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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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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Frank Lyon and Arlington (Part I of III)

By Tracy Hopkins

Our Lyon Park website indicates that Lyon Park is named after Frank Lyon, who developed Lyon Park in 1919. It talks about Lyon Park’s development, but not much about Frank Lyon. Lyon descended from a family that was established in Virginia in 1730. His grandfather was a general contractor in Petersburg, Virginia. His father was a lawyer in Petersburg and, later, in Richmond. During the Civil War, his father served in the office of the Advocate General of the Confederacy. He was married to Mary Margaret Springs of Charlotte, North Carolina, and they had four children, including Frank.

Born on December 30, 1867, in Petersburg, Virginia, Lyon attended public schools in Richmond, graduating in 1884. After 18 months at Richmond College, Lyon began working in administration for railroad companies. In 1887, Lyon became the private secretary to Walter Bragg of the newly formed Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). He remained with the ICC until 1899, during which time Lyon also studied law at Georgetown University. He received a Master of Laws in 1890 and began to practice law in Alexandria County (renamed Arlington in 1920). 

Lyon married Georgie Hays Wright in 1890, and they built a small house, which no longer exists, on Lubber Run. They later lived on Kirkwood Road at the current site of the YMCA. The house they built in 1907 was Lyonhurst, now Missionhurst, at 4651 25th St. N. This residence was said to be the first home in the county to have electricity. 

Frank and Georgie Lyon had three children who survived to adulthood, two daughters and a son. The son, Lt. John Lyon, died near the end of World War I in the Argonne offensive in France. The John Lyon Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 3150 located at 2116 19th St. N., is named for him.

Lyon became the owner and editor of the Monitor newspaper in the early 1900s and was associated with the paper until its sale in 1928. He and the paper played a significant role in the dissolution of liquor and gambling interests in Rosslyn. He joined the legal crusade against liquor by representing temperance movement leaders. 

Lyon became a law partner of Robert Walton Moore and participated in the development of Moore’s addition to Clarendon. His development firm, Lyon and Fitch, developed Lyon Park in 1919. Later, the depression caused the dissolution of Lyon and Fitch, after which Lyon continued to practice law. He died on November 29, 1955 and is buried in Petersburg, Virginia.
NOTE: This article is derived from Rose, Ruth P., “The Role of Frank Lyon and His Associates in the Early Development of Arlington County,” The Arlington Historical Magazine, Vol. 5, No. 4, 1976. 

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Memories of Arlington: Growing up in Halls Hill (now High View Park)

Based on an interview with LaVonia Sweeney

I was born in Washington, DC in 1942 and lived there until my parents moved to Halls Hill about 3 years later. Our house had been given to my parents by my grandfather as a wedding present with the condition that they pay off the $2000 balance. Our home in DC had indoor plumbing but the Halls Hill home only had an outhouse, which my mother found unacceptable. A bathroom with indoor plumbing was added and we moved in. Halls Hill was very rural, with woods all around and houses spread out. 

Halls Hill was an island of Black residences surrounded by houses owned by Whites. Segregation meant that Whites and Blacks did not mix or socialize. One example I recall is that my mother could not give birth to my baby brother (born in 1946) at Virginia Hospital just a few blocks away; my father had to take her to DC. Certain streets were walled off by White residents but, even where it was possible to walk into a White neighborhood, we did not do so because our parents told us not to. The reason was Whites did not want us there. 

I did not visit a public library in Arlington until much later since they were inside White neighborhoods. There were no nearby movie theaters or swimming pools we could use. There was a grocery store and a “5 and Dime” on Lee Highway we could shop at. We could buy ice cream at Giffords in Falls Church but not sit down in the restaurant to eat it. In case of fire, there was a Black firehouse for Black neighborhoods. If assistance was needed, the White fire departments would not send help to a Black neighborhood. But if assistance was needed in the White neighborhood, the Black firemen would help. 

We loved having parties with friends and family; it was our main entertainment. For school, I went to kindergarten at a lady’s house up the street and then attended grade school at Langston Elementary. In 7th grade I went to Hoffman-Boston, the only Black high school in Arlington. On Sundays, we attended the Black Catholic church in South Arlington called Our Lady Queen of Peace, which still exists. 

During 7th grade my family moved back to DC. I eventually went to a school in Powhatan, VA, near Richmond (formally named St. Francis de Sales High School for Colored and Indian Girls). My mother worked as a dental assistant and cut hair on the side. She said her tips sent me to boarding school. My father worked for the Army postal service in the Pentagon. He was not promoted for a long time but when he finally was, a White man quit his job there rather than work for a Black man.

In DC we could go to movies and swimming pools, but some places were still segregated, such as National Theater, where Black ticketholders could only sit in the balcony section. Now those are considered choice seats!   I never encountered the Ku Klux Klan in DC or Virginia but did when I worked in a Southern Maryland school. One day a Klansmen came to the school to distribute pamphlets—not for any specific event but to let everyone know the Klan was there.  

A highlight of my years in DC was attending Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. I attended with my friends, so we were socializing during the event. We could hear him in the distance speaking for a long time, so we tried our best to pay attention!  Eventually I married a corpsman who became a warrant officer in the Navy, had two children, and moved around the east coast. I returned to my childhood home in Arlington in 2014, and I remember marveling at how I could go anywhere and do anything in the neighborhood. I walked up all the streets I couldn’t have walked before, and I have lived here since. Today, my daughter lives in southern Maryland and my son in Hawaii.

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Urban Heat Islands

By Elaine Simmons

As Arlington County increases its density of buildings and residents, more people can access our many benefits. However, growth also increases the possibility of the phenomenon known as the urban heat island effect: cities experience higher air temperatures than non-urban areas.

On average, cities tend to be 1–7°F warmer than non-urban areas around them during the daytime and 

as much as 5°F warmer at night. On a summer day, the sun can heat buildings, roofs, and cars to temperatures 50 degrees higher than the surrounding air. Urban air quality also suffers since more pollutants are pumped into the air in densely populated areas, and stagnant air conditions during heat waves can trap pollutants near the ground. 

Natural surfaces like trees and plants have cooling effects from shade and “evaporative cooling,” whereby evaporating water from vegetation absorbs heat (much like sweat cools the human body). Artificial surfaces such as roads and buildings that replace vegetation typically lack those cooling effects and instead absorb and re-emit more heat, which makes their surroundings warmer too. 

As the planet warms, urban heat islands will only intensify higher temperatures. To cope with higher temperatures, cars and buildings consume more energy for cooling—frequently via fossil fuels—which worsens air pollution and contributes to climate change. 

An important way to fight the urban heat island effect is to reintroduce vegetation. This includes planting trees, expanding parkland, and installing “green roofs” designed to support plants. Building cool roofs and  pavements—which have bright coatings that reflect more sunlight and, therefore, absorb less heat—also   can reduce the urban heat island effect. A model by the MIT Concrete Sustainability Hub estimated that, if widely implemented, cool pavements could reduce the frequency of heatwaves by 41% across all US urban areas.

As residents, a key thing we can do is plant and properly care for tough native shade trees (like oaks, sycamores, hickories, tulip trees). Those of us with shady yards know that tree cover makes a HUGE difference in how hot it feels. A friend in McLean with lots of shade trees has measured a 10-degree difference in his yard compared to nearby exposed areas. Next time you venture out, notice how much better streets and sidewalks with tall tree overhang feel and look compared to those that are sun-beaten. To get a free tree, including installation, contact the Tree Canopy Fund established by Ecoaction Arlington. You may also register for a free tree on Arlington County’s Urban Forestry Dept web page. Or visit your local garden center.

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North Arlington Segregation Walls

By John Ausink

If you’ve ever gone to the Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe you’ve been in North Arlington’s High View Park area —formerly known as Hall’s Hill, an historically Black neighborhood outlined in red on the map. If you travel south on nearby N Culpepper St. and look down 17th Rd N. when you get to the bottom of the hill, you’ll notice an imposing cinderblock wall, shown behind me in the photo. What’s going on?

The four thick blue lines on the map show the locations of various walls, erected in the 1930s, that at one time enclosed portions of Hall’s Hill to physically separate it from White neighborhoods. If I had tried to ride down N. Culpeper St. before the mid-1960s I would have been blocked at 17th Rd N. by the wall:  the only way to drive through Hall’s Hill from Lee Highway (now Langston Blvd) was via N. Edison to the west. 

Some claim that Hall’s Hill was once entirely enclosed by walls of various materials, but the only segments I can document from county records and “eyewitness” accounts are the four in blue on the map. When Langston Elementary School was closed in the mid-1960s and Hall’s Hill students were assigned to a new school south of 17th Rd N., a group of Black and White citizens asked the county to open a section of the wall so students wouldn’t have to walk all the way to N. Edison and back again (14 blocks, some say) to get to school. One source says the county bought and demolished two houses and their adjacent section of segregation wall to create an opening. 

If you have not visited the segregation wall, it is important to do so—and take your kids, since they don’t learn about this local injustice in school. You can easily ride your bike from Lyon Park. It’s worth noting that, while the county changed its zoning to permit the segregation walls, the walls themselves were built and paid for by White homeowners.

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Business Spotlight: Interview with Sue Pyatt, Co-Owner, Kinder Haus Toys in Clarendon

How long have you been in business?

My store came into being in 1982. We opened in the Lee Heights Shops in a tiny space of only 650 ft2. When we started the business, my husband and I had two little girls, ages 9 and 11. But there was a bit of a complication as I was expecting my third child! I figured if I waited for the perfect time, it would never come, so the store opened in April and a baby boy, Jeffrey, came in June.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a small business in Arlington?

The greatest advantage is our Arlington customers, who want quality toys, books, sporting goods, and clothes for their children and are very appreciative of our store. Because we had great customer support, we grew and are now a big 5,000 ft2 store. The only disadvantage is that parking can be a problem sometimes.  

How did COVID change your business?

We took a tip from the neighborhood restaurants and swung into action with curb service. We advertised on Facebook that customers could call in, see pictures, and charge on the phone. It worked!

How do you know what will be big sellers vs. duds?  

We never know for sure, and a few duds do happen. But I’ve learned which catalogs of toys are popular with our customers. I also see a few trusted reps and attend toy fairs. Reading trade magazines and the Wall Street Journal can be helpful. Listening to customers is very important, as is being flexible. Most toys in our store are winners.

What kinds of things still surprise you after so many years in business?

After 40 years, people still tell us they love our store, and it is a favorite. We never ever get tired of hearing this.

What else do you as an owner feel is important?

When you surround yourself with good people, they will make you look good. I am grateful for Everett, Laura, Dylan, and Angela and I appreciate the fine high school students who have worked for us from Lyon Park and Ashton Heights.

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If You Want Gorgeous Pansies in the Spring, Plant Them Now!

By Elaine Simmons

Riotous spring pansies are well served by planning ahead.  If you have outdoor window boxes or winter proof pots, plant your pansies in these containers now with fresh potting soil (not topsoil).  They will look good this fall, now that the weather has cooled.  They will likely “wilt” a bit (and look rather sorry) in the colder months of winter but, unless we have truly bitter cold, these same pansies will normally spring back to life in March or April, earlier and with more vigor than if you plant them in the spring.  In this way you get two seasons of enjoyment out of the same plants.

Pansies disdain heat, so the short seasons of fall and early spring are when they flourish in this area.  When the pansies get leggy and spent in May or June, you can replace them with annuals that tolerate summer heat.  Right now, the nearby garden centers are well stocked with these plants.  Brighter solid colors like yellow, orange, or white will “pop” against your house, or try a combo of contrasting colors like purple, yellow, and white.  Pinch off spent blooms at the base of the stems to stimulate new flowers.

And don’t throw away the old potting soil!  I keep big pots of it in the garage to use in making compost, combining it with vegetable scraps, coffee grounds/filters, tea bags, and dryer lint.  After six weeks or so in bin, the depleted old soil is transformed into rich loam.

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