Longtime Residents Make Georgetown History Come Alive

Carter and Catherine Bowman with their niece
Robert Devaney
Carter and Catherine Bowman with their niece

The Citizens Association of Georgetown put its Oral History Project on display, Jan. 18, at the City Tavern Club. Part of CAG's effort to document the "living history" of Georgetown, seven residents with their lively recollections made the town's past come alive in the listeners' minds. Introduced by the project's Annie Lou Berman, speakers took those in the City Tavern's packed ballroom back to their days of youth and discovery, painting a picture of a town before the big changes of half a century ago with their joyful, humorous stories.

Interior designer Frank Randolph recalled the dogwood festivals at Hardy School and his time at Western (now Duke Ellington) High School and sitting in a soda shop, across the street where he lives today.

Barry Deutschman, owner of Morgan's Pharmacy, which opened 100 years ago, told of mixing prescriptions by hand and a store which also sold "newspapers, tobacco and magazines -- none of that exists now." Yes, chef Julia Childs did run into Morgan's one time and ask for a pack of Tums. He has not retired.

Catherine Bowman, leader and historian of the black community, matter-of-factly talked of the days of segregation, when blacks lived at the east side of P Street and Poplar Place and went to Rose Park but were not allowed in Volta Park.

Georges Jacob, co-founder of the French Market, noted that his shop introduced the finer French cuts of meat and other foods to neighbors and embassies, as it strengthened Georgetown's love of all things French.

Margaret Oppenheimer, who with her husband Franz raised three sons on O Street, remembered leaving New York for the calmer days of D.C.

Don Shannon, 40-year Los Angeles Times foreign correspondent, recalled there were six service stations in Georgetown and gravel works down at the waterfront just after World War II and how President John Kennedy's father Joe Kennedy described the homes as "dog houses" because of their size.

Kay Evans, widow of columnist Roland Evans, spoke of the Kennedy years and fondly of her arrival in D.C. with a girlfriend to meet cute, young men.

The City Tavern Preservation Foundation, which recently marked its 50th anniversary of the purchase of the historic City Tavern by the City Tavern Association, hosted the CAG meeting and reception.

If you care to continue the conversations, become a CAG Oral History interviewer. A training session is planned for Feb. 15, 6 p.m. in the CAG office at 1365 Wisconsin Ave., N.W. (Enter via the black external staircase on O Street.) The session is for both new interviewers to learn the ropes and for seasoned interviewers to share their experiences. Training will last 90 minutes with the Oral History Project's coordinator, Annie Lou Berman. Contact the CAG office at 337-7313 or cagmail@cagtown.org.

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Thu, 27 Nov 2014 07:58:41 -0500

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