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Dahlgren for most kids could only be defined as Utopia. I lived on base from 1975-1979 (Graduate, Dahlgren Class of 1979) and enjoyed some of the greatest experiences a kid could dream of. I've read about all of the fireworks experiences, but I assure you, there could have been no better fireworks performance as the one I witnessed in the 1976 Bicentennial Show.Everything was within walking distance, the bowling alley, the theater, the community center, the gym, and the swimming pool. We lived right next to the school so we also had pretty much our very own playground not to mention the, what seemed to be, endless bike paths put in around the base. I miss the friends I met there and often wonder what happened to them all. Most were military brats, but there were a few civilian families that still lived there. After all these years I have come back to KG to live and really enjoy hearing some of the names of these people I used to know. Most importantly, there were the teachers at the school, Mr. Morton A. Jones Jr. (Principal, 8th Grade English Teacher, and Basketball Coach), Mrs. Steppe, Mrs. Slusher, Mrs. Clark, Mrs. Mangleburg, Mrs. Singleton, Ms. Johnson, Mrs. Ashton, and Mrs. Franks to name a few. Thank you to you all, even though all of you weren't my direct teachers, you all had positive influences on my life, especially Mr. Jones. I can't wait to walk the halls again!
- A.J. Pete Petrasek Jr.
Friends like Ed Jones (your FLS Editor-in-Chief), Ronnie and Allen Hughes, John and Paul Glancy (yes, your favorite kind and thoughtful baker), Speight Overman, and Kathryn (Bunny) Payne, provided the friendships, spirit of competition, and memories that last a lifetime. Ed Jones never met a cat that he did not like. From his herd, he gave my mother one that lived for fourteen years, grew to 21 pounds, survived our move to Stafford in 1961, and reigned supreme over the dogs and cats in Tylerton. But I get ahead of myself. Walking or riding your bike to school was always a joy. . . in-bound workers gave you the right of way because everyone knew everyone else. The community was close, thoughtful, and considerate. In the fifties and early sixties, civilian employees lived on base. We lived on Third Street, in the heart of “Boom Town.” The cannon fire and resulting concussion may have been the source of the name, but really it was World War II housing that was constructed to house the technicians, scientists, and engineers brought on board to support the war.
- Byron Hinton
One highlight of the year was the fireworks display on the 4th of July, for a base full of people who knew a thing or two about ballistics was a sure bet for an ooh-aah light show. Another was Armed Forces Day, the one day a year when we kids could go inside the mystical “restricted area” and actually see where our fathers worked, although I’ll bet most of us didn’t have the faintest clue what it was they did.
Somewhere in my boxes of memorabilia I likely still have a relic of Armed Forces Day, a strip of shiny metallic tape produced by a room-size computer, then on the cutting edge, that spells out my name in dot matrix. For a kid? Pure magic, much like running through the summertime evening clouds of DDT our parents tried in vain to get us to stay out of.
The daily gun testing was such a part of the aural atmosphere that we kids nonchalantly shrugged it off --- to this day I barely notice when a car backfires. Only one gun report from all those years remains etched in my memory, and it’s not one I could hear. It was in Mrs. Conrad’s class in 1963 that my classmates and I learned, from the principal’s solemn voice on the loudspeakers mounted above each classroom’s door, that our president had been shot.
I’ll add that for some of our time on the base my family lived right on the golf course, and I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to any of the golfers whose balls my childhood cohorts and I stole before they even quit rolling. And thank you very much for boosting our ten-cent allowance by buying them back from us. You paid for our Milk Duds at the Dahlgren theatre.
- Nancy Dearing Rossbacher
“During the late 1930s, my dad used to take me fishing from the boat he manned as part of his duty. It was the same boat that he often stood duty on as FDR came down the Potomac River for occasional visits in the area.”
- Ollie Chenevert
Thousand Oaks, CA
“In the 1950s, there was the time—6 a.m. Saturday to be exact—when Bill Kemper (aka “Uncle Bill” to many Dahlgren children) called to ask if I would like to climb one of the old velocity towers to see and photograph a new litter of osprey chicks that had been born earlier that week. We did, despite the momma osprey’s objections.”
- Jack Kunlo
“Miss Dunnington, who taught sixth grade at Dahlgren School in the 1950s, still sits on my shoulder reminding me to finish what I start or ‘you’ll never amount to anything in your life!’ She scared the Be-Jesus out of me, and I’ve always been grateful.”
- Lynne Reynolds (formerly Warren)
Many of the friends I made back at Dahlgren are still a part of my life today. In fact, I met Theresa Lyon in third grade at this school and we now live in the same apartment! The memories and friends I made there really do last a lifetime.
I was raised in Dahlgren. As a child I can remember chasing the DDT trucks on our bicycles- The spray was as thick as fog and smelled terrible, but that didn't stop our pursuit! When the medical facility at Dahlgren was being built my Dad toted water to the workers, he was paid 25 cents a week for his labor and said he would take his wages and buy blue jeans. After many many years and much hard work my Dad, Richard Rennoe, retired from Dahlgren as the head of Main Range Services. Both of my grandfathers retired from Dahlgren and now my son works there. I'm so proud of this town as well as the naval base! Thanks, Dahlgren, for giving me such terrific memories!
- Margaret Rennoe Daniel
I grew up at Dahlgren and have many fond memories of that place. My family moved there in 1986 and I didn't leave the area until 2001. I went to Dahlgren School from 4th grade to 7th grade and I am still friends with many of my former classmates (I am now 31 yrs old!). I also met my husband on base. He was stationed at Space Command. I wish I could be there to celebrate Dahlgren's 90th Anniversary!
- Michelle Tidwell (Thompson)