My own guess about this item, for what it's worth, is that its content will confound future local historians. Mayor Marion Barry yesterday signed legislation renaming Brookland Avenue NE, which runs along the eastern edge of the Catholic University campus and beside the Metro subway tracks. In the future, assuming almost-certain congressional concurrence, Brookland Avenue -- as illustrated by the map to the right -- will be known as John McCormack Road.

John McCormack. Ah, yes. The longtime congressman (D-Mass., 1928-71), who capped his career as speaker of the House. A fitting tribute. Fitting, perhaps; but, by gosh, the road isn't named for that John McCormack. It honors the other one. The one who sang.

Back in June, on the urging of the American Irish Bicentennial Committee, Barry asked the City Council to rename Brookland Avenue in time for the centennial of the Irish-born McCormack, whose 100th birthday anniversary was on June 14. The procedure-bound council did so, but a bit late. These things, you understand, take some time.

Irish-born, unlike the late Boston-born congressman of Irish extraction, tenor John McCormack immigrated to the United States and, according to the mayor's letter to the council, "worked tirelessly for American causes."

In 1928, Barry wrote the council, McCormack "sang a benefit recital in the old [Washington] Auditorium on 18th Street [near E Street NW] which raised substantial funds for the building of the National Shrine of the Immacculate Conception, to which he also contributed his fee."