Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Who kidnapped Maria of Chinatown?

For the past twelve years Maria presided over the ticket booth at the Azteca Theater. Countless passersby stopped to greet her and for
Maria of  Chinatown
many she took on religious significance as they stopped, crossed themselves, and spoke prayers and blessings.  She was a vision of grace, beauty and hope.

Maria began her life in Chinatown as a clothing display specialist at Mary's Liquor on F Street 50 years ago.  Mary ran the store to serve residents of Chinatown and stocked more that the usual convenience store including some clothing. And Maria sported the best clothes and was quite popular with her good looks and slim 1960s figure.

ArtHop Chinatown
When the store was closed twelve years ago I asked what would happen to Maria who was already named for her  well known innocent and kindly looks reminding some of the Virgin Mary.

Soon Maria came to work for  the Azteca Theater.

Mardi Gras Chinatown
Maria cast her gaze across the sidewalk and  F street 24 hours a day. She welcomed visitors for ArtHop and Chinatown events keeping a positive outlook.

Sometimes she would get dressed up for holidays such as Christmas and the Fourth of July.  She gained some beaded necklaces for Mardi Gras and a Chinese hat for the Chinese New Year parade.
Maria in her Christmas hat

She kept a light burning around the clock and cast a kind look towards all. Some locals began to stop in front of her to say a prayer and pay their respects. She never looked disapprovingly or was unwelcoming.  She blessed many who had few blessings.

Maria Fourth of July
Hers was not always an easy life.  She observed her share of erratic behavior by those wandering the streets on the edge of normalcy.  People who were homeless, addicted or suffering mental confusion.  In 2008 she was assaullted for the first time. A confused individual broke through the security bars and tossed a heavy planter towards her before raising a misguided hand towards her and tore her brown hair off and escaped down the street. 

Shaved head for solidarity
Maria did not hold a grudge. For awhile she wore her bald head proudly in support of cancer survivors she had seen over the years.  Eventually she decided to change her look and become a redhead.  Never one to dwell on life challenges, she bravely carried on.

In the early hours of May 14, 2013 Maria was kidnapped. Security bars were forced open, the booth broken into, and Maria was taken.  And although she will remain brave and resolute through this adversity, she most certainly would rather be back at the Azteca Theater greeting her friends and those in need.

Maria in recent times in her auburn look.

No ransom note has been received and no one has taken credit for the abduction. The motive remains elusive.  We only can solace in the fact that wherever she is she will be doing her work to soothe the savage soul and bring blessings to those who are deserving.

Ever since Maria started her watch on F Street she has been adored and studied.  Many photographers have chosen her for their subject.  Azteca Theater as photographers model

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