A letter from Beth Pyles also sent me to the library for facts. "For whom," she asked, "is Andrews Field (Andrews Air Force Base) named?"

When the Corps of Engineers began to develop the huge complex in 1941, the name assigned to it was "Camp Springs Army Air Base." Fighter planes were based there to protect Washington during World War II.

In March of 1945, the base was renamed "Andrews Field" in honor of Lt. Gen. Frank M. Andrews, who had died in a plane crash. At the time of his death, Gen. Andrews was commander of all U.S. forces in Europe.

When the Air Force became a separate service in 1947, the designation became "Andrews Air Force." Now, only 34 years later, people wonder, "Who was Andrews?"

The great shakers and movers of one generation are unknown to the children of the next.

When word arrived a few days ago that Col. Robert S. Allen had died, a young colleague wondered why the news upset me so. "Because he was one helluva man," I said. "Writing the 'Washington Merry-Go-Round' column with Drew Pearson was just one of his minor accomplishments."

My young colleague still didn't understand. "Who," he asked, "was Drew Pearson?"

I said, "Oh, he was just a guy who worked in Washington for a while." I was sure he didn't really want a more detailed answer.