DC stories: Jim Vance, Eastern Market and a bookstore discovery

Eastern Market

An older view of DC’s Eastern Market. Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Last week was noteworthy for a few reasons. I got to meet one of my favorite TV journalists, went over to Eastern Market (finally!), and discovered a new bookstore.

I drove over to a local theater one weeknight to hear Jim Vance speak. He is one of our local TV journalists and has been in the business for decades; I grew up listening to him and Doreen Gentzler. He spoke about what DC was like in 1969 and how things have changed over the years.

He is a witty speaker and it was a pleasure listening to him. Everyone was laughing. It was clear that he loves his job, loves DC and enjoys being around his coworkers. (See the video below.)

I was particularly charmed by his story about Willard Scott, another media personality. According to Jim, Willard had exquisite timing. He would come in about 15 seconds to air and tell a joke to get everybody laughing hard right before they were due to go on air. The poor guys would have to stop laughing in a heartbeat and look serious as they introduced the news, while inwardly they were swearing revenge.

Afterward, most people headed out to go home. About 20 or 30 of us stuck around to personally greet Jim. He was kind enough to sign autographs, have his picture taken, and shake hands. I told him that my mom thinks he’s adorable (she told me to say that if I met him) and he laughed: “Tell her I said thank you!”

Nothing like giving one of your favorite broadcasters a good laugh. It seems only fair when you consider the entertainment he’s given us over the years.

Then on Saturday, I got on the Metro to go to Eastern Market, which I’d been promising myself I’d visit for three weeks. As we got within two stops, the train stopped and we were told to get off because the train was out of service. Nobody knew why we had to get off and there was no explanation. Everything seemed normal but I guess Metro had some good reason.

Not wanting to waste time waiting for the next train, I went out and hiked the rest of the way. (Trust me: Capitol Hill really lives up to the hilly part.) It was a hot walk but livened up by the spectacular spring flowers and the infinite variety of people I saw.

I eventually got over there and started exploring. Eastern Market was built in 1873 and is a beautiful old building. There are vendors selling all kinds of groceries (I was tempted by the baked goods — yum) and outdoors there are people selling more fruit, veggies, jewelry, tableware, artwork and other good stuff.

I passed one store called Woven History, and I HAD to check it out since you know I like history, people. It was filled with gorgeous rugs and other spectacular items (please, please see the link). I had a great time chatting with one of the owner’s friends, and I yearned for a room big enough for one of those rugs. (Although it probably wouldn’t quite have fit into my backpack. Sigh.)

Coming out, I saw a sign that said “Books” with a helpful arrow pointing in the appropriate direction. The arrow led me to Capitol Hill Books, a used bookstore that was quite the experience to visit. It was three levels of books (basement, ground floor, and first floor), crammed into every possible space you can imagine. Book heaven. Ahhhh.

On the way down to the basement, there is a small hole in the wall with a sign that asked you to pay tribute to the invisible being that lives within it or various fates would befall you. Not wanting to upset that invisible being, I paid my dues — about 10 cents’ worth.

After that, I went over to the National Museum of Crime & Punishment (NCIS fan here, don’t you know). Another incredible place and one of my must-see places in DC.

So now I get to cross two gotta-see places off my list. I didn’t get anything this time but it was great fun exploring all around Eastern Market. Maybe a Christmas trip next time? Hmmm.

Here’s the Jim Vance video I promised, courtesy of Dianna Russini on YouTube. Jim Vance is second from left.

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4 Comments

Filed under Writing

4 responses to “DC stories: Jim Vance, Eastern Market and a bookstore discovery

  1. Jaclyn

    What a great weekend! I love Eastern Market – I used to shop for unique gifts there. Never been to Capitol Hill Books, though, and it sounds like I missed out!

  2. Eastern Market is an adventure! And Capitol Hill Books is, too. So many wonderful old stores like it have fallen into history. I’m glad it’s still around.

    And, yes, don’t you just love it when a Metro train stops at a station and says, “Everybody off. This train is out of service.” Of course, anyone who knows Metro knows better than to expect an explanation! 🙂

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