The Jamesons go to Washington (Part 2)

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Mary MacGregor Jameson and baby Vida, circa 1917 (Evidently they took close-ups of the baby once in a while.)

Just a little more background on last week’s photos of Malcolm, Mary, and little Vida in Washington DC. Vida had been born in September 1916 in Houston, and in November Malcolm was called to Washington to work as a Naval draftsman, and the family seems to have moved with him.

One of the photos from last week provides a clue about where they lived:

vidababy4 Look closely and you’ll see the word “Fifth floor” scrawled at the top. Look even more closely and you can just make out the word “Ventosa” over the building’s doorway.

I don’t know if I would have known to look if the note on the back of the photo hadn’t urged me:

IMG_7973“Vida in front of the house / See name over door,” it says, in what I think is Mary’s handwriting. So I looked up Ventosa and here’s what I found, from a 1907 newspaper:

ventosa

Rooms of good size! Modern plumbing! Speedy elevators!

According to this ad, the Ventosa apartments each had two rooms, bath, kitchenette, and long-distance telephone service. Notice also the line about the building being “Opposite and Fronting United States Capitol and Its Beautiful Park.” That was no exaggeration—B Street is now Constitution Avenue, and if you look at where it intersects Northwest 1st street on a DC map you’ll see it’s kitty-corner from the main Capitol grounds. The place where the Ventosa stood is now part of the extended grounds (the building was torn down in the 1930s).

I don’t have this address for the Jamesons in any records (they would move on to Virginia by the 1920 census), but I’ll keep an eye out for it. I was hoping it would be on Malcolm’s 1917 passport application, but no dice—it just mentions he lives in DC.

record

If they really did live at the Ventosa, with the Capitol dome right across the street, it might have felt very familiar to Malcolm, who for a few years in childhood had lived right across the street from the Texas capitol in Austin.

At any rate the family seemed very proud to be there, if the baby pictures of Vida are any indication. (I made a collage of them for fun). And as for why they all look like hostage photos, my guess is they had didn’t have unlimited film—or, for that matter, unlimited time outside with a tiny baby in winter. The easiest thing was probably to get in as much of the scenery as possible and the baby.

 

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The Jamesons go to Washington (Part 1)

Gallery

This gallery contains 12 photos.

I was away for part of the weekend, so no time for a full post this week. But here are a dozen photos of my great-aunt Vida Jameson, just a few months old, in late 1916 or early 1917 in Washington, DC. Her … Continue reading