One Wants to Be Careful Which Drunk Friends One Chooses


I have lived in Washington, DC, full or part-time, since 1979. Our apartment is quite close to the Washington Hilton, which years ago led to some dinner guests telling us that, while walking to Metro from our apartment after drinking several bottles of wine, they had re-enacted the assassination attempt on President Reagan. So I suggest, dear reader, that one wants to be careful which drunk friends one chooses. Otherwise, one will end up on lists.

I have seen an amazing change in Washington since 1979, as I see an amazing change when I look at the picture above (from Lucius Beebe and Charles Clegg, The Trains We Rode). But Washington was Washington then, as it is now, the fundamentals remaining unchanged, as Beebe and Clegg’s caption unknowingly reveals:

“At the turn of the century if you were taking the night cars of the Baltimore & Ohio for Chicago or St. Louis or New York which was then a short sleeper hop, you finished a leisurely dinner off diamond back terrapin in Maryland sauce and vintage Madeira at Harvey’s Restaurant, climbed into a growler or hansom from the cab rank outside at the corner of Eleventh and Pennsylvania Avenue, and drove decorously through the twilight to the B&O’s sedate and equally leisurely conducted Washington terminal shown here. If you had been President James Garfield a short decade previous you would have been driven from the White House to a rendezvous with an assassin at the same depot where the Chief Executive was walking through the waiting room with the Secretary of State James G. Blaine when he was shot.”


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