Her Italian immigrant parents owned and ran the store at 240 First Street SW, her older brothers worked there, and Marie -- beloved only daughter -- enjoyed life in a now long-gone neighborhood. During her November, 2015, interview with niece Judith Sansalone, Marie recalls the houses and businesses on First Street, including 18 houses nearest to Independence Avenue that had no electricity or indoor plumbing. She describes Wonder's Court, an alley behind that street, and the resident bookie with whom her mother secretly gambled. She was still at home in 1947 when Congress took the properties on that block by eminent domain, but she does not have clear memories of what occurred.
[Note: the text of the transcript was edited to include further information provided after the interview; these edits appear in brackets at appropriate places.]
TAPE 1/SIDE 1
SANSALONE: This is Judith Sansalone. I’m interviewing my aunt Marie Guy for the Overbeck—I should say Marie Sansalone Guy—for the Overbeck Capitol [Hill] History Project. It’s the 24th of November, 2015, and we are meeting at my aunt’s house in Rockville, Maryland. Aunt Rie [interviewer’s nickname for her aunt], please state your parents’ names, including Grandmom’s maiden name.
GUY: Okay. My mother’s name was Rosina Errigo Sansalone. My father was Joseph [Giuseppe] Sansalone.
SANSALONE: Okay. And what year were you born and what city were you born in?
GUY: I was born in 1928 in Washington, DC, at the home, which was above the store that my father owned. That was at 240 First Street SW.
SANSALONE: So, you were born at home, not in a hospital.
SANSALONE: Oh, I always wondered about that.
GUY: Oh, yeah.
SANSALONE: Was there a midwife there, do you know?
GUY: There was a Dr. Mary Holmes. I’ll never forget that as long as I live, because I was so curious about knowing why I didn’t go to the hospital. And my brothers—I had three older brothers—and they wanted to know how I was going to be born. And the doctor explained to them that she carried me in that little suitcase that she carried, that doctors carry. [Interviewer laughs.] And they were okay with that. And I understand that once I was born I was badly bruised and they inquired about that. And she explained that I probably got bumped in her suitcase with her instruments. [Interviewer laughs.] And the thing of it is at eight months my mother was leaning out of the window in the bathroom hanging up clothes and my two older brothers, Fred and Mike, were chasing one another, and my brother Fred ran into the bathroom, grabbed my mother by her legs, and her veins—she had varicose veins because she was pregnant with me —they were worse and they ruptured.
GUY: And, well, they rushed her to the hospital. And that was like two weeks before I was actually born. They fixed her up and sent her home and two weeks later she went—which turned out to be May 14, 1928.
SANSALONE: Hmm. Interesting.
GUY: And I was born at home, not at the hospital.
SANSALONE: Interesting. So, can you describe—you said Grandpop had a store.
SANSALONE: And can you describe like what the house looked like and how many houses—I think you said there were, what, 18 houses on the block?
Two photos taken in front of the Sansalone grocery store at 240 First Street SW, approximately 1930. Left: Marie’s oldest brother Fred on a tricycle, with clear view of the store front. Right: Marie’s brother Aldo (interviewer Judith’s father) on a pony; the store window reflects buildings in nearby Southwest Washington, DC.
GUY: But we were separated from those 18 houses. There was an alley called Wonder’s Court, Wonder’s Court. And we were further away from the Capitol than those 18 houses. They were just across the street. We were down the street, across the alley, and my father’s grocery store was right there. And we lived above it. We had a large what they call today the great room. Everything was there in that room. A door separated the store to the back of his house, to it …
SANSALONE: So, on the first floor …
GUY: On the first floor.
SANSALONE: … behind the store …
GUY: Behind the store.
SANSALONE: …was the great room.
GUY: Right. Just a doorway. And, as you entered into this room, there were stairways going upstairs. And there was a banister on the left side as you walked up. And the rest of that room was all living room, kitchen, dining room. [Laughs] It was everything.
SANSALONE: And how many bedrooms did—you had the …
GUY: There was one, two, three, really four bedrooms, but one bedroom he used, my father used, for extra supplies when he bought it. And we also had a piano in there, which is where I played piano.
SANSALONE: I didn’t know … Did you have piano lessons?
GUY: I did have piano lessons.
SANSALONE: You did?
GUY: Yes, and my brother Fred …
SANSALONE: I never heard this.
GUY: … had them before me. And that’s how we got the piano, for my brother Fred.
GUY: And he played. And I can remember her name. Mrs. Albright. That’s interesting that I remember her name. But she was so wonderful, a wonderful teacher, and she talked my parents into letting me learn to play piano also. And it wasn’t my desire because—it was my desire to a point because I wanted to do everything Fred did—but the kids in the alleyway, in Wonder’s Court, would throw pebbles at the window. “When are you coming out?” You know, and all this kind of stuff. And, so, I wasn’t very serious about my piano playing. [interviewer laughs] But she included me when they had little parties for her class and I was one. I’ll never forget this as long as I live. Fred must have been about 14 and I had to be about eight or nine. They are four, five, and six years older than me, the three boys. And I was invited to this party. Well, I sat down and I had never seen a table set the way I saw it, you know, where the forks were supposed to be. And I’m looking at this—not one fork that we always put at our table but two forks. And then there was two spoons, a large and a small spoon, and a knife. And I thought what in the world am I going to do with all these utensils? [Both laugh] So I had to be …
SANSALONE: You were how old, about?
GUY: If he was 14, he was six years older than me, so I must have been eight, eight or nine, something like that. And I just watched what everybody was doing. [Laughs] And I saw this … Funny how I remember all these things because I guess I was a very inquisitive and curious person and I wanted to know what it was all about. And I just watched the other kids do what they were supposed to do and I followed suit. A thing of lettuce and then there was, it looked like, a pear, the shape of half of a pear, seemed like there was some—I don’t know whether it was whipped cream or not. I thought it was mayonnaise. I didn’t even know about whipped cream. And a cherry on top. I said “Well, now, how am I supposed to eat this?” [Laughs.] So, I watched everybody else.
SANSALONE: Oh, that’s funny.
GUY: I got through that. Anyway, it was fun.
SANSALONE: That’s fun.
GUY: Yeah. It was fun to be invited to that and it introduced me to the outside world, so to speak. [Laughs]
SANSALONE: The world beyond … [unintelligible]
GUY: Haven’t been the same since. [Laughs]
SANSALONE: No, you still like parties. You’re still a party girl. Now Dad told me that you must have had a backyard and that you had chickens. Is that true?
GUY: Judy, it wasn’t much of a backyard. Yes, there was a yard there. I wouldn’t say … It wasn’t much of a backyard, but behind the backyard was a garage and that had a door. And then there was a door as you went from the kitchen to the backyard, there was a door to the left and that led to the alley, which was Wonder’s Court.
GUY: It wasn’t much of a —I think my dad had one of those coops, chicken coops. But it didn’t last very long because he would go to the market every week and get the chickens and stuff. It didn’t prove to be profitable for him to have those chickens back there. So, he would go to market every Saturday.
SANSALONE: Oh, that was the Florida Avenue Market?
GUY: No, it was down in Southwest as far as I remember.
SANSALONE: It was in Southwest.
GUY: Yeah, I understand it was Southwest.
SANSALONE: Huh. Because we used to get the turkeys later on from Florida Avenue Market.
GUY: Probably, probably. And, the one thing, I always thought that he bought the pigeons for me. Well.
SANSALONE: You had pigeons?
GUY: Yeah, he bought pigeons, for Mama to make the chicken soup. It was pigeon soup.
SANSALONE: You’re kidding.
GUY: Mmh-mmh. And …
SANSALONE: Why would you have to buy pigeons? Washington is filled with pigeons. [Laughs]
GUY: Maybe at that time they weren’t. I don’t know. That could very well be. I don’t know. But pigeons are more delicate than chickens. But I thought he was buying those pigeons for me and I thought they were my playmates. But I found out differently and I cried like a baby. [Laughs.]
SANSALONE: That’s funny. Because Dad used to—maybe because Grandmom couldn’t get anybody to kill the chickens—because Dad said it just turned his stomach every time she sent him out to the yard to kill a chicken.
GUY: Well, he didn’t kill them. No. He brought them in. I don’t think he’d ever kill them.
SANSALONE: I think she made him kill them and more than once.
GUY: That I don’t remember, Judy.
SANSALONE: Because he said it used to make him sick to him stomach. He would pray he wouldn’t be the one to be chosen [Both laugh.] That’s all I know.
Now there’s a story that—now who told me this?—about the African American lady who lived in Wonder’s Court who was a bookie.
GUY: Oh, yeah. Oh, there were several of them. And I think they used my mother—not my father, my father was not a gambler. But my mother, wherever she got it, she was a gambler and she would play numbers with the milkman, play with the bread man, and go up the alley, Wonder’s Court alley, and … I’m trying to think of her name. Gosh, I can’t think of it at the moment. It’ll come. But Shorty was one of them [the black women bookies]. Shorty’s the one that lived closest to our backyard, the back of our store. So, I don’t—she would sometimes, if my mother didn’t have time to run up there, Shorty would take it and bring them up to Miss whatever her name was. I forget her name. Anyway, I love those people, they were good to me and it was fun. [Shorty was a bookie, but the interviewee’s mother mostly played the numbers with another woman, whose name can’t be remembered. That woman was Shorty’s boss and lived further away.]
SANSALONE: Well, yeah, because I don’t know whether it was Mom told me this, but she, when I was born, she told Grandmom never, ever to take me into that lady’s house across the alley. And one day she did. And I was, well, I don’t know, I was little. But, being into interior design as I am and very visual, I noticed that they didn’t have any doors on the doorways. They had heavy curtains on the doorways, other than the outside door, I’m sure. And, so, that evening I outed Grandmom because [Both laugh] I told my mother, I said, “You know, Grandmom and I went across the alley to this lady’s house …”
GUY: Up the alley.
SANSALONE: Or, up the alley.
SANSALONE: Oh, I don’t know. I just knew it was in the alley. And I said, “You know, it was the strangest thing. They didn’t have any doors on any of the rooms. They had curtains.”
GUY: [Laughs] That’s interesting.
SANSALONE: Then Grandmom got into trouble from my mom. [Both laugh]
GUY: For taking you up there.
SANSALONE: Right. For taking me there.
GUY: And, of course, in those days, you just did not visit, you did not go into a black house.
SANSALONE: Mm. How interesting.
GUY: Yeah. In fact, interesting when I think about it, I grew up with a black family right next door to the store.
SANSALONE: Mm-hmm. So, the store now again was on the corner of Wonder’s Court alley and First Street …
GUY: That’s right.
SANSALONE: … SW.
GUY: Exactly right, exactly right. First Street—my father’s store faced First Street and then Wonder’s alley Court was right there. And it was used very much. People traveled up and down this, because you could get from First Street up that alley and around this building on the left, which was—what was the streetcars in those days called?
GUY: Capital Transit?
SANSALONE: I don’t know what they were called.
GUY: Capital Transit.
SANSALONE: Capital Transit, yeah.
GUY: And that’s where they made repairs. They did repairs right there, that big building. And that big building, which was on Wonder’s Court alley, was a start of the 18 row houses on First Street. Okay? And, in fact, I remember that building so vividly because I was teasing my brother Aldo, your father, and he ran after me and I ran across the alley and he caught me on the property of that Capital Transit property before I could reach the first house. And, honey, I still have scars from that. [Both laugh] I split my leg.
SANSALONE: No. You’re kidding.
GUY: Oh, no, I’m not. And look …
SANSALONE: Because you fell?
SANSALONE: Oh, no.
GUY: And I have a scar on the left side of my nose, right there.
SANSALONE: Well, I see it now.
SANSALONE: I never noticed it before.
GUY: And there was another scratch above it, but that went away. Praise God that went away. But, anyway, yeah, I wanted to do everything my brothers did and they chased after me and I chased after them.
GUY: We even played baseball in that alley, you know, around from the beginning of the store door, where the alley started. And, then, to make the bases I went to the window from the back of our house and on around, whatever.
SANSALONE: So, was Grandpop’s, your house not attached to any other?
GUY: It was.
SANSALONE: It was.
GUY: Remember I told you, as you go to the right, as you go in, to the right was a house, another house, another house, and then that big house on the corner were the Cusatos. That big beautiful piece of property. And it was all closed in …
SANSALONE: Was that closer to Independence Avenue?
GUY: No, no, no, no. The opposite. [Closer to] Canal.
SANSALONE: Oh, okay.
GUY: Canal Street.
SANSALONE: Oh, Canal Street.
GUY: Canal Street. There was like—I can’t remember their names. Isn’t that funny? Miss Sarah, I used to call her, because the kids couldn’t believe that I would go in her house because she was a colored lady. In those days we called them coloreds. And my mother allowed me to do that. And she made strawberry shortcake. I had never had strawberry shortcake in my life.
SANSALONE: The start of the strawberry shortcake …
GUY: Right, exactly.
SANSALONE: … that we used to go to the Blue Mirror Grill to …
GUY: And that’s where I got my strawberry shortcake the first time. And next door was an Italian family and the last name was Pepe, P-E-P-E, Pepe. [The 1936 DC Directory spells this Pape, and says the owner of 244 First Street SW was Joseph Pape.]
SANSALONE: That’s a strange Italian name.
GUY: Pepe I guess is what it’s called. And Mr. Pepe, what did we used to call him? I forget. But, anyway, he had a daughter, a daughter and two sons. Well, the sons were out of the house. But the daughter was still there and her name was Madeline, Madeline Pepe. And she did get married and her name was Enfante. And, I had to be about 13, 12 or 13 years old. She’d take me everywhere because she had this little baby and when she went shopping—and she liked shopping—that I was supposed to, you know, watch the baby as she would change her clothes and that kind of stuff. And, god, one time, poor, what was her name? Madeline was the mother’s name. Oh, I can’t think of that little baby’s name. Of course she’s married now and I think she has more than one child. But Madeline only had the one little girl. And they took me everywhere. We’d go to the beach and they would take me to the beach with them down in Beverly Beach, North Beach. North Beach was a nice place at one time and then it went down. I don’t know. Some scoundrels got down there and really messed it up and then it came back again.
SANSALONE: Bikers, I think. Bikers. It was a big biker town for a while.
GUY: Yeah. Well, anyway, now it’s back to normal.
GUY: I know people that live there.
SANSALONE: Yeah, yeah.
GUY: So, that was that as far as the …
SANSALONE: So, the people that lived on the alley, did actually their doors face the alley?
GUY: Oh, yeah.
SANSALONE: And were they mostly blacks?
GUY: Black. Well, this is interesting. Before I was ever born, I’m being told about this, it was an Italian neighborhood. All the Italians were there.
SANSALONE: And they lived in the alley, too.
GUY: In the alley, in those houses. And, I’m told, that one by one they moved out. They bettered themselves and moved out, into Southeast, Southwest, Northwest, Northeast. And then these blacks moved in, or coloreds moved in. At the time that’s what they were called. And that was it.
SANSALONE: Hmm. Interesting.
GUY: But I don’t remember the Italians living there so it had to be before my time.
SANSALONE: Right. So tell me about—I’m curious, let’s see. Did you go to St. Dominic’s grade school?
GUY: I did, kindergarten, yep. Now, we found out, when my brothers started to go to school that we were on the borderline of St. Dominic’s or St Peter’s. St. Dominic’s was Southwest, St. Peter’s was Southeast. Okay. My father chose St. Dominic’s. And so that’s where we all went. And I’m not sure whether my brothers went to kindergarten or not, but by the time I went to school, they had kindergarten. And the interesting thing is I still have two kindergarten friends that are still living and we keep in touch.
SANSALONE: Oh, wow.
GUY: Yeah. Mary Rinehart Rogers was one of my kindergarten friends and she’s still living over here in the Colesville area, Maryland. And my friend Theresa …Now Mary lived on Sixth and I or Seventh and I Street SW. Okay. And Theresa lived right on G Street, I forget, Fifth and G [SW], I think, is where she lived, which was closer to the school than Mary was. But Theresa lives in Edgewater, Annapolis area, and we still keep in touch.
SANSALONE: That’s neat.
GUY: I just found out, though, this week, that the doctors told her she cannot drive anymore. So neither she nor her husband are driving. Now we used to—and we haven’t done it in over a year now—we used to meet somewhere between Rockville and Annapolis or Edgewater and have lunch out. And then we’d go to her home. So I told John, my husband, that probably we’ll have to just make that trip ourselves all the way out there. So, that’s what we’ll probably do. And pick up Mary. And, unfortunately, Mary has a little dementia. So, she right now is being taken care of 24 hours a day, but in her own home, which I think is good.
SANSALONE: That is good. Now, we’ve looked at a couple of pictures here. There’s you—now that was …
GUY: Oh, that’s …
SANSALONE: Now tell me about …
GUY: You know I went to St. Dominic’s all the way from kindergarten to eighth grade. And our class, before we got to eighth grade, we did not want to leave that school. We wanted to stay there. And we pestered them until they finally were able to put another grade on, which would be the ninth grade.
Marie Sansalone is fourth from left, in the top row.
SANSALONE: I’ve never heard of children asking to stay in school. [Laughs]
GUY: Oh, really, we just loved one another I guess is what it’s all about. I don’t know. But I did go to St. Cecilia’s from St. Dominic’s, which meant that I had my ninth grade at St. Dominic’s and went into St. Cecilia’s in my tenth grade.
SANSALONE: Oh, interesting.
GUY: And Mary went right along with me. And I didn’t mention Ellen, Ellen Consorti Embrey because she has passed. She has gone home to the Lord. But I should have mentioned Ellen because Ellen and I were closer, because my father—your grandfather—had the grocery store on First Street. Mr. Consorti had the liquor store on Fourth Street. Okay? So, all those years from kindergarten till I graduated, I would walk down to Fourth Street towards St. Dominic’s, pick up Ellen, and Ellen and I would walk to school together down to Sixth and F, I guess, Sixth and E. Anyway, down there. And it’s interesting because, when we graduated from St. Dominic’s, Ellen and Mary and I went to St. Cecilia’s. So they had to come this way, my way, and they would walk down to my corner and we’d take the streetcar and go on up to East Capitol Street and St. Cecilia’s. [Laughs]
SANSALONE: Great. That’s good. Before we go on with that, I wanted to ask you about things that happened around Capitol Hill.
GUY: On First Street.
SANSALONE: You know, like we have pictures of—now I never saw you on a pony, but Uncle Mike on a pony, my dad on a pony.
GUY: Right, right.
SANSALONE: Dad would talk about them bringing ice.
GUY: Oh, yeah.
SANSALONE: Do you remember?
SANSALONE: I want to hear about all of that.
GUY: Okay. Well, this is so interesting because those 18 homes on that street they had no electricity, only gas. No bathroom inside, it was all outside. And, as I got older I would say to my dad, “How come we don’t have what they have?” You know, “They have gaslight and we don’t, and they have a nice, big potbelly stove in the front room there.” And I said, “We don’t have any.” My dad would say “You little dummy, you. You’re more privileged than they are.” He said, “We have electricity here. You have a tub to get into and it’s a warm house.” And, anyway, I was just spoiled rotten, spoiled rotten. But I used to like going to the bathroom down there because it was outside. [Interviewer laughs] Yeah. And they didn’t have toilet paper, they had some kind of a magazine you took a thing out.
SANSALONE: You’re kidding.
GUY: No. And you’d tear the paper, tear the …
SANSALONE: Page out?
GUY: … page out of the magazine …
SANSALONE: Oh, my goodness.
GUY: … and wipe yourself. My mother said, “Are you crazy? Look you have it all here.” [Both laugh] So, I was a spoiled little brat, especially since I had four brothers. I only had three at the time growing up. And then the fourth one came along five years after I was here. And I didn’t want that baby at all. No. And I let it be known. And I told them that if they brought a baby in that house I was going to throw him out the window.
GUY: I was terrible. And the thing of it is she had a scare because I think she thought that she was having the baby. So she went and my father talked to me. And he said, “Now, listen.” He said, “She’s going to bring a baby home and you better love that baby. You’d better not do anything to that baby.” “Okay, I won’t.” Well, they came home and it was a mistake. So, she stayed home for two more weeks and they talked to me every day and said, “You’re going to love this baby. It’ll be like your baby. And I’ll let you help me feed the baby and change the diaper.” Oh, I was excited about that because I was like the big sister. So, anyway, two weeks later she goes and she has the baby. And, of course, I welcomed the baby and I didn’t try to throw it away. But there were times that I was mean to him.
SANSALONE: [Laughs] Uncle Vic.
GUY: I can honestly say that. And he teases me about that today.
SANSALONE: He does? That’s very funny.
GUY: Because I would, like, as he got older and I taught him how to go up the stairs, which my mother didn’t want me to do but I did it anyway, put his little feet up there and his knees and go up those stairs. And then I’d say, “Jump”. [Interviewer laughs] “And I’ll catch you.” Well, one day I was so nasty that I asked him to jump and I moved.
SANSALONE: And that’s what’s wrong with him today.
GUY: I think so. [Interviewer laughs] I tease him about that. And he said, “You never liked me from the very first.” And I said, “You’re right, Vic, but I learned to love you and I do love you now.” [Both laugh] “And I always will.”
SANSALONE: Very funny.
GUY: It is funny because every time he sees me he reminds me how mean I was to him.
SANSALONE: Oh, that’s very funny.
GUY: So, there we were. But he and I were stuck because my brothers had all gotten out of St. Dominic’s and gone on to high school, whatever. And, so, Vic and I would walk hand-in-hand down through that neighborhood, which was all black by this time. I’m trying to think, I think it was C Street, I thought it was C Street, C Street, yeah from First …
END OF TAPE 1/SIDE 1
TAPE 1/SIDE 2
SANSALONE: Give this some time here, till we start. So, you and Uncle Vic would walk hand-in-hand through the neighborhood.
GUY: Yeah. We were stuck with one another. I mean the boys had all gone and here we are walking down there. And I think something happened. Some kids, since it was just Vic and I—and I was holding him by the hand because he was going to kindergarten, see. So, I was five years older than he so I had to be in fifth grade, I guess fifth grade, yeah. So, anyway, we got stoned and, of course, when we came home …
GUY: Mm-hmm. They threw stones, kids on the street there …
SANSALONE: Oh, wow.
GUY: … started throwing stones at us. When I came home I told my dad what had happened. Well, he said, “Well, I’ll take care of that.” He was a brazen little raisin, I tell you. He was a short man but, honey, he was powerful and people were afraid of him. So, he took his gun—he had a gun—and he took the gun and walked us to school. Now, he showed that gun up and he said “I want you people on this street to see me and my children and I want you to know that if they are harmed ever again with the stones you’ll know that you shouldn’t have done that.”
GUY: “I’ll use my gun.” So, we went on by. And there were some women of ill repute, I realize now, I didn’t know then. [Interviewer laughs] Had a little red light on their window and I didn’t know what that meant. But, anyway, they—“Mr. Joe, it’s okay. We’ll watch them. We’ll take care of them. They won’t be hurt again.”
SANSALONE: Oh, cute.
GUY: So, that was one of my experiences down in Southwest. [Laughs]
GUY: But, you know what, I tell people this all the time, I wouldn’t give anything for my growing up any place else than right where I grew up. It was a great place. The neighborhood was wonderful. We all got along. I don’t know whether I should tell you this or not. My going to parochial school, Catholic school, I had days off that the kids on the street didn’t have off because they went to public school. And I always wanted to go down to my godmother’s, who was about five or six rows from our house. Remember I told you [about] that big building, Capital Transit, but then, once the houses started, she had to be about the fifth or sixth house. And I would like—she had one of those swings, open, you know, they …
SANSALONE: A glider?
GUY: A glider, but it had a thing on it.
SANSALONE: An awning on it?
GUY: Yeah. And they all gathered around her house because they were all girls there. And I guess they only had one brother. Well, of course, they were grown up and out. So, when I had a day off of school, I always wanted to go down to my godmother’s and my mother and father let me do that. Well, one day I picked up a bag of peanuts from the counter there and I said, “I’ve got a bag of peanuts and I’m going down to Commara Tina’s.” Godmother Tina’s. Commara is godmother. Anyway. And I’m eating away on my peanuts now, but I offered it to everybody to have a peanut. And some took them and some didn’t, which was okay. And who was out there with the knitting needles and crocheting or who was sewing. They were all doing something. They weren’t idle. So, they took my peanuts and all of a sudden the peanut in my mouth was wiggling. And I thought to myself, oh, my! And I just looked at them and I said, “I have to go home. I’ll be right back.” I turned around and I didn’t spit it out because I didn’t want them to see me do that. I swallowed that peanut with the worm in it.
SANSALONE: Oh, no. [Laughs]
GUY: And I wouldn’t, for my life, I wouldn’t let them know that that was happening because I didn’t want them to think that my father sold stuff that had worms in it.
GUY: I would not. Oh! But, I’ll never forget that as long as I live.
SANSALONE: Oh, my.
GUY: I had to be—I don’t know how old I was. Couldn’t have been very old to do a dumb thing like that. Should have just admitted, oh, something’s in my mouth, but I wouldn’t let on. [Laughs]
SANSALONE: Oh, my.
GUY: I’m still here.
SANSALONE: Yeah, well, people eat worms in other cultures. [Laughs]
GUY: When I think about it, whoo! Am I’m still here? I don’t know whether you realize it, you know you’ve heard of Caruso Florist.
GUY: Well, they were the third house from our place, from Capital Transit there.
SANSALONE: Oh, I had no idea they lived there.
GUY: Oh, yeah. And Elvita was my age. Now Elvita went to public school and I, of course, went to Catholic school. But when she was home, maybe on a Saturday or sometimes early evening before it got dark, we would walk across the street to the Botanical Gardens.
GUY: That was our playhouse.
[Throughout the ensuing discussion, the interviewee mentions the “Botanical Gardens,” but eventually is it clear that she’s referring to what is now known as Bartholdi Park, an outdoor garden on the south side of Independence Avenue SW, rather than the glass Conservatory building on the north side of the street.]
SANSALONE: That was my next question.
GUY: That was our playground, so to speak, you know.
GUY: And my dad … I don’t know how many times a week he went down to Seventh Street NW to go to the bank. And he walked because we were that close.
GUY: And always brought me home—I’m a spoiled brat, I told you that, only girl—he’d bring me a parcel of some sort, anything. Well, one day he brought me the parasol that you see in that picture up there on the wall.
SANSALONE: Oh, the Botanical Gardens.
GUY: That’s exactly right.
GUY: And there Elvita and I were walking around and we were going to try to sneak her sisters’— because she had sisters, older ones—their high heels. But we couldn’t make it out the front door, so we went with our own shoes. So, you can see that in the picture. But, little pocketbooks under our arms and walking together with my little parasol.
SANSALONE: The cat’s meow.
GUY: And a man came up to us and we shied away from him because we knew we weren’t supposed to talk to strangers. Anyway, he said he’d like to take our pictures and we said, “No, no, no, we can’t do that.” But there was a gardener there at the Botanical Gardens and he heard that. He came over and he said, “It’s okay.” Because he knew the man, the photographer, from the National Geographic and he knew it was the up-and-up thing. Well, anyway, we allowed the pictures to be taken. And when he asked for our names and addresses we didn’t want to give it to him but the man said, “It’s okay. I’ll explain it to your mother and fathers.” But, you know, everything okay. So, we did that, but we didn’t say a word to our parents that this had happened, okay? Until the day the mailman came with the books—a book for me and a book for Elvita. Well, my father was enraged to think that I spoke to a stranger and had my picture taken.
SANSALONE: [Laughs] This was a copy of National Geographic?
GUY: National Geographic.
SANSALONE: So, you guys made the magazine.
GUY: I have that, yes. Fortunately, our family doctor, Dr. … Oh! Italian doctor.
SANSALONE: Wasn’t that Dr. DiFrancesco?
GUY: No, not then.
SANSALONE: Because I thought you went …
GUY: After. When he moved away from there.
SANSALONE: Ah. The first doctor.
GUY: Yeah. What was his name? [Reference is to Dr. Repetti.] He was like family. I mean he ate his lunch there. My mother had him go in the house …
SANSALONE: Not the plastic surgeon.
GUY: No, no, that was Dr. Suraci. Oh, my gosh, I forgot about him. [Laughs] Oh, I tell you. Touched [by so many people] a lot of people. What was his name? [Still referring to Dr. Repetti.] Oh, well, I can’t think of it. I might think of it before we … Anyway, he saw my father getting upset, and my father was saying everything about me and he was going to put me in the … There was a girls’ home for bad girls …
SANSALONE: St. Anne’s. [Laughs]
GUY: … up on Bladensburg Road.
SANSALONE: Oh, no, not St. Anne’s. That was — [unknown name of a Catholic girls’ reform school]
GUY: No, that never happened. [Both laugh] Thank God. But, anyway, the doctor calmed him down and said, “You know, she might be famous one day. You realize,” he said, “this National Geographic magazine goes all over the world. And look it’s a beautiful picture of her and her little friend Elvita.” Well, that calmed him down. But, honey, they were going to put me in a reform home, [Interviewer laughs] a home for bad girls. [Both laugh]
SANSALONE: Because you were probably bad. That’s funny.
GUY: [Note: a discussion triggered by a misstatement about the date of the National Geographic article was deleted from the following.] So, I had to be … I was born in 1928.
SANSALONE: So, it [the National Geographic issue] was the 1939 edition.
GUY: I’m almost sure it is. I’ll have to show you the book. I’ll bring the book out to you.
GUY: I should have thought about it before. But, anyway, poor Elvita, her brother—she had an older brother than her. One. She had many older brothers but this one was next to her. Because she was the baby of the family, they just didn’t get along at all. And he took that book once out of spite and ripped it up. So, she didn’t have a book anymore. So, what did I do? This is as we got older that I found this out. So, I went to Rhode Island Avenue and there was a used book store there. And I don’t know what made me go in there. And I found our book.
SANSALONE: An old edition.
GUY: Uh-huh. And I gave it to her, yeah, because I had mine. But, now, this is going fast forward, John was trying to surprise me—and, of course, you know this is my second marriage—John was trying to surprise me with this picture in a frame. And he couldn’t find the books, he couldn’t find the book. Well, he went down to National Geographic in D.C., wherever it is, and they gave him another book. So, as a result we have two books now.
SANSALONE: Oh, wow.
GUY: And, of course, this came. John had that framed, but we still have two books.
GUY: Two editions of that. [Laughs]
SANSALONE: Very cute.
GUY: Funny, funny, funny.
SANSALONE: So, yeah, you did—because we have a lot of pictures around the fountain across from the Botanical Garden.
Marie with her brothers Aldo and Victor, likely taken in the Botanical Garden (now Bartholdi Park); 1938.
SANSALONE: What was the name of that fountain, do you know?
GUY: Botanical. That’s all I ever knew, Botanical.
SANSALONE: But it was on the other side of Independence Avenue, not the side of the …
GUY: It ran from Independence Avenue over to Canal Road. That’s how big it was. Canal Road. Well, as long as that block—that block was really a block and a half because at the other end where we were, above Wonder’s Court alley, you know, that butted up against Canal Road, see. That’s where the Cusatos were. And I don’t remember the other people’s names next to him coming down now. And then it was the Pepes and then Miss Sarah, the black family, and then my father’s grocery store.
[Mrs. Guy’s discussion, above, regarding the people who lived at their end of the First Street block, south of the entrance to Wonder’s Court, is supported by the following entries in the 1936 DC Directory. Based on this information, the family whose name she cannot remember would seem to be Alley, and Miss Sarah may be named Scott.
240 1St SW (on the corner of Wonder)
Sansalone Jos gro (property owner)
242 1st SW
244 1st SW
246 1st St SW
Alley Wm W
248 1st SW (on the corner of C Street):
Cusato Carmelo (property owner)
Fredk tile str
[Note: more than two pages of dialog have been removed from the transcript here, because the discussion concerning the Botanical Gardens was confusing and circular. When Mrs. Guy talked about the “Botanical Gardens,” she meant the outdoor park across First Street from her family’s home and business; Ms. Sansalone thought Mrs. Guy meant the conservatory (glass) building across Independence Avenue SW from the park. At the time Mrs. Guy was born, the conservatory was still located west of the Capitol on the site of the current reflecting pool; the Bartholdi fountain was also located there. The fountain was moved and the park across First Street was created in the early 1930s, when Mrs. Guy was a young child; the current Conservatory building was completed in 1933. The park was renamed Bartholdi Park in 1985 to honor the fountain’s sculptor, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi.
In this part of the interview, Mrs. Guy also described a building within the Botanical Gardens, meaning the park; she remembered a man named Mr. Hess and mentioned that a woman she knew named Eileen Eckholm worked in that building years later. In fact, the building that still stands at the south end of the triangular park was constructed in 1933 as a residence for George W. Hess, Director of the Botanic Garden from 1913-1934. Mr. Hess only lived in the building for 18 months, and the building has since served as the U.S. Botanic Garden Administrative Building.
Mrs. Guy mentions that when a visiting Uncle Fred asked to see where “our place was,” she told him they could only identify the location by “the lamppost and the building of the Botanical Gardens [which] is right where the entrance is going into the House of Representatives.” This seems to refer to a time after the Rayburn Building was built on the site of the former Sansalone grocery store and residence; the Botanic Garden Administrative Building is across First Street from a garage entrance to that Congressional office building.
Mrs. Guy’s description of the park as being between Independence Avenue and Canal Road also led to discussion about where Canal Road was; what was Canal Street during her time in that neighborhood was renamed in 1989 and is now known as Washington Avenue.
The 1919 Baist map for that area of Southwest Washington, https://www.loc.gov/resource/g3851bm.gct00135b/?sp=7, is useful for visualizing the homes and businesses Mrs. Guy described, as well as the geography that later became the park. Square 635 on that map is the location of the Sansalone grocery store and residence; the handwritten “240” shown next to lot 820 on the map corresponds to the Sansalone address of 240 First Street SW. Square 578 eventually became Bartholdi Park. Square 636 includes locations of residences listed for Andrew Wonder in the 1892 and 1901 directories: 5 Delaware Avenue SW and 51 C Street SW, respectively. It seems possible that the name Wonder’s Court is related to his presence in the neighborhood.]
Transcript resumes with discussion of the park and the fountain and the glass Conservatory:
GUY: Oh, and did we ever get chased away from putting our feet in the fountain.
SANSALONE: By the policemen?
GUY: Of course. They had secret—they had the, not secret police, they had Capitol Police.
SANSALONE: Capitol Police, yeah. [Interviewee laughs] Well, it was irresistible.
GUY: Yeah, right. Now, listen. Later on they built what they called the Conservatory, botanical conservatory. That’s the place that has all those …
SANSALONE: The orchids exhibit and …
GUY: … different kind of vegetation. And, now, I really would like to go back there again and see. I’m sure they have, oh, more things than I’ve ever realized.
SANSALONE: Oh, well, maybe I’m thinking of that building because that’s what I know of the Botanical Gardens.
GUY: Oh, really. No, no. The Botanical Gardens are actually where the fountain was, outside.
GUY: Yeah. Then that was called the conservatory.
SANSALONE: I see.
GUY: It’s all glass.
SANSALONE: That’s what I knew of the Botanical Gardens—the glass building.
GUY: That’s exactly right. That’s the conservatory.
SANSALONE: That’s across Independence Avenue.
GUY: Yes, exactly.
GUY: It separates the park and the conservatory. Independence Avenue goes on down.
SANSALONE: Right, through.
GUY: And you know, when you come down Independence Avenue and you make that turn, at the end of Capitol Hill, that becomes Pennsylvania Avenue.
SANSALONE: Right, okay.
GUY: And that goes past the conservatory.
SANSALONE: I’m not sure where Independence ends and Pennsylvania begins, honestly. I hate to sound ignorant, but I don’t know where. It’s right as you go up the hill it becomes Pennsylvania?
GUY: Yes, yes, yes.
SANSALONE: Right. So at the bottom, right at the Botanical Gardens.
GUY: That’s what I’m thinking. But they called it Independence Avenue. At one point, I don’t know when they started Pennsylvania Avenue up that hill.
SANSALONE: Yeah, because my dad’s and mom’s apartment building address was going up that hill, that apartment building where the Rayburn [House Office] Building sits …
SANSALONE: That apartment building, the address was Independence Avenue, wasn’t it?
GUY: Yes. I thought it was.
SANSALONE: Back then.
GUY: I thought it was. At some point, it must have gone up—because then you see First Street and, as you go up, it’s First Street SE.
SANSALONE: East, yeah.
GUY: And I don’t know at what point it becomes that.
SANSALONE: Yeah, I don’t either. [Laughs]
GUY: That’s so funny.
SANSALONE: We’ll have to research that.
GUY: I’m trying to think of where the Library of Congress …
SANSALONE: Maybe that’s where it becomes Pennsylvania. I don’t know.
GUY: What’s that?
SANSALONE: Maybe that’s where it becomes Pennsylvania. I don’t know.
GUY: I don’t know.
SANSALONE: We’ll have to look up that.
GUY: I really don’t know. Because when they say “on the Avenue”, they meant the avenue in Southeast.
GUY: Pennsylvania Avenue SE.
SANSALONE: Yeah, Pennsylvania Avenue. Right.
GUY: And remember where your dad worked at the, oh—for Mrs. McNally?
SANSALONE: The National Federation of Federal Employees.
GUY: Okay, right. Now …
SANSALONE: But I don’t know where that building was.
GUY: That was right next to the apartments.
SANSALONE: It was?
GUY: Yeah. Those apartment buildings.
GUY: In fact, they used to tease your father about being able to see in his apartment from that building.
SANSALONE: Oh, I had no idea that’s where it was.
GUY: Yeah, that’s right.
SANSALONE: Because now I believe it’s down on 16th Street [the National Federation of Federal Employees is now located at 1225 New York Avenue NW].
GUY: Is it really?
SANSALONE: I think it’s 16th—15th or 16th.
GUY: Now, what did we call that? We called it—the Labor Building?
SANSALONE: If it still exists. [From 1924 to 1950, the National Federation of Federal Employees building was located at 10 Independence Avenue SW, next door to where the Aldo Sansalone family lived in the late 1940s.]
GUY: The Labor Building? No, it wasn’t the Labor Building. Listen, there was a big lamppost on that corner. There was the apartments. You know, they were tourist homes first. I don’t know whether you knew that. There were three—I think there were three tourist homes, from like First Street [SW] and Independence Avenue going up the hill. In fact, we used them many times when we had an overflow of cousins coming in from … [10 Independence Avenue SW apparently was created by combining at least two of the tourist homes; it was not a new building that replaced them.]
SANSALONE: Oh, really?
GUY: Not too often because in those days you could even sleep in the car. [Interviewer laughs] Nobody bothered you and that’s what they did. And we slept four and five in a bed crosswise when cousins came in from Philadelphia and New York.
SANSALONE: Sure. Yeah.
GUY: We had more company down there. It was great, just great.
SANSALONE: That’s interesting.
GUY: But, yeah. Now, I understand now. See my brothers will tell me about the Wonder Bread Company that was where the Botanical Gardens were. I never knew that.
SANSALONE: No? You’re kidding.
GUY: It was before my time.
SANSALONE: You mean where the glass building is?
GUY: Before you get to the glass building. Across the street from it.
SANSALONE: You’re kidding.
GUY: Yeah. I’m sorry your father’s not here and …
SANSALONE: I thought the Wonder Bread thing was on, you know, like the Southwest, the South … Well, whatever is that called? The Southwest Freeway. You know, on the bridge …
GUY: I know.
SANSALONE: … going into Georgetown. That was the Wonder … Wasn’t there flour? No, that was Washington Flour.
GUY: Okay, because I was going to say Wonder Bread, to me, was up on I want to say Wisconsin Avenue. But I’m not sure if that’s where it was, Wisconsin Avenue.
SANSALONE: Yeah, I don’t know.
GUY: It was where … It was across the street from United States Tile Company, which belonged to the Altimonte’s.
GUY: So, I don’t know. There’s so much. Man, whoo! When I think about all these people—and I still keep back in touch with Marie Altimonte.
SANSALONE: Right. Well, I think …Well, there’s Sita Tile, too.
GUY: Oh, yeah. They broke away.
GUY: Yeah, they broke away from them but they still have the Altimonte United States Marble and Tile.
SANSALONE: I didn’t know that … I knew about Sita, but I didn’t know about U. S. Tile.
GUY: Oh, yeah. They were … That’s the head company.
SANSALONE: I see.
GUY: And he got away from that. That was a big breakup in that family because of all that.
SANSALONE: Hmm. Interesting.
GUY: Lots of water over the bridge.
SANSALONE: So, now, I want to know what time the—well, I guess they didn’t have a set time maybe —what time did the lamplighters come by?
GUY: See, that’s after, I mean, that’s before …
SANSALONE: Before you.
GUY: … my time. I don’t remember that.
SANSALONE: So, by the time—the streetlights were regular electric lights by the time you were born.
GUY: As far as I remember.
SANSALONE: Oh, okay.
GUY: However …
SANSALONE: But, the ice trucks still came by.
GUY: A what, now?
SANSALONE: The ice trucks.
GUY: Oh, yeah. Those people all had—I was wondering why my father didn’t get ice but he said, “We have ice over here. We make our own ice.”
SANSALONE: Oh, you made your own ice?
GUY: Well, we had a big walk-in freezer.
SANSALONE: Oh, you did? Okay.
GUY: And refrigerator-freezer. Of course, that thing got me into trouble because alongside that big walk- in refrigerator-freezer—because it was half-and-half, okay?—I would sneak on the side of that refrigerator. They had like cubbyholes that my father put butter in. That’s where we held the butter and the lard. I would sneak in there, open up a pound of butter, and take a stick out and eat it like candy. [Interviewer laughs] And they caught me and I … Oh, man.
SANSALONE: Maybe that’s …
GUY: [Laughs] I was bad.
SANSALONE: Maybe that’s where I got it when I was a kid where I’d go into the refrigerator. I wasn’t after candy but I would eat cream cheese whole, the sticks of cream cheese.
GUY: Well, I would have … Mm, mm, mm, mm. But I had the butter. And that’s why I’m fat like today.
SANSALONE: Oh, my god.
GUY: But, anyway, not only that, you know my father would go to the market every Saturday, pick up chickens, watermelons, and—in those day, the congressmen and senators lived across the street where your father and mother were. Okay? Of course, this was years before. And they would come down and, either on the phone or come down, to pick out a chicken, whichever one they wanted. I hated Saturdays in those days. I absolutely hated Saturdays because that’s when all the hustle-bustle was and I had to be in that kitchen with, Maria was her name. Black …
SANSALONE: Ooh, Maria. I remember the name Maria.
GUY: Uh-huh. And she had a big pot of boiling water on the stove. And when they came in to pick up their chicken, they’d pick out the one they wanted. I told you they had a coop-like. They kept them in there.
GUY: My mother would say, “Take it, wring its neck, and snap it.” And that’s how she killed. She didn’t have a knife or anything.
SANSALONE: No. I used to remember her doing it with the turkeys for Thanksgiving.
GUY: Yeah, yeah. And she had to be strong to do that.
SANSALONE: I know.
GUY: Anyway, I’d grab one of those chickens, take it back to the door into the stove area, give it to Maria, and she’d push it up and down in the water to get it all hot. And then we had this round table with paper on it and paper on our floors and she’d take it over to the sink, from the stove to the sink, and then she’d say, “Well, now, sit down.” And I’d sit at the table and I’d pluck those chickens. [Interviewer laughs] Uhhh! That was my Saturday. I hated it, I hated it, I hated it. And I felt like I smelled like a chicken. Also, Mama taught me how to dress it. How to cut it, put your hand down in there, and sometimes you’d come out with an egg and you’d be so happy. Oh, my! Everybody tried for an egg.
SANSALONE: Oh, no, you’re kidding.
GUY: Oh, yeah, that was fun. But, anyway, that was my life on a Saturday afternoon. Or the whole day Saturday. And they’d also, listen to this, pick out the watermelon that they wanted. And my dad would plug it, in a triangle. Take that thing out, let them taste it, see it they like it.
SANSALONE: What if they didn’t like it?
GUY: Just put it back. Take a little piece off of it and put it back. Maybe somebody else will pick it out. And he would ice it for them, put them in the refrigerator. Well, I don’t know whatever got into me, but every time I went into the refrigerator during the day and when I was waiting on people coming in the store, I’d go back in there and I’d pull that plug out, stick my hand down in there, and grab some watermelon and eat it. [Interviewer laughs] Well, if I didn’t get a spanking for that! I mean, because, after all, it was sold.
GUY: And I ate the inside of it. [Laughs] I tell you, it’s a wonder I’m alive today. [Both laugh] They’d want to skin me. But, you see, I was safe because I was the only girl.
SANSALONE: Girl. And you knew it.
GUY: And he was so happy when I was born, they tell me this, that he—I don’t know how many chickens my mother killed and cooked. And the whole block was invited to come and eat chicken at our house …
GUY: … because they had babies over in Italy before they came, before she came …
END OF TAPE 1/SIDE 2
TAPE 2/ SIDE 1
SANSALONE: This is Tape 2, Side 1, and it’s November 24, 2015. And this is the interview with Marie Sansalone? Guy. Okay, we can start now. So, we were talking about Grandpop had this huge party when you were born …
GUY: Oh, yeah.
SANSALONE: … and fed everybody on the block.
GUY: Right, right. And I think only because he had already lost two daughters. Two daughters, and I think there were three other pregnancies that she had that she lost. But the two daughters lived longer than the boys did. There was three boys and two girls.
SANSALONE: So, they were all live births. In Italy, this is in Italy.
GUY: Probably. The boys probably were not live because they didn’t live long. I mean, what I’m saying,
she probably [had] miscarriages.
SANSALONE: Oh, so you’re not sure whether they were miscarriages or just …
GUY: The boys.
SANSALONE: … died immediately after birth.
GUY: But I know the girls lived and I think one lived longer than the other. Now there was a vendetta between my father and the doctor. I mean I heard this from my mother.
SANSALONE: So, let me stop you really quickly. We’re talking about Calabria.
SANSALONE: The city of Agnana in Calabria, Italy.
GUY: That’s exactly right.
GUY: And that’s the house that I went to. [Marie and her husband John visited her parents’ home in Agnana in 2000. The house still belongs to the family today, because it was never sold. It is unoccupied but it still contains some furniture; there is a big hole in the roof.]
GUY: Okay. Anyway, my mother was very sickly.
SANSALONE: Didn’t one of them live until three years old?
GUY: Pardon me.
SANSALONE: Didn’t one of them live until three years old?
GUY: Not three. I want to say—you know you may be right. I’m not sure. I was thinking 18 months old.
SANSALONE: I think she was three.
GUY: But I don’t know for sure.
SANSALONE: I don’t know.
GUY: They didn’t live long. And, of course, sanitation was not good over in Agnana in those days. And my father and this doctor didn’t see eye to eye about things. But my father was not there when these children … You know, he was over here … Of course, he was in service and then he came to America. He came to America before then. I told you he was a stowaway …
GUY: … when he was 13 years old. But, anyway, I’ll have to go back to that.
SANSALONE: Don’t worry. You can tell that story.
GUY: Okay, I’ll go back to that. But, anyway, my father was there and I guess that’s the reason why there was a vendetta there. I don’t know what it was all about. But, anyway, it seems that my mother—my mother was sickly to begin with. She was very sickly. And once these babies were gone, he was told that if he could live with her as a sister but not a wife—in other words not have any relationship—
GUY: —he could stay in Italy. Other than that, if he couldn’t do that, he had to leave. So, he comes back to America.
SANSALONE: To a healthier place? Is that what he meant? Had to leave Agnana and maybe Italy to a healthier environment?
GUY: Well, to go back where he was in the United States.
SANSALONE: Oh, I see.
GUY: I probably should have started to tell you how they all immigrated, you know, and how she came over. But it was after that that she got well and came over to the United States in 1920, yes, 1920, with my grandfather, [My grandmother was brought to the US by her father] your great grandfather.
SANSALONE: Oh, okay.
GUY: And she was on that ship taking in all the nice breeze and everything and enjoying herself with her father and a black man came up to her and started speaking Italian to her and telling her how beautiful she was and that he would like to introduce himself and blah, blah, blah. And she was so upset she never came back up on deck again after that.
SANSALONE: Oh, my goodness.
GUY: The rest of the voyage she stayed down in her room. Well, she had never seen a black man. She’d never seen a black man before and she thought it was the devil. That’s exactly what she thought, mm- hmm.
SANSALONE: Oh, wow.
GUY: And then here she comes to the United States and she lives next door to a black family, you know. So, it all came around, you know. But, anyway, that’s how she came over. Now I don’t know whether to go forward or whether to go back about my father.
SANSALONE: Well, just go—start with Grandpop because she was coming over with her father and Grandpop was here ready to meet her.
GUY: Definitely, definitely. Right, okay. Now, when he was 13, no, I don’t know how old he was …
SANSALONE: He was young, I think.
GUY: … when this happened. But I think 13 years old. But his father was a singer. He was also the mayor of Agnana.
SANSALONE: I didn’t know he was a singer. I knew he was the mayor of Agnana.
GUY: He sang and at midnight mass, Christmas midnight mass, after he sang, he dropped dead.
SANSALONE: In church?
GUY: In church. Yes. And my grandmother and my grandfather on his side only had these two boys. The oldest one was Frank and the youngest was Joe, Joseph. Well, apparently he was a rascal, my father was a rascal. Got into a lot of trouble and gave her a fit. Well, she didn’t do a thing but put him in the seminary. She thought that would fix him. Well, he didn’t want to be in a seminary and I guess he figured a way to sneak out. Now how he did this is beyond my understanding at all. They lived down in the boot of Italy, which is the southern part of Italy. How he ran away from there and went up and across to Sicily … Now Sicily was not attached to Italy, it was separate. But that’s where he ended up. And, of course, that’s where the big boats came in between Sicily and Calabria. Well, he got on that boat. He sneaked on that boat and never showed himself until they were way out at sea. Well, the captain—whoever found him brought him to the captain—the captain didn’t know what to do with this young man. And he didn’t want to turn back because he was too far out. There happened to be Barnum and Bailey carnival …
SANSALONE: Oh, it was a Barnum and Bailey carnival.
SANSALONE: I thought it was the Viennese circus.
GUY: No, no, no, no, no. Barnum and Bailey on that ship and that man told the captain he would take over. He would take that young man and even adopt him if he could, but put him to work. Well, that’s why it shocked me when my father told me that he had toured 38 states. And I said, “38! Oh, my gosh.” I think it was 38, it might have been 48. I couldn’t believe it because, you know, he just came over from Italy. But, see, he was in this act, a tumbling act, I guess, and they were getting on top of one another. And he was on top. Now, somebody in the middle missed whatever they were supposed to do and they all came tumbling down. And the one that it happened to was the one that died.
SANSALONE: Oh, really.
GUY: Well, he saw that and he thought this is not for me. So, he left him. Now he had heard that he had an uncle in Washington, D.C. Now I don’t know where this carnival act—but it went all over the United States. I don’t know where he got off. But he knew that he had an uncle that lived in Washington, D.C. So, he looked him up. That’s where he stayed, okay? And while he’s there he got himself a job, one of which was the Willard and I want to say … What’s that other one that’s so popular?
SANSALONE: The Washington Hotel?
SANSALONE: I know he worked at the Willard.
GUY: Willard. But the other one that’s supposed to be … And then …
SANSALONE: Down near there? Hotel Washington.
GUY: Oh, yeah. On Massachusetts Avenue now. It’s still there.
SANSALONE: On Massachusetts Avenue. I don’t know.
GUY: What’s the name of that? Mayflower. The Mayflower.
SANSALONE: Oh, the Mayflower.
GUY: Yeah, Mayflower.
SANSALONE: No, the Mayflower’s on Connecticut Avenue.
GUY: Oh, it is on Connecticut. You’re right. Anyway …
SANSALONE: He worked at the Mayflower also?
GUY: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.
SANSALONE: Oh, I didn’t know that.
GUY: But apparently he was, like I tell you, he was a rascal to begin with when he, you know, first started out. Well, anyway, by this time he must be 18, 19 years old, and he’s working as a busboy or whatever they do in their hotels and whatever, and I guess he felt like …
SANSALONE: He was an illegal immigrant at this point.
GUY: Oh, I’m sure.
GUY: Oh, I’m sure of that. Yeah, yeah. It wasn’t until later on he became a citizen. I don’t know exactly at what point. I know when my mother did. But he saw that his uncle had a grocery store and was thriving. And he knew the uncle’s wife had a brother who had this store at 240 First Street SW. And he wasn’t doing well there and he wanted to get out of it. Well, now, this has to be later because my father, when the first World War broke out, he felt since he was not a citizen of the United States that he had an allegiance to go and fight for Italy. So, he did that. And it’s at that particular time, when he was on leave from service, he went to church with his mother and he spots my mother and says to his mother, “I would like to meet her. Fix it up for me.” Because that’s what they did. I think ambassatora. Ambassatora which is like an ambassador, you know, to make the arrangements and whatever. So, she did not want to get married. She was only16 years old.
GUY: Now …
SANSALONE: And they had tried to marry her off at 14 she told me.
GUY: I was just going to say … I wanted to tell you that she had two other suitors before that and each time she ran away from home. One time she went to her maternal grandmother. The next time she went to her paternal grandmother. So, when the third time came around, she said okay, if I have to marry, I’ll marry him. And especially since he was the son of the mayor. She was a little country bumpkin. And, so, anyway, the families thought that was a good idea. So, that’s how they got together. That’s how they married. I would love to have been able to stay in Agnana to see the church where they got married but we didn’t get to do that. But, anyway, I did get to see the house.
SANSALONE: Yeah. And I’ve seen pictures of the house.
GUY: I did get to see the house. Yeah.
SANSALONE: In fact we have them in the photo album.
GUY: Do we?
SANSALONE: We have a picture of the house in the photo album.
GUY: Of the Italy house?
GUY: Really? Oh, I didn’t see that.
SANSALONE: No, I’ll show it to you. Do me a favor. Try not to tap your hands.
GUY: Oh, I’m sorry.
SANSALONE: Only because the mic will pick—I keep forgetting to tell you.
GUY: Oh, yeah. I didn’t even know I was doing that. Isn’t that crazy? Okay.
SANSALONE: I keep forgetting.
GUY: Sorry about that. [Both laugh]
SANSALONE: I know it will be hard.
GUY: No, it’s okay. So, they got married there and she had a house that had a balcony. She talked about that balcony all the time. You know, a lot of those houses where she was born, they were up like on stilts and underneath was their …
SANSALONE: Livestock, right?
GUY: … where they had chickens and pigs and cows and whatever. But, anyway, and then you’d go up steps to go up to the top, the other floor. Well, anyway, this house apparently didn’t have that but it had a balcony. She talked about a balcony. And, so, when I was over there …
SANSALONE: This is her family home, her parents’ home?
SANSALONE: When they were married.
GUY: When they were married.
SANSALONE: Oh, okay.
GUY: He bought a home for her …
GUY: … with this balcony. And, so, I remembered that. So, when I went to Italy and met my cousin— I’m mixing things up but maybe I’m doing it in the right way—when he took me around there, I said to him, “That can’t be the house.” I said, “My mother told me that there was a balcony.” He said, “Oh, yes, yes.” He said, “There was a balcony.” He said, “We had to tear it down.” I said, “Oh.” And he said, “The weather got to it and it wasn’t good anymore.” So, I said, “Well, can I go in the house?” “Oh, sure.” He took me in the house. And got into the house and the first thing I saw was like a kitchen sink. But it wasn’t modern or anything like that. And then I saw a stepladder against a wall. And there was a kitchen table there. And you can tell that somebody had been there, somebody had lived there. And I asked him about that and he said yes, one of his brothers got married and this house was vacant. Why not use it, right? So they did. But she died. He moved out and they kind of abandoned the house. Because he took me upstairs—at first I didn’t want to go but it was just like a stepladder, but I went. It was against the wall and I got up there. And I could see as I got up on the landing the far end of the wall, in the crack, like when they meet, the walls meet, they had collapsed from water. I could see water damage was there. And I said, “Oh, gee.” I said, “How long has that been?” He said “Well, it’s been a while. It needs to be fixed.”
And I said, “Oh, okay. Well, if nobody is living here now, no.” There wasn’t anybody living there now and I don’t know how long ago the brother had moved out. I had nothing. But, there was a bed there. There was a chest of drawers there. And the bed was made. But I think there was two rooms, there probably were two rooms up there. And one room seemed like it was okay, but the other, like I say, …
GUY: … had that stuff falling from the ceiling. So, and I remember you asking me, …
SANSALONE: Who owns that house?
GUY: … “Aunt Rie, why didn’t you claim that house?” And I said, “Well, that was one thing I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want them to think I came over there purposely to take property which rightly belonged to my mother and father.”
GUY: But they were using it all those years and it’s just like the olive grove that was there and the grapes that were there. And they made money off of that. Now I don’t know …
SANSALONE: Right. But they also had to pay the taxes on the house.
SANSALONE: So, you know.
GUY: Yeah. But I think maybe in the early part of my life—I don’t really know this—but I imagine that my father expected them to send money from the olives, from the oil that they got from that. And they probably did and at some point it stopped. And I don’t know when it did because I wasn’t into that, didn’t know. And it wasn’t until my second marriage that I was able to go to Italy and see these things. And it’s interesting, I never wanted to go to Italy. My first husband would have died to go to Italy because he was born there. He came over when he was four years old. That was Nick D’Amico.
SANSALONE: Right. And I don’t mean to interrupt you because I’d like to hear this story but I’m not sure whether we should get back to the United States.
SANSALONE: Do you know what I mean?
GUY: Oh, sure, sure. I understand. You tell me, you know, what I should be doing.
SANSALONE: Well, I mean I hate to stop you because it’s interesting but …
GUY: That’s okay. I can do it another time for you, as far as Italy is concerned.
GUY: But, anyway, I have to tell you this. When I went, the first time I ever went, I felt I was home.
GUY: And I thought to myself where is this coming from?
GUY: I’m the one that never wanted to come to Italy, you know. But it’s part of you and it’s your heritage, you know. And it was wonderful. I was glad that I was able to go there.
SANSALONE: I would like to go.
GUY: And I would really like to go back and spend some time with them and walk around the city, little town, whatever.
SANSALONE: Maybe we should go.
GUY: At this stage of my life, I don’t think so. I don’t think so. I don’t know. It has to come from the Lord. If he wants me to go back there, I will. Because I would love to see my cousin on my mother’s side. And I’d like to see my cousin on my father’s side, too. That’s the two people that I met while I was there.
SANSALONE: Yeah. Well, you know, Grandmom and I were supposed to go to Italy the spring … She died in October and …
GUY: The following spring you all were planning on going? Ah.
SANSALONE: Mm-hmm. There was a church tour and I was going to go with Grandmom. And, so, it just never happened.
GUY: Too bad.
GUY: Too bad, really and truly. Ah.
SANSALONE: So, okay, let’s get back to …
GUY: Well, I can tell you that I loved my growing up on Capitol Hill. I didn’t think it was such a big deal, but it was my life. And they tell me that my brothers had to take me for walks in the baby carriage. So, I don’t know how old I was till I was in the baby carriage. Well, the walk was up on Capitol Hill.
GUY: And they being boys …
SANSALONE: Rolled you down the hill?
GUY: Let me down the hill. [Interviewer laughs] Let it go. You know how I stopped? I hit a tree and I was thrown out of the carriage. Well, when my father heard that, they really got a licking.
SANSALONE: Oh, my goodness.
GUY: Oh, my gosh, yes. [Laughs] A lot of things happened on Capitol Hill, I’ll tell you. And you know what? These kids today don’t know what it’s like to walk around free. You never thought anything would happen to you. I mean, you weren’t afraid. And, as I grew up, I went there with my brothers and, you know, I never knew they had an underground under the Capitol. Did you know that?
Marie (second from left) with her brothers Aldo (left) and Victor (middle); two children on the right are unidentified friends. The picture is labeled “taken at Union Station”, 1937, but this fountain is on the Capitol’s West Front Terrace.
SANSALONE: Yeah, I did know that. I do know that.
GUY: And they would go back and forth in those little trams that they had. And they let us on.
GUY: Yeah, oh, yeah. They thought that was neat. “What’s your name?” You know, that kind of stuff. Back and forth to the Rayburn building over …
SANSALONE: You got to do that?
GUY: Well, yeah. I sure did.
SANSALONE: Oh, my goodness.
GUY: Well, I got goose bumps thinking about it.
SANSALONE: Oh, that’s funny.
GUY: Yeah. Because I wanted—I don’t know whether you knew this either. Fred—somebody dared him to go up as far as he could go where the statue …
SANSALONE: Indian is?
GUY: The Indian, yeah.
SANSALONE: In the Capitol?
GUY: Yes, yes.
SANSALONE: And he did.
GUY: Yes, he did. And guess what? He was there for a couple of hours because they didn’t know where he was and it was getting late and they were going to lock—there was a door to go in there. Well, I guess my other brothers said you can’t lock that door yet, my brother’s up there. [Interviewer laughs] Well, anyway, it’s a wonder they didn’t get—I don’t know. I don’t even know if my father knew that, whether they got back to him or not.
SANSALONE: That is funny. Well …
GUY: Yeah. He knew a lot of the senators and congressmen on the Hill only because they …
SANSALONE: They came to the store.
GUY: … lived in those apartments and they did their grocery shopping. We were the closest store around, whatever.
GUY: But, it was a fun thing.
SANSALONE: Sounds like fun.
GUY: Yeah. It was a fun thing. I enjoyed my growing up down there. I really and truly did.
SANSALONE: Well, do you remember … Well, I don’t even … I hate to admit this, but I don’t know when the MacArthur, you know, when the soldiers protested and came and camped on the Capitol grounds. Do you remember that? [Reference is to the Bonus Army gathering in Washington in the summer of 1932.]
GUY: I sure do. I do. And it was like after the first World War.
GUY: And they camped on our street.
SANSALONE: They did?
GUY: Oh, yes.
SANSALONE: In the park?
GUY: No, not in the park, on our First Street.
GUY: Oh, yeah. In front of our grocery store. They camped there. I can remember we were told not to talk to them, you know. And I don’t think it lasted very long.
SANSALONE: I don’t know how long.
GUY: It was like these veterans coming back.
GUY: You know what I mean. When I think about that I think, oh, my god, they really have never really taken care of our military when you think about it. And to this day, I think, oh, my.
GUY: And they fight for our freedom, you know.
SANSALONE: Yeah, I agree.
GUY: Of course, I don’t know what that was all about. Well, the first World War.
SANSALONE: So, did you guys talk to them in spite of being told not to talk to them?
GUY: Well, of course. And my mother and father made sandwiches for them.
GUY: You know, oh, yeah. Made sandwiches for them.
SANSALONE: And what else do you remember that was happening down there politically? Were you aware of, other than the MacArthur stuff?
GUY: I was never aware politically. I had no idea. Because we had no representation, you know. Washington, D.C., never had any representation. I just knew there were congressman and senators and so what? They live at the Capitol. I thought they lived—well, no, I didn’t know that that’s where they worked. But I had no idea. I was never politically minded until I married the first time and Nick was a Republican. So, to spite him, I became a Democrat. And what the hell that meant to me was nothing. Just to be spiteful I did that. And, of course, I had a house in Wheaton, Maryland, and that was my first house. And we had coffees or teas for some of those …
GUY: … candidates, you know, …
SANSALONE: For local elections.
GUY: … in the Maryland thing. I was real active in the Democrats. Then, I don’t know, I just went to all the things that they had in these houses for tea or coffee, whatever. But I never got involved politically. It just was not my cup of tea. [Laughs]
SANSALONE: Now, was there anything else that went on down there besides the MacArthur thing?
GUY: The what thing?
SANSALONE: Besides the soldiers and the MacArthur, Gen. MacArthur’s thing, were there any other kind of demonstrations down there that you remember?
GUY: I really don’t remember too many other demonstrations as far as politically. I don’t. I know that we had plenty of parades down in Washington, D.C.
SANSALONE: I’ll bet.
GUY: And I loved the parades. And what was so wonderful was that they started on our street.
SANSALONE: They did?
GUY: Yes. The floats and everything. Capital Transit, I told you they were, that’s where they … Well, apparently, they moved from there. So, this was a big empty building. And this was where they fixed their floats, in that great big building.
SANSALONE: Oh, that was fun.
GUY: And they would come out of there and come down the alley here and go down First Street up toward the Capitol. And this is where the parades started.
GUY: And I loved that. Like I say, it was just so many things that …
SANSALONE: Things going on.
GUY: Really. And, you know we weren’t afraid to walk. I lived like one of the furthest away from St. Dominic’s. First Street SW. Walked all the way to there.
SANSALONE: And, then, how did the boys get to St. John’s? How did Dad and Uncle Fred—Uncle Fred and Dad went to St. John’s.
GUY: Right, right. Uncle Fred—I’m trying to think if he won a scholarship there.
END OF TAPE 2/SIDE 1
TAPE 2/SIDE 2
SANSALONE: Okay. Let’s start. So, Uncle Fred and Dad went to St. John’s.
GUY: Uncle Fred, yeah. And he became very …
SANSALONE: On North Capitol Street.
GUY: No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
SANSALONE: Where were they then? Weren’t they on North Capitol Street?
GUY: No. 14th and Military Road.
SANSALONE: No. St. John’s Military Academy?
SANSALONE: St. John’s is on North Capitol Street. [Reference is to Gonzaga High School, which is on North Capitol and I Streets NW.]
GUY: No, it is not. It may be now, I don’t know. But it was at—what did I say? 14th and Military Road?
SANSALONE: Yeah. That’s Northwest.
GUY: Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. It’s just like me going to school at St. Cecilia’s. I didn’t go to Southwest, I went to Southeast.
GUY: In fact, Mary and Ellen and I went to St. Cecilia’s in Southeast. Theresa was of our group. Her mother and father wouldn’t let her go with us because her older sisters went to Immaculate Conception, which is Northwest. You can go wherever you want to go.
SANSALONE: No, no. I understand that. But I thought—didn’t it move to North Capitol Street?
GUY: I don’t know that. I don’t know that,
SANSALONE: So, that by the time I went to high school … Mmm. I don’t know. So, go ahead.
GUY: But, anyway, Uncle Fred became very active. He played football, he played—and that’s another story, how he even played football. But, anyway, he became very active in the, of course it’s ROTC [Reserve Officers Training Corps; reference is to St. John’s]. That’s what it’s all about. And he became— and I was trying to ask John last night about—what do you call the …? Is it the major?
SANSALONE: Oh, the majors.
SANSALONE: The majors of the parade, the guys that carried the big stick or whatever. The baton.
GUY: The baton, yeah. And that’s what he was. And he had his regiment there.
SANSALONE: I see. Oh, interesting.
GUY: I used to embarrass him to tears because I would say, “Go, go …
SANSALONE: Oh, that’s funny.
GUY: …it’s me, it’s me, your sister.”
SANSALONE: That’s funny. [Interviewee laughs] Now, were the trolleys running down …
GUY: Yes, they were still there.
SANSALONE: … Pennsylvania Avenue …
GUY: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
SANSALONE: … at that point in time?
GUY: Of course, they stopped for these parades.
SANSALONE: Oh, yeah.
GUY: But most of the time they had them, they’d go off of Pennsylvania Avenue because of the streetcar tracks. Then it was on Constitution Avenue.
GUY: At some point, I don’t know exactly where they turned down there.
SANSALONE: Yeah, I don’t know.
GUY: I can remember a circle-like, that you go around at the bottom of Capitol Hill. But …
SANSALONE: It could be around 14th Street.
GUY: You know, we went to all the concerts at Capitol Hill. Oh, my gosh. We looked forward to those. It was Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
SANSALONE: You mean at the Marine Barracks?
GUY: No. On Capitol Hill.
SANSALONE: You mean on the Hill itself.
GUY: On the Hill.
SANSALONE: On the steps of the Capitol.
GUY: Exactly, exactly. Oh, I remember that so well. Mm. We enjoyed that. In fact, I understand my mother saying that when we were sick and it was very muggy and no air stirring she would walk us up the Hill and sit up on Capitol Hill steps.
SANSALONE: Oh, interesting.
GUY: And there was a breeze.
SANSALONE: Get the breeze.
GUY: There was always a breeze there. And that’s how we, you know, got over our illness, whatever we had. But that’s where she would take us.
SANSALONE: Oh, that’s interesting.
GUY: And, honey, I never knew that the White House—I’ve never been in the White House. Can you believe that all these years? I cannot believe it.
SANSALONE: Yeah, I can believe it.
GUY: But, anyway, the Capitol, I know it inside out. I mean we were all over that place. It’s a wonder …
SANSALONE: No restrictions.
SANSALONE: No restrictions.
SANSALONE: I mean I have pictures of Mom and Dad and me as a baby on the House side, the lawns on the House side of the Capitol.
GUY: That’s right, so, I mean …
SANSALONE: It was right across from the apartment building.
GUY: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm. But, anyway, I forget what I was going to say about the concerts that we used to go to there all the time. And that was a fun thing to do. And, well, I don’t know—it’s funny. Here I lived in Southwest and Jean Carrello Lynch, when I met her at St. Cecilia’s, she’s up on Second Street or Third Street SE. So, we all went to that …
GUY: Never knew each other until we got in high school. So, anyway, to me it was a fun time to grow up. I never felt that I was any different than anybody else. I mean there was no the rich people and the poor people or the in-between people. However, because my father had the grocery store, they accused us of being rich, you know.
SANSALONE: Well, comparatively speaking to some other people I guess you were.
GUY: So, anyway. You know, just recently, not too long ago, I was at a wedding or a funeral, I’m not sure which. And I see this girl there. And I went over to her and I said, “Is your name Lucy?” “Yeah, why?” I said, “Lucy Coluzzi?”
SANSALONE: Lucy Coluzzi? [Laughs]
GUY: That was her name.
SANSALONE: What a name.
GUY: And she said, “Yeah. Well, who are you?” And I said, “Marie Sansalone.” But they called me Mary, okay. My name I was christened with, Maria, Italian, Maria, and it’s translated Mary.
GUY: Well, all the kids on the street called me Mary. When I got to school, the nuns turned Maria to Marie.
GUY: So, I’ve been known—so I have three different kinds of people that know me by Mary, Marie, Maria. So—this girl Lucy was the fifth or sixth house on First Street, in those 18 row houses.
SANSALONE: The Coluzzis. I’ve heard the name before.
GUY: Oh, yeah. Albie Coluzzi—your mother and father …
SANSALONE: Albert Coluzzi?
GUY: … palled around with Albert and Mariam was her name Coluzzi.
SANSALONE: Oh, I don’t know her.
GUY: Yeah. They lived up on Viers Mill Road. Right up here.
GUY: Yeah. I didn’t know that when I moved here 25 years ago. And they’re both gone. But I understand one of the boys has taken that house. But, anyway, I went up to Lucy and said her name. Well, she couldn’t believe that I remembered her. I said, “Well, I still remember your face.” And, well, she didn’t know who I was. Well, it’s interesting. And she lives over in Lanham, a little away from us. But I decided to call her. The Lord put her on my mind, in my heart, and I guess this was after I saw her at this affair that we went to. Now her husband has since passed. So, knowing that, you know, I’ve been through it, I lost my first husband, so I called her. And I call her periodically to see how she’s doing. In fact, I’m going to call her this week and wish her a happy Thanksgiving. And last time I talked to her she wasn’t doing so well. So, I want to give her a call. And that is another gal … My father met this man, his name was Massimo Ferrari, Massimo Ferrari. And he had a daughter same age as me. In fact, our birthdays are one week apart. She’s May 7th and I’m May 14th. So, we bonded because of that. I don’t know how, but we did. But we didn’t live near each other. But every time her father would come down to see my father— because he was in the candy business, so they not only became friends but he bought this …
SANSALONE: Oh, is this Marguerite?
GUY: No, no, no, no. Marguerite’s from West Virginia.
SANSALONE: Oh, okay.
GUY: This girl’s name was Theresa. Anyway, this is crazy, but I lost contact with her, I mean, because we didn’t live near one another. Only when my father and he, if they exchanged things, if my father had something that Massimo had to … you know, they would change and that kind of stuff. So, I lost contact of her. And how I ran into her, I was going to a hairdresser over in Beltsville. You’re probably saying why Beltsville? Well, this friend of mine that I met I liked the way her hair looked, blah, blah, blah. And that’s how I went over there. This woman and her two daughters were with her. And something came up that made me ask if her name was Theresa. I thought she looked a little familiar, but I wasn’t sure, but I said it anyway. I said, “Did you father sell candy when you were little?” And she said, “Yes.” I said, “Well, do you remember the name Sansalone?” Well, she almost jumped out of her chair. “Oh, my god, yes, I do.” She said, “Don’t tell me that you’re Maria.”
SANSALONE: Oh, that’s funny.
GUY: And I said, “Yes, I am.” So, John teases me today. He said, “Marie, every place you go you know somebody.”
SANSALONE: Know people, know people. Yeah. So, did you know Dr. DiFrancesco when you were on the Hill?
SANSALONE: No. Even though you lived …
GUY: I did not. But we knew his mother and two sisters.
SANSALONE: Oh, you did.
GUY: Well, because they used to grocery shop at the store.
SANSALONE: Oh, oh, oh, oh.
GUY: But I didn’t know Dr. DiFrancesco until you all moved up there [a reference to the Aldo Sansalone family’s move to Fairlawn Avenue SE, across the Sousa Bridge, in the late 1940s].
GUY: And went to school and I heard the name. And then we started going to him.
GUY: My father went to him when he passed away.
SANSALONE: Oh, really.
GUY: Oh, yeah.
SANSALONE: Oh, no, I didn’t know that.
GUY: Oh, my. In fact, when Pop—he’d been going to him and he’d just got a bill of health, a good one. And that was on a Friday. Then the weekend came. And Monday morning—it was a Monday morning if I remember correctly—and we were at Mississippi Avenue, T Place and Mississippi Avenue. Isn’t that the name of it? No.
SANSALONE: No. Mississippi Avenue is here in Takoma Park. T Place.
GUY: Oh, I got them mixed up. Sorry about that.
SANSALONE: T Place in Anacostia.
GUY: T Place. That’s right. T Place in Anacostia. And what was I getting ready to tell you?
SANSALONE: About Grandpop going to Dr. DiFrancesco.
GUY: Yeah, DiFrancesco, right. And, it was a Monday morning and I was working at the bank on 14th or 15th and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, American Security and Trust, and I had already gotten there. And Vic was the last one to leave the house.
GUY: And he was going to school, probably Anacostia High School. And mom had just given dad coffee and toast. That’s all he wanted. Well, she gave it to him and walked away and she heard this gurgling. And she turned back to see him and she kept saying, she patted him on the back, “Cough it up.” He had a terrible, terrible cough. And that was a smoker’s cough. He smoked one right after the other. He really had a terrible cough. And she didn’t know what to do. She ran out of the house and yelled down to Vic and he heard her. He was at the bottom of the hill and he came back up and Pop had already passed.
GUY: That fast. It was a heart attack. Oh, my god. What a trauma that was.
SANSALONE: Was it a stroke or a heart attack?
GUY: Pardon me.
SANSALONE: Stroke or a heart attack.
GUY: Heart attack. He died right there.
GUY: He died right there. Now, they called me on the phone at the bank and just said I needed to come home, didn’t tell me why. And that’s when I found out, when I got home.
SANSALONE: When did you guys leave the Hill?
GUY: 19—I’m trying to think now.
SANSALONE: Well, how did the whole eminent domain thing happen from your perspective? When did that start?
GUY: How did that start? I’m trying to think, Judy. It was 1940—I’m trying to get my bearings now. I graduated in ’46 from St. Cecilia’s, ’46. ’47. Mom and Dad went to Italy and brought all kinds of clothes and whatever. 1947. Your dad and mom were married in ’45, right? I graduated in ’46.
SANSALONE: I was born in ’46.
GUY: And ’47 is when they went to Italy. And your mom and dad came to the house to stay with me, to chaperone me. They wanted me to go with them and I didn’t want to go to Italy. So, it was stupid of me but that’s the way it was. And, I’m trying to think how we left Southwest.
SANSALONE: I know it had to be—it was taken over by eminent domain, wasn’t it?
SANSALONE: At that point.
GUY: Why did we leave then? I’m trying to think—’47, ’46.
SANSALONE: It must have been right around ’47.
GUY: Yeah, because that’s when they left. No, that’s when they went to Italy.
SANSALONE: That’s when they went to Italy, but …
GUY: Before that.
SANSALONE: Because a lot of my baby pictures then are in Anacostia on T Place.
GUY: Yeah, yes, it was. Yes, it was.
SANSALONE: So it was shortly after I was born.
SANSALONE: But you don’t know anything about how that all happened?
GUY: No, I don’t.
SANSALONE: You didn’t know ahead of time it was going to happen?
GUY: I don’t remember that. Isn’t that funny?
SANSALONE: Isn’t that interesting.
GUY: I really don’t remember that at all. Oh, I wish your brothers were here. Ahh!
SANSALONE: I know. Why didn’t we ask these questions then?
SANSALONE: So, it had to be around …
GUY: That’s like a blur to me. I don’t know why we left there.
SANSALONE: Had to be around ’46.
GUY: Had to be. Yeah.
SANSALONE: Because, you know, in those pictures in Anacostia …
GUY: I was still living there though when I graduated from high school. And I graduated in ’46.
GUY: Still living there at the store.
SANSALONE: So, it had to have been later on in the year …
SANSALONE: … in ’46. I was born in October of ’46, so maybe it was ’47.
GUY: You’re probably right.
SANSALONE: At some point. But some of my …
GUY: You’re probably right. And, maybe they didn’t go to Italy … But I thought that’s what they, that was something for them to look forward to, selling the store and then going to Italy.
SANSALONE: Oh, so maybe that’s how it happened. They sold the store and then took some of the money and made the trip to Italy.
GUY: Right. I think that’s how it was.
SANSALONE: Because I know [in] some of those pictures of me I’m no more than four to six months old.
GUY: Absolutely, absolutely.
SANSALONE: On T Place.
SANSALONE: And before that the pictures were on the Capitol grounds.
GUY: Now, you had to be, you had to be about three years old when he passed. Right?
SANSALONE: I think I was four.
SANSALONE: Three or four.
GUY: Because Joe Pat, if you remember, Joe Pat was born in ’49, January of ’49.
SANSALONE: I thought he was not that much younger than I was, three years younger than I was?
GUY: You were older.
GUY: And then Joe Pat came. And I remember my father was so elated to have this baby come and spend some time there in a bassinette because Katie got sick. Katie got sick and she was living up on Bladensburg Road in Uncle Trimarchi’s house.
SANSALONE: Oh, wow.
GUY: Beautiful stone house. Anyway, boy, there’s so much intricacies. I tell you. Anyway, that’s where they lived. But she got sickly. And he was so elated because he had this new baby. I mean, you had already grown out of his arms and here Joe Pat comes. And my mother said he never changed a diaper till Joe Pat was there.
GUY: Never changed your diaper. But he changed Joe Pat’s diaper. So, he was elated with that.
SANSALONE: So, but, you were still living at home when you moved from Capitol Hill to Anacostia.
GUY: Yes. Oh, yeah. I didn’t move out of the house until I was—1954, when I got married.
GUY: So, we lived there from …
SANSALONE: Oh, it’s strange you don’t remember all of that. Interesting.
GUY: Or why? I just assumed that he was ready to retire and get rid of the house. He might have been given a good deal because he kept saying that he was going to stay there because they kept saying they were going to do something. They were going to add on to Capitol Hill.
SANSALONE: Oh, yeah, they were. [Laughs]
GUY: And take that. Okay? And he was going to wait for that. But 20 years had passed and still nothing happened, you know. So, I guess he decided this is the chance to go to Italy. And it was after the war if I remember …
GUY: … correctly. It was after the war. So, that’s the way it turned out. And, yeah, Joe Pat lived at our house.
SANSALONE: Now, I think we’re pretty much near the end, but was Uncle Vic born in the hospital on the Hill where I was born? Old Providence Hospital?
GUY: I’m sure. I’m sure.
SANSALONE: So, he and I were born in the same hospital.
GUY: Yeah, he was. Yes, he was. Providence. Yeah. Uncle Vic was.
SANSALONE: Because that was on Fourth Street or something, do you remember?
GUY: You know, I want to say Second and C, but I’m not sure.
SANSALONE: Maybe it was Second. Yeah.
GUY: I’m not sure about that. Second and Third and C.
SANSALONE: Yeah, I think maybe Second, not Fourth. Yeah. I think you’re right, Second. [Providence Hospital occupied the square between Second and Third, and D and E Streets SE.]
GUY: And, oh, my. Mm-mm-mm.
SANSALONE: Yeah. Interesting.
GUY: It is interesting when you think about it.
SANSALONE: And that building no longer exists, I don’t think.
GUY: Oh, I don’t think so. No.
SANSALONE: I think they took that down.
GUY: Oh, yeah. I’m sure that’s been torn down. And, you know, you’ve heard the name of Dr. Suraci. [Full name: Dr. Alfred Suraci.]
GUY: He’s a plastic surgeon. Well, Dr. Suraci was an intern and I’m not sure if they lived in the neighborhood, not the, you know, immediate neighborhood but around it, on Capitol Hill. And he was an intern at Providence Hospital. And our parents knew one another. And he would come around, you know, talk to everybody. I don’t know. He is probably the same age as Aldo, or was, I think. So, he had a—oh, and he always used to say, “When you grow up I’m going to marry you.” “Eeee—okay, okay.” I was just thrilled to death. And he asked my mother and father if he could take me in his rumble seat. He had a rumble seat car. Oh, I thought I was the cat’s meow. And I held him to that. I’m going to marry Dr. Suraci when I get big. [Interviewer laughs] Well, how many years later was this? I’m a young girl and I go down —and it was after Pop passed, because I wanted to be a nurse and your grandfather would not have me be a nurse. He said I was a proper young lady and I should not be seeing men not dressed. He wouldn’t let my brothers walk around with shorts. They had their pants on. [Laughs] But, anyway, [Bangs hands down three times] … Oh, I didn’t mean to do that. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to do that.
SANSALONE: It’s all right.
GUY: Anyway, where do I get a job but at 19th and I Street, 19th and I NW. Yeah, that was my first job. 19th and I. And that was after I had come out of a clinic where they trained me to be a dental assistant. You see, once my father passed away, I went into mourning in black and I guess I did it for about nine months. My godmother said, “Rosie, Rosina, you cannot let this young girl be in black all the time. She’s too young for that. She doesn’t need to mourn.” Well, anyway, that’s how I got my job, with this black outfit and the black hat and whatever. And that was at the clinic. And then I left the clinic and I got a job at 19th and I with Dr. Blevins. And it turns out to be father and two sons. And come to find out I was supposed to work for the father and the older son and the other son had his own assistant, dental assistant. Well, when I started working there, getting off the elevator, I see Dr. Suraci’s name off to the right.
SANSALONE: Oh, he was in the same building.
GUY: On the same floor. Oh, my god, I can’t believe this. Now, I must be in my 20s, early 20s. Yeah, because I was going to be 21 when Pop passed away. So, yeah, about 21 or 22. So, I timidly one afternoon on my lunch hour, instead of going to lunch, went over and rang the bell or knocked on the door and went in. And I went to the desk and I said, “I’d like to speak to Dr. Suraci” She said, “May I ask who’s calling?” I said, “I want to surprise him.” And first she mm-mm-mm. And I said, “Look, I grew up down in Southwest Washington and that’s how I know Dr. Suraci And I had no idea he had his office here. And I’m working next door with the Blevinses.” “Oh, okay.” So, he tells her, “Let her come in.” I walked in and I said, “You probably don’t remember me.” And I said, “But maybe you remember the name Sansalone.” “Oh, no. Can’t be. What a beautiful young lady you turned out to be. Oh, my goodness.” And I said, “And, by the way, I’ve never forgotten that you wanted to marry me.” And I said, “Now, what happened? I understand you’re married.” [Both laugh]
SANSALONE: That’s cute.
GUY: He had about nine kids.
GUY: Uh-huh. So, that was a great thing to do.
SANSALONE: That’s neat, that’s neat.
GUY: So, anyway. And I met his wife and she was a lovely, lovely person. I didn’t go out socially with them or anything like that, but … See, that’s the other thing, working for the dentist. Went to a dental convention up at the Shoreham Hotel and there were a couple of dentists that came from out of town and without their wives. But they needed dates to go to this dinner-dance. So, Dr. Blevins says, “Marie, the two doctors,” I don’t even remember their names, “they’re here for the dental convention. Can you get another girl and you and she can go to this dinner-dance? “Oh, that sounds wonderful. Oh, great, yeah.” So, who did I get but Laura Lacavera because she lived right around the corner from me on T Place. We lived on T Place, she lived on T Street.
GUY: Well, we went. You know, it’s funny, we had a great time, we really had a great time. And they treated us, you know, respectfully and everything. Put us in a taxicab to go home and whatever. I had those pictures and I showed—I was at Laura’s house one time and showed the pictures. And her daughters came in and they saw them. They were upset because she went out with these dentists. I said, “Well, honey, what’s wrong with you? We were young girls. We weren’t married or anything.” “But I can’t see my mother with anybody but my father.” I said, “Come on.” [Laughs]
SANSALONE: Oh, that’s weird.
GUY: Isn’t that funny?
SANSALONE: That’s weird.
GUY: Oh, my.
SANSALONE: So, like, is there anything that we’ve missed about living on Capitol Hill …
SANSALONE: … that you want to say?
GUY: All I know is I skated down Capitol Hill and, like I told you about that carriage, I started early in my life.
SANSALONE: [Laughs] Well, I think that’s …
GUY: That’s about it. And my brothers, when they said they were going to go on Capitol Hill, on the Avenue, we knew exactly where they were going. Because they had those beer joints.
SANSALONE: Oh, yeah. And some of them still exist. And I can’t remember the names of them. Do you remember the names of them?
GUY: No, I don’t. Lazarri.
GUY: Lazarri, yes. His father …
SANSALONE: I don’t remember that.
GUY: Oh, yes.
SANSALONE: But did he own …
GUY: And his son …
SANSALONE: Wasn’t there the Tune Inn or something?
GUY: It could have been. I’m not sure.
SANSALONE: I know it still existed …
END OF INTERVIEW