As a waiter at some of the region’s glitzy, famous, and most expensive restaurants, Ballston resident Isa Seyran has seen it all.
Tense political negotiations. Joyous family reunions. Power brokers holding court. Elaborate marriage proposals. A first lady having a great night out.
And now, after more than two decades, Seyran is telling his story about serving others in his new book “Waiter: Reflections and Memories, A Brief History of Washington D.C’s World-Class Dining Scene.”
“Call me crazy. Call me romantic,” Seyran told ARLnow. “But I think there’s something sacred about feeding people.”
Seyran made his way to this country and Arlington 22 years ago. He grew up in a small village in Turkey, always interested in “literature, language, and poetry.” While he says he could have had a fine life there in a “diplomatic career,” Seyran knew that wasn’t for him.
“I wanted to be free. So, I escaped with a one-way ticket and $300,” he said.
And that’s how he landed in the Ballston neighborhood, where he has lived since moving to the U.S.
He calls himself a true “Ballstonian,” throwing out memories like how there used to be a Shell gas station where he washed his car at the spot where The Salt Line is now.
Seyran began working in restaurants, using his charisma, love of people, “genuine smile,” and ability to learn quickly to earn a place working as a waiter, bartender, host, and manager at some of the region’s most well-known eateries.
By his estimate, he’s served nearly a half million diners in his career.
Besides working at restaurants, he’s also found time for his “hobby” as an author, playwright, and filmmaker. In 2015, a play he wrote was part of the Capital Fringe festival. Then, in 2019, Seyran’s short film about working in the local restaurant industry was chosen to be part of an Amazon-sponsored film festival.
The new book is an all-encompassing look into his life over the past two decades filled with stories, experiences, and memories.
The point of the book, he said, is not to be “salacious or malicious” about the industry he has worked in, but to provide an “honest account” of what restaurant workers experience on an everyday basis.
“There are people who are the unseen heroes of our industry, the busboys, the managers, and the dishwashers I work with. I thought it would be a nice tribute…writing their stories,” Seyran explained.
That being said, there are a number of anecdotes in the book that may create some good old-fashioned D.C. buzz.
There’s the one about former First Lady Michelle Obama being a “camper.”
Michelle Obama had the night of her life with two of her female friends at Rasika, drinking martinis first, then a bottle of wine, eating a sumptuous meal with appetizer, main course, dessert, masala chai and the whole nine yards. But when her security detail did not eat or drink anything, I lost between seventy and a hundred dollars in the first seating.
Like that was not enough of a loss, Ms. Obama turned out to be what we call in the industry “camper,” a guest who overstayed their welcome, which cost me another hundred dollars in the second seating.
Or how he once got bribed to give up a famed Washington Post restaurant critic’s identity.
As a Special Victims Unit detective with Arlington County police, and as a graduate student and a mom, Tiffanie McGuire does not have a lot of free time.
But she makes time for coaching the Dorothy Hamm Middle School girls and boys soccer teams, something she has been doing since 2019 when she was a School Resource Officer. Over the last three years, she has watched her players become leaders who understand personal responsibility and sportsmanship.
“I have seen many players come through and have watched them grow in both the game and in their personality,” she tells ARLnow. “My sixth graders often come in quiet, recently transitioning from elementary school, and are chosen because there is usually something in them that we see that can be developed with time. By 8th grade, they are the leaders of the team.”
As an SRO, she says consistency was key for forming relationships with middle schoolers, who can be a challenging bunch.
“Pre-teens are beginning to find themselves and push boundaries with adults,” she said. “Finding a way to connect with them took consistency and showing them that I was there to be an adult they can trust, not get them in trouble.”
She stuck it out as a coach event after the School Board voted to remove School Resource Officers from school grounds in 2021. The move responded to calls from some community organizations, including the Arlington branch of the NAACP, citing higher arrest rates for Black and Latino kids.
Throughout all that change, she says she has earned the respect of her players, which she considers her proudest accomplishment.
“Many of these players have been under the same coaches for many years and to them, I have to prove that my style will work,” she said. “Kids question and compare their other teams to this one, and we are bringing together players that have all played on separate teams.”
McGuire played travel soccer from middle school through her senior year of high school. She decided to become a police officer in college, when she realized her sports-related injuries would prevent her previous plans to join the Army. Having her daughter directed her toward working with kids as an officer.
“I realized I wanted to be a positive influence in the lives of other children the way I would want someone to be for my daughter,” she said.
“Having great relationships with community organizations and the schools meant that we were not starting from scratch, and everyone loved having us come participate in activities,” she said.
Since becoming a detective and taking on a second master’s degree and undergraduate teaching, McGuire has looked forward to the much-needed break from work even more.
“There are times it feels very overwhelming, but everything I do brings me joy and has a purpose,” she said. “I considered giving up coaching, but in my heart, I knew I would hate the decision and miss the kids.”‘ Read More
Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that highlights Arlington-based startups, founders, and local tech news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn.
(Updated 12:40 p.m. on 10/11/22) If you own a local restaurant, grocery co-op or healthcare clinic in an underinvested neighborhood, there’s a good chance that Arlington-based Capital Impact Partners can help find money to assist your business.
Capital Impact Partners (CIP), which has been in Crystal City for 40 years, is a Community Development Financial Institution aimed at helping lower-income and racially diverse communities secure loans as well as capital and financial assistance.
And this summer, CIP joined forces with lender CDC Small Business Finance and lending software company Ventures Lending Technologies to help clients more effectively. They are together known as Momentus Capital. The new group is already heating up the region’s economy, according to the Washington Business Journal, which named it as an honoree of its 2022 Inno on Fire Awards program.
“Small business owners, developers, and other local leaders are the engines of job creation and economic activity in communities across the country. When these leaders have the opportunity to succeed, their communities, their residents — and our country — thrive,” said Ellis Carr, president and CEO of Momentus Capital, in a statement. “We need bold thinking and a holistic approach to unleash solutions for underestimated communities. Momentus Capital was created to meet that challenge.”
Carr, who led CIP, and Kurt Chilcott, at the time the leader of CDC Small Business Finance and now the chair of both organizations’ boards, began developing the idea for Momentus in 2019. Under the new umbrella organization, the companies will still operate as one, although they will be maintained as separate legal entities, providing but their clients will now have access to more resources and products.
For instance, Momentus is developing new lending and investing products aimed at helping people who have historically been denied access to funding. It provides borrowers with training, mentorship and networking opportunities and also provides technical support to community-based organizations and lenders.
This is the kind of work that CIP has been doing since its founding in 1982. Now a national organization, with offices in Oakland, Detroit, Austin and New York, the company got its start in Crystal City, where its headquarters remain at 1400 Crystal Drive.
“We are always thinking about racial equity, the racial wealth gap, what was our role in that as lenders, and how can we create more access to capital in a more holistic way, deep in communities,” says Alison Powers, director of economic opportunities at Capital Impact Partners. “I like to think we’ve been one of the leaders when it comes to thinking about those questions.”
That might mean helping to secure a loan for a family-owned pharmacy in Green Valley or pinpointing a grant that might assist with staffing at a small, immigrant-owned restaurant on Columbia Pike.
Powers said this work reverses exclusionary systems in the U.S., such as redlining, which prevented communities of color and low-income families from getting home loans because their neighborhoods were deemed too risky for investment.
“How we think about credit and risk and underwriting has really been influenced by the history of the U.S. and who is perceived as being good candidates for access to certain financial products,” she says.
(Updated, 4:10 p.m.) It hasn’t been a perfect ten months, but Mir is happy to be alive.
It was nearly a year ago when he, his wife, and his young son were forced to leave their native Afghanistan due to the Taliban’s occupation and made their way to Northern Virginia.
As he told ARLnow back in January, Mir believed that if he had stayed in Afghanistan he would have been killed. We are withholding his last name at his request because of safety and privacy.
Once here, though, the members of Arlington Neighbors Welcoming Afghans (ANWA) Facebook group helped turn his new barren Alexandria apartment into a home.
ANWA was a grassroots effort started late last year by military veteran Ryan Elizabeth Alvis to assist newly arriving Afghan families adjust to Arlington and Alexandria.
Since October 2021, ANWA has assisted more than 100 families and raised over $30,000 to buy household items, and groceries, Alvis tells ARLnow. In that time, about 85 people have become “team leads,” as in they are directly in charge of helping the families.
The Facebook group now has more than 1,800 active members, many regularly chipping in to buy such things from school supplies to kitchen pressure cookers.
In the seven months since we last talked, Mir says he and his family are adjusting. It hasn’t been easy, but he’s forever grateful to the group, Alvis, and his “team leads” — Karen Penn and Christy McIntyre.
“I’m creating a good career in this country,” he says. “I’m very happy I’m here and that I’m safe.”
Probably the most difficult aspect has been job hunting, largely due to the fact that the degrees and certifications he earned in the information technology industry in Afghanistan do not apply here.
Mir has worked, though, first at the Alexandria City Schools as a substitute teacher and, now, as an assistant general manager at a hotel in Chantilly.
Penn, who still works with Mir plus several other families, says this is the case for many other Afghan refugees. Looking for a job in their trained industry is the biggest challenge since the schooling and training they did back home often isn’t accepted by employers in the United States.
As seven-year-old Jaxon Vega positions his skateboard at the top of the concrete bowl at Powhatan Springs Skate Park, he takes a deep breath. Vega steadies the back of the board on the bowl’s lip, places his left foot on it and jumps. Boy and board drop 12 feet below, a distance that’s about three times his height.
Vega smoothly completes the trick. Taking a quick break after a run, he’s asked how he feels when skating.
“I feel cool,” he says, flashing a toothy grin. “I’m having fun.”
Vega is Arlington’s kid skateboarding phenom. He’s out there nearly every day at the skate park along Wilson Blvd near the Dominion Hills neighborhood, riding concrete. He can be seen doing kickflips, jumps, drops, and even riding two boards at once. He’s also almost always the youngest one at the skate park.
While barely out of first grade, Vega has garnered the attention of the skateboarding community. This includes the legend himself, Tony Hawk, who’s liked one of Vega’s skating videos on Instagram. (Vega’s account is run by his parents, Walter Vega and Karla Almanza.)
All of this has come from hours of practice, with Jaxson asking his parents to go to the skatepark in the summer heat and freezing cold.
“It’s like church,” Jaxon’s dad Walter laughs, watching his son skate on a hot July day. “We are here faithfully.”
Jaxon started skating about two years ago, picking up a pandemic hobby like a lot of other people. He was only five when he first came to the park and saw the bigger kids skating. He begged his parents for a board. So, they got him a $15 skateboard from Walmart. They have since graduated to a $300 board, more befitting of the kid’s skills, his parents say.
They mostly come to this Arlington skatepark, renovated in 2019, where Jaxon skates three or four hours a day, just a 10 minute drive away from the family home. He doesn’t want lessons. He just wants to skate.
“We thought maybe he’d want lessons, but he just kinda freestyles his own way of learning,” his mom Karla Almanza says. “It’s crazy and kind of insane to see your kid pick up all of this on his own.”
Walter said he used to skate a little when he was younger, but not seriously. Both parents are not totally sure how or where Jaxon’s love of skating comes from, but they are thrilled to support this burgeoning hobby.
The falls, though, still make them nervous.
“This isn’t like any other sport. When you fall, you hit concrete, not dirt,” Walter says. “[I worry] all the time. But I don’t let him hear that.”
Sitting down with Jaxon, it’s clear that like any other great athlete, he’s not content. When asked what his favorite trick to do is, he says a “laser flip” — a trick where both the skater and board flip. It’s considered one of the hardest tricks ever invented. The kicker, of course, is that Vega hasn’t quite nailed it yet himself.
“I can’t do it, but it’s my favorite trick,” Jaxon says.
It was last June when Jaxon, then barely six years old, completed an eight foot drop that garnered a Tony Hawk like on Instagram. The video features Jaxon completing the drop while everyone at the skate park cheers him on.
The funny thing is that before winning the skating icon’s social media approval, Jaxon — like most six-year-olds — didn’t know who Hawk was. But his parents sure did. Now, they often catch Jaxon on his tablet watching old Tony Hawk videos.
There’s another reason why Jaxon has taken a particular liking to Hawk, which almost seems preordained by the skating gods.
“We have the same birthdays,” Jaxon says, again flashing a toothy grin.
Walter, Karla, and Jaxon are still figuring out what’s next. Jaxon has expressed some desire to be in tournaments and maybe even go to a skating camp in Pennsylvania, so they are considering both. But for right now, Jaxon’s just happy to skate, learn on his own, and be a kid.
After a hard fall while skating, Jaxon wandered back over to the shade. Asked about it, he shrugged.
“It hurts,” he says. “But I got back up and did it again.”
Editor’s Note: The following article first appeared in the ARLnow Press Club weekend newsletter. Thank you to Press Club members for helping to fund our in-depth local features.
When Claremont resident Connie Freeman met her father last summer for the first time, it all started to make sense.
“This may sound kind of crazy and you may only know if it’s happened to you, but I felt like a puzzle piece fit,” she tells ARLnow. “I felt like I had the wrong piece in there my whole life.”
Connie Freeman is a 62-year-old county employee, working as a community outreach specialist for nearly three decades, and has lived in Arlington most of her life. And, up until last year, she had never known her father.
Her mom had gotten pregnant as a teenager in the late 1950s and her father had just never been part of their lives. But with her mom getting older, it became clear that now was the time for Connie, along with her own son Noe, to rediscover their family’s history.
Using AncestryDNA testing, together they discovered some surprising clues. For one, she was a quarter Lebanese. Considering that her mom was not Lebanese — “my grandmother has green eyes and blond hair,” says Noe — that was an interesting development. Their DNA results also turned up a name that was unfamiliar.
“At 11 o’clock at night, [my son] is emailing me, texting me, and calling me,” Connie says. ‘”Mom, I think I found your brother.'”
Using social media, Connie tracked down that person and a number of others the DNA results had cited as connected to them. Then, she made an unusual decision, at least, by today’s standards.
She reached out by handwritten letter, believing that the extra personal touch was more likely to get a response.
“The letter was very specific and it said I’m trying to find my father and, if he’s alive, I’d like to meet him,” she says.
Also included in the letter were some possible genetic and identifying details. Like, for example, her love of black olives and Noe being a fantastic soccer player. She additionally included where she was born, where she lived now, and that her mom always told her that her dad was in the military.
The letter worked. Within days, she got a call from an 84-year-old man named Richard Ziadie.
She admits getting that call was a bit surreal and hard to comprehend, but she made plans to meet Richard at his home in New Jersey on August 16, 2021 — on his 85th birthday.
When they met, it was immediately evident to Connie that this man was her father. He loved to spend time outside, in his garden, and had quite a green thumb.
“My son loved to garden as a kid and now owns his own landscaping company. Now, I know he got that from his grandfather,” she says.
He was also a people person and a fantastic host, just like his daughter.
“That’s something my mom does consistently, she always has people over,” Noe says. “They are both very charismatic.”
In photos of the three, the resemblance is also striking. Further DNA results confirmed that they were truly family, Richard was Connie’s dad.
“It all made sense,” Connie says.
Editor’s Note: The following article first appeared in the ARLnow Press Club weekend newsletter. Thank you to Press Club members for helping to fund our in-depth local features.
The phone rings on a stormy afternoon in Halls Hill and 92-year-old Hartman Reed swivels in his chair to answer it.
“Hello, Crown Cab,” he says.
Reed first started working for the long-running cab company back in 1958 as one of the first Black cab drivers in Arlington. He picked up customers in a Chevy. Today, more than six decades later, he owns the company, making it one of two Black-owned cab companies in Arlington.
Reed had a second notable job as well. He was also a firefighter at famed Fire Station No. 8 in Halls Hill. It’s believed he was one of the first paid Black firefighters south of the Mason-Dixon line.
“As I grow older, I now know how important it was to be first at things,” Reed tells ARLnow. “I now know what we did made it possible for others behind us to advance.”
For decades, Halls Hill had only a volunteer firefighter department. Even when the county started allocating money to other neighborhoods to pay their first responders in 1940, Arlington declined to do the same for Halls Hill. What’s more, fire companies in surrounding neighborhoods would not come into Halls Hill to provide help.
Finally, in the early 1950s, the county provided money to Halls Hill to hire professional firefighters. Reed, straight out of the Navy, was one of the first hired, starting on the job in 1952 at Fire Station No. 8.
He remains extremely proud of not just the work he and his fellow Halls Hill firefighters did, but the reputation they earned in the community.
“Just because we were Black, we were looked at as people who didn’t have the courage to go in and fight fires,” he says. “We had to prove ourselves. In most cases, I’d say we were outstanding as a company because we wanted to prove that we were as good or better than any other company.”
Fire fighting wasn’t the only community need where Jim Crow reared its ugly head in Arlington in the mid-20th century. In an era there were fewer people had cars, cabs were neighborhood necessities. However, many white-owned Arlington companies would not pick up customers in Arlington’s Black communities like Johnson’s Hill, Halls Hill, and Green Valley.
In 1958, fellow Fire Station No. 8 firefighter Buster Moten started Crown Cab and hired Reed as his first driver. It’s believed he was one of the first Black cab drivers in Arlington.
For about 16 years, Reed was both a firefighter and a cab driver but he says the two jobs went hand-in-hand. For one, being a cab driver helped him “learn the territory.”
“You have to know where places are when a [fire] call comes in. You can’t be hunting around,” he says. “As a cab driver, you got to know the county a lot better.”
Cabs were also there for emergencies, like hospital visits, particularly since Arlington’s Black residents were often not allowed to go to the hospital closest by.
It’s been a century since his family first started selling rugs, but Mikael Manoukian is still learning.
To be fair, he actually only got into the family rug business a few years ago and now runs the Manoukian Brothers Oriental Rugs on Columbia Pike with his mom, Dona. But in that short time, Mikael has learned at “Mach speed” about what it takes to sell hand knotted, decades-old rugs.
“I’m getting to be an expert, let’s put it that way,” he chuckles to ARLnow, inside of the storefront at 2330 Columbia Pike the shop has occupied since the fall of 2018. “Something that has a lot of nuance like rugs, it’s not like selling something at the grocery store… you can’t just treat it like a candy bar.”
Earlier this month, on May 15, Mikael and the Manoukian family marked 100 years of being in business with a celebration. There was music, food, and personal reflections in front of their store on the Pike. There was also an announcement of a Virginia House resolution by Del. Alfonso Lopez commending the business for its longevity.
But the Manoukian family story is more than rugs. It’s a tale that is representative of what America can be about.
“It’s always been about our desire to stick with it, keep going, and do justice to our family,” Mikael says, about why he thinks his family’s rug business has lasted so long. “[They] came here, worked hard, and have been relatively lucky.”
Then, he takes a breath. As if he’s comprehending the enormity of it all.
“One hundred years years. It’s pretty impressive to last that long.”
It was around World War I when the Manoukian family fled from modern day Turkey and Syria due to the Armenian genocide. Like many at the time coming to America, the family arrived via boat at Ellis Island. Among those were three Manoukian brothers, including Mikael’s grandfather Moses.
In 1922, one of those brothers, Manouk — Mikael’s great-uncle — opened a Persian rug shop at Washington Circle in D.C. In 1957, his brothers finally joined him in the business and created Manoukian Brothers Oriental Rugs.
It was around this time when a young Paul Manoukian, Mikael’s father, started getting involved in the family business.
“He was a second-generation American and there was more expectation to carry on tradition,” Mikael explains.
For years, Paul worked alongside his father at the rug shop as well as pursuing a second career: A civil engineer for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transportation Authority.
In the late 1980s, with his uncles getting older and his grandfather passing away, Paul took over the shop completely. Two jobs, including owning a business, while taking care of his family is a lot for any one person and Paul Manoukian did it for nearly three decades.
Mikael, who grew up in the Yorktown neighborhood with his parents, could see the toll it was taking on his dad.
About five years ago, as his father approached his late 80s, it became clear that it was time for the business to move to the next generation.
“We got together as a family and had many, many long discussions about what to do and how to handle the [then] 96-year-old business,” Mikael said.
It was decided that Mikael and his mother, Dona, would take it over and the business would move to Arlington, where a majority of the family lives. Today, Mikael lives in Alcova Heights, only a few miles down the road from the shop’s Columbia Pike location.
What can we do to help those in our community who are experiencing homelessness is a question Triina Van gets a lot.
Van has been Homeless Services Coordinator at Arlington County’s Department of Human Services for about a year and a half. But she has more than two decades of experience working in the field and thinking about this very question.
It’s a difficult one to answer, she says, because the issue of homelessness is “an incredibly complex one.”
ARLnow spoke with Van about how people can help, common misconceptions about those experiencing homelessness, and where people can turn if they need help.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
What are some of the most common reasons that people in our community experience homelessness?
I’d attribute that to a lot of different reasons. It’s compounded by issues of lack of affordable housing, rents increasing during lease renewals, and challenges associated with not having incomes that can really sustain the cost of living in our community. It can also certainly be compounded by mental health challenges and family violence. There’s also the much deeper systemic roots… woven into our systems with the historical context of our housing policies and how this country has been stood up.
They all contribute to housing loss, housing instability and homelessness.
You noted two different terms there — housing instability and homelessness — what’s the difference?
Yeah, generally when we speak about housing instability, we’re talking about folks who are at risk of experiencing homelessness. That could mean they are contributing over 30%, 40% of their monthly income to rent. Maybe they’re doubled up, living with other families and households to try to make ends meet.
When I’m speaking about homelessness, I’m really talking about people who are sleeping outside, sleeping in emergency shelters.
I think housing instability is a less visible challenge. Arlington is not alone, it’s a nationwide crisis. When they are challenged with this, people often turn to their networks of support like family, friends, congregations, and other communities of faith for assistance.
When people are facing house instability or are experiencing homelessness and need help beyond these networks, where can they turn?
If someone is experiencing homelessness or if you know someone who’s experiencing homelessness, you can call what we call the “1010 line” — that’s 703-228-1010. That’s our main shelter line and can reach someone 24/7, 365 days a year. It’s operated by the Community Assistance Bureau during normal business hours, but we also know homelessness can happen any time of the day. So, it’s also staffed by one of three shelter providers in Arlington who rotate that coverage throughout the non-business hours, overnight, and weekends.
That’s an immediate first step folks can take.
So, what happens after that first phone call?
Staff will complete an assessment to understand the different circumstances people are facing. They’ll look for creative solutions that can help people stay in their housing or find another option that prevents them from entering the homelessness system.
Sometimes, that could be providing temporary financial assistance or maybe negotiation with a landlord to try to prevent an eviction from happening. It could also be more long-term assistance depending on the personal family’s needs. It could also be helping find a new apartment. And, sometimes, people just need a security deposit or first month’s rent.
If the staff can’t assist directly, they have a deep knowledge of other community resources and can help people connect to other options.
Up the hill from John F. Kennedy’s grave and behind Arlington House on the western side of Arlington National Cemetery lies the purported inventor of America’s pastime.
The former Union Army General Abner Doubleday is interred in section 1, laid to permanent rest there nearly 130 years ago. He’s one of more than a hundred Union generals that are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. While it’s his accomplishments during the Civil War that led him here, history remembers Doubleday much more for his perceived contributions to the game of baseball.
“I’m a big baseball fan. When I was growing up in the 1960s, the common view among the public was that this guy named Doubleday invented it,” says George Dodge, former Arlington Historical Society president and author of a book about the history of Arlington National Cemetery. “But that’s largely been completely discredited.”
Doubleday, a New York native, had a lifetime full of military experience. He was an officer in the Mexican War, fought in the Seminole War, and actually commended the gunners that fired the Civil War’s first shots at Fort Sumter. During the Civil War, he also saw action at Antietam, Fredericksburg, Bull Run, and Gettysburg.
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It was at Gettysburg where Doubleday was given command of the corps, when another general was killed in action, that helped to secure high ground. This ultimately led to the Union’s victory at the famed battle and likely turned the tide of the war.
“He has to be given some credit for that and I don’t think he does,” says Dodge.
After the war, he worked to help formerly enslaved people transition to a life of freedom, secure patents for San Francisco’s cable car system, and led a religious group devoted to spiritualism. Doubleday died in 1893 in New Jersey.
But before all of that, he apparently — according to legend — invented baseball.
The story goes that, while living in Cooperstown, New York, in 1839, a 20-year-old Doubleday drew a diamond in the dust and declared this was for a new game he called “base ball.” Along with a 1871 request for baseball-like equipment, this was enough proof for some that Doubleday invented baseball.
And, for the better part of the 20th century, this narrative existed — and, to some extent, still to this day.
Over the last several decades, however, historians have proven that Doubleday likely didn’t invent baseball.
The tale of him drawing a diamond in the dust was only first recounted via letter in 1905, more than 60 years after the fact, to the Mills Commission, a group that had been tasked to determine the origins of the great American game of baseball.
The letter was written by a man named Abner Graves who claimed he was there that day, but Graves would have only been 5 years old at the time. Additionally, it was unlikely that Doubleday was even in Cooperstown at the time. He was a cadet at West Point in 1839 and, even if he had returned home to see family, his family had moved to another village.
“They were looking for even the flimsiest of proof that [baseball] originated here in the United States,” says Dodge.
The more likely reason that this myth exists is that Doubleday represented a home run candidate — a respected Union Army general buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Chef David Guas was like many of us when he saw the images coming out of Ukraine — upset and desperate to do something.
“My wife was tired of me yelling at the TV… she says, ‘You should text José [Andrés] to let him know you want to do something,”’ the owner of Bayou Bakery in Courthouse and occasional television personality tells ARLnow. “And a couple of hours later, there was an email saying David was on his way to Poland. There was no turning back.”
Guas spent 15 days last month in Poland working with World Central Kitchen, the nonprofit founded by Andrés, to help feed Ukrainian refugees as they fled their war-torn home. Earlier this week, the Arlington-based chef also donated $21,000 from his Community Spoon initiative to WCK to help continue its mission in Europe.
“It’s going to be used to buy food. Beef, borscht, cabbage, some potatoes…It’s going to continue to just fuel them financially, so they can continue to think big,” Guas says about his donation.
This isn’t the first time that Arlington’s resident celebrity chef has helped during hard times. In the early part of the pandemic, he formed Chefs Feeding Families, which provided free, plant-based meals to underserved Arlington families. Then, he served up meals to the National Guard and local law enforcement protecting the Capitol. Last year, he put together Community Spoon, which was initially founded to help feed Afghan refugees coming into the region.
Then, came Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the heartbreaking images of people fleeing their homeland.
Upon arriving in Poland, Guas was stationed at a WCK facility in the city of Przemyśl which is only about seven miles from the Ukrainian border. There, he cooked and made biscuits, soup, applesauce cake, and meat to serve to volunteers and refugees crossing the border.
“[We were making] a lot of broths, a lot of soups, and a ton of vegetables,” he says. “Beef stocks, pork stocks, chicken stocks, beef cheeks, beef shoulder, and a lot of chicken. Basically, a soup or broth every single day.”
There was also hot chocolate, served both in the morning and at night.
“Everyone needed a little sugar and a little chocolate,” Guas says.
He admits the work was hard and could be monotonous. For more than two weeks, his days were on repeat with him starting at 7 a.m., working 12 to 14 hours, trying to decompress, and going to bed. Then, he would start it all over again.
There were days when he spent hours defrosting hundreds of pounds of beef cheeks, but Guas knew this is where he needed to be.
“I was there because this is who I am… needing to help,” he says.