Neighbors in the 100-300 blocks of East Alexandria Avenue in Del Ray gathered recently at Integrated health Services to hear several seniors reminisce about growing up on East Alexandria Avenue in the early 1900's.
The seniors, Mary and John Sullivan, Anna Mae Schafe, Geneveve Carne, and Margaret Kleysteuber, regaled their neighbors with stories of playing as children in open fields where densely packed houses now stand and of trolley cars running down Commonwealth Avenue. For 10 cents, one could ride the streetcar all the way into downtown Washington, D.C., to shop at Garfinckel's, Lansburgh's Jelleff's and Woodward 7 Lothrop.
Anna Mae spoke of the doctor arriving in a horse and buggy at her childhood home at 210 East Alexandria Ave., where she was born on Valentine's Day, 1916. An accomplished artist, she showed the group a painting she did of the home. She attended the Corcoran School of Art in the 1930's and spoke about seeing Franklin Delano Roosevelt on several occasions. She recalled flying kites and picking daisies as a young girl in what was an open field where several duplexes now stand at Wayne and East Alexandria.
JOHN SULLIVAN, who moved from East Nelson to 214 East Alexandria when he was five year old, was born in 1913, and worked at the FBI for 42 years under J. Edgar Hoover. He recalled being "not the instigator, but a helper" in putting a carriage on top of a garage on East Alexandria in his teen years.
John and his wife, Mary, met at the Navy Annex when she was a WAVE working on AWOL cases with the FBI. They have lived in John's boyhood home for 56 years and are known throughout the neighborhood for their gardening skills.
THERE WERE MEMORIES of calling the neighborhood grocer (Anderson's at the corner of Nelson and Wayne) who would bring the groceries right into your house and put them on the table.
Block's grocery Store, which was in the house now standing at the northwest corner of Ramsey and East Alexandria, was where the kids went for Popsicles when they woke up from their naps.
The seniors also recalled attending school together and a certain "very stern" teacher. All had wells in their back yards. Margaret Kleysteuber recalled the great birthday and Halloween parties that Anna Mae's family hosted. Margaret's daughter, Peggy Kleysteuber, owner of Cash Grocer, 1315 King Street, now lives in her mother's girlhood home at 306 East Alexandria. Geneveve's daughter, Kate Carner, now lives in the family home at 304 East Alexandria, where Geneveve was born. All were in attendance at the event. Geneveve's husband, William, was advertising director and sports editor at the Alexandria Gazette for many years.
Asked how East Alexandria Avenue had changed over the years, the seniors all agreed there had not been much change, other than there being different neighbors, and all of the neighbors present agreed this was a great opportunity for the relative newcomers (residents for 50 or less) to visit with and learn from these East Alexandria Avenue natives.