I was born at the old Sibley Hospital, near the Capitol, in 1929. My grandparents had emigrated to D.C. In 1887 from Czarist Russia. I grew up on a tiny one-block street, the 3600 block of Rock Creek Church Road—near New Hampshire Ave. and Spring Road. It was a short walk to Raymond Elementary School which I attended, followed by Powell Junior High and Central High . Of course, in those days, all schools (and restaurants and hotels etc.) were segregated.
I remember going to the York Theater on Saturday afternoons—10 cents for
a movie, a “comedy,” a cartoon, Movietone News, and a serial--perhaps Buster
Crabbe as Buck Rogers. If I was flush, I might even have lunch at the People’s Drug Store soda fountain across the street, where a quarter would buy a minced chicken sandwich (on toast please,) and a chocolate milk shake.
I remember going with my father on Sundays
to the Zoo, or the Smithsonian,
or if I was very lucky to Glen Echo for at most a ride or two. A regular part of
July 4th meant a trip to the (Washington) Monument for the fireworks. And as
others have mentioned, a favorite excursion was to Marshall Hall which had its own little amusement park, and picnic tables for the lunch we would bring with us.
I remember rolling easter eggs with Mrs. (Eleanore)
Roosevelt on Easter Monday morning on the south lawn of the white house, and
President Roosevelt lighting the Christmas tree at the White House every year.
I remember seeing him often in an open car like when he returned
from the Yalta Conference. It seemed he had always been president, and
it was a terrible shock when he died in 1944, especially since the (WWII)
war was still going on. I was one of thousands (many weeping) lining
the streets during
his funeral procession. I remember blackout drills during the war, when my father was an air raid warden, and I was an an air raid messenger, both with white helmets and armbands. Public building were unlit at night during the war, and I remember how much it meant when the Capitol building was relit after years of darkness.
I remember the joyous celebration on VJ
night. The terrible war that had claimed so many millions of lives was
finally over, and a million or so of us went “downtown” to sing, dance, hug
and kiss, laugh and walk together—a sea of happy people. The crowd was so
enormous, that tens of thousands of the starlings that lived on and around all
the public buildings downtown, took to the sky, and there were swirling clouds
of them above us.
I remember the wonderful concert by Marian Anderson, the black soprano, at the Lincoln Memorial, arranged by Eleanore Roosevelt after the D.A.R. refused to let her sing in Constitution Hall.
I remember lots more, like going to Grandma’s house in Southwest on the
7th Street Wharves streetcar, picnics with high school friends in Rock Creek Park which seemed almost like “country” in those days, sledding in the alley behind our house during what I remember as many big snowfalls most winters in D.C., going to the National Airport to watch planes land and take off when flying was still a novelty. I could go on and on, but fearing that I might bore you, I’ll sign off for now, with thanks for this website that has stirred up so many (mostly good) memories.
WAS BORN IN OLD SIBLEY, RAISED IN MT. RAINIER, ATTENDED MT. RAINIER ELEMENTARY, BURROUGHS ELEMENTARY (TO PICK UP THE 6TH GRADE WHICH WAS MISSING IN MARYLAND) LANGLEY JR. HIGH AND TECH HIGH..
LOVED THIS PAGE AND I ONLY HAVE ONE REAL COMMENT---ONE OF THE EARLIER COMMENTS WAS ABOUT THEATERS IN D.C.---HE SAID THE "WARNER"---THAT WAS MUCH LATER BECAUSE IT WAS THE "EARLE" FOR MOST OF MY EARLY YEARS (INCLUDING THE "RAINBOW ROOM" BENEATH IT ,WHERE I HAD MY FIRST ILLEGAL DRINK IN D.C.)
ALSO ADDING--STEVENS CAFE ON UPPER 14TH STREET N.W. WHERE I HAD THE FIRST PIZZA I CAN REMEMBER. (ABOUT 1948) ALSO-- IN COLLEGE PARK--"ZAL'S GRILL" U OF M FAVORITE WATERING HOLE--AND LIDO'S ON UNIVERSITY BLVD--AND THE ICE CREAM PARLOR NEAR 3RD N.W JUST BELOW NORTH CAPITOL..
Boy, what memories this page brings back. We lived on Belmont St and then Monroe St. I remember riding my bike down Park Rd and cutting over to the zoo many times. My dad drove for Capitol Transit/DC Transit so we got free transfers to go where ever we wished which included many trips downtown to the Smithsonian (when it was just one or two old stone buildings), the Monument, etc. After a few more moves we ended up in Wheaton. Along the way some memories are:
Radio listening to Bobby Benson and the B-Bar-B riders. ((late 40's)
Jernigans Cleaners in Queenstown (sock hops every friday in their basement)
Bagging groceries for tips at the grocery store.
Tick Tock in Langley Park
Wileys Ice Cream (who could forget Wileys?)
Carrol Candies on the corner of University and Georgia
WDON -Don Dillard
Hot Shops on friday nights with a Teen Twist or Might Mo.
and on and on.
My wife and I were born and raised within two blocks of each other in northwest D.C. in the mid and late 20's. We remember the moonlight boatrides to Marshall Hall and the trolley rides to Glen Echo. That old rickety roller coaster was something else. How about the walks to the Hot Shoppes. There was one on Georgia Avenue at either Farragut or Gallatin Street. That one was frequented by the students of Theodore Roosevelt High School (my wife's alma mater). There was also one out Georgia Avenue at Piney Branch Road (?) that was frequented by the students at Calvin Coolidge High School (my alma mater). Both of us remember the blackouts during World War II. I served as a runner in the Civil Defense Corps. One of our duties was to walk around in the pitch black looking to make sure that all windows were sealed from any light leakage. Another duty of the runner was to take messages back and forth between various headquarters. I served in the ROTC unit at Calvin Coolidge High School which served me well when I enlisted in the army upon graduation in February, 1946. As I look back over growing up in Washington, D.C. it becomes obvious that I was very fortunate. So much happened in those days and Washington was always the center of it so we were always a part of history being made.
How many remember the White Tower and the Little Tavern Hamburger Shoppes? Yes, hamburgers for a nickel and WERE THEY GOOD? Yum Yum!!! One of the reminiscers asked about the name of the burlesque theater that was on 9th Street between F and G Streets. It was the Gayety Theater (I think I spelled it right). I remember that it was in the same block as Bergmann's Laundry (which, incidentally, was the Washington Redskins home office). I would go down there to hang out in order to get autographs of the football players. My mother gave me you know what for being in such a neighborhood. One of my coaches in high school was Bob Masterson. He played end for the Washington Redskins. Do you remember Sammy Baugh, Wee Willie Wilkin, Andy Farkas and others? I attended the very first Redskins game played in Washington, D.C. in 1937. I earned money in those days collecting newspapers and magazines and taking them to a junk yard on Georgia Avenue near the old Griffith Stadium. I remember getting twenty-five cents per hundred pounds; but, if I remember correctly, a general admission ticket cost less than a dollar. I also saved money to go to the Washington Senator baseball games. Remember them -- "Washington, first in war, first in peace and last in the American League." Yes, I remember Mickey Vernon, Stan Spence and George Case. They, and others, were my role models. Dutch Leonard, the great knuckleballer, was the uncle of a schoolmate of mine and I had the good fortune to see a real knuckleball up close and personal. How could anyone forget going to Griffith Stadium for a night game when they were baking at the Continental Baking Company Bakery? I'm sure that the smell from the bakery caused us to buy more hot dogs than we needed. I, too, delivered the Washington Post in the morning and the Herald or News in the afternoon. I also sold Saturday Evening Post, Liberty and other magazines.
When I went to pick up my newspapers on Georgia Avenue right near Kennedy Street at 4:00 or 4:30 in the morning, I would buy a real Kosher dill pickle at a store right there. The pickle was a nickel and was it good. While I was a student at Calvin Coolidge High School in 1945 (I think), we had an undefeated, untied and unscored on season until the ninth or tenth game of the season. I believe that it was Western High School that scored twelve points on us. I do remember the train windows at Christmas time at Kann's Department Store. I had a train set that my Dad bought for me just before he died in 1931 and I could only dream that I could have such a set-up as was in their window. My mother had a ritual every Sunday evening to park downtown on F Street between Twelfth Street and Thirteenth Street and go "window shopping." We would walk from the car down F Street to Fourteenth Street, cross F Street and backtrack to Twelfth Street, cross F Street again and walk back to the car.
How many of you remember the BIG polar bear that was always in front of Zlotnick's Furrier. I remember the beggar with the monkey that was always panhandling on F Street. How many wonderful days were spent at the Smithsonian Institution? I think you could go there every day of your life and still have more to see. When I was quite young, I remember they had a glass sided bee hive with a glass tunnel arrangement to the outside. You could stand there and watch the bees going and coming with their loads of honey. That really fascinated me and created a lifelong interest in bee keeping. The Washington Zoo was another place that drew us as young folks. Rock Creek Park was a place of real wilderness right in the heart of town. In the summer time we rode our bikes over to the park. WE loved to ride through the fords where the road crossed the creek. We usually entered along side the old McMillan Reservoir (near 16th Street and Kennedy) that was filled in in the 30's or early 40's. We would go down that winding road into the park. Our scoutmaster took us to the park on many Friday night scout meetings to just learn all we could about nature. I also served as a Sea Scout when I was a junior or senior in high school. We met at the Anacostia Navy Base. Saturday mornings were good to ride bikes or take the bus to the Washington Monument. I remember trying to run all the way up the stairs. I can't remember if I ever succeeded but it was fun trying. Students had three cent bus tickets but I think they were only good on school days. Remember transfers? You could get on the bus or streetcar and go for what seemed forever by using transfers. We used to ride our bikes to the Chain Bridge and cross over into Virginia and then ride up to Great Falls where we would scamper around the falls on the rocks. How great it was to be able to do all of those things without having any concern for your safety. Many weekends we drove down to Beverly or Triton Beach on the Chesapeake Bay to go swimming. There was always the picnic lunch which was so delicious after a round of swimming. But always -- "No swimming until an hour after you eat." The Ice Cream Shoppe at the University of Maryland was one of the most wonderful places in the world. They always had something to tweak your interest and whet your appetite. The Polar Bear on upper Georgia Avenue was another neat place to go if you wanted soft serve ice cream. I do remember the Kennedy and the Colony and the Sheridan movie theaters. What exciting times we had at the Saturday Matinees? I am having such a great time reading all of your reminisces that I just had to add my two cents worth.
Lester B Davis
The Crystal Pool also and the Fun House at Glen Echo where you could stay for hours and slide down the immense slide, ride small tricycles around the perimeter and other fun stuff. The clickety clickety trolley ride out to Glen Echo was the best part. And not to forget the wonderful Merry Go Round.
I was born in the back seat of Diamond cab #7, and my father was driving it; 18th & Pa. Ave.NW on the way to Columbia hospital, December 23rd, 1938; about 8:00 am. Kindergarten through 8th at Sacred Heart Grade School on Park Road. Playing basketball with Elgin Baylor at Poell Playground. Tivoli & Savoy Theaters on 14th St. Gonzaga High School 50 years ago, class of '56 (same as Pat Buchanan). Georgetown Law Class of '66. Does anybody remember the "Hoppity Skippity" show on Ch.5? Milt Grant, who also developed Drum Point, gave a young puppeteer, a student at U.Md. who lived in Tacoma Park - his start. Jim Henson & Kermit the Frog. Meridian Hill Park. 13th St. was repaved and we could roller skate all the way tol the Capitol, skate up & down the steps and around the Supreme Court portico, then hop a Mt.Pleasant Streetcar and for a 2 cent bus ticket ride home. Heller's Bakery on Mt. Pleasant St. THE BEST!!! Velati's Caramels on G st. Good Earth Restaurant at Conn. & Kalorama. The Old Ebbitt, Cafe Budapest, Charlie Byrd at the Showboat Lounge across from the Ambassador Theater. Lots, lots of memories.
Richard Loftus RWLoftus@mac.com
Do YOU have any memories of
D.C.? If so, please e-mail me and I
will add them to this page.
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