Herman J. Obermayer, former owner of the Northern Virginia Sun and first openly Jewish member of the Washington Golf and Country Club in the twentieth century:
“I joined in ’77 so a year or so earlier I was contacted by two friends of mine who were prominent in the community who I knew who said would I like to become a member, that they thought it was about time to have a Jewish member and I could afford it and I was prominent and blah, blah.
“I said yes if there would not be a fight. It didn’t mean that much. . . But if they wanted me I thought it would add a dimension to my life and I’d be glad to if I wasn’t going to be in a fight.
“Within a month or two they contacted me and said there wouldn’t be. These friends of mine who shepherded me through reported that there was a single member of the board who was opposed to having a Jewish member and that most of the leaders felt very positively that it was time for Washington Golf and Country Club to have Jewish members and if I was willing to be a member they would like to have me.
“I had the particularly gratifying experience of having seven or eight sponsoring letters from people when they heard this was coming up wanted to get involved in supporting us. I’d like to believe it was because we were so charming but I really believe its because they really thought it was time for Washington Golf and Country Club not to be known as a place that excluded Jews. And we have now belonged 26 or 27 years and I have never had a single question about anything. In the meantime I indicated that I hoped I wouldn’t be a token, that they would take in other Jews. I didn’t make any conditions. Within a very few years they took in several.”
The image above was taken from a Franklin Survey map book of Arlington, published in 1935. The quote above is from our oral history collection, which you can find in the library catalog. Survey and plat map books, and oral history tapes and transcripts are available in the Virginia Room.
What About You?
What do you remember about Washington Golf and Country Club? What are your experiences with the Jewish community in Arlington? Let us know what you remember!