News and notes from Reston (tm).

Monday, January 25, 2010

Flashback Monday: Reston's Pioneer Days: Mud, Burning Trash Piles, More Mud... and Dinner Theater?

336928_120163338b.jpgWhen Reston's first residents moved to our lovely beige community, it was lacking in some basic amenities. On the bright side, though, there was plenty of mud:

Asked about Reston’s first Christmas, Julia Rogers recalled planting flower bulbs on Christmas Eve and her husband taking the family’s trash out into the front yard and burning it, as it would still be two or three weeks before garbage pickup was available.

"I remember mud. A lot of mud," said her daughter, Katherine, who was in seventh grade when the family moved into the community on Dec. 10, 1964.

They were the "new town’s" first residents. Lake Anne still hadn’t been filled and construction was ongoing.
Reston "pioneers" -- a term which sounds vaguely Soviet -- recently reminisced about Reston's early days. We can mock all the mud, but since our favorite planned real estate development was carved out of the countryside of 1960s Virginia, it's astonishing that it was as forward-thinking as it was. Especially in terms of integration:
"I came here for one reason and that was because it was the only place in Northern Virginia that was open to black professionals," said Tom Wilkins. Moving to Reston in 1969, he had spent 27 years living under segregation.

Bob Webb said he had been one of three Washington Post editors who had moved to the community because it was integrated. "We just felt that somehow, by witness if nothing else, we could make a contribution just by coming out here," he said, adding that he had wanted his children to grow up in an integrated neighborhood. His hopes were realized within about an hour of moving in, at which point, he said, his children were already playing kickball with neighboring black children.
Despite all the mud and the burning trash fires and whatnot, Reston quickly became a cultured place.
Bob Simon, Reston’s original pioneer, also had a story. He remembered sitting in the farmhouse where his office was located, surrounded by a riding ring and stables, when a man walked in and asked to borrow the grounds to stage a production. What he was attempting was "ridiculous," Simon said — an original musical about Wall Street to be put on in a community that still only had 400 residents. But, 100 of those people got involved, raising $5,000, and selling 2,000 tickets. "Anybody who bought tickets would get a free dinner in a Reston home," Simon recalled.

A young black girl had tried out to be in the cast but wasn’t much of an actor, he said. The show’s producers were so eager to have her in the performance, though, that they asked her what she could do. So a tap dancing routine was created.

The group that put on the play was the Reston Players, which became the Reston Community Players, and the little girl was Beverly Cosham, who now performs across the country as a singer, is a regular attraction at Reston events and has acted in numerous plays around the D.C. area.

"The Greatest Game in Town" was a success, and almost all of the $5,000 was recouped, Simon said.
And that was before they even started staging nekkid productions.

1 comment:

  1. They could've raised more money in a Chinese auction by adding more homes where one could get free dinners. Live and learn.


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