Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Broadmoor Apartments

I ran across this great old brochure from the Broadmoor last week. My grandfather, Roger Calvert was the first manager there when it opened- just before the Big Crash of 1929. Our family moved in in the late summer while the children, Bebe and Roger Jr stayed on their grandparent's farm in Misssissippi. The Broadmoor is still there- and still a great place to live, although the olden days always sound more charming to me. Here are quotes from the booklet with comments/memories from my mother.

“On Connecticut avenue north of Porter street is the attractive apartment section of Washington. Here within a landscaped five acre setting of garden and flower decked promenades is erected THE BROADMOOR, an imposing edifice expressing the acceptable in modern architecture and fireproof construction. Within its 800 rooms are maintained the lovely apartment homes of lovely people.”

A lot of the Senators, the baseball kind, lived there in the early thirties. Bebe remembers going to games with her dad at Griffith Stadium, and the excitement when the team went to the World Series in 1933. She also remembers Huey Long arriving to stay with a great big entourage that scared my grandmother.

“Dining Room and Silver Grill: Decorated in the moderne.... The food is of the highest quality, and prepared by a particular chef who caters successfully to particular people.”

Here is the “dollar menu” from those days:

Choice: Fruit Cup- Iced Cantaloupe- Consomme Hot or Cold- Strained Chicken Gumbo-Iced Celery

Choice: Filet of Sole, Saute Meuniere- Fried Chicken with Corn Fritters- Grilled Sirloin Steak-Assorted Cold Cuts, Potato Salad
French Fried Potatoes New Peas in Butter
Green Corn Saute O’ Brien
Hearts of Lettuce Thousand Island Dressing
Choice: Green Apple Pie Fresh Peach Shortcake
Chocolate, Vanilla, Peach Ice Cream Raspberry Ice

Homemade Rolls

Tea Milk Coffee

Bebe had never had sherbet before and was very impressed with that- especially since it wasn’t served as a dessert.

“All Apartments have outside porches and windows overlooking the garden of the Broadmoor or famous Rock Creek Park.”

Bebe remembers her little  Roger hanging by his fingers from their window on the sixth floor, overlooking the garage.

"Most important to Milady:
All apartments have been designed to provide the utmost in comfort, and to eliminate home- making responsibilities to unusual degree...Waste from the kitchen and apartments is placed in receptacles, and noiselessly removed in the early morning by janitors from corridors outside apartments.”

And a certain pet rabbit with a voracious appetite for undergarments was sent to live downstairs where the bellboys took care of him. Later, he reportedly lunged at a bellboy and was not seen again.

“Schools : The Broadmoor is close to all educational centers.”
Mom loved the private little bus that took the children to John Eaton.

“Beauty Shop: Within the Broadmoor. All approved treatments, and scientific care.”

Bebe got her first haircut other than the detested ‘Dutch Bob’ here. It was called "The Windblown".

“Children’s Paradise: A play estate supreme, away from mere grown-ups, and in a wooded setting among wonder-trees and fairy verdure....Here the commanders of the sand pile, see-saw and swing develop to become the kind of men and women the world relies upon.”

That may have been all well and good, but Bebe remembers mostly hanging out on the beams underneath the building with her pals. One particularly noteworthy commander of that sandbox was John Hechinger. He grew up following his father into the hardware biz and had an early impact on Washington’s do it yourself hardware scene.

The Broadmoor also boasted of: a valet service, a laundry, a pastry shop, and a newstand-where Bebe hung out and read all the magazines for free. She also got movie passes for the Avalon Theater. She and Roger would take a picnic and ride up there on the streetcar to spend the day at the movies.

Life was good for the family until a year later at Christmas time when Roger Calvert was killed in a car accident. He had been visiting his parents in Mississippi and was bringing two cousins back with him, hoping to find work for them during the Depression. Mom was only 13, and Roger Junior was 8. My grandmother took over the job at the Broadmoor until 1934. At some point she hired a musician/medical student named Bernie Schultz, to play the tea dances held in the dining room, and later married him. Mom also met the man she would marry at the Broadmoor. She’d seen him around at John Eaton and Western, but it was that fateful day in April 1932 when Dad’s friend, Carl Langmack took him to hang out with Mom’s gang that they remember the best.

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