13
Mar

APRIL 6, 1968 (Two days after the riot)

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 My brother Sam who had purchased a neighborhood 5 and 10 cent store on Georgia Avenue and Lamont Street,around 1948, called me and stated that his business had been looted and not burned.                                                         

 Sam asked me if I wanted to check on his looted business,and I said OK.

As expected Lamont 5 and 10 was a mess with display cases and the windows smashed,and debris on  the floor where he had worked for about 20 years.Amidst the rubble, my brother spotted a small wrapped unopened package.He picked it up ,and recognized it as a delivery from Bokor Jewelry in Baltimore where he occasionally purchased costume jewelry.We surveyed the damage and then proceeded to leave,when a man confronted us,and said, “You can’t take that out package out. “This is my store and this is my property”,Sam responded. After some heated conversation, I observed a national guardsman walking by. I dashed over and explained that this store was my brother’s property that had been destroyed,and he was taking out an unopened package, and having a problem with a passerby. Convinced, the guardsman raised his bayonet and rifle,and ordered the intruder to move on.

   We drove to visit the Smith Pharmacy remains–it is difficult to describe that all that remained from drug store,where I had spent nine years,was an assortment of black debris,from which  my nostrils inhaled a strong burned odor.My “Smith’s Pharmacy Luncheonette Sign”,that I acquired when I purchased the pharmacy was hanging down on one side.–the store interior very dark, with the soda fountain’s former refrigerated units still visible but all black.Even the parking meter in front of what had been Smith’s Pharmacy was burned and matched the black appearance of Smith’s. I told Sam’s, “it’s time to go,but first let’s take a look at the other stores on my block.

   A quick inspection indicated that Clifton Liquor,at 2502 14th Street,NW, Tower Cleaners, and the Atlantic Foreign Car Parts on the same block had been burned, with a few other businesses being damaged. Later, I was told that rioters,gained entry to Norman’s Liquor Store, when they couldn’t gain entry because of a large iron gate.,by burning a portion of the roof.

Mel the owner of the foreign car parts store on the corner of 14th and Clifton Street,N.W. related when he went outside his store he was attackd by a rock throwing group,but fortunately brought into safety by his afro american secretary.He phoned the police to assist him in leaving the premises,but the police didn’t arrive. Fortunately he managed to escape from his business through the basement  which led into a corner apartment house.Both of his two delivery vans were burned.

   Chaconas Florist on the corner of 14th and Chapin sustained no damage, as did Ling Cafe, C& E Carry Out, and A & B barber shop.,my block neighbors.

 The owner of Chaconas Florist ,Aristides Chaconas whose florist shop sustained no  damage during the riot reopened his business,but unfortunately experienced a tragic ending. An article in the Star-News of August 31, 1972, reported that Mr. Chaconas opened his shop approximately 44 years ago On November 6, 1971, three young men,threatened Mr. Chaconas with a knife,grabbed $20.00 from the cash register and severely beat him.Mrs. Chaconas returned with a policeman-but the robbers had fled. He was rushed to the Washington Hospital Center where he underwent six hours of brain surgery.The operation left him a paraplegic with a total loss speech,and was pronounced dead at Sibley Hospital nearly 10 months after the hold up.

  I drove home,and began to contact some of my suppliers notifying them that my drug store had been burned down,and I would contact them, when I would be informed of my insurance coverage.I called my accountant and insurance agent,about the loss,and as expected that they were receiving many similar phone calls.

 

 

 

 

 

  On Sunday April 7, 1968, I tried to relax,which was very difficult. I received many sympathetic calls from friends and other riot victims. The most popular inquiry was,”Are you covered by Insurance” for your big loss,with my response being–“I don’t know.”!

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