Little-known tidbit of newspaper personality trivia: John Monk of The State grew up in Kensington, Md., two blocks over from the house in which my Dad grew up. This was not at the same time, mind you. John’s older than I am, but not THAT much older. No, John remembers when my Aunt Bobbie’s family lived in what originally had been built as the Warthen house. He particularly remembers that my cousin Jackie drove a Ford Falcon as a high school student.
I had known John for years and years, but didn’t learn this stuff about him until after I hired him away from The Charlotte Observer in 1997.
Anyway, it all came up again when I went up there for Aunt Bobbie’s 90th birthday party. Jackie was there, but no Ford Falcon. The celebration wasn’t in Kensington, but further out in the far-flung suburbanopolis of Montgomery County. But before the party, Dad and I explored around Kensington a bit. I mentioned all this in a previous post.
While I was there, I called John to tell him I was on his street, but I was wrong. I thought he lived on Everett, but it was actually another block over on Franklin. I ran into John at Rotary yesterday, and promised to share with him some pictures from the visit. And I decided the easiest way to do that would be to post them here. This is bound to bore most of you, but you can just move on to another post. Maybe I’ll do something personal for you later.
To identify the pictures:
- Above you find my Dad checking out the old homestead at 3904 Dresden St. Remember it now, John? Second house over from Connecticut Ave. A fact or two about that house: It was built by my great-grandfather, Alfred Crittenton Warthen, as a wedding present to my grandfather, just under a century ago. It stayed in the family until the present owner bought it from Aunt Bobbie’s daughter, my cousin Mary Jane. A.C. Warthen, by the way, may have built your home, too, if it’s old enough. He built a lot of the homes in that area. I wish he had kept some in the family. I’d love to be sitting on some of that real estate today.
- Mizell Lumber & Hardware. My Dad remembered it from his day — he went to school with some Mizell’s. Thought you might remember it, too.
- The “modern” (circa 50s or 60s, I’m guessing) shopping center that was a block from the elementary school that I attended for a couple of months back before we were sent down to South America in 1962 (My Dad was doing language training in D.C.). I used to collect discarded pop bottles and exchange them at the grocery that used to be here, so I could spend the proceeds on soda and Mad magazines.
- The old train station. They were having a local farmer’s market in the parking lot that Saturday.
- The house my grandmother lived in as a teenager. She had previously lived downtown next door to Pitchfork Ben Tillman, when he was a U.S. senator. I mentioned that in a previous column. Anyway, her father — an attorney from South Carolina working for the Treasury Department, who would later help start the GAO — eventually moved the family out here, away from the taint of Tillman. Here’s how she met my grandfather — she would see him walking past her house on the way to the train station each day in a suit and straw boater, carrying a bag. She thought he was a salesman, and the bag contained his wares. Actually, he was a ballplayer, and bag contained his uniform and glove. He worked for the Post Office, but he only worked there so that he could play ball for its team. He was a pitcher. Gerald “Whitey” Warthen would eventually be offered a contract with the Senators, which he turned down to work in his father’s business.
- OK, this isn’t even Kensington, but I liked the shot, from later in the same day as the ones above. That’s the security gate at Bethesda Naval Hospital close by. I shot this through the windshield just before pulling up to the gate, as the Jeep ahead pulled away.
Finally, John, here are the pictures I posted earlier from Dietle’s, where you told me you had a beer or two back in the day…