At the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, everything is an experiment – even the parking lot.
At the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, everything is an experiment – even the parking lot.
Animal keeper Matt Neff called Alex like he would call a dog. “Hey, Alex, C’mere! Come on, bud!” Neff said.
Rachel Gray shifted in her bed on the layers of old sheets and a shower curtain. As her four children, all under the age of 9, ducked in and out of her bedroom, she told her midwife it was time to move to the birthing tub.
 
 
 

Semester in Washington Intern Blog

Jun 20, 2014

 

By Kate Winkle

My first time covering the White House was also the first time I’d ever been to the White House.

Sure, I’d seen pictures, History Channel shows and movies, but it’s not the same as actually being there, walking up to the little security hut and checking in. I made my way to the press briefing room, hoping desperately that I wouldn’t get lost or tackled for accidentally walking into the wrong area. Fortunately, none of those happened, and I squeezed my way into an already very full room to wait for the “pre-set” so I could stake out a good location to stand and take pictures.

The story that brought me a few blocks down from the office was a Medal of Honor ceremony in the East Room of the White House. The recipient, Cpl. William “Kyle” Carpenter, deployed in 2010 to Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, eventually at a post in the Marjah District of Helmand Province.

On the morning of Nov. 21, 2010, his alarm clock was AK-47 fire. He manned a rooftop fortified with a semi-circle of sandbags with his best friend and fellow Marine, Nick Eufrazio.

An enemy launched a grenade. It landed next to the two soldiers. Carpenter jumped on top of it, deflecting the blast downward and saving his friend’s life.

Eufrazio sustained brain injuries from the shrapnel. Carpenter lost much of his jaw, face and his right eye, and injured his upper and lower extremities as well. He faced a long road to recovery.

Click on photo to enlarge or download: I snap a selfie on my way out of the White House after covering the Medal of Honor Ceremony on Thursday. SHFWire photo by Kate WinkleClick on photo to enlarge or download: I snap a selfie on my way out of the White House after covering the Medal of Honor Ceremony on Thursday. SHFWire photo by Kate WinkleHe was 21 years old then, the same age I am now.

To get the opportunity to cover the White House as an intern is a great privilege, but covering this as my first story was an even greater honor.

The East Room was a very cozy place as the guests filed into rows of chairs and the press squeezed into the remaining spaces at the back. I was glad I had brought a tripod and scoped out a spot where I could see everyone’s faces on stage. From my vantage point I also noticed a DJ in the corner of the room who played music as the president entered.

The ceremony lasted a little more than 20 minutes, and we waited as guests filed out to celebrate. As we left the room, I could smell appetizers and apologized to my growling stomach.

Back in the press room, I heard whispers that Carpenter would speak to us, so we waited. Four people filed in the door and sat down near me, and I realized it was Carpenter’s family. Then he walked out, smiling a bit as he passed by the American flag and set a piece of paper on the podium. He thanked those who served, have served or will serve. He thanked his doctors. He thanked his family.

After he left, I did, too. I had a story to write.

It had been such a long day already that I almost forgot to turn in the temporary press pass at the gate. One of the police officers came out of the building, smiling, and asked if I’d wanted a souvenir.

“No,” I told him as I handed the red badge back. “It’s just great to be here.”

 

Jun 20, 2014

 

Click on photo to enlarge or download: My attempt to capture a photo of Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., three rows back at a press conference following his election to House majority whip on Thursday. He’s the one with the balding head just above the digital recorder. SHFWire photo by Megan CardClick on photo to enlarge or download: My attempt to capture a photo of Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., three rows back at a press conference following his election to House majority whip on Thursday. He’s the one with the balding head just above the digital recorder. SHFWire photo by Megan Card

By Megan Card

I realize at 5 feet 3 inches tall, I’m at a disadvantage when it comes to swarming politicians for quotes.

But I was never so keenly aware of my lack of arm span until I was thrusting my digital recorder past three rows of reporters to capture what Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said he planned to do after his election as House majority leader.

As I waited Thursday for House Republicans to elect new leadership, so did at least 60 other journalists. Some carried cameras, others notepads and iPhones, but all were keeping their eyes trained on the hallway leading to room 1100 in the Longworth House Office Building.

I attempted to keep myself from being psyched out by setting priorities for my coverage.

Get the tweet, get the photo, get the quote. But in the chaos of being surrounded by roving journalists who seem to know every House staffer who waked by, it was an intimidating experience.

I picked up a few good tips, though.

Click on photo to enlarge or download: Reporters monitor a hallway in the Longworth House Office Building to find the staffer who would announce the results of the House majority leader election. SHFWire photo by Megan CardClick on photo to enlarge or download: Reporters monitor a hallway in the Longworth House Office Building to find the staffer who would announce the results of the House majority leader election. SHFWire photo by Megan Card

  •  Standing next to veteran reporters is helpful, because staffers seek them out to pass along information.
  • If I didn’t know who someone was, but saw a throng of reporters asking that person questions, there was no shame in following the pack. This happened a couple of  times, and I realized not everyone knew who they were interviewing either, so reporters asked their colleagues for help to identify them.
  • Answers given during a press conference are not easy to hear if you’re not in the front row. Maneuvering to the front is a must. This might be a time where short people have the advantage of being so low to the ground they can squirm their way through a crowd. By the end, I had moved to the second row from the fourth.
  • Light can change dramatically if you move a few steps. I learned this the hard way when I was told to move to make a path for Speaker John Boehner, and my lighting for photos changed – not for the better.
  • Talking to other reporters, given it’s an appropriate time, is easy to do in this scenario. I was able to exchange business cards with Associated Press and Al Jazeera America reporters.

I still felt out of my depth for most of the afternoon, especially when the petite blonde standing across the hall turned out to be CNN anchorwoman Dana Bash.

But I uploaded news of the election results on the SHFWire Twitter account before I received the AP push notification – so that’s something.

In a matter of two hours, I rushed through stages of paranoia, exhilaration, anxiety and relief covering the wins of McCarthy and Rep. Steve Scalise’s, R-La., as majority leader and whip. While exhausting, this experience as a reporter is one I know I can measure up to in the future, despite my size and reach. 

Click on photo to enlarge or download: TV crews, reporters and photographers surround a podium in the Longworth building that was later used for a press conference with the newly elected House majority leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and majority whip, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La. SHFWire photo by Megan CardClick on photo to enlarge or download: TV crews, reporters and photographers surround a podium in the Longworth building that was later used for a press conference with the newly elected House majority leader, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and majority whip, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La. SHFWire photo by Megan Card

Jun 5, 2014

 

Click on photo to enlarge or download: I’ve had an amazing time interning for the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire. I’m going to miss the office. SHFWire photo by Sekia MangumClick on photo to enlarge or download: I’ve had an amazing time interning for the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire. I’m going to miss the office. SHFWire photo by Sekia MangumBy Ricardo Guillaume

My time here in the nation’s capital has come to an end, but I’ll always remember the friends I made, the sights I saw and the stories I covered. My experience as a journalist in Washington wasn’t without some obstacles, however.

During my first assignment, I stood in the back of the auditorium to take photos because I didn’t want to draw attention to myself or seem rude. I was told in the nicest way possible that my photos stunk. I was told that my press credentials gave me the right to get up front and in people’s faces (maybe not literally in their faces, but use that zoom lens for what it’s made for).

Now, I’m the guy who always sits in the back of the class because I don’t like the feeling of eyes on my back – I don’t care if you think it’s weird – so getting up front to where heads of departments and senators were speaking and taking photos was not exactly my cup of tea. But I had a job to do, so I put my preferences to the side and got over the eyeballs every time I got up to snap.

My other issue was with word length of my stories. I have a problem killing my babies – my words. I’m glad I don’t want to be an editor. This blog itself is looking kind of long, so I’ll finish it up soon.

Click on photo to enlarge or download: The style of the Martin Luther King Jr. monument was puzzling to me the first time I saw photos, but when I gazed upon it up close and read the statement carved on the side, it all made sense. The walls surrounding the monument are etched with some of MLK’s most memorable quotes. SHFWire photo by Ricardo GuillaumeClick on photo to enlarge or download: The style of the Martin Luther King Jr. monument was puzzling to me the first time I saw photos, but when I gazed upon it up close and read the statement carved on the side, it all made sense. The walls surrounding the monument are etched with some of MLK’s most memorable quotes. SHFWire photo by Ricardo GuillaumeIn my last two weeks here, things got down to the wire concerning my D.C. bucket list, but I finally made the trip to the Martin Luther King Jr. monument. Until this month, I had only seen photos of the MLK monument, and I wondered why he was a part of what looked like a giant rock. Now I know. On the side of the rock where MLK is carved, so is a quote: “Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” Pretty self-explanatory after seeing it in person and recalling what MLK means to our country’s history.

Oh, and I didn’t exactly find a BBQ joint like Freddy’s in “House of Cards,” but I found the next best thing in Eatonville Restaurant Est. 2009. They had ribs. I ate them.

Peace out, D.C. Let’s do it again sometime.

 

Jun 3, 2014

 

Click on photo to enlarge or download: Susan Warsinger, 85, survived the “Kristallnacht” and fled to the U.S., separated from her family for many years. She frequently volunteers at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and shares her story. SHFWire Photo by Stacy GreenClick on photo to enlarge or download: Susan Warsinger, 85, survived the “Kristallnacht” and fled to the U.S., separated from her family for many years. She frequently volunteers at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and shares her story. SHFWire Photo by Stacy GreenBy Stacy C. Green

WASHINGTON - In honor of Jewish History Month, I visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Susan Warsinger is a survivor, not only of the Holocaust but also the “Night of Broken Glass,” one of the first events to signal the beginning of the Holocaust.

Like many Jewish survivors, her family – her maiden name was Hilsenrath – experienced extreme poverty after her father’s store was boycotted by the German Nazis and then taken away from him. During this time in the 1930s, when Warsinger, now 85, still lived in Germany, she was bullied and tormented in school, as early as kindergarten.

A new law prohibited Jewish students from attending public schools. This law forced Warsinger and her brother, Joe, to attend school taught by a Jewish man in the neighborhood, a classroom full of students of all ages.

Warsinger’s environment became segregated and toxic. She had rocks thrown at her, along with racial threats by a gatekeeper at a park she visited frequently.

Still more challenges faced the Warsinger family, as her mother delivered another child, a baby brother, at home without a midwife because of laws that forbade Jews to give birth outside of their homes.

Nov. 9, 1938, the day before her mother’s birthday was the “Kristallnacht.” Warsinger remembers this day as if it was yesterday.

Her family took refuge in the attic of the home they shared with the town rabbi and a non-Jewish family. Bricks were thrown at hundreds of Jewish homes, synagogues and other buildings, shattering glass everywhere. A telephone pole was uprooted from the ground and smashed into the front door of Warsinger’s home.

After days of hiding, Warsinger’s father decided she should take the little money he had saved for the family, and arrangements were made for her and Joe to leave. With the money stored in her underwear, the siblings traveled to Paris with a woman who took children to Paris for pay.

Soon, the Nazis marched into Paris, and Warsinger fled further. She and her brother took a ship to the U.S. She was 11, and Joe was 10. Separated from their parents, the two survived without their family during a critical time.

In school, she struggled with the language barrier because she spoke only French. Her peers and teachers did not respect her because of the culture differences.

If circumstances had turned out otherwise, Warsinger could have been among 30,000 Jewish people who were captured and forced into concentration camps on Kristallnacht.

Meanwhile, her parents and younger brother had been able to immigrate to the U.S. in 1941 and settled in Washington where Warsinger and Joe joined them.

After hearing Warsinger’s story, I was inspired. I loved her honesty and humility. Warsinger closed her presentation with the following remarks, which I felt were outstanding: “We need to understand what prejudice and hatred can do to people. We need to be sensitive to each other, and we need to take care of one another.”

 

 

Jun 2, 2014

 

Click on photo to enlarge or download: Renee Pouissant greets a member of the Woman’s National Democratic Club on May 22 before speaking at a luncheon. She spoke about women’s progress. “I’m afraid we’re losing track of who we are and where we are going,” she said. SHFWire Photo by Sydnei Fryson.Click on photo to enlarge or download: Renee Pouissant greets a member of the Woman’s National Democratic Club on May 22 before speaking at a luncheon. She spoke about women’s progress. “I’m afraid we’re losing track of who we are and where we are going,” she said. SHFWire Photo by Sydnei Fryson.By Sydnei Fryson

In Washington, there are so many events going on at one time. Most times, it makes it hard to pick what you want to cover.

A recent week was kind of slow. From what I could tell, there weren’t really many interesting things going on in the city. But there was one particular event that caught my eye, a luncheon at the Woman’s National Democratic Club featuring Renee Poussaint.

I had definitely heard her name before, but I couldn’t exactly place where or how. So I Googled her name, read her bio and found out that Poussaint is an award-winning former network correspondent. She’s anchored the ABC’s evening news, substituting for Peter Jennings, and has done news segments on “Good Morning America.” This is a big deal! When she started to address the room, she captured my interest even more.

“I’m afraid that we’re losing track of who we are and where we are going,” Pouissant said. “And the media is helping us to do that, in part because stories about women tend to fall through the cracks, and they fall through the crack because for the most part, women are not the top ones in the board rooms, making the decisions.”

The more I let my mind marinate in her words, the more I realized, she was right. The experience just made me want to work harder to be at the top of my game. Women make up half of the population, and here standing in front of me, was a woman who succeeded against the odds. Yet, she still worked her way up from a job as a news writer at a TV station to an award-winning network correspondent and anchor. It was such a great experience.

The Woman’s National Democratic Club was founded to engage members (men as well) in public policy. It seemed fitting that she spoke there.

I was the only reporter who attended the event, but all of the ladies were really excited to have me there. Almost immediately, I got bombarded with questions about what organization I was with and where I went to school. I even met a lady who graduated from my school. We exchanged information because she wanted to make sure to keep in touch with me.

Pouissant was very well recognized by the crowd. Her insight on the media in today’s age was amazing. It seemed to make the audience stop and think about what she was saying. I know I did.

 

May 30, 2014

 

Click on photo to enlarge or download: As president of the United States, I’d conduct my press briefings with a healthy dose of sarcasm. “Oil? I don’t know anything about oil…” SHFWire photoClick on photo to enlarge or download: As president of the United States, I’d conduct my press briefings with a healthy dose of sarcasm. “Oil? I don’t know anything about oil…” SHFWire photoBy Ricardo Guillaume

After witnessing the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee up close and personal, I have a newfound appreciation for those middle school masters of the dictionary.

Don’t get me wrong, I have always thought the spelling bee was cool and watched here and there on ESPN when I could. But this week, I saw how much work the contestants put in.

The bee is a sport, and these athletes spend the whole year training their most important muscle, the brain.

Since Scripps runs the Bee, I was the D.C. correspondent for a Scripps paper in Abilene, Texas, the Abilene Reporter-News. I had the pleasure of reporting on 14-year-old Kate Miller, speller No. 232, as she made it to the finals, tying for eighth place.

Kate, her little brother and her parents are caring, wonderful people who embraced me as I chronicled her performance. I was proud of her for going that far.

In the end, two spellers became co-champions, for just the fourth time in the bee’s history. As they went back and forth, neck-and-neck, my reporter hat disappeared, and I became a cheering fan, jumping up and down at each word spelled correctly. I took this video and tweeted this picture.

Click on photo to enlarge or download: This may sound stupid, but it’s amazing just how white the White House really is. Seriously, who keeps the place spotless? Not to mention how green the lawn is. SHFWire photo by Ricardo GuillaumeClick on photo to enlarge or download: This may sound stupid, but it’s amazing just how white the White House really is. Seriously, who keeps the place spotless? Not to mention how green the lawn is. SHFWire photo by Ricardo GuillaumeEarlier in the week, I saw on the White House schedule that the Seattle Seahawks would be visiting the White House to be honored for their Super Bowl victory.

The White House and something sports related – talk about killing two birds with one stone, amirite? The White House actually seemed kind of small when I saw it in person.

It’s still beautiful and serene (other than the guys walking around with giant automatic weapons). I even snapped a pic of Sunny, the Obama’s second dog, as he was being walked. Even though I would have preferred to see my beloved Patriots in the East Room, it was cool to see President Barack Obama joke around with Richard Sherman, Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll.

Canton, Ohio, is where NFL greats are enshrined in the hall of fame, and I suppose the Newseum is the hall of fame for feats in journalism. Madison Fantozzi and I explored the museum with excitement, like the two news nerds we are, going through exhibits on Sept. 11, the FBI and prize-winning photojournalism.

The legend of Ron Burgundy continued when walked through the Anchor Man exhibit. Sex Panther cologne was on display, but it was not available for purchase at the gift shop. I was devastated – I could use cologne that works all the time 60 percent of the time.

Click on photo to enlarge or download: President Franklin Roosevelt had a swimming pool built in the White House. The James S. Brady Press Briefing Room was built on top of it, and everyone who visits signs their names on the pool tiles downstairs. My John Hancock will be there forever, unless you know, someone writes over me. SHFWire photo by Ricardo GuillaumeClick on photo to enlarge or download: President Franklin Roosevelt had a swimming pool built in the White House. The James S. Brady Press Briefing Room was built on top of it, and everyone who visits signs their names on the pool tiles downstairs. My John Hancock will be there forever, unless you know, someone writes over me. SHFWire photo by Ricardo Guillaume

May 27, 2014

 

By Madison Fantozzi

Before spending Memorial Day in Washington, the holiday was merely a day off from school or work. As a Floridian, it was also a day for the beach and barbeque.

I knew Memorial Day was in honor of the men and women who gave their lives for us to be wearing our American flag bikinis and drinking beer on a Monday. But did I ever honor them in the way they deserved?

Not before I spent my first Memorial Day in Washington.

Not before I stood among thousands of people along Constitution Avenue where they weren’t just posing with American flags for Instagram pictures, but waving them with pride for this country and in honor of those who have served it.

Not before I saw people mourning the loss of fallen soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery –   their children, their brothers and sisters, their husbands and wives, their friends, their fellow soldiers.

I began Memorial Day weekend in Arlington, Va., where I watched a thousand soldiers of the Old Guard place American flags at 250,000 graves at Arlington National Cemetery. The media was asked not to disturb the soldiers as they spent more than three hours fanned out across the 624-acre cemetery planting each flag one-foot into the hallowed ground of each gravestone.

I snapped my photos with discretion. I didn’t want to disturb the moments, personal and emotional, that not only the soldiers experienced, but also the people who were visiting the gravesites of their loved ones.

It was Section 60, where soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan are buried, where I walked on a fine line of being a reporter and being a person. I couldn’t raise my camera to a man who cried in front of a tombstone of a soldier that had passed in Afghanistan in 2013.

As a journalist, I’ve been taught to be aggressive. Get the story and get the picture no matter what. But I was also taught ethics.

The stroll through the cemetery had my eyes welling with tears, even though I didn’t know a single body that laid there; I couldn’t imagine the amount of grief and sadness this man was experiencing.

Even with my long lens, I didn’t want to risk him spotting me. Even if he didn’t spot me, I would have felt some sort of guilt for intruding.

Maybe this is a feeling I need to overcome as a journalist. Maybe under different circumstances I would have felt OK. But I figured the media didn’t need another picture of a person grieving their loved one in Section 60.

I didn’t need that photo. I didn’t need to tell his story. I needed to let him be, as did the soldier who placed flags along that row. He skipped over the grave and returned later to honor the fallen soldier.

American flags dotting the greenery of the cemetery were a somber, yet beautiful site.

President Barack Obama laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers on Monday. While I didn’t make the trip back to Arlington, I did attend the National Memorial Day Parade along Connecticut Avenue at the National Mall.

The parade wasn’t made up of typical floats and inflatable cartoon characters. Instead, there were marching bands and soldiers, service dogs and horses, antique Jeeps and helicopters, and muscle cars and motorcycles.

The number of American flags competed with that at Arlington National Cemetery. Each section of the parade honored soldiers from a different era.

One part, with a banner titling it “Keep the Spirit of ’45 Alive!” had dozens of people holding up the photos of their fallen ancestors.

Despite the 80-degree weather, veterans came out in full uniform, as did the marching band performers and the motorcyclists.

While the parade’s atmosphere was light and full of pride, I still felt the sense of honor each participant was upholding.

They weren’t just going through the motions. This day had significance to people – a significance that I had never experienced on the beaches in Florida.

May 21, 2014

 

Click on photo to enlarge or download: Teams Scripps Scribes and Running on Deadline survived the early morning 5K Capital Challenge race at Anacostia Park in Washington. SHFWire photoClick on photo to enlarge or download: Teams Scripps Scribes and Running on Deadline survived the early morning 5K Capital Challenge race at Anacostia Park in Washington. SHFWire photoBy Sekia Mangum

A year ago, I never thought I’d see myself running in a race, let alone a 5K. Not saying that I’m out of shape, because I work out often and I danced for Hampton University’s Majestic Dance Troupe, but the thought of actually competing against people who run all the time seemed a bit scary.

ACLI Capital Challenge held the 33rd annual 5K (just over 3 miles) team race Wednesday at Anacostia Park. I thought twice about agreeing to run with a team whose members I hadn’t even met when I first saw the email about the race. But then I said, “Hey, couldn’t hurt to burn a few calories.”

The morning of the race, I finally had a chance to meet the rest of the Scripps Scribes, our team name, and the other office team, Running on Deadline. Surprisingly, they were just as nervous as I was. I found out one of my teammates, Amarra Ghani, multimedia production assistant, had never run in a race, either!

So, by the time we arrived at the trail, I calmed down. We lined up and received our race numbers. About 10 minutes before the race, we lined up behind the starting line, and that’s when the nerves came rushing back.

They had us line up from fastest to slowest, and I immediately went to the back, simply because it was my first race so I wanted to observe everything. Most marathons I have seen on television start with a shot from a starter pistol, but this one had a whistle and it threw me off a bit.

Click on photo to enlarge or download: I’m proud of completing my first race and not coming in last at the 5K race Wednesday at Anacostia Park in Washington. And, I got this shirt. SHFWire photoClick on photo to enlarge or download: I’m proud of completing my first race and not coming in last at the 5K race Wednesday at Anacostia Park in Washington. And, I got this shirt. SHFWire photoI thought people would immediately start sprinting, but everyone was starting at a pretty decent pace, except the fast people in the front of course. I was thrilled when I found out the trail was extremely flat. Thankfully, they had markers each mile, so we were able to see how much we had completed.

About 100 teams of five people each, including at least one woman, ran the race. Each team included one member of Congress, or the Cabinet, or the vice president’s office, sub-cabinet, agency head, federal judge, on-air radio or TV journalist or print journalist.

Patrick Fernandez from team Coast Guard finished in first place with a time of 14:01. Before I even reached the water-stand checkpoint, Fernandez was sprinting back to the finish line. The first place female runner, Erin Taylor from Human Capitol Running Club, finished with a time of 17:43.

Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Kay Hagan, D-N.C., were the top congressional finishers – Portman at 25:04 and Hagen at 35:15

Other runners were recognized with awards for placing and their participation.

All of my teammates from the Scripps News Bureau finished in 30 to 35 minutes. The one that brought the team together, Bartholomew Sullivan, who covers Washington for the company’s West Coast papers, was the first to finish from our team with a time of 24:01. Out of 30 print media teams, my team came in 19th place, while my colleagues' Running on Deadline team finished 29th.

By the last mile I was very tired, but I kept pushing. With about half mile left, I sprinted to the finish line completing the race at 32:42. The best part was that they provided food and water for us after. I will definitely look forward to other races in the future.

 

May 21, 2014

 

Click on photo to enlarge or download: Via Gypset houses Washington native Isabella Polles’ vintage finds, including dainty dresses and its recently debuted bridal collection. It sits atop Polles’ family’s Café Sorriso in Woodley Park. I couldn’t resist this dress, especially for $9. SHFWire photo by Madison FantozziClick on photo to enlarge or download: Via Gypset houses Washington native Isabella Polles’ vintage finds, including dainty dresses and its recently debuted bridal collection. It sits atop Polles’ family’s Café Sorriso in Woodley Park. I couldn’t resist this dress, especially for $9. SHFWire photo by Madison Fantozzi

By Madison Fantozzi

Washington has centuries-old architecture and historic monuments to see. But the most charming sites are the vintage boutiques and thrift shops nestled into D.C.’s Victorian-era row houses.   

Most of them are hidden to the eye at street-level, but chalkboard signs, wind chimes and displays of knick knacks invite you into their second-floor or underground shops. Some are so cluttered with treasures they could be mistaken for your grandmother’s attic.

Via Gypset

2311 Calvert St. NW.

This boutique brings out my light, airy frilly-sock-wearing side. Maybe it was the Virgin Suicides-esque dress I thrifted from the shop Sunday, or the debut of its bridal collection. I still want to pair everything with Doc Martens, though.  

“Via” is the Latin word for street, and “Gypset” is a combination of gypsy and jet set. Together, the name represents fashion inspired by street style around the world with a lux aesthetic.

The shop is owned and stocked with the finds of Washington native Isabella Polles and sits atop her family’s Woodly Park eatery Café Sorriso. It has been rumored that you can snag a Karl Lagerfeld original if you’re lucky.

Luckily for me, the shop is located around the corner from my apartment, with new items added to the floor each day.

Meeps

2104 18th St. NW.

Cue VH1’s “I love the ‘80s” theme song. While this shop stocks vintage from the 1960s onward, it boasts an impressive collection of sequined bomber jackets, bold costume jewelry and neon print – dare I say – MC Hammer pants.

I couldn’t resist smiley face earrings

Its “cosmic” costume closet has outfits for all of your era-themed party needs, from 1920s flapper dresses to 1990s hip-hop tracksuits. But on the hunt for more everyday wear, the sales associate pointed me in the direction of U Street.

Junction

1510 U St. NW.

Retro-inspired sunnies are the shop’s centerpiece – and with a two-for-$30 deal, they are hard to resist. The floor has pieces from the 1930s onward, and accessories line shelves and side tables throughout the shop – brooches, cuff links, bowties and more.

Click on photo to enlarge or download: Combat boots and leather loafers are abundant at Dr. K’s Vintage on U Street. The shop is predominately menswear, featuring moto jackets, plaid flannels and Levi denim. SHFWire photo by Madison FantozziClick on photo to enlarge or download: Combat boots and leather loafers are abundant at Dr. K’s Vintage on U Street. The shop is predominately menswear, featuring moto jackets, plaid flannels and Levi denim. SHFWire photo by Madison FantozziBut the shop offers more than vintage fashion. A display case of $1 antique medicine bottles, postcards and and porcelain owls welcomed me inside where there’s plenty of home décor.

Dr. K's Vintage

1534 U St. NW.

Down the block is a spot for the fashionistos.

Dr. K’s Vintage is predominately menswear, but still a perfect stop for the ladies looking for broken-in combat boots, weathered moto jackets, leather knapsacks and old-school Levi’s to cut into high-waisted shorts for summer.

The store is narrow, but dense. At one point, you’ll end up rummaging through items in the bathroom, which has merchandise mixed in with what seems to be the owner’s stash of Pabst Blue Ribbon and Franzia boxed wine.

Joint Custody

1530 U St. NW.

One of the last stops on my first consignment crawl through Washington was to this little shop of horrors.

Part clothing, part record store, this shop has vintage concert T shirts, Doc Martens and Creepers. Its record selection is diverse, including thrash metal, psychedelic rock, rare soul, hip hop and jazz.

I had my eye on a 1985 Rush Power Windows tour shirt, but it was $60. The “Thriller” shirt was $120.

But my favorite items are the miniscule, the oddities. I bought a 1986 Garbage Pail Kids pin. Warning: It’s not for the easily squeamish.

Whether your look is dainty, grungy or somewhere in between, these Washington shops will have something to inspire your fashion sense.

 

May 19, 2014

 

Click on photo to enlarge or download: Georgetown on Saturday was a beehive of activity. Georgetown University graduates were taking victory strolls in their cap and gowns, families and friends were shopping and making the rounds from Nike Town to Ralph Lauren, and one guy was cruising by in a vintage three-wheeled car. SHFWire photo by Ricardo GuillaumeClick on photo to enlarge or download: Georgetown on Saturday was a beehive of activity. Georgetown University graduates were taking victory strolls in their cap and gowns, families and friends were shopping and making the rounds from Nike Town to Ralph Lauren, and one guy was cruising by in a vintage three-wheeled car. SHFWire photo by Ricardo GuillaumeBy Ricardo Guillaume

Binge watching the first two seasons of “House of Cards” may not be the best way to get a first impression of Washington. Or then again, maybe it was. Kevin Spacey plays Frank Underwood, a fast-talking House majority whip ascending up the legislative branch, leaving adversaries wondering what hit them in his path of manipulative destruction.

Even if some real members of Congress enjoy the show, I can’t say that I believe what happens in the show is what really takes place in congressional inner-circles.

What I can say though, is that people in Washington in real life are pretty nice. Whether it was the woman in the elevator saying “I like your suit” or another neighbor telling me that my roommate and I could ask him and his girlfriend for anything we need, D.C. has welcomed me with great hospitality. One couple even said “follow us” when I asked them where the nearest Metro station was. People here are well versed in the art of dealing with tourists and never seem to be annoyed by it.

It felt good to write my first story, get it published and have it picked up, and now I have to keep the momentum going. I want to cover a wide range of stories during my time here (politics, sports, race, women’s rights, LGBT rights, religion) all the while being in different locations.

Click on photo to enlarge or download: Saturday night I paid a visit to the Washington Monument with my fellow interns. I tried to give the monument a hug but didn’t quite make it all the way around. SHFWire photo by Sekia MangumClick on photo to enlarge or download: Saturday night I paid a visit to the Washington Monument with my fellow interns. I tried to give the monument a hug but didn’t quite make it all the way around. SHFWire photo by Sekia MangumSo far I’ve checked a couple of sites off of my D.C. bucket list – I admired the art at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art and traced the evolution of animals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. I remembered those lost visiting the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, walked up to the Washington Monument (I gave it a hug) and I basked in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial at night. The White House, Martin Luther King Jr. Monument, Pentagon, Ford’s Theatre and Newseum are next.

I’ve enjoyed exploring residential areas, too. Georgetown reminds me a lot of Faneuil Hall or Newbury Street back home in Beantown – a bunch of old brownstone buildings turned into expensive retail boutiques. Woodley Park is a vibrant neighborhood with a wide variety of take-out options (I can’t cook), and Adams Morgan comes to life at night with bars, karaoke and hookah spots everywhere you look. The only thing that’s missing is a BBQ joint like Freddy’s in “House of Cards,” where I can dine on juicy ribs while wearing my suit in the comfort of an alley. There has to be a way I can get that done.

 

 

Click on photo to enlarge or download: Legend has it that rubbing the nose of the bust of E.W. Scripps, founder of the E.W. Scripps Co. is good luck. How could I resist such a tradition? SHFWire photo by Carlos CobaClick on photo to enlarge or download: Legend has it that rubbing the nose of the bust of E.W. Scripps, founder of the E.W. Scripps Co. is good luck. How could I resist such a tradition? SHFWire photo by Carlos Coba

 

Scripps Howard Foundation Wire
1090 Vermont Ave. N.W. - Suite 1000
Washington, D.C. 20005
202-408-2748