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Votes

Growing Up and Staying

Then & Now

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NOW: In the family picture are, from left to right, Ellen, Melanie, Joseph, Sybil and Grant Ottenstein. "Potomac is now all grown up. There are a lot more people here. It’s big time now; not a little city anymore," according to Grant Ottenstein.

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THEN: Grant Ottenstein graduated from Whitman High School in 1975 and is currently the president and owner of Ottenstein Insurance and Financial Services Inc. "I went to Whitman High School and played rugby there, which was a big part of my life at the time. It was fun because I got to play and meet people from the surrounding high schools. Back then Potomac was still a village, with only one gas station. There were no cell phones, no computers and four TV stations; it was much simpler times"

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Then: "I remember Potomac being more rural and further away from everything. It seemed far less congested. There never seemed to be any traffic. Kids could bike anywhere and no one seemed to worry. You could go to the movies at Cabin John Mall or you could go to the village and get your meats at the butcher, which was located where Hunters Inn is currently. There was initially only a flashing light at Tuckerman and Gainsborough, then a stop sign, which seemed to be a big deal. Things seemed a little more relaxed; there seemed to be little pretense to people."

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Now: Chris Nordi and his wife Jessica. "Potomac seems much more congested, especially during morning and afternoon rush hours as people use Falls Road as a cut through between 270 and 495. We seem more rushed to do things. It has lost much of its country/suburban appeal and charm. Somethings never change though, I had great neighbors as a kid and I still have great ones now." Chris Nordi graduated from Gonzaga College High School in 1985 and is currently an English resource teacher at Clarksburg High School in Montgomery County.

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THEN: Robert Parisi and his siblings Laura and Gino sit on a rock in the popular family outing spot, Great Falls, in the summer of 1968. "It seems the biggest difference between kids today and when I was a kid are the summers. As kids we had freer rein, our activities weren’t structured as much as they seem to be today. There were teams (swimming, soccer) but that didn’t dictate the summers. You would just hang out with your friends all day. We would spend our summers at the pool by my house and walk up to Cabin John Center for lunch. We used to go to lunch at a sub shop of what is now [Broadway Pizza]. Before we could drive we would go to there because it was close to my house and we could walk."

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NOW: Robert Parisi with his children Kyle (left) and Eva on a family vacation. "We used to have field parties in any place where there was open space. There was a lot more open land than there is today. Now there is probably a housing development in every place we went to. There is also much more traffic now. Times are not as simple as they used to be when I was growing up." Robert Parisi graduated from Churchill High School in 1978 and is currently a remodeling contractor.

When many people reflect on their childhood, they think of landmarks and hang-out spots frequently states away from their adult residency. However, a select few can drive 10 minutes to visit their alma mater high school or their favorite restaurant. Instead of taking their children back to their hometown and showing where they first learned how to ride a bike or what movie theater they went to on the weekends, their children may have some of the same experiences hanging out at the C&O Canal, Cabin John Mall or Montgomery Mall.

Even if people called the Potomac area home for their adult life as well as their childhood, many things have changed throughout the mid-1960s to now. New neighborhoods have been built, dirt streets have been paved and hundreds of new businesses have opened. The farm where one may have gone to ride horses as a child, Claggett Farm, may now be the same piece of land one’s house and hundreds of others was built on.