I’m continuing to re-post a series of articles that were originally published in the Washington Times that paint caricatures of various Washington suburbs as they were in 1908. I’ve previously posted the articles for Georgetown, Anacostia, Tenleytown, and Brookland. Today’s feature is Brightwood.
“Better Car Service” Is Constant Appeal of Its Inhabitants.
“POP” MOUNTCASTLE FAMILIAR FIGURE
Weights 437 Pounds, But Isn’t at All Sensitive About Being a Prize Winner.
By THEODORE TILLER
MORE Brightwood folks have “looped the loop” than those of any other suburb on the map.
About seven things are counted on as certain out in Brightwood each day – sun up, sun down, three meals and two “loops.”
Do not gather from this that Brighhtwood harbors a miniature Coney Island with its chutes, merry-go-roungs, mystic mazes, wild men and loop-the loops. Far be it from me to act as press agent for the village and spring a yarn like that. ‘Tis a sadder tale than this that duty bids me tell.
THE LOOP, to which I refer, and to which every Brightwoodite refers at least eighty-six time per day, is situated just to the west of the National’s ball park. Tenderly speaking, it is a place where all folks going to and from Brightwood are dumped out around a little station house and made to transfer – after waiting awhile for the next car.
Lost Without Transfer.
No man out that way feels at ease unless he has a transfer in his hand. So common are transfers in Brightwood that they are almost used for legal tender. Children cry for them and beg to loop-the-loop when they should be thinking only of leap frog and mumble-peg. Transfers are used as paper chest protectors, as lamp shades, for wall papering or to stop up the chink when the neighborhood bad boys break out the window pane.
From time immemorial, or at least from the time when the Brightwood Citizens’ Association was formed, we have been accustomed to see in the newspaper headlines:
“Brightwood Demands Through Cars to City.”
“Brightwood Demands Better Car Service.”
“Brightwood Citizens Kick on Being Dumped in Cold and Rain.”
Occasionally we would also see that Brightwood demanded better lights along its avenue, wider roads in Rock Creek Park, more sewers, and a few other things.
Whereat we have become accustomed to sympathizing with Brightwood because everybody knows that a lot of wide-awake people live out there and that the suburb itself is a delightful one – after you get there and when you get there. In inviting a friend out to dinner, however, the Brightwood citizen impresses upon you that his hospitality does not begin until after you have reached the confines of the village itself. He takes no responsibility for the street car service and the means of getting there.
Will Telephone Wife.
Mr. Bright Wood will telephone his wife as follows:
“Constance, I will bring my old college chum, Mr. Grouch, out to dinner tonight. Have something nice, will you?
Wherefore, the real head of the household will bestir herself for some hours and have a steaming repast ready at the appointed moment. After a wait of some two hours or more, perhaps she hears a familiar footstep and indignantly rushes to greet the tardy one. Two bedraggled, dispirited specimens meet her glaring gaze. There is a moment of tense silence and then she tenderly takes their dripping coats and sends the specimens themselves into the spare room to dry.
There are no words spoken. Words are not necessary for any wife would know that the car hadn’t shown up and that it rained and that hubby had “looped-the-loop” again.
No wonder therefore, that each meeting of the citizens’ association is so replete with fervid oratory that the windows have to be raised even on the coldest night, and no wonder that when you speak the name of President George H. Harries out in Brightwood you are welcomed as you would be in Ireland if you shook a red bandana handkerchief and shouted “Long live the King.” General Harries, as everybody, I presume, knows is president of the street railway company that furnishes, or fails to furnish, transportation to all the folks out Brightwood way.
Harries Often Mentioned.
General Harries’ name is conjured with at almost every meeting of the association and if it had been a punching bag would have been smashed to smithereens long ago.
While on the whole I found that the people seemed more contented out in Brightwood than I really thought they had a right to be, I located one gentleman who seemed especially delighted with everything. In reality, I believe he’s too fat to get mad. I refer to “Pop” George C. Mountcastle, proprietor of that famous hostelry “Old Brightwood Hotel” and also proprietor of 437 pounds of good, hard flesh.
“Pop” is a character in whose company one might spend many a joyous hour. He says he’s also nick-named “Beefy,” but I didn’t hear the boys call him anything but “Pop,” especially when they wanted to borrow a half-dollar or stand off the bar-keep for a round.
Well, anyway, “Pop” isn’t sensitive about his weight and about the first thing he asked me and before I could ask him anything, he inquired, gently: “How much do you think I weigh?”
Not wishing to offend and yet desiring my ability to size up the cubic feet in almost any mountain, I chirped. “Oh, about 325.” (more…)