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Door To Door: Morningside, Md. And Eastland Gardens, D.C.

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Zerline Hues stands in front of her home in Eastland Gardens, D.C.
WAMU
Zerline Hues stands in front of her home in Eastland Gardens, D.C.

It's our weekly trip around the region. This week, we visit Morningside, Md., and Eastland Gardens in Northeast D.C.

Morningside, Md.

If you live in Washington, D.C. and wake up early enough, you might see the sun rise right over the town of Morningside, Md. In fact, the town's name derives from that early morning view.

The community is southeast of Washington, D.C. and borders the main gate of St. Andrew's Air Force Base. "For years, all the foreign dignitaries, presidents would go down the main street to get to the airport or to get back into D.C.," says Morningside Mayor Karen Rooker.

This community of over 400 residences is home to the Morningside Volunteer Fire Department, one of the busiest heavy rescue squads in the country. It responds to emergencies on the surrounding highways, within the town, and its neighboring communities. And on Sept. 11, 2001, the Morningside Volunteer Fire Department was called to the Pentagon after the terrorist attack.

"They needed a piece of equipment that could fit under the tunnel to get into the center of the Pentagon, and our fire department had the truck," explains Rooker. "So we actually had firefighters at the Pentagon on Sept. 11."

For Rooker, this supportive community provides everything she could ask for: "It's a very sweet little community, and you get to feel like, 'oh this is a home town, not just a hustle-bustle, do this, do this, do this place.' Some place you can chill out, relax, call home."


Eastland Gardens, D.C.

Just east of the Anacostia River are the manicured lawns and nurtured flowers of Eastland Gardens. Rhuedine Davis founded the neighborhood's flower club in 1956.

"She was the wife of Owen Davis, who was the first black man named commander for Washington D.C.'s police department," says Eastland Gardens resident Zerline Hues. Mrs. Davis had been involved in First Lady Claudia Alta "Lady Bird" Taylor Johnson's beautification efforts and brought those values back to her own neighborhood.

Eastland Gardens Flower Club has evolved from what it was 50 years ago.

"Even though those days are gone where we used to wear the white gloves and hats and have teas in our front yards, we're still trying to maintain a little bit of that history and that culture," says Hues.

The history starts in the late 1920s when the neighborhood was first developed and was primarily home to African American families. The early residents included students and professors at Howard University, and architects. According to Hues, many of the architects' projects were completed in the neighborhood, and about 60 of the original homes are preserved today.

In addition to the well-attended greenery and historic homes, Eastland Gardens also bumps up against Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. Hues says most people don't know about the national park. "There's beautiful greenery, walkways, pathways. When you're in there, you just can't believe that you're still in Washington, D.C."


[Music: "No, Girl" by John Davis from Title Tracks / "To Sir With Love" by Lyn Taitt and the Jets from Trojan (A Jamaican Story)]

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