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In and Around Morningside-Skyline 
By Mary McHale 301-735-3451

Coronavirus is alive and well… in the comics

I loved the comics (“the funnies”) when I was a kid.  I’ll bet you did, too.  Orphan Annie, Dick Tracy, Li’l Abner, Gasoline Alley, Terry and the Pirates, Steve Canyon, Blondie, I loved them all. 

I have grown old and I usually read only six of The Washington Post’s 41 comics.  But the virus has changed that.

Comic strip artists—most, but not all—have taken on the novel coronavirus.  Little by little, they are abandoning their story lines to feature today’s anxieties. And I’ve started reading them.

I particularly appreciate Darrin Bell’s “Candorville.”  My favorite strips were  when he ran about 8 strips, each with a grey profile of a familiar international cityscape.  From each country, an airborne lament was issued (in a different language for each country), “I am all alone here.”

Believe me, right now you need the funnies.


Known cases in Maryland

Through 5 p.m. May 27, there have been 48,423 cases reported in Maryland, and 736 new cases the day before.

As for coronavirus-related deaths in Maryland, 2,392 have died, and there were 59 more on Wednesday, May 27.

Prince George’s County continues to suffer the most cases and the most deaths in the State.  Do you wonder I am concerned about things opening?


Morningside VFD says “Thanks!”

On their website, our fire department says, “Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Morningside VFD has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from our local community.  We have received food and monetary donations from both local area businesses and the citizens we serve.  Thank you for supporting your local 100% volunteer fire and medical emergency services department!”

In particular, they recognize the following:

Carla Cash, aide to Councilmember Walker, and St. Stephen Baptist Church for facilitating the meal donations twice a week to our first responders.

Local community member Tony Proctor for the donation of beverages.

The Starbucks on Donnell Dr. for the donation of food and beverages.

The Town of Morningside for their monetary donation, which permitted their first responders to purchase food staples for meals.  This allowed them to reduce their trips to the grocery stores and limit their COVID-19 exposure.


Fire in Clinton

On May 15, about midnight, Morningside VFD responded to a fire at a home on Glissade Drive in Clinton.   The fire was at the back of the house.  The fire was “knocked out and no injuries were reported.”

The Morningside Volunteer Fire Department has been responding to an average of 20 calls a day during COVID-19.  This fire is typical.



Motoko Howard, organist at St. Philip’s Church in Camp Springs, had her final recital exam at Catholic University and has received her DMA (Doctor of Musical Art in piano performance).  I had hoped to attend her final recital, but of course that didn’t happen.

Max Howard, son of Motoko and Frank Howard of Silver Spring, who sings with me in St. Philip’s Choir, is graduating from St. John’s College High School in Washington.

Richelle Eastridge is Valedictorian and Naomi Barnett is Salutatorian at Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High School.

Email ( with news of your graduate.


Neighbors & other good people

Donna Gentile, daughter of George Glagola, responded to last week’s obit for John Butler Jr.  She emailed, “Johnny Butler worked for my dad at both of his gas stations, Forest Heights American and George’s American.”  He went on to manage Amoco Gas Station in Forest Heights for years.

I received an email from Rory Lohman who grew up on Allies road in Morningside.  He now lives in Huntingtown and enjoys reading my column.  He’ll tell me more about what he’s been doing over the past 50 years.

Rosie Nickodemus is my sister and she lives in Saginaw, Mich.  I’m really proud of her!  She risked leaving her house to give blood again and was awarded her 16-Gallon Pin, which means she has donated blood 128 times.


Are you counted?

Hey Prince George’s County! We started out this month with a 57.4% self-response rate.  As of May 25, 2020, the self-response rate is 61.6%!  They still need your help!  This week, they say, “let’s work together in an effort to finish strong by calling our family, friends, neighbors and even our local faith-based leaders to encourage them to complete their Census today!  #ProudToBeCounted  #PGCensus2020


Memories of Morningside and Skyline: 2009

In 2010, I ran a list of those who lived, worked or otherwise served in Morningside or Skyline the previous year (2009).  I wrote an obituary for each of them.  Here they are, in chronological order: 

Frances Brooks died Feb. 6, 2009, followed by Joseph Gray, Andrew Cummings, Josephine “Jo” Cunningham, Beverly Joan Phillips, Carlton T. “Trapper” Jones, John White, Christopher McCann, Wilbert “Tom” Dooley, Keith Anderson, Paul A. McConkey, Chester Lanehart III, David Ray Call, Donald Harder, Henrietta Tretler, Glenn Allen Chase, Stanley Kingsbury, Nancy Wimbush, Pat Berkeley, Jerry Nichols, Richard Overby and Elizabeth Haymans, who died Dec. 30, 2009.

Do you see familiar names, perhaps someone you especially miss?


Colleen Melton, Master Electrician

Colleen Michelle Melton, 63, of Washington, a 1975 Suitland High graduate, died of cancer May 18 at Sibley Hospital.  She grew up in Hillcrest Heights, the daughter of Magdaline and the late Clyde Thames.

Colleen, an accomplished Master Electrician, retired in 2019 after 35 years.

Survivors include her husband Samuel Melton, daughter Shauna Kiett, brother Dion and grandchildren.  A memorial service was at Briscoe-Tonic Funeral Home in Waldorf on May 29. 



Happy birthday to Fay Norton-Cummings and Malik Reed, June 6; Trisha Reamy, June 7; Ryan Fowler and John Nichols, June 8; Robin Murphy and Rev. Frank Ways, June 9; Laura Smith Jenkins, June 10; Fannie Dimes, Meghan Trexler Decker and

Jennifer Jenkins McClelland, June 11; Keenus Clark and Shirley Profhit, June 12.

Happy 44th anniversary to Bucky and Debbie Tretler on June 5; and happy 49th anniversary to Kathy and Bob Elborne on June 12.


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By Audrey Johnson 301-922-5384


In 1884 a handful of members who previously held their membership at Brooks Church on the Nottingham Charge, thought it well with God’s help to erect a church in this locality, conveniently located to benefit the members of Cheltenham, Brandywine, and near North Keys.  Since the origin of every good project meets with great obstacles, Gibbons was no exception.  She had bitters, as well as her sweets, but our Father who always defends Israel, while she was right, defending Gibbons and brought her; not always sailing to her 109th birthday.  Truly we can say “What Hath God Wrought.”

The first service was held on this locality in July 1884 at a public-school house near the present site.  The Reverend George R. Williams officiated.  A short time later, a tenant house belonging to Mr. H.H. Sasscer was presented to the members for church services.

Many of the old pillars have passed on, but Gibbons lives on, like an ark upon the mighty billows, with God as her captain.  A few years passed and we realized our expanding congregation had outgrown the small log building.  We built a larger frame building and laid the corner stone in the Autumn of 1899.  From that, the church moved on growing and ministering to the community.  The church was remodeled, and a second cornerstone was laid in 1916 under the administration of Reverend King.  Reverend A.D. Brown served for one- and one-half years after Rev. King and was succeeded by Rev. Noah C. Barnes who served from April 1932 to April 1937; Rev. William G. Simms from April 1937 to June 1962.  In June 1962, Rev. Owen Johnson came to Gibbons as Pastor.  The congregation grew under the able chairmanship of Mr. Louis Martin, Senior, and a new church was contracted to be built in June 1967.  The new church was officially started August 16, 1967 and finished June 16, 1968.  On June 24, 1984, the church celebrated the 100-year anniversary of Gibbons Church and burned the mortgage of the three buildings that afternoon.  Pastor Owen Johnson, Sr. retired as pastor of Gibbons.

Gibbons entered their second century as a soul-saving station under the leadership of Rev. C. Anthony Muse.  He became our first, full time minister on July 1, 1984.  Under Rev. Muse’s administration choirs were formed, weekly Bible classes started, and through the church’s evangelism, many new members were added to our congregation. Since 1989, Gibbon’s growth exceeded any other period in its history.  Membership grew from 200 to more than 1400 members.  Ministries increased to include all age levels, singles, radio, television, tape, prison, homeless, music and Christian education.

In 1993, Gibbons celebrated 109 years.  “We still hold the vision of an early historian, Mrs. Mary Rose Diggs, who stated that the church was founded in need, with the help of God.  We look to the Almighty God for the leadership and guidance toward our vision as we move with faith towards the 21st Century.”  Gibbons United Methodist Church Congregation no longer exists. The church closed in 2000 because of financial reasons.  Members have joined other churches.


Happy Birthday to Joan Falby, Joyce Isaac, Jenet Smalling, Joshua Lathan Jackson, Nana Smalling, Abena Smalling, Andrea Johnson, Angela Williams, Doris Hill, De’Andrea Bowden, Theresa Joiner, Kolbi M. Dee, Agayha Jalloh, Ihuoma Mbakwe, Blair Stephens, Cameron Barron, Mia Kerrick, Carolyn Glee, Alysia Falby, Ricky Thomas, and Dacinth Dorsett who are Clinton United Methodist Church members celebrating birthdays in May.


Congratulations to Tammara Ra’Jeen Ramsey, a graduate from North Carolina Central University.  Tammara is the daughter of Damon and Tammi Ramsey.  Corneilius Robinson who is a graduate from Delaware State University.  Corneilius is the son of Brian and Jackie Robinson.  Information sent by


Congratulations to Dr. Aminta H. Breaux, President of Bowie State University.  Our first female president, Dr. Aminta H. Breaux, is among the HBCU leaders highlighted in an Essence feature on how our institutions are making a difference for millions of families.

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