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April 8 was a pretty busy night. The local theater in Greenbelt, Maryland was among the numerous theaters nationwide who held a simultaneous screening of the film 1984. Before the movie began a group of local activists held a reading of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s speech “Beyond Vietnam” in honor of the 50th anniversary of that speech. (Ironically MLK gave that speech exactly one year before his assassination.)
I purchased a pack of mozzarella cheese sticks featuring the characters from the Disney movie Frozen because it was on sale. (I was more interested in the cheese than how the package was decorated.) I have to admit that the outside package was cute.
It was worth buying just so I can see what the design on individually wrapped cheese sticks looked like. Like all cheese stick packages the wrapper is perforated so one can separate the individual cheese sticks. But the package is cuter when it is still in one piece because you can see Olaf the snowman do some serious photobombing on each of the cheese stick (which each feature one of the main characters from that movie).
Sometimes I like to go to the cafe that’s located inside of the Ikea store in College Park, Maryland. The food is reasonably priced and there’s also free wifi. The last time I went I purchased this chocolate cupcake that was not only lovely to look at but it tasted good as well.
I saw a free puppet show performance that was held at the Greenbelt Theater that was put on by Beech Tree Puppets. They did a performance of a show called “Rainbow Crow Brings Daylight,” which was based on Native American folktales. It was well-done and the puppets were awesome to look at.
I first wrote about the house located on Lastner Lane in Greenbelt, Maryland in this blog in 2012 because it was so decorated that it definitely stood out from the other houses on that street at Christmas. Two years later I noticed that the homeowners had added more decorations and my comparisons between the newer photos and the 2012 ones confirmed my perception so I wrote another blog post reflecting that fact.
In 2016 I noticed that the owners had added giant snowflakes on the roof along with an igloo and a few other lit sculptures so I decided to take a few new photographs for posterity.
With the addition of so many animated lit sculptures and flashing lights, I decided to shoot this short video documenting it.
I also shot the outside of St. Hugh’s Church, which is located on Crescent Road in Greenbelt, because I really liked how it did its lights this year.
The last photo shows a nice looking nativity scene that’s surrounded by hay, fresh pine needles, and strings of white lights.
The opening ceremony for the Festival of Lights happened just a few days earlier, which led the way for the biggest event of this festival: The Festival of Lights Arts & Crafts Show. This is among the events I make an effort to attend each year because I always run into at least two or more friends and I usually find at least one present to give to someone. This year was no exception.
The arts and crafts show runs the entire weekend but I was only able to attend the second and final day. In some ways the second day is better because it ties in with the last Greenbelt Farmers Market of the year before it goes on the winter hiatus until May. I managed to take this picture of some really nicely decorated Christmas decorations that were painted gourds.
I saw these nice instruments that were handmade from wood. They were made and sold by Roussell Family Arts.
These watercolors were made by Mary Ann Lipovsky, whose workshops I’ve taken in the past when she held them at Makerspace 125. (She told me that there’s a chance that she may start up those workshops at Makerspace 125 again sometime next year.)
I also visited my good friend, Tina Van Pelt, who’s a fused glass artist. She surprised me with this gift of a fused glass piece that could be worn as either a pin or a pendant. (She gave it to me as a special “thank you” for helping her out with a few things.) She’s been making fused glass American flags interspersed with safety pins as part of the new trend of wearing safety pins that have taken root since Donald Trump’s election last month. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this special line will go to the ACLU.
You can view more of her work through her business, Profusions of Glass.
I purchased this soap as a Christmas present for my mother. (I’m comfortable with mentioning it here before Christmas because she’s not on the Internet at all.) It’s shaped like a popsicle complete with a wooden stick.
I think she’ll get a kick out of it. Unfortunately I didn’t get any business cards from the booth where I purchased this soap so I can’t provide any information about the person who made and sold this.
There were more booths at this year’s event but those were the only photos I took because I was more focused on shopping and socializing with friends.
Way back in January I wrote a blog post about how last year the opening ceremony for the annual Festival of Lights in Greenbelt, Maryland was moved from the back of City Hall to nearby Roosevelt Center, which resulted in higher attendance since the movie theater, restaurants, and convenience store were all located there. I was there for the opening ceremony in its new location but I didn’t bother with taking pictures, which I regretted later. I took pictures of the lights in Roosevelt Center on the last day of the festival, which was on a Sunday night (when most of the businesses tended to close early on Sundays). The entire area was pretty yet deserted when I took those photos.
The opening ceremony was such a huge hit in its new location that the City of Greenbelt decided to do it again this year in Roosevelt Center. This time I took pictures of the festivities.
The festival gave out free hot chocolate. The festival organizers encouraged people to bring their own coffee cups or hot thermoses from home instead of using the free paper cups that were also available in order to get as close to having the festival produce zero waste as possible. I brought this coffee mug that had Stitch from the Disney movie Lilo & Stitch. (It was one a gift I gave to my then-husband but it was among the many items he left behind when he walked out on me back in 2011.) It turned out that that coffee mug was a conversation starter because I had so many kids who literally focused their attention on this mug.
As you can see, this event drew a lot of people of all ages.
There were lights strung everywhere.
A local band played Christmas and Hanukkah music.
The Christmas tree remained darkened until Santa Claus arrived.
Santa Claus arrived on the back of a fire truck.
The lights on the tree were lit after Santa arrived.
The nearby Greenbelt Theater was having a free showing of the original made-for-TV cartoon How the Grinch Stole Christmas just like it did last year. I saw it on the big screen last year and it was such a different experience from simply watching it at home on the TV. I thought about seeing it again but the line at the movie theater was really long this year. (I later heard that every single seat in the theater was filled.) I decided to skip it. It was no big deal since I saw it on the big screen last year plus I have that show on DVD so I can watch it at home anytime I want.
Makerspace 125 decided to schedule an Open House to coincide with the Festival of Lights opening ceremony. Someone decided to decorate a ladder with lights and ornaments instead of a tree.
Makerspace 125 had this one free hands-on activity where people could make fancy paper ornaments.
One person brought her dog, Honey, who totally enjoyed herself at the open house.
Most of the festival attendees basically cleared out after the Greenbelt Theater finished with showing the Grinch. Here are a few more photographs of the lights that are currently up in Roosevelt Center.
The lights will remain up until after New Year.
UPDATE (December 25, 2016): After I attended a special Christmas Day Sunday service at my church I decided to head to the Beijing Restaurant in Roosevelt Center (where I took advantage of its special Sunday buffet). After I left the restaurant I noticed that the Christmas tree from the Festival of Lights looked very glittery. Of course it helped that it was a very bright sunny day. Here are a couple of extra daytime photos.
One day I was visiting my friend who lives in one of the houses whose backyards directly face Greenbelt Lake. This friend has a next door neighbor who is into decorating in a big way. In fact this person’s Halloween decorations were still up when I came by four days after Halloween. Here is what the front yard looked like.
Those above photographs depicted just the front yard. Like I wrote earlier, all of the houses in this section of Greenbelt, Maryland have backyards that overlook Greenbelt Lake. This lake has a paved pedestrian path alongside it so walkers and joggers can travel along the banks of the lake. The owner of this house decided to deck his backyard as just much as the front yard for the benefit of the pedestrians.
Some of the decorations are motion activated, which means that they emit a sound overtime a pedestrian goes past them. The decoration in the next photo is one of the ones with motion-activated sounds. It’s shaped like the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz and whenever anyone goes past her, she starts emitting dialogue from that movie (such as “I’ll get you, my pretty. And your little dog too!”).
It was also the time of the year when the leaves start to change color so the last photos are of the trees along Greenbelt Lake.
This year I checked out the Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival where the festival provides free pumpkins for the general public to carve into jack o’lanterns. The finished pumpkins are displayed with lit candles. They are then moved to a nearby wooded area where they become part of the annual Greenbelt Pumpkin Walk the following evening. Here are my photos from the Greenbelt Pumpkin Festival itself.
I went on the Pumpkin Walk the following evening but, unlike other years, I have no pictures because I left my smartphone at home and I didn’t realize that I did this until after I arrived at the walk. This year’s walk wasn’t really all that different from the photos I took of the Pumpkin Walk in 2012, 2014, and 2015.
Yesterday was Halloween and today is the first day of the two-day Mexican holiday known as El Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) so I’d thought this post would be appropriate.
Greenbelt, Maryland has a history of being the first town that was planned by the federal government during the Great Depression and it was especially a pet project of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s. It was located close to Washington, DC yet its housing was modestly priced so that federal employees busy with implementing President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program can live there. The town, which opened its doors to the first family who moved there in 1937, is very rich in history and one can easily spend a few hours doing research about the town, starting with the town’s Wikipedia page.
But let’s go further back to about 150-200 years before Greenbelt was even built. Back then the area was very rural and it was dotted mainly with plantations whose owners raised crops and livestock while also having slaves (which was legal at the time) who did much of the backbreaking work. Frequently a dead family member or slave would be buried on the plantation itself in a special section that was reserved just for burials. A family member got a gravestone with the name, birthdate, date of death, and the person’s age. A slave got a more simple marker that tended to wither away as time went on.
Most of the old plantations located in what is now Greenbelt, Maryland have long since been demolished. Of the plantation graveyards, only three still remain. Last year I came across this article in the local newspaper, The Greenbelt News Review, about these three remaining graveyards which don’t get many visitors. (The newspaper itself is available online only as a .PDF document. The article starts on page 12 of the document and it ends on page 13.)
The Walkers is one such family whose plantation no longer exist. Today a business park (which includes a Cadillac dealership) stands on the very spot where the Walker plantation once stood. If one were to turn on Walker Drive (named after the original family) from Route 193, the first thing one would find is T.G.I. Fridays (whose official address is 6460 Capitol Drive).
About 10-20 feet away from the front doors of T.G.I. Fridays is this marker that shows the former location of the Walker family plantation, known as Toaping Castle. Here is what the marker had to say about this area:
On this site, Isaac, Charles, and Nathan Walker erected a large white oak log house, named for their ancestral stronghold in Scotland which the three brothers had fled after the failure of attempts to unseat George I, King of England, as ruler of Scotland. Isaac permanently settled here and obtained land grants for 188 acres. He and his three sons served in the Revolutionary War. The graves of Isaac and his son Nathan are north of here.
Toaping Castle was the birthplace of Samuel Hamilton Walker (Feb. 24, 1817-Oct. 9, 1847), Lt. Colonel of the Texas Rangers and Captain of the U.S. Cavalry. He left home at age 19 to fight Indians and later he became a leader and hero of the Rangers. His suggested changes to Samuel Colt’s revolver resulted in Colt’s success as an arms manufacturer. 1000 Colt-Walker pistols–the first, heaviest, and longest revolvers ever issued to American forces–were purchased for the Texas Rangers during the Mexican War. Walker was killed in that war at the Battle of Hua Mantla, Mexico.
The family cemetery is all that remains of the Toaping Castle estate.
Prince George’s County Historical Society
(Marker erected by the City of Greenbelt Bicentennial Committee, 1976)
Finding the marker was easy compared to finding the graves. I kept on looking everywhere in that business park to no avail. Ultimately I had to look online using my smartphone where I found this blog post that shows how to get to the cemetery.
Basically you have to make your way to 7855 Walker Drive, where the Harris logo is prominent on top of the building. (Harris is a government contractor. My ex-husband, who was working on the GOES-R project at his job at NASA before he left me in 2011, had to frequently deal with Harris employees as part of his work.) Once you get there, you’ll have to drive around to the back of the building. Park at the far end of the parking lot as far back from the building as possible, just like in the photo below.
Next to the back of the parking lot is a picnic area located underneath a few trees.
Next to the picnic area is a log trail. Follow that log trail up the hill and through the woods.
At the end of the log trail is a fenced-in area with a couple of patriotic ribbons posted at the entrance.
Inside of the enclosed area are two gravestones. (Apparently there used to be more gravestones but they have withered away with time, according to that Greenbelt News Review article I read last year.)
The plaque on the taller gravestone, which was placed by the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.) reads:
PRINCE GEORGE’S COUNTY CHAPTER D.A.R.
A small American flag is posted at the larger gravestone. This flag’s design is based on the one that was used during the American Revolutionary War.
The smaller gravestone is dedicated only to Isaac Walker and it reads:
1ST LT. MD MILITIA
The second of the three cemeteries, Hamilton Cemetery, is relatively easier to find. You’ll have to go to the historic district of Greenbelt (which the locals dub “Old Greenbelt”) to the offices of Greenbelt Homes, Inc. (or GHI, for short, whose address is at 1 Hamilton Place), a nonprofit cooperative that took over managing of the original Greenbelt townhouses after the federal government decided to get out of the planned development business in the 1950’s.
At the far end of GHI’s parking lot you’ll see a waking path along with a sign pointing the way to the Hamilton Cemetery.
It’s a short walk through the woods, where you can admire the foliage and see the local wild animals (mainly birds and squirrels).
The path leads up to the community gardens, which is reserved for those who live in GHI homes.
Follow the curved path past the community gardens and you’ll see that it ends right at this locked case sign.
The graves are located behind the sign but the gravestones are behind the locked case because they have deteriorated so badly over time. According to that Greenbelt News Review article, not much is known about the Hamilton family other than that they owned property around the time of the American Revolution and one of the Hamilton women had married into the aforementioned Walker family and moved to Toaping Castle. One of the last owners of that property, Samuel Hamilton, was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates. Samuel’s father, Andrew Hamilton (1752-1823), was a justice of the peace whose gravestone is currently among the preserved ones.
The headstone in the next photo reads:
In memory of
Col. Samuel Hamilton
in the 47th year
of her age.
This next headstone has deteriorated too much to be legible.
In the next photo the top fragment of the headstone reads:
In memory of
Col. Samuel and
The bottom fragment of the headstone reads:
In memory of
Second wife of
Col. Samuel Hamilton
The headstone in the next photograph reads:
In memory of
Feb. 28, 1824,
in the 77th year
of her age.
The headstone in the next photograph reads:
In memory of
Sept. 21st, 1823,
in the 70th year
of his age.
The third and final cemetery, Turner Cemetery, is probably the most well-known of these forgotten graveyards and is also the easiest one to find. Basically you’ll travel on Kenilworth Avenue (Maryland Route 201) then turn on to Ivy Lane into a business park. Turner Cemetery is located across the street from the Old Line Bank and an office building. Park in one of the parking lots across the street and cross Ivy Lane in order to enter the cemetery.
Turner Cemetery is named after the Turner family, who also established a plantation in the area. The one remaining gravestone is preserved behind glass in order to preserve it alongside a sign explaining that gravestone.
Here is what the sign in the next photo says:
THE ORIGINS OF THE GREENBELT CEMETERY
On the 2,623 acres of land purchased in 1935 where President Roosevelt’s first planned green town was to be constructed, three old family cemeteries were known to exist. These cemeteries belonged to the Hamilton, Turner and Walker families. Remains from other burials and family cemeteries were uncovered when the land was cleared for construction, and were relocated to the most accessible cemetery, that of the Turner Family. When a construction worker died whose family was unknown, he was buried here and so were a few residents during Greenbelt’s early years of existence. These are the origins of the Greenbelt Cemetery.
The Turners came to this site in 1759, when Shadrick Turner purchased a 125 acre farm known as “Wild Cat”. Most of it lay to the east of this cemetery. Shadrick Turner later acquired additional farms, but he and his wife, Sarah, always lived on Wild Cat where they raised nine children. At the time of the 1776 census, they ranged from 1 year to 25 years. Shadrick Turner was a devout Methodist. He and Bishop Francis Asbury are honored today as the principal founders of the First United Methodist Church of Hyattsville, one of the oldest Methodist churches in America. Bishop Asbury and various circuit riders always stayed with the Turners when they were in this area.
Regarding the Turner Cemetery, the bible of Sarah Turner recorded 12 deaths, beginning with Shadrick on October 2, 1799 and ending with Thomas Parker Turner on September 26, 1855, who died at age 45. His is the only legible headstone remaining, and is located next to this document. Native stones mark gravesite in this cemetery. These graves likely hold members of the Turner family or their enslaved persons. The Turners occupied the farm until 1935 when it was sold to the Federal Government. The cemetery was deeded to the City of Greenbelt in 1941.
The gravestone in the next photo says:
the memory of
THOMAS P. TURNER
who departed this life
September 25th 1855
aged 45 years.
Unlike the other two graveyards, Turner Cemetery provides benches and even trashcans for people to sit and stay awhile.
Aside from the older Turner family, the majority of the graves consist of local Greenbelt residents who died in recent years. The only grave whose name I recognize is one for Eli Crupain. Eli was a very elderly gentleman when I met him through the local Prince George’s County chapter of the Pledge of Resistance (one of many activist groups who protested the Reagan Administration’s Cold War-era interventionist policy in Central America). He was someone whom the locals would consider a member of “the Old Left.” As a young man in the 1930’s (at the height of the Great Depression) he was involved in the labor movement. He became concerned about the possible worldwide spread of fascism when he learned about the civil war that was going on in Spain. He told me that he had wanted to join the handful of American men who were going to Spain to fight against the fascists as members of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade but his mother talked him out of it. Eli got his chance to fight the fascists after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, when he joined the military and fought in World War II. Eli did a lot of things in his long life, both as a professional and as a volunteer. I highly recommend reading his 2004 obituary that was published in The Greenbelt New Review (which is available only as a .pdf document—Eli’s obituary can be found on page 4). The other gravestone located above Eli’s grave in the next photograph belongs to his wife, Paula, whom I never met because she died before I met Eli.
Here some of the other graves from the 20th and 21st centuries. All of these graves have simple flat headstones that lie in the ground. Some of them have flowers and other items left at the graves by family and/or friends.
I found two headstones that had photos of the deceased. They were for a married couple named Lillie Z. Goldberg and Lawrence L. Goldberg.
That Greenbelt News Review article mentions at least two other possible forgotten graveyards that may have existed once. Their existence can no longer be proven because there are no headstones or markers. (It’s possible that they may have either completely deteriorated due to exposure to the elements or were accidentally destroyed during construction or they were simply stolen.)
There was a time when the United States of America was primarily an agrarian society with small farms and larger plantations dotting the landscape everywhere. That agrarian focus was permanently shifted by both the American Civil War and the Industrial Revolution. Before 1831 there were no cemeteries. Many of these farms and plantations traditionally left certain spots for burying beloved family members and slaves. (For people who weren’t landowners, churches also provided graveyards where one can bury their recently departed loved ones.) With most of the farms and plantations having long ago been turned into housing developments, shopping malls, major highways, and airports, it wouldn’t be too outrageous to wonder how many of these buildings, runways, and streets were built over former graveyards from the first 100-200 years of the existence of the U.S. (starting from the days when it was first settled by white Europeans).
Of course that’s not to mention how many of these buildings, runways, and streets were built over the graves of people who belonged to the various Native American tribes who were there long before Christopher Columbus “discovered” America.
I had quite a day on September 25. A few hours after going to the Silver Spring Maker Faire I rested for a few hours and ate dinner. Then I headed over to the New Deal Cafe in Greenbelt, Maryland where I caught a live performance by a band from Belarus known as Stary Olsa. This band dresses in medieval folk dress and perform songs in the style of traditional Eastern European folk music. What’s really cool is that they perform songs by bands like The Beatles in this style and their classic rock covers are so interesting to listen to. Stary Olsa has gained such a following that they even have their own Wikipedia page.
This band was incredible to listen to in person. I stuck around for a bit despite the fact that I learned that The Backstabbing Couple From Hell (a.k.a. my ex-husband and my onetime friend whom he screwed around with while I was recovering from hip surgery and he married despite her severe mental illness) were also at the show. If it weren’t for the fact that I’m currently broke, I definitely would’ve purchased one of their CD’s that they had for sale at the show.
Here are couple of photos from that show, one of which you can see the band in their medieval outfits and the traditional Belarusian instruments they played at the show.
I shot a few videos of the band doing those classic rock covers. They are amazing to listen to. Here is their cover of The Beatles’ “A Hard Day’s Night.”
They did a traditional Belarus tune that literally had people dancing in the audience.
Here is Stary Olsa’s amazing cover of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall.”
Last, but not least, here is Stary Olsa doing a blistering cover of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell”, which proves that folk musical instruments can kick ass just as much as electric guitars.