J. Edgar Hoover’s Bad Credit: A Happy Hour Story From Greg

It’s been a while since we posted an email from a GoDCer. So, here’s a good one we received this morning from newly recruited GoDCer Greg (thank your happy hour friends for us, Greg!).

I was at a happy hour and told this story to some of the people I was with, and they told me about your blog, and suggested I send it in, so here it is:

Earlier this week I was watching Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar.  In one scene, Hoover is picking out a new suit at an upscale men’s fashion with the help of Nicholas Tolson.  The clerk comes over and asks Hoover some questions about his credit (the implication is that Hoover started going by “J. Edgar” to avoid bad credit history).  As Hoover is signing the receipt, the name “Julius Garfinkel and Co.” can be seen.

I was curious if the company had any significance, so I searched for the name and found this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garfinckel’s. Turns out Garfinkel’s was a very prominent department store catering to higher end customers. Originally, they were at 13th and F St NW (where there is now a Banana Republic, which I had coincidentally been earlier that day), and then built a massive new store on the corner of 14th and F St NW, in what is now houses the The Hamilton bar/restaurant/concert venue.  The next day I passed the building and could clearly see “Julius Garfinkel’s and Co.” engraved on the building above the doorways on F St.

Some interesting history, according to Wikipedia, Garfinkel’s rolled up a couple of high end men’s fashion lines into a single company.  One of those brands was Brooks Brothers.  The company eventually went bankrupt in 1990 and is no longer in existence.

Anyway, I thought that was interesting.  Thanks for the great blog, look forward to reading more.


Thanks for your email and story Greg. And since you’re new to the blog, make sure you read up on the Patron Saint of Ghosts of DC, Officer Sprinkle.

Hoover posing with a boxer at a New York City dog show
Hoover posing with a boxer at a New York City dog show

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  • Ah yes, “Golfkpickles” department store (according to my mother, this is how I pronounced it as a little kid). In the early 60s, my grandmother would take me to their store in Spring Valley (Massachusetts Ave, below American Univ, now a Crate & Barrel) on my birthday and get me set up with a new sport coat and other nice clothes – this was before I was old enough to know better. I remember that the sales clerks would greet her by name, they knew who I was and that it was my birthday, and they always offered cookies!

  • Audrey Burtrum-Stanley

    It is true, the famed / long serving “GARFINKEL’S” store is no longer in business; However, the way your sentence is composed, it reads like the retailer ‘BROOKS BROTHERS’ is no more! WRONG!!! The multiple Brooks Brothers branch stores (the flagship is in NYC) are thriving plus they have a convient website, etc…
    (My son’s favorite yellow striped shirt came from Brooks Brothers; He loves it so much, the neck and cuffs are frayed-from-too-much-wear. The lad will NOT wear an identical replacement – he likes THIS ‘Lucky’ shirt! Men – @#%@!)
    Oh yes, JFK – upon wedding Jacqueline Bouvier in Newport- presented all the Groomsmen in their Sept. 1953 marriage ceremony, with handsome, black umbrellas as a gift. Each umbrella had a small, silver plaque affixed to the shaft which were monogrammed along with the date. One of these orig. umbrellas sold a few years back for a sizeable price!

  • Michael Eric Dale

    Not only was it a massive store with the highest quality merchandise, it was 8 floors without a single escalator! Instead, there was a bank of elevators.

  • ellen ternes

    Aha, I did remember correctly that the Garfinkel’s sign on the building exterior (a set) was misspelled – found this in IMDB in ‘Goofs’ section – ‘An early Tolson/Hoover scene at the tailors, is set up with an exterior
    shot of a well-known Washington department store. The stone engraving on
    the building says the “Julius Garfinkle” Company. The correct spelling
    of that Washington institution was “Garfinckel.” When a document from
    the store appears moments later “Garfinckel” is spelled correctly’