Write What You Know

Maryland On My Mind is a blog for Marylanders, about everything Maryland. Fact and opinion, probably a little heavy on the opinion. Sometimes I wander into wider political and economic issues. My goals are to resist cynicism, encourage hope, to be respectful, to inform and entertain. Reader participation is invited. Please comment early and often.

My name is Bernie Hayden, aka John Hayden. I grew up and went to school in Maryland, kindergarten through college. I’ve worked for four newspapers in Maryland, not counting the Diamondback at the University of Maryland, College Park. I majored in journalism and even graduated. In those days the University wasn’t very selective; they let just about anyone in.

Hayden, same dude, differend day Hayden, same dude, different day.
Bernie Hayden, Maryland On My Mind Bernie Hayden, professional byline.
Johnnie Hayden, Ocean City, Maryland, Blog John Hayden, middle name and nickname.

My great-grandparents came from Bel Alton, in Charles County in Southern Maryland, and that’s about the only part of Maryland where I haven’t lived. I am a Baby Boomer, a child of the ’50s and ’60s, a child of the suburbs. My family moved to a brand new ticky-tacky house in Wheaton Woods in 1952, and stayed, and grew. It was far out in the wilds of Montgomery County. Veirs Mill Road was a two-lane country road, and so was Georgia Avenue. Veirs Mill Village was the first subdivision in those parts, built for World War II veterans and their brides and children, and Wheaton Woods was the second subdivision.

The Veirs Mill Shopping Center was at the corner of Veirs Mill and Randolph Roads. (The shopping center is still there, but the stores have all changed.) It had an Acme grocery store, a Rexall Drugstore, a hardware store, Suburban Trust Bank, barber shop, a movie theater, and Esso gas station. My father would buy $3 worth of gas, pumped by an attendant with a change machine on his belt. Another attendant washed the windshield and checked the oil. Rockville and Gaithersburg were little farm towns. For shopping, my mother went to the big Hecht Co. Department Store in downtown Silver Spring.

Wheaton Woods was a sprawling subdivision of three-bedroom brick ranchers. We were the second family to move in. The developer had clear-cut the trees, and there wasn’t even grass. It was nothing but brick ranchers surrounded by dirt yards as far as the eye could see. About a week after we moved in, two men came with a television set. They went up on the roof and attached a big antenna to the chimney. Sod was put down and soon chain-link fences separated the yards. Tiny trees were planted, held up by stakes. There were fireflies in the summer, and Japanese beetles to catch in jars, but I never saw a squirrel in Wheaton Woods during my childhood. Nine children grew up in that three-bedroom house (the basement was converted to a dormitory for the boys). My family owned that house long enough to plant an elm tree and a weeping willow tree that grew to maturity and dominated the back yard; and long enough that those two trees had to be cut down. All but one of my brothers and sisters live today in Montgomery County.

Since college in Prince George’s County, I’ve lived and/or worked in Hagerstown in Western Maryland, Ocean City on the Eastern Shore, Bethesda in close-in Montgomery County, Carroll County in Central Maryland, Baltimore City and Baltimore County. I’ve lived in six different apartments in Baltimore County alone. When I started this blog (Oct. 2007), I lived in Olney and worked in White Oak. In Oct. 2008, I moved (again!) to Ocean City. I hope to call this home for a long time.

Contrary to rumor, I do not live in oceanfront splendor. It’s more like marshfront splendor. I live as simply and frugally as I can manage. As always, I’m a renter. I write a lot about life in Ocean City these days, but I don’t intend to ignore Maryland politics. I enjoyed six months of joblessness during the winter. Now we’re well into spring, the pace of life is picking up, the season has started. I’m grateful to have a job and be back at work in the Ocean City economy; but the paying work will undoubtedly cut into my blogging, which is pro bono.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Write what you know, I say. I know about Maryland, but I don’t claim to be an expert on anything.

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