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Weisswurst and Beer With Bavarian Flair; Toes Glowing Green at Rich's Shoes

By The Metropolist
Friday, March 20, 2009

As we pass along the streets of Washington and its surroundings these days, we find ourselves wondering which places will outlive their existence in the memory of those who have enjoyed them. We continue our alphabetical presentation of things long gone but still remembered.

Restaurant 823

My favorite eatery during the 1950s and 1960s was the Restaurant 823, a German rathskeller at 823 15th St. NW. The owners, Fritz Miller, his brother Andy and their boyhood friend Bobby Seibold, were from Nuremberg and made the restaurant a wonderful center for good German cooking.

I especially loved the juicy weisswurst, which they got from a Maryland farmer. And there was Lowenbrau on tap!

Fritz hired a Bavarian artist to paint trompe l'oeil landscapes in the inglenooks, and one could almost believe he was in the Bavarian Alps. The place was always packed, and the Gemuetlichkeit flowed.

-- Don Pruitt, Alexandria

Rich's Shoe Store

While a student at Georgetown in the early 1960s, I worked after classes and on Saturdays in Rich's shoe store at 1516 Wisconsin Ave. NW. We sold women's shoes exclusively, and it was a two-person operation with just the manager, Al Adams, and me handling things.

Congressional wives and the wives of newsmen were regular customers and Al knew them all. I recall delivering shoes to Mrs. Herman Wouk and waiting on customers such as Janet Auchincloss, who was Jackie Kennedy's half-sister. Shortly after arriving in D.C., Margo Jurgensen dropped by with her husband, Sonny.

Once a year, the Rich family patriarch, Herbert Rich, would come by to 'count the till.' We always got a heads-up call from the F Street store that the old man was on his way, so we made sure the store was tidy and the cash drawer was correct.

Selling women's shoes in the heart of Georgetown was the best job a college guy could have.

-- Jim Sheahan, Arlington

Rich's Shoe Store sold very nice and sometimes expensive shoes, and during my teen years I longed for a pair of their neat penny loafers that all the girls were wearing. But because my foot was narrow -- double- or triple-A width -- I could not keep those shoes from slipping on my heels. The stores usually only stocked widths of B and above. Although I did eventually have penny loafers, they were kind of nerdy looking.

-- Patricia Harford, Annapolis

Every fall for a few years in the 1940s, my mother took me to their F Street store to be fitted for a new pair of brown oxfords.

That involved climbing up on the big boxy fluoroscope, which let me, my mother and the saleswoman peer at my ghostly green toes wriggling inside the shoes.

I still have all my toes, so perhaps the zapping I got every year wasn't too noxious.

-- Lucia S. Hatch, Washington

Rickey's Ties

I believe all of their ties, regardless of color, design or fabric, sold for one dollar. As Christmas neared one year, my mother told me of a conversation she had had with a boy who called me frequently. This young man confided in her that he was going to buy me a Christmas gift. She thought it would be nice if I reciprocated in some small way.

Although this boy was nice, I didn't want to encourage him with a gift, however, I relented and purchased him a yellow knit tie. Those knit ties were squared at the bottom rather than pointed. It seems every time I saw him, he was wearing that tie. I guess the gift meant a lot to him.

-- Patricia Harford, Annapolis

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