Silvio Luciani and Antonio Pereira
Int: I’m Jeanne-Nicole Saint-Laurent.
Int: I’m Elizabeth Gettinger.
Int: And I’m Anne Steptoe.
Int: Today is June 29th, 2009. We are here interviewing – would you please introduce yourselves?
AP: My name is Antonio Pereira.
SL: And my name is – oh, sorry.
AP: Okay. Go ahead, Silvio.
SL: My name is Silvio Luciani.
AP: Yes. I came to the United States on January 23, 1966. I live in 4417 Burlington Place N.W. Washington, D.C. 20016-4421.
SL: I came to the United States in 1960.
SL: Yep. I live in Chevy Chase.
Int: Chevy Chase?
SL: After I buy a house in Wheaton. Silver Spring – Wheaton – 10513 Georgia Avenue Silver Spring, Maryland, zip code 20902. So, I came over to work at Dumbarton Oaks in 1969, February 2nd.
Int: Ah, okay. [To AP] When did you come to Dumbarton Oaks?
AP: I came on January 23rd, no, June 7th, 1971. I knew Silvio before I came here.
Int: Oh, you knew each other?
AP: Yeah, I used to go, sometimes, and work with him in the caterer’s company.
SL: Because I worked with a caterer every day, almost – every evening, not just during the day.
Int: How long have you known each other?
AP: Since then.
AP: Since 1970.
Int: [To AP] And was it through him that you learned about Dumbarton Oaks?
AP: No. The point is: the lady I used to work for before I came here – she was a good friend of Mr. Thacher, which in that time – he was the Director of Dumbarton Oaks. And I had a little girl, my oldest daughter, and she didn’t like children much, you know, so I lied to her and I said I have another daughter coming on. And it wasn’t true. And I said, “I need to get a place to work and a place to live and all that.” And she talked to Mr. Thacher and Mr. Thacher, he got me my job here. So that was fun. I came to the front door and the policeman there, by the name – Big Johnson, Big John was his nickname as a policeman, you know.
Int: Big John?
AP: Big John. And the boss there – superintendent of buildings – was Mike. He was Air Force sergeant or pilot. And he called down to Mike and he said, “There’s so-and-so here, Tony, and he come here to apply for a job.” And he said, “No job for anybody here.” So, the man told me, he said, “We don’t have any job for you. Nothing.” And I said, “Tell him that I’ve got a letter from Mr. Thacher.” I had a letter from Mr. Thacher. So he called him back and he says, “Oh, he has a letter from Mr. T,” he told him. “So, let him come down.” And I got the job.
SL: Mr. Thacher was a good, good, good, good, good man – a really good man. And Mr. Mike was better, the supervisor. For us it looked like a father and brother. It was very nice. The years when we worked with him, we was very well.
Int: What was his name? Mike?
AP: Mike Dziedzic.
AP: Dziedzic. It was a Polack name.
SL: A Polack, from Polonia.
Int: Oh, okay.
SL: Yeah, when he died, me, Santovali, another friend who worked with us, and my brother-in-law – we go see him in the funeral, in Maryland, very far.
AP: What do they call it? Near Andrews Air Force Base.
Int: Andrews Air Force Base.
SL: Oh yeah, on the other side. Yeah.
Int: What were your first impressions of Dumbarton Oaks? Your first impressions.
AP: Well – go ahead, Silvio.
SL: For me, it was very good, because I worked in an embassy before I came here.
Int: Which one?
SL: The Laos Embassy, on S Street. There was one chauffeur, one Spanish man called Antonio – Tony looks like him. And he only was there for two months, I think. And one day he come into the embassy to take Madame, the ambassatrice, outside and he said to me, “Silvio, you want to come work in Dumbarton?” I said, “I don’t know. I need to ask the Ambassador.”
AP: Are you talking about Villacampa?
SL: Uh-huh, Villacampa, yeah. I said, “I need to ask the ambassador if I can take it freely or not.” And the day after I went to the ambassador and said, “Mr. Ambassador, if I go out, is this difficult for you?” He said, “Why? Go wherever you want to go.” I said, “I found one place, in Georgetown, called Dumbarton Oaks.” I want a free Saturday or Sunday. For this, I want to change. He think a little bit; he said, “Yeah, why not?” He said, “Maybe we can do without you. We’ll find somebody else.” And I come to Dumbarton Oaks. I like. And I stay twenty-five years. This was my life.
AP: No, Silvio, you stayed more than twenty-five years.
SL: Eh, what’s twenty-five, ’69 to ’95, whatever. I like very much, really like the job, because, for us, it was really easy, because we know about the job. We’d clean in the morning and in the afternoon we’d do garden. And when I come here, I work for three years on Saturday and Sunday, because that was the rule. I said, “Okay. I’ll take anyway.” After three years, I was offered Saturday and Sunday. But in these three years I go – Mr. Mike sent me to the swimming pool; sell the postcards. I remember: 25 cents each. I no speak English – now, no speak English, anyway. But at the time, I don’t know nothing! He’d write on a piece of paper, “25 cents.” Mr. Mike would write for me. The people would ask, “How much?” I said, “25.” That, I continue for many years. After, I don’t go anymore. That stopped. When Mr. Tyler – when come Mr. Tyler, he changed all the rules. No more sell the postcards in the swimming pool. Because he was the ambassador for many years, maybe no want Dumbarton Oaks to do the things not supposed –
AP: He was godson of Miss Bliss. Mr. Tyler was the godson of Miss Bliss.
SL: For this, Mr. Thatcher, too, was friend to Mr. Bliss, and Mr. Tyler too. After come Mr. Thomson, after come Mr. –
AP: No, no, after Mr. Tyler came Constable, and then Thomson.
SL: After Thomson, Dr. Laiou, because she died of a heart attack in the – yeah.
Int: So, what were some of your duties when your first came here? What types of things did you do on the grounds?
AP: It’s like he say, we used to go in the morning clean the office, and in afternoon stay and guard for the museum, and –
SL: We have to go work outside –
AP: – After five o’clock. Well, later on, Silvio became supervisor, you know.
SL: Oh yeah, I come crew leader, I come here to supervise. I do all the things at Dumbarton Oaks –
AP: – He never stop working.
SL: – All – till the day I retire. Because I don’t want to retire. I don’t want to leave Ms. Laiou, because she was so nice with me. I don’t want to, you know. I was told by the doctor I better stop work, but I don’t stop the work; I stop at Dumbarton Oaks and I still outside anyway. In the morning I sleep more, I rest, so on and so on and so on. For this, I leave here; I regret leaving here by two years, because two years after she died. I could have stayed to the last. The daughter wanted to cut me, I said, “I’m sorry, I am born in this way, I will die in this way. No story.”
AP: He was born with some kind of defective heart, and he’s eighty-four – he still here.
SL: I’m still here, and I still got it. For this I retire. I was seventy years old when I retire.
SL: Seventy years old, uh-huh.
AP: Oh, he still is going to work! My wife used to go with him, we used to work –
SL: Oh yeah, I work five year or more next I retire, outside, just outside.
AP: We used to make good money, we used to have a good private –
SL: Ah yes, private work. Cash money.
AP: Cash money, you don’t pay taxes.
SL: You know cash money? that’s the – [all laugh]
AP: You know, the Internal Revenue Service get enough from me, for us. We pay tax for both work, for work we do. And besides, we pay 7.25 – 7.65% of the Social Security and Medicare. We have to pay both, almost 16% from the tax we made there, because – they call? – self-employer. But think of Dumbarton Oaks and the caterers we work for – we’re making money to pay thousands: send the girls to school, you know. It’s like, Silvio’s son is a CPA or something.
SL: Yeah, right. He graduated from Maryland University. Fourty-five year old! God, some time ago…fast…
AP: And my daughters – one went to Brown, another went to Yale, and then to Harvard, and Boston University for Master’s Degrees. $225,000 enough.
SL: Now it would be double, I think – more or less.
AP: But I don’t regret one penny.
SL: Yeah, right. It’s good for her; like my son, good for him.
AP: I was so lucky with my girls. Boy, they were so good.
SL: One time I said to my son, “You supposed to study for lawyer, because all talk too much. Never stop.” I say, “For lawyer, talk all the way.”
AP: You know, my oldest daughter is a teacher. She makes around sixty-some thousand dollars a year. Not much.
SL: That’s enough for her.
AP: The other one was good, because she went to – she had a scholarship for John Hopkins or Columbia University for a Master’s Degree. “No, I want to go to Harvard.” So she went to Harvard and paid for it. $68,000 for a Master’s Degree.
Int: Did your kids ever come over to Dumbarton Oaks.
AP: Oh yeah, they work in the library. When they were in school, they come here and work in the library. Yeah. And we came with them to the pool. That is a good story.
SL: I never was in the pool. Never. No time.
AP: I tell you the story. When we came here, Dumbarton Oaks was run like a private house, and we, the little guys – they call us the little guys – could not go to the pool. The pool was for some prima donnas. You know, they were the big stuff. And, I say, “My girls…” – they were swimming already. There was a black fellow who used to work for Mr. Moore, seventeen years old. He came to me and said, “Tony, can we go to the pool.” “Of course, why not.” Well, we go to the pool. So, he brings a girlfriend and went to the pool. They start to raise hell with them and stuff and they come out, and then they went downtown to the NAACP and came back and says: “Everyone can use the pool!” They say, “Excellent.” If they knew I did that, I wouldn’t be here today [laughing]. They would have fired me, because, you know, some ladies – even at lunch time, we couldn’t go there because they want to have lunch, no splashing, no nothing. They were very – some ladies here, they think they own the place, you know. And it was worse off, but we made it. Mr. Moore was nice artist-guy. He did all the pre-Columbian cases and all that stuff. He was a nice man.
Int: Mr. Moore?
AP: Moore. Astor Moore. He was here for over thirty years.
SL: On carpentry. He worked down there – a carpenter.
AP: Cabinet-maker! He didn’t like you to call him carpenter [laughing]. Yeah.
SL: He work very well. He made many boxes for the pre-Columbian.
AP: And the Byzantine too.
SL: And the Byzantine too, yeah, right. He was very smart.
AP: There was a lady, for example – Mrs. Hammack was the financial lady. She was a racist, that woman. We came – I went – you know Larry –
Int: Larry Johnson?
Int: From the garden?
AP: Larry Johnson; and there’s another one, Villacampa. Before me, they went there to ask her to give them the – you know how much they were making, you know – a statement for them to buy a house. You know what she say to them? “What do you want that for?”
SL: For live!
AP: So, they went and bought the house. So, when I went there, I tell her, “Somebody has to come here and to call here because I’m buying a house, and I want to know how much money I make and all that stuff, if it’s true what I say.” And she said, “Okay.” So, I – the house cost me $70,000 at that time, and I put $44,000 –
SL: – Down.
AP: Down. Down payment – because I was making $10,000 a year here, and the money I make outside doesn’t count to them. Today they give houses away – that’s why it’s all that problem – but that time they don’t give me the house. So, I put $40,000 down on the house, and 20 years to pay. I pay it in seventeen years, the house. The house today is worth $800,000.
SL: Yeah, right. That’s good buy at that time.
AP: It was a good buy at that time, but it was tough. So, she was –
Int: When did you retire from Dumbarton Oaks?
AP: I retire eleven years ago. I retire in March, eleven years ago, but I stopped working before Christmas, because I had forty-two days vacation that I hadn’t taken out. I never take off. If I take off, I have to go to the other job, so I’ll take off only when I went – am needed – and sick-leave, I lost more than 3,000 hours.
SL: I lost so many sick-leave. I don’t like to stay in the house. I like work.
AP: I probably called sick to go to the doctor maybe once or twice a year or more. And the late – I came five minutes late once – twenty-some years – I – twenty-eight years – I came in five minutes late. The rest of the year, we were here 7:00, 7:30 in the morning.
SL: More or less.
AP: I didn’t like to get – you know, I used to walk to the public transportation, and if you come one minute late you may lose a day, so I was well-trained for that. And sometimes you have to sleep quick. Sometimes you go to bed at two or three o’clock in the morning, and wake at seven o’clock up, twenty-five years and work all the time. We used to work eighty, ninety, one hundred hours a week.
SL: This was exercise for us!
AP: Yeah, he never stop.
SL: Exercise. Sometime we start the Friday four o’clock in the afternoon, or five, and we finished Saturday morning at six o’clock. We go home sleep two hour and go work again.
AP: Yeah, we used to come from work to work. Go over six o’clock – The point is, we made it.
SL: We work outside, we have jobs, we have everything – the life for live. Thank you God.
AP: If you pinch for a rainy day…
SL: Because we work outside, we are what we are now.
AP: Now, you know, Harvard retirement is no good, because they give me one third, less than one third of what I was making at that time, and they collect Social Security, and we are a little better at Social Security because we worked two jobs, because we put more money on it.
SL: Yeah, because we work more year. More you work, more Social Security you have.
AP: Yeah, this thing – I get the TIAA Cref, since 1980 ‘till I retire, I put $200-some-thousand on it.
Int: Did you ever meet Mrs. Bliss?
AP: Yeah. I knew her, but when I came over – she died in the year Silvio came here.
SL: No, two years before. Maybe I know her, but I don’t know, I don’t remember.
AP: I remember because she used to go to the lady’s I used to work at in Georgetown, and Mr. Thacher used to go there too.
SL: I don’t remember. I no think about too much every face when I work.
SL: After she died, I think about it. I said, “Maybe I saw her before, I don’t know.”
AP: Miss Bliss is Mrs. – that lady used to be that chauffeur that has a Rolls Royce, from New York, used to live on 18th St. – what is her name? 18th St. and E. F St. and 18… Well, you, after seventy years, seventy-six years, our minds don’t work as good… [laughing]
Int: You must remember a lot of celebrities from Georgetown – Elizabeth Taylor was here –
AP: Oh, we used to work here, across the street from her.
Int: Did you ever see her?
AP: Oh, many times. She used to go – one time she killed raccoons with poison. She poured poison around and killed raccoons.
Int: Elizabeth Taylor?
Int: In the gardens?
AP: Yeah, right here [pointing]. Right where she used to live. There was another little house here they tore down, and then after this that lady from Toyota –
SL: Yeah, from Japan.
AP: Her husband used to be a Toyota President here, and she used to own restaurant on the corner, that restaurant, that lady used to work here, and they bought that lot. After John Warner divorced her, she went someplace else, you know. John Warner, I think he went to Watergate, and then they sell the house to some guy here, and then the other guy sell another one, and then afterward Dumbarton Oaks bought it.
SL: Yeah, right.
AP: But the wall, what is here, used to go down the other side, much nearer to the house on the corner, because the lady in the corner, she is the daughter of Paul Mellon –
SL: She was very rich.
AP: This one was adopted, was adopted daughter, and she’s a very rich person. The Mellons are very rich, you know.
SL: And the other lives very close to the French Embassy.
AP: Yeah –
SL: When you go in the back.
AP: I think it’s a university.
SL: I don’t know.
AP: When you go to the – it belongs to Harvard…
Int: Center for Hellenic Studies?
AP: Yeah, that. You know, the Director at the time when we were here, we used to go to work for them too, he was the brother of one of the Justices, Steward. Steward was one Justice at that time. He was – you know, Greek scholar and all that, was professor, probably at Harvard, and then he came as Director here.
Int: We’ve heard rumors about ghosts at Dumbarton Oaks. Do you know anything about that?
AP: Ghosts? ghosts?
SL: No. Christo, who invented that? Someone crazed? [laughing]
AP: I was – I know – that was Mr. Weiser. Mr. Weiser was a sergeant in the Army – is a big fellow. He was a sergeant in the Army, and he believes in that. He says he saw Miss Bliss, and another time he saw somebody with Miss Bliss on their arm.
SL: Because that’s the people who work in the night.
AP: They work in the nighttime.
SL: They go around and invent this stupid tale. Nothing more. [laughing]
AP: Well, there may be ghosts, but I never see one. And I don’t believe in it anyway.
SL: One guy who worked in the garden said he see this spook go through the gate. How? I don’t know. [laughing]
AP: You know, some people used to jump the fence and come and –
SL: Just to say something.
AP: They used to come and go swim in the pool at nighttime, get naked there and all that stuff. You know, young fellows and girls.
Int: People broke in to swim in the pool?
AP: Yeah, they jump the fence and go to the pool. Joe knew about it.
SL: That maybe was true. But the rest – I don’t know. Because that was so many people…
AP: One time I went to work in the party, Silvio. You weren’t there. Somewhere in Maryland, and then they gave the ladies a swimming suit for them to go in the pool and we sat around the pool, and when they get in the water, you know…
Int: What happened?
AP: The bathing-suit unzipped, and they were all naked!
Int: Is this during an event?
AP: Yes. Oh, it was so many things. But, you know, you’re not supposed to say nothing.
SL: Sometimes you have a party around the pool, people would drink a little more, go in the water to swim. Not to swim, they would just fall down. That’s happened.
AP: Well, you know, they say they smoke marijuana in the park and all that stuff. If they did, I never saw it. If I saw it, I wouldn’t say nothing, because we going out there to work, not to come out and tell what’s up with it.
SL: One time me and one lady – an American lady – we go to Maryland. That was – como se llama? – cocaine party. You see, it look like talc. White. You see it everywhere, everywhere. I throw so many – and my son say, “For what? Why don’t you take home?” “For what,” I said, “for what?”
AP: We threw away afterward.
SL: I threw away so many that night. That was a crazy party. The people, they drink, drink, drink, drink. That was a pajama party.
AP: Pajama party.
Int: And that was associated with Dumbarton Oaks?
AP: Oh no.
AP: You remember Tony Silva, the one who had the gate, the Taylor’s gate. One time we went to Elizabeth Taylor’s down in Georgetown in Washington, and they gave the table she wanted to me. He said, “You want to serve Ms. Taylor’s table?” I said, “Go on, take it, I don’t care.” So I gave the table to him, and then when he was setting near it, he poured rice right [gestures to chest, laughing] – on accident, but he threw rice…
SL: Because you put too much juice, sauce, in the platter. When you serve, you move a little bit [gestures to chest, whistling] or in the back or in the head.
AP: Well, Silvio knows –
SL: Yeah, but that’s – what are you going to do? Happen, happen. It’s a job.
AP: But Silvio knows better than that because he work in the embassies, where the –
SL: Oh yeah, I work really tiring times.
AP: You work in the Swedish Embassy, in Moscow, was it?
SL: In Sweden, in Moscow, in Finlandia. I was –
AP: He speak French and Russian.
SL: Yeah, before. Now I forget everything.
AP: You don’t forget nothing. You still work, you still talk with your wife!
SL: I still talk with somebody. I find some girl when I go to the party, an America girl – she said, “Oh, I speak before Italian, now I don’t remember.” I say, “Because you don’t talk anymore!” You need to talk with somebody. On telephone, or something, you remember the words. But that’s what happens to me. I remember spasibo, bolshoia, dobryj vyechyer, buona sera, buon giorno, come stai.
AP: He world talk to Mr. Khampan in French.
SL: Yeah, I work in the Laos Embassy. Before I come here I work in the Laos Embassy. I need to talk French, because when I go, I don’t have a job – somebody said, “You friend?” and one of my friends say “Go away, go away in the other embassy. Why not go to Lucas to give the job to you.” I go there, there was a madame, a principessa, she was a princess, from Laos. The other was prince, the Ambassador.
AP: Prince and princess.
SL: Prince and princess, yeah. She receive me, said, “Parlez-vous français?” I say, “Un petit peu.” She start to talk and talk, and I talk too, what I can. She said, “Yeah, you can come tomorrow to work. ten pm, she says.” I go work there for a year. After, I go to Italy for ten months; I no want to come back, because after – I don’t find a job in Italy, I go to the – what’s it called? – American consulate in Rome. I say, “What I can do, I have my mother is very sick, what can I do? I don’t want to go back now. Can I take six months extra to look?” “Is really your mother sick?” I say, “Yeah, yeah!” He said that before me – “only declare what you want – sah sah sah sah sah. After we see what we can do.”
AP: He wants a letter from the doctor, to tell –
SL: Yeah. I said, “You know what? You lose today more, you cannot go back anymore.” I go home, I was – I needed to ask, per piacere, it was due kilometri da Roma. I take the bus, I go – I quickly go take the bus and go home. I said, “My wife – make the baggagio – we need to go, we need to go.” I come back again – after I go work in the Laos Embassy, because before when I go to Italy, I was work there, and I go to Italy, and want come back. I need to come back, because I cannot find a job. And when I come back, I go see the Ambassador. I said, “Mr. Ambassador, I come back.” “Maybe you can get a job again?” I say, “Oh yeah.” “Come tomorrow.” “Okay.” I go work again. We live there, me and my wife.
AP: He is a hard worker, he never stop.
SL: When we have the baby, she was – we are in the Laos Embassy. Yeah. They take me to work again, I work there one year more. After, I come to Dumbarton Oaks.
AP: After work, after we did that, and then Silvio became one of the supervisors, and then I get the mail-job, to do the mail. It was really easy for us. But, you know – for example, when I have bulk mail sent in that task to go out, I take ten minutes or fifteen to eat. I never want to leave nothing for the next day if it’s something to do today, you know. And I used to take the mail, go to the mailbox, go to the post office – but even if I was going home for some reason, I always take the mail first off. If not before four o’clock, we have to go to Wisconsin Avenue and dump the mail there. We send a lot – I don’t know today, but we used to send a lot of books –
SL: Yeah, we had a lot of activity at Dumbarton Oaks.
AP: We used to do it – a lot of books.
Int: Would you ever send objects from the collection?
AP: No, that was done only by a special company –
SL: Susan Boyd, etc., etc.
AP: It was a special company that would come and pick it up.
SL: That would come – you’re right.
AP: We used to use the Federal Express and UPS. We have a contract with all of them – I don’t know if it still is, but we had a contract – and we use – and then the month, I used to send the amount to the financial department, each department how much they spend in mail. I don’t know what they did afterwards, you know. But they don’t want us to do certain things. But it was tough for me – many times people want to send the mail out and I say, “I can’t do nothing about it.” Sometimes if they ask the right way, I take a package there and then I tell them how much it was, and they give it to me. But ask some professors, they came here, they own the place. “I want to send this letter, this package!” I say, “Where’s the money?” You have to go to the Post Office. I can’t do it. There was another one from Greece when Laiou was here – he think he could do anything. They think they own the – I don’t know how it works today. It was tough sometimes. You know, I always – I was a rebel – they call me rebel sometimes because I wouldn’t take it. I’ll tell them no. One time – his name was Treadgold.
AP: No, Treadgold.
AP: Yeah. He was a Fellow here that time; wasn’t a professor here. And then he married Andreescu.
SL: Andreescu. Yeah, right.
AP: So, he came out while I was reading the paper in the front at the desk, and he say, “Is this paper for lunch?” I say, “Yeah.” He say, “Let me have it.” I say, “I’m reading it, and then you can have it later.” He says, “The paper is for us.” I say, “Yeah, it’s for us.” I say, “You don’t think I have the same right to read the paper like you?” And he say, “No, not quite.” I say, “Go to the Director and you won’t get the paper because I won’t give it to you.” He went to Constable, and Constable says, “Don’t fool around with Tony, because he don’t give up.”
SL: Constable was a good, good, good, good man.
Int: What was he like?
AP: Mr. Thomson – Mr. –?
Int: Contable. What was your relationship like?
AP: We had a good relationship.
SL: When we have dinner in the evening, in the house – in the morning, pass by, come to me, say, “Thank you Silvio, thank you Silvio,” all the time.
AP: I think him and Laiou was the best one.
SL: Laiou was different too, Laiou was better. Thomson was very good too. Ms. Everson, the cook, was one cook, American cook. Very good. She cook so good.
Int: What was her name?
SL and AP: Miss Everson.
AP: She was in Bangkok with the State Department.
SL: The Director, Thomson – he invited me, my wife, to go to work with Miss Everson – Come si chiama? Li-li-li-li –
AP: Lilia? She still work here.
SL: Yeah, she retiring now.
AP: She retiring now.
SL: She retired last week. When was it? A week ago.
SL: Two months ago, I was around to see my niece, because my niece work in the garden before – “Say hello to Silvio,” all the time. Thomson.
AP: Not niece, your nephew.
SL: Oh, nephew! Not my niece. Something, something.
AP: Yeah, Kiko.
SL: Kiko, yeah right. Thomson say hello all the time.
AP: Constable’s son – both of them – three of them – Contable’s son work in the gardens, and then he became a Ph.D. And his daughter work in the library, and she was a Ph.D. too.
SL: And the son also –
AP: and Thomson too –
SL: – And Laiou work in the garden.
AP: Yeah, he’s a lawyer now. He’s a state attorney in Boston now. In fact, he gave me the number when I went to Boston; went to see him. And Thomson too – his son work in the garden, didn’t he?
SL: No… I know the man you’re thinking of…
AP: He went to Maret School. Constable’s son, too, went to Maret School.
SL: Constable was – the son was – Laiou...
AP: Constable’s son went to Maret School. He went…
SL: I remember Thomson, I don’t remember the son. The son was –
AP: Who? Constable’s son?
SL: Thomson, Thomson.
AP: Thomson, yeah. He had some problem, but I don’t know what it was.
SL: I want to say, the family was very good.
AP: Yeah, both. Nice, nice lady.
SL: Attitude very good. But we cannot complain about the the the the the –
AP: They always try to treat us right, you know.
SL: Thacher was good, Tyler was good, Thomson was good, Constable was good, and Laiou was better. [laughs]
AP: When Constable come, they say, “You are in the red.” And they didn’t have enough money for him. And then they gave us a raise, and then every fifteen days that you get your check – I get one dollar less than I used to.
SL: Yeah, one: one fifth! [laughs]
AP: You know, they gave you a little raise, but they raise up your percentage that you pay for all the things, and then they took the one away. That’s funny. But Laiou was the best, she was the one who gave us – at least me – better raise.
Int: What else did she do that was especially –?
SL: At Christmas time, all the directors come eat with us in our kitchen downstairs, every one, and now no one, I think. That’s finished, that’s finito. No more. Yeah. All, all, all, all. Miss Laiou, everyone.
AP: She used to take care of the liquors, have a party and everything.
SL: I was the supervisor for everything. All the party, all the –
AP: You the supervisors for the caterers too.
SL: For everything, for the wine, for everything. I was later hot.
AP: But he don’t drink.
AP: I do. I like it. I like wine.
SL: I’m sorry, I no like it.
AP: I saw once, only once, Silvio drink a little ubonnet – no, not dubonnet, vermouth, red vermouth.
SL: Sweet vermouth.
AP: Sweet vermouth.
SL: Yeah, when I retired, you see that, how your sugar, it go up with the blood – because when we worked for Arthur, with the caterer – oh!
AP: The caterer is not only serving the table. We have to set the tables, we have to load the tables, set it, break down, load again, and then stoves, silver, chairs, and all that stuff was –
SL: We work with the caterer, not have just work, just serving – the rest, the preparation, take out, load the truck – that’s the job, not – serving is nothing. An hour, an hour and a half, it goes by. Finito.
AP: But the rest…
SL: Ah, we did it. You remember that Greek? What he called, that Greek?
AP: James! He used to work for Miss Post.
SL: Take the –
AP: Oh you talking about – I know!
SL: Yeah, take the tablecloth, nothing – foo!
SL: Yeah. Throw it in the truck…
AP: He was a big fellow.
SL: He was very strong.
AP: Probably sixty-five or more.
SL: Died, maybe because he overdo –
AP: He was drinking too much, and eat…
SL: Yeah, that. Etc., etc., etc., etc.
AP: Another Greek that works for Miss Washington Post – Graham, Catarina Graham. We used to go there that all the time too.
SL: But there was two. One was chauffeur.
AP: One time –
SL: Chauffeur brought the car for Miss Graham, and the other one work in the back. The other come supervise when they have a party. Maybe still work. I work with him two years ago. After, I don’t work anymore after this.
AP: One time, we were there. I always go to the front. When the guests come, they give me the, you know, car. And I knew most of them, you know. At that time, I probably knew seventy or more who were there, by their name. I used to have a good memory; now I’m getting old.
SL: Well yeah, I remember everything.
AP: But I was at one and, afterwards, came the President Reagan that time. He went with Mrs. Graham, Catarina Graham, to a private room. There was a woman at the top of the roof. It was cold, very cold. She was from the security service. She was on top of the roof. And he went there from midnight. They stayed till almost two o’clock in the morning talking, and I was getting inside, getting a little champagne. When the woman come down, she was almost frozen. Poor – and that time, the Attorney General – he arrived later on – when he came up to the party he fall down, and the Secret Service put him in the car and took him away. And around probably two o’clock when he left, everyone was waiting for him and all that stuff, and the woman almost faint because she was almost frozen, poor woman.
SL: I mean the police was around.
AP: Yeah. But we wanted to give her something, something to – she didn’t want, she didn’t drink nothing, because she was afraid.
Int: Did a lot of the people who came to these Georgetown parties also come to the parties at Dumbarton Oaks?
AP: Some, especially the ones who were the Friends of Music – some big ones here who give big money to the Friends of Music, and once in a while they had that kind of party. For example, when Reagan was running for the second term, the party for raising in Washington D.C. was either here or the ketchup man in Georgetown, Mr. Kerry: O St., 3322 O St., which many years ago used to belong to the Russian Embassy, 1600s, 1700s, 1782 or something like that. The Firestone people bought that house, which has – you know, one of the sons died in accident in River Road, and her mother and father divorced, and she used to be secretary for Mr. Bush, the old man Bush.
SL: The father.
AP: They used to be, every year, all their fundraisers. One time down there we would have couscous, and then came Mr. Purdue, the chicken fellow, and he asked how we were setting in the buffet. He come over, say, “What is this?” I look at him and say, “It’s Purdue chicken.” He start laughing.
Int: Did you serve – were you involved in the lunches with the Fellows? Were you working, like, serving them.
AP: Yeah, we did, for the Fellows. All we did at symposium, always. Here, in the Orangery. Everywhere.
SL: In the Founders Room.
AP: Whatever they decide to do. And you get the anniversary for the – what it was? – when the United Nations meeting took place in the – there was the other side open on the lawn –
SL: Bella Vista.
AP: Yeah. North Vista.
AP: Big party.
SL: Yeah, big party. There was a tent everywhere.
AP: Yeah. You know who it was – at Laiou’s table it was the girl from Maryland, which is a Greek descendent a Serbian – at the table, she drink half a gallon of water or more. Water, water…
SL: Today was hot too.
AP: It was hot. They have good parties here. One time we had a party in Mr. Tyler’s house, and then he went to take a guest to her house, you know, she didn’t have a car, and then when we come back he have accident in Rock Creek Park. It was a Mercedes. He had accident in Rock Creek Park, and then one time I was walking and came a guy asking me if I knew the parties here, and “Do you think the Director – ” You know, “he drinks too much.” I say, “What are you talking about? Get out! I don’t know nothing.” He went away.
SL: Maybe his right company is – yeah, right.
AP: I have one suit that he gave to me; I still have it.
Int: Mr. Tyler? Mr. Tyler gave you a suit?
SL: He was your size, more or less.
AP: It was a good one, with his name on it.
Int: What was the strangest things you ever saw – just funny, strange?
AP: I don’t know. Maybe –
SL: We don’t know now, because we don’t work anymore. Change all the time – I sorry, I say one thing now. All the time I said it before, when the people ask, “Silvio, what, why don’t you go – ,” I say, “Povero Dumbarton Oaks.” Now they say you right when you said, “Povero Dumbarton Oaks.”
AP: Poor Dumbarton Oaks. But he didn’t make any comments.
SL: All the time they say, “It’s not the same; you right when you said, ‘Povero Dumbarton Oaks.’” – Especially, you remember Eric? – the one who retired? One time, when he said, “Silvio, you’re right, you’re right.” I said, “What, ‘you’re right’?” “Poor Dumbarton Oaks.”
AP: You have any questions for us, we will be glad to answer if we know.
SL: We don’t know now what happened, what way, what way it go, but –
AP: I don’t know. The only thing I –
SL: – Together we must look like a family or brothers. You know Mariano Jimeno. He said, “Silvio, ups and downs, this no good.” I said, “Why no good?” He said, you know, we are no more friends…
AP: By the way, you find out where he is now?
SL: I don’t know – I wanted to ask the daughter – I forget all the time – they are not in the house they are, what you call it – daycare, but where, I don’t know. Because a long time before I go into the house, in the week at that time, because the weekend he has the sister – all the family I no like – start to cry, that I no like. I go during the weekdays.
AP: I saw him probably a month ago.
SL: Maybe we go see him one day.
AP: Okay Silvio.
SL: Come to my house…
AP: He’s a nice fellow. He’s bought for himself because he used to have a lot of cholesterol and all that stuff and the only thing he likes is shellfish, scampi –
SL: Cheese –
AP: We used to go to the same clinic, you know. You know what the doctor used to tell him? “Are you still alive?” – because he had five-hundred-and some cholesterol.
SL: Very high, very high!
AP: He never did nothing about it.
SL: Very high.
AP: We always get on his case, every time we eat we always get in his case, but he never listen.
SL: I think happened even now that thing because no one was in the home, he was very free – he eat he eat he eat he eat.
AP: He liked to drink.
SL: Liked to get drunk. The cholesterol will go in the moon!
AP: You know, I used to drink wine every meal. For probably ten years I don’t drink it unless I go to a party or something like that – I drink a little wine. But that’s good, because I feel alright.
SL: But the doctor sometime recommend a little wine, red wine or whatever. I don’t like – I try many times. For what? For what? I feel so well with the water, very very well – thank you God! When we go to party sometime, I see the people drink lots. I hated that. I don’t know why – because I don’t drink.
AP: You don’t like to see people drunk.
SL: People don’t like me because when you work and you are in the bar and the people want to work with you – you offer something. I never offer nothing to nobody. They hated me – because I don’t drink.
AP: You never go to the parties.
SL: I have a bottle for two years, sealed all the time the same. Nobody touch, my son will not drink, my wife will not drink, I will not drink. I have one friend who come all the time, Dino Muzzio. He come and say, “Silvio, why you not throw away that bottle?” I say, “I have it for so many years.” [laughs]
AP: You know, the other day my wife went to Miss Burdy – who was – she went to Havana –
SL: The one who drink champagne all the time, drink champagne. Yes, when the ladies come to the party, all the time drinking the bottle of champagne. Sometime two. She drink all the champagne, no water, nothing. I’m sorry, go ahead.
AP: She went there, and I said, “I’m going to drink a glass of wine.” So I went downstairs, and there was a case with some bottles there, I took one bottle and I open [mimes opening bottle]. You know 1974, it’s –
SL: Like cognac, huh?
AP: Oh no, it smell like port, oh boy! It was so good. I drink half of bottle and the next day –
AP: You know, it was little broken then. It was good. Oh boy, I like it.
Int: We’re coming to the end of the tape, so we just have about one more minute if you want to share any last little thoughts before we wrap it up.
AP: I don’t think anything else, I don’t know…
SL: We more or less, say everything, more or less.
Int: Thank you very much.
AP: If questions come up, you may remember other things, you know. Because the last twenty-eight years, a lot of things happen, and, especially when you’re 76, you don’t remember a lot of them, but –
Int: Do you have a favorite story about your time at Dumbarton Oaks?
AP: My favorite story was the one with the guy at the swimming pool.
JM: Silvio, Antonio – Tony – I’ve known you guys for all the time I’ve been here – thirty-five years – this is a great treat because you know Dumbarton Oaks better than anybody really, and –
AP: What is the purpose of this, Joe?
JM: It’s just history! and people are proud –
SL: You want to know what we did –
JM: And you’re the people that carry the history with you. Thank you, we appreciate it guys.
Int: Thank you so much.
SL: Thank you.
AP: Thank you Joe, it was a pleasure.
SL: We are very happy to tell the story.
JNSL: I always wondered if anybody had fallen in the swimming pool.
AP: There is the story about, you know, Kazhdan. I was used to go to check the bathroom. And I would see him all the time swimming alone there. And I would say, “You have to be careful, Mr. Kazhdan.” And I told the administration many times that someday he’s going to have an accident there, and he’s going to sue Dumbarton Oaks. And finally they said, Tony, don’t worry about it; don’t say anything; we’ll handle it.” And you know the man died there.
JNSL: You predicted that.