Cole Cummings keeps his old toys right where he can see them—on top of, inside, and around the two cars in his Capitol Hill back yard. The station wagon, of indeterminate make and with a pile of plush 2 feet high on the roof, hasn’t been driven in a while: All four tires are flat, and there’s a sign taped to the back that demands “Please muve this cars.”
Cummings’ everyday ride, an ’81 Bonneville sedan, can usually be found in the parking lot of the Murry’s grocery store on H Street NE. The Pontiac features spray-painted orange crosshatching, dozens of action figures (including sundry Powerpuff Girls and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers) held down with tape, and a PA system with a megaphone and automated four-song repertoire. The engine fires up on the second try.
How long have you been doing this type of decorating?
I’ve been doing that on my bicycle since I was 8 years old. It just came into my head.
How long have you been hanging out at 6th and H?
I’ve been there for 40 years. I use it as a gypsy cab. Some of them give me 20 dollars, some of them give me 10, some of them give me five.
Where do you get the toys?
Most of them I buy. People give me teddy bears. I like everything.
Have you always just attached the stuff with masking tape?
They won’t fall off, even with all that snow. The other night I was driving about 70 miles per hour and nothing fell off.
Why do you do it?
I like to be seen, like Maybelline. The only thing that can stop me is the man up yonder [points to the sky]. If they take this one from me, I’ll get another tomorrow. CP