Frances Berdan

Oral History Interview with Frances Berdan, conducted by telephone on June 23, 2015, by Margaret Vo. At Dumbarton Oaks, Frances Berdan was a Summer Fellow of Pre-Columbian Studies in 1986.

MV: Today is June 23rd, 2015. My name is Margaret Vo, and today I have the pleasure of conducting a phone interview with Frances Berdan, who is a former Summer Fellow for the Dumbarton Oaks Pre-Columbian Studies department in the 1980s. Is that correct?

FB: Yes, that's correct.

MV: Great. So, as far as I can see, you were at Dumbarton Oaks once as a Summer Fellow from 1986 to 1987? Was that – is that it?

FB: Yeah. Well, it was just in the summer of 1986.

MV: Right. And –

FB: So, I believe they put it as that year thing, but it was just for a couple months in the summer of ’86.

MV: Right. And how did you first come to be involved with Dumbarton Oaks?

FB: Well, yes – of course, everybody’s heard about Dumbarton Oaks, right? [Laughter] Getting into the field. But one day, I’m sitting in my office, and I get a phone call from Elizabeth Boone, saying that the trustees wanted to have a summer seminar on the Aztec, and that they wanted me to head it up. This is out of the blue; it just came. Well, that’s great. I’m not going to turn that down. [Laughter] So, basically, I was asked to head a summer research seminar, which they’d had others before this one.

MV: Right.

FB: So, there was a precedent for it. I was very excited. At that point, I was, oh – how far was I? Well, I’d gotten my Ph.D. in ’75. So, yeah, I was still a fairly young scholar in the business. And so she –

MV: Where were you at the time?

FB: I was at Cal State, San Bernardino.

MV: Okay.

FB: And that’s which I’ve basically – where I’ve spent my entire professional career. [Chuckle] In fact, I’ve just retired, so.

MV: Yeah, it says ‘Professor Emeritus’ on your profile, so yeah. Congratulations on that.

FB: Yeah. Yep. Yep. Just this year, yeah. I just walked out of a retirement party last week. So.

MV: Wow.

FB: But it doesn’t mean retirement, you know?

MV: Yes.

FB: A lot of people retire – you know, I’m still probably writing more than I ever have, so. But anyway, back to the topic. I – so the procedure was that I could choose – I could – we’d find a topic. We wanted something on the Aztecs, so we basically needed to refine what about the Aztecs, and then to ask two colleagues to join the party, as it were. And then the three of us would then again refine the proposal, and people would then apply for the remaining two positions. So, there were really five positions for the seminar. And then they’d send their applications. The three of us would choose the other two. So, that’s how we proceeded.

MV: So were you the one who ended up picking Michael Smith and Emily Umberger, or were there other people you picked, and them Emily and Michael were people who came on later?

FB: No, I chose Michael Smith and Richard Blanton.

MV: Richard Blanton, okay.

FB: Yeah, as the initial two. They both agreed right away, which was really exciting. And then we had these applicants, and from those applicants, we chose Emily Umberger and Mary Hodge.

MV: Mmm. And what is it that you did that summer, exactly?

FB: Kind of – actually, from the very beginning, my idea, and happily, everybody else, was – we were all very much in concert, very much in agreement, really good chemistry. We agreed that we would research the Aztec empire, looking from the bottom up, and from the top down. Back in the late 1940s, Robert Barlow created a map of the Aztec empire, based on the Tribute Codices, and that map has always bothered me. I’m basically an economic anthropologist, and – so, I’ve worked with documents like the Codex Mendoza, the Matrícula de Tributos for years, and before this – and I was very dissatisfied with how that map was drawn and what he included in it – he kind of included things that weren’t really part of the – part of these provinces that are indicated in the Tribute Codices. So, my idea – and that, then enhanced by the other people there – was to look from the bottom up, from local level documents and reconstruct the empire, basically. And that – so we looked from the bottom up and the top down, and recreated – basically redrew the map of the empire and the concept of how the empire was built.

MV: That seems like a lot for five people in one summer.

FB: Well, it was, and actually, we didn’t complete it in that summer, but we did everything we needed to do to then work independently.

MV: Ah.

FB: But the object was, in the very beginning – I remember talking to them the very first day – that we would – we were getting – we’re writing a book out of this. We have a goal. It’s very concrete. This is what we’ve agreed we’d like to do. We divided up the work, from the different realms. Rich and Mary worked on the core of the empire; Mike and I worked on the outer provinces; Emily crosscut us by working with the art historical materials as is expressed imperially. And we set to work. We worked – we were there, you know, early in the morning and working all, you know, all afternoon, you know, until afternoon. And we’d take breaks, you know. We’d play a little volleyball, do a little swimming.

MV: So you were part of the volleyball team!

FB: We were the volleyball team. Yeah.

MV: That’s you. That was – because I read Elizabeth Boone’s interview, and she said yeah, there was a volleyball team at the time, but she didn’t mention anything further. So, I was going to ask you about that.

FB: Oh yes, we were the famous volleyball team. Yes. [Laughter] Oh yeah, we had a fabulous time, and early on, we all agreed that because Elizabeth was right there, now, you know, let’s invite her to the party. And she very happily joined in with our work, and she wrote one of the ­– we were all coauthors of the book. It’s not an edited book. And the book did come out, Aztec Imperial Strategies. It finally hit the shelves ten years later, in ’96. But it took quite a while to get everything together, especially the maps. There’s a whole series of maps that took a while to do, so. But everybody was very much on board. We all – we’d say as a daily round, we would get there early. Also, Rich and I would go out and play tennis really early, before breakfast.

MV: Breakfast was around what time?

FB: Oh, this was maybe around – I don’t remem – you know, this is a long time ago, so – 7:30, maybe?

MV: Wow. So, you’d play tennis before breakfast?

FB: Yeah, about six-ish, I would get – yeah, Rich still gets on me. I saw him just probably a month ago, and he was – “I can’t believe you would knock – come and knock on my door” – [Laughter] – “at that hour to try and go play tennis!” “Come on, Rich! Get on!” [Laughter] So we’d – we were really full of energy, all of us. You know, it was a very energetic, very focused kind of project that we all were a part of. And we had kind of cubicles in this big area that we all worked in. And I think they’ve changed all that now. In fact, that’s what they changed –

MV: So, where was this at the time?

FB: It was in Dumbarton Oaks.

MV: Yes, but in Dumbarton Oaks where?

FB: In the main area. I think it was downstairs? I’m trying to remember where we were, but it’s all been changed now.

MV: Right.

FB: But we really – where our space was, we all had a private – had individual workspaces, but we would get up, call – you know, so it’s all of a sudden, I’d turn to Mike and say, “Oh my gosh, these people over here were doing such and such.” [Laughter] And he was working this and that, you know. “Oh, but you know what? They were doing that!” “Here, have a look at that.” And so, we had a very – each of us had our realms, but we were very collaborative and very interactive the whole time. And I think that’s why the book came out so well. I mean, it’s a very – it’s been extremely well received for all these years.

MV: Wonderful. And what was the rest of daily life like at the time?

FB: Daily life? Well, work, play. We would – you know, we’d – sometimes, you know, you’d get – because, you know, if you want to go outside, the gardens, of course, at Dumbarton Oaks are fabulous, so, I mean, I – I, for one, and I think everybody else, sometime or other you’d just take your work and go sit outside at a bench, you know, part of the garden, and work out there. It just sort of varied our little routine. We always had lunch there, at Dumbarton Oaks. They always provided lunch. And essentially, we’d go swimming, we’d play volleyball, you know, we’d go out and eat. We were just a very, very cohesive group. It was just an incredible experience.

MV: Did you also live together?

FB: We had – not quite, no. It was like – was it three or four of us had apartments. They had set us up in apartments just up the hill. And I’m not sure where everybody – everybody lived in sort of a different spot. Wherever they sort of housed us at that time.

MV: Mmm.

FB: But, you know, close enough that you can, you know, be in touch with each other.

MV: Right.

FB: I know where Richard was enough to knock on his door in the morning. [Laughter] “Yeah, Rich, get up!” [Laughter]

MV: And did you also have dinner together?

FB: Sometimes, yeah. Yeah. Often. Sometimes, you know, somebody had something else to do or –  and at one point, Rich had some family come down and my children were – you know, there were a couple of days in there that, you know, they just had – we just had friends. So, I mean, we were very flexible. But yeah, most of the time, we spent together, you know, in one or more permutation. We did inter – at that time, there were some Byzantine scholars there.

MV: Such as who?

FB: And – pardon?

MV: Such as who?

FB: Well, you know, the Byzantine arm of Dumbarton Oaks. They have – they had Fellows, as well. And we weren’t part of that project. There were individual, sort of individual grantees, individual Fellows. And –

MV: Did you get to know them, too?

FB: Yeah, we got to know them. They worked in another area. But we would see them, of course, at lunch and around and about. We got to know them. Never, you know, so well that I can even remember any names right now, but we did get to know them well enough that there were a couple of funny instances. One was, we had tee-shirts made. We were “Aztec Summer Camp.” [Laughter] And – yeah, you sort of get the tone of this. I mean, we really had a great time, and did a lot of work at the same time. So, Emily – yeah, yeah. So, Emily did design. We had them printed up, and so we had these “Aztec Summer Camp” tee-shirts. And the Byzantine scholars were all sort of scratching their heads at us, and they said, “You know, you guys, are you – you’re working together on a project?” [Laughter] And then we went, “Yeah! This is a, yeah, a collaborative project. We’re working together.” “You have neat tee-shirts. We want tee-shirts.” And they actually wanted our tee-shirts, you know? [Laughter] But they were individual scholars. They were working very individually and separately. And they – then they had trouble trying to conceive of how we were doing our collaborative project. It was with a different mentality, different scene. But we had a really good time with them. We actually set up a competition once, like a – sort of like an Olympics sort of thing. So, we played Trivial Pursuit, and then we’d play volleyball, and then we’d have swimming races. We were trying to do this big Olympiad kind of thing. [Laughter]

MV: That’s marvelous.

FB: A triathlon. We had – just for fun, you know. But yeah, they were very nice and very interesting. We, like them, are always interested in what’s going on in other parts of the world, so. So, that was – that was a good experience, to have other people there as well.

MV: Right, right. And how was Elizabeth Boone to work with?

FB: Oh, fabulous. Oh, oh. Elizabeth is – she’s just great. And I had known her beforehand, and I was just delighted that she was, you know, willing to join in on the project, because she was also Director, and so had duties there. And Elizabeth is – I mean, she’s totally professional. She’s fun-loving. She’s everything that we wanted, you know. Everything that we sort of strove for. And she gave us a lot of leash, and we really – you know, we had all the resources available at Dumbarton Oaks – of course, the wonderful library and all of that.

MV: Right.

FB: And Elizabeth was just – she’s just a wonderful friend and colleague. I couldn’t have thought of anybody better to be in that position and join with us.

MV: Can you characterize her directorship in any way? Because departments are usually very, I guess, reflective of the people that run them.

FB: Mmm hmm. I actually – you know, I’m – we were only there for, as I said, a couple of months. So, it wasn’t a long term thing that we can really talk about a lot of things. Sort of – my – I mean, I was department chair of my department for seventeen years, so I sort of have an administrative sense of things. And my idea is that if administrators are really doing a good job, then you don’t hear anything about that stuff. [Laughter]

MV: Right.

FB: Administrative things. And I never heard a thing, you know? So, she did a great job.

MV: Have you been back there since?

FB: Yes. Uh huh. Yes. Yeah, I was – I attended – I’m not good at remembering when this was, now – a – one of the fall seminars, just a two-day thing. And also, a couple of years ago – it’s probably more than a couple now – I was in Washington, in the – I’m trying to remember when that was. I went in the summer, perhaps? We were working – I worked at the Smithsonian at the National Museum of American Indian on turquoise mosaics. And I was there with Sue Scott and Dick Deale. We decided we’d go over to Dumbarton Oaks and do a – take a look at their mosaic masks. They have a wonderful mosaic mask there. And they were very nice. They set it up in a room with a microscope and all, and we got a really good view of that. So – and had lunch there. They were very nice. And it changed, the physical situation of it. The reason I remembered it was changed. But that was very nice. And actually, we did a publication that included that mask, and my – I have a chemistry colleague here, and we do analyses of materials, and we did an analysis of some of the little material off of that mask, and so it’s in that book. So, we were really involved with that artifact. So that was nice, but again, since that time in ’86, I’ve only been to Dumbarton Oaks just superficially, just barely.

MV: Right. For just a few days here and there, right?

FB: Right, right.

MV: How was the Pre-Columbian department, as a whole, back in the 1980s? I mean, you guys were basically the summer subset, right? As I understand it, I don’t think there was anyone else really there during the summer?

FB: No. We were it. They put all their marbles on us. [Laughter] Good luck, right? Yeah, we were it for the Pre-Columbian Fellows at that time, for the summer. And, personally, I think that was enough, you know. It was pretty intense, because, you know, we had – we were very goal oriented. We were doing our work. We were all good workers. We’re all a lot of hard workers, but also, you know, enjoy a lot of fun, too, and had a good time with the…

MV: Right.

FB: And there was a symposium at the Society for American Archaeology in just this past April, that – it was very nice. It was sort of in my honor, since I was retiring. And one of the topics that kept coming up among the people who were speaking – were many, most of the people who were with me at Dumbarton Oaks – was Dumbarton Oaks, and the memories that we all had there and the book that came out of it. And one of the persons commenting on it who wasn't with us at Dumbarton Oaks, but she was saying that, you know, given the way that the project worked at Dumbarton Oaks, given the setting, sort of the ambiance and the attitude of the six of us that worked there and all the fun we had, she was saying that more projects should be like that. [Laughter] And incorporate fun with work, because she was really high on the book that came out of it as well, so. So, it was just probably one of the best experiences I’ve had collaborating, maybe the best.

MV: Wow.

FB: Simply because it was just – the chemistry was so good.

MV: I’m assuming you keep in touch with them, still?

FB: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. In fact, just this April, at this archaeology meeting, Mike Smith was one of the co-organizers of that symposium. He and I are always in contact. We still write books together and articles and projects. And Rich is really very good. So, Mike – Rich gave a paper there. Emily did. Mary, unfortunately, has passed away. And Elizabeth wanted to; she couldn’t. And who’s left? That’s it, I think.

MV: Yeah.

FB: Yeah, so – hmm?

MV: That is it, yes.

FB: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. And I’ll be in a conference with – I’m co-organizing a conference with Mike this September, so. Here we are. Emily will be there again, so.

MV: Yeah, I’m interviewing Emily in – soon, I guess. We’re working on scheduling right now.

FB: Oh, good. Good.

MV: That’s why –

FB: Yes.

MV: She’s gone until the… 26th or something? 29th?

FB: Okay, yeah. That could be an issue. She’s continued to do a lot of research. And I had another collaborative project of which she was also a part, on ethnic identity. A group of us got together and did a project on that. And she was part of that. So, yes, absolutely. We’ve – if anything, I would say that the experience at Dumbarton Oaks solidified all of our collegialship. It gave us a very fine history together.

MV: Was that – did everyone already know each other, coming into that?

FB: Well, Mike and Rich and I all knew each other. I had never met Emily or Mary. And I’m not sure they’d met Emily. You’ll have to ask Emily. They knew Mary, because she went – she did archaeology. So, Rich at least knew Mary, I’m pretty sure. So yes – and I knew Elizabeth. I think we all knew Elizabeth, probably.

MV: Great. In the 1980s, I know you mentioned that you did get to know the other scholars, the Byzantine scholars, etc. Were there any official events that had a purpose to introduce you to each other and get the departments together more, like teas or dinners? Parties?

FB: Yeah, they – and I’m not – and I don’t remember how often. At least once a week. There were late afternoon sherries.

MV: Ah.

FB: With sherry. And we’d all, you know, get together, and…drink sherry. [Laughter]

MV: What’d you talk about?

FB: Just, you know, stuff. What’d you talk about? I’m trying to – I don’t remember specifically, but you know, I mean, first, it was sort of meet and greet. You know, you’d get to know each other. And then, you know, as you’d get to know other people, then, you know, “How’s your project going?” and “What’d you find out about that?” and, you know. Just sort of, it happens more casually, but yeah, we did have – there were those kinds of events that threw everybody together, which were very nice. That was a very nice thing to do. We also sort of created our own little events, sort of extemporaneously. Our group of six people – we were two art historians, Emily and Elizabeth, two archaeologists, Mike and Rich, and two ethno-historians, Mary and me. So, we all – while we all were Aztec specialists, we all came at it from a different direction. And it was important that we could communicate well. And so, at one point – I forgot which one, which person it was in the group that said, “You know, I just don’t understand the pottery chronology. Can somebody sit down and tell us about the pottery chronology?” So, we got the conference room, we all sat down, and – I forgot which one of the archaeologists, maybe it was Rich – he gave us a presentation on pottery chronology. [Laughter] And so we’d have these extemporaneous things. It was a very honest sort of group, you know? Like, its not always black and white, right? [Laughter] So, how the hell does it fit in, you know? What does it mean? And – or some of the documents, you know, what does that mean? So, we could communicate, but we’d have these little extemporaneous events. We could work ourselves, but they were awfully instructive as well. So, I mean, you can’t believe how worth while all of that was.

MV: Right.

FB: For all of us. You know, for our knowledge and understanding of the Aztec empire.

MV: Right. And did you ever get to present the work that you did together at Dumbarton Oaks at any point?

FB: Let’s see, yes. I’m sure we did. I’m trying to think what we did again. I’ll have to look it back up again, but I’m sure at one of the archaeology meetings. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I’m sure we did. Mike and I put together a thing once, a symposium, at the Society for American Archaeology. I imagine we did more than once, and of course, we have, of course, since then, always drawn on it. So, yes, I’m sure we did, at those meetings. I just don’t remember what year or what the title was, or – but I can look that up for you, if you’d like.

MV: Yeah. Yeah, if you could email it to me at some point, no rush whatsoever. Just so I can write them down.

FB: Yeah. The years kind of muddle together. [Laughter] But yes, and that experience, I think, really set groundwork for a lot of what we did. I mean, Mike and I went on and did a big collaborative project on the postclassic Mesoamerican world system. And a book came out of that as well. That was of Mike’s instigation. And the two of us edited this volume, of which Elizabeth and Emily, again, were part of that. But there were like, twelve people that were part of that project. And I’m not sure we’d really have moved into that if we hadn’t had the Dumbarton Oaks experience and that ground that we did with that. I mean, it really set up a collaborative model, it reinforced all of our relationships, and really sort of set the ball in motion, I think, for these later projects, which, you know, we’ve had several now. So. I give an awful lot of credit to Dumbarton Oaks for, sort of, everything we’ve done in the intervening years.

MV: How do you think – or how do you feel about changes to the Pre-Columbian department over the years? How things have, you know, shifted, how administration has changed since you’ve been here?

FB: You know, I honestly can’t really speak to that. And if I’d been a Fellow since that, I could probably tell you more. But not having – you now, having just really sporadic experience between then and now, I just – I can’t really speak to that. I’m sorry.

MV: No, no. It’s great. I’m just going through, you know, as far-reaching questions as I can get.

FB: Right. No, no, your questions are good, and I’ve got them here in front of me. [Laughter]

MV: How was Dumbarton Oaks as a whole at that time? Did you ever – I mean, you said you guys played volleyball and was in the pool. Did you ever wander the gardens, and how was that?

FB: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, and then we all did individually or as a group. And we would go out in a group, and as a group, and go out and sit in the gardens and talk through our project as it went along, just to get a different lie on them. And of course, the gardens are fabulous, right? They’re gorgeous. And I remember our going out as a group on occasion, and just saying, “Let’s just discuss this outside.” We’d find a nice little corner of the garden, and we’d sit down, and it was great! You know, it just sort of gives you a breath of fresh air to be in a different environment, and, you know, you open your mind a little bit more in terms of thinking what you’ve done, and yeah. I mean, the gardens were stunning. The whole ambiance was – I think, contributed enormously to what we were able to do.

MV: Do you remember what your first impression of Dumbarton Oaks was?

FB: Yeah. Wow! [Laughter] I guess “wow” was it.

MV: That sums it up pretty well. [Laughter]

FB: Yeah. Yeah. Well, of course, there’s two aspects to it. One is that Dumbarton Oaks had this – and still does – this incredible reputation as a very prestige-full place to go, and sort of the place to go to do research in  those three areas, and so to be asked to do that in the first place was like – whoa, you know? [Laughter] This is, like, great, you know? I mean, at that point, ’86, I had two children. One was ten and one was six. And it didn’t get – I’d never really left them, you know? I mean, to go for field work for a short period of time, but not much. And my husband said, “No, no. Go. Go. I’ll take care of the kids.” And I’d never left them for that long. But to go to Dumbarton Oaks? Yeah, I guess I will. [Laughter]

MV: Did your family ever come to visit?

FB: No. We’re out in California, so it was a little, a little far, but no. I mean, they were fine, and my husband was fine as well.

MV: Have they come here ever since?

FB: Pardon?

MV: Has your family – your husband, your children – ever come here since then, just to see the garden, see where you used to work?

FB: My daughter has. My daughter was – we went when we – she’s working with me in the Smithsonian, with the turquoise mosaics and these other materials. And so the time when we went to Dumbarton Oaks to see that mask, that mosaic mask, she was also with us. So, she went to Dumbarton Oaks with us to see that and for lunch and all that stuff. So, yeah. That was – she was very impressed.

MV: Is she also an ethno-historian?

FB: No. She’s working on her Ph.D. at UCLA on higher education and organizational change. So, she’s doing her dissertation right now, so. She has gone into the field with me and she worked in museums with me, and, you know, she’s really good. I mean, she has a really good eye for things. But she was also – so she was really thrilled to be able to go to Dumbarton Oaks and see that place. She’d, of course, heard of our stories and all that. [Chuckle] Having lived there.

MV: Right.

FB: Just impressed with the place, period, you know, the gardens and just the whole arrangement of things.

MV: Do you – it sounds like it, but do you miss the times you were at Dumbarton Oaks?

FB: Oh, yeah. I mean, and I don't think I’m alone. I think all of us think – you know, our minds wander off into that on occasion, and maybe even more than on occasion. Our – one thing I can say at this symposium in April at the Society for American Archaeology, is if any one topic is brought up more often than any, it was probably the Dumbarton Oaks experience, among those of us, you know, who were there and those of us who – those of them who wished they’d been there. [Laughter] You know, there were various stories that – but, you know, I mean, people were – in that symposium, people gave papers, but they also had stories in honor of myself, so they would come up with this or that, and Dumbarton Oaks kept appearing, and, I would say, disproportionally. So, I would say again, it did have an impact, and I think – not just on us, personally and with our relationships, but also in terms of the field, because of the book that that came out of it has had an impact.

MV: Right.

FB: I mean, nobody uses the old Barlow maps anymore. They all use ours.

MV: That’s great.

FB: You know, if that’s anything, you know – and our con – we changed the concept of how they actually built their empire. So, it wasn’t just a map; it was, you know, a whole concept of how you build and maintain an empire.

MV: Right.

FB: So, it’s – I think – and if I go by this last April, it certainly keeps cropping up. [Laughter] And it does in my mind, too. It gets to be summer and I think, “Oh, that was a great summer.” [Chuckle]

MV: And did you just go back to California State University San Bernardino after you were done with the summer?

FB: Mmm hmm, yeah. Yeah. Just back to the academic year grind. [Chuckle] Yeah, I’ve always been – I started there in ’73 and, as I said, just retired there. So, after what? Over 42 years. And when I think about all the places I really liked, that place is really collegial and supportive of research. Hard teaching load, but aside from that, very supportive campus. So, yeah, yeah. Kind of a – you know, after you’re at Dumbarton Oaks for the summer, it takes some adjustment to go anywhere. [Laughter]

MV: That’s true. So do you have –

FB: You’re there now, right?

MV: What?

FB: You’re there now, right?

MV: I am. I’m sitting right in the basement of the Main House, giving you a call. I’m still getting used to the novelty of it. It’s incredible.

FB: Yeah. [Laughter]

MV: It’s absolutely incredible.

FB: How long do you get to be there?

MV: I get to be here until the end of July.

FB: Okay. Okay. So, another several weeks yet.

MV: Right. And I’m sure I’ll be missing this place a lot.

FB: Yeah. Where are you normally?

MV: I live up in Boston.

FB: Okay.

MV: I live a few blocks from Harvard’s main campus, really, so it’s quite beautiful where I am, too, but nothing compared to these gardens and this house.

FB: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Well, it’s sort of an island in itself. You know, you walk in, and the rest of the world disappears, which is really nice. You know, you walk into this world that you can then just – and the rest of the world just doesn't bother you. [Chuckle]

MV: Yes.

FB: But you know that.

MV: I kind of forget often that I’m right near the National Mall or the Smithsonian, just because it seems like its own area.

FB: Right. Right. Well, you know, I think while we were there, we made some few side trips, but how often did I, like, walk down to – or even take a cab to go down to the mall and to the museums or whatever? Not very often. In fact, rarely, basically because everything that I wanted was right there in those walls. So, it is kind of encompassing. You walk into another world when you walk in there.

MV: Right. Where did you live? I’m sorry. I know you lived close to each other, but where did you live specifically?

FB: They put us at – I don’t know the address right now, but – you walk up the –

MV: Was it called the Guest House, the Fellows House?

FB: No, it wasn’t right there. It was up the hill, a little bit of a walk. They set us up in an apartment building, because they didn’t have enough space at that time, I think, in the Guest House when –

MV: Ah.

FB: So, we were – it was just a walk up that hill, not far. I mean, it was just a little walk. It was an apartment building. So, we each had our own individual apartment.

MV: Was it La Quercia?

FB: You know what? I don’t remember.

MV: It’s all right.

FB: Yeah, it’s so long ago.

MV: Is there anything else that I’ve left out that you would like to add?

FB: Well, let me see here. Let me make sure that I’ve covered everything. Let’s see. The work we – the couple months we were there set the groundwork for what we did – we did continue to work together. And as I’ve mentioned, we did continue to work together on other projects. It was very – I’d say it’s still a very strong, really strong professional relationship among us. And it’s – I think Dumbarton Oaks had an awful lot to do with that. But basically, I think we pretty much covered whatever I think – volleyball sure was fun, though. [Laughter] And Elizabeth was terrific. I do want to emphasize that. Administratively, collegially, friendship-wise, whatever. She can’t be beat.

MV: Where did you play volleyball?

FB: On the North Lawn. [Laughter] We got called in once because the grass started looking a little bad because it was being pounded down, so. So, you know, there’s this story about this kid who called in and who advised that we maybe should cool it. [Laughter] And it was kind of like being called into the principal’s office, you know? [Laughter] So, yeah. Yeah. That was, you know. [Laughter] But we sure had a good time.

MV: Yeah, that sounds incredible.

FB: Yeah. Yeah, it was – it was definitely – and I don’t know if – I think it was just – the chemistry among us – we all were very confident with the project. We all were hard workers but also hard players. So, we all, you know – the chemistry is incredible, and the – so, you know, any time you – I mean, I’ve done a lot of collaborative projects, and to me, the key is always the people you work with. And I think we were really fortunate that we had that particular group, and in that environment, it just clicked, you know? So.

MV: Well, thank you so much for your time.

FB: Is this help – has this been helpful to you? I don’t remember everything, obviously.

MV: Yes. It’s been incredible, just listening to these memories.

FB: Well, that was – how long ago, now? Thirty years ago?

MV: Forty years ago? Is that right? Yeah, it’s almost forty on the dot. No, it’s thirty! You’re right. It’s thirty. Wow.

FB: Thirty, yeah. Well, that’s a long time. Well, actually, this is one parting thing. Thirty years, that’s a long time, and for the memories to be so vivid, obviously, it was a terrific experience.

MV: Right.

FB: Well, I hope this has been helpful to you. Is this the sort of thing you want?

MV: Yes. Yes. Thank you so much for your time.

FB: Oh, you’re welcome. You’re welcome. And have a wonderful time there.

MV: Thank you. Thank you. I hope you get to come back again soon.

FB: Oh, I will, any chance I get.

MV: Have a great day.

FB: Thank you. You too, Maggie. Bye-bye.

MV: Bye.