March 2013

Posted by Ellen

Happy Easter.

Posted by Ellen

This was a winter of of moving on up for Joshua and his denmates in Portland, Maine, as they graduated from cub scouts into boy scouts. The controversy surrounding scouting these days is probably inaudible or nearly so to the kids, who like scouts of generations past happily keep their eyes on the prize: camping trips and merit badges and all that awesome quasi-Native American stuff.

Posted by Ellen

They say the original matzoh-makers were in a mad rush that first night out of slavery and couldn't bake their bread with customary care and patience. Somehow, that biblical hurry led to perfect squares of matzoh with neat rows of perforations, packaged in cardboard and sold at Passover time for next to nothing by supermarkets hoping to lure in customers for other holiday purchases.

At Metropolitan Bakery in Philadelphia, however, matzoh is the focus of a new business model. It's baked with black olives or sun-dried tomatoes, and it's primitive in appearance, artisanal by reputation. Crowds of people stand in line for it, and they pay a pretty penny.

It seems that there's more than one way to make money off "comfort foods" that invoke the bad old days. Happy Passover, y'all.

Posted by Ellen

Trees from above, waiting for the sun.

Posted by Ellen

The two families pose together at a party celebrating the upcoming marriage of our niece Maggie to Colin Doody.

Posted by Ellen

By 7 a.m. on June 21, 1942, the line of cars at this Texaco station, and at pretty much every gas station in America, spilled out of the lot and on down the street. Strict gas rationing to conserve fuel for the war effort was set to begin the next day, June 22, 1942.

Note the corn plants growing in the grassy spot in the lower left corner of the picture. Note also the car closest to the camera: a brand new 1942 Packard.

McDowell's Texaco was in the 5200 block of Wisconsin Avenue NW, near Friendship Heights at the edge of Washington, D.C; a parking garage now occupies the spot.

Posted by Ellen

That's our niece Olivia, with Paganini the little red poodle and Dobby the dumb black dawg.

Posted by Ellen

On a cold night in January, more than two hundred firefighters from all over Chicago battled a huge blaze in the Harris Marcus warehouse in the city's Bridgeport district. The job was complicated by extreme cold, as hydrants froze and ladders iced up; the water department was called in to de-ice the ladders with steamers.

The next day, embers in the smouldering ruin reignited, and firetrucks had to go back there and spray even more water.

Posted by Ellen

There was a warm spell the other day, and it was a weekend, and there were people dancing in Rittenhouse Square.

Posted by Ellen

Although George Chaconas advertised "fancy fruits and vegetables" at his grocery store in Washington, D.C., also prominent among his wares are chickens with their feathers and rabbits with their fur.

Way in the background is the Washington Monument. The store was in the area now swallowed up by the government office buildings of Federal Triangle.

By 1915, when this picture was taken, Chaconas had been in the grocery business for more than a quarter century. In addition to the store, which had been in this location for about a decade, he and his family also sold groceries from a truck–the kind of vehicle referred to then as a huckster wagon–that made the rounds of the outlying neighborhoods.

Back in the 1890s, however, when he was first establishing himself in Washington, Chaconas sold his fruits and vegetables from a pushcart. On August 14, 1894, as recorded by the Washington Post, Chaconas and eleven other Greeks and Italians were arrested and fined for lingering too long and obstructing traffic with their pushcarts.