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Montrose Park

Situated on the edge of Georgetown and bordered by Rock Creek Park, a small road called "Lover's Lane", Dunbarton Oaks and Oak Hill Cemetery sits Montrose Park. It's towering oak trees date easily far into the 19th century. In the 1940s and 1950's Montrose was a special place for a variety of activities. Four clay tennis courts allowed players to perform on a surface that was unusual to public tennis courts in Washington. A small concrete road opened the main entrance to the park and about a quarter of a mile away was a small house that was used in the summertime to teach children how to make straw baskets and fashion lariats made out of a new substance called plastic. On one occasion children were shown how to build small wooden sailboats with double sails. Completed boats were then entered into a sailing contest at the Reflecting Pool adjacent to the Lincoln Memorial.

The house run by the DC Dept. of Recreation was open only in the summer and sponsored many events including having children dress up in their own masquerade costumes, horse shoe pitching contests, and modified track events. Prizes were given that often included passes to the Calvert movieTheatre on Wisconsin Avenue. The house was surrounded by a large sandbox and two sets of children's swings and a see saw horse was also a few yards away. In back of the house was a large open area with no trees. It was used to sponsor archery contests as well.

Adjacent to the tennis court was a grassy knoll. At the turn of the century this area had been used to sponsor croquet competition among families in this section of town. The clay surface had been replaced by fresh grass and all signs of croquet had vanished.

The day after Easter was a significant time for Montrose Park inhabitants becaused it marked when hundreds of families would bring their children and their Easter baskets to assemble for lunch and rolling hard boiled eggs down the rolling hills of the park. Even though, the weather could often be cold, this event occurred for many years. It was sort of a meeting place for familes to come together even though many had moved to the Maryland and Virginia suburbs. Teenage boys had developed a new game of baseball called "Turkey". It allowed two boys to participate in a baseball game with two other boys without having to run bases or leave the baseball plate. The key to playing "Turkey" was keeping the ball in play between two gigantic oak trees situated in dead left and dead right field. Balls hit between the trees counted as outs if caught on the fly or on the ground by the pitcher. Balls hit over the head of the pitcher or outfielder counted as either a single if hit over the head of the pitcher or a home run if hit over or past the outfielder. This manner of playing baseball enabled a league to be formed in 1949 and competition was held against four or five locallly made up teams of 12 to 14 year old boys.

When the first winter snow came,. Montrose came alive with children and adults alike bringing their snow sleds to the park using one of the main slopes or taking advantage of the road that was called Lover's Lane and traversing two city blocks in a single sled ride alongside the edge of Montrose Park. In the rear of the park was a small creek that flowed from nearby Dunbarton Oaks. It was a haven for crawfish and black salamanders or obtaining a fresh drink of water. Catching crawfish and lizards was popular for many little boys


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