W.T. Weaver & Son was founded in 1889 by Jim Weaver’s grandfather. Originally selling farm equipment, the business evolved with the times into selling decorative bath and hardware pieces. Jim Weaver began working in the store as a child, now his own children work with him in the Wisconsin Avenue location. Throughout their many years in Georgetown, the Weaver family has witnessed a real sense of community in Georgetown, especially when their store burned to the ground in 1963. Customers and competitors alike helped rebuild W.T. Weaver & Son and Billy Martin’s hosted a grand opening party. In this intriguing interview with oral history interviewer Kelly Richmond, Mr. Weaver narrates his many encounters with celebrities such as actress Goldie Hawn, newscaster David Brinkley, and actor Vincent Price. He even had coffee and cookies in the kitchen of the White House and sent a custom hardware lock to be installed in its dining room.
Kelly Richmond: OK. Today is May 31, 2011. And, I am doing an interview with Jim Weaver of Weaver’s Hardware in Georgetown. And, my name is Kelly Richmond. So, Mr. Weaver…
Jim Weaver: Yes, ma’am.
Kelly: I’m excited because I think you’re going to be a great interview. Tell me a little bit about your connection and your family’s connection to Georgetown.
Jim: Well, our business, W.T. Weaver and Sons, was started in 1889 by my grandfather, W.T. Weaver, and his brother, F.B. Weaver. And, F.B. did not stay in the business. After only a few years he got out of the business and went in a different direction. But, my grandfather pursued it and thank the good Lord because we’re all here today. And, it was interesting. His mother was a very, very strong, well the women in those days, oh, and I guess today either/or, don’t want to put down the women today. But his mother, Augusta M. Weaver, she gave each one of the children $5,000, which, you know, this is going back, well, the company was established in 1889, so I assume the gift was made sometime around there, but she gave each one of her children $5,000 to go in the direction that they would like business-wise.
And, F.B. and W.T. bought the hardware store. The other brothers, and I think there were probably four other brothers, they established a company called Weaver Brothers, which was in real estate and they did insurance also. And, how long they stayed in that business I don’t know, but the name is still retained today as I understand it.
So, my grandfather pursued the business. But, in those days they sold farm implements and fencing and belts, and we even had a leather shop where there was a Mr. Louie there, and Mr. Louie would make saddles and harnesses and things like that. And, we made, Weavers made, all the harnesses for the mules that used to pull the canal boats back and forth from the CP Canal.
So, it goes back a long time. And so, we’ve seen a lot of changes. And, of course, we’ve changed drastically. And, I will say this, of all the old established hardware companies in Washington DC, we are the only one that’s left. And, I’m speaking now of the major movers like [inaudible 2:44] , Rudolf and West, JB Kendall, people like that who are the old established and who are friendly competitors to us, and we’re the only one that’s still here. And, now you see the Home Depots and you see the other big companies coming along.
But, we’ve seen so many changes. And, I think the secret to our success is we have changed with the years. And, if we hadn’t, if we were still selling nuts and bolts and things, you can’t make it in the market with the taxes as high as they are in the city. So, we’ve diversified and changed our whole make up. And, as you know, we’re now on the second floor where we lease the first floor.
And so, it changed a lot. And, I remember when we made the move, there was a man by the name of Herbie Haft, and he owned Dart Drug, and he came in the store, we used to come in, we were open on Sundays in those days, and he was very interested in what we were doing. He had heard that we were going to make the move and he said, “I understand you’re going to move to the second floor.” And, I said, “Yes, we are.” He said, “Do you think it will work?” I said, “They work in New York. They work in Philadelphia.” I said, “Understand, we’re going to change the type of business that we’re in.”
And, we already sold decorative hardware and a limited amount of plumbing at that point. And so, when we moved upstairs, which was about 20 years ago, when we made the move upstairs, we made the complete change. No more screws, nuts or bolts or paint. We went strictly for architectural and designer hardware and bath.
And, bath today with the advent of so much emphasis on both the bath and the kitchen, that makes up almost an equal amount as our hardware business. And, I mean, today people spend a great deal of money on both kitchens and baths. And, we sell Wilshire Wager line which is an extremely detailed and very high quality line of fixtures. And, we sell just about every other make and shape of hardware that’s on the market today.
So, we change with the times where if we hadn’t, I think we would have been in the other group and been non‑existent.
Kelly: Right. Now, your recollections as a child, I mean, do you remember just spending most of your time here, this is the place that you were in in the summer?
Jim: Yeah. We all worked as a child, and when I say child, you know, we would clean up. I mean, we had brooms and we were told to come down and we got a very limited amount, I don’t know if they had a minimum wage, but if there was, that’s all we got. And, my brother and I both did that. And then, slowly we went into sales. And, I was more interested in journalism than I was in the hardware business. My brother was very, very strong in the hardware business. And, we used to have home shows and he would be participating and running the tools and everything. I was never interested. I would always take the pictures.
So, I was going to pursue journalism. And, I went to the University of Maryland. My brother went and got a business degree at the University of North Carolina. And then, he married a girl from Florida and her family had a lot of property so she wanted to go back. And so, when I came out of the service, I was a photographer in the service, and when I came out, my dad asked me to come in the company at that point.
And, good that I did. And, I’ve enjoyed it. As I’ve often said, my children are here now. I’ve got two boys that run the company today. My brother, George, is in Florida. And, I have two boys, Bryce and Michael and they pretty well run the company today. My wife, Peggy, and I put in an appearance, but it’s questionable how much we really contribute any more because they make the wheels spin, I don’t.
Kelly: So, having a family business, I guess you don’t really have any comparison to anything else. But, what do you think about having a family business in Georgetown, how do you think that that goes together?
Jim: Well, I think it’s a rarity in this day and age. And really, I mean, what you’re seeing is the same, you’re seeing the big major manufacturers coming in, and distributors, and I think Georgetown today, I think it looks better than it’s ever looked. I mean, the streets are looking good. We have the B.I.D. operation where the streets are maintained and so forth. And, we’ve got flowers and the sidewalks are all bricked and everything. And, through the help of Jack Evans, I think he has done a wonderful job in assisting the business association to the extent of where we are today.
But, you know, you go in other communities all over the country and they still use the word Georgetown. They want something that looks traditional. And, it’s a wonderful thing. And, Georgetown certainly is one of the, if not the, most outstanding shopping locations in all of Washington DC, I feel.
What I do see, though, I could walk up and down the streets of Georgetown and I knew the Sam Lavies and I knew the different merchants, and it was a comradely type of thing. That’s pretty well gone now with the exception of a few people.
I mean, I look at Clyde’s operation and that’s just a wonderful, successful operation. And, that’s family. And, I think they’ve done such a wonderful job and I’m glad to see it. Their home base is really here whereas they have restaurants all over the area today.
But yeah, I think a lot of changes have taken place, but for the most part, they certainly are improving the image that we have here, not that we need it a lot, but it’s a wonderful place to work, I find.
Kelly: Now, did you change when you moved to the second floor and you decided to specialize more in the specialty kind of hardware?
Jim: Yeah, we made the change. We’d always, well, I say always. I think probably 20 years prior to the move upstairs, my dad had started with the decorative line, and he was fascinated because he’d go to New York and he’d see it. And he said, you know, we should have it here. And so, whereas the real business was the power tools and the paint in the regular store, we had a section that was quite sizable that catered to the decorators and we had the decorative hardware, but nothing like what we’ve got today. I mean, we have a fantastic array of product that we offer. And, we cater to both the decorators, and I say both too, we have the decorators, the designers, the architects and the builders, and the individual home owners. I mean, we work with a lot of people.
Today, the homeowner is, we feel, more educated than ever before. When they come in, usually they’ve done their homework and they know pretty much what they want and it’s just making the fine selection.
Kelly: Because they can look up things online and see what they think.
Jim: They’ve done a lot of research. And, it’s very helpful to us because you’re not talking to somebody that is completely lacking in knowledge of a product.
Kelly: But, do you have mail order or do you have other ways to make people…
Jim: We did at one time, we did do mail order. We’re online, yes, we do.
Jim: We have a website and we do that, but we actually had a catalogue at one time. And, it’s difficult. Mail order is a tough business, I thought. You’ve got to advertise. And, we did it for a couple years there and you have to really go into it big-time to make it successful. And so, we backed out of that aspect of it. But, we’ve got our own website and we do that.
Kelly: Well, and it seems like the alignment between Georgetown as a place that has many historic homes and then having this specialty hardware, there’s a nice connection there.
Jim: Yeah. But, you know, I think back over the years, probably one of the most upsetting things that ever happened to our company, we’ve been through depressions, ups and downs and everything, we burned down on July 7, 1963. And, we were just married. Peggy and I were just married at the time. We lived in Arlington. And, Bob Poole, who was manager of the Riggs Bank, which is across the street with a gold dome on it, which is no longer Riggs, and he called my dad and he said you’ve got a fire down at the store. And so, dad called me and he said we’ve got to get down. I thought, OK. So, you know, he didn’t emphasize it was a big fire.
And, we were in Arlington and I remember coming across the road and I was just passing the Pentagon and I could see black smoke coming up in the sky and I thought oh, we’ve got a biggie. And, it was one of the largest fires that had been recorded in the Washington area.
And, it was really just upsetting because number one, the company was going down as far as the building itself. And, I remember I was standing out about five blocks away because they had it all blocked off, and I could see un‑posted invoices coming down in the stream of water going into the gutter. I felt like jumping in and grabbing them.
But, we had good insurance and everything was covered. And, we came out a stronger company even after the fire.
Kelly: And, how did the community pitch in?
Jim: It wasn’t just the community. The community was wonderful. I mean, we had full support and our competitors were wonderful. Our competitors actually called my dad and called me and said, you know, you know how much we pay for our materials, it’s yours at our cost. And, we were in business within 10 days. And, we moved from this burned out location, 1208 was gone, so we moved to Fishers Market which is now the Gap up on the corner, the Gap which is opposite Martin’s Tavern. And, we operated in there. There was a dirt basement. We actually had to dig the basement out to put inventory in there.
And, the people were supportive. And our billers, they stayed right with us. And, it was just a wonderful, wonderful feeling to know the affection of the whole community and of all of our customers.
And so, we reopened. And, when we reopened, they gave a great big party which was up at Billy Martin’s Carriage House, which is no longer there, it’s Billy Martin’s Tavern, and he had a carriage house, and they gave us a big party. And, the fire chief was there and everything and they had great big signs.
And, we had a competitor around the corner, it was Menahan’s Hardware and Frank Menahan got up and he said, you know, I just want you to know I tried to burn you out, but it doesn’t look like I succeeded.
And, it was a very lighthearted evening. But, we had a wonderful support during a very, very tough time. But, we made it and I think that was a thing that was so important.
Kelly: Did you ever consider, given that situation, maybe moving?
Jim: Yeah, we did. But, my dad was very strong. He said, you know, we’ve been here a long time and we’re going back. It was interesting because at that point we went to Riggs Bank for a loan and they came right up with it. And, I think in those days the interest was probably five percent. And so, we had to deal with the vice president over the general manager. And so, we prepared all the papers and they prepared the papers, we submitted the loan and it was approved.
And so, someone said you know, I know you deal with Riggs, but you ought to look around and see if you can’t do something better. So, American Security was right up the street so we contacted them, and sure enough they dropped it by half a percent.
And so, dad called Bob Poole, who was the manager at Riggs Bank, and he said, you know, I hate to tell you, he said, I’m going to have to go with American Security even with the long relationship that we’ve had.
And, that day we got a call from the president of Riggs Bank, Mr. Norris, and he said, I’ll never forget, he said, he called my dad Bryce, he said, “Bryce, could you and Jim come down, I’d like to talk to you, I understand we’re not going to get the loan.” And, dad said,” Yes, I’d be glad to come down.”
So, we went down and we stopped there and talked to him. And, we talked about everything but the loan. Finally, we got around to the loan and he said, ”I understand we’re not going to get the loan.” And, dad said, “ No.” He said, “What would it take to get the loan?” And, dad said, “Four percent.”
And, he said, “Well, I’ll have to take it up with the loan committee.” And, dad said, “Well, I can’t wait, when is the loan committee going to meet?” And he said, “Well, it will meet sometime this coming week.” And, dad said, “I can’t wait that long, Mr. Norris. Could you tell me if you could push that loan committee up a little bit?” And, he stood up and he said, “The loan committee just met.” So, we got our loan.
And, you know, I think back, I mean, it’s a very emotional thing. There was Joe Wise, who owned a savings and loan, and he came in to my dad and he pushed a card, his business card across to him, and he said, “I’ll make you a loan for any amount of money you want, no questions.”
Kelly: So, as I walked up here, I noticed this stone wall that’s exposed.
Kelly: And, could you talk a little bit about the building because it obviously burned down.
Jim: Yeah. We were basically a wooden structure at that point but it had a stone base. And, the base back there is probably about two or three feet thick. I mean, it’s very substantial. And, the district when we rebuilt, they were just wonderful. I mean, they were very cooperative. And so, we got the building built and it’s now a solid masonry building as opposed to a wooden building.
When we burned down there was all sorts of speculation. We didn’t even have a paint department at that point. And, it was published that probably the paint caused the fire. Well, it wasn’t. It was written up it was probably electrical. And, the electrical wiring in the building was old.
And so, we rebuilt the building.
The original building was owned by the Masons. And, the Masons had had it for years and years. And, they had been meeting with an architect to even consider some changes there. And, we had worked with that same architect. And, it was going to be mutually better for them if they sold the property to us. And so, we did buy the property from them and then gave them a long-time lease. And, that’s where it stands today.
And, they’re a wonderful group of people and we’ve seen generation after generation of Masons. And, they’ve all been very nice and we’ve tried to be just equally as nice to them.
But, you know, times have changed.
Kelly: Did you ever join the Masons?
Jim: No. You know, I’ll be very frank here. We work here so late I don’t have time. When I get home, if I can get dinner and then fold, that’s about the best I can do. But, you asked about Georgetown and how things have changed. There used to be a company down there called, we had two big companies. Oh there was a lot more than two, Maloney Concrete was down there. This was on K Street. Maloney was down there and they had all these great big concrete trucks going in and out. And, there was W.D. Gallagher Lumber. They were great big. All of which is gone now.
And, there was a company called Washington Flour, and they made all sorts of flour products. You could go in the grocery store and you could buy popover mix and flour and whatever. And, there was also another company called Hoffmire Fertilizer Company.
Well, the unfortunate thing is when Hoffmire would crank up in the summer, the aroma was awful. I mean, you could smell it for blocks and blocks. And, it was a very unpleasant odor. And, Washington Flour finally put a great big sign up on the building because here they had their name on it and you could see it from Key Bridge that said Washington Flour and they’d smell this aroma. And, they put sign up that said “The unpleasant aroma you smell does not originate in this building.”
And, the Rogers family owned Washington Flour and still does, but they moved further out into the suburbs in outer Maryland. But, I always thought that was interesting.
But, you know, you see Washington, and Georgetown in general, there’s so many stories. And, as I think you and I talked a little bit earlier, I’m trying to put a book together that will deal with the personalities of this community because those people are fading fast. I mean, your Johnny Snyder and your Sam Levies who, I mean, they owned a tremendous amount of real estate. Now, Richard and his brother have taken over and own the same amount of real estate in the area.
But, there were so many wonderful stories that they all had. And, unless we get these stories down, and these really deal with individual people, I mean, I look at Rick Hendon, he started Britches, the men’s store.
Kelly: Oh, yeah, I never thought about that.
Jim: They started with a shoestring, yeah, they started with a shoestring and they built it into a big, big company. I look at Clydes with Stewart Davison, and John Latham, I mean, that just started as a little bar and look where it is today.
But, there are so many success stories. And, unless we get some of this down, and one of my very, very favorite people here in Georgetown was Fred Maroon. He was a photographer and he did all these beautiful pictures that you see still on the walls around here. He did the famous snow scene looking down Wisconsin Avenue with people walking up.
Jim: And, I have talked to his wife, Susie, because Fred is deceased now. And, I talked to Ginger Latham, John Latham’s wife. And, I want to try and put a group together and get a book going that will deal with these personalities. And, I sort of envision a picture of the person on one side and then a write up on the other. And, will it be a best seller? Well, I don’t know. But, if we don’t get the history of these individual things, I mean, I don’t know the whole story behind Clydes, but it would be interesting to hear it. I don’t know the whole story about Britches, but it would be an interesting story. And, the Levies could tell story after story with all the things that they’ve acquired in the area.
So, I do hope that’s a wish that I hope will come true.
Kelly: So, it sounds as if, talking about a fertilizer place and lumber, it was much more industrial below where Whitehurst Freeway is, I guess, now.
Jim: Yeah. You’ll see, there’s a picture hanging on the outside of our office here as you come in and it shows the store the way it was with the W.T. and F.B. Weaver sign on it. And, this artist, who’s name escapes me right at the time, he’s painted pictures, he’s a nationally known artist, and he would always put a famous personality in that picture. And so, I called him to see if he would do one of the store because he does all the research and he paints it exactly the way it was when it started. And, he said yeah, I might do it. But, he said, I’ve pretty well retired. Well, he called me today and he said I will do it. He said, I really like the idea.
And so, he said “Is there any famous personality that you’re close to that you would like in the picture?” Because I always put an Eleanor Roosevelt or an Abraham Lincoln or somebody. And, his paintings are just ‑ you can still buy the prints I understand.
And so, one of my very closest friends is Willard Scott who was locally here and then he went to New York to do the Today Show for a while there. And, I talked to him this morning. So, I said yeah, I like Willard Scott.
So, the picture shows the front of the store, and then it’s got my grandfather and my father are standing there, and then I’m standing to the side with Willard, and then my two boys who run the company are just little tykes and they’re featured in the picture. And, it’s a very meaningful thing.
And, I remember, now I have a hair problem. I lost most of my hair. But, in those days it was just starting to come off. And, I remember I called the artist and I said you know, is there any way that you could put, take a little artistic license and put more hair on my head? He said, you come up after Christmas and I’ll do it. And, I said OK. And, I called after Christmas and he had passed away over Christmas, so I never got my hair back on my head.
Kelly: How was Willard’s hair at the time?
Jim: The same as it is today.
Jim: But, you know, he’s a wonderful person and you could talk about him for hours. And, he’s been so successful. He was the original Ronald McDonald. And we grew up together, all our kids grew up together, and it’s just been a wonderful relationship. And, we try and talk every week. And, he’s still doing the Smucker’s ad, and he does 100 year old birthdays. You know Willard, he’s getting up in age, but he’s still hanging in there and he still enjoys what he does. But, you know, we’ve had so many interesting personalities here.
Kelly: Yeah, I was going to say, having a business for so long you’ve developed relationships with a lot of interesting people. So, I’d love if you’d talk about some other stories.
Jim: What used to happen, my dad and I always enjoyed magic. And, what we found out, he had a very, very good friend. My dad belonged to a club called the Cosmopolitan Club. And, also in that club was a Harry Baker and he had a magic shop called the Fun Shop. And, the magicians, it was almost like a fraternity with them. Whenever a magician would come to Washington, they’d go see Harry. Well, they would invariably want to know how to fix a trick or needed parts. And so, Harry would steer them over here. And, Harry and my dad were in the Cosmopolitan Club together. So, we got to meet a lot of magicians including probably the most outstanding magician, other than Harry Houdini, I never met him, but Harry Blackstone.
And Blackstone, this is the original Harry Blackstone, had the white hair and everything, and Harry Blackstone used to come out to our house for dinner through the relationship my dad had with him. And, I remember him on the floor with our dog and he would have tennis balls, or little balls, and he would spin them around and all of a sudden they’d disappear. And, the dog’s head would swing back and forth not knowing where the tennis balls, or little balls, had gone.
But, we’ve had so many wonderful times with so many people. And, you know, I think back, our stores changed a great deal in the sense that one time when we were all full- blown hardware, the displays went all the way to the ceiling and you really couldn’t see from aisle to aisle. And, they called me one day and they said Vincent Price is here.
And, you know, Vincent Price, he did all the spooky movies and he did a lot of real chillers. Well, he used to come to the Ford Theatre and work there each year. And, he was a great cook and he like our knives. We had a Case knife line and he liked the kitchen knives. And, I remember, he’d come in the store and I could hear the voice when I’d come down the steps but I never knew what aisle he was in.
And, I’d say, “Mr. Price, are you there?” And, I’d hear this booming voice, “Mr. Weaver, I’m right over here.” And, he was always somebody you’d look forward to seeing.
Well, you know, Goldie Hawn used to come in here. One of our very, very favorite people was David Brinkley. And, I remember David Brinkley bought a table saw. He was a great woodworker. And, we had the saw all set up and I delivered the saw up to his house. And, we went up to make sure everything was in order. And, he said, “You know, Jim, I hate to tell you,” he said, “I just took a raffle ticket at a church, and I won this same saw.”
And I said, “No problem. I’ll take the saw that you just won, you keep my saw, and we’ll just call it even split.”
And he said, “You know, I only paid $5 for that ticket.” He says, “I’ll give it to somebody.” And I thought, that’s pretty nice. And he was just a wonderful man. And we furnished hardware for his beautiful home up in Chevy Chase at the time.
And I’ll never forget, when we made the big move upstairs, I was in the planning room working on a set of blueprints and I heard this knock, knock on the door jamb, and it was David Brinkley.
And he said, “You know,” at that point, my dad had passed away. And he said, “I don’t know if your daddy would like what you’ve done.”
And I said, and I looked him right in the eye, and I said, “I think he would.”
And he said, “I know he would.”
But, it’s been a, and it continues to be an awful nice time. And we, the whole charm of being in business in a family business is the people that you meet. And not only just customers, the sales people, and our employees are like family, really, to us. And we keep a small staff of about 16.
But our staff has changed a lot, where we used to have, like, 26 people, they were all working on a retail level for the most part, and today, our work, as I mentioned before, is more with the builders and the decorators and the people. And, you know, there were so many outstanding architects in this area, one of which is Hugh Newell Jacobson. And Hugh Jacobson is just.
Kelly: I just watched something on PBS about him over the weekend.
Jim: Did you? Well, I mean, he is just an extremely fine architect. And his work is all over the world, really, and he’s worked in France. We’re doing a house right now for him, it’s an enormous house up in Nantucket. And he has a reputation of just being one of the finer architects. And his son, Simon, is in there with him. And then they have a full staff. But they just do beautiful, beautiful work. But there’s so many good architects over here. And we’ve been very blessed, and you know, per square inch around the Georgetown area, I guess you have more architects and designers than any part of the city, really. And it’s just, but the relationships that we’ve built with all these people is just wonderful, really.
Kelly: Well, and there is a bit of a design corridor now, with Cady’s Alley.
Kelly: And the furniture stores and the kind of high end kitchen, the Scavolini stuff.
Jim: Well, you know, you asked them. We were talking about the prominent people. I think just the everyday person is so important in the sense that they’ve all got distinct personalities. And I always mention the people that come in to see us today, they are very well-tuned and they’re very well-educated to what they want. And it’s a different market altogether, you’ve seen. And of course, we sell the upper end type of thing, but we also sell just the regular locks and types of things. But there was a person in our area that will remain unnamed, I won’t put a name on him, but he was probably the largest gambler on the East coast. And he used to come into our store when we were downstairs selling a full line of hardware. And invariably he’d ask if he could have a few bags. And our bags were heavy bags at that time, because we used to put nails and paint, things in it.
And this happened week after week and finally, my dad went down one day and he said, “Why do you want our bags?” And he said, “You can have all you want, but it’s just for curiosity’s sake.”
And he said, “Well, I’ll tell you,” he said. “You know, I make a bank deposit every day,” and he was a big numbers man, he was probably the numbers king on the East coast. And he said, “I put the money in one of your Weaver’s bags, and then I put a pistol in the other, and I punch a hole through your bag, and I have my hand on the trigger. So, if I am accosted or anybody comes up to me, I’m ready.”
And I thought, boy, that’s really notoriety. Weaver’s bags are being used for gambling deposits. But I thought that was a pretty interesting thing. And Dad was a very good friend of his, and they always got a kick out of it.
Loudspeaker: Peggy Weaver, you have.
Kelly: So, what about recollections of rituals, things that you have always done in Georgetown, maybe as part of your day, here, or your family, things that you’ve done here?
Jim: A ritual. I’m lost there. We all check in, and we try and get, the store opens at 9:00, and we close at 5:00. And Peggy and I come in at this point a little later, and the boys are here with the regular staff. But everybody, for the most part, stays a little longer toward the end of the day. And Peggy and I and the boys invariably stay until, you know, 7. Sometimes we don’t get out of here until 9:00.
Kelly: Well, you talked about your dad, had some, kind of, people that he would always see, and things that he would do.
Jim: Oh, yeah. Well, he, it was sort of like a Damon Runyon crowd, because my dad enjoyed a drink. And every afternoon, we closed at 5:30 in those days, every afternoon, everybody would sort of come in from different parts of the city, and it was this thing, they’d come by and have a drink. And we, sometimes we’d see the chief of police here, we would see inspectors here, we’d see Harry Blackstone here. And we’d see the telephone man that was working out in the alley, Dad would take up a fancy, said, “Why don’t you stop by for a drink after while?” And everybody, and in those days, Dad would drink out of, they’d drink a straight shot out of a paper cup. I don’t know why, they’d all sit around, and they’d have a chaser of water and a straight shot. And then, maybe that hasn’t changed, but.
That’s, and it’s a funny thing, my dad was a, I won’t say a big drinker, I never saw him intoxicated, but, both my sons and myself, we’re not big drinkers, I don’t know. And my grandparents were not big drinkers. But the children that they had, going back when my Dad was growing up, all the children, with the exception of my father, were big drinkers. And some of our employees were big drinkers, and I know, going through, you’d go through the nail bins and all of a sudden you’d find a half of pint up in that nail bin.
And I’ll never forget the story, I had an Uncle Winnie. And Uncle Winnie had passed out, and he had, in those days we had great big runways up above the store, you know, and you’d have sliding ladders that went back and forth. And Uncle Winnie had, either he had passed out or fallen asleep, but he was up on this, upper level. And so, one of the employees put, cut off two brooms and put the broomsticks up his pants leg, so when he finally became conscious, he couldn’t bend his legs, and he thought he was paralyzed.
Jim: I don’t think he gave up drinking, but I thought it was an interesting thing. But, you know, I had, there was a Tom Stohlman, who was an architect here in Georgetown and Tom’s family owns Stohlman’s the bakery up the street, which is next to the Gap. In fact, Stohlman’s bakery, they moved the counter and everything down to the Smithsonian, it was so authentic, it was, being so typical of what a bakery and a pastry shop should be like. Well, Tom was a very prominent architect in his time. He’s now deceased. And we were talking one day, and he said, and he was going down to do some work at the White House. And I said, “You know, I’ve never been to the White House.”
And he says, “You’ve lived here all your life and never been in the White House?”
I said, “No.”
And he said, “I’ll get you in. You want to go?”
And I said, “Oh, I’d love it.”
So, sure enough, he called me, and he said, “I’m going down in 10 days, would you like to go?”
And I said, “Yeah.”
And he said, “Well, someone will call you.” Well, now, I would imagine, this whole procedure’s changed dramatically.
Kelly: Yeah, probably.
Jim: Well, he called me and I gave him my Social Security number and different things, and so I was approved. So, I went down, and sure enough, I appeared and went in through the front gate, went up right where the main portico is, right there. And I parked within about, oh, about 25 feet, where I was told to park. Went in and the head usher met me at the door. And he says, “You’re to go to top floor in the private quarters.” And that was during Reagan’s years. And at that point, the attempt had been made on his life, and so as you walk through the private quarters and the president was not there at the time. When you walked through the private quarters, he had all this exercise equipment where he was trying to build himself back up. But during the tour, you know, I went into the Lincoln room, I saw the private dining rooms, I saw their bedrooms, I saw everything, and I had a clipboard, and I was making notes like I was officially doing something when I wasn’t. And Tom went.
Kelly: Well, I’m sure you could note all the hardware that they used.
Jim: Well, yeah, that’s a funny thing that you mention it, then. So, we had completed my tour in a very short period of time, I think in 15 minutes it was over, and I thought, here I’ve waited all my life and it’s all over. And there was a head cook there and she was a Aunt Jemima look, I mean, she had just a beautiful, beautiful face, but you could tell there was some mileage on and she’d been around a long time. And she had this steel gray hair, and she said, “Would you care to come down to the kitchen and have a cookie and a glass of lemonade?”
And I said, “Oh, yeah,” anything to make this last. I said, “Do you have coffee?”
She said, “Oh, yeah, I’ll fix you some coffee.”
So, we went down, and in the process of going down I went into the dining room and the dining room had, like, thousand dollar wallpaper all over it. And then they had this real cheesy lock on the door and the door was a curved door, and the room was oval. And I said, “I would like to contribute something to this tour that I’m getting. I’d like to give you a new set of hardware.”
And she said, “Well, let me call the engineer.”
So, he came up, and he said, “Well, what do you have in mind?” And I told him, he said, “Would you please send it down?”
So, I sent down, it was a custom set of hardware. And the hardware’s here to that day, I’m sure.
And so now I’m talking to this lady, as I said, it was an Aunt Jemima type, and she was just a beautiful lady. And we were talking, and I said, “I hope you interpret what I’m going to say in a respectful way.” I said, “Looks like you’ve been here a long time.”
And she said, “Oh yes, I’ve been here.” She said, “I was here during Stalin,” she said, ” And Churchill.” She said, “I saw all the great heads of state.”
And I said, “Of all these people, that have come and gone, who was your favorite?”
And she looked up and she said, “Sammy Davis, Jr.” She had her favorites. And I thought that was really a funny, funny time.
But, you know, we’ve seen a lot of people come, and we’ve seen a lot of go, unfortunately. We’re still here, we don’t plan to make any move in any way(?).
Kelly: Yeah, well, that’s the impressive part. So, once you sent that first piece of hardware for the dining room, then that began a relationship with doing things for the White House, or?
Jim: Oh, yeah, we’ve done work for the White House. In fact, we did Blair House, and we did, we’ve done, our work in the contract department, we have two levels. And the contract department, we cut down. It’s become a different arena altogether. And we, actually, it’s more difficult to take a house on in this day and age, because the homes are so big and so involved. And, as I say, we do both hardware and plumbing. And it’s very, very big. I mean, the contracts we do on hardware alone, some of the hardware, it’s way, way up there, I mean, over $100,000. But we’ve done the hardware for the Blair House, the White House, we did Dulles Airport. We’ve done all the hospitals. And, as I say, that arena’s changed, and we are more focused on the residential area. And we still do, but right now, we’re working on a job that, we’re working on the new Clyde’s. There’s a new Clyde’s going in right down where the Julius Garfunkel’s used to be, down on 14th and F.
Kelly: Oh, OK.
Jim: And it’s going to be a magnificent restaurant. And John Latham, they have the Old Ebbitt, which faces the Treasury. And now, backing up will be this enormous, very, very well done new restaurant, which they hope to open before the first of the year. And there’s such, they do so much business at the Old Ebbitt that they can’t take care of, the overflow will now go to this new restaurant. But, I would imagine the Old Ebbitt is probably one of their main cash cows, because it is always packed, as all their restaurants, really. You know, they say it’s the people that make the business, and the Latham’s have just been wonderful to us. We’ve done all the client’s restaurants, for the most part.
And it’s been a, it’s a lot of fun, and a lot of people can’t say that with the work that they do. I look at so many people that are very unhappy in their work, it’s a drudgery to go to work. It’s not that way with us. And it’s not that way with our employees. They all enjoy what they do.
Kelly: You’re really lucky.
Jim: We are lucky. And, you know, I look at so many people and all they’re looking for is the day they can retire and bag it. And here I am, I’m almost 80, I’ll be 80 next year.
Kelly: Oh, my gosh.
Jim: And if I only had hair, I’d look a lot younger.
Kelly: You do look young.
Jim: You’re awfully nice. But, in general, I think the people here are happy. My kids are happy that are working here. And, it serves an incentive for us to continue on because I think of all my generation I’m the only one that’s still working in the work, everybody else has retired. And, I think it’s important. It sort of stirs up the gray matter and you can remain, I hope, reasonably sharp in what you do. And now, I’m into computers, and I say I may have to retract that statement because that little machine causes me more problems, but I don’t think I’m alone there.
Kelly: No. So, do you have employees that have been with you for years and years?
Jim: Yeah, we do. Jean Schwicz is on our contract department. Jean has been here, oh, Lord, I would say maybe 30, 40 years. And, Linda Bose is here. She’s been here a number of years. And, these are dedicated people. And, they are like family, as I said before. I mean, we’ve been to their weddings, we’ve been to their funerals where in some cases where their spouses have passed on. But, when we get an employee, we want them to stay. And, it’s a wonderful, wonderful relationship. And, as I say, we like to feel like it’s all family.
Kelly: And, your wife comes in, as well?
Jim: Peggy’s in, oh yeah. She’s in the office right next door. And, she hears everything that’s going on. That’s why I close the door. [laughter]
Jim: So basically, that’s pretty much it.
Kelly: So, now your sons, were they eager to get in the business or did they want to break away?
Jim: Yeah, they were. I wanted them, actually, I wanted them to go somewhere else before because, you know, I think you’ll give them a different perspective if they didn’t come in. And, they said no. They saw a lot of things they wanted to change. And, I’m glad they came because we were not computerized prior to their coming in. Now, the boys have been here 20 years. Now see, 20 years if you were a government worker, you would be able to retire. And, here they are young and they’re still going.
But, all of our kids, I have two daughters, Peggy Ann and Joan, and both of them pursued other courses. They were dental hygienists. And then, the boys, really all of our children worked here, everybody worked here. In fact, a lot of our friend’s children have worked here. We would have them in as receptionists actually on Saturday when the receptionist wasn’t on, our regular one wasn’t here, they would come in.
There’s a Doctor John Dillon, he was head of surgery at Georgetown and I think he had four or five daughters. All of them worked here. And, we still see the daughters and I saw John Dillon on Sunday.
But, it’s just been a wonderful, wonderful time and it continues to be. That’s the nicest part about it.
Kelly: Do you have some grandchildren who are having summer jobs here this summer?
Jim: Well, yeah. They have already started. In fact, they worked last year. And, we have 11 grandchildren, some of which are in college. But, you know, it seems like the kids today, like our granddaughter, Caroline, she’s at college and she’s already finished the regular, she’s back at college taking more courses. I don’t think I could, number one, I don’t think I could get in college today.
Kelly: I don’t think I could either.
Jim: It’s unbelievable the pressure that’s on these kids. And, I mean, they want a 4.0 to get in. And, I mean, to get in Georgetown, I went to Maryland and to get in Georgetown is just very, very difficult and expensive. I mean, I look at what we used to pay in tuition as compared to today. Holy smokes. Now, Bryce, my son, he’s got six children. And, I think, you’ve got a rough road ahead, boy. I mean, with all those tuitions. But, we’ll try and help in every way we can.
Anything else I can talk to you about?
Kelly: Well, so, you talked about your father.
Jim: Yeah, Russ Weaver.
Kelly: Could you talk a little bit about just maybe recollections that you have of his experience in the business. He was in charge when the fire happened, correct?
Jim: Yeah. He was president and yeah, he was a, you know, I look at the outside interest I have, my dad’s outside interest was the business. I mean, he worked seven days a week. And, he enjoyed making displays. And, as I said, we were going into decorative hardware at that time, and he would come down and work on Sundays. And, my mother was just a saint to put up with, you know, she saw him so seldom, and she virtually raised us because he was always here at work. And, his real hobby was work, whereas today, I look at my own boys, they like to play golf, they like to do things they’re interested in. They are so active with their own children. Now Bryce, he’s constantly going to one soccer game after the other. And, you know, I didn’t do that.
Even when I came along, I was wrapped up in hobbies and I went in a different direction. I think I mentioned earlier I went to Maryland and I was interested in journalism. And, I worked for newspaper called the Washington Times Herald. And, the Herald was bought by the Post.
And, the Herald was a real neat paper. It was a gossipy type of paper and it was owned by Sissy Patterson who lived over on Dupont Circle. And, when she died, she left her paper to what they called the Seven Dwarfs. And, these were seven men who were prominent in the company. She outright gave the company to them, the paper to them.
And, I held a press card and I was a photographer there. And, I first started out, I went to a private school in Washington and every day after school I would go down to the Herald. And, my father knew the picture editor there. And so, I would go in and they’d want Cokes and hot dogs and things like that. So, that’s what my job was. And, I’d clean dark rooms.
And, slowly but surely, and I was taking pictures at school now, so, I mean, and I wanted to learn more about it. And, it was an all men’s club. I mean, it was tough. And, that’s the newspaper that Jackie Kennedy worked for. And, that’s the paper where she acted as the inquiring photographer. And, I saw her on many occasions. She would come in, but she wasn’t the good looking lady that you saw later married to Jack Kennedy.
And, she did the inquiring reporter where she’d go out and she’d snap a picture and ask a question, you know, what do you think of this and she’d snap a picture. Well, one of the people she snapped a picture of was Jack Kennedy. And, she met and married him. And, we did their house. I did Ethel Kennedy’s house. I did Jack Kennedy’s house. I did Edward’s house.
And again, you got to meet all the personalities. I would usually meet the women and not the men. I never met Bobby Kennedy. He used to go to our church. But, I met Ethel Kennedy many, many times. And, we did work for there because they just recently sold their house and she’s moved out of the area.
Kelly: Hickory Hill over in McLean?
Jim: Hickory Hill, uh‑hm. And, we did Ted Kennedy’s house. And, he was married to Joan at the time. And, she was a delightful lady, very, very nice. So, as I say, it goes around and around.
Kelly: Yeah, you have lots of stories. So, in terms in just your thoughts about Georgetown, do you think this business could have had it’s longevity in another location?
Jim: Yeah, yeah. The charm of this area, I mean, it was a natural to be here because, as I say, it was an industrial area at the time. And actually, they used to have boats that would come in and dock down below.
Kelly: And, you remember that?
Jim: No, I don’t, no, no.
Kelly: OK. That’s before.
Jim: There’s a painting by John Stobar and it depicts the way it was in those days. And no, I don’t remember that. And, in fact, Wisconsin Avenue, I think it was called Water Street. It wasn’t called Wisconsin Avenue. And then, the picture that was painted that hangs outside of my office there, they show it as I think it’s Water Street. But, could this company have gone in another area? Oh, yeah. But, I’m glad that it didn’t. As I say, we feel like it’s a definite part of us, really. No, I’m glad we’re here and no plans to move or change anything.
Kelly: Well, and it seems like Georgetown, as an entity, wants to try and maintain some of these older businesses, too.
Jim: Heck, yes. You know, I can answer that question because I was on the Georgetown Business Board and my sons have been on, Bryce was, Michael I don’t think has. But, you know, there was a fellow by the name of Tim Jackson, and Tim Jackson, I was introduced to Tim through Sam Lavie. And, Sam owned the property right coming down from the Gap at that point which used to be the old bakery that I mentioned before. And, Tim had a Swenson’s Ice Cream store there. And so, Sam called me and he said Jim, I want you to meet at Tim Jackson’s. So, Tim and I got to be buddies. And, we were sitting there one day and we were talking about what we’d like to do in Georgetown. And I said, “Did you ever think about doing a parade?” And he said, ”Yeah, I’d be interested in a parade.” And I said, “I would, too.” And he said, “What do you have in mind?” I said, “I want an old time parade.” I want a parade that you would think of, see, our streets are, Wisconsin Avenue is relatively narrow, really, when you think about it. I said, “I want a parade that’s like a New England parade where you can almost reach out and touch the people as they go by and I want a lot of antique cars.” He said, “I love the idea.” And he said, “Let’s do it.”
And so, we started out, just the two of us, as a committee of two, and then we went to the business association.
Kelly: What year was this?
Jim: Oh, I want to say it was probably 20 years ago, 25 years ago.
Jim: And, it may have been longer than that even. And so, we called it the “Good Old Days” Parade. And, what we would do, you have to entice these antique car people. There was a tremendous amount of good automobiles, both antique and otherwise, and we wanted only the antique cars. And we, then, have a Grand Marshal of the parade and Art Buchwald and Doc Dalinsky were Grand Marshals one year. And, we had a lot of interesting people. But, the parade really grew and was bigger. We’d bring in over 100 cars every year. And, what we would do, they would participate in the parade and then after the parade was over, they’d pull into the side areas that were no parking up and down Wisconsin Avenue and then the people could see the cars first hand and talk to the owners.
And, we would entice these people who owned these antique cars to come down and participate because we would give prizes. And, the prizes were dinners at the various restaurants. And, 1789, Clyde’s, all the restaurants would give us dinner for two, dinner for four, whatever it was, and they loved it.
And so, Tim Jackson and I did that, and it was just a wonderful, wonderful time.
And then, we had to house the people. So many of them were from out of town. We had Gambier, Ohio, we had the High Wheel Bicycles from Gambier, Ohio. We had Southern Railroad brought in the old locomotive. We had Grambling University, the marching band there.
And, that’s a story within itself. I remember, they were going to be here in Washington DC, and it’s a very spirited band, and they were one of the people that were instrumental in showmanship in the band, and when they play, they would throw the instruments back and forth. And, I mean, it was very, very interesting.
And so, I remember I called Grambling and I asked, they were going to be at Andrews Air Force Base for something and they were going to be there Saturday, and I said our parade is on Sunday, any chance of coming? And, they said oh, yeah, if you can get us housing, we’re not going back until Monday, we can change our schedule and go back Monday.
So, I’ll never forget we made all the arrangements. In fact, the director of activities down there, his name was AEO Weaver. And, I called AEO and I said, AEO, are we in business? He said yeah, they’ll come no charge.
Kelly: So, the Weaver connection?
Jim: Yeah. Well, I don’t know what it was, but in any event, I was sweating gumdrops because we would assemble, Arnold Passman was the parade director, and Arnold was very official. He had a police whistle, you know, he was something else. And, he would direct and organize and get the units all lined up. And, they would organize at the top of the hill where the library is up on the top. And so, the units would organize up there. Well, we had all the parade ready to go, no Grambling. They weren’t there, and I thought, “Oh boy, we’re really in trouble.”
And then I looked down the street, and one olive drab bus, two olive drab buses. And the Air Force was sending them over in their buses. And they all assembled up there, and I’d never heard them. And it was Tim’s idea to get them, and I said, you know, we had a lot of marching bands, what’s one more marching band? He said, “Wait till you hear this one.”
And so, I went down to the reviewing stand and they all made their presence known. And they said, “We’ll be all assembled in just a matter of about 15 minutes, give us 15 minutes.” I’m down at the reviewing stand, Sam Levy and Billy Martin, people were the judges, we had a real distinguished panel of judges.
So, I watch the Grambling Orchestra Marching Band come down the street, and it was just two lanes, it wasn’t much, you know. I thought, this isn’t going to be much. I said, I turned to Tim and I said, “You know, what’s with this band?”
He said, “You haven’t seen anything yet.”
And I remember they stopped, I guess it was about a block away from the reviewing stand, and they all lined up. And I heard the drum roll start, and it got louder and louder and louder, and all of a sudden, this little fellow who was the sergeant shot out, and he walked up very fast, and he stood in front of the reviewing stand, and he said, “We are ready to perform.”
And boy, all hell broke loose. The instruments were going back and forth, they’d throw them through the air.
Kelly: Oh, my gosh.
Jim: And they’d get the camel walk they did, and the music was fantastic. Well, nobody wanted to let them go, it was so good. And in those days, and I think of this, our Grand Marshals, that year we had Hardin & Weaver. And Hardin & Weaver, you can see a picture over there on the wall. They were the number one radio show.
Kelly: Radio. I remember that.
Jim: And I still see, Jackson Weaver died and of course, my name is Weaver. And Jackson and I had a wonderful relationship over the years. And I still see Frank Hardin, to this day. Frank comes to a breakfast that’s held usually once a year up at Martin’s Tavern, and Willard Scott puts this breakfast on. And it’s like a “Who’s Who” breakfast. And the local radio personalities, you’ll see Frank there, and you’ll see all sorts of people from NBC. And it’s really a nice gathering. But Frank and Jackson were Grand Marshals and very big in supporting us. And there’s a fellow by the name of Andy Ockershausen. Andy was running WMAL in those days. And he was wonderful. And he would help us, and we would get free spots on the air, so we could promote our parade. But we had a big turnout.
The parade ran, I want to say it probably ran six, eight years. And it became so time consuming, I mean, we would spend as much time on the parade as running the business. And my dad said, you know, “This has got to stop.” He said, “You know, I thoroughly enjoy what you’re doing.”
And I said, “OK.” So, I backed off and then we turned it over to somebody else. But I’ll never forget. We had to house all these people and feed them, and in those days, Roy Rogers, which was owned by Marriott, was up on the corner.
So, I called Marriott and I said, is there any chance we can get food for, I needed food for umpteen people, I mean, a lot of people. And they said, “Oh, yeah. We’ll furnish it all, no charge.”
And so, I contacted Visitation. And I said, “Is there any chance that we could use any facility you have up here, like a gymnasium? They’ll bring their own sleeping bags.” And Visitation, at that point, was a cloistered, you know, the nuns were cloistered, so they couldn’t go out. And so, I thanked them, but I really emphasize, because I mean, it’s year after year that they had done that.
And after about two years, I was talking to the sister up there, and I said, “Is there anything we could ever do to repay you?”
And she said, “I don’t think so.” She said, you know, we’re only too glad, this is, we feel like we’re contributing.
And I said, “Well, is there any way that you or any of the nuns could come to the parade?”
She said, “No, we’re cloistered. We can’t come.”
And I said, “Well, what if we brought the parade to you?” That’s what we did. Right up on the parking lot there. We brought all the units that we could up there on their parking lot. And you’d look up there and you’d see all these little faces at the windows up there. It was just wonderful.
Kelly: Oh, that’s sweet.
Jim: And the high wheel bicycles were there and it was a, you know… Things like that are, I get very emotional about these things, because, it’s blood, sweat, and tears and you work so hard. And then the unfortunate part, and then, when we used to do the things, you never knew what the weather was going be. And sometimes.
Kelly: Right. It was held in the summer?
Jim: It was held in the summer, and there were a couple of occasions we had rain, we’d run them. And we’d run them right through the rain. And the clowns would be there and Art Buchwald would be there. In fact, Buchwald was, he was a real stand in, and he would come every year. And it was, as I said, we had antique cars going galore. And I remember, see, it was on Sunday, and that was Redskin Sunday. And so, Buchwald, when he was Grand Marshal, he did his Grand Marshal, and he disappeared into the Georgetown Inn.
And my son, Michael, he was a great football fan. And Michael must have been six or eight years old. And he said, “Dad, I’m really bored with this parade. I want to go watch the Redskins.”
And I said, “Well, let me check.”
And so, I checked with the people at the Georgetown Inn and they said, “Tell him to go up to room 4C,” or something out there. And he said, “Art Buchwald’s up there and he’ll let him in.” So, Michael went up and as I said, he was six or eight years old. And he was a little guy, and he knocked on the door and he knocked on the door. And Michael said, he still remembers it. He said, this door opened up and Doc and Art Buchwald are in there, they both smoke cigars. And Michael said the smoke was a foot thick. He said he could barely see the screen.
And Art Buchwald said, “Kid, I understand you want to see the Redskin game.”
And he said, “Yes sir, I would.”
He says, “Come on in.” So, Michael, Art Buchwald and Doc Delenski were in there. And Michael said he could hardly breathe, the smoke was so thick.
Kelly: [laughter] That was the longest game of his life.
Jim: Yeah. But that was a neat time. But we had so many things. And the parade went on, and that, I always look back on that. We got, we have got film on that. We ought to show that sometime. But Fred Maroon took some just beautiful pictures. You know, he did, the photographer, Fred Maroon, he did several books on Georgetown. And I’m ashamed to say I never looked at the lead page, you know, where they give the credits to it.
Jim: And I just, this past year, looked in there. And I’d talked to Fred about doing a book on, I’ve always liked books. And I said, he did books all over the place, and his books were spectacular. And I said, “Georgetown’s your home. Why don’t you do a book on Georgetown?” And he said, “That’s a good idea.” And he did the book. And I just looked at this the other day. In fact, I called Susie, his wife. He’d given me and to Sherry, Sandy at that time, credit for getting him to do the book.
Kelly: Oh, wow. How great.
Jim: And Sherry was our director, and she went on to do bigger and better things. And she married the head of ABC in New York, and she has a lovely family now. But everybody loves Sherry and she had offices here. In that time, we were hardware on the first floor, and the office that we’re now sitting in was here. And then I rented the, where our display room is now. That was all leased out. And Sherry had space in there for the Georgetown Business Association, so that’s where it all sort of started.
But, you know, I look back on the Business Association. Probably one of the most colorful leaders of the Business Association was Richard McCooey, who owned the 1789 at that time. And Richard, we would go up and we’d always meet at the 1789, so Richard would always sit there, and he always had two Pepsi‑Colas. And he always, he never, and as soon as he would drink one, they’d replace it so he always had two there. And we had, our meetings would last for hours.
Kelly: Because he had so much caffeine, he didn’t have to stop.
Jim: Well, no, but I mean, there was so much to discuss and so many things to do. But there was, he was very nice, colorful man. He’s a very exciting. And if you don’t have Richard, you should talk to Richard. He’s the, first thing he’ll ask you is, are you a, he’ll size you up, whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert. And he does a sort of a psychological exam of you.
Kelly: Oh, OK.
Jim: But he’s a neat, neat person.
Kelly: I’ll give that interview to somebody else.
Jim: Yeah, Georgetown is a, just loaded with wonderful personalities.
Kelly: Did you ever want to live in Georgetown? Have your family in Georgetown?
Jim: My family did have a house. My grandparents had a house up, very close to Visitation. And they had a summer house, this was my grandparents, WT. And they lived in Virginia, they had a summer house out there. And they found that they were spending more and more time out there, so they sold the house in Georgetown and moved permanently out there. But they had a farm, and we had cows and everything. And I used to.
Kelly: In Virginia.
Jim: In Virginia, just off of Glebe Road there. In fact, that’s where my dad, Bryce Weaver, met my mother. My mother had family on the farm next to it, and so they used to date. And it was a very nice thing.
Kelly: So, then you were pretty much fixed in Virginia.
Jim: Yeah, we are, in fact, all the boys live in Virginia. All our family lives in Virginia now. We are very blessed in a sense, all our children live within five minutes of us as parents, which is a rarity in this day and age. And Michael and Bryce and Joan and Peggy Ann. And Peggy Ann is not five minutes, she’s actually in Leesburg, but she works in McLean, so we get to see them.
Kelly: So, the commuting every day? You didn’t want to just live in Georgetown, where you can walk to work?
Jim: No, well… Well, you know, that is a wonderful advantage. No, it doesn’t take us that long to get back and forth. But you know, I look at what’s happening to Georgetown, look at these two young ladies that opened the Georgetown cupcake business. Isn’t that wonderful to see that? And you see the people lined up there. I think that is so neat.
Kelly: Well, that could be the last story in your book. The, sort of, new.
Jim: Yeah. Well, I hope my book, what my book will get going. And I’ve got to start that up again, because I had talked to Susie and I talked to several people about doing it. Because Fred Maroon had some wonderful, wonderful pictures. And he had a picture that he took of Doc Delenski’s drug store.
Kelly: And where was that?
Jim: That was right up, let’s see, I guess it’s, let’s see, we’re, it was probably about three blocks up on a corner there. This office, you know, where the old theater used to be there, it was just, now it’s a jewelry store.
Kelly: Oh, yes, yes. Yes.
Jim: It was very close to that proximity. And Doc would have a breakfast brunch every morning. And the general manager, and I think actually, owner of the Georgetown Inn was Collins Berg. And Collins would send the food down to Doc, and then Doc would have this closed door breakfast. And you saw all the “who’s who” there. And I mean, if Lauren Bacall was in town, or any of the movie stars, were in there, Ben Bradlee, any of the people were there, and David Brinkley. And there’s a picture that Fred Maroon took which is in his book that shows these personalities. And so I’m going to, I hope Susie will let us use a few of those images, when don’t we get the book going.
And we will get the book going, but it’s going to take, I’m glad you mentioned it, because I should start that up again, but.
Kelly: So, how did he have connections to these people to have them come eat breakfast there?
Jim: I really don’t know. I don’t know how that came about, but it was the “In” place, and it was a very closed group, I mean, it was never large. There would only be, maybe, a dozen people invited. And he sold cigars, so Buchwald loved that.
Kelly: OK, so, he’s the cigar connection.
Jim: You know, right, and the Ben Bradlees were there and the Brinkleys. And I can’t remember who’s actually in the picture, but Fred depicted it to a maximum. It was really a beautiful picture. So, you know, this book, as I mentioned before, I’d love to have a write up on one page and an image and the, showing them that person, either then or today. But I want people like Sam Levy and Johnny Snyder in the book, who are no longer with us there.
And if we don’t get going on the book, there’s not going to be anybody to do the book, so, kind of, you know, it’s just like stories I’ve told you. They’re going to all slide through the cracks, and there are just so many stories that other people could tell that are just as interesting.
And, yes, as I say, it’s a wonderful place to be in Georgetown. You can’t beat it.
Kelly: Well, thank you so much.
Jim: Oh, thank you.
Kelly: It was wonderful to get all of your stories.
Jim: Well, it was my pleasure. Thank you, it’s a real compliment to be asked.
Kelly: All right, let me turn this off.