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“WHAT DO YOU DO?” First in a series of people with interesting jobs: a part-time magician. PAGE 4

In deep water: When it rains, some residents feel swamped by Susie Currie

About 25 residents met recently to discuss the flooding that has plagued their neighborhood for years. The area, which some call “Soggy Bottom,” is bordered by 40th Avenue and Crittenden, Banner and Buchanan streets. It includes a trailhead used to access Magruder Park. The January 23 public meeting was led by Julia McTague, who was assigned to manage various city engineering projects in August. Photographs of the situations causing the drainage problems were on display, but many residents seemed not to need the visual aids. “When it rains, my yard turns into a swamp,” said Chris Salazar, of the 4700 block of Banner Street. “And my neighbor’s turns into a lake.” That problem dates to 1993, when the sidewalks there were raised to allow space for tree roots. But they were raised higher than residents’ yards, so water that should have flowed onto the street from the sidewalks instead formed pools on private property. “Some [homeowners] couldn’t even open their front gates because the sidewalk was in the way,” recalled Doug Dudrow, who repre-



What one grocery store’s closing means for society. PAGE 2

Hyattsville library hosts indie-movie screenings and discussion. PAGE 3

Hyattsville Life&Times

Vol. 9 No. 2

Hyattsville’s Community Newspaper

Redrawing the boundaries

by Paula Minaert

Hyattsville’s population has grown almost 20 percent in the last decade, according to 2010 census data. It had 17,557 residents on April 1, 2010; on that date in 2000, it had 14,733. This and other information was presented at a sparsely attended public hearing on January 30. David Rain, chair of the city’s redistricting committee, led the meeting, which was

held to get residents’ input on the process. Last month, the city council appointed Rain, Christine Hinojosa and Lisa Pineda to the committee. Its job is to evaluate ward boundaries in light of the new census data and propose needed adjustments to them. This task is required by law, to ensure the city’s compliance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Rain attributed the growth to new construc-

tion and annexation, pointing to EYA on Route 1, University Town Center along EastWest Highway and the addition of University Hills. “What these numbers mean,” he added, “is that each of the city’s five wards needs to have about 3,500 people.” He explained that federal law requires there be no more than a 10



DRAINAGE continued on page 11

REDISTRICTING continued on page 12

Whole Foods moves closer to reality County Planning Board approves Cafritz rezoning by Paula Minaert

PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE PAID Permit # 43 Easton, MD 21601 Hyattsville Life & Times PO Box 132 Hyattsville, MD 20781

February 2012

CATHOLIC STANDARD Worshippers gather at St. Jerome on January 14 for a concert and Mass honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The annual Mass is sponsored by the Archdiocese of Washingtonʼs Office of Black Catholics.

The Prince George’s County Planning Board unanimously approved on February 2 a rezoning request for a 37-acre wooded property in Riverdale Park. The approval opens the way for the land, owned by the Cafritz family, to be turned into a mixed-use development that would feature a Whole Foods grocery store as its anchor. The proposed development, which is located 1,400 feet from the intersection of Route 1 and East-West Highway, calls for 995 residential units, a 120-room hotel, 22,000 feet of office space and 162,000 feet of retail space. The ambitious plan has been the subject of intense controversy in the towns near the property. Supporters claim the CAFRITZ continued on page 13

Included: The February 7, 2012 Issue of The Hyattsville Reporter — See Center Section

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Hyattsville Life & Times | February 2012

FromTheVicePresident Safeway closes chapter on an American way of life by Chris Currie

When the January HL&T broke the story about the Hyattsville Safeway’s February 4 closing, views of our Web edition hit 1,000 within a week of its posting. Dozens of messages about it appeared on the HOPE community listserv alone, to say nothing of the many conversations among neighbors. Why has the departure of one business cut so deeply into our collective psyche?  Certainly the centrality of food in our lives has something to do with it, as did the store’s location in the heart of the residential neighborhood. But I think its leaving also marks

A community newspaper chronicling the life and times of Hyattsville Mailing address: PO Box 132, Hyattsville, MD 20781 Hyattsville Life & Times is published monthly by Hyattsville Community Newspaper, Inc., a 501c(3) nonprofit corporation. Interested reporters should send their e-mail addresses to the editor to be reminded of deadlines and receive internal news. Articles and news submitted may be edited. The deadline is the last week of the month for the following month’s issue. Letters to the editor and opinions are encouraged. For all e-mail correspondence with HL&T: news, features, tips, advertising and business write to hyattsvillelifeandtimes@gmail. com. To submit articles, letters to the editor, etc., e-mail Executive Editor Paula Minaert 301.335.2519 Managing Editor Susie Currie 301.633.9209 Editorial Intern Scarlett Salem Production Ashley Perks Advertising 301.531.5234 Writers & Contributors Victoria Hille, William Jenne, Valerie Russell, Kimberly Schmidt, Fred Seitz, Hugh Turley Board of Directors Julia Duin - President Chris Currie - Vice President Joseph Gigliotti - General Counsel Paula Minaert - Secretary Peggy Dee, Bart Lawrence, Karen J. Riley Susie Currie - Ex Officio Circulation: Copies are distributed monthly by U.S. Mail to every address in Hyattsville. Additional copies are distributed to libraries, selected businesses, community centers and churches in the city. Total circulation is 9,300. HL&T is a member of the National Newspaper Association.

the end of an era, not just in Hyattsville but in American society. It reflects a cultural transition about which many of us feel a profound ambivalence. Safeway, once the nation’s largest grocery chain, had deeper roots in Hyattsville than in any other Maryland community. It operated continuously in our city for more than a century, having acquired the Sanitary Grocery on Gallatin Street in the 1920s. When my kids dig in the swale in our side yard, unearthing buried treasures of antique bottles and jars, I am struck not so much by the strangeness of a bygone age as by its familiarity.   The Clorox bleach and Phillips’ Milk of Magnesia bottles probably were purchased at our local Safeway store decades ago, and were still available there until its closing this month. They represented the touchstones of American life across generations.   When I was a child growing up in Detroit’s inner city in the 1960s, everyone shopped at the A&P or its local competitor, Great Scott!  The Wheaties in my cereal bowl came from the same place as those of my classmates from the projects down the street, as well as the corporate honchos who worked above my dad at Chrysler world headquarters. While there were deep cleavages then in society, particularly between races, there were nevertheless many common reference points in everyday life – some of which began at the supermarket cash register.   Today, A&P and Great Scott! have vanished from the landscape; indeed, there are no chain groceries at all within the city limits of Detroit. Safeway, too, has been changing with the times. The company is systematically converting stores to its Lifestyle platform – designed

PAULA MINAERT Does Safeway shuttering mean more divisions?

to compete with upscale stores like Whole Foods – while closing outlets in local markets (like ours) that it deems unable to support its glitzier new brand. This is a widespread trend across the retail sector, as companies pursue what are now called “standard demographics”: median incomes and educational levels that are well beyond those of many communities that once supported similar businesses. Yet people of modest incomes need to eat, too. So new brands have emerged, like Aldi and Safeway’s forthcoming successor on Hamilton Street, Bestway.  On the one hand, it’s nice to have more choices and ones that perhaps are more closely calibrated to our means and tastes. On the other, you can’t get a box of Kellogg’s cereal at Aldi.  At Whole Foods, you’d be more likely to buy organic yogurt and muesli.  Our lifestyles, it seems, are

inexorably diverging as American commerce becomes more market-segmented and stratified. Sociologist Charles  Murray, in an article in the Wall Street Journal  last month, portrays this as part of a broader phenomenon he calls “The New American Divide.”  Noting 19th-century historian Alexis de Tocqueville’s observation about America,  “The more opulent citizens take great care not to stand aloof from the people,”  Murray  argues that a common understanding about the American way of life has been replaced by the polarization of class and culture in today’s society. This is now being protested by people both on the Right (the Tea Party) and the Left (the Occupy movement).  He recommends that people from different backgrounds venture outside of their enclaves and get to know each other again – which sounds a lot like Hyattsville, whether at

the bakery counter or over the backyard fence. Our family will continue to shop at Hyattsville’s food stores, buying cheap granola bars at Aldi and the occasional organic staple at Yes! and, hopefully, some decent produce at reasonable cost someday soon from Bestway. And we’ll undoubtedly continue to support the dying model of the everyman’s supermarket at Giant Food. At this writing, Safeway is days away from closing. On February 4, I think I’ll run into the Hamilton Street Safeway one last time and search the near-empty shelves for a box of cereal that I haven’t tasted since I was a kid.  And I’ll eat a bowl of Wheaties, solemnly, in honor of the way we were.

high school faculty, staff and students, city officials and staff, and our fantastic committee. We are convinced that our success came as the result of a common goal, excellent communication, extremely hard work and the support given to us by HYATTSVILLE — support such as from the articles in your newspaper [“Local toy drive has

become a tradition,” December 2011]. They were read not only by our residents, but by friends in neighboring municipalities. Again, on behalf of my family, I offer sincere thanks and remain grateful for your generosity.

Chris Currie is vice president of Hyattsville Community Newspaper Inc., publisher of HL&T.

LETTER TO THE EDITOR We recently had our wrap-up meeting of the Sonny Frazier Toy Drive events for 2011, which included the Hyattsville Heroes Bowl Game, the parties given to collect donations, the shopping, and the awesome Christmas party held December 17 at the City Building. I am so proud to say that we took a group of people (family, committee, members of

the police and fire departments, and other inexperienced volunteers) and pulled off one of the most successful events the City of Hyattsville has ever had. The holiday needs of over 175 children and their families were met. I must offer heartfelt thanks to those who made this possible: our families, neighbors, local business owners, friends, public servants,

Ruth Ann Frazier Frazier represents Ward 5 on the Hyattsville City Council.

Hyattsville Life & Times | February 2012

Film series displays some ‘hidden gems’

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On January 30, nearly 50 people gathered for the first installment of the Hyattsville library’s winter Independent Film Series, the documentary “Babies.” After the movie, local filmmaker and Hyattsville resident Andrew Millington facilitated a 30-minute discussion. “The turnout was very encouraging,” said Millington, a former film professor. “I think we’re filling a need people have to critically reflect and discuss the issues presented in film and media, rather than just watching them in the private spaces of their homes.” The audience munched on popcorn as they watched the stories of four newborns unfold in four very different environments, from San Francisco to rural Namibia. Afterwards, Millington highlighted some major themes and then audience members of all ages either expanded on them or shared their own insights. Pierre Walcott, who founded the Hyattsville-based organization Global Film and Humanities Project, is one of many collaborators on the series. “Libraries attract a rich crosssection of our community,” he said. “This is our audience. They tend to be among the most curious, creative and passionate members of our community. They are hungry for knowledge and new experiences.” The idea came about last spring, when library associate Susan Misleh spoke with Millington and Walcott about ways to use



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One of the four children featured in the documentary film “Babies.”

library space for both film promotion and community engagement. Once there was support from library administrators, they secured partnerships with the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation and the Prince George’s County Arts and Humanities Council. Ultimately, they decided on the independent film series as an opportunity to showcase some of the library’s little-known resources. “There are about 1,000 documentary DVDs that we have [throughout the county library system] and almost 300 foreignlanguage films. And we have different collections within that that are independent filmmakers,” said Misleh. Millington, an independent filmmaker himself, hopes that the series will spur a local filmmaker’s showcase later in the year. His latest project is “Zora’s Dream,” a film shot in and around West Hyattsville that is

now in post-production. Misleh takes recommendations from associates and patrons when selecting great films from around the world. “I’m really excited that people are getting to see some of the audiovisual materials we have here at the library, ” she said. “These movies are the hidden gems in our system.” The winter series will continue monthly. The next one is “The Boys of Baraka,” on February 27, which follows a dozen boys from a Baltimore ghetto to an experimental boarding school in rural Kenya. On March 26, there’s “Blossoms of Fire,” which depicts life in Oaxaca, Mexico. Screenings begin at 7 p.m. and will be followed by a 30-minute facilitated discussion with Millington. “We see ourselves as part of this global community,” said Millington, “and hopefully people who come to see the movies will make this connection as well.”

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Hyattsville Life & Times | February 2012


Magic in the air by Victoria Boucher

At the Gamestop store on Queens Chapel Road in Hyattsville, there is a sign that reads: “Bring Magic Into Your Home.� Joe Largess, who works there part-time while majoring in fine arts at the University of Maryland, helps people do just that. His other job: putting on magic shows at private parties in homes and offices. He performed a few tricks at my own holiday party in December. I served as spectator, a professional term I interpret to mean “stupefied dupe.� (I still can’t figure out where in his

sleeve he could have stashed such things as a huge brass battery!) Expertly supported by his charming partners, Monday Banana (aka Nicole Riley) and Charlie the Rabbit, his shows delight children and adults with baffling effects and sleight of hand. Children may participate and some are given magic wands to wave at the critical moment. Charlie, though a favorite with children, is not invited to corporate events. Largess explains, “These usually center on financial issues, and I’m called upon to perform tricks using money. Charlie will

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me about a bizarre stipulation in the will of a recently deceased fan: that Largess cheer up mourners at the funeral with a magic show. The challenge was to come up with something that would be related to the event and “entertaining but not offensive.� He devised a routine involving the resurrection of a mummy puppet, as well as The Five Treasures of Life demonstration, in which worldly treasures such as beauty and success vanish in a poof while death is reserved as a treasure bestowed when most needed. To his relief, the act was well received. For a sample of Joe’s work, just call him at 240.413.6134. He can do a trick for you over the telephone.


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not hesitate to eat it.� In fact, even at other events Charlie must be used sparingly and towards the end of the show because he is a shameless scene-stealer. Charlie has an understudy named Peter, who turned out to be female after suddenly producing a litter of baby bunnies. Abracadabra! Largess’s fascination with prestidigitation began at age 4, when he was given a set called “Houdini’s 50 Tricks.� As he could not yet read, he was fortunate that his Granddad Largess was an accomplished amateur magician who helped him learn the tricks. His budding craft wasn’t considered appropriate for talent shows at St. Jerome School, so he gave his first presentation to classmates at DeMatha High School. After graduation, he found a mentor, Barry Francis Taylor, someone he describes as “a master magician, a genuinely great performer and an all-around great guy.� Taylor hired him to work in his magic shop, and

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Hyattsville Life & Times | February 2012

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Squab á la Pepco by Fred Seitz

West Hyattsville Metro riders may want to note that their journey from station to street takes them beneath about a hundred of nature’s most revered and reviled avians. Perching on the nearby power lines is a longtime flock of rock doves, also known as pigeons. Taken for granted (or sometimes with annoyance), these ubiquitous birds have come a long way from their original wild habitats in South Asia, North Africa and Southern Europe. The pigeon was the first bird that white settlers brought to the New World in 1603; now, it can be found wherever there are people. Egyptians and Mesopotamians domesticated this bird more than 5,000 years ago, and it has become valued for its meat, speed, gentle nature and remarkable ability to find its way home. Both

Noah and Gilgamesh employed them to ascertain when their respective floods had receded. And more modern Mesopotamians, members of the Iraqi militia, used pigeons to carry messages as recently as 2008. Its scientific name is columba livia, but it has many other monikers such as “flying rat” and “dove of peace.” One of nature’s athletes, it can fly at speeds up to 60 miles an hour and travel long distances on limited food. These qualities have made it a perennial sporting bird enjoyed by personalities as diverse as Queen Victoria, Charles Darwin and Mike Tyson. While the sport is denounced by some, modern racing pigeons compete for purses valued up to $250,000. There are at least five such clubs in the Baltimore-Washington area. The Olympian qualities of the common pigeon far exceed those of the mourning dove (zenaida

macroura), a frequent visitor to Hyattsville bird feeders. It’s easy to tell the two species apart; mourning doves are mostly brown and tan, with long, pointed tails, while the more colorful rock doves have tails that are slightly squared or rounded. Our subway friends have such a wide variety of plumage, with colors ranging from iridescent green and purple to a black-and-white checkerboard pattern, that they are sometimes called “checkers,” “red bands” or “blue bands.” Both the mourning dove and rock dove display similar courtship and territorial displays. Males may exhibit a bow when approaching the female during courtship; if she accepts his advances, she will put her bill inside the male’s. Anthropomorphically speaking, it resembles kissing (but we won’t go there). When it comes to nesting, males of both species do most of the “heavy lifting” to gather materials and females do the actual construction. Mourning doves nest in trees; rock doves nest on

FRED SEITZ Familiar birds perch outside the West Hyattsville metro station.

building ledges and under bridges. If there are several nests in the same area, each pigeon couple will try to use partitions on the ledge or under the bridge to separate them.

Both mourning and rock doves lay two eggs and incubation is shared by the parents. Both also eat seeds and fruit, but our “flying rat” friends have diversified palates, enjoying much of whatever humans leave behind. At the West Hyattsville Metro, the pigeons often display their aerial acrobatics to people coming and going to the station. Perching on the Pepco lines gives the birds good views of predators, and flying in formation may also deter those predators (mostly hawks). The Metro flock is an enduring (and possibly endearing) representation of an ancient relationship between nature and humanity. While our current text messages and email may move somewhat faster than even the best racing pigeons, their familiar faces and feathers can still be enjoyed today. For more information on pigeons as well as other birds, visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website at

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Hyattsville Life & Times | February 2012


MissFloribunda Dear Miss Floribunda, The days are getting longer and I should be looking forward to summer, but I’m not. Maybe because I’m getting on in years I find myself dreading the drudgery of mowing the lawn in the hot sun, weeding, pruning and all the hard work it takes to keep my garden beautiful. When I hired others to do the work. I found my peonies run over and new sprouts pulled up while vigorous mulberry seedlings were undisturbed. A neighbor offered me ivy cuttings as a groundcover, but it didn’t escape my notice that ivy is engulfing his whole garden, which is probably why he has so much to give away. Now, a couple of years ago, you wrote a column I found really useful. You recommended fall bulbs that don’t have to be replanted each year and which multiply. Do you have any other tips? Getting Older on Oglethorpe Street Dear Getting Older, The experts I know have given me so many suggestions that I believe the best thing I can do is invite you to the March 17 joint meeting of the Hyattsville Horticultural Society and Hyattsville Aging in Place. Aging in Place has grown apace since its beginnings as a  brainstorming group last January, seeking solutions to problems related to aging as well as to changes in the community that affect

older people, such as a modified snowremoval policy. It has now a board of directors and has influenced the city to add a senior-services coordinator to its staff. At the moment of writing, Aging in Place is trying to get policies concerning snow removal modified. In addition it has mobilized the community to help residents of Friendship Arms: those who face the ordeal of moving; those who need furniture; those who need help taming clutter. HHS feels honored to share an event with this dynamic organization. At what I’m hoping will be the first in a series of talks on practical home gardening, Master Gardener Greg Dwyer will give a slide presentation entitled “Container Gardening: Making Gardening Accessible for All,” which should interest apartment dwellers as well as seniors. He’ll also cover special tools to help keep you off your knees and will even touch upon raised-bed gardening — worth an entire meeting in itself. The meeting and presentation will take place in the Municipal Center, 4310 Gallatin Street, at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 17.  Hyattsville Horticultural Society meets every third Saturday of the month, usually at the Municipal Center. Aging in Place also meets at the Municipal Center the first Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. I would encourage you to join both societies.

Congratulations to longtime Hyattsville resident Harry Yeide, whose book Fighting Patton: George S. Patton Jr. Through the Eyes of His Enemies was recently published by Zenith Press. It’s the eighth book on American military history from Yeide, a foreignaffairs analyst; all have at least four (of five) stars on Amazon. On January 28, The Wild Onion eatery became the latest vacancy at University Town Center, where it had been since July 9, 2008. Catering is still available, though; call owner Rasheed Abdurrahman at 240.476.5054. In other restaurant news, it seems that rumors of the death of Under the Coconut Tree, at 5124 Baltimore Avenue, have been greatly exaggerated. Fans of the Caribbean cuisine were anxious when the store closed for a few weeks last month, but it’s up and running again under new management. Can we ever have too many thrift stores? (Don’t answer that.) Caroline Sirri, a vendor at the Saturday flea market at Northwestern High School, has opened Fecosasa Consignment & Thrift Store at 4806 Rhode Island Avenue. Actually, at the moment it’s a thrift store only; Sirri, who opened the shop on December 24, says that consignments are not yet being accepted. For that, you can go to 4344 Farragut Street, where Misty Blu has hung out its shingle as a name-brand consignment store. It’s open Wednes-



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Hyattsville may soon be welcoming a human-resources director, a position that languished unfilled under previous city administrator Gregory Rose. At this writing, the city is in negotiations with a candidate and expects the position to be filled and the candidate on board by the end of the month. The city’s 125th anniversary parade was rained out last year. But organizers are planning for the biggest one yet, a four-day extravaganza complete with fireworks. A carnival in Magruder Park will run April 12 to 16, and on Saturday, April 14, the annual parade steps off from Hyattsville Middle School, followed by a festival in the park. Also in the works: a revamped and expanded fall festival in West Hyattsville. For about 15 years, Queens Chapel Town Center was the spot for the International Street Festival, usually held in late September. At a recent city council meeting, Acting Parks and Recreation Director Abby Sandel proposed moving the fun to November 3, and renaming it Handmade on Hamilton: An International Festival of Craft, Food and Music. She expects that artists and other vendors will be able to apply for a spot sometime this spring. Stay tuned! — compiled by Susie Currie

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Hyattsville Life & Times | February 2012

Page 7

The secret history of Prince George’s County by Julia Duin

Prince George’s County has long been seen as an idyllic place for the area’s black middle class. But 100 years ago, it was far less welcoming, says Hyattsville author Richard Morris. Morris, who is white, may be one of the best amateur local historians of black history around. While studying medical sociology at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland in the 1960s, he worked in Carl Stokes’ first campaign for mayor of Cleveland. In 1967, Stokes became the first black mayor of a major American city, and the race sharpened Morris’ interest in racial justice issues. Morris has lived 35 years in Maryland. He and his wife, Barbara, moved to Hyattsville to be near their two daughters (and young grandchildren). One of them, music teacher Audrey Engdahl, drew the cover art for his 2010 novel “Well Considered.” The book tells of a time when lynchings were occurring outside the Deep South. A black family newly arrived from California discovers the story behind the 1907 lynching of a great-grandfather. When Morris read from it last summer during a local authors’ reception at Busboys & Poets, many black listeners came up to him afterwards and thanked him for caring enough to write the book. This darker side of the county’s history took some work to uncover. Morris spent hours going through Baltimore Sun archives, books, surveys and maps at Bowie State University and the Prince George’s County Historical Society, as well as records from the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. He discovered that there were some 43 recorded lynchings statewide between 1854 and 1933, the last in Salisbury. Five of

them occurred in Prince George’s County, mostly in the late 1800s in Upper Marlboro, he says. The author agreed to answer a few questions about his gripping book.

Q: A:

Can a white author write knowledgeably about a black protagonist? I don’t think literature should be segregated. Black and white authors can have black and white characters. I have been interested in local history and Maryland history for many years. I was doing some research on the first president of Bowie State when I came across a report that there had been lynchings in the area as late as 1907. I was shocked, and determined to look into it.


In the book, you portrayed a lynching as almost like a block party, complete with a picnic under the corpse. White people made their children come watch the whole spectacle. How did you know these details? I put together the account in the book from descriptions of lynchings in newspaper articles and books. A book called “Without Sanctuary” has photos of lynchings all over the country. In it, there are pictures of children looking up; parents were training them in racism and how blacks should be kept in line. In


her book “On The Courthouse Lawn,” University of Maryland professor Sherrilyn A. Ifill describes the lynching in Salisbury: the crowd hanged the person  in front of a judge’s house and then burned the body on a pyre on the courthouse lawn. The National Guard, which was called to arrest four suspected lynchers and take them to Baltimore for trial, battled a crowd of at least a thousand townspeople. Local judges later released the suspects.  

Q: A:

What else did you learn from your research? This really is a Southern state. There were attempts by the legislature to take away the black vote in 1905 and again in 1910. A Howard University professor was  arrested for riding in the white section of a railroad car in Cecil County in 1905. I remember attending the last tobacco auction in Upper Marlboro and seeing through thin paint the signs on the bathroom doors in the auction barn: “white” and “colored.” County census data says that between 1970  and 2000, nearly a third of a million white residents left the county – more than the population of Pittsburgh. There was massive white flight from school integration and busing. In 2010, AfricanAmericans made up 64.5 percent of the county population, the highest

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since the 68.6 percent in 1810 and 62.5 percent in 1830, in slavery times.

Q: A:

Did any of this happen in Hyattsville? No lynchings that were recorded. Riversdale was a huge tobacco plantation so there was slavery here. And Jim Crow was everywhere. For more information on Well Considered, go to

courtesy of richard morris Hyattsville author Richard Morris.

Julia Duin is president of the board of the HL&T.

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Hyattsville Life & Times | February 2012

the • 301-985-5000

Hyattsville Life & Times | February 2012

No. 234• February 8, 2012



Coming Attractions


The groundhog may have seen his shadow, but in the Department of Recreation and the Arts, we’re already thinking … summer.

The Department of Recreation and the Arts offers a fun-filled week in Magruder Park for kids ages 4 through 12 during the Prince George’s County Public Schools Spring Break Week. This week’s camp takes place from Monday, April 2 through Friday, April 6. Camp counselors strive to foster creativity and confidence in each child. Activities range from games and sports to arts, crafts, and eco-themed projects.

The City offers nine weeks of Summer Camp, beginning on Monday, June 18, 2012. Campers register by session as follows: Session I: June 18th - June 29th Session II: July 2th - July 13th Session III: July 16th - July 27th Session IV: July 30th - August 10th Session V: August 13th - August 17th

The regular camp day is 9 AM to 5 PM. Before Care is available from 7:30 to 9 AM, and After Care is available from 5 to 6 PM. Camp meets at the Magruder Park Recreation Center, 3911 Hamilton Street. Kids ages 4 through 12 are welcome. Campers are divided by age group for most activities. Your child will be assigned a room, and each room is supervised by a Team Leader, in addition to the Camp Director and Assistant Director.

All lunches and snacks, as well as field trips, are included in the fees. Registration for Before Care also includes breakfast. Find out more at or attend our Camp Information Session on Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 6:00 PM at the City Municipal Building, 4310 Gallatin Street.

Jumpin’ Jukebox Parent and Child Dance Party Saturday, February 18, 2012 5:00 to 7:00 PM Parents and children are invited to rock around the clock at the City’s annual Parent & Child Sweetheart Dance at the City Municipal Building, 4310 Gallatin Street! Tickets are just $5 per guest, and include refreshments, photos, and all the fun we can pack into our night on the town. Dress to the nines – poodle skirts, princess dresses, or just regular play clothes welcome! Reservations required. Please see http://www. for details or call 301/9855020.

Architect Mark Ferguson will lead a discussion on how homeowners might consider modifying their homes to better prepare for the golden years! The presentation takes place February 9, 2012 at 7:30 PM at the City Municipal Building. Following Mark’s presentation, there will be a brief presentation on the State of Maryland Historic Tax Credit Program. All homes within

Monday, February 13

Police Department Community Meeting, 7:00 - 8:00 PM Council Work Session, 8:00 to 10:00 PM

Wednesday, February 15

Hyattsville Environmental Committee Meeting, 7:30 PM - 8:30 PM

Tuesday, February 21

Planning Committee Meeting, 7:30 - 9:00 PM Council Meeting, 8:00 – 10:00 PM Unless otherwise noted, all events take place at the City Municipal Building, 4310 Gallatin Street. need to create a new one. Simply log in and add the City of Hyattsville to your wire. New to Nixle? Register at or enroll using the widget online at

PAVILION PERMIT INQUIRY FORM NOW ONLINE The Magruder Park pavilions are reserved by permit only from April through October. For information on rentals and rates, please visit To inquire about availability, call 301/985-5020 or use the form found online!



CALL FOR GROUPS TO MARCH IN Twice each year, the City offers residents a chance ANNIVERSARY PARADE to participate in a Yard Sale Day, no permits re-


General Registration opens for Spring Break Camp Escape and Summer Camp Jamboree

Jumpin’ Jukebox Parent & Child Sweetheart Dance, 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM


The City’s 126th Anniversary Parade will take place on Saturday, April 14, 2012. Community groups, youth groups, classic car drivers, marching bands, step teams, fire and police units, and other civic organizations are invited to participate! Please visit for details, including a registration form.

Wednesday, February 8

Saturday, February 18

Looking for information on the City redistricting process? Visit the City’s website: Recommendations will be presented to the Mayor and City Council on Tuesday, February 21, 2012.

The City is closed on Monday, February 20, 2012 in observance of the Presidents Day holiday. As a result, there is no Yard Waste pick-up on Monday, February 20, City-wide. Questions? Please call the Department of Public Works at 301/9855032.

February 2012

Camp Information Session for Prospective Parents & Campers, 6:00 PM - 7:30 PM


Each week includes two outings: a trip to the swimming pool located on the park grounds, and a field trip or other special activity. During Session I, the kids will paint their own piece of pottery when Color Me Mine visits camp and also visit the National Zoo.


Thursday, February 16

Regular camp hours are 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM. The week-long camp costs $100 per camper. Before Care is available from 7:30 to 9:00 AM at $3/day, and After Care is offered from 5:00 to 6:00 PM, also at $3/day. Lunch and snack are included in the camp rate, and Before Care also includes breakfast. For more information visit

Note that Session V is only one week long. The calendar is designed to coordinate closely with the Prince George’s County Public Schools calendar.

The daily schedule is varied, and Campers get to try all sorts of different things, with an emphasis on fun activities to get kids up and moving. Each day includes a sport, dancing and dance-based games, arts and crafts, free play, and quiet reading time. This year we’re adding an Arts Specialist to our staff to increase the creativity behind our Campers’ arts projects.

the Hyattsville Historic District are eligible. Visit or email for details.

Page HR2

quired. This year’s dates are Saturday, April 21st and Saturday, October 6th. Registration is now open for April 21st! There is no requirement to register. However, residents who register will be included on the map showing all addresses. Visit or call 301/985-5000 to register. Check the website after 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18 to download a complete list of all participating addresses, or stop by the City Municipal Building at 4310 Gallatin Street to pick up a copy. Happy bargain hunting!

NIXLE The City is now using Nixle to send public safety alerts and information via both email and text message. This system replaces the SafeCity website previously in use. Many of our neighboring jurisdictions also use Nixle to send out information. If you have a account, there is no

Are you on Facebook? You can now keep up with City events and happenings at When you see Vainglorious, the silver metal bird sculpture at Centennial Park, you’ll know you’re in the right place. He is kind enough to serve as the City’s wall photo.

Page 8

Hyattsville Life & Times | February 2012


Through March 24

The Brentwood Arts Exchange hosts Rivers and Memories, an exhibit featuring the two- and

three-dimensional work of longtime local artists E.J. Montgomery and Lilian T. Burwell. Free. 4 to 7 p.m. 3901 Rhode Island Ave-

nue, Brentwood. 301.277.2863.

February 10

The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra is one of the few ensembles playing today that performs without a conductor and instead rotates musical leadership for each work. Pianist JeanYves Thibaudet joins them for a program that includes selections from Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky and modern composers Tippett and Honegger. $45. 8 p.m. Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, University of Maryland, College Park. 301.405.2787.

February 11

The Hyattsville Branch Library hosts two events this afternoon. For adults, there will be a 1 p.m. discussion on “Integration: The Promise of Equality or the Destruction of a Community.” Then, at 2 p.m., It’s LEGO® Time! brings all sizes of bricks to the table for children ages 3 to 13 and their families. Both events are free. Hyattsville Branch Library, 6530 Adelphi Road. 301.985.4690.

February 11

Area artist Rick Ruggles sees hearts in shadows, leaves, fruit,

Spring Break Camp Escape April 2nd - 6th Early registration opens January 17 for City of Hyattsville residents. General registration begins February 8 for all. Camp Escape offers a fun-filled Spring Break week for kids ages 5-9 and 10-13. Camp takes place at the City of Hyattsville’s Magruder Park Recreation Center, 3911 Hamilton Street. Our staff strives to foster creativity and confidence in each camper.

Campers will enjoy: • Games • Sports • Arts & Crafts • Eco-themed activities For hours, fees, and registration information, please call 301-985-5020 or visit

even cacti, and for a decade, he has captured them in photographs. Some will be on display this afternoon during a Valentine Reception and Sale, along with “Finding Heart,” a book that combines his photographs and Steve Godwin’s poetry. Free. Noon to 3 p.m. Art Works Studio School, 3711 Rhode Island Avenue, Mount Rainier. 301.454.0808.

February 12

Conversations in the Corridor is a monthly series, held on second Sundays at Busboys & Poets, that gathers local activists and community members for discussions of local issues. The topics are freeranging, touching on politics, arts, education, race, class and culture. Tonight’s theme: Un d e r s e r v e d or desperate? How the Cafritz property (Whole Foods) debate forces us to answer some tough ques-

tions. Free. 5 to 7 p.m. Zinn Room, Busboys and Poets, 5331 Baltimore Avenue. 301.779.2787.

February 18

Have you read Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants? Join other bibliophiles for a discussion of the book, which follows a circus veterinarian in the Depression era. (Or you can just check the audiovisual collection to see if the DVD is in.) Free. 3 p.m. Hyattsville Branch Library, 6530 Adelphi Road. 301.985.4690.

February 19

Calling all poetry lovers! Borderlines is a bilingual ( S p a n i s h / E n glish) open-mic event hosted by Henry Mills for all performers. Share your poetry, prose or translations of works of your favorite authors. Or you can grab a table in the Zinn Room and watch the show. Free. 5 to 7 p.m., with signup

City of Hyattsville, Maryland

Notice of commuNity meetiNg: crime & Safety iN the city of hyattSville Monday, February 13, 2012 7:00 p.m. City Municipal Building 4310 Gallatin Street Third Floor, Council Chambers Chief Douglas Holland and the Police Department’s Community Action Team will host a Community Meeting to discuss residents’ concerns about Crime and Safety issues in our community. Among other topics, the Chief will discuss Crime Statistics for the calendar year ended December 2011. A new program from the Senior Services Coordinator will also be introduced. Questions? Contact Sgt. Chris Purvis at or 301/985-5060.

Hyattsville Life & Times | February 2012

starting at 4:30 p.m. Busboys & Poets, 5331 Baltimore Avenue. 301.779.2787.

February 22

Parents and guardians are invited to the Hyattsville Elementary School Open House. Join Prince George’s County Public School Board Member Amber Waller, Principal Jeanne Washburn, kindergarten teachers and PTA members to see what this neighborhood school has to offer. Children are welcome at the event, which is set for 9 to 10:30 a.m. in the school cafeteria, 5311 43rd Avenue. 301.312.9170. 

February 25

A program on African-American musicology will showcase several music genres, including call and response, ring shouts, blues, hip hop, jazz, rap, R&B and more. Leaders will teach basic hand-dancing steps, too. Advance reservations suggested. $3. 1 to 3 p.m. Mount Rainier Nature & Recreation Center, 4701 31st Place, Mount Rainier. 301.927.2163.

February 26

Has it really been a decade since Mike Franklin expanded his sandwich shop and toy store into Franklins Restaurant, Brewery and General Store? During the daylong Franklins 10th Anniversary Party, stop by for prizes, wine tastings in the store, guided tours of the brewery, and more, including a limited supply of what brewmaster Mike Roy calls “special/vintage beers.” 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. 5121 Baltimore Avenue. 301.927.2740.

Page 9

March 10

Nancy Havlik’s Dance Performance Group joins kids from Joe’s Movement Emporium to present Confluence of Stars, an evening of new dance works 8 p.m. $12, with discounts for students and seniors. 3309 Bunker Hill Road, Mount Rainier. 301.699.1819.

Ongoing Through March 1, Eco City Farms is accepting applications for unpaid internships. The position runs April through November, and requires 15 hours a week for adults and 10 for students. The job may count for community service or school credit. Staff is seeking people who are “reliable, on-time, creative, passionate, flexible, fast, and have a good sense of humor in spite of the hard work!” To apply, send a cover letter and resume to Christian Melendez at Eco City Farms, 4913 Crittenden Street, Edmonston. The College Park Aviation Museum continues its Saturday afternoon Bricks 4 Kidz LEGO® program. Students can build unique creations and play games with the classic bricks, with themes like machines, outer space and mosaics. $145 for 12 classes, which meet twice a month (at 1 or 2 p.m. Saturdays) for six months. College Park Aviation Museum, 1985 Cpl. Frank Scott Drive, College Park. For registration information, visit www.collegeparkaviationmuseum. com or call 301.864.6029.

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Borrowing from the 1960s Brazilian tropicália movement, Alma Tropicalia Live performs classics of that era as well as original songs inspired by them. The music has been described as a combination of “soul, samba, and ’60s,” and you can hear it tonight at Joe’s Movement Emporium. 8 p.m. $12, with discounts for students and seniors. 3309 Bunker Hill Road, Mount Rainier. 301.699.1819.

March 9

New Old Theatre presents the world premiere of The Perilous Fight, billed as “the War of 1812 as told in ballad and anthem.” The evening of patriotic songs, tableaux, and excerpts from poetry and plays all relating to the historic war concludes with the iconic bombardment of Fort McHenry (depicted in miniature, of course). Free; pay-as-you-can donations are welcomed. 7:30 p.m. Old Parish House, 4711 Knox Road, College Park. Contact or 301.927.3013.

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Hyattsville Life & Times | February 2012



Ash Wednesday: A feast, followed by a fast by Hugh Turley

One day this month, chances are you will see a few people with black smudges on their foreheads. You won’t have to check the calendar to know it is Ash Wednesday. In recent times, this Christian holiday has been eclipsed in many quarters by the day that precedes it, Shrove Tuesday – better known as Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday). Unlike, say, Christmas, Ash Wednesday is a moveable feast that varies each year in relation to Easter Sunday. This year it falls on February 22, but it can occur as early as Febru-

ary 4 or as late as March 10. It is always 40 days before Easter (not counting Sundays), which occurs on the first Sunday after the first full moon on or after the vernal equinox. Fortunately, that’s not a formula one has to remember, as secular calendars and appointment books frequently note the date along with other holidays. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a time of prayer, fasting and repentance to prepare for the commemoration of Christ’s resurrection. Among some Christians, Ash Wednesday is so popular even many nonCatholics go to church to receive

ashes. (Since ashes are a sacramental, not a sacrament, in the Catholic Church, anyone who wishes to may receive them.) Typically, ashes used to mark a cross on the foreheads of the faithful are from burned palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday. Water or olive oil may be mixed with the ashes to help them adhere to the forehead. The priest may say, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return,” or “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” During Mass on that day, one reading gives the blueprint for Lent in a nutshell, as Jesus tells his disciples to pray, give alms

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and fast privately and not publicly for all to see. “When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will reward you.” (Matthew 6:16-18) Fasting during Lent is a reminder for man to turn away from desires of the flesh and contemplate higher things.

Catholics between the ages of 18 and 60 must abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and do a modified fast by eating only one complete meal and two smaller meals. Many choose to make other sacrifices for the duration. Fasting also can serve as penance for sin. The origin of ashes as a form of penitence is found in the Hebrew Scriptures, as when the prophet Daniel said, “I turned my face to the Lord God begging for time to pray and to plead, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes.” And in the book of Jonah the king in Nineveh “put on sackcloth and sat down in ashes.”

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continued from page 1

sented Ward 1 at the time and met with neighbors there. He became so frustrated with the lack of attention to the problem that he hired a lawyer to contact the city’s insurance company about it. “I couldn’t understand why [Public Works Director Dan Jones] didn’t call the contractor back to fix it,” said Dudrow. Since then, residents have given tours of problem areas to all four of Jones’ successors, as well as to County Councilmember Will Campos and City Councilmember Candace Hollingsworth. Robert Duncan, who lives on Buchanan Street, recalls former DPW

Page 11

director Lee Henry coming to Banner Street and showing residents there “a set of blueprints that laid out the plans for putting in [two] new street drains. … He also discussed city plans to cut down all the trees that were in the way of road improvements.” Several trees were indeed removed after that. But, Duncan said, it took “about five years before any other street work was ever done.” Another longstanding drainage problem is at the end of Crittenden Street, where a trail leads to Magruder Park. In the best of times, it’s a silt crater. But rains form a pond there that can be hard to ford for pedestrians headed for Trumbule Trail or the soccer fields. McTague said the current pro-

posal from BAI, the contractor, calls for installing a rain garden at the trailhead. She has since asked for additional revisions from BAI based on input gathered from the public meeting. “The next step is to take it before the council to seek funding for the design work,” she said. More recently, drainage on neighboring blocks has been improved somewhat with the installation of two storm drains and riprap, a sloping layer of

stones that help prevent erosion. But, said McTague, “It still appears that water isn’t draining properly. It appears that there’s room for improvement.” Many in the crowd seemed to agree. Hollingsworth, who represents Ward 1, wrote residents’ concerns on a whiteboard as they surfaced. By the end, it was full. “When residents express dissatisfaction to the level that they’re willing to sell their home and walk away from the mess that they were


hopeful to get fixed, we have to fix it,” she said later. Stuart Eisenberg, who lives near the trailhead, said he put together a list, complete with photographs, of 90 things to fix in the area. When water has nowhere to go, it can affect roads and sidewalks as well as front yards. “Water can do a lot of damage to pavement,” explained McTague in an interview. “When you see cracks or potholes, that means water hasn’t been draining.”



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continued from page 1


percent difference between the populations of the largest and the smallest wards. As it stands, Wards 1 and 2 have fewer than 3,000 residents each and 3 and 4 have more than 4,000 each. In addition to population size, the law also mandates that the wards be fairly compact. Rain said that many of the current wards are not compact and have jagged boundaries. “Ward 1 has kind of a boomerang shape; it’s not compact. Ward 2 is more compact but has a bite taken out of it. Ward 3 is very elongated. Four is fairly compact, but 5 has a butterfly shape.” He added that Ward 3 would have to get smaller and its southern boundary would have to be moved




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north. And he mentioned that Queens Chapel Road would make a natural dividing line between wards. Councilmember Paula Perry (4) said she hopes the committee will keep in mind the locations of apartments and businesses. “A lot of people in apartments don’t come out and vote.” But Richard Colaresi, the city attorney, said the committee has to look at the ward boundaries strictly in light of the “one person, one vote” principle. One significant finding, Rain pointed out: not only is Hyattsville very diverse, but “all the different groups are spread out through the city. There are no enclaves, and this is a good thing.” He explained that the committee tried, in keeping with federal guidelines, to make one ward “majority minority,” with a minority population of about 60 percent. “But we couldn’t get more than 50 percent in one ward.” Instead, the committee will have as a goal to have one ward be a “minority opportunity” ward, with a minority population of around 50 percent. The committee is scheduled to present three possible scenarios to the city council during its February 21 meeting. One would favor compactness and would probably mean Ward 1 would change significantly. The second would strive for compactness but would also respect the residences of council members. The third would lean more toward the status quo but would smooth out some of the jagged edges and irregular shapes. Hinojosa said, “We’ll try not to disrupt things too much, but aim to make the wards more contiguous.”

Hyattsville Life & Times | February 2012


continued from page 1

project would attract business, make the area more walkable and provide an economic boost to the jurisdictions. Opponents cite traffic and environmental concerns, as well as long-term impacts on the infrastructure. Hyattsville resident Colleen Buckley says, “The Route 1 corridor between the Hyattsville Arts District and the University of Maryland can certainly support high quality retail and this would benefit our community. [As for traffic,] I think we should focus on how we can improve our infrastructure so that we can support quality development instead of using this as a reason to turn down worthwhile projects.” The three towns most closely affected, Riverdale Park, University Park and College Park, worked with the developer and came up with what published sources

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described as a long list of conditions, some dealing with traffic and environmental concerns. A major one was providing a separate entrance to the site that would go over the CSX tracks. The Riverdale Park Town Council voted last month 5-0 to support the rezoning plan, with those conditions. The University Park council did as well, with a 4-3 vote; Hyattsville voted for it as well. College Park, however, voted against the plan, 6-2. Marc Tartaro, mayor of Hyattsville, said, “This is only the first step in a long process. I’m hopeful the project will be successful and [the developer] will be able comply with the requirements the communities came up with. To use a Reaganesque term, trust but verify.” He also said that if the project is done well it will benefit the region but it will present challenges to the quality of life

in Hyattsville in terms of local businesses and traffic. “They haven’t looked at schools and things like that. They haven’t really dealt with the impact of the project. All they’ve done is conditionally dealt with zoning.” The plan will go next to the District Council, which is what the County Council is called when it deliberates on zoning and land use matters.

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Hyattsville Life & Times | February 2012



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February 2012 Hyattsville Life & Times  

Hyattsville redistricting; Cafritz rezoning approved by Planning Board; Soggy Bottom drainage problems; requiem for Safeway; Hyattsville Lib...

February 2012 Hyattsville Life & Times  

Hyattsville redistricting; Cafritz rezoning approved by Planning Board; Soggy Bottom drainage problems; requiem for Safeway; Hyattsville Lib...