Josephine Gardner Text of Interview: October 5, 2006Catherine Nugent2022-05-12T11:10:51-04:00
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ORAL HISTORY OF JODIE GARDNER
Fourth Interview, October 5, 2006
This is Part 4 of the oral history of Jodie Gardner being conducted for the D.C.
Circuit Historical Society. Today is October 5th, 2006.
Mrs. Grigg: Mrs. Gardner, we’re going to talk about your activities during all these years. So
do you want to start with your role in forming hospice?
Mrs. Gardner: Well, I was tremendously interested in hospice because I had just lost a friend
through cancer – a long, miserable time. I was thrilled to hear that there was such
a thing as hospice but was very sad that it came too late for my friend. I certainly
wanted to get involved in it right away.
Mrs. Grigg: About what time period was this?
Mrs. Gardner: 1972. I did get involved right away. There was one in Washington which was
just starting. I worked with people who were dying which was sad, but
worthwhile. I eventually became chairman of the board for a while and it was
just very important in my life. Later on, after I served as chairman of the board, I
became involved in another hospice, which is the Washington Home Hospice.
Actually, they were kind of rivals and I had tried to get them together to be one
hospice without any luck. So then I really was more involved in Washington
Home and that lasted quite a while.
Mrs. Grigg: Is this the one up by Wisconsin Avenue behind the Post Office?
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Mrs. Gardner: Right, which is connected to what used to be called the Home for the Incurables,
a wretched name.
Mrs. Grigg: I remember that.
Mrs. Gardner: But now it’s the Washington Home and this is the Washington Home Hospice,
which is a part of it.
Mrs. Grigg: Where was the other one? Where was the first one that you were involved in?
Mrs. Gardner: Well, we didn’t have an in-house facility; these patients were all at home.
Mrs. Grigg: Is it still around?
Mrs. Gardner: Well, it’s been taken over, it’s now in Virginia. I think it’s called the Capital
Mrs. Grigg: When you were chairman of the board, did you get involved with all of the
Mrs. Gardner: Yes, but it wasn’t terribly hard because it’s such a wonderful feeling — it really
was – to be involved in it.
Mrs. Grigg: That segues into your volunteer work at Sibley. Did that overlap with your work
Mrs. Gardner: It may have something to do with my time at Sibley. I don’t know. I did go to
Sibley and I loved it. I was there for 30 years and I worked at a desk outside the
operating room, and I was the go-between with families of the patients and the
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doctors. I would tell the doctors that the family was waiting and I would tell the
family that their patient was either still in the operating room or that they were in
the recovery room. It was a lot of fun, a lot of nice people.
Mrs. Grigg: How many days a week did you do that?
Mrs. Gardner: I just did that on Mondays.
Mrs. Grigg: And how did you get involved in this?
Mrs. Gardner: On the 4th of July, at a friend’s swimming pool, a friend told me that that is what
she was doing and I said, I’d like to do that.
Mrs. Grigg: And when did you start doing that – ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s?
Mrs. Gardner: In the 1970s.
Mrs. Grigg: Seventies. I think this takes you back even further, though, then that would be the
American Field Service —
Mrs. Gardner: Right.
Mrs. Grigg: What kind of work did you do?
Mrs. Gardner: A friend of mine, right after I moved here, asked me to join that committee. We
would take care of the American Field Service students who were in the area, we
would have a party at Christmas, etc. In the summer the American Field Service
students from all over the country came to Washington just before they went
home and they went to the White House where the president spoke to them. We
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had to put them up, as I remember. I didn’t put anybody up but we had to find
places for them to stay. My own daughter went to Turkey – this had happened
before – which is the reason I was so interested in the American Field Service.
She had had this experience, and had a wonderful time. It led to her joining the
Peace Corps when she graduated from college.
Mrs. Grigg: When the students come here from other countries, did they live with a family?
Mrs. Gardner: They lived with a family.
Mrs. Grigg: Did they attend a university or was it just a summer program?
Mrs. Gardner: I think they attend school. They are about 16 years old. That would be high
Mrs. Gardner: Yes, I think they were in high school. They went home in the summer.
Mrs. Grigg: Does your daughter do anything with them now?
Mrs. Gardner: Not specifically, but she does wonderful things all over the world. She’s gone
beyond the American Field Service. She’s recently been in Rwanda —
Mrs. Grigg: Oh.
Mrs. Gardner: And, unfortunately, she fell there and broke her shoulder but she found the
Rwanda Hospital very satisfactory. She thought they took good care of her. She
has just been to Outer Mongolia. This is supposed to be about my husbands, but
she is a remarkable girl. She’s married and lives in Paris with her husband and
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three children. They’re over here now, but she’s quite a girl and I think that the
American Field Service helped get her started.
Mrs. Grigg: And when she’s traveling the world what is she doing? When she goes to
Mongolia or Rwanda?
Mrs. Gardner: She’s a lawyer interested in human rights.
Mrs. Grigg: Something she learned at the dinner table. All right, Woman’s National
Mrs. Gardner: I don’t think I did anything.
Mrs. Gardner: That’s right, I never took an active part.
Mrs. Grigg: Were there any memorable speakers that you remember?
Mrs. Gardner: All the Democrats. Cabinet members. It was interesting – interesting speakers –
I just went and listened so I really wasn’t involved in it. Actually, as the wife of a
federal judge, I couldn’t be.
Mrs. Grigg: Were your husbands able to get involved in politics once they were on the court?
Mrs. Gardner: No. Warner wasn’t on the court. He argued before it.
Mrs. Grigg: I was wondering if that applied to spouses as well?
Mrs. Gardner: Yes.
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Mrs. Grigg: Did that bother you? Did you ever want to get involved in a campaign, whether
it was local or national?
Mrs. Gardner: Of course. I was terribly involved in the Stevenson campaign, that was before
Carl went on the court. I never got involved again. Of course, in Washington,
anyway we didn’t have any local senators or anything like that.
Mrs. Grigg: Other clubs? You mentioned the Sulgrave Club?
Mrs. Gardner: Oh that’s right — not much to do with my husbands. It’s just a social club and
where I would have birthday parties for my family rather than cooking at home.
We would go to the Sulgrave Club; it was just very pleasant.
Mrs. Grigg: Are you still a member?
Mrs. Gardner: Oh, yes, but I don’t go very often – occasionally.
Mrs. Grigg: We’re going to move on now. You mentioned, in passing, so I want to get more
about this, about the night you met President Kennedy.
Mrs. Gardner: Well, the presidents used to have parties for the judges, like a reception once a
year. I’m not sure if they still do that. Anyway, President Kennedy had a
reception for the judges; and, when we arrived, we came through the entrance
downstairs and, as we walked by, we saw all the bags waiting to go to Texas.
They were all ready to be put on the plane. We went upstairs and we were all in
the East Room and then they played “Hail to the Chief” and the President and
Mrs. Kennedy came in. She was lovely in a red velvet gown. It was the first time
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I’d seen her. Instead of having a receiving line the way presidents usually do,
they split up, she would see half the room and he would see the other half. Carl
and I opted to see him. We waited around but we did finally meet him. He said
he had just been in Chicago for a football game. I thought he was wonderful. I
had not been particularly enthusiastic before, but that night I fell in love with him!
Mrs. Grigg: He had a lot of charisma.
Mrs. Gardner: The next day he was shot, which was very sad.
Mrs. Grigg: Do you remember where you were when you found out he was shot?
Mrs. Gardner: Yes, indeed, it was a Friday. My children had the day off from school; I think
there was a teachers’ meeting or something. I was taking them sightseeing. We
had only been living in Washington for three months and they hadn’t seen much.
So we went to the mosque first and then we went to some museum down near the
Watergate. As we walked in, the women said, “The president’s been shot.” I said,
“Oh well, he’ll be all right,” because I thought he had been shot just in his
shoulder. She said he had been hit in the head; but I still didn’t pay much
attention and we went on sightseeing. As we were driving home, we drove up
Massachusetts Avenue by the embassies – the flags were at half-mast.
Mrs. Grigg: Oh.
Mrs. Gardner: I went home and turned on the radio and heard the terrible news and I called
Carl, of course, immediately. He had been lunching at the Metropolitan Club
with John Harper, the minister of our church, and they were walking across
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Lafayette Square, and some man said to them, “The president’s been shot.” He
had the same experience that I did. It was unbelievable. The next day it poured
rain. We went to the White House where the president was lying in state in the
East Room. It was very moving.
Mrs. Grigg: Did you go in with the general public or was this because your husband was on
Mrs. Gardner: I think it was with the judges. The next day, was it Sunday or Monday, it
probably was Monday – anyway, we went that day to the Metropolitan Club and
looked out the window and we watched the procession. We did not go to church.
It was impressive to see General de Gaulle and the dignitaries from all over the
world. Of course, there was Jackie with her black veil walking along – she
walked between Bobby and Teddy, but it was an unforgettable experience, as you
can see, is still very clear in my mind.
Mrs. Grigg: That was followed not that long after with the assassination of his brother and
Martin Luther King; do you remember the riots in Washington?
Mrs. Gardner: Oh, yes. Carl had gone to Chicago to make a speech so I was alone when Martin
Luther King was shot. Carl said when he left Washington, Washington was on
fire. And, when he arrived in Chicago, Chicago was on fire.
Mrs. Grigg: Wow.
Mrs. Gardner: Again, I was driving down Wisconsin Avenue when I heard – maybe I had the
radio on – I heard that Martin Luther King had been shot and then there was all
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that rioting. I was glad when Carl got home safely. I was shocked. Were you
alive in those days?
Mrs. Grigg: Yes. I don’t remember the president being shot, but I do remember Bobby
Kennedy’s assassination. I was thinking, if we’re still in the ’60s, what about the
landing on the moon? Did you have a television when they landed on the moon?
Mrs. Gardner: Yes. We did have one. Now there is something that was happy. Yes, that was
the summer that Mary came back. Mary went to Senegal with the Peace Corps.
After she graduated from college she went right out there; and there she met Fred
Davis, who was also in the Peace Corps and they got married there which was
great fun. Carl and I went over for that, but they came home from Senegal, I
think, on the day of the moon walk, so there was a lot of excitement in our house.
We did watch it on television and that was exciting for us.
Mrs. Grigg: It’s so interesting listening to you talk about seeing the president’s luggage in the
hallway. You would never see that today. If you heard this kind of news on the –
these big events – you’d be on your cell phones; it is just so different.
Mrs. Gardner: It is very different.
Mrs. Grigg: Well, since we are still in the ‘60s, why don’t we talk about the Vietnam War.
Do you have any memories of protests in Washington?
Mrs. Gardner: I don’t really have anything interesting to say about it because I wasn’t involved,
fortunately. My son-in-law was in the Peace Corps instead. John was too young,
I guess, so he could not serve. I was not happy about the war. They were not
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terribly pleasant times because of Johnson’s being very unpopular; it was a very
Mrs. Grigg: I think we may have already talked about President Nixon resigning. Did we talk
about the day he resigned?
Mrs. Gardner: I wasn’t involved in any way. I have this picture in my mind of President and
Mrs. Nixon walking across the lawn on their way to the helicopter, and I suppose
we watched the whole thing on television, but that’s the picture that remains in
my mind, that of his getting on the steps and waving goodbye.
Mrs. Grigg: Do you remember if your husband was in court that day, or was court in session
or did the federal government shut down that day?
Mrs. Gardner: No, I can’t remember what day of the week it was even. I sort of think he was
with me, but maybe he wasn’t – I’m sorry.
Mrs. Grigg: It just occurred to me to wonder what happens on a day like that.
Mrs. Gardner: I should’ve kept a diary, which I didn’t.
Mrs. Grigg: This was a big news event. I’m going to stop the tape for a moment. We’re
going to talk about your trip to Senegal for your daughter’s wedding.
Mrs. Gardner: Well, we were quite surprised when she went off to the Peace Corps. We didn’t
expect her to get married over there, but indeed she called us and told us that she
wanted to marry Fred Davis from New York, and apparently I knew his
stepmother. I didn’t realize it, but we all flew over together – Fred’s parents and
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Carl and I all flew over and our children met us at the airport in Senegal. This
was just after Bobby Kennedy was shot. Mary drove us to the country the day
before the wedding. All over Senegal people were worried about Bobby
Kennedy. It was amazing, they all had their radios on and they were
sympathizing with us. It was quite amazing. The wedding was in a nice little
church in Dakar. The next day at 11:00 o’clock there was a memorial service in
the same church with all the same people and even Fred and Mary came to the
memorial service for Bobby.
Mrs. Grigg: Wow.
Mrs. Gardner: It was amazing to me how deeply they felt as well.
Mrs. Grigg: You met the ambassador while you were over there?
Mrs. Gardner: Yes. The ambassador had a little party for us at the time and then, actually, after
the Kennedy’s service, we went back to the ambassador’s for lunch and they were
very nice. After that, we flew off to Florence where we visited Adlai Stevenson’s
sister; she rented a villa in Florence. We had a wonderful visit there.
Mrs. Grigg: That sounds lovely. Do you want to talk about any other travels in your time?
Mrs. Gardner: Well, we were invited – I didn’t realize how important this was going to be – but
we were invited to go to Salzburg, Austria, to the Salzburg —
Mrs. Grigg: Music festival?
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Mrs. Gardner: No, it was not the music festival; it was to the Salzburg Seminar for American
Studies. It was a session on law and students came from all over Europe to this
session and there were four professors and their wives. Actually, we took our two
youngest children. We lived in a castle.
Mrs. Grigg: When was this, approximately? Was Judge McGowan on the court yet?
Mrs. Gardner: It was 1967. Carl went on the court in 1963. It was a wonderful experience. We
went back three more times.
Mrs. Grigg: Did you stay in a castle each time?
Mrs. Gardner: We stayed in the castle – the same apartment – each time but the children didn’t
go. It was lovely. We would take a weekend and go to Vienna – all the faculty –
and that was great fun. We went to the “Merry Widow,” I remember, in Vienna
and it was a terrific experience.
Mrs. Grigg: (Clock ringing). Let’s stop while the clock rings. When you were in Salzburg,
how long was the session? Was it a week, two weeks?
Mrs. Gardner: I think it was three weeks. It was in August. The students came from around
Europe and the professors from the U.S. I think Carl was the only judge. They
were teaching – we were teaching – about American law.
Mrs. Grigg: To European law students?
Mrs. Gardner: Yes. We had an Egyptian, I remember. What’s that, is that Europe. Egypt is –
Mideast, I don’t know.
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Mrs. Grigg: Do you remember what Judge McGowan was teaching?
Mrs. Gardner: It was American law. I don’t remember the specific subject. One year when we
were there, Justice Burger was there from the Supreme Court. We had a trial – a
mock trial – and I was something. I don’t know if I was the criminal or whether I
was the one who was attacked; it was sort of fun. We saw a lot of the Burgers.
They were in the next apartment to us and we enjoyed them. One night he
disappeared and Mrs. Burger said he just went out for a walk. I don’t think – I
don’t know if chief justices can do that anymore. Anyway, he went out for a walk
and picked up some friends, had a lovely time. I don’t know if you could do that
in this day and age or not.
Mrs. Grigg: Again, it was pre-cell phone; he couldn’t call and tell her where he was.
Mrs. Gardner: That’s right.
Mrs. Grigg: Did you get to know any other Supreme Court justices over the years?
Mrs. Gardner: Yes, of course. Lewis Powell and his wife Jo became close friends. Potter
Stewart and his wife Andy were also close friends. Of course, Carl knew them
all. Those were the ones we knew best.
Mrs. Grigg: How did you get to know them? Through Judge McGowan’s world?
Mrs. Gardner: I got to know Andy Stewart because she was on the American Field Service
Committee. My son-in-law was Potter’s law clerk. I don’t know how I got to
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know the Powells, but we became very close friends. The others, well, let me
think — judges, I guess, are thrown together. Carl knew them all.
Mrs. Grigg: We are going to shift gears now and talk about Warner Gardner?
Mrs. Gardner: It is interesting that both my husbands went to Columbia Law School. Warner,
after Columbia Law School, clerked for Justice Stone. Later, Warner was in the
solicitor general’s office which he loved because he tried cases before the
Supreme Court. After that, he moved on to the – let’s see, what was Frances
Mrs. Grigg: I don’t remember, I think Labor but I could be wrong.
Mrs. Gardner: Well, he went to work for her, but he found her pretty difficult. So, he left there
and went to Interior. Ickes was head of Interior. He was interviewing Warner
and Warner said, “I didn’t get along very well with Frances Perkins,” and Ickes
said, “I wouldn’t have you if you did.” He got along very well with Ickes and
was very happy there until he went off to the war. He had a wonderful job in the
war. He was at Bletchley where he —
Mrs. Grigg: Decoded?
Mrs. Gardner: Decoded it and told the generals what to do. He was sent to Africa first and then
Italy and then up to France. He was called to talk to General Eisenhower. He had
one position and somebody else had another position. They argued in front of
Eisenhower and Eisenhower opted for Warner. That was very, very nice. When
he came home he thought he would have to go to the Far Eastern war, but
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fortunately that ended. I think he went back to the Interior Department for a
while. He was thinking about his future and he was thinking of moving to
Berkeley to be the dean of the Law School at Berkeley. Well, fortunately, his
wife was expecting a baby (that was obviously before my marriage to Warner) –
they already had two children and his wife was expecting – but she had twins and
he decided that he couldn’t move her to California. They were lucky because
what happened in Berkeley. I mean, it was a terrible place to be – it would’ve
been awful. He was very glad that the twins had saved him, and so he joined with
Frank Shea and started a law firm and called it Shea & Gardner until he retired at
age 90. He died in 2003.
Mrs. Grigg: He worked until he was 90? Wow. [Tape stopped.] We’ve got to go back – I’m
sorry, you were saying?
Mrs. Gardner: Warner did appear in Court a lot, in the Supreme Court, and then in the court of
appeals. Warner was an appellate lawyer, really. He loved the Supreme Court
and when he was going to argue a case, he would go out horseback riding in the
morning. It relaxed him before he went to court. He told me this. He did this all
long before I met him. I thought that was an interesting way to relax.
Mrs. Grigg: Do you know where he went horseback riding?
Mrs. Gardner: I think it was Virginia, but I don’t know. He never rode any horses when I
appeared on the scene. But apparently it helped him to relax. He would say that
he just loved arguing and I have his notebook here which he treasured. It is the
one he used always when he was arguing.
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Mrs. Grigg: Did it have his outline for his arguments?
Mrs. Gardner: I don’t know. I just know it’s in the drawer right over here; I don’t know if it
does have that but I know that it looks sort of battered, but he wasn’t going to
throw that notebook away because that’s the notebook he used when he was
Mrs. Grigg: Was he still arguing cases in front of the appellate court when you were married?
Mrs. Gardner: Yes. He was a great friend of Carl’s and they played tennis together. They had
a court Thursday mornings at 11:00 o’clock and the days when Warner couldn’t
play I would play with Carl, and the days that Carl couldn’t play I would play
with Warner. We would often have lunch together, all of us afterward. They
were very good friends. They had great respect for each other. Their senses of
humor jived very nicely. That was nice that they were such good friends.
Mrs. Grigg: I think we’ll wrap it up for today.
Mrs. Gardner: Okay.
Mrs. Grigg: Well, we’ll turn the tape off. This is the end of Tape 4.