Tong Ambrosi
Photo by Elizabeth Dranitzke
Interview with:   Bill Glasgow
Interview Date:   May 8, 2009
Interviewer:   Ev Barnes

Cynthia Skelton

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


BARNES: This is Ev Barnes, with the Ruth Ann Overbeck Capitol Hill History Project. I'm interviewing today Bill Glasgow, the owner of Union Meat at Eastern Market, and this is Friday, May 8, 2009. And Bill, I thought we would start with the history of how Union Meat came to Eastern Market and all the people that were involved in that.

GLASGOW: Good day, this is Bill Glasgow. Union Meat Company started in 1946 with my uncle, Raymond, and my father, Bill Senior. They started real small and been there ever since . . . I guess now, my father passed away in 2001 and my uncle passed away a couple years later. I started working at Union Meat Company when I was 13, on the weekends, starting in 1961. When I turned 16, I started working some after school, especially on Friday nights, and all day Saturday. I was also here when they started the restoration -- the Federal Government -- but before that, when I was a young kid before I started working here, there was only my father's business and my uncle's, and the Seafood Company. The rest of the market was empty. Soon after that became a lunch counter, and he went broke and then after that lunch counter, Boone's lunch came in, sometime later. After the market was pretty well empty, I guess, from early 19 -- late 1940s to the early 50s, Cent East came in, which was about eight . . . eight or nine businesses came in and filled the rest of the market. That was in early 60s, I'm not sure of the year -- maybe 63, something like that. All the other vendors will know because it's the year they came in. Some of the spots have changed since then, but they've always maintained the same areas -- each stand. Recently, fairly recently, we changed a couple meat stands into a deli stand, one into a grocery, and the bakery got expanded. I was here . . . like I said, I was here when we started -- the Federal Government did a new roof, they did the pointing of the bricks, and they also did windows and doors.

BARNES: When was that?

GLASGOW: I think that was 1976, when . . . and they turned the building over to the District. It was a government -- Federal -- building before that point. Unfortunately, since that, the District has done nothing until this point, but they're doing a marvelous job now. It was pretty much neglected through a lot of administrations. I've seen all of the mayors come and go.

What was interesting during the restoration -- the Federal restoration of the building -- is they claimed that the roof was going to come down because the slate was too heavy . . . didn't meet today's standards, and that's when they put the synthetic roof up. They claimed that the roof had shifted six or nine inches. It's funny because I argued with them at time -- I said, if the roof shifted an inch it's either plaster ripping up at the top or it's . . . sits on top of the plaster walls and brick walls, but they dismissed that. They also put some electronic gear up there, and they said if the alarm goes off, run out of the building because the roof's coming down. The Federal Government started putting a new roof on and put the synthetic roof -- synthetic slate, which we're now . . . unfortunately, we were going to remove it anyways . . . but the fire made that a moot point. And they're putting the real slate . . . but they put the real slate back on that matched the original. After they were about halfway done with the roof, I'm not sure who found it out, but one of the engineers archived the building when it was built, and they started on the roof -- this is in 1873 when they built it . . . Adolf Cluss -- and they started at the South Hall, south end of the building, and made their way to the Center Hall. When they got to the Center Hall, they were about three or four or six inches short. Those were the six inches they thought the roof had shifted, and they realized the roof had never shifted a millimeter, but they put a new roof on anyways -- the synthetic -- which now we're back to the real roof. But that was kind of ironic that they didn't figure out that if the roof would have shifted six inches there would have been all kinds of tear up in the top. They also said that the roof would not withstand the weight of a snow on today's standards, but what they didn't tell you is that they also hung another roof on top of that roof, when they did the '76 renovation. They put a sub-roof underneath the low roof, and then took the top roof off, and we never missed a day's work. Pretty . . . pretty ingenious. But I always asked them, "Well, how could you hang this whole roof on top of this other roof if you couldn't even put snow up there?" Never really answered that question.

After that we had . . . I think so . . . we had the brick pointing-up, we had windows -- the Historical Society stopped half the windows from going in, and they claimed that they wanted to try and salvage the rotten windows that were left. They had put about half of them in and the contractor came and tried to salvage the other half. And the new windows sat in the basement for years until they rotted. They never got put in the building. The other ironic part was that we had doors that were solid oak doors -- hard as bricks -- and when they put the new doors in, they were pine -- very soft wood. They would have never withstood the time. It's a shame they couldn't have refinished those old oak doors.

BARNES: Did they do that in the . . . was that in '76?

GLASGOW: '76, mm hmm. All this renovation was in '76.

BARNES: So then, following that, was your father still there during that period of time?

GLASGOW: Yes, my father was there until 2001 . . .

BARNES: Right, because . . .

GLASGOW: My uncle retired around 1996 or something -- my other uncle retired, but he passed away a little after my father.

BARNES: Do you have other family members now involved in the business?

GLASGOW: My sons work part time there. I got a couple of sons who work part time. I have three sons . . . all three of them work Christmas and New Year's. My wife works as the accountant or whatever . . . bookkeeping, and she also comes in when we're very short of help, she doesn't come in when we're not very short.

BARNES: [laughs] So it's still a family business.

GLASGOW: Yes, it is.

BARNES: Absolutely.

GLASGOW: Mm hmm.

BARNES: So that makes how many years that you have been there . . .

GLASGOW: I've been there since 1961, so it's been . . . 48 years I've been there.


GLASGOW: My uncles -- I had four uncles that worked there -- I had three at the Southern Maryland . . . they worked their whole lives there. And I had an uncle that worked with my father, and then my father. So it was actually five of the ten boys . . . there was ten boys in the family and one sister. Ten brothers. So five of the brothers worked at the market, and the sister was a school teacher. The other five [boys]: one was a scientist, and four were lawyers, one was a lawyer and a printer, so . . .

BARNES: Well, how has the business changed since the day of your father and uncles?

GLASGOW: Well, it's just . . . it's just different. We used to have all swinging beef, hanging beef, hanging lambs, and used to break all the beef up like all the butchers used to, and now they . . . .it's been about 25 years since most of the people stopped using hanging beef . . . maybe 30 years. We actually stopped using hanging beef, most of the hanging beef, about six or seven years ago. So we use a lot more boxed beef now. We still do some hanging beef, but not a lot. We still sell some hindquarters, and some forequarters, and some ribs, but not nearly . . . nothing like it used to be.

BARNES: So most of it now comes from suppliers?

GLASGOW: Well, it always did come from suppliers, just . . .

BARNES: Well, but I mean . . .

GLASGOW: Just, just slaughterhouses . . .

BARNES: Before . . . in . . .

GLASGOW: All beef comes from the farm. All of them come from . . .

BARNES: No, no, I was saying . . . the form that it comes in now, is packaged?

GLASGOW: It's all boxed up.

BARNES: Boxed.

GLASGOW: We . . . probably 99 . . . over 99% of all beef now is boxed. We still use some hanging beef -- we're still a little . . . a little bit of a dinosaur -- but there's very few people that will sell hanging beef anymore. We do have a supplier in Baltimore that does. He kosher kills, and he kills all Angus, so we buy some Black Angus from him, but nothing in the quantities like it used to be.

BARNES: So you have the organic . . . Black Angus?

GLASGOW: We don't have organic. We have the certified Angus . . .

BARNES: The certified Angus, so . . .

GLASGOW: . . . all natural, it's all naturally . . .

BARNES: So, just kosher?

GLASGOW: No. It's a kosher killer; we don't buy it kosher.

BARNES: Kosher killed, okay.

GLASGOW: It's probably the only reason he's still in business, killing, because he's a kosher killer, very, very small. We buy his hindquarters, which are never kosher, only the forequarters. But we'll buy his prime hindquarters and we'll buy some of the prime ribs that do not go kosher. Anything that goes kosher is obviously going to a kosher house, but that business too is dying off. There's very few of them left.

BARNES: That has been a big change . . .


BARNES: Certainly since your father's . . . well actually you said that your uncle began the business.

GLASGOW: My uncle and my father. Uncle Ray and my father Bill and I'm Bill Junior.

BARNES: Yeah. Did they operate in any other part of the city before the came to Eastern Market?

GLASGOW: No. My father, when he came to the market, was 17 years old, so he didn't . . . that was pretty much his first . . . I'm sure he had other jobs, but this was his first real job probably that . . . and he stayed here his whole life. As did all four of the uncles . . . the other uncles . . . their whole lives were here at the market. My Uncle Charles is the one that actually rented the market from, I guess, the Federal Government . . . .before it was turned over to the District. And then he had a lease with the District and made a lot of repairs and I think he paid $10,000 a year plus made repairs, which is pretty astounding for the amount of repairs, when it was only two of us in here. And then there was a bunch of us, but . . . to maintain the building and the Federal Government, I mean the District Government, did very, very little. I mean, he changed the heat from coal to gas, and did the hot water system and everything. [We] changed all the plumbing downstairs to redo all the lines that were the ones that were hanging from the ceilings. But a lot of work -- he actually, in my opinion, stopped the Eastern Market from being razed, because if we weren't here they would have took a bulldozer and pushed it down. And it was quite a while after 1976 when the . . . I think the community really appreciated the market for what it really is, because after the designation for the hundred years, which was . . . what . . . 18 . . . 1973? There really was . . . there was . . . no one was going to tear down the building after that. But before that, there was a lot of talk about it all the time, and my uncle did have, I think, a lease on it at that time. If he didn't, they probably would have torn it down.

BARNES: So, over the years, the additional vendors that came brought more customers, is that correct?

GLASGOW: Oh, I'm sure they did. You need a full amount of stands, you need the vegetables, you need the fish, you need the meats, you need the delis, you need the restaurant, you need good vegetables, you need a little bit of a grocery, and that way, people will come to your market. I don't know if many people realize, but we're a secondary market, and one of the most successful in the country. Meaning, they [customers] always have to go someplace else. They could not get everything at our store. So, we're a secondary source, but we're a wonderful secondary source. You come there, you get the chickens, you can get the delis, you can get the cheeses, you can get the meats, you can get the vegetables, you get the fish, and you get the bakery, and you get flowers. So, pretty much has everything in here that will draw people. We obviously could not copy a chain store; if we did we'd be out of business in a minute. We try to give better service, better quality meats, better quality foods . . . the personal service is better trims, better selections, things that you can't get at a big chain store. And we've always filled that niche pretty well because we're still here [laughs] and the building was never really the thing that made the market . . . it was . . . to my opinion . . . it's always been the merchants that got in there and just happened to be in a building that needed a lot, a lot of help for a lot of years, and yet we still stayed in business.

BARNES: Still kept going. And there was Safeway across the street . . .


BARNES: . . . for many years . . .

GLASGOW: Safeway was across the street many years. A lot of funny stories about that, but the reason they ended up selling that store was because there was a guy trying to take over Safeway, buying shares, and he only did it -- I think the same one who did Auto Place and a couple of places . . . I can't remember their names . . . Taft's or whatever -- but they made a play on Safeway and Safeway ended up selling that store because they owned it. It was very valuable property, and it got them a lot of cash, and they bought these people back out, so Safeway could keep Safeway stores. And we lost the store across the street. It was always funny, though, in talking to the meat man over there, he says they don't sell any meat. They really didn't. They didn't sell much vegetables either, and they didn't sell any fish. But what they did sell was the staples, and they did one of the . . . it was a very small square foot store, but they actually made more money per square foot in that store than just about any other store, and they did it with just huge volumes of boxed things, things we didn't carry -- the macaroni and cheese, the staples that you buy at a regular store. But they didn't do much with the vegetables, they didn't do much with chickens, and they didn't do much with beef.

BARNES: So that really took care of . . . of your being a secondary market, because they had all of the . . .

GLASGOW: Umm hmmm, right.

BARNES: . . . that all the customers needed, so they just walked across the street, and picked up all those staples, so they really had a primary and a secondary market . . .

GLASGOW: They did at one time, a very close location. And what else is needed is . . . they [Safeway] would tell us, it's a shame we weren't open up on Mondays, because when we were closed on Mondays, they were dead.

BARNES: [laughing]

GLASGOW: People up there would make just one stop and hit us both. But it's funny, that you would think, well, when we're closed they'd do better. But no, they did much worse on Mondays, when we were not open.

BARNES: You were really the attraction.

GLASGOW: We were . . . I think we were, and because Safeway was a bad Safeway. It was little, teeny, teeny store, but it did a heck of a business, and it made business by . . . they brought people to us, and we brought a lot of people to them. So it was a nice fix.

BARNES: Did they have the farmer's market -- the outdoors farmer's market?


BARNES: Did that start after you came to work there, or was it always . . .

GLASGOW: I think there was always . . . .I always remember farmers being out there sometimes not as many as other times, but it was always seeming like there was farmers out there and . . .

BARNES: On weekends.

GLASGOW: On the weekends . . . on Saturday.

BARNES: Saturday, not Sunday?

GLASGOW: Sundays we didn't open till probably 20 years ago or so.


GLASGOW: And we weren't always open on Sundays. It's a thing that I tried to get for 10 years but no one else wanted to do it. But in the food industry Sunday was always your second biggest day, and we were always closed on Sundays because in family businesses, people wanted the day off. Mondays we were all open even though we were . . . the market was closed. We had some wholesalers we had out at Maryland University. We used to service the sororities and fraternities out there.

BARNES: Are you still doing that?

GLASGOW: No, we haven't done that for quite a few years. They went more and more to the pizzas and all that kind of stuff, and getting rid of the cooks and the house mothers. It was just a different era, but we started up on Sundays maybe 20, 20 something years ago. [It] took me about 10 years to talk everybody into it, when we finally did it. But right now Sundays are . . . I think . . . the number one day in the food chains now. That's their busiest day, so we're still looking for a little expansion there on Sundays, because Saturday is still our biggest day.

BARNES: Saturday's still biggest?

GLASGOW: Still biggest, then Sundays, and then Fridays.

BARNES: And then there's holidays.

GLASGOW: Oh, holidays are very busy, very, very busy. Yes. But we're like all businesses. Everybody's always trying to get the market to be a weekday market, in other words, to be busy like in the weekends on the weekdays, and it's just . . . it's just not the way the food industry works. There was a long stigma where people got paid either Thursday night or Friday night, and they did their shopping either Friday or Saturday or . . . and as years come, obviously Sunday. But with people with credit cards and everything, they don't have to wait for their paychecks anymore, but when I was first in business, it was like, when they got paychecks then they went and did their shopping. That's just the way it was, and we haven't broke that norm yet. It's still Saturdays and Sundays are the busy days, even though these stores are open till 12 o clock at night. People, whatever it is in their brain, they still want to shop on Saturdays and Sundays.

BARNES: Do you think that staying open until seven now catches some of the people that work late?

GLASGOW: Seven o'clock is another thing I've been voting on for years, and finally this last year everyone voted to do it. It was unanimous, I think, to stay open. Before it was always me against everybody, and I think a couple of years ago there was three of us who said we'd like to stay open till seven, to take care of the customer that gets off at five, five thirty, or even six o'clock, so he'd have a chance to do business with us. Right now the seven o'clock business is not great, but it's going to take a couple or three years to build it up and it always does, even though some people know it, for whatever reason they don't really act on it. But hopefully they will act on it, and we'll take care of those people that get home a little bit late. It also helps because the people that normally would get off at 5:30 and they'd know you were going to close at six, they don't know whether they are going to make it or not, they don't even bother coming, and they're the people that could be there at a quarter to six. But they don't show up because they don't want to chance us being closed. So this way we give them another hour, and it actually works good for me in a way, and it will work good for everybody, because rush hour now is well past six o clock at night. Now [it's] six thirty, quarter seven, when rush hour starts to mitigate, at least where I'm going. I live near Annapolis.

BARNES: Well, I think it's probably like a lot of other things. A lot of people still have that six o'clock closing stuck in their brain, and they haven't figured out yet that, if I get off the train at quarter of six I can still make it. Or if I get off at 6:30 I can still make it.

GLASGOW: That's correct.

BARNES: So I think it really is a re-training of people, and I have people stop me on the street all the time, and say, how late is the market open?

GLASGOW: We have signs all in there, but it really doesn't matter. People don't . . . it just goes . . . some people are oblivious to it. You'll walk by the sign for three or four years, saying, I didn't see that! And then they're walking by, but I mean, that's just human nature. Everybody's busy and their heads are in two or three different places at the same time, and that's normal now, so. But we're in a . . . hopefully stick out here until seven o'clock, and build the business, and take care of our community, because certainly our community takes care of us.

BARNES: Well, I'll tell you, that brings us up to . . . well, you spoke briefly about one supplier . . . could you talk about other suppliers that you use?

GLASGOW: We use about six or seven main suppliers, and they do change from time to time. Most of my suppliers I've had for . . . it's unfortunate . . . but most of them I've had at least 20 years. It's funny, because . . . you have big businesses, you'd think they'd stick around, but they really don't. I've seen a lot come and go, and once you lose a good supplier it's really hard to replace that person. I lost my lamb supplier for . . . that I had for probably 35 years, and it took me a little while to find a good supplier but I got one up in Baltimore, then I got one out in Colorado, and then I got one up in New York, that breaks [lamb up]. . . and one up in Pennsylvania, so I ended up . . . you just got to keep being a little forward, keep trying new suppliers until you hit the ones that work for you and have the kind of quality you want and the delivery, and the prices that are reasonable that you can pass on good savings to your customer. But that's an ongoing battle. This is another example. I know one of my father's best friends was a bigwig for A&P, and one year A&P lost, I don't know, a couple million bucks or so, which back then was a lot of money, and I always kid with him. I said, you know, you got six or seven hundred stores, a thousand stores, and you didn't make any money. At least we made money.

BARNES: [laughs]

GLASGOW: We might not have made much, but we made money. I said, all your stores put together didn't make you any money! We always laughed about that. So, big sometimes doesn't work, and we're really seeing that now in the industry. Heavy industry, even the big ones, are just going. They're falling like . . . rotten timber, I guess.

BARNES: They can't downsize fast enough. A small business can. You can hire less people, you can do more of the work yourself. Like in your case, you even have the bookkeeper in the family.

GLASGOW: That's right.

BARNES: So, you can tighten and make it through, where big businesses just don't have that option.

GLASGOW: Unfortunately, now, they have that option, and they can act on it, but the thing is that most businesses now leverage themselves tremendously. It doesn't matter . . . it's like the stock market, they want 15 and 20 percent returns each year. Well, it's impossible. It's impossible to sustain that unless you just grow, grow, grow. And a lot of companies grow, so the stock can grow, but they didn't really grow the business. They just . . . more leverage. Instead of being 80 percent leverage, they were 95, 98% leverage. And all they got to do is miss a heartbeat, and they're out of business, you know.

BARNES: Yeah. That is what happens. And we came up as far as 1976, and that renovation, and then what happened after 1976, up until . . .

GLASGOW: The fire?

BARNES: . . . the fire.

GLASGOW: Well, we just kept on plodding along, and the building kept on getting older and older and more and more neglected, and we all know that story. The city kept saying they were going to do something, though many administrations . . . a lot of administrations . . . and it never got done. And when there was planning, they spent a lot of money with architects and planners, and all this other stuff, and . . . I've been on EMCAC [Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee] -- I don't know if you remember that -- the South Hall food representative for EMCAC. Guess it's been about ten years now. Before that I was with Eastern Market Preservation . . . EMPDC . . . and thank god they failed, but whatever. They . . . at one time they were trying to put a balcony in the market and put a rathskeller in there for booze and wine, up in the balcony, and beer in the basement, and . . . .several people asked me, wouldn't you want a business down there? I said, I guess I would if I wanted to run a beer house here. It'd be a great place. I'm sure they're going to make a lot of money. But they'll ruin the market. I said, it's a place where you buy food, not a place where you go down to the basement, get drunk, drink beer and have wine, and there's little things. I said, we're here to . . . I went in here to sell food, and I'm really not . . . because we're acting like I could open up a beer place down there, and I had no business to open up a beer place. Didn't want [it] -- it's a market. But, thank god, that did fail. I feel that that was one of the turning points where we ended up keeping the market as a market. The people that would have put a balcony would have completely destroyed the market itself, because you would have destroyed what it is. You'd have windows cut in half, you'd have the whole place stuck out with these little . . . little balconies on both sides of the market. Wouldn't have just taken the roof, it would have taken everything. The windows . . . it would have just made it a terrible market, I think. And people came to realize that, and that was thrown out.

And from that point on it was just one thing after another [such as] a lot of money being spent for architects and design people and planning and studies, parking studies. I think there was a $50,000 parking study -- I said, heck if you'd have just bought five parking places we'd have been better off. I said, and my one thing was always, you know, you spent a million dollars with architects and you ain't put one gallon of paint on the place. And it just kept going on and on. Study, studies, studies, and not a drop of paint, not one thing fixed, and finally, I guess in the last seven or eight years, nine years, we actually started getting it together. We had a good architect in Baird Smith, and he actually got plans. We were 95% ready to start renovation -- I think it was going to be a three or four million dollar renovation -- and the fire hit us. We were actually going to be starting a couple of neat things there.

As it turned out, it . . . I'm not going to say it's good . . . it's always terrible . . . but we're going to have a market that's going to be much, much better than if it would have just been a little fix up even though it was three or four million. We're really going to have a building now that the community can be proud of, and hopefully my thing is that it stays the way it's supposed to stay. It gets painted every four or five years, whenever it needs it. All the repairs are made, every year. We're self-sustaining, we . . . I hope we have a reserve. I did a lot of studying, a lot of reading, when I was on EMCAC, and I remember reading back and talking to the 19 . . . early 1900s -- 1903, 1904 -- when there's this Market Master, and he says, I need six hundred . . . I think it was six hundred and fifty . . . dollars to paint the market. Well, this went on for like six years before we finally got the money to paint the market. And my thing is if we've had this renovation the way it is now, and we ever let this market slip to anywhere near the way it was when I worked there all my life, it's going to be a shame and a shame on us. So we need to keep this market the way it is. I'm ecstatic about going back because I've never worked in a market that wasn't bad.

BARNES: [laughs]

GLASGOW: I love the market, but . . . and it has some great stuff. I love the brick, I love the architecture. I used to think we had bad parking at the market. After living at the East Hall now for two years, the parking we got at the market is wonderful. We got about 20 spots in the back, we got 30 something in the front. They can walk in when it's pouring down rain, and three steps, you're in the market. And they're not wet. When it rains now, our business is terrible. When it rains real hard all day, [we're] 30% off. Automatic. People just . . . they're not going to walk two or three blocks in the rain. So I guess we never realized how good we had it at the old market, and obviously the roof is awful at the new [temporary] market, so the new roof is going to be great because we're not going to get all that sun coming through. And hopefully we'll have the air condition system that works, a heating system that works.

Another couple of funny stories about the heating system: I used to kid with my uncle because he couldn't afford to run the heat, because there was only two of us in there. And what we used to tell him was, that, I don't care what you do, get the heat up enough the pipes don't freeze. And it was many a time we were in there it was 38 degrees, all day, in the market. And we used to kid, if you don't want it to freeze, put it inside the walk-in, because it's warmer there than it is out in the block. And it was a lot of truth there, because we did have some pipes that froze up. There's no question. We actually had to wrap electric heaters on some of the outside pipes . . . the ones close to the outside walls, and that's how we made it when there was only two people in the market. You just really cut back on your heat and everything else. But it was like a big refrigerator in winter time, so it was, I guess we cut down our electric bills there for the refrigeration.

BARNES: Because you were paying all utilities.

GLASGOW: Oh yeah. We always . . . we always . . . it's funny too, we were always self-sufficient at the market, until Eastern Market Venture got in there, and just beat us up with . . . and did nothing. Thank God the city has found that out, and of course EMCAC has noted, we just couldn't get rid of them. And, that [must be] another page in the history of the little black [mark], I think, seven years there, where we just did a black void. They really didn't appreciate the market. All they were doing was trying . . . just greed. They just wanted money for doing nothing, and unfortunately, we couldn't get rid of them. Hopefully, when we get a new market master in there, we're going to get someone that'll be there at the wheel of the community. If the community, EMCAC, or OPM does not want them, I'd love to have them fired immediately. You . . . hopefully you'll serve at the pleasure of EMCAC and the community, and OPM.

BARNES: Well, now, the plans are to move back in . . . in, is it July?

GLASGOW: They're not telling us, but I've been hearing July.

BARNES: [laughing]

GLASGOW: So, I don't know, well . . . actually you're going to know . . . I will interview later. Next week they're supposed to tell us. Tuesday or Wednesday next week . . .

BARNES: So . . .

GLASGOW: Sometime next week they're supposed to give us a date.


GLASGOW: It was supposed to be on the ninth, which is Saturday. I don't know why they . . . but I don't think that's going to happen Saturday. I think it's more like, sometime next week we're going to get a date certain.

BARNES: A date certain.

GLASGOW: Mm hmm.

BARNES: So, then you will be down a week or more for the move itself . . .

GLASGOW: I've been hearing about two weeks.

BARNES: Oh, about . . .

GLASGOW: It's taking a two week vacation.

BARNES: Uh huh.

GLASGOW: But, I don't know what kind of vacation it is. We've got a lot of work to do in between ourselves. But, we don't need two weeks. We can get this done in a week if they . . . if they're agile.

BARNES: And move all the equipment? That's probably . . .

GLASGOW: Mm hmm.

BARNES: . . . the most difficult part, wouldn't you say?

GLASGOW: Well, actually, they're not removing the walk-in freezers and coolers, so it's going to be a much, much quicker move. There [East Hall] . . . they do not have floors in them, they have to have floors. . .


GLASGOW: . . . the ones in there now, that are at the East Hall, were self-contained because the community did not want them outside. They didn't want to have a dozen or 15 compressors all along the outside running . . . the noise and everything. So that part was unfortunate, but it worked out good because it'll make the move easier, and the city can take those boxes, and I think they're going to use them someplace else, as they're going to use the building someplace else, I've heard. So both of that will be pretty neat, and hopefully they get the move done fairly quick. Just to point it out, I did, we did do [move]

Union Meat about 20 years ago. If the people remember, we used to be in the middle. We used to have a bunch of big walk-ins, and small walk-ins . . . a big walk-in freezer. And we took up a lot of the middle area, and there was not a center aisle. But for like, six or eight years, OPM kept telling us they . . . you know . . . everybody kept saying, we wanted a center aisle, we wanted to produce as many square foot of retail space as possible, da da da. The bottom line was we did move. We took . . . actually we'd started on a Saturday night -- this was before we were open for Sundays -- and we took a Saturday night, we stayed all night, stayed all day Sunday, all night Sunday night, and then Monday we stayed, we went home and slept, and then we came back Monday and finished up the work, and Tuesday morning we were ready, but we had completely dismantled . . . put a new freezer in, a new big walk-in, we dismantled everything, we changed all the refrigeration, all the cases, all the lights, all the fans, all the electrical hookups, all the refrigeration hookups, all the plumbing, redid the sinks . . . .Everything was in a completely different spot, and we never missed a day's work.

BARNES: Now, what year was that?

GLASGOW: I can't remember, but it was . . . I think in the 80s, in the 80s. And [when] people walked in [they], were amazed, because here we were, all spread out, in between Southern Maryland and . . . Mel was very, very narrow at the time, was only about 10 feet wide. We came out all there, and the trash compactor was near us, and went all the way down to the center door. But it was a lot of walk-in coolers and freezers and storage, and all that changed to the configuration that we have today. Went from like four and a half stands to three stands. And we actually created . . . Blue Iris came out, Mel came out, Tommy came out, and even Southern Maryland came out, and we backed off Southern Maryland. So everyone . . . we created this center aisle that everybody seemed to want, and that seemed to keep . . . give us a few more years being in business, because we were always . . . people talking about kicking us out. And that shut that up for about ten years. And they were . . . but we've known that with EMCAC, and EMPDC, and everything we've done in the last 20 years, 15 years.

BARNES: Well, we could hardly get down the aisle, as a consumer. We could hardly get down the aisle that you made on a Saturday.

GLASGOW: [chortles]

BARNES: Because the crowds are such, and the lines are such, and, of course, we love them all, the baby strollers and the babies on the backs, and people with these huge bags that they're carrying. So you did a great thing when you made that aisle.

GLASGOW: Do you remember the . . . Do you remember that?

BARNES: Yes, I do.

GLASGOW: OK, you remember how it went one . . . on Saturday it was one thing, and people came in on Tuesday and couldn't believe it.

BARNES: What? What? I mean, it was . . .

GLASGOW: So, the move can be made, and it can be made very quickly, it's just a matter of planning.

BARNES: Now, what has been your best seller over the years?

GLASGOW: We always, one of our signature items has always been our prime rib. And of course, we sell a lot of chitlins [chitterlings] on the holidays. We are diverse; we sell a lot of chitlins and pig feet, so we're just not an up brand, we're . . . we like to think of ourselves as middle to upper. And, even of the stuff we sell that's not -- like pig feet -- we try to handle the best pig feet. Just like with chitlins, we only handle the best. So even that's . . . I means, that's an ethnic thing, and we serve the whole community. People come in there and they want a half pound of ground beef, they don't have to buy two or three pounds. We serve a lot of the people just single, you know, older people that want to just get a very small amount. Then, you know, that's pretty hard to do sometimes in the chain stores. So we try to cut out our niche and take care of customers, and, obviously, it must have worked because I was absolutely amazed . . . I knew we were always loved by the community, I just didn't know how much, until the fire. At which time, you see people standing in line for an hour to give a donation to the . . . to the merchants, basically, for the move and for the shortages of things that would happen. Obviously with the fire, you know, you build a business, and you have a lot of little things in the business over the years you accumulate. You know, it's like a house, you know, there's this and that. And to replace it all is pretty devastating, especially when I don't think hardly anyone was insured -- properly, that's for sure. Maybe a couple were, that was it.

BARNES: So after the fire, as I recall, the same that you said, that there were lines of people wanting to contribute and to donate, and everybody asking what can we do to help. What kind of help did you receive, as . . .

GLASGOW: The Capitol Hill [Community] Foundation picked up a lot of all our small stuff. The city, obviously, everyone knows, they did buy all the heavy stuff. The heavy equipment and refrigeration and cases, they bought. But the little stuff, which isn't little, but it's a lot of little stuff, the Foundation helped a lot of people. I never set up [outside]. . . I went out of business for four months. I just could not see it, not in that street. First, it was too depressing for me to be out there, and the only way you could sell meat out there -- I think Canales did . . . Mr. Canales -- would have someone else cut it, trim it, vac-pac it, and you just never touch it , because you can't, because of USDA requirements. And if both of us would have went out there we probably would have beat each other up. So I just decided that I was not going to go out there. I fretted about it all the time, but I decided I just . . . and every week I'd reissue . . . I'd rethought it, but it was always the same. I just didn't have the stomach to go out there, really. Either one to serve them the way I always had been, or I didn't want . . . I shouldn't say didn't want to serve them at all . . . I didn't want to do the job and just sell 15 or 20 items instead of the several hundred that I do sell. And I wanted to cut the meat myself, not just buy it cut, and just trying to pass it on. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I mean, Mr. Canales needs to make a living, and he did. I think he had very little insurance.

BARNES: And he also had a restaurant.

GLASGOW: That's the other Canales. I'm talking about Emilio.

BARNES: Oh, Emilio.

GLASGOW: He did the meat.


GLASGOW: Yeah, I don't think Mr. . . . the other Canales, Jose, I don't think he set up. I think he just did his other business. That would have been difficult for him to try and run . . . you can't run deli business. You can't slice it, you have to have it pre-sliced, pre-packaged, and that's what . . . that's not what his business is. So it really didn't work for him. His brother did bring in some steaks and different things, and vac-packed, and they processed it just like he was a restaurant, and he was re-selling like he was a restaurant, so it was pretty difficult for him. It was a hard way to hoe, but he did a pretty nice job out there. But all the vegetable people went out [side] . . . most people went out there, but it was four months being out of business for me, which was a long time.

BARNES: I was going to say, that was probably devastating, in terms of . . .

GLASGOW: It was depressing.

BARNES: . . . cash flow, and all the rest of it. I mean. Did all of your people come back?

GLASGOW: Yes. I fortunately had insurance to pay their salaries. It didn't pay all their salaries, but they got paid every week, through insurance. I got paid some, my wife did, but I mean, it's not like the regular paychecks. They don't pick up a whole lot of things, which you know, lot of your stuff. They don't pick up your retirement, they don't pick up . . . you know, your depreciation as a business. You just [get] the net, and net and it's really pretty bad. But it was enough . . . it was enough to pay everybody for four months, and that was nice, and I didn't need that from the Capitol Hill [Community Foundation]. Some of them I think got help there, in that respect. I didn't need that. I also didn't need the help, I know they helped set Mel up with a refrigerated truck, which was wonderful. And the job that Gary Petersen did was real good, helping everybody and just said, what do you need? And if you needed it, you got it. I mean, that was great for those people who set up out there [outside], because they needed a lot. They needed a lot of stuff just to set up and to try and eke a little living out of there.

BARNES: Keep it going.

GLASGOW: Yeah, and it was funny because I know Mel was telling me one time a guy came up, when he was out there, and bought a dozen eggs, and wrote him a check for a dozen eggs, and Mel didn't say anything. It was a good customer of his, and he wrote him a check for a dozen eggs. It was a hundred dollars, and told him, keep the change. And that would . . . it happened quite a bit to some of the vendors out there, which made it nice, because they weren't making any money. And there was a lot of people did things like that, and then of course you saw what happened with the Capitol Hill Foundation, the amount of money they raised, then the restaurants kind of jumped in on it and you got ten percent, but it was good for them, good for us. And you know, it gave . . . people wanted to support the restaurant that was giving some of their money to Eastern Market. It was pretty neat. It worked for both of us, I'm sure. All the restaurants, it helped them, and it certainly helped us. And then of course you had Home Depot, and don't think . . . the soccer, [DC] United. I think they gave a lot of money -- 50 some thousand dollars. Three dollars for every ticket they sold that week, one week. So it was a lot of neat things, and it actually made the community, you know, just so strong, and so neat. If you do remember we did get the award . . . the number one award for the best urban community in the country. There was ten of them given, and we just happened to be the first. Not that we were number one, we were just the first one to get it. And what was amazing about that, it wasn't called Capitol Hill, it was called the Eastern Market community, which was for people who live right here, around Eastern Market, that was really a neat thing, and I'm sure the mayor and his group were really proud of that.

BARNES: And San Diego, Hillcrest, got it the same time, which I thought was so interesting because one of my good friends, who lived on Capitol Hill, moved to Hillcrest, San Diego.

GLASGOW: [laughing] So they had both of them!

BARNES: [laughing] So they had both of them!

GLASGOW: Well, it's [laughs]

BARNES: The same year!

GLASGOW: It's a pretty neat award, and people have really noticed. I mean, the last 15 and 20 years, the people have noticed what the market has done for the community. It has . . . all you got to do is look. There were all houses next to us. They aren't houses anymore, they're businesses. And then you start looking, even now, past that, there are businesses. And we've had quite a few people come and want to duplicate the market in other cities. We just had a Denver group that came in and wanted to do something like the market in Denver, and they're talking 10 or 15 years from now, and they're already getting . . . doing their legwork. So it's pretty neat that people want to do what we were doing, which was like . . . little old dinosaurs. I used to always kid with people, I said, you know, we're still in business and a lot of people keep going out. We're still here, and I know we've been there now over 67 years now, but the market's been there since 1873, solid food, the whole way. So if you look at that, I think we are the oldest ongoing food market in the country. Period. No one's ever . . . if you go to Pike's Market [Pike Place Market, Seattle] they say they are, but they aren't even close. I got . . . went in there and studied that place for three days a couple of years ago, and I watched the butcher for hours at a time, and I was amazed that a hundred people would walk by, and then one person would walk by and he'd come up and go wait on them. The other hundred people, all they were doing was . . . it was just tourists. And he'd go grab the one that he knew. He'd see him and he'd just walk up -- hey, what can I do for you? But he was . . . I hope it doesn't happen here, but it was so cluttered with the tourists that he couldn't run a business there. He had a nice stand, tons of people, but they weren't buying from him, because they were tourists. They're just . . .

BARNES: Well, I want you to know, when we have tourists in this city, they buy at Eastern Market, because it's all the mamas and the papas that are visiting, and the grandparents . . .

GLASGOW: That's the tourists we want . . .

BARNES: That's the tourists . . .

GLASGOW: Not the hotel tourists. We want the one that's staying at your house . . .

BARNES: Not the hotel tourists. Exactly.

GLASGOW: And I don't think . . . I don't consider them tourists. They're family.

BARNES: No, they're family.

GLASGOW: Because they're family of family, that's different. The tourists I'm talking about, the ones that come to the hotel, and I can't tell you how many times they say, God, we love your place, your meat looks great, da da da, we're in a hotel, we can't cook. But I . . . it's nice to hear that, but it doesn't really put a jingle in your pocket . . .

BARNES: Right.

GLASGOW: But it is nice to know that they appreciate the market, and we do get more and more of that, and fortunately right now, the kind of market we have is what's starting to spring up again. I mean, there were little stores everywhere selling meat and vegetables and they're all gone. You know, you can only, you know, 95% of the people, all they care about price, and hopefully we serve the people who want quality at a fair price, and not just price. Some of these stores now are going to just price . . . well, I shouldn't say that . . . because right now there's a lot [of] stores that aren't just prices, there's a lot of good stores popping up. Used to just be the Giant and the Safeway, and maybe the A&P, the Acme, whatever, but now you're seeing a lot of specialty stores, because people don't want the same old same old, they do want different which is a plus to us. I know when Harris Teeter came that everyone said, that's going to kill the market. Well, it didn't. Didn't kill us at all. I said, in fact . . . my thought was, hey, it might help us. It will bring better customers into our area, and they'll come shop with us too. The one you lose, you may gain two. So, you know, there is a market there for everybody, as long as they bring customers that are high class to their area, I'm satisfied for the market, because we'll get our share. We'll bring customers to them, and they'll bring customers to us. We're not that far apart.

BARNES: Now what do you think it will be like when you move back in to your home?

GLASGOW: It's going to be wonderful! I've never been at a place that's going to be just spic and span clean, and everything works, and it's functional, and it's pretty. And just never done that. Just going to be wonderful. It's going to be wonderful to go into a place in August, and we're going to get August [heat] this year too, and hopefully the air conditioner works, because where we're at now, it's 100 in there in August, with the air conditioner running. And that . . . my biggest disappointment in going into the East Hall was that we got in there and the opening day was 105 degrees, and I was thinking about pulling all my meat out, and my freezer out, and getting it out of there, because it wasn't . . . the freezers weren't working right, the coolers weren't working right . . . nothing was working right. I actually right now, what I do to make my cooler work right is, I take 75 to 100 cases of sodas and waters and I put them up high in my racks, all the way around my cooler, inside, and it acts like a huge coil. Just something you learn . . . it's like having all those blocks of ice up there, and when it gets really hot, my cooler can withstand it, because it has so much coldness in it. Same thing with the freezer. I pack it tight, keep it frozen. If it gets a little warm, you know, starts getting close to 32, everything in there is still minus 10 from the nighttime, or 10 degrees daytime, so it never thaws out or nothing, but it just helps it work better. So you keep your cooler full of liquid, and I keep my freezer full of meat, and that way it . . . very cold. But hopefully we won't have to worry about any of that stuff with the new building, when we come to August, hopefully if it gets above 80 or so, we'll turn the air conditioner on. I don't know what point that will be, but hopefully, 80 or 85 will turn the air conditioner on. I think we have a wonderful ventilation system now. I think there are a lot better fans in there -- I've been told -- in the eaves, and hopefully that will ventilate the building. And that building was always very comfortable, even at 80, 85 degrees. When you get up to 90 and 95, it's not comfortable, it's just hot.

BARNES: But those walls were so thick.

GLASGOW: Mm hmm. I think they insulate them now. I think there's two by four steel studs in them, and insulated, so, that's going to help. I'm sure the ceiling is better insulated, and the bottom line is the air conditioning should be able to take care of it. They sized it right, and when it really gets hot, it was . . . it was awful working there 12 hour day. You're just beat at the end of the day. You're going from a freezer that's five degrees, or zero, and you walk out into 90 degree heat. It just tears you up. So hopefully, it will be a nicer working condition, although I hope I don't have to work there forever, until I die.

BARNES: [laughs]

GLASGOW: But it . . . it's going to nicer; it's going to be more comfortable for the customer. I can't tell you how many people at the old market had heat strokes. We had a woman die there with a heat stroke at Tommy's. And we had quite a few of them go down with heat stroke. I mean, it's just bad. It's bad for older people, and I'm one of the older people now, so . . .

BARNES: Well, and, as I said, it's so packed in there on Saturdays and Sundays, that you can't move. And that creates that much more heat.

GLASGOW: Mm hmm.

BARNES: But of course, the system, with the doors opening and closing and all the people coming and going, that really makes it tough for the AC to keep up. But I'm sure it will be ever so much better.

GLASGOW: Well, if you're just blowing cool air, it feels good hitting you.

BARNES: Absolutely.

GLASGOW: And I tried to get it so that it was designed to hit the people in the aisles, and if that happens, it does . . . you know, it . . . I always make this example. I went to Disneyworld, if you've been there in Florida, they've got open pavilions that are completely open, and in the roof they're sending conditioned air down on you, and you've got thousands of people standing in 100 degree temperature with the sun, under an awning, with this cool air just blowing out, and that's all you really need. If you just get a little bit of fresh air . . . cold, fresh air, hitting you in the face, it will change your perspective on how . . . even if it's warm out. It will do the job, but it . . . the air conditioner will at least take some of the dampness out of the air, and cool it down, and if it's a hundred degrees out, or 95 degrees out, and it can get it down to 85, it'll be a good 85. You know, that's not . . . that's not . . . we're not looking to stay 72, don't believe it either.

BARNES: Oh, no.

GLASGOW: We want to use that air as best we can because that's what the market is all about. But there becomes a time in July and August where you just need air conditioning, because our business always dropped off then, because it's just so hot, and just to work with food around that, you really need a little lower temperature.

BARNES: So this really is a second life.

GLASGOW: That's going to be my second . . . a little late in coming . . . but yes, it's going to be a . . .

BARNES: And you'll be getting it.

GLASGOW: . . . a wonderful experience. I can't thank the mayor enough. I was at the fire, I had a fireman friend of mine called my cousin at like, one o'clock, and said, the market's on fire. It's a three-alarmer. And my cousin called me, and I actually got here around two, little after two, I got here, and it was awful. Getting back to that . . . and it's a thought I had . . . the whole way over here, all I cared about was . . . I said, my god, I hope it wasn't me that started it because you never know. I got one guy that smokes, and I tell him you can't smoke when you get on top of the box, this kind of thing. And my only thought was, my god, I hope it's not me. And when I came to the market, there was two big places above my stand where the fire was going through the roof, and I just about dropped. And then I started talking, talking to some firemen; I started looking and walking around the market, and about 45 minutes I got to the other end, because I had to walk all the way around the block, where the trash was, and I saw that that's where it started. Had a couple firemen said that it definitely started at the South Hall -- south, south, part -- and I was just elated if . . . that it wasn't me. And talking to a couple of the other merchants, [they had the] same thought in all their heads. My god, I hope it wasn't me. I talked to Leon Calomiris, and he said, you know, I was working there, and I was cutting . . . he was redoing some of his stand, cutting some lumber and building some little stand stalls or something for his fruit, and he said, you know, I know I unplugged my saw and all this, but he wondered whether it was him. As it was, everybody kind of wondered. I said, God, I hope it's not me; I hope I'm not ruining everybody's business. Thank god, I guess it was none of our fault, I don't think. I don't . . . guess . . .

BARNES: That's really . . . that really shows, though, how much all of you care about everybody else that is a vendor [merchant] in there.

GLASGOW: You have . . . you have to because we're all there together. Even though we're . . . some of us are competing, we're still merchants. You know, if they do well, I'll do well, we'll all do well. We all bring in certain customers. Some people come in to see me, and then they buy somebody else's, and then . . . then they buy another person. Next thing you know, they're customers of four or five of us. And that's great, because if they get mad at me they can go down there, and if they get mad at him, they can come up to me. So it works out pretty good, and as long as we keep them in the market, and happy with the market, we'll all do fine.

BARNES: Was there any . . . any vendor [merchant] that didn't return?

GLASGOW: No. Every single one of them . . .

BARNES: Every one of them . . .

GLASGOW: That was a question . . .

BARNES: . . . came back to Eastern Market.

GLASGOW: That was a question I was asked when this first started on . . . Gary Peterson was talking to me, and I'll remember this until the day I die. We're at EMCAC and he's talking, and I just asked, well, how are we going to do this? We all going to . . . we need to know how much we're going to have to come up with to redo this place. You know, to re-buy everything. And because at one time we were trying to pool everything, and I said, we really know what a number . . . are you going to get like a . . . some certain percentage to each of us? Like 50, 60, 70 [percent], whatever it is. Because at that time, they didn't . . . we didn't know until the very end how it was going to play out, but we said, we . . . we got to know something. And he made a statement to me, and he asked me right there in front of everybody. Says, well, what would you . . . would you rather have everybody get the same percentage? Or let's say, somebody needs more or they're not going to make it, would you rather see them go out of business? And I thought for about two seconds, and I said, no. You do whatever it takes to make sure everybody comes back. And if some get less, so be it, as long as . . . we want everyone back. No, you're right, you're right, that's . . . Because I kind of, I just said, well, just give me an idea so I know what we got to come up with, you know, and that was . . . then, when he said that, it didn't take me but a couple of seconds to figure it out. It was pretty neat. And he said, would you rather we do whatever it takes, and we'll help whoever we need to make sure that everyone comes back? And I said, yeah, that's the right thing to do. So, but it ended up even better than that, because it ended up being enough money between the government and them [Capitol Hill Community Foundation], to make sure everybody would come back. And that was pretty neat, and it just goes to show you how much the community loves the merchants. That's . . . I wouldn't expect that anywhere. You can't expect that to happen.

BARNES: Well, in . . . it brought to light, certainly with the DC government, how treasured this market is to this whole community.

GLASGOW: Mm hmm. Right.

BARNES: And it highlighted that, and it can't but help, when we see that they really came forward, and they really did . . .

GLASGOW: They had to.

BARNES: . . . value . . .

GLASGOW: The community made . . . the government knew that that's what . . . that this was a winner. This is a winner for them because this shows . . . actually, they're really pretty proud of how quick they built that building, which was absolutely amazing. Breaking ground with 18 days with all those permits they needed. But anyway, that's another story, too, because we were talking . . . I was talking to the people -- it burnt down on Monday night . . . .Monday morning, and Wednesday we had a meeting, all the merchants, and they tried to tell us, well, we can go in the middle of Seventh Street, which was . . . was not going to happen, Hine lot, or we could go immediately . . . they'll start building Friday, at the Eastern Market square. I don't know if people are familiar with this. I was the spokesperson for the merchants; I was still the EMCAC member. And I just told the city at that meeting -- they wanted a vote right then -- and I said, well, we want . . . then they said, we can do . . . you sign this today, we'll be at the Eastern Market Metro stop. And I said, we want to know the options at Hine. And they said, you know, I don't know, and I said . . . and they kept saying. And I said, here's the deal. We want to know the options. You can . . . this is Wednesday, let us know by Monday . . . next Monday what the feasibility is. Well, I know we got all the stuff . . . I said, I said, I know you got it all at Eastern Market Metro. They said they knew they had the water, they had the electric, they had the gas, they had everything they needed. And I said, but we really like to know what you got there with Hine. With Hine going to be closing and all this commercial stuff, there's got to be a ton of stuff there. And before we finished up, I just said one thing to them. I said, let me tell you something. I'm not threatening you or nothing, but it's going to come out, if you didn't do a good review. And you just did what you wanted, and you tell us what you want to tell us, and we find out later you lied. Do your work, do your due diligence, find out what it really is, and tell us the truth, because we do not want to go there, we want to stay . . . If we go there, what's going to happen is, all these businesses are going to get depressed, and we're going to come back in a year or two years, to a complete depressed place, and all our businesses that we helped each other build on Seventh Street, some of them are going to be gone . . . maybe a lot of them. And the whole area is going to be gone, kind of . . . And then we're going to come back and try to put a market in there, and build it all back up. I said, I'd rather be on Hine, and with the same community. I know it's not that far, but it's a different community, it really is. There's the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue, and then there's this side. To get pedestrians across Pennsylvania Avenue, a couple of them get killed or something, don't want that. I said, we want to stay in the same community . . . we don't want to be on that other side. And if we fail there, at Hine, it's on us. If we fail at that other place, it's on you. And next thing I know, Thursday to Friday, even Saturday, the public officials are out there . . . because we watched . . . and they're out there doing all kinds of stuff, walking around, you're seeing all these notebooks and things, and we had then, of course, we had the meeting, and they said, yeah, they got us . . . they got actually more there than they had at the Metro center, and the rest is history. How we ended up having that little meeting . . . Were you at the meeting?

BARNES: [presumably shaking head no]

GLASGOW: Okay, at Hine, we had a meeting and it was supposed to fill the one room, a couple . . . I guess 1000, 1500 people, and ended up filling that, and then they filled it and said, you got to go downstairs to the auditorium, and they filled that. And they took a survey, which had little round tables of 10 people, and they took a survey. And they said, well, we want to know . . . I think it was four or five questions . . . one is, where do you want to be? Well, Hine was it. And we let everybody know we wanted to be at Hine because we wanted to be with our community and with the other businesses that are there. And everybody stood up, and he just . . . the mayor was there, holding the meeting, and he asked the first one -- he said, where would you like to do [temporary building]? And he says, it's unanimous, we want it . . . the first table, he just picked them at random . . . he said, no this is the reason, we want to be here . . . we want them to be here at Hine. The second table, third table, fourth table, fifth table, and all of them wanted Hine. Some of the other points, I forget exactly what they were, but basically, the Hine was the number one thing. The rest of things weren't nearly as important. And then after like, five or six tables, he said, well, let me . . . maybe I'm going to do it this way. Any table here don't want Hine? And no one . . . everybody wanted Hine. The Eighth Street people, which is for . . . residential, gave permission to us to build here. They didn't want us to have trash over there; they didn't want us to have the motors out there, and we . . . and they didn't want a lot of unloading, which unfortunately we do still have some unloading there, but . . . it's because you get new drivers and things. But 90, 95% of our stuff is loaded on the other side, and hopefully we can take care of our Eighth Street people, that were so nice and generous to us to allow this to happen, because they had to sign off on it. The school board had to sign off on it. OPM had to sign off on it, and DOT built the building, so it was a pretty neat thing that happened. And I'll always remember that.

BARNES: Truly was a community coming together.

GLASGOW: They were already together, but now, I'll tell you what, they're like cement! I mean . . .

BARNES: [laughs]

GLASGOW: . . . just, what's neat to me, I'll be long dead and so will you, and this market's going to keep on . . . just . . . I can die knowing that the market's going to be here, and I really do believe, especially if I have anything to . . . because I've said this many times, that we're going to have a reserve each year -- a heavy reserve -- to take care of heavy maintenance. And you need a good reserve. We're going to need $100,000, $150,000 a year above and beyond, to make that building stay the way it is right now. Not . . . I don't want it to . . . I've went to so many markets in the last 20 years -- I was going to relocate because we were threatened so many times of being kicked out and all this, and living without . . . we haven't had a lease since . . . we didn't have a lease from 1976 -- it went month to month for 30 years almost -- 20 something years, month to month. And that's kind of a crazy way to run a business, and still be in business, that's amazing. But I feel now that it will...the market will be there; it'll be taken care of. But if you have this reserve, you know, you know, I read so many times all these places that were dilapidated. I went and looked at all the markets -- I even looked at some out in the islands when I took a cruise -- and my God, they were . . . the upkeep was better than ours. And third world places. I'm thinking, we're just not doing this right. So I hope we never revert back to the dilapidation that was there and allowed to fester.

BARNES: I don't think the community would allow it.

GLASGOW: The community would not allow it now. They've spent too much money on this, and it's just not something that should be allowed.

BARNES: Mm hmm.

GLASGOW: But they built a brand new . . . this is the point . . . we had built a brand new building in 1873, and the early 1900s they're complaining that it's dilapidated, it's old, it's this, it hasn't been maintained. And you know what? It wasn't, and it wasn't maintained from then until the day the fire took over. It was not maintained. So it went 100 and some years with very poor maintenance. Thank God it was built good or it would have fallen down.

BARNES: Well, these huge walls, and . . .

GLASGOW: It was . . . I mean, it was built like a . . . it was built like a fortress, and thank God it was, because if it wasn't, it would not be here. The neat thing about the fire, and right near the end, I always said it would be so great, that all these rooms are going to be fixed now. And that's great, because they were going to skip a bunch of this stuff. And what I'm . . . one thing I'm really sad about is . . . I went to a meeting, EMCAC meeting -- my father just got out of the hospital four or five days earlier from an open heart surgery . . .



GLASGOW: . . . EMCAC meeting, my father had just done open heart surgery, got out maybe a week, week and a half before, and when I came home he was passed out, and I gave him CPR, and unfortunately -- this was in 2001 -- he passed away. So he never really got to see the market fixed up the way it should [be] and really [never] got to see us with the leases. So I know it was a thing that bothered him a lot; he always kept thinking it was going to get done, and he told me many times, they'll never do nothing with the market. They've spent so much time doing nothing that nothing will ever get done. It's a shame that he didn't get to see that, and that's one thing that I'll always regret, that it didn't happen before 2001, But, uh . . .

BARNES: That is the one sadness . . .

GLASGOW: Yes, yes.

BARNES: . . . for you, and your uncle, of course.

GLASGOW: The thing that was pretty neat . . . the last uncle that had anything to do with the market, and was still living -- there was only one left, my uncle Lou -- passed away right before the fire. So I said, well, that was probably pretty good. He probably . . . he was pretty sickly, and it was pretty neat that he didn't have to endure that the market burned down. That's one thing that's neat . . . none of them saw the market burned down because it would probably could have killed them. So, they were already passed away, so . . .

BARNES: That was their life.

GLASGOW: Well, it wasn't anymore, but it still was.

BARNES: Well, oh, yeah, so many memories . . .

GLASGOW: Right, so many memories . . .

BARNES: . . . were there.

GLASGOW: Well, there . . . you got five brothers working together every day. Yeah, that's . . . that's pretty big.

BARNES: That is big. That's really big.


BARNES: Well, is there anything that you're going to do differently when you move back?

GLASGOW: I hope not. I hope we keep it going the same way. I mean, you always change your business a little bit, like people say, well, what do you . . . they always talk about introducing new items, and this and that, and I said, well, the customers introduce the new items. I said, if a customer asks you for something once, that's one thing. You get one person to ask you once a month, you really can't handle . . . but you know what, if someone asks you two or three times a week, or something, for something, at some point you, you're a bad businessman if you don't start handling that product, so. And every store is like that. When you get requests, that's . . . we don't put in what we feel like putting in, we put in what the customer wants. What is . . . well, we do put in things we want . . . we think might work . . . but invariably if you put in 10 new items, you'll be lucky if one or two works. But you know what, one or two good items out of 10 is not bad. Because you pick up an item here and an item there, and you discontinue certain items, and you bring back other items, you know. You introduce something new that the customer wants, and the customers actually dictates . . . dictate what you carry because they're buying it from you. And if they want it, you'll get it for them. And if you get no calls for it, you don't bring it in.

BARNES: Now, in terms of advertising, is that mostly word of mouth, and just the fact that you're such a part of the community?

GLASGOW: Well, to me, word of mouth is the best . . . best. And what people don't realize, is that, you see all these Safeway ads and Giant ads, and they're doing Chef Boyardee pizzas, and spaghetti, and whatever. All those ads are not paid by . . . and they got those full page ads at $20,000 or $30,000, they don't pay a penny for it. Chef Boyardee does, whoever they're . . . whatever they put on . . . whatever they're selling, that's who pays for it. And that's all marked up in your prices, and you know, that's the way they do business. And that's why Sam's never does it. They get the bottom price, and that's why these chain stores are hurting. You want to go to the bottom bottom, you can't ask people to spend $100,000, $200,000 a week on your advertising. And that's what the chains all do -- they all do it. If they put a potato chip display in the corner, they have to fill that display for all 100 stores. And pay them $200,000 or something, to put that item in the store. They're paying them to put that item in the store, and if it's on a corner they're paying them dearly. And then they turn around and get all the advertising money on top of that. I mean, it's . . . it's a lot more corrupt as far as I'm concerned, than what people realize. And it's just the way they do business . . . big business does it. We can't . . . we don't get any of that. We don't get any free advertising -- very, very little. And we don't get the . . . someone says, hey, we like to start something in your store, and we'll pay you $10,000 for you to put it in your store -- we're not big enough. But the thing that the chain stores miss out, they miss out on the whole of small people, starting little teeny businesses that come in, and, hey, try my hot sauce. Let me sit there and put it out and it becomes a success, and if it becomes a real big success, we end up losing it, and the chain stores end up taking it after we've done all the grunt work. But we do get to introduce a lot of little things that we can change instantly by saying, yeah, we'll try it. Instead of going through corporate, and going through allocating spaces in each one of their stores on that shelf, and paying for that space, and then stocking it the first time for free, in every store, to get that product out. Well, the small entrepreneur can't do that. So they lose out on all that and we get it all. And that's what little people . . . that's why we're in business. Because we can do those little people. They've got neat products that can't afford to put them in a chain store.

BARNES: Right. Are there any other stories that you would like to share with the people that are going to read this online?

GLASGOW: [chuckles] Oh, we did have an interesting guy -- he's called Leon Becker -- and the chicken in the pot would . . . Mel now owns the chicken store . . . and he was a character from France. And, you ever asked him the price of turkeys or something . . . whatever he was selling . . . he said you wanted . . . you got another price, go to Safeway. They ain't cheap. I charge you plenty, don't worry. And the people got so they would never ask him the price of anything, they just, whatever he told them, that was it. And that's the way he was. And he had one guy came there one time and gave him a hard time -- this is many years ago, it's back when we had the middle [space] -- and Leon grabbed a cleaver and chased the guy around my stand three times before the guy ran out the door. If he'd have done that today, he'd go to jail. But he . . . actually, and all the customers were just laughing, they were having a great old [time]. . . he ran this guy around my stand three times with a cleaver. Couldn't catch the guy. Maybe he didn't want to catch him, but the guy ran around my stand three times, left and went out the door because he was giving Leon a hard time. So I kind of remember things like that, and I remember what was really bad, when there was a lot of crime, and we always kept guns down there. They were always registered, and we let people know we had guns, and that's why we never got robbed. And there was one neat time at the Safeway, when I was probably maybe 30 years old, and there was a guy standing at the door next to the seafood company, just looking, and there was a guy up at Boone's lunch, just standing there looking, but they were looking at each other, too. And I looked at Mel's stand -- the chicken stand -- there was a guy at that door, and all three of these guys were looking at each other. And I had a gun in my pocket, and I went back into the back room and grabbed another gun and put it in my apron, and I went . . . the guy was standing like six feet from me, and I just looked at him and took the gun out of my pocket, and put it in my drawer, but I showed it to him. Then I started cutting meat. I looked right at him when I pulled it out of my pocket. And then I cut meat for like, a minute, and then I looked at him again, and then I pulled a 9 millimeter out of my apron and put it in my pocket. Three minutes later all three of them were gone, and five minutes after that, they robbed the Safeway with a sawed-off shotgun and ran through the market, jumped in the car, and left. So they all knew that our property was our property, and we were going to defend it, and that was neat to know, because we never got robbed.

BARNES: Nobody . . .

GLASGOW: Safeway got robbed, oh, dozens of times while I was there. They were robbing some of the restaurants across the street. They were robbing some of the stores across the street. But everyone knew, there was a lot of doors, there was a lot of aisles, and they didn't know how many guns were back there. So they left us alone. So that's kind of neat too, because your business is your life, and you protect it.

BARNES: And . . . and no one in the market ever got robbed? That you know of?

GLASGOW: Well, no one . . . not many. I shouldn't say that [no one], because there was . . . the cheese stand got robbed . . . they were right there at the door getting ready to close for the day. And the woman was there and the guy just said, give me your money or something . . . and he got a little bit of money. Our brother was robbed leaving the market one time. But I mean, in essence we got very, very . . . that was only . . . my cousin got armed robbed [robbery] counting the money in that little office one time, but very little beside what was going on . . . Like the Safeway used to get hit . . .


GLASGOW: . . . regularly. And they told . . . and their employees are told: Give it up. Just give the money. And that's probably the right answer, but if you always give it up people just will always be stealing from you. At some point, we don't want to give up, and let them go hit the people who want to give it up. I mean, survival of the fittest, I guess, but they know you . . . you're not going to give it up because . . . they're not going to mess with you.

BARNES: Well, I think it's really good to know the . . . that being in the market, as I always have felt, very safe . . .


BARNES: . . . in the market. And I think that is a real tribute to the way all of you, as merchants, have handled that market.

GLASGOW: Yes, well, we have trouble with the market. And we've had people come in there, pick pocketing different things, and what happens is . . . we see a person pick pocketing, and we grab him. Two or three of us young guys, when we were young, we'd grab them, and they're staying there until the cops come. They ain't leaving. In fact, one guy, Vincent Jones, the black guy that worked -- big black guy used to work for Southern Maryland -- he had a guy that was pick pocking a little old lady -- a black lady -- and they caught him. We knew we were getting some pick pocketing in there, so we were all looking, and we saw it happen. And we called him over there, and him and a couple of us grabbed this guy, and he grabbed him by the back and put him in a choke hold, and he was just slamming the guy to the ground, and when the cops come, this guy who was pick pocketing was just so happy to see the cops, because he was afraid Vince was going kill him. And Vince probably would have if they wouldn't have come quick enough. And they just knew that we were going to . . . if they did something, we'd all come together. So [if] we had a problem, there were two or three or four people right away coming from behind the stands to help their other merchants. So we didn't get a lot of problems because we solved them real quick, usually.

BARNES: So really everybody is looking out for everybody else.

GLASGOW: You had to. We're all family. Yeah.

BARNES: And that's the way it will be when you move back.

GLASGOW: Well, when we move back hopefully we're going to have cameras -- a good set of cameras.

BARNES: Oh, I didn't know about that.

GLASGOW: I've been requesting that they do cameras, because we had one carjacking in the back . . . they were at the swimming pool and got . . . jacked someone's car from the swimming pool with a gun, and then they . . . they came from . . . robbed someone over there, ran and got one of our customer's cars as she was getting in the car and she had her grandmother and a baby with her. And she just grabbed the baby in time -- the guy didn't notice it was back there -- and pulled it out when he took off with her car. And she actually moved the next week from Capitol Hill, she was so upset. She had to have the ambulance come in here, just because she was so emotional. And she told . . . she said, I'm never coming back here. And her husband finally came here, and she said, we're leaving, and she did, and she left. And we lost a customer. But it'd be nice to have the cameras in the back to take care of the parking lot. One camera, absolutely, on the food . . . I mean, the trash bin, because if anyone ever does anything else we want to record it. And if you're going to spend this kind of money to do a building, it only makes sense to secure the outside from vandalism, fire, graffiti . . . I don't care what it is. It's secure with cameras. Whether they stay functional forever, I don't know, but they're there, they prevent crime. To have them out front, prevent pick pocketing, to watch the vendors out front, and to have them inside, to protect people if something happens. If someone does get pick pocketed, we know they got pick pocketed, we can pick it up on camera and catch the person. So a little set of cameras, or a big set of cameras, covering everything inside and outside that market, should be a priority one for the kind of money they've spent. They need to do that to make it safer. Make it less of a [potential for] vandal[ism]. We don't need anyone burning the place down anymore. We don't need people spray painting or doing vandalism, whatever. Whatever they're doing out there wrong, we'll catch them. And of course, inside, if they do anything we want to catch them there, too.

BARNES: So, that will be done?

GLASGOW: I think it will be done.

BARNES: When you move in, hopefully.

GLASGOW: Hopefully.

BARNES: Or before you move in?

GLASGOW: Hopefully before we move in. But if not, they should get these cameras wired while we got all the stuff there. So they don't have to go ahead and jury rig anything. But that was the plans . . . that's what's going to happen.

BARNES: Can you think of anything else that you'd like to add?

GLASGOW: Oh, I can think of plenty of things later on, I'm sure.

BARNES: [laughs]

GLASGOW: But, then, you only have so much time.

BARNES: Well, I really appreciate this so much, Bill. It's been an excellent interview, and I know that the people who will be reading this online will be so grateful to know the kinds of things that you have been able to tell about the market, going all the way back 60 years . . .

GLASGOW: Mm hmm.

BARNES: And I really do wish we could have interviewed your father, and we could have interviewed . . .

GLASGOW: My uncle . . .

BARNES: . . . your uncle . . .

GLASGOW: . . . My Uncle Charles, it would have been a good interview.

BARNES: It would have been wonderful. Who?

GLASGOW: Charles, the one that was the manager for all those years. He just ran the whole market. He had a . . . he paid the . . . back then, $10,000 was a lot of money, and that was a down . . . $10,000 down, $10,000 a year, so he come up with $20,000, I guess, the first year to rent the building. And then he had to repair a lot of things, and keep it in repair, which for a couple of little businesses, is pretty hard to do. But he did that, and to me, if you look back on the record, and it'll be in the books, I'm sure, I know Steve Ackerman has got a book out -- that probably saved the market from being razed. And then, obviously, after the 100 years celebration, and they . . . or the 100 year anniversary of the market, when they put it in the historical -- inside and outside, it was a done deal. They weren't going to mess with . . . even if they wanted to, they . . . their hands were tied. And then I, obviously, after the community kept getting more and more concerned, and more and more active, they're not doing nothing with the market.


GLASGOW: Except make it better and keep it that way.

BARNES: It will be better.

GLASGOW: Yeah, it will be.

BARNES: And we all look forward to it, and we look forward to seeing Union Meat back in its home.

GLASGOW: Exactly, and I appreciate that, and I will be loving being there, that's for sure.

BARNES: Thank you, Bill.

GLASGOW: Thank you.

[long pause]

GLASGOW: Hello, are we on? Okay. One thing I did forget to tell you is that I . . . I, from the old guy in 1976 who did the federal renovation of the roof, I got a stack of slate from them. I got a stack of slate from them; I was going to maybe finish a little bar in my basement, and I asked them if I could have it, and they said sure. So I maybe got, maybe 60 or 70 slates, and they are the slate that I turned [over] to EMCAC and we made . . . the commemorative . . . whatever they're called? Slates that one was given to the mayor . . . about, you know, the little plaques we made, were made out of that slate. And also, that slate was given to the architect, and they matched that slate. So the slate we have on there now is the match for the slate that was on there in 1873. So that's another neat thing. I also have a little bit of that slate, and I asked them if they would like to take one or two plaque . . . one or two pieces, and put them on the roof, but they never took me up on it [laughing] so that they could say . . .

BARNES: Ohhhhh.

GLASGOW: . . . that hey, on the Southwest corner, there is a slate from 1873. And I still have some of them if they ever want it for . . . to do something with it so it's still part of the building. I'd be certainly happy to give it to them.

BARNES: Well, wouldn't that be wonderful. And to think that you have that; otherwise, they would have never been able to match it. Or they wouldn't have known.


BARNES: Then, no way.

GLASGOW: And one other thing I guess I could say. I tried to, although I don't have enough time to ever make it happen, if you look at the Baltimore zoo, they have brick . . . commemorative bricks in the sidewalks, commemorating different people who have donated to them, and you buy these bricks and you put them in, and I've mentioned this to EMCAC many times, but we've just got so much on our plate. I'd love to get that started at the market, where there was commemorative bricks that come out, that say, my father, when he was born, and died, or whatever, or Union Meat, and I would love to buy some of them as a fundraiser. And it'd be neat because over the years all these plaques would be out on the . . . on the walkways, and with little neat things on them. It's almost like a little graveyard type thing, or, could be for . . . whatever. But seeing as how I've had five uncles die there, there's five I can think of right there.

BARNES: So the . . . a walk of fame.

GLASGOW: Yeah, a walk of fame. It could just be just neat things that people wanted to buy one and say whatever. It could be a person that lives on the Hill. Hey, I lived here from such and such, or whatever.


GLASGOW: It's a neat fundraiser, but it's also pretty neat when everybody would be looking down, looking at these bricks and reading them.

BARNES: Right.

GLASGOW: So, maybe one of these days, we can get that done.

BARNES: That would be wonderful. Again, thank you, Bill.

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