Thursday, March 18, 2010

Stories from 1960s Columbia Heights

When I was on the Kojo Nnamdi show a few weeks back, an older man named Larry Rosen called in. Rosen used to run a drug store at 14th and Clifton in Columbia Heights in the 50s and 60s, and was talking about how he started a blog with his memories. There's a lot of interesting stories, the most recent of which are the 1968 riots after Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, when his pharmacy was burned down. He talks about a lot of other things too: life in the area, his store, when boxer Joe Louis came to his brother's liquor store, World War II experiences, and a funny story about buying and selling a monkey.

It's a pretty interesting read, with some pictures as well. Pretty cool to hear about the history of the neighborhood first hand.


  1. Sign 12 on the Columbia Heights Heritage Trail has Larry's pictures and story. It's at 14th and Clifton, across from where his store was.

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  3. The History
    of our parent's
    and their parent's
    blood stained banner
    & hologram memories
    that pace with us
    to the giant
    or speech
    us with dialect
    from ancient
    love tones diverse
    yet humbly
    us to take
    care of one another
    strengthen keep
    and build upon
    strong blood lined
    "co-mune it T"
    Today's (new)
    community speaks
    loud to itself
    and long enough
    to bellow a
    quick hello
    from newly coordinated
    and freshly installed
    dry wall gates and additions
    of surreptitiously perspectives. .
    Mid-Town (Columbia Heights)
    of old, very much
    dance to the rhythm
    melodiously choc-city
    poets and artsy arts
    on the stoops
    of each others porch
    music blaring chess playing
    card shuffling
    church going
    living good
    loving long
    waiting for our fathers
    forefathers and ancient man
    to return from long hour angling
    with tons of pure water fish
    in giant water coolers
    at the top of the alley
    and watermelon man yelling
    "fresh cold water MELON, fresh cold... “
    how sweet it is 2b loved by you
    ah baby, four corners, dodge ball
    and deep throat tongue kisses
    my head with the stealth of deep
    inhales of the 70’s red and gold
    it has all gone up in smoke
    we grow old, but look we fade
    not away and new
    will never cut it because
    old stained it. . size
    "aint nothin new under the sun
    different for mayBE. . . but not new

    S Berger

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  5. Jonathan WeinsteinMarch 22, 2010 at 10:59 AM

    Mr. Rosen's blog is a valuable contribution to the written history of the District. Obviously, it is not the full history, or the only perspective on the events and people discussed, but this first-hand account is an important part of the picture and a very enjoyable read. Thank you Mr. Rosen for the history lesson and the context.


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