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You're a what? Tour guide.

Behind the marble and the monuments of Washington, D.C., lie the flesh and blood stories of the men and women these memorials commemorate. Ask Jeanne Fogle for chapter, verse, and footnote. And beyond the corridors of power where today's newsmakers tread stretch the byways and the neighborhoods of a city where yesterday's history makers lived. Let Ms. Fogle be your guide.

As the owner and operator of her one woman company-A Tour de ForceJeanne Fogle offers more than two dozen different tours of the glories and curiosities of the Nation's capital. "When you examine Washington's history, you end up studying the history of the U. S., " she says. "The aim of my tours is to bring that history alive, to make it real to people. "

Jeanne speaks with a fervor that helps explain why she traded corporate success for a future that lay in the past. Seven years ago, she said goodbye to the vice-presidency of a growing Washington business. " I got tired of sitting behind a desk, " she says, and decided that " since I had to work, I wanted to have fun, to work outside in a situation where I'd always be learning, and to be able to share what I learned with others. "

During the Bicentennial, she began to think about her hometown's history and her family's role in it. Millions have craned their necks to view the work of her grandfather, George F.W. Strieby, whose fresco, The Apotheosis of George Washington, adorns the interior of the Capitol dome. Jeanne delved into the city's history, finding that the deeper she dug the stronger her interest became.

From an earlier sojourn in Hawaii, she recalled watching the island guides ply their trade. "It seemed as if they were having so much fun, " she says. The possibilities presented by her hometown intrigued her. As a fourth generation Washingtonian, Jeanne's a rarity in a city where many inhabitants call someplace else home.

Tour guides must be licensed in Washington, so her first step was to obtain her permit. She studied for the licensing exam, passed it, and began her search for a job. A Friday morning's perusal of the classifieds revealed that a tour company was seeking a licensed guide. Jeanne applied, and, the following Monday, she boarded a bus loaded with tourists ready to cruise the city. With neither a script nor a microphone, she winged it. " I found out I was a natural, " she says with a laugh. Not long after, she formed her own company; within a year she was in the black.

Today, Jeanne is one of the most sought after guides in Washington. Initially, she believed she would conduct spring and fall tours of Washington and then, perhaps, spend the summers either in Europe or Hawaii. " But the demand for tours in Washington is so overwhelming, " says Jeanne, that " I work here year round. "

Visits to the capital's most popular attractions make up but a part of Jeanne's repertoire. Her explorations of what she calls "the nooks and crannies of Washington, " her excursions into the city's neighborhoods, each with its distinctive history and architecture, and her expeditions through the area's historic cemeteries, the final resting places for yesteryear's rich and famous, excite the interest of visitor and hometowner alike.

For Jeanne, each tour begins in the stacks of one of the many libraries found in Washington. " Research is the backbone of my tours, " says Fogle. Frequently, her first stop is the Library of Congress, "in the F 195's, the local history and genealogy section, " she says. The Martin Luther King Library, the flagship of the District's public library system, maintains a major collection of Washingtoniana, and the branches in the city's neighborhoods offer choice nuggets. Jeanne also haunts the city's secondhand book stores and has built a solid collection of her own.

" Research is something that I really enjoy, " she says. " I'm constantly reading, constantly researching. What I find is that everything begins to interrelate. It's like a giant treasure hunt or a huge puzzle where I'm constantly fitting in the pieces. "

She records her research on 3 by 5 cards, which she carries with her for handy reference. While she may not use all the material she collects, she believes "you need buffers. You should have 10 times as much information as you'll relate on a tour. If I'm running out of time, I can edit the material. If I need more, it's always there. "

Her preparations resemble an actor's rehearsal for a performance. For her walking tour of Georgetown, for example, she estimates that she spent more than 80 hours preparing. And if she's giving a new tour, the butterflies are sure to flutter. " Even though I've completed all my research, I'll be cramming up to the last minute. I'll draw a complete blank when I look at my note cards and have no idea what the tour is going to be about. But as soon as I get started, it all comes out, " she says.

Each tour combines substance and style. The people Jeanne guides are her audience, and her aim is not only to inform but to entertain as well. She speaks much as a performer might about the importance of timing and of her relationship with her clients. She says, "You have to read your audience and figure out what they want. "

Recently she conducted a tour of the city for some Russian dignitaries, recounting for them their country's influence on one of our most important buildings. "The first cast iron dome ever erected was that of St. Isaac's Cathedral in present-day Leningrad. It influenced the construction of the second dome which tops the Capitol, " she says.

Many people ask her how she can visit the same sights again and again. Jeanne responds that the amount of material she has at hand and the changing audience help keep each tour fresh. She encourages her clients to share what they know. Occasionally, someone will challenge some information she presents. "I'm grateful when I'm challenged because sometimes I may give out misinformation. It forces me to go back and do research. "

Jeanne's reputation and continuing hard work help assure her a full calendar. She regularly offers tours under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution's Resident Associates program, as well as through a local adult education organization called First Class, Inc. Many international visitors to Washington, guests of the U. S. Information Agency, return to their lands with a new perspective on our country courtesy of Jeanne's tours.

Frequently she'll receive requests from colleagues in the tour industry-from travel agents or corporate planners, for example-to prepare a special tour. " Perhaps they want me to prepare an excursion for visitors who have been to the city many times before and want to see something new, " she says. She responds with proposals detailing what she plans to do. It's all part of the marketing that every business must do.

Successful tours depend upon some mundane but essential details. "You have to know your way around town, " she says " You have to know how to route buses, what the rush hour traffic patterns are, where you can drop off and pick up passengers, and where you can park. " Downtown Washington is in a continual state of construction. "Things keep changing so you have to keep on your toes. "

The tour business is more relaxed than the corporate world she left behind, but no less professional. "It's an industry that's built very much on trust, " says Jeanne. "The guides that I have worked with are very exuberant people who enjoy their work, and it shows, " she says. When she began, the industry was dominated by women. It remains so today, though there have been some changes. Initially, the pay was about $4 an hour. Now, says Jeanne, "it's in the range of $13 to $15 an hour with a 4-hour minimum. During the busy season, you can work 12-hour days. "

While Washington attracts visitors the year round, Jeanne is busiest during the spring, early summer, and the autumn. The cyclical business means "it's tough for many. But, if you hustle, you can do it, " she says.

During her slow times, she concentrates on other projects. The city plays host to many conventions every year, and Jeanne gives slide presentations and lectures on the city' s treasures to participants. Convention schedules can be heavy. " If people have a few free hours, I can give them a lot of information and help them to feel more comfortable when they get out on their own, " she says.

She has also collaborated with her brother, an architect at the Capitol, on another venture. They have produced a series of note cards that depict some of the capital's famous vistas. He draws the pictures; Jeanne writes the text.

Another endeavor demands most of her attention now. She's writing a book on historic Washington personalities who have helped the city grow. This project, the note cards, and her tours relate to another ambition she holds. " Washington will celebrate its own bicentennial in 2000. 1 hope to be a recognized historian of the city by then, " she reveals. To many, that's a title she already deserves.
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Publication:Occupational Outlook Quarterly
Date:Dec 22, 1990
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