Photo by Elizabeth Dranitzke

Bill Glasgow

In this interview, Bill Glasgow elaborates on his assessment of the "turning points for Eastern Market" throughout its history.

He was awarded a Community Achievement Award in 2011 because of his critical role in Market management and oversight.

Read Transcript
Interview Date
February 10, 2011
Stephanie Deutsch
Colleen Cruikshank
Elizabeth Lewis

Full Directory


DEUTSCH: This is Stephanie Deutsch and I am in my house at 500 East Capitol Street with Bill Glasgow on February 10, 2011, and Bill, I’d like to start by asking you—where did you grow up?

GLASGOW: I grew up in, I was born in Washington, D.C.
DEUTSCH: Which hospital?
GLASGOW: I’m not sure.
DEUTSCH: My husband and I were both born in Washington, D.C. in Doctors Hospital.GLASGOW: Oh, it wasn’t Doctors.

DEUTSCH: Alright, well we’re both natives.

GLASGOW: Yes. I think I lived on Clay Street and Clay Place and I guess that’s probably Northeast near the stadium. I was so young I didn’t know. Moved when I was four or five to Lewisdale in Prince George’s County.

DEUTSCH: How do you spell that?
GLASGOW: Lewisdale? L-E-W-I-S-D-A-L-E. And then at 17 years old I moved to Montgomery

County, out in Colesville.
DEUTSCH: And is that where you still live?GLASGOW: No.
GLASGOW: I live in Davidsonville now.DEUTSCH: Mm hmm.

GLASGOW: I’ve lived there for—I’ve had one house in Davidsonville in 1979 and stayed there until about four or five years ago and sold it to my youngest son. And then I had a rental home and then I built another home in Davidsonville. It took a couple years to build it.

DEUTSCH: And how long—is that a long commute?

GLASGOW: It’s about eight miles this side of Annapolis. It’s about 25 miles. But I leave early and then I go home late so I kind of miss the rush hour.

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DEUTSCH: Now you were part of a big family.

GLASGOW: Yes, there were ten boys, five of them worked at the market.

DEUTSCH: Your father was one of ten boys.

GLASGOW: My father was one of ten boys and one girl. Five of the boys worked at the market, three at the fish counter and two at Union Meat.

DEUTSCH: Five boys worked at the market. Two at fish—
GLASGOW: Three at fish, two at Union Meat, and they had three other brothers that were lawyers. One

scientist. I can’t remember what the other one does.
DEUTSCH: Any of that generation—
GLASGOW: I take that back, it was four lawyers and one scientist.DEUTSCH: Four lawyers?
GLASGOW: Yes. One scientist and five were in business for themselves.DEUTSCH: Any of that generation still alive?

GLASGOW: The last one passed away—Norman passed away—this last year. He was a lawyer that helped construct a whole lot of Washington and Crystal City. He did the zoning for all the big buildings. At one time he was known for never losing. He’d always go in with the—before it was common to do— he always went in with the information of what it’s going to do for you, what the taxes are going to be, what the impact is going to be. And a lot of times he’d get buildings that were going to go six or seven stories and he’d get an extra story or two. He was very successful at that but he created a lot of skylines you see today.

DEUTSCH: So your family, how many kids were there?GLASGOW: I have three boys.
DEUTSCH: No, no, your siblings.
GLASGOW: Brothers?

GLASGOW: I have two brothers.

Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

DEUTSCH: This is a boy-heavy family!
GLASGOW: One sister. The two brothers worked at Union Meat and one of them ended up buying

Miller’s stand, all the way down at the end where the bakery is now, was a pork stand.DEUTSCH: Uh huh.

GLASGOW: I also had two cousins that worked at Union Meat, my uncle’s two boys. One of those has a landscaping company, has had it for about 30 years. And the other one works for him.

DEUTSCH: So you grew up working at the market.

GLASGOW: I started in 1961 when I was 13. So this is my 50th year.

DEUTSCH: And what do you remember about the market in 1961?

GLASGOW: In 1961 the market was just a few people. It was Union Meat Company, Southern Maryland [Seafood], and a lunch counter.

DEUTSCH: Is that Boone’s?

GLASGOW: No. It was a lunch counter when I was a kid, before I even started working there. And they, after I don’t know what year—’61, ’62, ’63—they went out of business. Ceneast [a corporation of all the new merchants in the South Hall] came in I think about 1963. Don’t hold me to that. And that’s when all the other people came in and filled the market up.

DEUTSCH: And what did you do—what were your first jobs?
GLASGOW: Learn how to butcher. Learn all the jobs.
DEUTSCH: And when a youngster like you is learning how to butcher, is using the knives ...

GLASGOW: Well, I wasn’t supposed to use a knife until I was 16 but I was family so you kind of get away with it. I mean, we’ve hired people, I’ve hired people that were 16 and 17 and you have to get permission from their parents and they don’t touch any knives, any grinders, any saws, any slicers, nothing. They can only wait on customers or clean up, those kind of things. You have to be 18 to work with the—

DEUTSCH: Machines?

GLASGOW: Yes, knives, any of that stuff really. But being in the family ... that really doesn’t hold true to family members.

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

DEUTSCH: So what do you remember about those early days? Were you excited? Was this something you wanted to do?

GLASGOW: I used to work there every Saturday morning. We used to go in at 4:30 every Saturday morning, get in at 4:30, and we worked until 6:00. After I got to be 16, I drove, got a car. I used to drive in Friday nights, Friday after school. Even though the market closed at 7:00 on Friday, we usually were there anywhere from 10:00 to 11:00 getting ready for Saturday. And then we would go in at 4:00 and get in there at 4:30.

DEUTSCH: So did you go back home?

GLASGOW: I’d go back home. Well, I used to, most of the time. There have been six or seven nights where we worked all night. You know, all day Friday and Friday night all the way into Saturday morning, and just keep working because you get far behind. That’s not normal. I will put in a plug for Chris [Calomiris, of Calomiris Fruits and Vegetables]. Our average workweek back then was 72 to 76 hours. That’s when you’re closed on Sunday. The only person that ever worked more than us was Chris Calomiris. If we left at 10:00 on Friday night, he was still there and when we got in at 4:00 or 4:30, he’d been there for an hour or two. He is a working piece of man.

DEUTSCH: That’s nice. I certainly remember Chris and you from a long time ago. Okay, so you’re 13, you’re going to work at 4:30 in the morning on Saturdays, working all day.

GLASGOW: Uh huh.
DEUTSCH: And did you, did you think about that this was going to be your future? Did you just assume

that that’s what it would be?

GLASGOW: Well, no, I wanted to do other things—I’ve done other things—you all just only see me at Union Meat. When I was about 19, I started investing in second trust notes. I used to buy them before the banks knew what second trust notes [were]. If you wanted a second mortgage on your house, they looked at you like you were an alligator or something. They just didn’t do them. And I had a guy who used to make them and I used to buy them. When I was 19 I started. So I did that for years, buying them and then I actually had a truck leasing company I used to do.

DEUTSCH: Now if you’re working a 72-hour week, when do you do it?GLASGOW: I do that in the evenings.
DEUTSCH: [laughing]

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

GLASGOW: That was more of an investment than it is time-consuming. We used to buy ... me and one other fellow bought heavy-duty dump trucks and tractor trailer dumps and tractor trailers and then we leased them out. We did that for about 15 years. I used to invest in car notes, used car notes, used to finance used cars. Then of course I got into real estate, buying real estate and renting it out. But all these things were on the side. Even though they were quite expensive in the money, you know—it was capital outlay—but it was all things I did extra after work.

DEUTSCH: Let’s go back for a minute to your childhood. Sounds like you worked a lot but did you do anything else? Were you, like, an outdoor kid, did you like to ...

GLASGOW: I loved to hunt. Didn’t ever have enough time when I was younger, but hunting. We used to go as a family down to Ocean City all the time, once a year. We have a farm in Virginia, about 500 acres, a family farm that the ten boys owned. We still own it to this day. And it’s on the Rappahannock River. We have about a mile of river bottom and a couple of major creeks that go through our property.

DEUTSCH: What river? The Rappahannock River?

GLASGOW: The Rappahannock River, between Fredericksburg and Warrenton and Goldvein.

DEUTSCH: Uh huh. So you go out there—

GLASGOW: All our vacations were there, just about, and when I got a little older we used to go to Ocean City for a week every year or every other year.

DEUTSCH: You like to fish as well?


DEUTSCH: No, just hunting.

GLASGOW: Never had time to do both, I only had time to hunt, because I did spend a lot of time with my kids growing up. I used to do everything I could do with them.

DEUTSCH: Yeah. Well we’re going to get there. So you grew up using a gun, knowing how to use a gun.

GLASGOW: Yeah. I think I started hunting at 12, which was funny because my father never hunted and none of my family hunted—but I loved hunting.

DEUTSCH: Like deer?

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

GLASGOW: Mostly deer but I’ve hunted deer, I hunt elk, bear. I bow hunt, black powder and rifle.DEUTSCH: Bow hunt?
GLASGOW: I bow hunt. I’ve killed like five bear with a bow and killed an elk with a bow.DEUTSCH: Wow. And we have elk around here?

GLASGOW: No, I do elk in—I’ve been to Montana, Idaho, British Columbia, all over the country. New Mexico. I’ve been to Ontario, Maine, been up near the Hudson Bay hunting caribou a couple of times.

GLASGOW: I used to go every other year, or every year we go someplace, just about. I did New

Mexico—hunted pronghorn.DEUTSCH: Is that a kind of—

GLASGOW: Like an antelope. And every year now, as I’m getting older, I hunt prairie dogs out in South Dakota for about four days, which is really just long-range shooting.

DEUTSCH: I guess they’re sort of a pest.

GLASGOW: They’re a big pest out there. You can go get an Indian guide and hunt them on their reservations, which are hundreds of thousands of acres. And you can go to a prairie dog town and hunt them. If you go to the white people, they poison them all. They kill them all out. But they consume the area. They consume, make thousands of holes and they eat all the grass and they compete with the cats, so the landowner wants to kill them.

DEUTSCH: No, I remember going to prairie dog town in Lubbock, Texas, where my father was from, and thinking it was really cute when I was a little kid. So you grew up hunting and—school?

GLASGOW: I used to play football, wrestled. But they kind of gave way when I started working.DEUTSCH: When you started to work you had to—

GLASGOW: When I was 15, 16, I gave up on that. I started working at 16. I played up until 16 but not on Saturdays. When I was 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, up to about 13, but then I stopped sports.

DEUTSCH: So you were working at the market?GLASGOW: Uh huh.

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

DEUTSCH: And after high school did you come full time to the market?
GLASGOW: After high school I went to college full time and I worked full time. I worked about 45

hours, 50 hours a week and went a full schedule at Maryland University.DEUTSCH: Maryland?
GLASGOW: Uh huh.
DEUTSCH: And what were you studying?

GLASGOW: Dentistry.

DEUTSCH: Dentistry?

GLASGOW: Uh huh. Which probably I shouldn’t have been doing because math was my background. Sixth grade was the last time I had regular math. Everything was—it was called modern math then. I did algebra, algebra II, geometry, solid geometry, trig, analysis and calculus.

DEUTSCH: Wow. In high school you did all that?
GLASGOW: Oh, by the time I got to high school. When I finished high school I had already taken the

highest engineering math you could start with at Maryland. I’d already had it.DEUTSCH: Wow. So what made you go into dentistry?

GLASGOW: I don’t know if my father ... just something I did. I did a lot of organic chemistry, physics, chemistry, biology, zoology, and I was a pre-dental. But I just didn’t see a future in it because it’s not really what I wanted to do. I probably would’ve liked being an engineer if I look back on it or whatever. But it’s funny, when I was going to college I was always in academic courses and advanced classes all through school. But it was like, if you went into a business course, that’s where all the idiots went. I mean, that was the connotation.

DEUTSCH: Boy, that’s changed now.
GLASGOW: Was academic and business. Business [students] were like the people who couldn’t do

academic. And it’s so backwards today because business is where the money is.DEUTSCH: And business is where a lot of kids are.

GLASGOW: Making a lot of money. I’m sure now it has changed since I was a kid. Business is now the place to go.

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GLASGOW: It wasn’t when I was there. I probably should’ve been an engineer, that’s what my background was. In fact, when I went to Maryland I started taking their engineering course, math, but I’d already had it so I transferred out because there was no sense in taking it. I’d already had the course. So I took some more zoology and stuff.

DEUTSCH: So did you graduate?

GLASGOW: No, I went in my junior year and got married and started my other things—investment stuff and working at Union Meat full time, and then real estate and second trust mortgages and buying properties.

DEUTSCH: Okay, so you got married really young.

GLASGOW: At 21. That wasn’t young back then, that was kind of normal. It’s very young today.

DEUTSCH: And are you still married to the same person?

GLASGOW: Yes, same person.

DEUTSCH: Isn’t that nice? And what’s her name?

GLASGOW: Patricia.

DEUTSCH: Does she work at the—

GLASGOW: She works only when I need a warm heartbeat. Holidays. She worked there for a while quite a few years ago and she does all the bookkeeping, payroll.

DEUTSCH: How many people—I mean, we’ll get back to that—but how many people are on the payroll now?

GLASGOW: At Union Meat? I think eight.
DEUTSCH: Was she from around here?
GLASGOW: She actually lived at Seward Square for awhile.DEUTSCH: At Seward Square?

Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

GLASGOW: Uh huh. Father was in the military but the main area was here. She lived several places around here. Her mother actually was a manager of some of these little shops, like Henry’s, but they were different things back then. A bar, restaurant-type things, she was the manager of a couple of them.

DEUTSCH: Uh huh. So she had grown up kind of on Capitol Hill, part of the time?
GLASGOW: Yes. She went to St. Peter’s. So I always give donations to St. Peter’s at their auction every

year, a couple of times a year.DEUTSCH: Out of loyalty?

GLASGOW: Yeah, plus it’s a community thing. I made the comment when the Capitol Hill Foundation, you know, gave us money. I said, “You know, it’s funny I’ve given money to a lot of [causes]—only Capitol Hill because the other thing is that my house is my house. If it goes past Capitol Hill I don’t really do anything and you can only do so many.”


GLASGOW: And I said, “All these years and I’m finally getting it back.” And now my pledge is that I’ll make sure that I repay that to the Capitol Hill Foundation over time. Just so they can give it to somebody else.

DEUTSCH: It was remarkable, wasn’t it?GLASGOW: It was amazing.

DEUTSCH: That whole [Eastern] market thing. We’re going to get to that in a minute. That was incredible.

GLASGOW: I got a bunch of market notes here, too. I don’t know if you want to hear about it.DEUTSCH: Yes, but I want to get some of the personal stuff.
GLASGOW: Yes, I understand.
DEUTSCH: OK so you and Patricia. So you’ve been married what—50?

GLASGOW: For 42 years, I think. Let me think now—let me count so I don’t mess up. Pretty sure it’s 42—1969, it’s 42.

DEUTSCH: That’s pretty good.

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DEUTSCH: And kids, tell me about your kids.

GLASGOW: Three boys.

DEUTSCH: Three boys?

GLASGOW: Mm hmm.

DEUTSCH: Boy the Glasgows!

GLASGOW: We were very boy-heavy. There is a couple of the families that you’ve got one got girls. Out of the ten boys, had three girls and a boy. Everyone else is boy-heavy, I think.

DEUTSCH: What are your boys’ names?

GLASGOW: Bill the third (William the third), Stephen—S-T-E-P-H-E-N, please or my wife will kill me. And Adam. Now Billy has an appraisal business he’s had for about ten years but he’s working for me quite a bit right now because that business is very bad.

DEUTSCH: And does he live—

GLASGOW: He lives in Riva, right near Davidsonville. I actually live about five minutes one way or the other from both of my kids so I didn’t move far from the house I built 30-some years ago. I had it built and never was going to sell it but my youngest son said he wanted to move there because he wanted his child to grow up where he grew up. And he wanted to go to the same school, which is a good school, Davidsonville Elementary.

DEUTSCH: So you sold your house to Adam?
GLASGOW: I don’t know if I sold it or gave it, but yeah, he got it.DEUTSCH: [laughing] He wanted his son to—
GLASGOW: His daughter.
DEUTSCH: His daughter!
GLASGOW: He has a daughter.
DEUTSCH: So you’re a grandfather.

Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

GLASGOW: I got three grandchildren. One from Adam, who’s my youngest, and he has two crab houses that he’s had for quite a few years. In fact, he bought his first crab house—and I helped him get it—in Odenton, Maryland, at 17 years old. And then he worked that for about four or five years just in the summertime and would work for me in September, October, November, December and January, about six months a year. Then it got to be five months, then it got to be four, and finally I said, “Why don’t you see if you can stay open all year?” I mean, every time he closes he was still busy, but he would set a date in the summertime when he would close. But every time it came, he was still busy, so he’d increase it each year and finally he said, “Well I guess I’ll just stay open through Christmas and close January and see how that works. And I’ll start closing on Mondays ... ” because he’s seven days. I don’t say that because anyone else would stay seven days. He hates it.

DEUTSCH: Yeah, yeah.
GLASGOW: He’s not there a lot but it never ends.
DEUTSCH: So he has two crab houses?
GLASGOW: He has two crab houses, one in Bowie, one in Odenton.DEUTSCH: Mm hmm.

GLASGOW: What was kind of neat was his first year he didn’t close he said, “Well I’ll get rid of some of my help.” Because he wanted to try and keep his help. But he cut down to where he went all the way through the winter like it was nothing and never closed since.

DEUTSCH: Wow. So it’s a good business.

GLASGOW: He’s a good businessman. He’s a very good people person. He can really talk to people, he can sell them and he’s just a genuinely nice person. It’s funny when I go on cruises and stuff I’ll meet someone and they say “Oh we live in Maryland,” and I’ll say “Where?” And they’ll say, “Oh, we live in Odenton,” and I’ll say, “My son has a crab house.” “Oh, Adam?” We could be in England. It doesn’t matter and they know his crab house in Odenton. He’s always wrote up in Facebook and everything.

DEUTSCH: What’s that crab house called?
GLASGOW: Crab Galley of Odenton and Crab Galley of Bowie. Since he’s been there 17 years he’s

increased the business tenfold. Ten times what he was doing before.DEUTSCH: So he has two daughters.

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

GLASGOW: One daughter. Then my oldest son, Bill, Billy the third, has a son and a daughter.DEUTSCH: And how old are they?
GLASGOW: Oh man. Grayson’s almost seven and Amelia is three.
DEUTSCH: Oh what a pretty name.

GLASGOW: I think she’s three.
DEUTSCH: So Grayson hasn’t started working yet if he’s only seven.

GLASGOW: No, he comes behind the stand and loves the place and he’ll help give out potato chips when he’s there for about an hour when they’re just visiting. But he loves to get behind the counter and hand out potato chips or help down there. Mainly, he’s eating potato chips and hot dogs.

DEUTSCH: Who wouldn’t like that?

GLASGOW: I’m very fortunate that all my grandkids are very close to each other.

DEUTSCH: They all live close to each other?

GLASGOW: They live close together but they’re very [also] close. My youngest son has the oldest daughter who’s nine, going on ten.

DEUTSCH: Yeah. And what’s her name?
DEUTSCH: Oh. Cute name.
GLASGOW: And she’s very small, she’s off the chart on size.DEUTSCH: Teeny?

GLASGOW: Very teeny and her six or seven-year-old cousin has got her by about three or four inches now.

DEUTSCH: Right! But the cousins are close?
GLASGOW: They’re very close.
DEUTSCH: That’s so nice. My children are close to their cousins. It’s just, it’s the greatest.GLASGOW: Doesn’t always happen.

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

DEUTSCH: No it does not always happen, but it’s special when it does. So your middle son, Stephen—

GLASGOW: He’s in Maine. He went from a vegetarian to a vegan to even stricter than a vegan. I think he’s back on to the vegan thing again but he won’t eat any dairy, any cheese, any milk, he won’t have leather shoes or boots or belts, jackets, no leather.

DEUTSCH: Is this, like, a reaction against—
GLASGOW: No, he’s always been a very, I guess almost like a peacenik. He thinks we don’t need

police, everyone should just be beautiful to everybody and everyone should be wonderful and—DEUTSCH: That would be nice.

GLASGOW: And he would say, “You know, the police shouldn’t be here and some of them are nasty and, you know, people should just be good and we wouldn’t need police.” And I say, “Well what would you do if someone was holding a knife to your son and your had a gun? Would you shoot them or would you let them ... ?” And he says, “Well I couldn’t shoot them.” I think , if it ever came up, I think he would. But he’s idealistic and he’s very, you know, people should have small cars, people should have small houses—

DEUTSCH: Environmentalist.
GLASGOW: Yes. So he’s up there in Maine where it’s almost like another country up there, you know.

I’m not quite sure it’s part of the United States. But it’s a neat place to live, a lot of nice people.DEUTSCH: So what is his job?

GLASGOW: He has many jobs. He has a little landscaping company and he shovels roofs when it snows, does snow plowing, he does floating docks he builds. He did a little painting, he’s done a little drywall, he’s done a little brick-laying. I think a jack of all trades and a master of nothing.

DEUTSCH: It sounds like he’s a different drummer. He’s a different drummer kid.
GLASGOW: Exactly. All three of our kids, just like everybody’s elses, aren’t just different, they’re way


DEUTSCH: Yep. OK, so you got married, you had your kids, you’re working at the market. Anything special in those early years? That’s like, the 60s, by now it’s the late 60s, 70s.

GLASGOW: Just the different ventures I did, you know, the things I did to make a living.

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

DEUTSCH: Mm hmm.
GLASGOW: Not a whole lot.
DEUTSCH: When did you kind of take over at Union Meat?

GLASGOW: It’s funny because when I was in college I started doing most of the buying and all the pricing. Before I got there they never knew what something cost. You know, the cut outs on stuff, what it cost to cut it out and that’s by—

DEUTSCH: When you say the price, you mean like a lamb chop or—
GLASGOW: You take an animal and you break it down into all its parts and you figure all the parts up

and see if you’re making money.
GLASGOW: But they never did that.
DEUTSCH: How did they price? They just pulled them out of the air?

GLASGOW: Pulled them out of the air. And I remember because it was always amazing to me when I’d go into the chain stores and I’d see it. T-bones, porterhouses and sirloins, all the same price. That’s the way they were.

The neatest thing I think when I got there is we used to have one 14-foot case. And all this counter went all the way around the market and we had one cold cut case, 12-foot. And I said frontage is everything. My uncle Ray was more the bookkeeper, my father was the butcher. And I don’t know which one did the—I don’t know what you want to call it—the thinking for the business. But they had these two little cases and we had all this front, so we wrapped around to the middle, if you remember—I don’t know if you remember that. Our case wrapped all the way around and we actually were in the middle of the market. Southern Maryland was behind me on one side and Mel, a very thin case and his stand on the other side.

And I just talked to my uncle and dad and I said, “We need to buy another case. This one’s falling apart.” And after about a year they said okay. When I talked to the case people, we were supposed to throw away the old case. And I said, “Do me a favor, add whatever it costs you to move this case, just move it down, and I’m going to tell them we’re just going to use it for storage.” So we took the case and I said, “Hey, Pop, we’re just going to move it down and use it for storage.” And he said, “I don’t want to pay for that.” And I said, “He said he’d do it for nothing.” And he said okay.

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

So we got a new case and an old case. After about three months, the case makes their sales go up and, you know, that’s everything. Your display is your life in this business. You put a nice display out, a nice product, that’s what sells it. So, about three months later, we said, “Well this case is so ugly-looking let’s just throw this away and get a new case. Now we know we can fill it all.” So I did the same deal all over again. So the end of the day we put a second case in and pushed the third case down for storage because it didn’t cost us anything. It was already figured in the other deal. And we filled all those cases up. Well this went on until we had four cases. That’s why we got our line now. So, frontage is display.

DEUTSCH: It had just never occurred to them, with the display.
GLASGOW: Never occurred to them. They had all this beautiful old tile countertop everywhere and no

DEUTSCH: Yeah, yeah.

GLASGOW: So I said, “Cases, display, that defines you. You know, that’s your business.” So obviously, just like everyone else, your cases to the front are everything, your side cases are really they’re worth about 25 % of what a front case is worth. They just don’t do the volume.

DEUTSCH: So that was one of the changes you made.

GLASGOW: When I was young. I did that when I was, I might have been in high school. It was either high school or first part of when I was in college. Early on. But when I was in college I was doing all the pricing of all the product and most of the buying.

DEUTSCH: Any big changes in the ...


DEUTSCH: ... interest in buying?
GLASGOW: No, just as a simple example, they used to buy nothing but double-cut, center-cut pork

loins. No rib end and no loin end.DEUTSCH: Mm hmm.

GLASGOW: And I’d price it for people and it was expensive and so we couldn’t sell anything with the end cuts. So I ordered a box of whole loins in. Top quality but they had the ends on them. So I cut the two ends off and threw them in the fat barrel and I’d already priced up the product at the whole price. And I

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

put the center cut up, and it was cheaper throwing them away and buying them. So I said, “I don’t know what we can get for these ends but I know we can get something.” And that was the last time we bought center-cut pork. I mean things like this go on all the time, you know, I’m a pretty good detail person and a person that’s very conscious of cost and labor. You know, that’s why you always go to my stand and you’ll never see people standing around. There’s always work to be done, there’s always meat to be cut.

DEUTSCH: What’s your favorite kind of meat?

GLASGOW: Um, I probably like prime strip or prime rib eye. My wife’s favorite is veal.

DEUTSCH: How does she fix it?

GLASGOW: Her favorite veal is marinated rib veal chop.


GLASGOW: Cut real thick and then grilled.

DEUTSCH: What does she marinate it in?

GLASGOW: I don’t know. I think she uses a Soprano recipe and adds a couple more things to it.

DEUTSCH: [laughing]

GLASGOW: I think it was the base of the old Soprano recipe from that [television] series, The Sopranos, I think they had one out for marinated veal.

DEUTSCH: I was thinking about getting some veal chops for tomorrow night. I like those big veal chops.

GLASGOW: Yeah. The loin ones?


GLASGOW: Yeah with the tenderloin in them.

DEUTSCH: Yeah, so good. Okay, so anything else about changes, changes in what people want? I know now you’ve got the lean meats, you’ve got the bison.

GLASGOW: This has been something that’s always happened. Someone asks you for something once a year, you don’t carry it. But there’s a point where someone asks you enough and, depending on the item,

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

after they ask you for the item, if two or three people in one week ask you for something and you don’t supply it, you’re not doing your job.


GLASGOW: And it’s funny because, even being on EMCAC [Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee]—this is my 13th year on EMCAC—I’ll say, “You don’t understand marketing.” Marketing is the customer comes in and tells you what they want and if they tell you what they want and you don’t have it, you get it. If it’s feasible. And the neat thing about ... what people probably don’t understand, I log in all my stuff every holiday, all the main items. I know exactly what I sold last year, the year before, the year before and the year before. And you can actually track it to within two, three percent of what you’re going to sell the next year.

Unless there’s an article in the [Washington] Post. Then you have to look at that, because that can put anything ... If there’s a rack of lamb from the Post at Christmas or Easter, you’re going to sell 30, 40 percent more of that item that year. And generally the leg might be a little less because you’re selling more racks because that’s what people see in the paper. Other than that, you can just about predict what you’re going to sell. Then like EMCAC would always say, “Well what do you know, you sell what the customer wants.” Every ten new items we bring in, one might stick, maybe two. And some items we’ve brought in three or four different times and finally they stick.

DEUTSCH: Like what?

GLASGOW: Smoked pork chops, for one. We just couldn’t sell enough of them, couldn’t sell enough of them, and about the third time around or fourth time around we got it where we sell them all the time now. You have to have enough volume and, unfortunately, when you have very, very limited space ... You see the supermarkets or the mega-markets and we’ve got these little teeny places. It’s hard to handle everything. You have to handle what you can sell enough of and what enough customers want and doesn’t take up too much space because space is at so much of a premium.

DEUTSCH: So what’s hot now? What’s the new product that everyone’s buying now?
GLASGOW: We’re selling quite a bit of the natural beef. No hormones, no antibiotics and all natural

DEUTSCH: And that’s more expensive?

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

GLASGOW: It’s more expensive but we’re getting the very best quality stuff, the top of the line stuff, not just average. Some of the stuff’s almost like 4-H stuff. And we’ve brought in bison, that’s been a surprise because it’s very tender. And I buy that out of Rapid City, South Dakota.

DEUTSCH: Oh, I’ve been there.

GLASGOW: That’s where I go hunting, right near there, about 150 miles from there.

DEUTSCH: Isn’t it gorgeous?

GLASGOW: Yeah. We’re starting to sell—I went on a cruise to Europe—and we’re selling a couple different sausages that are really moving well. A bacon sausage and a country ham sausage.

DEUTSCH: So you experienced those on the cruise?
GLASGOW: When I went to Europe on the cruise of England and France. Went all around the isle, went

around England, the England isle, all the way around that. And then to France.

DEUTSCH: Oh fun.

GLASGOW: I stopped at all the butcher shops. Well, I’ve always used center rib, and in Europe they leave a tremendous amount of fat on the pork but they also use a lot of rib chops. That’s what they like and I’ve always liked them. So the European-style pork chop we sell now is delicious. It’s got cap meat on it and a little more fat left on it. It’s the center rib chop, not the loin.

DEUTSCH: Did you ever go to a horse butcher in France? Do they still have those?

GLASGOW: I was only in France one day and that actually was enough for me. I didn’t like the place. The people are arrogant, they really are. They’re not nice like we are. I mean, I have people from all over the world come to our market and you always treat people nice. You get to France and it’s like they’re doing you a favor waiting on you. If France had a business in here and they talked to our people like they [do], they wouldn’t have a business long.

GLASGOW: You’re not going to get away with what France—they way they talk to customers—here.

DEUTSCH: When I was a kid, a young person, I lived in France. And they still had the horse butchers with, you know. they have the gold sign of a horse’s head.

GLASGOW: Mm hmm. They eat a lot of horse meat in Europe.

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GLASGOW: We don’t use it.

DEUTSCH: But that’s never going to ... I think Americans are ... that’s never going to happen here.

GLASGOW: Never’s a long time. I remember when I was young. You shouldn’t use that word.

DEUTSCH: Yeah, yeah.

GLASGOW: What do they say, “Never use never”?

DEUTSCH: Never use never. Well, anything like that that surprised you? That you thought you’d never be selling, that you’re selling?

GLASGOW: The industry has changed tremendously because so much of the work is done at the slaughterhouse now. They break everything down. We still use some sides—whole animals, you know— but not much at all anymore. I have one guy in Baltimore we buy some natural stuff from. But the industry has completely changed and they’re getting down to where they’re taking more and more muscles out of the meat, individual muscles. They’re breaking the meat down even further than what was done. And that’s still evolving to this day. There’s cuts like the flatiron. That just started maybe five or six years ago. We really specialize in it. We pull our flatirons. There’s three gristles: top, bottom, and a real nasty middle gristle. Most butchers don’t want to mess with it. Well we sell lots of them.

DEUTSCH: I know because I’ve bought a lot of them!

GLASGOW: And it’s a neat cut. And I found out how to do a test. There’s a machine that looks like a pair of teeth and they put a piece of meat in it and they [crunch sound] and it measures the bite, how tender it is.

GLASGOW: Pretty simple when you think about it, all you do is ...DEUTSCH: But do you have to cook it before you ...

GLASGOW: No, this was a machine that measures the tenderness so they started pulling the muscles different. What I’m saying is they pulled the muscles, where it used to be a hindquarter and a forequarter and that was it, and then they broke it down to a rib and a loin. It’s much, much further broken down. With the strips, rib eyes, filets, it’s even more so than that. The chuck they now break into the [smaller

Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

muscle groups], you know, they just keep continually breaking down more things. The hangar steaks are very popular. Of course you should know that, in France.


GLASGOW: Skirt steaks are getting very popular. Flanks—when I was a kid we would take flank steaks, stack them up and cut them in cubes for stew beef because you couldn’t sell them all. Of course you can’t do that today, expensive as they are. So the whole industry is continually evolving and changing and you’ve got to change with it.

DEUTSCH: OK, let’s get back to the market. What about the fire? What do you remember about the fire?

GLASGOW: Everything. I was called—a fireman called my cousin—one of the fireman that I know. He actually was called and said it was a three-alarmer. He called my cousin around 1:30 in the morning and around 2:15 I was at the market. As I was coming to the market all I cared about was—well I shouldn’t say all I cared about, but my worst fear was it was started behind my stand.

DEUTSCH: Oh gosh.
GLASGOW: And the whole time ... And when I got there it was two big holes in the roof above my

stand, with flames going 30 feet in the air behind my stand and I thought, “Oh my God.”DEUTSCH: You mean, you thought maybe something careless that might have been done.

GLASGOW: It could’ve been anything, I don’t know. A guy threw a cigarette, I don’t know. I don’t allow people to smoke but that doesn’t mean they didn’t do it maybe. Or they could’ve done something stupid, you just never know.

DEUTSCH: You don’t know.

GLASGOW: It’s the first thing that come up. And the strange thing about this is I talked to Southern Maryland, Tommy, the Calomirises, and they all said the same thing. They all hoped it wasn’t them. Amazing. But when I found out about a half hour after I was there that it started down at the other end, I was very relieved. Even though it was still burning, I was relieved it was not me. And it’s strange how everyone I talked to said the same thing.

DEUTSCH: But you could tell right away it was bad, a bad fire.GLASGOW: Well as soon as I went in there I knew it was bad, yeah.

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

DEUTSCH: Did they let you in?
DEUTSCH: No, you couldn’t get in. You’re standing out on the street.GLASGOW: Not until the next day and then they hardly let us in then.DEUTSCH: Anyone else there at 2:15 when you were there?

GLASGOW: There were a lot of people there. I think the mayor [Adrian Fenty, DC mayor from 2007– 2011] got there around 5, 5:30. I think I left around 7 or 8:00. I was tired, by then I’d had enough. But it was neat to see the mayor say, “We will rebuild.” That was around 5:30 in the morning. I saw Tommy Wells there, he was there early. I don’t know what time he got there. A lot of customers were there because they said smelled the smoke everywhere. Depending on which way it was blowing. They were all coming.

DEUTSCH: I heard it on the radio.

GLASGOW: They had fire engines all the way down Pennsylvania Avenue, North Carolina Avenue, C Street, Seventh Street. And I’ll tell you something off the record when we’re done about that. Remind me because I’m not going to say it on the record.

DEUTSCH: OK. We’re just talking about the fire.

GLASGOW: What’s really neat about the fire is the neon sign that I had. It was only a year old or something, was still running two days after the fire, and all my refrigeration was working. It was still running.


GLASGOW: My freezer, everything was hard as a brick in it. Still had to throw it all away because of all the smoke or because they’d just condemn, it but it was all running. I called the electric company and I said, “I guess you know that my electric’s cut off,” and they said, “Actually it’s still running!” And I went in there and everything was running. They were right! The refrigeration was still working.

DEUTSCH: So in those early days after the fire, you were reassured to hear the mayor say we will—

GLASGOW: Well it was nice to hear him say that. There was several months I did not sleep. Very, very little.

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

DEUTSCH: Because you were concerned about what was going to happen?

GLASGOW: It was just so much that I had to do. And so much you didn’t know what was going to happen. I mean, the city never really said what they were going to do. What I got from it was—we had to sign something, intention to sue and all that. I probably shouldn’t write this either. You know, we were told to sign these forms that we intend to sue. And I think that was because they could provide the equipment and just call it a day. And it was the smartest thing the city ever did because if everyone would’ve been suing everybody ... I’d have been suing Eastern Market Ventures, I’d have been suing the District because there was a lot of things that were wrong.

DEUTSCH: That should’ve been repaired earlier.
GLASGOW: That, plus Eastern Market Ventures, to this day—I told the city that I would testify against

them—allowed all that trash to just keep piling up, and they knew it for a couple of years.DEUTSCH: Now who was Eastern Market Ventures?

GLASGOW: Eastern Market Ventures, that’s our old market managers. Awful market managers. And they allowed all this paper to sit out there and they allowed the 55-gallon drums of grease to sit out there. And when the fire did [start], whether it came from the inside to the out or the outside to the in, that shot it up into the eaves and into the roof and it was over. I still believe it was from the inside of the market, but that’s my opinion, I don’t care what they say. Because if it was from the outside, someone should have seen it before it got to that stage in the inside.


GLASGOW: And the fact that I’ve never seen the video, which would absolutely tell you where it started because the video would show you smoke inside the market. You’d see where it started, it’d be over. But I’ve never seen that.

DEUTSCH: So how soon did you know there was going to be this temporary building?
GLASGOW: I actually was pretty key into those negotiations because, I want to say Wednesday, we had

a meeting at the pool. The fire was what Monday night? Sunday night, Sunday night.DEUTSCH: Sunday night. Sunday to Monday was the fire.

GLASGOW: It was Monday, like 12:00 in the morning, 1:00 in the morning, 12:30, something like that Monday morning. And Wednesday, I think, we had a meeting with the District, right at the—

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

DEUTSCH: At the Natatorium [William H. Rumsey Aquatic Center, formerly the Capitol Hill East Natatorium, 635 North Carolina Avenue SE].

GLASGOW: At the Natatorium, and they said, “Well, we can start Friday. If you’ll agree, we can start Friday drawing up the plans to have the market on the Eastern Market metro stop [plaza]. And I just said, you know, “That’s not what we need to do. What are the other options?”

And he [a representative of the D.C. government] said Hine [former junior high school at Seventh Street and Pennsylvania Avenue SE] because we knew that the Hine lot was kind of available. The Hine lot and Seventh Street, close Seventh Street and put a building in the middle of Seventh Street, put a building there. And I said, “Well, a building I don’t think’s going to work. That would hurt everybody, everybody’s frontage and the stores and—just congestion.”

So I said, “I really think we need to do the Hine lot, consider that.” And they said, “Well, we can start right now, if you tell me right now, we’ll have it Friday we’ll start. We know we have everything there.” And I made the comment, I said, “Why don’t you find out if we have it [electric and water infrastructure] where we’re at at Hine. To me it doesn’t make any sense if we don’t have it. You’ve got all this commercial stuff there, you’ve got the big school that’s being closed and that’s a lot of utility. And you’ve got all this commercial stuff around it, would seem to me you’ve got enough there.” But I said, “You need to find out.” And he kept pushing for Eastern Market metro.

DEUTSCH: The city wanted to put it [the temporary market structure] at Eastern Market metro.

GLASGOW: They absolutely wanted to put it at metro. I made one comment to the guy there that really shook him up, I think. I said, “You know, why don’t you take Thursday and Friday and Saturday and Sunday and get back to us on Monday about the feasibility at Hine?” And I said, “Just a word, I’d like to make a comment. And the comment is you can come back Monday and tell me it’s [utilities] not there, we don’t have the capacity, but if you’re lying it will be known. It might take a week, it might take a month but they’re going to come back, and I’m on record, that it was possible here and you did not take the time to find it out and do the work and make sure that it’s possible here. Because our community is here. If we go to Eastern Market metro and build a new Eastern Market, when we come back to the old Eastern Market, these businesses, half of them might be gone, and it’s going to take us years to build up this street again. And the street—that’s us. It’s not just the market. We’ve got all our merchant people on both sides of the street.”

And I said, “We want that to stay stable, and I know it’s not that far, but the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue is another world.”

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

DEUTSCH: So that was your main concern. You didn’t want to go to the Eastern Market plaza, because you felt like—

GLASGOW: I knew that if we went to the market [metro plaza], we’d come back to a devastated street. And we’d all be trying to build our businesses back up and we’d be starting backwards. It might take five years to get it back, or ten. Who knows?

DEUTSCH: Were there some of the merchants who wanted to move to the Eastern Market [metro]?

GLASGOW: No. And all of the time I just said, you know, “What if you make us go to the Eastern Market metro and it fails because it’s a terrible setup? There’s not shoppers there, it’s a metro station. They’re not buying meat. No one on the metro’s going to buy meat. They’re not going to carry it.”

DEUTSCH: You’re not going to take your meat to work.

GLASGOW: No, plus it’s a terrible, terrible place to put a market, I think. Maybe I’m wrong. I proved, I think, I’m right. But I said, you know, “You can force us to go there and if we fail, this is all on you, but if we fail at Hine, you can blame me.” That’s what I told him, “Blame us, it’s our fault. But at least we’re going down with our community.” And we had a meeting the next week, if you remember, over at Hine with the mayor.

GLASGOW: Were you attending that?DEUTSCH: No, I wasn’t there but I heard about it.

GLASGOW: They had tables of ten people and they had a representative at each table. They filled the whole cafeteria up and then they filled up the auditorium, there was so many people. So they were running two at once, doing the same thing so people could hear.

And the Mayor asked them, just like random, “So okay table number 77 ...” (I’m just throwing that number up.) He said, “ ...where do you want to go?”

“Why?” Dot dot dot dot dot.

“Table number .... where do you want to go?” “Hine.” “Why?” Another reason.

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

“Next person.”
And I put a memo out that the merchants all want Hine and want to stay in the neighborhood.

Well, after about five straight “Hines,” he said, “Wait a minute, maybe I’m doing this wrong. Of all these tables here, how many don’t want Hine?”

No one.
He said, “It’s settled. It’s Hine.”

DEUTSCH: That was the Mayor himself?
GLASGOW: Yes. It was done. It was done.
DEUTSCH: Yes. Well, he’s a pragmatic kind of guy.
GLASGOW: And I’ll always thank him for the market, but he did some nice stuff for this community.DEUTSCH: Oh yeah.

GLASGOW: I knew when he started firing people that he was done. It’s political suicide. There’s no way you can fire anyone in this city. For every person you fire, you probably lose between 100 and 500 votes. Between family, friends, relatives, neighbors of each of those people that got fired. And so sometimes the right things don’t get done. I think he did quite a few of the right things. I shouldn’t comment because I try to stay apolitical because. In 50 years I’ve seen a lot of mayors come and go. I’ve seen a lot of presidents, just like you and everybody else, come and go.

There was a neat thing, too, I’ll make a comment going back to the presidents. We got a call from the White House. Remember when there was a price control on meat?

DEUTSCH: Now when was this?

GLASGOW: God. Whenever that was, there was price controls. Remember the price controls? And I forget which president did it [President Nixon imposed a series of price controls beginning August 15, 1971]. And the White House—someone at the White House called me up and wanted to buy some meat for the White House. And I said no. I said, “Go buy your meat from someone else. You put the price controls on, no one can get meat. I get meat, and I’m not selling it to you all, you’ve ruined this whole system.”

DEUTSCH: Laughing.

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

GLASGOW: He says, “You wouldn’t sell it to me?” I said, “No. Go get it someplace else.” Last I ever heard from them.

But what happened was, you couldn’t buy meat. You had to buy it at a certain price and you had to sell it, and they could check your records and sue you if you didn’t do it. Well, a little company like me, we were buying sides of beef back then and the guy says, “I can’t sell you sides of beef. I can sell you an animal and I’ll have them kill it for you.” I said, “What’s it going to come out to?” Let’s say sides of beef were a dollar five. “It’s going to come out to a dollar five. It’s pretty close by the time we kill it. But if you buy the cattle then that’s your cost.” I had to worry about, could I sell it for an inflated price? But I’m a little guy. So I can get away with it, but I’m not going to sit there and not have meat to sell. But that thing didn’t last long at all and they had to pull it because it made no sense. You can’t buy a product for a dollar and sell it for 90 cents.

GLASGOW: And if you don’t pay the dollar you’re not going to get the product. So, that was just kind

of neat when we were talking about the government.

DEUTSCH: OK so going back to the fire. You’re on EMCAC, you’d been on EMCAC.

GLASGOW: I’ve been on EMCAC since it started, I think in ’98.

DEUTSCH: And was EMCAC key to these decisions about the temporary market and all that?

GLASGOW: I don’t think they had any say at all. I mean, it happened so fast. The merchants, we put out notice that we wanted to stay at Hine and we let the community know it. And we had this meeting.

DEUTSCH: And the community supported it?
GLASGOW: Absolutely. Well, I think they supported us but I would like to think they also wanted that.DEUTSCH: Yes, I think so too.

GLASGOW: I’m kind of concerned now that the hall [temporary structure] is still there. I spoke to a lot of the people on Eighth Street. I just happened to be at the table they were all at. To get the school board to give up the land, to get DOT [Department of Transportation] to build the building ... the community on Eighth Street had to agree or you couldn’t put the building there. And for all those people to agree, they had some things they didn’t want to happen and hopefully they didn’t happen. But one was to tear the building down when it was done and they still got this building there.

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

GLASGOW: I hope it doesn’t upset them but if it does the District should probably—DEUTSCH: Because the city said it was going to tear it down, right?

GLASGOW: Yes. And I’m just saying that because I know that we said we’d try not to unload in the alley and all these other ... and we really tried not to do that. It did happen occasionally because the truck drivers would just do it, and we’d go back and tell them, “You either move it or stop delivering here. You got to take it on the front.” And then we finally got it through the parking lot and it that really helped, you know. [The temporary structure opened in August 2007 and was removed in late 2012.]

DEUTSCH: And so during that period, you never opened up outside.

GLASGOW: Never did. I did not have the heart to do that. I didn’t have the heart to sell something that I didn’t fix up at all or buy stuff that was already pre ... nothing wrong with that, I don’t fault them. I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t go out there and sell 20 or 30 items when I sell 300 items and try to make a living doing it. But I did spend all my time trying to acquire all the little things you need to run a business when you’re completely burnt out.


GLASGOW: There’s just countless little items, and some of them aren’t little, that you need to get. And just to find out where to buy them. And some of this old equipment that you had that was pretty unique, you know, that kind of stuff. It did take full-time work for four months.

DEUTSCH: And then you opened at the temporary site.

GLASGOW: Right, of course.

DEUTSCH: So that was July [2007], it was like the middle of the summer as I recall, wasn’t it?

GLASGOW: Right before July 4th, if I remember it right. Right before July 4th. That weekend of July 4thand the opening day it was 108 degrees in there. 108 degrees opening day. That’s the roof from hell.

DEUTSCH: The roof from hell. [laughing] It was kind of like you were in a greenhouse or a sauna.GLASGOW: It actually was a greenhouse. It was just absolutely awful. It was a terrible place. I’m glad I

had it, but the roof made it a terrible place to sell food.DEUTSCH: Only in the summer?

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

GLASGOW: In the wintertime, in November and into December even, we’d run the air conditioning just to keep it cool enough. It could be—

DEUTSCH: Too hot.

GLASGOW: Sixty degrees outside and 90 inside. Yeah, it’s just, the sun comes on and just cooks you and there was no windows. I really do appreciate the old building now that it’s back. [The restored Eastern Market reopened in its original building June 26, 2009.] And the comment I always made was that we never had parking at the old market. But you know what, the parking at the old market was so much better than the new market. And then we finally got the parking lot beside it, you know what I’m saying? I mean, before that it was just nothing. On a rainy day at the East Hall [the nickname given to the temporary market structure] you could figure business was off 30%, it’s just automatic. People are not walking through the rain, where at the other market, out front you can get in front of the shed and walk and you only get a few drops on your head, or you can pull out back and you’ve got four steps you’re in the market. I mean, it’s beautiful. So I learned to appreciate the little bit of parking we have at the market. It’s very valuable, it’s very helpful for business.

DEUTSCH: Did the Community Foundation help you with those, with replacing all the little things?

GLASGOW: They did. And Gary Peterson made a comment to me that I’ll never forget. I was talking and I said, “How are we going to do this? I’m a big business and I know there’s small businesses. Are we each going to get a percentage, like 60, 50? Whatever it’s going to be. so I know what I have to pull out of my retirement account to pay for everything. He says, “Well, I don’t know if we should do that. It’s probably going to be more like the need. What if one person can’t afford anything and goes out of business and we don’t help them? And you can afford it.”

I thought for, like [what] felt like a minute but was probably five seconds and I said, “You’re right. We want whatever it takes to keep everybody in business, whatever way it works.” But it was a pretty neat thing Gary said. And when he said it, it was like, “You’re right. If someone can’t afford anything ...” I know like Mel [Inman, Market Poultry] really needed a lot of help. Going out there they brought a lot, and that was the right thing to do. It doesn’t matter if he got more than other people. That’s what he needed and that’s what you all provided and that’s what the community wanted. That was pretty neat.

DEUTSCH: Because everyone who was in the market before—

GLASGOW: Stayed. And without the Foundation, that would not have happened. And just like if the DC Government didn’t come through, all we’d have is lawsuits and the market would be five years in building and everyone would be out of business because no one’s going to sit five year or four years. Or it

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

could be a decade or who knows how long to straighten out. So, by doing what they did ... I don’t know who figured it out, but someone figured it out and it was by far the smartest thing they did. Because that was a little bit of money besides what they’re spending on the building, the streetscape. But that was a good decision and Gary’s thing when he said it, it just made so much sense. And that’s exactly what happened.

DEUTSCH: I know a lot of the merchants sort of felt like, “Gosh, I never knew people cared about it so much.”

GLASGOW: Oh I got that in my notes here, too. But yes. I’ll give you an example, one of many examples. I wasn’t outside [many food vendors sold their products outside the building following the fire] and I didn’t go out there for two reasons: one because I didn’t have the heart to do it and I did not ever want to go to see the market after I went and got my stuff out. Pat said, “You want to go to see it?” And I said no. I only went there, like, twice after the fire, other than going getting my stuff. I didn’t even like to go near it. Didn’t want to be on that block, didn’t want to see the market, didn’t want nothing to do with it until East Hall [the temporary structure] was straight. I just had no desire to go down there, it hurt me too much. But I also didn’t want to go down there because Emilio [Canales] was selling meat and if we’d both do it there, he’s going to do worse and I’m going to do worse, you know. Let him do what he’s doing. And maybe that’ll help him out. I had a little bit of insurance. I had no property damage insurance because that’s the way my parents had had it and my uncles all these years. We had interruption insurance, that’s it.

DEUTSCH: Interruption insurance?

GLASGOW: Loss of business insurance will pay your salaries for key people, or pay part of the salary. But as far as the capital loss, the meat and everything else, there was nothing. We just weren’t insured correctly. But you never figure ... you figure if there’s a fire and it burns everything out then you’re out of business anyway. So I don’t know what it was. Just something that I never ... I just knew you had loss of business and we had some temporary help if we went someplace else.


DEUTSCH: With Bill Glasgow, tape two. You didn’t have quite enough insurance.
GLASGOW: No, I didn’t have anywhere near enough as far as property, meat and equipment. What was

neat, what I was telling you earlier about Mel being outside. He would have people coming up just giving page 30

Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

him tips and things and he had a guy come up and bought one dozen eggs, just regulars, and gave him a 100 dollar bill. He said, “I don’t know if I’ve got change,” and he said, “Ooh keep the change.” And he had quite a few people doing that. That was really nice. He has a very strong customer base and I’m sure they heard that he was hurting, and they just would come up and just, you know ... It’s neat when someone gives you 100 dollars for a dozen eggs. So you really see the family. I did go down there a couple of times to buy t-shirts and different things that you all were selling

DEUTSCH: Mm hmm.

GLASGOW: And it always amazed me how people would wait an hour in line. Remember at the beginning where they were waiting a long time to give money. And one of the comments I have here which I’ll tell you now is that I always knew the community was what saved the market at a certain time, you know. And when I say that, [I mean] the last 10 or 15 years. And I knew they all loved the market, I just didn’t know how much they loved it. And not just the market, the market’s not just a market. You can have plenty of markets there, you’ve got them all over in big cities. Go look up in Baltimore where they’re shutting them down, and these big, beautiful buildings are being shut down because they’re not utilized.

GLASGOW: The market is the market and the people.

DEUTSCH: I think that was sort of a surprise for everyone on both sides. I think the people who are customers knew they loved the market but they didn’t know how much.

GLASGOW: Sure, I’m sure the Foundation found that out right quick.DEUTSCH: Oh, absolutely.

GLASGOW: Everything you all ever did because it was like ... it didn’t put you on the map but it really did elevate you.

DEUTSCH: And the Foundation didn’t really do anything to raise that money. It was like people were—

GLASGOW: No. No, they just sat out there with the Foundation and they were the tool to do it and the community was the instrument that really did it. Of course, the Foundation is the community, too. You know, it’s both communities—one’s the little Foundation community and the other’s the community community. And it was neat to see the Mystics or whatever—they gave money, and Hechinger’s, and all that stuff. A lot of different things, a lot of neat people doing dinners and restaurants doing 10%, which

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

was smart on their part because people are going to eat there. They’re going to eat there anyway, a lot of them, and a lot of them will go out of their way to eat there because part of the money’s going to Eastern Market, which was pretty neat. Which I hope helped their businesses, too.

DEUTSCH: I expect it did.

GLASGOW: It helped both sides.

DEUTSCH: What else you got in your notes?

GLASGOW: This is “turning points for Eastern Market” is what I call it. And I would start with Thomas Jefferson legislation authorizing the building of Eastern Market, then go to Adolf Cluss who built it and—

DEUTSCH: What year was it Thomas Jefferson?

GLASGOW: He actually authorized it ten or 15 years before it was actually built [Jefferson issued a proclamation authorizing Eastern Market in 1805]. When he was the President, whatever, you have to look up when he was President. It was quite a bit before this. First [it was] on H Street down near the naval base I think, but then they moved it up here. Bigger. But then Adolf Cluss when he finally built it in 1873. Then I’m going to stick my uncle in here, Charles Glasgow, for signing a 10-year lease for $100,000 and fixing the building up, and him and my father were in there—

DEUTSCH: And when was that? He signed a 10-year lease?

GLASGOW: I think it was 1976. But maybe, might have been 1966.

DEUTSCH: I bet it was ’66.

GLASGOW: It was ’66 to ’76, because in ’76, the day-to-day for 30-some, 40-years, a month-to-month lease. Never had a lease.

DEUTSCH: So Charles Glasgow, your uncle, signed a 10-year lease. So he in effect became the market manager?

GLASGOW: Oh, he was. Even before that he was. But he signed a 10-year lease. Back then it was a lot of money, and it wasn’t just the money. He had to do a lot of things to the building to get it working. So it was a pretty big commitment. If he wouldn’t have done that I think the building would have been razed. And there was almost no one in the building. I know it was Union Meat, Southern Maryland, and for a little bit an Italian guy running the lunch counter before Bill. But I remember seeing him when I was a

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

kid. Then I would say the next turning point was when they dedicated the inside and the outside as a historic landmark.

DEUTSCH: And do you remember when that was?
GLASGOW: You’d have to look that up.
DEUTSCH: I’ll look that up. [1964]
GLASGOW: Whenever it was dedicated, it was probably in the 70s.DEUTSCH: I think it was in the 70s. Yup, yup. Historic landmark status.

GLASGOW: And then the next big turning point is when we had no beer and no wine. No beer in the basement and no wine in the balconies over top our stands and that nearly just ruined the market, the ambiance of the market.

DEUTSCH: Was that the period, one of the periods when there was discussion—

GLASGOW: That was when, if you remember Shelley Ross-Larson, I will always thank her for saving the market, because I think she did. She stopped John Harrod and EMPDC [Eastern Market Preservation and Development Corporation] or what the EMPDC was then, from taking over the market. And that’s when EMCAC was formed. The EMPDC—I have a bunch of their old papers and at one time we were all members, five-dollar members of the EMPDC. All the merchants joined because they asked us to. And then, unfortunately, John had all his vendors do it and it was just ... all EMPDC was, was a head for John and Karen Walker, if you remember her.

DEUTSCH: No, I don’t remember her.
GLASGOW: It was his girlfriend. She had a lot of brains. He was not as brainy as she was. But she had

intentions for taking over. They wanted to take over the basement for stuff.
DEUTSCH: Was he the one who sort of wanted to make it into a Quincy Market kind of thing?GLASGOW: John Harrod’s the guy who did the art gallery, Market 5 Gallery. That’s John Harrod.DEUTSCH: Yes, yes.

GLASGOW: The one who just passed away and we’re going to give him a commendation or a plaque. But anyway, she stopped it from happening. At that time, I know Rob Robinson was sent from Marion Barry.

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DEUTSCH: I remember him.GLASGOW: Yeah—he still shops there.DEUTSCH: Does he?

GLASGOW: But the community came in the North Hall and we had a meeting, and Barry sent his spies to this meeting. I swear, it was like eight or ten people who spoke for the community, and every one of them had to be a lawyer because, God, they spoke eloquently. And when it was done, Robert went back to Barry and says, “It ain’t happening. You ain’t changing the market.” Because they would ask me, “Wouldn’t you want to own a beer place downstairs?” And I said, “No, I want to sell meat and I don’t want beer in the basement and I don’t want wine. I want a food market.” So, that was pretty neat.

And then, of course, we’ll go with [DC Council member] Sharon Ambrose. She created the legislation. Right behind that, of course, was EMCAC and the Sharon Ambrose legislation legalized vending, which was illegal to that point.

DEUTSCH: By vending, you mean the selling outside.

GLASGOW: That had always been illegal until she actually passed this in 1997 or 1998 or whenever it was. And my one comment to EMCAC when I joined is: if you all don’t want me here, I’m out of here. You know, “If you want me, I will do this job. I just want you to remember, you have now legalized nonfood vending on a block that is absolutely dedicated to food. It is your job now to protect us.”

They’ve done a poor job so far. And hopefully the vending won’t grow any more than it, won’t encapsulate us any more than it already has, which is pretty bad. My prediction is if the market stays like this or gets worse, you will ruin the food end of the market.

DEUTSCH: You mean if there keeps being all the —

GLASGOW: You want to have the street closed, you want to have all this vending everywhere. At one time I said, “If you put vending in the North Hall, you put vending in the natatorium, if you want to start taking over the ... you got to give us parking. You can’t keep encapsulating us.”

And I’ve studied this at all the markets, I’ve been to Pikes Market. I sat there —and my wife laughed at me—I sat at the butcher’s stand and stood outside it for hours, two days in a row. And I saw hundreds of people walk by, and all of a sudden a guy would come walking right up to the counter, “and can I help you?” Regular customer. Hundreds more people walk up, “What do you want today?” Hundreds more people. And the guy’s dying, dying. And it’s like May Day.

Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

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DEUTSCH: Market Day?

GLASGOW: Yes, Market Day. At the beginning, you know what we did on Market Day? One third of our normal business. They say we’re going to be helping you out, we’re going to bring all this. You’re not bringing us customers, you’re bringing us tourists, they’re not customers.

DEUTSCH: Tourists don’t want to buy.

GLASGOW: They’re never going to buy from us.


GLASGOW: They can’t. They’re in hotels. And that’s what people have to realize. And they’ll realize it at some point when it gets bad enough, I hope before it’s too bad.

Make this example also: if you’ve got a Giant and a Safeway side by side in the District or anywhere, anywhere you want to do it, any city you want. One of them has zero parking, one has parking like they normally have. Whichever doesn’t have parking won’t last two months. They’ll be out of business, they’ll just be out of business. And yet we’ve survived. I don’t know why. It’s because maybe we’re community, maybe we’ve been here a long time, maybe we work so hard it doesn’t matter because we’ll work hard to make it work. That’s probably half of it. We’re just too stupid to give up. But at some point when you have so many customers saying, “Oh sorry, I can’t park anywhere near here. I’m three and four blocks away, I’m tired of carrying the groceries.” They’re going to come in during the week, but they don’t, and that customer’s lost for life.

DEUTSCH: So it sounds to me like the closing of Seventh Street, you’re opposed to that.

GLASGOW: Absolutely. But I’m never going to win that argument. I just hope if it stays closed and business doesn’t grow that they’ll reopen it. It’s just very, very hard for people to shop. Even people that are five blocks away. Do they want to carry their groceries five blocks? The other comment I’ve made to EMCAC many, many times is I stop when I’m driving home and I see someone carrying our bags and I’ll say, “You know, I really appreciate you walk three or four blocks to shop at our place, and I really thank you.” Because, to me, that’s amazing. I don’t know that I’d do it. But our people do. You can look around the market and they’re carrying bags everywhere.

DEUTSCH: I know, I’m one of them!GLASGOW: Remember the big snow storm?DEUTSCH: Mm hmm.

Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

GLASGOW: And I was really, really proud of our merchants because everyone showed up, including Tommy Glasgow who never shows up when it snows like that. You know, people have a hard time getting in. Everybody has a hard time, everyone showed up and it was one of the most fun days I’ve ever had at the market. Not that we did a whole lot of business, that wasn’t the point of that. Everyone in the whole area, we’d go look—go out to the door and look, and everyone was coming or going from the market. And everyone that came in thanked us for being open. It was just a fun, community kind of [experience], it was almost like a party. It was the kind of day where it was fun to work. It was hellacious getting there. In fact, I spent a couple nights at a hotel. Just rented a hotel for me and my son and said, “Hey you guys, if you want to stay here I’ll rent hotels for you so we can go wait on these customers.”

People laugh, they always tell me, because I’m the one who always wants to stay open to serve the customers because that’s what we’re there for. It’s that, it’s not the money. You got to take care of your customer. One of it’s that little fear that if they go someplace else they might not like it or they might lose you. That’s really not the fear. The fear is that you just need to take care of your customer that’s just—

DEUTSCH: It’s a relationship.
GLASGOW: It’s what you do. If you don’t take care of your customer you won’t have a business. It’s

what you’re supposed to do.

DEUTSCH: I loved the thing you said in your interview on the Overbeck website about selling small amounts.

GLASGOW: Oh yeah.

DEUTSCH: A lot of the people who come in, a lot of the people who shop at the market—

GLASGOW: Little old ladies

DEUTSCH: They can’t buy huge quantities. They just want half a pound of hamburger meat or something.

GLASGOW: We do have limits but it’s very, very little. It’s like, we sell a quarter pound of cold cuts, half pound of bacon. Because our people who say “give me two pieces of bacon” ... Well, you’ve got to wrap it up and put it in a bag and put it in a shopping bag. First of all, I’m losing money that doesn’t get my labor ... you know, labor is very dear. Even at our place, labor is what’s dear anymore in business. It’s your biggest expense. It just dwarfs your rent, your utilities, it dwarfs everything. Other than the cost of your meat, of course, but I mean it’s your biggest expense and the hardest to give, labor. And that’s why the chain stores don’t want them. The slaughterhouses now are going to the primo, primo cuts and so

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

the chain stores have to put very little labor into their stuff. A lot of it’s already pre-done, pre-packaged and broken down as best they can.

DEUTSCH: OK, what else you got?

GLASGOW: OK, the formation of EMCAC. And then the historic fire couldn’t have been any timelier— more timely—with DC flush with dollars. The fire, I don’t know if you all realized, I knew because I had my business there. I had people calling me from all around the world for weeks after that fire. I had them calling from Europe, I had them calling from Africa, South America, all over the country, California, Las Vegas. I just heard about it, and they’re seeing it all.

DEUTSCH: On the news.

GLASGOW: And I had people calling from London, some of our customers are in London and saying you know, “Da da da,” and they said, “Yeah, we’re hearing it in London!” It went all around the world. And one of the reasons the market does go around the world, I don’t know if you all realize this or not, because you’re not there to see how many TV cameras come into our place. It’s because we’re so close to Congress. And when these crews are shooting Congress and they’re talking about meat or vegetables or stores, they run their cameras to us and interview us. Because we’re so close, we’re so convenient and it’s a neat place. And some of the stuff gets shot. There again, they might be talking about lamb and New Zealand, Australia. I’ll have customers call and say, “Hey, we saw the market, they were talking about lamb at your store.” Because it gets shot in their country—some of these news places are coming from Sydney, Australia, and you have people call you, “Hey, we saw you in Sydney. They have this article about lamb, you know, the drought, the flood ...” So it’s pretty neat. But it happens more often than you all realize that we get these camera crews in there.

DEUTSCH: No, that is interesting. That’s not something you see if you just pop in at five o’clock to buy your dinner.

GLASGOW: Well you saw we did the movie out there.
DEUTSCH: Oh the movie, yeah. I was there waiting for the car crash or the—what was the movie?

[Mercury Rising, 1998, and Body of Lies, 2008]

GLASGOW: Also, a lot of customers did notice it, we had a Jimmy Dean sausage [representative] that came in on Monday and told me to set up, they wanted me to set my whole stand up. They shot a Jimmy Dean commercial, a nationwide one for Jimmy Dean and it was at Union Meat.

DEUTSCH: Really?

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

GLASGOW: Yes. If you knew it. They didn’t show the signs but ...DEUTSCH: ... if you knew what to look for.

GLASGOW: Some of our customers say, “Hey, I saw that was Jimmy Dean.” This is like 20 years ago. And they paid me to open up and set up all my cases. And they had six or seven tractor trailers of equipment and a hundred people to shoot this commercial that probably cost millions and millions of dollars a minute to run, so they didn’t care if it cost a million dollars to make. And they were there one day. They had a hundred people, they had the tent with the food, six or seven tractor trailers of lights and this and that. It was amazing how much money they spent to make it. But not amazing when you think about it—you’re spending a million dollars a minute to air something. What do you care if it costs two million to make it? It’s irrelevant.

DEUTSCH: Yes. It’s weird, yeah.
GLASGOW: To me, it was wasteful but I understand it’s probably not.DEUTSCH: I presume they probably got their money’s worth out of it.GLASGOW: I didn’t get much. They got me cheap.
DEUTSCH: [laughing]

GLASGOW: The other neat thing was 5:30 in the morning with Mayor Fenty saying we will rebuild. And the next neat thing, of course you know what that is, was you folks, Capitol Hill Foundation and all the donations from the community. The building of the East Hall at the Hine lot and not at the plaza. If you remember right after that, the award we won?


GLASGOW: We were the ten best urban places to live, I think that’s what it was called. We were the number one pick—not the number one, we were the first pick. [2007 first annual “Best Places” award from the American Planning Association]

DEUTSCH: Because I remember I was driving and I heard it on the radio. Who chose?

GLASGOW: This group. This group that was doing a study on the ten best places. The first place they picked was Eastern Market. But it wasn’t Capitol Hill, it was the Eastern Market community and that was the neatest thing for me. It wasn’t Capitol Hill, it was the Eastern Market community, and that’s who won the award. And I think the award was probably won 95% because of the Foundation and the amount of

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

money and what the community did to support it and I guess they’d never seen anything ... where did this ever happen like this before?


GLASGOW: I mean, anywhere in this country. Where did it ever happen like this, where the community just instantly stepped up and did this Foundation thing? So I would think that was probably a big part of us getting this award. And for them to say the Eastern Market community! I know it’s Capitol Hill, but that’s not what it said. So that was pretty neat.

DEUTSCH: That was neat.

GLASGOW: Getting rid of Eastern Market Ventures. Big highlight. And the, I’m going to call them DRES [Department of Real Estate Services]. But OPM [DC Office of Property Management] taking over with Barry [Margeson]. Barry being the manager is just a real good fit.

GLASGOW: Not, I shouldn’t say that on tape either, it’s not that often you get someone that works with

the government that really, really does a nice job and seems to care a lot.DEUTSCH: Yes, yes.

GLASGOW: So I’m very thankful for Barry. I don’t agree with some of the things he does, sometimes more than some, but you know he’s doing what he thinks is best. Sometimes I know some of the things, I know they’re not quite the best but he does. And he will change, and he will listen, and he does metamorphasize—is that what you want to say? He changes.

DEUTSCH: Something like that, yeah.
GLASGOW: Hopefully now with the task force—I think they’ve just about done their job—hopefully

that’s going to be a turning point for the market.
DEUTSCH: Whose task force is it? Is it a government task force?GLASGOW: A task force by Tommy Wells [Eastern Market Task Force].DEUTSCH: Tommy Wells.
GLASGOW: Tommy Wells created it. It’s Gary Peterson ...
DEUTSCH: Oh, that’s right. Oh Bonny [Wolf]. Yes, yes.

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

GLASGOW: You know them all.
DEUTSCH: Yes, I know them all. And they’ve done a report.

GLASGOW: Yes. Hopefully that’s going to be a nice turning point and we’re going to get some management because, as good as DRES is, they’ve got some bad points and they just can’t turn on a dime. They just got too many expenses because they’ve got to do certain things the way that DRES does it, and you can’t run a little teeny market with what they do. And hopefully we’ll remember—and this is one thing I want to say—we want to remember this is a very small market, and we need a small management structure.

DEUTSCH: And when you say a small management structure you’re obviously—

GLASGOW: You can’t be paying people two and three and four hundred thousand dollars to run the market. Right now our structure’s pretty heavy. But they’re doing some neat stuff with the North Hall and I’ve got some comments on that in here.

DEUTSCH: Oh, okay.
GLASGOW: Interesting points and comments, out-of-towners’ famous things: “Is this the whole Eastern


DEUTSCH: Is this something you’ve heard people say?

GLASGOW: Our reputation is much larger than our building.

“Where’s the rest of it?”

“I wish we had a market like this one where we live, we love it.” I hear that all the time.

“I bought my house to be close to Eastern Market. I came in here and shopped, I loved it and I bought a house because of it.” Pretty neat.


GLASGOW: It’s neat to see that, if you see the retail structure now is town centers. You’ve seen those in Bowie, we’ve got one down in Parole where I live, and they’re doing these little town center retail spaces. Hell, we’ve had that the whole time.

DEUTSCH: It’s the old fashioned model.
GLASGOW: It’s all been us. We’re not going to them, they’re coming back to us.

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

GLASGOW: Another comment I’ll always remember is Larry Gallo, you remember him, right?DEUTSCH: Mm hmm.

GLASGOW: He always talked about the three-legged stool. We’ve heard that expression many times about the farmers, the merchants and the nonfood. It took a few years but I really got to like that. And he’s the one that started the Eastern Market family, which is the merchants, the farmers and the nonfood vendors, and I really like that.

DEUTSCH: Yes. Yes.
GLASGOW: But I would like, at this point, to change that to the four-legged stool. It’s the merchants,

the farmers, the nonfood and you know what the fourth one is.

DEUTSCH: Customers.

GLASGOW: Community.

DEUTSCH: Yes. Because none of it makes any sense without—

GLASGOW: It never does. The customers, community. Because without that, it does not work. It doesn’t matter where you are. You know, it doesn’t matter how cheap your rent is if there’s no business.


GLASGOW: That’s another thing. It doesn’t matter how cheap our rent is at the market if you keep squeezing us and there’s no business for us. I see it on Saturdays, I see it on Sundays now. We have a tremendous amount of tourism coming there and they don’t buy. I mean, you see all these herds of people, especially on Sunday, coming by and they’re just not buying. And at some point they make it hard for people who do want to buy to come.

DEUTSCH: You didn’t mention Sunday opening as one of your market milestones.
GLASGOW: Oh, it should be!
DEUTSCH: What do you remember about that? Because I certainly remember that as a big change.GLASGOW: I fought for that for ten years before it happened.
DEUTSCH: You pushed for it?

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DEUTSCH: You wanted to work six days a week?

GLASGOW: No. That’s not the point. Did not want to work six days a week. Out of necessity. Sunday is a day when you can get some new customers that would not normally be there and maybe—let’s say you work Sunday and you get one new customer, that’s 52 new customers a year. That’s pretty good. But the other thing is, Sunday is now the number one day in retail, foods. Saturday is number two. It never was that way, it used to be closed on Sundays. So then 7-11 started to be open seven to 11, seven days a week and then it was 7:00 to all night and then it was 24-7. And the chain stores started coming on board and they started opening up on Sundays, and Sundays became their second busiest day. It’s now their first busiest day, it’s our second busiest day, and the reason you have to be there is because you have to be open when the customer wants to spend the money.

It’s customer-driven. If the customer wants to shop on Sunday because you have two households that work Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, two household people, the wife and the husband both work. Well, they’re either going to shop at night or they’re going to shop on Saturday and Sunday. That’s when the business is, that’s when you have to be there. But Chad and Richard, who ran the market, my cousins at the fish counter, never wanted to. And finally we did it. At first, a couple people never showed up. And it took them a year to build the business up to where it was even worth opening and then it’s our biggest growth day. I mean, if we get any growth, it is on Sunday. We’d like to grow the middle of the week better.

DEUTSCH: How does business now compare to business before the fire?

GLASGOW: To be honest, I’m just now getting back to where I was five years ago.


GLASGOW: Just did the numbers here about a week ago. At the other building it was worse. It should be a lot better. I think it’s accessibility.

DEUTSCH: Do you worry about—I was just reading an article, I think in the paper, about how Walmart’s coming to DC?

GLASGOW: Never worry about Walmart. People who shop at Walmart aren’t shopping at my place. People that just want to shop price are not shopping at my place. Plus Walmart can’t—

DEUTSCH: Do the custom stuff.

Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

GLASGOW: I have an analyst I was just talking to the other day—it’s funny because I get to talk to everybody. I mean, I’ve had so many senators. Gore used to shop at our market. His mother used to come in with him when Al Gore was a kid and shop at our market every Saturday. We’ve just had a lot of people. I remember Senator Brooks, one of the nicest looking black guys I’ve ever—

DEUTSCH: Edward Brooks.

GLASGOW: Yeah. He used to shop all the time. We just have a ton of that stuff at our market. I mean, it’s just full of politicians because it’s so close. And some of them live here and if they don’t, they rent, you know what I’m saying.

DEUTSCH: But something like Walmart would never be a threat because that’s a different client base.

GLASGOW: No, when Harris Teeter opened up for the first two weeks our business was down about ten percent and then it went right back. And they’d come back and say. “You know, the first couple of weeks they’re giving that stuff away.” And I said, “I don’t blame you!” And they had help everywhere and then it went back to the real world and hey, you can’t give everything away forever. They can afford to lose, you know, open a new store and lose a half million dollars that week giving stuff away. Can’t do it long term.

DEUTSCH: And really, I mean, speaking for myself, I shop at Harris Teeter maybe once every three weeks. I shop at the market four or five times a week.

GLASGOW: Harris Teeter’s got some neat stuff. They’ve got a beautiful store.DEUTSCH: I can’t buy a roll of paper towel at Eastern Market. [laughing]GLASGOW: No, you can’t, and you never will.
DEUTSCH: Right. I don’t want to!

GLASGOW: That’s another neat story. When I was negotiating a long time ago and [developer] Bob Herrema ... do you remember him?

DEUTSCH: Mm hmm. Sure do.

GLASGOW: Bill van den Toorn, [D.C. Council member] Harold Brazil. They called me in and they had a meeting with me and they wanted to talk about what we needed to do at the market. And you remember when I moved from the middle to the side like I am now? That was back then, that’s when this happened.

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

And they kept talking about changing the market and how we need to utilize, maximize the space. And they told me they had a plan.

I’d actually left the market. I’d stayed late and I was talking to them at one of Tommy’s empty tables [at Market Lunch] and I guess around seven or eight o’clock they left and they said we need everyone to squeeze up and lose one-third of their space. So places have one stand are going to have two-thirds of their stand because we need to put a grocery in the South Hall. It’s absolutely necessary. Because they were talking about, remember the grocery in the North Hall? Remember all those talks, they were going to try to put that in. That’s not going to float. No one wants that, it’s too little for anybody in groceries. The whole market is too little for anybody in groceries.

DEUTSCH: Well, and the thing is, I walk to the market. I don’t want to walk with my paper towel and my cleaning products and all that. I want to drive for those.

GLASGOW: If we had parking and you could drive there, we could sell you it all, but yeah, you don’t have enough room inside the market to display anything. But they kept talking and I said, “I will never agree to it, I will fight you to the end of the world. Do what you’ve got to do.”

Never agreed to that. And I said, there’s no way—no matter how much you put in here, a grocery’s never going to work. Never going to work.


GLASGOW: They left this packet. So I got it and I looked at it and it was talking about this study done of the grocery on the south side of the Hall. It was going to take a third of the market up to sell groceries. Well, it said the stand should be easily assembled and easily disassembled, we expect it to go out of business in less than a year. And see they’d always been telling me, they had ideas for the market. They had ideas for putting their own stands in, their own businesses in, what would work for them, what would be fun. But it would ruin the market to put the grocery in knowing it was going to fail and I just thought to myself, go ahead and try to do it but ...

DEUTSCH: ... don’t expect me to support it.

GLASGOW: But it gets down to fighting for your business or fighting for the market, they can do whatever they want, and threaten me all they want, it doesn’t matter. I can quit tomorrow, you know, they can’t threaten me. Whatever damage they do to me, I can more do to them. If they want to have a blood fest, then do it, but when they’re trying to hurt the market that’s a different thing. That went by the

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

wayside. Oh, 15 or 20 years ago now, I went and looked at all the places in the neighborhood and I was ready to leave. I was just sick of not having a lease. Sick of being threatened by OPM. OPM had come in there numerous times and said, “You can sign this or you’re out of here, and you’re going to do this and you’re going to do that,” and I said, “You know what, do what you’ve got to do.” Next thing I knew, they’re the ones that lose their jobs.

DEUTSCH: And what made you stay?

GLASGOW: I don’t know, maybe stupidity! If I’d known what I had to do and all the stuff I had to go through I probably would’ve went. You know, one guy said, “I just spent 30 or 40 thousand for a whole new case that was falling apart,” and the [other] guy said, “What are you nuts, you don’t have a lease.” And I said, “Yeah, I’m nuts, but I’m nuts not to have done it a couple of years ago.” Because at some point in 1976 or whatever to never have a long term lease, yes, you make stupid decisions, but the worse decision is to do nothing and let your equipment just fall apart. And I said, “Yeah, I was waiting when we debated it in 1979 for a lease and I kept waiting and waiting, and I said if we didn’t have a lease I’d be back where I was 40 years ago waiting for a lease.” But at some point you have to say enough’s enough. I’m actually comfortable without a lease now because—I don’t like it but ...

DEUTSCH: So do you still not have a lease?

GLASGOW: No. They wanted us to sign a short-term lease and I wouldn’t sign it. Who wants to sign a short-term lease? It means nothing. We were promised long-term leases and that’s what we want, that’s what we’re happy with but we still don’t have them. We signed a one or two [year] one over in the East Hall. We didn’t want to but they made us. If we didn’t sign it then they wouldn’t let us in the building. They kind of had us over a barrel there.

DEUTSCH: Yes. So what’s the chance of getting a long-term lease, I mean under this new—

GLASGOW: Well, we just had a change [unintelligible] so maybe we can get one now, I don’t know. Robin-Eve Jasper [Director of Office of Property Management], I went and had a conversation with her. She’s a pretty bright person but I was kind of amazed when I was talking to her. She was talking about all this equipment they gave us and [unintelligible] I said, “I very much appreciate it, don’t get me wrong.” And she talked about how valuable this is and how much she wants to make sure we maintain our warranty and I said, “Let me explain something to you. All our equipment is junk. It was 108 degrees opening day. Every motor is warm and it’s broken. First of all, do you know what the warranty was on our cases? 90 days. 90 days! You want to talk about maintaining our warranty when these things are five years old and they only had a 90 day warranty.” And to be technical, we wouldn’t have had them then

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

because we had them at 108 degrees and they’re designed for a 72 degree area. I said, “Our compressors have been burnt out. I repair them all the time. The stuff is junk. Our downstairs basement where we’re at are now, the room is 137 degrees.”


GLASGOW: I argued with the architect, I argued with him not to do it. He’s blowing air in and blowing air out. With all the compressors from the market and we’re just burning them up. Couldn’t run, with it running 24 hours a day if they’re not keeping up the temperatures.

And I said, “ I’ve told you,” and he said, “Well we had engineers.” And I said, “I told you it wasn’t going to work. We had the whole basement before. If you can find a double-stacking compressor, side-by-side, double-stacked, they run air into one with a wall in the middle and make a U-turn and it’s blowing out here. By the time it’s blowing out it’s 140 degrees. You get in front of the compressors, it’s 150 or 160 degrees. Nothing’s going to last, it’s all junk. Every compressor there if it has a ten year life it’s going to last five or six or seven. If it has a 15 year life—and we’ve already lost compressors. We’ve lost a bunch of stuff. So don’t tell me about how great your warranties are.”

And then she started with, “You got such a great deal,” and I said, “You know what, we got a good deal. We’re here at the market, we were in a market”—and I made this statement to EMCAC many times— “but I didn’t know how bad our market was until I started taking cruises and going to third world countries that had nicer markets. Cleaner, more maintained, painted, tiled floors. Third world countries! I said, “Ours is the worst I’ve ever seen. It was for years, and the federal government allowed it. It was turned over to the District in 1976 and they did nothing. And then finally, after the fire, they spent some money.”

But I said, “I didn’t realize how bad it was until I started seeing all this stuff and we deserve it.”

Honestly, to be quite honest, we’d been working in conditions that were 100 and 105 degrees every summer, absolutely hot in there.


GLASGOW: A lavatory system that was just awful. I told my customers, don’t go to the toilet. A famous saying was there was that bathroom upstairs and we had a customer—a good, good customer —and my wife told her (my wife was there one holiday), just go across the street. She went upstairs and she came back. She was really high class, you could just see, and she said, “Well that’s an experience I’ll never forget and I will never repeat.” So maybe we are getting a good deal but don’t you think we’ve earned it?

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DEUTSCH: Laughing. The bathrooms were—yes.

GLASGOW: We’ve worked very hard under really bad conditions. It’s a hard life. And yeah, I think we do deserve a good break and okay, we did get a good deal. But it’s about time. When my Uncle Charles started, our only complaint there with helping was in the winter time, keep it above 32 degrees so stuff doesn’t freeze. We used to put stuff on the block in the cooler so it wouldn’t freeze.

DEUTSCH: Because it was so cold where you were working.

GLASGOW: It was cold. You have a certain amount of money to spend, and that’s what you spend. You can’t afford to heat. Plus they changed the heating system. It used to be coal, you used to shovel coal, that’s what that stack is for. And then they changed to gas. When they changed to gas it got much better. But, you know with the old system they had heating that place, you start the furnaces at five in the morning or something and it took a long time. We just didn’t want it to freeze at night and freeze our pipes. I said, “Look, if a pipe breaks we’re going to have a problem. All we care is that the water pipes don’t freeze.”

DEUTSCH: Now let me ask you this—do you ever think about retiring?

GLASGOW: Well I’m kind of like retired now. I work three days a week, 12 hours a day and I do 40 hours. For me, 40 hours a week is like not even working. But during the holidays I’m back to 70 hours and I’m not doing all these side things any more. I take my vacations. My wife loves cruises so we do two cruises.

DEUTSCH: Two cruises a year. Where do you like to go? What are your favorite places?

GLASGOW: We’re kind of running out of places. We did do Europe two years ago, in fact, we’re going to take my granddaughter who’s ten because my wife’s brother’s wife when they are ten took all their kids ...

DEUTSCH: Kids. Grandkids.

GLASGOW: ... on a special trip.

DEUTSCH: Where are you going to take your granddaughter?

GLASGOW: We’re taking her to Venice because, since she was three years old she wants to go to Venice. I don’t think she knew what Venice was but she wants to go.

DEUTSCH: Oh but that’s a perfect place to be with a little kid.

Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

GLASGOW: So she’s always wanted to go to Venice, so Patty said, “Well when you all are ten we’re going to do the same thing.” Well this was when she was born and—

DEUTSCH: She never forgot. She’s no dummy.

GLASGOW: So she said she wants to go to Venice and that’s where we’re going.

DEUTSCH: When are you going?

GLASGOW: Oh I don’t know exactly.

DEUTSCH: The spring?


DEUTSCH: That’s so wonderful!

GLASGOW: But that’s our one vice. Mine is hunting and hers is cruises.

DEUTSCH: Yours is what?

GLASGOW: Hunting. Hers is cruises. So we do try—we do it with friends, too. It’s nice to see how the other half lives.

DEUTSCH: Yeah. Any favorite places that you’ve been?
GLASGOW: We’ve been to Alaska three times. That’s my wife’s favorite.DEUTSCH: That’s where my husband wants to go.

GLASGOW: Unbelievable. If you can go two weeks—a week on land, a week on the ship. If you go there, save some money for helicopter rides and plane rides. It’s just unbelievable. We did one cruise to Hawaii and through the Panama Canal and tons of them down in the islands, of course, and one to Europe, one to Bermuda. Bermuda was nice. But it’s neat to do the islands. And sometimes we’ll do a cruise and then just pick an island and spend a week there or 10 days.

DEUTSCH: Caribbean?

GLASGOW: Yes. And every island is really different. It’s nice to see some of the island people there, and their culture and what they live like. [unintelligible] I get some of the names mixed up. We went through the Panama Canal and were in Colombia. Patty said, “We don’t want to get off in Colombia, it’s terrible.” I said, “I want to get off because I want to see how terrible it is.” We got off and took a cab ride

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

as a group, a big group of us to a shopping center area and everything was confined and we had to stop and ask a policeman a question. And after he answered the question—and he’s carrying a machine gun— he puts his hand out for him to be paid. And the corruption there, and everybody’s got guns. Everywhere you walk, everyone’s got machine guns and you see how that other ... how these less fortunate countries ... They’re really stuck. Beautiful islands, but some of them are really ... no infrastructure. And when I first started going to the islands I looked at it. I always heard infrastructure, and you’ve heard it too— infrastructure, infrastructure.

GLASGOW: I don’t understand infrastructure. We’re supposed to have bridges, we’re supposed to have

roads, you’re supposed to have sewers—well, they were not. Some of these islands ...DEUTSCH: If you go to a place that doesn’t have them.

GLASGOW: The roads, I mean, there’s no bridges. And I really started to understand infrastructure. I always knew what it was but it took on a different meaning after going to an island that doesn’t have infrastructure or running water, or terrible water, or just any of the things that we are used to having.

DEUTSCH: You got anything else on your list?

GLASGOW: This is my 50th year and the third generation is working down there now, my son. And the fourth generation is on its way. My wish list? I’d like to see a manager who’s a people person, and actually loves the market. And he will be the most successful, even if he doesn’t know anything, he will learn.

DEUTSCH: Well Barry’s pretty much a people person, isn’t he?

GLASGOW: He is, but he’s tied to DRES and you can’t get ...


GLASGOW: He’s tied with their way of doing business which is not ... They don’t have a way of doing business.

DEUTSCH: You’d like to see an independent market manager

GLASGOW: Someone off of this task force. I’d like to see the Market Day, which is no longer in existence, right, change into a Community Appreciation Day thrown by EMCAC with the task force or whatever, community something. For the market, and for appreciation for the community. I’d like to see

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

memorial bricks as a fundraiser. I have four uncles and one father who all passed away while working there and I’d like to buy a brick and put it up there for them. I’d be the first one to do it.

DEUTSCH: Five uncles and your father?

GLASGOW: Four uncles and my father, all of them, that was their life. And it’s pretty much the only job they ever had. My other wish list is to never let Eastern Market fall into disrepair again. When I was on EMCAC we had a lot of old records and there was one that stands out: the market managers asked for the market to the painted and I think it was eight or nine hundred bucks to paint the whole market and this went on and ... You see the years, I mean, throw the year out and the years go on: 1901, 1902, 1903 and in 1909 they painted the place.


GLASGOW: You know, it was built in 1873. It needs to be painted when it needs to be painted, it needs to be taken care of when it’s supposed to be taken care of. If I could, if it was up to me that’s what it would be. I’d like to be remembered as part of the group that helped to save the market.

DEUTSCH: Well I expect you will be.

GLASGOW: I’d like Eastern Market treated as if it was one of your kids, part of your family. And I know this is impossible but I’d like to see Eastern Market selling food in 100 years from now. If I’m looking down or looking up I’d like to see it still doing what it’s supposed to be doing.

DEUTSCH: Mm hmm.

GLASGOW: Can I make a comment I’ve always liked to make about Eastern Market? The Capitol Hill Foundation was a tool that made the donation but that it was our community and the extended community, because it went past our community, that helped donate the money. A comment about North Hall, it’s close to Congress and a wonderful place for events. What a plus. I very much underestimated the North Hall until I saw what Barry did with it. It really is a showcase for businesses to Congress. And not just Congress, but whatever. That was a pretty neat thing that Congress gave us both in one, you know, that year they had the pork barrel money. But it really goes to show these people want to spend whatever it takes to get just five or ten minutes worth with Congressmen and they get tractor trailer after tractor trailer with all this equipment in there and all the tents and catering and this beautiful champagne and wine ...

DEUTSCH: So you’re seeing a lot of events there?

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Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project Bill Glasgow Interview, February 10, 2011

GLASGOW: I’m seeing some of these from Congress. And they had a VIP trailer outside that was for Congressmen’s toilets. I mean, we’ve got it pretty decent on the inside and we’ve got a VIP big trailer for them to go to the bathroom. And it just shows that they don’t care what they spend because we’re talking ... not even millions, hundreds of millions and billions of dollars that Congress decides how it gets spent. And where better to have a place that’s open for two hours and costs them God knows what it costs them to put these things on. The rent was insignificant. And to get just a few minutes with each Congressman to say, “Hey, stop by, it’s just right down the street.” So that is going to be our saving grace at the market. That’s going to make the market self-sufficient.

DEUTSCH: I wish they could fix the acoustics in there.
GLASGOW: They are. They will. Eventually. Oh, how we always knew Eastern Market was a jewel, we

just didn’t know it was the Hope Diamond of our community until the fire.DEUTSCH: Did you say that?

GLASGOW: That’s what I say. I also got plaque from when I was in Europe. One of the bars we went into—and I call it a bar, a fish and chip place, you know—and they had a plaque on the wall from the King of England and I got a copy of it. It’s talking about the burning of London.

DEUTSCH: The Great Fire.

GLASGOW: And how everyone came together and all this. And I want to take that and change the words to Eastern Market and it actually is a really neat plaque. I just have to get it done, it’s been two years ago and I haven’t done it yet. But it’s how the community and the town is not a town, it’s the community. It’s the people. It’s a really neat saying and by the King of England at the time.

DEUTSCH: That’s neat.

GLASGOW: So I was going to make this my plaque make it say the same thing and maybe put the two side by side. Because the community comes together and that’s what the market is. My only other comment is I know everyone loves Eastern Market but none love it more than me. And I hope I’m wrong because if someone loves it more than me they love it very much! Do you have any more questions?


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