It’s been very cold outside these last few days of 2017. Like many others, I have been staying inside and browsing my favorite sites on the web. For example, one of the several groups I belong to on Facebook is called “I grew up in Forestville.” It has about 1,500 members. And many memories posted by others have brought back old memories of my own.
In fact last night I couldn’t sleep for thinking about all the places my family frequented along Marlboro Pike from Forestville, through District Heights, down into Hillside and then onto Coral Hills, MD–a distance of only 3.6 miles, but in my memory, of course, it seemed this area was much larger and the distance between much longer.
The picture to the right is a Google Maps capture of a picture taken in the Summer of 2012. Our subdivision was known as Berkshire. My parents always took issue with people who referenced our home as being within the Town of District Heights. In their minds, this association was degrading??? Their preference after relocating from Capitol Heights was to refer to their new and classier hometown as Forestville. Yep, I know, silly–dates back to “keeping up with the Joneses,” I think. At any rate, they had worked long and hard to move up in the world, if only a mere four miles away.
Just outside one of the exit streets from Berkshire to Marlboro Pike (Viceroy Avenue) was a Seven-Eleven on the right, a small laundromat further right, and at the corner of this small strip was the “Pizza Pan.” My brother John at age 11 talked the young owner into letting him pass out fliers around Forestville. When all fliers had brought in business, John advanced to making the sauce and pizzas. Pretty cool for a young kid with initiative.
On the left side of Viceroy Avenue as you exit Berkshire onto Marlboro Pike was Gino’s, one of the earlier fast-food chains in our area. Gino’s was founded in 1957 out of Baltimore. In the 1980’s Marriott bought them out, discontinued the brand and converted locations to Roy Rogers Restaurants. At any rate, my brother, Frank, went to work at Gino’s when he was about 17. While working there he met and fell in love with his future wife, Diane. They’ve been together ever since–I’d say about 42 years. After leaving Gino’s, Frank went to work for Marlo Furniture that was founded in 1955 and its Forestville location remained their headquarters until 2012 when a former Marlo furniture employee, who had been one of Marlo’s vice presidents of merchandising, was now at Regency Furniture of Brandywine and bought them out. He said he kept Marlo’s names of the four purchased stores because of their great name recognition in the market and they were among the top furniture sellers in the country.
When I was a young girl, I wanted to learn to tap dance. My mom took me to Jean Hartman’s Dance Studio. It faced Marlboro Pike and its side street was Delano Drive, just down the street from the Kay Cee Drugstore. The adjacent picture is one Jean sent out at Christmas time. I’m thinking it would have been 1954-55. It’s almost in pristine condition after all these years in my childhood photo album. I believe this building later became Fred Strebe’s Gunshop (who I happened to go high school with). Recently, I went searching for medical supplies for my parents who I care for and they still live in our family home. I drove past Great Eastern Plaza, past when the building that used to be the House of Henley Restaurant (near Aldi’s new Store), then past Clark’s Hardware store, which I believe is now a Dry Cleaners, and past Paul Moran’s old Texaco station at Marlboro Pike and Parkland Drive (used to be Maryland Avenue). Mr. Moran’s daughter, Mary, was also a classmate of mine. At any rate, Kay Cee Drugs is no longer a drugstore. It has become a medical supply dealer. However, when I went inside, it was in total disarray with cardboard boxes everywhere without any order or concern for appearances–not a place that should be open for public traffic in my mind. And, no, they didn’t have what I was searching for.
When in 5th grade, I started taking music lessons downtown at the Guild Institute for Music. It was located at 9th and F Streets, N.W. in the high trafficked department store shopping district. Dad’s route was to travel Marlboro Pike from Forestville and veer right beside the Dixie Pig Restaurant in Corals Hills, to advance down Boones Hill Road and onto Benning Road, N.E. My music lessons were always in the mid-evening on Tuesdays. Dad would arrive home from his work in the District of Columbia at around 4pm and we would turn back around and head back up Marlboro Pike and en route we would select one of our favorite eateries for a quick dinner before my class.
The Shady Oak Inn was just across Marlboro Pike from our Community’s main entrance at Upland Street, but this was more of a special night out eatery; their menu was more formal, food prep took longer, and their prices were more than our others choices along the way. Based on the car in this undated photo, I would say that it was taken recently. It looks fairly much the same, but I would no longer consider their primary business being food services.
There also was Tucker’s Restaurant on Old Marlboro Pike in Upper Marlboro, just past the Forestville Fire Department, but it was in the wrong direction for these evenings. The following picture was taken on June 17, 2017, the date 100 firefighters were on the scene to try to save the building. Unfortunately, the lot now is empty.
So, we usually headed to one of three places–Sidley’s, which was on Marlboro Pike across from where Walker Mill Road was cut through. It was a small single-story building with white clapboard extension to the entrance. Sidley’s was known for its down-home burgers and sandwiches, and we always made time to play a couple of games of shuffleboard bowling–our favorite.
Similarly, across the street from Sidley’s was another single-story red brick building that was my dad’s supplier for radio/tv vacuum and cathode ray tubes “Southeast Radio/TV Repair.” And, next to Sidley’s was Bill’s Used Cars that had a rope of streaming banners above the hoods of the cars at its roadside.
We sometimes had to fill the car up (a 1958 4-door Buick white on top, pink on bottom), with gas, which meant stopping across from Sam’s Car Wash, (owned by Sam Scatteragi), just beyond 57th Avenue (now Larchmont) at Marlboro Pike and making a right into the Texaco. My dad’s liquor store where he bought Gunther or Hamm’s Beer was just across the small street that led into the Hillside residential area. And, next to the Liquor Store, in that same stone-faced building was Luigi’s Italian Restaurant. (I’m not sure if this business was related to the one in Washington, DC, that just closed after 70 years of business, or not. But, I think this was my first taste of authentic Italian Food. I probably ate my first pieces of lasagna and pizza here–my favorite though was spaghetti with meat sauce. And, we always put a quarter in the tabletop jukebox machine and we stayed there just long enough to listen to the 5 selections we paid for–or sometimes we might have even splurged and put two quarters in for 10 plays.
The third, but not least favorite, was the Dixie Pig Barbecue Restaurant that was at Marlboro Pike and Boones Hills Road. They had the best minced pork and beef barbecue you could imagine. They served it with minced coleslaw on top. And, if we didn’t get that at the curbside service, we ordered the steak and cheese sandwiches that were served on toasted bread. Yummy, too! After I married, my husband and we still frequented the Dixie Pig when near there. Our first child was born in 1966. During my pregnancy, I had a constant craving for Dixie Pig’s homemade vegetable soup that included cabbage in it. Till this day, our son will not eat vegetable soup! And, Bob, my husband, had a constant craving for Chinese barbecued ribs, that we got from Chin’s Palace. It was on the left side of Marlboro Pike as you headed for Hillside, across from the Hillside Drive-in, and next to a Foreign Car repair dealership.
In Junior High School, I would save my lunch money rather than eat (which was $.35 a day). Every other week or so, I would have enough money collected so that I could walk to my girlfriend’s house on Walters Lane and we would walk down Walter’s Lane to Route 4, which was under construction and over to Forestville Road where we would go horseback riding for an hour so on Saturdays. When I wasn’t riding horses, going to teen club dances on Francis Scott Key or Suitland Senior High, I was still saving my lunch money to go all the way Bladensburg, MD where our parents would drive us for weekend roller skating sessions. (No wonder I weighed much less as a young girl with walking to and from schools and all the exercise I would get in the form of entertainment.) There’s so much more I could share, but I think this reflects my sense of life growing up in Forestville. And, as I said in one of my more recent posts: “If I were asked to describe my life and times growing up what would I say or write? It was similar to Mayberry–mostly good family, friends, and times.”