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301 East Capitol: Tales from the Heart of the Hill Paperback – January 20, 2012


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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Mary Z. Gray was born into a Capitol Hill family in 1919 and grew up above their inherited funeral parlors, two blocks from the U.S. Capitol. Since the 1840s the extended family had lived in, and rarely moved out of, a ten-block area of the neighborhood. A writer all of her adult life, she got her first by-line in the Washington Post in 1940. Since then, she has been published frequently in the Post, as well as The New York Times travel section and many other U.S. and Canadian papers. In the 1940s she was a reporter/editor for Broadcasting Magazine. Gray became a speech writer for the Kennedy-Johnson White House in 1963 and continued as a writer for a Presidential committee for the next 14 years. In this period she also wrote speeches for Cabinet members and members of Congress. Her book "Ah Bewilderness! Muddling Through Life With Mary Z. Gray" (Atheneum) was published in 1984. A resident of Silver Spring, Maryland, since 1939, she has a son and daughter, a grandson, and three great-grandchildren. This book was inspired by conversations with members of the Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 274 pages
  • Publisher: Overbeck History Press (January 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0615543413
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615543413
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,073,320 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Craig Zurhorst on January 24, 2012
Format: Paperback
With 301 East Capitol: Tales from the Heart of the Hill, Mary Z. Gray has succeeded in making the textures, colors, aromas, and even flavors of the residential section of Capitol Hill, starting from the 1920s, palpable. With her descriptions of places and characters, readers will come away with the very real sense of having traveled back in time. This book is a beautifully-preserved slice of Washington DC-centered history, an insider's view of a distinct and special part of the District of Columbia, and a fascinating chain of stories from a personal perspective that will draw you in.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By John Franzen on January 29, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's been a few years since Mary Gray, now 93, was contributing funny, flawlessly crafted articles to the Washington Post and New York Times, but this book proves she's lost none of her power to describe and delight. Her portraits of the characters who inhabited her old neighborhood are a treasure.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By DFM on January 27, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is a charming, witty, and insightful account of growing up on Capitol Hill in the early decades of the past century, with the United States Capitol as a backdrop and a rich cast of characters. You'll delight in Mary Gray's wry humor and pitch-perfect descriptions of her life above a funeral parlor on East Capitol Street. This is a book to treasure!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. Freeman on January 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Mary Z. Gray provides her readers with a lively account of life in the nation's neighborhood in the 1920s. Memorable moments, landmarks and a cast of characters come alive through her deft story telling. A wonderful book for any one interested in a close-up look at a slice of time in our country's history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Debbie on February 17, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thanks to Mary Z. Gray for magically taking me back in time. Her description of Washington DC in the 1920's provided a valuable lesson in history. I especially enjoyed the stories about Mary's childhood adventures with her maids. These playmates introduced Mary to the secrets of the Capitol building and surrounding areas. You'll feel like you are joining in their fun! Be prepared to laugh out loud as you enjoy Mary's tales.
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By Marion G. on February 28, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Oh boy! Who knew such a treasure would be found in Mary Gray's
book. I lived on Capitol Hill during the 1970's and 1980's, and always
suspected there must have been a rich past life beyond the congressional aides, and the commuter traffic.
Meet bedrock families like the Schroeders, the Zurhorsts, and the Tappans!
Visit maiden aunties, take dinner with the rector and call on fashionable relatives in LeDroit Park.
It's life in sight of the Capitol dome, but a world apart from it.
The seeds of this past have sprouted. Capital Hill, is again, resembling the neighborhood of Mary Gray's memories.
Families, aunties, neighbors, playgrounds, corner stores, lives all flourishing under the Dome.
You'll love this funny tender remembrance of life as you hoped it might have been.
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With this little gem, Mary Gray interweaves real American history with her remembrances of childhood and family history on Capitol Hill. A great, great grandfather of hers played the coronet at Lincoln's inauguration and that becomes the lead-in to some not well known facts of Lincoln's and the times' history. Similar historical connections are made with various members of her family as the family history progresses from the Civil War through the World Wars, and the Depression.

A very enjoyable read, as Mary has mastered the art of conversational prose. You feel as if she is right there next to you, telling her story.
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