It was with some bemusement that I read The Post's Aug. 6 story about the town of Mount Rainier. I can hardly recognize that haunt of crime and terror as the peaceful little community where my family has lived for nearly three years.
When we moved here from Anne Arundel County, we were impressed by the small-town atmosphere that much of Mount Rainier preserves in spite of its nearness to the District of Columbia. It seemed--and still seems--to combine many of the advantages of the city with an atmosphere of friendly peace altogether different from that pictured by The Post's reporter.
I was especially surprised at the characterization of Mount Rainier as a nearly exclusively white, elderly community. We live in a two-family house where the four adults all hold PhDs (two teaching at Howard Uniersity, a third at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County). We have a total of three small children among us, and have had no difficulty in finding many other families with small children in the surrounding blocks of residential housing. Judging Mount Rainier by the Queenstown Apartments is a serious mistake.
Walking down our block, we see a neighborhood garage, a small apartment building, private homes of families with a wide spread of ages, about an even number of white and black households, with two married couples of mixed racial background. It is pretty near to being the ideal racial mix that my husband and I consciously sought in leaving our lily-white section of Anne Arundel.
There are many, many blocks like this one-- quiet, tree-lined, residential streets where we can take our small children on walks without any fear of violence, where cheerful people spend long hours out working in their yards or simply sitting out on their porches to enjoy lazy summer evenings.
I do not doubt that the elderly of Mount Rainier are afraid for their safety, but I am very much convinced that they are afraid in no greater measure than their counterparts throughout the urban area, and in many suburban and rural areas too. My own hometown is a coastal hamlet of 3,000 in Maine, where one's chances of knowing the hoodlums ICka2andLFcd7ka2 their grandmothers are markedly increased, but that does not stop elderly people from being victimized by the young.
That the racial element should enter into their worries here is perhaps inevitable, and reflects the changing status of Prince George's County as a whole. Once a white area, Prince George's has been changing to a more racially balanced area as more blacks move out of the District into surrounding suburbs.
The newcomer into a stable environment is always singled out for blame as changes come. The majority of blacks who come into Mount Rainier, like the majority of whites, are simply looking for a quiet place to live in peace. Assigning blame for crime in the area to "young black males from the District" is hardly a workable response to whatever problems Mount Rainier may have.
Our choice to live in the urban area was conscious, weighing the pros and cons. We have had to endure certain problems--noise, air pollution, litterbugs, slight anxiety and a heightened consciousness about locking the doors when we leave the house. But Mount Rainier, with its playgrounds, its local shops, its general friendliness has in large measure compensated us for whatever urban debits it may carry and given us the access to Washington and its advantages that we wanted. It is a nice place to visit and a nice play to stay.