Manning the Polls in a Red State

April 11, 2016

Former editor and publisher, David Roffman retired from the Georgetown in 2009 and moved to Alabama, a very different place compared to his years in the nation’s capital and the Old Dominion. Today, he lives in Foley, Ala., with his wife Carmen and two dogs, Brando and Bogart, and goes to the beach a lot.

On my 69th birthday, Election Day, Nov. 6, 2012, I spent 16 hours working the polls at the Foley Alabama Civic Center.

Voting in Alabama is not like voting in Washington, D.C. or McLean, Va., where I had spent 42 years before moving to the Gulf Coast. Alabama is a decidedly Red State and has been for quite some time. Mitt Romney’s winning here was a given before polls opened at 7 a.m.

Voting down here is antiquated. Paper bal- lots are still used, and there are no computerized machines counting votes. The seniors working the polls had to stay an extra four hours after the polls closed to count write-in votes. Was this even important?

At the age of 69, I was the youngest person working the polls here. To think that the entire election process is put into the hands of people in their 70s and 80s . . . amazing. Half these poll workers can’t even get a driver’s license anymore.

The ballot here in Foley, Ala., consisted of voting for president and vice president and sev- eral judgeships and state positions as well as 14 amendments, including one proposing an amend- ment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to prohibit any person, employer or health care provider from being compelled to participate in any healthy care system. Alabamians voted 59 percent to 41 percent to repeal Obamacare. Again . . . amazing.

Roy Moore won the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court position. He ran a campaign espousing that the court buildings should post the Ten Commandments. Hmm, I wonder if one of the commandments he had in mind was “Thou Shall Not Do Meth.”

I was glad to see a couple of states voting to legalize marijuana. More than 1.6 million per- sons are in prison, and many of them are there for using or selling marijuana. Perhaps this futile war on drugs is ready to take a new turn to freeing up our prison system.

President Barack Obama was re-elected with a big minority vote, especially among Hispanics. Alabama will probably remain a Red State, how- ever, because down here Hispanic immigrants are frowned upon and forced to move to another state. Farmers have no one to work their fields anymore, crops die on the vine, but the good ol’ boys still vote Republican. Go figure.

The one-cent tax to save the school system of Alabama was voted in once again. Maybe President Obama should institute a one-cent tax increase for all Americans whenever they buy something. It seems to work down here without much protest. There are lots of ways to skin a cat. Even an ol’ poll cat.

Former Publisher Dave Roffman: Survivor

February 18, 2016

David Roffman, former editor and publisher of The Georgetowner, retired to the Gulf Coast six years ago. He and his wife Carmen are living and loving the beach life, taking it easy every day with their two big dogs. Washington seems so far away now — not that Roffman has stopped commenting about politics and American life. Nevertheless, one never knows what excitement retirement can bring. The following is an update from our favorite old guy.

I was just elected president of our homeowners association. There are 290 homes in our Ashford Park community, which is in Foley, Alabama — on the Gulf Coast, near Mobile.

On my first day as president, on Jan. 12, I was holding my first meeting with the newly elected board of directors when two guys brandishing guns entered the home and announced, “Everybody down. This is a holdup!”

There were eight of us at the meeting, almost all senior citizens. I stood up and faced them with a gun pointed right at my stomach and said, “This could take a while. It’s hard for us to get down … let alone get back up again.” True story.

One of the seniors started to scream, another ran down the hall and jumped out of the bedroom window, and the two perpetrators ran outside chasing him. We locked the doors and called the police. A few hours later, after a robbery at the nearby Walgreens parking lot, the police caught the guys — two 18-year old punks who were former football players at Foley High School. The cops booked them and their bail was set at $100,000 each. They had been on a crime spree all the way from Texas, according to WKRG-TV Channel 5, which also interviewed me and others about the crime.

How’s that for my first day in office? Just like old times in Georgetown, when I was Crime Prevention Chairman for the Citizens Association of Georgetown. (And, by the way, bring back Au Pied de Cochon!)

NCAA Men’s Basketball: Arizona to Win It All

April 23, 2015

All right, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament has arrived. So, it’s time to make our 2015 NCAA predictions.

There are lots of ways to measure the performance of a team when preparing our 2015 NCAA predictions. Some examples, moving from least useful to most, are won-loss record, RPI rating, average margin of victory, NCAA tournament seed, and predictive power ratings. Yes, that’s correct: won-loss record is at the bottom of the list when it comes to making your NCAA predictions. Luck plays a large role in wins and losses, so margin of victory is a better predictor to use when making predictions for the 2015 NCAA tournament. Our power ratings combine margin of victory with information about who a team played, where they played them, and when they played the game. These are the most important factors when rating a team.

I must interject here that several teams in the select 64 simply do not deserve to be in the tournament. Texas and UCLA come to mind. They both have 13 losses on the season. Pathetic! Indiana doesn’t deserve to be in the tournament either.

I might also interject here that every sports pundit in America thinks Kentucky –including the President of the United States — will win it all, based on the fact that Kentucky has a purported five players who will go in the first round of the NBA draft this year. And they’re all freshmen. They may all make NBA teams in the first round, but they will not win this year’s NCAA Tournament. Stay tuned for my upset prediction.

Locally, it is impressive that Georgetown University, University of Maryland, University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University have all made the cut to the select 64. They will all win their first two games which will take them to the Sweet Sixteen, but only U.Va. will advance any further.

I am also impressed by the state of Iowa, which is fielding three teams in the tournament: Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa. All three are sleepers and could surprise a lot of people. Another powerful sleeper to watch is Wichita State. They got to the Final Four last year remember, and they come in with a solid team this year as well.

Here is the way I see the four divisions coming out: In the Midwest, Kentucky will make the final four by narrowly defeating a tough Notre Dame squad.

University of Virginia emerges out of the East defeating a super Louisville team.

In the West, I see Wisconsin and Arizona in a heated battle with Arizona coming out on top.

And in the Southwest, it will come down to Gonzaga and Duke, but the stronger team will be victorious, and that is Gonzaga.

Thus, my Final Four will be Arizona playing Kentucky, and Gonzaga meeting UVA. Two great games for sure. The upset of upsets will be Arizona beating Kentucky handily, and meeting Gonzaga in the Final game for the title. Arizona has a solid starting five, including a very hot three point shooting guard and a big, tough center. Gonzaga also is solid, with a 5th year senior at point guard and he too can knock down the threes with ease.

I predict Arizona will be victorious in the end. And it will be great for college basketball to see the all freshman Kentucky squad go down in defeat.

Although a few games have begun, there is a link to this year’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament brackets. Take a chance, fill them it and see whether you, I or President Obama is right.

Oscars 2015: Academy Awards Predictions

February 26, 2015

Nominations for this year’s Oscars are among the strongest in many a year. The films up for the golden statuette are almost all movies that will stand the test of time. I’ve seen them all except for “Into the Woods” and “Boyhood,” neither of which has played at any theater in Gulf Shores, Alabama. And if they do play here, I won’t go see them. I refuse to see any movie with Meryl Streep (“Into the Woods”). I am boycotting all of her movies after her pathetic performance with Tommy Lee Jones a couple of years ago in “Hope Springs.” By the way, I won’t go see any movie in which Samuel L. Jackson has a role (overacting always, never varying in his acting, and he’ll take any role, any time). So, “The Kingsmen” is already off my 2015 list of movies to see.

Back to the Oscars, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, 7 p.m., Feb. 22, Hollywood, Calif., to air live on ABC. “Boyhood.” It sounds like one big crashing bore of a movie. I know, I know. It has already won its fair share of awards, but this is one of those movies that 10 years from now people will still be saying, “How the f—–g hell did this ever win an Oscar?” Don’t believe me? Check back with me in ten years.

For my money, the best films of 2014 are these: “Birdman,” “The Imitation Game,” “American Sniper” and “The Theory of Everything.” “Birdman” or “The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance” is a black comedy-drama that tells the story of an actor (Michael Keaton) — famous for portraying an iconic superhero — as he struggles to mount a Broadway play. In the days leading up to opening night, he battles his ego and attempts to recover his family, his career and himself. I think the movie itself will win Best Film, Edward Norton Best Supporting Actor and Michael Keaton will earn the Best Actor award. But will it win Best Film?

Of all the movies this past year, I was most moved by Clint Eastwood’s brilliant anti-war movie “American Sniper.” And Georgetown University graduate Bradley Cooper gives a strong performance as Chris Kyle, the soldier who was highly decorated for his four tours of duty in Iraq, only to be killed back home in Texas by a deranged veteran of the same war. If Michael Keaton doesn’t win Best Actor, then Bradley Cooper certainly deserves the award. “American Sniper” is the only movie of all the contenders that I’ve seen twice.

By the way, “American Sniper” is the largest grossing film of 2014. But there have only been four box-office champs that won best picture in the past 30 years. “Rain Man” (1988), “Forrest Gump” (1994), “Titanic” (1997) and “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003). So, top grossing films do not necessarily fulfill the main criteria for Best Picture. That is why I am worried a film like “Boyhood” might win Best Film. Who has seen this movie?

I’d like to slow down here from the break-neck pace of this column and ask this question about the Oscars: How the hell did Peter O’Toole not win an academy award for Best Actor for his performance in “Lawrence of Arabia”? The Oscars has a big shadow hanging over it ever since this slight.

“The Theory of Everything” is the romantic story between physicist Stephen Hawking and his wife. The lead actors are brilliant. Eddie Redmayne as Hawking and Felicity Jones as his wife. In any other year, both could win the Best Actor and Actress Awards, but not this year.

Best Actress Oscar will go to Julianne Moore for her stunning performance in “Still Alice.” Best Supporting Actress will be Sienna Miller (“American Sniper”).

If there is a sleeper in all of the nominations, it is Wes Anderson for Best Director (“The Grand Budapest Hotel”). But I just don’t see the academy doing him any justice.

So, there you have my predictions for the 2015 Oscars:

= Best Film: “Birdman”

= Best Actor: Michael Keaton (“Birdman”)

= Best Actress: Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”)

= Best Supporting Actor: Edward Norton (“Birdman”)

= Best Supporting Actress: Sienna Miller (“American Sniper”)

= Best Director: Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (“Birdman”)

My Georgetowner Moments: 60 for 60 Years

October 23, 2014

Having been associated with The Georgetowner (assistant editor, editor, publisher) for 42 years of the publication’s 60 years, I have many memories of the village I served — its people, its places and its events. Here are at least 60 moments in Georgetown I recall with love.

— Fats Domino and his orchestra performing at the Crazy Horse on M Street in the 1960s.

— Stuart Davidson, opening Clyde’s Saloon.

— Sunday brunches at Doc Dalinsky’s Georgetown Pharmacy with the likes of Herblock, David Brinkley, Joe Califano, Ben Bradlee, Collins Bird .

— Celebrations at Wisconsin and M for Redskin’s, Hoya’s and Bullet’s championship wins.

— Parades down the length of Wisconsin Avenue as part of the annual Francis Scott Key Star-Spangled celebrations in the early 1980s.

— Louis Alexander Traxel, brandishing two antique pistols to keep order at a Citizens Association meeting.

— Oak Hill Cemetery caretaker George Kackley reciting to us the history of this famous resting place.

— Interviewing the likes of Kevin Kline, John Houseman, Stacey Keach, Jack Lemmon, Sissy Spacek and Mr. T at Howard Joynt’s Nathans Restaurant.

— Faithfully attending the monthly Advisory Neighborhood Commission meetings with Bill Cochran as chairman.

— Watching William Friedkin, directing a scene for “The Exorcist” at the Car Barn steps.

— Watching Iranians protest the Shah of Iran on Wisconsin Avenue.

— Attending opening night of Michael O’Harro’s Tramp’s Discotheque in 1975.

— Chatting with Edward Bennett Williams about George Allen’s Redskins at Harold’s Deli.

— Listening to Roberta Flack at Mr. Henry’s of Georgetown.

— Listening to Herbie Mann at Blues Alley.

— Listening to Billy Joel and Foreigner at the Bayou on K Street.

— Talking books with Mrs. Johnson at the Francis Scott Key Bookstore.

— Meandering through the maze of Little Caledonia, Georgetown’s Tom Thumb department store.

— Regularly lunching with Virginia Luce Allen at the Georgetown Senior Center.

— Experiencing the “Rocky Horror Show” at David Levy’s Key Theater.

— Breakfasting at Martin’s Tavern and Clyde’s Omellette Room.

— Dining with Richard McCooey at his 1789 Restaurant.

— Meeting Muhammed Ali at Chris Murray’s Govinda Gallery.

— Shopping at Neam’s Market, the French Market and the Food Mart

— Meeting David and Polly Brooks at the opening of their Appalachian Spring crafts shop.

— Visiting with J. Bernard Wyckoff and learning about the early days of Georgetown’s preservation movement.

— Listening to Eva R. Hinton hold court at CAG meetings.

— Conducting a walking tour of Georgetown for actor Eli Wallach and his wife actress Anne Jackson.

— Admiring CAG’s many presidents including Grosvenor Chapman, Charles Poore, Olcott Deming, Peter Belin and Juan Cameron.

— Seeing classic films at the Biograph theater.

— Watching Burt Lancaster filming a scene for “Scorpio” on O Street.

— Hosting Georgetown’s First Annual Physical Fitness Day at Volta Park.

— Joe Pozell’s funeral procession down Wisconsin Avenue.

— Christening the Francis Scott Key Park in Georgetown. The Georgetowner conceived the idea, and thanks to Randy Roffman, Robert Devaney, Jonda McFarlane, Norm Larsen and others for making the dream come true.

— The reaction to 9/11 in Georgetown.

— Vietnam War protests in the streets of Georgetown.

— The day Martin Luther King was killed and the mandatory curfew placed in Georgetown.

— The opening of Rick Hinden’s and David Pensky’s Britches of Georgetowne.

— Johnny Snyder and Sam Levy, Emil Audette and Lillian Harper, C. Millicent Chatel, the commercial realtors of Georgetown.

— Sizzling steaks at Dino’s Paramount Steak House.

— Ice cream cones from Swensen’s.

— Befriending John and Ginger Laytham.

— Working with Gary Tischler, the most versatile writer in D.C.

— Steak and cheese from Booeymonger’s.

— Having Grace Bateman, Rory Quirk, Bob Sellers, Debbie Dean, Suzi Gookin, and Mary Bird write for the newspaper.

— Profiling Rae Koch, hostess for years at The Old Stone House.

— Kibbitzing almost daily for 30 years with Scotty Feldman at Potomac Wines & Spirits.

— Interviewing Eva Marie Saint and Elizabeth Ashley at the Jour et Nuit.

— The legendary Cellar Door nightclub.

— Hardware men Jim Weaver and Frank Menahan.

— Interviewing author Kitty Kelley

— Averell and Pamela Harriman

— Katharine Graham

— Rev. Timothy Healy, S.J. (A.M.D.G.)

I could go on, but there are my 60 memories — a few combined into a single line item — for our newspaper’s 60th anniversary.
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The Georgetowner’s March Through History . . . and Georgetown

January 29, 2014

As The Georgetowner newspaper
closes in on its 60th Anniversary, it
seems fitting that your town crier
will be relocating to new digs, of
course, in Georgetown. Unlike other newspapers
that call Georgetown theirs, this is the only
newspaper that makes its home in Georgetown
— and has for six decades, albeit at 14 different
locations in the community.

The Georgetowner newspaper was the brainchild
of Ami C. Stewart, who at the age of 66,
began publishing it on Oct. 7, 1954. She knew
the newspaper business; she was a longtime
advertising representative for the Washington
Evening Star. Her sales territory was Georgetown
and its surrounding environs. She dreamed of
starting a newspaper for Georgetown for several
years when, with great encouragement from the
Randolph sisters, owners of Little Caledonia, a
small department store of delightful surprises at
1419 Wisconsin Ave., N.W. It was on the second
floor in Little Caledonia, where Ami Stewart created
Volume 1, Number 1, of the newspaper. It
was The Georgetowner’s first address.

Some of us still cannot get used to the idea that
there is no Little Caledonia in Georgetown. Then
again, most of the shops that existed here in 1954
are long gone: Neam’s Market, Dorcas Hardin,
Dorothy Stead, Baylor Furniture, Little Flower
Shop, Doc Dalinsky’s Georgetown Pharmacy,
Chez Odette, Rive Gauche, the French Market,
the Food Mart, Magruder’s, Muriel Mafrige, the
Georgetown University Shop and on and on. All
have left us. But The Georgetowner marches on.

Soon after its founding, Stewart moved
into 1204 Wisconsin Ave., NW. The building
was headquarters for the National Bank
of Washington. The Georgetowner occupied a
small room in the back, one desk, two chairs,
one window. Riggs Farmers & Mechanics Bank
was across the street. Both banks are long gone.
Our third location was 3019 M St., NW. We were
next to a funeral home. We, however, lived on.

Stewart finally found an office more to her
liking. It was situated at 1610 Wisconsin Ave.,
NW. Ami and her right-hand gal Sue Buffalo
ran the newspaper from these premises for close
to eight years. The staff also included Carol
Watson, a wonderful artist; Marilyn Houston,
who wrote many articles of historic interest;
and a young man, fresh out of the army, Randy
Roffman, my older brother. It was he who drew
me into the wonderful world of Ami C. Stewart.
I never would have guessed at the time that I
would spend the next 42 years with the newspaper,
but it happened.

In the early 1970s, with Ami’s health failing,
we moved to 1201 28th St., N.W. The lone brick
building at that corner was our home for the next
8 years. From our second floor windows, we
watched the construction of the Four Seasons
Hotel across M Street. We also witnessed the
mass arrest of the yippees who tried to shut down
the government in May 1971, protesting the
Vietnam War. They marched en masse down M
Street from Key Bridge. They were arrested and
put in huge detaining trucks right below our windows.
I remember a National Guardsman yelling
at us to get away from our window and quit taking
photographs. Protestors who were rounded
up were transported to RFK Stadium where
they were held for processing. (The May Day
1971 protests in Washington, D.C., provoked the
largest-ever mass arrest in American history with
more 12,000 individuals detained.)

Our sixth location was on the third floor
above Crumpet’s, a pastry shop in the 1200 block
of Wisconsin Avenue. John and Carol Wright
were the owners. This was when writer Gary
Tischler joined the staff. Britches of Georgetown
was a few doors away. Billy Martin’s Tavern
was across the street, as was Swensen’s Ice
Cream Parlor. (There was formerly Stohlman’s
Ice Cream Parlor, now memorialized at the
Smithsonian’s Museum of American History.)
Climbing those three flights of stairs was rough,
especially when balancing two cups of coffee
and four Danish. We survived.

A few years later, we moved across the street
to 1254 Wisconsin Ave., NW, to the third floor
above Swensen’s. It was the final years of disco,
and Michael O’Harro’s Tramp’s Discotheque
was closing. The Key Theatre, next to Roy
Rogers at the corner of Prospect and Wisconsin,
had them lined up around the block each weekend
night for “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
After several years high atop Swensen’s, we had
to move again.

You might be asking yourself at this point,
why did you move so often? Usually, it had to
do with the landlord renting out the entire building
to a new tenant. Because we were second- or
third-floor occupants on short leases, well, we
had to go.

Our next location was Hamilton Court, the
beautiful courtyard developed by Al Voorhees.
The courtyard was fronted by a row of new
storefronts which included the Old Print Gallery,
Cliff and Michelle Kranick’s gallery, an antiquarian
book store, and Ann Brinkley’s antiques
store. Behind it was a series of spacious offices,
of which we occupied one at the rear of the
courtyard. We enjoyed our stay here, the setting
was in the heart of Georgetown across the street
from our beloved, landmark post office. But we
had to leave when the architectural firm above us
had to expand … into our space.

We next occupied the top floor of the
Georgetown Electric shop on M Street, next to
Old Glory restaurant. Spacious quarters indeed,
and once again we climbed a lot of stairs every
day. But we were close to Harold’s Deli, the
Food Mart and Nathans. What more could we
ask for?

While running the newspaper from
these quarters, we also founded and ran the
Georgetown Visitor’s Center in Georgetown
Court off Prospect Street. Robert Elliott, owner
and landlord of the courtyard, gave us the space
rent free, the merchants chipped in and afforded
us the opportunity to publish brochures and pamphlets.
Robert Devaney joined our staff at this
point in the early 1990s.

When Duke Rohr closed the GE shop, we
moved once again. This time we returned to
familiar digs at 1610 Wisconsin Ave., NW, way
up the hill. We felt so removed from everything.
The block had changed drastically. There was a
7-Eleven at the corner of Que and Wisconsin,
the legendary French Market was gone and
Appalachian Spring crafts had moved down the
street. We felt like strangers up there.

We moved after five years, down to 1410
Wisconsin, another empty upper floor spacious
room, with no wiring. It dawned on us that we
had probably wired half the second and third
floor buildings on M or Wisconsin by this time.
Thank goodness for Randy Reed Electric.

While at 1410, Sonya Bernhardt joined the
staff at The Georgetowner. In 1998, Sonya
became the third publisher and owner of The
Georgetowner. Many offices, few publishers:
Ami C. Stewart, David Roffman and Sonya

The Georgetowner moved to its 13th location
in 2001. The building at 1054 Potomac St., NW,
had once been the home of Georgetown’s first
mayor. Now it housed “the newspaper whose
influence far exceeds its size” – as well as the
Georgetown Media Group, which publishes The
Georgetowner and The Downtowner newspapers
and their websites. From late 2001 until this
week, the offices were at this address.

Now, as we near our 60th anniversary, we are
in the process of moving once again, to the northwest
corner of 28th and M, the building which
once housed American Needlework and then
Schrader Sound — not to mention the Bryn Mawr
Bookshop and the office of Captain Peter Belin,
famed president of the Citizens Association of
Georgetown. Lots of history here. We hope to
see you there and all around town when we set
up our business office in February.

Find us at our new address:
Georgetown Media Group, Inc.
2801 M Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20007
202-338-4834 (fax)
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Georgetown Senior Center: Enjoying Golden Years

August 15, 2013

When all is said and done, the real citadel of strength in any community is in the hearts, minds and desires of those who dwell there.

Georgetown’s strength is evident in the many charitable and philanthropy projects. Programs at different Georgetown ministries help the homeless. The Volta Park, Rose Park and Georgetown Waterfront Park projects have revitalized our community’s green spaces. The annual House Tour and Garden Tour benefit various groups in need. Lastly, there is the Georgetown Senior Center, which this newspaper has supported for over three decades.

The Senior Center, founded by Virginia Luce Allen in 1982, is run today by a dedicated board of directors and volunteers. It is a non-profit, non-governmental organization, which provides lunches for older people three times a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) at St. John’s Episcopal Church at Potomac and O Streets, N.W. The lunches are prepared by volunteers, most of whom are Georgetown residents. Prior to each lunch is a light exercise program for the seniors led by Ayanna Smith. After each lunch, the seniors are treated to a special program. Recent programs have included a performance by the Calico Cloggers, a talk by local astronaut Scott Altman and a talk by a National Gallery of Art curator preparing for a special exhibit. Wendy Erlanger has been arranging these special programs for close to ten years now and is doing an amazing job. Upcoming programs include a talk by international news and documentary producer Steve Sapienza, a performance by multi-instrumentalist Jesse Palidofsky and two sessions on communicating with grandchildren on Facebook.

Throughout the year, there are special luncheons like the Long and Foster picnic, an afternoon delight at Clyde’s of Georgetown, and special luncheons at Paolo’s Restaurant and Billy Martin’s Tavern.

Prior to Christmas and Easter there are special luncheons prepared by the 1789 Restaurant. On the third Wednesday of each month, the seniors have lunch and programs with the seniors group at St. Paul’s Methodist.

Many of the volunteers who prepare the meals are Georgetown moms, headed up by longtime volunteer Mary Meyer, who schedules the cooks. Jorge Bernardo drives the van, picking up the seniors and delivering them back home after the luncheons. Every month, the seniors go on a field trip, which are proposed by staff and selected by the seniors. Recent Field Trips have included the National Geographic Museum’s Titanic exhibit, a trip to the National Arboretum’s bonsai collection, a Washington Nationals game and a visit to St. Alban’s to hear an “Arts at Midday” performance.

For over 30 years, Virginia Luce Allen was the voice and advocate for the Georgetown Senior Center. Today, a board of directors carries on Virginia’s vision and meet every two to three months. The board’s officers include Allison Silberberg, Janice Rahimi, Lila Sullivan and Wendy Erlanger.

Charitable contributions to the Georgetown Senior Center are always welcome, and periodic fundraisers are essential to the continuance of the Center. One recent Benefit, a cocktail reception at F. Scott’s in May 2012, was well attended and raised approximately $17,000. The reception was given by Ginger and John Laytham and Sally Davidson of The Clyde’s Group. [gallery ids="100982,131812,131805,131783,131799,131792" nav="thumbs"]

Portrait of a Georgetowner

October 9, 2012

Within the rather well-defined borders of the Town live more than 13,000 Georgetowners. And to commemorate our 58 years of publication, we at the Georgetowner have a speculation: Is there a “typical Georgetowner”?

If the New Yorker is a dandy in a top hat with a butterfly on his nose, and the proper Bostonian is a reserved gentleman who is addicted to beans and cod, what is the prototype of the Georgetowner?

Perhaps a composite portrait of these symbolic creatures’ salient characteristics would reveal cosmopolitans with a passport in one hand (they travel a lot), a leash in the other (they love their dogs and can be found at Rose or Volta Park at around 5 p.m. for their daily strolls), a backdrop of a fine Federal house (they are traditionalists), while the foreground of the picture would be taken up with symbols of many interests (a Georgetowner’s days are full). Since this is a self-portrait, we can leave out any unflattering touches.

Asked to describe an “average Georgetowner,” a nationally syndicated columnist replied, “Someone who never goes near the kitchen.” Most understandable. Why bother cooking, when one can breakfast at Martin’s Tavern or Booeymonger’s, or lunch at Cafe Milano, Peacock Cafe, Tony & Joe’s or Chadwick’s, or have supper at 1789, or the cozy saloon Clyde’s of Georgetown, or Bistro Francaise or Bourbon Steak at the Four Seasons?

Another characteristic of a true Georgetowner is commitment. For 58 years, this newspaper has recorded the efforts of dedicated and hard-working individuals who did more than their fair share in espousing and defending the wishes of our citizenry. People like Bill Cochran, a local architect who served the Citizens Association of Georgetown as its preservation chairman. Bill followed in the footsteps of Eva Hinton and Bernie Wyckoff, two Georgetowners who laid the groundwork in the preservation of historic Georgetown. Other early leaders worth mentioning are Grosvenor Chapman, Charlie Poore, Juan Cameron and Louis Alexander Traxel, all former presidents of our citizens’ group. All are gone now but should never be forgotten for their commitment.

A true Georgetowner gives back to the community. We have been fortunate to record the efforts of so many who have donated time, money and ideas to making this a better place to live. People like Virginia Luce Allen who founded and directed the Georgetown Senior Center; Stuart Davidson, founder and owner of Clyde’s restaurants, who along with his partner John Laytham and their spouses have helped so many good causes, like restoring Volta Park, and supporting financially virtually every good thing that has happened in this Town for the past 50 years; Tim Jackson, who owned Swensen’s Ice Cream Parlor, who, along with Jim Weaver of W.T. Weaver’s & Sons Hardware, put on the best parades this Town has ever seen every Sept. 14 in honor of Francis Scott Key, author of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and a true Georgetowner. Along those lines, we recall Jonda McFarlane, head of the Francis Scott Key Foundation, whose organizational skills helped get Key Park completed almost 20 years. Add to that, the great work of John Dreyfuss with the group and the former steward of Halcyon House.

A Georgetowner is loyal. They support the local businesses here, always have. When this newspaper began in October of 1954, it became an instant hit thanks in large measure to the support of its merchants. People like John Learmont who ran a very upscale record and audio tape establishment on M Street; early restaurateurs and saloon keepers like Billy Martin II (who owned Martin’s Tavern and the Carriage House) and Howard Joynt (who ran Nathans) and the good folks at Chez Odette, Rive Gauche, Dino’s Paramount, Mr. Henry’s, Chadwick’s; shop owners like Dorothy Stead, Dorcas Hardin, Muriel Mafrige, Mimi Crocker, Rose Raynor, Corrie Wickens, Rick Hindin (Britches of Georgetowne); and the Neam brothers at Neam’s Market, the Greenbergs of the Food Mart, Ladd Mills of the Georgetown Exxon and his car rental firm down on K Street. The list is long. Georgetowners always support their own.

A portrait of a Georgetowner must also include in such characteristics the fact that they recognize the historic importance of this community and attend such meetings as those of the Citizens Association and the Advisory Neighborhood Commission among others with regularity and sincerity.

A final note: From the date of its first issue on Oct. 7, 1954, this newspaper has had your acceptance and support. The Georgetowner thanks citizens and business persons alike for their continued interest. There have been many changes during the past 58 years. New and younger families flourish here. Many new businesses have been established in this old town on the River of Swans. We will continue to give you the news and features for your enjoyment

Georgetown Christmas: Dave’s Yuletide Poem 2011

December 31, 2011

Let’s order the fine Christmas wine

For the Obamas while they Georgetown dine

Maybe at Citronelle, or at the 1789

The first family loves G’town, it’s a treat

We often see them at Thomas Sweet.

It’s time to pour some Christmas cheer

For Georgetowner readers, far and near.

Put spicy glogg beneath the tree

For Georgetown sage Richard McCooey.

And, garcon, Champagne brut, merci

For restaurateurs Billy Martin and Franco Nuschese.

Some festive punch on Christmas days

For John, Sharon and Samantha Hays

Sue Hamilton, Janine Schoonover, Rokas Beresniovas,

Beth Webster, Sophie Montagne and Katherine Kallinas.

And let the Yuletide trumpets play

Allegro cheers for Vincent Gray

And don’t forget to paint the town

with Jack Evans, Vincent Orange and Kwame Brown.

Deck the lamps on our throughfare

For those who really care,

Mary Meyer, Jorge Bernardo, Mary Ann Brennan,

Wendy Erlanger, Stacy Kerr and Linda Greenan.

And serve some toddy, hot and mellow,

To Ginger Laytham and her fellow.

Send Christmas cookies, and don’t be late,

To Grace Bateman, Robert vom Eigen and Ann Satterthwaite.

The Georgetown waterfront is no longer a dream,

It is now our village’s creme de la creme.

Hark the herald angels sing joyous

For GU prez John DiGioias

Thanks for all you do for our Town

Even though there are some who frown

on the Campus Plan, and all it may portend

At this time of year let’s all be of good cheer

Pour us another tall, cold, Christmas beer.

Fill a cornucopia up,

For Chichie and her pup.

Think some thoughts reflective

For bloggers Topher and Carol Joynt’s perspective.

Some holiday eggnog topped with cumin

For John Dreyfuss at the house Halcyon

And to the new owners Ryuji Ueno and Sachiko Kuno

Welcome to Georgetown, you know,

That house is Benjamin Stoddert’s old digs,

For you some Christmas dates and figs.

Sound three lusty New Year’s cheers

For BID’s Jim Bracco and Crystal Sullivan,

The time for redoing Wisc. Ave. is here

with the help of Herb Miller and John Assadoorian.

You can start by fixing the Georgetown Theatre’s neon

And bringing back a moviehouse a la Heon.

And one last Christmas wish is pending:

A hope that all Georgetowners spending

A crime-free Yule beneath their trees

Acknowledge a debt to Commander Reese,

Deputy Chief Patrick Burke and all the rest

At our Second District station, you’re the best.

And, hallelujah, say a prayer

For dedicated firemen everywhere

It’s time to end this doggerel

With Georgetowner’s wish for a fond Noel

And hopes that those whose names don’t rhyme

Will still be here next Christmastime

While all our New Year’s wishes unfold

Keep reading us for stories untold.

Merry Christmas,
David Roffman

What’s happening to our merchants?

July 26, 2011


-Georgetown has always had its ups and downs. In the 1960s, saloons and nightclubs were a major concern to residents. In the 1970s, crime was running rampant and vendors were setting up all along Wisconsin Ave. in front of stores. But the Georgetown merchants organized and built a strong merchant association that got city hall to pay attention to what was happening to this historic neighborhood. The Citizens Association got involved in fighting crime with increased neighborhood watch programs and increased policing of the neighborhood. The realtors of Georgetown were willing to work with the small merchants. Johnny Snyder, Sam Levy, Emil Audette and other commercial realtors did not gauge the merchants, but set reasonable rents. Rick Hinden of Britches, John Laytham and Stuart Davidson of Clydes, The Georgetowner and Richard McCooey all worked together to form a strong mercantile base for the community.

By the ’80s, Georgetown was in its heyday. Business was strong. Then in the ’90s, things began to change. Rents went sky high, mom and pop stores moved out, foreign money took over the commercial sector, banks (the mainstays of the community) such as Riggs, Washington National and American Security all closed or were taken over by outside interests. The merchant association lost its importance when the BID came about. The Citizens Association became more of a social outlet. All nightlife disappeared as saloons and nightclubs were forced out. Parking enforcement turned many shoppers off. Malls in the suburbs stole business from Georgetown, offering free parking and big movie screens.

All of Georgetown’s movie theatres shut down. The Food Mart, Neam’s Market, the French Market all left. Residents had to drive outside of the community to go grocery shopping. Chain stores moved in. Shoppers did not come back. The same chain stores could be found in the suburbs, where parking was easy and free. And so, here we are today, almost at a stage where Georgetown has to start over. The merchant mix is all wrong.

As the neighborhood’s primary lobbying force, the Georgetown Business Association has to take the lead. The cit council has to wake up and see what is happening to this historic neighborhood and work with the BID and other merchant associations to improve the situation.

Let’s be a little more creative.