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The Way We Were

Rob Doherty interview of Shirley Seymour

A bit of history, as written by Rob Doherty, MSCA resident and former editor of the Tetragon based on an interview with Shirley Seymour, an original resident. This article appeared in the Tetragon of Fall 2003.


Imagine this: No Cabin John Shopping Center. No Montgomery Mall. No Beverly Farms Elementary School. No Metro. That’s how things were when the original owners of homes in Montgomery Square moved in some 40 years ago.

At that time, Montgomery Square was considered a far suburb of Washington, recalls Shirley Seymour, who moved to her home at 11907 Henry Fleet Drive on April 4, 1964. “It was way out,” says Shirley, who moved from an apartment on upper Connecticut Avenue in Washington. “People thought we had moved to the other side of the world.”

Drawn to Montgomery Square initially by the neighborhood’s wooded environment, Shirley says she and her neighbors came to appreciate it as a great place to raise their growing families.

“We had about 15 kids in about five houses,” she says of her immediate neighbors. “It was like a pack. They would swarm from house to house.”

Summers meant days at the Copenhaver pool. Winters meant afternoons at the Cabin John ice rink. Fourth of July meant fireworks at a field near Montgomery Mall that is now home to Jim Coleman Toyota and Home Depot’s Expo store.

For the most part, Montgomery Square mothers stayed at home with their children.

“No Metro. No buses. No nothing,” Shirley says. “When your husband left in the morning with the car, that was it.”

Second cars soon became the norm and the area began to grow into the community that we know today. Shopping for clothes was now done at Montgomery Mall, not at Wheaton Plaza or in Chevy Chase. Food shopping was now done at Cabin John, not on Rockville Pike. Post Oak Road from Seven Locks was extended westward beyond the Pepco lines.

And, after a while, the neighborhood no longer seemed very remote at all.

“Now, of course, you feel close to everything,” says Shirley. “‘Way out’ is West Virginia now.”