Patty Murphy: OK. This is part of the Oral History Project of the Citizens Association of Georgetown, and this is Patty Murphy. Today, January 17th 2010, I’m interviewing Grace Addison, a long‑time Georgetown resident. And we are located here at her home at 3612 S Street Northwest. So. Hi, Grace! [laughs]
Grace Addison: How are you? It’s such a nice thing to see you.
Patty: It’s great to see you again, too. Just in case, we were neighbors at one point…
Patty: … on P Street.
Grace: And you also babysat every once in a while for me.
Patty: Very occasionally.
Grace: Very occasionally, but I was desperate!
Patty: And have one of your dogs.
Grace: That’s right.
Grace: You had Herky.
Patty: [laughs] Right.
Grace: I don’t know what you called him, but Herky was it. That was when that wretched dog of ours had all those puppies.
Patty: Aw. Yes, and all different.
Grace: Every one of them. Oh, yes!
Patty: That was so funny. But anyway, we’d like to know about how you came to Georgetown when you came here, and just we’ll talk a little bit about things that were going on during those years.
Grace: Well, I came directly after the war, the World War II, because I was married to Joe Addison who was part of the huge Addison family that had been here ever since ‑ how shall I put it? It was a grant by Charles the Second, and that’s how long the Addisons have been here. So I probably am known only by the name of Addison, and they wouldn’t know my face if they saw it.
Patty: Now is that Addison related to the Addison School?
Grace: None of us knew that until we knew that it was named for them, too. Everything that you can think of that has that name that is in Georgetown or around is part of it. But it’s one of the oldest Maryland families that is still going on.
Patty: Yes. So did your husband grow up in Georgetown or nearby or…?
Grace: He grew up in Baltimore in the winter and in the summer in their house in Prince George’s County, which was lovely. So that’s when I married in. And his mother said ‑ you’ll laugh at this ‑ she said after we were married, “Now I don’t want you to live anyplace but in Georgetown…
Grace: … and I am going to do something about the fact that you’re going to have to live in Georgetown.” So she did quite a bit about it because she was very, very good about giving a certain amount of money so that it could be done. But anyway…
Patty: Now what year…
Grace: And she felt very strongly because she was related to the Addisons, but she was a Clagget. So those are two names that people who know anything [laughs] about the beginnings know very good and well.
Patty: Wow. So what year were you married, and did you move to Georgetown then?
Grace: We moved to Georgetown a year after we were married. And I’m trying to think when I was married. The year after World War II.
Patty: So in the mid forties? About ’46?
Grace: When was the World War over?
Patty: ’45? ’46?
Grace: Well, then 1947.
Grace: That’s good enough.
Patty: Yes. [laughs] So then Georgetown was a desirable place to live then at that time?
Grace: Franklin D. Roosevelt had very nicely recommended that all of his people live around Georgetown because he felt very strongly about old places.
Patty: Wow! That’s exciting.
Grace: And not only that, but Joe’s mother felt strongly about it because so many Addisons had had to do with Georgetown in times gone by. And they all still knew one another, the ones that had lived on, and it’s gone on forever.
Patty: And do you remember where you moved to at that time? Was it the house on P Street?
Grace: You mean when we were married?
Grace: The year after we were married we lived in an apartment up ‑ you wouldn’t know. Well, you might know. We’ll put the address down afterward, but it’s one of the places that’s still there. There’s a perfectly divine place that’s now ‑ well, it always was ‑ oh, it had how many? I won’t tell you how many because I don’t know, but it had apartments in it.
Patty: And how big was your apartment?
Grace: Well, we didn’t have that. We were across the street, and that building had only ‑ one, two, three, four ‑ six. [laughs] We were the only young people there because my mother‑in‑law and father‑in‑law had given it to us after we were married because they were back in the country and getting everything put back together after the war. And so they were very definitely not interested in living in that particular place.
And it wasn’t Georgetown, and we’ll have to ask my oldest daughter because she was not there. But she knows exactly where it is. [laughter]
Grace: Anyway, what can I tell you about that? Well, we were there for a year, and we hunted madly for a place to live in Georgetown. And things were pretty expensive even then. By that time the things had begun to go up. Anyway, so we bought something.
Grace: And it was the funniest thing you’ve ever known. [laughter]
Grace: It was pretty funny. And neither one of us ever bought anything from the store that this woman had worked in because we both thought that, by god, we didn’t want to be identified with anybody that kept anything that was as bad as that.
Patty: [laughs] Is this store still in existence?
Grace: No, no. The store isn’t, but the house is definitely.
Patty: And where was that house?
Grace: It was on O Street.
Patty: O Street, on the east side or the west side?
Grace: No, this side.
Patty: OK. West side.
Grace: Same side that I’ve always been on.
Grace: So anyway we bought that, and we [laughs] put it back together again. It also had lovely things such as rats in the beginning. [laughs] And nobody hated anything as much as my husband hated that. Oh! He thought that was the most awful thing in the world!
Patty: Did he do anything about them? [laughs]
Grace: Oh, yeah! Absolutely! [laughs] But anyway, he told the people that they had to get rid of them before they began doing because he said, “I’m not having that.” So anyway…
Patty: Now was that house like in the 3300 block or…
Grace: No, it was 34.
Patty: 34. Thirty‑fourth and O.
Grace: Then we lived at 3612. No, this is 3612. Well, we lived about a block from the school up that way, and you know where that was.
Patty: OK. That was the 30…
Grace: You were on that street.
Patty: Right. 3317 P?
Grace: Yeah, that’s exactly what it was.
Patty: So where were the girls born?
Grace: Well, no. They were both born in the other house.
Patty: In the other house?
Grace: Yeah, and there was no way you could have anybody else in that house because it was small. It only had two and half bedrooms. So a half a bedroom was the children’s, and then the other two. We had one, and then we had one for our guest room and only had one bath. Well that, my father thought, was prehistoric. He couldn’t understand that. He didn’t think people [laughs] lived like that.
Grace: No! [laughs]
Patty: Now tell me, where were you from originally?
Grace: Where was I from?
Grace: I was from Chicago.
Grace: But my father’s family was all from Virginia and Kentucky. So he spent his whole time being sure that I didn’t sound like a Yankee.
Patty: You still don’t. You still have a little accent.
Grace: Well, he certainly worked on it because he thought there was nothing worse. Absolutely. And I remember I would come home and I would be talking and he would say, “Now do that again and do it correctly.”
Patty: Now did Maryland count? Was he OK with your husband being from….?
Grace: Oh, he was crazy about him. Oh yes because it was old family and my father’s family were old family. So anyway, and my name was Landes.
Patty: Landes. OK.
Grace: Landes. It was never… I mean it was really Lands but my grandfather was tired to death of people calling him Landes when his name was Lands and he finally said, “I’ll just bow to it and I’ll be Landes while I’m here.” So, that’s exactly why it’s pronounced that way.
Patty: Well do you want to talk about your wedding? We’re skipping ahead to the children and I know you had a career probably before you came here.
Grace: Do you know what I did?
Patty: Yes. Tell us what you did.
Grace: I’ll tell you how it really evolved. And that was that after the war was over, I was first going to be a singer. I could have been a singer if I wanted to be but I did not want to put in the time, all of the time, and effort and I don’t regret it at all because I had a marvelous life.
But anyway, I decided, after the war was over, I was at a party in Chicago. And I spent most of my time in Chicago living at my uncle’s and my father’s clubs because I did not want to be in Hemsdale, Illinois which is where I was from when you had to get onto the train and it took you about almost an hour to get to Chicago.
And who wanted in that day and age to pick somebody up for a date and then they had to take them back to the place. And I thought that’s stupid. I don’t want any parts of that.
So anyway I finally decided that I was going to do something very different, which I did. And I remember I was at a big party in Chicago with a lot of my friends, and one of my best friends said, “What are you going to do tomorrow? Well, what about having lunch with me?”
And I said I can’t do it because I am going down, I’m going to be interviewed to be an airline hostess. She said, “Grace, you can’t do that. You’ve never flown in your life.”
I said no, but I’m going to do it.
So to make that long story very short she decided she was going too. She didn’t want me to do it alone. She wanted to have the same kind of thing.
So anyway, we both were taken in because all you had to be was a college graduate. You didn’t have to be a nurse at that time because they really wanted people.
So we were both airline hostesses and I was one for… yes come on. [picks up a dog] Oh yes. Oh, such a nice boy. Absolutely. Oh. Such a nice… I see what he wants to be. He wants to see….
Patty: Say a few words.
Grace: He wants to see that. Yes you are a big thing. Anyway, where was I?
Patty: The interview.
Grace: Oh, we were both interviewed. We were both taken. And so we came to of all places, Virginia. And we lived with… how many were there? There were about 16 of us that were being taken. And all you had to be was a college graduate and you had to be a certain size and you had to be good with people and you had to do all that sort of thing.
Well no one of us had any problems with it. We’d all been to school. We all had been to college and had a good time there. And so there we were.
So we lived for six weeks over in Virginia in a house that was rented just particularly for us. And then we began to know people. And the people that you did this with were all interesting and came from interesting families and so forth and so on. And so we had a wonderful time. And life went on until I met… well I remember exactly when it was it was New Year’s Eve. And I was coming in from a date and I had to fly the next day.
I had to fly the next day. And so I was all dressed. I was dressed in my uniform and stuff and went into the ready‑room and I said, “I’m spending the night here because I have to get on to the first plane in the morning at 7:30 and I’ll be darned if I’m going home.” Well, they laughed because they were all friends. And everybody in that place was redoing themselves from the war. And we had five people who had flown, my husband being one. And he was one of the first into the air for D‑Day. And he flew all day. D‑Day.
Grace: So that was not what I call a big lot of fun. But anyway, so, that’s what he did. And I didn’t know that but he was one of those and then there was another… well we won’t go into all that. But they were interesting. They were fascinating as a matter of fact.
Patty: Now what airline was this?
Grace: PCA, the Capital Airline. And that’s really now what’s its name is.
Grace: No, come on.
Grace: United. Yeah. And they merged with United, well, it became United. They merged with something else. But anyway, so, that’s where I met him. And I remember I went in and I said, “I don’t want to be disturbed because I am going to sleep.” Which I did. And somebody told me later, that Joe Addison came in and he looked down and he said, “That girl is out cold.”
And I want to meet her. Went back and said, “Who is she?” Well they said who she was. She was an airline hostess on PCA. Well, anyway, Capital Airlines. The next morning, he was the first person I saw because he woke me up so that I’d be on time to get on to the airplane. And as we were chatting, he said, “What time do you get home?” And I said not until tomorrow afternoon. But I can be home… because I can be in my own bed at home, and so forth.
So anyway he said, “Well how about having dinner with me tomorrow night?” and so that was exactly what we did.
Patty: Wow. Wow.
Grace: So there you have it.
Patty: I didn’t know that.
Grace: And life progressed from thereon. So then we had the house in Georgetown and that became too small and so then we bought the one that you know, the big one.
Patty: On P Street? Yes.
Grace: And we were in that until he died. And then I sold it and bought this. And when I bought this a couple of my friends came in and they said, “You can’t possibly live in that house. It’s too small. Grace you can’t live there.” And I said, “Certainly I can live there. Both of my daughters are married. I’m by myself. I can do exactly as I want to do. And that’s what I am going to do.”
Well, they thought I was crazy. So anyway….
Patty: So how long did you live here by yourself?
Grace: Well I’ll tell you what happened. I sold the other house and I had all of the furniture moved in here. Well, then I thought I can’t live in that house. I can’t get my furniture into it. It’s impossible for me to live in that house. It’s just wrong. What in the world was I thinking of? So, anyway, I was with another friend of mine and we were going down the street. And you just take this off, because we’re not going to have this on the thing.
Patty: OK, we are back and we’re talking about the Addison family and growing up in Georgetown with two daughters.
Grace: They had the best.
Patty: So they were born here and spent their whole lives here.
Grace: Yeah. They had the best time in the world, loved it.
Patty: Were there many children in Georgetown at that time?
Grace: Very fortunately, we had quite a few friends that were here that had children that were their age, and one of the ones that they were particularly close to, Margie, in particular, was on the corner of ‑ you know where you go down…
Patty: “R” Street?
Grace: No, it wasn’t “R” Street. What’s the street that restaurant is on?
Grace: Wisconsin, yeah. Oh, dear. I’m going to have to find that.
Patty: OK, well I have a map here of Georgetown. Let’s see, here’s “P” Street, where you live, 33rd and “P.”
Grace: All right, come down here.
Grace: And that is what?
Patty: “O” Street.
Grace: “O” Street.
Patty: “O” and 35th, around there?
Grace: Not 35th, I think it would be more like 34th.
Patty: 34th, that’s right here.
Grace: And we lived at 35th.
Grace: OK, 34th and “O.” And two very good friends of ours bought that house on the corner and next to it.
Patty: And who were they? What was their name?
Grace: Well, they’re both dead.
Grace: Anyway, and next to them, what’s his name? Who was in… A main president of the U.S. bought that.
Patty: Right. So you were here during all that when he was inaugurated?
Grace: Oh, yeah. And he was divine with the children. That’s how it came up.
Grace: Oh, yeah. He couldn’t have been better, because the snow came and he was out throwing snowballs and having a marvelous time with them. They thought he was just divine.
Grace: They all loved him.
Patty: Oh, my gosh!
Grace: Because he‑ and I was not a democrat, nor was my husband; that was never born. We thought he was just fine for the children, and that was great. And he was; he really loved kids. He’d never really outgrown being a child himself in many ways.
Grace: Well, he hadn’t.
Patty: Did you go, did the girls go to Volta Place to the pool or the park? Because I’ve seen pictures of Kennedy in the Volta Park.
Grace: My children and the rest of them went up there practically every day in the summer that we weren’t away. Margie, as a matter of fact, with the far court girl, who was the one on the corner, learned to play tennis. And they’re both fantastic tennis players.
Grace: In fact, somebody said to her one day… Oh, I know. It was out at Chevy Chase, and he said to Marge, “Where did you learn to play tennis?” And she said, “I learned at the Volta playground in Georgetown.” Well, he said, “I’d certainly like to know who taught you, because he did the best job.” She’s always been a fantastic tennis player and loves it still. So there’s another small thing that Georgetown had, but if they had grown, after they had passed a certain age, they weren’t up there.
Patty: And did they go to local schools? Did they go to public schools?
Grace: They both went to Holton‑Arms.
Patty: Oh, they did.
Grace: And before that, well, they were at… What was the name of the school they were in? It was up on… Well, it was around the corner, practically, because you could warm up. And I can’t tell you the name of it, because I’ve forgotten that. You don’t get to a certain age and remember everything.
Grace: And you get really mad at yourself when you don’t.
Patty: And you said Margie has some other good friends that are still around in Georgetown, and families.
Grace: Well, they’re not in Georgetown, but they’re certainly… And some of them are in Georgetown, I guess.
Patty: You mentioned the Belins?
Grace: Oh, yeah. Well, oh, yeah. The Belins were very good friends. Mary Belin and I were in the same garden club, and the families had known each other for a long time. So she played tennis with Mrs. Belin all of the time. Mary was very cute. When Margie was married, she gave a big party for her, so that was fun. She had a good time.
Patty: At there… Do they still live at the house?
Grace: That’s the one right up here?
Patty: Yes, OK.
Patty: On “R” Street.
Grace: Yes, that’s right. When those people, those two people started going on about him, I really did. I said, “Harry, I hope you sell it,” and I said, “It will make me very sad, because I’ve had too many good times there, and I knew your mother and father well.” And so that, I’m not going to love that, but I think they deserve all of that.
Patty: They do.
Grace: He put a price on it that’s big enough so that they’re going to have to do something about it.
Patty: Do you think they want to move?
Grace: Oh, they’ve already bought a house.
Patty: Oh, they have.
Grace: Because he owned everything that went down to “O” Street? Not “O” Street, “P” Street, “Q” Street. He owned everything on the left‑hand side.
Grace: And he sold those, because the district would not allow him to do them… And he didn’t want to change the way they looked on the outside or anything of that sort, but he wanted it to be something that if people wanted an office in Georgetown, they could have a floor, they could have two. But the district was not far sighted enough to realize that they were going to miss a big revenue from him.
Grace: And so he sold them, and that’s just exactly why he said, “If that man wants this that badly, let him buy it.” Well, the man doesn’t have any money, and he doesn’t have that kind of money. And I wouldn’t want to do that anyway, because there are too many Belins buried right next to it in the cemetery.
Grace: And I thought to myself, I wouldn’t want to be buried there. I wouldn’t want to have bought that and be buried there. Mary could make you really, very uncomfortable if she wanted to. [laughs] One of my best friends said, “That’s not nice.” I said, “It is too! It’s perfectly true.” And so there we were.
Patty: You mentioned the garden club. I know you were a prominent member of the…
Grace: Oh, yeah, still am. But I think I’m going to definitely say that it’s time to get out.
Patty: Now, was your garden ever on the tour?
Grace: No. No, it wouldn’t have been for something that too many people would want to go to see, I wouldn’t think. But you’d have to go through the house.
Patty: Right, through the house.
Grace: And all the rest, and my husband said, “No way.”
Grace: I don’t want all those people going through because you don’t know who you have. And unfortunately, and he said this, unfortunately there are too many people that come for not the right thing.
Patty: Besides the tour every year, what else does the garden club do? Do they have other events?
Grace: The garden club really does a lot of very, very good things. They do, well they did a lot when the Children’s House was there.
Patty: Right, that’s right.
Grace: But, that was sold and so they didn’t have that to do anymore. I’d have to look because I haven’t been very good about the Garden Club, so I think we should put that away.
Patty: But, the Belins House…
Grace: Oh, it’s divine.
Patty: … goes on every year and their gardens are just spectacular.
Grace: Yeah, well he’s generous. And, the other people they were so generous because she was in the Garden Club, they were the ones at Dumbarton Oaks. So, we always had meetings at Dumbarton. That was really very pleasant.
Grace: And, that was really fun because the gardener was such a nice man. And if you had any questions, he really would say, “Come over and I’ll do anything I can for you.” And, I had some really very good friends who came in from Ireland and he was, as a matter of fact, he was the last one of the, well we won’t even go into all that because that’s too much. Anyway, he and his wife came and were staying with us and she was a great gardener and he was a great gardener. And, they had the most beautiful place in Northern Ireland that I stay in whenever I’m there. She’s the only one that’s still living. But she’s divine and has the most beautiful garden and he also was a big gardener, loved doing that.
And anyway, they came to visit and I said, “Now, I’d really, I do have some place that you’ll like to go because you can talk to the man”. Ah, well, we spent a whole afternoon in that place. And, he was so thrilled to have them because they knew what they were talking about and he knew who they were and he’d been told who they were and so forth and so on.
And so, he just loved it. He had the most wonderful time. And, she wrote him a note when they got home and told him how much they enjoyed it and how much he had done to help her with some thoughts. And so, that was really very nice and he called me and he said they were the two nicest people I think I have ever met.
Patty: Oh, wasn’t that nice?
Grace: Well, they were. I mean, they were just divine.
Patty: Now, he was the main gardener? They must have…
Patty: … they must have a large…
Grace: But, he’s no longer there.
Patty: Yes. Well, tell us about your garden. You had a nice back yard on P Street.
Grace: Oh, yeah, a very nice garden.
Patty: And, do you know much about that house, when it was built on P Street?
Grace: I know that it probably belonged to a member of the family. But, it didn’t belong to them when we bought it. We had that’s another do over place.
Grace: Which we did. That was fun because I love doing over houses.
Patty: OK. Tell us about that.
Grace: Well, it wasn’t that much to be done except that we got rid of the basement as such, and that was, well that was an entrance hall.
Patty: But the basement was it the level you walked into if it was like my house.
Grace: Yes, it wasn’t that way when we bought it.
Patty: Oh, OK.
Grace: You went in; you went up some stairs and went in.
Patty: Oh, OK. So, what did you turn that floor into?
Grace: We turned that into; the back part of it was a laundry and a workroom for my husband because he loved making things, furniture and things of that sort.
Grace: And so, he had that. And then, it was the front hall, going up the stairs because we had to have stairs put in. And then, a marvelous room that was, well what would we say; I always said it was the library. That was a good name, it was safe. And, it was, oh it had a pull down bed. You know, one of those beds that you pull if you had to have it for extra people in the house.
Patty: In the library?
Grace: And so, that was good. Now, it is a very commodious house. But, I was so glad that I sold it because supposing I’d had, I’d broken my wrist and I’d had the problem that I had and I would have certainly gotten back to walking and all that sort of thing, but I have this to be sure that I’m not going to do anything funny. But, I couldn’t have done that in that house because I would have gone in the first floor, go up to the second floor, and then have to go up to the third floor for the bedrooms.
Grace: Well that’s, I mean I wouldn’t want to do that. They had marvelous bedrooms and baths and such.
Patty: And, isn’t there a little balcony on the front of the house, is that your house?
Grace: Why, we put it on the second floor.
Grace: And, we had a big living room. And then, we had a long window put in there that you could open on two sides. And, we put in what’s there now. Well, it makes it look better. It wasn’t a porch but it was just a round thing, the balcony, it looks like a balcony. So, that was that.
Patty: And you’re back yard, you had a pretty good size back yard.
Grace: We had a big back yard. You remember that.
Grace: Because the one next door was just as big. And, they were very good friends. So, that was fun. I can’t tell you anything else.
Grace: I’ve talked much too long.
Patty: I was just thinking one more question maybe about the business district, how the changes, how that has….
Grace: Well, I think that’s much better.
Patty: Much better.
Grace: Oh, yes, I certainly do because in the beginning, no.
Patty: And, there weren’t very many places to go out to dinner?
Grace: No, nothing like it is now.
Grace: But, the one place that’s been there ever since I can remember is the one on the corner of R, no it isn’t R, S, we were on P.
Patty: Not the Phoenix?
Grace: Down to the next, S I guess it would be. No, were on P Street.
Grace: So, the next one going down.
Patty: So, that would be O.
Grace: Yeah, that’s right. It was on, yeah it is, it’s on O Street, O and Potomac. Oh, not Potomac, the long one.
Grace: Yes, O and Wisconsin. But, you know the one it is. It’s the one that’s been there forever that people go to have lunch or they have dinner or all sorts of things. It’s been owned by the same people ever since it started.
Patty: I’m thinking of names and…
Grace: And, going a long way. It’s the same street…
Patty: Oh, Martins. Martins on the Corner. Oh, of course.
Grace: Martins on the Corner. Yeah, that’s right.
Patty: Yes. That’s right. That was here when I lived here, too.
Grace: And so…
Patty: It’s still a pretty good place.
Grace: Oh, yes, absolutely. I have friends that come to town and they all say be sure and make reservations for Martins for one night or one afternoon or whatever it is.
Grace: Oh well, Martins is always very satisfactory.
Grace: And, it’s certainly satisfactory for a whole lot of things that you like to eat that you can’t find other places.
Patty: That’s right. Shad season and…
Grace: Yes, absolutely, which will be coming on even though we don’t think about it with all of that awful, awful smell. Anyway, now have I given you anything?
Patty: I think so. That’s very, very good. And if you think of anything in the future, just give me a call…
Grace: I’ll give it to you.
Patty: … and we can start over again. Thank you, very much.
Grace: Well, I’ve enjoyed being with you.
Patty: And I with you.