Use Your Beige Kitchen Caddy to Compost All Food Scraps!

By Elaine Simmons

Composting is nature’s way of recycling. Non-composted food waste, rotting in landfills, is a major source of methane—a greenhouse gas even more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide. Happily, our county has a terrific composting program that accepts a wide range of food and food-soiled paper (see graphic on the next page). Just put all your food waste into your beige plastic kitchen caddy and transfer the contents to your green yard waste bin (not the black trash bin). You should never have to use your garbage disposal again to chew up food, since all food can now be composted.  

It’s best to use a liner (compostable or paper bag) in your beige caddy. I prefer Biobags from MOM’s Organic Market and Amazon but the 3-gallon compostable bags that fit the 2 gallon size caddy are in many stores. DO NOT use plastic bags since they do not biodegrade. Silicone spatulas work great in scraping every speck of food off your plates, platters, pans, etc., but you should drain excess liquid from food scraps before placing them in the caddy. You can wash the caddy in the dishwasher or by hand. 

Yes, I’m a bit OCD and like my rotting food wrapped in a tidy bundle but you don’t have to use a bag. Food waste can go directly into your green bin. But, bag or no bag, I would first place newspaper, a pizza box, and/or yard trimmings (leaves, twigs) at the bottom of the green bin as a first layer to absorb moisture to avoid food waste sticking to your bin. And, having experienced the joy of a compost bag full of decaying food breaking all over my kitchen floor during transit to the bin (compost bags are not as strong as plastic), I now carry the caddy to the green yard waste bin and lift out the bag over the bin. You can rinse your green bin with a hose and mild soap as needed. 

I have never noticed any rodents in my green bin, but if you don’t want to risk it (or want to avoid odors in the summer heat), you can freeze scraps (like meat, poultry, and fish) until collection day. In the next issue of the Bulletin, we will discuss where the county sends the food waste, what happens to it, and how you can get the resulting rich compost for your yard.

The Birth of the American Nazi Party in Arlington

By Kalkidan Ausink and Elaine Simmons

The establishment of the American Nazi Party in Arlington in 1958 raised the same questions we face today about the right of free speech vs. an intolerance of offensive, hate speech. Also at issue is how aggressive local and state government should be in trying to banish a group engaging in a range of loathsome and illegal activities, such as trailing and heckling civil rights Freedom Fighters, making a bomb threat where Jews congregated, and assaulting a 13-year-old boy. 

The founder of the Nazi party, George Lincoln Rockwell, was the son of vaudeville comedians who knew Jack Benny and Groucho Marx. He served in World War II and the Korean War before stumbling across Hitler’s Mein Kampf, after which he became obsessed with Aryanism and the threat of communism. Rockwell had once fought against fascism only to convince others that it would save America.

Rockwell’s Nazi Party operated from several swastika-bedecked locations in Arlington, including what is now Upton Hill Park (then nicknamed “Hatemonger Hill”), 928 N. Randolph St in Ballston, and 2507 North Franklin Rd in Clarendon, which is now Sweet Science coffee house.

Rockwell’s party attracted few members, and he relied on financial support from his mother all his life, but he found enough benefactors to support his activities–at least minimally, since there were reports of many unpaid bills. He received over 6,000 votes for Virginia governor in 1965. 

However, governments and citizens did push back. Rockwell and his supporters were arrested 36 times in a 3-year period in the 1960s. In 1961, residents formed a group called Citizens Concerned and lobbied the state to revoke the Nazi Party’s charter. In 1962, the Virginia General Assembly declared Rockwell’s group an enemy of the state. In 1964, the IRS denied access to the Randolph St. headquarters after Rockwell failed to pay $7,000 in taxes. 

The 49-year-old Rockwell was assassinated by a former deputy in 1967 while at a laundromat on Wilson Boulevard. He was found dead in the parking lot – ironically, with his box of Ivory Snow laundry detergent. Though weakened, the party carried on in Arlington, marching with a swastika-adorned drum corps in Arlington’s Bicentennial parade in 1976. It also celebrated “White Pride Day” with members of the Maryland Ku Klux Klan at Yorktown High School in 1983, where the only arrests made were of anti-Nazi protestors who were booked for trespassing. Shortly before the 1983 event the party announced it was moving to Wisconsin, citing a lack of local support for its mission.


NOTE:  This article draws heavily from The Assassination of an American Nazi by Charles S. Clark, ArlingtonHistoricalSociety.org. We highly recommend reading this fascinating article.

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Who is the “Langston” of Langston Boulevard?

By Lauren Farrell Gardiner

Contrary to popular belief, Arlington’s Langston Boulevard is not named for the poet Langston Hughes. Rather, the former Lee Highway is named for Langston Hughes’ great uncle John Mercer Langston, an abolitionist, lawyer, and the first Black man to represent Virginia in Congress.

John Mercer Langston was born in Louisa, Virginia in 1829 to Lucy Langston, a Native American and former enslaved woman. His father was Ralph Quarles, a celebrated Revolutionary soldier, wealthy landowner, and Lucy’s enslaver, with whom Lucy had four children. Quarles emancipated Lucy and their first child in 1806, then Lucy left him and had 3 children with another man. She later returned to Quarles, lived with him as his common law wife (since interracial marriage was illegal), and they had three more children together, the youngest of whom was John Langston. 

Langston’s parents died in 1834, when he was only four years old. At the time, he moved to Ohio, where he was raised by family friends, and later, his older brothers. While living in Ohio, Langston was exposed to the strong anti-slavery rhetoric of the North. Langston graduated from Oberlin College in Ohio and married fellow abolitionist Caroline Wall. Langston hoped to become a lawyer, but in the early 1850s, only three Black men nationwide had been admitted to law school. After two law school rejections, Langston studied under local abolitionists in Ohio and was only admitted to the Ohio bar in 1854 after a bar committee deemed him “nearer white than black.” He thus became the first Black lawyer in Ohio.

He and Caroline moved to Brownhelm, Ohio, where he won election to the post of Town Clerk. Some sources speculate that he was the first African American elected to public office in the United States. About a decade later, Langston served as Inspector General of the Freedmen’s Bureau, touring the postwar South, and encouraging freedmen to seek educational opportunities. In 1868, Langston went to Washington, DC, where he established the law department at Howard University and later served as dean of the University. He also served as Minister to Haiti. 
In 1889, after moving back to Virginia, Langston became the first Black person in Virginia to serve in the US House of Representatives. He had run as a Republican and lost to his Democratic opponent but contested the results of the election because of voter intimidation and fraud. After 18 months, the Congressional elections committee declared Langston the winner, and he took his seat in the U.S. Congress for the remaining six months of the term. He lost his bid for reelection because conservative White Democrats had regained political control of Virginia. It would be over a century before Virginia sent another Black representative to Congress. Following his time in Congress, Langston exited the political arena and wrote his autobiography, From the Virginia Plantation to the National Capitol.

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Free Tree Applications Accepted Now!

By Bill Anhut, Lyon Park’s Tree Steward

Arlington County is losing overhead tree canopy primarily due to new home development and environmental causes. Lyon Park is one area of Arlington recently experiencing the largest decline in tree canopy coverage. When a large canopy tree is removed, it takes more than twenty years for newly planted trees to replace the lost tree’s oxygen production and rainwater control benefits. Removing a mature tree is a personal decision by a landowner, but the owner and neighbors can help remediate the loss of tree coverage by planting more trees near the fallen predecessor and in appropriate spaces within their own yards. 

Arlington County encourages tree planting in its citizen’s yards by offering two programs providing free trees: The Tree Canopy Fund and October’s Tree Distribution event. The Tree Canopy Fund Program is a developer-funded and volunteer-administered program that plants nursery-grade, native shade trees on private property. Applications are received twice a year, January 6, for Spring planting and June for Fall planting. To be eligible to receive a free canopy tree, (a $350-$450 value), a property owner must represent that the intended location is suitable for the planting of a large tree and promise to care for the newly planted tree (i.e., water weekly during its first year). Each request will be carefully evaluated by a grant review panel based upon site suitability and the species of tree requested.

Applications must be submitted by Friday January 6, 2023. Panel results will be announced in early Spring and the trees will be planted by contracted professionals several weeks later. At the time of planting, trees are typically 2” in diameter, approximately 8-10’ tall and are expected to grow to heights ranging from 20-100’ at maturity (depending upon tree species). The following species are available in the current cycle:

Large Shade Trees:

American Beech, American Sycamore, Red Oak, Scarlet Oak, Swamp White Oak, Sweetgum, White Oak, and Willow Oak

Medium Shade Trees: 

Bald Cypress, Black Gum, and Wild Black Cherry

The Program, in its 14th year, awards hundreds of trees annually. The review panel usually approves tree applications for open and sunny areas (particularly on the south or westerly property quadrants). Special consideration is given to locations where a previous canopy tree once stood.
I will again serve as the Lyon Park Civic Association coordinator to help consult on tree species, location within your yard, prepare and submit your application. Contact me by e-mail (BillAnhut@yahoo.com) or phone (301-908-8204) and notify me of your interest. Together, we will schedule a time for me to visit your home (between December 26 and January 5), to evaluate the planting location and agree upon a tree species to request. I will submit your application with other Lyon Park neighbors. Most applications I submit are approved. Won’t you help replenish Lyon Park’s tree canopy by contacting me today?

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The Life and Times of the Lyon Park Community House

By elizabeth Sheehy

With the Lyon Park Community Center centennial approaching, it’s time to look back at the building’s history, focusing this month on its recent renovation.

From its start in 1924, the LPCH has been owned and operated by the community, independent of Arlington County governance. Funds to build the center were raised by the local neighborhood, and eighty years later, facing an aging infrastructure, the community came together to research, design, and fund a renovation worthy of another century of community gathering. 

The renovation’s initial focus was making the bathrooms wheelchair accessible, and to repair chronic plumbing problems. A comprehensive Capital Improvement Plan was compiled, outlining issues facing both the building and the park, including structural concerns and needed safety upgrades, in addition to ensuring Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility compliance. 

There was vigorous debate—at times, contentious—over the next few years on how best to resolve these issues. In 2009, the Renovation Steering Committee was formed, representing a broad cross-section of the community, to manage the process of developing new plans through consensus, and with maximum community input. For the next six months, a group of volunteers met every Monday, forming sub-committees to research building usage, repair needs, historic characteristics, and other information needed to enlighten the decision-making. In July, the BOG facilitated a Community Pre-Design Workshop to solicit ideas, and in October held a well-attended Community Design Workshop, supporting hands-on community participation in partnership with the architects, Laboratory for Architecture and Building.

The final price tag was $1 million, a daunting figure. Keeping most historic features from the original 1925 building intact, the renovated building has modern ADA bathrooms, an upgraded kitchen, and a sunroom, which beautifully integrates the Community House and park, while increasing the building’s capacity by 50 percent. Fundraising occupied the next few years, and the building renovation was completed in 2015. 

In September 2019, the loan on the Community House was paid off, thanks to the hard work of the fundraising team. This proved fortuitous, as rental operations came to a halt in March 2020, stressing the operating budget. Now that we are back to “normal,” it is easy to ignore our own responsibility, as residents of Lyon Park, for the care and upkeep of the Community House and its surrounding park. If we want future generations to enjoy these unique assets, we must embrace our responsibility to support the LPCH.

Please join your neighbors at the first (in a long time) Lyon Park Community Center meeting for more information about the past, present, and future of Lyon Park.

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