The Old Neighborhood Is Changing

A funny thing is happening in the neighborhood where I grew up. When we moved there in the summer of 1957, there was a field of corn across the street. My older brother played in a stream that ran through it. I was too young, I had to stay in what I thought was a huge backyard. There was a farm house with horses near by and at first we had to travel on a gravel road to get to the house. That was a long time ago. The streets lie just a few miles from Washington, DC, inside the beltway, about a mile from where the first McDonald’s in northern Virginia was built.

Another tear down.

These solid brick houses built on 1/4 acre lots are being torn down and the lots rebuilt on. Houses that probably could last another 50 years are being sent to an early grave. I hope that someone is saving the bricks, 2 x 12 inch wooden joists, steel support girders, copper piping, or hardwood oak floors, but I doubt it. They usually disappear in a day being replaced by large holes in the ground. The new construction, I am sure, consists of larger bathrooms, more convenient kitchens, and wired for the 21st century. But these new houses look a little strange and change the complexion of the neighborhood. Sometimes not a lot of thought goes into the style of the new houses, giving a kind of schizophrenic look to the neighborhood.

I am not saying that the neighborhood was a perfect, wonderful fantasy world to grow up in. Most of our parents were either military or government workers. Many of us left the area as soon as we were able. But it was nice place to grow up, there were trees and lots of kids. It is just odd to have seen many of the houses actually being built now being torn down and replaced. It will be a different place. Suburban renewal.

Many neighborhoods have been torn down for years to make way for road projects, office buildings, cities of the future. I remember driving around DC with my father and he would point to large office buildings and say, “I used to live there,” or “your mother’s cousin was born in the middle of that building,” where now a large government building stands. I just thought my neighborhood would be there for a long time, but it is being replaced by another neighborhood.

Already it is becoming unrecognizable. No one will be filming any period movies from the 1950s where I grew up.

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