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Gifford’s Ice Cream Founder’s Grandson Reveals Family Horrors

(Updated at 6:20 p.m.) Nostalgia is the most dangerous emotion for Andrew Gifford, the grandson of John Gifford, founder of beloved former area ice cream chain Gifford’s Ice Cream.

Last month Gifford released his first book, “We All Scream: The Rise and Fall of the Gifford’s Ice Cream Empire. The book depicts Gifford’s abusive relationship with his parents growing up, the deaths of his grandparents and how his father ruined Washington’s largest ice cream empire.

When Robert Gifford, one of John Gifford’s other sons, took over the company, things quickly went downhill. Gifford described his father’s actions during the reading, explaining how he would never pay his taxes, cheated his customers and didn’t pay employees, ultimately leaving the company in financial ruin.

Despite the collapse, many local residents still remember Gifford’s fondly. And that means the brand is still valuable.

“It doesn’t matter what’s in the cup,” a person trying to reboot the company said last year, according to Gifford. “As long as I say it’s Gifford’s Swiss Chocolate, people will pay me anything I ask.”

“It’s these people who are so focused on this fantasy and nostalgia that frustrate me,” said Gifford. “I want the lesson to be nostalgia is dangerous, don’t give into it. Don’t buy $6 ice cream from someone who said they once bought machines from the people who once supplied Gifford’s 50 years ago.”

Gifford was at One More Page Books in Arlington’s East Falls Church neighborhood earlier this week, where he read two excerpts from his book, held a Q&A session and signed copies.

In the excerpt Gifford read during the event, he described how his mother decided to sit him down at the age of 6 and tell him that his grandmother was murdered by his grandfather. This was a lie: his grandmother had passed several years beforehand, but Gifford had been told she was still alive during his entire childhood.

“We All Scream” made an impression on members of the audience, most of whom grew up in the area and had warm memories of Gifford’s Ice Cream.

During the Q&A session, many questions were about what happened to the old Gifford’s ice cream flavors and recipes people adored, and if anyone could find any remaining Gifford’s products. Instead of focusing on the horror and abuse around the Gifford story, the questions were full of yearning and nostalgia.

“This was a beautiful thing that people loved but it needs to die,” said Gifford after the event. “It needs to end. There’s this obsession with the Gifford’s of old, when really it wasn’t that fairytale.”

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Newt and Callista Gingrich to Sign Books in Clarendon

Callista and Newt Gingrich (photo via Gingrich Productions)Former GOP Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich will be signing books at the Barnes and Noble in Clarendon (2800 Clarendon Blvd) this weekend.

Gingrich will be signing copies of his new political novel Treason starting at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22.

Speaker Gingrich will be joined by his wife, Callista, who will be signing copies of her new children’s book, Hail to the Chief.

Callista, a former House staffer, serves as president of Ballston-based Gingrich Productions. The couple lives in McLean.

Courtesy photo

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Morning Notes

Bunny rabbit (Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley)

It’s September — Bid an especially hot and sweaty August adieu, September is here. Get ready for kids going back to school, fall beer tastingsoutdoor festivals, Pumpkin Spice Lattes and cooler weather. As a reminder, however: it’s still summer until Sept. 22.

Author Talk at Kenmore — Best-selling author Ann Patchett will be discussing her new book Commonwealth, which is set in part in Arlington, at an event on Thursday, Sept. 15. The event, at the Kenmore Middle School auditorium, is open to the public, with RSVP; it’s sponsored by One More Page Books and Arlington Public Library. [Eventbrite]

CEB CEO Stepping Down — Tom Monahan, the CEO of the publicly traded, Rosslyn-based firm CEB, is stepping down. The search is now on for a new chief executive for the 4,500-employee company, which will be moving to a gleaming new office tower after construction wraps up, likely in 2018. [Washington Business Journal]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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Immigration Book Talk Planned for Central Library Next Week

Tom Gjeltan Book Talk (via LCNV)An NPR correspondent will host conversation on the history of immigration in America at Arlington Central Library next week.

Tom Gjelten’s latest book A Nation of Nations: A Great American Immigration Story considers the impact of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act.

Gjelten will be at the Arlington Central Library auditorium at 1015 N. Quincy Street from 7-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 10. for a conversation on immigration and book signing.

The book uses demographic and political issues in addition to personal stories to analyze this topic. The stories used are those of families in Fairfax County, including the family of Delegate Mark Keam. He will also be at the event as a special guest and contributor to the conversation.

Copies of the book will also be on sale from One More Page Books, and 10 percent of all sales will benefit the Literacy Council of Northern Virginia.

The book talk is free and open to the public. Interested guests do not have to register in advance.

Photo via Literacy Council of Northern Virginia

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Author Judy Blume to Speak at October Library Event

Judy Blume (Courtesy of Elena Seibert and the Arlington Public Library)

Best-selling children’s and young adult novel author Judy Blume is coming to Arlington next month to talk about her latest book.

Blume will speak in the Washington-Lee High School auditorium (1301 N. Stratford Street) on Oct. 22 from 7-9 p.m. The event is free; copies of Blume’s latest book, “In the Unlikely Event” will be available for purchase.

Blume is the author of books like “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” and “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret,” which have sold millions of copies and tell life lessons for young readers.

While Blume is noted for her children and young adult novels, she also has written books for adults, like “Summer Sisters.”

“She’s one of those few people who have several different audiences,” said Peter Golkin, spokesman for Arlington Public Library, which is organizing the event.

Library Director Diane Kresh will lead a question-and-answer conversation with Blume about writing, having an effect of her many readers at “pivotal moments in their lives” and the challenges that come from writing for multiple audiences, according to the library website.

Fans can submit questions through the comments section on the event page, and some of them may make it on to Kresh’s list. Kresh will ultimately decide what she will ask the author, Golkin said.

The library is also planning to have audience questions at the end, he said.

Blume will sign copies of her new book, “In the Unlikely Event,” which tells the story of a series of plane crashes in a small New Jersey town. The library does not know if she will sign other books at this time, according to its website.

Photo courtesy of Arlington Public Library

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Local Writer Chronicles ‘Eccentric’ Arlington

Arlington County Chronicles cover(Update at 12:25 p.m.) Over the years Arlington has been home to numerous eccentric characters and groups. And those local eccentricities have been faithfully chronicled by Charlie Clark, the man who writes the weekly “Our Man in Arlington” column for the Falls Church News-Press.

Clark peppers his columns with unusual people and Arlington history, and he saved the best 100 columns for his book, he said. Clark will discuss “Arlington County Chronicles,” which was published in April, at Arlington Central Library on Monday, July 7, at 7:00 p.m.

“It’s a little bit of history, public policy, baby boomer nostalgia and neighborhood flavor,” Clark told ARLnow.com. Clark will read from his book at the talk, cherry-picking ones that are “humorous enough in style to bear reading aloud.”

Included in the talk may be some nuggets of local history that attendees were previously unaware of. Readers may be surprised to learn from “Arlington County Chronicles” that:

  • At the Arlington Metaphysical Chapel off Wilson Blvd, church-goers hold seances, give tarot readings and read from all manner of religious texts.
  • There is a preserved dueling ground at N. Randolph Street and Glebe Road, one which bore witness to the famed 19th century duel between Henry Clay and John Randolph, as well as a few of Clark’s own scraps. “Neither was very violent,” Clark said of his childhood fights. “In both cases, my opponent and I agreed, like duelers, to end it after we’d both stood up to the enemy and saved face.”
  • The Doors’ Jim Morrison lived at 2320 N. Evergreen Street in his teen years, and at two other Arlington addresses that Clark gives in the book. “I associate many Arlington sites with the memory of the Doors’ carnivalesque organ,” Clark said in his Morrison essay.
  • When Katie Couric interviewed Warren Beatty, a Washington-Lee High School graduate, on The Today Show, she mentioned that she went to Yorktown and he answered: “What’s Yorktown?” Beatty is one of 14 thespians Clark mentions in his essay “Arlingtonians in Hollywood.”
  • The two oldest retail businesses currently in Arlington, according to Clark, are both shoe stores. The Public Shoe Store on Wilson Blvd and the Sam Torrey Shoe Service on Lee Highway were established in 1938 and 1945, respectively.
  • During the Cold War, Arlington Hall was the hub of a code-breaking operation, where linguists worked to decipher Soviet and Japanese messages for government officials. The operation shut down in 1949 after being infiltrated by Soviet double agents.
  • A stand-off between civil rights activist Dion Diamond and American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell occurred in 1960 during a lunch counter sit-in at what was then the Cherrydale Drug Fair store. A few days after the protest, Arlington restaurants desegregated, Clark said in his essay. “All you had to do was crossover the Maryland and Northern Virginia line to find de facto segregation,” Diamond, then a Howard University student, told Clark.
  • One of Arlington’s wealthiest landowners in the late 1800s may have been the product of a sex scandal, according to Clark’s essay “A Lee Family Scandal.” Nicholas Febrey owned 600 acres of George Washington Forest, in the area of what is now Swanson Middle School. Clark writes that Febrey’s mother, an unwed daughter of a preacher, delivered him as a baby to the wealthy George Washington Parke Custis, who raised him.

Many of the included columns pay homage to the culture of Clark’s parents’ generation, especially his essay about attending “cotillion” dance lessons as an Arlington youth.

“They did a great job of trying to pass their culture on to us, and I feel a little bad that we were so tough to handle,” Clark said. “This is a thank you.”

An additional book talk will be Sunday, July 13 at Cassatt’s.

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Morning Notes

Patrons lined up to have a book signed by Hillary Clinton at the Pentagon City Costco on 6/13/14

Clinton Signs Books at Pentagon City Costco — Former Secretary of State and likely 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton signed books at the Pentagon City Costco store on Saturday. One group of Clinton supporters who lined up outside the store Saturday morning told ARLnow.com that they were in line for more than 4 hours before getting their books signed. The signature: a simple, cursive “Hillary.” Also dropping by on Saturday was Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who was shopping and stumbled upon the event. [Huffington Post, Washington Post]

Board Approves Waycroft-Woodlawn Plan — The County Board on Saturday unanimously approved an updated Neighborhood Conservation Plan for the Waycroft-Woodlawn community, located northwest of Ballston. The plan calls for funding “to address speeding and cut-through traffic, improve pedestrian safety, enhance street conditions and make park improvements.” Waycroft-Woodlawn has 1,600 residents, mostly in single-family homes. [Arlington County]

Healthy Vending Machine Installation Complete — Arlington Public Schools has completed installation of 115 new “FitArlington Healthy Vending Machines” in all 40 APS-owned buildings. The machines offer “bottled water and 100% fruit juice beverages, and a variety of healthy snacks, such as dried fruit, baked chips, and granola bars.” [Arlington Public Schools]

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Hillary Clinton to Sign Books at Pentagon City Costco

Hard Choices by Hillary ClintonFormer Secretary of State and expected 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will be in Arlington on Saturday, signing copies of her new memoir.

Hard Choices will go on sale on Tuesday. The book chronicles Clinton’s four years as Secretary of State and the “crises, choices, and challenges she faced.”

Clinton will be signing copies of the book at the Pentagon City Costco store from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on June 14.

Following Hillary to the signing will be a large tour bus paid for by Ready for Hillary, the Arlington-based political action committee that’s supporting Clinton in her expected 2016 presidential run.

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Giada De Laurentiis Holding a Local Book Signing

Popular television chef Giada De Laurentiis will soon bring her culinary skills to Arlington.

She’ll be at Sur La Table (1101 S. Joyce St) in Pentagon Row on March 31 to promote her upcoming cookbook, “Weeknights with Giada.” The recipes in the book are touted as home cooked dishes that come together quickly, many in half an hour or less.

De Laurentiis will sign copies of the book starting at noon. Fans who want to attend the book signing must purchase a copy of the cookbook from Sur la Table in Pentagon Row. The purchase will grant the customer one ticket to attend the signing event.

The book goes on sale on March 27.

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‘Chicken Whisperer’ to Talk to Arlington Egg Supporters

A group that’s trying to convince Arlington County to allow residents to raise backyard hens is bringing in an “urban chicken expert” as a speaker this week.

Pat Foreman, co-host of the “Chicken Whisperer Backyard Poultry and Sustainable Lifestyles Talk Show,” will be addressing members of the Arlington Egg Project (motto: “Give Peeps a Chance“) on Thursday night. Foreman has written books like “City Chicks,” “Chicken Tractor” and “Day Range Poultry,” which promote the benefits of small-scale hen-keeping. She will teach interested Arlingtonians the ins and outs of “keeping micro-flocks of laying hens as garden helpers, compost makers, bio-recyclers and local food suppliers.”

Foreman, who lives near Lexington, Va., will provide chicken supporters additional ammunition in their quest to get Arlington to relax rules that prohibit the vast majority of residents from keeping egg-laying hens in their backyards. Among the poultry-powered benefits she promotes: “enhance backyard agriculture… divert food and yard ‘waste’ out of landfills… decrease oil consumption… lower carbon footprints… improve national defense and emergency preparedness.”

Foreman will also be selling autographed books.

The event, co-sponsored by the Virginia Cooperative Extension, will take place on Thursday, Oct. 20 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at the Fairlington Community Center (3308 S. Stafford Street). The public is asked to pre-register by calling 703-228-6414 or by emailing [email protected]

Following Foreman’s talk, the Arlington Egg Project plans to discuss the “next steps” in its advocacy effort. The group has told members that it’s nearing 1,000 signatures on a petition it plans to present to the Arlington County Board.

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Herman Cain Draws Crowd at Pentagon City Costco

Republican presidential candidate and former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain drew throngs of supporters and a sizable national media contingent to the Costco in Pentagon City today.

Cain was at the store signing his new memoir, This Is Herman Cain! The front-running candidate warmly greeted supporters, who had waited in a long line to meet Cain and get his signature on their copy — or, in most cases, copies — of his book.

The signing was scheduled to last an hour. Later today, Cain is expected to to attend the Value Voters Summit in D.C.

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Herman Cain to Sign Books at Pentagon City Costco

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, who’s tied for first among a crowded GOP field in a new CBS News poll, is scheduled to appear at a book signing in Pentagon City later this week.

The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO will sign copies of his new memoir, This Is Herman Cain!, from 12:00 to 1:00 p.m. on Friday at the Pentagon City Costco (1200 S. Fern Street), according to the Costco web site. Following the book signing, Cain is scheduled to attend the Value Voters Summit in D.C.

The Pentagon City Costco is no stranger to book signings by high profile political figures. Condoleezza Rice and Laura Bush both held signings at the store last year.

https://www.hermancain.com/event/value-voters-summit

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Arlington: Booze Supply Route and Dumping Ground During Prohibition

Arlington resident Garrett Peck is a nonfiction author, a self-described “history dork,” and — apparently — quite the booze enthusiast.

Following up on his book The Prohibition Hangover: Alcohol in America, Peck has just released “Prohibition in Washington, D.C.: How Dry We Weren’t.” The book chronicles the history of temperance, vice and law enforcement in the Nation’s Capital from about 1917 t0 1934. The book includes dozens of historic images and even contains 11 vintage cocktail recipes.

Peck will be participating in an author talk and book signing at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) starting at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, June 9.  We asked him to tell us a bit about the role Arlington played in the history of prohibition. Turns out we were the place where D.C. dumped some of its contraband beer.

“As you probably know, Arlington wasn’t heavily settled yet during the era of national Prohibition (1920-1933), though it certainly was growing: the neighborhoods along the streetcar line between Clarendon and Georgetown grew up as leafy suburbs during this period.

Virginia actually started Prohibition earlier than national Prohibition: we went dry in 1916. This closed down all the breweries and distilleries in the state – including the Arlington Brewing Company that was just over the Key Bridge from Georgetown, where the Key Bridge Marriott is now in Rosslyn. Rosslyn at the time was a bit of an industrial zone, as an offshoot from the C&O Canal crossed the river to connect to Alexandria, and there was a rail yard, lumber yard, a Noland Plumbing factory, and of course the brewery. (There’s a great aerial photo of Rosslyn from 1930 in James Goode’s book “Capital Losses”; you can clearly see the Arlington Brewing Co. building, which at the time was producing Cherry Smash, a non-alcohol beverage). Another brewery – the Robert Portner Brewing Company in Alexandria, which was one of the largest breweries in the South, was also closed. Congress declared Washington, DC to be dry on November 1, 1917, and the remaining four breweries in DC all stopped their brewing operations. Only one survived Prohibition: the Christian Heurich Brewing Company, which was where the Kennedy Center now is, and operated until 1956.

Though Virginia was technically dry, people still kept producing illegal alcohol – especially distilled spirits (“bathtub gin” and moonshine) in homemade stills. Or alcohol could be smuggled in by ship to Alexandria, then offloaded and distributed into the District. One of the key arteries was the 14th Street Bridge; bootleggers often brought cargoes of liquor from Arlington and Alexandria into the city, where they could sell it. The local police would sometimes tip off the DC Metropolitan Police Department. One such incident occurred on January 21, 1922, when the MPD’s flying squadron was waiting at the bridge for a shipment to arrive. The bootleggers crashed into the squad car, then proceeded up 14th Street and through the city as the police gave chase, firing their guns as the sidewalks were full of people out on their lunch hour. Several people were injured as the bootleggers desperately careened onto the sidewalks. Their car finally hit a coal truck at 5th and O Streets, NW, and the chase came to an end.

Arlington was also a place where Washington dumped some of its trash. In 1923, Prohibition Bureau agents seized 749 cases of beer that were being transported from a Philadelphia brewery to DC. The judge overseeing the case ordered that the beer be destroyed. Agents smashed 18,000 bottles of beer – one at a time – in the Arlington dump in November 1923.”

(Photos from Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division via Garrett Peck)

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Katie Couric Returning to Arlington for Book Signing

CBS Evening News anchor Katie Couric is coming back to Arlington for a book signing.

Couric, an Arlington native, is a graduate of Jamestown Elementary, Williamsburg Junior High and Yorktown High. On Wednesday, May 18, she will return to Arlington to sign her new book, The Best Advice I Ever Got: Lessons from Extraordinary Lives, at the Pentagon City Costco (1200 S. Fern Street).

The book signing will start at 11:00 a.m., according to Costco’s web site. Couric recently announced that she will be leaving the CBS anchor chair in June, when her contract expires.

Hat tip to @DCCelebrity

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Condoleezza Rice To Appear at Pentagon City Costco

Condoleezza Rice has been making the television rounds lately, promoting her new memoir. Last night, she made an appearance on the Daily Show. Today she’s appearing at the Pentagon City Costco.

The former U.S. Secretary of State will sign copies of “Condoleezza Rice: A Memoir of My Extraordinary, Ordinary Family and Me” from noon to 2:00 p.m.

The book is a candid look at Rice’s childhood and adolescence in Birmingham, Ala. during the civil rights movement.

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