We slipped a cog the other day in referring to the "six Washington area members" of the House of Representatives. Being my own severest critic, I awoke the next day to realize that actually there are now nine.

My, how our region has grown! Until after the first census that followed World War II, taken in 1950, the Washington area had just three members of the House -- two in suburban Maryland, one in suburban Virginia and none, voteless or otherwise, in the District of Columbia.

According to the maps in The Historical Atlas of the U.S. Congressional Districts, 1789-1983 (New York, 1983: The Free Press), the Washington area had three congressional districts from the founding of the Republic until 1843, when the number dropped to two. Separate districts representing Maryland's Montgomery and Prince George's counties were then joined into one. (Secessionist Virginia's representation was suspended during the Civil War, leaving the national capital region with one lone Maryland representative from 1863 to 1869.)

In 1873, the number grew back to three and remained at that level until 80 years later when the new Virginia 10th District was carved out of the 8th District stronghold of then-Rep. Howard W. (Judge) Smith (D), and was served by Joel T. Broyhill (R), from 1953 until 1975.

The District in 1971 attained nonvoting representation by Del. Walter E. Fauntroy (D). Back from 1871 to 1875, the District had an earlier nonvoting delegate -- Norton P. Chipman (R), whose job was lost in a reorganization of local government.

So who (besides Fauntroy) are the nine area House members? The full list is a bit surprising.

Rep. Roy Dyson (D) represents Maryland's 1st District, which includes the three nearby Southern Maryland counties of Calvert, St. Mary's and Charles, plus the entire Eastern Shore; retiring Rep. Marjorie S. Holt (R) represents Anne Arundel and parts of both Howard and Prince George's counties, and Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D) represents the rest of Prince George's. Rep. Michael D. Barnes (D), represents lower Montgomery County and Rep. Beverly Byron (D) represents upper Montgomery and parts of Howard counties and everything else in Western Maryland.

Across the Potomac, we not only have Rep. Stan Parris (R) of the 8th District, encompassing parts of Fairfax, Prince William and Stafford counties and Alexandria and Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R) of the 10th District, covering Arlington and Loudoun counties and the rest of Fairfax, but also Rep. D. French Slaughter (R), whose sprawling district laps into Stafford and Prince William counties and includes Manassas and Manassas Park.