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Morningside-Skyline column for Jan. 17

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Mary McHale

Published on: Thursday, January 17, 2013

By Mary McHale

Morningside VFD fights to two fires on New Year’s Day

The Morningside Volunteer Fire Department started 2013 with fires on New Year’s Day. Around 7:30 a.m., firefighters were called to the First Wesleyan Church, in Oxon Hill, where they found two interior areas of the one-story building on fire and the blaze extended through the roof. At about 6 p.m., they were sent to a house on fire in the 8200 block of Student Drive in Clinton, which took more than three hours to clear.

And this was just the beginning.

With 2012 officially in the books, the Morningside VFD reports on its website that it was a busy year for the department, but “that is nothing new.” They racked up 6,143 responses, and their volunteers put in 29,746 man-hours staffing the station, plus countless hours of training. Membership is building, and they are “updating the station, adding pride boards, painting, and dealing with the never-ending general clean-up.”

Thank you, MVFD, for another year of taking care of us.

Wigwam sign has new home

The large Wigwam sign, featuring an Indian and a teepee, was taken down and moved in December from Route 301 to White Plains near the Indian Head Rail Trail. It is one of the last surviving souvenirs of Waldorf’s gambling history.

The Wigwam, a popular casino and restaurant offering food, entertainment and slot machines, went out of business in 1968 due to a statewide gambling ban. The teepee-shaped building was then purchased and became the home of Walls Bakery, famous for its chocolate éclairs.

The Walls family has a connection to our area. Back in the 1930s, near Walls Lane in Suitland, Benjamin Walls had a grocery store, later to be sold and became the Lamp Post Inn, which closed in1985. Two of Benjamin Walls’ sons, George and Benjamin — who grew up in Morningside — became owners of Walls Bakery in Waldorf. The bakery closed in 2001.


Gisele Victoria Nguyen was Baby Jesus in the Living Nativity at St. Philip’s Church on Christmas Eve. Olivia Gray and Christopher Wilson were Mary and Joseph, supported by angels, a star, shepherds, wise men, a donkey, a sheep, a dove and the Little Drummer Boy. John Whipple directed and the Children’s Choir and Folk Group provided the music.

Dwight and Ruby Holloway, of Skyline, report that their son Dwight (whom they call Chipper) flew in from London to spend Christmas with them. He stayed for 19 days. Ruby said that’s the longest visit they’ve had with him since his college days.

Robert Norman Tillett, 87, a lifetime member of VFW 9619, in Morningside, died Dec. 18.

In last week’s column I wished Steve Sarandos a happy birthday. But I remembered later that — sad to say — Steve died last June 21. He formerly lived on Ridgecrest Drive in Skyline.

Morningside memories — 25 years ago

On Jan. 2, 1988, Jerry and Jean Glaubitz, Lee and Helen Ditmars, and Hazel Loughmiller were presented certificates of appreciation from County Executive Glendening and plaques from County Fire Chief Jim Estepp for more than 40 years of dedicated service to the Morningside Fire Department.

Michael Foster dies at 61

Michael Lee Foster, 61, my across-the-street neighbor since 1998, died New Year’s Eve. He was also known as “Gregory” and “Hermie.”

He was born in Front Royal, Va., Feb. 4, 1950, one of the two children of Virginia and Aubrey Foster. He moved to Washington, D.C., to find a job, and he did at the Smithsonian, from which he retired in 1999. He also found a wife here — he met Eva Fleming at a concert in Malcolm X Park.

He loved the music oldies and had a beautiful tenor voice. In the Guest Book, his cousin Karen wrote, “Yesterday while Mom and I were riding down Rte. 340 one of your favorite songs played on the radio, ‘Our Day Will Come,’ by Ruby and the Romantics. Just listening, I could hear you singing along with your great voice that rivaled most R&B singers.” She added, “It seems like only yesterday that I watched how excited you were when your singing group had its debut at the old Red Carpet Lounge at Pitts Hotel in D.C.”

Survivors include his wife Eva, son Mickel Foster, daughter Aisha Taylor, stepson Debario Fleming, six grandchildren, father-in-law Harry Fleming, and a host of cousins and aunts. Services and burial were in Virginia.

I’ll miss Mike because he often sat on his front steps visiting with passersby and keeping a watchful eye on my house.


Happy birthday to Dwight Holloway Sr., Frank Binsted and Roc Wheeler, Jan. 13; Curtis DeMarco Knowles, my son Mike McHale, Kathleen Giroux and Joanie Mangum, Jan. 14; Dolly Wood, Jan. 16; and Nikial M. Boston, Jan. 17.

Happy anniversary to Gary and Melody Barnes on Jan. 14 and to Frank and Sharleen Kelly Cappella, their 58th on Jan. 15.

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