Friday, March 1, 2013


I found this nostalgic recollection of life in Glenmont in the late 1960s posted as a reply to a comment on an apartment rating website.

It's kind of going to waste hidden on there, so I thought I would share it here.

The author is anonymous, but what a great example of the negative impact developer-control of politics has wrought in Montgomery County.  Sure, the only constant is change in this world.

But the changes we've experienced over the last decade in the county, in regards to planning and development, are contrary to the more responsible planning and development practices of the past. I'm referring not only to the failure to build roads to support that development, but also the attempt to apply city density to bedroom communities and rural areas, like Glenmont, Wheaton, Olney and "Science City."

Here now is one man's story from the early years of Glenmont.  A time when developers could build affordable housing for working families that took advantage of suburban green space, and trees.  A more promising time, one we can recapture again simply by adopting a responsible growth policy in Montgomery County:

"In the 1960's, Privacy World was known as the Glenmont Park Apartments. In 1966, my family moved into a two bedroom apartment at the back of the community. We were the first tenant in the apartment. Everything was new.

There were woods on the other side of the parking lot. Metro did not exist. The woods stretched back a great distance. I once saw a black bear and a cub in those woods. There was a swimming pool next to the office. I took lessons and learned to swim there. I played basketball on a basketball hoop that was mounted on the outside wall of a party room building that was located next to the office. I think the pool and the party room building are long gone.

I remember walking down Georgia Ave to the 7-11 to buy baseball cards with my allowance. On the way, I would sometimes look at the cars in the showroom of the Dodge dealer. They once had a Superbird with a huge airfoil on the back. All the car makers had cool muscle cars in that era.

As a treat, my parents occasionally would give me money to by myself dinner at KFC. Back then, nobody worried about the safety of children traveling around by themselves. There were other kids my age to play sports with after school. We road a school bus to Georgian Forest Elementary School.

I remember teenagers wearing peace signs around their neck. Some tenants had relatives serving in Vietnam. They were often tense or emotional when the TV news reported the war. On July 4th, you could see the fireworks from the balconies of the tenants on the upper floor in the front of the building.

The apartment was nice. We were on the second floor. Our balcony faced out on a small stand of trees growing around the creek that was formed from the runoff from the storm water sewer pipe. My younger brother got his head stuck between the railing bars on the balcony. A fireman freed him.

My brother and I shared a bedroom. Our bathroom had two sinks, which was convenient. There was a den off of the living room. My brother and I kept our toys in it. I set up my Hot Wheels track in the living room and a friend and I raced our toy cars. The apartment seemed big, but I was young. The kitchen had a neat passthrough/bar that we used to eat our breakfast.

There was a lot of open space between buildings, a lot more than a developer would leave today. My father played baseball with me in one of those areas. He also taught me to ride a bike when we lived there. During the summer, the Good Humor man came through at night. I was always sad when the summer came to an end and I had to go back to school. When I ate the last ice cream bar of the season from the Good Humor man on the night before the new school year began, it was a little sad and sweet at the same time.

In 1970, when I was nine years old, we moved to a new single family house in Rockville. It was not until decades later that I visited the complex again and took a look around. I recall the apartment complex as a nice place. But a lot changes in forty years. And I no longer see things through the eyes of a child.

I hope others enjoy living there. A lot of that depends on how you choose to look at things and what you are focusing on in your life."

I enjoyed this story, and thought readers might, as well. The primary reason any existing apartment or retail complex has declined in varying degrees, is the temptation developer-beholden politicians have dangled of unlimited, mixed-use redevelopment of said properties.  Period.  There's no good reason to pave over the entire county, just for easy developer profit,  when more sustainable, greener suburban development can provide a better quality of life. As it has previously in Glenmont.

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