Anyone with a spare room might consider giving Pat Caddell a call.
Since the days of Jimmy Carter, political pollster Caddell has rented a large, secluded, Civil War-era Georgetown house complete with pool from Yolande Fox, Miss America 1951. Over the years, Hamilton Jordan and consultant Gerry Rafshoon also lived in the house, and the "R Street Beach," as some referred to it, became known for the energy of its parties and the glitz of its guests (actress Kathleen Turner was one whose presence tended to stick in most people's minds).
But recently, Fox decided she wanted the house, and its pool, back. She doesn't plan to live there herself, but would like to use the house for her guests and the occasional dip in the sizable pool.
After nine years of informal leases, Caddell and Fox both signed an agreement last year that he would leave by April 1 this year. But Caddell's still there, and last month Fox called in Clark Clifford's firm to get him off the R Street Beach.
"Mr. Caddell did not leave the house when he promised he would, he has not left yet and will not say when he plans to leave," said Robert Reznick, the lawyer representing Fox, who chose to speak through him. "Under the circumstances, we had no choice but to take legal action."
According to Caddell's lawyer, David Rubenstein, the problem was simply that the peripatetic pollster has been racing from one primary to another and hasn't had time to look for a new home. "Pat had an oral understanding with her for nine years over the house, and basically it was a very friendly relationship," said Rubenstein. "Two months over nine years isn't a very long time."
According to Rubenstein, tenant and landlord were negotiating to allow Caddell another month or two in the house when somehow the whole thing got out of hand. Legal phrases began to proliferate on such subjects as a leaky roof and a sofa removed by the landlord against the tenant's wishes.
"Unfortunately, lawyers got involved, and when lawyers get involved, things get more contentious," said Rubenstein.
After Fox filed the charges last month, Caddell quickly took the offensive and requested a jury trial, which meant an automatic delay until the case gets on the calendar of the D.C. Superior Court. Neither side was really eager to take this one before 12 angry men and women; Caddell intended to use the delay to find another house and Rubenstein said yesterday he is close to signing a lease.
"Pat's view was there was no formal agreement when he was going to move out," said Rubenstein. The "memorandum of understanding," which served as a lease since last July, was invalid, Rubenstein said, because Fox never returned a signed copy to Caddell.
Caddell and Fox were, at one point, friends. The lawyers say both sides want to end this thing amicably, or as close to amicably as possible.
Just yesterday, the lawyers reported that they'd reached a resolution, only to call later in the day to say it had fallen apart.
The social prominence of the two contestants and the house itself has made the Caddell-Fox imbroglio a matter of cocktail party chatter for some time.
"I guess a real institution is what it was," said "Entertainment Tonight" reporter Barbara Howar about the house, which she frequented in the Carter days. "There were a lot of good times, a lot of good parties, a lot of good people in and out of there. If those walls could talk . . . "
If they could talk, they would probably tell about the party for Lily Tomlin, the movers and shakers who found themselves pushed into the pool, and other such matters.
"There was a sense nothing could be damaged," said Howar. "It wasn't like it was somebody's carefully planned and laid-out home."
But Howar hasn't been there for the last few years.
"I guess everyone went on to adult life," said Howar. "Everyone but Caddell."