Thursday, November 26, 2015

No pie for you!

We each have our own annual holiday traditions, and the day before Thanksgiving is the day that I make a trip to Best Pie Company in Bowie to pick-up dessert for the yearly feast.  The experience is bitter- sweet.  Pick-up time is stressful, but I do walk away with some really amazing pies.  At a cost of between $23 and $30 per pie, they damn well better be amazing!

Best Pie Company is owned by Sherman and Patricia McCoy – an elderly husband-and-wife team.
Sherman is the face of the business, and some people privately refer to him as “The Pie Nazi” – a reference to The Soup Nazi character from the NBC sitcom Seinfeld.  Sherman likes things a certain way, and it’s advantageous for customers to know “the rules.”  Cash is preferred, debit cards are acceptable, but avoid the credit cards. Want a Thanksgiving pie?  Order it at least a week in advance.
 Do you want your pie to be there when you pick it up?  Get there by the designated time, or your pie may be sold to someone else.  If you didn’t reserve a Thanksgiving pie, don’t ask if there are any pies available until after 5:30pm the night before.  I’ve followed these rules in the past, and I’ve taken home incredible Apple, Pumpkin, Sweet Potato and Chocolate Cream pies.  Even if you follow the rules, be prepared for something unexpected to happen.

I was hoping that yesterday’s trip to Best Pie would be quick and uneventful, but it was not to be.  It took an hour for me to get my pies, but my transaction was otherwise uneventful.  I can’t say the same for some of the other people in line. The Sweet Potato pies weren’t ready, and some people were asked to come back later.

The first rule breaker of the day was a sweet, petite, elderly woman who thought that she might be able to charm her way to a pie.  She stayed in line for more than thirty minutes even though Sherman announced multiple times that people without reservations should come back after 5:30. As she approached the front of the line, Sherman said, “name?”  I felt my blood pressure rise as she said in the sweetest voice, “You know, I don’t have a reservation, but I noticed that you have some beautiful pies in this display case.”

Sherman:  “You don’t have a reservation?”

Lady: “No, but…”

Sherman: “Let me tell you how this works.  This is just like an airplane reservation. Everyone behind you in line has a ticket to get on the plane.  You’re telling me that you see an empty seat, but one of these other people is going to sit there.”

Lady: “But I thought maybe you might be willing to sell me one of those wonderful pies in your display case.”

Sherman: “You can come back at 5:30.”

Lady: “Thank you so much!  I’ll come back.

I turned to the guy in line in front of me, and I asked, “How’s your blood pressure?”  He said, “I took a pill before I came here,” and a few of us in line had a good laugh.
It wasn’t long before the next incident occurred. Sherman couldn’t find an elderly woman’s reservation for a Chocolate Cream pie.

Sherman:  “I can’t find your reservation. I can’t give you a pie.”

Lady 2:  “You’re not going to give me a pie?”

Sherman:  “Mistakes happen.  Things get misfiled.  I make mistakes.”

Lady 2:  “But I spoke to you two weeks ago.  You’re not going to give me a Chocolate Cream pie that reserved two weeks ago?  I spoke to you.  You took my order.”

Sherman:  “You’re holding up the line.”

Lady 2 (starting to leave):  “You know what you are?  You know The Soup Nazi?  You are The Pie Nazi!  That’s what you are!”

“Yeah, that just happened,” I thought to myself.  She said it.  I’ve heard people use the term “Pie Nazi” in private conversation, but this was the first time I’ve heard someone call Sherman “Pie Nazi” to his face.

Sherman: “Can you come back in the morning.  I’ll make you a pie.”

Lady 2:  “I can’t!  I’m supposed to be in Hagerstown!”

Sherman: “Did you say Hagerstown?  Now I remember the conversation.  Let me get you a pie.”

The conversation instantly turned pleasant, the woman paid for her pie.  Before she left, Sherman said, “Do you still think I’m a Nazi?”

It wasn’t long before the guy in front of me made it to the counter.

Sherman:  “Name?”

Man:  “Lewis.”

Sherman (after searching through the reservations):  “Lewis?”

Man:  “Yes.  Lewis.”

Sherman (after searching through the reservations again):  “I don’t have a reservation for Lewis.”

Man:  “Lewis Brown.  You don’t have a reservation for Lewis Brown?”

Sherman: “Lewis is your first name?  Why are you giving me your first name? I don’t care about your first name!  I don’t have a reservation for Lewis, but I do have one for Brown!”

The man breathed a sigh of relief, and a few of us in line laughed.

A few minutes later, I was walking out of Best Pie unscathed with my Pumpkin and Lemon Chess pies in hand and a few stories to share.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

#TBT Samuel Ogle Junior High School Under Construction, 1966

Apparently the original name planned for Samuel Ogle Junior High School was Chapel Forge Junior High School, but the name was changed by the time the school opened. The school is now called Samuel Ogle Middle School.

These photographs were taken by Mary Lynch Giddo in 1966, the year after she and her family moved into their new house at 4025 Chelmont Lane.. The house backed up to the school property, so they had a close-up view of the construction. These photos were graciously provided to Bowie Living by Mary’s daughters.

Samuel Ogle Junior High School construction photo.
The school was going to be called Chapel Forge Junior High School.
Credit: Mary Lynch Giddo, 1966

Samuel Ogle Junior High School construction photo.
Credit: Mary Lynch Giddo, 1966

Samuel Ogle Junior High School construction photo.
This is a view from the backyard at 4025 Chelmont Lane looking across the field toward Crosswick Turn.
Credit: Mary Lynch Giddo, 1966

Samuel Ogle Junior High School construction photo.
Credit: Mary Lynch Giddo, 1966

Samuel Ogle Junior High School construction photo.
Credit: Mary Lynch Giddo, 1966

Samuel Ogle Junior High School construction photo.
Credit: Mary Lynch Giddo, 1966

Samuel Ogle Junior High School construction photo.
Credit: Mary Lynch Giddo, 1966

Samuel Ogle Junior High School construction photo.
This is a view from the backyard at 4025 Chelmont Lane looking across the field toward Crosswick Turn.
Credit: Mary Lynch Giddo, 1966

Samuel Ogle Junior High School construction photo.
Credit: Mary Lynch Giddo, 1966

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The last day of races at the Bowie Race Course, July 13, 1985

A track employee makes his rounds for the last time
after Bowie writes the final chapter in its history.
July 13, 1985: According to the Baltimore Sun, more than 12,000 fans gathered at the Bowie Race Course for the final day of horse racing - seventy-one years after the track first opened.  The last race ended, and General Manager Al Karwacki passed out trophies in the winners' circle.  Some of the race track employees were recognized, and "Thanks for the Memories" played over the public address system.  A Guy Lombardo version of "Auld Lang Syne" played next, and the infield board began flashing the message, "Bowie:  1914-1985,  Thanks.".  The emotion was too much for Karwacki and his wife Lorraine, and they both began to cry.  Racing at the Bowie Race Course was no more.

Baltimore Sun photographer Gene Sweeney, Jr. snapped this picture of a race track employee in the grandstands after all the fans had left.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Cakery Reopens Under New Ownership

Freddy Trujillo, new owner of The Cakery in Bowie
Pastries are for sale once again in Bowie's Hilltop Plaza.  After being closed for two months, The Cakery is back in business.  According to the new owner, Freddy Trujillo, customers can expect to see the same treats that have been available at the store since the 1990s - cookies, cupcakes, danishes, croissants, tarts, pies, cakes and more.  Many items are available for immediate purchase, including pies and cakes, but Trujillo recommends ordering pies and cakes two or more days in advance.

The Cakery is open from 8am to 5pm, Tuesday through Friday, and 8am to 3pm on Saturdays.  Trujillio may expand the hours in the future.

The Cakery is located on the back side of Hilltop Plaza, 6776 Race Track Rd, Bowie, MD 20715.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Washington Outer Beltway Alters Belair at Bowie Plans

Many people from Bowie are aware that the Somerset neighborhood, informally known as the "S" section, was the first neighborhood to be built by Levitt & Sons on the former Woodward estate known as Belair.  What's not as commonly known is that Somerset was not intended to be the first neighborhood.

According to an article written by Don Wescott in 1974, an executive who worked for Levitt & Sons for years, Levitt planned on building the Glenridge neighborhood first.  In the Belair at Bowie lexicon, Glenridge is not a very familiar name.  It's certainly not as familiar as Somerset, Buckingham, Kenilworth or Tulip Grove.  So what is Glenridge?

Glenridge was originally a 72 acre parcel of land across from the end of Church Road at the intersection of what was then Route 450 (now Old Route 450).  It was bordered on the west by a property containing a telephone utility building, and it was bordered on the east by the railroad tracks in some spots, and Route 197 in others.  The red oval in the following image illustrates the approximate location of the proposed Glenridge at Belair subdivision (the "G" section).  Twenty-two houses were eventually developed in the northeast corner of the property on Galaxy Lane in 1969.  Those 22 houses make up what is today known as the Glenridge neighborhood, and the remaining undeveloped portion of the property is now owned by the City of Bowie.

So why did Levitt & Sons alter the plans to build the Glenridge section first?  After Levitt created the initial plan for Belair at Bowie, a plan was proposed to build the Washington Outer Beltway - a highway similar to the proposed Capital Beltway that would circle the D.C. area.  The Outer Beltway would be much longer than the Capital Beltway, and it would be located farther out in the suburbs.  Part of the Outer Beltway was going to run along the northern end of Church Road, and a highway interchange was going to be built at what was then the intersection of Church Road and Route 450.

The dark blue line on the following map shows the proposed path of the Outer Beltway, and the blue circles represent the proposed interchanges.  The red arrow on the map points to the proposed interchange at the intersection of Church Road and what was then Route 450.

Levitt decided that it wouldn't be a good idea to build a neighborhood in the path of a proposed highway, so the plans were changed, and Somerset became the first Belair at Bowie neighborhood to be built.

The Washington Outer Beltway was never built as originally proposed, although the Intercounty Connector and the Fairfax County Parkway are considered to be portions of the original proposal.

Several years after the original Glenridge plan was scrapped, another proposal was made that would affect the Glenridge parcel.  A proposal was made to relocate Route 450 so that it would bisect Glenridge into two sections.  It would take more than 35 years before that proposal came to fruition.


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Simply Southern American Grille Opens in Bowie's Hilltop Plaza

February 27, 2015:  My family and I went to Simply Southern American Grille for dinner. Today was the first day the restaurant was open. Simply Southern is located in the Hilltop Shopping Center next to the Chesapeake Grille and Deli in the former Irie Café location (6840 Race Track Rd Bowie, MD 20715; (301) 262-4700).
Simply Southern is owned by Aaron and Uche Loney – the same people who own Irie Café. So it’s only natural to want to compare the two restaurants. Irie Café was very dark and uninviting. Simply Southern has a nice and bright décor. We saw a restaurant full of patrons before we even got to the front door – something we never saw with Irie Café.
Simply Southern American Grille is a sit-down restaurant with moderate prices. The wait staff is very friendly and attentive, and the restaurant is clean. The menu has a limited number of items. There’s no kids’ menu, but they will prepare things like grilled cheese and chicken nuggets on request. They have a bar area, and beer, wine and liquor are available. Entrees range in price from $14 to $21. Takeout orders are accepted.
The food was very good. I had the Jambalaya – and some of my son’s wings – and some of my daughter’s Pulled Pork Sliders – and some of my daughter’s fries. Don’t judge me. It was all good. We’ll be back for sure.

See menu below.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

When it snows, Bowie goes... sometimes

The snow and the ice from the latest winter storm caused multiple closures in the Bowie area this weekend.  The Bowie Race Course, however, once prided itself on staying open despite harsh winter weather.  "When it snows, Bowie goes," was the catch phrase that was used to indicate that horse racing would still take place during bad weather.  The reluctance of track official to cancel races at the track once caused hundreds of fans to be stranded at the track overnight.

Despite the reputation, the track did close on occasion, including the days following the "Blizzard of '66," but the track was impacted by more than just the storm that day. An early morning fire destroyed five barns and resulted in the deaths of more than 40 horses.Wind gusts in excess of 50 miles per hour fanned the flames, and caused the fire to spread quickly.

Firefighters took more than 30 minutes to navigate the snow covered roads along the way to the track. According to Robert Nelson of the Bowie Volunteer Fire Department, crews from the station had to push a stranded car from the roadway and shovel their way through three separate snow drifts in order to get their apparatus to the track.

Arriving personnel found a chaotic scene. Flames were shooting high into the air, and panicked horses and ice made for a hazardous situation.

Approximately 100 horses were let loose in an effort to save as many lives as possible. Some horses were later found roaming at the Belair Shopping Center and Glenn Dale Hospital.

This picture was taken on February 4th, 1966 during the first day in operation after the storm.  Some fans stood among the snow piles watching the final stretch of the fifth race of the day.