Interview with Agnes Quade
In observance of Veteran’s Day, the staff at the Center for Local History present a clip of an oral history interview with Charles and Agnes Quade, who recalls attending the first dedication of the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, at Arlington National Cemetery on November 11, 1932. After some research about Sgt. Frank Witchey (spelled Witchie here) we have determined that Mrs. Quade misspoke during her interview and based on her information about meeting the Sergeant, she was actually there on the original dedication date in November 1921 (thank you to an eagle-eyed patron for pointing this out to us!).
In this segment, Mrs. Quade shares her memories of seeing Sergeant Witchey - a man her husband would eventually meet - play Taps at the Unknown Soldier’s tomb.
NARRATOR: Agnes Quade
INTERVIEWER: Theda Nichols
DATE: May 3, 1975
TN: Now, while we’re on the War subject, didn’t you tell me that you had attended the first dedication of the Unknown Soldier in 1932?
AQ: I did.
TN: Could you tell me what you remember about that?
AQ: And that was just a wonderful, impressive occasion. I went out to the National Cemetery, to the Amphitheater. And my mother was here from Atlanta, Georgia, at the time – had come 600 miles; and I thought, “Oh, how wonderful [that] we are here for such a solemn day.” It meant so much to everyone.
And when we arrived, out at the Cemetery, I asked one of the men who had charge of the services if it would be possible that we could get a seat.
And he said, “Oh, no!” – that all the seats were taken, and that others – we just didn’t have any room for anyone else in the Amphitheater; we could stand outside, and we could hear, probably.
And I said, “But my mother’s here, and she’s from Atlanta, Georgia.”
He said, “Just a minute, Lady.”
And over he came with two tickets, which I still have – and I treasure! – and brought me a program. And he ushered us in to about the fourth row of the Amphitheater.
And it was a very solemn service. I have Kodak pictures of the first Unknown Soldier’s Tomb – with the wreath, and with the colors, the flags, and the different divisions of the military, which were at that particular service.
And I would like to add there that the man, who was Sgt. Witchie, is a wonderful bugler – played “Taps” that day over the Unknown Soldier’s Tomb – on November the 11th, 1932.
And in several years, my husband happened to meet Sgt. Witchie; and now we have an autographed copy, a picture, framed, of him playing “Taps” at the Unknown Soldier’s Tomb on November the 11th, 1932.
You can find Charles and Agnes Quade’s interview in its entirety at the Center for Local History- VA 975.5295 A7243oh ser.2 no.24
The goal of the Arlington Voices project is to showcase the Center for Local History’s oral history collection in a publicly accessible and shareable way.
What is the oral history collection?
Oral history is a popular method of research used for understanding historical events, actors, and movements from the point of view of people’s personal experiences.
The Arlington Public Library began collecting oral histories of long-time residents in the 1970s, and since then the scope of the collection has expanded to capture the diverse voices of Arlington’s community. In 2016, staff members and volunteers recorded many additional hours of interviews, building the collection to 575 catalogued oral histories.
To browse our list of narrators indexed by interview subject, check out our community archive. To read a full transcript of an interview, visit the Center for Local History located at Central Library.
Valerie Scott Matei says
Hello..it’s so strange..I had been looking for a site that said something about Altha Hall and the impact it had on my young life..Yes, I did attend this wonderful school and when I was there they had first grade.
My teacher was Mrs. Koontz, who lived in Lyon Village. My kindergarten teacher was Miss Hanaky..who wasn’t so friendly..very strict. My all time favorite was mother Payne and Anna, her daughter..and also Mrs Omp..ne Ompstead.. I was three when I went there…having also attended Squirrel Hill nursery school..I do not have any memories about that place..but my mother did not like it.
She found that Altha Hall and had heard wonderful things about it. The things I remember are they let me be who I was..I was an only child and rather wild..They taught me the airs and graces of what a young lady should have..we use to sit in the very large dining room..which was the dining room of the house. There we learned the etiquette of eating and how one should sit, when eating. I am now 77..it has been with me all of these years. I remember all of those people as if it were yesterday. I remember the triplets..Jean, June, and Joan.. I think their last name was Miller…anyway, they attended Washington-Lee with me. They were one year ahead of me, but I use to see them. I remember at one time we had a French boy and girl..from France..didn’t speak a word of English..we tried to help them with their English. It was a wonderful experience..we had picnics on the “upper playground”, in the summer..as far as I can remember, I went to school all year round…it was good. Both of my parents worked over in Washington, so they would pick me up on the way home. I have the warmest memories of that school.
I went back a couple of times before they dismantled it. It made me sad.
As I said, they let me be me. Some of my W-L friends went there with me. It was more than a school to me. They were like my family. I hated taking naps..so sometimes I would hide in the bamboo, just down the hill.. I wasn’t alone, but was an instigator..we would go over to Spout Run..which was an enormous creek at that time..we would play in that creek until nap time was over..then slink back for orange juice and cookies..
When I got to the second grade.. I had to leave Altha Hall..I was crestfallen…BUT.. I was so advanced in everything, they wanted me to just go to the third grade..my parents said no because my birthday was in September and they thought it would be to hard on me emotionally, so I went toJohn Marshall…then to Yorktown. I could never forget Altha Hall, and even still today, think about it and talk about it.