WAMU 88.5 : Morning Edition

Commentary: From The 'Boonies' To Bustling Neighborhood

Play associated audio
Judy Downs Tinelli

The other day as I was driving down Sycamore Street in Arlington, between Lee Highway and Washington Boulevard, it occurred to me that I was probably the only one on the road who knew what was under the pavement.

I grew up in Arlington, just two blocks from what is now the East Falls Church Metro Station. The kids in our neighborhood used to play in the woods and the stream that's now under Sycamore Street. 

We had a rope swing that carried us over the stream and back. Those braver than I let go and dropped to the other side. We collected tadpoles there. And it was in those woods that my brother, Jim, and his best friend tied me to a tree one afternoon. At dinner time, noting my absence, Jim ran down to the woods to untie me.

When we moved to Arlington in 1950, my Dad's coworkers on Capitol Hill wondered why we'd gone "so far out." While the drive into town probably took 20 minutes max, that was far out then. I doubt that those who now live in Ashburn or Gaithersburg would think 20 minutes a long commute.

Where Roosevelt Street dead-ended into Lee Highway was the Crossman's farm. They had a herd of cows, which certainly proved that we were living in the boonies.

I went to St. James School in Falls Church. and ran in a pack of friends with Jimmy Bles. His family had a house out by a little crossroads called Tysons Corner. There wasn't even a traffic light there. 

I remember what a big deal it was when Jimmy's dad, Marcus Bles, sold that land many years later. With that money, he bought a home out along Route 7 on the way to Leesburg, which was truly the boonies. But today, it's McMansions and shopping centers.

And so it goes. I can still close my eyes — not while I'm driving — and see our corner of Arlington as it was then. 

Change has brought so much richness to the D.C. area. Great restaurants, the Kennedy Center, Wolf Trap, and people from all over the world to enjoy this vibrant city. I'm willing to give up my stream and woods for that! But I'll always hold on to memories of an earlier time, now paved over by progress. 

Judy Downs Tinelli is a retired human resources executive who lives in Falls Church. Her commentary came to us through WAMU's Public Insight Network. You can submit your responses to Tinelli or separate commentaries here.

NPR

Mislabeled As A Memoirist, Author Asks: Whose Work Gets To Be Journalism?

Suki Kim wrote Without You, There Is No Us after working undercover as a teacher in North Korea. She says the response to her book is also a response to her identity as Korean and a woman.
NPR

In Prison, The Passion That Drove A Yogurt-Maker To Arson Still Burns

The yogurt entrepreneur who set fire to his factory remains in prison, but he's in better spirits now. "He's dreaming again," says his wife.
WAMU 88.5

The Politics Hour - July 1, 2016

Kojo and Tom Sherwood chat with D.C. Transportation Director Leif Dormsjo and Virginia Del. Marcus Simon (D-Fairfax).

NPR

After Deadly Crash, Safety Officials Will Examine Tesla's Autopilot Mode

The fatal crash of a Model S that was in autopilot when it collided with a truck in Florida is prompting a preliminary evaluation of the feature by the National Highway Transportation Safety Board.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.