John and Elsie Miller

John Miller was born on Capitol Hill before World War I and lived most of his life in Southeast. The Navy Yard expansion took over the house where he was born.

Years later, the home he and his wife Elsie lived in was demolished when Potomac Gardens was created. In an engaging description of the early 1900s, he tells of playing baseball on "Poplar Hill" and going to amateur night at the "Southeast Gardens" open air theater. In this 1974 interview with Ruth Ann Perez and Hazel Kreinheder, John and Elsie provide rich details about schools, bakeries, ice cream plants, and more, with commentary about some of the "characters" around the Navy Yard and "Pipetown" neighborhoods.

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Interview Date
November 6, 1974
Ruth Ann Perez and Hazel Kreinheder
Paula Causey
Paula Causey

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John and Elsie Miller were interviewed in 1974 to provide background for the application to create the Capitol Hill Historic District. Any use of this material should credit the Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project website for making it available. The transcript was retyped by Paula Causey in 2012 with street names and addresses edited to conform to the style used by the Overbeck Project.

Capitol Hill Interviews

Interview with Mr. and Mrs. John Miller By Ruth Ann Perez and Hazel Kreinheder November 6, 1974

The interview with Mr. and Mrs. Miller was conducted at their home at 903 G Street SE.

MR. MILLER: What I was saying about Inspector Richard Mansfield, I just wondered if he has an archive because he used to write for the Star about this neighborhood. He’d draw little pictures for the Sunday Star. [HK Note: 8 Nov 74, Star library informed H.P. Kreinheder that Insp. Mansfield did a regular column of annotated cartoons which appeared in the Sunday editions for a number of years. The column ceased to be published circa 1957.]

INTERVIEWER: Do you know what period of time he was writing?
MR. MILLER: I’d say eight or ten years ago, they’ve probably got an archive on him. He was born and

raised around 11th Street between N and O, which is also gone now.INTERVIEWER: Is that gas house still down there?
MRS. MILLER: Yes, it looks nice. It’s all painted blue. The Freeway goes right by it.MR. MILLER: Yes, that’s where we used to roll our Easter eggs.
INTERVIEWER: Is that where the end of the tunnel is for the train?

MR. MILLER: Yes. Now there’s the gas house. It was a place called “Poplar Hill.” “Poplar Hill” is where L.P.Stuart’s tanks are. We’d go down there Easter and roll our eggs. It was a green hill and we used to play down there and roast potatoes and things like that and that was “Poplar Hill.” And further down at 15th and K was a high hill with an old house on top and a colored man lived up there and the kids would call it “Nigger Man Hill.” Anyway, the streetcars went down Pennsylvania Avenue to 15th, down 15th to K Street and out K, and came back up the Avenue. We used to stand and holler, “Come on.” We’d come down this hill on a sleigh and the other one at the bottom would wait and see if a street car was coming, and if it wasn’t, he’d run back up the hill and the one that came down would say, “OK, come on.”

INTERVIEWER: Was there anything else out on that hill besides the one house the man lived in?

MR. MILLER: That’s all. That was between 15th and 17th. That was up on a high hill and that’s what we called it.

Capitol Hill Interviews John and Elsie Miller Interview, November 6, 1974

INTERVIEWER: There are some houses that are out there that are a little bit older. Do you remember when they were built?

MR. MILLER: That used to be called “Pipetown Flats” out on L Street. The fronts faced L and the backyards the hill. They used to throw all their trash down the hill towards the railroad tracks.

INTERVIEWER: What happened to the big house that was up on the hill? Was there a fire?MR. MILLER: It was years ago. I was still a kid when that was torn down. I don’t remember.

INTERVIEWER: I wanted to ask about “Pipetown.” The houses would have been on the south side of L Street.

MR. MILLER: Facing L, backing on a steep hill toward the railroad tracks, where a housing project is now, that was called “The Flats.”

INTERVIEWER: Was that a real slummy neighborhood?
INTERVIEWER: What sort of people lived in the neighborhood?

MR. MILLER: They were working people, but generally speaking in this neighborhood they either worked in the Navy Yard, to which they could walk to work; they worked for the street car company, there’s a car barn at Eighth and M; or they worked for the bakery, Meinberg’s Bakery, and Carry’s Ice Cream plant. The majority of the Marine Band lived right around this section; in fact, we had one that lived next door to me on I Street that wanted to give me free violin lessons, but I cried until I got a bicycle.

INTERVIEWER: We should have that information as to where you did live on I Street. I understand the house that you lived in was quite old.

MR. MILLER: It was. In fact, we had a stable in back of it.
INTERVIEWER: What was the address of the house?
MR. MILLER: 1216 originally.
MRS. MILLER: When we left it had been changed to 1220. I have a picture of that.INTERVIEWER: How old was the house?

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Capitol Hill Interviews John and Elsie Miller Interview, November 6, 1974

MR. MILLER: It had outside plumbing and for water we had a thing you pushed the handle down to get water in the bucket and the toilet was out in the backyard; and my father had a stable and two horses. So you can imagine how old it was. We bought it right after World War I for $1800. We spent over $5000 before it was done, we put in water and plumbing and things like that. In back of us was a great big brick stable where Meinberg kept all his horses to deliver bread. There was a bakery there on 11th Street, which is still standing; it’s vacant. They used to push the bread across the alley and sell it in the store on 11thStreet. That was Meinberg’s Bakery; and at 13th, 14th between E and D was Carry’s Ice Cream plant, which is where the big Safeway is now.

INTERVIEWER: Do you know if any of that building is still standing? The ice cream plant?MR. MILLER: No. The Safeway tore that down.

INTERVIEWER: You said that the only house out beyond 15th Street was the one up on the hill, but how about between 11th Street and 15th Street, was that pretty well built up and what kind of houses were in that area?

MR. MILLER: You take K Street went from 12th on through to Pennsylvania Avenue those houses are still there, although some of them have been built since I was a kid. Between 13th, 14th, Potomac Avenue and K Street, where the Chamberlain School is, right by that school there was a big vacant lot. There was no Ives Street in there. It went all the way back to K and that was called “Dutchman’s Lot”, and that was a semi-pro ball diamond where the Shamrocks played. We used to go up there and play ball. I played up there. My father had a ’21 model T truck in which he hauled the players around, like to Georgetown A.C. [Athletic Club]. They played up in Harlem and Alexandria. They were mostly semi-pro Southeast and Northeast boys.

INTERVIEWER: Do you know why it was called “Dutchman’s Lot”?
MR. MILLER: That’s what I could never figure because it was in an Irish settlement, but there were

some German people.

MRS. MILLER: At the beginning of the century there was a big migration to the United States and there were a lot of Germans up in this area, a lot of Irish here, and a lot of Italians, and they sort of congregated in ghettos so they could understand one another.

MR. MILLER: I asked my father one time, I know that he used to call the Southwest Irish settlement— we’re Protestant Irish, my grandfather came from Londonderry—and he used to call that “The Island.” I said, “Why do you call that ‘The Island.’” He said James Creek Canal ran through there. Later on as I

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Capitol Hill Interviews John and Elsie Miller Interview, November 6, 1974

became an inspector with the District and had worked my way up in the Sewer Division, we used to clean that sewer. It was called James Creek Canal sewer. The sewer took in the canal. That “Pipetown” was the Irish settlement. I asked him, “Why do they call it ‘Pipetown’”? He said there were two versions. One, they said it got that name because all of those old Irish women used to smoke pipes. He said the other was, I heard, that when they built the gas house there were so many pipes laying around that it was called “Pipetown.” I don’t know which was right.

INTERVIEWER: Where was James Creek? Did it run through Southeast at all?

MR. MILLER: It was right beside Fort McNair, that’s in Southwest. Each section of the inner city had an Irish section: “Swampoodle” was Northeast, “Foggy Bottom” was Georgetown, our section was “Pipetown.” I never could find out why it was named “Pipetown.”

INTERVIEWER: There are quite a few old houses in the 1300 block of K Street. Do you know how far back any of those go?

MR. MILLER: 1200 block, too. No, a friend of mine that played there as a kid just passed away. He was a plumbing contractor. He lived at 1245 K Street. I think his father worked in the gas house.

INTERVIEWER: What was their name?

MR. MILLER: O’Connor. Michael Joseph Edward O’Connor.

INTERVIEWER: What about the little church that’s down there?

MR. MILLER: That was the Rayburn Church, which has a big church now out on Marlboro Pike. It was there when I was a kid.

INTERVIEWER: Were you born in the house on I Street?

MR. MILLER: I was born at First and N Streets SE. I was with my grandmother until I was about six or seven, then we lived on Potomac Avenue before the War. We came to I Street right after World War I, about 1918 or 1919, I guess.

INTERVIEWER: Is the house you were born in still standing?

MR. MILLER: The Navy Yard has taken that. The Navy Yard, when I was a young kid, ran from Ninth to Fourth. World War I they expanded from 11th to First. The houses on M Street between Tenth and 11thare still there, inside the gate, you can still see them. They were turned into officers’ houses. Mrs. Leukhardt could tell you. Her father had a lumber business on this side of 11th Street and they took it and

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Capitol Hill Interviews John and Elsie Miller Interview, November 6, 1974

he had to move on the east side of 11th street. He was right there near where the Seaman Gunners and Naval place are. It was called Yost and Herrell. Her maiden name was Yost. She could probably tell you about the gas house.

MRS. MILLER: Have you talked to the Schwartzmanns? I talked to a lady who I thought was another generation older; her name is Graham. She mentioned that some of the Schwartzmanns are still there. Mrs. Graham is about the oldest one I know. I’m sure she’d be willing to talk, so I thought we’d go down there.

INTERVIEWER: We’ll go ahead and finish here and then we’ll get back in touch with Mrs. Graham. I’ve talked to her on the phone before. She’s a member at Capitol Hill Methodist Church. We’ll get through to her separately. It’s easier to talk to one person at a time.

MR. MILLER: As far as people living in “Pipetown,” I don’t know of anyone that you could go to because they were old people and all the sons are gone away. There’s not one family out there I know. It’s all colored.

INTERVIEWER: When did the area change?
MR. MILLER: I’d say the big change came right after World War II. People moved away and colored

moved in. It was an all-white neighborhood. The colored lived in the alleys.INTERVIEWER: You mentioned before the alleys. Where were the alleys down there?MR. MILLER: The alleys between 12th and 13th, I and G Streets.
INTERVIEWER: Did the houses face in to the alley or into peoples’ back yards?

MR. MILLER: Oh, no. It ran north and south. [Handwritten insert: Between 12th and 13th, I and G Streets, called Cooksey’s Court or Twelve and a Half Street.] Between 12th and 13th, K and L, that was called Loudon’s Court. That was all colored back in there.

INTERVIEWER: Was it brick or frame?MR. MILLER: They were brick.

MRS. MILLER: You know how they got to be alley dwellings? Originally they were streets and then when the First World War came, people started flocking into Washington. So, where the street was they’d take and build houses on it and that way they made them alley dwellings, because originally that was Twelve and a Half Street.

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Capitol Hill Interviews John and Elsie Miller Interview, November 6, 1974

INTERVIEWER: Do you remember when Ives Place was built?
MR. MILLER: I remember Ives. I don’t know what year. I’d say it was built in the late 1920’s.INTERVIEWER: Would that have been considered an alley?
MR. MILLER: No. That was a vacant lot all the way through and then they built Ives Place in there.INTERVIEWER: Mrs. Miller, when did you come to Southeast?

MRS. MILLER: I came after I was married. I’ve always lived in Washington. I lived up in Northwest and down in Southwest. They put us out down there for the government. I lived where the Department of Agriculture is.

INTERVIEWER: Mr. Miller, you said that the houses in the block in which you lived were frame houses?

MR. MILLER: Some were frame houses. My father had ours stuccoed, what you call pebbledashed, and a concrete porch put on it, 1926.

INTERVIEWER: Mrs. Murray used that same phrase, “The Pebble House”. Do you know anything about the one on the corner of 11th and G? Is that a real old house?

MR. MILLER: I imagine so, because when I was a kid, I used to walk through here to go to the theatre here on Eighth Street and the Avenue Grand, which burned down and is now a vacant lot. Streetcars used to come out here, out G Street to 11th, down 11th, across the Anacostia Bridge, the old bridge, and they would stop in Anacostia. They had a power pit and they would take the overhead trolley and put it up and they would go all the way up to Congress Heights and go down Portland Street, where there was a steel plant.


MR. MILLER: It would come out G Street. They came from down around the market at Seventh and Louisiana Avenue NW. They worked their way out Canal to E, come down E Street to Fourth, down Fourth to G, out G to 11th and across the old 11th Street Bridge. They had a power pit in Anacostia, which we used to call Uniontown; that is, the old people used to call it Uniontown. They’d switch to the overhead trolley and go out to Congress Heights to Portland Street, where they made a right turn and went

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Capitol Hill Interviews John and Elsie Miller Interview, November 6, 1974

down Portland Street to where Bolling Field is now. That was the steel plant that was in operation during World War I.

As far as the moving pictures, we had one right where the fire engine house was built, on Eighth Street. We called it “The Navy” and the store was called Navy, but actually it was Mrs. Haines that had it. I don’t remember her, but I remember it was called Navy Department Store, where Miller’s is now. In back of them, where the gas station is, was an open air theatre. I don’t remember the name. There was one down between 12th and 14th on Pennsylvania where those houses were torn down, because they built houses in there. It was called the “Southeast Gardens.” They’d give you a rain check. If it rained before the picture was over, you could come back the next night. It was a rain check, just like a ball game.

Then they had amateur night. And that was funny because we knew a lot of the kids in the neighborhood who would get up there. Then they had like lucky tickets, I can’t think of the night they called that. You’d go in and you’d get a number when you went in and they’d tear it off and drop it in a box. You’d win a basket of groceries, or a prize of some sort. But amateur night was very funny. Kids would try to play harmonicas or form a quartet and they used to try to sing and we used to holler, “Give ‘em the hook!” to take them off. First prize, they’d hold an envelope over your head and go by applause. Whoever got the most applause would get the $5 in an envelope. Second prize was $3 and third prize was $2. They had one girl called “Baby Molly.” I think she sang for twenty years and they were still calling her “Baby Molly.”

INTERVIEWER: You mentioned the Avenue Grand, but what was the name of the theatre on Eighth Street where People’s Church is now?

MR. MILLER: That was called The Academy, the first time, and then later on The Meader.INTERVIEWER: Across the street from that, I think, there was a post office.
MR. MILLER: No. That’s up where the fire engine house was built, up along in there between D and E.INTERVIEWER: Do you remember any of the little commercial businesses that were around?

MR. MILLER: From the Navy Yard on Eighth Street to Pennsylvania Avenue there were quite a few. I’d say four to five barber shops. At Eighth and I Street was Biedman and Kaufman, which was a clothing store where my mother used to buy clothes for me to go to school. You’d get a pencil box free when you bought a pair of shoes. All along there were fairly good workingmen’s’ lunchrooms, barber shops, shoe stores, clothing stores, pawn shops, second hand stores, all the way through, and at Eighth and G was a Sanitary, which they call Safeway now; and they had Weller’s drugstore on Eighth and they had another one ... I can’t think ... Eighth and I was one, Eighth and K was one, and Roches was at Eighth and G.

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Capitol Hill Interviews John and Elsie Miller Interview, November 6, 1974

They were strictly drugstores, that’s all. You could buy candy in a jar like horehound candy sticks—we called them jawbreakers—and things like that which they used to keep in a jar. Penny a piece for a jawbreaker.

INTERVIEWER: Did you have ice cream parlors up in there?

MR. MILLER: Yes, we had one right where the Ship’s Cafe is, two doors from the corner of Eighth and G. It’s called Ship’s Cafe now. That was called the Candy Kitchen. We used to go there and get a nickel’s worth of candy when we’d go to the movies or sodas and they made their own candy there.

INTERVIEWER: Were there alley dwellings behind those buildings?

MR. MILLER: Yes, that’s Navy Alley. If you went in there looking for trouble, you found it, but they never came out on the street. They’d fight amongst themselves. In fact, they had a Jewish grocery store right in the alley. The alley was all colored. I would go down there when I was a teenager. A friend of my family’s was in the plastering business, Mr. Howard Leapley, and I went to work for him as an apprentice boy and some of the laborers would be late showing for work. His shop was on Sixth Street and he’d say to me, “Boy, go over in that alley and get Chalk or get Steel Blue.” That’s what kind of names they’d call them and I’d go over there and bang on the door and they’d never bother you if you went in there. Of course, if you went in there looking for trouble, that’s a different story.

INTERVIEWER: Where was the plastering business on Sixth Street?

MR. MILLER: He had his shop there, Howard Leapley, 700 block of Sixth Street. And the entrance where he kept his materials and scaffolding boards, and things like that, you’d come in off of Fifth, across from the old Lenox School. He lived there and he later built a home on 11th Street in the 300 block. It was a big house. In fact, they tore it down and built three houses, town-houses, on the east side. He died very young.

INTERVIEWER: Did you ever know anyone who lived out on Pennsylvania Avenue in about the 1400 block whose name was Rawlins, who was a fresco painter or worked with painting on fresh plaster?

MR. MILLER: No, I don’t.
INTERVIEWER: How about Pennsylvania Avenue? You said it was open in the 1300 block because

those houses were built after the theatre was there.

MR. MILLER: I think those houses might be still there because Mr. Durity was a stonemason and, if you notice those houses, they look like tombstones. He used that stone to put the fronts on those houses. His

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Capitol Hill Interviews John and Elsie Miller Interview, November 6, 1974

son lives out in Maryland. He’s seventy some years. His father had a tombstone business out on Bladensburg Road, I imagine out around Mt. Olivet, quite a long time ago. When he built those houses he used a lot of that stone that they used to make tombstones. You can see the fronts are still there. I don’t know where he lived. I knew his son.

Oh, I’ll tell you something about where Congressional Cemetery is. I go to Christ Church, and that church owns Congressional. They’re trying to get rid of it, trying to give it to the Park Service. Right beside there, between that and the river, was the city dump where the trash wagons would take all their trash and take it down there and burn it. That’s between 17th Street and the river, where the freeway is being built. You know where the bridge starts and you look over to Congressional and see the fences, from that fence all the way down practically to the railroad tracks and all the way to the railroad trestle, where the trains go across, that was the city dump.

INTERVIEWER: When did that stop being a city dump? Do you remember?

MR. MILLER: No, I don’t. They filled it in. Of course, Fairlawn was a dump when I was a kid, because I ran in a track meet over there when they had opening ceremonies. It’s between Pennsylvania Avenue and the 11th Street Bridge on the Anacostia River, that’s on the other side. From Pennsylvania Avenue to Congressional Cemetery all the way to that railroad trestle was the city dump. The trash trucks would go down and they would just burn it openly and we’d go down there, after school, mostly Saturdays, and get paper and junk and throw at rats. It was wide open.

INTERVIEWER: Was most of that area just immediately west of Congressional Cemetery vacant? What I’m talking about is the area between 15th and 17th Streets. The houses would be more yellow brick with front porches.

MR. MILLER: Between 15th and 17th where that vacant lot is there used to be a big dry-cleaning plant, called Huffman’s Dry-Cleaning. That’s right next to where there’s an ESSO station now, just east of the ESSO station.

INTERVIEWER: What was north of there, up along Kentucky Avenue, or between G and H?

MR. MILLER: Kentucky Avenue, Potomac Avenue, and Tennessee Avenue were beautiful streets, real shady. The trees just almost made an umbrella; they’d been there for quite a while. The houses were very nice houses. They were built around World War I, Potomac Avenue from Kentucky Avenue out.

INTERVIEWER: Where did you go to school?

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MR. MILLER: My first school was at Fourth and M Street, Van Buren. I then went to Tyler and Cranch. Of course, Cranch is gone, that was at 12th Street where PEPCO is now. They didn’t have a carpenter shop at Tyler, which was an old building, so we used to go down to B.B. French. The girls used to go there to learn how to cook and sew and we’d have carpenter shop and we’d walk as a class for play going from Tyler to Seventh and G which was called B.B. French. The Marines took that over during World War II; their stenographers and paper work were in there.

INTERVIEWER: Did all the elementary schools in this area feed into French? Was it a manual training school?

MR. MILLER: Manual training, that’s what you called it. Domestic. Girls would learn to cook and we’d make calendar stands or a shoeshine box or something like that. Cranch had a carpenter shop in the basement, which Hine had because Hine was old Eastern. They built the new Eastern at 17th and East Capitol. Hine was a real old building and they had two schools there beside Hine. They had the Wallach, and the Towers. I went to the first year at Eastern and then quit.

INTERVIEWER: Were there any other schools out there beyond Cranch? There was Payne at 15th and C.

MR. MILLER: You had Buchanan. They have a new Buchanan and the old one is still there on E Street between 13th and 14th. When I went out there, it got over-crowded, so they had three frame buildings in the back towards D. There was the third, fifth and seventh. They used to call them the portables. They had a Payne School and a Bryan School somewhere in that section, too.

INTERVIEWER: Bryan is between Kentucky and 14th on Independence. Mrs. Murray mentioned a lady that lives over on Tenth Street. Something like Miss McClain.

MR. MILLER: She’s a friend of ours. They were raised together, I think. She lives a couple of doors up from Mrs. Murray. Well, you see the Darmstedts, her name is Frey now, Eva Darmstedt Frey. She has the date of her house in her front yard. They ran the coal and ice business. The business was right in that alley. And across from there, I don’t know how they ever did it, were houses in this alley where colored people lived who worked for Mr. Darmstedt. Her house is something like 1865. I called up on this, it was 1895, this is 903 G Street. I had to get it for my fire insurance. I don’t know why. I asked them at the bank when I took out the fire insurance why they wanted the date. They said, “We don’t know.”

INTERVIEWER: What number is Miss McClain?END REEL I SIDE II

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MRS. MILLER: She lived on the east side of the 700 block of Tenth Street until her house was demolished and then she moved over to the west side of the 700 block of Tenth a few years ago. Her name is Lillian McClain. You should talk to Eva Darmstedt, Eva Frey, also. Do you see those houses over there on the northeast corner of Ninth and G. I call them World War I houses. When the Navy Yard was busy they squeezed one in here in every vacant lot that they could get, that’s why it doesn’t have any back way. That land probably belonged to that red house and they had a yard there. You’ll see those in spots all over the area and all over the city. The people started flooding into Washington and wherever they could squeeze a few houses in, they did it. During World War II, it was, “Buy the rambler house.” Everybody was getting out to the suburbs.

INTERVIEWER: Was it difficult to find housing in Washington during the War?

MRS. MILLER: I think the feeling was that they didn’t want to live in the city, they wanted to get into the suburbs. Now young people want to get back into the city. They went to the rambler and now even in the suburbs, they’re going back to the row houses. They call them town houses now, but they’re still a row house to me. In all the vacant land after World War I, they were building what I call those World War I houses. They were made out of that white brick, just like in the 1890’s, it was red brick.

INTERVIEWER: Over on Pennsylvania Avenue in about the 1300 block on the north side, there is a row of houses that are built out of red brick that have porches on them and kind of a fancy cornice. Do you know anything about them?

MR. MILLER: They were older because I went to school with some of the kids in that block. There was a family named Montague who lived right where G Street comes out into Pennsylvania Avenue and a Mr. J.K.Wood lived there. He was in the tinning and plumbing business.

INTERVIEWER: Was there a family named Zimmermann that lived along there?
MR. MILLER: I thought the Zimmermanns lived on D Street between 13th and 14th. I’m sorry, I was

thinking of Deuterman.

INTERVIEWER: Were D and E Streets pretty well built up? There appear to be some rather old houses in there.

MR. MILLER: There’s a school at 12th and E and D [this is a reference to Watkins School]. On that site there were houses all the way through from 12th to 13th. There was an alley, going north and south between E and D, 12th and 13th, that was called Hopkins Court. There was a Saratoga potato chip factory

Capitol Hill Interviews John and Elsie Miller Interview, November 6, 1974

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there. The Brewery, which later became Carry’s Ice Cream plant was on D and E between 13th and 14th. In Hopkins Court, they had a Saratoga potato chip factory and a lot of the neighbors worked in there. They made chipped beef and boned ham and things like that in addition to potato chips. I don’t know which came first, the Swindle Potato Chip Co. or the Saratoga. I think it was Swindle because I saw Saratoga chips years later.

INTERVIEWER: Going east on D and E, were there houses along there, too?

MR. MILLER: Just like there are now, except where the Safeway tore them down. That’s where the ice cream plant was. People used to go up there with a wagon and get a 10 cent piece of ice. They had a big ice platform and they’d chop it off. On real hot days, people in the neighborhood would get ice early in the morning, so they could have it at night for iced tea and things like that.

INTERVIEWER: Where was the farthest away from where you lived that you would go to play or visit?

MR. MILLER: Wherever we weren’t allowed to go, we’d go there first, swimming in the river. My mother could always smell the gas tar in my hair. We were supposed to keep away from that river because quite a few people used to get drowned.

INTERVIEWER: Was this considered part of the Navy Yard neighborhood?
MR. MILLER: I’d say yes. The majority of these people worked there and walked to work or worked at

the car barn or the gas house.
INTERVIEWER: Do you remember anyone especially interesting that lived in the neighborhood?

MR. MILLER: “Froggy” Davis, that was his nickname. He was the principal of Roosevelt, the old Business High School. He lived at 12th and I Street right where the ESSO station is now.

MRS. MILLER: There’s a picture of that property in the Capitol Hill book. [This is a reference to “Places and Persons on Capitol Hill” published by the Southeast Citizens Association, 1960.]

MR. MILLER: Miss McClain could tell you about Mr. Law. He lived [inaudible]. There were several doctors on Eighth Street. Dr. Chester Pyles, who later became president of Riggs Bank. His son now is president or vice president of the Riggs Bank. He lived on Eighth between K and I, and they later moved to Eighth and D. There were two doctors at Eighth and E, Dr. Butt and Dr. Pickford. We had three doctors in the neighborhood at that time.

INTERVIEWER: Where did the Laws live?

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MR. MILLER: They lived on the northwest corner of 11th and I, right opposite Mr. Davis. That’s part of the Tyler playground now. Mr. Davis had an old stable back there and he bought an old open car. We thought it was funny because it was one of those high cars, “boop boop” with a horn like that, and he’d put a coat on, his gloves and his eyeglasses, and we used to holler. I won’t mention his nickname again. He couldn’t go very fast, I guess ten or twelve miles an hour, and all the children in the neighborhood would run along beside him.

INTERVIEWER: Was there anyone special that you remember from the Marine Band that lived around here?

MR. MILLER: The man that lived next door to us on I Street, his name was Mr. Walter. In those days, I don’t know how it is now, you had to play three instruments. I don’t know whether it was one string and two winds or vice versa. There was a man on Eighth Street, Mr. Dixon, whose sons were in the band. There was a man who lived on 11th Street, I can’t think of his name, he played a horn. Mrs. Graham could tell you. His daughter’s name was Charlotte. It was an Italian name, I think. There were quite a few in the neighborhood. They were homeowners.

INTERVIEWER: Once they got in the Marine Band they were pretty permanently attached to the Marine Band, weren’t they?

MR. MILLER: They were it.
INTERVIEWER: I understand that originally the parade used to be in the afternoon, is that true?

MR. MILLER: They have what they call sunset parades in the summer. I don’t recall afternoon parades. We used to watch them drill. They’d come down on Virginia Avenue playground. Virginia Avenue playground, when I was a kid, only ran from Ninth and Tenth and from Tenth to 11th was a park, just like Lincoln Park, it had a big drinking fountain in the middle of it.

INTERVIEWER: Did it have a name?

MR. MILLER: As far as the park, I don’t remember. Then they extended the playground all the way to 11th Street and we’d have like softball teams and basketball teams. Virginia Avenue would play Garfield and we’d beat them and then they’d run us all the way home and throw stones at us. Then we had a championship game. We played Rosedale which was a pretty tough neighborhood. We went over and beat them 1-0. The assistant of the playground was called Richardson. Mr. Willy [crossed out on transcript - handwritten “Miss Rose”] was the director of the playground. We beat Garfield and they ran us and we went over to Rosedale to play for the championship and we beat them 1-0. They didn’t care

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whether the head of the recreation department was there or not, they chased us all the way to East Capitol Street. Along there was a big ice house. They threw stones at us all the way to East Capitol Street. There weren’t too many houses.

INTERVIEWER: Where was the ice house?

MR. MILLER: It was called American Ice. I knew a Mr. Spicer that worked there. They formed the ICE CLUB, I don’t know what it stands for, international something. It expanded and went to Morningside which is now the building that the Veterans of Foreign Wars are in. That’s down at Andrews Air Force Base. They formed the club and they used to meet in an old brick stable upstairs. They were workers in the American Ice Co. It was on an alley between 15th and the icehouse, somewhere in along between Rosedale and F Streets. That was up in Northeast.

INTERVIEWER: They just tore the ice cream company down. It was at 15th and F Street NE. They’re going to build garden apartments up there. So all of that area was pretty well built up?

MR. MILLER: That was vacant. We used to go up and play ball at 17th and D SE, there was a lot. I remember when Bay Street and Burke Street and all was a lot, right across from DC Jail.

INTERVIEWER: Do you have any idea when the houses on those streets were built?
MR. MILLER: I’d say during World War I. My father sold vegetables on the street—you call them

hucksters—and we had customers on Bay Street.


MR. MILLER: Bay Street had to be built because they were new houses when I was seventeen. My father had customers there and I’ll never forget one day, I was taking vegetables in and the woman opened the door and hollered, “Lindbergh just landed.” It was on a Saturday. I remember it very well. I was seventeen, so it had to be 1927. Lindbergh had just landed in France.

INTERVIEWER: Did she have a radio?

MR. MILLER: Yes. The first radio in the neighborhood was the old DC fire department down here. No. 18 Engine Co. at Ninth and Virginia Avenue and K. They’d have the window up and turn it up real loud, like for the Dempsey-Tunney fight. No one in the neighborhood had enough money to buy one. The first one I had was a little crystal set with a little piece of wire. I remember some people bought ones that ran on batteries and had a big speaker like an old gramophone. The Dempsey-Tunney fight was back in about

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Capitol Hill Interviews John and Elsie Miller Interview, November 6, 1974

1926. [Note: The first Dempsey-Tunney fight was September 23, 1926. Their rematch was September 22, 1927.] All the neighborhood would gather around the firehouse. If they had a fire and they all went out— when we were kids, they had horses in those days—the horses would run down the street and we’d run right from the playground, right up the stairs and down the pole. That was when there was nobody there.

INTERVIEWER: Is that fire company still there?

MR. MILLER: I don’t think so. If you wanted a haircut in the summertime, they’d give it to you. They’d take those clippers that they used to keep the horses clipped, and they’d cut all your hair off, until you had a bald head. If you went to the movies, kids would throw peanuts at your bald head. They had a balcony at the Navy Theater. They had to keep that closed to the kids. The lovers and the teenagers would go up there and smooch, but they didn’t let the kids up there because they didn’t know what was going to happen. Peanuts would come out. That’s why they called it the peanut gallery.

INTERVIEWER: Would you tell us about the Herrmann’s bottling factory?

MR. MILLER: That was at the northeast corner of Tenth and I. They ran up quite a business. They owned quite a lot of property on I and Tenth. It was called Herrmann’s Famous Ginger Ale. That was right on the label of the bottle. He had trucks and a lot of employees in there and we used to go down and see the bottles wound around and squirting. He had quite a business here in Washington. It was good ginger ale, very good. That’s all anybody would buy around here. We had our fun: the river, the firehouse, and the playground. They used to have free moving pictures at the Navy Yard. As you go in the main gate, the Navy Yard had a long grassy lawn. They had an open air theater for the neighborhood and you could go in there and watch the moving pictures free. And then in the park that I told you was like Lincoln Park—between Tenth and 11th Streets, L and K, and Virginia Avenue—they had free movies and they had band concerts.

INTERVIEWER: Did the Marine Band play there?
MR. MILLER: I think it could have been the Marine Band.

MRS. MILLER: The bands used to take turns. They used to play at the Sylvan Theatre. They’d have the Marine Band, or the Army Band, or the Navy Band, and they still do that.

INTERVIEWER: Did they have a bandstand down in this park or did they just play out flat?

MR. MILLER: They just played out flat. We had our good times. Friendship House, when I was a kid, was on Virginia Avenue, which is no more. They had a little team we used to play against. We played at Fifth and L Streets SE, which is still there, a big baseball diamond. On Virginia Avenue between Fourth

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and Fifth was the original Friendship House—which is on D Street now—and they’d hold dances and Halloween parties. This was for the kids in the neighborhood. It was really what you would call a friendship house. They had a little football team, a little baseball team, like midgets. Then you got to be seniors and as you became older you got to be semi-pros. I went down one time and I thought I could sing. They were trying to form a quartet. I didn’t last too long. It was really a friendship house, it was nice.

INTERVIEWER: When did they move up to D Street?
MR. MILLER: I don’t know.
INTERVIEWER: Do you ever remember that house being called the Maples?

MR. MILLER: No, I don’t. When we were little everybody was doing something. Now you take Halloween, this wasn’t a trick or treat, we did little things like tying the doorknob to the banister and they couldn’t pull the door open. Then maybe someone would take a garbage can and shinny up a telegraph pole in the alley and hang a garbage pail on it. We had a parade, from the Navy Yard to Sixth and Pennsylvania Avenue on Halloween, it was something. All the grown people had their kids out. It was a celebration. People threw confetti and things. There was no trick or treat. Even grownups dressed up in costumes.

INTERVIEWER: What did you do on the 4th of July?
MRS. MILLER: When we were little they had the fireworks.

MR. MILLER: Fourth of July was usually baseball day around here. The Senators always seemed to have New York in here at that time. As I got older, my father would take me to that doubleheader and it was always a sellout. I was fourteen years old when they first won the pennant in 1924. Then they won it the following year, but they lost to Pittsburgh in the World Series. Then they didn’t win anymore until 1933, when Joe Cronin became manager. I just noticed in the paper that Sam Rice passed away. He played left field when I was a kid. Buddy, who played second base, is 71 and Ace [blank space]. I saw Walter Johnson pitch. He played in the 1925 World Series. I was 15 and I saw him play and I saw Ty Cobb and I saw Ruth, Gehrig, and all those players. We had great players at that time. We had a couple local boys that went away from here to become pros. We had Walter Beall. He played for the Yankees for several years. His family lived on 12th Street between I and G. His grandfather [inaudible]. He pitched for the Yankees. He came here and pitched against Washington and everybody in the neighborhood went out to see Walter pitch. Several of them made it to Triple A or Double A ball. Pickles and Gatdy Hamill. They lived on M Street. They were men playing ball when I was a kid. They played in Chattanooga,

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Memphis, and Rochester. They used to tell stories about some of these managers in the American League now. When they played for Rochester, McCarthy was such a great manager. He was one of the best managers for New York. He was one of the best managers that they ever played under.

INTERVIEWER: Did they have a big parade on the 4th of July?

MR. MILLER: Not as I recall. The biggest celebration they had here was Labor Day, at Griffith Stadium. The police department would play the fire department. Two of the men that I grew up with were on the force. One was Lee Hensley, a retired lieutenant, and the other one was Richey, a retired inspector. They were motorcycle cops then and they used to put on exhibitions of riding out there at the park on Labor Day. They’d run up a ramp and go through the wall of fire and things like that. It was the Labor Day celebration. It was always a big thing for the police and the fire department to play one another at Griffith Stadium. He gave the Stadium free, there was no rent for something like that. Labor Day was quite a day for baseball fans.

INTERVIEWER: Would you tell us about when you were being moved from down around Potomac Gardens? What date was it?

MR. MILLER: About 1962. We bought this house [903 G Street SE] in 1957 and we didn’t move in until 1965, when we had to get out. They started talking around 1962 or 3. They said they wanted to get rid of all those colored shacks in the back there, and the tomato plant had taken over old Meinberg’s stables. That was the Pappas tomato plant. That was the original Meinberg’s stable where they kept their horses that pulled the bread wagons. Later on, it was Driscoll’s. They had horses there that they auctioned off and sold.

MRS. MILLER: There was a lot of land back in there. It was a big block.

MR. MILLER: Walter Washington was determined to get us out of there because he said that people needed houses, but what are you going to do when people are 75 years old and they come around and give you $10,000 and then you have to find a new place to live.

I have a lot of papers on that if you want the details.

INTERVIEWER: Were most of the people in the neighborhood people who were older, retired or getting ready to retire?

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MRS. MILLER: They were older. As I said, the young people when they got married went out to the suburbs.

INTERVIEWER: What was the address of your house there?

MR. MILLER: 1220, originally it was 1216. There was a little lot next to the grocery store and when they tore one house down there was room and they built a couple of houses, like those over there [indicating those at the corner of Ninth and G Street SE.], so they changed the addresses all the way down the block.

INTERVIEWER: When did you move into that house?

MR. MILLER: We must have moved in there right after World War I. About 1919.

INTERVIEWER: Did you live there the whole time?

MRS. MILLER: He lived there until he got married, and then we lived away a couple of years. Then I moved there with him.

INTERVIEWER: Do you remember when they changed the street numbers?

MRS. MILLER: It was after World War I when they built a couple of houses in there, it was about 1920.

MR. MILLER: It was 1216 originally. Like I said, there was a frame house next to the grocery store. That was torn down. So they changed the addresses all the way through. Then the District government came through and they said to my father and two people above us, Cooksey and Millstead, “Your stables are a fire trap. You’ll have to tear them down.” So they condemned them. That was, I think, in 1927 or 1928. Then the builder, Mr. Leapley, for whom I worked, came and put the porch on the house, pebbledashed the house, and built the pebbledash garage in the back. When he went to the District Building, they gave him the lot of 1216. So when they built that garage, he didn’t see the mistake. 1216 would be down from us. There was a narrow lot, so we had 18 inches short of our garage which should have been 18 inches longer. There was a mistake made in the lot when they changed the address.

INTERVIEWER: Do you remember the names of any of the old families that lived down in those old houses?

MR. MILLER: Yes, I do. On the corner was Miss Summers, a Jewish lady, who ran the grocery store; on the opposite corner was Maggie and Bill from Ireland, a real good Irish family, that had quite a few sons; next door to the store coming east were Curtins; and then Miss Woods, Mrs. Phipps, Mrs. Shea, Millers, Schlaaq, Dietrichs, Miller. Mr. Schlaaq worked for Meinberg. Miss Woods was principal later on

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at Buchanan. There was a store on the southeast corner of 12th and G where the Salvation Army lot is. It was a candy store. When I was at Cranch, we used to run over there at recess and buy penny candy. We used to get these fake cigarettes. You could smoke them. They were called [inaudible]. Abelmann moved over to the northeast corner of 12th and G next to Mrs. Graham. That wasn’t always a store.

MRS. MILER: Was it a grocery store?
MR. MILLER: Yes. It was a little grocery store, penny candy and things like that.INTERVIEWER: There’s another one on I Street that’s being restored into a house.

MR. MILLER: At the southeast corner of 12th and I was Bassie shoemakers. A Jewish family by the name of Kroshis lived in that. It was no store then. There was a store front there. A family by the name of Bassie, I went to school with his son, opened a shoemaker’s shop there. Later on, it became a dry- cleaning place.

INTERVIEWER: Do you know anything about the row between I and K on 12th Street, on the west side? It’s a whole row of little houses. Do you have any idea how old those are?

MR. MILLER: I haven’t any idea, but I knew quite a few families that lived in there.INTERVIEWER: Are any of them still in the area?

MR. MILLER: No. There was Wolffingers, who was a friend of mine. His aunt had a bakery shop up there at Berlin’s Hardware Store, Wolffinger’s Bakery. She lived in one of those houses. Walkers lived on the corner of 12th and I Street, that would be the southwest corner; then the Thorntons and the Lewis’, Lyons, Coogans and the Dietz all lived on that side. The families had lived there for some time. The Nolan boy was my age, and the Thornton boy. We used to all play baseball together. They were there when we moved to I Street. You were talking about that store on the southeast corner of 12th and I.

INTERVIEWER: As you go down 12th Street, on the east side, there’s a new apartment built there.

MR. MILLER: That was a garage, a stable. I think you can still see the bricks, the archway, of that old brick stable there. And at 12th and Potomac Avenue, there’s still a store there. I think that was Millers because they used to say, “You’re not Irish, you’re a Jew.” They used to call me Abie Miller. That was a grocery store. Before them it was a family by the name of Sugar that had a grocery store there. Mrs. Graham’s family, her husband’s family, had the store on the southwest corner of 11th and G where the new Tyler School is, when I was a kid. That was halfway grocery store and we used to buy penny candy there.

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INTERVIEWER: Do you know who lived in that house that’s on the triangle, between Potomac and K?

MR. MILLER: I can’t think of their names, but I remember he was a guard at the District Building. There was a little park there that we used to play in. He was a security guard at the District Building. I can’t think of his name. He had one son and one daughter. On K Street, that little row of bricks was the Irish row. There was Michael O’Conner and the Murphys and Fogertys.

INTERVIEWER: Where were the Italians?

MR. MILLER: The Italians, not too many in Southeast. Heckman Street, which is now Duddington Place, everybody had a pushcart in their yard. Down at the foot of the Capitol, across from the Botanical Gardens, they were all Italians. Then up by the Senate Office Building, Shotts Alley, which has all been remodeled and Senators and all live in there now, that was Italian. Lots of pushcarts up in that alley.

INTERVIEWER: Where did the Germans live in this area?
MR. MILLER: Scattered. We had Millers in the block who were German. They all worked for the

Meinberg’s Bakery and Carry’s Ice Cream. The Schlaaqs and the Dietrichs lived in that block.INTERVIEWER: Did many of these families speak German at home?

MR. MILLER: Yes, the old man next door to us, old man Schlaaq, I couldn’t understand him. He had grey whiskers and smoked a pipe and he used to make beer. Everybody used to make home brew. My mother used to make root beer. And I’d go to pick dandelions for wine.

INTERVIEWER: Did you call the Brethren Church, the Dunker Church?

MRS. MILLER: It was down at Fourth and North Carolina Avenue SE. That was the old Dunker Church, they call them Brethren now. They use the term Dunker more in Pennsylvania, but don’t use it so much around here.

MR. MILLER: Mickey O’Conner’s father came from Ireland, and Mr. Larner lived next door, and the Murphys on the other side. They’d get to arguing and they’d argue in Gaelic and you couldn’t understand a word they were saying. The O’Connors lived at 1245 K Street SE. I don’t know if any of his family is still living. Mickey had a sister and brothers John and Jim.

MRS. MILLER: We could see if we can find out where they live.
MR. MILLER: Loskey had a grocery store at 13th and K and he used to play for the ball club. The dining

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Most all the Jewish boys in the neighborhood became doctors and dentists. The lady Mrs. Summers, who had the store at the northeast corner of 12th and I, was Jewish. She used to have chickens outside in crates and you’d pick out a chicken and she’d take it and wring its neck and throw it in the barrel. Next to Meader’s Theatre, where Erricots has a little beer place on Eighth Street, was a rabbi. She would never kill a chicken for herself. She’d give me 10 or 15 cents, sometimes a quarter, to take a live chicken or two to the rabbi and the rabbi would kill them and she would eat them. She wouldn’t eat any she killed herself.

INTERVIEWER: Where did the Jewish people go to the synagogue?
MR. MILLER: Here on Ninth Street where the colored church is next to the AMOCO station.

INTERVIEWER: Is that the earliest Jewish church you can remember? Did they build that new since you’ve been here?

MR. MILLER: That’s the oldest one I can remember. The front has been rebuilt.
INTERVIEWER: Do you remember anything about the buildings in the 1300 block of L Street SE that

have all been restored recently? They’re now facing the freeway. They’re all flat fronts. They look nice.

MR. MILLER: They start at 13th and K and they go down to L. They were called Tennyson’s flats. The man that rented them was named Mr. Tennyson. The rent was very cheap. You paid 11 months rent and you got one month’s rent free. The free month you were supposed to buy paint and paint the kitchen and the bathroom. Mr. Tennyson lived on the corner and you paid your rent to him. His son would be my age. He lived on the corner of 13th and L. I don’t think he owned them. I think he was just the rental agent.

INTERVIEWER: Do you remember when they were built or were they there?

MR. MILLER: They were there.

MRS. MILLER: They must have been around the first part of the century. They were red brick.

MR. MILLER: Over on the other side were all frames. They were colored. That led back into Loudon’s Court, which was back between 12th and 13th, K and L.

INTERVIEWER: Was everything pretty much built up out to 15th Street and then you had a breaking point, and then the man up on the hill?

MR. MILLER: It was scattered. There were a lot of vacant lots. At 15th and K, when we were coming from the river, we used to cut up from the railroad track. We used to swim under the Pennsylvania

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Avenue Bridge so nobody could see us, because we didn’t have bathing suits. The police boat would come up and they’d chase us. Anyway, you’d run with your clothes in your hand behind some bushes down there to get dressed so the police wouldn’t catch you. From 15th down to the railroad tracks, there were bushes and there was an old stone building. There were great big blocks of stone. We used to go down there and dig and pick up little pieces of copper to sell. That was a distillery. I don’t remember the distillery, below 15th going toward the railroad tracks.

INTERVIEWER: We know the 1300 block of K was all built up and Ives Place was open. Did it begin to become more open after 14th Street?

MR. MILLER: Those houses on 14th Street were always there. Going from 14th back toward the gas house. That was considered part of Pipetown, too. The outdoor space was Poplar Hill for kids. Like I said, we used to go over there and dig and get clay and make things and throw at the freight trains and jump on the freight cars when they came out of the tunnel; they’d come out real slow.

INTERVIEWER: Where does the tunnel come out on the other end?

MR. MILLER: The tunnel comes out at Second and Virginia Avenue SE. [Hand written - It was Jersey Yard.] Right behind where Curley Boswell lived on D Street SE is the tunnel that comes south from the Capitol. [Hand written - The trains from Union Station.]

INTERVIEWER: Is that right by the building that is now the Rotunda? Do you recall what that building was?

MR. MILLER: No, I don’t. That’s where the tunnel comes out. Curley Boswell’s brother, down around where that Gulf Station is, had an ice cream factory. We used to see who was a daredevil and see how far we could go up in that tunnel and they’d have manholes in the wall. If a train came, you could get up in them. We had a couple of daredevils who went all the way through.

INTERVIEWER: What did that tunnel service? Why did it come down here?
MR. MILLER: We called that the Jersey Yard, down there behind Curley’s. That was the only line to the

south. It goes right along across the 14th Street Bridge.

INTERVIEWER: Did they bring Navy Yard supplies out this 11th Street end?

MR. MILLER: Not as far as I know. They had a siding right here to the right of the tunnel, facing east. B.B. Earnshaw had a great big warehouse and Carry’s ice cream plant. They used to bring in salt for the ice cream and canned stuff for the wholesale warehouse. The Navy Yard had a train that came from the

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Jersey Yard and that train would come up around Fifth and L and go right into the Navy Yard. The tracks are no more, but they had a gate and they’d open it and the train would go right into Navy Yard.

INTERVIEWER: Why was it called Poplar Hill? Were there a lot of poplars down there?MR. MILLER: So many trees, poplar trees.
INTERVIEWER: Can you still get in that tunnel from this end?
MRS. MILLER: Yes, kids are still doing it.

INTERVIEWER: When you were little, you couldn’t still go hunting along the river on the flats, could you?

MR. MILLER: You could go hunting behind the DC Jail and old Gallinger Hospital. You had reed birds. Like this time of the year, like September, in the fall of the year, I’d see the grown men with their guns going out behind DC Jail, which wasn’t built up like it is now. It was all marsh reeds and you could shoot birds. Hunting was allowed in the District at that time.

INTERVIEWER: When did they start building there?

MR. MILLER: I’d say in the early thirties. You take Fairlawn, above the Pennsylvania Avenue Bridge, that was all swamp. If you look where Fairlawn is now and you look back towards the freeway, north of Pennsylvania Avenue Bridge, you used to be able to see the railroad tracks. At one time that’s where the water came until they built the seawall. When I was a kid, that was called Anacostia Flats, and the only way you could get to the river was to walk those big sewers that you see the outlets of. In a lot of cases you’d go swimming, we used to call it Sandy Bottom, it was the first sewer to the left going across Pennsylvania Avenue Bridge. Mickey O’Connor’s brother, Marty, was drowned there. He used to walk along the sand bar when it was low tide and if you stepped down, it would be deep water.

MRS. MILLER: The point of all these changes was after World War I. Before that everybody lived on the farms. After the War, everybody started flooding into the city. We got the automobile and people could move around and they started building up and making these engineering improvements. It was a drastic change.

MR. MILLER: One more thing. We had a street car that went across the old Pennsylvania Avenue Bridge, the old wooden bridge. It used to cost a nickel and it would bring you to Barney Circle and it went across Pennsylvania Avenue and it went all the way up to where People’s Drugstore is. There was a car barn. It was a “hinky dinky” car, real small over-head trolley. You could run along behind—they only

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had one man on there—it went so slow, and pick the trolley off and they couldn’t move. The big white house that sits up on the hill is still there. That was Mr. Randall’s. That was called Randall’s Highlands. That was a wooden bridge before they built the Sousa Bridge. That was an independent line.

INTERVIEWER: Do you remember when they built the Sousa Bridge?

MR. MILLER: Yes, because our minister at Christ Church helped with the ceremonies. Sousa went to our church and he lived right down here in the 600 block of G Street SE. I remember him. He was living up on B Street by then. What is now Independence Avenue. He was born in that house on G Street. There’s something on the front of it. His birthday and on New Year’s Day the Marine Band goes down there and plays in front of that house. They still do it. They did last year. When I was a kid, Christ Church was a crowded church. I was confirmed in 1923 by Bishop Freeman.

INTERVIEWER: There were alley houses back in there too, weren’t there?
MR. MILLER: Yes. They haven’t been too long restored. When I was a foreman, in the District, we had

laborers that lived back there, colored.

INTERVIEWER: Some of them have been restored, but were there more where the school playground is now?

MR. MILLER: I don’t recall. They call it Archibald Walk and F Street Terrace now. I don’t know what they called it then. There weren’t any names up. Colored people lived in there. That hasn’t been too long ago.

INTERVIEWER: Getting back to the area near the river where you played. Do you ever recall seeing a block out there that would have been the site of an old cemetery? I found references before the turn of the century to an old Methodist cemetery that was out someplace around 17th and D Street SE.

MR. MILLER: There was a vacant lot there. We played baseball there. 17th and D lot. There was a big baseball diamond there.

INTERVIEWER: One of the problems that we’re having is trying to decide what composes Capitol Hill. Would you have considered that all part of the same neighborhood? Or would you think there would be a breaking point? This, I realize, would have all been considered part of the Navy Yard neighborhood.

MR. MILLER: I never knew I lived on Capitol Hill until I saw it in the papers. Yes, this would have been Navy Yard, or Pipetown down a little further. All the way out to the river would have been part of the same neighborhood. A friend of mine, Joe Tracy, lived at 905 G Street SE. He’s a retired lawyer now.

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He used to say, “Man, I used to hate to go down to Virginia Avenue playground, that ghetto.” He worked in the Internal Revenue. He just retired.

INTERVIEWER: Can you tell us where you worked?

MR. MILLER: I worked plastering until the depression hit. Then I went to work for the DC Sewer Department. I worked as a foreman in the pumping station at New Jersey Avenue and N Street SE, next to the Navy Yard now. And then, went on up to material checker, foreman, inspector, assistant to the chief inspector.

INTERVIEWER: Mrs. Miller, we don’t have your full name on here. Could we have your first name and your maiden name?

MRS. MILLER: Elsie Trittipoe.

MR. MILLER: Getting back to the church. Most of the people came from around the neighborhood. It was a big parish. We had a Boy Scout Troop. A Marine sergeant was our scoutmaster. They’d take us to Burnt Mills, which is all built up now. That was the Scout Reservation.

INTERVIEWER: Do you remember anyone that was outstanding in the Christ Church congregation other than Sousa?

MR. MILLER: Dutch Schaeffer, who used to have the florist shop on Pennsylvania Avenue, SE. I don’t know where he lived. Hillcrest, or something like that, after he moved out. Commandant Chapman of the Marine Corps. Mr. Cooksey lived at Fifth and G Street SE. He’s about 78. The Commandant before Chapman was the one who started the restoration of Christ Church. He put us in debt for $25,000. We had Sunday school and dances and we played basketball when we were scouts where the school is now. Mr. Cooksey is sick right now, but I can talk to him. One of the ministers we had was Mr. Gable. He was there during World War II. I was overseas. He sent me names and addresses of other boys that were overseas and he sent me a medal. I think there’s a bronze thing on the door and the wing that the school is in is named after him.

[Note: According to “Places and Persons on Capitol Hill” published 1960 by the Capitol Hill Southeast Citizens Association, p.28, John Philip Sousa wrote a novel about southeast Washington entitled “Pipetown Sandy”. H.F. Kreinheder 18 Nov. 74]