Washington, D.C. once upon a time in a very different Washington

You are a true old Washingtonian if you recall some of these. Photo: Washington Monument at twilight

WASHINGTON, July 25, 2013 — Many things have changed about the Washington community since some of us first discovered it. The city has grown, but it’s lost some things in the process. Here are just a few:

* Washington had a baseball team called the Senators that played ball at Griffith Stadium.


* Hardin and Weaver, on WMAL radio, woke up Washington with a smile. 

* The Dee Cee Diner at Vermont and L Street Northwest served up steak-‘n’-eggs around the clock. 

 * Trolley cars ran throughout the city and out to the Glen Echo Amusement Park in Maryland. 

* Only a few buildings across Key Bridge in Rosslyn, Va., stood more than two stories tall. 


* Green-roofed Little Taverns dotted the city, offering hamburgers for ten cents each. Or you could “buy-‘em-by-the-bag.” 

* Summer Sunday evenings presented free Water Gate (yes, two words at the time) concerts, the stage being a barge anchored in the Potomac and the audience sitting on stone steps. 

* The Disc Shop at 1623 Connecticut Avenue specialized in classical and International music. 

* Willard Scott and Ed Walker, the Joy Boys of Radio, dished out skits like, “As the Stomach Turns.” 


* There were two Blue Mirrors; one at 13th and F Streets that served cream puffs and éclairs; the other, on 14th street, presented exotic dancers. One, therefore, featured pastries and the other, pasties. 

*The famous lunch counters of People’s Drug Stores. 

* Reading The Washington Post in the morning and The Evening Star after work. 

* The wonderful “Album Sound” of the mellifluous Felix Grant on WMAL segueing at midnight into the all-night Bill Mayhugh Show ever so “Tenderly.” 

* Anna Maria’s on Connecticut Avenue featured food and live jazz music until 4 a.m., providing an after-hours spot for entertainers after their own gigs. 

* The cozy Scholl’s Cafeterias.

*Chic Restaurants like Duke Zeibert’s, Mel Krupin’s, and Paul Young’s.

* Having the choice to take the elevator to the top of the Washington Monument or take the 897 steps.

* Roberta Flack killing them softly with her songs at Mr. Henry’s on Capitol Hill while teaching at Howard University. 

* Those saddest of all sad words, “The bar is closed,” occurring at midnight on Saturday nights.

* The loveable Bama (Jerry Washington) on WPFW-FM spinning records of unrequited love by divas like Dinah Washington.

* The Showboat Lounge on 18th Street NW, the jazz club of acclaimed guitarist Charlie Byrd. 

* Sandwich shops like Eddie Leonard’s and Miles Long.

* Topps Drive-In restaurants with their efficient “curb service.”

* Top-notch entertainment at the Shoreham Blue Room.

* The Washington Daily News tabloid with columnist Don Hearn’s “Tips On Tables.”  

* WMAL’s smart drive-time pairing of veteran Bill Trumbull with young Chris Core on “Two For the Road.”

* Bassin’s, at 14th and Pennsylvania Avenue, the capital city’s first sidewalk café.

* Elder Lightfoot Solomon Michaux and his lively Tabernacle Church on 7th Street just across from Griffith Stadium. 

* Hot Shoppes and their popular Mighty Mo sandwiches.

* Midnight shows of celebrity performers at the Howard Theatre.

Reader, if you remember ten of these, you can call yourself lucky. And I’ll call you a good old Washingtonian, just like me.     


Vance Garnett’s writings have appeared in major newspapers and magazines. They have won the praise of such luminaries as the legendary Paul Harvey, White House speechwriter/columnist William Safire, and Mr. Shirley Povich, dean of American sportswriters.  

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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Vance Garnett

Vance Garnett is an eclectic observer of life, politics and sports. 

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