INTERVIEW: Frances Hamby
WHEN: October 1, 2011
WHERE: home of Joan Solomon Janshego
INTERVIEWERS: Joan Solomon Janshego and Carl Lankowski
HOW: transcribed from recorder
TRANSCRIBER: Joan Solomon Janshego
Q – Let’s start with your name.
FH – Frances Hamby
Q – And when were you born?
FH - August 4, 1927.
Q – Where were you born?
FH – Rockville, Maryland
Q - Can you describe your family? Were there other children in your family?
FH – I had an older sister and a younger brother. My mother was originally from Rockville, and she was a member of the Veirs Family – of Veirs Mill Road. Samuel Clark Veirs was my great great grandfather. My father was a Washingtonian, and he grew up and lived in Washington.
Q – Where in Washington did he grow up?
FH – I really don’t know. I don’t know very much about my father’s family. In the 1930’s and 1940’s, my paternal grandfather lived in an apartment at 2801 Connecticut Avenue in Washington.
Q – What was your name before you married?
FH – Pate.
Q – What was your father’s occupation?
FH - He was in the paving business.
C – Did he work for himself?
FH – He worked for his father. Then after my grandfather Pate died, my father continued with the firm. In the 1930’s and early 1940’s, he formed a partnership with a man named Bob Acker. He enlisted in the Navy during World War II. After World War II ended, he had his own paving company.
Q - Did your mother work outside the home?
FH – Just for a few years. She worked at Woodward and Lothrop’s at the original Washington store on F Street.
Q - What was her educational background? Did she go to college?
FH - No. But she graduated from Georgetown Visitation School in 1915.
C - So you are in Chevy Chase because of your husband.
Q - Tell me about your husband. How did you meet him?
FH – I met him in 1947.
Q - Tell us his name.
FH – Louis Laval Hamby, Jr.
Q - How did you meet him?
FH – It is a very strange story. I was working at the Bethesda Theater holding the job for a very good friend of mine whose mother was very sick. She couldn’t be away from her mother all day long and also in the evening. She had full-time help for her mother during the day time, and she was at home with her at night. She had this job as a ticket seller at the Bethesda Theater. But she did not want to lose it, because she expected to be able to go back to the job. This was a friend that I met while I was working for the Public Health Service. The manager of the theater happened to be my husband’s best friend. The manager called my husband and said that he ought to come to the theater, because there was someone there who he thought he would like. That is how I met him.
Q - You said you worked for the Public Health Service?
FH - Yes.
Q - Doing what?
FH - I was in the statistical section and kept track of the money that went to the various branches of the Public Health Service.
Q - So that was your day time job, and you did the theater job at night to help your friend.
FH – Yes. But the night time job did not last very long.
Q - Your friend’s mother got better?
FH - Yes
Q - Did you work for the Public Health Service very long?
FH - I was with them from 1946 to 1950, and then I was on maternity leave. I finally resigned in 1951.
Q - Let’s go back a bit. Where did you go to school?
FH - I went to Immaculata Seminary. It was at Tenley Circle where American University’s law school is now.
Q - Did you commute?
FH – Yes. I took the bus from Rockville to the District line and then took the streetcar.
Q – What happened after that?
FH – I went to college for one year to Dumbarton College. It is the Howard University Law School now- on Upton Street off of Connecticut Avenue.
Q - That was a four-year college?
FH – Yes.
Q - So you were there for a year?
FH – Just a year, and then I went to work for the Public Health Service. I worked there several summers when I was in high school. I just decided that I did not like college, and the Public Health Service offered me a full-time job, and so I took it.
Q- So you met your husband and when did you marry?
FH – November 1948.
Q - Where was the wedding?
FH – At St. Mary’s church in Rockville.
Q - After your marriage?
FH –I moved in to where I live now. My husband’s father had died about 9 months before we were married. He was an only child, and his mother was a typical old-time southern lady who never learned to drive. She never wrote a check. She called the grocery store and ordered her groceries. She just didn’t know how to live by herself. So I moved in as a bride, and we lived together for 20 years.
Q - She was from South Carolina?
FH – Yes.
Q - So you had children?
FH – Three.
Q - What are their names and ages?
FH - Sally is 61 years old. Lou the Third is 58, and Suzanne is 57.
Q - What is the address of the house that you moved into?
FH – 3803 Jenifer
Q - How long was that house in your husband’s family?
FH – They bought it in 1924.
Q - Was it a new house?
FH – No. They were the third owners
Q - Do you know the age of the house?
FH – It was built in 1911. So it is 100 years old now.
Q - Do you know anything about the architect or the builder?
FH – No.
Q - Was it changed or remodeled since you lived there or your husband’s family lived there?
FH – The only thing that I know that they did was to enclose two open porches – on the east side of the house.
Q - Can you describe the house to me architecturally. What does it look like?
FH – It is pebbledash, and it has a beautiful entrance hall with a stairway that goes up and across. The living room runs the full depth of the house on the left and a dining room on the right and a butler’s pantry behind the dining room and then a kitchen. There are 4 bedrooms upstairs and one full bath. There is another bathroom where there used to be a walk-through through 2 of the bedrooms. My husband’s family put in a small bath. It has no bathtub. It has a toilet, wash basin and a shower. I know my mother-in-law bought a new stove in 1925, and I am still using the stove. It is up on legs. It has a broiler and an oven above. You don’t have to bend down to put food in the broiler or the oven. It is a Detroit Jewel.
Q - How many burners?
FH – Four. The house that I grew up in Rockville had a stove just like it except it was electric, and so I was very familiar with that type of stove.
Q - What color is it?
FH – It is white with light grey trim. You dial the thermostat to whatever degree you want for the oven. If it says on the cake box that you should bake the cake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, it is done at 25 minutes.
Q - Have you ever had the kitchen remodeled?
FH – No.
Q - So it is the original kitchen from when your mother-in-law was there?
FH – Yes. I don’t have cabinets. I have a Dutch cabinet on one wall and then some kind of a cabinet that is just table height, and it is on wheels. It has a breadbox drawer and another drawer below where you can keep a lot of things. And then a big cupboard on the other side with no shelves.
Q - What is the floor?
FH – It is a wooden floor, covered with linoleum.
Q – When you moved in, what do you remember about the neighbors?
FH – I knew a good number of them. They were older people – the same age as my mother-in-law. Mr. and Mrs. Hugh Philips lived across the street in the same house that John Kerry later lived in when he was a young boy.
Q –John Kerry, the senator?
FH – Yes. He came after the Philips moved, and John Lindsay lived there also at one point – in the same house. It is 3806 Jenifer Street. Then next door to me was Dr. and Mrs. Katzman on the east side, and then on the west side of my house, it was Mr. and Mrs. Russell Barrett. I went to high school with one of the Barrett children. I went to Immaculata Seminary with Mary Frances. And then the house next to that was a rental house, and it belongs to the people just beyond that at 3815 – Captain Dessez, and the same family now owns it but the name is Miller now. And on the south side of Jenifer Street there was a Captain and Mrs. Davis who lived at 3808 and then Mr. and Mrs. Vinal at 3810. At 3818 was the Unitarian minister, A. Powell Davies. And then as soon as I got pregnant all of these older families put their houses on the market. I thought they were afraid that they were going to have a screaming baby next door.
But a lot of people have lived in the same houses for 25 years. We have a very unique block. There are such wonderful families. I would not be able to be in my house by myself if I didn’t have such good neighbors. When my front porch light burns out, my neighbor across the street comes over and changes that. And now I don’t climb step ladders anymore, and I have very high ceilings in the house. So in the entrance hall, when that light burns out, the next door neighbor will come over and change that for me. If I am lucky some of these lights burn out when my children are here., so I don’t have to call my neighbors. A couple of the neighbors have keys. One Sunday morning a couple years ago, it was just pouring rain, and I decided that I wasn’t going to go to church, and I didn’t even go out to get my newspaper. One of the neighbors who has a key came over about 11 o’clock and rang the doorbell. I went to the door, and she said “I was so worried about you, and I am glad to see that you are alright.” I feel very secure living there.
Q – So for a long period of years, people stayed on your street for a long time and that continues?
FH – Yes. Just recently, my next door neighbor on the east side of the house sold her house and moved into an apartment because her children didn’t want her living there by herself. So I have new neighbors on that side and then two new families up the street on the south side We have young families moving in. I really enjoy when I am puttering around in the yard in nice weather hearing children play. I taught kindergarten for 35 years.
Q – You didn’t tell us that part. You worked at the Public Health Service. You got pregnant and quit your job. Then what happened?
FH – When my youngest daughter was 5 years old and in school, I decided that I needed to get out and get a job because we were sending our 3 children to the Potomac School in McLean. The tuition was what I used to think was very high, but compared to tuition today, it is unbelievable. Anyway, I got a job as an assistant kindergarten teacher at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Day School on Whitehaven Parkway and Reservoir Road. In 1986, a new Episcopal school was founded – Washington Episcopal School. I was one of the founding faculty. I taught at WES for 20 years.
Q – You said that you had a neighbor who was a Unitarian minister. Do you know which church that was?
FH – It is the one that is on 16th Street.
Q – “The” Unitarian Church. I think it was the first one.
FH – Is that right?
Q – Speaking of that, what were some of the other occupations when you first moved there?
FH – There was a doctor Katzman. He was a medical doctor, but I don’t know what kind. He sold the house soon after I married.
When Sally was 6 years, the younger Kerry brother, Cameron, was the same age as my Sally. And they used to play together.
Q - What was the senior Kerry’s occupation?
FH – He was State Department.
Q – How long did they live there?
FH – I really don’t remember. But they had an overseas assignment, and they rented the house and that was when John and Mary Lindsay moved in. John Lindsay was the representative of the silk stocking district of New York City, and then he was mayor of New York City.
Q – John Lindsay, the mayor moved in?
FH – When he moved into the house, he was working for Attorney General Brownell at that time. Then he went back to New York, and he ran for Congress. He was elected. Then he was in Congress for several years. They did not live across the street then. They lived in a house in Cleveland Park.
Q – What do you remember about John Kerry?
FH _ He was older than my children. He was the oldest. The second child was a girl named Peggy. I think John first went to Blessed Sacrament to school, and then he went off to boarding school. I really didn’t know him at all. Although he says he remembers me.
Q – Have you met him in recent years?
FH – No. But Howard Fineman, who is the political writer - that used to work for Newsweek before it folded –said that he was having dinner one night with John Kerry. I don’t know exactly how this came about. Maybe Howard said something about living on Jenifer Street, and John said “well , I used to live on Jenifer Street.” When he found out where, Howard told me that John said “I know Mrs. Hamby, she lived right across the street.”
Q – How do you know Mr. Fineman?
FH – He lives next door to the house that John Kerry lived in.
Q – Back then?
FH – No. Now. Dr. and Mrs. Smith lived in that house back when the Kerry family were there.
Q – He was a medical doctor also?
FH – No. He was a pharmacist at a drug store in Bethesda. I don’t remember his first name or her first name.
Q – So how would you say that the neighborhood is different now than it was in 1948? In some ways, it sounds like it is the same with the closeness of the families.
FH – Well I think that we are much closer friends than they were back then. My mother-in-law always called people as “Mrs. So and So” and “Captain Davis” and “Captain Dessez.” They were very formal.
Q – What stores did you go to when you were a young bride.
FH – Well there were some grocery stores – DGS and Clover market. The Clover Market was in the block south of Nebraska across from where Politics and Prose is today. Higger’s drug store was where CVS is today, and a small liquor store was connected with the drug store. There was a restaurant just north of the gas station. Not the big gas station on the west side of Connecticut Avenue. This was on the east side. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant. Up in this area, at McKinley Street going north on the west side of Connecticut Avenue, there was a lounge on the corner. It was the Chevy Chase Lounge. Next door to that was the Chevy Chase Novelty Shop, which sold toys and all sorts of things. I got to be good friends with the owner of that store, because that is where I took my film to be developed. Then next door to him was a jewelry store, and then next door was a catering business. They had food catering, and they also had things to sell such as cakes. And then there was the Avalon Theater. And beyond Avalon, there was a little grocery store that you had to go up about 5 oval-type steps to go in. It was one of those independent grocery stores Next to that was the post office, which is now on the corner. Then next to the post office was the drug store that has moved to Northampton Street and 39th Street - just past the shoe store
And across Connecticut Avenue was E.V. Brown School and the library. E.V. Brown School is where the community center is now. Then coming down on the west side of Connecticut Avenue – going south – was People’s Drug Store. And then I think the Chevy Chase Liquor Store, and then where Bread and Chocolate restaurant is now was Schupp’s Bakery. Then there was the drycleaners and High’s ice cream store. And then a ten cents store. On the corner of Connecticut and Morrison was Riggs Bank. Next to the bank was the Chevy Chase Arcade. Next to the Chevy Chase Arcade was a dry cleaners and the Piccadilly Restaurant where the Greek Restaurant is now. On the corner of Connecticut and Livingston was Circle Liquor Store, which later moved to the east side of Connecticut Avenue.
Q – You have a good memory.
FH – Well I used to put the baby in the stroller and walk a lot.
Q - Did you do most of your shopping locally like that?
FH – Yes. But for shoes or clothes, you had to go downtown – F Street and G Street. There was Hahn’s Shoe Store and Woodward and Lothrop’s. Garfinckel’s was on 14th Street. Jelleff’s was on F Street – around 12th Street. It was an all-day excursion when I grew up in Rockville to get shoes and clothes for school. We would have lunch at the tearoom at Woodward and Lothrop’s. It was something that we looked forward to. My mother would take me into Washington twice a year to get the different season’s clothes.
Q – When you had your children, did you go downtown for clothing?
Q – How did you get there? Did you drive or use public transportation?
FH – I think I drove, but I don’t know what I did with the car [laughs].
Q – Do you remember traffic being a problem?
FH – No. Of course not. Woodward and Lothrop would decorate their windows for Christmas each year with themes. One year it was The Night Before Christmas. It was always a big treat to take the children down to see the windows at Woodward and Lothrop’s. That was the only store that did that. But there was a sidewalk photographer who walked up and down F Street and take your picture as you were walking along.
Speaking of taking pictures, before I knew my husband, he was in the Navy during World War II. He was in the Naval Intelligence, and he was stationed in Honolulu. At that time, I was dating a friend from Rockville who was in the Navy. He was sent to Honolulu on a week’s R & R, and he had his picture taken by a sidewalk photographer. I kept that picture in my billfold for a couple years. Then when that relationship ended, I took it out and put it in my photograph album with all the other pictures that Jack had sent me. And then I met Louis and found out that he had been stationed in Honolulu , I said “I have some pictures from Hawaii. I’ll go get them to see if you recognize any of the places.” We were looking at the pictures, and this picture of my friend, Jack, had my future husband in the background. So I had carried this picture in my billfold at least 2 or 3 years before I ever knew him. We always thought it was meant to be.
Q- Speaking of your husband, I guess you did not tell us what was his occupation?
FH - He was with the CIA for 20 some yeas. He had to retire when he was 62 because that was the retirement age.
Q – How old was your husband when he died?
FH - He was 83. He died 14 years ago. He died in 1997. There was 13-1/2 years difference in our ages, but it never made any difference.
Q – Maybe you could tell us a little about your children since they grew up in Chevy Chase. You said they went to the Potomac School, which is where?
FH - In McLean, Virginia.
Q – Because they went to school far away, did they have neighborhood children as friends?
FH – Yes. There were a lot of children of their ages in our block. The Studlt’s had 2 girls that were the ages of my girls. The Studt twins were the same age as my oldest daughter and another daughter that was the same age as my youngest daughter. Across the street there was a boy the age of my son, and then when that family moved away, there was another boy that came in that was the same age.
Q – So your children grew up in the 50’s and the 60’s.
FH - Yes. They all went to the Potomac School. Back in those days, it went from kindergarten up to the 9th grade. It was co-ed up through the 3rd grade. From the 4th to the 9th, it was just for girls until my oldest daughter got into the 4th grade, and they started taking boys. So she had both boys and girls in her class. Both of my daughters went on to Madeira in Greenway, Va.
My son went to Episcopal High School in Alexandria for 10th and then to St Albans for 11th and 12th grade. He graduated from the University of Virginia for his undergraduate work. He went to UVA for law school. He is practicing law in Palm Beach, Florida now.
Q – Was he at St. Albans when Al Gore was there?
FH –No. But he was there when Neil Bush was there. I don’t know if he was there when Al Gore was there. Both girls went to Madeira. Sally, my eldest daughter, went to Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. And she is a musician now and lives in Italy. She is a choral director, and she gives piano, harpsichord, recorder and voice lessons. She has made quite a name for herself as a choral director. She has brought her choir to Washington for Potomac School Alumni Art’s Weekend and the people at Potomac found housing for everyone. They did concerts out there. Sally’s music teacher from Potomac came back to observe. She graduated number one in her class at Madeira. She just has music all through her. She says that she does not have any free time, but she loves what she is doing.
Q – Her choral group is in Italy?
FH – Yes. She brought them to South Carolina to do concerts at a church in Georgetown, South Carolina Then they went to Charleston and did a concert at St. Michael’s Church, and then at the College of Charleston There was somebody connected with the College of Charleston who has a restaurant in Charleston. So the whole choir was invited for dinner if they would sing a couple of pieces while they were there. Then they took a bus that Sally had chartered. They went to Mobile, Alabama and then to New Orleans. They did a concert in New Orleans. Then they flew to New York and did an exchange concert with a church in New York.
Q –Where in Italy are they?
FH – Just south of Florence. Sally has a house on the side of a mountain just outside of a little village called Loro Ciuffenna. It is in Tuscany. She comes home at Christmas time and stays about six weeks until my granddaughter has her birthday , which is the 23rd of January. Then she comes to the beach in South Carolina and stays from the first of August until the middle of September. Then she drives me back. She has homeschooled her daughter, and Louisa is a National Merit Scholar semi-finalist. I am very proud of what Sally has done. Louisa could not have accomplished that if she had not had proper teaching.
Then my youngest daughter lives in Framingham, Massachusetts. She is a professional ballroom dance teacher. She was a professional ballroom dancer and performed in competitions for a good number of years. Finally, she and her partner decided that they were tired of having the younger dancers looking at them the same way that they had looked at the older couples when they were beginning to compete. When they retired, they were third ranked in the professional dancers of the United States. She now teaches, and she has so much business that she has had to hire two or three teachers. She is also very happy in what she is doing. I am just so grateful that my three children are doing what they really love doing, and they do not look on it as work.
Q - Getting back to your husband, I assume he grew up in your house.
FH – He moved in when he was 9 years old.
Q – Did he talk about what it was like growing up, what he did as a child?
FH – He went to E.V. Brown School and they got out at 12 o’clock every day, and all of the children went home for lunch. They didn’t have to be back until l o’clock. Then after E.V. Brown, he went to Western High School, which is now the School for the Arts in Georgetown. Wilson didn’t exist then. He went to George Washington University. Back in those days, you didn’t have to go to 4 years of college before you went to law school. You could go to law school after 2 years. So after GW, he went to what was the National Law School. But it has now become a part of GW’s law school. Then when he graduated from law school, he started working in his father’s law firm until World War II started. He didn’t want to be drafted so he joined the Navy. He retired from the Navy as a Lieutenant Commander. He was in the Office of Naval Intelligence in Honolulu.
As far as what he did as a child, he used to talk about neighborhood baseball teams. He used to go St. Albans to play basketball. All Saints Church had a basketball team, but they didn’t have any place to play. So I guess they used the school facilities at St. Albans. He just had a lot of neighborhood friends. I don’t know very much about what they did.
Q - He was born in 1914. He would have been around in the prohibition era.
FH – I heard his mother talk about prohibition when they would go down to South Carolina and stay at a boarding house at the beach. People there knew who could go get liquor for them, if they wanted it.
Q – Do you have any other recollection of your mother-in-law saying what it was like living here?
FH – No.
Q – Do you remember community events? Where there 4th of July picnics, etc.
FH – No. We would go to the National Theater, but there were no public events that I recall except for fire works on the monument grounds. We would sometimes go to the Cathedral grounds because we could see the fireworks from there. When my husband was back in the Navy when we were first married, we did a lot of things with Navy people that worked for the Navy at the Bureau of Personnel. There was some kind of nice yacht that belonged to the Navy that the Naval Officers could use. So groups of Naval Officers would use it sometime. I remember one year, we had the use of the yacht on the 4th of July. We went down to Quantico and used the swimming pool there. Then we cruised back up the river, and we anchored opposite where the Kennedy Center is now, and we could watch the fireworks from the monument grounds. It was very interesting to be out there in the middle of the river seeing the fireworks. If there were any kind of neighborhood picnics and things like that, we just didn’t know about it. There was no such thing as block parties. We have our block party scheduled for tomorrow.
Q – I was going to ask you about the ambience of the neighborhood but in different ways. We are interested in knowing how mixed the neighborhood was - whether you saw people from different places, different races.
FH – Well I can’t remember when it was, I guess it was around 1969, the next-door neighbors – 3801 Jenifer – the house was sold to Channing Phillips who was black. Some of the neighbors were very concerned about that. Channing Phillips and his wife had 4 children, I think. That was when Mayor Washington was Mayor. A family on Jocelyn Street moved to England because of it. They lived at 3806 Jocelyn Street – which is just diagonally across the alley from where we lived and he was next door. The person who moved said that she could not stay in a place that had a black mayor and then a black neighbor. Her father was one of the original commissioners in DC. They didn’t have any children and her husband did everything that she wanted him to do. So they moved to the Isle of Scilly – off the coast of England.
Q – Was that an unusual response, as far as you know, at that time?
FH - None of the neighbors seemed to be upset by it, and I have to say that those children were some of the best behaved children you would ever want to live next door to you. They put up a basketball hoop in the alley, and they would shot hoops - Channing, Jr. especially. A lot of times the ball would come over in my yard, and he would ring my doorbell to ask if he could come into my yard. I finally said, “Channing, if your ball comes in my yard, you come and get it and don’t’ bother me.” They were very nice children.
Q – What did Channing Phillips do ? The name sounds familiar to me.
FH - I don’t remember.
[Editor’s note from Wikipedia: “Channing E. Phillips (March 23, 1928 – November 11, 1987) was an American minister, civil rights leader and social activist, who made history as the first African American placed in nomination for President of the United States by a major political party.
Born in Brooklyn to a Baptist minister, he was a founding member of Coalition of Conscience, a conglomeration of local organizations working to alleviate social problems in Washington DC. In 1968 he headed Robert F. Kennedy’s presidential campaign in D. C.
He led the delegation from the District of Columbia to the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Members of the District’s Delegation were originally pledged to Robert F. Kennedy. Following Senator Kennedy’s death, the delegation opted to nominated Rev. Phillips as a favorite son instead. He received 68 votes (behind Hubert Humphrey, Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern). By some accounts, this makes Rev. Phillips the first black person ever so nominated at a major party convention. He was without question the first African/American to receive votes for the presidential nomination at a Democratic National Convention. Frederick Douglass received votes for President at the 1888 Republican National Convention, but it does not appear from the official record that his name was actually put into nomination. At the time of his candidacy Phillips was a president of the Housing Development Corporation, a Government-backed housing venture in the federal capital.
1971, he ran to become the first congressional delegate to the United States House of representatives from DC, but lost the Democratic primary to Walter E Fauntroy.
An advocate of full home-rule status for D C. Phillips later moved back to New York City, where he died at age 59.]
FH- I know when he left Washington, he went to work in the office of the college that he had gone to outside of Richmond. It was a college for black people. Then he died. I don’t remember when he died. I found out recently that Mrs. Phillips remarried, and she lives in an apartment building where Catherine - one of the girls that used to live on Jenifer Street - works as a manager. I have known Catherine since she was born. Anyway, Catherine said that she overhead a woman talking to the person in charge of the building. She heard her say that many years ago, she lived on Jenifer Street. And so Catherine said, “did you say Jenifer Street?” And the woman said “yes.” And Catherine said “where about on Jenifer Street?” She told her 3801 Jenifer Street. She said my name was Phillips, and Catherine said “well do you remember Mrs. Hamby?” She said “Oh yes, I remember her. She always dressed up as a witch on Halloween.” And I used to do that. So she is still living. I think young Channing is the attorney general for Washington, but I just don’t remember what his father did when they lived next door.
Q – So there were very few African Americans in this part of Washington at that time.
FH – They were the only ones that I know of.
Q – Let me ask you something entirely different. You came here when you were young. Presumably, you walked around quite a bit. Did you go to Rock Creek Park? How important was Rock Creek Park as recreation?
FH – I very seldom went to Rock Creek Park. And I seldom even drove through Rock Creek Park.
Q – Did your children use it?
FH _ - I know that my oldest daughter and friends used to ride their bicycles to the park and rode around there. It was perfectly safe to do things like that in those days. But not now. I don’t think we ever had a picnic in the park. I guess we weren’t joggers or picnic people. If we went on a picnic, we usually went to a place that we had never been before.
Q – Did you tell us how your husband’s family got to Washington?
FH - My father-in-law came to Washington, and as a young man he got a job as a superintendent of the building of the old Naval Hospital down on 23rd Street near Constitution. I don’t know what that building is now. He went to law school at Georgetown at night. Then he went back to South Carolina and married my mother-in-law, and they came to Washington.
Q – So he was from South Carolina?
FH – Yes. He used to carry her books to and from school. They walked to school together in Georgetown, South Carolina.
Q – You mentioned that he had a law firm. Where was that at?
FH - It was his law firm. It was in the transportation building at 17th and H Street.
There is now a big, ugly building there. Not the nice building where he used to be in.
Q – Do you know what kind of law he practiced?
FH - I know he handled property for Harvard University that was here in Washington. So I don’t know if it was real estate law or what.
Q – When your husband worked for him, what did he do?
FH - Probably not much. He didn’t like law, and after his father died, he finished up business that was in the office. Then he closed up the office and went back in the Navy for a couple years, and then he went to the CIA.
Q – So you have had lawyers in your family for some generations with your son being a lawyer.
FH – Yes. My son loves his work, and I understand that my father-in-law loved his work too. When they came here, they lived in a boarding house for a while, and then they had an apartment down around Washington Circle near GW. This house that I live in is the first house that they bought.
Q – Did they say anything on how they happened to find it, or how they choose this neighborhood?
FH My mother-in-law said she choose it because of the front hall. When it was shown to her, she loved the stairway, because it was more like a typical southern house. When my son got married in Palm Beach, Florida, some of the friends of the
bride’s family was the son of the man that was the first owner of the house that I live in now. His name was Mr. Conradis. I do not know the exact spelling of his name. But when we were introduced to these people, I said “somebody with that same last name was the one that had the house that we live in built.” This person said, “it was my father.”
Q – Is there anything that we didn’t ask you that we should have?
FH - When I first came to Washington, there were gas stations on all 4 corners of Wisconsin and Jenifer. I can’t remember the name of the gas station that was on the corner where the Savings and Loan came in later, and now there are stores there. Then across the street - where Filene Basement is - there was an Exxon gas station. There was a Sinclair gas station where Chadwick’s Restaurant is now. I don’t remember what gas station was where Booyey Monger is.
Q – Do you remember what gas cost?
FH – About 30 cents a gallon. Two dollars filled up the tank. I always went to P and K’s, which was a Sinclair station. They had good mechanics, and we could leave the car there, and walk home. Or we would drive up to the station, and they would drive me home. It was a good number of years that we dealt there.
But to do any kind of shopping, there was not much here. I remember when Woodward and Lothrop came here. The Silver Fox Restaurant was where Maza Galleria is now. They had somebody that played the piano many nights of the week. The Howard Johnson Restaurant was where the Metro Center is now .
Q – You mentioned John Kerry and John Lindsay. Were there other well-known people in the neighborhood?
FH – No. I don’t think so. I know of one family that moved in after the two John’s moved there. The husband’s name was John, and he said that he moved in the house with the “famous Johns. “
Q – If you think of anything else, let us know. Also we are interested in old photographs of the house.
FH - I don’t think so, but I know that my former next door neighbor has a picture of her house because my husband’s family had taken a picture of that house. I guess that my husband gave then the picture. That is where the Dalton’s lived. I didn’t know them, they moved away before I moved here.
Q – This is the end of the interview. Thank you.
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