Plucked From the Comments

GM doesn’t normally do this, but he was especially touched by a comment he received the other day in response to posting the image of the old Roy Rogers on Wisconsin Ave. It’s from reader “George” and it’s a love letter to Georgetown’s past:

I remember the balloon man, I heard he was busted for selling heroin, he used to be outside of the Little Tavern, at Wisconsin and N St. And those were not “Hells Angels”, they were “Pagans”. They were scary! Used to be a lot of them in the middle sixties, down on M Street, when the auto parts stores were there, and the saddlery store, near Desperado’s, and the laundromat on M St. And the other Little Tavern. Near Stohlman’s Chevrolet, and Menehan’s and Hardware, around the corner was Weaver’s. And the Cellar Door. And the head shops selling trippy posters and black lights. Before “Up Against the Wall”. Remember when Britches first opened on Wisconsin, just below N? 1967. And Doc Dalinsky’s, Mrs. Crocker’s lamp shop, Dorcas Hardin’s dress shop. Bill Fitzgerald’s Wine and Cheese Shop, next to Peoples Drug Store. Or Coffee, Tea and Spice? Rive Gauche! The French Market, Magruders, the Sealtest dairy at 25th and M St? They delivered! Rich’s shoe store. John Learmont’s Records and Books. Arpad’s Antiques. Long before, my mom kept her horse in the stable at 23rd and P Street. We used to take the street car to the amusement park at Glen Echo! My sister and I once got stuck there because our nanny didn’t have the 5 cents for the return trip. Buying our goldfish at Woolworth’s. Exotics pets up at Friendly Beasties. And the man with his haunting bell, who would walk the streets in the summer, sharpening knives. Lad Mills selling Esso on Que Street. Georgetown was a great place to grow up, and still is.

I almost forgot the Francis Scott Key Bookshop on 28th St. And the fabulous Saville bookstore on P st, just off Wisconsin. Used to buy my copies of I F Stone’s weekly there, during the Vietnam War. And “Yes!” for organic food. And music at the Bayou. Gallagher and Huegely’s Lumber yard, the coal trains coming to the power plant. The Veerhof Gallery, and Barbara Fendrick’s Gallery on M. Great memories.

And…the Cerberus movie theatre, Sonny’s Surplus, the Gulf Oil gas station where now stands the Latham Hotel, Fromage on M Street, the Guards, and Jamie’s East India Company, the River Club, and Wyatt D’s nightclub on M, near Desiree. Gepetto’s Pizza. What was Alan’s movie theatre on M Street called, where now is CVS? Before that it was the showroom for Manhattan Auto, then they moved to Rockville. And on that same block was Shrader’s Sound, the first good stereo store in DC. And Orpheus Records. I could go on…Larry McMurtry’s Booked Up on 31st.

GM tries to be a historian of Georgetown, but even he hasn’t heard of half the stores mentioned here (although he definitely remembers waiting in line for Geppeto’s Pizza back in the early 80s when he came to DC with his family; it still ranks in his memory as the best pizza he’s ever had). Something tells me George and Dave Roffman ought to get together sometime and reminisce. GM will be there taking notes…



Filed under History

29 responses to “Plucked From the Comments

  1. GeorgeM

    CVS used to be the Biograph Theater. At night it tended to show arty films and in the afternoon porno movies. When those x-rated movies let out, a bunch of paunchy bald guys came out blinking at the sun and rushing off lest anyone know what they had been watching.

    Does anyone remember the Rizzoli Bookstore which used to be in or around the Foundry in the early 1980’s. It was the most beautiful, sedate, welcoming bookstore I have ever seen, before or since.

    Also missed: the Big Cheese on M Street (founded by women chefs including Anne Amernick) and the American Cafe on Wisconsin Avenue (I still crave their rare roast beef sandwiches on croissants).

  2. carol Joynt

    These are fabulous memories and while I was too young for some I remember many of them. I’m sorry the newer people, especially the developers, didn’t know Georgetown then. If they did the preservation spirit would be strong in this community, the will to preserve and protect the village’s personality, character, uniqueness — whatever you want to call it.

    Add to the list: Amanda’s Fondue Parlor! Neam’s! Little Caledonia! Condomrageous! Yes, we did have a stand alone condom store on M near Wisconsin.

    Those were the days.

  3. Jamie S

    Wow, great stuff, indeed brings back wonderful memories–I’m 50 and grew up on R Street and remember most of what has been referenced…will add the old Georgetown Theater, Roy Rodgers, Blimpie’s, the cafateria at People’s, the underground private club where Barnes and Noble is (also where Cerebus movie theater was), Rocky Horror midnight show, Little Tavern, Micheal O’Hara bars, the cowboy bar on the corner of Wisconsin and M, and of course Nathan’s, esp. back room after midnight!…we all could go on and on…

  4. JR Cook

    Add to the list: “The Biograph” theater, presently the CVS store @ M street, and “Gazang” the first organic market in Georgetown.

  5. Katherine Whitmore

    Anyone remember the very cool Indian restaurant that was on M Street near the old Cerberus Theater, i.e. where Barnes & Noble now is? This would have been in the 80s.

  6. Robert

    I grew up in Georgetown during the sixties. This is bringing back wonderful memories. I went to Holy Trinity and after school, would go to Children’s House on N Street next to the Thompson Dairy. Later, I would go to Jellefs Boys Club behind the Singles Safeway!! On friday nights, as a treat, my mother and I would go to the cafeteria across the alley from Riggs Bank (R.I.P) , later is was an American Cafe amongst other things. Later in college, another world opened up at Clyde’s, Au Pied de Cochon (Hi, Chapin whereever you are!!), the Tombs, French Market for wine and cheese, and the poor departed Nathan’s. Growing up surrounded by all the history and architecture, no wonder I became an historian.

  7. That cafeteria next to Riggs parking lot was Britt’s. It was open 24 hours a day, and was a favorite hangout for the waiters after the saloons and nightclubs would close (3 a.m. on weekends). On any given night you could find the likes of Redd Fox, the comedian, who was playing at the Cellar Door, or jazz artists from Blues Alley. Nathans (no apostophre please) was named after the lead character from the Broadway musical Guys & Dolls. The Bayou down on the waterfront (long gone) started out as a Dixieland nightclub, and later featured rock and rolls artists including Billy Joel, Foreigner, and other 60s rockers. Clydes used to be a biker’s bar. The Crazy Horse featured live rock and roll bands (Fats Domino played there). On weekend nights Georgetown was jumping.

  8. Add these to the Bayou …Apple Pie, Whiskey A Go Go, Pisces, East India Trading Company, Cellar Door, The Shadows, Mr. Henry’s… can you imagine those kinds of sophisticated, or sophisticatedly funky, bars/clubs/dives/discos thriving in today’s Georgetown? Once upon a time Gtown WAS the curve. And then, of course, at 4 a.m. a bag of Little Tavern burgers before bed, morning coffee at Harold’s. Neam’s would deliver whatever was needed for survival…perfectly roasted tenderloin, tin of caviar and all the fixins’

  9. Walter

    Hot Diggity Dog was next to the Biograph, if I remember correctly.

    Where the Four Seasons now is, was the garage for Washington Gas Light Company. Their offices were on 30th St., where the Suites hotel now is.

    When CVS on Wisconsin was Peoples, they had a sandwich counter in the back.

    I can’t remember the name of the big club that was in the basement of Barnes and Nobles. That was when Barnes and Nobles was a big parking garage.

    And I can’t remember the name of the French restaurant that was in the basement of the Georgetown Dutch Inn (now the Monticello).

    Harold’s was where you could often see Edward Bennett Williams getting his morning coffee, even when he owned the Redskins and the Orioles.

  10. Walter

    Oops. Carol Joynt has the names of the club under Barnes and Noble: Pisces.

  11. George Hill

    Yes, Wyatt and Tandy Dickerson’s club was Pisces, and Alan Rubin had the Biograph. His wife was the nurse at Dr. Washington’s, best pediatrician in DC. A lollipop after your shot. So, let’s continue where we left off… Old Mexico…Georgetown Cotton Company, Georgetown Leather Design, Mr Henry’s and Mr Smith’s. Georgetown Tobacco used to be on Wisconsin, below N, next to the original Britches. Bought my first bell bottoms there. The Big Cheese and Le Fromage. Blair Electric and Reed Electric was on M Street until they moved up to Wisconsin and Que. And before the 7-11, how about Michael Hadeed and the used car lot, do you remember his blue Rolls-Royce? Tramps? Champions? Hamburger Hamlet on M. Maison de Crepes, the waiters on roller skates at La Nicoise, Au Pied de Couchon, Houston’s, the Body Shop…

  12. George Hill

    My great, great, great, grandfather was Uriah Forrest, who lived on M Street , in the Forrest Marbury House. In 1792, Rebecca Forrest said M Street was too noisy, and refused to move back to M St from “Rosedale”, in Cleveland Park. Has nothing has changed, except the labels on the buildings? Georgetown has changed, and I read in the Metropolitan that only 2 percent of the residents of G’town have been here for most of their lives. I miss my childhood friends, my parent’s friends, the Kay Halle’s and the Katherine Grahams, the Belins and the Gilberts, Lou Traxall, and the other irreplaceable characters who made this village so special. Therefore, we all have to become irreplaceable characters. Cheers.

  13. George Hill

    Katherine, the Indian place was owned by Umbi… Martin G worked there, and Chris A. And Sylvia also? Later it became Le Steak.

  14. Kate Whitmore

    Add Monkey Business, in the basement of the Woolworths, to the list of nightclubs dating from the early 70s. It had a postage stamp sized dance floor but was always packed. My high school friends and I drank tequila sunrises and boogied on our monster platforms. We got in using fake ids purchsased at a photo shop on Pennsylvania Avenue, a block from the White House.

  15. Robert S

    Washington was once a small town!! Dr. John Washington was my pediatrician!! His office was on Wyoming and Columbia Rd. Beautifully grand building. He had Disney movie prints on the walls. Later he moved his office to Bethesda right before he retired to his farm in western Maryland along the Potomac, I believe. The last mention I saw of him was in an article in National Geographic. The article was about the Washingtons. He was descended from John “the Immigrant” Washington, George Washington’s great great grandfather.

  16. carol Joynt

    GM, this makes me think maybe you should have a page dedicated to memories of Georgetown … because there are quite an impressive lot of them.

  17. Geppeto’s – their pepperoni was piled on; very greasy, very delicious!

  18. where was the yes! in georgetown? is this the same local organic grocery chain that exists today?

  19. yes! in Georgetown was located on 31st Street, below the C&O Canal. It was owned by Ollie Popenoe, who also produced a health and spiritual magazine.

  20. That saves me. Thanks for being so ssnebile!

  21. Brian Kaye

    I remember many of the places mentioned here as I used to frequent Georgetown as a teen in the late 60s & early 70s; I used to get my hair cut at Hair on Wisconsin and afterward, in the warm months, head to The Garden for a Gibson Girl ice cream and enjoy it in the rear garden; I spent many hours at the Saville Bookshop on P St, remember when Britches first opened, shopped at Georgetown University Shop while walking down cobblestone streets with streetcar tracks, slid through the Snooty Fox that was a roofed over alley on Wisconsin between M & N; I miss Reed Electric and Weaver’s Hardware and Doc Dalinsky; used to go to Picses after the movies at the Biograph or Cerberus. Thanks all for the memories.

  22. JoAnn (Marinangeli) Walter

    I grew up in Falls Church and remember alot of these places very well. I also remember “Old Mexico” a very cool clothing store you had to walk through an alley to get there. I loved Sonnys Surplus too. And I went to the old Roy Rogers on the corner many times and saw several movies at the Biograph. I remember going to Desperados back in the day too. As well as the Celler Door. And who can forget Dixie Liqour? Love the memories 🙂

  23. chris

    and does anybody remember dancing at cafe med on m st? 1984 thru
    1987 abouts?

  24. Fred

    I grew up in Fairfax County, Va. at the time was pretty much a dry state.. no liquor stores except state ones, (Aunt Betty’s Cookie Store). If you drove across the Key Bridge from Arlington, you practically drove into the teenie weenie parking lot for Dixie Liquor, if you had a draft card you could buy most anything you want…dancing at the bayou on saturday was sooo packed all you could do was move your hands and feet… one last memory, forgot the name of the club, but the owner had a pet monkey that would errr perform for you…1968

    capnfred SW Fla.

  25. Groovy’s Ship Wreck at the bottom of the Key Bridge on M Street ! In the ’60’s…Anybody remember it ?

  26. Grew up in Georgetown at 1418 33rd st. Lived there from 1968 – 1982 and was turning 3 when we moved from NYC in August of 68. The 1970s was a great and funky time to live in Georgetown. It was very intimate with store owners and residents. My mother and younger brother Bobby ate with Doc’s family thanksgiving 1977. Wisconsin was a trip in the early and mid 1970s and although I was a young lad, I remember so much of that period. One funny memory were the outside vendors that had tables lined with bongs and pipes. I would be skateboarding by as you would here a man declare, “Are prices are lower to get you higher!” LOL – imagine posh 2015 Georgetown with that going on…no way – hahha! I remember the bell and the man with the knife sharpening apparel on his back roaming the streets of Georgetown. Found out later that Volta Park was and still is a massive graveyard from the Civil war….that was a shock! My home at 1418 33rd street use to be a school in the early 1900s. Anyone remember the old Georgetown police station on Volta place? Add Powder & Smoke to the store lists. My mother use to work there. I lived across the street from Dan Rather (1419) and the Potomac river was a brown mud bath! Lots of fun abandon buildings for young kids to explore. So much has changed in that town and all over the world. It was a very special place to grow up in a very radical time. Always remember!

  27. Love this. The saddlery was Stombocks. The Saville I’m pretty sure served cappuccino and meringue with coffee ice cream, or if not there was a place next door that did. Went there on the streetcar from Cabin John in early 60s skipping school. Window shop at Marimekko which was the last word in cool. Would walk up Wisconsin to chat in broken French with the nice man who ran the French Market, go home with a baguette and pain au chocolate.

  28. Melanie LaBorwit

    just found this wonderful thread full of great memories, while looking for the name of the amazing pioneering design store. was it Scan? there was a place , started with a B, just off Wisconsin avenue, my Dad loved to shop there. He worked at GU hospital, and we lived in the suburbs and would come into town to look at the hippies and eat at Blimpies. Later I became a Hoya and walked all over the place and got to know it well….can’t believe you don’t have The Soup Kitchen , it was down by Desperado’s, or the astounding used record store, which had EVERYthing and where I began my vinyl collection, on M street, or the Red Balloon, the epic toy store where I worked for a while with owners Bob and Linda Joy, or Teri’s Perfumerie Francaise, where Teri would come in always dressed in white with her little dog in her matching purse, and spray you with something opulent, or the French cafe on M street with bare brick walls and handsome waiters who also played soccer, and they were open all night and you could go there to pull an all nighter and have a plate of escargot. ok, what was the name of that design store that carried so many beautiful things?

  29. Judy Getrich

    Maybe you’re thinking of The Door Store, which featured contemporary design. My parents got an unusual 3-legged, kidney-shaped, off-white marble coffee table there in about 1962…probably other furniture and accessories too.

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