When did the Largo Town Center Metro station open? Wasn't it last year?
Yes, just barely last year: Dec. 18, 2004. The Morgan Boulevard Station opened that day, too. They're the two final stations on the Maryland end of the Blue Line.
Which explains why I was kind of confused as I waited for a Blue Line train at the King Street Station this week. The Metro station pylons said that the last station in Maryland was Addison Road, not Largo.
The lighted board with information on the arrival times of the next few trains read "Largo." The Blue Line train that pulled in read "Largo." And the train operator said "Largo."
But I couldn't help wondering what a tourist to Washington would think. Subways have their own special nomenclature involving the names of the stations at the ends of each line. Thus on the London Underground you take the Piccadilly Line to Cockfosters, even if you want to get off at Turnpike Lane.
Would a visitor stand on the platform, frozen with indecision, eyes shuttling back and forth between the pylon (Addison Road) and the train (Largo Town Center)? Would he get on?
And is it too much to expect that sometime in the nine months since the Blue Line was completed Metro could have sent someone out with a paint brush or a Dymo Labelmaker to update the pylons?
A few weeks ago, I spoke with Gregory Eisenstadt, the property manager of Privacy World, an apartment complex near the Glenmont Metro station in Silver Spring.
He said Metro had been a wonderful neighbor. It was responsive to the concerns of the community as the Glenmont station was being built. Since the tracks were going to go right past the apartment complex, Gregory said, Metro was asked whether there was anything that could be done to lessen the noise from the trains. The transportation authority agreed to build a noise-reducing shed over part of the tracks.
To demonstrate how well it worked, Metro held a demonstration for the neighbors: A bagpipe player walked down the tracks, his instrument giving its, um, unmistakable bleat. As he entered the shed, the noise was swallowed up.
I love that image of a lonely piper on the tracks:
Oh! Ye'll take the Orange Line and I'll take the Blue Line and I'll be in Rosslyn afore ye!
But me and my true love will never meet again on the bonnie, bonnie tracks of the Metro!
Last October, I wrote about Nancy Ordway Jameson, a local actress who had the title role in a 1940s radio serial broadcast from Washington called "Helen Holden, Government Girl."
An old-time radio buff from Fairfax named Jack French was in search of any scrap of information about the show for his book, "Private Eyelashes: Radio's Lady Detectives." A reader of this column was able to track down a lead, and I put Jack in touch with Nancy, 90 years old and living in Key West, Fla. She was tickled by the interest in what she remembered as a rather silly radio show, and she apologized that she had kept none of the mementos that radio historians crave: old scripts or transcription disks.
Well, recently a Virginia radio buff named Karl Schadow unearthed a "Helen Holden" script at the Library of Congress.
Sadly, Nancy didn't get a chance to see it. She died in April. (Her obituary landed on the front page of the Key West paper, where it dwarfed news of the new pope.)
The script is for the premiere episode, heard on WOL on Dec. 9, 1940, and again on Feb. 24, 1941, when the series was picked up nationally by Mutual.
It's a real period piece, about Helen's arrival at the D.C. apartment of her Aunt Mary. But I guess a lot happens in 15 minutes, since the announcer ended the show with these words: "Is David in love with Helen? Will Mary have to fight her own niece for the man she loves? Will Helen find a job in the government? Listen to tomorrow's episode of 'Helen Holden' and perhaps we'll find out which way the wind blows."
Unless another script is found, perhaps not.
I think I know what has been driving gas prices up the last few weeks. It's all the TV news helicopters that are hovering over various parts of America.
There are always a sizable number of choppers in the air at any given time. Most are up there to broadcast live images of traffic jams for the entertainment of people sitting at home, who can say, "Man, I feel sorry for those idiots stuck in traffic." These are occasionally diverted to cover police chases.
Two weeks ago, dozens of choppers headed to the Gulf Coast so they could give us a bird's-eye view of the destruction from Hurricane Katrina. Back and forth they went. Then, as the Army Corps of Engineers started dropping huge sandbags on broken levees, we got the vertigo-inducing shots of helicopters from helicopters.
When the power went out in Los Angeles, the helicopter corps that is continuously in flight above the City of Angels was mobilized.
So that's who's using all the gas: the helicopters.
Obviously, I run on natural gas. My e-mail: email@example.com.