Monday, October 8, 2012

Model Homes Open at Levitt's Belair at Bowie Development

October 8, 1960 (52 years ago today): The model homes for Levitt & Sons' Belair at Bowie housing development opened to the public off U.S. Route 50 on Sussex Lane in Bowie.  People waiting to see the homes caused a 1 1/2 mile traffic jam.

Levitt & Sons' President, William Levitt, declared it to be the biggest opening since he joined the firm 30 years earlier.  Customers ordered 243 houses in the first five days the model homes were open - a total of more then $4 million in sales.

Customers bought the houses sight unseen.  It would be another year before the first houses would be move-in ready.

Customers had a choice of six house designs ranging in price from $14,999 to $27,500.


Levitt's Biggest Opening
The Washington Post, October 15, 1960

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sniper Shoots Student at Benjamin Tasker Middle School

October 7, 2002 (10 years ago today): Thirteen-year-old Iran Brown was shot by the "Beltway Snipers" after his aunt dropped him off at the Benjamin Tasker Middle School in Bowie.  Brown's aunt, a nurse, drove him to the Bowie Health Center, and he was later transported by helicopter to the Children's National Hospital in D.C. Despite having serious injuries, Brown survived the shooting.

A shell casing and a Tarot card (the Death Card) were discovered at the scene.  "Call me God" was hand written on the front of the card, and the back of the card contained the following note:  "For you mr. Police.  Code: 'Call me God'.  Do not release to the press."

After news of the shooting broke, parents rushed to the school to pick up their children.  Benjamin Tasker Middle School closed for the day, but other Prince George's County Schools remained open.

President George W. Bush called the shooting "cowardly and senseless."

The shooting brought Montgomery County Police Chief Charles Moose to tears.  "Today it went down to the children," he said to reporters.  "Someone is so mean-spirited that they shot a child.  Now we're stepping over the line. Shooting a kid. I guess it's getting to be really, really personal now."

At the scene of a shooting in Montgomery County later that month, the snipers left a note that said, "your children are not safe, anywhere, at any time."

In the days that followed the shooting, brush was cleared in the wooded area between the school and Foxhill Park - the area where the shooter was believed to be hiding during the attack.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Horse Racing Begins at Prince George's Park in Bowie

Bowie Race Track, 1973 (Photo by Arnie Miles)
October 1, 1914 (98 years ago today): Cardigan beat Ischgabibble by a head to win the first horse race ever held at the newly built Prince George's Park in Bowie.  A late train carrying horses from Havre de Grace caused several horses to be scratched from races.  All bets were canceled for the second event of the day after a judge started the race before all horses reached the starting gate.  Horse races were held a total of ten days that October.

The last day of horse racing at the Bowie track was held on July 13th, 1985.

Remember This One?
Washington Post, June 8, 1963

On Inaugural Day of Its Meet
Washington Post, October 2, 1914


Creative Commons License
Photos of Bowie Maryland 1973 through 1975 by Arnie Miles is licensed under a Creative
Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

William Woodward, Sr., Owner of Belair Dies at Home in New York City

Belair Mansion, September, 2012
September 25, 1953 (59 years ago today): William Woodward, Sr., owner of the Belair Mansion and Belair Stud Farm, died at his home in New York City at the age of 77.  He bequeathed the Belair property to his only son, William Woodward, Jr. (Billy), with the hope that the "farm may mean as much to my son as it has to my uncle and myself, and that he may spend many happy days there maintaining the place in a modest  and simple way as has been our habit."  Little did the elder Woodward know that his son would die only two years later, setting the stage for the purchase and development of Belair by Levitt & Sons.

William Woodward inherited Belair from his uncle, James T. Woodward, in 1910.

Prior to his uncle's death, Woodward became involved in horse breeding when he purchased three mares from the estate of Governor Oden Bowie and a stallion.  He later purchased horses from France during World War I.  With the help of trainer Sunny Jim Fitzsimmons, Woodward's Belair Stud was responsible for two Triple Crown winners (father and son pair Gallant Fox and Omaha) as well as other winners of the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes and other major horse races.

The following two books were used as sources for this post.  Both books are available at the Belair Mansion and the Belair Stable Museum.

  • Belair Stud, The Cradle of Maryland Horse Racing, Kimberly Gatto, 2012
  • Belair from the Beginning, Shirley V. Baltz, 2005

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Bowie Children Visit the Oval Office

From President Gerald Ford's daily diary, September 18, 1976
September 18, 1976 (36 years ago today):  Several Bowie children and parents visited the White House to participate in the filming of a President Ford campaign commercial.  According to President Ford's daily diary, the children included Rochelle Brown, John Clese, Darcy Hirshfeld, Shaun Sullivan, Laura Weintraub, John Hogan, Peter Muldoon and Karen Stonebreaker. A separate taping session was held with a group of senior citizens, but they were not from Bowie.  Filming took place in the Oval Office.  The President met with the children, parents and senior citizens in the Roosevelt Room following the filming.

Although several of President Ford's campaign commercials are available on the Internet, none of the on-line videos appear to be from this taping session.

Several still pictures were taken during the meeting by presidential photographer William Fitz-Patrick.  Full sized images can be purchased from the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library.  Low resolution versions of the pictures are included below.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Fighter Jet Explodes in the Sky Above Bowie Race Track

F-86 Sabre Jet (photo by Jason Lefkowitz)
September 15, 1953 (59 years ago today): An F-86 Sabre Jet with flames shooting out of one of its engines was spotted in the sky above the Bowie Race Track.  The plane was carrying 24 live rockets and secret equipment.

Air Force First Lieutenant Walter T. Fay ejected from the plane.  Fay landed on a farm north of the track in Anne Arundel County.  "He suffered minor scratches and bruises," according to The Washington Post.

The fighter jet exploded on impact in an area described as the "woods off State Route 197, about 1 mile southwest of the track," creating a debris field a quarter mile wide.  Although the description of the location was not meant to be exact, Bowie's Whitehall section is located one mile southwest of the Bowie Race Track.  The Whitehall section was a mixture of woods and farmland in 1953.

An Aberdeen Proving Ground bomb disposal unit assisted in the clean-up effort.

The F-86 Sabre Jet was the most advanced fighter jet of the Korean War era.

The F-86 pictured here can be seen at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia.  The picture was taken by Jason Lefkowitz, and it is shared via the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Rocket-Laden Jet Crashes Near Bowie
The Washington Post
September 16, 1953

F-86 Sabre Jet photo by Jason Lefkowitz
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) License

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

School Board Approves Plans for Somerset Elementary School

Former Somerset Elementary School bus loop, 2012
September 12, 1961 (51 years ago today): The Prince George's County School Board approved plans for the Somerset Elementary School, a 20 room school to serve residents of the new Belair at Bowie housing development. This decision came 11 months after the Levitt model homes opened on Sussex Lane, and one month before the first Belair at Bowie residents starting moving in.

Somerset Elementary School opened for classes in October, 1962.

Bowie City Council meetings were held at the school in the mid 1960s.

Low enrollment in the mid 1970s forced Prince George's County to close several schools in Bowie.  The 1976-77 school year was the last year for elementary school classes at Somerset, and the school closed for good after being used for special education classes during the 1977-78 academic year.

Single-story townhouses
During the first year that the school sat vacant, nearby residents complained about vandalism, broken beer bottles and "disturbances on the weekends," according to The Washington Post.

A plan to lease the school to Anne Arundel County was considered.  At the same time that enrollment in some Prince George's County schools was declining, enrollment in Anne Arundel County Schools was on the rise.  It was thought that Anne Arundel County could bus students to Somerset until a new middle school opened in 1982.

Somerset Park
Between 1983 and 1985, developer Ken Woodring created Somerset Condominium Park, a complex for independent senior living.  He converted the school building into 29 units, and he built 31 single-story townhouses on the former school grounds.  According to the project's architect, Phillips Schwartz, some former Somerset Elementary School teachers bought units in the building where they used to teach.  Buyers in the new condominium park were typically older residents from the community looking to move to smaller and more modern homes.

Unexpected School Jam Hits County
The Washington Post
September 13, 1961
Anne Arundel Considers Closed Prince George's School
The Washington Post
February 9, 1979

Bowie Seeks Occupant for School
The Washington Post
Thursday, April 19, 1979

Schools as Residences Put the Adventuresome In Class of Their Own
The Washington Post
May 2, 1987

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Strike Disrupts Bowie Area Grocery Stores

September 5, 1974 (38 years ago today): The Local 400 Retail Clerks Union walked out on negotiation talks with six grocery chains, beginning a strike that caused some Bowie area stores to temporarily shut down and others to reduce hours.  The Bowie Plaza Giant and the Pointer Ridge Giant were closed.  The Free State Mall Giant and the Grand Union at Hilltop Plaza had reduced hours.  One Bowie resident decided to take her business to the Crofton A&P rather than cross picket lines in Bowie (even though A&P was affected by the strike as well), and one resident expressed relief at having the services of a milkman.

Markets, Shoppers Tough Out Strike
Bowie Blade
Thursday, September 12, 1974

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Trout Fishing comes to the Belair Shopping Center

August 29, 1974 (38 years ago today): Fifty cents bought you seven minutes of trout fishing at a "trout stream" in the Belair Shopping Center (now home to the Marketplace). Rod, reel, tackle and bait were provided. The Blue Mountain Trout Pool Company brought this fishing "adventure" to shopping centers and carnivals in the early 1970s.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Levitt Wins Bid to Purchase Belair

August 27, 1957 (55 years ago today): William J. Levitt through his Levitt & Sons real estate development company won a bid to purchase Belair for $1,750,000 from the estate of William Woodward, Jr.  Levitt was believed to be planning to build 5,000 to 6,000 houses on the nearly 2,300 acre property.

The purchase was the culmination of a year long fight to buy the property.  Levitt claimed to have offered $1,500,000 for Belair in September, 1956, even going so far as to deliver a $150,000 down payment to Hanover Bank of New York, executors of the Woodward estate.  Hanover Bank told Levitt at the time that the property had already been sold, but it wasn't until October 10, 1956 that a contract to purchase the property was signed by New York developer Webb & Knapp for only $1,187,500.

The Prince George's County Circuit Court invalidated the Webb & Knapp purchase of Belair in March, 1957 because it was believed that the executors had not made an effort to secure the best price, and a new bidding process was ordered to take place.  The Maryland Court of Appeals later upheld the Circuit Court's ruling, and Levitt outbid the other developers that August.

In "This Crazy Thing Called Loved," a book about the relationship between William (Billy) Woodward, Jr and his wife Ann, author Susan Braudy indicated that the Woodward family worked behind the scenes to block the sale of Belair to Levitt in 1956 because the family did not want a Levittown built at Belair.  Ann Woodward was reportedly saddened that Belair "would be broken up into plots for 5,000 ranch houses."

Regardless of the outcome of the court battle, it was clear that the Belair property was destined to be developed.

Levitt Acquires Belair With Bid of $1,750,000
The Washington Post
August 28, 1957

Appeal of Resale Order For Belair Stud Argued
The washington Post
June 7, 1957

Battle Looms in Belair Sale
The Washington Post
March 9, 1957

This Crazy Thing Called Love
Susan Braudy

Remants of Hurricane Irene Cause Flooding, Downed Trees and Power Outages in Bowie

The New York & Company store in the Bowie Town Center

August 27, 2011 (1 year ago today): Just four days after Bowie was rattled by a 5.8 magnitude earthquake, the remnants of Hurricane Irene brought winds, rain, minor flooding, downed trees and power outages to Bowie.  At its peak, Hurricane Irene was a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 120 miles per hour.  By the time the storm hit Bowie, it was no longer a hurricane, but it packed winds powerful enough to bring down trees in the city, and enough rain to close some roadways.

More than 8,000 BGE customers in Bowie were without power immediately following the storm on Sunday morning, August 28th.  That number was down to 5,000 the following morning, and there were still 3,900 customers without power in Bowie 48 hours after the storm ended in the city.

Prince George's County Schools were closed on the Monday following the storm.  It was the second time in less than a week that the schools were unexpectedly closed, and the school year was less than a week old.

Click here to see pictures of the aftermath of the storm in Bowie.

The City of Bowie communicated with residents before, during and after the storm through Alert Bowie, an email and text messaging system.  Residents were alerted to closed roads, inoperable traffic signals, open shelters and power outage reports.  The following are the alerts that were sent during and after the storm.

Saturday, August 27, 2012, 4:41pm: #1168  Important message from City of Bowie
Conditions are beginning to deteriorate in Bowie.  Some wind gusts of up to 40 mph have been reported locally. The storm is moving slowly so we will have several hours of rain and increasing wind speeds as the evening progresses.  Residents can report trees down on roads by calling 301-262-6200.  City staff are on duty at City Hall to address any other public safety issues that may arise.  Power outages should be reported to BGE at 1-877-778-2222.  Do not assume your outage has been reported.

Saturday, August 27, 2012, 5:13pm: #1172  Exit ramp closed
Ramp from Melford Dr onto US 301 south closed due to flooding.

Saturday, August 27, 2012, 7:27pm: #1176  Irene Update #2
Winds speeds are increasing.  The National Weather Service now estimates 4-8 inches of rain will fall this evening.  Scattered power outages have occurred in the City in Pointer Ridge and Whitehall.  Exit ramp from Melford Drive to US 301 south is closed due to flooding.  Governor's Bridge Road is now closed at the gate near the bridge over the Patuxent River.

Sunday, August 28, 2012, 8:00am: #1182  Sunday Morning Hurricane Update - 8 a.m.
Situation Update as of Sunday 8/28 at 8 a.m.
  • BGE is reporting 8000+ customers without power in Bowie.
  • At least 30 trees have come down across streets and in city rights-of-way.
  • Crews worked at clearing trees last night until around midnight when it became too dangerous for them to be out there.  They were back out by 6 a.m. this morning to continue their work.
  • More than 5 inches of rain have fallen in Bowie since the storm began.
  • There may be wind gusts of 20+ mph throughout the day.  Given the saturated ground more trees may come down.
  • Traffic signals are dark at several intersections due to power outages. Please stay off the roads as much as possible until conditions improve.
  • Report power outages to BGE at 1-877-778-2222 or 1-800-685-0123.
  • Report trees down on roads and other public safety concerns to City Hall at 301-262-6200. 
  • Yard waste rules will be relaxed.  Details will be communicated later. Our crews will be very busy with debris removal for some time.  You can help them and save the City money by bundling whatever branches you can or putting small branches in a trash can (not more than 50lbs).
  • Our priority today will be addressing downed trees that are blocking roads and coordinating with BGE on power restoration.

Sunday, August 28, 2012, 8:30am: #1182  #1184  Traffic signals out
As of 8:30 a.m. Sunday, traffic signals are out at the following intersections:

  • MD 197 at US 301
  • Mitchellville Road and US 301
  • US 301 at Excalibur Road
  • MD 197 at Northview Drive
  • MD 197 at Bowie Town Center main entrance
  • Off ramp to MD 197 from US 50 eastbound

Avoid these areas if possible.  Please call 301-262-6200 to report other traffic signal outages in the City.

Sunday, August 28, 2012, 10:30am: #1186  City Hall phones out
City Hall telephones are out of service.  Call 240-216-2071 or email to report tree problems.

Sunday, August 28, 2012, 11:40am: #1190  City Hall phones
Phone service has been restored to City Hall. Please call 301-262-6200 to report problems.

Sunday, August 28, 2012, 2:48pm: #1192  Irene Update and City Hall status

City Hall will be open for business on a normal schedule tomorrow.  Because of rain damage to the City Hall lobby and the Police Department lobby, those areas will be off limits to the public and to employees until the damage can be assessed and repaired.  The administrative office of the Police Department will be closed to the public.  Speed camera bills can be paid at the Finance window.  Visitors to the building are asked to enter through the door near the Finance window.

Refuse and recycling will be collected on a normal schedule on Monday.

Yard Waste Rules Relaxed:
The rules for yard waste have been relaxed.  Residents should bring tree debris to the curb for pickup.  If at all possible, we request that the limbs be cut down to manageable size and bundled or put in a trash can (50 lb limit).  This will speed up the process, save tax dollars and make it easier for our busy crews. Pickup may occur at any time during the week.

Power Outages
BGE is reporting that almost 40% of their customers are without power. In Bowie, 8200 customers are still without power.  Restoring that many customers will take some time, but BGE does have 3400 workers on restoration efforts associated with the hurricane, so we are hopeful that the lights will start to come on soon.  They have restored 4400 outages since the storm began in Bowie.

Monday, August 29, 2012, 10:30am: #1196  Storm recovery info
Hurricane Irene Recovery Update – Monday, 8/29//2011, 10:30 a.m.

BGE had almost 40% of their customers out at the height of the storm.  They have made progress but some people may not be restored for a few days.  We have received no specific restoration information yet from Bowie.  Yesterday we had 8200 residents out in Bowie.  Today it's down to 5000 out in Bowie so we know they are working here and they are making progress.  This was a major storm. BGE did bring in lots of extra help from out of state but the BGE service area was badly hit by the storm.  We will share restoration information via Alert Bowie, our website and will put recorded information on our phone system when it is available.

Trees, branches,etc.
During the weekend our crews worked to make the streets passable.  They are now going back to cut up trees on the side of the road or in the City rights-of-way.  This will take some time to complete.  Please be patient.  The rules for yard waste have been relaxed.  Residents should bring tree debris to the curb for pickup.  If at all possible, we request that the limbs be cut down to manageable size and bundled or put in a trash can (50 lb limit).  This will speed up the process, save tax dollars and make it easier for our busy crews. Pickup may occur at any time during the week.  Large limbs and cut up trees will be picked up separately by crews driving through the neighborhoods.

Traffic signals are out at US 301 & MD197, and US301 & Mitchellville Road.  Bowie Police are providing assistance as they are able.

Job Bank
The Bowie Job Bank maintains a list of teens who are willing to be hired to do yard work and other light tasks.  Call them at 301-809-3033.

City Facilities
City facilities are open today, however because of storm damage the entrance to the administrative offices of the Police Department are closed to the public.  The main lobby of City Hall is also closed.  Please enter through the entrance near the Finance Department.

Monday, August 29, 2012, 3:49pm: #1198  Traffic Update - MD 197 signals
Traffic signals remain out at the following intersections:
  • MD 197 at US 301
  • MD 197 at Mitchellville Road
  • MD 197 at Tulip Grove Drive

Until power is restored MD State Highway is restricting left turns at the 197/301 intersection.  Drivers heading north on 301 will not be able to turn left on 197 and drivers heading south on 197 (toward 301) will not be able to turn left onto 301 north.  Officers will be directing traffic at 197 & Mitchellville and 197 & Tulip Grove throughout the evening rush hour.  Avoid these areas if possible.

Monday, August 29, 2012, 5:37pm: #1202  Signal update
Power restored to signals at 197/301 & 197/Mitchellville.  The signal at 197/Tulip Grove Drive is still out.

Tuesday, August 30, 2012, 11:00am: #1204  Important message from City of Bowie
Storm Update, as of Tuesday, 8/30 at 11 a.m.:

The City Manager's Office has been receiving regular updates from BGE on restoration work and the City is making sure that BGE is aware of all the trouble spots that residents have reported to us. BGE is still dealing with a substantial number of public safety issues throughout its service area. Progress has been slower than we had hoped, although crews are working around the clock.  The number of outages in Bowie has gone from  5000 yesterday morning (Monday) to 3900 early today (Tuesday). The universal restoration estimate is Friday at midnight, although there may be some scattered outages beyond that.  We're hopeful that most of Bowie will be restored before that time, but sometimes as repairs are made, other problems are discovered which delay the full restoration. Almost every city neighborhood still has some outages.  Some of the areas with the largest concentrations of outages are:
  • Tall Oaks Crossing/Devonshire Estates
  • Collington Station/Collington Manor
  • Chapel Forge
  • Buckingham
  • Heather Hills
  • Huntington
  • Kenilworth
  • Longleaf
  • Long Ridge
  • Meadowbrook
  • Pointer Ridge
  • Old Stage

Roads/Traffic Signals
The traffic signal is still out at 197/Tulip Grove. Church Road is blocked by a tree between Tall Oaks HS and Central Avenue.  BGE is aware of the problem and is coordinating with Prince George's County to get the problem resolved, since Church Road is owned and maintained by the County.

Dry Ice
We have received several inquiries about dry ice.  BGE no longer supplies dry ice during prolonged outages.  Safeway stores normally have it in stock at the front of the store, but the Bowie stores are out at present.  According to the Giant at Freestate Shopping Center, Giant does not sell dry ice. We've found a vendor in Hanover, MD (off  Dorsey Road , near BWI Airport) that has dry ice available for purchase today.

Airgas Dry Ice
7504 Connelly Drive, Suites A, B & C
Walk-ins welcome

The County has closed both shelters it operated during the storm. We have a link to a list of pet friendly hotels on our website at

Tuesday, August 30, 2012, 3:29pm: #1206  BGE update
BGE has restored service to 70% of its service area.  The utility is attempting to contact those customers whose power is being restored today by automated call.  However, many customers lost their ability to receive calls when the power out. If you are without power and can retrieve phone messages remotely, you may find that you have a message from BGE saying the power is being restored.  The company is supplementing their response team with another 500 workers who arrived from Alabama Power today.  The full press release can be viewed at

Tuesday, August 30, 2012, 3:42pm: #1208  Traffic Update
197/Tulip Grove intersection still dark.  214/Jennings Mill also dark.  Tree blocking Church Road between Tall Oaks HS & Central Avenue

Wednesday, August 31, 2012, 1:00pm: #1210  BGE Update
Update – Wednesday, 1 p.m.

There are approximately 1,000 power outages remaining in Bowie.  This morning, City officials spoke with a senior BGE representative about the remaining outages in the City. He reported that BGE crews are currently working on several feeder lines in the City and just outside the city limits, which they believe will help the utility move toward completing restorations in Bowie.  Customers who are still out should call 1-800-685-0123 check on the status of their restoration and to make sure that BGE knows that the power is still out at their home or business.

Thursday, September 1, 2012, 1:00pm: #1212  BGE Update
As of 5:30 on Thursday morning, 536 customers remain without power in Bowie.  These outages break down into localized problems on 80 different jobs that still need to be addressed by BGE. They were able to restore more than 900 customers on Wednesday and hope to make substantial progress again today.  Customers should continue to check with BGE for updates on their outages.  They have been updating the automated information for outages when they have specific estimates about power restoration.

Thursday, September 1, 2012, 6:00pm: #1214  BGE Update

BGE Update, Thursday September 1st at 6 p.m.
There are 473 customers in Bowie who remain without power.  There are 65 localized jobs to be done to complete the restoration of all Bowie customers. The crews will be working during the evening and hope to reduce the numbers greatly over night.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Bowie School Opened 100 Years ago this Fall

One hundred years ago this fall, some Bowie area students started attending classes in a new school on the corner of 8th Street and Chestnut Avenue in the building that is now home to the Huntington Community Center.  In 1912, the Bowie Elementary School had only four classrooms (two upstairs and two downstairs) and no indoor restrooms.  Additional classrooms were added in 1923 for high school students.  The school for the upper grades was known as Bowie High School, but the entire school was commonly referred to as The Bowie School.

The portion of the building closest to 8th Street (pictured here) was part of the original structure from 1912.

The high school was shutdown in 1945, forcing students to attend either Laurel High School or Bladensburg High School.  The elementary school stayed open until 1962 when students started attending classes at High Bridge Elementary School.

Area schools in this era were segregated, and only white students attended classes at The Bowie School.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Twin Houses in Old Bowie

These two houses on the corner of Maple Avenue and 9th Street in Old Bowie are known as the Twin Houses.  According to the Huntington Heritage Society, these are probably the two oldest houses in Old Bowie.  They were originally owned by the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad to house employees.

When the railroad junction in present day Old Bowie was in the planning stages, a land speculator purchased approximately 300 acres of land.  A surveyor was hired to layout a new community to be called Huntington City.  The plans included a grid of streets, parks, and narrow residential lots 2500 square feet in size.  Each of the twin houses sits on one of those lots.  These lots were advertised for $25 each in 1870 ($30 if paying over a six month period).  Some people purchased multiple contiguous lots in order to build larger houses.

Huntington City became the Town of Bowie, and then later part of the City of Bowie.

The house on the right is for sale with a list price of $225,000 (as of August, 2012).

Monday, August 6, 2012

Jersey Mike's Subs Now Open in Hilltop Plaza

I had a late lunch today at Jersey Mike's Subs in Hilltop Plaza.  The restaurant opened August 1st.

My order was made quickly and to my liking, but I didn't care for the customer service experience.

I asked for some advice, and I was told that the most popular item is the #13:  the Original Italian (provolone, ham, prosciuttini, cappacuolo, salami and pepperoni).  The clerk recommended that it be prepared "Mike's Way," which means with onions, lettuce, tomatoes, spices and "The Juice" (red wine vinegar and olive oil blend).  "It will be the best sub that you've ever had," I was told.

I said, "great, I'll have a #13 prepared Mike's Way, but hold the onions."

Another clerk interrupted and said, "sir, I really think you should try it the complete Mike's Way with onions."

I thought that was a strange comment.  I just said, "Thanks, but I don't like onions."  I know - just six simple words, but I was mildly annoyed that I had to say them.

While my sub was being made the Mike's Way sans onions, the first clerk said to me, "sir, I'm really sorry that we have to do this to you!"

So I said, "what?"

And he said, "this sub is going to be so good that you'll be disappointed whenever you eat a sub anywhere else from now on."

Now I know the guy meant well, but I felt like the interaction was scripted.  It wasn't genuine.  Normally I'm pretty chatty in situations like this, but I was just turned off by the conversation. It was also a little bit braggy for my liking. It's one thing to say, "I really think you'll like this," but I just thought this guy was a little over the top.  Over all, I found the staff very attentive, but I was a little turned off by the conversation.

And how was the sub?  I liked it.  The bread was good, but the clerk was wrong.  It wasn't the best sub I've ever had.  It was good, but not the best.  Ha, maybe it needed onions after all.  I'll be back to try some other menu items.  Next time I won't make it such a late lunch, and maybe I'll be less grumpy.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Feminist to take on Bowie City Hall

Bowie resident Leslie Fugelhorne is too young to have experienced the bra burnings that characterized the feminist movement in the late 60s and early 70s, but she says that she looks to women from that era for strength when trying to combat gender inequalities in our society.

"Gender inequality is all around us," she said.  Sometimes it's very subtle, and we don't immediately notice it. It's easy to spot once we start looking."

Fugelhorne plans to address the Bowie City Council at an upcoming meeting to present one of her concerns:  deer crossing signs in the city.  "The city is full of deer, but let me ask you one question," said Fugelhorne. "When was the last time you saw a big male buck in the city?  When you see a deer on the side of the road, it's almost always a doe, yet all deer crossing signs in the city depict a buck with huge antlers.  Is that right?"

Fuglehorne favors adoption of new signs with images of anter-less deer.  "We were able to adopt gender inclusive cross-walk signs in the 70s, and I think this is the next logical step," she said.

Fugelhorne plans on referencing the city's diversity statement when addressing the council.  "The City of Bowie Diversity Statement was adopted by the council in 2003," said Fugelhorne, "and it identifies gender differences as something to be celebrated."

Detractors, however, point to the Bowie City Code, which states, "whenever ... words or phrases are used denoting the masculine gender, they shall be taken to include the feminine gender."  It may be up to lawyers to determine if that applies to the deer crossing signs.

Officials at the mayor's office could not be reached for comment.

City activist Ken Worthe vowed to fight Fugelhorne's proposal.  "Frankly, I think Ms. Fugelhorne needs a reality check," said Worthe.  "This is a tough budget year, and the council should be focused on working hard for the taxpayers.  This deer crossing sign issue is a distraction and a slippery slope.  What's next?  Pink 'stop' signs?  Should the Public Works Department access city's sewers through 'woman holes?'  Should we rename the Belair Mansion the Belair Womansion?"

Long time Bowie resident Leonard Burstein had a lighthearted view of the initiative.  "Antlers?  No antlers?  It doesn't matter to me.  The city should really focus on moving some of these deer crossings because it's just not safe for the deer to cross these busy streets," Burstein said with a wink and a smile.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bobby's Burger Palace in College Park

We stepped outside the Bowie restaurant scene this afternoon to try Bobby's Burger Palace (BBP) on Route 1 in College Park.  The "Bobby" in the name refers to Food Network celebrity chef Bobby Flay, and Flay was on hand at the restaurant's opening last October.

As the name implies, BBP is all about burgers - really, really good gourmet burgers.  The menu is a la carte, so you have to pay extra for your french fries, sweet potato fries or beer battered onion rings.  Pictured above is my order of sweet potato fries, served with a honey mustard horseradish sauce.  My burger was already gone by the time I thought to take a picture.

The prices are similar to Five Guys - maybe a little bit more expensive.  Our order came to $40 for two adults and a kid's meal with a milkshake.  They have no tipping policy, although it seemed like most people were not tipping.  You order your food before sitting down, and the wait staff brings you your food and clears your table.

Customers can sit at a curvy contemporary style counter or at tables.  The interior is kind of cool.  Check out some pics from a Baltimore Sun photo gallery by clicking here.

BBP is located in one of the mix-use high rises just north of the main entrance to the University of Maryland (across from the fire station, Town Hall Liquors and McDonald's).  There used to be a Jerry's Subs at that location.  Turn at the light at Melbourne Place.  A short entrance will lead you to a parking garage in the rear.  BBP is in the front of the building along Route 1 (Baltimore Avenue).

Bobby's Burger Palace
8150 Baltimore Avenue
College Park, MD 20740

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Saturday, February 11, 2012

Winter Fun in Bowie, December, 1973

These pictures were most likely taken in and near the Rockledge section of Bowie in December, 1973.

Click on one of the pictures to view a zoomed-in slide show.

These pictures were posted as part of the Bowie Blade Pic Project, I've been posting pictures taken by Arnie Miles for the Bowie Blade between 1973 and 1975.

Creative Commons License
Photos of Bowie Maryland 1973 through 1975 by Arnie Miles is licensed under a Creative
Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States

Other Bowie Blade Pic Project Posts

Monday, January 30, 2012

Valentino-Smith Proposes School Funding Disclosure Legislation

The following is a press release from  Maryland District 23A Delegate Geraldine Valentino-Smith:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                            CONTACT: GERALDINE VALENTINO-SMITH        
JANUARY 26, 2012                                                           PHONE:  301-858-3101


In keeping her pledge to strengthen the public’s partnership with the Prince George’s County Public School System, Delegate Geraldine Valentino-Smith has authored and introduced legislation requiring the Prince George’s County School Board to develop and operate a searchable web site which would allow the public to search school funding by individual school. 
Currently it is difficult to determine the funding for individual schools and how the funds are spent at each school.  The budget books are so voluminous that it is extremely difficult to extract information from them for each individual school.  Through ongoing communications with her constituents, the Delegate realizes that most parents don’t have time to attend lengthy School Board meetings and comb through the complex data in the budget reports. 
With the passage of PG 410-12 Education-Prince George’s County School Board Budgets-Transparency, the public would be given access to important school board spending data in a clear, easy to read format.
Says Valentino-Smith, “Enactment of this bill will enable parents, students, teachers and our county citizens to readily and easily access information regarding how education funding is spent at the local school level.  This kind of web-based information will demonstrate a full commitment to making the public partners in our important mission to ensure clarity and understanding for education investment and spending.”
The bill has garnered enthusiastic support from a wide range of organizations including SEIU 400, ASASP, AFSCME 2250, the Prince George’s County NAACP, the African American Democratic Club of Prince George’s County, People for Change of Prince George’s County and PGCMA.
The bill is currently up for discussion in the Prince George’s County Delegation and will be voted on in the coming weeks.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Jersey Mike's Subs coming to Hilltop Plaza

Jersey Mike's Subs is coming to Hilltop Plaza in Bowie (between Papa John's and Chesapeake Grill & Deli). Construction in the new location will begin April 30th, and the restaurant will open in late June. Jersey Mike's Subs started out as Mike's Subs in 1956 on the Jersey Shore in Point Pleasant long before anyone ever heard of Snooki, Pauly D or The Situation. The restaurant eventually changed its name, and it now has a franchise business with 500 locations opened or planned. The Jersey Mike's web site describes their subs as follows:

Today, the authentic taste – served Mike's Way™ with lettuce, onions, tomatoes, oil, vinegar and spices – is available nationwide. Our secret? Everything about Jersey Mike’s is high quality. Our certified Angus Beef top rounds are trimmed and cooked right in the store. Our meats and cheeses are all top-quality premium brands. Our bread is fresh-baked each day on the premises. And of course, everything’s prepared right in front of you. It’s what makes Jersey Mike’s the most authentic tasting submarine sandwich available. And it’s a tradition of quality we’ll never outgrow.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Whitehall Elementary Achieves Blue Ribbon Status

Whitehall Elementary School in Bowie is one of six schools to be designated a 2012 Maryland Blue Ribbon School, and the school will compete for National Blue Ribbon School honors later this year.

“The Blue Ribbon Schools Program is a national and state program that recognizes and honors elementary, middle, and high schools that exhibit high performance and/or significant improvement in student achievement,” according to a fact sheet on the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) web site.  Each year the MSDE chooses six public schools that are honored as Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools and are nominated as finalist for the National Blue Ribbon School program.  The number of schools selected by each state is determined by the U.S. Department of Education based on population.

The schools designated as Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools are not guaranteed to become National Blue Ribbon Schools, but all MSDE selected schools have gone on to achieve National Blue Ribbon School honors since 2003, according to MSDE.

As a Maryland Blue Ribbon School, Whitehall Elementary School will be rewarded with a Joe Corbi’s school-wide pizza party and a “technology classroom” from SMART Technologies that includes an interactive white board and projector.

The other 2012 Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools are:
  • Crofton Meadows Elementary School (Anne Arundel County)
  • Pocomoke Elementary School (Worcester County)
  • Rachel Carson Elementary School (Montgomery County)
  • Ring Factory Elementary School (Harford County)
  • Woodholme Elementary School (Baltimore County)
The Maryland Blue Ribbon School program does not honor private schools, although private schools are eligible for the U.S. Department of Education’s National Blue Ribbon School program.  Private school nominations for the national program should be announced later this month.

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