I was raised in the area formerly known as Old City, located between 1800 Independence Avenue, SE and 18th Massachusetts Avenue SE, in Ward 6 -- 18th and Bay Street, S.E. Today, this area is referred to as Capitol Hill. Opposite of the end of the block (south bound), was the old D.C. Jail. Next to the D.C. Jail was Gallinger Hospital, later renamed D.C. General Hospital. One of the earliest community activist and neighbor, who lived on 18th and Bay Street, S.E., was Rufus "Catfish" Mayfield. Catfish Mayfield* referred to me as Baby Brother when he came to our house to talk and visit with my older brother.
I attended Payne Elementary School and later attended the newly built Hine Junior High School at Eastern Market. On our way to Hine Jr. High, we walked eleven blocks from Bay Street and came across several corner stores owned by Jewish owners and one particular store owned by an Afro-American. Utz potato chips, sour pickles, 2 pieces for one cent, penny candies, and fresh honey glazed doughnuts were our favorite treats at that early age.
The 1700 block of Bay Street was referred to as white Bay Street, mainly because many of the homes were lived in by Caucasians. Ms. Patti La Belle lived on the 1700 block for a short time. I do remember one Sunday afternoon seeing Patti La Belle leaving in her convertible Cadillac to do a show with the Blue Belles at Sandy Point Park in Maryland.
Living around the corner from the D.C. Armory, the location of the D.C. National Guard, many entertainment shows where played there. The same as with the D.C. Convention Center would put on for the public. Even today, it astounds me during my visits back home to see how me, my four siblings and two parents lived in our family's row house on Bay Street, S.E.
Around the early 1960's at a Eastern High School versus St. John's football game a fight broke out and the Black students at Eastern High School were later vilified for injuring several St. John spectators and football players. During that period the high schools had a mandatory Cadet course for male students that included ROTC/military training. Eastern during that early period had a few vocational "shop" courses such as carpentry, civil engineering, metal shop and auto mechanic.