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

It’s the right time for a trip to Schoolhouse Pond

I have fond memories of ice-skating years ago on Schoolhouse Pond in Upper Marlboro.  I recall seeing fish swimming beneath the ice.  And I remember warming up with other shivering skaters at the fire set in old tires pond-side.

In the 1970s Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning dredged that pond, which is across the street from the County Administration Building.  They added a one-mile boardwalk around the pond, a fishing pier, photo-blind and picnic area.

On the last Sunday in December, my daughters Kathleen and Therese, grandson Conor, his wife Heather and their kids, Mary and Wesley, visited Schoolhouse Pond.  They knew they’d enjoy the walk around the pond, but also checked for wildlife.  They were told a family of otters lived at the pond, and might see them if they were very quiet.  They didn’t see them.

Therese, however, made a list of interesting birds spotted, among them: double crested cormorant, great blue heron, bufflehead duck, northern shoveler, fire-billed gull and, especially, a bald eagle.  Birders among you might want to head for Schoolhouse Pond.

Wesley spent time lying on the bridge, poking with a stick the ice around the edge of the pond.  And there was a man fishing.  If I’d been there, I would have asked (very quietly) what he’d caught.

By the way, there are parking meters in front of the park.  Free on Sunday.

And I suppose ice-skating is no longer allowed.


Happy 100th birthday, Gene!

I knew Gene Desmarais well when she and George lived in Auth Village.  They attended St. Philip’s and had children who went to St. Philip’s School with mine.  Gene (short for Genevieve) played bridge and was a dear friend.  Some years ago they moved, and moved again and now live at Brightview in Annandale, Va.

On January 3, Gene turned 100.  And what’s more, she is still married to George.  They met at the USO back in the mid-1940s.  George was in the Air Force and Gene was a Navy Wave.

A Birthday parade was planned for January 3 to celebrate these two WWII veterans, and especially Gene’s 100th birthday.  At 2:30 the six Desmarais children, grandchildren and other family gathered with Honor Flight in the park across from Brightview.  Permission was given to allow two or three at a time (well masked) to visit and toast the honoree with champagne.  A drive-by followed.  I wish I’d been there!


The Archbishop is back home in Eritrea

Archbishop Menghesteab Tesfamariam has finally been able to fly back to Asmara, the capital city of Eritrea, where he is the head of the Catholic Church in Eritrea.

He flew to Washington last March, on church business, and then the pandemic hit.  All flights in and out of Eritrea had been cancelled, at the demand of President Isaias Afwerki.  The virus may have been somewhat responsible.

Since March, the Archbishop has been living at the guesthouse of the Daughters of Saint Anne who have a convent just around the corner from me.  During his time here he met with Washington’s Cardinal Wilton Gregory.  But just last week he was able to catch a flight to Ethiopia, and then to Asmara.

I invited the Archbishop to come for coffee one day and learned he speaks about eight languages and has traveled all over the world.  Every day I passed on to him the front section of the Washington Post to help him keep up with world news.  I miss seeing him take his daily walk.  But I know he’s happy to be home.


Neighbors & other good people

Daniel Hogan, a teacher (1967–1978) at Francis Scott Key Junior High in District Heights, died Oct. 26 at his home in Harmans, Md.  He was 79.

Beverley and Bob Stolarski and their four children lived years ago on Clayton Lane, in Skyline.  I just had a newsy letter from their daughter Mary Alice, bringing me up to date.  Her dad Bob died in 1996 and Bev in 2008.

Mary Alice is married to Jeff who is a puppeteer by trade, and Santa at Christmas.  He finally got a Santa gig at the N.J. Aquarium in Camden where he worked inside a snow globe and couldn’t even hear what the kids wanted for Christmas.


Covid report

Out in Austin, Texas, I’ve just learned my niece Cathy and her husband Monte both have the virus.  Say a prayer for them.

Meanwhile, here in Maryland, we now have 273,689 cases, of which 2,628 are new.   As for deaths, Maryland has had 5,848 Marylanders die, 45 of them just yesterday (Dec. 30).


Morningside Memories

The Jan. 1990 Morningside News announced the winners of the Christmas 1989 House Lighting Contest:  Religious: 1st place, Benjamin family, 6606 Poplar Rd.; 2nd, Groom family, 4608 Morgan Rd.  Colonial: 1st, Shaner family, 6901 Marianne Dr.  Child’s Delight: 1st, Kiker family, 6810 Marianne Dr.; 2nd, Valdez family, 6705 Marianne.  Judge’s Choice, awards but names not listed: 1st, 6606 Maria Ave.; 2nd, 6201 Suitland Rd.


Town of Morningside

Meetings: Town Council work session, Tues., Jan. 12, 7 p.m.; Town meeting, Jan. 14, 7 p.m.  For information, call 301-736-2300 (fax, 301-736-7440); email

The Administrative Office is open Mon.-Fri., 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Closed Monday, Jan. 18 for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.



Happy birthday to Sister Haimanot, Dorothy Cullinan and Bridget Vilky, Jan. 1; Evelyn Lozano, her 100th on Jan. 2; Gene Desmarais, her 100th on Jan. 3; Courtni Bland, Jan. 3; GI Market’s Jennifer Jung, J.B. Thomas and Christa Neale (great-granddaughter of Edythe & Bob Neale), Jan. 4; Darlie Norton. Ariel Thomas, Sarah Vilky and Terry Foster, Jan. 6; Eva Hugings and Charles Boxley, Jan. 8; Patty Gallatin, Jan. 11; Martin Miller, Frank Binsted and Roc Wheeler, Jan. 13; Curtis DeMarco Knowles, my son Mike McHale, Kathleen Giroux and Joanie Mangum, Jan. 14.

Happy anniversary to grandson Conor and Heather McHale, Jan. 3; Tom and Monique Laws, Jan. 3; former Morningside Vice-Mayor James and Yvonne Ealey, Jan. 6; Diane and Steve Zirkle, Jan. 9; David and Lori Williams, Jan. 9; and Gary and Melody Barnes, Jan. 14.

And a Blessed 2021 to all my Readers!

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By Audrey Johnson 301-922-5384


Buck Lodge Middle School Science Department Chair Deborah Branch was awarded a Society for Science and the Public STEM Research Grant.  Branch will receive STEM research kits to help students conduct scientific research outside of the classroom.  Each kit is valued at $1,000.  PGCPS Proud:  In the Spotlight.


Looking back at one year of renovation Medstar Southern Maryland Hospital Center has made dramatic progress over the last 12 months on its emergency department (ED) and new front entrance construction and renovation project.

The MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center team looks forward to a big milestone in March 2021, when the bulk of the new construction will be finished.  After the new addition is complete, the focus will shift to renovating the old ED space, bringing the new addition, and existing space into one, cohesive department.  Visit to keep up with construction updates.  MedStar Health Fall 2020 edition.


Earn a Master’s in teaching from Bowie State University.  The Bowie State University STAR (Superb Teachers Achieve Results) Program is looking for aspiring teachers who wish to earn a Master of Arts in teaching (MAT) with a focus on STEM education.  The program cultivates highly effective 21st century educators, equipped to excel in communities facing distinct challenges, like social emotional learning, equity, and poetry.  Applications are now being accepted for the spring semester.  For more information, contact  Contact:


Charles County Government is working with the Pomonkey High School Alumni Association to erect a suitable historic marker in the village of Pomonkey.  This marker, now being fabricated, will be similar to the existing Pomonkey High School historic marker and will be made of cast aluminum.  It is expected to be installed in February 2021.  In September, staff met with representatives of the Association to discuss the project and to identify the best location for the sign to be placed. 

The Alumni Association decided to relocate the existing Pomonkey School sign to another prominent location on the school property and to place the new Pomonkey Village sign at this location.  This project was initiated by Commissioner President Collins as a follow-up to earlier historical documentation work that was completed for the village several years ago.  Charles County looks forward to working with the Alumni Association on this and other projects as the Alumni Association plans additional work in the future.  Information provided by the Office of Commissioner Reuben Collins.    


“Today, I have the privilege of pay tribute to the special legacy of our retiring Senate President Emeritus Mike Miller.  As with so many fellow leaders and friends.  Senator Miller has been a true mentor and friend to me for many years.  He has always made me and those of us forever on the District 27 Team feel like family because to him that is what we are.  As he leaves the Maryland State Senate, his legacy of 50 incredible years of service will never leave the hearts and minds of Prince Georgians and Marylanders everywhere.  Without Senator Miller we would not be building a New UMMS Capital Region Medical Center in Largo, there would be no MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, and there would not be so many other major improvements to the quality of life of our great State.  May God continue to bless Senator Mike Miller and the Miller family.” Mel Franklin, Council Member at Large.


Cedarville Assembly of God Church Cemetery also known as Grace Cemetery, Grace Methodist Episcopal Church North Cemetery is located at 11600 Cedarville Road Brandywine, Maryland 20613.  The Cemetery was built in 1879 with the land being donated by two sisters of the last name Hall.  A stipulation that the land would be used as a religious purpose or it went back to the heirs.  Over the years the church fell upon hard times and closed for a year two because of lack of money, it was dissolved completely in 1908 and sat unused until 1925 when the Assembly of God found interest in it.

A tornado hit the church in 1926 causing great damage but it was repaired.  A new brick church was built in 1974 and the old wood frame church was used for Sunday School classes.  The cemetery is divided into lots.  One section is closed for burials because of evidence of unmarked graves which probably once had wooden crosses.  Some people were being buried in the cemetery during the inactive period of the church, so records are not accurate.  The oldest marked grave appears to be 1883.



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