The phrase "town and gown" usually refers to stresses between a community and the academic pocket in its midst -- College Park, Charlottesville, Berkeley and Cambridge, and even such civic subcenters as Georgetown, come to mind.
But Washington has its own nonacademic "town and gown" situations. We have the stresses between what is local and what is national.
That dichotomy was the subject of this column a week ago, when we quoted what broadcaster Eric Sevareid had to say about the two side-by-side communities more than 30 years ago, as collected in a book published in 1952.
It turns out that another writer in that same year distilled an equivalent of the Sevareid message into two memorable lines that are chiseled into the granite pavement of Western Plaza, at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
The words, by poet (and retired State Department professional) Ernest Kroll of Northwest Washington, are:
How shall you act the natural man in this invented city, neither Rome nor home?
Metro Scene's item about Sevareid implying the "invented city" nature of Washington was, Kroll said, "a bell ringer of very powerful vibration." Kroll said he is the only living person among 36 whose quotations are memorialized in the stone of Western Plaza. How those words got there is an unusual story. According to Harvard Magazine, published by Kroll's alma mater, "someone had slipped up in applying a 'no living authors' rule," giving us Kroll's words unto eternity.