Arlington

Filed Under:Virginia

Arlington's Bravest: The Arlington County Fire Department

Are you free this Thursday evening? If so, head on over to the Walter Reed Community Center (2909 16th Street S Arlington, VA 22204) for the Arlington Historical Society's first program of the 2014-2015 calendar. Arlington County Fire Chief Jim Schwartz will be giving a talk about the history of fire protection in the county and the department's response to some notable emergencies, including the Air Florida plane crash in 1982 and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Chief Schwartz was kind enough to sit down with Boundary Stones and give us a preview of his talk. Check out the video below and then click through for more on the illustrious history of the ACFD!

Filed Under:DC, Virginia

Arlington’s Roberta Flack Gets Her Start at Mr. Henry’s

Born in Asheville, North Carolina, Roberta Flack started playing the piano at an early age. When she was five, her family moved to the Nauck community in Arlington and she took up the organ, lending her musical talents to Macedonia Baptist Church. At 15, she entered Howard University with a full music scholarship and, by 19, she was a college graduate seeking.

She accepted a position in a segregated school district in Farmville, North Carolina and wound up being the only music teacher for 1300 students, kindergarten through 12th grade. “I lost 40 pounds and almost had a nervous breakdown but we did some beautiful things that year.”[1]

Flack returned to Washington and taught at Rabaut Junior High School and Brown Junior High School. In the evenings, she started performing – first at the Tivoli Theatre in Columbia Heights and then at Mr. Henry’s, a Capitol Hill nightclub at 6th and Pennsylvania Ave, SE, which was owned by Henry Yaffe.

Filed Under:Virginia

Meeting the Community's Needs: Arlington’s Friendly Cab Company

Friendly Cab Company's Charles Collins (right) identified a need in the Nauck/Green Valley community. (Source: Collins family photo)In the 1940s, Jim Crow held strong in Arlington, Virginia. African-Americans encountered discrimination at segregated eating establishments, businesses and recreation facilities. Even access to medical care was divided along racial lines.

African American mothers were barred from the maternity ward at Arlington Hospital and were expected to travel to hospitals in Washington, D.C. or Alexandria to give birth. For many black Arlingtonians, getting to D.C. was difficult – especially in a medical emergency – as many could not afford cars of their own.

In 1947, three men with bright ideas and business ingenuity stepped up to fill the void.

Filed Under:DC, Virginia

Sit-ins Come to Arlington

Gwendolyn Greene (later Britt) sits patiently at the People’s Drug counter in Arlington, Virginia during a sit-in protest June 9, 1960. (Source: Washington Area Spark on Flickr)Shortly after 1pm on June 9, 1960 a biracial contingent of college students entered the People’s Drug Store at Lee Highway and Old Dominion Dr. in Arlington and requested service at the store’s lunch counter. Less than a mile away, a similar group sat down at the counter at the Cherrydale Drug Fair.

Both lunch counters promptly closed.

Still, the students did not move. In fact, they remained seated for hours, calmly reading books and Bibles until well after dark, in protest of the stores’ refusal to serve African American patrons at their lunch counters.

Filed Under:Virginia

Arlington's Little Saigon

Tonight at 7pm the Arlington Historical Society is holding it's monthly public program at Central Library. Preservation writer Kim O'Connell will be speaking about Arlington's Little Saigon community, which flourished in Clarendon during the 1970s and '80s. Kim and Richard Nguyen, the General Manager of Nam Viet Restaurant, were kind enough to give Boundary Stones a preview. Check out the video below!

Filed Under:Virginia

From Bolivia to Arlington

Inspired by the new LATINO AMERICANS film, we decided to seek out a local perspective on the Latino experience in our community. With the help of the good folks at the Arlington Historical Society, I got in touch with Luis Araya, who is a Bureau Chief in the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services (public works). He immigrated to Arlington from Bolivia as a young boy in 1966, when very few Latinos lived in the county. He's worked for the county government for 40 years and he also happens to be a Director at the Historical Society. So he brings an interesting perspective on the experience of Latinos in Arlington over time. On top of all that, he's one of the most accomodating people I've ever met -- offering up not only his insights but also his family photos for our local video project.

Filed Under:DC, Virginia

Guys Trying to Get Themselves Killed: John Randolph and Henry Clay

John Randolph's strong feelings about honor caused him to act very strangely in his 1826 duel with Henry Clay. (Photo source: Wikipedia)A complicated sense of honor can get you killed. That’s why people like John Randolph of Roanoke update their wills before engaging in potentially suicidal duels, like the one Randolph had with Henry Clay in 1826. And, boy was Randolph’s idea of honor super complicated.

Filed Under:DC, Virginia

The Changing Landscape of Arlington As Seen by An Old DC Hiking Club

Robert Shosteck (third from the left) and the adventurous hikers on the Wanderbirds' first excursion on April 1, 1934. (Photo source: Wanderbirds Hiking Club)

It’s a casual Sunday in April 1934 and you’re looking for something to do. How about a hike in the great outdoors? Lucky for you, there’s a new hiking club in town and they are preparing for their very first hike!

Earlier that year, German immigrant and nature enthusiast Robert Shosteck approached The Washington Post to inquire if the paper was interested in creating a partnership. Shosteck offered to write multiple columns each week on various outdoor topics in exchange for The Post’s sponsorship of a new hiking club, which he called The Wanderbirds.[1]

Filed Under:Virginia

It Happened Here First: Arlington Students Integrate Virginia Schools

On February 2, 1959 (l-r) Michael Jones, Gloria Thompson, Ronald Deskins and Lance Newman became the first black students to break the color line in Virginia's public schools. (Source: Washington Post website) Here’s a cool “it happened here first” story.

On February 2, 1959, Stratford Junior High School (now H-B Woodlawn High School) in Arlington was the first public school in Virginia to be integrated. That morning, four African American seventh graders – Ronald Deskins, Lance Newman, Michael Jones and Gloria Thompson – started classes at the school with over 100 Arlington County police officers in riot gear standing guard. To the great relief of the community, there was no violence or disorder (though two students were sent home for setting off a firecracker in a school bathroom)

The day had been a long time coming.

Filed Under:Virginia

Nazis in Arlington: George Rockwell and the ANP

Now a coffee shop, this brick duplex near the Arlington County courthouse was the headquarters of the American Nazi Party for almost 20 years. (Source: Author photo)Today the small brick building at 2507 N. Franklin Rd. in Arlington is the home of the Javashack, a hip coffee shop with specialty brews, free wifi and – as one patron termed it – “left-leaning politics.”

This is quite a departure from the building’s previous life. From 1968-1984, this duplex was the national headquarters of the American Nazi Party. A swastika hung over the doorway (visible from busy Wilson Blvd. half a block away) and khaki-clad “storm troopers” occupied the space, developing anti-Jewish propaganda, proclaiming White Power and periodically clashing with neighbors.

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