Mandrake Summers didn’t set out to maintain a collection for 20 years when he started a competition with his friend in his senior year of high school — in 1992 — to see who could collect the most Pez dispensers.
The Aurora Highlands resident, who has been working in Arlington County’s Department of Aging and Disability since 2009, has amassed a collection of well over 1,000 Pez dispensers at this point.
“Partly, it’s a compulsion,” admitted Summers. “I can’t walk into a store, see a Pez dispenser that I don’t have, and not buy it.”
Summers, 37, cites two key advantages to his Pez dispenser collection, as compared to other types of collectables: It takes up very little space, and Pez dispensers are easy to find.
“If I were collecting antique gliders, that would be very problematic,” said Summers, whose hobby also persisted when he stationed in the Ivory Coast for the Peace Corps in 2000.
“I would keep an eye out but my post was pretty rural,” said Summers. He caught up on his collection when he returned stateside.
While he has told his coworkers about his hobby, Summers surmises that if he has gotten any notoriety for it, it’s because he posts his new acquisitions on his Facebook page. One friend told us that he likes the posts because many of the photos bring back nostalgic childhood memories.
Summers owns a number of books on Pez that he uses as field guides, and he is part of an internet community of what he estimates to be approximately 100 or so forum members, who exchange information about new finds and reliable vendors.
Asked if he has any advice for would-be collectors, Summers said: “I guess I would say collect something that’s small because if you collect large items, they’ll quickly take over your house. Decide early on what you want to collect and sort of just commit to that.”
For those who take up Pez collections, Summers has more specific advice.
“My recommendation for anyone who’d want to start, is to go out to stores that are selling Pez dispensers and just buy as many different dispensers as you can, he said. “You can start there and within a few months you can probably get 30 or 40 dispensers without having to go on eBay.”
As for whether he developed a sweet tooth via his Pez collection, Summers says he doesn’t actually eat the candy — he gives it to his stepson.
Aurora Highlands will get a little brighter tonight, during the annual “Miracle on 23rd Street” holiday celebration.
Linden Resources, Inc. is hosting the holiday festivies including a Christmas tree lighting and holiday music. Santa Claus is scheduled to arrive on an Arlington fire truck.
The event is open to the public and begins at 6:30 p.m. in front of the Linden Resources building (750 S. 23rd Street). In addition to the outdoor activities, guests are invited to take part in multi-cultural children’s activities inside the building.
Linden Resources employs and provides job placement for adults with intellectual, physical and mental health disabilities.
The accident happened around 4:00 p.m. on the 700 block of 23rd Street S. Witnesses say an elderly driver in a white sedan pulled out of a commercial driveway, slammed into the side of passing minivan, continued driving across the street and into the front yard of Linden Resources, then back across the street and into the front of a small office building.
The elderly male driver seemed shaken up by his car’s airbag but not seriously injured, witnesses said. He was transported via ambulance to a local hospital. No other injuries were reported.
The office building, which houses NATO offices among other tenants, did not suffer any significant, apparent damage. Linden Resources’ flower bed was torn up and its front walkway railing was knocked over.
(Updated at 7:15 p.m.) Police say a newspaper carrier was carjacked early this morning (Wednesday) in the 2300 block of S. Joyce Street, between the Aurora Highlands and Arlington Ridge neighborhoods.
Around 4:30 a.m., the 73-year-old woman was doing her rounds of paper delivery and had just exited the car to place a paper on a customer’s doorstep. According to police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck, two men then drove up in a van next to her, and one said “give me the car.”
Police say both of the subjects, one of whom had a gun, pushed the woman to the ground. At that point, one of the men reportedly jumped into the woman’s car and threw her dog out of the vehicle, before driving off. The other suspect got back into the van and drove off.
Sternbeck said the woman yelled “fire” hoping someone would hear and help her. The resident at the house she was in front of came outside to assist, and they called police together.
According to police, the victim said she never leaves her car except at this one residence.
A tipster tells us the woman is a carrier for The Washington Post. The carrier and her dog, named Sparkle, were both shaken up but are otherwise fine, the tipster said. She didn’t report any injuries and denied medical attention.
Sternbeck said the woman describes both suspects as black men, about 5’9″, medium build, wearing dark sweaters and ski masks. The victim’s car was a beige Toyota Corolla, but there was no additional information provided regarding the suspects’ van. Anyone with information about the crime or the suspects is urged to call the police non-emergency number at 703-558-2222.
A Washington Post spokeswoman declined to comment about the incident.
Around 11:30 a.m. the President arrived at the fire station via motorcade and took the stage to announce his new $1 billion initiative, which he highlighted during the State of the Union address last month. The program particularly targets veterans who have served since 9/11 — a group whose unemployment rate is currently hovering around 13 percent.
“Our veterans are some of the most highly trained, highly educated, highly skilled workers that we’ve got,” said the President. “These are Americans that every business should be competing to attract.”
Under the initiative, 20,000 veterans will be put to work over the next five years on a Veterans Job Corps conservation program, which will “restore our great outdoors by providing visitor programs, restoring habitat, protecting cultural resources, eradicating invasive species, and operating facilities,” according to the White House. The corps will also “repair and rehabilitate trails, roads, levees, recreation facilities and other assets.”
In addition to the Veterans Job Corps, the president announced that he will seek $5 billion in funding to boost local police and firefighter hiring. Preference for those jobs would be given to post-9/11 veterans.
“Let’s get more cops on the beat. Let’s gets more rangers in the parks. Let’s get more firefighters on call,” Obama said today. “And, in the process, we’re going to put more veterans back to work. It’s good for our communities, it’s good for our economy, and it’s good for our country.”
The president explained that in addition to contributing to the overall good of communities, there will be specific financial benefits for taking part in the initiative.
“Today, we’re announcing that communities who make it a priority to recruit veterans will be among the first in line when it comes to getting help from the federal government,” the president said.
(Updated at 2:20 a.m.) President Obama will visit Arlington’s Fire Station 5 tomorrow morning to discuss a new initiative to help returning military veterans get jobs — including jobs as firefighters and police officers.
Obama and representatives from the International Association of Fire Fighters union will announce the initiative at the closed event, which is expected to begin around 11:00 a.m.
Fire Station 5 is located at 1750 S. Hayes Street in Aurora Highlands, just blocks from Pentagon City mall. Police say drivers should expect road closures and other impacts in the area.
“The event is expected to create moderate traffic disruptions in the Crystal City area from approximately 10:00 a.m. to noon,” said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “Emergency parking restrictions will be in effect along South Hayes Street to facilitate the presidential visit.”
Linden Resources — formerly SOC Enterprises — held its annual ‘Miracle on 23rd Street’ tree-lighting ceremony Friday night.
Families from the surrounding Aurora Highlands community formed a sizable crowd outside the Linden Resources building at 750 S. 23rd Street. The ceremony featured a brass band playing Christmas songs, the much-anticipated tree lighting, and the arrival of Santa Claus via fire engine.
Linden Resources provides employment opportunities for adults with disabilities.
Aurora Hills Babysitter Co-Op — While the District has been ranked as the most expensive place in the country for childcare, parents in the Aurora Hills neighborhood, near Crystal City, have banded together to save money by taking care of each other’s kids. The Aurora Hills babysitting co-op is “just a group of moms helping each other out,” according to one of the members. [MyFoxDC]
Seasonal Green Chiles Arrive in Arlington — A shipment of green chiles, fresh from the famous growing region of Hatch, N.M., has arrived at Santa Fe Cafe (1500 Wilson Blvd) in Rosslyn. The restaurant is expecting to receive about 100 pounds of Hatch green chiles throughout September. Owner Kip Laramie says he’ll be using the flavorful, spicy ingredient to serve dishes like locally smoked pork chop with green chile peach chutney, grilled spinach with green chile quesadilla, and red snapper with artichokes, mushrooms and green chiles. [Rosslyn Blog]
Public Forum Planned for Comcast Renewal — Comcast is seeking to renew its cable franchise agreement with the county, and a public meeting is planned to give residents a chance to share their thoughts on the company’s service in Arlington. Officials are specifically seeking ideas for public services that Comcast can provide as part of a new franchise agreement. The meeting will be held on at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 13, in the County Board room of 2100 Clarendon Boulevard. [Arlington County]
ARLnow Mobile Site Disabled — We’ve temporarily disabled the mobile version of our web site. Web-enabled mobile phone users visiting ARLnow.com will now see the full version of the site. We expect to have the mobile site back up by Monday.
Flickr pool photo by Philliefan99
Arlington Lauded in The Atlantic — “New data from Arlington County, Virginia, provide an in-depth look at how a jurisdiction known for great planning has leveraged excellent transit service and transit-oriented development into efficient transportation performance.” [The Atlantic, CommuterPage Blog]
Renovated Aurora Hills Library Holds Open House — The newly-renovated Aurora Hills branch library will hold a grand opening next week. Residents are encouraged to attend the open house, from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 24. There will be several kid-friendly activities, including face painting, balloon animals and storytime. Among the new improvements is a spruced-up lobby and wireless internet access. [Library Blog]
Drainage Pipe Work on Route 50 — Crews are reportedly working to clear a backed-up drainage pipe along Route 50. [Ode Street Tribune]
Green Candidate for School Board — Independent Green candidate Andrea Ochoa has qualified to face off against incumbent Abby Raphael in November’s school board election. The Independent Greens of Virginia web site has Ochoa’s photo but no biography. [Sun Gazette, Independent Greens of Virginia]
Flickr pool photo by Airpolonia
(Updated at 6:20 p.m.) Arlington’s Long Range Planning Committee (LRPC) is considering a plan to build a collection of tall office buildings and hotels on a large, vacant parcel of land in Pentagon City.
The “PenPlace” site, as it’s called, is a 12-acre parcel owned by Vornado/Charles E. Smith. Its only inhabitants over the past decade have been a Marriott Residence Inn, Nell’s Carryout and the occasional traveling circus. Once considered as a possible location for the new Nationals stadium or an “Arlington County Conference Center,” the site has laid fallow for years.
Last month the LRPC considered a number of possible uses for the site (all of which preserve the existing Marriott hotel and add new streets to break up the large “superblock”):
- A “baseline” project featuring a collection of low-to-mid rise hotels
- A “low density” project featuring a collection of 5- to 12-story apartment buildings and an office building
- A “medium density” plan featuring five 8- to 12-story residential buildings and two 15- to 16-story office buildings
- A “high density” scenario featuring four 15- to 22-story office buildings and a 7- to 12-story hotel.
In the end,
the committee at least one member of the committee concluded that the “high density” plan — which includes nearly 1.9 million square feet of office space and a centrally-located open space — “seem[ed] to be most appropriate.”
Only the baseline project, however, would be acceptable under the current Pentagon City Phased Development Site Plan (PDSP), which was first approved in 1976. The others would require the County Board to revise the PDSP before it could approve a site plan for the overall complex.
The nearby Aurora Highlands and Arlington Ridge civic associations, however, are both on record supporting the existing PDSP, which “does not allow for any more additional office development,” according to the latest Aurora Highlands Civic Association newsletter.
“Approving additional office buildings would severely change the planned vision for the Pentagon City Metro Station Concept Plan,” civic association officials wrote. “Because office buildings generate the most traffic and air pollution, impacts that would affect the health, safety, and general welfare of the public, this Metro station was planned for a Pentagon City with an emphasis on residential development and specifically limited office development as compared to the intense office development in Crystal City and Rosslyn.”
According to Arlington Police, the luxury SUV was stolen around 10:30 last night. Two men wearing masks and pointing guns approached the car after it pulled out of a driveway on the 1100 block of S. 18th Street. The men, described as in their late teens or early 20s, forced two women out of the car, stole their purses and drove off.
Just after noon today, the Porsche and two men — presumed to be the same suspects from last night — were involved in an armored car robbery at 16th and M Streets NW, just south of Scott Circle in the District. The men — one with a machine gun and the other with a 9 millimeter pistol — attempted to hold up a Brinks truck, according to initial reports. It’s unclear if they made off with any money.
Arlington Police were told to be on the lookout for the vehicle this afternoon, shortly after the robbery. Officers were told that the Porsche was last seen speeding north, away from the scene of today’s crime.
Fire broke out in the basement of a stately Aurora Hills home just before 5:30 last night.
The family that was living in the house evacuated as the flames grew larger. Firefighters rushed to the scene and were able to extinguish the fire within 10 minutes. Some smoke and water damage was evident, but no one was hurt.
Property records indicate the home, on the 1000 block of 26th Street S., belongs to a former top FCC official.
It was a very busy weekend for the Arlington County Police Department, as reflected in this week’s crime report.
Early Sunday morning, a man’s relaxing massage in Clarendon turned into anything but. According to the report, he allegedly robbed the masseuse and then, when police arrived, pulled a knife on officers. That move bought him some deep tissue stimulation courtesy of an officer’s Taser.
ASSAULT ON POLICE-ARREST 11/07/10, 3000 block of Washington Boulevard. On November 7 at 4:45 am, a man assaulted a woman that he had hired for a massage and also robbed her. When police approached him, he displayed a knife and was not compliant. An officer deployed a tazer and the suspect was taken into custody. Patrick Whitesell, 34, of Arlington was charged with Assault on Law Enforcement, Grand Larceny, Larceny from a Person and Assault and Battery. He was held without bond.
Thinking that getting assaulted by belligerent suspects sounds like a fun volunteer opportunity, one young man is accused of impersonating Johnny Law by installing police lights in his car.
IMPERSONATION OF POLICE-ARREST 11/05/10, 5200 block of S. 8th Road. On November 5 at 10:40 am, a man was seen driving a vehicle with police lights through traffic. Josue Chicas, 20, of Arlington, was charged with Impersonating a Police Officer. He was released on a summons.
Late Saturday night, a bridal shower got way out of control in Clarendon. After the glass bottles stopped flying, a 25-year-old Maryland woman was arrested.
DISORDERLY CONDUCT-ARREST 11/06/10, 3100 block of Clarendon Boulevard. On November 6 at 11:30 pm, two women argued during a bridal shower at a bar. A glass bottle was thrown during the fight, and a bystander was struck in the face. Jazmine Geans, 25, of Lusby, MD, was charged with Disorderly Conduct. She was held on a $2,000 bond.
It was not a good weekend for cab drivers. One was carjacked, and another was assaulted with a belt.
MALICIOUS WOUNDING 11/07/10, 1800 block of N. Oak Street. On November 7 at 2:30 am, a man assaulted a cab driver with a belt rather than pay his fare. Nabil Guermoudi, 27, of Arlington, was charged with Malicious Wounding. He was held without bond.
CARJACKING-ARREST 11/07/10, 4200 block of Wilson Boulevard. On November 7 at 6 am, a man assaulted a cab driver, and then drove the cab away. Police apprehended the suspect. David Norman, 28, of Redondo Beach, CA, was charged with Carjacking. He was held without bond.
Before there was such a thing as Crystal City — when South Eads Street was a recently-filled canal known as Jefferson Avenue — a state-of-the-art transportation option helped spur the development of what is now the Aurora Hills neighborhood.
That transportation option was the electric trolley. More than 100 years later, Arlington’s leaders are moving forward with a $200 million streetcar project that will stop in some of the same places as its long-forgotten predecessor.
Aurora Highlands Civic Association president Michael Dowell recently wrote about the area’s transportation history in the group’s monthly newsletter.
From 1843 to 1896, present-day Eads Street was actually a canal that connected with the famous C&O Canal by means of an elaborate aqueduct bridge over the Potomac. Then in 1896, the canal was deemed obsolete. It was filled in and an electric trolley line took its place.
From Dowell’s article:
In 1896, an electric trolley line was constructed along the former canal towpath. The new Arlington trolley line allowed the Mount Vernon Railway to offer continuous service between Washington DC, near Federal Triangle, all the way to Mount Vernon.
The new rail line was instrumental in enabling the development of our Aurora Hills neighborhood in 1910, as the trolley offered quick access for commuters headed into Washington DC. Our neighborhood had four stops along what was then called Jefferson Avenue: Four Mile Run, the Car Barn, 22nd Street, and 18th Street.
By the 1920s, bus transportation had become preferable to the trolley line and the last trolley rolled down Jefferson Avenue in early 1932. In 1934, Arlington County changed the street name to Eads Street (there were too many Jefferson Streets in Arlington County).
Ironically, the county’s proposed streetcar line, which will run along Columbia Pike and Crystal Drive, is intended to be a quicker, cleaner and more rider-friendly alternative to the bus routes that seemed preferable in the 1930s.
There were other streetcar lines in Arlington around the beginning of the century, as detailed in this Wikipedia article. The Fort Myer line, pictured, ran from Rosslyn, through Penrose (a community whose logo is a trolley) to present-day Nauck (Green Valley).
If this all sounds like history repeating itself, there’s one thing that seems especially unlikely to happen that time around. Unlike in 1906, the new streetcar project will probably not result in the development of an elaborate, transit-oriented amusement park in South Arlington.
Aurora Hills Roof Replacement — The Aurora Hills library and senior center is getting a new roof. The $240,000 project is set to begin on Thursday, Nov. 18. It will take about two months to complete, but the facilities will remain open — work will be done performed in the morning. More from the Library Blog.
Emergency Winter Shelter is Open — Arlington’s emergency winter shelter has opened for those in need of warmth, food and a roof over their head. The Arlington Street People’s Assistance Network is seeking volunteers 18 years or older to work at the shelter, at 2049 North 15th Street in Courthouse. More from ASPAN.
Civil War “Living History” Event in North Arlington — Civil War buffs will be flocking to Fort Ethan Allen Park (3829 North Stafford Street) on Saturday, for an event featuring reenactments and historical interpretations. Attendees will also enjoy marching reenactments, a Civil War medical exhibit, a women’s history exhibit, and activities for kids. The event is happening from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. More from Arlington County Parks.