign up for the draft, or business people or others who appear in city directories, and for owners after 1921 they’ll be in the Recorder of Deeds website.

So I’m going to look at homeowners who’s square or address has a question mark. These people are Clarence Washington of 126 FL Ave NW, Raymond Montgomery of 121 , Rudolph Blake of 137, Joseph Gibson of 136 Bates St NW, Florence Glover of 109 Q St NW, Jerome S. Jenkyns of 1641, John Lattimer of 1464, Roscoe Patrick, and Laura Ford of 1684 3rd St NW.

I located Clarence Washington on Square 551 lot 172. Now the problem is, that lot no longer exists. The Florida Avenue park sits there. It looks like he’s at 126 FL Ave NW, where previously he might have been at 124. It was unclear. Looking at the records, he obtained his property on September 14, 1935 with a 6% loan from National Savings and Trust Company. He appears to have been single at the time of purchase. He and his wife Clara (listed in the 1940 census) sold the house in April 1948.

Raymond Montgomery had purchased a fair amount of property, well at least someone with that name did so. Just looking at square 552 he owned lot 152, and in the current year that lot’s address is 123 P St NW. So not 121 Bates St NW as I had him in my data. Then a widower in February 1938 he bought the property. According to a October 1965 deed selling the house to a Lucille Baskin, Raymond died February 4, 1959 leaving his wife Estella a widow.

Rudolph S. Blake is another popular name for a property holder. Once again just focusing on Truxton Circle I can pin him down to Sq. 552 lot 159 (137 P St NW) starting in 1925 with his wife Ida B. She sells the property in 1948 after Rudolph as died.

Joseph and wife Novella Gibson are a problem. They are associated with property on squares 551 and 552. The documents for 551 appear to be an outlier as it is concerning a party wall between 213 and 215 Q St NW (Sq 551 lots 7 & 8). I believe they probably lived on square 552 on lot 206, currently 136 Bates St NW. February 1926 Joseph and wife “Navalla” obtain 136 Bates with a $2,250 loan at 6% APR with monthly payments of $30. The Gibsons sell in 1965 to Barney and Henrietta Weitz.

It appears widow Florence O. Glover buys 109 Q St NW, which no longer exists, in 1925. By the sale of the property to the DL & W company in 1957, it seems she is dead. A Florence Glover is deceased as mentioned in the deed, but her daughter was also named Florence Glover, so there is confusion there. And there are more than half a dozen Glovers mentioned on the document. Please don’t leave property to more than 2 unmarried (sans spouses) relatives, it’s really confusing.

Jerome and Ellena Jenkyns bought their home 1629 3rd St NW in 1922, if the records are correct. Once again this is another property that no longer exists. The property was sold in 1972 to the Redevelopment Land Agency (RLA) by the heirs. The document listed Jerome dying around about May 24, 1965 and Ellena dying around May 8, 1948.



Black Home Owners of 1930-1934: Sq 551 Ethel Thomas

I kinda stopped looking at black homeowners when I hit a problem I’ll call the widow Ethel. Ethel Thomas (nee Heywood) was a widow after 1934 when her husband Sanders Thomas passed away. In the 1940 census she was shacked up with some guy she, or someone, told the census was her husband. But there is no record (I could find) that she remarried.

Recently some images of records came available and they really don’t clear up the tale of Ethel, since it occurs around about the time of her husband’s death. I strongly doubt that I will find out who was her mystery man.

Landowner list of Sq 551Square 551, which is bounded by 3rd, Q, 1st, Florida Avenue and R Streets NW, is quite big. Since Destructo-kid has become mobile, very mobile, I’ve had zero time to get back to data clean up. But every so often some new data pops up, and it is just a question of can I do something with it.

If I were free to get around to looking at the owners, I’d look at 1900. That period saw an explosion of growth and building in Truxton Circle, so I could look and see who were the builders building for by looking at the 1902-1903 owners. Then if possible, compare with the census.

1957 Church Survey: Grace Reformed

I know I haven’t posted one of these in a while. But for those of you joining us, this is from a survey of the Northwest Urban Renewal Area, which later got broken up into Downtown and Shaw, from 1957. It is like an awesome census of the churches in the area, from the steeple churches that one thinks of when thinking about what a church looks like, to storefront and house churches. There hasn’t been another survey like this since.

Anyway. This time up it is Grace Reformed Church, at 1405 15th St NW. It was a white church in 1957, and the current occupants Christ Reformed Church appears to be a predominately white congregation. In 1957, very few of the members lived in the NW Urban Renewal Area, a majority lived in other parts of NW DC and another chunk lived in the burbs. They were mainly white collar, dare I guess, middle class worshipers.

CS 60 Grace Reformed by Mm Inshaw on Scribd

So a guy died in my house….. in 1882

Private Tom Lawler was a cop. An Irish cop. One Saturday November evening in 1882 he went into work at the Sixth Precinct. But as his shift went on he started complaining of chills and was sent home around 10PM. A doctor was called but an hour later he died.

He probably died in the vicinity of where we sleep now.

Does this freak me out? No.

It’s been 137 frickin years for one. Two, I have the ashes of a dead woman on my bookcase, and I’d really like her not to be there gathering more dust. Nobody wants their mother in law hovering over them. But I digress.

Here is what I know about this former resident. He was captured in the 1880 Census as Thomas Lawlor, then aged 50. He lived with his wife Ellen, then 30 and their two children Mary (19) and Daniel (12). Mary and Danny were 2 of the 4 kids I know of. They were the only white people on that side of square 509E, if Irish immigrants in the 19th century count as such. Prior to living near 4th and Q NW they lived at K & New Jersey Avenue. When he was appointed as a law man in 1867, a letter of recommendation mentioned he had a large family and that he was a good man. His application said that he didn’t drink. Here I shrug, maybe. Because later in his personnel file (early DC cops have personnel files) he was in a home on North Capitol between P and O Sts (Yay, Truxton Circle) where a grocery was kept (whatever that means) when he wasn’t supposed to be there. This also happened in November, 1880. November was not a good month for Tommy the Cop.