Sitting in the living room of her lovely home on N Street, Polly Kraft gave interviewer, Michele Jacobson, a glimpse into her remarkable life in Georgetown. An established artist, whose work is exhibited at the Fischbach Gallery in New York and the Addison/Ripley Gallery in Georgetown, she moved here from New York with her well-known journalist husband, Joe Kraft, upon the election of John F. Kennedy. Following the loss of Joe, she later married Lloyd Cutler, trusted legal advisor to Presidents Carter and Clinton. Polly’s Georgetown has included enjoying the company of journalists, politicians, artists, intellectuals, and others involved with interests of national significance. It also has included the ability to walk to the drug store and to enjoy her garden – an unusual combination that defines life in Georgetown pretty well.
Polly Kraft: So, why don’t you start by asking questions so we know where we are and what we’re doing?
Michele Jacobson: OK. I’ll do that.
Polly: Like how long have I lived here?
Michele: Yes, that would be a good one, but, first, let me say, for the tape, that I am Michele Jacobson. I’m interviewing Polly Kraft and we’re in her home, at 3115 O Street, in Georgetown, and it’s Cinco de Mayo 2010. So…Yeah. Polly, one question that I like to ask is when did you come to Georgetown? When did you first come to Georgetown?
Polly: I came here in 1960…
Michele: Oh, my goodness.
Polly: …when John F. Kennedy was elected president, because I was a New Yorker, with my husband, Joe Kraft, who was a journalist. And he was asked… First of all, he was a speechwriter for Kennedy, during the entire campaign.
Polly: When Kennedy won, we moved down here. Joe was quite close to Kennedy, and we moved down here. He was, then, working for Harper’s magazine. First, the Washington Times asked him, and he became a columnist for them.
Then, Ben Bradley asked him to come to the Washington Post. So, he became a columnist for the Washington Post. Then, he became syndicated, sort of all over the country.
This was all during the first part of JFK’s…
Michele: How remarkable!
Polly: …being president. It was truly an exciting city, but I mean incredible.
Polly: …and unpredictable and fun. [laughter] A lot of very sophisticated New Yorkers, coming in all the time.
Polly: Whereas all my friends in New York now say, “How can you live in that political bayou [laughter] or whatever they want to call it?”
But, then, it just had a magic to it, and we bought a house in Georgetown. No, we rented a house in Georgetown first, on P Street. Then, we bought a house in Georgetown on N Street.
Then, when Joe died in 1986, well, before he died, we sold the house on N Street and moved across from Polly Fritchey on O Street.
Then, we were on R Street for a moment. [laughter] Then, there. Then, like that.
Polly: All over. I’ve been on both sides of the street…
Michele: That would be fun too.
Polly: …of Wisconsin.
Michele: [laughter] Both sides of Wisconsin. It would be fun to move around within Georgetown, because I don’t think I could pick one spot.
Michele: I’d want to experience different places.
Polly: I moved to Georgetown, as a good New Yorker. I believe in being able to walk to the drug store.
Michele: [laughter] Yes.
Polly: And, walk to the movies even. And, did not have to…
Michele: Yes. I love the New York.
Polly: I love the sound of the city…
Polly: …around me, but of course then it was much quieter.
Polly: No comparison.
Polly: It’s a wonderful place to live.
Michele: Isn’t it? It is.
Polly: People can say, “Oh it’s so dangerous. It’s so this. It’s so that”. Well, maybe it’s gotten a little more dangerous as time’s gone on, but I have never [laughter] been robbed. I have never been accosted. You know? New York’s…
Michele: Or, whatever. I think it’s worth it. I love it.
Polly: Oh, so do I. I think it’s beautiful.
Michele: Yeah. It’s so beautiful.
Michele: And, you meet such interesting people. So, you were right there, in the thick of it. Of all the…
Polly: Yeah. Of all the Kennedy stuff. The Joe Alsop, you know, all of that stuff. Yeah.
Michele: Oh, my gosh.
Polly: It was wonderful, and my children who were children from another marriage, Whitney Stevens, they went to St. Albans. They had been at St. Bernard’s in New York. Then, they moved down here and went to St. Albans. They loved it.
Michele: Yeah. Must have been remarkable. Is there any story that you can remember about that time or any…
Probably a million.
Polly: So many. [laughter]
Michele: One that you would like to…
Polly: It’s all been sort of written about. I think.
Michele: Do you think? OK. Did you have parties?
Polly: Well, back during the Kennedy years, I did. Yeah.
Michele: That must have been fun.
Polly: There were a lot of people that had parties then.
Polly: It was a big party town…
Polly: …during those Kennedy years.
Michele: It was a way of communicating.
Polly: And, it was the way of communicating. It was Republicans and Democrats all together in one room.
Michele: Oh, isn’t that wonderful.
Polly: The journalists, may I say, were always the most fun, because they were the most irreverent. [laughter] They were. Always. And, probably the smartest. [laughter] So, journalists, people like Joe, and Art Buchwald, and Ben Bradley, and David Brinkley, all those people were just…
Michele: Make a good party…
Polly: … all the time we saw them.
Michele: Wow. What fun!
Polly: And, it was fun. It was fun. Now, it changed, [laughter] after Kennedy left.
Polly: It changed.
Michele: And, it…
Polly: Well, people became less outgoing maybe, and less curious about meeting people from the other side of the aisle. But…
Polly: But, there, again, I was a painter. So, I kind of learned my politics by listening to Joe talk on the telephone.
Michele: Yeah. [laughter]
Polly: Really. Politics has never been my great love. So, I was at the studio everyday, which gave me my own, as we say, identity.
Michele: Well, this sounds like the perfect life to me right now, [laughter] being an artist and being able to listen to such remarkably intelligent…
Michele: …and interesting and irreverent people. You just can’t miss. Perfect.
Polly: They’re less irreverent now.
Michele: Yeah. Yeah. They’re getting boring.
Polly: [laughter] Not my friends. Not the sort of group. [laughter] No, but what’s interesting to me in Georgetown is we’ve all, a lot of us, have just been very close, from the beginning.
I mean George and Liz Stevens… Do you know who I’m talking about? Well, he runs the Kennedy Center Honors every year. She’s very beautiful, and they have the most beautiful house in Georgetown, I think.
Polly: Very close to the Kennedys. Very close to the Kennedys. They have the most beautiful house, up on Avon Place. Do you know where that is?
Polly: Up there.
Michele: I know it now.
Polly: That goes a whole block, all the way down to Q.
Polly: It’s just divine, with a great garden, because she’s a great gardener. But, all of those people…
Susan Mary, who was, of course, much older, but Susan Mary, and Joe and Polly Fritchey and Kay Graham and all of those people, are the people that we saw all of the time. They gave great parties.
Kay Graham gave great parties. So did Polly Fritchey. So did Vangie Bruce. Do you know who I mean, when I say Vangie Bruce?
Michele: Yes. I was at her home the other day. Before the house tour, they had the patron’s party there, which was fun.
Polly: At the Vangie’s old house?
Michele: Yeah. Yeah.
Polly: Who owns it now? I wonder.
Michele: The gentleman and his wife that owns the Georgetown bank. [grunt]
Polly: OK. Not Albritton. No.
Michele: No. I don’t believe so.
Polly: No. No. No. No. Anyway. They were all the great hostesses.
Michele: I can look that up.
Polly: They were the great hostesses, and they were all in Georgetown. I mean. Think about it. You had Susan Mary. You had Polly Fritchey. You had Kay Graham.
Polly: They were all Georgetown people.
Michele: Well, it must have just been magical.
Polly: It was great.
Michele: Yeah. As I said, I live down on Cecil Place.
Michele: For some reason, there are so many journalists that live down there.
Michele: Not the caliber that you’re talking about.
Polly: But, they’re the most fun. Aren’t they?
Michele: They are. They’re loads of fun.
Polly: I know.
Michele: And I’m an artist too, but I don’t do it for a living. And, I’m not accomplished, but I sculpt. I enjoy sculpting.
Michele: I thought I would be able to find [pages turning] the name of Evangeline Bruce’s…
Polly: It doesn’t matter.
Michele: Yeah. This was…Yeah. Anyway.
Polly: And, Pam Harriman. They all lived in Georgetown.
Polly: So, it was nice to be able to walk to dinner.
Michele: Yeah. [laughter] It’s good to walk over.
Polly: It would never occur to me to leave this place, because of the ease of living in Georgetown. I can walk to the drug store.
Michele: Yeah. It is a remarkable village.
Polly: The Safeway is right there. I can’t wait.
Michele: I know. It’s opening tonight.
Polly: I know.
Michele: I guess the party thing is tonight. So…
Polly: Tomorrow morning, I’m going to go.
Polly: Go on.
Michele: That will be very good.
Michele: So, as an artist…
Polly: This is…
Michele: Did you find it difficult to not be in New York? They always say that you should be in New York.
Polly: Sure. Yeah. You probably should, but I show in New York. So, I’m lucky that way, but this is not an art town.
Polly: At all. I mean. I have a gallery: Addison/Ripley. Do you know where that is up there?
Michele: I just know where it is, but…
Polly: Wisconsin. Right there.
Michele: That’s nice and close.
Polly: Yeah. It’s just not an art town.
Michele: Well, your…
Polly: It’s becoming more so. I mean, Washington has changed so much in the last ten years, because the Kennedy Center gets better and better.
Michele: Yes, it does.
Polly: The good plays. Some really good little theaters here now. Not in Georgetown, but…
Michele: I enjoyed seeing Cate Blanchett at the Kennedy.
Polly: Oh, wasn’t she wonderful?
Michele: I was astounded.
Polly: Wasn’t that an incredible evening, Michele?
Michele: I don’t how she can do that.
Polly: That last scene, which we’ve seen Vivian Leigh do. Right? Which is so heartrending. It’s still.
Michele: I can still…
Polly: She did it just, and I was just [grunt]
Michele: She made it fresh. Exactly.
Polly: Yeah. Made it fresh, and I was just overwhelmed at the end. I thought I knew the play so well…
Michele: I know. [laughter]
Polly: …that I wouldn’t be touched.
Michele: That you wouldn’t be touched. I had the same reaction, and I thought, “How in the world does she do this over and over again?”
Polly: Oh, God! I don’t know.
Michele: She must be so drained.
Michele: I really enjoyed that.
Polly: But, there are little things in Georgetown that have been added that we love, all of us who’ve lived here forever. One is the Georgetown Theatre down the hill. Right?
Polly: Also, I have to say that in the spring, Liz Stevens and I sometimes walk down there by the river. That’s all been cleaned up, as you know.
Polly: And, I hope they continue to do it even more and more and more, because that’s so beautiful.
Michele: It’s so beautiful.
Polly: That piece of water there. You know?
Michele: I know, and they’re building the steps down to the river.
Polly: And, the Swedish Embassy.
Michele: That’s a huge addition.
Polly: Is that good? I haven’t been in it yet.
Michele: It’s beautiful.
Polly: Is it?
Michele: Oh, it’s beautiful. The materials they used, and they opened up the creek…
Polly: Right. Right.
Michele: …which had been unaccessible.
Polly: Of course, that’s the other thing about Georgetown which is sad, because now they’re opening it up. Really, is water going to flow?
Michele: Well, past the embassy, it does. I think that’s Rock Creek, that’s flowing out there…
Michele: …and it’s beautiful. I was told that’s where they used to catch herring. [laughter]
Michele: But, anyway, you can walk around there, between the embassy and the creek.
Michele: It’s very pretty.
Polly: But, you see, those things, quietly, have come into Georgetown like Barnes & Noble.
Michele: Yeah. Yeah.
Polly: Good bookstores. The mall never appealed to me somehow. I don’t know.
Michele: It doesn’t appeal to many people.
Polly: They should have done a better job.
Michele: It’s not doing very well.
Polly: And they’re closing aren’t they?
Michele: It certainly seems as though they are. A lot of the stores are closed inside of it. So, I don’t know.
Michele: But, yeah, it is difficult. I was…
Polly: It was quieter, in other words, in the ’60s and ’70s. You weren’t so aware of the planes. You could sit down in your garden and not go [groan] .
Michele: Yeah. [laughter]
Polly: I will talk to you in a minute. That’s right.
Michele: Yeah. That’s definitely the way it is now. Citizens Association of Georgetown held an art show, put on an art show. I don’t know if you heard of it, but it was for artists in Georgetown.
Polly: It was down there, where Smith & Hawken used to be?
Polly: I can’t really do that…
Polly: …because I can’t sell my paintings.
Polly: Because, I have to give 50% to the gallery anyway.
Michele: Is that right?
Polly: My prices are really pretty high. Yeah. So…
Michele: So, but, I got to put a piece of mine in, and the response was very heartening.
Polly: Really. How nice, Michele.
Michele: Not to my piece, but to the idea of a show.
Michele: And, that there were so many artists in Georgetown.
Polly: There are a lot. You know my studio is up here at the Jackson School.
Michele: Yes. I’m glad you mentioned that, because I want give this to you. Betsy said to give this… This is hot off the press, and you’re featured in this article.
Polly: I am?
Michele: Yes, you are. [laughter]
Polly: Because, I cannot. I can’t… I mean, I’m going to open my studio on the 16th.
Michele: She wanted me to ask you that. Good.
Polly: I’m going to open it. Just because they all want me to.
Polly: I don’t know why, but I can’t sell. So, I have to say [laughter] …
Polly: No. No. It’s not, because my prices would be way too high. Then, I’d feel odd vis‑à‑vis the other artists in the building, because there are some very good artists in there. And…
Polly: I mean. A piece like this watercolor, for instance, which my son won’t let me sell…
Michele: It’s so beautiful.
Polly: …would go for about $8,000. So…
Polly: I can’t put that on the wall.
Polly: I mean. Eight and three zeros. [laughter] Who does she think she is?
Michele: I don’t think it’s a surprise at all.
Polly: But, anyway…
Michele: That’s beautiful.
Polly: Yeah. Tell Betsy I want… I’d love her to come by.
Michele: Yeah, she was excited about the idea. She mentioned she thought your show was on at the Fischbach Gallery. Is that the gallery…
Polly: In mid‑October. That’s my gallery. Yeah.
Michele: That’s the one in October. Yeah. That’s exciting. Yeah.
Michele: My daughter lives in New York City.
Polly: Does she?
Michele: I have to tell her. Yeah. She likes to paint. So, I’ll tell her to go.
Polly: It opens the 14th til about just before Thanksgiving.
Michele: Yeah. Well, one of the speakers at the CAG (Citizens Association of Georgetown) art show was the gentleman that owns a gallery here in town, and he was talking about how art galleries in Georgetown have come and gone.
Polly: Yeah. What’s his name? Do you remember?
Michele: He’s a fairly young guy and a good speaker.
Polly: What’s his name? Do you remember? No.
Michele: [laughter] No. I’m very bad with names, I’m afraid. I’d be a bad journalist. He had long hair.
Polly: You should talk to Robin Hill, who has a studio over at Jackson School, and he’s married to…
I don’t think they ever got married. He lives with Marcia Carter, who is I’m going to say Paul Metsa’s, but it’s not, daughter. Anyway, she’s lived in Georgetown all her life. They had a bookstore at one point.
She lived with Larry McMurtry, and they had a bookstore. Do you know who Larry McMurtry is?
Michele: Yes, I do. Now, he was where the…
Polly: …the show.
Michele: …Smith & Hawken used to be. Right?
Polly: That’s exactly right.
Michele: I mean. He was there before they were.
Polly: That’s right. So, talk to Marcia. She’s a really old‑time Georgetown resident. I think that even as a child she lived here.
Michele: That would be a fun interview. Yeah.
Polly: You tell her that I told for you to call her. OK?
Michele: I will. Thank you very much. That’s wonderful. But, you apparently have managed to be a successful artist and not live in New York City. Did you find that it…
Polly: I found, in the beginning, that it was very difficult, because, during the Kennedy years, when Joe…
I mean. We were pretty visible. I hate that word, but we were. And, Joe was pretty visible. So, that anybody said, “Oh, well, she’s Joe Kraft’s wife”. I had to get over that, and that took a while.
Michele: Yeah. Sure.
Polly: At one point, who shall remain nameless said we can’t review… I had a show at Diane Brown then I had a show with Ramon Osuna. Then, I had a show with various people…
Polly: …in Washington. Good, good galleries. But, they would never review me, because I was Joe’s wife, in The Post. And because Joe worked for The Post. I said to Don Graham…
I remember saying, “That’s just crazy”.
Polly: So, then, I thought shit. [laughter] I’m not going to show in Washington anymore.
Michele: I don’t blame you.
Polly: I went up to New York. I got a really good gallery up there, where I was reviewed in the New York Times. So, I mean…
They didn’t mention the fact that I was the wife of Joe Kraft.
Michele: Yeah. Why would it have to come up?
Polly: Yeah. Well, because, we’ve advanced a lot since then.
Michele: Yeah. Yeah.
Polly: I still use the name Polly Kraft, even though I later married Lloyd Cutler. So…
Michele: Yes. Tell me about those years.
Polly: With Lloyd? [laughter]
Michele: Yeah. Here in Georgetown. How was he…
Polly: He lived…
Michele: He was not a journalist…
Polly: He was a lawyer.
Michele: …but I know he was involved in politics and so forth.
Polly: Well, he was a big lawyer.
Michele: Big lawyer.
Polly: He lived in Georgetown, I think, when he first got married. He was a lot older than I was, but he came out of Kenwood. You know what I mean?
Polly: That place up there in Chevy Chase. [airplane noise] Beyond. To the left there.
Michele: Yes. I do know where that is. Yeah.
Polly: I said, “Well, I wouldn’t think of living any place except. I mean. I have to live in Georgetown. That’s where I live”. [laughter] So, we bought this house, which is wonderful. The reason why it’s wonderful…
Actually, it’s my favorite of all my houses in Georgetown, because it’s the garden, the kitchen, the dining room, and the living room are all on one floor.
Michele: That’s really special. In Georgetown, that’s virtually impossible.
Polly: In Georgetown!
Michele: What a beautiful garden!
Polly: Isn’t that beautiful?
Michele: That’s breathtaking.
Polly: So, it’s a very cozy house for me.
Michele: Yeah. I can see.
Polly: And, I’ve got enough room for the children and all that.
Michele: Yeah. And wall space for your art.
Polly: Well, not enough. These are not all mine. That’s Lucian Freud. Anyway.
Michele: Who is this?
Polly: The portrait?
Polly: That’s my son, done by, he just died, a very well known artist, called Avigdor Arikha, who shows at Marlborough in New York and Paris and London.
Michele: It’s a wonderful portrait.
Polly: Israeli… The man there, the man in yellow pajamas, that’s Lucian Freud. And that’s a Washington artist. I’m not sure she’s still here, now: Ureko Yamaguchi. No. That’s not right. What’s her last name? I can’t remember.
Michele: So, then…
Polly: But, living with Lloyd was also very exciting, in another way, because he was a lawyer. I always used to say, “Lloyd, we never knew any lawyers, socially”. [laughter] I mean I thought of lawyers as the sticks of all time.
Not altogether untrue. But, unlike a journalist, he was a lawyer, and I’d never really known any lawyers. He was extremely tolerant and extremely fair. He had the thing of always wanting to resolve every problem. Whereas, Joe Kraft was never fair…
…and was totally irreverent and skeptical about everything, which is actually much more my style. But, Lloyd was marvelous. A marvelous human being, and taught me tolerance. A little bit. The interesting thing was about him…
I have a house in East Hampton, where I go for long periods of time. I mean, I’m there all summer. It’s where I paint up there too. When we spent our first summer up there, he came up and spent it in my house. I thought, my friends are going to say…
I mean. They’re all in the movie business or writers or whatever…
Polly: I mean. Wild people. [laughter] I thought, ‘Oh my God!’ They all fell in love with him. They adored him. No. Really. But, beyond…
They thought he was the most comforting, wonderful person in the world to be around. So, that was kind of nice. Then, he was asked to go to the White House, by Clinton…
Polly: …and spent quite a lot of time there. For 14 days, he was on TV, during those hearings that Clinton had. The was the main…
…and he was extraordinary. So, that was exciting too.
Michele: Oh, yeah. Very.
Polly: But, that has nothing to do with Georgetown really.
Michele: No. I was just trying to get…
I guess what’s interesting is the part of your life, where you were more involved with the journalists, although I’m sure that didn’t stop.
Polly: No. It didn’t stop. No. No. Actually, Lloyd came into my world more. So, you see. It all sort of folded together.
Michele: OK. I was wondering how it was different.
Michele: But, it didn’t change at all for you.
Polly: No. No.
Michele: That’s interesting. So, this house is lovely. Do you know when it was built?
Polly: Well, it’s wooden.
Michele: Yeah. I mean. It’s very old.
Polly: I think probably, what? 1900?
Michele: I would think earlier than that.
Polly: Maybe. Maybe.
Michele: I would say…I’m just really learning about the architecture here. But, I would guess, because of the floors…
Polly: The other person to talk to is my cousin, Kay Evans.
Polly: Does that mean anything to you? She was married to Rollie Evans.
Polly: She’s lived in Georgetown longer than I have.
Michele: It’s been. I guess Betsy maybe had mentioned…
Michele: I guess Betsy perhaps had mentioned her.
Polly: She lives two houses down.
Polly: She’d probably have some great stories.
Michele: Yes. If you ever…
I will definitely follow up on that. If you ever want to search out the story of your house, they have files…
Michele: They used to be stored at the Peabody Library. What is it called? Collection, I guess. In the Georgetown Library that burned down, but they salvaged almost everything and moved it. It’s now at the Washingtoniana Room at the…
Polly: Marcia is a big…
I’m saying there, because she lives right there. [laughter] Marcia Carter is I think, maybe head of the library. I mean. She’s been restoring and doing about the library.
Michele: Good for her.
Polly: She would really be a good person to talk to.
Michele: Yeah. They have files about houses, which is kind of fun. You can research.
Michele: But, I’m looking at the floor in there, and it looks very old…
Michele: …the baseboards are deep and the ceilings are kind of high.
Polly: I love it, because it’s also…
The ceilings, you have to also go look in the living room.
Michele: Very high.
Polly: They are wonderfully high ceilings.
Michele: I think it’s older than that. I think it would be kind of fun to know. Anyway, it’s a gorgeous home. Just gorgeous.
Polly: Well, it’s cozy.
Michele: Yeah. [laughter] You remember, my house is 12 feet wide.
Michele: So, this is spacious. No, it’s lovely.
Polly: Isn’t Barbara Downs working on CAG? Do you know Barbara Downs?
Michele: I think she does. Yes.
Polly: Because she’s also an artist, who lives in Georgetown…
Polly: …and works, has a studio over where I have a studio, at Jackson.
Michele: At Jackson. Well, I’m very excited to come and visit the open house on the 16th. That’ll be fun to see.
Michele: And, see your studio too. The classes I take are over at the Torpedo Factory.
Polly: Well, that’s a great place.
Michele: It is. It’s wonderful. Actually, the class is held at the annex, which is…
Michele: …over on Madison. But, it’s through the Art League, which is terrific.
Michele: I enjoy it very much. What about…
What’s been your impression of the commercial area? You take advantage of it, because you walk to places that you…
Polly: Right. Right. Right. And of course it’s been upgraded in a lot of places enormously, and, also, a lot of places are closing. So…
Polly: …with this economy.
Michele: Recently. Yeah. It’s so sad.
Polly: I don’t know. They’ve gotten some very nice, so I don’t mind them, antique stores up there, between Q and R. Right?
Michele: Very nice.
Polly: I mean very high class.
Michele: Yeah. [laughter]
Polly: Very nice.
Michele: Then, M Street, of course, has gotten some great stores.
Polly: I never. I mean, I miss the old hardware store that was on M Street. I miss Neam’s…
Polly: …market, which is where…
The lovely Neam’s market, and the brothers Neam’s, which was on the corner of…
Michele: Where Marvelous Market is now?
Polly: …where Marvelous Market is now. There was something called The Food Mart down there, where Crockery Barn or whatever that is, Pottery Barn is. So, it’s just gotten…
Chicer is not the word. It’s gotten more…
Michele: More corporate maybe?
Polly: More corporate. I know that the people over on the left side are having a real trouble with the students and all of the noise they are making.
Michele: Yeah. That’s not a good situation.
Polly: A photographer friend of mine, Steve Brown, well, not so much a friend, but is being skewered [laughter] for speaking out so, in the press. So…
Michele: Well, these are the kinds of fights that can get pretty vicious.
Polly: Yeah. So, I don’t know. The commercialization of Georgetown… It’s become much much much much more commercial.
Polly: I do remember that when they considered, and this one of my, really sad… When they considered putting the subway here many years ago, I remember Joe and I went to a town meeting. Joe spoke out for the subway and was practically tarred and feathered on the spot.
Michele: I bet. I bet.
Polly: He said, “You know something? You are going to regret this, because it’s not going to bring bad elements in the city any more than the cars coming from…
Polly: He was dead right.
Michele: He was dead right. That’s absolutely the truth. Yes. That was a terrible decision.
Michele: Terrible decision. We’re going to suffer with that decision forever.
Polly: Forever. Right.
Michele: What I do eight to five is I’m a transportation planner, and I’m…
Polly: Oh, are you?
Michele: …working on an extension of Metro out to the airport.
Polly: Oh, are you?
Michele: Yeah. So, you are speaking to the converted here. Definitely.
Polly: Isn’t that interesting?
Polly: Because everyone in that room was just, “How are you…Everybody’s going to…
Polly: …come from Anacostia”.
Michele: It’s awful. It’s awful.
Michele: The resistance! I had it in the San Francisco area. The same thing happened there, and the ones who pushed away are, now, very sad they don’t have the service.
Polly: Yeah. Yeah.
Michele: So, it’s…
Polly: Yeah. Yeah.
Michele: It doesn’t make you happy to be able to say, “I told you so”.
Polly: No. That doesn’t do any good, and it…
Michele: Doesn’t do any good.
Michele: But, yeah, that was a bad decision. But, I have heard in talking to people that the loss of the smaller businesses, private businesses, the family businesses…
Polly: That’s sad.
Michele: …and being replaced with big chains.
Polly: Chains. I find that sad.
Polly: Of course, the SUV, it didn’t exist, when [laughter] we came to Georgetown.
Michele: It’s very hard to accommodate.
Polly: Very hard.
Michele: That’s kind of… That’s awful. I have heard, and it’s a rumor, that there was a push to make Georgetown more like Rodeo Drive.
Polly: You mean M Street? Well, it has become more like Rodeo Drive. There are those developers. What’s his name? Anthony Lan…
Michele: Yeah. I think that…
Polly: They could care less about what Georgetown… Well, they are all so greedy.
Polly: I don’t think this happens to Chelsea, in London, somehow.
Michele: Yes. Precisely.
Polly: Does it? I don’t think so.
Michele: I don’t think so. I wonder if they’re going to kill the golden goose, because the one thing that draws people to Georgetown is its history.
Polly: Its history and this sort of historic nice feel about it.
Michele: How it’s all intertwined. Right.
Polly: Yeah. Yeah.
Michele: It’s like stepping back in time.
Michele: So, you can go up to Chevy Chase, if you want to have a Rodeo Drive experience. You know?
Polly: Do you think those stores are making it up there? The Tiffanys and the Guccis and…
Michele: I can’t imagine. [laughter] But, maybe it only takes a couple of sales. But, I can’t imagine how.
Polly: I can’t even imagine how some of these stores on M Street are making any money.
Polly: I mean. Does Sephora make money?
Michele: I don’t know. It’s a huge store too.
Michele: It goes back and up and down.
Polly: Yeah. Yeah.
Michele: So, I don’t know.
Polly: I miss all of the smaller stores. Yeah. I do. There was a wonderful place called Georgetown Electric. Georgetown, but it was also Georgian. You know? Something. Or, Reed Electric. That’s what I really miss.
Michele: Yeah. That…
Polly: Where do you get a lampshade? [laughter] Where do you get all those things?
Michele: Now, it’s a bank.
Polly: All those things. Reed Electric was a wonderful store, and now it’s a bank.
Michele: Now it’s a bank. We also have a lot of banks for a town our size.
Polly: Why so many banks?
Michele: I’ve never understood that. So, that’s an interesting change that’s occurred.
Polly: You mean all the banks.
Michele: Yes, and the commercialization of the…
Polly: Yeah. The Aveda Salon and all of that stuff and some of these home furnishing stores. I don’t know how they make it, but I never go in them. [laughter] I’m a creature of habit. I do my shopping in New York. I do.
Michele: That’s hard to compete with.
Polly: It’s not even that. It’s…I don’t know.
Michele: It’s what you know and what you are comfortable with.
Polly: What you know. I go to Saks and Neiman Marcus and Saks Jandel and leave it at that.
Michele: Yeah. Don’t need to go anywhere else.
Michele: [laughter] I can’t think of anything else to ask you specifically.
Polly: You grew up in San Francisco?
Michele: Yes, I did. I was born in San Francisco. I lived there for a while. Then, my parents moved to the East Bay. Lived there, but my grandparents were still in San Francisco. So, I was there all the time.
I have one daughter, who lives there now, in Potrero Hill and she’s loving it.
Polly: East Bay is what?
Michele: I’m sorry. It’s the east side of the bay, and it includes Berkeley, Oakland, Hayward…
Polly: I went to Mills.
Polly: For two years. Then, I went to Europe. But, yeah. For two years. I wanted to come back.
Michele: Love that.
Polly: I went to boarding school in Greenwich, Connecticut. Then, I wanted to come back. So, I went to Mills. I didn’t want to go to Vassar.
Michele: Good for you.
Polly: I loved it.
Michele: It’s a great school.
Michele: Well, I don’t know about it so much anymore.
Michele: But, I know…
Polly: But, San Francisco is a great city.
Michele: Yeah. It is. It doesn’t have the depth that Washington D.C. has. But, I don’t know. That would be very difficult to…
Polly: I don’t know.
Polly: It has a great opera…
Michele: It does.
Polly: …and orchestra.
Michele: It does. The arts are strong…
Polly: Yeah. The arts…
Michele: …and the food is unbelievable.
Polly: Yeah. Food and Sissy Swig who runs all the arts stuff.
Polly: Have you ever met her? Sissy?
Michele: No. [laughter]
Polly: Yeah. No.
Michele: That part is good. I don’t know if you’d have as many irreverent journalists there.
Polly: No. You probably wouldn’t, but you’d have irreverent others.
Michele: Yes. Definitely. [laughter]
Polly: The Harvey Milks.
Michele: Yes. Yes.
Polly: Wasn’t that a wonderful movie?
Michele: I really enjoyed that movie. Yeah.
Polly: Wonderful movie.
Michele: Great movie. He…
Polly: He was terrific.
Michele: Wasn’t he?
Michele: Really changes.
Polly: He’s a great actor.
Michele: He’s a chameleon.
Michele: So, I really appreciate this.
Polly: I think you should talk to Marcia Carter.
Michele: Yeah. I will do that.
Polly: And, my cousin.
Michele: Kay. Yeah. One thing that Betsy mentioned to me, that she said you might have something to say about it. What was it like, living in a modern house? She seemed to recall that you lived in a modern…
Michele: …design. No. It’s always been… I don’t know what she was thinking then.
Polly: Are there any modern houses in Georgetown?
Michele: She said there’s a few, and that you’d lived in one of them. But, she’s obviously misinformed. [laughter]
Polly: No. No.
Michele: Coming from California, it was a real treat for me to move into an older house.
Polly: Oh, well, at one point, when we sold our house on N Street, after Joe had a heart attack, I moved us, which was a terrible mistake. But, that’s not a modern house. 3400 R, which is a row house, those row houses.
But, nothing to do with modern. We only lived there for 11 months.
Polly: No. No. Then, we moved back down to a very old house.
Michele: Yeah. There was one modern house, on the house tour this time.
Michele: It used to be a hospital, during the Civil War, and it was transformed. I believe it was stables or something at some point. Anyway, it’s just very Mies van der Rohe-esque.
Polly: Where is it?
Michele: It’s astounding. I don’t even know how I got there. I followed the balloons, because it was way, back, behind. You go down an alley, and it’s a woman from Persia, Iranian…
Polly: Wendy Morgan used to live there. Walter. Yes. It’s on 34th Street?
Michele: Yes. Yes. It was on 34th. Pretty far up.
Polly: Yeah. And, the architect. Yes. Then, there’s Hugh Michele’s house…
Michele: That’s true…Yeah. Yeah.
Polly: …which is sort of modern. But the one you are talking about was Walter Sawyer’s house. I don’t know who owns it now.
Michele: Yeah. It was pretty remarkable.
Polly: You go up, up, up, and, then, the house is way up there.
Michele: Yeah. You just kept going…
Michele: …up 34th, but there are so few. So…
Polly: Yeah. That’s a beautiful house. I remember going to a dinner there. That’s a beautiful house. Yeah.
Polly: The nice thing about having lived here for so long is that I’m driving wherever and so and so lived there and there [laughter] and there and there.
Michele: So, you’ve gotten to see all these.
Polly: We’ve all moved around and around and around.
Michele: It’s very convenient. How nice of them.
Michele: You get to see the different houses that way.
Polly: That’s right. [laughter]
Michele: It would be fun to move around. Well, thank you so much. This is…
Polly: I’m sure I was no help at all.
Michele: Yes you were. No, this is fascinating. I think you’ve had a perfect life. So far and more to come. [laughter]
Polly: Do you really? Well, I’ve lost two husbands. That’s not perfect.
Michele: Well, no. That isn’t perfect. [laughter] That’s pretty rough, but you’ve been in a wonderful place. You’ve had…
Polly: I’ve been in a wonderful place. I’ve had wonderful husbands.
Michele: …wonderful husbands. So, thank you very much. I’m going to turn this off.
Polly: Thank you.
[noise as recording device is trying to be turned off]
Michele: Go away.