Saturday, June 23, 2012

Memory Lane

  Yesterday morning I visited the George Washintgton Masonic National Memorial (the Masonic Temple). I had never been inside it . . . didn't know it was open to the public. It was quite interesting . . . never really knew too much about the Masons. If you purchase the full tour, you get to ride the elevator up to the observation deck. The elevators start out 60 feet apart and end up only 8 feet apart . . . you aren't aware that you're riding up at an angle. The view from the observation deck, although quite hazy yesterday, was pretty spectacular. You can see the Washington Monument and Capitol Building in D.C. from there . . . as well as most of Alexandria!

It brought back memories of the day we rode our bikes there and I recalled being shooed off the building steps and we rode down the steps and sidewalks on the lower terraced part . . . still rather dare devilish!
Guess they're still discouraging folks from using it as a playground.

I then drove around the old neighborhoods.  We lived in Del Ray from my 4th grade to the middle of my sophomore year of high school.  Seems to be quite the hip and happening area these days with cute shops and restaurants.  It was just a working/middle class neighborhood when we lived there.  This is the house we lived in.   Isn't it funny how everything from your childhood looks so small now . . . the street looks so narrow . . . the houses smaller.
This is the first high school I attended (freshman year and half of my sophomore year):  George Washington High School.  It was only a block away and I could cut through right across the street.  Yes, I was the last high schooler out of bed in the morning!  The building opened in 1935 (my father attended G.W.) and was a high school until 1971 when it became a middle school.  (That's where we first started riding down steps on our bikes . . . yes, those front steps . . . several times!)

Drove past what's left of my elementary school . . . 12 blocks from our house . . . no school bus service back then . . . uphill both ways . . . three feet of snow . . .  you remember those days.

The first picture is what is left of the school.  The "old" building in the picture above was where my 4th grade classroom was, the library and the bomb shelter.  I always felt safe in that building.  We had bomb drills a lot . . .  it was the late 50's/early 60's and we were just a stones throw from D.C.  The Russians were surely out to get us!

From the middle of my sophomore year to the end of my junior year (at T.C. Williams High School), we lived in this house in the area called Beverly Hills . .  we were "movin' on up"!  Then daddy got transferred to Camp Hill, PA and it was yet another high school. 
Today I got up early . . . somebody wanted to go out and be fed at 6:45 a.m. . . . and made it to the Farmer's Market in Old Town about 9:40 a.m.  Walked down Fairfax Street to my grandparents house (the one from my chart called Nanu's Hankie) until the shops were open.  Nanu's house is on the left in the photo below.  We lived in the house on the right when I was about three years old.  It hadn't been added onto then . . . there was a side yard we played in between the houses.
Here's Nanu's Hankie: 
These houses are right across the street from the Presbyterian Meeting House which dates from the early eighteenth century.   Looks like they were preparing for a wedding!  Alexandria’s memorial services for George Washington in 1799 were held in this sanctuary, and the church bell tolled in mourning during the four days between his death and burial . . . earplugs please!

The shops were now open and I browsed through The Torpedo Factory . . . it really was a torpedo factory at one time.  Now it's a maze of artist's studios and home to the Alexandria Archaeology Museum.  I struck up a conversation with an elderly docent at the museum asking her if she knew where I might find some information on historical properties in town and genealogy information.  She told me there was a genealogy section of the library that has all kinds of records on past Alexandria residents.  She summoned another woman over who copied a page from the Historic Alexandria Survey of Existing Early Buildings on the history of my grandparents' house!  Not exactly the story I had heard from my uncle . . . doesn't seem to have been built by relatives.

Had lunch in Old Town at Landini Brothers (recommended by a friend who loves Italian food!).  I don't know if Shrimp Salad Stuffed Avocado is Italian, but it was good!

Stopped in the Ramsey House Visitors Center and picked up a ton of brochures . . . where should I go tomorrow?


1 comment:

  1. Great history lesson of life in Alexandria and your early days Bonny. I never knew the house your grandparents lived in 'downtown' and I remember hearing about where my grandparents lived but never went there.
    I did visit the Torpedo Factory once in its early days as it is now. My dad worked there when it was the Torpedo Factory.
    I look forward to more on your trip.
    Cousin, Mary Weber