'When I read your column about Washington in the 1950s and 1960s and the reply from a reader about the 1930s," writes Carolyn McDonald of the Collingwood area near Alexandria, "I realized that my best times -- the 1940s -- just had to be included."
So, in the three-dot style made famous in New York by Walter Winchell and San Francisco's Herb Caen, we let McDonald have her say. But only after noting that this North Carolinian with the maiden surname of Nelson came to Washington to work for the War Department and later the Office of War Information, then headed by Elmer Davis, who had been the radio equivalent of Walter Cronkite for his era. Carolyn McDonald later married Roy J. McDonald, now retired from his federal job.
This is what Carolyn McDonald had to say about Washington in the 1940s:
"Arthur Godfrey on the radio, along with the Pep Boys entertainers, not the automobile supply trio . . . the leg makeup we wore, as nylons were nonexistent and silk unavailable . . . waiting in line in the cafeteria before work for a pack of cigarettes, which usually turned out to be Chelseas . . . walking, walking, walking to and from work or just for the fun of it . . . or taking a streetcar on your pass, which you got for $1.25 a week . . . or, after payday, taking a cab for 20 cents per person anywhere in the first zone . . . .
"The opening of the National Gallery of Art in 1941 . . . working for the government as a CAF clerk-typist at $1,440 a year . . . doing our part for the war effort, selling bonds at the Capitol Theater during the intermission of the movie, "A Guy Named Joe," starring Van Johnson . . . eating a 23-cent bowl of macaroni and cheese on the day before payday and a drink at the Willard Room on payday, hoping to meet some nice serviceman . . . having to buy a fifth of tequila if you wanted a bottle of bourbon . . . the USO dances, or being bused to Fort Belvoir to dance with the servicemen . . . .
"The wonderful Watergate concerts next to the Lincoln Memorial to swoon over Frank Sinatra or laugh at Spike Jones or dream with the National Symphony . . . when people went to Baltimore for illegal abortions or to Elkton, Md., for quick marriages . . . .
"Where men and woman lived in brick boarding houses surrounding Dupont Circle and walked down to Hains Point East Potomac Park on hot summer nights to sleep on newspapers . . . when they had blackout parties in the boarding houses when the siren sounded . . . the parades down Pennsylvania Avenue for returning heroes of the war . . . the sad return of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's body from Warm Springs . . . the excitement of V-J Victory over Japan Day, walking down to the White House and having President Truman come out and wave to us . . . then on to F Street to join the mob . . . .
"These were my good old days!"