Eugene Thomas Lyddane (1911-2011), who lived on Hall Place until he was eighteen, graduated from Western High School in 1931, and from the University of Maryland in 1935. He served in the Navy in the South Pacific during World War II, and worked in the clerk’s office at the U.S. Supreme Court from 1956 to 1973.
The following recollections are condensed from an interview with Alec MacKaye, in connection with the Oral History Project of the Citizens Association of Georgetown, March 10, 2010.
Hall and W Place, NW, circa 1923: William Crawford, Buddy Quinn (on tricycle), Toddy Lyddane (can on head and pencil in mouth), Tommy Quinn, and Buck Eby.
When I lived on Hall Place only a few people had automobiles and we played baseball right in the street. The lamplighters would come up and light the gas lights at night. We didn’t have electricity outside. The gas people came and they lighted the lights.
We had a Mr. Quinn who was in charge of the papers. He lived next door to us [on Hall Place]. And Mr. Freeman lived next door. They ran Freeman’s store. I remember Bob Freeman. He went to University of Pennsylvania he was a star basketball player. Me and Billy Freeman, and Mr. Quinn.
We had trolleys. We would take those down to Hall Place. Then get on the trolley and go downtown. At that age the Naval Observatory was open on Hall place. You could go down, all the way down.
We had also Mount Alto Hospital after World War I and we’d go up there once in a while to see moving pictures and also they had the Army band and the Navy band at Mount Alto.
General Patton, when I grew up he was the chief man over at Fort Myer in Virginia. His daughter came to Western High and she was in my class in Latin class. Miss Mary Patton. She was a nice girl. Never saw him in person. But, I used to go over to Fort Myer once in a while to moving pictures. It had a good moving picture over there and it was reasonable. Because you could see movies, but you had to go all the way to Arlington. Drive over there by automobile.
My grandfather opened a store [in Georgetown]. He came from Rockville and he opened a store way in the 1850s and then my father succeeded him. I used to help my father on Saturdays delivering groceries to nearby people. Instead of the trucks, I would cart them their foods.
My father had [the grocery store at 1408 Wisconsin Avenue]; he kept it up until 1935. Then, he retired. He died in 1948 of the cancer of the lung.
When I was working there, I was in late grade school, early high school age. I would carry the groceries around for nearby people. That way they wouldn’t take the truck around.
My father would get up at 4:00 in the morning and pick out his fruits and vegetables and all and bring them in [from Central Market]. Then they would send the truck down, and then the boy would bring them in, and he’d put them in the store. We’d sell them from there. He would have to get up early in the morning. I helped him later on.
Not many people came in grocery stores those days. There was no Safeways and things. No chain stores. People would order by telephone, and it would be delivered by truck. Those were the days.
When my father had the grocery store. He didn’t have electricity so he had to bring ice cubes in the truck. The iceman would come and fill up the top of the icebox. He would take about a week and then fill it up again. Later on he got them all electricity. Another thing. When beer came in we couldn’t sell beer because the back of that store was right next to a school. They wouldn’t let us sell any beer and things like that.
[The] iceman would drag the ice through the floor, and then put it up on top of the ice box.
We had a butcher, a meat cutter. My father didn’t cut meats. He was a grocer. He waited on people for groceries and packaged goods, but we had a meat cutter that cut steaks, legs of lamb, hamburgers, and things like that. His name was Mr. John Baden. He was a butcher there. He worked full‑time. He lived on 33rd street. You know where the old Wise Dairy was on 33rd and P Street? He lived right around the corner.
Wise Brothers. We bought milk from Wise Brothers. The other big dairy was Chevy Chase Dairy. There were three big dairies. There was Wise Dairy, there was Chevy Chase Dairy, and over town there was Thompson’s Dairies. There were different farms that would bring the milk in.
[I delivered to] Frank Jelleff. Of the Boys Club? Every time Mrs. Jelleff would go to Europe, she sent my father a birthday card and also a card of over in Europe. She was a very nice woman. Mr. Jelleff was a nice man. He opened that Jelleff’s [club] for the boys, you know?
Also, I’ll tell you, when I started an evening store up on Wisconsin Avenue across from the cathedral on Lowell Street near John Eaton school. I started the paper there for one whole year. The Evening Star. It was Sunday in mornings, the morning paper. Mr. Quinn, he had a big truck he would take my paper and my wagon all the way up there to Lowell Street and Woodley Road and then I would deliver the paper from there. Then I would ride home on my truck to Hall Place.
Once in a while, I would sell papers on Wisconsin and O Street. I thought that was a big deal. Three cents a paper.
I graduated from Holy Trinity School in 1926. We moved to Georgetown from Hall Place in 1929. After we left Hall Place we moved to 3068 Q Street. Then I went on to the Western High School and graduated from there .
Hall and W Place, NW, circa 1931: In front, “Heavy” Robinson, Tommy Quinn, Billy Freeman, Johnny Ballinger, Clayton Snyder, Freddy Brault, Larry Duvall, Ken Murayama, Toddy Lyddane, and Buck Eby; in back, Eugene T. Lyddane and Louis Freeman. “My father is the tall man on the left‑hand side. I think it was probably taken around the early ’30. My father, and Mr. Quinn. And the Japanese boy, Ken [Murayama]. They made him go to Japan after the war was started. I imagine he was killed. A nice fellow, but some of the people didn’t like him because he was Japanese. They were critical of him. This boy on the right, named Buck Eby, during the war he got married, and then his wife left him, and he committed suicide. He was a very nice fellow. But he couldn’t take it, because he loved his wife, and she left him. That’s awful, isn’t it?”
I worked part‑time at Georgetown University Law School when they gave examinations. But it only happened twice during the year, in the spring and in the fall. Just two times I worked there.
Then I went to University of Maryland [and graduated] in 1935. Well, for two years I lived with my aunt on campus in Maryland. But two other years we drove out in an old Ford car. My sister Mary Katherine and Frank Seeley we all went to Maryland and we drove out in an old Ford car. But two other years I lived on campus out there.
I worked for a Commerce Clearing House. Have you ever heard of that? It’s a loose leaf publishing company. They publish all kinds of services; tax service, the bankruptcy service, the pre-court service, all services. Loose leaf was always up to date, you see. The textbooks were being final, they were stopped. They were always the latest thing, like forms and so forth. Commerce Clearing House. They’re located in Chicago. And, we had competition from Prentice Hall [and] they had a lead on us, because they were in New York City, and our company was in Chicago. So what we had to do when the Supreme Court opinions came down, we had to give them to a porter on the train, give him a couple dollars. And they’d be picked up in Chicago. [That way] we’d be the same as Prentice Hall. That’s the only way we could do it. Airplanes weren’t running in those days.
Connecticut Lunch. It was across the street from my father’s grocery store. Yeah, that was a hangout when I wanted meals. They were open all night long. The merchants and all would go in there and get coffee and small meals everyday.
You know where the Connecticut Pie Bakery was? That was right across the street on O Street from Connecticut Lunch. They served pies. They were in southern Maryland. A man would fill up his truck with pies and go all the way to southern Maryland and dispense and sell the pies.
But once in a while I would have a meal there at Heon’s. Wisconsin and M Street. They had a restaurant there a long time. They had good spaghetti.
[At Dumbarton Street] they had an Olympia Pharmacy [that] sold ice cream and candies and so forth. I used to go to Olympia Confectionery, because they had good ice cream, and chocolate sundaes. That was right across from Georgetown Pharmacy.
A lot of the small drug stores had to go out of business. That old Diamonds drug store was [at] Wisconsin and P Street. They had to go out of business because they couldn’t compete with People’s Drug Store. Georgetown was a quiet little place until People’s Drug Store came.
Up the street from my father was Freeman’s Dry Goods store. They sold everything. Dry goods. All kinds of dry goods, men’s shirts and things. Right up the street, three doors up. And there was a barbershop next to my father’s; Charlie Parker, he was a black man. But he was there for many years and he had a special cup for each customer when he shaved them.
Eugene T. “Toddy” Lyddane (1911-2011)
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