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United States


Hidden Treasures

alec vanderboom

I'm preparing for my role as a first-time house owner by hanging out for 3 weeks in the ranch house my grandmother, Mrs. Jean McCormick Gableman, moved into in 1951.* My grandma spent the first 8 years of her marriage living in boarding homes during WWII while my grandpa fought over seas, and then in small apartments due to the housing shortage during Washington D.C.'s explosive growth after the war. Moving into her first house, the same one she lived in until she died at age 83, was an extremely big deal for Grandma Jean.

I love feeling close to her memory this month. Yesterday, I chatted with three of her old neighbors. In a time of constant change, it's surreal to chat with 90 year olds who coo over my new Baby Tess and remember what my own eyes looked like as a baby.

I'm also finding hidden treasures of Grandma Jean all over her house. Here's a story from her Congressional Club Cookbook of 1975.

"Being Congressional woman, the organizers of the Club decided that they would like to have their club incorporated by and Act of Congress. Accordingly, Congressman Julius Kahn of California, husband of one of the Club's Vice Presidents, introduced a bill for that purpose on May 20, 1908. However, Congress John Sharp Williams, husband of another one of the Club's Vice-Presidents, opposed all women's clubs in general and he proceeded to filibuster...

As Congress was preparing to adjourn the following day, there was no time to lose. Accordingly, Mrs. Williams rose to the occasion. Looking her prettiest, she arrived in the House corridor and sent her card in to her husband. When he came out of the Senate chamber, Mrs. Williams announced that she had come to lunch with him. Gallant Southern gentleman that he was, Mr. Williams took her to dine, and Congressman Kahn's resolution passes while they were gone."

That story totally tickled my funny bone!

* this is the house that my mother moved into at age 5 and is currently home to my younger brother who works on Capital Hill.