Joseph and Evelyn Price lived on Capitol Hill from the time of their marriage in 1947, first on 12th Street, and, since 1956, on 11th Street SE. In her interview with Carol Thornhill, Mrs. Price describes working in a beauty shop and as an elevator operator at the DC Court. She discusses neighborhood life, including changes over time, shopping, and holiday celebrations. She also recalls being struck by a trolley and interacting with rioters following the assassination of Martin Luther King.
Interview with Evelyn D. Price
Interview Date: January 21, 2003
Interviewer: Carol Thornhill
Transcriber: Lee McDaniel
photo by Gayle Krughoff
This interview transcript is the property of the Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project.
Not to be reproduced without permission.
TAPE 1/SIDE 1
THORNHILL: This is Carol Thornhill and I’m recording an interview with Evelyn Price and she lives at 243 11th Street SE and it’s January 21st 2003. I think I’m going to start by asking you some questions about your early life, like where were you born.
PRICE: Okay, I’m born in Franklin County, Virginia.
THORNHILL: And did you grow up there?
THORNHILL: Do you want to tell us when you were born? (Laughter) You don’t have to.
PRICE: I was born October the twenty-sixth, 1919.
THORNHILL: Well how long did you live there?
PRICE: I lived there until—I left—I left [Scrugs], Virginia in the 30s. And I went to West Virginia and I worked there for a spell and then I came to Washington. I took up beauty culture and I work in the beauty shop until 1969 then I went into government, district government.
THORNHILL: Well when did you meet Joe?
PRICE: I met Joe in …
THORNHILL: Joe is, excuse me, but Joe [Joseph] Price is her husband, yeah, when did you meet him?
PRICE: I met him and married him in—January the 20th, 1947.
THORNHILL: So, you just celebrated your anniversary yesterday?
THORNHILL: And did you have brothers and sisters?
PRICE: It was eleven of us. It was eight—well anyway, it was ten—eleven, one died. Eight brother—eight sisters and two brothers. And they all have passed but two, my brother and myself.
THORNHILL: Did you go to high school?
PRICE: No, I finished the eight-grade.
THONRHILL: Uh, huh. When did you move to Washington?
PRICE: I moved to Washington in 1941.
THORNHILL: And why did you come to Washington?
PRICE: I came here to—my sister was here and I came to live with her. And I got a job at the Bullis School. And I went there …
THORNHILL: Uh, that is what’s, what’s the name?
PRICE: Bullis, B-U-L-L-I-S, Bullis School.
THORNHILL: B-U-L-L-I-S School, Okay, go ahead.
PRICE: I went there until I took up beauty culture in 1942.
THORNHILL: Uh, huh.
PRICE: And I graduated from beauty culture [ed: Madame Walker's Beauty School] and I rented a booth and I worked in a beauty shop until I went into government.
THORNHILL: Well now, what was Joe doing? What kind of work was Joe doing?
PRICE: He was driving a taxicab. Until he went, worked at the post office.
THORNHILL: He worked at the post office?
PRICE: Until he retired.
THORNHILL: So he retired. And when did he retire?
PRICE: He retired at 1980.
THORNHILL: I thought I had heard that he was a minister?
PRICE: Yes, he went into ministry, I don’t remember what year. [added later: September, 1966]
THORNHILL: We can come back and get that information later. Did he have a church here in the Capitol Hill community?
PRICE: He has a church at 1015 D Street NE.
THORNHILL: Okay, and how many years has he had that church? I mean, how many years did he have the church? Because I know he hasn’t been working for quite a while.
PRICE: He’s been there for quite a while. He’s still holding it down.
THORNHILL: What’s the name of the church?
PRICE: His church is Mt. Carmel Primitive Baptist Church.
THORNHILL: When did you move to the Capitol Hill community?
PRICE: 1941... 1942.
THORNHILL: Where did you live?
PRICE: When I came here I lived at 623 Otis Place NW, until I got married and move on 12th Street [249 12th Street SE].
THORNHILL: And were you renting or …
PRICE: Renting a room.
THORNHILL: You were renting a room there.
THORNHILL: And when did you decide to move to 11th Street [SE]?
PRICE: We moved to 12th Street first.
THORNHILL: I mean from 12th Street.
PRICE: We moved here November 1956, if I remember right.
THORNHILL: Well then you have a lot, you have memories from World War II. What kind of memories do you have of living in Washington during World War II?
PRICE: I can’t remember back that, too much.
THORNHILL: Okay. Were there a lot of people renting rooms on Capitol Hill?
PRICE: Quite a few.
THORNHILL: In this community? In the Capitol Hill community. During the war, were there a lot of people renting rooms?
THORNHILL: Were many people working on jobs that had to do with the war?
PRICE: I don’t know.
THORNHILL: Were there, like down in the business area, were there signs of military men from some of the military instillations?
PRICE: I wasn’t downtown much. I was up in this area. Either Northwest or 12th Street. I didn’t go down that way much because I was working.
THORNHILL: Well where did you shop?
PRICE: It was on 14th Street, 14th and Q [NW]. That’s where I worked.
THORNHILL: Uh, huh.
PRICE: When I left there I went to 222 in the time of the burning, I was working at 222 K Street NE.
THORNHILL: You said burning, was that in the 60s?
THORNHILL: Martin Luther King
THORNHILL: After his death.
THORNHILL: You were working on K Street.
PRICE: And then when they burned the building down I started working on D Street. Rosita’s House of Style [1254 D Street NE]. And I worked there ‘till I retired and went into government.
THORNHILL: What did you do in the beauty shop?
PRICE: Well, at that time we mostly did pressed hair and curling. And they had tinting, but they [unintelligible]...
THORNHILL: And when you went to work for the government, what did you do?
PRICE: At first I was cleaning up at the UDC [University of the District of Columbia] and then I, in 1970 I went to run the elevator at the police department at Third and Indiana Avenue NW.
THORNHILL: So that was the job you had until you retired?
PRICE: Yes. I retired in 1988.
THORNHILL: Yeah, I remember when I first went to work in the 60s. The buildings had elevator operators. I don’t know when they stopped having elevator operators.
PRICE: Well, they stopped at the building when I retired. That was one of the reasons I retired.
PRICE: They put in self-service.
THORNHILL: I see.
THORNHILL: That was nice to have conversation with the people who ran the elevators.
PRICE: Um, huh. That was fun. I run the elevator at the police department. I run the elevator over the courts and the water building. We had to give breaks down to the district building.
THORNHILL: Well, now when you decided to buy this house, in the 100 block, excuse me the 200 block, of 11th Street [SE], why did you decide to buy this particular house?
PRICE: My husband was driving around with the cab and he saw this house and he liked it. So we bought it.
THORNHILL: Do you remember who owned the house at the time?
PRICE: A man named Mr. Casey.
THORNHILL: Mr. Casey?
PRICE: Uh, huh.
THORNHILL: And did he live in the house?
PRICE: No, he didn’t live in the house. Wasn’t anybody living in the house when we bought it.
THORNHILL: I see. There’s neighbors here in the 200 block [SE] that have lived here for many years. I was wondering who were some of the people who lived here when you moved in?
PRICE: Ms. Perry was here when we moved. [Ms. Perry, 241 11th St. SE] And a couple next door. Mr. and Mrs. Carter lived there. In 245. [William and Marybell or Maybell Carter, 245 11th St. SE] I can’t remember if Ms. Jacobs was here when we moved or not. Can’t remember. [Mr. and Mrs. William and Cornelia Jacobs, 236 11th Street SE]
THORNHILL: I remember the Spencers [255 11th Street SE]
PRICE: Yeah, the Spencers were here and ah …
THORNHILL: The Foremans?
PRICE: The Foremans [Pommer Foreman, 249 11th Street, SE] came later, they weren’t here, but who lived next to Mr. Spencer? Hummmm, Mills, they were here.
THORNHILL: And Mr. Holly?
PRICE: Mr. Holly was living here. [Albert Holly, 240 11th Street SE]
THORNHILL: And Mr. Barnett? What about the Barnetts? [ Sandy and Mattie or Barnett, 239 11th Street]
PRICE: No, they came later. They came after we moved here.
THORNHILL: What was it like in terms of—did the neighbors get together very much?
PRICE: Well after they started the block club they did, but not before then.
THORNHILL: Not before then? Do you know when this house was built?
PRICE: No, I—1920—I can’t remember. Maybe I can look it up and tell you later.
THORNHILL: Okay. Had you made any changes to the house while you’ve lived here? Any major repairs or any changes in the structure or anything like that?
PRICE: No. Nothing, but we took out the cabinets and do a little bit in the kitchen, but nothing major. [After interview Evelyn noted that there are a few changes to the house that are not included in the interview. They added an iron railing type back porch and steps. They took down a garage and put in concrete carport.]
THORNHILL: Well we talked a little bit before we started the interview about the fact that there were businesses in the neighborhood, so this will give us an idea of some of the shops in the neighborhood that you might have gone to. Do you remember now some of these businesses? Let’s talk about the 200 block of 11th Street—what kind of businesses were here in the 200 block back in the 50s? Dana’s house was a … [Reference is to 246 11th Street, SE]
PRICE: Laundry, was a cleaner.
THORNHILL: A cleaner?
PRICE: Yeah, Robinson’s Cleaners. [Robinson Cleaner, 246 11th Street, SE]
THORNHILL: Robinson’s Cleaner, and Carolyn Bush’s house was—did you say that was a carry out shop or a cleaners or something? [Reference to current resident Carolee or Caroline Bush, 224 11th Street SE]
PRICE: It, it …
THORNHILL: It was a radio shop. [238 11th Street SE, was a radio shop]
PRICE: Yeah, it was a radio shop, it was a carry out shop and let see, what else was it. I think it was something like … the carryout shop was to get hot dogs and things.
THORNHILL: And then at the corner where the grocery store is now, or excuse me, the grocery store isn’t there now, but at the corner of the 200 block and C Street there was a grocery store, wasn’t there?
PRICE: Uh, huh, a grocery store. [254 11th Street SE was a grocery operated by husband and wife. It is now private house.]
THORNHILL: Was it a husband and wife?
PRICE: Um, huh.
THORNHILL: Now, where I live, at 234, and 232—that was a car repair place?
PRICE: It was a garage like. [232, 234 and 234A 11th Street SE are now three Linde town houses.]
THORNHILL: What was it like? Is that where you bought your gasoline?
PRICE: They just worked on cars.
THORNHILL: Oh, they just worked on cars. It wasn’t a filling station?
THORNHILL: Okay. Did the neighbors take their cars there, to be repaired?
PRICE: Not that I know of. I could see cars over there, but I don’t remember anybody that I know carried a car there.
THORNHILL: Was it a legitimate car repair place?
PRICE: Well, guess so.
(Laughter from both)
THORNHILL: I only, I ask that because I remember in our alley we had what they called a “chop shop” [the garage behind 236, in the late 1960s], and there was a lot of talk by the neighbors that it wasn’t legitimate, so that’s why I asked you that question.
PRICE: I don’t remember being it … .
THORNHILL: You remember it as being …
PRICE: The cars would be over there.
THORNHILL: Right. Up in the 100 block [SE] you remember some stores up there and the block where the funeral home is, Lee’s Funeral Home, what are some of the stores up there that you remember? [131 11th Street SE, now a condo, was Lee’ Funeral Home.]
PRICE: I remember the High’s ice cream store and the funeral home, that’s about all I remember. [109 11th Street SE was High’s store and is now a professional office space.]
THORNHILL: Is that where you got your ice cream?
PRICE: Um hum.
THORNHILL: Did they have a fountain there or to get sodas?
PRICE: I think they just had ice cream that I remember. We’d always go there and get ice cream, give everybody cone or however.
THORNHILL: Was that a favorite place for the neighbors to go?
PRICE: Um, huh. It was the only one around here. Close by.
THORNHILL: And there was a drug store nearby?
PRICE: Just across over on … there was a Peoples Drug store. [1020 East Capitol Street SE; the entrance was on 11th Street, across from Lincoln Park; now is condominiums.]
THORNHILL: Up on Lincoln Park?
PRICE: Um, huh. Cross over on the same side.
THORNHILL: Right. In the 300 block was there a barber shop on the corner of C and 11th Street, Mr., what was his name? [301 11th Street SE was a barber shop and residence. It is now converted into multiple residences.]
PRICE: [Grant] Garris. I’m supposed to look up the name; how to spell the name.
THORNHILL: And there was a …
PRICE: A florist. [310 and 312 11th Street was a florist that is now a private house.]
THORNHILL: And you said there was also a drug store there, in the 300 block? Did you say there was a drug store where the apartment building is? And the laundermat? [300-302 11th Street SE]
PRICE: Yeah, there was a drug store when we moved here. [Now an apartment building, dry cleaners, and laundermat.]
THORNHILL: And also a little carryout place there on the corner?
PRICE: In the building. It was apartments over the stores.
THORNHILL: Pretty much, where did you go to do your shopping, like clothes and …
PRICE: I’d go downtown. Hecht’s, Woodies [Woodward & Lothrup], mostly down there.
THORNHILL: And your groceries?
PRICE: It was a grocery store down there and it was called, what was that grocery store called. Right there where … on the drug store. It was a grocery store right there.
THORNHILL: Oh, you mean up on Lincoln Park?
PRICE: No, no down here. On Pennsylvania Avenue where the CVS is, it was a grocery store there.
THORNHILL: Oh, okay.
PRICE: Years ago.
THORNHILL: Do you remember what the name of it was?
PRICE: What was that? No, I don’t remember.
PRICE: But it was a grocery store. And I was so sorry when it moved.
THORNHILL: Oh, yeah. Are you thinking of the A and P store? The corner of Pennsylvania and … . [12th Street SE]
PRICE: That’s it was. That’s what it was!
THORNHILL: Okay and that was there when you moved into the area.
PRICE: Um, huh.
THORNHILL: Did you go to Eastern Market?
PRICE: Yes. Yeah, I’ve done a lot of shopping at Eastern Market. And right there by Eastern Market it was a dime store right there where the carryout store is now.
THORNHILL: Oh, where Bread and Chocolate is [unintelligible].
PRICE: Um huh, that was the dime store.
THORNHILL: Was it Kresge’s or Woolworths?
PRICE: I believe it was Kresge’s. It was one of those dime stores. And there was a grocery store right here at 10th and C. And Brook’s had a cleaners on the opposite side where the apartment house is now [922 C Street SE].
THORNHILL: Oh, I see.
PRICE: But where that big building is right there on 11th and C on that side. That was a grocery store. A carryout shop. They had little things in the grocery store, they didn’t carryout food, but they had groceries.
THORNHILL: When you wanted to just have recreation, what did you do? Were there movie theaters in the area to go to?
PRICE: No, I went to the movies, I would go to Lincoln or Republic over on in U Street.
THORNHILL: On U Street. Lincoln and Republic, is that what they were called?
PRICE: Um huh.
THORNHILL: And they were on U Street?
PRICE: They were on U Street.
THORNHILL: And how did you get there?
PRICE: The bus.
THORNHILL: The bus.
THORNHILL: Is that how you got to work, was on the bus?
PRICE: Um huh, and at that time when we first moved here they were running trolley cars.
THORNHILL: Oh, yeah, trolley cars or streetcars. ‘Cause at that time you had one car, I mean Joe’s taxi.
THORNHILL: That was his taxi and were you able to use it for family use?
PRICE: Well, he would carry back and forth to work.
THORNHILL: You know, I don’t know, do you have any children?
PRICE: No, just the two of us.
THORNHILL: Where did you get your health care in the 50s?
PRICE: Let me see.
THORNHILL: Where was the hospital? What hospital would you have gone to if you needed a hospital?
PRICE: I went to, I was going to DC General. I had gone to Casualty.
THORNHILL: Casualty Hospital. Oh, yeah.
PRICE: That is 8th and Massachusetts Avenue [NE].
THORNHILL: Oh, the hospital at 8th and Massachusetts was called Casualty Hospital in the 50s?
PRICE: And then it changed to …
THORNHILL: Was it Capitol Hill?
PRICE: Capitol Hill, now it’s Medlink.
THORNHILL: And where did you go for doctor appointments?
PRICE: And then I been to that hospital and I went to Georgetown. I had surgery in Georgetown. Had a knee replacement at Sibley Hospital. And I been in George Washington Hospital also. I had my eyes operated on in George Washington Hospital. Cataracts.
THORNHILL: In the 50s, were there doctors living in the neighborhood that you could go to or were they away some other place?
PRICE: No, not that I can remember. At that time I didn’t need the doctor much I was in pretty good health.
(laughter from both)
THORNHILL: Right! How about the dentist?
PRICE: I go to Dr. Book. I been going to him since back in the 60s.
THORNHILL: And he’s where? Where is he located?
PRICE: He’s 1600 block of 18th Street NW.
THORNHILL: Okay, so they weren’t in the neighborhood, you had to get there, being driven or public transportation.
PRICE: I spent forty days in Casualty Hospital. I was struck by a streetcar in 1961.
THORNHILL: Oh. Were you seriously hurt?
PRICE: Um huh. I stayed in the hospital forty-one days.
THORNHILL: Oh, my goodness. Were you crossing the street?
PRICE: Um, huh. Struck by a streetcar. [Mrs. Price is very quiet here remembering this]
THORNHILL: I didn’t know that.
PRICE: Were you living here then?
THORNHILL: No, I wasn’t. I didn’t move here until ’62. And I first lived in the Southwest before I came to Capitol Hill. Yes, that’s right, the streetcars were gone when I moved here...
Well, when you moved here in the 50s, were there any problems in the area? Do you remember anything in particular that you and your neighbors needed to be concerned about?
PRICE: I don’t believe so.
THORNHILL: In terms of like, the city providing services, street cleaning, garbage pick up, and that sort of thing? Were they any problems with crime?
PRICE: Not like it is now.
THORNHILL: So crime wasn’t as much … I know later on … we’ll talk about that because I remember you mentioned the block club and we’ll come back to that. And crime was one of the things the block club dealt with. And parking, was that a problem in the 50s? (laughter)
PRICE: Not like it is now! (They both laugh)
THORNHILL: And how about the way people maintained their homes and took care of their homes? Did the neighbors pretty much take care of their homes and maintain them?
THORNHILL: Back in the 50s?
THORNHILL: This is a very difficult question to ask you because there’s not a easy way, for me, this is a difficult question to ask you. I know that in the 50s that DC was a segregated community. Can you tell me how that—whether that had any affect on how you lived here in this block? Or in the Capitol Hill community? How did that affect your life?
PRICE: It didn’t affect my life, I don’t believe. I got along all right.
THORNHILL: Were there people of both races living here in the 50s?
PRICE: Yes, um huh. It was more colored here, more black people living here now then it was— [correcting herself] then than it is now.
THORNHILL: There are more black people living here now.
PRICE: Less, less.
THORNHILL: Oh, there’s less black people living here now then there were in the 50s.
PRICE: Because there were the Spencers and the Mills. And, what is his—the Foremans, and my sister. There were four people in this block and that’s only, what from here down, there’s Ms. Jacob, Ms. Barnett here now. But all these people that I called, they’re passed on.
THORNHILL: So in the 50s there were both white people and black people living here? Did some of the white people move out, after you moved in?
PRICE: Not that I know about. But they’re moving back now.
THORNHILL: Yeah, they are moving back now. What happened, who moved in after they moved out?
PRICE: The Foremans moved in. And I think the Barnetts moved in since we’ve been here. Let’s see, is there anybody else I can think of? That moved in. I believe that’s all I can think of right now. My sister, they moved in to 247. [247 11th Street]
THORNHILL: Your sister lived at 247?
PRICE: Uh, huh. Until she passed.
THORNHILL: What was your sister’s name?
PRICE: Stella Finney. Did you remember her?
THORNHILL: I, you know, I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t know your sister. What was her last name?
PRICE: Finney. F-I-N-N-E-Y. She died in nineteen … .
THORNHILL: And she lived at 247?
PRICE: Uh huh. She passed, December 24, 1975.
THORNHILL: Now, didn’t you have some relatives that lived across the street? [236 11th Street SE]
PRICE: No, I didn’t have any relatives.
THORNHILL: Oh, you know there were, when I moved here in the 60s there were two ladies …
PRICE: That was Ms. Jacob’s mother.
THORNHILL: Oh, Ms. Redmond was related to Ms. Jacobs, Okay.
PRICE: And Hazel, what was her last name? Hazel—Ms. Redmond and Hazel lived across the street. Can’t think of Hazel’s last name. I think it was Williams. I believed it was.
THORNHILL: Okay, you think it was Hazel Williams.
PRICE: I think her name was Williams.
THORNHILL: I remember them because they took in packages and kept people’s keys [in the 1970s].
PRICE: Oh, really?
THORNHILL: Like you do now. You take in people’s packages and people’s key’s. (Laughter from both)
THORNHILL: The neighborhood sexton—that’s what you are. Let’s see we talked about—I wanted ask you, were you ever afraid when Joe drove a taxicab. Were you ever afraid for him?
PRICE: Uh uh.
THORNHILL: In terms of safety, his safety, while he was driving a cab?
PRICE: No, I never felt afraid.
THORNHILL: Good. Because you hear some stories sometimes of what happens. Your husband had a—was a minister in—how about, what was your roll as the wife of a minister, with the church that he was the minister?
PRICE: Well, now he’s Primitive Baptist and women don’t have anything, any say in the service.
THORNHILL: I see. Well, did you have responsibilities to the members in any way, like when they were sick?
PRICE: Well, the only time that we have—well, some of the members, they had people in there that go see the sick; visit the sick—the mothers of the church. And we only helped out when they had functions that we had to carry food.
THORNHILL: Holidays. Back in the 50s the holidays in this area, how did you celebrate July Fourth?
PRICE: I know once I went down to the, on the …
PRICE: The Mall. Only one time. It was enough for me! (Laughter from both) It was too many people. It was so crowded you couldn’t get through. I’ve only been down once.
THORNHILL: Did you go all the way to the Mall or just to the Capitol?
PRICE: We went down to the Mall, on the Mall. And I only watch it from home still. I don’t have a problem with fireworks, I can watch it from here.
THORNHILL: Yeah, now you can watch it on TV, is that what you mean?
PRICE: No, I would watch it from upstairs.
THORNHILL: Oh, really!
PRICE: You could see the fireworks. Not close up, but you could see up in the sky.
THORNHILL: So, you would go up to your second floor and look out the back windows or would you go up on the roof?
PRICE: No, just the second floor.
THORNHILL: Because I did hear from the neighbors that they saw you up on the roof. (laughter)
PRICE: That was the front porch, cleaning off my porch. (laughter) I can’t get out there now, though. The last time I got out there I didn’t think I was going to get back.
THORNHILL: Yeah, yeah, that’s what I heard. (More laughter from both)
THORNHILL: That’s really fun; you guys could look out the back windows.
PRICE: You couldn’t see the beginning of it but you could see the flashing up in the sky, like, you know.
PRICE: But I only went down there one time.
THORNHILL: And can you still see the fireworks from your window?
PRICE: You can only see the flashing, but you can’t see the beginning of it.
THORNHILL: Right, like you can see part of the pattern that the fireworks make?
PRICE: No, you could only see they would light up.
THORNHILL: Oh, okay, I got you. The sky gets light; that’s what you could see. And sometimes you can hear the boom sounds.
PRICE: Um, huh. Right.
THORNHILL: You know when the kids come around at Hallowe’en. When I grew up we called that beggar’s night but they don’t call that beggar’s night now, I don’t know what they call it.
PRICE: I don’t know either.
THORNHILL: Maybe they just call it Hallowe’en.
THORNHILL: When the kids come out, did they do that in the 50s? Did the kids come around wearing costumes?
PRICE: As far as I can remember we would always place out candy. But just everybody had candy out; be ready for them.
THORNHILL: And where there lots of kids:
PRICE: Oh, lots of them.
THORNHILL: Oh, lots of kids, in this area?
PRICE: At that time, there be lots of kids to have just come to your door. But I can’t remember if it was in the 50s or not, ‘cause I don’t remember having no one on 12th Street, but I remember it happening over here.
THORNHILL: Did you know the kids?
PRICE: Some of them I would know. Because Mrs. Foreman had a bunch of children.
THORNHILL: Did the neighbors kind of look out for each other’s kids?
PRICE: Right. Specially on Hallowe’en. And sometimes the parents would go along with them. And what few go now the parents go with them.
THORNHILL: Yeah, I know that’s true, the parents come with them or their older brother or sister come with them.
THORNHILL: At Christmas time, do you remember anything like going to see decorations at Christmas time?
PRICE: Once I went down on the Mall. To see the [national] Christmas tree. One time. I went down with my husband’s nephew. We lost the car. Couldn’t find the car.
THORNHILL: Oh, gosh. You don’t seem to have much luck with these big events. (Laughter)
PRICE: But they found it. We took a long time finding it. It was so crowded.
THORNHILL: Well you said you shopped at Woodies. Do you remember any Christmas decorations at Woodies?
PRICE: They had some beautiful Christmases. The ones I would go down and look at the decorations in the windows … . Course I worked down there. I was working down there at 300 Indiana Avenue and we go up there sometimes and look at the decorations. They were so pretty.
THORNHILL: I miss that aspect of Christmas, of going and seeing big department store windows decorated.
PRICE: They were so pretty.
THORNHILL: Did the people decorate their houses with lights?
PRICE: Back in that time?
PRICE: Even I decorated out for that.
THORNHILL: So a lot of neighbors put up outside lights and stuff?
PRICE: Yeah. I never put outside, but I have it decorated inside.
THORNHILL: Oh, yes.
PRICE: Everybody seemed to decorate. Specially this man over here on 10th Street he had the prettiest decorations. Did you ever walk over there?
THORNHILL: Yes. There is a person on 10th Street now who decorates. Is that who you’re talking about? They’ve been doing that for years?
PRICE: Yeah. Yes.
THORNHILL: We mentioned, I can’t remember whether it was before we started or whether it was sometime as we’ve been talking, we mentioned Martin Luther King’s death. I know from the 100 block [of 11th Street] we were very much aware [of the fires]. Do you remember the riots?
PRICE: I was working at 222 K Street [NE]. We were in there. I didn’t, well the night, the day before, I didn’t realize that what was happening because I was here; I was working here in the house, then I went on to the beauty shop, and I couldn’t understand why they said we couldn’t get through H Street [NE]. But when we got to H Street, I saw the people breaking out the windows there at the—I think it was a store there they was breaking out the windows. And we were over there that night and I didn’t realize, still didn’t realize what was happening. They had broken into the liquor store and they was carrying all the liquors out there. And we went in there and all of a sudden they called the fire department; water was coming all down on us in the beauty shop. People was running in there. I pulled out two or three wigs the man had it underneath his coat. They was stealing things—out of the beauty shop. I’ll never forget it.
THORNHILL: But were you in any danger of being hurt physically or something?
PRICE: Well, no.
THORNHILL: It was just that they were hurting the property?
PRICE: So my husband and my sister came and picked me up and we got our stuff out of there, as much as we could at that time. And they set things on—they set buildings on fire.
THORNHILL: And the beauty shop was at K Street and …
PRICE: 222 K Street.
THORNHILL: Northeast, Northeast. OK, so I have a vague idea of where that was.
PRICE: It’s just before you go on Nevada over there.
THORNHILL: Right, right, right, because I use that street sometimes. Did the riots affect the 11th Street block at all? Here, on 11th Street?
PRICE: I don’t believe it done anything over here. That I can remember.
THORNHILL: OK, so—I know they had a curfew but you were here, so you don’t remember anything about 11th Street being …
PRICE: We had to get off the streets, stay in your houses, around 6:00 I believe.
THORNHILL: So did the neighborhood change at all after the riots?
PRICE: I don’t see where it changed. I can’t remember that it did. [Interviewer notes: The High’s and the People’s stores did not reopen for business. The use of those properties changed. High’s became a self-employed professional business office, and People’s was integrated into the rest of the building’s space. It is now the site of condominiums.]
THORNHILL: Um, huh.
PRICE: It seemed to stay the same.
THORNHILL: Well, this was the year before I moved to …
THORNHILL: Yeah, I was in the—I was living in the 100 block [11th Street SE] at that time and I moved here [234 11th Street] in ’69. And I wonder if your remember that time period when you said there was a place to repair cars on that lot where the houses now stand. Barret Linde built houses, three houses at 232, 234, and 234A on that lot where the repairing of cars took place. How did the neighbors react to the fact that there was this proposal to tear down the … [car repair shop]
PRICE: I didn’t hear anything about it.
THORNHILL: Uh, huh. So there wasn’t a lot of talk from the neighbors one way or another about it?
THORNHILL: Sometimes neighbors will get upset about any changes to a block especially when structures are being torn down, but …
PRICE: I can’t remember anything.
THORNHILL: So, Okay. Well, early on, after we moved into that house, I became aware of a block club in this area. I think it had different names at different times. I’ve known it as the block club and I’ve known it as … [clock chimes] I’m going to wait until this clock stops chiming. (pause) Yeah, I’ve known it as the block club and 11th Street block club, and I think it might have even been called the Frontier Club at one time. It had different names, but … What do you remember about it getting started?
PRICE: Well, now …
THORNHILL: Sorry. Do you remember who might have started it?
PRICE: It’s the—seem like—let’s see, who did start the club? I know when …
END OF TAPE 1/SIDE 1
TAPE 1/SIDE 2
THORNHILL: We were talking about the block club and I asked her if she remembered who started it and when it started and you were saying that you couldn’t really remember when it started or who started. Do you remember why did it start? Was there any particular reason it started?
THORNHILL: No there wasn’t any particular reason, or no, you don’t remember?
PRICE: I don’t remember.
THORNHILL: Oh, okay. I just remember myself that when I moved here in ’69 we heard about it early on, so clearly by 1970 it was going on and I remember that Mr. Jacobs was one of the early presidents.
PRICE: Um, huh.
THORNHILL: But that—I’m not going to talk about my memories, we are talking about your memories (laughter). Do you remember some of the activities—like, how often did it meet? She just shrugged her head no that she doesn’t remember how …
PRICE: I don’t remember.
THORNHILL: Do you remember what kind of activities they did?
PRICE: I don’t think—I can’t remember them having any activities. They would meet at different peoples houses.
THORNHILL: Meet at people’s houses.
PRICE: Um, huh.
THORNHILL: Would they talk about what was going on in the neighborhood?
PRICE: Right. I didn’t attend it too much because I was working at that time. I’d be getting off late.
THORNHILL: Oh, okay. Right, so these questions are difficult for you. Okay. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to talk to other people who might—
PRICE: Who might would know about it.
THORNHILL: Maybe Mr. Jacobs, hopefully. We’ll talk to them about, maybe asking him about this. Okay. Now in the 60s, do you remember whether there were any problems, because I’m remembering there were some problems in the 60s that we would talk about at the block—they were …
PRICE: I didn’t attend the meetings, because they would be around 8:00 and lot of times I wouldn’t get off until about 10:00. So I didn’t attend the meetings too much.
THORNHILL: Do you remember there being any crime problems at that time, any crime problems?
THORNHILL: By the 60s now, when we moved in, by this time the neighborhood was pretty much black, is that the way you remember it? This, this block here?
THORNHILL: This block here was pretty much black, wasn’t it?
PRICE: It was quite a few, yeah.
THORNHILL: That’s the way you remember it?
THORNHILL: Were there a lot of houses where many people lived? Like when you think of this block, did we have houses where now the house is owned by one family, but in the 60s were there houses where they had maybe two or three families living in those houses?
THORNHILL: No you don’t remember or no …
PRICE: I don’t remember anybody …
THORNHILL: Oh, okay, no …
PRICE: The Foremans had a lot of children.
THORNHILL: Right, right.
PRICE: And most these houses just had one family.
THORNHILL: Okay, fine. I asked you that because I know that some other areas of the Hill, there were houses where many families lived, that’s why I asked you that question. Why—it’s kind of hard to divide this up into the 50s and 60s but, just when you look back generally, are there particular things that about—that you remember about, what it was like to live here? Did you like it?
PRICE: Yea, I liked it here.
THORNHILL: And what was it you liked about it?
PRICE: It was just a comfortable place to live.
THORNHILL: It was comfortable?
PRICE: Um, huh.
THORNHILL: And what made it …
PRICE: Everybody was friendly.
THORNHILL: They sit out on their porches and—is that what you mean?
PRICE: Yeah, yeah.
THORNHILL: And talk? Would you talk?
PRICE: I didn’t have a lot of conversation with the—because—the way I worked, the hours I worked, back in the 50s, cause I was working at the beauty shop and I had long hours. Sometimes early morning and late at night.
PRICE: Sometime it would be ten, eleven o’clock when I would get home.
THORNHILL: Sometime in the 80s or early 90s, I don’t remember exactly. We had another kind of proposal to change this neighborhood a little bit. Mr. Davis, who owns the three houses up the street here on this side of the block. I’m not sure of the numbers, but there on this side of the block just by the alley [ed: 221, 223, and 225 11th Street SE]. Mr. Davis owns three houses and he had proposed to …
PRICE: You mean the ones that boarded up?
THORNHILL: Yes. Those houses. He proposed to change the layout of those houses. Do you remember that?
PRICE: No I don’t remember. [Interviewer notes: Mr. Davis wanted to renovate the three houses. He proposed putting two living units in each, for a total of six units, a change that would have required a zoning variance. The neighbors from 11th and 12th Streets met with him and expressed opposition. Most of the meeting participants were strongly against the proposal out of concern for its effect on parking. Mr. Davis dropped his plans. He has allowed the houses to stand as is and deteriorate over the years.]
THORNHILL: Okay. One of the things I know about you is that in the 1990’s you were a member of an orange hat patrol. Tell us a little bit about being on the orange hat patrol.
PRICE: We—I really enjoyed it—and I would walk with them. We would walk every Tuesday night. From 9:00 to 10:00. And I really enjoyed it, but I walked with them until I had problems with my hip. And I couldn’t walk with them any longer, but it was really nice.
THORNHILL: And, and …
PRICE: Mrs. Nevitt’s was the overseer of it. [ed: Rob and Audrey Nevitt]
THORNHILL: Is that still going on?
PRICE: I don’t believe it is because so many people has dropped out.
THORNHILL: I see.
PRICE: And the weather was cold, I see them right often.
THORNHILL: So you did that for a couple of years?
PRICE: I sure did! (Laughter from both) It was really fun. We’d meet around at Tenth Street.
THORNHILL: You’d meet on Tenth Street. Now where would, exactly, would you walk?
PRICE: We walked even as far as Nineteenth Street. And as far as Eighth Street—Seventh Street, no Southeast to Nineteenth Street. We’d walk all around Lincoln Park.
THORNHILL: Oh, gosh. You’d go all the way up to Lincoln Park?
PRICE: Oh, yeah!
THORNHILL: I didn’t know you walked that far.
PRICE: Well, that’s not really far.
THORNHILL: Well, I mean … . (laughter from both) I just, just didn’t realize …
PRICE: We walked a whole hour, all around. We had a area to walk in.
THORNHILL: Now when you’re on the …
PRICE: And if we saw anything that was out of—like cars or lots of trash, trash in the street we’d make a note of it and call it into the police department.
THORNHILL: Would people get to know you, I mean, did you actually get to know some of the people on these blocks that you’re walking?
PRICE: Uh, huh. Sometimes we would be nineteen, twenty people get together and walk.
THORNHILL: Oh, my.
PRICE: There would be a group of us, and there’s different groups—we’d have one group—we’d be Tuesday nights. Every night of the week there’d be someone walking. It was divided up into groups.
THORNHILL: One of the other things that happened—I’m sort of shifting back here a little bit—back in time is—I had heard in the 50s there had been a proposal to put a freeway through 11th Street. Remember that?
PRICE: I remember something about it but I don’t know just what, but I do remember, since you mentioned it, I do remember.
THORNHILL: I know that when you work it’s hard to know about all these things and keep up with them, because people are busy with their jobs.
THORNHILL: Now, I wonder if there’s—we’ve been talking a lot about your memories but I wonder if there is anything you would like to talk about from Joe’s experience driving a cab or being a minister. Are there any things you might remember over the years from those experiences?
PRICE: I can’t remember anything, of his experiences.
THORNHILL: How does the neighborhood seem to you now?
PRICE: Well, it seems different from what it was years ago. It’s, it’s quiet. It’s nice, oh well, I don’t know, I don’t see the difference. It’s different from what it was ‘cause there was a lot a more people was living here—some of these houses—couple of houses—you know some years back we had a handicapped house down at 249, you remember that? [Interviewer notes: The facility was a licensed board and care home for mentally retarded adults; it operated during the late 80s or early 90s.]
THORNHILL: Oh, yeah and it’s …
PRICE: And it vacant now.
THORNHILL: That house is vacant now? I wondered what …
PRICE: It’s for rent.
THORNHILL: Okay, that was a house as I remember that there were mentally retarded people living there.
THORNHILL: And I wondered what happened, do you know what happened there?
PRICE: They moved out, I don’t know why.
THORNHILL: And you don’t know why.
PRICE: But then a couple was living there and they moved out last year. Now it’s vacant.
THORNHILL: Uh, huh. Now I remember Mr. Spencer lived on the corner and …
THORNHILL: And he liked to repair cars. Was that something he did as a job, or was that just something he did as a hobby?
PRICE: I think it was a hobby.
THORNHILL: Okay, ‘cause I wondered if the neighbors took their cars to him at all.
PRICE: I don’t know if anybody—I know he worked on cars but I don’t know if it was one of the neighbors or not.
THORNHILL: Right, right.
PRICE: I know some people—I know a friend of mine brought her car over here and he worked on her car. She lives over in Northeast. But I don’t know if a—I can’t remember if any of the other neighbors carried their car there or not.
THORNHILL: Did you much shopping on H Street?
PRICE: Not a whole lot. I mostly did my shopping downtown.
THORNHILL: Down on what we know as the F Street corridor?
PRICE: F Street [NW], Um, hum.
THORNHILL: Did you, over the years, go out to eat at restaurants? (laughter from both) You’re such a good cook I was really hesitant to ask that question!
PRICE: I can’t ever remember going out—just to eat dinner here. I carried my husband out on our 21st anniversary—just to go out for a dinner, that’s the only one I remember.
THORNHILL: Yeah, yeah, okay, well I’m not surprised at the answer, ‘cause I have these memories of your sweet potato pie. (laughter) And a lot of other good things you make.
PRICE: I used to do a lot of cooking, but I don’t do too much now, like I used to.
PRICE: I used to make cakes for people at Christmas time and Thanksgiving, but I don’t do too much of that now. Due to my health.
THORNHILL: And some of my other memories of you are you outside sweeping. You have the cleanest (laughter) front walk, probably in the city.
PRICE: Well, I’m not able to do that now.
THORNHILL: I know. But you’ve been doing that for years until now.
PRICE: I would sweep Miss Perry’s walk, my walk, the lady’s next door and down to my sister’s house, which is 247—I did all of that during the summer. Raking up leaves and all that.
PRICE: But then, I like to do it, but I can’t do it now.
THORNHILL: Yeah, well you know, that’s probably how you get this reputation, do you know you have a reputation with some of the neighbors as being this wonderful woman who takes care of other people sometimes.
PRICE: Ahh …
THORNHILL: Did you know that?
PRICE: No, I didn’t. (Laughter)
THORNHILL: Yes, well I think your husband is like that also, because those are my memories of him, and how …
PRICE: ...driving a cab...
THORNHILL: And also how good he was to some of the neighbors.
PRICE: He’d be your cab driver and the lady’s next door—her name is Carolyn too.
THORNHILL: Yes. Right.
PRICE: I think he carried her to work about everyday.
THORNHILL: Right. And then Mr. Holly began to do it when—is that how it happened, that Mr. Holly took over when Joe wasn’t driving the cab any more?
PRICE: Yeah, yeah. When he give up cab driving. He gave it up some years ago.
THORNHILL: When, do you remember why the Foremans moved?
PRICE: No. They sold their house and moved to North Carolina.
THORNILL: Oh, is that right? I couldn’t remember when, or why.
PRICE: I don’t what year it was, but they moved to North Carolina.
THORNHILL: Right. And I remember there was an elderly white couple that lived on this side of the street in—well they were here when I moved—they must have been elderly because at some point the …
PRICE: What year did you move here?
THORNHILL: ’69. They weren’t able to take care of themselves, and some of the neighbors kind of talked about it and Mr. Jacobs went in to help them out, and finally they had to go to a nursing home. Do you remember who those people were? I was trying to remember their names.
PRICE: No, I don’t know, no, I can’t remember that.
THORNHILL: Oh, okay.
PRICE: It was on down this—up this way?
THORNHILL: It was—probably—it’s I know, it’s the yellow house, the house that’s yellow now.
PRICE: Oh, yeah. I can’t remember who was …
THORNHILL: Okay. ‘Cause I thought maybe they had lived there a long time too.
PRICE: I know that house was vacant a long time. I know—I remember a man lived—I think it’s the yellow house they lived in, that had a lot of children, when they first moved here. And they drove a red truck, I think that’s the house, now not for sure. But I don’t know. That house was vacant a lot.
THORNHILL: I think there were a lot of children in the neighborhood at one time—it just seemed like there were a lot of children.
THORNHILL: Running around and on the sidewalks.
THORNHILL: Back in the back alleys. Have you ever had any problems in your back alley?
PRICE: Joe used to be bothered with those children—we had an apple tree once and he would have to run them out of the back, they’d climb on the fence. He’d always be after them.
THORNHILL: And seemed like parking became more and more of a problem. Does that seem that way to you?
PRICE: Well, see, we had our car in the back all the time. We had a …
THORNHILL: Yeah, you have a place for your car behind the house.
PRICE: But I notice it’s always crowded out front.
THORNHILL: Yeah, it’s always crowded out there now.
PRICE: But we’ve always had a place in the back for our car.
THORNHILL: Well, when I think about this neighborhood being comfortable, you had used that term, I think about how it’s accessible to public transportation.
PRICE: Yeah, it’s right near the Metro.
THORNHILL: So that …
PRICE: The bus stops right near.
THORNHILL: And it has a lot of shops, things that you need.
PRICE: Right, grocery store.
THORNHILL: Drug store. And dry cleaners.
THORNHILL: Places to get your hair done. Places to buy gasoline.
PRICE: Yeah, there’s a couple a places near.
THORNHILL: And it’s always been like that, hasn’t it?
PRICE: Um, huh. Right.
THORNHILL: And I think about it, that the neighbors are friendly.
THORNHILL: We’ve had a couple get-togethers in the last couple of years with one of the neighbors [ed: Dana and Reginald Hightower] in their back yard where at least once a year we had a chance to get together and meet some of the neighbors and you brought food, something good to eat. (Laughter from both) I’ve covered a lot of things, but …
PRICE: Yeah, I think we have too.
THORNHILL: Is there anything that we should talk—tell me a little bit about your sister, did she have children?
PRICE: The one that—no.
THORNHILL: The one that lived—I’ve forgotten what house …
PRICE: Stella, Stella. Yeah, she’s at 247, she lived there, then I had another sister that came down from New York and she lived there until she died. Lenna Freeman, that was a sister—she died in ’91.
PRICE: And she lived with Stella?
PRICE: No, she came down after Stella died and lived in the house.
THORNHILL: Oh, so after Stella died, Lenna Freeman …
THORNHILL: Came and lived there ’til 19 …
PRICE: I think it was ’90 or ’91 anyway. And then her son lived there until he died in July the 9th …
THORNHILL: And what was his name?
PRICE: Cletis Freeman. He drove a cab. At least he taught at the Federal City College for years. And then he retired from there, he worked—he had other jobs and then he started driving the cab.
THORNHILL: And he died when?
PRICE: He died July the 9th.
THORNHILL: Of this year?
PRICE: Uh, huh.
THORNHILL: So you don’t—do you have any relatives living in this immediate block or couple of blocks now at all?
PRICE: No. I have a niece live, but she lives up by the shrimp bowl and I have another niece lives …
THORNHILL: Where does she live?
PRICE: She lives on Burbank Street, in the Northeast.
PRICE: I don’t know if that’s Northeast or Southeast. I’ll have to look …
THORNHILL: Well, that’s okay.
PRICE: Then I have another niece lives in, out in Maryland. And that’s all the family that I have here.
THORNHILL: Now Friendship House comes—don’t they have Meals on Wheels?
PRICE: Yeah, he [her husband Joseph Price] gets Meals on Wheels.
THORNHILL: And do you still get Meals on Wheels from Friendship House?
PRICE: For my husband.
THORNHILL: Do you know—let’s go back to the 50s for a minute; I was wondering, do you remember about Friendship House—was Friendship House active? Was there a Friendship House in the 50s?
PRICE: Yes, I think it was the Friendship House in the 50s. It’s been there a long time.
THORNHILL: And what kind of things did they do?
PRICE: I know they have a kind of place for children, after school, ’cause I know Tandra use to go down there, when she’d get out of school, Mrs. Barnett’s granddaughter. But other than that …
THORNHILL: So some of the children from this block went to programs there.
PRICE: Yeah. And then I can still get Meals on Wheels for Joe. I been doing that since back in—oh, for quite a few years. I don’t know what year, but anyway, I been getting it for quite a few years.
THORNHILL: Now the public library that’s on the square, by the Metro, was that public library there when you moved into the neighborhood?
PRICE: I don’t remember that when I moved here, but it’s been here some number of years.
THORNHILL: Okay, long time. That’s another thing I think about the neighborhood is we have these other kinds of things going on.
THORNHILL: What did you like to do to have a good time? What kind of …
PRICE: Back in that time most things I liked—I would go to church and the movies.
THORNHILL: The church and the movies.
PRICE: But the movies—I haven’t been to the movies, I guess for years. I don’t know when I been to the last movie. But mostly church.
THORNHILL: Where there … [overlapping voices, unintelligible] And what kind of activities would the church have, that you would go to?
PRICE: Well, they would have a place, say like associations, and they would have family gatherings.
THORNHILL: Parties, or potluck dinners or something?
PRICE: Well, they would have food when they have the communion and all that. And then later I joined New Samaritan about 1996. I joined New Samaritan Baptist Church [ed: located at 1100 Florida Avenue NE].
THORNHILL: And by this time Joe is sort of a emeritus—I mean he’s affiliated with the church but he’s not actively preaching or anything.
PRICE: Well, yes, he’s still …
THORNHILL: Oh, I’m sorry.
PRICE: He’s still—he was at a church up in Clifton—Centerville, that’s what it was, yesterday. (doorbell starts to ring.) I want to get that.
THORNHILL: Okay, that’s the doorbell and Joe’s going to go get …
PRICE: I guess it’s his meal food.
THORNHILL: They think it’s the Meals on Wheels. Do you remember—I remember people talking about the parks and the Anacostia River, did you …
PRICE: Yes, we used to go up to the Lincoln Park when it would be hot, we would go up there and sit ’til it cool off in the evenings then we used to take lunch and go down on the river banks. We’d sit out there and have a good time, take...
THORNHILL: That was along the Anacostia?
PRICE: Yeah, the one down on the, what do you call that downtown? That where they have …
THORNHILL: Down by the Lincoln Memorial, is that … [ed: referring to the Potomac River]
PRICE: All round in there …
THORNHILL: Oh, you would take a picnic’s and go there; when it was hot.
PRICE: Yeah, sometimes we would take a picnic lunch and go down there and stay around there for hours.
THORNHILL: Yeah, I do that too.
PRICE: That was fun.
THORNHILL: Yeah, it’s beautiful to watch the river with the different light on it …
PRICE: And the boats and things coming up the river.
THORNHILL: It’s beautiful to look at the river and people still do that, people are still escaping from the heat.
PRICE: They do, oh really? I didn’t know that.
THORNHILL: You don’t have air-conditioning in the house, do you?
PRICE: No, I have windows.
THORNHILL: You have window air-conditioners?
PRICE: Um, huh. But at that time we didn’t.
THORNHILL: When you first moved here you didn’t have window air-conditioning.
THORNHILL: Did you ever change the type of heating that was in the house?
PRICE: Yes, it was oil when we came here and then we changed to gas.
THORNHILL: So you changed from oil to gas.
PRICE: Um, huh.
THORNHILL: So it’s warm and comfortable in the wintertime, right?
PRICE: Yeah. In the summer times it’s nice too because we have window air-conditioning here and two upstairs and the house is real comfortable.
THORNHILL: Now the oil trucks, how would you get the oil?
PRICE: They would bring it in through the back and put it in.
THORNHILL: Through the back alley and bring it in through the back.
PRICE: But the gas is much better than oil.
THORNHILL: Is it more reliable? In terms of how consistently it heats the house?
THORNHILL: I think we’ve covered lots of things today and I want to thank you for participating.
PRICE: Oh, I was glad to help out any way I can.
THORNHILL: Thank you very much!
PRICE: I hope everything goes well.
THORNHILL: There will be a chance for you, after they type this up for you to read this and go over what’s on it and we can add things that we’ve talked about in terms of names and so forth.
THORNHILL: Okay, I’m going to turn this off now.
END OF TAPE 1/SIDE 2
END OF INTERVIEW
Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project
Evelyn D. Price Interview, January 21, 2003