My Washington: Miss Manners Judith Martin

by Editorial


2. THE NATIONAL THEATRE. The second balcony is where I had my second job, also as an usher, when I was in high school. My parents would only let me work at Saturday matinees, so I never achieved seniority to work my way downstairs.

The stage is where I made my professional debut and positively last professional appearance, in “The Skin of Our Teeth” alongside Helen Hayes, Mary Martin, and George Abbo. I appeared only in the crowd in the second act, so by ushering before the show, I was able to double my salary. The orchestra seats in row D on the aisle are where I achieved my earliest ambition of being a drama critic (for the Weekend section of The Washington Post), but had to restrain myself from telling everyone else the location of their seats.


3. THE PEDAL BOATS on the Tidal Basin and the POTOMAC RIVER BOAT RIDE round trip from Georgetown to the airport. Years ago, my husband and I worked weekends, with Mondays and Tuesdays off . We would occasionally luxuriate in the freedom of going out on the water and watching everyone else going to work. Now we are less energetic about peddling, so we take the short boat trip on the river instead.


4. THE KENNEDY CENTER OPERA HOUSE. Backstage was where I had my very favorite theater job: being a stage mother. Even though, contrary to popular belief, we mothers were not pushing but being pulled, I little suspected that the children would not outgrow this and become scientists, like their father. Now that they live in Chicago (my son is director of operations at Lyric Opera of Chicago, and my daughter is on the senior faculty of Chicago’s Second City), I have to listen to opera from out front, like everyone else.

5. THE NATIONAL ZOO. After many years of covering the offi cial Washington party circuit as a reporter at The Washington Post, I was relieved to be elevated to the Zoo beat, covering the first panda couple’s sex life (only they didn’t have one). I continue to take an interest in social life at the Zoo.

6. THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY where I go to visit such old friends as Henry James and Edith Wharton.

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