Thursday, January 22, 2009

Report From The Front by Lynn Thorp

(the scene over @ Hugh and Sylvia's)


I am in my living room in my pajamas at 11:17 a.m. on Inauguration Day crying my eyes out. There are many reasons to be moved today, but I am overwhelmed by an email I just read from my Dad, Mat Thorp, DC native, World War II veteran and long-time Republican voter. He was commenting on an email I sent him last night about all the things I had been doing this weekend and my plans for today. He wrote: “Our new President would be proud of your diligence.”

“Our new President” did me in because those three words tell you so much about my Dad. My Mom and Dad believed in voting and in contributing however you could. They were not activists the way we think of them in my world, but I have learned to see how their influence shaped my life. They saw government and military careers as a noble calling. They raised us to watch NASA launches because they were enormous human achievements by some of our brightest minds. They always voted, even when they had to vote absentee because Mom was not able to get around. As a DC resident most of his life, Dad couldn’t vote until 1964 so he takes the privilege seriously. In 1976, the first year I was eligible to vote, he said “I don’t care what Communist you vote for, just vote.”

Despite being a McCain supporter, Dad spent this election season – all 2 years of it – proud of the enthusiasm and effort on the part of my friends and his, too. Right now he is at the home of my college buddies and our dear friends-like-family Sylvia and Hugh partying with friends who live in that part of town – Democrats all. He’s the one who taught me the beauty of the peaceful transition of power. In his Parade magazine letter to his daughters this weekend, Our New President said “ is only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you will realize your true potential.” Now I know where I heard that idea before.

The foundation of the democratic system is that today, Barack Obama is indeed “Our President,” no matter who you are. My Mom, Lynnette Wilson Thorp, born and raised in Yell County, Arkansas would be beside herself. Thanks Dad for being a role model for all of us. You are a class act.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Why I Miss the Places That Are Gone

One after one they fall, those old dusty places that no one will ever be able to replace because they belong to another time. The Market Inn is the latest casualty in the name of progress. I know I'm a little weird, attached as I am to the rock holes and restaurant relics, but I also recognize when history is being obliterated, and that the value of these lost places has no price tag. (Well, maybe pieces of it have a price tag which is why I was able to liberate the upright piano when the Roma auctioned its contents. It's a great old work horse that needs to be put out to pasture according to Bobby Lee Birdsong, but I can't bring myself to do it and so it sits, moldering in my living room- still reeking of cigarettes on hot summer days.) The Market Inn auction will be later this month.

The new trend towards reviving the town center is a good idea, but how did we stray so far from the originals? Silver Spring, Rockville and Hyattsville were towns in their own rite, but now their new "down towns" have an interchangeable feel. And I just can't imagine people working their whole lives in a Baja Fresh as they did in the old family run places. Hyattsville now boasts an arts district which is a great idea, but part of this includes the most sterile "urban row homes" to house bohemia that I've ever seen in the new town center behind PG Plaza. Somebody needs to go in there with a case of spray paint. And I doubt any of the new restaurants will be collecting nudes, or full suits of armour or hunting trophies like they did in the Market Inn, the Orleans House and The Roma. Ulysses Auger, of Blackie's House of Beef once built an annex called Lulu's which was dedicated to his wife's one time experience as a Queen of Mardi Gras. Now that's what I call a theme restaurant!

Sprinkled here and there the old and odd places are still clinging to life- like Martin's Tavern, Tastee Diner, Crisfield's, Vincino's and god bless Roger Miller's African Restaurant. Franklin's is a great blend of new and old- housed in an old hardware store and serving some of the best beer in the area. And one of my all time favorites is The Hitching Post where you can get a fried chicken sandwich which boasts at least 5 pieces of bird and almost as an afterthought two pieces of Wonder bread on the side. Here's a picture of my mom on her ninetieth plus birthday ( you heard me) and her chicken sandwich. It just doesn't get much better than this.