Local Commentary

Our Man in Arlington


I suspect everyone harbors some local personal “soft spots.”

That’s what I call those sites you pass by that trigger old memories — some pleasant, some awkward, all specific — that color your rapport with your hometown.

Herewith, as a summer reverie, are some that stick with me after six decades in Arlington:

The playground at Mount Olivet Church at N. Glebe Rd. and 15th St. is where as a kindergartner I fell off the jungle gym and banged my chin.

Gulf Branch, the creek flowing down to the Potomac from Military Rd., is where as a kid I slipped on a rock and earned a permanent scar on my shin.

James Madison Elementary School (now a senior center) exudes many personal memories. But most vivid is of hearing the principal come on the P.A. during my fifth grade year to announce the assassination of President Kennedy.

The slope at Tuckahoe Elementary School leading down to the ballfield was where I sat in 1964 when the peewee football coach gave me a tryout as a fullback. After two ball carries, he deemed me a lineman, a position I played through high school.

The parking lot of the Duron paint store at Lee Highway and Glebe will forever be the site where in the early 1960s, my football teammate Billy Thomas died after crashing his bicycle, helmetless, into a pole.

The Columbia Pike Artist Studio on S. Walter Reed Dr. is where in 1965 I had my first guitar lesson — setting me on course for a lifetime pleasure.

A certain Rivercrest split-level house on N. 38th St. has a double driveway and garage. But after a snowstorm when I was 10, I offered to shovel what I mistook for a single driveway. I still ache at the thought of spending twice the time for half the money.

Williamsburg Middle School has a tile “W” on the lobby floor outside the media center. My class of ’68 raised the money for that plaque selling Fannie Farmer candies, and I witnessed its installation.

The Yorktown High School athletic field parking lot is where, at age 15, I broke my best friend’s arm. I smashed a car “borrowed” from his parents into a pole.

The traffic light at Lee Highway and Lexington St. is one I accidentally ran as a licensed teen driver, earning me my first (of not many) citations.

The steep hill at N. Quebec St. near Nellie Custis Dr. is where some high school mates spent a Friday night in the woods. When cops staking out drug dealers questioned our innocent gang, they brought one girlfriend to tears.

In the earworm department, every time I pass the CVS at Sycamore St. and Williamsburg Blvd., my mind is invaded by radio memories of hearing the sexist Todd Rungren 1971 hit “We Gotta Get You a Woman.”

The Sunrise Senior Living facility at 2000 N. Glebe is next to the Glebe Commons townhomes where I lived with my parents during college. My shy mother asked if I would speak at a zoning hearing on behalf of neighbors seeking to block a builder’s plan to construct the retirement community. Ironically, when Mom was in her final days in 2010, we visited that Sunrise and nearly booked her in.

Have some local soft spots of your own? Send them to cclarkjedd@aol.com.


The vision of a pedestrian-friendly and green “transit town” at the undeveloped East Falls Church Metro Station just faded further into the distance.

County Manager Mark Schwartz last week proposed postponing the planned western entrance to the station until after 2030 — citing a more immediate budget crunch.

That came as no surprise to Mike Nardolilli, chair of the 2010 task force that created the vision. “We were aware that the split in ownership of the large Metro parking lot between Metro and VDOT would prevent its development for several years,” he told me.  “Nonetheless, the task force included both the western entrance development of the Metro lot in our plan as key elements for the future of our neighborhood.”