Pie Friendly moved to Washington in 1971 with her new husband, Alfred, and lived in the Friendly family home on 31st Street for a few years before moving to Cleveland Park. Marrying into one of the established Georgetown families, Pie depicts a life where the tennis court was one of the centers of social and political life. Georgetown was a small community where friends would gather at shops, like the French Market and Neams, and parks during the day and then attend supper parties in the evenings. Pie describes the dinner parties organized by famous Georgetown hostesses, including Polly Fritchey and Evangeline Bruce, where politics were discussed as the main topic of conversation. Pie also worked on the Averell Harriman political campaigns and with the local charity The Georgetown Children’s House, which provided day care services to employees of local families. In her interview with Kelly Richmond, Pie gives a candid account of living in Georgetown and raising two sons during the community’s political heyday.
Kelly Richmond: Today is May 7th 2012. We’re at 3506 Macomb St. in Washington, DC and I’m the interviewer, Kelly Richmond and the interviewee…
Pie‑Louise Friendly: Nick name Pie, P‑I‑E. Maiden name, Pinckney, Pie Pinckney. Alliterative and Southern and married to Alfred Friendly. So I’m named Pie Pinckney Friendly, but my real name is Marie‑Louise, which I’ve never used.
Kelly: Well, then I have to ask, how did you get the nickname Pie? Because you were just as sweet as pie?
Pie: Yes, I was the first, followed by three siblings, and my father was so thrilled to have a child that he called me Lammie Pie and Sweetie Pie, and it stuck. And then I married a man named Friendly, and it’s been downhill ever since.
Kelly: I think you need to set up a shop in Georgetown called Pie Friendly and it would sell slices of delicious pies. I’ve already figured out a business for you.
Pie: There you have it. I love it. A thought for the future.
Kelly: There you go. OK. So tell me about your journey to live in Georgetown when you came, what was sort of the process for you there.
Pie: I married a Georgetown‑er. My mother and father‑in‑law lived on 31st St. 1645 31st St., in a great big beautiful house with a huge garden, a tennis court and carriage houses.
Pie: After Alfred and I were married at their house in Southern Turkey, he being with the New York Times in Indonesia, I being with the Museum of Modern Art in New York, I resigned my job. While we were in Turkey, Alfred transferred to Lagos, to Nigeria for the New York Times. I came to Washington to visit, meeting his extended family, by myself, as he was in…
Kelly: Can we back up one second? So where did you all meet and how did you meet?
Pie: We met in New York in July 1966 at a party friends gave. He was not interested in meeting me. He just wanted to sublet the apartment which belonged to mutual friends of ours, Franky Fitzgerald who had gone to Vietnam.
Kelly: Real estate, it’s always real estate.
Pie: Real estate, that’s it. I indeed did take the apartment, until Franky came back from Vietnam and then moved in with another friend. Meanwhile, Alfred was based in Jakarta, Indonesia for the New York Times so I could read the newspaper and find out what he was doing. But it took six weeks for a letter to get from New York to Jakarta. So he had no idea what I was doing.
Kelly: Hmm. So this is sort of an old school Google stalking, in a way. You got to follow his movements.
Pie: Well he didn’t know what I was doing…
Kelly: Well perfect, even better.
Pie: Then I went back to Richmond, where I grew up, for Easter with my mother. A phone call came from a total stranger who said he’d been on the tarmac at the airport in Jakarta. He was asked to call me, and I was to meet Alfred Friendly in Istanbul on April 16th.
Pie: So, I did. [laughter]
Kelly: That was a pretty gutsy move.
Pie: Oh, you have no idea, because I’d only seen Alfred five times before I did this. Quit my job, borrowed money, and he met me at the airport in Istanbul. He had arranged rooms for us at the Istanbul Hilton, then the most modern hotel in, really, the Middle East‑‑certainly, Eastern Europe/Middle East. I was thrilled, as I’d travelled a lot, but always stayed in youth hostels, or campsites, under bushes, whatever, and to have a huge bedroom, and private bathroom, and a balcony overlooking the Bosphorus. Not only that…
Kelly: Very luxurious.
Pie: Ah! A dream come true. [laughter] Not only that, he had stopped in Tehran and bought a kilo of caviar and a bottle of champagne.
Kelly: Ooh, nice romantic guy. I like him! [laughs]
Pie: Very. However, he was so exhausted, he fell asleep on the balcony. I ate the caviar, drank the champagne, and fell madly in love.
Kelly: [laughs] With caviar and champagne, or with him?
Pie: Probably all three. And the bathroom and the private bathroom. So then we went down to stay with his mother and father, who had this large house in Georgetown, in southern Turkey in a village called Side, which at that point had no paved streets, no running water, no electricity, and it was just beautiful. Chock‑a‑block, full of Roman and Greek ruins, Byzantine ruins. I mean, a wonderful village.
Kelly: As an art person, he knew the way to your heart was through art, right?
Pie: Absolutely. We had a couple of weeks together with his mother and father and their friends, and suddenly Alfred said, as we took a walk, “This isn’t going to work, you better go home.” At which point I burst into tears and said, “I can’t go home.” When he asked why, I admitted I had a one‑way ticket.
Kelly: [laughs] That wasn’t the romantic proclamation I was expecting.
Pie: No, it gets worse. He said, “You better stay.” I was working at the Museum of Modern Art. I was earning $6,200 a year, and could not afford a round‑trip ticket and I just didn’t think ahead. So, he said, “You better stay,” and a week later, he came up to my bedroom on the top floor of this wonderful old stone house the Friendly’s had turned into a very comfortable house, and he said, “I have just balanced my checkbook. I think I can afford to marry you.”
Kelly: [laughs] Hmm, so much for the romantic. [laughs]
Pie: There we have it. And we will celebrate next week our 45th wedding anniversary in Turkey.
Kelly: Wow, wow.
Pie: So that was how I met, married, and eventually came to Georgetown.
Pie: Fast forward. We bounced around after Nigeria, which we went to eventually a couple of weeks after we were married. He was then transferred to Rome, and then transferred to Belgrade. At which point he left the “New York Times”, and we came to Washington in October of 1971.
Pie: And we lived in his mother’s and father’s house on 31st Street, directly across from Tudor Place. It was wonderful.
Pie: Absolutely glorious. But…
Kelly: And your in laws were there as well? Or they were now living someplace else?
Pie: No. My father‑in‑law had been the editor at the “Washington Post” and a very, very close friend as well as an employee of Philip Graham. And when Mr. Graham died, Mrs. Graham took over running the “Washington Post” and kicked my father‑in‑law upstairs, and brought in Ben Bradlee as the editor. My father‑in‑law did a book, and then became a foreign correspondent. The first, I think, for the “Washington Post”, and chose London to cover foreign affairs for the “Post.”
Thus, they had a house in Washington, a house in London, and a house in Turkey, and moved among these houses.
We stayed in the house in Washington because they were in London primarily, and Turkey.
Kelly: Oh, OK.
Pie: But in June of 1972, they wanted that house back.
Pie: So, we now moved to Cleveland Park.
Pie: And that’s how we got here. But I fell in love with Georgetown and had we been able to afford a nice, big house with a tennis court, we would have stayed. But we’ve spent a lot of time in Georgetown, as you can imagine.
Kelly: Well, It’s not far to go, to go visit the in‑laws, and…
Pie: No. Right. Although my husband went to St. Albans, and he thought Washington stopped at the cathedral. He didn’t know there was anything beyond. [laughter]
Kelly: Interesting. OK, so this was a new neighborhood for him. So, talk about some of your memories of that time that you had in Georgetown, and maybe some stories from your husband. Because I know he is not able to get interviewed, but maybe things that he relayed about his childhood, too, that maybe…
Pie: Oh, goodness. Well, it was a very, very friendly, narrowly based community of people. My mother and father‑in‑law had bought the house on 31st Street. I think it was in 1939, when much of Georgetown was still African American. The white Blockbusters came in with Franklin Roosevelt and really changed the face of Georgetown. They knew almost everyone. For example, my husband, as the son of a Washington Post employee, used to deliver newspapers in the morning. He’d get up at five o’clock every morning and, with his bike, deliver newspapers around Georgetown. Just up the street on 31st Street lived Senator Robert Taft, the great republican Senator Taft. He was the only one who never tipped.
Pie: But Alfred’s stories of living in Georgetown were full of tennis and the people who came to play on his parent’s tennis court. In those days, everybody knew everybody. Politicians would come and play on the court. Socialites would play. They all played bridge, scrabble, tennis, and drank a great deal.
Kelly: [laughs] So can you talk a little bit about the house, when it was built and what sort of style it had, that sort of thing?
Pie: It’s a federal house, built in 1810. Large rooms, added onto considerably. My mother and father‑in‑law had changed a few things. My mother‑in‑law thought the radiator was ugly in the dining room, so took it out. We froze. It was an enormously welcoming house. There were five children in my husband’s family. He, the oldest of five siblings, has four other siblings. Yet, the house was always welcoming, open. Drinks flowed like the Jordan River. People gathered non‑stop and there are photographs from every political campaign, for political parties, fundraisers. My mother‑in‑law helped start Planned Parenthood in Washington, so she was very involved in that and in politics. They all took an active interest.
They worked for Averell Harriman, when he ran for president. He was a very close friend, my father‑in‑law having worked in France in 1947‑48 for Governor Harriman, when he ran the Marshall Plan. Thus, my husband was thrown into a French lycée, never having heard French, and almost sank.
Kelly: Oh no, how old was he when that happened?
Pie: He was 11. But at this point, he is now fluent in French, still. It was a very international group as well. All the ambassadors from western countries used to come play tennis. It was a very informal, very cozy town, meaning Georgetown.
The supper parties, as you know, were legion. Everything went on. I don’t think there were many republicans who ever came to the Friendly’s house, but there was certainly every permutation of Democrat. Adlai Stevenson was the chosen candidate forever. They all adored Mr. Stevenson, Governor Stevenson.
It was an insider’s group. Alfred’s aunt, Libby Rowe married a man named Jim Rowe, who was very, very close to Lyndon Johnson. Again, the Johnsons would come there. Later, my mother‑in‑law got very involved with the Jimmy Carter campaign. A number of the staff people actually lived in the house with her after my father‑in‑law had died.
Pie: So, it was a political center. It was a charitable center, a lot of little Georgetown things. When I came to town, it was just automatic that I would get involved in Georgetown activities. The first one I got involved with, and primarily this one, was what was called the Georgetown Children’s House. It was on N Street, behind Billy Martin’s Tavern.
Pie: Carriage House.
Pie: And what is now I think a mail service, mailboxes, or something.
Kelly: Right, right.
Pie: It was started, probably, 75 ‑ 100 years ago as a daycare center for the children of the servants who worked in Georgetown. By the time I started with them in 1972, it had many nationalities, primarily Latino and African American. The children could be dropped off as early as 8:00 in the morning and stay until 6:00 in the afternoon, which was very unusual in those days.
Pie: The older children went across the street to Hyde School. The younger children stayed all day. They were fed meals. It became even a social center, in the sense that parents were given English lessons when they needed them, taught about health insurance and life insurance. Because so many parents would pick up the children and ride home on a bus, and listen, maybe, to music or daydream or whatever, we started a program using Georgetown University sororities and fraternities. The students from the University would come and just talk to these children at the daycare center so they would learn the art of conversation.
Pie: Because parents just didn’t talk to them.
Pie: When they got home, they were plunked down in front of the television set. The major fundraiser, even well before the community chest, or what is now the United Campaign, the federal campaign, the fundraiser was the garden tour, which has been reinvented and, in fact, there was one last weekend.
Kelly: Just last weekend, yeah.
Pie: The garden tour raised money to support the Children’s House. I was eventually president of the Children’s House. I ran the garden tour for 10 years and brought in my children to help sell little plants. We got volunteers to sit in everybody’s house. We were very excited when we would raise $4000 ‑ $7000, but it helped enormously. It brought great publicity to this wonderful daycare center. I got less and less involved after being president, and then was very saddened to see that it had closed.
Kelly: What year was that? Do you recall?
Pie: I can’t remember. I was trying to remember. Another person you might want to talk to is Frannie Wilkinson. She’s on Scott Place. In fact, one of the few older people in town still. She could tell you chapter and verse about not only the Children’s House, but a great deal of other things that went on.
Kelly: OK. I’ll put that, and we’ll talk after we’re recording about some of the other people that you talked about, but I’ll make a note on that.
Kelly: Was it difficult as someone who was not a native Washingtonian to break into when you first moved to…
Pie: No, it couldn’t have been easier. It couldn’t have been easier. First, by chance, my sister who had been married to a New Yorker, they came down at the sort of last year, the Johnson years. It was lovely to have her here because she knew a lot of young people, our age people, in Georgetown. Meanwhile, I, having married into an old family, in that sense, here, I knew the older people. So I had the best of all worlds. Alfred having been gone for so many years, having done Army, and then having lived abroad, he didn’t know many people our age, particularly those who had just come to Washington.
Kelly: He sort of knew people that were his parents’ friends…
Kelly: …from when he was a kid, growing up.
Pie: And then, his St. Albans friends and a few Harvard friends. It was great fun. Things were very relaxed, although, I can remember planning supper parties and cooking for two days. There were no caterers except Ridgewells. Nobody used a caterer. Every person my age, and I think my mother‑in‑law’s age, they all had cooks. We younger ones did the cooking.
Pie: I can remember the first time, 15 years later, somebody coming for supper and saying, “Did you cook this yourself,” as if I were a freak.
Pie: But, that’s the way it was.
Kelly: What things do you remember in the neighborhood where this house that you were living in when your in‑laws were over in London and you were staying in the one across the street from your place on 31st? What was sort of your routine in the neighborhood? What types of things did you do?
Pie: We had little children, two little boys then. They went to school at the Georgetown Montessori, which was in fact not in Georgetown, but on MacArthur Boulevard, and took turns picking up children with a couple of other friends or people whose children were in Georgetown and driving them to the school. Then the old Georgetown Safeway, which was not called the Social Safeway in those days.
Pie: Which was a very different building than what’s in it now. They’ve had, since I’ve been in town, the building that exists now is the third one. Originally it was on the street with parking behind. Then, they tore that down and built parking in front and the building way back.
Pie: And now we’ve got this great big, huge thing on the street again. Which is certainly more attractive to have a street scene and shops on the street. But we all went to the Safeway. We went to the French market, too…
Kelly: Where was that?
Pie: …which was very expensive.
Pie: It was in the 1600 block of Wisconsin on the west side of the street. It was three townhouses which had been put together, and the best butchers in town. Absolutely fabulous food. Wonderful cheeses. But, expensive beyond expensive. Particularly for young people.
Kelly: [laughs] Right.
Pie: Then another place we shopped in Georgetown was Neam’s, which is at the corner of P and Wisconsin, which is now Marvelous Market. They delivered, which was very nice.
Pie: There was also the other market which delivered, Sheeley’s, which is, is it Dumbarton and 30th I think? Or O and 30th? It’s still a market. Then there were a couple of convenience stores. There was one at the end on Avon Lane behind the Friendly’s. They always called that the alley and it’s now been given a name.
Pie: Or Avon Place. I can’t remember.
Pie: They called it the dirty store. But, they could get licorice and things. Morgan’s Drugstore, which is one of the few left, was there and delivered. Some of them even remembered my mother and father‑in‑law, which is very flattering.
Pie: But it was going to the market quite a lot and picking up children. Going to Montrose Park where I met still diplomatic friends. Some Italian friends and English friends who are really as close as any I have now who came back eventually as ambassadors, et cetera.
Pie: We met and the children played. The only toy, so called, for the children was a metal, flat merry‑go‑round. It didn’t have animals on it. It just had bars and they would have to kick one foot on the ground and make it go round.
Pie: And there was a sandbox. And we mothers sat and gossiped and carried on and became very close friends, and the children became friends, too. We planned supper parties. Ladies didn’t go out to lunch very much, to my knowledge because there were either children or something to do. Everybody it seems to me, had a cleaning lady to help, but nobody my age except the diplomats had full‑time help.
Kelly: And how old were you at this time?
Pie: I must have been 35, 30‑35 kind of thing.
Pie: Because after being here for two and a half years in 1974 we went to Moscow for two years. Leaving this house, but leaving Washington, too. And came back in ’76 and have been here ever since. And it’s been a wonderful flow, fortunately being interested in foreign affairs and having known so many diplomats‑‑Americans as well as non‑American. It’s been a very international community for us. During this time also the Kennedy Center had opened, and that was a huge impetus for abroad‑based society. However, I must say, not until, I would guess 1980 or after did money ever matter in Washington. It was position.
Nobody I knew had very much money. Some people say would be richer than others, but it didn’t matter. And it wasn’t until, at least my thinking, was AOL was the first big business that I’m aware of not having known businessmen. We knew politicians and diplomats, lawyers, but I never knew businessmen, maybe a couple of them, but very few.
Kelly: Because people were journalists or they were in politics.
Pie: That’s right. There were no major businesses. So it was another world when people started having money, and spending and building huge houses. It just has changed so much. And the few charities there were, never had these enormous fancy parties. It was a very, very different society. And, if one paid $35 for something that was considered grand.
Kelly: To attend a function you are saying or?
Pie: Yeah. It was very simple in those days. There were private parties where one would wear long dresses. We went through the period where ladies always wore caftans in the evening.
Pie: Always. Covered a multitude of sins. Nothing could be shown underneath. We all wore caftans. I’m of the age where the first leather puttees were made and sold, quite expensive. All of us saved for them in [indiscernible 24:40] . [laughter]
Pie: Well, the dog, sorry. Alfred?
Alfred Friendly: Yeah
Pie: Can I put Milly at…? You want to turn that off for a second.
[Break in tape]
Kelly: OK. [laughter] I just stopped it. Right. OK, as long as the numbers are changing we’re good. Was it a challenge coming from Richmond, which I would think is not as cosmopolitan, and then being here? Because you said you had a lot of international friends and people.
Pie: I don’t think so. I had gone to boarding school, outside of Baltimore. Some classmates were still here and I’d gone to Bryn Mawr College. I’d taken a journey abroad in Italy. So, no it was not a big change. In fact, Washington was still a very southern city with northern charms besides the…
Kelly: The best of both worlds!
Pie: That’s right. Anyway, it was a very comfortable place to come into, I must say. Social life revolved around one dance group where we’d dress up and wear long dresses and black ties. Often at the Sulgrave Club, in fact as long as I can remember was always at the Sulgrave Club. Then in 1980, I remember, they had been a group which had started earlier called the Potomac Marching Society, which was another Democratic dance group. They had dinner and dancing at the Women’s National Democratic Club.
Pie: I can remember a counter inaugural ball when Reagan was sworn in 1981.
Kelly: Oh, OK! The Protest Ball. [laughter]
Pie: That’s right, The Protest Ball but in black tie. That was about as far as we went. There were no street demonstrations. I had not been here in 1968 when 14th Street had burned. We were in Africa at that point. I do remember though the British Embassy was so worried about the official residence of the number two at the British Embassy. Whose house was down at the eastern end of Mass Avenue Heights.
They moved the residents out to Loughboro Road, thinking it would be safer out there.
Pie: Because they were so scared the riots would affect the British Embassy.
Pie: That has now changed and the number two’s is residence is now back.
Kelly: Right where the embassy is there?
Pie: Well, no down the hill a little bit. Oh gosh, Edge… I can’t remember the name, behind the Old Iranian Embassy. It doesn’t matter. [laughter] It’s where the Canadian residences, a lot of the Canadian residences.
Pie: But it was an exciting time to be here because we were all players in the junior sense. Everybody that was working either on the hill, in The White House or somehow, as you said, in politics or diplomacy. And that was such fun. It really was.
Kelly: How did things change? Because you were saying it was mostly democrats that you were associating with when the administration would change and go to the other side. How did that work?
Pie: A lot quieter [laughter], I can tell you. As I recall we didn’t have as many friends on the majority side of the House or the Senate. We did not spend as much time campaigning or ringing doorbells, which we did a great deal of in all the neighborhoods. We literally went door to door and handed out fliers, that kind of thing Addressed envelopes.
I can remember when I first got here in the fall of ’71. I went down to the Muskie Campaign. Alfred was there at the time, having left the New York Times. He wrote speeches for Muskie.
Pie: I went down to address envelopes in Green ink, environmental green ink, for fundraisers and parties for Muskie. The other volunteer that was with me was Madeleine Albright.
Kelly: Oh, wow.
Pie: That’s how Madeleine started. She was also married to Joe who was also a reporter. We all became very close friends. We partied together and played together. I think, probably, most of my friends were Episcopalians. At that point I went to Saint John’s down by Lafayette Square with the children. We saw each other periodically at church but we saw each other very casually.
People did have parties, not just cocktail parties. If you did have a cocktail party it really was a cocktail party from 6:00 to 8:00 and you did not have to serve a heavy buffet supper kind of thing. It was a very different way of entertaining.
Kelly: And people knew that at 8:00 it was time to leave. [laughter] They didn’t just keep hanging around.
Pie: Absolutely. Yes. Exactly.
Kelly: How many people would you have at one of these supper parties?
Pie: 10. Eight, 10 or 12.
Some people would have huge parties. We never did because my husband didn’t like them. He said, “You can’t have a serious conversation if you have too many.” Which is true. I think a lot of the older ambassadors were fascinated by the younger Americans such as we and all of our other friends. And they used to love to come to supper. Which made me, of course, very tense, worrying whether the lamb chops would be overcooked or undercooked or whatever.
But it gave them a chance to meet another generation. And we were so lucky to know people like the Hendersons, Nico and Mary Henderson at the British embassy, the various French diplomats, and the ambassadors, et cetera. And many of them we knew through their children.
Kelly: OK. So you said your sons, you just have two sons or…?
Pie: Two sons.
Kelly: OK. And they were in Montessori and then where did they go to school after that?
Pie: Then, because we moved here, they went to the neighborhood public school.
Kelly: To John Eaton?
Pie: And then one went to St. Albans and the other went to Maret. I, being a bitchy mother, said “You have a choice of schools. Sidwell Friends, St. Albans, Washington International School and Maret but I will not drive you. You can walk and bike.
Pie: And meanwhile I then ended up working. First, for a preservation group called Preservation Action. And I worked at Hillwood after we got back from Moscow in that first group of docents. And then I went to work for Averell Harriman for five years. And then helped write a book, and then went to graduate school, and started the National Portrait Gallery.
Kelly: Wow. So how old were you when you went to graduate school?
Pie: Fifty. [laughs]
Kelly: Good for you! [chuckles]
Pie: Or a little over fifty. And then the most fun I had at the Portrait Gallery. We did an exhibition of portraits in private collections in Washington.
Kelly: Your rolodex probably helped with gathering the collection for the exhibit.
Pie: It did. Exactly. So I tried to remember what I’d seen at supper parties or cocktail parties. And one friend would say, “Don’t you remember so and so had that, and Snooki has this, and Tootsie has that?” And we did a marvelous, I must say, fascinating exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, which closed in September 2011. It had opened May 2011. So much of it all comes together. It’s just being around, kind of thing, and getting involved in odds and ends, be it political campaigns or charities. I got very involved in what was called the Columbia Historical Society and then became the Historical Society Washington DC. We changed the name. And that way, I remember we had a benefit and I was lucky enough at that point to be the president, and got friends to come in costume. We were then located at the Heurich Mansion at New Hampshire Avenue.
And I remember Susan Mary Alsop getting all dressed up in one of her beautiful things to come help me raise money. And people were terribly helpful. Everybody helped everybody. It made such a difference. There might have been competition. I was just not aware of it. But having my mother and father-in-laws older friends, and then having my sister’s and our own younger friends, it was a charming place to live.
Pie: And I still think it is. I love it. I love this city. I really do.
Kelly: Yeah. Sounds like you’ve been very fortunate. So did you find it challenging to raise a family? Like, did you have to walk everywhere or that made it easier or what kind of things like…?
Pie: No, I didn’t find it challenging at all, I must say. I think because of the circumstances. I was so lucky. And because we never had very much money, we really didn’t, money didn’t matter. A lot of friends would travel much more exotically or would ski, which I never did being a southern girl. But it didn’t really matter. I think one of the harsh things that happened to our son at St. Albans when the boys all turned 16, one boy got a car. And our son Andrew came home and said, “X is getting a car. I want a car.” We said, “No. That’s not our value, number one. Number two, you can’t have a car. Number three, we don’t have the money [laughs] for you to have a car.” And he said, “Alright.” Thank goodness.
And I keep harping on this money thing because it really was not so important. Power was what was important.
Kelly: And so you feel like there’s been a shift in Georgetown?
Pie: A big shift. Yeah, I think so.
Kelly: It’s more about money?
Pie: Well, it’s not necessarily more but it’s the fact that it really does exist. And our friends lived in houses, still do, which are now worth several million dollars. In those days, were a couple of hundred thousand, this kind of thing. Alfred’s mother and father in 1939 paid 39,000, for that large house with the tennis court, they’d put in the tennis court.
Kelly: So is that house still in the Friendly family.
Pie: No, no. Unfortunately when Alfred’s mother died, the five children sold it, and it has been a mess ever since. The buyer tried to renovate it, it has been gutted. He’s added extremely unattractive additions, a sun porch on the north side and big square block at the back. He’s let the tennis court go. He’s gone belly‑up for the second time and it’s on the market again, unfortunately.
Kelly: That’s the problem when things become about money. You can also lose that money, I guess.
Kelly: You talked a little bit about participating in that children’s house. What other sort of community or, you know, was there like a pool that people would all go to, any kind of community things that you participated in?
Pie: I’m just trying to think up, well the garden tour, certainly. Goodness, I’m drawing a blank. Montrose Park was certainly where a lot of us congregated, the shops. I’m trying to think of other charities we were involved with. I was certainly not involved and I don’t know that they needed private help at the library, the Georgetown public library, I’m not aware of that. Oh, certainly now it is. The churches, no, not particularly.
We all went to the Francis Scott Key bookshop, which was one of the great bookshops of all times. If one went in there, there were two older ladies whose names I’ve forgotten. It’s now turned into a house. You would say I’d like a book for Mr. Alsop and they would say, “Well he’s just bought this and this but, he didn’t get that. We recommend you get that.”
They knew what everybody read and what everybody had purchased. If people started to read it and didn’t like it, they would take it back and they would say, “He didn’t like this or they really loved that.”
I’m just trying to think of other activities that were Georgetown related. I don’t know that there was a Georgetown Citizens Association.
Kelly: At that time.
Pie: There may have been. I was not aware of it. Gosh I am letting you down.
Kelly: What about neighbors? Do you remember things about the people that lived nearby, or maybe relationships that your husband had with the neighbors, from when he was younger?
Pie: Yeah, well Sennator Taff eventually sold his house to David and Ina Ginsberg, and they divorced eventually down the line. We used to go there and play bridge. They were very close friends with my in‑laws, and had children who were friends, even though younger than we. We used to know slightly the Peters who lived at Tudor Place, Mr. Mrs. Peter. Mr. Biddle lived just up the street on 31st Street. I’m trying to think of other friends. Conrad Cafritz and his then wife, Jennifer, lived up 31st Street, and had a swimming pool. We had a tennis court. So we had our own little country club.
Kelly: Yeah, nice hubs. It sounds like the tennis court was a big draw for a lot of…
Pie: Absolutely. Oh, it was a huge draw. Being democratic not many people joined clubs. They were some members who were members of the Cosmos Club, a few members of the Metropolitan Club. I don’t know of many who belonged to the Chevy Chase Club. I think some men who played golf must have belonged to Burning Tree but, I wasn’t aware of many older men playing golf in this group.
I know that my husband grew up with the Graham’s and the four children. They’re still good friends. Not only did my father‑in‑law worked for Phil Graham but, the four children. My mother‑in‑law had known Kay Graham growing up.
They had a pool. The Friendly’s had a tennis court, again that kind of thing, as well as the children going to National Cathedral or to Madeira or to St. Alban’s together.
Kelly: For camps and things?
Pie: Yeah. Well I don’t know about summer camps, they had all little jobs doing things. The Friendly’s never went away, because my father‑in‑law worked up until he left the managing editor’s job. That’s when they got the house in Turkey. The Graham’s had a farm out in the country. They were among the few people who had money but, nobody thought much about it. I’m just trying to think of other good neighbors. There was Judge Gesell down on N Street I think it was. He was a great friend, wonderful judge.
Kelly: But, they’re mostly your in‑laws peers, not your peers.
Kelly: Where were your, sort of, peer group living, not in Georgetown so much?
Pie: Some were, some weren’t, and a lot changed. When a couple got divorced, often they would leave Georgetown, because it was becoming more expensive, or they needed more space. People began to come to Cleveland Park, because the houses were big, ugly, but comfortable. Good for children and dogs and cats. Some friends, my sister for example, left Georgetown and moved to Wesley Heights. Some went to Spring Valley. Little by little our age group spread out, and it was mostly financial. Just they could get more bang for their buck…
Kelly: Well, when you are having children and you need more space.
Kelly: It’s what all my friends do. They live in the city and now they live in the Bethesda and…
Pie: Yeah, that’s right, and the money primarily went to schools. In those days the DC public schools were really pretty bad. The teachers came out of DC Teachers College and the elementary schools got the young teachers, mostly, not always. Johnny had one very good teacher but, most of them were not particularly good teachers. Everybody who had a spare nickel sent their children to private schools, as much as possible.
Kelly: You talked about working for Mr. Harriman, could you go into a little more in‑depth about that was all about?
Pie: In 1981 with Reagan coming in, Governor Harriman was at that point, he must have been close to 90, because he became 90 when I started working for him, or shortly thereafter. Pamela Harriman and he had married. She was at first a housewife. She took bridge lessons. There was a wonderful widow here named Louvie Peterson, whose husband Drew Peterson. She had a nephew who taught bridge. A lot of ladies went to learn bridge. I even took classes there.
That was how I first knew Pamela and Governor Harriman, I think. As I had said, my father‑in‑law worked for Governor Harriman in Paris on the Marshall Plan, for a year.
They had met when my father‑in‑law did an interview for the post with Governor Harriman. Harriman was so impressed he asked him to come and be his Public Affairs Officer, speech writer, in Paris. Thus, the family moved to Paris for a year.
They all remained good friends, I think in part, because of that and bridge. They played bridge together. At this point Governor Harriman was married to Marie Harriman, who ran an art gallery in New York. They lived in town on P Street, and then N Street.
When I had gone to join something called The White House Preservation Fund, Pamela Harriman was the number two on board of trustees. When the Republicans came in, it was a very different group of people, who wanted to run The White House Preservation board.
I left and Pamela said, “Why don’t you come and work for Averell.” Which I did. It’s a glorified secretary, which was absolutely fascinating, because he was so old at that point but, he’d been involved in everything from 1899 on.
Kelly: He had a long life to…
Pie: Everything, from going to Alaska in 1899 and going to Russia for the first time. His father hired a huge ship. They took their own cows so the children would have fresh milk. A nanny for each child.
Kelly: There was the money there? [laughs]
Pie: There was a great deal of money there but, he was not a real Washingtonian. They lived very discreetly. What I did frankly was arrange interviews for Governor Harriman. His papers primarily were stored in the basement of the house adjacent to 3038 M Street, which was an office house. Film makers, broadcasters, oral historians would want to talk to him about everything from Russia, where he was ambassador, to being Commerce Secretary, to being Franklin Roosevelt’s special envoy to Churchill, for being Governor of New York, for running for President. I mean his career was huge.
I would go down in the basement and dig out the pertinent papers. Often I wouldn’t understand them and know them. I would call my husband, who was a brilliant student of political science and American history. Then he would say, call x, y or z.
I would call Arthurs Schlesinger or I would call Cy Vance. All of these people and just say “Quick, panic. I’ve got an interviewer here. What should I tell the Governor he should remember?”
Kelly: Yeah, I guess this is how it was. I mean at 90, you’ve got to think some things might be. You’ve done so many things it might be a little mixed up at this point.
Pie: Absolutely. So that was fast setting and great fun. It was a this point that Pamela had started what she called “Democrats for the Eighties” or PAMPAC, Political Action Committee. And what she brilliantly did, was to use what she married into and her own gifts as one of the great hostesses, and they had a lovely house with this beautiful painting by Van Gogh of the white roses, which Averell Harriman had been given as a wedding present for his first marriage, and a number of other Picassos and things, and Pamela had a brilliant staff of servants.
And she’d charge people a 1,000 dollars an evening, to come and be entertained as a private personal guest, and the tables would be set on the sun porch with her family crest, which is an ostrich holding a horseshoe, and served some of the best food in Washington, her cook and sous-chef were brilliant, and everybody would gather for drinks in the library with the white roses over the mantle piece or the petite salon with the Picassos, had drinks and there’d always be a speaker.
It would be Fritz Mondale or it would be… Any major politician, and then everybody would be seated at the tables and served and entertained with the most beautiful china, the most beautiful silver. Best staff you ever seen, delicious food, and then the staff would have set up the gold chairs in the library, and everybody sat there and the speaker would answer questions or talk and it become a very cozy wonderful way of raising money and…
Kelly: Like a sort of a salon.
Pie: It was a salon! And Governor Harriman loved it, he was so proud of Pamela. And so I got obviously very much involved with that and worked with his political colleagues, with older people who had worked with him, and all his different lives. And it really did range as I said from 1899 going to Alaska, to his death in 1985. I mean he was up to his ears often not hearing very well, not seeing very well, but Pamela was devoted and she almost never in her politicking left overnight.
She got a little jet plane so she could come home, sometimes late but she made it home, and he was so proud of her, and I think the whole family was, her Churchilian family. But that was really fun, and I have to say that the Washington hostesses were furious.
Kelly: Now, why was that, because she was so successful?
Pie: So successful, she raised money using the name, the backgrounds, the interests. And “Ladies didn’t do that”, and that was rough on Pamela, she was never accepted by these Georgetown hostess. They kept having their lovely little private parties, some of them expanded into younger people such as Alfred and me. Because they just needed new blood, people would popping off or whatever. But Pamela was never accepted because, frankly she did something they never thought to do, and for a very good cause. And they were all jealous. She had had affairs with several of their husbands too.
Kelly: OK so…
Pie: So it didn’t sit terribly. But they were formidable ladies these Georgetown hostess, they really were, and they had done parties were the bellybutton of Washington, be it Susan Mary Alsop or Joe Alsop, even when they were divorced, or Polly Fritchey, Vangie Bruce, or Mrs John Sherman Cooper, Oatsie Charles. I mean it was a very different life. Now it’s gone because number one ‑‑ Congress is never here, and when they are here they are sitting at night, and number two people aren’t that collegial. They really are so partisan at this point, that you wouldn’t find a Mark Hatfield at a dinner party at a democrat house.
You wouldn’t find a Muskie at a Republican’s house. I mean, they were much more collaborative in those days, much more social and the families came to Washington which made a huge different. They don’t come to Washington often now, most families don’t come.
Kelly: So right so the sort of social aspect of the husband and wives going to a dinner, it’s just the husbands and the rest of the families is back at home, so…
Pie: And a lot of the ambassadors were included in political dinners Chip Bohlen for example. It was just another whole word, and then in turn members of Congress would go to embassies comfortably, because they knew everybody socially. And now not. It became famous when Teddy Kennedy would do his drop bys. He would come and say “how do you do” to the host and hostess and turn around and go right back out, and in the old days they didn’t do that they’d stay because they were friends. It wasn’t just the perfunctory, good evening.
Kelly: Show my face and then go check it off.
Kelly: In doing a little research about the Friendly family I did read about your father‑in‑law and his passing. I don’t know if it’s something that you want to talk about.
Pie: Sure. He, like every journalist, up until the past 15 years, smoked like a chimney, smoked cigarettes. My husband smoked cigarettes. He got throat cancer and they did a then radical treatment which was to radiate his throat and they over radiated it. So, he had to carry a hydrating machine that watered his throat constantly. He had written, in 1975 when they were based in London, a letter saying he was rejoicing in the day and he was walking through Green Park and the clouds and the ducks. When he could no longer rejoice in the day he would end his life.
He and my mother‑in‑law, in fact, joined the Hemlock Society in England together.
Kelly: OK, interesting.
Pie: Which in those days was.
Kelly: So this was not necessarily a shock for everyone, what happened…
Pie: I was for me because I didn’t know as much about the Hemlock Society as I do now. But they had agreed that they’ would go together because they were so dependent upon one another. When he got this cancer and my mother‑in‑law like many spouses in denial, persevered and said, “We will keep going. We will do this. We will do that.” And he was more and more miserable. He planned his own suicide. He paid his American Express bills for three months ahead.
Pie: And he wrote another letter to the family saying, “I can no longer rejoice in the day.” And he shot himself in the back old maid’s room . Yeah, which was horrifying for my mother‑in‑law. She, frankly having been a bit of a Polly Anna. Don’t quote me on that, please. [laughter] But I think like many spouses can only hope and in so doing deny how serious the situation was.
Kelly: And you can hold an idea in your head, “Yeah, so when the time comes I’ll be disinterested.”
Kelly: And able to understand this and say it’s OK but when you’re in the emotional moment it’s a different story.
Pie: Yeah. But I know it rocked Georgetown, the Washington Post, and a number of people. I remember the next day Averell Harriman was so horrified and so upset that he and Pamela walked up from N Street to the house to say how upset and disappointed they were. The Harrimans were so kind to us and because Alfred wrote a great many of Pamela’s speeches, we used to use there cottage out at their farm in Middleburg. And almost every weekend for a little long time which was fascinating and great fun.
We had become very close friends and they had always been good friends with my mother and father‑in‑law. But my mother‑in‑law was so devastated that she couldn’t even come downstairs to see them, which was very difficult for everybody as you can imagine.
Kelly: How about your husband and the other children, I mean getting the letter. Did they understand his physical pain, they were kind of…?
Pie: I think they did. None of the family was religious, which made it a little easier. They had, thanks to Kay Graham, a wonderful memorial service at the Post with a lot of people involved as you can imagine. Their friends. Patrick Hayes who started the Washington Performing Arts Society, was a very close friend, and his wife Evelyen Swarthout who was a concert pianist so she played. I remember she played Memories.
Looking back I can certainly understand why my father‑in‑law did it. He was in such agony. On the other hand, it was his way out but helping other people as you can imagine.
Kelly: Right. Now the pain was diffused all across the rest of the family members instead of it all being his.
Pie: Exactly. Yeah.
Kelly: Yeah. So, I’m sure that was.
Pie: It was not easy.
Kelly: That happened in the house in Georgetown that you had stayed in.
Kelly: And your mother‑in‑law then stayed in that house?
Pie: Absolutely, she died. She died there too. Yeah. Then the children eventually, within a year, sold it. Yeah.
Pie: Yeah. Lots of little bits of history.
Kelly: Yeah. I know. Totally. Is there anything else that you know? Just, sort of, your general connection to Georgetown that you might want to share or anything that maybe your connection to your husband’s family that makes you so…?
Pie: I will let them speak for themselves.
Kelly: Yeah, that’s true. Hopefully we’ll get them.
Pie: I hope that you will because his younger brother Nicholas who is a twin lives here. Then his sister Lucinda Friendly Murphy, who is an artist and had a studio in one of the carriage houses in the back there for years and years and years is living here too. So I think that they should speak for themselves.
Pie: The other brothers in Florida and Michigan and another sister is in Winston, Salem. Not as easy to. [laughter]
Kelly: Well, if there’s a travel budget, I’m happy to go.
Pie: Yes. Well, depending on the season.
Kelly: All right, thank you so much. I’ll just turn this off.