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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.

by Bruce | Link | React!

August 7th, 2021

I Once Was Lost, But Now I’ve Found…Coffee…

Well…and friendships. Serious good if not untroubled friendships that I still hold dear.

One of the Facebook groups I follow is titled You Know You Grew Up In Rockville Maryland If You… It’s a nostalgia group for Boomers such as myself who remember what Rockville used to look like prior to the 80s/90s. A piece of that history, for me, is looking like a smile with its front teeth knocked out. A church actually, that mom and I used to attend back when I was a little Baptist boy. But by the time The Lost And Found opened it’s church basement doors, I was already pretty far down the path toward agnosticism. 

These photos were probably taken sometime in the summer of 1972…

The Lost and Found was a Jesus Kids coffee shop and hangout in the basement of the old First Baptist Church in Rockville on Jefferson Street, a short distance from the old post office. In 1971 the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar was released, and along with Godspell spawned a movement of mostly nice, sincere, longhaired counter culture Christianity. Mom and I were members of that Baptist Church, and I often hung out there back in the day with my camera. In retrospect I should have documented more of it when I had the chance. It was a scene that didn’t last very long in it’s most innocent and pure form. 

The Lost And Found is important in my personal history because of two friends that I first met there, one of whom I still keep in regular contact with, the other, who lived on South Washington Street, I desperately wish I had. (If you ever read this…please say ‘Hi’…)

The Lost and Found was in a strange bit of architecture that connected the old chapel to the newer Sunday School rooms and church offices. There were dressing rooms for the choir and a passageway from there to doors on either side of the choir loft. The basement The Lost and Found settled into seemed a mostly abandoned space. There was an old Coke machine, a small Formica and chrome dining table and what must have been a first of its kind back in the day, electric “monitor top” refrigerators there. Also good people. Very good people. Better often, than the ones sitting in the pews upstairs.

That part of the church is now a driveway…

I don’t know if you can appreciate the shock I felt when I first laid eyes on what had happened to it. But as I said before, Rockville does this to itself. A driveway was probably the least obnoxious thing they could have done to it.

The chapel was torn down sometime ago. The red brick building you see on the right there was built in its place, and is currently up for sale. Maybe they’ll tear it down and build something else there. The only thing left of what once was is the Sunday School building, there on the left, that was converted to offices and given something of a face lift. If you look at the stonework by the entrance stairs and compare you can see where they cleaved it from the part The Lost And Found was in. How they managed that was probably a pretty good trick because there were hallways and stairwells connecting the parts together. Some shoring up had to have happened before they built that wall.

For several years after I met him there, the parking lot across the street served us as a rendezvous. The day they build something there I may never set foot in Rockville again. But that at least looks pretty safe. For now.

A Facebook friend remarked upon finding himself in a town that seemed to be populated with nothing but earnest young Jesus kids, that he’d feel uncomfortable settling there because he could reckon how they would treat him as a gay man. I commented that I could see myself living in a town full of 1971 Jesus kids, except I remembered how it all went down after it became co-opted by the worst humans imaginable…people like Moses David…and I’d be afraid that I’d have to watch it all happen again. 

by Bruce | Link | Comments Off on I Once Was Lost, But Now I’ve Found…Coffee…

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


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