A City on Seven Hills and Me

memorialbridge

Rolling Thunder enters the City via the Arlington Memorial Bridge, 4 July  (Wikipedia, photo year unknown)

Our weekend promises to be a stunner….almost 60 degrees according to our local weather guy, Topper.  If you are trying to figure out what’s happening weatherwise in DC, the national weather news is not very accurate. So we’ve listened to Topper forever.

Isn’t it funny how your local weather guy is one of the few people on TV you trust.  Besides, he’s known locally as are other CBS reporters.  My dog veternarian knew Topper when he worked in Knoxville TN where she attended UT.  She says he hasn’t changed.  Still has the same boyish charm.

A few years ago, when she took her four girls to have their Flu shots, Connie was interviewed by one of the local reporters, Peggy Fox. What fun to see all the girls on TV.

But that wasn’t Connie’s first TV appearance.  Back in the early 1970s, our Girl Scout troop participated in a city-wide “bike-in” from Mount Vernon (near where we lived).  The bike trail runs parallel to the Potomac, past National Airport and across Memorial bridge to the Mall. CBS news crews were filming, and we appered on the evening news biking into the city.

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This week, after a conversation with neighbor Mary who has lived in the same house here in Arlington all her life (except for eight years in Hawaii in the 1970s), I got to thinking about the many trips I had made to downtown DC over the past 55 years, beginning with the day we moved to the area…the day JFK was inaugurated.

January 20, 1961, we were trying to reach Silver Spring MD from the Virginia side, to visit my husband’s aunt and cousins.  We had driven up Route 1, which in those pre-beltway and Interstate days meant driving through DC.  Suddenly we found our car entirely surrounded by donkeys.  Donkeys, donkeys everywhere from the Inauguration Parade. But what struck me were the chickens in backyards next to the Capitol building.

One of my professors at Georgetown told us that before the big government expansion in the 1960s, the city was a small Southern town. Even WWII hadn’t altered the city much.  Today, the temporary war department buildings are mostly gone.  Much of the rest of the city (outside NW) was wooden housing from the nineteenth century and burned during the riots in the late 1960s or was torn down in recent years.

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The locals call it “Potomac Fever.” As long as I can remember, I’ve been interested in politics and Washington DC.  In the early 1950s, when Mom made a trip from NC to the UN for a Girl Scout convention in New York City, she traveled by rail via DC. Knowing of my infatuation with Washington she bought a charm bracelet in Union Station. The charms on the bracelet included all the monuments, the Capitol building and White House.

One year, I met a girl from Washington DC at Girl Scout camp who became a pen pal for many years.  I thought she was grand.  However, like the charm bracelet, her letters disappeared on one of those many moves I made as a military wife.

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18 thoughts on “A City on Seven Hills and Me

  1. Interesting descriptive recollections of some of your history. I have vague memories of my first D.C. trip many years ago. Seems to me the area around the White House was much more open without fencing and an ability to drive closer. As our nation’s capital the city should be a showcase, but is it?

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    • Fences and Jersey barricades everywhere now. I used to be able to walk anywhere. Everything changed since the 1960s and the “Weather Underground.” I began worrying about bombs in public places because of those idiots.

      On the other hand many things changed for the better with Lady Bird Johnson’s “Beautification ” program which has continued till today. I wonder if Michelle Obama’s vegetable garden will be around after she’s gone? The WH chef hopes so.

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  2. I really enjoyed this post Dianne. Like you there are pieces of my life scattered all round the world because of the travelling light scenario of being a serviceman’s wife with family.

    What a shame about the bracelet being ‘lost’ – I also had a memory charm bracelet that became lost after a daughter used it as part of her gypsy costume for a fancy dress party. I was ‘annoyed’ because the charms were purchased trinket charms (some silver some gold) from our time stationed in the Far East (Singapore and Malaysia) plus some The Golfer brought back from nearby countries when he was on detachments there. Still can’t cry over spilt milk can we, the memories are still there in our minds.

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    • I don’t think people who have not traveled with military spouses appreciate the life. I am always happy to connect with a fellow “traveler.”♥️

      My oldest son, who spent half his 30 years with the Navy at various assignments in Europe, currently manages the physical plant, equipment and housing and roads too…(like a city manager) of several western US naval bases. He tells me he has much to do with military family matters.

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  3. That was such interesting history of your area — the only thing I knew about was Potomac Fever, which of course I’ve seen mentioned in many in different op-ed columns .. that and references to the Beltway. Had no idea of the changes your “town” has seen.

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  4. This was a great read Dianne. The photo of Rolling Thunder coming across the bridge is wonderful. Lost touch with quite a few friends due to all our military moves back in the day. When we moved to DC the first time Jimmy Carter was being inaugurated. Actually got to hear a speech for one of the visiting dignitaries on the Whitehouse lawn the following summer which was amazing to me.

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    • Interesting vignette Denise. Although we also came and went from DC a couple of times (two oldest were born here), once to Fl and once to Hawaii, we had lived in CA before we moved here the first time.

      The bad thing about divorce is you lose touch with other wives, however, I am in touch with one military wife-friend and have made new friends.

      D was a “Marine’s Marine” and was constantly called upon to carry the “Eagle, Globe and Anchor” at various functions at the White House. Perhaps he was in the honor guard the day you visited the WH.

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  5. i am sitting here enjoying your mix of DC and personal history while also watching Part one of History of the Eagles, the Story of an American Band. We first encountered Eagles music when we quit our jobs in 1977 and vanned around the US with our five-year-old son. Their music has provided the soundtrack for our travels ever since. Nostalgia.

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  6. I liked to stay in Alexandria and bus in to the Agriculture Building when the U.S. Forest Service sent me to DC for meetings or training sessions. All my visits to the area were enjoyable.

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