Thursday, January 15, 2009

Why I Miss the Places That Are Gone

One after one they fall, those old dusty places that no one will ever be able to replace because they belong to another time. The Market Inn is the latest casualty in the name of progress. I know I'm a little weird, attached as I am to the rock holes and restaurant relics, but I also recognize when history is being obliterated, and that the value of these lost places has no price tag. (Well, maybe pieces of it have a price tag which is why I was able to liberate the upright piano when the Roma auctioned its contents. It's a great old work horse that needs to be put out to pasture according to Bobby Lee Birdsong, but I can't bring myself to do it and so it sits, moldering in my living room- still reeking of cigarettes on hot summer days.) The Market Inn auction will be later this month.

The new trend towards reviving the town center is a good idea, but how did we stray so far from the originals? Silver Spring, Rockville and Hyattsville were towns in their own rite, but now their new "down towns" have an interchangeable feel. And I just can't imagine people working their whole lives in a Baja Fresh as they did in the old family run places. Hyattsville now boasts an arts district which is a great idea, but part of this includes the most sterile "urban row homes" to house bohemia that I've ever seen in the new town center behind PG Plaza. Somebody needs to go in there with a case of spray paint. And I doubt any of the new restaurants will be collecting nudes, or full suits of armour or hunting trophies like they did in the Market Inn, the Orleans House and The Roma. Ulysses Auger, of Blackie's House of Beef once built an annex called Lulu's which was dedicated to his wife's one time experience as a Queen of Mardi Gras. Now that's what I call a theme restaurant!

Sprinkled here and there the old and odd places are still clinging to life- like Martin's Tavern, Tastee Diner, Crisfield's, Vincino's and god bless Roger Miller's African Restaurant. Franklin's is a great blend of new and old- housed in an old hardware store and serving some of the best beer in the area. And one of my all time favorites is The Hitching Post where you can get a fried chicken sandwich which boasts at least 5 pieces of bird and almost as an afterthought two pieces of Wonder bread on the side. Here's a picture of my mom on her ninetieth plus birthday ( you heard me) and her chicken sandwich. It just doesn't get much better than this.


  1. Hey, L. I have a great appreciation for your documenting the "disappeared" places and their histories. I lived long enough in and around D.C. that I'm sometimes astounded by the number of places that now exist only in my memory. Now back in Baltimore I'm faced with the same phenomenon here (and I've seen it too in Providence and New Orleans).

    But, despite your personal connection to Blackie's and the Augers, I have to say I'm glad Blackie's and Lulu's have bitten the dust. I've worked in a number of establishments in the restaurant business -- decidely not the most enlightened of industries -- and Lulu's segregation-era treatment of it's employes, in the 1990s mind you, was the worst I've ever experienced. And an investigator for the D.C. Human Rights Commission agreed with me.

  2. I hear you. DC was not exactly a bastion of forward thinking especially where civil rights and equality are concerned. Still struggling with that.