Sculpture, Potter, Mother of Nine, Helen Higgins Also Lives in Oldest House in Chevy Chase DC
Interviewee: Helen Schrider Higgins
Date: May 21, 2015
Interviewed and transcribed (from audio recording) by: Joan Solomon Janshego
Location: Mrs. Higgins’ residence in Chevy Chase DC
I am here with Helen Higgins who lives on Quesada Street, in the oldest house in Chevy Chase. She is also a native of Chevy Chase, DC.
Q – When were you born?
A – I was born January 30, 1930. I was born at the Georgetown Hospital in what was sometimes called Georgetown, DC. But we know it was actually Washington, DC.
Q – What was your maiden name?
A – Schrider
Q – At that time, where did your family live?
A – My parents were living at 3216 McKinley Street. The house has been modified a little since I lived there. They added white columns to the outside. I guess to make it look more like the house next to it.
My father designed and built my childhood home in 1925. Our house was the only house that he built. He was really a commercial builder. For our house, I think he did the design and submitted it to an architect for approval.
He was with a general contractor prior to the Depression. During the Depression, the contractor went out of business. That affected Daddy’s career.
He became chief estimator for Sam Moses, who was one of the largest concrete contractors in Washington. Daddy worked for him for a long time until Joseph Nebel, who had a construction company, asked him to work for him. He invited Daddy to go in with him as the vice president. In that capacity, Daddy was able to build many structures that he was proud of. They were all commercial. When Joe and Daddy bid a job, they had the satisfaction of being the sole contractor each doing separate buildings. So they did not need the approval of anyone. So it was satisfying for both of them.
The huge building on Wisconsin Avenue – I think it is the Fannie Mae Building – Daddy was the contractor for it.
He enjoyed building the motherhouse of the Sisters of Mercy in Potomac. It included a lovely chapel.
Q – A neighbor said that the talk on McKinley Street is that your house had special features. She particularly mentioned a special fireplace.
A – Yes. One of the jobs that my father had before the Depression was to take down a mansion that was on 13th Street and Clifton Street, NW – at the top of the hill. Interestingly, the last occupant of the mansion before it was demolished was William Jennings Bryan. Now there is an apartment building where the house was taken down, which was built by the contractor he was with. At the time, Daddy was in charge of the demolition, and he kept many of the fine features of the house – like the flooring in the house, which he put in our house as subflooring. There were also beautiful railings and doors and the fireplace that he put in our house.
Daddy stayed in his house on McKinley Street until he died. My older brother and I put the house up for sale after my father died. I was told that the buyers were going to be married in front of the fireplace.
There is beautifully carved wood in the house. Many of the downstairs doors were from the original mansion, which had carving on them. The handrail going up stairs is also from the old mansion. In fact, I have a piece of sculpture that I created from what was left over from the railings.
Q – When did you father die?
A – July 4, 1986. He was not quite 89 when he died. He was a walker, and he liked going to daily mass at Blessed Sacrament. He walked there every day. About five months before he died, he had a stroke. We had to have someone with him. So my girls and I took turns. Then we had to get someone to stay with him during the day.
Q – Was he a native Washingtonian?
A – He was a native Washingtonian, and his history is here in Chevy Chase.
We were three generations in the area. He was born near Georgia Avenue near Walter Reed. But when he was school age, the family lived in one of those shotgun houses on Broad Branch Road – next to the Broad Branch Market. There is still one shotgun house left.
His father worked for a blacksmith that was located somewhere near Military Road where Nebraska comes together with Military.
Q – So the family rented the shotgun house on Broad Branch?
A – Yes. At that time, only people of means could afford to buy houses, because we did not have the loan system that we have now.
My mother’s family lived in Georgetown, but they rented there. We tracked down three different places they lived there from the time that my grandmother came from Virginia to Washington — probably to work, then marry and raise a family. My grandfather had come from Hancock, Maryland. My mother was born in Georgetown.
Daddy talked about walking from his home on Broad Branch Road to E. V. Brown School, which was on Connecticut Avenue where the Community Center is now. He told me that there was a stream where Nevada Avenue is, and he crossed the stream by using a footbridge, which was made from a fallen tree.
He was born in 1897. So he would have been school age in the early 1900s.
Q – Do you recall anything else he said about the school?
A – He didn’t say much about the school. I guess the adventure of getting there was what he liked talking about.
Q – Did they live some years in the house at Broad Branch?
A – No. Before he finished grammar school, his father decided to move. My father’s grandfather had a farm in Silver Spring. That was Schrider’s. My father’s family moved back near the farm. My father was old enough to help his father deliver milk. So I don’t know if it was their own dairy, or if they had a small route. At that time, I think there were many small dairies in Washington. You can trace them by collecting the small dairy bottles. But he talked about the fact that he was often late for school, because he had to finish the milk route. He went to the Takoma Park School at that time.
Q – Do you remember what else he said about living here in Chevy Chase?
A – He mentioned that there was a small community of African Americans living in the area where Lafayette Elementary School is located today.
Q – Can you tell me a little about what it was like growing up in Chevy Chase?
A – I remember walking to Broad Branch Market for milk and bread from our McKinley Street home. We didn’t use it as our primary source for all our groceries. I don’t know at what age, but I was sent there to buy whatever we needed.
Q – Do you remember the people who worked there – the Bondareffs?
A – Yes the Bondareff’s. They were there for a long time. I think they were there even until the third generation. I think the family first lived above the store, and then later, they built and lived in the house across the street.
My children growing up here often went to the Broad Branch Market. I remember one gentleman in particular – Curley – he was there when I was young and was still there when my children went to Broad Branch Market.
Q – What did he look like?
A – Well he must have been fairly young when I was a child. He was helpful, and a he was African American.
Q – Did he wait on people, deliver groceries? What did he do?
A – I think he must have done it all. I think what he did in terms of his relationship with the children was that he was a very friendly, outgoing person.
Q – You went to Lafayette School?
A – I went to Lafayette for kindergarten and half of first grade. With a January birthdate, you started school in the middle of the year. But after half of first grade, I decided to start fresh first grade at Blessed Sacrament. So I went there for all 8 grades.
Q – Were there large or small classes at Blessed Sacrament?
A – There were enough children so that each grade had two classes. They were a good number. I don’t remember how many in each class.
Q – What was the teaching like? What are your memories of being a student there?
A – I think the instructions were very good. We advanced well, and were able to go on to good high schools. We got good academic training as well as spiritual. I remember as part of the schedule that we attended Mass each morning. Not everyone got there on time. There would be a trickling of students coming in.
Q – Was Mass required?
A – It was recommended. I don’t know that anything happened if you were late.
Q – Was it in the same stone building that is there now?
A – Yes – but without the addition of the auditorium. There was a rectory – a simple house where the priest lived which is where the auditorium is now. I remember riding my bicycle to school. In my lower grades my mother carpooled us.
Speaking of memories – I have a memory walking up to the Avalon Theater for the Saturday afternoon matinees. There would be a group of children. There would also be my brother, who is four years older than I. Now there is some controversy about children walking alone.
Q – How old do you think you were when you were walking to the Avalon?
A – Maybe about 10 and older. I don’t really remember.
Q – What kind of movies did you see? Did you see cowboy movies?
A – There were short subjects first. It was kind of a serial thing and it would be of cowboys. There was a feature movie as well.
Children in the neighborhood would get together and play in the alley a lot. Not so much on our alley, because it was on a hill. But the one on 32nd Street was paved, and we played things like kick the can and versions of hide and seek.
Q – Were there a lot of children in the neighborhood?
A – A fair amount – maybe eight, nine, or 10 – something like that.
Q – Was there a large Catholic population in the neighborhood? Or did the kids going to Blessed Sacrament come from other places?
A – The neighborhood that I am talking about was not school oriented. So it was diverse. The kids who went to Blessed Sacrament came from the Blessed Sacrament Parish.
Q – Did you spend most of your time outside?
A – I remember sitting on the back porch – by myself, creating things in clay and building little houses out of boxes. My brother was almost four years older, and there were boys in the neighborhood more his age. So he would be more inclined to be playing outside. We also had a yard with a swing outside.
Q – Did you play on Lafayette Playground?
A – I do not think we came up to Lafayette so often. Maybe my parents didn’t want me to go so far alone. I remember, as I was getting a little older, my cousins lived on the other side of Connecticut Avenue on Legation Street. There was a playground there – by Western Avenue. A group of us would walk to that playground. They had a field house where we did art projects.
My uncle had six children. But I was the age of the oldest, and there were little ones coming alone. They lived first on Nevada at Morrison so they were close to me. I stayed in my family house until I was married.
I attended Holy Cross High School, which at that time was on Upton Street about a block off of Connecticut. I think Howard Law School is there now. The older more castle-looking building was the high school. That is in the Van Ness area. I got there by bus.
When I decided to go to Catholic University, I also lived at home. I took the bus originally and then later when I was an upper-classman, my mother had a car that she did not use much. So we sometimes shared the car, and I did not have to take the bus.
Q – What did you study at Catholic?
A – I majored in art. At that time, it was close to the period when there were veterans returning from World War II. Not all of the departments were open to women. I knew that the drama department was open. I had a friend from Holy Cross who I had helped on projects at the drama department. Her mother put on communion breakfasts for Father Hartke, who started the drama department. He had a communion breakfast once a month. My friend, Mary Ellen’s mother, would be the hostess, as well as provided the food. I often helped out.
I initially registered at Catholic through the drama department, but then I found out that the art department was also open to women, and so I changed my major to art.
Q – Women could not enroll in certain programs?
A – That’s correct. There were only a few majors open for women at that time. I think biology was one and also history. During the war years, architecture had been open to women, but I think the final graduate was in 1950. Catholic University was not completely co-ed. There was an allied college called Sisters College, and some of the women could enroll there and take courses on campus. I don’t know how their degrees read.
Sisters College was in Brookland a little bit removed from the main Catholic University campus.
Q – When you say you majored in art, do you mean art history or applied art?
A – Applied art. Well it was a general course in art, which included art history. Also, we were part of the arts and science department. So we had a lot of requirements before we could start taking our major subjects. We were taking two years of classical language and two years of a modern language – and history and a lot of philosophy – not so much math. They substituted the philosophy courses for math.
There were academic requirements, which were there for all arts and science students, in addition to your major requirements. As art majors, we studied everything from design, to drawing, sculpture and painting. I took silversmithing and pottery.
When you got to your junior and senior years, there was flexibility as to what you wanted to study. Not everybody took a year of silversmithing. After a year of silversmithing, I took ceramics and sculpture in wood and stone. Ceramics included hand building plus throwing on the potter’s wheel. Our teacher, Alex Giampietro, was very much a philosopher so you really got an Art Philosophy class as well. And it was he with whom I continued to study at his own studio the next year and then returned to the university for a Master’s in Fine Arts with Alex as my major professor. I did a garden sculpture group for my thesis on the life of St. Francis of Assisi. It is installed on the outside wall of the Art Department at Catholic University.
After graduating in 1952, I started a job right away. That turned out to be secretary and art teacher at the Christ Child Society at their headquarters, which was then at 6th and Massachusetts Avenue, NE. It was a settlement house and part of what they offered was art classes. So I taught painting and ceramics there. I also was secretary to the executive for the Society.
Now the Society has grown, and they have a wonderful headquarters at 5100 Wisconsin Ave Mary Virginia Merrick inspired it. She was a parishioner at Blessed Sacrament. Her call for canonization has been put up. As a young woman, she had a serious injury and was crippled. But instead of withdrawing, she got people to make layettes for babies and from there it grew and grew.
By the time I was working there, they had a camp and what they called a convalescent home and the settlement house and the layette committee. They still deliver to needy mothers all the clothing that an infant would mean.
Q – How did you get the secretarial skills? Did you have to learn typing and shorthand?
A – I studied typing and shorthand in high school, and I had worked as a typist after my junior year in college. I worked in the Pentagon with the US Air Force in their construction department. I did typing. I was sent to a typing class before they realized that I was going to be there only two months. Christ Child Society also had staff meetings for the settlement house. I sat in and took notes.
Later, I was looking for a full-time art job. I found out that the nun who was teaching art at Georgetown Visitation was getting ready to retire. I applied for the position and got it. So I was still teaching the classes at the settlement house and the classes at Georgetown Visitation. They were both part time. Visitation classes had a junior college at that time, and I taught there also.
Q – Did your interest in art start early for you?
A – I liked to draw. As I said, I liked to play with clay and build. I would be chosen to do the decoration on the bulletin board at school. I guess I showed some talent. Holy Cross did not have much in the way of art. My first introduction to Catholic University was because my friend from Holy Cross was going there for a high school class in drama. I found out that they also had a high school class in art, and I went there during the summers.
Q – Was your main focus sculpture?
A – It developed later. Catholic University’s Art Department had a general course in which I enjoyed all of the disciplines. I didn’t take sculpture and the other three-dimensional – the clay – until my senior year. In my junior year, I took silversmithing which I enjoyed very much – very disciplined and much slower.
When, I got to throwing on a wheel, I found that it went very quickly compared to the hours it took me to forge my silver bowl. The silver and all of the tools were much harder to set up, whereas I was able to set up a studio in my father’s home. He had a large basement. I had my kiln there until he died. I always moved the wheel with me, but the kiln with the big working space for glazing was at his house.
Q – Is it still there? What happened when you sold the house?
A – We moved the big kiln, which I never got installed, in our small basement – the house being old. I was able to find a smaller kiln, which worked much better.
Q – I understand that you got involved with the Washington Color School. Tell us what that is and how did that come about?
My connection with the Washington Color School was that Ken Noland had been my teacher during my graduate program at Catholic University, and Howard Mehring was a classmate and friend. Ken’s class was called Advanced Creative Design. It was the first year that he taught it. He decided that we should design the class. There were three art majors, an art historian and two architects in the class. It became a discussion class. We would choose what topic we wanted to research and discuss.
We also had projects. The first semester we each built and designed our own chair. The second semester we worked on the gallery space at Catholic University and helped to redesign that. That was Ken’s class. One of the three art majors was Howard Mehring, who also was prominent in the Washington Color School.
At the time I studied with Ken Noland, the Washington Color School had not come to be yet.
Later, Ken Noland and Morris Lewis were considered the founders of the Washington Color School.
Ken and Morris saw paintings by Helen Frankenthaler in New York. They were unprimed canvas – acrylic paint staining the canvas. One painting they saw is called Mountains and Sea. It was exhibited at one time at the National Gallery of Art. In any case, Ken and Morris started using that technique – acrylic on unprimed canvas. They returned to Washington and started painting with acrylic on unprimed canvas as she did. Others then began using this technique.
Their format was abstract. Their subject was color and relationships between colors, using geometric shapes or all over patterns.
Although they did not paint together, they showed together and the critics gave them the name Washington Color School.
Even in recent years, there have been shows with their work together. Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland, Gene Davis, Howard Mehring, and Paul Reed were shown together.
Both Kenneth Noland and Howard Mehring had large retrospective shows at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, and are in galleries in the USA and abroad.
In the summer of 2015, there was a show called ‘Washington Color Painters Remembered” at the Loretta Howard Gallery in New York City at W. 26th Street.
Of interest to our house, Ken Noland lived and painted in this house at one time when he lived here with his wife, Cornelia, and their children. I was told that Ken spread his large canvases on the floor of the dining room to paint them. Our dining room has wonderful light, one of the things that drew me to this house.
I recall that in 1954, our design class met here when it was Ken Noland’s house to listen to jazz music. No way did I know that a decade later it would be our home.
And as I mentioned, Howard Mehring was a personal friend. At the end of his life, he had a reputation of being a recluse. But that was not true. He would often call me and ask me what I was doing, and I would invite him to dinner at our home. Almost on a weekly basis, he would have dinner with 11 of us – my nine children and my husband and me. And my husband was a pallbearer at his funeral.
Q – Tell us what you know about the history of your house. Do you know when it was built?
A – I have seen an old map of 1874 that shows my house’s existence at that time. According to Origins II, a history compiled by the Neighborhood Planning Council, it was built in 1859.
As far as the generational families in my house are concerned, the Joneses were the original farm family. I do not know at what point they sold the house I live in.
There were three daughters in the Jones family. One was given property down the street on Quesada near Broad Branch, and the other two daughters were given property nearby.
The Jones daughter who got the Quesada/Broad Branch location married a Mr. Moore. Their two sons also occupied this Moore house. Mason Moore was the younger and lived in the house until he died a few years ago, at which time the house was sold.
I knew Mason Moore. He told me that he was born in my house. It may be that his mother – the Jones daughter – came home to her childhood home to give birth.
I also met Mason Moore’s mother once. She paid me a social visit when we first moved into our house. She told me that my house “grew like an old apron.” The Origins II photo of the house shows it with an extension and porches that do not exist today.
After Mason Moore died, the new owners of his house choose to have it taken down. They wanted a larger house. However, they built in keeping with the design of the old house. The woman who built the house was an architect. I saw the house when it was for sale. They did a lovely job.
Q – You are saying that the Moore house that was there before was a simpler house?
A – Yes. It was simpler.
Q – So you know that the Jones and Noland families were living in your house before you?
A – I have heard that there was another family with children here before the Noland’s. I don’t know their name.
Q – What year did you buy your home from the Nolands?
A – We are here 52 years. So it was in 1963. We bought our house from Cornelia Noland; the Noland’s had separated.
Q – We did not ask you about your marriage.
A – I was 25 when I married. I had known my husband at Catholic University. I knew him from a group of friends as an undergraduate. Then I met him again on campus when I was doing my graduate work.
Q – What was his name?
A – Eugene
Q – What was his field?
A – He was in law school at that point. He had been drafted for the Korean War when he was in law school. I think he was listed at the class of ’51 Catholic University, and I was the class of ’52. So I stayed longer. Korea started in June 1950.
Q – You said he worked for the Federal Trade Commission?
A – Yes – the FTC.
He was still in law school. After I completed my graduate program, we were married. He had one more semester of law school.
Q – You lived somewhere else before you moved into this house?
A – We lived four years in an apartment on Capitol Hill. It was on 216 Maryland Avenue behind the Supreme Court – between Second and Third.
We were for our generation a little older than some who married right after college. In fact, when we met on campus, he was looking for a bridge partner to play with college friends who had babies, and I was learning to play bridge. There were three couples that we played bridge with. That was our early dating experience.
He lived on a boat on the Anacostia. He would take everybody out on the boat. He had been at Marquette on a football scholarship. After an injury and also a conflict between studying engineering and football practices he left. He worked for a friend at a mine in Arizona for a winter, then found his way to Catholic University and the American University law school.
He had been a paratrooper during the war. They did not use the Airborne in Korea, because they found it was not useful. I guess there were too many jungles to be tangled into. He was not overseas He became the sports editor for the 22nd Airborne newspaper. He boxed for them, also. He had been on the boxing team at Catholic University. That was one of the ways that I knew him. I knew other members of the boxing team.
Q – He went to engineering school first?
A – Yes he did. By the time he got to Catholic University, he was an economics major. That was more aiming at law.
Q – You started having children?
A – Jeannie – the first one – took a while to come. It was 3-1/2 years before she came. But then we had nine children. We have five girls and four boys.
Q – Did they all go to Blessed Sacrament?
A – They all went to Lafayette for kindergarten. That bonded them with Lafayette. After kindergarten, they went to Blessed Sacrament. In the second grade, Peter the youngest boy was having difficulty at Blessed Sacrament and returned to Lafayette. He had asthma, which created a problem. Lafayette was doing open classrooms. Lafayette had special education classes, because he had attention issues. So Lafayette seemed to be a better fit. He went to Deal and Wilson and on to East Carolina, and he is now a very good teacher. He is a physical education teacher. He is a strong believer in having children exercise. At Wilson he started running – the one mile and two miles. He started winning – not only at Wilson but citywide. When he got to East Carolina, he was on the cross-country team.
Peter was in the band also at Deale and Wilson, which was good for him also.
Q – Anything you remember about activities in the neighborhood? Did you have block parties?
A – We had block parties. I now have a house on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and I miss the block parties, because I am not here in the summer. I am not sure they continued this year. I usually am here for one on Memorial Day. The block parties were nice.
Now I think there is a block party on Broad Branch Road – between Quesada and Rittenhouse. They usually put out invitations to our street as well.
Q – Do you remember Christmas parties?
A – Patty Myler across the street had Christmas parties.
Q – Did you do things with other parents in the neighborhood?
A – Well having a playground in my backyard at Lafayette was a great thing. I could let the children play and see them from the kitchen window. I had a big ship’s bell, which was installed on the fence. I had a signal like one long and three shorts. Whereas if I called the children – even if they heard me – they could have an excuse not to hear me. But the bell was hard not to hear. I would repeat it, but no so much that it would become a nuisance to the neighborhood. But it got good results.
Q – We have heard that there was a time when things were not great in Chevy Chase and some people moved out.
A – There were some who moved out. But I think it was minimal. As far as the overall sense of the neighborhood, I think it remained a friendly, family-oriented place from the time I was growing up until I was here with a family.
We moved here by accident. After being on Capitol Hill, our first house was just over Western Ave between Massachusetts Avenue and River Road. It was a very nice house, but it had only two bedrooms. By that time we had four children, and we started looking for a larger house. In fact, we almost stopped looking. A very nice realtor would take us. He would show us these houses. We knew that we wanted to be within walking distance to the school. We said, “let’s not look anymore.”
We had friends who lived near the church – I guess in the 3500 and 3600 blocks of Quesada Street. A friend of theirs had listed this house and told us about it. Tish Shelton was the Realtor. It had not been advertised yet. She showed us the house, and we put a bid on it right away.
Q – Did you like it because it was an historic house?
A – No. We liked it because it had a lot of light. We had a friend who was an architect, and we liked his house that had a lot of light. The dining room faces east and has a lot of light. There was something about the orientation of this house that we liked. We realized we did not have the money to build a new house. The kitchen had been remodeled within three years. That was a big plus.
The fact that it was near my parents was an advantage. My mother died six months before my youngest child was born. My father was a big help, as was my mother before she died. My father did grocery shopping for me.
I got advertisements from Ellen de Bremond’s modern dance class at the community center. My father would babysit so I could go to that class
Ellen used to send flyers home with the kids and that is how I started taking the classes. I think it was 35 or more years that I took lessons with her at the Community Center, as did the others in the class. Finally it went down to two to three people, and Ellen was no longer teaching. So the group gave up the class. We were called Pachelbels after the composer’s music.
Q – There used to be a dance studio on the top floor of the Avalon Theater. Did you know that?
Q – Yes. But I did not take classes there. I took tap dance classes at Lafayette when I was a student there. I love dancing.
Q – Did you have studio in this house to work in clay?
A – I worked a lot on the back porch where I have a large butcher’s table and cabinet. I also have a potter’s wheel there although I have not thrown in a long time. I gradually tended more towards sculpture
Q – Does a gallery represent you?
A – A gallery does not represent me, but I had a wonderful show of my sculptures at IONA at Tenley from January to May 2014. The Washington Miniature Painters and Sculptures have a show every year at the Strathmore Hall. It is a very popular show. I have been a member of that group for a long time.Now it is an international show. It is a juried show. I have been accepted in that show since 1982.
I also sketch and do drawings.These are things I do regularly. My daughter. Clare brought me brushes and ink from China. She is with the World Affairs Council of Atlanta. She went to China, and recently she has been to Cuba with the group. She is also a writer and wrote about the Cuba trip.
My daughter, Mary, and I will have a mother-daughter show of our work at Takoma Park Civic Center in March. She will be showing painting and drawings and a collage chair. I will be showing sculptor and drawings.
Q – If you were born in 1930, you have memories of the war.
A – I remember blackout screens. We had air raid practice and air raid wardens. We had the opportunity to buy war bonds. I think it was maybe stamps that you bought. I know that I still have the paper sleeve that has a picture on it which says “war bonds.” I helped stuff envelopes with some organization that had to do with the war. That was in the E. V. Brown School, and it is interesting that my father had been a student there years before.
Q – I understand that it was a recreation building after the school was no longer there.
A – I am pretty sure that this is true, because my oldest daughter, Jeannie, took tap in the building. There was an interim use of it before they decided that the community would like a real community center.
Q – Do you remember rationing during the war?
A – On yes – definitely. The war had an impact on your life. For instance, I learned to swim in the Chesapeake Bay at a place called the Annapolis Roads Club. That is where we went for a day trip. I don’t think we stayed overnight. We drove over there on a weekend. We took a picnic. They had a wonderful building. It was a dressing house and club. There still is an Annapolis Roads Club organization. A single developer has never developed it.
Once the war came, all the young men who would help out would be drafted, and no one had the gas to go that far for a day’s trip.
We had always taken a vacation at Ocean City, New Jersey. But we did not go during the war because of the gas shortage. The gas shortage was a big issue, but there were other shortages like butter. I don’t remember what they all were. There were rationing books for food products.
Q – Did you have a victory garden?
A – No. We had a shady backyard.
Q – Did they have a victory garden at Holy Cross?
A – I don’t think we did. There are gardens near the park.
Q – Where did you mother do her shopping?
A – I remember that we did not have a super market. There was a market on Connecticut Avenue, between McKinley and Morrison, where you would go to the counter and say what you wanted and things would be brought to you. My father was the best shopper of the family, because he was the oldest of eight children. My father lived on a farm in Silver Spring, after they left Chevy Chase. He told me about going to Central Market which was where the National Archives building is located now. The building was quite beautiful.
My father would go there from the Silver Spring farm. This was a place where farmers could bring their produce. A large part of their one-acre plot was in strawberries. I remember picking strawberries at the farm. They also had a chicken house and vegetable garden.
My husband and I would go to a market near about 6th Street and Florida Avenue. There were commercial buildings where produce was sold. This was after we had the nine children. They also had open booths where farmers could come. It was not just an open market. I think that is Florida Avenue right by the railroad station.
Q – Who was the priest when you went to Blessed Sacrament?
A – Monseigneur Smith. He was the founding priest. Originally, it was a mission from St. Ann’s Church. When Blessed Sacrament was established before the current church was built, there was a small frame building there. It must be where the school is now. The Chevy Chase apartment house pre-dated this.
Father Smith lived at St. Ann’s. The people said we should have a place for our pastor to live. That is when we built the small building. One of our church members is doing history on the rectories.
Q – The priests after that – do you have a recollection of that?
A – Father Roach was next. He stayed a long time. The Catholic Church seems to love its pastors. Next we had Father Lyons, who married us. Then we had Monseigneur Quinn. He went back to St. Matthew’s Cathedral after he left here. Next we had Father Corbett. After that, we had Father Duffy, who was there for many years. Then we had Father John Enzler. He was wonderful. Now he is the CEO of Catholic Charities. The Bishop snagged him. He is one of 11 children. His father was an author – devotional books. Our current Pastor is Father Ron Potts.
Q – Were you very involved with Blessed Sacrament?
Q – I attended meetings, but with nine children to tell you the truth, it was difficult. I was called to do an 8th grade enrichment class. I taught art a couple years. I always went to the teacher’s meetings. I served as a Eucharist Minister for many years.
Q – Anything else you would like to tell us.
A- In terms of my appreciation for this house, I hope it will be preserved at the time at which my family and I have to let it go, and that it is not torn down like the Mason Moore house.
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