Washington Years of Trial and Error (1912–1914)
After they had spent christmas 1911 at sunnyside, Hendrik Willem and Eliza van Loon decided to settle in Washington, D.C. They rented a big house on Twenty-first Street and hired two servants, thereby overstretching their finances. Through Elizâs cousin Fanny Bowditch Dixwell, who was married to Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, the doors of the capital’s elite were opened to the van Loons, including invitations from President and Mrs. Woodrow Wilson in the White House. Hendrik Willem’s diary also records a private dinner with British Ambassador James Bryce, author of The American Commonwealth. About this visit to Lord Bryce, who served in Washington from 1907 to 1913, he wrote, “He seems to have known everybody everywhere. I do not see how he keeps his information straight—if his mind is made like his library. Such a disorder. I never saw invitations of all sorts—cards of all sorts—despatches of all sorts—everywhere. When a match was needed he rolled a piece of paper—fashion A.D. 1500—lit the cigaret and then to extinguish the paper beat it against the stones of the mantelpiece. Of course, sparks and pieces of charred paper, flew all over. But it was all very pleasant.”1
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