Lucy Moorhead moved from Pittsburgh to Georgetown in 1959 with her Congressman husband and four small children. The Moorhead family first lived on Foxhall Road while trying to decide where to permanently settle; they soon fell in love with the streets of Georgetown: “We’d walk down to wherever it was that we were going, somebody’s house. We just loved the feeling of it. And we’d look into peoples’ houses it was at night so of course you could see into peoples’ rooms because nobody seemed to bother to pull down the shades.” She has lived on 31st Street ever since. In her interview with Constance Chatfield-Taylor, Lucy goes into detail about raising four children in Georgetown, the unnerving fires and riots of the 1960s, the elaborate dinner parties, and even a portable 12×12 foot dance floor that was shared amongst neighbors for elaborate dinner parties. Though the weeknight, black tie parties may have waned a bit, Lucy insists nothing in Georgetown has changed much in the 50 years she has lived here.
Constance Chatfield Taylor: And we are recording there. And I guess the first thing that I’m going to ask you to do. I’m going to state my name. It’s Constance Chatfield Taylor. I’m a volunteer interviewer for CAG’s oral history project. Today is November 9th, 2009. And I’m with Lucy Moorhead who lives at 1312 31st Street.
Lucy Moorhead: Right.
Constance: Now, can you give us your full name?
Lucy: Lucy Galpin Moorhead. My full name when I was born was Lucy Kellogg English Galpin. Because if you took away the English it would spell LEG, which my mother felt could be very embarrassing to have on suitcases and therefore she added in the fourth, which I think is sort of entertaining because it’s that old Victorian hangover. So anyway. I had four names. That’s my full name.
Constance: A lot of names. And when and where were you born?
Lucy: I was born in New York City in…
Constance: Stand by one second. This is one thing that always you should do is turn off your cell phone so it doesn’t ring.
Constance: Which I did not do. All right, you were born in ‑‑ you can keep going.
Lucy: January of 1926 at Miss Lippincott’s in New York City. But I grew up outside of town in Pelham Manor, which is about half and hour or more by train, in Westchester County. So that was a great place to start off. And I think you want me to move onto Georgetown.
Constance: I’d love to know what year you moved here and what brought you here.
Lucy: OK. I will tell you before that I went to the Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. And after that, to Vassar College, where I majored in writing and English literature. And I was there during the war, WWII, which came along while I was still at Shipley in 1941 of course, when I just started there. Then I moved with my first ‑‑ my husband and I, we were married in 1946. And he had just come back from the Navy in the Pacific where he’d been on the destroyer for some time, two‑and‑a‑half years. And we really didn’t know each other that well. He went to Harvard Law School and we lived in Cambridge for the first couple of years, which was marvelous. I loved Cambridge. And I thought it would be nice if we stayed there forever.
But he viewed Cambridge with a certain amount of ‑‑ well, I wouldn’t say alarm, but he was a devoted Pittsburgher, wanted to go back to Pittsburgh, in particular because he had a dream of running for public office. He wanted to be a member of the House of Representatives. Which is a very dicey kind of a dream. Those things you can’t plot and be certain they’re going to work out. Members, as they say, few die and none retire. And so once they’re in, they tend to stay.
Anyway, I thought that sounded marvelous to me, a really interesting kind of life. And I was very anxious to be involved with public service. A lot of us were after WWII. And many of the men were, and I was because my father had been very much a part of it all his life.
So, here we have a ‑‑ oh.
Constance: A dog.
Lucy: A dog. This is my standard poodle Ted.
Constance: Hey, sweetie.
Lucy: Teddy. You met him before.
Constance: Yes, I met him the other day.
Lucy: Yes. Hi, Ted. Hi, darl.
Constance: He says hello.
Lucy: So. anyway, then we..oh here’s my son Billy coming in just to say hello. Billy, hi, are you there?
Constance: He’s walking to the front door.
Billy: Yes, ma’am.
Lucy: Oh hi. Come and say hello.
Billy: I just wanted to put the leash back. Hi.
Constance: OK. Here’s Constance Chatfield Taylor.
Billy: Good to see you.
Constance: Hey. Nice to see you.
Billy: I’m going to sit down for a second.
Lucy: Come have a seat. OK.
Constance: We’re just getting ‑‑ we’re just moving to Georgetown.
Billy: I sort of remember that.
Lucy: Well, sure you do. Sure, you were 11.
Constance: So from Boston, or from?
Lucy: From Pittsburgh.
Constance: From Pittsburgh.
Lucy: Mm‑hmm. Eleven, nine, seven, and five were the children’s ages.
Constance: And what year was that, that you moved to Georgetown?
Lucy: It was in ’59. ’58.
Billy: No, Dad was elected in ’58. We moved in ’59.
Lucy: That’s right. We moved in ’59. He was elected in ’58.
Lucy: To the US Congress, to represent Pittsburgh. And so that was exciting beyond words, for both of us. And the children rather liked the idea, too, although they’d had a great time growing up in Pittsburgh. So when we got here, we were lucky enough to be able to rent a house on Foxhall Road, which belonged to friends of ours in the Foreign Service who’d been sent to, oh, South Africa I think it was. So, we had their house.
And in those two years we pottered around thinking where we’d like to go, because we knew we were going to have to get out and we were going to get a house of our own. And so we used to come down to Georgetown for dinner once in a while.
Friends invited us, and down we’d come. We’d park and then we’d walk down to wherever it was that we were going, somebody’s house. And we just loved the feeling of it. And we’d look into peoples’ ‑ it was at night so of course you could see into peoples’ rooms because nobody seemed to bother to pull down the shades.
And you could see their furniture and see the pictures and see the mirrors they had and the rugs on the floor and the candles or whatever. And it all looked so inviting. We both fell for it. Thank heaven, it wasn’t a question of just me. My husband thought Georgetown was pretty wonderful too.
Although when I managed to find 1321 31st Street, which was one house deep, but long, because it was two houses put together, he thought it was an awful lot of house. However, we managed to talk him into it. We had four children, you see, so we had to stash them around. We couldn’t have too small a house.
Constance: So the address of that was 1321 31st?
Lucy: Mm‑hmm. It’s on the diagonal across the street from this one. So I’ve lived on 31st Street now, it’ll be 50 years in ‑‑ well, we bought the house in 1960.
Constance: You moved in ’60.
Lucy: So the first house. In 2010 it’ll be 50 years, on the 31st. Longer than I’ve lived anywhere else.
Constance: Since they’re very interested in the houses in the neighborhood in Georgetown, your first house was 1321 31st, and then did you live on Dumbarton? Right on the corner up there?
Lucy: Yeah, our house was on the corner, so it was 3077 Dumbarton as well.
Constance: I see.
Lucy: If you wish to use that address you could.
Constance: 3077 or 1321, a‑ha.
Lucy: Yeah, right.
Constance: So that’s that wonderful sort of sprawling brick house that has a lot of, that looks like a great outside play area. And you were there for how many years before you bought this house?
Constance: For 20 years.
Lucy: Almost 20 years. Maybe 18. 18, 20.
Constance: And you had four children and, you and your husband?
Constance: And we certainly know what your family was doing here, from the reason for bringing you here.
Constance: And what year was the original house built that you were in across the street? Do you remember that?
Lucy: Oh yes, it was, well it was two houses, and the first house was in the 1700s and I think it’s about 1790 and that’s the Dumbarton end. And the other end is more Victorian and it was built in about, I think right after the Civil War, so it’s ‑‑ no maybe, maybe sooner. I think about 1830 or before the war. ’30 or ’40 and then someone came along known always as a sugar lobbyist for some reason, who had the right idea of putting a big room in the middle and attaching the houses together, which he did.
So the big room in the middle became our big living room. Neither house in itself was big, but when you put them all together plus the big living room it made a lot of running about.
Constance: Do you remember who lived in the house before you? Who did you buy the house from?
Lucy: We bought it from Arthur Hadley, who was the son of the Hadley who was the president of Yale.
Constance: The Hadleys owned my house on P Street too.
Constance: Yes. They grew flowers, and the Hadley family owned it for 100 years. So Arthur Handley…
Lucy: No Hadley.
Lucy: That’s why we’re….
Constance: What was his position again? I got sidetracked.
Lucy: No that was his father. His father was the president of Yale.
Billy: I could look it up for you.
Lucy: Oh, you could. That’s right.
Constance: That would be really good to know the history. We’d love to know who owned the houses before. Especially since you’ve had two.
Lucy: I know it was Arthur Hadley.
Constance: OK. President of Yale. So you were there for 20 years, from 1960 to 1980, and then you bought this house.
Lucy: No,’60 to ’78 actually. That’s my fault.
Constance: Then you bought this house at 1312 31st in ’78. Do you remember whom you bought this house from?
Lucy: A very nice widowed lady who was very sad indeed because her husband died and she was very ‑‑ she wasn’t very happy about moving to Michigan where one of her children lived, but the daughters didn’t want to leave her alone any longer. I can’t remember her name. So they kind of dragged her away. So that’s what happened on that. That was in ’78.
Constance: Has this house changed a lot? Did you have to do a lot of work on it? Is there anything significant that changed after you moved into it?
Lucy: I think the main thing we did was to enclose the screen porch out there. It’s a fabulous addition to the house because it works year round and it’s very sunny.
Constance: Can you describe the room we’re sitting in right now? Double living room.
Lucy: This living room?
Constance: Yes. Is it a double parlor? How is this described.
Lucy: It was a double parlor originally, you’re right. This door and this door must have led into it. This was here when we came, I remember walking in the front door ‑‑ they say this is how you buy a house. Walked in the front with the hallway that was all right. And then I walked into this room and I thought, “Oh my, heavens, this is a wonderful, marvelous room and you could have lots of people in here and still have a cozy family at the same time.” So it’s a very easily modified room. We did add the fireplace because the one before was just…
Constance: A wood stove?
Lucy: It was a plain wooden ‑‑ oh the fireplace was there. I mean the mantle piece. We added the mantle.
Constance: It’s got great ceiling height. It looks like 12 feet?
Lucy: I think it is.
Constance: Is it 12 feet?
Lucy: And we added air conditioning and those things, which we discovered was essential to living in Georgetown. [laughter]
Constance: Tell us about, since you’ve been here since 1960 in Georgetown, tell us about the neighborhood. What do you remember about it when you first moved in? Was it close‑knit or did people keep to themselves?
Lucy: Oh no, people didn’t keep to themselves. People were pretty much the way they are now. Billy can tell you more, he remembers Halloween here.
Constance: Well, come on over and tell us.
Billy: I’m happy to talk about it.
Constance: Can you sit here, the recorder’s right there.
Billy: I agree, I think it is the same. I think the flavor and the feeling is very much the same. In fact, I would say as things have changed in my life, I would say the feeling around Georgetown has not.
Lucy: No, I don’t think it has either.
Billy: That was Mom at about the time the house was bought.
Constance: It’s beautiful.
Lucy: I think the artist hoped he would be snapped up by Jackie for the White House when he came down with this vast piece of paper.
Constance: I love it. Is it pastel?
Lucy: It’s pastel.
Constance: We are looking at a pastel drawing of Mrs. Moorhead on the wall.
Lucy: At the time I remember this ‑ at some time in the early ’60s, there was lots of conferences of course, and there were at least two different Georgetown protective groups that vied with each other. I can’t remember what their particular names were. They were much interested in the village, these two groups obviously, and so was everyone else. I remember a city planner coming in. I believe he was a Greek. His name was Doxiadis, and he was very well known at the time. He looked at Georgetown and he said this was the perfect environment for human beings to be able to live with great pleasure among others and their way of the civilized fashion.
Two miles square, is what I remember his dicta was, was what it took to have the ideal.
Billy: Oh I see, you mean that’s the minimum size?
Lucy: No, you don’t want it too big.
Billy: You don’t want it to be too big?
Lucy: No, no. You want it to be just about what Georgetown is. If it gets too big it tends to sprawl and tends to lose its intimacy. And I thought it was so interesting.
Constance: What were these two groups that you describe as protectorates.
Lucy: They’ll know that.
Constance: They’ll know that. If you were here during the ’60 what was that like?
Lucy: It was great.
Constance: Being in Georgetown during the Kennedy inauguration, during the space race, during the riots. What an exciting time to be here. I would think every time you set foot outside the door there was something else going on.
Lucy: There was. That’s exactly it. When we first got here we were really lucky. It was the end of Ike’s term, so Ike was out of gas. He hadn’t been to well the last couple of years anyway, and you know, any administration is. So things were fairly quiet and that gave us a chance, as I say, to think about what house, where we wanted to live and what we could find to live in and everything wasn’t particularly intense.
Then, oh my lord, the nomination for Kennedy and the election for him was extremely exciting. Particularly for our age, because up until then we’d never had a president ‑‑ after he became president, he became president, after he actually won in that period between. We’d always thought that whoever it would be would be older, the way Ike was older. It never occurred to us somehow that it would be our generation that would be in charge.
So the result was, wow, it was tremendously, excitingly, intensely competitive among other things, and a great deal of, “So‑in‑so’s been mentioned for the post of…” and someone else thinks they’ve got an eye on it. We were spared that because our constituency back in Pittsburgh was what kept us in office, not the gossip of who’s in with who and who’s on the way out kind of thing that goes on all the time. And it was especially true then.
We were just all riveted from day to day. Of course the inauguration itself was enormously dramatic with the snow pouring down.
Billy: Freezing. Remember that?
Lucy: Remember that? Jokes about why does Russia bother with the bomb, all it has to do is dump snow and everything will come to a halt in Washington.
Constance: Yes, my mother had tickets to the inauguration and they never got out of the driveway out in Virginia. We still have the tickets.
Billy: At the last party, the inauguration, the president came down to Joe’s house down the street.
Lucy: Yes. Joe Wilson.
Billy: He came down ‑‑ the 2700 block of Dumbarton.
Lucy: 2720 Dumbarton. And they were great friends of ours but we didn’t know them at that point, so we were not on this list of people who were invited to Joe’s after the inauguration. He wasn’t sure, I don’t believe, that the president would show up. But the president, as we all know, was not anxious to be early to bed and early to rise and shut down on good times. But even in the beginning, I think it was very hard for him. I can remember once we took our sleds, all of us, remember, up to Battery Kembel.
He’d just been ‑‑ I think he was president by then, maybe he was only in the interim. In those days, he could come up there, and without a mass of Secret Service people, wander around watching everybody, sliding up and down the hill and tobogganing and all the rest. He was kind of a Haroun Al‑Rasheed, you know, wandering out [laughing] by himself. I don’t know what he thought he was doing.
Anyhow, he was certainly a charmer. Wow, was he a charmer. There were loads of people you wanted to see and wanted to know and that were interesting and very intelligent and funny and lots of them entertained all the time.
I remember walking down Dumbarton Street and having dinner at the Bohlen’s, Chip and Avis. He, at that point, was, I think ‑‑ well, Kennedy appointed him to be Ambassador to France and saw to it he had money enough to do it. But then he was a Foreign Service full‑time career man, and he had been in Russia, which I think had stirred up that ghastly McCarthy or somebody who had tried to blacken his name for that reason.
And Kennedy was so appalled by that that he, with great pleasure, not only sent him to Paris, but got some money out of the Congress to help him carry that very expensive job.
Both of them were really interesting. And us, here we were ‑ we just tried to catch up with all these sophisticated people who knew so much more about everything.
I remember the conversation when we were there. I don’t know if it’s exactly chronological, but there was the revolution in Hungary. We had kind of fomented that and given the impression we were going to back them up, but we didn’t. Well, we didn’t want to go to war with Russia all over again and so it was just a big mistake.
But I remember Chip Bohlen was ‑ we were saying, “Oh, maybe the Russians won’t really go ahead ‑ they’ll back off and they’ll let this, because we’ll let them know we don’t like the idea of having them come thundering in.” And Chip said, “They can’t possibly do that. There’s no way they can do that. That’s not how they can run their country. It’s too big. It’s too full of too many dissident other countries that they are part of their great big.”
Constance: So he was right down the street.
Lucy: Yeah. And they now live in the house that the Peabody’s live in ‑ Mike and Pam.
Constance: So the look of the neighborhood has remained pretty much the same.
Lucy: Very much the same.
Constance: OK. And I notice that you’re in between ‑‑ there’s a church on this end …
Lucy: Yes. Christ Church.
Constance: That’s Christ Church and then there’s…
Lucy: That’s the Episcopal church and this is the Baptist church.
Constance: And there’s a Baptist church.
Lucy: This is, yeah.
Constance: And so within one block there are two churches. Did it affect anything ‑ the coming and going of people to church? Was it a good thing to be in between churches? Is there anything about living right here between two…
Lucy: Marvelous, what my father would call it. I must say this, I’m exaggerating but, he used to call cemeteries quiet neighbors. Well, they’re not that quiet but just about as quiet. Very nice neighbors. [laughing] They don’t tend to have much action. Churches don’t, [laughing] except on Sunday morning, obviously, and perhaps in an evening or two. But generally speaking, wouldn’t you say?
Billy: Oh, they’re great.
Lucy: They’re wonderful.
Billy: Oh, yeah.
Billy: And you get the nice bells too.
Lucy: Lovely bells.
Constance: Do you get bells on both sides or just…
Lucy: No, only here.
Constance: I guess just Baptists don’t have bells.
Lucy: Maybe they do but I think this church is a little bit under. It doesn’t have enough constituents, whatever, you now, congregation right now.
Constance: I’d like to get into, in your 1978 book, “Entertaining in Washington” ‑‑ I’m dying to know about this. You describe in great detail the parties that you gave and others gave in Georgetown. I remember that you had a dance floor that was 12 by 12 and it would go down into three different sections. And you said it was kind of like a traveling dance floor that would be loaned out all over Washington.
Lucy: That must have belonged to Lorraine Cooper.
Constance: Can you tell us about that?
Lucy: We didn’t have it because we had that big blooming room at the…
Constance: Oh, then you were quoting something.
Lucy: I was quoting Lorraine.
Constance: You were quoting Lorraine.
Lucy: That’s right.
Constance. And there was a ‑‑ you remember anything about it? I thought it was yours. I’m sorry, I was dying to hear about this dance floor that traveled around Washington but..
Lucy: [laughter] I don’t remember much about it because I didn’t have to have one.
Constance: You must have borrowed it once then. Oh, you didn’t have to use it?
Lucy: No because we had this big, huge thing over here. We used to take the furniture out of our living room, because it had sort of French doors, opening doors opening out at the terrace. So we’d order up a tent and put our furniture from the living room into the tent. And then people could come in from where they’d been sitting and dance, you see. It expanded the sitting area after you’ve taken it all away from everybody.
Constance: I read about that in one of your chapters. You all loved to have dances.
Lucy: Yeah, it was all right, providing the weather stuck with us.
Constance: And you had a heater problem and your husband sat down quietly and made them bring a heater when it seemed…
Lucy: No, it was Joe. That was right.
Constance: Oh. Was that Joe?
Lucy: We needed the ‑‑ oh dear, that was so awful.
Billy: I don’t remember that, Mom, what was that?
Lucy: Well, we had planned this party and I think it was ‑‑ and Joe had gone and Susan. Anyway, he’d been out in Vietnam. He was the last supporter and the last man off the…
Constance: This Joe, is this Joe…
Lucy: And he had really the only ‑ well, I shouldn’t say the only, but it seemed to me he was the most dedicated to having what amounted to a salon. I don’t think anybody else did quite so much, had so many interesting different kinds of people. He had the head of the CIA and the famous landscape gardener. And he was invited to visit Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. I don’t know if that means anything to you, but they were THE Broadway married couple of actor and actress there was in those days and they had a house in…
Billy: He had Irving Devore. I remember he was a professor in anthropology, and right when the time when Conrad Lawrence’s “On Aggression” the book came out. And he had this guy to come and talk about that too because that’s a hot topic and he was the was the Harvard professor on anthropology. That’s the kind of person was there.
Lucy: It was huge. So you can imagine when you go out there for dinner, you would love it. You would never know who you’d be sitting next to and then you’d just ‑ well, you’d like to find out ahead of time so you didn’t have to draw a blank when they said that they were someone and you weren’t sure what that meant. And you had to make sure that when you were going out to dinner, that you know what the roles of these various people were, because so many of them get rather full of themselves and got annoyed if you didn’t know they were Deputy Assistant Secretary of State of something or other. Or you had to check out with your host or hostess on your way in before.
Mostly then there used to be, you know, a place, a small table‑thing thing out on the front hall that had everybody’s names and you could look and see where you’re seated and who you were sitting next to, which was a huge help.
Because it’s not like most towns where the same people grow up in the same place and go to school together and then have each other for dinner for the rest of their lives, so everybody knows everybody else from the start.
And of course I think it changes even more than New York in a way because it has to. Every eight years it has to go through an upheaval. Therefore, it’s for people who don’t like a lot of change. Now, I’m only speaking about not the people who live full time in Washington like Chevy Chase or wherever, but it’s…
Constance: Well, that brings up my last question which ‑‑ actually I have a few more but I’m going to skip to that because it sort of has to do with what you’re talking about. Do you think the administration’s party directly correlates with the dinner party activity in Georgetown and if so, which administration is more active? Because you’ve lived through a number of different administrations. Is there one that creates more of a stir, in more of a four‑year or eight‑year dinner party circuit?
Lucy: Oh, for us the biggest fun in the world was the Kennedy years. Because there really were a tremendous number of interesting people that they brought in. And they didn’t have only all these people, they had whole families. As Billy can tell you when I was talking about Halloween, he had friends. One of them was one of Kay Graham’s children. They were the same age, and who were the other ones? And then there was Andy…
Lucy: Who was Arthur’s son. You know, Arthur of historic fame, and…
Billy: Joe Siemen, whose father was number two at NASA.
Lucy: That’s right.
Billy: I remember sitting down once at that house, just off P Street, and his father saying to us, “You know, a most interesting discussion we’re having at NASA is we’re planning to take a man to the moon, and we don’t know whether to land a rocket on the moon or have a separate, you know, orbiting…”
Billy: Yeah, and that was still being discussed.
Constance: Oh my gosh, how cool.
Billy: Back in 1960, 1962. And he asked us ‑‑ who I knew. I used to get invited to some of the parties, occasionally that Mom’s talking about.
Constance: Oh, wow.
Billy: And it was exhilarating but intimidating because almost invariably someone would turn his head and say, “What does the younger generation think?” And I’m supposed to sit there and say something about stuff that really, I had very little knowledge of. I mean, you just don’t when you’re in your middle teens.
Constance: It’s a good thing you were sort of used to it at the dinner table as far as political discussions, although with four kids, I’m sure it got…
Billy: In our house?
Billy: Yeah, but Dad knew so much that, but yeah, sure. We had good political discussions. Everyone tended to appreciate the fact that Dad was so knowledgeable, that we weren’t going to have much arguments, that they’d be much more discussions.
Lucy: That’s right because he just was ‑‑ well, he was really good in his history and he was just really, politically a natural, I suppose as any…
Billy: That’s exactly what he was, I mean, it would take some people years to do what he did.
Billy: He got out bed in the morning and did it.
Lucy: And he got a lot done.
Lucy: He was a really good legislator.
Constance: Well, he sounds like an amazing person.
Lucy: He was, he was amazing. Then he’d come out and he’d thank God because his father liked to ride and had taught him to ride. He’d been hunting for two years when we found the ultimate guest horse.
Constance: Oh, important.
Lucy Key. Well, so, I thought it would be nice if we ‑‑ because we’d been away all summer, not all summer, we never got away all summer. At least the first time the Congress, they went all summer long, which was so awful. I hated that because the children ‑‑ we’d have vacation time, they’d be on vacation and they never had their father around. That was very difficult.
I was pegged to go down and talk to Sam Rayburn, who was the Speaker of the House, from one of our ladies groups, you know? I think Congressional Wives or something. Congressional Wives were getting pretty fed up with this and they wanted to have a change. So they sent me down to talk to Sam Rayburn, and I had a swell time with Sam Rayburn, who was really a very dear gentleman, but I knew as I was talking.
I knew before I went out the door, but I did my best and I made absolutely no impression on Mr. Sam whatsoever. He had no intention of having the Congress shut down in August. As far as he was concerned, it was too bad to have to shut it down at all, because it was his whole life. He didn’t want to ever leave town, but he did have to close down on Labor Day.
So, OK, but I had no effect at all. [laughs] I mean, it was funny. Anyhow, never mind. That’s on the side.
Constance: How do you compare dinner parties in Georgetown now, compared to when your husband was a Congressman? I mean there’s still a coveted invitation, I would imagine, but are they …?
Lucy: The thing is that I’m not very well informed. For one thing, your dinner invitations drop off when your husband gets out of the Congress, and then if he has the temerity to go and die, that elapses even further. I check in with friends who still ‑ many, very few of them still … Well, never mind anyway. There were not many dinner parties being given is what I gathered. Now, you would know better than I.
Billy: Not a big amount.
Constance: Why has that changed, do you think? I was wondering, after reading your book it sounded like such fun. You said that sometimes your friends would get together, and you all would throw a party together for someone that was coming into the country or leaving the country. It sounded like great fun. Do people do that anymore? Do they throw parties together, or why are there …?
Billy: That’s actually a good question. I’m not sure there’s a simple answer.
Constance: Is it because ‑‑ why do you think?
Lucy: I think something changed about it now, but I think they used to keep going in the Johnson administration, and then I don’t know. I just remember when Jimmy Carter came in with his button‑down sweater. Remember, he walked down and wanted everything to be very informal?
Billy: No black tie, no tuxedo.
Lucy: No black tie. No nothing of that sort. He kind of tamped down the enthusiasm, and the people around him were very much of the same stamp. A lot of them came from Georgia, along with him. They liked it the way it was done in Georgia, which was different. There were a few leftovers like Cy Vance or Brzezinski but neither of them, for instance, were great big party givers. I mean, some of those people were just not interested in doing that. I was talking to Kay Evans the other day, that by mixing up the jobs of the people that you invited to dinner, which we always tried to do, and have people from the Hill, and the State Department, and newspaper people, certainly. We never had any television people, because there weren’t any at that point, I don’t think.
Billy: Yeah, Remember, the guy that lives next door to us, Rich Harkness, but he was a …
Lucy: He was radio, wasn’t he?
Billy: No. He was TV.
Lucy: Was he?
Billy: Yep, but he was a local TV anchorman. But, you’re right. I mean, a lot of them I suppose. Walter Cronkite wasn’t around. He was in New York, I think. Remember those guys in New York?
Billy: The big network guys?
Lucy: Yeah. The idea was to mix up the tapestry. So people could not only exchange ideas to the men, and the women ‑‑ most of them didn’t have big jobs at that point ‑‑ back and forth. But most of it meant that when they got back during the week or when they went back to their offices the next day, and they needed to get something done over at one of these departments, they could have their secretary call in or call themselves, whatever, and say, “I remember talking to you at so‑and‑so’s house the other night, and wonder what …?”
Then you could get through to them, and they would know who they’re talking to. The picture of the person’s face comes up in their mind, and they maybe had been interested. So, it was a way of getting things done.
Constance: You mentioned that dinner parties were given on weeknights. They always were over at 11:00, because people had to go to work.
Lucy: Oh, absolutely ‑‑ if not, 10:30.
Constance: That was a surprise too, because that active on weeknights, to have black tie dinners. I mean that doesn’t happen, that I know of at all.
Lucy: Black tie, as far as I’m concerned, has almost been put into… it’s just very sad. I mean, I see it with the Waltz Group, which is still going on.
Constance: Do you think it has to do with more working wives, for one thing?
Lucy: It certainly would have to have to do with that. Because where does anybody have time to cope with all that. There were lots of people, whom you could get ‑‑ the party has to do with available money, too, because all of that kind of entertaining is expensive.
Constance: And you mentioned that most of people had a staff, they had a housekeeper and a cook.
Lucy: Well, they didn’t necessarily, but they might have had a cook, and then it was easy to get hold of one of those little catering gangs around here who were very nice. Just the way it is in Middleburgh, where you know, it’s so much…
Constance: They’re still doing it, the people out there.
Lucy: Yeah, exactly they still do that around here too. There is a man who comes to my house, he’s a Turk, he used to work for Joe. We are talking 50 years ago, or 48 years ago, and he’s perfectly marvelous. And he can bring you two or three other people if you need somebody to be the bartender for you, wait on tables, or pick up the dishes. And that’s still possible. When I say caterer I am not talking about a big well‑known outfit like Ridgewells, but…
Constance: Where there any specific historical events that you remember impacting the neighborhood? Other than the Kennedy inauguration?
Lucy: Oh, you mean that affected this neighborhood?
Billy: I can give you an example. You remember, after President Kennedy was assassinated a lot of people came in who were tourist types to see where the house was. And they’d ask my younger brothers and they send them way across town!
Constance: In the other direction?
Lucy: That’s what drove Jackie away. Her house was right around the corner. First the Harriman’s lent their house to her, and they lived in the Georgetown Inn. And Mary Reed, who couldn’t see, she had hugely thick glasses, and she kindly offered to do this with Abel, and so the two of them went around the corner to the Georgetown Inn, for I don’t know, three weeks or two months. And Jackie finally found the house she wanted to move into, which was down the street across the way. And we had friends, Peter Freelinghausen ‑‑ he was in the Congress, he represented a district in New Jersey, and he was Republican and they were friends of ours.
In those days there was not this absurd, snarling divisiveness that we see now. There were so many people who just wanted to do the best they could for the country and work out a way of getting accommodation between different points of view. Of course, there were different points of view on almost every question. Everybody is familiar with that who has ever tried to run a committee.
So anyway, they were the Freelinghausens. Well, every day that house across the street from hers, there would be tour buses coming and yelling with a big microphone, “See the widow, see the children”, and people would stand for hours with cameras, and everybody smoked in those days, so we’d come out in the morning and there would be five hundred butts on the sidewalk, and people with cameras waiting and hoping that they could take pictures of Jackie and the children.
And the worst of it was, for some incredible unfortunate reason, she had not taken in, nor the secret service, the fact that there was no way to get out of the house from the back, you had to come down the front steps. Well, it didn’t take long to drive her out of town.
Constance: Where was that at, N? On this side, or the other side?
Lucy: On this side, right around the corner here.
Lucy: The house, later, was lived in by Michael Straight. He was helping to run Nancy Hank’s Arts and Humanities, which was in the Johnson Administration. There were just so many jillion events that we just used to get worked up about, especially Vietnam of course. And I had all kinds of protesters in the house, because the children ‑‑ not only that, you were old enough to be…
Billy: Yeah, I had to go in the National Guard. Yeah, I think it was after the Penn State shooting. I was in the National Guard, just, still in college. And we had people coming down from the college who were going to protest, and I was there in the National Guard. Not because I wanted to, believe me, I just didn’t want to go to Vietnam.
Constance: So you were here during all the protests? And all you were old enough to have friends who were protesting?
Lucy: And we were here when Martin Luther King was killed, and of course that, I had my aunt here…
Constance: And the fires of the ’60s.
Billy: Sure. I remember that.
Constance: Weren’t some in Dupont Circle? I mean, close.
Billy: Oh sure, The National Guard patrolled the streets around here.
Constance: Did they?
Constance: That must have been nerve wracking.
Billy: It was unsettling. Nobody really knew. I remember I was interviewing out on the Hill for a job and when that happened, we were told something terrible had happened. And we came out on the steps, I can’t remember which building, and looking out towards the smoke and we were told there was a mob marching on the capital. I remember that it wasn’t true, but who knew?
Lucy: The rumors were huge.
Constance: It must have been fascinating living here in the ’60s.
Billy: That’s not the word I would have used at the time, in retrospect.
Constance: Scary? What word would you use?
Billy: It was very unsettling. And got more so all the way through 1969 when we felt the country was coming unhinged.
Lucy: Well, and you were at Harvard when they had that huge protest. That was part of it.
Billy: That was everywhere.
Lucy: That was everywhere.
Constance: Wow, well we’ve reached the end of our hour. Is there anything you would like to add that would be of interest to someone studying Georgetown? Anything in particular?
Lucy: I think they should look up that man Doxiadis and find out what he was …
Constance: Can you spell that?
Lucy: Sure. Doxiadis. Because I am sure it would be interesting to see, since he was trying to determine the ultimate setting for a successful community and he concluded it was here, I think it would be interesting to know what he felt made up a successful community.
Constance: Yeah, that’s a great tip.
Lucy: I think it includes trees, and curving streets, and parks, and a variety of shops, and he just decided this was it, but I see so much bad urban planning, that I felt that if he could feel what all of us feel here, which we have landed in Nirvana in a way. [laughs] That’s what I would look up.
Constance: That’s a great way to end it.