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Ah, Kids Will Be Kids: A Look at a Wild Flapper-Era Party in Chevy Chase and a Burlesque Show at the Strand Theater

Ah, kids will be kids. Even your grandparents and great-grandparents were kids once, and they too got themselves into trouble. Read about this wild flapper-era "whoopee" party in Chevy Chase and a burlesque show at the Strand Theater in downtown Washington, D.C.
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Ah, kids will be kids. Even your grandparents and great-grandparents were kids once, and they too got themselves into trouble. So don’t feel so bad about what you did in high school or college.

26 Grafton St. in Chevy Chase - August 19th, 1923 (Washington Post)
26 Grafton St. in Chevy Chase – August 19th, 1923 (Washington Post)

The evidence is in this article from the Washington Post on July 13th, 1929. Throwing a party while your parents are out of town is a tactic that is generations old. Read about this flapper-era “whoopee” party at 26 Grafton St. (built in 1918 and $1 million according to Zillow — sweet house).

Twenty-nine members of the younger set early yesterday morning were taken to the Bethesda substation of the Montgomery County Police when a “whoopee” party at the home of Maj. R. T. Morris, 26 Grafton street, Chevy Chase, Md., became too boisterous for the staid old Chevy Chase neighborhood. The party was held in the absence of the major and his wife by their son and daughter, David Morris, 19 years old, and Marjorie Morris, 21, to celebrate the birthday of Marjorie Morris.

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Maj. and Mrs. Morris have been away since last Wednesday when they started on a trip which was planned for the major’s health. Since then the Bethesda substation has been besieged by neighbors who declare that the parties in the house have been disturbing their slumbers. Fortunately for the flaming youths at the party, the policeman arrived in most instances to investigate after the racket had subsided.

Thursday night shortly before midnight, the police again were told that the peace of the neighborhood was being rudely shattered by the youngsters making “whoopee.” Led by Sergt. Leroy Rodgers, County Policeman Watkins, Darby, McAuliffe, Gaither and Dosh descended upon the house and found, according to the report made to police headquarters, a boisterous gang of youngsters in the middle of a pajama party.

The police were considerate and waited until the young folk had donned more suitable clothing before they took them to the substation. David Morris and Marjorie Morris were charged with “running a disorderly house,” and were released on bond of $200 each by Justice of the Peace William Burrows, of Rockville. Hearings were set for Tuesday.

One of the guests was charged with being disorderly and collateral of $7.50 demanded for his appearance in Rockville Police Court. He gave the name of Robert Thomas, 21, 2011 Columbia road northwest. Police say he was on the party, but the Morrises claim that they did not know him although they admit that he might have been there.

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The young people yesterday declared that the party was intended to be a quiet masquerade affair at which a select group of their friends was to be present. Some of the friends arrived with friends of their own and all through the evening other young people that they knew or had met dropped in and joined the party, they said.

The party finally because of such proportions that they were not sure of just how many were present, and the merriment waxed boisterous. The long-suffering neighbors then called the police, and they party moved from the fashionable home of the Morrises to the police substation, where the merriment wasn’t so eloquent.

According to the young Morrises, the party had grown to such proportions that they had called a conference on the upstairs floor to consider ways and means of giving some of their guests “the gate.”

Just as they went into a huddle over the situation, the police swooped down on the house and solved the problem for them.

Miss Marjorie Morris achieved some publicity November 17, when she eloped to Rockville with Frederick Stanley Nishwitz, 3801 Fulton street northwest, wealthy tire distributor of Washington, as the result of a football game bet.

The marriage was subsequently annulled in the District Supreme Court when the bridegroom declared that he had raised his age enough to pass muster at the license clerk’s office in Rockville.

Amazing story, and this young lady Marjorie sounds like a little bit of a wild one. We need to dig a little more into her story and see what else we can find.

Maj. Roy Morris household in the 1930 U.S. Census
Maj. Roy Morris household in the 1930 U.S. Census

The father of the family, Maj. Roy T. Morris, was a physician in the U.S. Army, originally from Ohio and 51 years old in 1929. His wife Helen was 50 years old and originally from Maryland. Their Chevy Chase home was owned at the time and valued at $18,000 according to the 1930 U.S. Census.

Strand Theater advertisement from 1927 (Washington Post)
Strand Theater advertisement from 1927 (Washington Post)

I dug up another article which mentioned Marjorie and her seemingly colorful personality. This one is from December 9th, 1928, appropriately titled “Make Mischief at the Strand.”

Much mischief is being made at the Strand Theater this week by the “Mischief Makers,” one of the live wire burlesque productions on the mutual circuit.

Harold Raymond, producer of this innovation, enjoys a reputation second to none for honest endeavor. In “Mishcief [sic] Makers” the company contains the names of a host of prominent players in various lines of comedy. Among the principals are Bob Startzman, Ruth Price, Bobbie Eckard, Marjorie Morris, Billy Lee, Arthur Mallon and George F. Reynolds.

The Strand Theater was located at 9th and D St., right next to the current FBI building.

Strand Theatre in 1952
Strand Theatre in 1952
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Ghosts of DC stories.