Esther Devers: Motel and Restaurant Owner
We bought the property on Richmond Highway in 1937.
In the early forties we built a restaurant onto our house which was at 6737 Richmond Highway. We served some family meals and took care of a lot of the personnel at Fort Belvoir. Our specialty, which was almost unknown at the time, was to have chicken and seafood boxes to carry-out. My husband conceived this idea from someone he knew in Washington, D.C. The motel (Devers) was built in 1952. It was a separate structure of brick behind the White House. The name of the restaurant was The Open Kitchen.
I worked for National Permanent Savings and Loan in Washington for a good many years and I was working when we still had our restaurant. We only opened it in the evenings. My husband was the chief steward for the Department of Corrections and he would always be home in time to open it and when I came home, I would help, too. We were rather busy people. We would open Saturdays and Sundays.
I flew from Beacon Airport, at times, with Franklin Reid and some of the fliers. One time I was taking some people down to look at a room in the motel and we were walking back and here was an airplane coming right across Number 1 highway and they looked at me and said, "Does this happen all the time?"
I very calmly replied, "No, not all the time."
Once in a while one would hit. There was a high transformation wire below us before houses were built on Schooley Drive (which was originally Marshall Street) and on occasion someone flying low would hit one of those wires. They hit that high wire one time but did not cause any fire to any resident. It just caught on fire at the end of the wire, and the plane went off and there was fire going from it. One plane came down and landed luckily between the garage and a tree, but it didn't cause any fire.
Most of the flying from this area was done from Beacon Airport. Beacon Airport trained a lot of the navy fliers. We had people stay in the motel that flew in the Beacon Airport. Arthur Godfrey was flying over there when we first moved here. People told me that was where he learned to fly.
I recall an air spotting station on Collard Street years ago during the Second World War that was built from donation of the residents. When I came home from the office, I would take my two hour stand and Monday nights, my husband and Mr. Wilson; Pierce Reid and Herbert Blount - the four of them would man it for several hours in the night. The ladies would watch during the daytime. We received certificates tor manning the station. We did it over a long period, more than a year. Then we had blackouts, and we all had to take part in that. If any plane was suspicious, we had a number to call and it was very seldom that it was used. I don't remember anyone spotting a plane.
I've retired now. I don't say entirely, because we have some business to take care of. I was a registrar well over thirty years. About seven or eight years ago, I gave it up. I'm still an election official. The only voting place we had was a small community house on Telegraph Road. That took Care of everyone in the area - all around from this side of Franconia up to Hybla Valley. Then we moved to the Penn Daw Fire House which used to be on Richmond Highway down where the carpet place is now. That is where we had voting for a good many years. Then they split us again and the east side became Bucknell and Fairhaven and Jefferson Manor. All those places became heavily populated and they had to split it up into precincts.