John Richardson

John Richardson is a builder who has lived in Georgetown since 1976 while raising his son with wife, Nina, and developing his business. He was instrumental in the amazing transformation of Volta Park, from what was a “very run down mess – like an old freight yard – filled with inner tubes and dirt and rocks” to the beautiful park it is today. He talks about the early days of that effort and how the people in the neighborhood made it happen – against all odds, about how Georgetown has changed over the years, and offers amusing anecdotes from years past.

Interview Date:
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Liz Barentzen

Elizabeth Barentzen: My name is Liz Barentzen, and I am going to be interviewing John Richardson on Tuesday, November 10th at his home at 1516, 34th Street in Georgetown. Why don’t we start with some background information, if you could tell me where and when you were born?

John Richardson: I don’t have to speak into anything, do I?

Elizabeth: No, it should pick you right up.

John: I was born in Rochester, Minnesota, in 1941. My father was an intern at the Mayo Clinic, and I just happened along at that point.

Elizabeth: OK. And what brought you to Georgetown?

John: I came originally for a political job, working for Matt Reece who was a professional campaign consultant. We went out and people hired us to run their campaigns for Senate or governorship.

Elizabeth: What campaigns did you work on?

John: One up in Pennsylvania which we lost. That was then I retired from that business.

Elizabeth: So, how long have you lived in Georgetown?

John: Probably 1976, 35 years.

Elizabeth: And where did you first live when you first came to Georgetown?

John: Not far from here. We haven’t moved very far. We lived just a block up the street on 34th Street, and then we moved over two blocks west on 35th Street, and then we moved here about 20 years ago.

Elizabeth: Do you remember the addresses of the houses that you first lived in?

John: 35th was 1647 and the one up the street, I’ll have to check.

Elizabeth: And so, what can you tell me about Georgetown generally? What was it like at that point in 1976 when you first came here?

John: Well, when I first came here I was mainly, I think, interested in Georgetown in the architecture and starting my construction business. It took awhile. I did know very few people. I didn’t meet a lot of people very quickly but gradually got involved in CAG and the parks and so forth. But, I tell you, it took 10 or 15 years before I felt comfortable here, that it was a home, that it was really home, that I was going to stay here.

Since that time, I do consider it home. I’m from Providence, which is also a small area, to get to know everybody.

Elizabeth: What got you into the construction business?

John: Just happenstance. I left the political business and I was looking for another campaign, and I ran into a fellow who was in Vietnam with me who had a construction company – in a bar room, actually – and I needed a job so he said, show up and you can start hanging drywall. So, I did and I just kept going.

Elizabeth: Wow. Was it a bar room in Georgetown?

John: No, it was Lord Telford’s over near Adams Morgan where I lived in a rooming house when I first came here.

Elizabeth: So, tell me a little bit about your construction business; how that grew…

John: Well, it started as doing fences and garden structures and painting, a lot of painting. It’s how most people break into the construction business. It’s a hands-on thing. It’s not that you go to school anywhere and then join a firm and you gradually work your way up.

Jobs get bigger. You build some bookcases and then you remodel a basement, and then, maybe, you do a living room and then you get to do gradually whole houses. And that’s what I’ve been doing for probably 15 years. It took about 10 or 15 years to get on a serious level.

Elizabeth: Do you know how many houses you’ve worked on in Georgetown?

John: Oh good Lord, I probably worked in some form or capacity in hundreds. The major jobs might be 50, I’m saying.

Elizabeth: Wow. That’s impressive.

John: Well, I’ve been doing it over 30 years.

Elizabeth: You mentioned… Well, why don’t you start with this house? So, how long have you lived in this house?

John: I came here when our son was born, so it’s 25 years, and then when we moved in I added this room. My wife designed it. It’s a miniature of a room from her family’s house in Kentucky, which is about 50 times as big as this, but this is a microcosm. I built it; she designed it. It serves as a venue for her father who is a landscape artist. These are all his paintings.

Elizabeth: They’re beautiful. I noticed them when I came in.

John: Eugene Leek, he passed away recently but he was a wonderful man and quite talented there.

Elizabeth: Absolutely.

John: He was head of the Maryland Institute for Art, actually, for many years.

Elizabeth: Do you know the history of this house?

John: Somewhat. It was built by a builder along with the one next door just before World War II. Anything built before World War II was pretty solid. It was after World War II is what usually leaves something to be desired. The person we bought it from was a lady who actually worked for the Phoenix and married to a naval captain in intelligence, I believe.

There was a garage in the back which we’ve converted into a train room and storage and office, but the driveway went back through the yard so we ripped that out and converted the side of the house to parking and made a lawn out of it.

Elizabeth: So, do you now what year this house was built?

John: 1938, something like that.

Elizabeth: It looks older to me.

John: I can check that for you, but I think that was what I heard.

Elizabeth: And so, you had mentioned previously the parks, but I understand you had a lot to do with renovation of it.

John: It was a very nice community activity. There were a lot of groups in Georgetown: CAG, the library. There’s book clubs all over the place and a lot of dinner parties, but the event that brought us much of Georgetown together is the park, which’s very nice.

Elizabeth: Can you talk about that?

John: Well, I can. I don’t know how detailed you want to get. About 15 years ago when Barry was mayor and the city was having a terrible fiscal crisis where they just cut off all funds, they built a park up here. It became very run down, like an old freight yard. It was inner tubes and dirt and rocks. It was a mess.

Every Monday there was a group of us, there were about 12, would gather up and go to the park with garbage bags and go around and clean it up. We’d fill up 20 to 30 garbage bags every Monday which shows you the decrepitude of the park. It wasn’t really good for much. Playground, basketball…

Elizabeth: What was there at the time? Was the community center there?

John: No. There was one there, but this was new. The community center is new.

Elizabeth: And the swimming pool was not there?

John: The swimming pool was there, and the basketball was there, and the tennis was there, but they were completely run down because there was just no funds or personnel to take care of them. Or interest.

After a while of meeting up there we just began talking among ourselves and we thought how nice it would be to fix this whole place up. I think we could do it. People thought that would be too ambitious a project. We weren’t used to that sort of thing, but I and a couple of other people thought it was possible. So we started.

There weren’t many people thought much would come of it. They thought maybe it would raise $20,000 or something and put in a playground and a backstop. In fact, a couple of us became much more ambitious and got a pro bono Joy & Lawson designer to come up with a design.

The design was going to cost a quarter-million dollars, which of course I must say to the group’s credit, they all just sort of smiled indulgently, figured that was beyond belief and just absurd. Then there was a whole group of people who didn’t think we should do anything because we had no right to come in and take over that park.

But it was a good idea, from what we knew, so we just started. As I say we could leave a plan. I’m a builder, so we’ll get a pro bono plan and it was nice the way it turned out.

Then we needed a couple of things. We needed approval from the city to do it. Well first we really needed the backing of the community. Then we needed permission of the city, but nothing would happen if we couldn’t raise the money. There were a couple of people in town I thought might help us, but to help us now we’re talking about a quarter-million, not $10,000.

There were some people that I went…I went first to a woman named Wendy Chapman. She was the husband of Grovey Chapman who was the Chairman of the committee of a hundred that was in charge of the development-of the preservation of Lafayette Square. Grovey had died but Wendy, Mrs. Chapman, was a friend of mine, I thought would be our main contributor, would start us off.

So I went up and I talked to her for about an hour. Told her our plans, and she said, ‘Oh, that’s a wonderful idea, John. Let me write you a check.’ So she wrote a check and he handed it to me and I… [laughter] It was for $100…

Elizabeth: Oh no. [laughter]

John: …and of course I thought, ‘Well, this is our main benefactor. A quarter-million’s a long ways away.’ So I thanked her and left. I was a little discouraged, I would say. So I got home. Nina answered the phone and she said, ‘Wendy Chapman’s calling you.’ I said ‘Well, I just left her…’ ‘Yes but she wants to speak to you.’ I took up the phone and Wendy said, ‘Now, John. When I handed you the check, I saw this look of disappointment on your face.’

I thought, ‘Oh my God. Not only I didn’t get the money, but she’s going to think I’m an ingrate for the amount of money.’ So I started to explain myself, ‘No we’re very happy-‘. She said, ‘No, wait. I want to give you a check for $20,000 because I’m all in favor of this project and I’ve been thinking about it.’

I said thank you, and that really started this because once I get that one check then the people actually started to believe. Then we got support from Sally and Stewart Davison who ran 1789 and they were very generous and Dora Richardson. They all sort of knew each other and they all came on with substantial help, and of course 1789 gives us our yearly fundraiser since then. We called the Stewart Davison field up there and Sally helps every year.

So it became, in fact, feasible, but the next problem, which was a problem in Georgetown, was getting everybody in Georgetown. Even before we could approach the city to do this, we’ve got to have everybody on board, and to get everybody in Georgetown on board is difficult. I spent an awful lot of time, I must’ve given 50 talks around, and maybe another 50 individual talks to people in the community.

Basically, my premise was that they’d be against it because they didn’t understand it and that they were afraid something bad was going to happen. So my approach would always be complete openness. Show everything that we’re going to do and show that there was no secret agenda. We weren’t going to build condos. One of the rumors was I was a builder so I was going to build condos in the park. I spent a lot of time shooting that down.

This was not going to be a threat or some hostile takeover. And I explained it, and we were proactive. It was very important to go to all these people before they came to us because it became-and I learned all this on the job-but it became very evident that if you were reactive you don’t catch up. You’ve got to go to them, and they appreciate it.

In fact, it’s quite an optimistic lesson, which doesn’t work all the time, but if in fact you’re open, straightforward, honest, and ingratiating to a certain extent, the objections really peter out. As a matter of fact you, get people-great supporters.

I will say though about halfway through this process I got a letter put through my door. It was a thick letter, a thick envelope. I opened it and I saw ‘signed by 40 people’. So it was a petition. The petition was to the effect that Georgetown didn’t need a bunch of cowboys coming and taking over their park. You will stop and desist or we’ll take action.

I started to read the people on it: all my friends. This was early on. I’d get a lot of them. Then I was thinking… Next day another letter came. I was used to it this time. There were another 40. I don’t know if there were 40, 20, 30, 40 signatures on it.

So at that point what I did was took up direct action. I just knocked on everybody’s door that signed it and I just went in, invited or not, sat down and told them what we’re going to do. It took about a week, but by the end of the week that had evaporated.

So at that point then we could go to the city. Of course we went to CAG and the ANC and did presentations. Then we could go to the city and had some standing as a legitimate representative to do it. Betty Jo Gaines was the director at the time. I must say the upper levels of the department of Rec were just great.

It became the first public partnership between the city and the Rec department and private groups and that’s blossomed over the city. We had a contract with them and we said what we were going to do. Basically they said what they would do, and what they would do is give us permission to build it.

Elizabeth: OK. Mm-hmm.

John: And Connie Haynes was there and Diane Quinn, and they spent a lot of time with us. And there was no way that thing could have happened without their enthusiastic help.

Elizabeth: These were city…

John: It would’ve been so easy to throw a bureaucratic roadblock and you just stop it.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

John: Just ask for every permit and form to be filled out, but those two people really made it happen. And that was the big thing so we had a reasonable expectation for the money. We had a plan. We had the backing of the community, and we had the permission of the city, and then it was just a matter of legwork once that was done. But, probably it couldn’t have happened really without the board that we had on. It was about 15 local people that really worked hard. And ours was a board we decided that was not a talking board. There was no policy or philosophy, we’re supposed to work. We’re supposed to do work.

Elizabeth: OK.

John: So we just didn’t have abstract debates and politics and diploma, we just worked.

Elizabeth: Right.

John: And the work was raising money primarily, but also starting our fundraisers and the yearly benefit we have and the yearly park day or field day. And again, these things don’t happen without a really committed group of people. And it was usual for Georgetown to have this cooperation.

And I mentioned, well, Dora Richardson and Remy Chapman and the Davidsons. Patsy Guyer who died a couple years ago, lived on Pomander Walk, was really our fighting soldier there. She worked on the Hill for a senator from Louisiana and retired from that, and she was in charge of the silent auction until her death, and, you know what kind of hard that work can be. And she did yeoman service on that and was up at the park every day with her dog, and she was wonderful up there.

Her neighbor, Diane Salisbury, was helpful. She ran the bake sale and would for years and still does. Dr. Charlie and Betsy Rackley up the street worked on the picnic. These were all board members. I mean, this is what they did on Volta Park Day, but they were also were doing everything else.

[phone ringing]

John: Shall we wait?

Elizabeth: Do you have to get that or…?

John: No.

Elizabeth: OK.

John: And we would meet, you know, maybe once a month in the house. Rory Quirk ran the softball game. We had the East side versus West side. And Doug Mc Fadden was on the barbecue. Peter and Beverly Yost were board members and very active – Gigi Rasmussen, the Moores. Barbara Downs was extremely active, and she was a president of CAG at that time so she was very helpful. But, all those people, it couldn’t have been done without them, because they’re all very enthusiastic. And that enthusiasm spread and this kept going.

Elizabeth: It must be.

John: And Mimsy Linder now; thankfully we had somebody, it’s a big job, and Mimsy’s doing a terrific job. So, that’s that story. It’s a good story.

Elizabeth: It’s a great story.

John: Yeah.

Elizabeth: It’s a great story and it’s a great park. I have to say I use it every single day.


Elizabeth: I have two young children and a dog, and so we’re over there every day.

John: Good.

Elizabeth: And so can you talk more about some of the projects you’ve on, the homes you’ve worked on in the neighborhood?

John: Well, let’s see, I don’t have a list of them. Generally, on the big projects, what we do is we try to restore the house. But, we may rip it apart and put it back together to do it in order to get the plumbing and electric and heating in, and the structure, the beams. But then, we try to put it back in the way the, well, except for kitchens and baths which we’ll modernize. The rest of the house, if we’ve done a good job will look pretty much the way it did look. And certainly the outside, with the historical review board, who do extremely important job. I know builders and architects complain about them, but you wouldn’t have Georgetown without that type of control. And I haven’t found anything onerous about it. Just takes a little while, but again, you explain yourself they’ll work with you.

These jobs are very expensive and they take a very long time. From the builder’s point of view, if there weren’t any change orders then they’d be a lot quicker and cheaper. But you know, people can’t see what they’re really getting until they actually look at it or hold it. So, it generally turns into sort of a communal project that you become on. Usually very friendly with people you’re working for and there’s an old cliché in the business, you either make a friend or lose a friend. So, I’ve tried to stay away from the “losing a friend,” but it can be difficult on both sides. But I’ve been fortunate, it’s worked out and stayed friends with almost all the people we’ve worked for.

But, it’s quite a stressful situation, especially on the marriages of the people. They have issues come up that they never thought their spouse would think that way, and sometimes they wonder who’s the stranger I married who thinks we should have a Bosch dishwasher instead of a GE. I mean, it’s rather trivial subjects that assume great significance. But you know, keep everything in perspective and everybody keeps their temper. It generally turns out fine.

Elizabeth: Do you have any projects that you’re particularly proud of?

John: Well, I liked working with Hugh Jacobsen. We did Wesley Piles’ house; National Gallery man. That was a very… we worked closely with them.

Elizabeth: What house was that?

John: Wesley Piles, when he lived in Georgetown.

Elizabeth: OK.

John: And he and I have done a few other jobs. He’s really a genius. You should interview him.

Elizabeth: He’s been interviewed and…

[phone rings]

John: Go ahead.

Elizabeth: Let me just turn this off. You know, I’m very familiar with his work.

John: Oh really.

Elizabeth: Yeah. He is a genius. Sorry about that. So, you know Jacobsen.

John: Yeah, he’s a wonderful man. It’s a pleasure to work with the guy. But, it’s generally true the more distinguished the people are, the easier it is to work with them.

Elizabeth: OK.


John: It’s the second line that can be a little… I guess they’re unsure of themselves.

And Anthony Brown, I did the 3017 Old Street house. Do you know Anthony Brown? He’s a pretty prominent decorator here.

Elizabeth: OK.

John: He’s not here anymore. He got tied up with Oprah Winfrey. He was very English. We did the 3017 O Street house. That’s a beautiful house.

Elizabeth: 3017 O Street.

John: I can get a list. I can’t really… I worked on one of the Kennedy houses on N Street.

Elizabeth: I’m going to turn this off for a minute.

[interruption 0:28:49]

John Richardson: …advertising for my business. That will show you who I am and the work I’ve done.

Elizabeth Barentzen: OK, OK. This is a list of all of the, or several of the houses…?

John: The major ones.

Elizabeth: The major ones ‑ renovations you’ve done.  This is an article that was, oh, several articles in “Architectural Digest.”

John: Yeah. One’s with Hugh Jacobsen and the one I told you about, the Pyles. One is Anthony Brown. It’s called the ‑ I forgot it’s the Crawford Casson house – 3017 O ‑ it’s a historic ‑ 1815. 30, 45 yeah, probably 50 big jobs that was just in Georgetown but nearby Georgetown, too. I’d say that’s about right.

Elizabeth: Excellent.

John: Yeah, it just took 10 or 15 years to get going. I’ve been going full tilt for about 15 years.

Elizabeth: Had you always had an interest in building?

John: Yeah. My grandfather was an architect and builder in New England and did a lot of the nice homes in southern New England in the 1920’s and 30’s and 40’s. I would work with him.

Elizabeth: OK.

John: He would have me over to draw plans when I was, for his houses and then he’d fix up the plans and build them. He was, his name was Sinclair, John Sinclair.

Elizabeth: So you had experience, it wasn’t that you just…

John: Yeah. I grew up in that environment from that side of the family. The other side was doctors. That I did not follow.

Elizabeth: Right.

John: The historic house ‑ the Decatur house ‑ there’s two Decatur houses. One is in Lafayette Square. This is the one in Georgetown. That was 1780 ‑ the Prince’s.

Elizabeth: Oh wow. OK.

John: Blair House we did the garden. Crawford Cason, well, it’s all there… John Sherman Cooper’s house was the center of Georgetown when Mrs. Cooper was alive. We knew them because my wife’s from Kentucky. I did it for the new owner that were friends of mine, but when the Coopers were there, that was center of social, political activity in Georgetown. It was a beautiful house. I did Evangeline Bruce’s house twice ‑ 1810. Shelby Bryan bought it. He was going to be a fundraiser for Clinton and then I re‑did the house after Mrs. Bruce died. I got the job finished and Shelby called me and said, “Well, Bill and I had a falling out. I’m going to sell it, so he sold it to Clara Bingham from Louisville. So we tore out what he did. So I must say I worked with Mark Hampton on that. He was a pleasure to work with, too. He was a top‑flight Yale guy. So that was 1810. So we did that twice and then I think I did it again but I don’t…. The first time we did it, we did the big job. We did the structure, plumbing, electrical and all that. The other renovations were more cosmetic. David McCale is Clara Bingham. David grew up across the street over here.

There are five or seven houses down here in N Street called Cox’s Row. They’re 1805. They’re about 10, 000 square foot, though. Those are big houses for Georgetown.

Elizabeth: Wow.

John: 3331 N. I did that for Jenna Martara. That was ‑ Doug Rixey worked on that with me. Doug Rixey was the architect on some of these jobs and Outerbridge Horsey on others.

Elizabeth: OK.

John: Outerbridge and I added the third floor for the eight Fordisis house which was bought by the Lelands. Outerbridge does a lot of nice work, too and Doug Rixey does too. They’re the main people I work with. Doug Bildemar nice. Yeah, so that’s…

Elizabeth: What a great way to get to know everybody in Georgetown from what you do. I mean you must know everybody in Georgetown from…

John: Well, most of it’s positive. But sometimes you run into some that are rather critical. That’s alright.

Elizabeth: So you raised your son in the neighborhood?

John: Yeah, here and he went to Potomac school. The Potomac bus came by and the Rusty Powell’s and his pack was at the bus stop and his children went to Potomac and I was and Peter Yost and we had a little Potomac community here.

Elizabeth: OK. What was it like raising a family here in the neighborhood?

John: Well, my wife really, you know, you’d have to ask her that. I’d compare it ‑ I mean, she did the work ‑ and she did the planning too. I really didn’t ‑ I’m trying to think of some role I had. Well, I’d take us to the Capital so I’d introduce them to the Washington Capitals. He’s still a ticket holder. The big difference I saw in our growing up in ‑ three brothers in Providence ‑ was we’d just go out ourselves and do whatever. I mean, we’d pick up games just with kids from other parts of the city and just work it out. Everything here was organized. You know, I mean, they had a great hockey league at Chevy Chase Club and we did that. Potomac, he had sports and we got home late, but it was all programmed. It was nice to have the park so we could go up and hit a few balls when he had time. I think that a lot of his friends at Potomac lived out in Virginia so that was a little bit of a problem.

Elizabeth: OK.

John: Having kids his own age, but that was still ‑ when he was growing up, there were a lot more kids his own age than there had been.

Elizabeth: Right.

John: Now there’s really a lot more and that’s helpful.

Elizabeth: So besides there being more kids in the neighborhood how else do you think that the neighborhood’s changed?

John: Everything’s sort of been fixed up.

Elizabeth: OK.

John: When I first came, what was it, 30 years ago, there wasn’t this building craze there has been in the last 20 years. There was no where near the amount of building and everything; incidentally, maybe 20 per cent of the houses were in a fancy state. Now everything has been done and re‑done. They’re very few houses left that you really have to do stuff that I did which is just go in and re‑do the structure and the mechanical. It’s been done. But there a lot more kids than when ‑ well, I remember everybody being older when I first came, but then again, I was younger, I think. Either the same age now, except my perspective was different. Certainly I think the local organizations like CAG were a lot more energetic and healthier. My brother‑in‑law Juan Cameron was president of CAG for a while, and I used to go to the meetings, and Don Shannon was there, and Mick Cooley, you’ve got to talk to these guys and Whiteshaw, there were a whole bunch of them. There was an awful lot of yelling and screaming, I’m not sure about what, but they were very contentious meetings. It was like a barroom brawl at times. There were pure fights between CAG and the university and the city and Don Shannon, you ought to talk to all those guys. That was a generation above me, they’re getting a little older, and Juan recently died. You’ve heard the story of Juan and the crime report, getting shot?

Elizabeth: No, no.

John: Well actually, Dave Rothman, who, make sure to interview him, was there. Juan was head of CAG, but he was on his way to the monthly CAG meeting at Christ Church, to give a crime report. On the way, going up the stairs, apparently ‑ Juan was a little hard of hearing ‑ somebody accosted him.

Elizabeth: On the way to the meeting.

John: And demanded his money. Well, Juan probably didn’t hear him, so the guy shot him in the leg. Juan had been a fighter pilot in World War II and Korea, and he had been shot down a couple of times, so he took this in stride, and he continued up the stairs, bleeding. The CAG meeting was already in progress, so he stood in the back of the room, and Hanovan said, now let’s have the crime report from Mr. Cameron. He was head of the crime committee. So Juan walked to the front of the room, with a lot of very proper Georgetown types, and said “Well, the main thing about my crime report is that I’ve just been shot!” At which point, you’ll have to ask Dave Rothman, chaos descended. But Rothman was there. Then, oh yes, then Juan didn’t really want to go to the hospital, but he did, and it’s a flesh wound. So Marion Barry called him the next day, and Marion Barry’s first words to him were “Juan, what did you do to provoke him?”

Knowing Juan, that’s probably a fair statement from Barry.

Elizabeth: Oh, my goodness.

John: But that’s about what everybody thought of everybody. So that’s an amusing story. But you ought to get the whole CAG crowd, about 25‑30 years ago. There were a lot of real colorful characters. Lots of local people, I mean. It wasn’t just the wealthy that lived in Georgetown. Still not completely, but it’s more so.

Elizabeth: Are there any particular historical events that have affected life in the neighborhood that you can recall?

John: Well, there were certain traditions, they weren’t really historical. There was the Halloween party that was on and off for years, where everybody dressed up on Halloween night and came into Georgetown. They stopped that for a while, I’m not sure if they’ve got it going or not. But that was quite an event.

Elizabeth: Was it open to all people that they could…

John: Oh, yeah, the whole city. Oh, it was a ruckus.

Elizabeth: OK.

John: It was wild. Oh, yeah, we had a lot of diversity. As far as historical events, well, Tudor Place, there are some ongoing benefits and festivities, Tudor Place has them.

Elizabeth: Right.

John: Well, Volta Park has had them for 15 years, and all the parks have their benefits. No, I think probably the main event is the Volta Park benefit and field day. Rose Park has one and Dumbarton used to.

Elizabeth: OK. OK.

John: Helen Dubois over here worked on Dumbarton Park. You ought to talk to her.

Elizabeth: Helen Dubois, OK.

John: Pam Prognol worked on Rose Park. She just got married. I’m not sure what her married name is.

Elizabeth: OK. Montrose Park doesn’t have any benefits?

John: No, but they did.

Elizabeth: They did?

John: Helen with a group fixed up the playground.

Elizabeth: OK.

John: Probably five, ten years ago.

Elizabeth: Mm‑hmm.

John: Helen Dubois. Of course, Frida Burl you’re going to see. She was active in Rose Park, and she’s active everywhere.

Elizabeth: OK.

John: Oh, of course St. John’s and the dogs, whatever it is, dog show.

Elizabeth: Do you have any thoughts about…I think there have been proposals to make part of Volta Park a dog friendly space?

John: It’s dog friendly enough.

Elizabeth: Yeah, yeah, just keep it as it is, yeah.

John: Now, I’m on a board downtown, the Recreation Assistance Board, with the Parks, and those plans are not for places like Volta Park.

Elizabeth: Right.

John: We put them in special parts of the city, and they’re just really dogs only.

Elizabeth: Right.

John: They run wild. Yeah, there’s no possibility of that happening up there.

Elizabeth: Right. Right. OK. Is there anything else you’d like to share?

John: Oh, I’ll probably think of some things, but I think those are the major items. I could suggest people you; well of course, you’re going to speak to Jack Evans. By the way, I should say this ‑ Jack and Noel Evans were great on the Volta Park and continue to be, I should say that.

Elizabeth: OK.

John: I mean, they were really hands on. Noel was wonderful. She was a great backer. I should’ve brought them up, Jack definitely. Both of them really got the new rec center built.

Elizabeth: OK.

John: That was their doing. Jack is just dedicated to the parks. We really counted on him. He’s terrific. Yeah. I miss the snow. The snow, when I first came here, it would be snow all year.

Elizabeth: All year?

John: Well, you know, I mean…

Elizabeth: All winter?

John: …a lot of the winter it would be snow and go out and slide. Georgetown was beautiful in the snow. You’ve probably seen some of the old pictures from the blizzards, but haven’t seen much of that.

Elizabeth: No.

John: It’s good to see, you know, we used to be the younger generation. Now, I guess I’m the older generation, but it’s nice to see all the young families. That’s really important. I think the thing that I enjoy seeing most is the Little League games. There’s an eternal quality to those. The faces change but the spirit remains the same and that’s really very touching to see. So I’m very glad I’ve been here.

Elizabeth: Yeah, well, thank you.

John: Thank you.