We, the Scherers, recently celebrated our 50th anniversary of residing in our white house on Pennsylvania Avenue in Mount Vernon. I frequently joke that we are merely three house numbers away from the better-known White House on Pennsylvania Avenue.
So much has happened in our house over the past 50 years, having six children, all educated in Mount Vernon public schools and now all professionals. We have had a wedding, a number of bat and bar mitzvahs, political gatherings, musicals, and assorted other events in this very same house.
Mount Vernon resident Martin Scherer was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and grew up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He is a fine-art dealer and the author of two recently published books, Tuscalaural and Tales of My Williamsburg –Recollections.
We all know that real estate agents sometimes play fast and loose with the truth. So, 50 years ago, when the recently married Scherers were told that the house they were considering buying on Pennsylvania Avenue was the former home of General David Sarnoff—the longtime head of RCA, who turned the company into a powerhouse and is generally regarded as “the father of broadcasting”—we took this pronouncement with a grain of salt. In the mid-1960s, approximately one year after living in the house, my wife Rena read that the General was celebrating his 75th birthday. “Why don’t we send him a birthday card and add to it, ‘We heard you lived at our address on Pennsylvania Avenue’?” we thought.
We then followed through with this plan. Sureenough, in a very short time, we received this letter:
Radio Corporation of America
March 21, 1966
Dear Mr. Scherer:
Thank you for your letter of March 10 and for kind birthday wishes. Answering your question, I would say it is true that Mrs. Sarnoff and I and our two oldest sons lived in the house you now occupy. We did not build it; we bought it. We lived there for several years around 1920.
I wish you well.
The hero here was General Sarnoff’s secretary, who eyed all his mail and found our birthday card and message worthy of the General’s time.
The Sarnoff letter still hangs in our anteroom as it has for these many years.
So there you have it, a truthful real estate agent and a house that is the keeper of sundry anecdotes and has been a haven for an appreciative family.