Due to computer issues, we have not been able to add the following descriptions of interviews alphabetically into our main list of summaries since the Fall of 2017. Until we resolve those issues, they are included here to make sure you don't miss any of the stories from these interesting people:
Mary Ellen Abrecht Mary Ellen Abrecht, a retired D.C. Superior Court judge, moved to Washington in the turbulent 1960s and--almost on a whim--joined the Metropolitan Police Department just when police forces all over the country were broadening their concept of who could be a patrol officer. During her January and February, 2018, interviews with Jennifer Newton, she recalls dodging secretarial work, learning night-stick technique at the Nixon inauguration, and persuading an Eastern Market vendor to customize a purse to hold her service weapon. Though she and her husband Gary moved to Capitol Hill in 1969, her family has deep roots in the neighborhood, and she also delves into the history of the house built by her great-grandfather that has now sheltered four generations of her family.
Melissa Ashabranner Melissa Ashabranner, co-owner and Executive Editor of the Hill Rag newspaper, received a 2014 Capitol Hill Community Achievement Award, and Stephanie Deutsch interviewed her that March. When Melissa met Hill Rag founder Jean-Keith Fagon in 1981, he had already grown the paper from a one-page flier to a 28-page monthly. She joined him and used her MBA skills to manage the business and keep it profitable enough to support the family she and Jean Keith had started. The interview provides a compelling history of this important neighborhood institution, which in 2014 filled 160 pages each month. Topics discussed include the Rag staff, challenges related to distribution and constantly changing technology, choosing the art work to adorn the Rag's covers, and expansion to two other DC neighborhood publications.
Tony Cuozzo Tony Cuozzo's father was an Italian immigrant who sold fruits and vegetables from a horse-drawn cart in the Southeast part of Capitol Hill. In 1917 the family moved to the corner of Ninth Street and South Carolina Avenue SE, where they operated a grocery store on the first floor and lived on the second floor. The business was closed after a robber murdered Tony's younger brother in 1968. In March, 2001, after Roy Mustelier and Kris Swanson had bought the property, they and Nancy Metzger interviewed Tony to discover more about the family history and the building. This interview, which resides on the website of The Corner Store established by Roy and Kris, provides fascinating details of local life and work in the early 20th century.
Patrick Coyne Patrick Coyne jokingly says he's still teaching five year olds to play soccer 25 years after starting that volunteer coaching task because he "need[s] kids to yell at" and his own don't listen any more. His devotion to the sport, via the Sports on the Hill organization, was why he was included in the group of four given the newly initiated Steve Cymrot Spark Award at the Capitol Hill Community Foundation's Achievement Awards dinner in 2016. In this February, 2016, interview with Stephanie Deutsch preceding the dinner, the conversation focuses on the logistics and psychology associated with five year olds and soccer skills, and the neighborhood engagement it engenders.
John and Cynde Foster Cynde Tiches Foster's father bought Jimmy T's Place at Fifth and East Capitol Streets SE in 1969, so she began working there while in high school. She and John, a regular customer, met at the restaurant in the early 80s and married in 1991. Since then, they have lived there and run the restaurant as a family business, allowing them to spend precious time with their children. Stephanie Deutsch interviewed them in February, 2015, when they received a Community Achievement Award. The interview includes discussions of the prior business her father purchased, with pinball machines in the back; the interesting mix of customers who eat at Jimmy T's; and the story behind the Leg Lamp that's displayed in the restaurant window during the holidays.
Greg Frane Greg Frane was another of four men awarded the Capitol Hill Community Foundation's Spark Award in 2016. In this February, 2016, interview with Stephanie Deutsch, Greg reveals that his involvement with Soccer on the Hill started when his own son was old enough to play, but his inspiration for continuing well beyond his own son's time was an older man who coached Greg's Mighty Mites baseball team during his youth. Through more than 30 years, Greg's roles evolved as did that of SOTH, now known as Sports on the Hill.
Luis Granados Luis Granados was another of four men awarded the Capitol Hill Community Foundation's Spark Award in 2016. He began volunteering with Sports on the Hill in 1994 when his son was six years old. Among other tasks, his contributions through the years have included serving on an adjudication committee that deals with persons who abuse referees performing their duties.
Marie Sansalone Guy. Marie Guy remembers many details of growing up during the 1930s and 40s behind the Sansalone family grocery store at 240 First Street SW, now the site of the Rayburn Building. Her Italian immigrant parents owned and ran the store, her older brothers worked there, and Marie -- beloved only daughter -- enjoyed life in a now long-gone neighborhood. During her November, 2015, interview with niece Judith Sansalone, Marie recalls the houses and businesses on First Street, including 18 houses nearest to Independence Avenue that had no electricity or indoor plumbing. She describes Wonder's Court, an alley behind that street, and the resident bookie with whom her mother secretly gambled. She was still at home in 1947 when Congress took the properties on that block by eminent domain, but she does not have clear memories of what occurred.
Larry Kaufer Larry Kaufer was another of four men awarded the Capitol Hill Community Foundation's Spark Award in 2016. He got involved just as Soccer on the Hill was evolving into Sports on the Hill. Despite describing himself as a person who never saw a ball he didn't like, his main contribution to the program has been management; he now serves as President, Registrar and Webmaster.
Scott Kratz If you're at all interested in the 11th Street Bridge Park, you'll want to read the transcript of Stephanie Deutsch's February, 2017, interview with the Project's director, Scott Kratz. Scott was awarded a 2017 Community Achievement Award for his contributions to this ambitious project. The interview provides details of critical phases of the project, beginning in 2011: the role of Building Bridges Across the River at THEARC; Scott's attendance at over 200 meetings to engage community and develop plans; the design competition that required competing firms to meet multiple times with community members; founding of the Anacostia River Festival in 2015 as an example of the cross-river engagement the park is designed to enhance; and the Equitable Development Plan created as a guide to assure that the park allows east of the river residents to thrive in place and enjoy this future civic amenity.
Geoff Lewis Geoff Lewis's life on Capitol Hill followed familiar patterns: moving to Washington after college (in 1965), finding work, marrying his wife Terry, buying a house, and raising two daughters. He participated in the usual parental organizations, including serving with Terry as presidents of the Babysitting Co-op. After retirement, he devoted himself to several other volunteer activities until 2005, when he learned about a "Village" organization in Boston in which members could help one another as they age. Inspired to bring that concept to Capitol Hill, Geoff and enthusiastic neighbors launched Capitol Hill Village in 2006. For his efforts in initiating CHV, he received a Community Achievement Award in 2017; this interview with Stephanie Deutsch in February, 2017, provides many details of CHV's early days.
Mary and Steve Park Mary and Steve Park were interviewed by Stephanie Deutsch in January, 2017, after being chosen to receive a Community Achievement Award that year. They recounted their similar early childhood experiences of moving from Korea to the United States with their families. After college, Mary and Steve each moved to the DC area, where Steve answered a calling to work with children. By 1999, he was running Little Lights Urban Ministries on Capitol Hill as an afterschool program for children from Potomac Gardens. The couple got acquainted when Mary volunteered with the program, and they married in 2001. Little Lights has now expanded to additional sites, welcomes over 100 volunteers a week, and offers other programs including the Clean Green Team, a training program and landscape business.
Ron Tutt Ron Tutt's first home was 624 B Street NE, now Constitution Avenue. He lived for years across the Anacostia River, but his ties to Capitol Hill were strong, because he spent much of his life with his paternal grandmother who ran rooming houses, first at 304 Maryland Avenue NE (1932-1969) and later at 907 East Capitol Street SE (1969-1970). As a young adult in the 1970s, Ron rented at 630 A Street NE while working as a Capitol tour guide. He met his wife on that block, they married at the Methodist Church on Seward Square, and their wedding reception was in the Capitol's Senators' Family Dining Room. His November, 2017, interview with Bernadette McMahon is filled with Capitol Hill stories that span three decades.
Shirley Womack Shirley Womack grew up on Heckman Street SE, which was renamed Duddington Place when the restoration movement began on Capitol Hill. Her friend Nancy Hartnagel was the interviewer in this November, 2011, interview, and so the discussion was frank and open regarding the segregated society in which Shirley was raised. Her memories of those days include a loving family, headed by her maternal grandfather Papa, who welcomed Shirley's mother and her eight children into his home when her marriage ended. There are also painful memories, especially the lengths to which park officials went to prevent black children from using the playground at nearby Garfield Park; they made their own fun in their part of the park by pretending a rock was their "horse".
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