In the 1930s, small-town Washington was just beginning to awaken from its slumber. In 1935, architect John Russell Pope was selected to design the Jefferson Memorial, which stands on the former site of the B&O Railroad Station where President James Garfield was assassinated in 1881.
In 1937, Pope also designed the National Archives and the National Gallery of Art. Construction on both buildings began in 1937, and both opened to the public in 1941. Unlike other capital cities around the globe, Washington never had a gallery dedicated to art exhibitions until former treasury secretary Andrew W. Mellon supported its construction. The National Gallery of Art became a magnificent structure that displayed masterpieces donated from Mellon’s private collection. Other donors contributed, and the city began a cultural revolution that drew visitors from all over the world.
With visitors came increased traffic, and more parking was needed. The first parking meters were installed on city streets in November 1937, angering drivers who resented having to pay a nickel to park on a public street.
Meanwhile, Steinway & Sons celebrated the manufacture of its three hundred thousandth piano by presenting President Roosevelt with a 9-foot-long mahogany piano that rested on carved eagles layered in gold. Roosevelt accepted the gift on behalf of the American people and dedicated it to “the advancement of music in every city, town and hamlet in the country.”
The Kreeger newlyweds bought their first Steinway piano to enjoy in their Colonial Village apartment. Both were accomplished amateur musicians.
Against the backdrop of 1938 was the panic ignited by Orson Welles and his Mercury Theater’s pre-Halloween broadcast of H.G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds. Thousands of Americans were mesmerized by the scripted radio bulletins, which reported with shocking clarity that space aliens from Mars were invading the town of Grover’s Mill, New Jersey. It seems bizarre that the broadcast drove a nation into mass hysteria the night before Halloween, but it did. Frightened callers jammed telephone lines. Terrified citizens crammed into police stations. Later, when the panic subsided, the fledgling Federal Communications Commission developed rules prohibiting the broadcast of fiction that could cause panic and public harm if broadcast as an urgent bulletin.
David continued his career at the Public Works Administration as chief of its Legal Opinion Division. Then, in August 1939, he and Carmen joyfully welcomed their newborn daughter, Carol, into the family.
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