John Hogan

John Hogan, the first president of Capitol Hill Day School's Board of Trustees, and Ida Prosky talk at length about the school's founding during this interview.

Both John's and Ida's children were Day School students during its early years when facilities were provided by two local churches. Both of them were among the local parents who started the school in the late 1960s. CHDS celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018.

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Interview Date
May 30, 2007
Ida Prosky
Jennifer Newton

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Interview with John Hogan[1]
Interview Date: May 30, 2007
Interviewer: Ida Prosky
Transcriber: Jennifer Newton

This interview transcript is the property of the Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project.
Not to be reproduced without permission.

PROSKY: This is Ida Prosky. I am interviewing John Hogan at his house, and the date is May 30, 2007.
HOGAN: I have a bit of a hearing problem, but I’ve got my hearing aids in, so …
PROSKY: Oh, good, good. I know that you were the first president of the Board of the Capitol Hill Day School, and I guess my first question is: How did you get interested in helping to establish a new school on Capitol Hill?
HOGAN: Well, I think both of us did because our children were at the age when they were going to start school. I think Edee [Hogan, John’s wife] did most of the casting around with other mothers with children starting school. So they visited several schools, including St. Peter’s and—what’s the one on Third Street, close to South Carolina?
PROSKY: Oh, I know which one you mean …
HOGAN: Yeah, and they were filled. Apparently, it has a good reputation, or did have then. So they were chock-a-block. Then there were several—Dent was even back then questionable for taking on added pupils. Even then, which was the early 60s, they knew they were going to be confronted with school closings, and of course that’s where the Capitol Hill Day School finally wound up. It’s a nice location, and having visited it recently, I can say that it looks fine and I think it’s doing a good job for Capitol Hill Day School.
PROSKY: That’s great.
HOGAN: And they are expanding somewhat, and they’re incurring some criticism from neighbors. But you’ve got to put up with that. I’m sure they handle it pretty well, probably try to keep them knowledgeable about what’s going in the school or what might cause a problem for the neighbors.
PROSKY: John, you said that this was in the early 60s that you started looking. Do you have a date in mind when the school actually began?
HOGAN: Well, I imagine it was probably sometime in the ’63-’64 period. [CHDS considers its founding to have occurred in 1968.] When it finally started to move, both Christ Church and Church of the Reformation were offering pre-school courses.
PROSKY: So that was already in place.
HOGAN: Already in place. And there was no kindergarten that I know of. I think the kindergarten came with the Capitol Hill Day School. Terry—
PROSKY: That’s your son—
HOGAN: There was a Montessori up here on Ninth and …
PROSKY: Massachusetts, was it?
HOGAN: No, up here at Ninth and South Carolina, which was really close by. So he went there for a year or year-and-a-half, I forget which it was. So he had some experience in school, though it was a play-school kind of thing. Edee talked to some of the people over at Holy Trinity, just to see what their situation was over there, and I think they were pretty well filled at the time, so that was kind of a stopper to try to expand that …
PROSKY: Holy Trinity’s all the way over in Georgetown, too, isn’t it?
HOGAN: Yes. I’m not sure how many are coming from other areas, but there’s some and they did try to take care of them, I think. It’s a good parish, as a matter of fact. I used to go over there some. After I got off sea duty, I got three-and-a-half years here in Washington, so I went to law school at G.W. [George Washington University]. There was a church—I can’t think of the name of it now, but it’s on Pennsylvania Avenue at about 24th Street—
PROSKY: St. Stephen’s?
HOGAN: Sometimes I’d get in the car and go over to Holy Trinity. John Kennedy was a great frequenter of Holy Trinity.
PROSKY: Oh, yes, I remember that.
HOGAN: He was normally up in the gallery, but he was a steady member of Holy Trinity Church. He didn’t get married there, but I’m sure that … he was married up on the Cape, as I recall.
PROSKY: One of the people who I remember was on the board with you was Earl Godfrey—wasn’t he?
HOGAN: No, he wasn’t. I don’t recall Earl being on there.
PROSKY: Maybe that was later.
HOGAN: Maybe he was. I’ll check with Toby, or him. White Ryne was on—I was trying to think after I got your note—and he was a member of Christ Church. He had an uncle or something that was a lawyer here in town. I used to see him afterward, at Bar functions once in awhile. Bob Garske, who lived on 12th or 13th Street, beyond us a little bit, more where we are now—I think they had two or three children, but I think most of them were older, so I’m not sure how many of their children attended Capitol Hill Day School.
PROSKY: Anybody else you can think of? Who were on the board?
HOGAN: I cannot think—basically, we’re talking about 40 years—
PROSKY: Years, yes, I know—
HOGAN: If you ask me the names of people who were aboard ship with me, I could name a few, but not many. They have annual reunions, and I still get notices of the reunions that occur. The ship was taken out of mothballs—I don’t know whether that means anything to you—but they re-commissioned it and we had to start all over, almost like starting a new school! The captain and the executive officer and what have you—a lot of reserves were called up, much the way they’re doing today, that never dreamed they’d be recalled. Half the crew were reserves of one kind or another. The crew amounted to somewhere between 250 and 300 people. It was not small.
PROSKY: I came to the Day School in 1970, I guess. When I arrived, there was a woman named Hilda Abraham—
HOGAN: Oh, yes, I knew Hilda.
PROSKY: Hilda wasn’t on the board, was she?
HOGAN: No, she wasn’t. The only reason she wasn’t—she had two girls that I know of, and I think the two girls went to school in Accokeek. But she was attached to it—I don’t think she went to church up here. She lost a daughter, who was on a summer trip somewhere in a cold climate, Alaska or somewhere. She just stepped out of, I don’t know whether it was a temporary hut or what it is, and she got lost, apparently, up there. I went to the service down in Accokeek. I knew George, her husband, somewhat, and so I went to the service down there, and I was very sorry to hear it. She was devastated by it. I think it was a close family.
PROSKY: Yes, I think it was, too. I was interested in Hilda because it seemed to me that she was one of the people who recruited the same director from Canterbury to be a part-time director at the Day School. The first director was Nancy Rigby, is that right?
HOGAN: That’s right. I didn’t know Nancy that long, but I thought she did a good job. I spoke to the teachers—one of the few I can still recall was Pat Rafuse, who had the first kindergarten class over in the Church of Reformation. She was pretty much on her own, that was the only class over there. First, second and third [grade] was at Christ Church. It was a little tight on coverage. I don’t know whether you’re familiar with it over there, but they’ve got a kitchen and a meeting room, kind of combined, to the left of the altar, and that’s where—
PROSKY: I remember that set of classrooms.
HOGAN: They were kind of open, one to the other. I don’t know if there was some partitioning done, but it did work. Della Spradlin, who was here then—
PROSKY: And is still at the Day School—
HOGAN: Beg your pardon?
PROSKY: She’s still at the Day School.
HOGAN: Still at the Day School—and she’s held her age very well.
PROSKY: Do you remember Betsey Kaufman?
HOGAN: I’m trying to think, I don’t remember if it was Betsey Kaufman or Betsey Thompson.
PROSKY: I might be wrong about the name.
HOGAN: It was someone who applied for the job of director, as Nancy was leaving. Is that Kaufman—
PROSKY: Yes, I think that was her.
HOGAN: I think her maiden name was Kaufman, and I think her parents were part-owners of the Washington Star. They lived not too far from us here, or maybe—no, I think in the eighth or ninth block of Capitol Hill in Southeast. She was a nice person.
PROSKY: Yes, she was a good teacher, I thought. She taught one of mine.
HOGAN: Were you there when she—
PROSKY: She was there when I came. The year after she had been director, I was hired after that.
HOGAN: I was a little concerned, because I think she had just graduated from college. She majored in teaching, education, but we had someone there who had a history of teaching in the District schools, an older woman, and she just kind of was around to help people. She wasn’t on the payroll or anything like that. I spoke to her and asked her to interview her, and she did and she was satisfied that she would do fine.
PROSKY: Do you remember what her name was, that woman’s name?
HOGAN: I cannot remember. Because I didn’t have daily contact with her, but whenever I had to, I did reach her, and she was very helpful. She had long experience—and I’m sure it wasn’t all great—but she had knowledge of the District government schools, and I think she was quite helpful to the Capitol Hill Day School, starting out, because people knew that if they ran into a problem, that she had run into it several times herself. [Phone rings]
PROSKY: Let me turn this off. When the school started, did it have any policy about integration—were they accepting black kids?
HOGAN: Oh, yes, they were, and they did on up to through the time Terry graduated from the sixth grade down there. I’ve got a copy of his graduation program, I think, here someplace. I’ll show it to you ...
PROSKY: Oh, that would be nice. Could we copy that—borrow it and copy it and bring it back to you?
HOGAN: Sure. I think I have an original, so I can just give it to you and let you do what you will. I got this [ed: referring to a Capitol Hill Day School newsletter] which you should get, since you’re doing this. It will be worth its weight in gold to have. Among other things, it—she did a good job in putting this together. She talks about music and the concept of getting children in their classes out into the general economy, including D.C. government and its agencies, and also meeting with companies that have businesses near Capitol Hill and that kind of thing. I guess you started it, really, I think—
PROSKY: Yes, it’s a good program, I think.
HOGAN: And she’s very complimentary about it, I should say. Also, she mentions the music program, which is reflected—oh, here’s the graduation program for Terry’s class.
PROSKY: Oh, good. I remember these people. My goodness. Now, your daughter Chrysti also went to the Day School.
HOGAN: Yes, that’s right.
PROSKY: Was she in that first kindergarten class?
HOGAN: Uh … either that, or first grade, I’m not sure which. What happened was we had a situation where I think some of the mothers had contacted the Holy Trinity early on, and they didn’t get any good news about taking care of people. Then later on, by the time Terry and Chrysti were in the first few grades, they did indicate that they were going to expand. So several of us went over, I think there were seven or eight or nine children that did move over there for awhile. Terry went there for first, second and third grade, and then we brought him back to Capitol Hill Day School for fourth, fifth and sixth. He knew—I mean, you can look at that program. [Pages turning] They had all the graduates, twelve or fourteen, I’ve forgotten which—well, it looks like it was twelve. And he knew all these kids from his first, second grade.
PROSKY: That’s great. It was a neighborhood school.
HOGAN: That’s right. And then he and Jonathan Rafuse were in a play or something over there, which enacted something from the Middle Ages. They did a duel in the church itself—
PROSKY: In Christ Church, right.
HOGAN: —as part of a play that they put on. It was something of a play in the classics that they were probably taking at the time in their course at school.
PROSKY: I think it was Hamlet, actually—it was a shortened version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
HOGAN: Yep. You know, he hasn’t seen many of these kids, except intermittently. He knew the—oh, I can’t think of, what’s his name, Padraic, in the class?
PROSKY: Pugy Cassidy?
HOGAN: Yeah, they used to call him Pugy but I think it was Padraic. Mrs. Cassidy passed away, and Terry happened to be here, and he did meet with Padraic for awhile. He’s now living in New York City, and I think he said he …
PROSKY: I thought he was a journalist.
HOGAN: Journalism, right. So he’s writing for some paper up there, I think, still …
PROSKY: What is Terry doing now?
HOGAN: Terry was an early groom, married between his junior and senior year. They both were going to—oh, it’s a Jesuit college in Milwaukee. His senior year we were up there visiting, and I asked him what he planned to do, and he said, well, he hadn’t decided yet. So I said, well, you might think about going into the military. It might not be a bad thing, perhaps—give you some good experience and that kind of thing. So he did that, and he came back here. He had to go on basic training, this basic school here at Quantico. After they finished the basic school, they would then be commissioned, and then he would go wherever they sent him. So he did go and got through it. He had a bum left knee because of playing soccer down at Gonzaga, but he got through it. He spent four years on active duty in the Marine Corps. The last seven or eight or nine months was over in the Gulf, in the first Gulf War, and thank God, it wasn’t as wild as it was this time. Casualties were not anywhere near what they are today. And he didn’t stay in the reserves or anything like that.
PROSKY: That’s also lucky.
HOGAN: Yes, that’s for sure.
PROSKY: Do you remember the names of the two ministers at Christ Church and Reformation?
HOGAN: I remember the first name of the minister was David, and I was going to call the church to see if they remembered what his last name was.
PROSKY: David Dunn?
HOGAN: David Dunn, I think that’s right.
PROSKY: I could check that.
HOGAN: There was also a minister that he was replacing … and I’ve got the name of the … the Reformation because it came to me and I made a note in here someplace. I particularly liked him. He was a very—[papers shuffling] Keller, Father Keller.
PROSKY: Arnold Keller, that’s right!
HOGAN: He came back a few years ago, because he retired down in Florida. It was good to see him, and he looked the same and acted the same. David—I don’t think I ever saw him after—he left Christ Church after a couple years, as I recall. There was some turnover there. We’ve gone back to church dinners they have—I don’t know whether you—
PROSKY: Yeah, I have, too. It’s still a neighborhood hall, kind of.
HOGAN: It is, that’s right. Nice people, and they serve good food at these things. They have a kind of raffle and bidding on things, and so forth. It’s a nice school. The community here owes both schools a great deal for helping out and providing the school. It has grown—I mean, you read this thing [the CHDS newsletter] and you cannot help but be impressed by it. It’s extremely well done. To be there and see the kids and how they’re doing, the training they’re getting—
PROSKY: They’re very articulate kids.
HOGAN: Yes, nice kids. Even back in the 60s, there was a program to get black children in the school and get an integrated classroom, by and large. I think that was true …
PROSKY: From the beginning.
PROSKY: When I was there, eventually, there were pre-school, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, and third grade in Reformation, and then fourth, fifth and sixth grades at Christ Church. It was amazing to me that all those kids could fit into those two buildings.
HOGAN: Terry went on to Gonzaga, as did some of the other kids he went to school with here—
PROSKY: And mine did, too.
HOGAN: —and Gonzaga was pretty well-represented, I think their racial numbers were quite good down there—
PROSKY: I think so, too.
HOGAN: —and stayed that way.
PROSKY: They took a lot of kids from the Day School, at Gonzaga.
HOGAN: Well, they knew they were …
PROSKY: Well-prepared. College material.
HOGAN: And they were, too. The likes of Spradlin and—the girl you knew, that taught music …
PROSKY: That’s right. When I came there, Louise Bradford was teaching the Orff music program, which aims to integrate movement and instruments and singing, so the children learn all aspects of music. Do you remember her, were you instrumental in hiring her?
HOGAN: I don’t identify her with a face right offhand. But I’m sure I saw her there.
PROSKY: She did music—Christmas programs.
HOGAN: She did all these graduation programs, too. There was always music in the programs for graduation. The kids liked that. I hoped they liked the more technical side of it.
PROSKY: I remember they all learned to play the glockenspiel and recorders.
HOGAN: Yes, that’s right. And they did them well.
PROSKY: Yeah. Well, let’s see … were there other people in the school you remember that had special education interests?
HOGAN: I’m not so sure about special education, but I think all the teachers were high-quality people. Some of them—as Betsey was, Betsey had just about finished college when she was hired. I worried about it at first. But the gal that was from the D.C. school system, she talked to her and felt confident she could do the job. And then I—I’ve forgotten who was the director when Terry graduated. That was, what, 60-something …
PROSKY: ’78. That was Bob Garland.
HOGAN: Bob Garland. I didn’t know Bob Garland. I met him a couple of times—
PROSKY: I worked under him.
HOGAN: —but he was married to a Greek girl … I was a member of the Naval Reserve in the District at that time, and knew a Greek who was also in the reserves, and his sister was married to Garland …
HOGAN: … going to school down at Gonzaga, you just have a different connection with the school, and so forth. But I was very pleased to go back and visit. This woman who is the director just couldn’t be nicer.
PROSKY: Cemmy Peterson.
HOGAN: Peterson, that’s it. They call her Cemmy, but her name is …
PROSKY: I think her name is Catherine.
HOGAN: Catherine, I think it is. She said they’re having some kind of program down there. Today, is it?
PROSKY: No, I think it’s Sunday afternoon.
HOGAN: So I may stop down there, just to tell her I enjoyed meeting her and so forth. I think she’s finishing 22 years.
PROSKY: That’s a long time.
HOGAN: I don’t think this is a pre-retirement kind of thing …
PROSKY: You know, John, I think that’s the longest time anyone has been the director of the Day School.
HOGAN: I can well understand. But I think she’s a good choice when they got her. And putting something like this together, to bring students … there was another young man, I tried to think of his name, I think he worked for the District government, I think he may have worked for the school system in some respect … God, I couldn’t think of his name, still can’t. But then he took a job with the House District committee. And the House District committee was just down the hall from the House Agriculture committee, and I was with the agriculture committee. He was very anxious for the Day School to buy the old Dent Building, and worked hard at getting them to come up with some money and actually purchase it. And they did, and I think it was a very good idea. They’ve done a top-notch job in renovating it, also.
PROSKY: It’s a beautiful building.
HOGAN: It is, and I swear it’s probably better than the day it was first initiated as a school. It’s better decorated, it’s better painted, it’s better everything. They have certainly a very balanced racial class throughout the building. They’re all nice-looking kids, and polite. I’m sure they’re not all coming from wealthy homes or where parents are interested in getting them a good education.
PROSKY: Was it always a policy of the Day School to have someone on the board who did not have children there?
HOGAN: I don’t know that there was …
PROSKY: You mentioned White Ryne, and he was a member at Christ Church, was he not?
PROSKY: So there were church members on that early board?
HOGAN: But White had children—I don’t know how many. He moved off the Hill, he had a place down closer to the subway at the Capitol South location. They moved out in Northwest, or something like that, some years ago, I’m not sure when it was. But I would say, probably about the time you started there. I don’t know whether he was active at that time or not. In the school, was he?
PROSKY: I don’t know. I don’t remember that. There was another man named Joe Citro. Do you remember Joe Citro at all? Was he teaching phys. ed. when you were there?
HOGAN: What’s his last name again?
PROSKY: Citro.
HOGAN: Oh, yes, he lived up here on 12th Street. He lived in a house up there, and he may still live there as a matter of fact. I remember that some years ago, I ran into him around here. I think he renovated a house; for some reason he moved. Yeah, and he was a physical ed. instructor down there, that’s right. You’ve got a great memory!
PROSKY: Well, things come back when you start talking about them. I know that Chrysti, your daughter, has become a very good math teacher. Can you talk a little about the school experience for her? Do you think she enjoyed it?
HOGAN: I think she did. She also went to Holy Trinity for awhile, and she moved on to Dunblane. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Dunblane? [Dunblane was an elementary school associated with Immaculata High School near Tenley Circle on Wisconsin Avenue NW.]
HOGAN: It was a good school, I’m not sure about the—I did meet some of the teachers, and it was a balanced number of sisters teaching as well as the …
PROSKY: Lay people?
HOGAN: Lay people, yeah. I thought they were all good teachers. When Terry graduated from Capitol Hill Day School, we had to find a place for him, and it was difficult to find, for that seventh and eighth grade. And so he went to the Heights. One of the other boys who was Catholic went there. It was an Opus Dei congregation and school, and they subsequently moved out to Montgomery County.
PROSKY: Oh, I didn’t realize they had moved.
HOGAN: It’s my understanding they were going to move, and probably did. I was very impressed with them, because they required all the students to maintain study books and keep up and all that kind of thing, and if they didn’t keep up, they had to stay after and make up time, and so forth. I’ll think of the—
PROSKY: Was it Rick Schiffmann?
HOGAN: No, it wasn’t Rick Schiffmann. Rick and his parents moved back up to the Cape. I don’t think he went to Gonzaga, either. It was—Paul Kreinheder. He did go to Opus Dei, and Terry and he used to catch the bus here at 12th Street. It’s a long ride, too, because that was out at Garrison Street.
PROSKY: Close to Catholic University. This was before the Metro.
HOGAN: Yeah, it’s too bad it was. Paul ultimately went on to get a degree and taught. Something tells me he lived in some part of Wisconsin and taught out there. I think Terry met him one time after he came back on leave or something. He’s still teaching, as a matter of fact. got a further degree, and so forth.
PROSKY: Were the Kreinheders part of the school when it started? Paul’s parents?
HOGAN: I don’t recall whether they were or not. We know them up here.
PROSKY: Capitol Hill people. There was another family named Anderson. Was he on the board at all? I think he worked for one of the intelligence agencies in town. I think they lived on E Street?
HOGAN: I don’t recall …
PROSKY: I’m trying to think of his first name. They had two little boys, Gus and I can’t think of the other kid’s name. But I thought that he might have been on the board as well, at some point. Maybe after you left.
HOGAN: Normally, I tend to keep some of those things, but for some reason, I—I’m excellent at keeping check records, but … I kept some records of some of the property I’ve owned from time to time.
PROSKY: Well, I know it’s a trying thing to be the head of anything. So how long were you head of the board?
HOGAN: Just two years. And when I left—there were quite a number that went to Holy Trinity, I know Padraic, I think, went to Holy Trinity also … .
PROSKY: Do you remember who replaced you as head of that board?
HOGAN: I don’t, I don’t. And I’m not sure they have those records at—well, I hope they do.
PROSKY: I hope so, I’m not sure. The school’s been running a long time, and in the change between those two other buildings and the permanent building, I think maybe a lot was lost.
HOGAN: Well, I think of the two schools, the Church of the Reformation really gave more room. They had more kids going to playschool than they knew what to do with, and yet they cordoned off a kindergarten.
PROSKY: They were very supportive.
HOGAN: Very supportive. The people that attended the church were very supportive, too.
PROSKY: I remember Edee sailing in there and making hot lunches one day a week.
HOGAN: Oh, is that right? That probably was popular.
PROSKY: Yes, very. Well, my dear, I think that’s about it. Is there anything I haven’t asked you that you would like to say?
HOGAN: Uh … [long pause] I remember some of those teachers, and I know they were good teachers. I know they did a great job while they were there. They were selected well, and had been there quite a while before they moved on or their family moved somewhere else. And I think without a doubt, that 22 years holds a record for—apparently, the director and the sixth-grade teacher in there (I think she covers a lot of classes, she’s not tied to one grade), they’ve got the longevity high score right now.
PROSKY: The other person who’s still there is Roberta Mora. I remember Roberta Mora was Chrysti’s first-grade teacher.
HOGAN: Is that right?
PROSKY: She’s now teaching pre-school, I think.
HOGAN: Well, whatever it was, the teachers in the early grades certainly made an impression on Chrysti. She was teaching out at Madeira, and I was getting concerned that she wasn’t taking the opportunity to get a master’s degree, so I strongly urged her to do that. And I told her, it’s important to you to do that. So she didn’t want to necessarily go full-time, so she said, well, I’ll work part-time so I can still teach. So I said, I’ll take care of the tuition so you don’t have to worry about that. So then she finished up in a couple years, and she was going to go back to Madeira, and she went back and found that the number of girls that were taking math courses had diminished somewhat. I don’t know whether you’re familiar with that school?
PROSKY: It’s a very good school, I know.
HOGAN: Oh, it’s a—I mean, they’ve got a campus out there that rivals anything in the college category. Their athletic facilities, everything, are top-notch. So anyway, she went out and they said because they were cutting back, they weren’t thinking that they didn’t need another full-time teacher. Apparently, the people belong to one of the associations of teachers, and there’s one for math teachers, and they periodically go around the country recruiting math teachers for whomever. So she went down here to Washington, and she got four or five offers, among them was one in Memphis, Tennessee. That was 11 years ago, believe it or not. Hard to believe. So she went down and she teaches at St. Mary’s, an Episcopal school, and she’s doing fine—she likes the school, likes the teachers and the administration, and so forth. She’s moved from where she first lived. She bought a new house in Cordova, which is a suburb within the city of Memphis, almost directly south of the main city. It’s a nice campus, a good school. They’ve got a girls’ school that goes from first grade on up to graduation. Then they’ve got a boys’ school that only goes up to eighth grade, or something like that. Maybe it’s eighth grade, and then they have to go to another boys’ school. I must say, the climate there is somewhat more moderate than here—except that in August, it’s almost as bad as this! But she likes it, and she finds she has a lot of friends there. She’s especially satisfied with the school—it is a good school, and they have a great number of students when they graduate from eighth grade that get scholarships to pretty good colleges and universities. Not all Southern colleges or universities, either—a lot of them leave the city and the state and so forth.
PROSKY: Well, that’s great. It’s nice to think she might have gotten well started at the Day School. Thank you, John, this has been great.