I was recently sent a copy of an article that Human Events published, “Goodbye, Washington DC.” by Daniel Turner. As I read, and re-read, I was screaming inside: “I feel exactly like this.” Turner spoke to how this great city, Washington D.C., has slowly, drip by drip, been eroded by those who seem to believe that rules no longer apply to them. Those who believe that qualities like integrity, love, forgiveness, humility, and an appreciation for all lives, don’t matter a lick anymore.
Jackie Kennedy used to slide into from time to time, with sunglasses and a scarf on, to grab a quiet bite. (No one bothered her. This, of course, was a time when people were considerate of other people’s wishes—no explanation needed.).
I am a 5th generation Washingtonian. My cousin, John Carroll, was a Jesuit priest who founded Georgetown University. His statue appears right as you walk through the university gates, seated high in a large chair. My uncle, Ray Krouse, played for several professional football teams, ending his career with the Washington Redskins. He is featured in the hall of fame at the University of Maryland. His brother, William Sully Krouse, was the wrestling coach at Maryland University for over thirty years. My family has deep roots in this city.
In the early ‘60s, my mother ingeniously leased an old warehouse on K Street, in a dark and underdeveloped section of D.C. under the freeway. At the time, the only other place of business in the area was a popular music joint featuring Julie Gibson, The Bayou, one block away. My mother established a fine dining restaurant there, one that Jackie Kennedy used to slide into from time to time, with sunglasses and a scarf on, to grab a quiet bite. (No one bothered her. This, of course, was a time when people were considerate of other people’s wishes—no explanation needed.)
The restaurant was later turned into a Chadwicks. The American bar hit off just at the right time, when K Street, under the freeway, was opening up to more and more businesses. People weren’t afraid to come down there at night, thanks in large part to the wonderful service of the D.C. Police. (Unfortunately my mother, who had great foresight but insufficient capital, wasn’t able to hold onto the place. It was sold at a time when there weren’t many female restaurant owners.)
From memory, I can talk about all those fabulous restaurants that D.C. once had, restaurants like my mother’s. The Carriage House in Georgetown, for instance. Kiki’s was a fabulous cafeteria-style diner in Georgetown, right above M on Wisconsin Avenue. Kiki’s novelty was that you could walk the line with your tray and pick up the best homemade baked good. My childhood is full of memories of Kiki’s breads, desserts, and big chunks of watermelon. (I still say that if someone re-opened a cafeteria-style diner in Georgetown, it’d be a hit!)
On (no meat) Fridays, we went to Duke Zeibert’s. (My grandmother said cooking fish in the house made it smell bad, so that’s where we’d go to get our fish.) Any true Washingtonian will light up at the mention of Duke Zeibert’s—some of the best food you could ever eat. It was also a very chic venue. The “who’s who” of D.C. would always make an appearance, always dressed to the T. That was part of the allure, from a time when people actually dressed properly to go into a nice restaurant, back when civility was the norm. (No one does that anymore—a disservice to the cook, owner, and other diners, in my opinion.)
And of course, there was the Madison Hotel for brunch, the GasLight Club for evening fun. I could go on and on. These were vestiges of a bygone era, one in which etiquette and propriety still had value. These places don’t exist anymore.
Gone are all the venues that embodied the grace of our nation’s capital.
NOBODY LISTENS TO BEAT COPS ANYMORE
For a brief period of time, between 1975-79, I served as a police officer. I joined the force as one of a handful who were the first women ever to patrol the streets of D.C. Though short-lived, this was the best education I ever had. You can imagine what I saw and learned about—things I never imagined during my all-girls Catholic school education.
People have stopped loving, respecting, and caring for their city—my city. What a tragedy this has all been.
One of the reasons I joined the force was that I wanted to help people. This was from an era of policing when we walked a foot beat, and it was our job to know everyone on our beat. We would frequently drop in and ask our community members if we could do anything for them. They truly appreciated us. There was great pride in wearing the uniform.
But nobody listens to beat cops anymore. Perhaps that’s why you couldn’t pay me enough money to put that uniform on now, a fact that saddens me to the bone.
Let me tell you a quick story. Years ago, when we still had the all walk system at the intersections, traffic moved fast. At that time, the cars facing north and south would have the green light at the same time. Then, those facing east and west would have the green light. Then, and only then, would pedestrians have an all walk; the system would move pedestrian traffic smoothly and efficiently. Police were sent out at rush hour, between 4-6 in the early evening, to write pedestrian jaywalking tickets. The officers made over-time doing this, and the city made revenue from the $100 tickets per person. It was a win-win for the city, and the traffic moved smoothly and safely.
About a year ago, I wrote to the Mayor and all the City Council members personally, telling them about the practice we used back in the 70’s. I’m sure you won’t be surprised to hear that I did not get one single response in return. Not one. (And they say that these people work for us?)
Instead, the Mayor decided to write “BLACK LIVES MATTER” on the street. In my day, someone would have been arrested for such flagrant destruction of property. Now? My beloved city’s leader, someone who has so much influence on our younger generation, is modeling vandalism instead of grace and propriety.
Where are the laws? Where is the sense of dignity, decorum, and decency? The looting, the burning, the destruction—and all in the capital of the United States of America. I keep saying that Martin Luther King would be crying over all of this. People have stopped loving, respecting, and caring for their city—my city. What a tragedy this has all been.
We need to follow the laws to keep humanity safe. We have to keep people in powerful positions from abusing those laws to curry favor with popular sentiment. And we need to rekindle our belief in hard work, sacrifice, and the value of order and righteousness.
God bless our country, and all who want to preserve it.