28 September 2007

Stopping Traffic

Last week some of our sisters stopped traffic on 35th Street. The sight of a few nuns (one with a camera) gathering on street corner caused cars to stop before arriving at the P Street stop sign. One car even stopped long enough to stick a cell phone out the window to take a picture of the group!

Our Sister Archivist teaches a formation class on the history of our community as well as the (inseparable) history of the Catholic Church in the country. Last week she conducted a walking tour of the streets in our immediate vicinity. Among the architectural notes and historical accounts, sister unveiled a mystery about metal images on some houses in our neighborhood. Due to the devastating risk of rapidly-spreading fire, associations formed in the 18th century to respond to this. Homeowners paid a fee to belong to a "Fire Association" and they displayed the insignia of their association on the outside of their house. When a fire broke out, it was evident from the metal symbol which fire association could be expected to respond. Many houses in our neighborhood still bear these historic symbols.

Just down the street from us are two connected houses, each of which belonged to a different association.

Above is a close-up of a fire association insignia. Some plaques even have pictures of hoses on them. Considering how many times our walls have been ravaged by fire, one would think that we might have belonged to every fire association that existed!

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