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Issue 06 – Corpus Christi 2021

The Jungle

Kennedy Bugged Piccolo

On a Washington, D.C. memorabilia shop.


Sometimes when I have time to kill, I wander up Fourteenth Street, past the wine bars and osterias, and stop into a decaying brownstone where I am nearly always greeted by Douglas Robinson, Washington, D.C.’s last novelty salesman. Douglas has lived here since 1956 when his father, Jack, bought the building and christened it “Monarch.” Before that, Jack ran the place out of a townhouse behind Howard University. He sold trinkets, carnival prizes, and political paraphernalia. He raised Douglas, as well as his ten siblings, to do the same. Most are now dead. Douglas remains, holding onto the shop even as it rots into the ground.

I knew Douglas would help me out when I had it in mind recently that I needed a Barry Goldwater button. It is well known in collector circles that the Goldwater campaign, typical of the conservative political movement that it launched, spent massive amounts of money on promotional materials for only a meager return at the ballot box, leaving full warehouses of junk hoarded by his devotees, never to be sold—except by Douglas, who holds no reverence for Mr. Conservative or any other politician, save one local giant.

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About the author

Nic Rowan

Nic Rowan is managing editor of The Lamp.