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Home Brew: 1926

Home Brew: 1926

Washington, D.C., circa 1926. "Thomas R. Shipp Co. -- S.A. Gatti stand, Center Market." Offering malt extract, wine jelly and hops, three items for your Prohibition-era shopping list. National Photo glass negative. View full size.


On Shorpy:
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Gatti Bros.

Washington Post, April 30, 1961.

Seraphin A. Gatti Dies; D.C. Wholesale Grocer.

Seraphin A. Gatti, 80, a wholesale grocer in the District many years, died of heart ailment Friday in Arlington Hospital.

He was one of the first institutional wholesale grocers in Washington, serving restaurants, hospitals, schools, clubs and government establishments.

Mr. Gatti started in the retail business shortly after arriving here in 1886 from his native Italy. He ran a grocery with his brother on the site of the Archives Building. Later he went into wholesale work with his son, and retired in 1952. …

Washington Post, December 20, 1969.

Louis B. Gatti Dies, Produce Merchant.

Louis B. Gatti, a retired produce merchant whose fruit and vegetable stand won the culinary cachet of early 20th century Washington, died Thursday in Georgetown University Hospital after a long illness, He was 96.

His stand was one of many in the old Center Market, a two-block wholesale and retail produce emporium located on the present site of the National Archives in downtown Washington.

But the fine quality of his vegetables and fruit—such as strawberries from Plant City, Fla., and typhoid-free watercress grown in pure mineral springs—won an elite clientele of the rich and powerful in a day when even the most haughty of the city's housewives did their own daily grocery shopping.

Perhaps his most discriminating customer was Mrs. William Howard Taft, wife of a gourmand, the 27th President of the United States. The day after her husband's election in 1908, she appeared at Gatti's stand to let him know that she would soon be taking delivery at the White House.

President Taft lost the next election but apparently Woodrow Wilson found Gatti's produce just as tasty. He continued to supply the White House, his wife Mary Angela, doing the selling, he the buying. …

Re: Strange Poster

There's another Bertozzi poster to the left of the "cheesy" one:

Hot tin roof (but no cat in sight)

I have noticed that in many of the pictures of stores on Shorpy, they appear to have some type of corrugated metal ceiling. I would have to hazard a guess this must be a lower level from a multi-story building, as it doesn't look sturdy enough to support the occasional heavy winter snow that might come to the DC area; and there also doesn't appear to be any insulation.

[Photo of the exterior here, along with a link in the comments to more photos inside. -tterrace]

Strange poster

What is that a poster for just to the left of the womans hat brim?
I can't zoom in on it enough to see.

[Bertozzi Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. - tterrace]


When I moved to Georgia in the 60's it was exceedingly hard to find any alcoholic beverages, much less pizza. Necessity being the mother of somebody I was able to obtain an old 5 gallon glass water jug into which I placed a 3 lb can of Blue Ribbon Malt and 5 lbs of sugar, topping up same with water - which in a week or two made an almost serviceable beer, although on occasion the stuff would would overflow the jug making a bit of a mess.

And the Winner of the Blue Ribbon is

When I was still in highschool I had a job at a local IGA grocery store. They sold Hop Flavored Blue Ribbon Malt Extract. I wondered what good anything could be that was flavored by hops. Then I learned how to make home brew. My question was answered.

Still Going Strong!

Among the hops and malt are other product names that have survived and are still recognizable brands: SOS - scouring pads, Libby's - vegetables, Angostura - bitters, Crisco - shortening. Household staples still!


I believe that during Prohibition it remained legal to make beer or wine at home for family consumption (though not for sale or other distribution). Distilled spirits remained outside that exemption, however.

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