Via Media

Via Media


Summer in the City

posted by awelborn

I’ve lived in or around D.C. a couple of times in my life:

First (and correct me if I’m wrong, Dad), when I was a year old or so, for a year. My dad was a Congressional Fellow in Jim Wright’s office. I don’t remember much about it. Okay, I don’t remember anything. I’ve been told it’s the year for which I’ve been paying, karmically-speaking ever since, with my own late nights and wakeful babies.

The second was 1967-8, when he worked in another government office, and I was in second grade. We lived in Arlington, and here’s what I remember: the hardwood floors of the apartment. A piano being rented so I could take lessons. The lessons were group lessons at school, on silent keyboards.  Seeing The Jungle Book, and I seem to remember that the movie theater looked like a plantation house with columns in front – of course that can’t be right. Can it? I remember waiting at the school bus stop, where an older girl was showing us her math book, which must have been algebra. It had problems with letters in the equations, and that struck me deeply, for I could not figure out how you could add and subtract letters.

I remember my First Communion.  I remember coming into the living room of the apartment and seeeing my Dad in front of the television, intense. I asked him what happened. "Some fool shot Martin Luther King," he said. I remember the National Folklife Festival and the pottery flour and sugar cannisters my mother bought than are in my own kitchen right now. I remember the National Gallery visits, and once, reaching out to touch one of the paintings, to have my hand, of course, quickly pushed aside. I remember eating lunch with my mother at either the Hecht’s or Woodward and Lothrop’s tea room and having, in my view, the most decadent, wonderful ham sandwich I’d ever eaten. For years, the memory of the sandwich stuck with me, but I never could figure out what had delighted me so until, as an adult, I had one like it, somewhere else – it must have been just grossly slathered with mayonnaise.

I’ve visited just twice since, I think, once back in 1979 or 80 with my friend Lucy – we visited a friend of hers, now a priest with the Diocese of Nashville, who was a student at CTU. Then in 1991, when I was pregnant with Katie and ill with pneumonia, I went, despite it all, with my friend Dorothy to the East Coast Religious Education Conference. We did a lot of wandering, had a great Italian meal somewhere, and it gave me one of the growing number of moments to suspect that this professional laity world was, like any other world, potentially nuts. During a Mass for which one of the texts was the whole Jeremiah – potter thing, the gimmick was that the whole time Mass was going on, there would be (can you just hear the breathless discussions of this?) a real potter who would be shaping pottery and her activity would be simultaneously projected on a big screen behind the altar!!!!!!!!!!!

This is what Dorothy said: "Didn’t these people see Ghost? Is this really the association they want to make?"



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Ronny

posted August 8, 2005 at 11:42 pm


I remember the National Gallery visits, and once, reaching out to touch one of the paintings, to have my hand, of course, quickly pushed aside.
While I was living inside the Beltway, my wife and I took our kids and my visiting sister and her kids to the National Gallery. While there, one of my kids got hacked off about something while we were in the Renaissance halls, which has some beautiful paintings several hundreds of years old by well-known artists. Anyway, she took the baby toy that she had in her hand and threw it as hard as she could at the nearest of said beautiful old paintings by well-known artist. Luckily, it missed by a few inches, and there was no security guard in the room to chase us out of the building, but we made sure to leave the area pretty quickly all the same.



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Todd

posted August 9, 2005 at 10:11 am


“… the gimmick was that the whole time Mass was going on, there would be (can you just hear the breathless discussions of this?) a real potter who would be shaping pottery and her activity would be simultaneously projected on a big screen behind the altar!”
I would expect this from a religious ed conference; it would never get past the wild laughter stage if someone brought it up for a liturgy or music conference.
The other trip news sounds wonderful. I’ve had two visits myself, a job interview in ’82 that gained me 45 spare minutes for the Air and Space Museum, and a return visit in ’92 that involved the same time table and same sight to see. My wife tells me there’s much more to Washington. I believe it.



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Ed the Roman

posted August 9, 2005 at 12:04 pm


Ahhh, Woodies (Woodward and Lothrop). The one in Wheaton Plaza had a large fish tank near makeup, which made it bearable for small boys.



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Monica

posted August 9, 2005 at 12:42 pm


The movie theater of which you speak probably is the Buckingham Theater. I used to go there as a kid growing up in Arlington – I’ll have to drive by and see what it is now. BTW, my husband and I (and kids) enjoyed meeting you on Sunday in DC.



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Patrick Rothwell

posted August 9, 2005 at 1:06 pm


Woodies – alas – is gone as if Garfinkles. Hecht’s has been bought out and soon that name will be gone as well. And, Amy, the People’s Drug Store chain has been bought out by the egregious CVS.



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katie

posted August 9, 2005 at 1:21 pm


pregnant with pneumonia !? me too with my only girl of five children, middle child (now 16) AWFUL!



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Seamus

posted August 9, 2005 at 1:42 pm


“The movie theater of which you speak probably is the Buckingham Theater.”
I had a little frisson of recognition when I realized that Ms. Wellborn was probably talking about that movie house. I think I saw The Jungle Book there myself. (I know for sure that I saw Yellow Submarine there a couple of years later.) By that time, my family had moved to another part of Arlington, but for the first three years of my life I lived just a few blocks from Buckingham.
The theater closed many years ago, and a decade or two ago it was renovated to become the new home for the local post office. (The old post office is now a Tex-Mex restaurant.)



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Ronny

posted August 9, 2005 at 2:24 pm


Who bought Hecht’s? Is the big store near Metro Center closing?



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bruce cole

posted August 9, 2005 at 2:33 pm


Federated bought up the May Co., which means Hecht’s will now be Macy’s. The big fish keep getting swallowed up by the even bigger fish…May Co. bought up the Meier & Frank stores (for the benefit of any of you Pacific NW folks out there, remember?) many years ago back in Oregon and Washington.



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