Skip to main content


Showing posts from August, 2009

Old Alliances

On a quick errand, some years ago, I remember driving through a very different Benning Terrace, at 46th Place and G Street SE, than the one that exists today. Having grown up (like many Penn Branch folk) with firearms at home and knowing what they can do, I ignored my neighbor's urging to drop him off and speed away as fast as I could drive. Something seemed wrong and shameful about doing that--wasn't raised to think that way and didn't particularly care to regard Benning Terrace or any other troubled River East neighborhood as a leper colony or some mythical leviathan. I knew that speeding through neighborhoods like Benning Terrace or building freeways over them, as was done in Southeast Capitol Hill (now 'Hill East'), doesn't make them magically go away or solve their problems. I knew that running off doesn't make them any better for people who have to pass through them to get somewhere else--certainly doesn't make them better for the folks, who have

O Street Creek?

A few days ago, my former social studies teacher--great lady, who still lives on southern-most end of Carpenter Street--tells me there's a CREEK [Another creek?!], running behind the houses on O Street and along the back wall of the Penn Branch Shopping Center. When I heard that, I could've had a baby right on her porch! My mind flooded with questions... How big or deep is it? Where does it go? What kind of animals, besides our lovable and prolific Brangler opossum, are living down there? Can the people, who live along O Street actually see the creek from their backyards? Does anybody have any cool stories about this creek? Recently, I've noticed there was a rather thick patch of woods, behind the PBC; truthfully, I couldn't guess how thick it might actually be. It is a pretty wild patch and hard to see into, but, I would love to get a look this creek! From what Mrs. G told me, I would wager it is not as big as Pope Creek, which runs along the backs of the houses on P

Tennis, Anyone? Anymore?

Since its founding in 2001, the Recreation Wish List Committee, chaired by Dr. Cora Masters-Barry , wife of former Mayor Marion Barry , had been operating a tennis academy for the Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, nestled beside a broad, golden creek at 701 Mississippi Avenue in Southeast Washington. On Thursday, August 13, 2009, the government of the District of Columbia sent an eviction notice to the Committee, which, according to Attorney General Peter Nickles, was served because the Committee’s corporate registration had been revoked in 2006, prohibiting its continued operation. So, this Southeast Tennis and Learning Center, which has served the lower income and at-risk youth of River East for nearly ten years , closes. What does it have to do with life in Penn Branch? Why should we care ? What’s the big deal? As a member of the * Kiwanis Club of Capitol Hill and volunteering with the * Southeast White House ’s Homework Club (an after-school program), I learned there are

Hope Councilwoman Alexander Gets Her Bread

October 1, 2009, an informed neighbor told me was announced at the Penn Branch Citizens Association meeting at August 11, 2009, is the day [3] Penn Branch Center gets the wrecking ball. [If you haven't read my piece about PBC, please do so. Scroll down, and you will find it at the bottom of this page.] The neighboring laundromat will go, and CVS will take the lot it presently occupies. Wachovia Bank will occupy a new structure that will be one of two set right on the sidewalk. The other will be *DUNKIN' DONUTS, ..I hope. It was also said at one of the Spring 2009 PBC meetings, that the developer, ICG Properties, had once intended to put a five-story, mixed use (condo/retail/office) building on Pennsylvania Avenue, which would have blocked the view of our montanita from that street. A few talks with my Brangler neighbors got it knocked down to TWO stories! Wow! It was decided, earlier this year, that phasing in these new *developments was the way to go. Read more about that

No...the OTHER Fairfax!

[Second Edition, 4/14/15] Now, a confession... While I grew up in Penn Branch and spend alot of time with my family here, I've had a condo in Fairfax Village for about three years, now. Nearby Fairfax Village, while not without its challenges, looks pretty much the same as it did, when I was a little boy. With rolling, emerald lawns...stately colonial design, recalling the Georgian mansions of old Virginia...solid, REAL brick walls that hold heat in Winter and get popsicle-cold with summer air-conditioning--Fairfax Village is a River East treasure, the grandeur of which can be attributed to the dedication of its engineers, the wholesome values of its long-standing residents, and the enduring vision, vigilance and high standards of its manager, Mr. James Welch. Fairfax Village is bordered by a neighborhood that has been plagued with crime and other trouble for decades, and it is, for the most, safe, fairly quiet and aesthetically beautiful--a management miracle. I am rea

Roving Merchants, Crackheads and Drunks…and Hope?

By Mel Dyer If you’ve noticed a sea change at the Good Hope Marketplace Safeway , where our Sears & Roebuck used to be, you aren’t the only one. For nearly a year and a half, I’ve proudly referred neighbors to this supermarket and bragged how much better managed it was, than the Capitol Hill store. The service has been impecable and attentive. The heavily policed parking lot has given our families a feeling of security, however relative. The clean, orderly atmosphere — lively and busy, but, DRAMA-free — has always been welcoming. Sure, it’s occasionally cluttered with long lines that stretched back into the aisles and belligerent customers flipping out in the check-out lane, ..but, the positives outweighed the negatives. Just two days ago, on Friday evening and during rush hour, I saw two fat women standing right at the door of the Safeway, selling perfume out of a crate. While sitting in the parking lot, waiting for my mother and sister to finish their errand, I was accosted by fo

At Ease, With Our Own

Brangler Oppossum (above) is the only thing gathering in these hills, my friends. (Originally published, July 23th, 2009) If it seems some Penn Branch folk are always bellyaching about the lack of quailty retail in our neighborhood, don’t judge us too harshly. It’s more than just bellyaching. Prior to the Reagan Era 80s and the Inflation that preceded it, this neighborhood had plenty! I remember drugstore diners with GREAT coffee, movies at the Hyland Theatre (at the Hyland Cinema , once located next to the Pope Funeral Home) and, with valet, at Coral Hill . There were even several restaurants, a cocktail lounge or two, a bowling alley, ..and all right here, in and around Penn Branch. I remember seeing my neighbors at these places and the feeling of relaxed belonging and protection it gave me. I remember hearing my father laugh about bumping into Mr. Such N. Such at that cocktail lounge, and how, after the encounter, he’d decided that Such N. Such probably wasn’t such a bad guy, after

More Beltway Beauty Than We Can Handle!

Penn Branch Center, charming as ever! (Clockwise from top right) Penn Branch Liquors, CVS Pharmacy, Beltway Beauty and Star Pizzeria, below it. (Originally published, July 15th, 2009) She sits at the corner of Pennsylvania and Branch Avenues, this brick and concrete goddess. Our Penn Branch. She sits there, with a mouthful of meatball subs, twinkies and Cool Ranch Doritos and washes it all down with a Colt 45. She sits there, fixing the one good eye she’s got left on you, as your car makes a mad rush for the John Philip Sousa Bridge. For Capitol Hill. National Harbor. Adams Morgan. Cool places. Exotic places. Faraway places, where cafes litter the sidewalk. Where laughter, foreign accents and live jazz tease the imported air. Where people linger. Celebrate. Hook up. I cannot honestly say that I remember the last time I wanted to visit Penn Branch Center, the prehistoric strip mall at the corner of Pennsylvania and Branch Avenues, for anything, ..and I don’t know anyone else, who does,