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Getting to Know … Sheila Sinclair

A native of New Haven, Conn., Sheila Sinclair has lived in Alexandria since 1965. She is a volunteer at Lyles-Crouch Traditional Acaemy and St. Joseph's Catholic Church on Wythe Street.

You helped bring a quilt to Lyles-Crouch that taught children about the Underground Railroad. Why is learning about the Underground Railroad important?

It’s the history of our country. What could be more important. It teaches us how people became free and who helped them — and who didn’t help them. This is the kind of thing that should be in the history books.

What has been the reaction of the children?

Marvelous! I was absolutely inspired. They were just fascinated by the historical explanation. They could ask questions, and their questions were outstanding. I think a lot of credit goes to the librarian at Lyles-Crouch because she encourages the kids to ask questions.

What brought you to Alexandria in 1965?

I had lived in Virginia for many years before that, but I moved to Alexandria in 1965 because I had a family member that lived nearby.

How has Alexandria changed?

It’s changed a lot. I guess there are pluses and minuses. It’s kind of difficult for people to find a place to rent now, and that’s too bad. It’s a city, not a small town. We now have high-rise apartment buildings. The code says they should look colonial, but they don’t. They look like they belong in Venice. Of course, traffic has increased. But that’s going to happen when you put buildings and and then put bodies in them.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

I like the Royal Restaurant. They can’t do anything wrong if they’ve been in business since 1904, can they? I like everything on their menu. It’s the best restaurant in town, hands down — price, food, quantity, everything.

What is your favorite movie?

I’m not a movie person. I don’t go to movies. The last one I went to I didn’t like. I only went so that I could have an opinion about it, and that cost me $9. It’s the last thing on my list.

What’s your favorite book?

The Bible. It’s worth reading.

What are your interests and hobbies?

Volunteering. I also like to play golf when I can make it.

What is your favorite place in the community?

My home in Yates Gardens. Sometimes I tell people I live in South Side because that’s what people used to call it. You’ll still see that in some sales ads.

What concerns do you have about the community?

I hope we keep our heads above water and do the best we can for all the people in the community. I’d like to see everybody able to have a moment of speaking up, that sort of thing.

What are the community's hidden treasures?

I think all the buildings, not to mention some of the people. The historical end of Lee Street is like a hidden treasure. It used to be a shipping area, and I think the children that go to school here should learn about it.

What are your personal goals?

Survive and be happy. What else is there? Get up in the morning and thank God. Go to bed at night and thank God. That’s it.