Living In Maryland

1969-1979 (52-62 years)

Chapter 11, Section 2



by Glenn D. McMurry

Home Life and Extra-curricular Activities


Many important family events happened while we lived in Maryland. Unlike most of the events I have related in earlier chapters of this autobiography, for the years when I worked at NAC I have our calendars to consult. On them we kept lots of information about our comings, goings, and doings. For that reason I can attach exact dates to family happenings.

Home Life on Eutaw Street in College Park

Darlene had been able to come to Washington for a couple days in preparation for moving her USIA work to Maryland University. We did some house hunting, and had been lucky to find a house under construction in College Park near the university. Of course, since our house in Culver City had not sold, we had to do some creative financial work to scrape together the down payment. By cashing in all our savings and borrowing more from the credit union, we made ends meet. The builder assured us we could move in September 1, 1969. This was about the time Darlene and Greg planned to arrive. It was exciting to think about moving into a brand new house!

Our 8th Home -- 5002 Eutaw Pl, College Park, MD

True to his promise, the builder had our home on Eutaw Street ready on time. A few days after Darlene arrived, we moved in. Of course, we didnít have much to move in except the items from the trailer and what Darlene had brought in the car. We learned of a place that sold furniture used in houses and apartments as they were being shown to perspective renters and/or buyers. There we found a table and six chairs that we are still using today in 1999. I believe the price was $60. With chests, beds and a divan from Sears, we set up housekeeping in our new home.

Our kitty Ginger wasnít as happy as we in the new house. For days she would hide in the far corner of our bedroom closet. She couldnít find anything familiar to her. Gradually, we got her to come out by moving her food further and further away from the closet.

Greg arrived from California just in time to enroll in High Point High School. The morning he and I stood in line to enroll him, I could see that he might be headed for a problem. Greg was the only boy with long hair and I could see the looks he was getting. We soon learned that there were school rules about the length of boysí hair. They didnít want any of those California hippies in their school!

Greg tried to get in the band, but was told that the band had practiced all summer and no one was allowed in at this time. He then enrolled in choir, which proved to be a real blessing. His teacher, Jim Hansen, immediately took special note of him, and was sympathetic to his right to wear his hair as he wished. He also learned very soon that Greg was an asset to his choir. He began to give him special privileges and later made him the student director.

Jim was the cantor at the Washington Cathedral. Once when he wanted to take a vacation, he groomed Greg to take his place. That was quite an experience for him, and incidentally, for his parents. Greg said some of the nuns thought he was a priest!

Greg and Jim developed a real friendship and have kept in touch with each other all these years. Jim has been in California and visited in Gregís home.

Jim was a fine musician and teacher. We were always thrilled to hear his groups perform. When he left the teaching profession, it was a real loss to any students who might have been able to be in his classes. Because of his influence, Greg took music education for his major when he started to the University of Maryland.

The school principal and some of the other teachers were not so sympathetic to this longhaired California boy. There were some other confrontations, but gradually some of the other boys began to wear their hair a little longer. Since the school authorizes knew they couldnít expel students and get away with it, the controversy gradually abated.

I could tell more stories about Gregís adjustment from liberal California to conservative Maryland. However, they belong more in his autobiography so Iíll let him tell them. Incidentally, we learned in several instances that Maryland was a "southern" state and in some people prejudices along the racial issue still ran high.

Since the basement in our new home was unfinished, making a shop and studio in it was my first priority. Greg and I covered the walls and put up partitions. We soon had a place for all the tools we had brought with us, and a room where we could view television and show 16mm films.

Greg was into recording, not only music, but also dialog. Especially after he joined the radio club at the University of Maryland, he and a friend enjoyed recording all kinds of make-believe broadcasts. We soon began to call the basement room our recording studio. Incidentally, this later led to Greg's opening a radio station with three friends at a nearby town. They had lots of fun there one summer until they got into licensing trouble.

Although we missed our piano, we knew that our front room would not accommodate a grand piano. For a few months we rented a small upright, but it really didnít sound much like my baby grand and none of us enjoyed playing it. After our basement was finished, we realized that the grand would fit nicely in it. It was a happy day when the piano arrived from California and was in place downstairs.

We had a joyous first Christmas in Maryland. My Mom and Darleneís father came from Kansas, Glenda and Doug came from Texas, and Jean came from California. Now that I think about it, I wonder where they all slept. Of course, we still had the trailer so I suppose we used it. We had a divan that made into a bed in the front room and some kind of cots in the basement. It even snowed on Christmas Day and that was the first time any of us, except our Kansas parents, had had a white Christmas for a number of years.

On New Yearís Day, 1970, a new member came into our family. One of Gregís friends had found a collie puppy in the street. After he was unable to find the owner and knew he couldnít have the dog in his apartment, he offered him to Greg. I can still remember when Greg brought in that cute little dog who was wagging his tail and saying, "Please keep me!"

We named him Rusty. At first he chewed everything in sight. One of his favorite places to chew was the stairs down into the basement. Iím not sure Darlene was too happy about having a dog at first. She had always been a cat lover and had always claimed she didnít like dogs. She still feels much the same today, but has to admit that Rusty was an exceptional dog. The vet said he appeared to be a "pure-bred" collie. Through the years Greg and his wife have always had collies. Darlene may not be a lover of just any dog yet, but she has to admit that their collies have won her over. On the contrary, I have been a dog lover since my childhood, and I had never had one since my dog Rover died when I was in college.

Our street was just one short block long. It was at the edge of town and at the end was a wooded area. Greg and I had lots of fun with Rusty in those woods. For me taking Rusty for walks in the trees made me remember my days on the farm with Rover.

When Greg married, his wife Rhonda bought a mate for Rusty. They called her Jennie. She had one set of beautiful collie pups and they had no trouble finding homes for them. I missed Rusty when Greg and Rhonda moved to California.

In May Jean graduated from the University of Redlands. That meant a trip back to California. While we were there we first met Brian, who was to become our son-in-law a year later.

In June Greg graduated from High Point High School. Greg's senior year in a new school and community turned out OK in a number of ways. He had make several very good friends, he had the lead in the school play and was student choir director. He also had many hours of fun with Rusty. He had the use of our truck and trailer which gave him lots of freedom. However, he still had the yearning to go back to California. We told him he could take the truck and we would pay for his gasoline. Also when and if he was ready to come back, we would pay for his gasoline.

Greg With his Two Most-prized Possessions - His Dog Rusty and His Truck

At first he planned to enroll in college in California. However, when he got there, he got a job and decided to work for a semester. Then suddenly in November, we got a call saying he wanted to enroll at the University of Maryland. Of course, we were happy about that and quickly called the University. Since we were told that the deadline for enrolling was only a couple days away, Darlene went immediately to pick up the necessary paper work.

Greg came home from California in time to start at the University of Maryland in January, 1971. On his return trip he stopped in Kingsville, Texas, where his sister Glenda lived. That visit had important implications for all of us for many years to come. Glenda persuaded him to bring home a little kitten she had found wandering in the street. That kitten was Patches.

Calling Patches a little kitten was our error. She was already a cat old enough to have kittens of her own. In May she had two babies, one black and one yellow. We gave the black one to a neighbor and kept the yellow one. We named him Sunny. Of course, if you are a cat lover, you will understand how much pleasure Sunny and Patches gave us through the years.

Patches with Her Kittens

Sunny (7 months old) and His Mother Patches

Now seems like a good time to tell about our Sunny. He may not have had nine lives, but he surely had at least three. When Greg was married in New York, we all had to be out of town for a couple days. Greg and Rhonda took their two dogs and two cats to a kennel. As they were getting out of the car, Sunny ran away. After using all the time they had to hunt him, they called us to continue the search. We were in town another couple days so both Glenda and we drove all around the area and left signs everywhere, but no luck. Weeks later, we got a call from the people at the kennel. A family who lived near had reported that a cat kept coming around their house every evening looking for food. They thought that maybe someone had reported the loss of a beautiful yellow kitty. Luckily, the folks at the kennel still remembered about Sunny and called us. How happy we all were to have our kitty back home. That was his second life.

Some time after Greg moved to California he called to tell us that Sunny hadn't been home at feeding time for several days. Days went into weeks, when one day Greg saw Sunny stumbling down the hill by their home. A car had evidently hit him. The vet reported that his shoulder was shattered and ordinarily he'd advise putting such an animal to sleep. However, he said that as he was in the process of studying just that part of a cat's anatomy, he'd really like to try to fix Sunny and that he'd do it for a reasonable price. I'm not sure how reasonable $200 is, but suppose it could have been much more. Anyway, he evidently did a good job as Sunny mended perfectly, and seemed fine the rest of his life. He was nineteen years old when he died. We had already moved back to Culver City by then and we buried him in the corner of our backyard.

The important event for our family during 1971 was Jean and Brian's wedding. They were married in a small Catholic Church in Redlands near the university from which they had graduated. Darlene flew back early to help in the preparations. Greg and I drove back, picking up my Mom in Kansas on our way. Unfortunately, Darleneís Dad was ill and couldnít come with us. We were sorry he had to miss Jeanís beautiful wedding and the happy family gatherings afterward.

The wedding was unique in that both a Baptist minister who taught at the university and the Catholic priest took part in the ceremony. Such a liberal priest was hard to find in those days. In fact, I doubt there are very many even today. He even said it would be OK for us Methodists to take communion if we so desired.

We felt doubly blessed at the time. We were pleased to see our daughter married to a fine young man whose family seemed just as pleased about the affair. Also at the wedding we were able to see dear friends we had left behind when we moved East. Although we had been living in Maryland for two years, some of our Culver City friends gave Jean a lovely bridal shower. Even though Redlands is eighty miles from Culver City, the ladies from our former church also came to serve the wedding reception.

One of the reasons our friends remember Jeanís wedding was my wig. When I met Jim Gibson, my new boss at NAC, he wore a wig. He persuaded me they were great for protection of baldheads, both from the summer sun and from the winter cold. My baldhead was certainly a prime candidate for at least a trial to see if he were correct. I wore one for some time and had to agree with him about the value. Of course, our friends back in California hadnít seen me in my wig until I walked my daughter down the aisle at her wedding. Imagine their surprise to see that since I had left California I had "grown" a head of hair!

Another important family event in the year 1971 was Dougís transfer by the Navy from Kingsville, Texas, to Virginia Beach, Virginia. Now he and our daughter Glenda were lots closer to us. We were happy for that. Fewer miles between our two families became even more important to all of us when Debra Noel, our first grandchild, was born on December 30. Now we could see the family often.

Debra Noel Calhoun and Her Mother

Christmas, 1972, Darlene and I started a tradition that lasted until 1996. Someone in our Sunday School class told about their practice of making ornaments each year for family members. These were to depict family events throughout the year. Since that sounded like a neat idea to us, we made one in honor of Debra's first birthday. In it we put a baby doll wrapped in a piece of flannel. The flannel was a scrap left over from baby blankets my Mom had made for Debra.

We then continued to make an ornament for the Calhoun family every year. The year Jean married we started making ornaments for her and Brian. The first year Greg lived separately from us, we started his collection. By 1996, with grandchildren beginning to live apart from their parents, we decided making an ornament for each separate home was getting to be a bit too much. Besides, by then, we had just about run out of ideas!

In August of the next year, Dougís navy duty was over. He left military life and they moved to Riverside, Maryland, just a few miles from us. Of course, we were very glad they decided to settle in Maryland near us instead of going back to California.

During the year 1973, our family had some difficult and sad months. Earlier we had held a farm sale and moved my Mom to a senior retirement apartment in South Hutchinson. With both her son and her husband gone, it was too much for her to stay alone in the old Kansas farm home five miles south of the city of Hutchinson.

One day the apartment manager notified us that we would have to move Mom. She was becoming mentally disturbed and they could no longer be responsible for her. We knew she would have to come to Maryland to live with us. Since we were in California at a convention at the time, we made arrangements for her to fly to Maryland and stay with Glenda until we could get home. We stopped at Momís apartment in Kansas on our way back to take care of her belongings. She had brought a few pieces of furniture from the farm to the apartment, and we wanted to have them shipped to our house. We thought if she had some familiar things in her room, it might help her to get oriented to her new home.

A few weeks after Mom came to live with us she fell and broke her hip. Or maybe, her hip broke and that caused her to fall. One never can tell for sure, I guess. The doctors were able to operate successfully on the hip, but the shock to her mind couldnít be repaired. It was only a few months after the operation before we realized that we couldnít care for Mom in our home. She needed twenty-four hour care by those more skilled than Darlene and I were. We moved her to a nice nursing home just before her birthday. When we went to see her and sing "Happy Birthday," we were never sure whether she fully understood. From then on during the two months she was there before her death, she didn't seem to know us and that made it hard to visit. Her body was sent back to Kansas and her funeral was held in her home church. She was buried next to my Dad, my sister Helen and my brother Junior in the family plot of the Fairview Cemetery near the family farmstead. Her funeral was a sad time for me. Now I was the only one left of my immediate McMurry family.

On a happier note, in 1973, Darlene's father at age 82 married Charlotte Philbrick. For many years he drove a cab in Hutchinson and Charlotte was also a cab driver. I'm sure marrying Charlotte added years to Sam's life. They had nine years together before he died just a few weeks before his 91st birthday.

The next year brought some happy days and an important change in our lives. First, our first grandson, Daniel Kent Calhoun, was born May 21, 1974. What a joy to have Glenda, Doug, and their two wonderful children living near and attending the same church with us. Although our home was in College Park, theirs was in Riverside, and our church was in Hyattsville, the distance between any of the two places was only a few miles. Iíll tell more about our church later in this story.

Baby Daniel Kent Calhoun

"We had many good times with Glenda and Doug and our grandchildren"
(taken on Mother's Day, 1975)

Home Life on Shepherd Lane in Seabrook, MD

The big change in our lives came in the summer of 1974 when our son decided he wanted us to move out, buy another house, and rent our College Park home to him and his friends who were attending the University of Maryland nearby. Thatís a little different from the usual plan of kids moving away from their homes into their own apartments. However, it seemed like a good idea for us. We found a lovely house in Seabrook, Maryland, a few miles east of College Park.

Our Ninth Home -- 5805 Shepherd Lane, Seabrook, MD

When we moved, we took our old kitty, Ginger, with us and left Patches and Sunny with Greg. Of course, Rusty also stayed with Greg. After all, he claimed Patches, Sunny and Rusty as "his" pets, not family pets. I guess that was really correct. Of course, we often "baby sat" Rusty when Greg wanted to be gone over night. Sometimes he would get out of our yard and we would have quite a long search for him. If he heard voices of children, he would go to find where they were playing. One time we found him on a playground a long way from our home. He was having the time of his life with a group of children and they were having a good time with him. He was quite a dog!! We always said he would never make a watchdog. He's just love the robbers.

Our Kitty Ginger

A couple years after our move, Ginger became sick and had to be put to sleep. She was nearly fourteen years old so you can see why it was a sad day for Darlene and me when I put Ginger in a box and carried her to the SPCA. I just set the box on the counter, and asked the man to be careful with my kitty. Then after signing the necessary papers and shedding a few tears, I left in a hurry.

We liked our house on Shepherd Lane for a number of reasons. I especially liked it because it had three bedrooms and I could easily see how, by removing a partition between one of them and the front room, there would be an ideal space for my grand piano. Incidentally, this would be the third house in which we had moved a partition to make room for my piano.

Later on, when I decided to buy an electric organ, we discovered it fit into that room right beside the piano with just a few inches to spare. We were able to enjoy many hours of music in our Shepherd Lane home.

Another nice thing about our house was the back yard, which bordered on a forest. Too, the previous owners left a swing set which was a perfect toy for our grandchildren when they came to visit. There was a nice place for a garden and we had several good ones. We even tried to raise horseradish, but had one unpleasant experience with it.

One Sunday we invited a couple men from our church to dinner. They and I ate horseradish on our meat. Not too long after they left I got deathly sick, and later I learned they had also been sick. Since Darlene didn't get sick and she ate all the same food we did, minus the horseradish, we knew what was at fault. The next day we called the University Agriculture Department and asked if they had a clue as to what might have caused our problem. They asked if we had used any kind of weed killer or similar product anywhere near the horseradish plants. We remembered we had put some weed killer in the front yard some distance away. "Could the water from there have run down to the garden area?" was their next question. Sure enough our whole front yard sloped toward the back, and that seemed to be the answer to why we got sick eating that delicious horseradish.

Another plus about our new house was the fact that it was on a quiet dead-end road. As a matter of fact, all the houses we have owned, except the first one back in Kansas, were either on dead-end streets or streets that werenít through streets. Oh, yes, Darlene liked our new house for two other special reasons. It had a pretty red rug in the front room, and there was a dining room. This gave us space to put a nice china closet and buffet.

My Recording Studio and Fun Making Audiovisual Shows

One of the big advantages to our new house was the full basement. I built a partition to separate the air-conditioning equipment and all my shop tools from the rest of the room. The large room then became a studio. I even built a motion picture projector booth so my audience wouldn't be bothered by the noise the projector made.

In my "full-fledged" studio were lots of things: two 16mm projectors, three carousel slide projectors, a screen, several types of recorders, cameras, film development equipment, a machine to mix several sound tracks, and one to control enough "stuff " to present multi-media shows. Yes, I still had my desire to produce educational audiovisuals, even if I couldn't actually make movies.

Our church conference started a travel ministry. The first trip was to England to visit the places where Methodism started. Darlene and I really enjoyed that trip and, of course, took many pictures so we could make a slide show to share with others. That slide show turned into a three-screen sound presentation with a prologue using the Methodist movie on the life of John Wesley, who founded Methodism. When we showed it at our church, we had to erect a large paper screen across the front of the auditorium.

A couple years later we went with the church group to Rome on what was called an ecumenical trip. Some of our Catholic friends came also. Our Bishop had been in communication with the Pope and we were guests along with many Catholic groups from around the world in the huge auditorium where the Pope greeted and blessed his followers. This experience plus all the regular sights all Rome tourists enjoy gave me an opportunity to again take many, many pictures. As we had done after our England trip, we again made a three-screen slide and sound show.

Since I had become active with the finance committee of our church, I volunteered to prepare a stewardship audiovisual when it was time to encourage people to make their yearly pledges to the church budget. In fact, I made such a show three different years.

Soon others heard about or saw the shows. The Riverside Baptist Church wanted a similar show. In the end, I made two different shows for them. Then a Missionary couple wanted a slide presentation with sound to help them raise money. Next the Red Cross wanted a public relations slide show. Our Methodist Church was starting a "diaconal" ministry and needed an audiovisual to inform people about it. Lay members were trained and dedicated in a field that was their special interest, such as music, Christian education, finance, etc. One of our best friends, Jean Bonnell, became a diaconal minister. She helped with the script and recorded the narration for the sound slide show I made. What fun I was having in my studio!

My next important project was one that my friend Bill Blume worked on with me. After we moved East to work for the government, Bill also left USC and got a government job. Several religious organizations had formed a group called "Impact." It published information about the "doings" of our Congress and tried to influence passage of legislation compatible with the moral beliefs of the members. Bill was hired to make a sound filmstrip for them to make their organization known so they could get new members and raise funds. He asked my help and we produced "Impact on Public Policy."

The audiovisual presentation that gave me the most satisfaction was the one I did on the beautiful faceted stain glass window in our church. Before I describe this project, I will backtrack some to tell about our church life in Maryland.

Hyattsville First United Methodist Church

Finding a church home in Maryland was important to me. Since I had been a life-long Methodist, I naturally looked for the closest Methodist Church. I discovered one in College Park, the town where I had parked my trailer. My first Sunday in Maryland, I went there. It was a small church and the people were friendly. However, knowing I'd have several Sundays to look around before Darlene and Greg came, I decided to see what other Methodist churches were near. I learned there was a University Methodist Church also in College Park. The next Sunday I went there. Again, I felt welcome and knew I could be happy becoming a part of that congregation.

The closest shopping mall was Prince Georges Plaza in nearby Hyattsville. One day when I went there to shop I saw a beautiful large church nearby. Sure enough it was also a Methodist Church. I wondered why there was another church so close to the University Church. Later on I learned that one had been a Methodist Church North and the other a Methodist Church South in the years when the slavery issue had divided the churches. What a shameful time! When the churches united, the decision had been made to keep both churches. .

The next Sunday I visited the Hyattsville United Methodist Church. I really enjoyed this large, beautiful church with its great choir and fabulous organ. In addition, the congregation was friendly and the minister gave a great sermon. Ah, I thought, "When Darlene and Greg come, I must bring them to this church. It will be a new experience to belong to a large church."

I have to admit that I also decided that such a large congregation would have plenty workers and I wouldn't feel so obligated to become so involved. Maybe it was time to take a vacation and let others do the work.

When Darlene and Greg came, we all decided Hyattsville Church was the place for us. However, when one joins a Methodist Church, he promises to participate in its ministries with his prayers, presence, gifts and service. Also through the years we were often reminded of the advice from our founder, John Wesley, who said, "Do all the good you can, in every way you can, in every place you can, as long as ever you can."

We soon learned that no matter the size of a church, there is plenty for each member to do.

Before long, we were enjoying serving our new church in various ways. I had fun playing the piano for the Men's Bible Class. It gave me an opportunity to use my ability to transpose the hymns into a different key if the printed ones were hard for the men to sing. I cherish the Certificate they gave me when we moved.

We joined the "Open Door" Sunday School Class where the teacher and other members helped us grow in our faith and understanding of the Bible. The class also had monthly social events and we became close friends with several families. Since one of the class members was a square dance caller, a group of us started a square dance club. That was a new fun experience for Darlene and me.

An important event the class shared with us was planned as a surprise by our daughter Glenda on our 30th wedding anniversary. On Sunday morning when we went to class there was a beautifully decorated table with cake and punch.

As another part of that 30th anniversary celebration, flowers were given for the church service in our honor. Also on the Saturday night before, Glenda, Doug and Greg took us to a nice restaurant. While we were waiting to be served, a lady touched my shoulder asking if we had salt at our table. It was Jean, our daughter from California! We had hardly recovered from that surprise when Darlene's father and his wife from Kansas walked in.

Our 30th Wedding Anniversary Dinner

I must backtrack five years to mention our 25th wedding anniversary. None of our children were near. Greg and Jean were in California and Glenda was in Texas. That year Glenda had contacted many friends and relatives to arrange a card shower for us. She did a good job and we received many, many beautiful cards. In addition we got a pair of silver candlesticks from our children and Doug's Mom sent a lovely vase with a silver base. We went to a dinner theater and enjoyed a splendid performance of "The Music Man." So we had a fine celebration!

Our 25th Wedding Anniversary

When our family gave us such a wonderful party on our 50th several years after Glenda's death, I couldn't help but remember that she had done her part for us 20 and 25 years earlier by arranging nice celebrations on both our 25th and 30th anniversaries.

The Open Door Class was only one of our church activities at Hyattsville United Methodist Church. Darlene soon became active in the United Methodist Women and I got involved working on the finance committee. I've already told about the stewardship audiovisuals I made for that committee. Then there was the home our church started for run-away youths, the meal-on-wheels program, the rummage sales, etc. all needing volunteers.

That Beautiful Faceted Stain Glass Window

The huge faceted window at Hyattsville First Methodist Church covers the entire back wall of the sanctuary. It is on the side of the church that faces the street. It is beautiful viewed from either the inside or the outside of the church. That window fascinated me! First, I decided to learn all about faceted windows. Next, came the decision to make an audiovisual presentation to explain the process used in the manufacture of such windows and tell the story of the scenes depicted.

Darlene and I made a visit to the Willett Stained Glass Studios in Philadelphia where we were given an interesting tour and explanation of the entire process involved in producing faceted glass windows. When I explained my plans for an audiovisual, they loaned me the lumiere, the transparent water color design, used as their pattern for the 25' by 46' window at Hyattsville First Methodist Church. I spent many hours shooting and re-shooting the sections of the window. Having the small mock-up really helped. It didn't take long to discover that making slides from the window itself was an almost impossible job unless one had some type of scaffolding where he could stand.

Segments of the window depict characters of the Bible, beginning with Adam and Eve. There are also scenes of those early circuit rider preachers who founded Methodism in America and were especially important to the Hyattsville church itself. Overlaying the smaller scenes are representations of the Trinity--God, the Holy Spirit and Christ--and a globe or circle to connote the whole world united under one God.

After getting my slides ready, a narration explaining the meaning of all the symbols and figures represented in the window was recorded on audio tape by three ministers of the church. Then using music played by our church organist, I mixed the narration and music on the tape. Last, cues were added to the tape that would run the slide changer. The final product was a slide show with sound that would run by itself once it was started. The presentation was set up in a room at the back of the church auditorium. It was made available on Sundays and during the week any time the church office was open for those who wanted to learn the story of the making and meaning of the window. We learned that they were still using it a number of years after we left Maryland.

My presentation, made in 1976, was billed as part of our church's Bicentennial observance, and became part of the display at the United Methodist Bicentennial Center at the Methodist Building on Capitol Hill in Washinton, DC. It was quite appropriate for our church to be doubly involved in Bicentennial celebrations. In fact, one of the figures in the window is Shadrick Turner, the man whose home was a Methodist "preaching place" near the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. That "preaching place" was the forerunner of our Hyattsville church.

To read the complete script used for the slide show on the window, click here.

Perhaps someone who reads this will some day have the opportunity to go to Hyattsville, MD and see this magnificent window.

Family Events from 1976 to My Retirement in 1979

We planned our vacation in 1976 to be in Oakland, CA with Jean and Brian when their first child was expected. We timed it right, or maybe Jean did, and we were there when it was time to go to the hospital. It was an exciting day, believe me! Jean and Brian had prepared well, having taken Lamaze classes and having a bag all packed just as instructed. However, when Jean decided the time had come, they rushed out of the house, leaving their bag at home. Of course, we followed shortly with the bag and all the things they had intended to take. Soon Jacqueline Suzanne arrived, safe and healthy, on May 4th. How happy we all were! Jean and Brian had a new baby girl and we were now the proud grandparents of three wonderful grandchildren.

Jacqueline at 2 1/2 months Jacqueline at 4 months with Brian and Jean

The next year we planned our vacation to be back at Oakland to celebrate Jacqueline's first birthday. While we were there, Greg called from Maryland to tell us he and Rhonda Gunner were engaged. So the big event of 1977 was their wedding.

Greg and Rhonda were married August 27th in New York City at Rhonda's parents' very nice home. It was a happy time! All the ingredients were there to make it so: a handsome groom and beautiful bride surrounded by family and friends, a lovely decorated setting for the ceremony and the reception, music, flowers, food, and most of all, love all around!

Mom & Dad Gunner, the Bride, the Groom, Dad and Mom McMurry

For our family Greg and Rhonda's wedding was a great reunion time. Jean, Brian and Jacqueline from Oakland, CA; Darlene's dad and his wife from Hutchinson, KS; Glenda and Doug with their children; and Darlene and I from Maryland all met in Neposit, NY.

Greg's friends now moved out of our Eutaw house and his new wife moved in. Before long, they bought the house from us. This was a time of great satisfaction for us as all three of our children were now settled in their own homes. We also felt luckier than most because two of our three lived close to us. This luck didn't hold too long, however. Less than two years after Greg was married, he and Ronda got the "Hollywood bug." Actually, friends of Greg who had already gone West suggested he come out to work on a film with them. So in the spring of 1979, they left College Park, taking their two cats with them. Rusty and Jennie, Greg and Rhonda's collies, stayed with us until a friend who was flying out to Los Angeles, could bring them on the plane.

Rusty and Jenny

In Their Kennels Ready to fly to California...

A couple months later it was time for my retirement from my job at the National AudioVisual Center. I have told earlier about my retirement party. Now came decision time for us. We still had our house in Culver City, which was rented to a very unsatisfactory renter, in fact, one who was always late with his rent, if he paid it at all. Two of our three children were in California, and Darlene and I both had to admit that we were somewhat homesick for that California sunshine.

I don't want to give the impression that we disliked living in the Washington, DC area. Our home had good air conditioning so we were cool in summer and warm in winter. Only once while we lived there did we have enough snow to make our roads impassable. We would be amused that when there was a slight snow, they would announce on the radio and TV that schools would be opened later or even called off for the day. I can remember only a few rare times in all my school years in Kansas that would happen. I believe it was because we were more prepared with plow ploughs there because it snowed more often.

One has to admit that a place that has definite seasons does afford some pleasant sights. The trees with their autumn leaves in the fall and their colorful blossoms in the spring were beautiful. The snow in our back yard and on the trees in the forest back of our house often painted lovely pictures. There were lots of birds around our house and I built a bird feeder in the form of a barn to attract them. It was on a pole next to our back porch.

There were lots of squirrels in the trees back of our house and they stole the bird food. As our house was on quite a slope, the back part was high off the ground. There was a porch off the back door, and of course it was also high off the ground. I made the mistake of putting the feeder on a pole close to that porch. Although I fixed the pole so they couldn't climb it, they would get on the porch and jump across. I was always amazed how far they could jump. One scene that still sticks in my mind happened like this: A squirrel was on the bird feeder and I tried to scare him away. He jumped down and disappeared into the six-inch layer of snow. As I watched he reappeared way at the end of the yard, having crawled under the snow all that distance.

Maryland had lots of natural beauty, and being close to Washington, DC has unique advantages. Nothing can match the thrills of our visits to the many historical places and government buildings, the chance to watch from an upstairs window of the Archives Building as President Carter's family walked ahead of the inaugural parade, the celebration of our country's bi-centennial, seeing the famous cherry trees in full bloom early one morning, and all my experiences at my government job.

I will always be grateful to Jim Gibson for giving me the opportunity to help establish the National AudioVisual Center and enjoy several years of my life in the Washington, DC area.

End Of Chapter 11