Hi, My name is Joseph Faunce,
From an infant to age 14 I lived in the "old Broyhill' section of Broyhill Park on a corner lot, the then address was 1617 Hickory Hill Road. I even remember
the old telephone number, JE-43529! ( Don't ask me how or why).
So the time period I am speaking of is from the early 50s to mid 60s. I read the article from Gary Owens on this website with much interest. My father George,
and Gary's father Ben, both worked for M.T. Broyhill as carpenters during the construction of much of Broyhill Park, and not only that, Ben and George were
childhood friends from Southern Maryland. I think Dad and Ben both started out as apprentice carpenters on the GI bill after World War Two and worked their
ways up to be supervisors. It really is a small world!
Our house on 1617 Hickory Hill road was a typical brick rambler style home with a basement which my father finished with knotty pine walls. He also built another bed room downstairs, along with a bathroom, laundry shoot and even a built in bar. Dad even added on two big step additions on the back of the house. As a child the house and yard there seemed so huge and the wooden fence, planted with privet hedges along the sides and back of the yard gave our back yard a lot of privacy for being in a subdivision.
I would not trade my childhood memories of Broyhill Park for anything in this world! Any child back then in the neighborhood could walk anywhere or ride their bike with out any fear or worry. Bikes were king, they were the preferred method of transportation for a young boy, and I am talking about the now "classic bikes", the real deals with real chrome battery powered head lights and chrome thumb bells on the handle bars, big framed heavy bikes with whitewall tires, actually probably better built than some modern day cars are. Seems like all of us kids would try to out do each other with how many playing cards we could fasten with clothes pins between the bike frame and the spokes of the wheels, the end result being to create the loudest and most clicks as you pedaled along. As I remember store bought skateboards were very scarce, really on the cutting edge of technology. Most of us boys made our own from a roller skate (usually stolen from a sister) and a piece of board.
Our house was located on a corner so I was lucky enough to have a haven for sports steps away from the house, Hickory Hill court. It seemed in the afternoons something was always going on in the court. Kick ball, dodge ball. soft ball, flag football, some of us creating rules as we went along often to our own benefit. During the winter when it snowed, and I really do remember bigger snow storms and more of them, the court was wonderful for sledding and snow ball fights.
I remember the white Sealtest dairy truck going through the neighborhood stopping at designated houses that had the insulated aluminum boxes on their porches and door steps. You could leave money and a note of what you wanted be it milk or orange juice etc. and he would leave you the product and the change. Also the Charles Chips truck with their metal tubs of fresh baked chips bought straight to your door. How about every parents summertime nightmare, The Good Humor Truck. I can still remember how my Mom looked when all 5 of us kids came around with our hands out every time he played his little tune.
Does anyone remember the street vendors? These guys who were usually 'gypsey' in appearance would walk through the neighborhood on spring and summer days with a fold down table on with they would have the latest in magic tricks and novelties, such as chinese handcuffs. handshake buzzers, fake candy cigarettes, and toy rings all for a quarter. Every time I would hand one of them a quarter for the pack of trinkets he would always ask with a distinct accent "Do you mother know you buy this?" I guess at some point somebody's mother rolled him over her kids purchase!
Us kids would often walk up Slade Run Drive to the woods that went beyond it and then along a trail that would lead through the woods to a clearing where there was a circle with a bunch of old junked cars scattered around it. An old farm house and barn were perched up on a hill above this circle. We called it Cockatoo Farm although I don't know if that was the correct name. It is in fact where Round Tree Park is now off of Annandale Road, before you get to the entrance to old Broyhill Park. I remember a few of us sneaking up into the barn one time and climbing into the loft where we found an old chest full of clippings of newspaper articles on different gangsters and crime stories. The creek below the farm I guess is Parrots creek on the other side of Annandale Road from where the old Walnut Hill Mansion was. We would often follow the creek downstream for what seemed like miles looking for frogs, snakes, turtles anything we could find to bring back home.
Back then Seven Corners shopping centers was THE place for a kid to shop around at. Remember there were No Malls. I remember just being amazed at how big the place was and how could there possibly be that many bricks in the world to build this place. My favorite place was the five and dime store there, Woolworths? I could look for hours at their toys and plastic models. Again when Mom and Dad didnt take us to Seven Corners we would sometimes hop on our bikes and ride there. There was so little traffic back then compared to now and you didn't have to worry about anybody bothering or harming you,
Another kid hangout was the Drug Fair store off of I believe Graham Road. My brother and I would sometimes walk there or ride bikes and you could buy full size candy bars there for 5 cents apiece or 6 for a quarter. He would buy six and I would buy 6 different ones and when we got back home we would cut the candies in two giving us each 12 different types of candies with which we would proceed to get the ultimate sugar high. The Drug Fair was also a good place to kickback at the grill in back to have a Pepsi or a Cherry coke, and comic books abounded in the place!
I had great childhood friends as a child in Broyhill Park. Friends such as Mark Lawall, Jerry Clark, Mario Sarivia and others that I missed greatly after moving at age 14. And though I haven't kept in touch with them I still keep in touch of the fond memories of the neighborhood of that era.
I now live on a isolated 57 acre farm in Louisa County but at times my mind fondly drifts back to the neat rows of red brick houses, with their grass fringed sidewalks. To me growing up there when I did was magical.
Mr. Faunce added later:
Hello again. I remember Mom telling me that the Walnut Hill mansion was originally built by an owner of a bus line, although I can't remember the name of the bus line or the owners' name. I recall one time as a kid sliding around on the frozen pond out front and a man riding a horse down the hill side and telling me to be careful of thin ice. I remember it was nothing at all to drive by the mansion and see lots of deer in the front yard. Other than that I can't tell you any thing else about the mansion that you probably don't already know.
I remember Dr. Neighgan our family Vets' office across Annandale road and down aways from the mansion. Our family dentist was Dr. Good and our family doctor was Dr. Provansanta, all area Doctors. (Funny how I remember things in life that do me absolutely no good)!
Jefferson Theater at the intersection of Graham Road and Route 50 was a favorite movie theater for Broyhill Park kids back then. I can remember standing in a long line many a time waiting to see a movie. Concessions were a bit high but nothing like they are in a theater today. We walked to school from Hickory Hill road to Walnut Hill Elementary until bus service was provided when I was in the third grade. I am sure the distance was over a mile and there were "crossing guards" at every street corner from our house to the school. I went to Whittier Junior High for seventh grade which later became Falls Church Senior High.
I am sure the atmosphere of the neighborhood has changed dramatically in the last 40+ years, but I can tell you what a haven it was for kids during my youth! We didn't sit in monotone for hours pressing buttons to a video game. We were outside most of the time playing with other neighborhood kids or seeing what sports were going on in the courts. Halloween was a favorite holiday, a time to be afraid of witches or vampires, not of other people, and we would walk for miles unescorted in the dark until our candy bags could hold no more.
With all the children have now days I can honestly say I was very lucky to grow up when I did in Broyhill Park "back then."