‘Conversations with Papa Charlie’ book review: Thumbs up—and toes, relax

The Schmidoffs’ windmill burned down in 1908 in Lipnick, Russia. An upshot was a real estate empire half a planet away, including Crystal City, the huge office and residential complex across the highway from Reagan National Airport. How did it happen? A rabbi saw the fire and other events as signs for the Schmidoffs to […]

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‘Papa Charlie’ book review is still set for this week, Jefferson quote included

The review of Conversations with Papa Charlie is still set for this week—most likely Thursday or Friday—along with some related observations on charity, one of the topics of the book. I wanted to run it earlier but was unavoidably delayed. Memo to self: Remember the Jefferson quote. At least from afar, it would appear to […]

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‘Papa Charlie’ review: Perhaps Monday rather than today

Housekeeping: The review of Conversations with Papa Charlie, the David Bruce Smith book, about his grandfather, Charles E. Smith, may come Monday rather than today. Stay tuned for a write-up on a new Georgetown newspaper. – D.R. Newest update, Jan. 11, 2010: Perhaps as late as Thursday. Simply a matter of my schedule. I’d rather […]

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On David Bruce Smith, Lewis Mumford and sons vs. fathers

“The commonest axiom of history is that every generation revolts against its fathers and makes friends with its grandfathers.” So wrote Lewis Mumford, a deity in fields ranging from urban studies to architectural and art criticism. And that’s the epigraph at the front of Conversations with Papa Charlie: A Memory of Charles E. Smith, by […]

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Robert Smith’s death as the W. Post covered it: Nothing on Skyline or secret Ribicoff investment

How did the sprawling Crystal City complex, near Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, get its name? In the 1960s, developer Robert H. Smith dressed up his first apartment building there with a chandelier in the lobby, and soon the name spread to other Smith properties. It was, as I see it, a perfect example of […]

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