An article in Sunday's editions of The Washington Post describing early morning activities in the area failed to describe reporter Larry Krebs as an employe of radio station WMAL as well as television station WJLA.
Look down from the clouds as dawn graces Washington. The Capitol seems to hunker down in the darkness -- a beacon of white light softly dimming as the sun rises. Last Friday when the sun came up at 6:06 a.m. the sky was almost pink.
Below the streets were still, eerie. Seagulls dove for carp or catfish as the sun shimmered from the eastern ridge along the Potomac.
The dawn is a truce between the night people and the day people. Eight reporters who are rarely up at daybreak went out last Friday to watch and talk with some of the estimated 100,000 people in the Washington area who were already out working or playng.
This is what most of us don't see:
Everywhere, gently, morning is breaking. Garbagemen toss into their trucks the empty wine bottles and wilted flowers from Georgetown drawing rooms. At a market in Northeast, workers load up the lettuce and fat asparagus for the salad plates of Lion d'Or.
Across the river in Alexandria, a baker shovels his blueberry doughnuts, his Danish pastries, his fruit pies from a hot stove. A blind man waits for a bus. A Supreme Court justice whacks a tennis ball into the net and curses.
High above, a traffic reporter whirls about in a helicopter, peering down on the barren roads, waiting for the commuter rush, the first fender-bender. Downtown, an all-night crime reporter yawns at the dearth of action: one fire, three rapes, a burglary. At the zoo, the birds are fed breakfast. One mile away, a priest says mass.A man dies. A baby is born.
The Rev. Thomas Sheehan sits at a table in the kitchen of the rectory, sipping coffee and reading the morning newspaper. He open the refrigerator and takes a small glass decanter containing red wine, which he will pour into a gold chalice during the communion of the 6:30 a.m. mass.
"Let's open up the church," Sheehan says, with a clap of his hands.
Sheehan, pastor of St. Stephen the Martyr Church at 25th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW, is accustomed to working at dawn. He has been saying early mass ever since he became a priest, more than 30 years ago.
Every week day, about 300 members of the church's 700-member congregation wake before dawn to attend the 6:30 mass.Most are middle-aged, and many go to work right after mass.
"They come regularly," Sheehan says. "It's a lot of the same people."
Carrying the decanter of wine, Sheehan opens a rear door of the church and enters the sacristy -- a room at the back of the church with a safe for the Sunday collections, a sink and wall cabinets. Without speaking, he places the decanter on a silver platter, next to a decanter of water, and carries the platter and a gold chalice to the church altar. Then, he carries a silver platter full of round white wafers for communion out of the sacristy and onto the altar.
When Sheehan walks in front of the altar to celebrate mass, there are 21 persons sitting in the church -- 10 men and 11 women, including two nuns. There is the white-haired man in a blue work jacket who carries his lunch bag. There is the dark-haired woman who has been holding her rosary beads and kneeling. There is the community services specialist who attends mass every morning after she jogs. Yesterday, she wore her sneakers to mass.
Sheehan is standing behind the lectern in front of the altar. "Lord, grant us Your forgiveness," he says.
The mass has begun.
"They should be here any minute," said Rita Schock, glancing up at the clock. The time was 5:25 a.m. and the curly-haired teen-ager who runs the front desk at the all-night Arlington Y Tennis and Squash Club sat waiting for "The Early Birds."
"You shoulda been here yesterday," she drawled. "Senator Percy was here, and Senator Bentsen and Jack Valenti. Today, we've got a wife of a congressman playing [tennis] with a senator and Justice Stevens is playing in a foursome."
Every morning before sunrise, dozens of Washington area businessmen, bureaucrats, politicians and military officers file through the double glass doors in warm-up suits and sneakers, their pin-striped suits and oxford-cloth button-down shirts slung over their shoulders.
"The Early Birds," as they are called, pay $300 a season for the privilege of playing on one of eight indoor, brightly lit tennis courts from 6 to 9 a.m. There are early bird squash players, too. From 1 a.m. to 6 a.m., the rates are lower. That's when "The Starlighters" come out to play.
"There's a real difference between the two groups," Schock said. "The Starlighters are a little weird. The Early Birds are normal."
Not everyone would agree.
"Most of my friends think it's crazy," said 29-year-old Dave Gaits, who plays squash with his wife Mary Jo every other morning at 6 a.m. After a brutal 45-minutes workout ("She usually wins") the couple shower and change, then head to work in Rosslyn.
Early Birder Bob Gale stifled a yawn and said he went to bed at 3 a.m. -- two hours and 30 minutes earlier. How does his wife feel about his pre-dawn obsession? "I jump back in bed when I get home," he said. "She never knows I'm gone."
Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, a spry 60-year-old Early Birder, slammed a shot into the net and let out an expletive deleted. Heather Foley, wife of Rep. Thomas Foley (D-Wash.) finished her pre-dawn tennis lesson and waited for her partner Sen. Max Baucus (D-Montana).Has the senator overslept?
"I don't know," said Schock."He's usually prompt."
As a group, the sunrise sportsmen are a cheerful lot, Schock said, except Brit Hume, former sleuth for columnist Jack Anderson and currently an ABC newscaster, whose court reservation once was misplaced. "He's the only one who's ever yelled at me," she sighed.
At 6 a.m. Jerry Rock was going crazy. He had six flats of strawberries for Lion d'Or and Provencal restaurants at his feet. He had just sent two employees for two boxes of California butter lettuce, two crates of jumbo asparagus and two 50-pound sacks of onions. Two other men waited for further orders.
"We use the sun as a clock," said Dan Stallings, Rock's partner as they stood on the loading dock of Sunrise Produce, one of the 20 food wholesalers at the Northeast Florida Avenue Market. "If the sun comes up and we're just starting to load, we're behind. We want to have half the trucks out by dawn."
The two 12-foot-long trucks would carry fresh lettuce, broccoli and watercress to some of Washington's choicest restaurants and popular downtown hotels for lunch and dinner dishes. Everything was loaded for Provencal and Lion d'Or. Rock twirled through the stack of 13 orders for the truck and simultaneously gave the orders for the Jockey Club, the Hay-Adama Hotel and Dominique's.
At 6:15, two trucks, each sporting a picture of a bright yellow rising sun on the side, pulled out. Ronald Dickerson, one of the drivers, still had 35 cents stuck in his left ear. He had never had time to buy the soft drink he wanted.
Another 12 footer backed in along with the 'Cadillac' -- a dirty white van.
"It's the first truck we bought when we started a year ago," Stallings explained with a laugh. "It looks so awful the fellows started calling it the 'Cadillac.' Sometimes it's so packed the body is half down the wheels."
All the activity on the loading dock generated no warmth for the men. It was still cold from the night and the cool air from the warehouse refrigerators, which are set at 34 to 36 degrees.
The stuffing of the 'Cadillac' began with an order for the Kennedy Center, then a box of strawberries, flown in from California at 1 a.m., for Pisces, the elite Georgetown club.
"No, Red Ball lemons, not Sunkist," Rock told an employe who had brought him the wrong brand.
"Damn, damn, damn. We've still got Geico and Ridgewells," said Stallings, looking dismayed at the van, only three-fourths full.
"You're not going to make it," said Rock," peering over.
"Well," said the boss, "he's got a front seat."
By 5:50 a.m. Friday, Alexandria baker Carrington L. ("They call me Carl") Booth has finished the pastries he would sell that day: 20 dozens Danish, 25 dozen buns, 56 fruit pies, 8 dozen crisps, 20 dozen blueberry doughnuts, 18 dozen "globs" -- sweet dough filled with raisins and apples.
Booth started making globs Thursday night. "Once you work nights for 30 years, you don't mind it too much," said Booth, 56, the all-night baker at Shuman's Bakery, who was now homeward bound. He said his night's work, globs and all, would be gobbled up "in a few hours."
"I work alone, don't listen to the radio. I'm not much of a music man myself," he said. "I like to concentrate on my work."
Outside the bakery at 6 a.m., Washington Street, Alexandria's main drag, was deserted. No sound emerged from the bakery except for those waitresses talking quietly, filling pastry orders phoned in the night before.
Bill Coombs, 35, pressed his nose against the glass front door. As a favor, waitress Ann Childers let him in, then relocked the door. "Cup of coffee is all I have," Coombs said. "I'm really not a fan of the glob."
"People call them glops, glups, glumbs, and even slobs," said Teddy Marchants, 38, wife of the owner, Lonnie Marchant.
An average blob weighs 3.25 ounces, and is 3.75 inches long, 2.25 inches high, and 2.75 inches wide, according to an impartial survey. They cost 30 cents each.
At 6:55, people start lining up outside the door. At 7:06 a.m. the first glob of Friday, March 28, is purchased by Alexandria police officer Michael Jones, 22, an 11-month veteran of the force. It is one hour after dawn.
"I first came here because I heard they had good doughnuts," said Jones. "I don't always get globs, though. But today I get three: two for me and one for another officer. He's in another cruiser, waiting for me now."
William Oliver, Richard Lee and James McNair know a lot about early morning Georgetown. Every Thursday and Friday they gather, lift, dump and crush the trash left from fancy dinner parties, from less fancy beer parties and from front yard cleanups.
As the sky lightens over the Whitehurst Freeway, Oliver drives the 10-ton, all white International truck out of the city lot at 31st and K Streets NW. Lee sits next to him, finishing a cup of coffee in a plastic cup with a hole punched in the lid. McNair is already on the street, pulling the trash bags together in neat piles so that the truck will have to make fewer stops.
It is 6:10 a.m. and the men are starting work 20 minutes early. "You can't pick up trash with lots of cars on the street. It slows you down too much," said Oliver, a 19-year veteran of trash collecting.
Lee, 33, and the youngest of the crew members, hops from the truck. Wearing the regulation dark green uniform and nonregulation white tennis shoes, he bounces to the rear of the truck and picks up two barrels, one in each arm. As he dumps the old newspaper, the grass clippings and dear flowers, coffee cans and green Pouilly Fuisse bottles into the open mouth of the compactor, he reveals some tricks on his trade.
"There are two things you've got to watch out for: the rats -- they jump right out of the cans and onto your chest. And the bottles -- they explode sometimes. So turn you head away from when the compactor is moving," said Lee, as the first of the Georgetown trash bumped and banged into the interior of the 20-cubic-yard capacity truck.
Lee shouted "yo" at Oliver, who was watching him in the cracked side view mirror. "Hold on tight to that handle and watch out for the trees," he ordered as the truck rolled and swayed through the narrow streets with two men clinging on the back.
It was just after six o'clock, and as the tiny, single engine plane moved up into the dawn sky, Bob Marbourg adjusted his headset and readied his binoculars, waiting for an accident to happen.
"Accidents are my business," said the 35-year-old traffic reporter for WTOP radio. He adjusted the buttons on his police scanner. "I'm here to make people's rush hours just a little bit easier."
Since November, when his predecessor, Steve Thompson, was critically injured in an early-evening plane crash, Marbourg has spent his rush-hours high above the city, a high-flying sky rider coming over the airwaves from 1,400 feet up.
Circling the Capital Beltway and the main arteries leading into the District at 115 miles per hour with his pilot, Dave Robbins, Marbourg broadcasts six one-minute spots an hour between 7 and 9 a.m., passing on the benefits of his bird's eye view to harried motorists as they snake their way into the city for work.
But Friday morning the streets were strangely calm. There were only two accidents to report, one in the inbound lane of 295 near the 11th Street exit, another in Fairfax County on Lee Highway.
"Wednesday and Thursday we had some great two-mile backups, but today there's really nothing," said Marbourg. "I guess you think we don't really do anything up here huh?"
From the air, the city looked flat and gray. A green ring of slime circled it. "Talk about ring around the collar -- that 's incipient air pollution," Marbourg explained.
The gray, quiet time at dawn -- and all the shootings, stabbings, muggings, rapes and fires that take place in the darkness before -- belongs to roving radio crime reporter Larry Krebs, 58, the Boswell of Night People.
Radios and walkie-talkies crackling inside his green Pontiac, a brown cap yanked down his bald head, Krebs pulls a green raincoat tight about his penguin-shaped presence, fires up a Salem and cruises the streets of Washington, hot on the trail of The Story.
Who was the only reported on the scene at 2:30 a.m. when police escorted former congressman Wilbur Mills and a dripping stripper, Fanne Foxe, from their romp in the Tidal Basin? Larry Krebs. He even caught Mills on film, a lucky accident he feels bad about to this day.
Fanne Foxe had just screamed as police threw a blanket about her. "No, it can't be," said Krebs, catching Mills out of the corner of his lens. "(He films news footage for WJLA-TV, too.)
"It was a real mindbuster, gave me a lot of headaches afterwards . . . what you do to a man's life and not meaning to. . ."
It was 5:30 a.m. and Krebs was contemplating a hot tea and Danish at the end of his long day's night when the call came over the police scanner: A man throwing garbage at police 14th and Q streets NW. "Normally, I wouldn't go on a garbage throwing call, but the cop called for help. . ." And he roared off.
He was curious. "Why did someone throw garbage at 14th and Q? Is the garbage in paper bags? Was it thrown from a metal can? Could be a cute little three-liner for radio."
"Hi, Larry," said Sgt. Mike Johnson, one of four D.C. policemen supervising at St. Elizabeths outpatient cleaning up trash he had thrown into the street.
Krebs likes cops. Cops like Krebs. The advice he gives young photographers fresh to the beat he has covered for 30 years: "Don't make the cops look bad. They're good guys." At a crime scene, he's the fixer -- he can get cops to talk when no one else can.
Krebs, a former undertaker, thrust a microphone into Johnson's face. "This man saw a woman come by and it upset him," said the officer on cue.
"Nothin' upset me, man!" shouted the man, kicking garbage. "Woman was by herself, asked me what did I want. Haven't had no sleep in four days. Nothin' to eat. How can you eat when you're in love with four women?"
He is handcuffed and escorted gently to the paddy wagon.
"Nothing but police, crooks, cops and impersonators out at this time of day," said Officer Kim Dime, 27. "Life is black and white on the midnight shift. It's simple -- Bad guys and good guys and drunks."
And Larry Krebs.
The zoo's lone ring teal duck perched laxily on a rock, watching the sun come up. At 6 a.m., the pandas were still snoozing. But Melvin "Red" Kilby, bird-feeder extraordinaire and the zoo's kangaroos were wide awake, lumbering about the 167-acre park.
For 15 years, Kilby has worked the 3 a.m.-to-10 a.m. shift at one of the zoo's busiest attractions. His job: fixing breakfast for the birds. He works alone through the pre-dawn quiet of the huge complex, a solitary figure laboriously preparing all manner of meals, with only the radio and about 1,000 of his feathered friends for company.
"I love what I'm doing," said Kilby, 54, a bespectacled barrel-bellied man.
From the kitchen of the Bird House, Kilby filled 180 pans of bird food, choosing from 15 separate containers of grains and seeds, as well as several refrigerators full of dead mice, rats and fish. He'd put together enough varied morsels to tempt the most finicky of eaters.
For Kilby, that's important.
"I consider myself the world's best bird feeder,? said Kilby, who makes a habit of checking each day to see, as he puts it, "who's eating and who's not."
Birds, according to Kilby, eat sparingly but often, making perhaps 40 to 50 trips to their pans in a day. If they don't have a snack handy, they eat the zoo's plants.
For the birds, Kilby is careful to keep plenty of live meal worms, fruit and vegetable chunks, sunflower seeds and nectar. For his own snacks, Kilby prefers peanut butter.
The $2,000-a-day New York models primped in the Winnebago dressing room. Fashion photographer Peter Levy stalked about the Reflecting Pool, grousing that the morning light would ruin the shot he planned to make for Harper's Bazaar: two classy women in Saks-Jandel clothes, lounging against two shiny 1980 Chryslers parked at the water's edge.
Nikons were at the ready. The dull gray light was perfect. The water was still. An advertising account executive paced about, eyeing his watch and the sky. The women were late.
"Elegant cars and elegant dames," grumped Levy.
"We only shoot cars at dawn or dusk," said John Barry, 27, art director for the New York agency that handled the Chrysler account. "Raw light on cars is very unflattering. God was real nice to us today -- he gave us a perfect lighting tent." And slow models.
"Do I look old?" asked model Joy Turman, dancing from the Winnebago to take up her pose beside the blue Chrysler LeBaron. She wore a gray suit and white frilly blouse, and explained, "We're supposed to look 'classic'."
A tall Austrian model, Michele Hold, pranced close behind, her cheeks bright red with artificial blush. The sky held its perfect grayness. The sun came up, Leby took aim; an overcast sky would save his dawn.