Edward J. Thrasher, 72, who lives near Chevy Chase Circle, is a research associate with the American Association of Retired Persons. A Foreign Service retiree who has lived abroad on assignment, Thrasher has seen the city change from a village to a metropolis. The District Weekly welcomes such reminiscences.

Our house was on the south side of M Street, between Fourth and Fifth NE. If you walked one block north on Fifth to Florida Avenue, you came to Camp Meigs, a staging depot for World War I doughboys.

After the war the fields, which today are occupied by a wholesale produce market, stood vacant for years and were used to stage circuses and other traveling shows. We kids sometimes earned places in the last row in return for small jobs like setting up chairs.

Our house was a row brick, built about 1890, with a small yard fenced with spiked iron and a flight of iron steps leading to the second-floor entrance.

Summer afternoons, Pop (my grandfather) would doze in the areaway under the iron steps, a fly swatter in his hand and the Evening Star in his lap. He bought the paper at a shop on H Street for two cents, preferring to walk and get his own rather than wait for the newsboy's 4 o'clock delivery.

The house was three stories, but most of our living was done in the kitchen. You entered from M Street through the sub-basement door into a hall with an ice chest the size of an upright piano. Pop didn't go for refrigerators but believed in setting the food smack on slabs of ice. Twice a week the ice man delivered 100 pounds, and every night at bedtime Pop would get down on the leg that took a bullet at Kennesaw Mountain to empty the drip pan.

Evenings, we sat at the kitchen table after the dinner things were cleared, with Pop reading by the light of the single gas jet and the rest of us yattering, playing games and doing homework. It wasn't until about 1925 that the house was wired for electricity.

On the second floor was the front parlor, used only for formal occasions, and these were few after grandmother died in 1915.

Two bedrooms and a bathroom with a tub lined in copper were on the third floor. Because the plumbing did not include a hot-water heater, you carried a steaming kettle up three flights for your bath. Each room in the house had a latrobe, or special stove within a fireplace, named after the Baltimore engineer who invented it, but they stood unused because it was too much work to keep them lit and tended. The one warm room was the kitchen, though small portable kerosene stoves were sometimes used to heat other rooms.

The back yard was enclosed by a high board fence, and there was a woodshed for tools and the coal bin. Pop was always alert to the danger of fire. He kept coiled, knotted ropes by the windows in the upper rooms, and he drilled us every so often in going down hand over hand. Happily, we never had to do it in an emergency.

Trash and garbage collectors came through the back alley in horse-drawn wagons. The garbage man announced himself by tooting a brass horn, and as a toddler, I wanted to be a garbage man so I could blow that horn.

Hucksters on M Street peddled produce at the front door. I still hear the singsong: Watermelon/Red to the rind/Sellem cheap/And plugem alla time.

Early mornings I would walk to Abraham's grocery, at Sixth and M. The man from Corby's had already left the bread, in double loaves unwrapped, of course, in wooden boxes on which you sat while you waited for the store to open. The boxes had padlocks, but as they were never locked you could split the loaves apart and grub {dig out} the warm insides.

Abraham's was a poppa-and-momma store. You told the butcher how thick you wanted your round steak, and he could carve it to size. Bananas were sold by the dozen, potatoes by the peck.

In 1923, I think it was, there was a food exposition at the Washington Auditorium, 19th and New York Avenue, where they exhibited a marvelous machine that sliced the loaves of bread and wrapped them in waxed paper. It was months before sliced, wrapped bread showed up in stores.

If Abraham's didn't have what you wanted, you could walk to where M Street joined Florida Avenue near Seventh. There, across from Gallaudet College, was an outlet of the Sanitary Grocery Co. Years later the Sanitary merged into the Safeway chain, but eventually the little shop proved too small for the supermarket era and had to close.

On the corner of Fifth and M was Rockecharlie's general purpose store, where you bought thumbtacks and ice cream cones and licorice sticks and jawbreakers. On request, Rocky would ladle you a pickle from the barrel of brine. My chain-smoking neighbor used to send me to Rocky's to fetch packs of Piedmonts or Sweet Caporals. Rocky's store served at least three generations of customers.

Most of the area around M Street, which today includes houses, a police station and commercial establishments, was open ground in the early 1920s. In the fields we spun tops, flew kites and played mumblepeg and marbles. I was never any good at marbles (toys, we called them) because I shot cunnythumb instead of knucklethumb and could never learn the difference.

Schools were the Hayes at Fifth and K and the Blair at Sixth and I. These took us through eighth grade, except that some of us along about 1926 went off to newfangled institutions called junior high schools. Saturdays, my 15-cent allowance took me to the Apollo on H Street to see a chapter from a serial and a feature film. The serials were Ruth Roland and Art Accord and The Green Archer. The featured players were William Farnum and Milton Sills and Hoot Gibson and Lon Chaney.

For excursions, the family would take the H Street cars to the Chesapeake Beach Railway terminal at Seat Pleasant. Chesapeake Beach had a boardwalk built over the water with carousel and dance hall and roller coaster. All were destroyed in a fire in the late 1920s and never rebuilt.

The row houses on M Street are still there, modernized in some ways, but basically the same as they were nearly 100 years ago. They're not unique, and if you stroll through Northeast and Southeast Washington, you'll find lots more like them.