And we talked about some old times And we drank ourselves some beers Still crazy after all these years -- Paul Simon Music/BMI Copyright (c) 1974
The friendship Inn has metamorphosed into Mr. Henry's. Maggie's has gone to the Great Restaurant in the sky. The Rabbit's Foot is now the Poorhouse Pub. And The Nectar has been reincarnated as Brother Gus'.
But they were remembered last Saturday night as their former patrons -- men who bent an elbow at the old watering holes after roaring softball games, or stopped by just to wet the pipes -- gathered to show that Tenleytown is alive and well.
Organizers expected 100 of the faithful to reminisce at the Knights of Columbus hall on upper Wisconsin Avenue. They got twice as many.
"There are only two requirements for this," explained Dick "Mole" Janigian, one of the affair's prime movers. "You had to drink with these guys or play ball with them."
And even though the teams have disappeared, it was worth $6 and a Saturday night to talk about what they had meant and why people came from as far as Florida and arizona to guess at faces they hadn't seen in 15 or 20 years.
"People never leave Tenleytown," explained Betty Morders, who moved there when cows roamed across Wisconsin Avenue and the streetcar ended at Tenley Circle. She has stayed put for 49 years.
"All these people who played on the teams, like John Stadler, the president of National Permanent Savings and Loan, seem to have a common bond that makes them want to stay in touch after all these years. And they've got a grapevine you wouldn't believe," said Morders.
Even the CIA might be jealous. With help from plugs by WASH's Eddie Gallaher, a flyer here, a phone call or two there, but mostly by passing the word, it didn't take much to get 200 Tenleytowners into a space better suited for half that number.
"It's a place that has good family roots," Norris said. "The kids grow up and stay here, and the friendships grow over the years. There's enough of a community spirit here that even losing the teams can't dissolve.
"They just kind of faded out. There weren't enough neighborhood people to play on them, and it just wasn't the same gang. And I think neighborhood bars are passe. People are more interested in the suburbs now. They don't stop here like they used to. And when they do, it's on the way home to their neighborhood bar."
Dan Radice's neighborhood bar is now in Fort Lauderdale, but he used to serve 'em up, and drink 'em down in most of Tenleytown's favorite spots.
"I came as soon as they told me," he said. "I used to tend at all these places, and I haven't seen some of these people in years. It's a great reunion, and I wouldn't have missed it. Too bad I haven't seen any of my old girlfriends."
They may have been the only ones missing. For five hours, the K of C became the quintessential neighborhood bar. When folks weren't deluging the bartenders with requests, they were busy trying to make the past fit the present.
"Are you still playing first base?"
"My God, it's been at least 15 years. How are you? What are you doing?"
"Hey, you're . . . uh . . . uh (stealthy glance at name tag). Sure, I remember you."
If the questioner didn't, no one seemed to mind. There was too much to drink, eat and talk about. Door prizes to be won. Dancing to be done. And a ceremony to show they cared enough about their very best.
There was a bouquet of roses for Margaret Cahill, the first Miss America in 1921. She was Margaret Gorman then, but from the expert way she held the flowers and smiled, it was apparent that the 74-year-old, who confessed to being born in Georgetown, hadn't lost her touch.
And there was a plaque of gratitude for Freddie Kramer, whose playground teams were the ones everyone in the place seemed to have played on.
Kramer, an assistant ward manager for the D.C. Recreation Department and a world-class softball pitcher in his day, earned the award because, according to Janingan, "Nobody ever heard him say a negative thing about anybody." Kramer continued the tradition, thanking everybody between his tears.
"I'd guess we put in 50 to 75 hours" on the planning, said Tom Ferry, the night's de facto chairperson.
"And every one was worth it," Janigian added. "Now we have names, addresses and numbers for the next one."
Interjected a laughing Jean Norris: "We'll need Capital Centre."