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September 5th, 2021

Sacred Ground. Well…Kinda Sorta…

 

I was hoping someone on one of the memories pages would post a shot of this particular Radio Shack before it became a Radio Shack, because it has many fond memories for me.  Apparently it was a small grocery store, with an even smaller gas station next to it. They said this shot was probably taken in the late 1930s or early 1940s. If so, then if you looked across the street (which was named “East Montgomery Avenue until the late 1960s when it was renamed Rockville Pike) from there you would have seen a largish grassy field airport, instead of a shopping center.

Here’s what it looked like back in my kidhood time…

 

 

It was one of my go-to places for parts, back when Radio Shack was a parts store (as in capacitors, resistors, diodes…that stuff things used to be made out of before everything became integrated circuits) as well as a place to get stereo equipment and…well…radios.

It was also where I sat down in a daze next to the curb on a day in December 1971 (the 15th to be exact), staring at the sunset over Congressional Plaza across the street, and realized I was in love…and…well…yeah….gay.

Now I have a reference photo for that episode of A Coming Out Story.

You can almost see what looks alley on the left of the building. Here’s another old photo where you can see it better…

 

 

 

That was the beginnings of what would become Fishers Lane. Once upon a time you could walk it from the apartments I lived in, across the railroad tracks, and to the Shack or Congressional. Before mom moved us to the apartments back there, a railroad crossing existed that allowed cars to cross the tracks and proceed up Fishers Lane. That crossing was removed before we lived there, but you could still walk across the tracks. It was my direct route, either to the Shack or to the Plaza, depending on what I was looking for. On the night of December 15, 1971 I walked across them in a happy drunk on a teenage crush daze, all the way to the Pike where I sat next to a curb and watched the sunset. It’s all gone now. I eventually reconnected with the guy I was crushing on back then, only to discover we really aren’t very compatible. So that’s gone too. But I still have the memories. Unlike a lot of gay kids of my generation, I had it pretty good by comparison. I fell in love. It was wonderful. I was twitterpated. It saved my life. Because after that I just could not believe there was anything wrong with me.

When they built the Metro red line it blocked off pedestrian traffic across the railroad tracks. Eventually that entire corner including the Radio Shack and the Penn-Jersey next to it (where I used to get my auto parts) was bulldozed and turned into more strip shopping (haha including a Hooters), and now it’s been bulldozed again. Rockville does that to itself. Some days I wish I could too. But that’s just old man regrets. No matter how painful it ends up being, you can’t help but know that love saved you, made you a better stronger person in some deep down way. I wouldn’t erase any of it. Not even what he did to me in March 2016.

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Visit The Woodward Class of '72 Reunion Website For Fun And Memories, WoodwardClassOf72.com


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