Washington: Then and Now
When I was small, my mother worked here and we lived with my grandparents who had retired to Washington. My grandmother had finished normal school, which is a teacher training program, and taught out-of-town and came here on the weekends since the family was now here. My father was away in school and I went to kindergarten at Morgan School.
Later after my parents, a new little sister, and I moved back to the South, we would come here in the summertime. As I became a teenager, I thought that this place was exciting and very attractive. There was a streetcar that went passed the Woolworth, not far from where we went to church. On U Street there were the Booker T and the Lincoln theatres, and people, lots at times, walked up and down the street. The houses were kind of large and some had porches upstairs on the back of them. I had never seen that.
There were outings to Haynes Point and you could sit on a blanket and eat food. I went to a baseball game and a friend of my aunt showed me how to fill out the baseball card. Connecticut Avenue seemed very glamorous. I walked past a place with my mother and people were playing jazz in the window and customers inside with them were looking at them and looked like they were really enjoying themselves.
I came back here after college. There were more black people. There was no longer a Commissioner system. The first black elected mayor, Walter Washington, replaced Commissioner Duncan. This city was very political now. The assassinations of Dr. King and Senator Robert Kennedy brought a sadness and a militancy. There were riots in many areas. There was poverty and the crime rate was escalating. Many Black Americans had moved here to escape Jim Crow politics in the South. I had married here, was then divorced and decided to leave the sadness, destruction, and chaos that was here. When I returned many years later, almost at the beginning of a new millennium, I found a city that was rebuilding.
Many neighborhoods had new, modern buildings. There was a subway system. The city had a university that seemed to be doing well. It is a young city, with lots of people using cell phones and going about on bikes and scooters. Incredible to me, it seems, and probably very dangerous! The outward appearance of a city can tell a lot. D.C., as it is often called, is now a city for White people, many who are young, but all can pay the rent needed to live in many of the luxurious, new apartment buildings. There are problems like synthetic drugs here. I think that there should be the number of computers that are needed in each public library, that are reserved for those seeking jobs. There should be an employee assigned to help those who may not be completely computer friendly. Many job vacancies only accept applications and attachments online. The city should repair its broken sidewalks and never close a YW or YM as it has done in the past.