Frank Randolph was born on Reservoir Road in Georgetown and the son of Ernest Randolph, the renowned senator from West Virginia. Frank received his early education from the Hardy school and Duke Ellington high school. After two years at West Virginia University, Frank was ready for something different, and signed on for a highly regarded and exciting fine arts program at the University of Florence. Frank returned from Italy and got his real estate license to sustain him. He not only sold homes but his keen advice to his clients on how to enhance their purchase launched him on an interior design career. Some forty years later he is still at it, having earned a reputation that puts him among the elite in his field. In his interview with Kevin Delany, Frank reveals he still finds time for local causes, such as Trees for Georgetown and the annual Georgetown house tour. In short, he has never left his roots.
Kevin: This Kevin Delaney and it is the 24th of January. I’m in the lovely living room of Frank Randolph’s home on West 24th Street.
Kevin: 34th, excuse me, in the West Village. We’re about to do an interview for the CAG oral history program. Here we go. Frank, I know you’re a native of Georgetown and you just mentioned to me, I was going to ask you about your family, that your father was a politician, a very well‑known one. Senator, and Congressman before that I presume.
Kevin: Tell me a little bit about that background, how long your family has been in Georgetown.
Frank: Dad was elected to Congress in 1933 as a New Dealer with Roosevelt. Of course, I came along a few years later in 1938 and I had an older brother who is four years older than I am. My parents bought a house on Reservoir Road in 1937. Technically it’s not Georgetown, it’s a little further out on Reservoir Road. I spent so much time living and being in Georgetown because it was a few blocks away. We lived in a house there on Reservoir Road for 44 years and so that’s the only house I ever knew growing up. Again, my father was in Congress until 1982 serving four terms in the United States Senate from West Virginia.
Kevin: Right. What prompted him, age or whatever, to finally…
Frank: Time to retire at 82.
Kevin: 82. That’s very good.
Frank: Yes. He served his time.
Kevin: That’s a very full career.
Frank: Yes. Very fortunate and he had a wonderful career and contributed many things that we know about today. He, in 1947, introduced the first legislation in the United States Congress to form the Air and Space Museum and, of course, people say what is space? He said, “We will go into space and conquer space in this century.”
Kevin: He was very astute in that.
Frank: Exactly. That bill languished for a long time but in the 1960s after Mr. Kennedy got on board, our president, and said, “Let’s push this,” so he pushed it later on in the United States Senate where he first introduced it in the Congress. He really was able to get the backers and the Air and Space Museum was in its infancy and it was, again, opened on July 3, ’76 with Gerald Ford cutting the ribbon. I was there with my father and witnessed all that and that was a great, fantastic day.
Kevin: It’s been one of the attractions in Washington ever since.
Frank: Number one.
Kevin: Number one probably. Yes, I think it is.
Frank: It is the number one attraction.
Kevin: I think you’re right.
Frank: It was wonderful that he was alive to see it happen and to actually tour the museum and he went there a few times. It was a great triumph because, again, this country has been about air, even in war and peace time.
Kevin: West Virginia was pretty solidly Democratic through his era.
Frank: That’s correct.
Kevin: I guess he sailed through a number of elections?
Frank: A few. He had a few close ones, too. He had a few close ones, but he was very fortunate in being reelected, so many times, in fact, I’m not sure how many. From 1933 through 1978.
Kevin: How did your mother enjoy the political life?
Frank: Well, she really had a wonderful time coming to Washington. She grew up in a small town, as my father did, in West Virginia. Kaiser, West Virginia which is just off of the Potomac Valley there and the Potomac River runs through nearby the town of Kaiser. It’s near Cumberland, Maryland. Both my mother and father, even when they were growing up, were capable and able to come with their parents and visit the nation’s capital. They’d been here many times. In fact, my father used to recall that he was at the dedication of the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials so that takes him back to his childhood.
His father was the mayor of the town he grew up in and they were very interested in what was happening in Washington so they would make pilgrimages to Washington.
Kevin: Did you have siblings?
Frank: I have an older brother who has lived for 50 some years in St. Louis.
Frank: He wasn’t a part, maybe, in the same way that I was. We both attended the public schools in the District of Columbia, which meant we went to Hardy School on Foxhall Road, the Rosely Hardy School.
Kevin: Where my wife happened to spend some time, too. She told me that.
Frank: She told me that. Then we came over into Georgetown as the junior high school which was Gordon Junior High School. Gordon was a beautiful, newer building. I was talking to some people the other evening about we had something that was very well‑known throughout the city was the Dogwood Festival. We crowned a queen and a court and I was very much a part of that and the entire hillside at the school there was planted with beautiful, beautiful dogwoods. That became the festival and then it went on for 35, 40 years. It doesn’t exist today because today the school is called Hardy Middle School and we know where it is on 35th street just three blocks from where I’m sitting today.
Then my brother and I both went on to Western High School which is now Duke Ellington High School.
Kevin: The Dogwood Festival, were you a king or a queen?
Frank: I was in the court. I was in the court.
Kevin: In the court?
Kevin: That must have been a very big deal in Washington.
Frank: It was. We had pictures in the newspaper and we had good coverage.
Kevin: Were there floats or anything?
Frank: No, there weren’t floats but it was quite a ceremony.
Kevin: Well attended.
Frank: Yes and of course there were gymnastics. It was held there in the large courtyard where today we have the flea market on Sundays. It’s in that same area there. They had demonstrations of the talents of the various students. It was a festival celebrating our advancement in what we had learned that year.
Kevin: It’s a shame it’s no longer with us. It sounded like fun.
Frank: Exactly. It was fun.
Kevin: Good. After Ellington you were done with your local schooling I gather?
Frank: Correct. Then my father, particularly my father and maybe not so much my mother, said, “We really would like and expect you to go back to the University of West Virginia,” which is in Morgantown, West Virginia. I went there for two years. It wasn’t my best two years because my father was running against the incumbent governor of the state for his Senate seat and it was a tough fought election. I, unfortunately, felt the brunt of it being all on the college campus. There were some uncomfortable times but we got through it and then I said to my father, “All right. Two years.”
Kevin: He did win?
Frank: He did win.
Frank: He did win. I said to him, “I would like to do something very different. I’ve had my two years in Morgantown and it’s been an experience but I would like very much to have a year in Europe.” I said, “I’ve thought about it a lot, I’m not a businessman, I’m not going to be a lawyer. I think I need the broader experience of seeing a little bit more of the world. I would like to go to Florence, Italy and be in their program in Florence, their nine month program, which gives me credit in most colleges in America.” I became basically an art history major that year at the University of Florence and it was called University por Estraneo, for the strangers, so we were all from all over the world. Students.
Kevin: Sounds exciting.
Frank: It was exciting. I grew up in a very different way there meeting an international group of students.
Kevin: In a beautiful setting, too.
Frank: A fabulous setting. Can’t deny that for a moment. I had my year in Europe seeing most of the continent traveling, having some very rare experiences. A very close friend of mine’s father was the United States ambassador to Vienna. Vienna had been occupied by the Russians until 1954 I believe and so he was the first American ambassador in after the Russian occupation was finished in Vienna. I had the rare experience of spending a great deal of time in Vienna in 1959. His son and I and several other friends, including the ambassador and his wife, we were able to go behind the iron curtain and that was extraordinary because people weren’t going behind the iron curtain. Because he was the diplomat and I was the son of a United States senator we were able to get visas.
We took a tramp steamer down the Danube and that was an extraordinary experience. One of the highlights was when we were able to have tea with Tito in Yugoslavia who was the ruler.
Kevin: He was everything, yes.
Frank: He was everything. We went to his summer home and we were all received very cordially and we sat and talked with him on a very, very beautiful, wide lawn overlooking a river, not the Danube but another river. It was just an experience that I’ll always remember, meeting one of the great Communist leaders, if you can call them great.
Kevin: This was before the turmoil started in Yugoslavia?
Frank: Correct. Yes. Long before that because this was summer of 1959.
Kevin: OK. All right. What happened after Florence? You were trying to narrow career possibilities.
Frank: Correct. I really wanted to come back to Washington after that experience and I wanted to stay in Washington because I’ve always been interested in the cultural life of Washington. We have major museums here. As a child my mother took me to the Phillip’s collection and Marjorie and Duncan Phillips were often sitting in one of the so‑called living rooms or parlors. The museum was practically empty and you could go in and sit down and chat with Duncan Phillips or Marjorie about a painting. Of course, my favorite painting, as many have chosen, it’s “The Boating Party.” We all know “The Boating Party” by Renoir. We would sit in that small room and it was the only painting in the room. That was just an experience in itself to have been able to sit there and listen to Duncan Phillips tell me how he bought it and why he bought it and it would be one painting that the gallery would never sell.
I know the French people have, for many, many years now, tried to buy that painting.
Kevin: Is that right?
Frank: They have. They’ve offered. There is no price on it, they’ve said, through the years. Having that wonderful national gallery of art, our museums here, I decided that I wanted to stay in Washington and, as a young adult, get to know it. I chose to go to an American University which had an art history program as well as a practical arts program where you could paint and take drawing classes. They had studio classes at American University at that point in the late ’50s. They have them today, of course, but I just decided I wanted to take something more broad‑based and my parents said, “OK. We’ll see how this goes.” I did very well. I was very interested in the history of art and the applied arts and I took painting classes with some of the great Washington Color School that we all hear about in Washington.
Kenneth Nolan and Leon Berkowitz, they’re icons of the Washington Color School and I got to know Gene Davis, so many of the people that we now see their paintings after their death in the million dollars and on the walls of major museums throughout the world.
Kevin: Great foundation for what was going to come later.
Frank: Absolutely. Absolutely. After two years at American University I wasn’t sure still what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to teach school, I didn’t think I was good enough to be an artist starving in a garret. I really was tossing around an old friend of mine had started a real estate brokerage office in Georgetown. He said, “Well, you need to make some money to support yourself. Why don’t you come and try to sell some residential property?” It was called Simmon’s Property and the office was right there on the corner building at S and Wisconsin. Miller and Arnie Antiques has been there for years but that’s where I practiced real estate for four or five years.
Kevin: You got your real estate license?
Frank: I did. I did. In those days it was pretty easy to get it. They’ve made it more difficult, which I agree with. If you could pay the license fee and take an easy exam you got it. [laughs] It wasn’t a competition that we have today with every other person you meet selling real estate.
Kevin: It was a good support area for you at that time, I presume?
Frank: Yes. I was really enjoying meeting people. I’m pretty much of a people person, as we would say. I loved houses, old and new, and I loved everything that was going on inside of those houses. It was a good connection and I worked very hard and did make a decent living those five years. Then all of a sudden I realized that when I did sell a house I was telling the new owners what they could do with that house, how they could expand it or make it better or make it more beautiful or make it more functional. I found myself giving advice and a couple of my clients said, “Well, we want to pay you for this advice. We really believe you know what you’re saying and we’re going to go ahead and do it.” I would sometimes go out and find a contractor or a painter to help them along. All of a sudden I found myself in the interior design business.
Kevin: Do you think you had developed an eye for such suggestions and recommendations? Was this something that was in your genes or a developed thing would you say, Frank?
Frank: I think a little bit in my genes. My mother, after she finished college in Philadelphia in an art school, she became a designer of textiles for a small woolen mill in West Virginia which, of course, doesn’t exist today. She did designs for fabrics and particularly for blankets. I think some of that came directly from her and I think I’d been exposed not only in Europe but in Washington. I’d been able to go to beautiful homes in Georgetown as well as some of the most beautiful embassies that we have now, the British Embassy, the French Embassy. I went to debutante parties for the French ambassador’s daughter. The Alphonse were here. The Calorama. They were in the beautiful house.
Kevin: Yeah, but what’s the place I’m thinking of? The bachelors and spinsters used to be around in those days.
Frank: They were, indeed.
Kevin: Part of my Washington stay I went to those balls and that was a big deal. What’s the beautiful old house there?
Frank: Crescent Place up on Crescent Place?
Kevin: No, around DuPont Circle.
Frank: Of course, the Sulgrave Club .
Kevin: The Sulgrave Club was where they had those debutante balls.
Frank: Absolutely. Debutante balls and the bachelors and spinsters.
Kevin: Yeah. Still a splendid building.
Frank: It is and then the Washington Club which was Cissy Patterson’s old house who was the original owner of the “Washington Post”. Her house now still hosts so‑called coming out parties which we don’t call them debutante parties anymore. But I went to many grand parties in some of the great houses of Washington. But I always remember being in the French Embassy and being impressed with all the great French furniture and the tapestries and the Picassos and the Matisse paintings, and all the beauty of that.
Kevin: So you suddenly…this is leading up to hanging out your shingle, I guess?
Frank: It is. It is very definitely.
Kevin: When did you sort of formally become…start an interior design firm?
Frank: Well, really, formally in 1970. So I’ve been at it now almost 42 years. In 1970, I really got serious about it and became a professional at it and really went after business. I got some wonderful clients through the years. I enjoyed every minute of it. It didn’t really seem like work, most of the time.
Kevin: [laughs softly]
Frank: It was pleasurable.
Kevin: As long as one stays healthy, you can stay an interior designer forever. [laughs]
Frank: I’m still doing it at 73, as we sit here.
Kevin: [laughs] Well, that’s good. That’s good.
Frank: And I think I got to do the Italian embassy, which was quite a wonderful, wonderful project for me through some Italian friends here, who knew the incoming Italian ambassador. We got to do the first roundup of the old Guggenheim estate on Albemarle Street that the Guggenheims built. That was an extraordinary house for me to be able to get into and work on. That was one of the memorable times. And then, most recently, for the Vice President’s mansion on Massachusetts Avenue, the old admiral’s house.
Kevin: …The observatory area…mhmm, right.
Frank: Vice President and Mrs. Cheney asked me to come aboard and help them restore the house. That was after the Gores had left, of course.
Frank: That was an ongoing job there for the full eight years of their residency there.
Kevin: Really. Oh, wow!
Frank: And I give them a lot of credit. They’re friends of mine. We aren’t of the same thought and party, but we had met many times through the years. My father had known Dick Cheney through Congress and the Defense Department. They had met me many times, socially. And I just, still, to this day, it was one of the great commissions and thrills because they opened the door to even more clients and opportunities. I was often their guest for small dinner parties as well as large receptions. I got to meet world famous people.
Kevin: That’s wonderful. Very exciting!
Frank: It was a great experience. Maybe the highlight, one of the main highlights of my life.
Kevin: Very exciting ‑‑ I can see that. I mean, eight years, that’s quite a meal ticket you had. [laughing]
Frank: That was absolutely that, but I did work for it and I was paid for it. There is a Vice President’s House foundation that people don’t know about. It’s not funded by the government in any way. It’s funded through gifts. It’s a foundation ‑‑ tax‑free, of course ‑‑ and people are always anxious to help, the recent incumbents in the mansion, friends. People are able to give a great amount of money to keep it in beautiful, running condition and what I would call really wonderful examples of Americana and furnishings and art. The Cheneys were very interested in contemporary art, which I found a challenge for me. I was included in selections, going to galleries, going to the National Gallery, going to the Hirshhorn, going to the Phillips Collection, and actually saying, “I think this is what we could work with on this particular space or wall.” So that was just an extraordinary experience.
Kevin: Has to be. Now, I did read somewhere maybe or ‑‑ I don’t know whether it was a slogan of yours, “Things that inspire.” Is that something you’ve used as a motto or…?
Frank: Oh, probably so. You picked that up along the way.
Kevin: Along the line.
Frank: Probably from a magazine. I’ve been fortunate to be published in so many magazines. The shelter magazines as we call it, the home magazines have been very kind to me. They have photographed so many of my projects. Architectural Digest photographed and Lynne Cheney wrote the narrative and the article for Architectural Digest for the Vice President’s house, when it was published. So that was…again, my life really has been very full and as I get older, I don’t like the idea that things may dissipate and not happen so quickly or be as quite as exciting.
Frank: But I have to savor the past.
Kevin: Sure, sure. Well, you’ve had a good past and a great success in your field from all I’ve been able to read and hear. In fact, I did…what was I going to ask you about? Well, whether you’ve fulfilled your goals now, Frank, actually. You’ve accomplished an awful lot. You’ve had a lot of high points. So, what…is there some things left that you’d love to still complete?
Frank: Well, of course I’d like to keep on living this good life that I have enjoyed in Georgetown and be as healthy as I’ve been. I’ve had incredible health and I’m thankful for that. And I don’t have…
Kevin: You do sports and exercise or..?
Frank: You know I don’t really. I’m not doing yoga. I’m not running to the gym.
Frank: I’m running up four flights of stairs in this house.
Kevin: Well, that helps. I know. We have a lot of stairs, too.
Frank: That does help. No elevator. Don’t want one. I have friends in their eighties, who say, “Frank, never leave that house; that’s the best exercise machine you have.”
Kevin: Forces you up and down.
Frank: Up and down. And I do my work in the lower level of my home. That’s where I work from.
Kevin: That’s very nice then.
Frank: So I am running up and down. And you know, maybe as I get older I don’t want to work as hard. I’d like again to think that I could start to travel a little bit more. There are lots of parts of the world I’ve never been and I would like to travel some. And so, time starts to run out for your health or your ambition to just get up and go. So maybe I’m not going to work quite as hard and sort of enjoy the fruits of my labor.
Kevin: Why not? I mean…if you’ve got a lot of places you’ll still like to visit, that can be a very…
Frank: Well, the number one is to keep going…Number one is to keep going back to Italy, unfortunately.
Kevin: Well, OK. All right.
Frank: I just can’t stay out of Italy. It’s my second home or I feel some spirit…
Kevin: That’s a nice rut to be in.
Frank: Take me to Rome or Florence and even down to the Isle of Capri, where I love to jump in the Mediterranean there.
Kevin: Sounds nice.
Frank: I hope to do that a few more times before my time is up.
Kevin: Well, good, good. Now, I notice that you’re still though very active in stuff like Trees for Georgetown and the Georgetown House Tour.
Frank: House tour. The house has been on tour twice. This particular house I’m in now has been on twice.
Kevin: Oh, OK. You’re the co‑chairman now?
Frank: This year I’m the co‑chairman with Stephanie Bothwell, who is a landscape architect, who was a neighbor of mine on Reservoir Road.
Kevin: Wow. OK.
Frank: So we have a challenge.
Kevin: Is this one of the houses for this year?
Frank: It will not be on, no, it will not be on. I think maybe being on twice in 15 years is enough.
Kevin: OK. You don’t want…I see what you mean.
Frank: So it’s always a challenge to get people to open up their homes, they’re private and you know today’s world with security. People are not as anxious to open up and show their homes off, so it’s a little harder to get them. The Trees for Georgetown I’m passionate about.
Frank: I love the trees and we’ve got to preserve what we have, maintain them, and plant new trees because street trees don’t last as long as they last in a garden or forest. They have a short life ‑‑ seven to ten years.
Kevin: Yes. We notice, even on our block, how many die off and have to be replaced, as well. So it’s a great program.
Frank: It is a great program. We get some help from organizations. The Garden Club of Georgetown gives us a small amount of money every year, which we are grateful for. And we get money from several foundations. It’s tough. Trees cost a lot of money ‑‑ the labor to put them in and then, the maintenance. In the summers, which can be extreme in Washington, they have to be watered and that’s a huge cost to take a watering truck around in the middle of the night and water trees. We do have a fundraiser every year. The last few years we’ve been very successful with raising $30‑40 thousand. It’s just a cocktail reception at somebody’s home that opens up their home and garden. That happens in May of every year.
Kevin: Well, that’s a very good project that keeps you at least partially engaged and…
Frank: Oh, yes.
Kevin: The fact is, you know…I’m sure you still, aside from travel, probably, there’s no reason you can’t continue doing your interior design. You’re not..
Frank: Oh, I’m still working.
Kevin: You’re not saying you’re going to hang up my shoes..
Frank: Absolutely not. When they call, I’m there probably there pretty quickly because I still love it. It’s still a huge part of my life, actually ‑‑ a huge part of my life. I’m involved in a large project out in Potomac, Maryland ‑‑ a job, where I’ve worked with an architect and we’ve gutted an old house in Potomac that was built in the ’40s and we’re building on probably another 50 percent of wings to add to this house. It’s a job that’s going to take me next year to work with.
I’m thrilled to have it. I’m always willing to talk to anybody about a project. [laughs] I haven’t given up.
Kevin: You’re in an enviable position in you can sit back and wait to hear what the next good opportunity is. You’ve accomplished obviously a whole lot in your field and have a right to be pretty happy and satisfied about that. How many people can say they can sit back and think about the high spots?
Frank: You know, it’s interesting that you say that because I think both my brother and I and my father for sure had long careers and we’re quite satisfied. My father loved being in Congress.
Kevin: What age did he reach?
Frank: He retired at 82.
Frank: Yes. He lived another 11 years after that so he lived a long life.
Kevin: 93. OK.
Frank: Yes. Then my brother had a wonderful career in sports broadcasting. He was the voice of the St. Louis Cardinals for 29 years so he’s lived in St. Louis most of his life.
Kevin: What is his first name? I’ve probably heard of him.
Frank: He is Jennings.
Frank: No, his name is Jennings. He doesn’t have a middle name. My father had no middle name. Jennings Randolph.
Kevin: I’m sure I’ve heard your brother at some point.
Frank: You have indeed.
Kevin: I’m a sports fan. That’s wonderful.
Frank: Going back to the name Jennings, I think I’ll have to tell you a little anecdote about the name Jennings. It’s an old Virginia name and we are Virginians but that name wasn’t taken from the Jennings family of Virginia. My grandfather was a lawyer and he was acquainted and was having a visitor. William Jennings Bryan was visiting my grandparents’ home in 1902 and my grandmother gave birth during his visit there and he witnessed my father coming into the world. My grandfather said to him…
Kevin: William Jennings. Was that the cross of gold or something?
Frank: The cross of gold. That’s correct. My father, Ernest Randolph, said to him, “William, we’d like to take your name Jennings and make him Jennings Randolph.” Now there are four generations of Jennings Randolph.
Kevin: You’ve given the name a good ride I must say. [laughs]
Frank: We gave it a good ride for four generations.
Kevin: That’s terrific.
Frank: That’s a wonderful little historic note.
Kevin: Yes it is.
Frank: William Jennings Bryan was one of the great orators and ran for president three times.
Kevin: Never got lucky did he?
Frank: No he didn’t. He was like Mr. Dewey, the Governor of New York. [laughs]
Kevin: Or Mr. Romney who his father ran how many times.
Kevin: I lost count.
Frank: He’s still trying to get there. To honor his father maybe. How do we know?
Kevin: I think that’s one of his things that keeps him going. He does want to be able to say, “My father never made it, but I did.” I think that’s something that drives him a little bit.
Frank: That could well be. My brother and I were never interested beyond being observers and enjoying politics but not ever dreaming or wanting to be actively involved and be elected to any public office. We just didn’t think that was anything we wanted.
Kevin: It’s a tough field. It’s gotten tougher, I’d say, more than ever.
Frank: My mother used to say, “Why would you want to do that?” [laughs]
Kevin: It’s a good question. Fair enough. Fair question. Great. What have we not gotten into, Frank? Anything else that occurs to you?
Frank: Golly. The excitement of growing up in Georgetown, there were many things that I loved about it. I loved that in the ’40s and ’50s we were free to run out the door and our parents didn’t know where we were going. I might go down and catch a street car and for 10 cents go downtown to a movie theater. We didn’t have but one movie theater in Georgetown so we wanted to go down to F Street and go to the Capital Theater and they had a live stage show. We’d go down there on Saturday afternoons. It would be to have lunch at something called Reeve’s Cafeteria. This was during the days of segregation, I want you to remember. The black people could go into the cafeteria but they could only go to a certain section and they couldn’t use the same bathrooms. It was a sad time as I look back. We maybe didn’t realize it. It was the norm.
I look back at it now and I find that segregation went on much too long. Much too long.
Kevin: We tend to forget how long the Civil Rights Movement, how long it took to get really entrenched. It’s still not finished.
Frank: Even with Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and ’65 signing some very important legislation, still segregation went on all through the ’60s and early ’70s. The South fought hard.
Kevin: That’s a good memory and the street cars, I remember I got here in ’55 for the first and the street cars were still available then.
Frank: Weren’t they wonderful?
Kevin: They were exciting.
Frank: Clean, easy way to get around.
Kevin: Yes, very nice.
Frank: The old Capital Transit. The car barn was down on M Street.
Kevin: Yeah. Right next to the university, that long steps.
Frank: The famous steps from the movie. Yes. Riding the street cars and being free to get on the street car on Canal Road and going out to Glen Echo Park was exciting as kids. Our parents didn’t have to take us. They weren’t our chauffeurs. They didn’t have cell phones to track us to see where we were. They weren’t calling on us every day. I think it was a wonderful time to grow up because we were free. We’d leave home at 8:00 in the morning or 8:30 and they wouldn’t see us until 5:00. Maybe they hoped that we were in activities at school, after school closed at three, but often I would go over to the Georgetown Library right here on R Street. I was very anxious to see that the funds were raised and that we were able to rebuild the Georgetown Library after the fire four years ago.
Kevin: That was very important. What you’re describing, though, is a much more secure time when people were not feeling threatened or there were less bad things happening, shall we say, in terms of crime and other unfortunate aspects. People could leave their doors open or whatever it may be.
Frank: Our front door was always open in the summer. Before air conditioning we had a screen door. I don’t even know if it was latched.
Kevin: It was a different time.
Frank: It was a different time.
Kevin: You’re lucky in that sense to grow up in that period.
Frank: It was a freer time. You didn’t have as many things to be as concerned about. Of course, youth is always that way, is a freer time. For my brother and I to take care of everything that we wanted in a way of being able to go get our hair cut on Wisconsin Avenue at a local barbershop or going by and buying a big ice cream cone at Stohlman’s Bakery. Stohlman’s Bakery had the best ice cream and the best sweets and it was right there on Lower Wisconsin Avenue. Today I think it’s either the J Crew store or one of the big box stores. That’s where it is. If you go to the Smithsonian today, to the Museum of History, you will see that entire first floor of Stohlman’s Bakery installed in that museum.
Kevin: Oh really? I didn’t know that. A replica?
Frank: They took everything.
Kevin: They moved it over?
Frank: When it closed the family gave everything to the Smithsonian.
Kevin: I didn’t know that. I’ll have to check that out.
Frank: The marble top tables that we used to sit at and sip sodas through a straw. [laughs]
Frank: Yup. All of that.
Kevin: Very good.
Frank: Maybe we’ve come to the end?
Kevin: Have we covered the water front? Thank you for sharing all this today with us, with the oral history project, because you’ve covered a lot of significant things in Georgetown’s history, shall we say, and the more recent period leading right up until now. We appreciate that time.
Frank: There is more history to be made in Georgetown for sure.
Kevin: Yeah. It’s a great area. We all become very attached to it.
Frank: I feel so privileged to have lived here. This is where I want to be and I always knew that.
Kevin: I can understand that. That’s wonderful. Thank you very much for your time.
Frank: It was great fun talking to you, Kevin.
Kevin: My pleasure. Thank you.