News & Politics

What Washington Was Talking About on the Last 2/22/22

The Roma disaster, Prohibition high jinks, and George Washington's birthday.

Tuesday is both a palindrome and a date with repeating numbers: It’s 2/22/22. Very few of us will live to see the next iteration of this date, in 2122. We looked up the Washington Post‘s Wednesday, February 22, issue in 1922 to see what the date in local news looked like 100 years ago.

• Crash of the Roma

The worst disaster in the US’s still-young history of aviation took place the day before in Norfolk, Virginia, when the Italian-built dirigible Roma crashed, killing 34 people. The Post striped coverage of the crash across five columns, pushing news about King George and Queen Mary’s first wedding party, the arrest of a man some believed to be the murderer of film director William Desmond Taylor, and the deaths of two people, one from Baltimore, who threw themselves into the sea from the Matson liner Buckeye State.

• Police seize whisky

Cops used a series of secret knocks they learned from a secret police agent to gain entrance to an apartment on 12th Street, Northwest, where they said James H. Smith, 22, hid nine gallons of whisky under a trap door in his kitchen. Liquor had been illegal in the US since Prohibition went into effect in January 1920.

• Washington’s birthday celebrated

“From early this morning until late tonight holiday spirit will predominate and the wheels of industry will be stilled,” the Post wrote in a roundup of activities to honor the man the city was named for. Festivities included the raising of 48 flags at the Washington Monument, lectures and programs, and the Association of Oldest Inhabitants’ customary celebration at the old engine house at 19th and H Streets, Northwest.

• Society news

President and Mrs. Harding attended a do at the Willard hosted by Albert Fall, the Secretary of the Interior who would play a key role in the Teapot Dome scandal. Princess Lubomirska of Poland was scheduled to host a luncheon on the coming Saturday, and Mrs. Francis Nash would be at home “for the last time this season.”

• The horoscope

Mars was dominant, Genevieve Kemble reported, which meant “enterprise, initiative and bold operations” would all be likely. A child born on this day would be “aggressive, energetic and resourceful.”

• The world of sports

New York University beat Georgetown in basketball. The Preakness was scheduled for May 13, Pimlico announced. Roger Peckinpaugh agreed to terms with the Washington Nationals. “I have been up in the big show long enough to recognize a ball club when I see one,” Peckinpaugh said.

• The day in laffs

Let us now chuckle at the antics of Little Jimmy and his friend, Susie.

• Real estate

A new detached home in Cleveland Park could be yours for $11,500. A two-story colonial on Quebec Street, Northwest was move-in ready at $8,950 ($2,000 cash due immediately), and a furnished sunny front suite with adjoining bath in Kalorama could be rented for $75.

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Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.