- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 7, 2006

Losing season

A cartoon in a recent issue of the New Yorker magazine draws attention to last month’s Republican losses on Capitol Hill. It shows a pair of congressmen descending the steps of the U.S. Capitol, with one remarking:

“It was a complete blowout — I lost my seat, my house, my car, my wife, and my season tickets to the Redskins.”

Worth observing

“Movin’ Out,” with music and lyrics by Billy Joel and theatrical acrobatics by the amazing Ron Todorowski, opened Tuesday night to a packed audience at the National Theatre and is playing through Dec. 23.

The one moving scene, given the current war and widespread casualties in Iraq, re-creates a traditional U.S. military funeral, complete with a 21-gun salute and the meticulous folding and presenting of the American flag — with Mr. Joel’s mournful “Elegy” performed in the background.

Go figure

“I thought I’d just arrived at the end of the world,” writes Chris Graff, who worked for the Associated Press for 27 years after landing in Vermont.

Little did he expect that his once-sleepy New England state would experience what he now describes in his new book, “Dateline Vermont,” as a jarring and traumatic political realignment from one of the most Republican states in the nation to one of the most Democratic, not to mention other political milestones.

Consider the election of its first female governor, Madeleine Kunin; former Republican Sen.James M. Jeffords‘ so-called “declaration of independence”; Rep. BernardSanders‘ improbable transformation from gadfly to member of Congress; and last but never least, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s meteoric presidential campaign and his subsequent chairmanship of the Democratic Party.

Tipsy horse

Like us, perhaps you’ve visited the Army and Navy Club on 17th Street Northwest at Farragut Square and bellied-up to the ornate bar in the “Daiquiri Room.”

We asked club librarian Aleksandra Zajackowski about the origin of the bar’s unique name, and she pointed us to the club’s history book, “A New Century Beckons,” compiled by Lt. Cmdr. Arnold S. Lott and Raymond J. McHugh.

It turns out, or so we read, that the famous rum cocktail known as the daiquiri was introduced in the United States in 1909 right here in Washington — at the Army and Navy Club, no less.

“The drink originated in Daiquiri, Cuba, site of the first American landing during the Spanish-American War,” according to the librarian. “In 1909, the USS Minnesota made a routine visit to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and her commanding officer, Captain Charles H. Harlow, took a junior medical officer named Lucius W. Johnson on a tour of the 10-year-old battlegrounds.

“On Daiquiri Beach, they met Jennings Cox, an engineer with the Spanish-American Iron Company. Cox introduced them to the drink he had concocted to temper the fiery taste of Bacardi’s finest rum. Cox called the drink ‘a Daiquiri.’

“Johnson carried the recipe home to the Army and Navy Club and subsequently introduced it to rum fanciers in San Francisco, Honolulu and Manila.”

And while that dose of trivia is intriguing enough, there’s more to the history of the daiquiri in Washington, as told by a turn-of-the-century reporter for the Army and Navy Journal. He wrote that for the informal opening of the new clubhouse on Aug. 10, 1911 (the grand opening on Dec. 6 attracted President William Howard Taft and 2,000 guests), there was a procession of 300 club members led by the 15th Cavalry Band from nearby Fort Myer.

Adds the club history book: “The reporter failed to remark that the procession was enlivened by Fred Myer, the club’s wine steward, who took station in the middle of I Street with a jugful of daiquiris to refresh thirsty members, and that the last man in the parade was a horse.”

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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