Meet Brooke Johns, age 93, several generations removed from his prime and under siege by the boom-boom pace of development in the 1980s. On the outskirts of Olney, 18 miles north of the White House in the midst of explosive growth in Montgomery County, he hangs onto 207 valuable, lush acres with an 18-hole golf course and a country club, Brooke Manor, that bears his name.

A world renowned vaudevillian who retired in 1930 to what was then the countryside, he lives on the grounds of his club in a slightly run-down 17-room mansion. He is surrounded by his memories and his scrapbooks, several old cars in various stages of restoration or disrepair, 150 crowing roosters and hens, 120 neckties and a banjo with the autographs of four American presidents and the prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII.

"He's been pretty much content to live in his house, pick his banjo a little, and watch the world go by," said county zoning analyst Dean Mellander.

But development and developers have come knocking at Johns' front door. Big-money people have been calling on him and his family, offering them millions for the land. But it is not for sale. He likes his buffer of land, away from the crush of Montgomery County's increasing traffic.

So long as he and his 79-year-old wife Hazel have anything to say about it, the green acres will remain so -- Brooke Johns' untouched island of stillness and serenity in an ocean of traffic and change.

With rush-hour traffic beginning in the area before 4 p.m., bulldozers and road graders are widening Georgia Avenue in front of Brooke Manor from two lanes to four. Subdivisions and shopping centers are replacing farms around Olney and around the Brooke Manor Country Club itself.

"Olney is damn near as crowded as Broadway was," Johns said.

"You get all kinds of offers. They really try to squeeze us," said Hazel Johns, whose family has owned the land since the last century.

"There's always somebody who wants your land. We want to keep it as long as we can," she added.

"We have nothing to sell," her husband said. Representatives of a national hotel chain "came here to see me and talk about 32 acres three or four months ago. I told them I didn't want to sell. They advised me I was right to hold on to it . . . . And I'm a determined old man."

Brooke Johns bought the land from his wife's great-uncle in 1925 for $46,000. He said he has received offers of up to $15 million for the country club, "and that doesn't include the house." He has deeded most of the land to his children. Meanwhile, son John is president of the club, and daughters Martha and Joan are the vice president and manager, respectively.

"All these {club} members are constantly worried it will be sold," said Johnny Johns, 58. "It's a very well-located piece of ground. We get calls from developers -- anywhere from the guy who wants to run a golf course to the guy who wants to build a shopping center, to home developers.

"The reality is we're running it as a country club and doing quite well. We have a waiting list for the first time in years. It'll probably remain a golf course. We're living here, born and raised here. It's a home place. We're not developers," he said.

Brooke Johns has asked his children not to sell but has not bound them in writing, and there is a small generation gap of expectations. They pledge to honor their mother and father's wishes, but Brooke Manor to them means mostly hard work.

"Someday, they may have to sell it," Hazel Johns said. "You don't know what the future holds."

Brooke Johns gave two lots in Olney to sons John and James; James is retired. They just sold a 7,000-square-foot tract for $150,000 to McDonald's. Another, larger lot belongs to Hazel Johns. It is under a 99-year lease to the Olney Shopping Center.

In a region where new development quickly wipes out the old, Brooke Johns is a tangible link between the past and present.

"My father-in-law used to drive sheep down Georgia Avenue with two boys and a dog, all the way to the Seventh Street stockyards," he said.

Johns, whose great-great-grandfather is said to have performed the Episcopal last rites for George Washington, was born in Georgetown on Dec. 24, 1893. He has a couch that he said Abraham Lincoln gave to his grandmother. His father played the banjo for fun and worked for a living at J.E. Dyer's Grocery at 34th and M streets NW. It was a time when, Johns said, half the houses lacked indoor plumbing and people walked to public pumps for water.

Decades ago, the young Brooke Johns was asked to leave Tech and Central High schools and, just shy of graduation, was booted out of Georgetown Prep for cheating on a final mathematics exam. So, he recalled, he left home with a $12 suit -- bound for Broadway.

He was not an instant success. In vaudeville he sang and played the banjo in Pennsylvania coal mining towns, did coastal patrol duty with the Navy during World War I, and entertained in Palm Beach, Fla., where he was discovered by a New York producer who brought him back to Broadway. He became the headliner hired to draw the crowds to theaters where movies got second billing.

His full name is William Brooke Johns. "I'm Bad Bill, known as Sweet William to all the grandmothers," he said. But his stage name was Brooke Johns, billed as "Six-foot-three and Oh! So Different."

Among the stars he knew well were W.C. Fields, Eddie Cantor, Paul Whiteman, Al Jolson and Will Rogers. He did vaudeville shows for the Skouras brothers and for B.F. Keith theaters. He helped Ginger Rogers get her start.

He was a coast-to-coast celebrity, as his faded mementos attest, a star of Ziegfeld's Follies and a nasal-voiced RCA Victor recording artist. His face appeared on the front of a hundred different song sheets.

Then, at the age of 40, he gave it all up for the home life of a country squire and family man in the rolling Maryland countryside. But, as Hazel Johns puts it, "He got itchy."

So he bought a restaurant in Georgetown and converted an old dairy barn on his farm into a nightclub and tea room. It catered to members of Congress and society people, but it closed during World War II after gas rationing cut down on country drives. In 1953, he opened the country club that his family still owns.

He hosted a local television show for children. He did benefit performances for schools and nursing homes. He bought and sold real estate. He served as a state racing commissioner and as the Republican chairman of the last board of Montgomery County commissioners. In the latter role, he had been wary of tacky postwar development. He still does not like it.

"I'm 93, and you can't stop progress," he said. "They've tried. When I came out here, it was strictly country. I've watched this place develop. Today, we're overcrowded." But he would rather talk about the glorious past than the problematic present -- and make jokes about it.

For instance, the secret of success in his 61 years of marriage, he said, can be summed up in two words that assure marital harmony: "Yes, dear. Yes, dear."

Corrected Hazel Johns, "He never said 'Yes, dear' in his life."

Brooke Manor is zoned for one-acre home sites. Small's Nursery is directly south. Across Georgia Avenue are two cemeteries and a county park. "From the planning perspective, we'd like to see it stay a country club," said the county's Mellander. "It provides a green gateway into the Olney village area."

The country club makes money with a lot of reunions and weddings, the Johns family members said. "It's a lot of hard work," said daughter Joan Smith, 55, who toured with Gypsy Rose Lee and brought up a family before managing the club.

"Daddy looked across the land and said he'd like to see green forever," she said. "I look out and would like to see town houses forever." Then, rubbing her counting fingers together, she said, "I would see green forever. No, I certainly don't mean that altogether.

"People think we're nuts to sit on this valuable land, but it's beautiful. We'd all be crazy if we didn't think about {selling} it, at our age. It's crazy for a grandmother to work like this, 12 to 13 hours a day."

Five miles away, on Rte. 29, the former Greencastle Country Club is being developed with high-rises. "The members hear constantly this place is being sold, or has been sold," said Smith. "They're very, very nervous about it. The rumors that this place is being sold are flying, and they're constant."

"I have nothing for sale," asserted Brooke Johns.