Selwa “Lucky” Roosevelt moved to Georgetown after she married Archibald Roosevelt, Jr., grandson of Theodore Roosevelt, in 1950. While working at the Washington Post, Lucky wrote her first big magazine article for the Saturday Evening Post about remodeling their N Street home. Later appointed as the Chief of Protocol for the Reagan administration, Lucky hosted numerous heads of state, prominent musicians, and even President and Mrs. Reagan for luncheons and dinners (her guestbook is filled with impressive persons). The Roosevelts would also host after-dinner dances at their N Street home complete with an orchestra until 6 in the morning! In her May 21, 2011 interview with Tanya Lervik, Lucky reminisces about her early years in Georgetown with corner groceries, numerous movie houses, and how, with the help of CAG, the historic and beautiful character of Georgetown survived the era of the “hippies.”
Tanya Lervik: This is Tanya Lervik on May 21, 2011, interviewing Ambassador Lucky Roosevelt at her residence at the Colonnade in Washington DC, at 2801 New Mexico Avenue. And thank you so much for agreeing to tell us your story a bit and about your time in Georgetown.
Lucky Roosevelt: It’s a pleasure to talk about Georgetown.
Tanya: I believe you came to Washington in 67, is that right?
Lucky: In where?
Tanya: In 1967?
Lucky: No, I was married and came in 1950.
Tanya: Oh, wonderful.
Lucky: And then we went overseas.
Lucky: My husband was in the CIA and we were married in September 1950. And we had a little house, we didn’t own it, but we rented a little house in Georgetown on P Street that had belonged to some senior person in the CIA, whose name I’ve now forgotten. But that was my first introduction to Georgetown. And I was so young and so inexperienced, I didn’t have sense enough to buy a house, or we didn’t have sense. We should have bought right then and there, but we didn’t.
And then we went overseas. And when we came back, I’m trying to think where we lived first. You know it’s all a jumble. We had a little house in Georgetown on 33rd. And that was very nice. That’s when I learned about Georgetown really. And I was working at The Washington Post. No, excuse me, The Star, I later worked at The Post. I was working at the Washington Star then.
And so we lived there for a number of years. You know, I’m going to have to go back and look this up. We had that house; I don’t know how many years. I’d really have to look it up, I’ve forgotten. It’s so long ago.
But we then moved to a house on N Street. And that one, I wrote about renovating it, in The Saturday Evening Post. Do you have a copy of that?
Tanya: I don’t. I’ll look for that.
Lucky: Well, I can give you the date of it.
Lucky: And I can lend you the article, but I will not give it to you, because I don’t have enough.
Lucky: I have one copy.
Lucky: But that is a great story about … and that was my first big major magazine article.
Tanya: OK, great.
Lucky: I remember, I think it was the headline or something that they wrote, “We Remodeled Our House, And How.” Anyway I’ll show it to you, I have it here.
Lucky: But that will tell you quite a lot about doing over a house in Georgetown back then, and also the rise in prices. We spent … we bought it, I forget, it was in the article … maybe $36,000 or something. We put in, you know, renovating and everything, it came to about $75,000. And I think we sold it, I don’t know how much. [phone rings]
Hold on, let’s turn it off.
Tanya Lervik: OK, we should be good.
Lucky: Anyway, we sold it many years later. We lived there about 20 some years. And we sold it for, oh goodness, I don’t remember now, but it must have been under $500,000. I mean it was not a lot of money then. And the people who bought it from us did quite a lot of renovation, and sold it for $2,000,000 around then. All this is in the records.
Tanya Lervik: Right.
Lucky: I mean, you could check that if you want to do a little research. And the people who bought that from them also did more, I mean, there was a lot done to the house. But I noticed that it was on the market for $4,750,000.
Tanya Lervik: Wow! That’s amazing.
Lucky: So this just gives you the story of one … [laughs]
Tanya Lervik: One house.
Lucky: … one piece of a property.
Tanya Lervik: Yeah.
Lucky: That was 3122 N Street.
Tanya Lervik: N like Nancy, correct?
Tanya Lervik: Yeah.
Lucky: Now I don’t know if it sold for that.
Tanya Lervik: Right.
Lucky: I don’t even know if it sold. But that was what it was put on the market for.
Tanya Lervik: Amazing, yeah. So it’s undergone a lot of changes. How would you say living in Georgetown, the lifestyle, has it changed over the years from when you first came as a young girl?
Lucky: Well, when we first came there were no restaurants. There was only that one restaurant on the corner of N and Wisconsin. What’s the name of it?
Tanya Lervik: N and Wisconsin?
Lucky: Oh, it’s right there, it’s still there.
Tanya Lervik: It’s not that Palo’s?
Tanya Lervik: Palo’s, no?
Lucky: No, no.
Tanya Lervik: No. OK.
Lucky: It’s the one across … Martin’s.
Tanya Lervik: Oh, Martin’s, definitely. Yeah.
Lucky: Martin’s. Martin’s was the only restaurant. And Archie and I used to go there sometimes just to have a quick dinner. And I think it was something like $25 for dinner. [laughs]
Tanya Lervik: [laughs] Wow! Yeah.
Lucky: And a good dinner, I mean the food was quite, it was home style, but it was awfully nice. And that was the only restaurant. There were none of these fashionable restaurants you have now.
Tanya Lervik: Right.
Lucky: I mean every other building has a restaurant practically, and liquor licenses. There was a lot of fighting over liquor licenses over those years.
Tanya Lervik: Oh yeah?
Lucky: Oh my goodness. And the Georgetown Citizen’s Association thought that the liquor board, whatever it was, was giving too many licenses.
Tanya Lervik: Oh, I see.
Lucky: I remember going to Citizen’s Association meetings at that time, opposing, I didn’t personally, but they were opposing the just indiscriminate handing out of liquor licenses, which proliferated. And that did cause a lot of adjustments, shall we say, from a nice, sort of cozy little town, to a sort of glamorous enclave and attracting people from all over the city.
Tanya Lervik: Right.
Lucky: And, you know, we went through the ’68 Hippie thing, and oh my goodness that was awful. And all these people were running around the streets with long hair and smoking pot. And doing all those things that us conservative, old‑fashioned folks took a very dim view of. But my husband was wonderful. I could say, “Oh, Archie this is just awful. I hate to see Georgetown being ruined, blah, blah.” And he’d say, “Lucky, this too shall pass.” And sure enough it did.
Tanya Lervik: It did.
Lucky: And Georgetown became, again, something really lovely. And of course now it’s just different that’s all. But it still has its charm.
Tanya Lervik: Yeah.
Lucky: And one of the things that, of course, one does notice, a lot of houses, when we moved in here in 1950, we weren’t owning then, but when I first saw Georgetown there were still a lot of houses that needed renovation. They were really rundown and almost slum like. And now all of that has changed. One of the things that I get great pleasure, having lived here so long, is walking in Georgetown and seeing the wonderful things that people have done to their houses. They paint the wonderful colors, or they do the planting differently. And when you know that part of the city the way I do walking is a wonderful pleasure. I wish I could do it more. I just don’t have time.
And then the other thing Archie and I used to do every Saturday; we used to walk down to M Street from wherever we were, whichever house.
And, you know, just fun to see the stores change hands. And during the Hippie period there was a lot of changing of hands. And I think there was a decline in values in the commercial section, I think. I’m not sure, because I never looked those things up.
But it was fun to watch. You’d come one time it would be a really messy old store full of horrible merchandise. And somebody would buy the building and renovate it and turn it into something wonderful, like Mr. Lanier did.
He really had a lot to do with the renovation of M Street. He did a brilliant job, I think. I happen to be one of his admirers and supporters. Because he took a lot of really run down real estate and turned it into something important.
Tanya Lervik: OK.
Lucky: Let me see, what you were asking me about. Well, when we lived on N Street it was so easy to walk down to M and we were so close to the commercial area. But then it got rather noisy, Georgetown students and all that. And it just got to be a little bit more than we wanted. And we decided to move to R Street which is right with the other … yeah, right up there. And that was lovely. And that house had a little swimming pool. It was just great fun to live there. I loved R Street because we could walk across to Dumbarton Oaks. And we used to do that almost every Sunday that we could. Watch the change.
And you know, first there’d come the yellows, and then come the wisteria, and watching all that change, and the trees, with the blossoms. It’s a great luxury, Dumbarton Oaks.
I knew it when Mrs. Bliss was still alive. And I actually interviewed her. She never gave an interview, but she gave me one. And oh my, she was such a model of perfection. She wanted everything absolutely perfect. And she really did a great deal of designing herself, I think. But she had professionals, of course.
But the gardens were so beautiful then. I don’t think they’re as beautiful now as they were then, before she died, or rather after she died. They’re still lovely, but that perfectionism is gone. And that’s just natural, because nobody could afford to do what she did. The amount of money it takes, and the amount of gardeners and people, I don’t think it’s possible to maintain those. But anyway, that’s not meant as a criticism, it’s just an observation.
But living in Georgetown was like living in a small town. And we all sort of knew our neighbors, and we knew each other. But nobody was nosy. It was a wonderful combination. It didn’t have the nosiness of a small town.
You didn’t know really what was going on in other people’s lives. But everybody was very cordial, and it was sort of well bred and nice people and by and large very accomplished people. They were people who were doing things. Almost in every house there’d be an architect or a writer, or a photographer.
I remember we lived across the street on N Street; there was this famous National Geographic photographer that lived across the street from us. Oh gosh, what was his name?
That’s what happens when you get older, you forget names, but I can see his face.
He was married to the daughter of the German chancellor. What was his name? Anyway, I’m sorry I can’t remember now.
Tanya Lervik: That’s all right.
Lucky: I could look it up. Down the street was Miriam Crocker who had a wonderful shop where she sold lamps and lampshades and that’s gone. I’m sorry, I was sorry to see that go. There were so many stores that accommodated normal people. I mean not great big, I mean Restoration Hardware does, but it’s different. These were more Mom and Pop operations kind of thing and they’re gone, most of them.
I remember Mrs. Crocker. Some of the things that I have in this house I bought from her. These.
Tanya Lervik: Oh, OK.
Lucky: I don’t remember where I got that one. Anyway, what else can I tell you? It was a wonderful place to walk and there aren’t many places that are safe in Washington to walk. You just never feel comfortable. I don’t walk here without somebody with me. I don’t walk alone, but in Georgetown you could walk anywhere and just feel really comfortable and it was great.
As I said, it went through different phases.
The change in the night scene is what’s so incredible. My goodness. [laughs] Just thinking back when we were so young, I was just a kid out of college, I wasn’t very, looking for that, our lives were more visiting other people and having dinner with friends and that kind of thing at their houses. At that time we all did our own cooking. We weren’t very fancy.
You have to sort of jog my memory. You can ask me questions.
Tanya Lervik: Sure. Well, I was thinking this city often sort of gets a change of demeanor every time there’s a change of the administration. I was wondering what your impression was since you were working with the Reagan administration, how things changed when they came into office?
Lucky: Well, that’s a much broader question. It’s got nothing to do with Georgetown particularly.
Tanya Lervik: No. It seems like the city seems to take on a different attitude.
Lucky: When President Reagan first came to Washington I don’t think he knew Washington at all and neither did Mrs. Reagan, but thankfully they caught on very quickly. It was important to get to know the people that lived in Georgetown. There’s the Georgetown dinner parties and all that. I think it helped them to get to know the city because Mrs. Graham, who had that wonderful house, entertained a lot and she liked Nancy Reagan, and so that was great. And Oatsie Charles, Mrs. Robert Charles, who had that wonderful Victorian house on R street, that one that’s now owned by a couple called Carnot. But anyway that wonderful house.
Oatsie became a very good friend of Mrs. Reagan. So Mrs. Reagan sort of got to know the Georgetown types that entertained. She came to my house for dinner and for lunch. I think they enjoyed their friendships with the people that lived in Georgetown and were sort of very prominent.
The Reagan years were wonderful years. I mean, I was very lucky to work for them. I worked for the President. I was not on Mrs. Reagan’s staff. I worked for the President and I loved working for him. He was a wonderful person and it was a wonderful seven years of my life that really I look back on and I can’t believe that I actually did all I did and I’m so thankful.
The President came to dinner at my house on R Street and that’s in my book, a description of all that. The Secret Service and 65 other retainers came along too. That’s the way it is these days. It’s worse now. After that assassination attempt they really worked hard on security.
What else can I tell you? Well, as I said, there was a great deal. And you know, we used to give, in our house on N Street there’s a big double drawing room and sort of a porch like enclosed off that. What we used to do, this friend of mine and I who had birthdays one day apart, we used to give a dinner dance.
What we did though was get our friends to give dinners around Georgetown and elsewhere and then they all converged at our house to dance. We had an orchestra and we danced until six in the morning. It was the life. I couldn’t do that now. That was fun. We had a lot of fun.
It was before the world was so really overwhelmed with serious problems, well there were serious problems always, but intractable problems like we have today. We lived a different life in those early years at Georgetown. During the Reagan years it was wonderful. They came to dinner on R Street.
Actually, when I think back on the Reagan years they were halcyon days. There was not the angst and melancholy there is today and with good reason. Terrorism and the budget, and, all these things that we’re facing. We didn’t have those.
Tanya Lervik: I remember a great sense of optimism when he came in.
Lucky: When President Reagan came in?
Tanya Lervik: Yeah.
Lucky: Well, and he had that, it was natural. That’s the way he was. You couldn’t stay down around him. You really couldn’t. He was just delightful. I loved him. I’m so grateful that I had that opportunity to serve with him. I really am grateful. I think about it and I think how lucky. All of us who served in the Reagan years are like a family. Even though I’m quite a moderate Republican, I’m not a Conservative, yet he accepted everybody. Now there’s an awful lot of divisiveness within the party. I’m not terribly keen on it anymore. That’s another world.
Tanya Lervik: I know you have done so many other things with the opera and various outreach in the community. Did you do things in Georgetown particularly or?
Lucky: No. My opera world was international. I helped bring Placido Domingo to Washington. After my husband died, this all happened in the last, as a widow. I had to find a new life so I traveled a great deal all over the world, well all over Europe mostly and to South America to see Placido perform. Then when we got him to come here I followed his career in New York and here and everything. It’s a whole new world and it was wonderful because, having done all the political stuff, I was so happy to be involved in the arts, which is what I really care about. Being a writer I also care about the performing arts, particularly.
I’m not too knowledgeable about visual arts, but I certainly love opera and music.
Lucky: What’s that?
Tanya Lervik: No idea.
Lucky: Let me see.
Tanya Lervik: Well, I know you’ve written extensively about your renovation of your house, but could you maybe tell me a little bit about it? About your house in Georgetown that you mentioned in the article you wrote?
Lucky: Oh. Well, it’s so much better done in my article, but just in passing. Here we were two young kids. I was a young kid. My husband was much older than I, but we didn’t know a whole lot about houses and doing things over. We fell in the hands of this contractor who was a character. Well known around Georgetown. A bit, I don’t know how to say it. I’ll have to be careful. You’ll see in the article. He sort of adopted us in a way because he said, “You two just don’t know what you’re doing”, and we didn’t.
Actually, he helped us a lot, I mean, about in getting us out of the mess we had. We bought this house not having a clue. It was an estate sale. It had been empty for quite a while. It was in terrible shape. The garden didn’t exist. It was a big garden, but it was just weeds.
It was unbelievable, when I think back on it, how brave we were. Anyway, I was just out of college. That was a little later, but I still didn’t know much about doing houses. I certainly didn’t know much about decorating. I made a lot of mistakes that I had to correct later. Anyway, it was fun though.
It was a beautiful house. Even though it’s been made much more beautiful by the people who bought it from us because they were much richer and they knew more than Archie and I did. I learned the hard way. So the next house I knew a lot about what to do. But anyway the house was…
We had a lot of fun in that house. This is when I was very young. I just loved it and I loved living right in the heart of Georgetown. When we moved to our street it was not quite in the heart, but I think it’s the most beautiful street in Georgetown. It was lovely, again, because we could walk, as I told you, to Dumbarton Oaks and so on.
So having had three houses in Georgetown, our first one was one of those Victorian small houses. We had a lot of fun there, too, but that house, I’m trying to think what number it was. It was on 33rd. I know it when I pass it, but I can’t remember the number. We lived there several years. Then we rented a house on P Street.
So I really had the experience of living in about four houses in Georgetown and loved it. I mean, I wouldn’t have moved except when my husband died. After I had lived there for some years, a widow, I found it was a lot of work to keep up a house, swimming pool, garden, roof, all those things. Now I’ve come into an apartment, I don’t have any of those problems. It’s just easier when you have a husband to share it with.
What can I tell you? You just have to ask me questions. There’s so much. This is all my life.
Tanya: I know and you’ve done so much.
Lucky: All my adult life.
Tanya: [laughs] The whole Reagan period, I just printed off some prominent things that happened during his presidency and there was a lot that went on. A lot of changes. I’m trying to do the tie in to Georgetown. Was there anything entertaining that was related to your work with the protocol office that?
Lucky: Lots of it. I had the president and Mrs. Reagan eat dinner at my house in Georgetown. We were just 16 at two round tables, but that’s described in my book. The interesting thing about that was the secret service wanted to put up a huge canopy to protect the president so when he got in the car to the thing. So I put my foot down. I said absolutely not. That will really get every neighbor, everybody looking at our house. It just will attract too much attention. Well, even without it you know that entourage of the doctor, the nurse, the secret service, I don’t know, all the people that have to go when the president travels. I think it was 60, 65. It just really does attract attention, so everybody on our block was hanging out their windows looking to see what on earth was going on. It was real fun.
Of course, there were a lot of things that Mrs. Graham, too bad she’s not alive because she could have told you a lot of stuff that went on there. Of course, I entertained Senator Shultz a lot in my house because he was my direct boss. He came to dinner several times.
I entertained a lot of different people, very prominent people. I have my guest book so you can look at them. I always kept a guestbook and had people sign it and all. Now when I go back and look at them there’s some things that are really amazing, but especially with my musical interests I found some of the greatest singers in the world came to my house after a performance and I didn’t even know who they were. I just you know.
Lucky: Mirella Freni being one. She’s one of the great sopranos of our time. And Georg Solti, I think, the conductor. I’m trying to remember. Well, it’s in there. You can look at it. What else can I tell you? There’s so much. It’s my whole life.
Tanya: I know. Of course there’s the historic change in our relations with Russia took place.
Lucky: Yeah, that has nothing to do with Georgetown except, it’s in my book again, I thought it would be good for the Russian chief of protocol and his entourage who came ahead to plan the trip for Gorbachev to come here, I thought it would be nice for them to see a house, an American house. So I brought them to Georgetown, his entourage, the chief of protocol and others. They were just thrilled to be in a regular, American home. I hope they didn’t think that was typical. This was my house on, where was that? Yeah, it must have been the house on our street that we lived and then I gave them a lunch party and so on. I think that’s probably the first American home they’ve ever been in because we hadn’t, up until then, had very good relations with the Russians.
I could see how much they enjoyed it and they were so grateful and so thrilled really. I have a weakness for the Russian people because they’re very warm and appreciative of hospitality. They’re themselves very hospitable. I went to Russia but many years later.
What else can I tell you? Well, one thing I miss, there used to be a lot of movie houses. You just go to any corner practically, you could go to the movies. There’s so much choice. Now, of course, there’s one huge thing down that typical of what’s happened all over the country. It was fun to just pop into a movie and not have to think very much about it. We’d go have dinner at Martin’s and then go to the movies, which was next door practically. There was one right next to it.
They were sort of art houses maybe, but they had sometimes first run movies as well. Real commercial movies. That was fun. Our lives were modest compared to what they became and our entertaining was modest. But it was a much simpler life when we first came to Georgetown.
Oh, that wonderful woman. What was her name? She was militant at defending Georgetown at the Georgetown Citizens Association. When people tried to put up high‑rises or do too commercial things and all that. What was her name? She should have been enshrined. They should make a statue to her. She saved Georgetown. I knew her. She was famous. You’ll get her name. Somebody will get it for you.
She died, but until she died practically she fought to keep Georgetown to human scale as a historic enclave and she forced the city government to respect that. What was her name? She was unceasing in her efforts and boy she kept an eye on everybody and if we tried to do anything that was counter to the best interest of the historic enclave then we were in deep trouble.
I think she got after me when I was doing that house on N Street. They came and stopped everything because we didn’t have the proper permit for something. In a way I look back on that and think about the way she was and what she did. The people of Georgetown should be so grateful because had it not been for her there would have suddenly been high‑rises coming in and things like that and it would’ve destroyed the value of their property.
So really everybody should get down on their knees and say a word of gratitude to her. What was her name?
Tanya: It’ll come back.
Lucky: People will know. You’ll have it in all the records. What else? Now, I’ve got to keep an eye because I’ve got to call Margo back.
Tanya: Well, we can wrap this up in a few minutes, I think. What you said just now brought to mind how things must have changed when they put in the metro system in DC.
Lucky: Well, there’s no metro here.
Tanya: Yeah, I know but…
Lucky: You mean people could come nearer to Georgetown? I don’t know. That’s not something I’m aware of. I’ve never taken the metro in my life. It’s just… you know. If I’m going somewhere I drive.
Tanya: I guess the…
Lucky: I think a lot of people were very upset the metro didn’t come to Georgetown, but then other people were delighted. It was a mixture of reaction. I think the reason they didn’t come had nothing to do with what we thought or what the people of Georgetown thought. It had to do with the engineering of it and expense of it because apparently the underground here is very hard. Engineering it would have been very, very expensive and difficult.
It’s too bad in a way because now we could’ve gotten rid of what do you call that thing up there? The freeway …
Tanya: The freeway, yeah.
Lucky: Well, the thing that overhangs it. Does that have a name?
Tanya: I’m not sure.
Lucky: Or maybe it doesn’t. Anyway, that would be nice to get rid of that, but we’ve learned to live with it. What else is different? Oh, the little corner groceries we used to have everywhere. They’re gone. Almost all.
Tanya: Yeah, with the big chains and the big box stores coming in.
Lucky: Yeah, also, the owners of the properties where these little mom and pop places were, they didn’t own them they rented and then they raised the rent on them and they had to move. Just like lately the Griffin Market has had to go. I thought they just weren’t doing good business. Not at all. I found out that they are going to move to someplace else, but it was just too expensive. The rent was so bad. There was a lot of that, you know, great increases in commercial property. That’s to be expected, I guess.
I miss the Neams Market. That was such a great market. It was three French brothers. They were terrific. The meat was wonderful. Don’t have that anymore. At least I don’t have that friendly feeling. I’m sure they have very good meat at like is it Dean and Deluca down there? I’ve never been down there to buy meat.
I’m sure they have excellent products there, but I miss Neams. It was such a nice, cozy place. And the French Market I miss.
Tanya: Where was the French Market?
Lucky: On Wisconsin upward, I mean, just a little further up from Neams. I can’t remember the exact number. I remember where the buildings are, I could show you. They had wonderful meats. Neams was wonderful. Now both of them are gone. I really, really do miss them. Then Big George who used to have framing. He’s still with us, but I don’t know where. He’s not in Georgetown anymore I think. Again, I think it was expense. He framed a lot of stuff that I had. We used to call him Big George. I don’t know why, but that’s what he was called. He was a pretty big man.
Oh, there’s been some wonderful characters in Georgetown. Doc. You’ve heard all about Doc.
Tanya: I haven’t. I’m not sure.
Lucky: Doc? You don’t know about Doc? The pharmacist. His pharmacy was on the corner of Wisconsin and P I think. I don’t know whether it’s there or not, I’d have to go look. He was the psychiatrist as well. I know that Ben Bradley and all of those guys used to go there every Sunday morning and Doc would have either donuts or bagels or something. Then he retired and I don’t know what happened to that. I can’t remember. I’d have to go down there and look. I know it’s not a drugstore anymore.
Tanya: But it was sort of a hub?
Lucky: It was where people gathered on Sunday morning. He didn’t have a restaurant or anything, it’s just where people would hang out. It was great. I told you about Merriam Crocker and her lamp shop. All the lamps. Beautiful ones and handmade shades and all that you could get right there. All these little small operations, the owner, the…
Tanya: Owner operated.
Lucky: Yeah. Most of that’s gone, I’m sure. Of course, my husband’s funeral was at Christ Church. That’s where I’d just as soon be delivered when I go the way of all mortals. I’m trying to think what things in my life. You have to ask, you have to remember that I have 50 years of memories and it’s very hard for me just to…
Tanya: Just to have something come up.
Lucky: … sort them out. If someone asks me a specific question then I can answer it.
Tanya: You talked a little bit about your musical enterprises and the wonderful people that you met and worked with over the years. Are there any Georgetown related stories to that?
Lucky: Well, I brought Placido Domingo here to my house and I remember his wife, Marta, loved that house, but when I moved she approved. She liked this apartment. I had dinner with them last night. Placido brought to Washington so many talented, brilliant people. All of them came to my house. Sam Ramey, the great American bass baritone, and Mirella Freni who came earlier when I didn’t realize who she was, but she then came earlier as a big star.
There are so many. I could go through my guestbook and be reminded. Some very prominent artists of all types. Oh dear. You’re testing my memory too hard.
Tanya: Oh dear. I’m sorry.
Lucky: You really ought to read my book. It covers so much and so much better because that was written 20 years ago, but it’s absolutely appropriate now to read. In fact, I get requests for it all the time. Of course, I don’t have any left except one or two that I won’t part with. But you can get it on the Internet because people die and they leave their things to their children or whatever and the children get rid of the library, that kind of thing. So the book is there. It’s available.
Tanya: I’m going to look for it, for sure.
Lucky: It’s called “Keeper of the Gate”. I promise you it’s not probably very expensive because they’ll all be used copies. Someone told me last night, no night before last, I was at an event and this woman was sitting at our table, I didn’t know her. “Oh”, she said, “I read your book and I absolutely loved it.” “Oh, how wonderful. Where’d you get it?” She said, “I got a copy that had been signed to someone you knew and I guess that person died or something. They got rid of it” you know. She said, “I was so delighted to have it.” She went on about it and I thought that’s wonderful because I do know people find it informative, even now.
Most books lose …their shelf life is pretty short, but there’s so much in my book that is still of great interest politically like Gorbachev, the beginning of our better relation with Russia, the end of the Cold War, the usual Arab/Israeli crisis, which hasn’t changed at all. The dialogue is exactly the same. I was just thinking of the other things that happened during our time.
The most overwhelming thing was the thing with the Russians. That was the great accomplishment and while the wall came down after President Reagan left the office it was thanks to him that it came down. It happened just after when President Bush came in, senior Bush.
There was a lot that…I really urge you to read the book because it’ll give you a lot of… even though this is an oral history; there are things that you can interject.
Tanya: Well, I should have a copy of it.
Lucky: Yeah. That would also maybe give you some thoughts about questions.
Tanya: Yes, I feel like I’m losing a wonderful opportunity here. [laughs]
Lucky: Well, I’m not very good at just thinking of new things.
Tanya: I understand.
Lucky: I will say that Gorbachev and that whole thing was fascinating. Just fascinating. I really loved my job and I had a chance to meet every important person in the world because of the Reagans, unlike a lot of subsequent presidents, they entertained and received visitors, over 1,000 visits. That was just amazing. Every week I was going out to the airport to meet someone like Gorbachev or Thatcher.
Tanya: Mother Teresa it looks like. Did she come? She got the Medal of Freedom Award it says.
Tanya: Mother Teresa.
Lucky: Yes, well, I didn’t do that because that wasn’t part of my duties. She wasn’t a head of state or…
Tanya: Yeah. Amazing. Well, I guess we’ve been here for an hour and I know you’ve got your friend.
Lucky: I do have to make that phone call.
Tanya: I want to just thank you so much for your time.
Lucky: Oh, you’re welcome.