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A Sentimental Journey

October 20, 2015

Bronx zebra (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Bronx zebra

A weekend in New York City to see Picasso Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) turned into a sentimental journey to places I loved first, introduced by the person I loved most who would have turned 100 today.

Whenever I went to the Bronx Zoo I would take along one of my stuffed animals so that their cousins would see a familiar face through the bars. Today, most of the cages are gone thanks to the outdoor natural habitats designed for most of my favorite wild creatures. The petting zoo is still there, delightfully tactile as ever, only now with interactive adventures more creative than the finger licking sheep and goats I fondly recall.

Frida Kahlo self-portrait (Photo by: wikipedia.org) Frida Kahlo self-portrait

A stroller ride away is the 125-year old New York Botanical Garden where Frida Kahlo's life, art, garden and life are on display through this month. With a focus on a keen interest in the botanical world, a re-creation of her Mexican garden in the Haupt Conservatory gives visitors a first-hand glimpse of the lush influences her paintings display nearby.

Picasso Bull (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Picasso Bull

Working in ten media, from sheet metal, clay and found objects to plaster and wood, Pablo Picasso's three-dimensional art at MoMA is simply astounding. With the exception of the Musée Picasso in Antibes, a place where he lived and worked, I've never seen a show where the artist's presence is more keenly felt.

Bvlgari & Rome: Eternal Inspiration is a dazzling new collection of gemstones and ancient coins fashioned into jewelry as only Bvlgari can.

Bvlgari necklace (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Bvlgari necklace

An appreciation of beauty in all things, from nature and art to fashion were gifts she gave. Though I do not possess my mother's refinement or grace, thanks to her, I know it when I see it. No designer boutiques in Soho and Tribeca when I was small, and Chelsea was all about packing meat back then, but there was Bergdorf's. A day of Manhattan shopping, which started there, ended at the stunning new Whitney Museum building by Renzo Piano between the High Line and the Hudson. 

Reminds me of seeing Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim Museum when it first opened on October 21, 1959. All I remember was a lot of spiraling concrete staircases but my mother got it.

Bronx giraffes (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Bronx giraffes


Bronx tapir (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Bronx tapir

Bronx owl (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Bronx owl

Bronx monkey (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Bronx monkey

Bronx leopard (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Bronx leopard

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Georgetown Honors Gunther Stern's Service to the Community

October 18, 2015

Host Ellen Charles and co-chair Page Evans (Photo by: Oliver Devine) Host Ellen Charles and co-chair Page Evans
Ellen MacNeille Charles opened her most elegant and exquisite Georgetown home Thursday evening to several hundred friends and neighbors. The occasion was the 2015 Spirit of Georgetown Benefit, this year honoring Gunther Stern for his 25 years of service to the Georgetown Ministry Center (GMC).

GMC co-chairs Jocelyn Dyer and Page Evans were on hand to help welcome guests to the lavish party that eventually made its way outside to the tented garden for cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and remarks.

Genther Stern and Jack Evans (Photo by: Oliver Devine) Genther Stern and Jack Evans

Councilmember Jack Evans presented the "Freddie" Award to Stern for his dedication to the homeless and GMC, thanking him for dedicating his professional career to rebuilding and empowering the lives of people who are homeless by building relationships with these most service-resistant individuals in hopes of getting them off the streets.

Gunther Stern with his wife Alexis and daughter Molly (Photo by: Oliver Devine) Gunther Stern with his wife Alexis and daughter Molly

Under Stern's remarkable leadership, GMC has grown from a small outreach center to a warm and welcoming clubhouse that provides people with a sense of respect and community. Advocating for those without a voice, Stern recently spoke before the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of Congress about changing laws to better serve the people who are mentally ill and homeless.

GMC's business manager Dymenn Sasser with Jocelyn Dyer (Photo by: Oliver Devine) GMC's business manager Dymenn Sasser with Jocelyn Dyer

Outerbridge Horsey, the first president of of the GMC board, who hired Gunther 25 years ago was also recognized for his service to the community.

Thanking his host and guests, Stern spoke passionately, "When we talk about homelessness, what we are really talking about is profoundly mentally disabled people who have been allowed to languish on the streets because of antiquated laws. Let's talk about how we can fix the system."

As guests applauded his service, Stern closed by saying, "Next year we should honor Georgetown for being one of the most caring communities on earth."


Ellen Charles (Photo by: Oliver Devine) Ellen Charles

Co-chair Jocelyn Dyer, Christian Zapatka, Amy Stroh (Photo by: Oliver Devine) Co-chair Jocelyn Dyer, Christian Zapatka, Amy Stroh

Corinna and Beau Stiles with Catherine Ballinger (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Corinna and Beau Stiles with Catherine Ballinger

Betsy Cooley and Jennifer Altemus (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Betsy Cooley and Jennifer Altemus

Jim and Leslie Lee, Dorothy Preston, Nancy and Simon Sidamon-Eristoff (Photo by: Oliver Devine) Jim and Leslie Lee, Dorothy Preston, Nancy and Simon Sidamon-Eristoff

Betsy Cooley, Dana Landry of WFP, Page Evans (Photo by: Oliver Devine) Betsy Cooley, Dana Landry of WFP, Page Evans

Kathleen Chateleine-Samsen (Photo by: Judith Beermann) Kathleen Chateleine-Samsen

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Rose Park Dedicates Tennis Courts to Peters Sisters

October 14, 2015

Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans' proposal to the DC Council to symbolically designate the Rose Park tennis courts at 2600 O Street as the Margaret Peters and Roumania Peters Walker Tennis Courts was approved this summer and a formal dedication ceremony will take place on October 24, 2015.

Sisters Margaret and Matilda Roumania Peters (1915 – 3 Nov. 2004 and 1917 – 16 May 2003), nicknamed "Pete" and "Repeat," gained local distinction playing tennis on the clay courts at the Rose Park playground near their R Street home in Georgetown.

Trailblazers for black women in professional tennis, they played in an era when blacks were segregated from whites in both national and international competitions. In 1936 both sisters were invited to play in the ATA national championships in Wilberforce University in Ohio. The ATA had been founded in 1916 by a group of African American businessmen, college professors, and physicians who wanted to promote the game of tennis and provide a forum for competition at the national level. The ATA provided the finest competition for blacks in the United States at the time.

In 1937 the Peters sisters entered Tuskegee together where they would become the best African American tennis players in the nation at the time. They won fourteen doubles titles between 1938 and 1941 and between 1944 and 1953. Roumania also won ATA national singles titles in 1944 and 1946. In her second title she defeated Althea Gibson, who won ten ATA national singles titles before playing a pioneering role in integrating tennis in the United States and around the world.

After graduating from Tuskegee in 1941 with degrees in physical education the Peters sisters continued to play amateur tennis in regional and national ATA tournaments. They played matches in front of British royalty and celebrities including actor Gene Kelly who practiced with both Roumania and Margaret while in DC.

Margaret, who never married, briefly moved to New York after graduation and earned a master's degree in physical education from New York University. She later returned to Washington, D.C., to work as a special education teacher. She earned a second master's degree in special education from Coppin State College in Baltimore, Maryland. She died in November 2004.

Like her sister, Roumania also earned a master's degree in physical education from New York University after graduating from Tuskegee. In 1957 she married James Walker, a math professor from Tuskegee who came to the college after seeing a picture of Roumania in a newspaper. They had a daughter named Frances Della and a son named James George together. Roumania worked as a teacher at Howard University in the 1950s and in the D.C. public school system from 1964 until 1981. Roumania taught tennis to underprivileged children through the department of recreation. In 1977 both sisters were inducted into the Tuskegee Hall of Fame. Roumania died in 2003 from pneumonia.

Margaret and Roumania only recently began to receive national acclaim for their accomplishments on the tennis court. But the league that previously banned them from competing, the United States Tennis Association (USTA), only began to recognize the Peters sisters in 2003. The USTA presented Margaret and Roumania with an “achievement award” prior to a Federation Cup match and in 2003 the USTA inducted both sisters into the Mid-Atlantic Section Hall of Fame.

Thanks to the Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research for background on the Peters sisters.


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