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One-Man Band: 1919

Washington, D.C., circa 1919. "Organ grinder." With a custom-fitted organ cover. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

Washington, D.C., circa 1919. "Organ grinder." With a custom-fitted organ cover. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.


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A little more info

That's good detective work 20002ist! Here's a little more from the 1920 federal census:

Stephen Masci
United States Census, 1920

Name: Stephen Masci

Event Place: Washington, District of Columbia
Gender: Male
Age: 57
Marital Status: Widowed
Race: White
Can Read: No
Can Write: No
Relationship to Head of Household: Head
Own or Rent: Rent
Birth Year (Estimated): 1863
Birthplace: Italy
Immigration Year: 1896
Father's Birthplace: Italy
Mother's Birthplace: Italy

Stephen Masci----Head----M----57----Italy
Carlos Masci----Son----M----24----Italy
Rosa Masci----Daughter----F----14----District of Columbia
Catherine Masci----Daughter----F----12----District of Columbia
George Marcus----Roomer----M----77----Montenegro
Peter Fresci----Roomer----M----67----Italy
Jos Ratto----Roomer----M----66----Italy

Our hero's likely identity

Our protagonist is likely one Stephano (or possibly Stefano) Maschi, standing in front of his home at 312 13-1/2 St. NW.

The first clue? The number 312 in the transom of the frame house behind him.

Clue #2: An article from the April 16, 1919 Washington Post noting the hard times befalling organ grinders in an era of phonographs & moving pictures. (It also notes that there remain only 9 permits for street musicians, with a ban on additional permits.) This is not a sympathetic account, and quotes one "Maschi Stephano" -- I'm guessing he gave his surname first, as was common in the Old World -- complete with transcription of his apparently heavy Italian accent. The ethnic disdain is, alas, palpable.

Clue #3: The 1919 Baist atlas for 312 13-1/2 St. NW matches the structures seen here: 312 a wood frame house, with a brick structure to its left (south).

Clue #4: A companion photo, clearly looking north along 13-1/2 St., shows our organ grinder in the same spot, with a blurry District Building behind him to his left. On the right is an equally blurry Munsey Building (previously seen here, next to the Post's own building) at 1329 E St., just past Pennsylvania Ave.


If I closed my eyes and imagined what an organ grinder in 1919 would have looked like, he would have looked EXACTLY like this guy!

Now a solo act

"The show is over. The monkey's dead!"

― Tennessee Williams, Orpheus Descending

Something's Missing

Where's the Monkey?

Nifty Cover!

Bringing you execrable "music," rain or shine, since 1919!

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