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First Time Around, Earth Stood Still Right Here

By John Kelly
Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Listen, puny Earthlings, I have more information for you regarding "The Day the Earth Stood Still" -- not the Keanu Reeves remake, but the 1951 original, set (and much of it shot) in Washington.

Lynda Hoover, who grew up in Washington but lives in Shepherdstown, W.Va., said many of the soldiers serving as extras in the film were members of the D.C. National Guard. That included her father, Dave, who lied about his age and joined the Guard in 1937 when he was 15.

"He loved to tell stories about the movie," Lynda wrote. "According to him, Guardsmen went to the top of the Washington Monument to drop wire down for the filming of some scenes. Dad was always happy to watch the movie and point out his own appearances on screen and those of his buddies. . . . It was the first movie I was allowed to stay up late to watch on television."

In fact, Lynda said, they watched "The Day the Earth Stood Still" every time it was broadcast. "It was years before I realized that it was a sci-fi cult hit. I had always assumed our fascination with the movie was a family eccentricity."

Jack Richards, a retired Army officer living in Alexandria, was captivated by TDTESS, too. Early in the film, the alien, Klaatu, is taken to Walter Reed Hospital, where he's held in "Room 309."

After watching a rerun of the movie on TV a few years ago, Jack decided to go looking for Room 309 at what is now Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Wrote Jack: "At the main reception desk, I was told by a senior citizen volunteer Room 309 would have been located in Building 1, First Floor, C Wing. Alas, all of the room numbers have changed to a new system and Room 309, as such, no longer exists, in that building or any other place I could identify within the WRAMC complex. . . . Hmmmm. Perhaps Room 309 still exists and was the 'undisclosed location' previously used by Vice President Cheney to steal away in the night."

Phil Wood of Glyndon, Md., had a problem with the movie: "It's always bugged me that Billy Gray -- Bud from 'Father Knows Best' -- who plays the son of Patricia Neal, is seen several times in the film wearing a Yankees cap . . . C'mon, the Senators in 1951 weren't very good -- they finished seventh out of eight -- but show a little hometown loyalty, why doncha?"

At least he was showing some homeplanet loyalty.

Children's Hospital

Eight years ago, Peg Moghadam's nephew, Alex , was born with a range of genetic anomalies. After many operations and procedures at Children's National Medical Center, he is now an "energetic, engaging, strong-willed and very bright" kid, Peg writes.

"The gift of Alex is one my family cherishes. He was the first in memory to be born with any problems. His struggles and gains remind all of us to take nothing for granted. I would encourage others who think they will never need the hospital's services, as I once believed, to support it. You never know . . ."

Peg showed her support by donating to our annual fundraising drive for Children's.

Roger Samuels of Herndon did, too. He said that even in tough times, he saves something for the hospital where, six years ago, his 1-day-old son had to have a tracheotomy. Wrote Roger: "Two weeks at the hospital, 1 1/2 years with the trach and numerous follow-ups, and today, you would never know he went through all that. Thank you Children's Hospital."

Thank you, Roger.

And thank you Grace Vistica and Chloe Welmond, friends from Julius West Middle School in Rockville. They hosted a joint 13th (Grace) and 14th (Chloe) birthday party over the weekend. In lieu of gifts, they asked their friends to bring something for Children's Hospital. They raised $400.

Our total so far is $148,872.50. Our goal is to raise $500,000 by Jan. 9. Your tax-deductible gift can help us reach it. To donate, write a check or money order payable to "Children's Hospital" and mail it to Washington Post Campaign, P.O. Box 17390, Baltimore, Md. 21297-1390.

To donate online using a credit card, go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/childrenshospital.

To contribute by phone using Visa or MasterCard, call 202-334-5100.

My blog: voices.washingtonpost.com/commons. My e-mail: kellyj@washpost.com.

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