Daze of My Life/Full Circle

by Kenneth B. Lourie

Having recently added the “Potomac” territory, ZIP code 20854, to my selling area, I have had the opportunity to reconnect with a community with which I had initially connected right out of college. Though I was born and raised in Massachusetts, after matriculating at the University of Maryland in August 1972 and then graduating - on time - in May 1976, I soon thereafter moved into a home on Gainsborough Road, down the street from Churchill High School. There were four other young, post-college men living in our house, and it was there, in Potomac, that I began my non-academic pursuit. Primarily, I was oriented to the Cabin John Shopping Center, a few miles away, off Seven Locks Road. To be honest, I don’t think I ever made it to, or knew about, “the Village.”

At this time I was working as a waiter at the Sir Walter Raleigh Inn restaurant at its long-since-closed upper Wisconsin Avenue location, on the ground floor of The Page building, across the street from the then new, now nearly 25-year-old Holiday Inn. I remember thinking (hoping) that the construction of a hotel next to our restaurant would generate the kind of business (numbers of dinners) that the Raleigh Inn on Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda was generating, but alas, it was not to be. Certainly the restaurant was able to sustain itself, but we were never able to approach the volume we had anticipated. And though I made some money while working at the Georgetown location, what I remember most from my tenure there was my first day. That’s when I met Dina. She was already working there as a lunch waitress, and on my first day, a Monday I believe it was, I can still hear the manager, Rick, saying to Dina, while pointing at me, “Train the new guy.” And the rest, as many of you regular readers know, is history, as Dina became my wife.

But it all started in Potomac, 27 years ago. That’s where Dina and I spent our first year together, and that’s also where I proposed to her - in writing, on a paper place mat at an Italian sub shop, that no longer exists, in the Cabin John Shopping Center. The restaurant was called C.J.’s I remember we were sitting in a booth waiting for our meatball and cheese subs to arrive when I took a pen and began writing on the place mat, down the margins no less, sort of filling in the available space. I don’t believe I was being too subtle about it, but Dina apparently wasn’t paying attention; so when I turned the place mat around for her to read right side up rather than upside down, she answered, “Yes,” quite willingly I may add, but I don’t recall what happened next. After all, we are talking ancient history here. I didn’t have an engagement ring to offer her at the time, but we did have a memory: Potomac.

And as I find myself more regularly involved with the people, places and things of 20854, I am forever reminded of who I was then and who I am now and how I got from there to here.

Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.