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22 ½ Main Street: Putting Names To The Faceless

The “06880” story about 22 ½ Main Street — the boardinghouse behind what is now the Bobby Q’s alley that went up in flames in 60 years ago, and has now been largely forgotten — intrigued many readers.

And it inspired Jack Whittle to do some digging.

Trawling through 1940 US Census data on, he found a page listing information on 22 1/2 Main Street.

At the time of the counting, 28 people lived there. Their names included Dew, Martin, Gomez, Williams, Jackson, Paulk, Brown, Tomberlin, Bullock, Lemon, Powell, Sallus, Wrintz, Michels and Harold. All were “Negro.”

The youngest was 1 year old; the oldest, 54.

The list included “head” (of household), wives, sons, daughters, brothers, aunts and cousins. Eight were “lodgers.”

Most were born in the South, though some of the children were born in Connecticut. Samuel Lemon was born in British Columbia.

Only 1 — 14-year-old Abner Paulk — was listed as having attended school at any time within the previous month. Most of the adults completed only a few grades.

The census asked where they lived in 1935. Most were still in the South. A few were listed simply as “Some place.”

Their occupations were laborer, gardener, butler, domestic and handyman. Their employers were almost all “private family.”

The census also asked each adult’s income for all of the previous year. In 1939, that ranged from a low of $430, to a high of $1,132.

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