Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Not Even the Dead Get Respect

On April 14th the Silver Spring Historical Society commemorated the 100th anniversary of the birth of Norman Lane, the "Mayor" of Silver Spring.  A brief ceremony was held on Georgia Avenue at the statue depicting Norman that was created by artist Fred Folsom in 1991.  The event included the placing of a beautiful floral wreath generously donated by Bell Flowers.

During my remarks to the five people who took the time to remember Norman, I mentioned that I expected the wreath to be stolen before the day was over.  Well, I was a bit too pessimistic.  It lasted four days before it was ripped off.  Whoever stole it, sometime between Sunday afternoon and this morning, couldn't be bothered with the metal stand that the wreath was attached to and left it behind.

This event sadly reminds me of a recent exchange I had with an individual who thought "someone" should find a copy of the Grecian nymph statue that originally graced (nearly a century ago) the stone grotto of the Silver Spring and install it.  I told this person that such a statue wouldn't stand a chance of surviving because vandals would either destroy it or steal it outright.  This person was incredulous that anyone would do such a thing.

Ah, the joy of ignorance.

The little benevolent piece left inside of me should say, "If this person needed the flowers so badly, then they should have and enjoy them."  But it just can't.  For too long disrespect has been shown to Silver Spring's heritage and this theft is simply the latest example.


Anonymous said...

I don't mean to discount your concerns, but I wonder whether the strong weather we had during the period could have damaged the wreath beyond salvation. On the bright side, the statue itself appears to have been in place for 20 years and no harm has come to it

Silver Spring: Then and Again said...


I checked last Sunday, the day after the torrential Saturday rains and wind, and the wreath was no worse the wear (in fact, the flowers looked invigorated from the water).

Beery said...

Probably a big reason for the low attendance was that the ceremony happened on a Thursday morning. I wanted to go, but as a working guy I could not justify leaving my other responsibilities for a mere historical commemoration. I revere the memory of Silver Spring's 'Mayor', but reverence for history can only get a guy so far if people insist on holding memorials on workdays. Why the commemoration couldn't happen on a weekend, I do not know.

Silver Spring: Then and Again said...


Sorry you couldn't make it. As a fellow "working guy" I felt it important to honor Norman on his actual birthday so I took a half day of annual leave from my job to do so.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, I don't know why we are paying all this attention to Norman Lane. Sure, he was a local "character," but what did he do for Silver Spring?

Commemorating and even erecting statues to the real Silver Spring heroes, like the people who volunteered to establish the Silver Spring Library before there was a county library system, the people who raised the money to build the Woodside Elementary School, or the people who established the Silver Spring Volunteer Fire Department before the county provided any fire protection would make more sense in my opinion. These people, and others like them, built Silver Spring, yet they are largely forgotten while we erect a statue to Norman Lane?!?

Silver Spring: Then and Again said...


Artist Fred Folsom spent over $15K of his own money on the creation and installation of the Norman Lane statue placed in a county-owned alley. Yes, I am in total agreement that there are other individuals representative of Silver Spring's heritage worthy of commemoration. Perhaps you would like to chair a committee to explore raising funds for erection of such a statue?

Lee Mewshaw said...

I worked at the Suburban Trust Bank (the 1922 Silver Spring National Bank building pictured on the blog at the corner of Georgia and Bonifant) from 1974 to 1976. During that time Norman would come in at least once a week with the flowers from the funeral home…and he distributed that picture of Norman and LBJ to each of us. The Colorfax across the street printed copies for free for him. Norman also had a sister that he would visit occasionally, taking the bus to see her. Norman received a pension which was doled out weekly by one of the secretaries at Suburban so Norman wouldn’t drink it all away in the first week. I understood from Fred Folsum that Norman had to be bribed by beer in order to get him to sit for photos used to create the portraits and sculpture. But you’d have to ask Fred about that to be sure. Silver Spring was a very bohemian area in the mid 70’s. There were a lot of artists around and they would hang out at the bars on Georgia Avenue.

I worked in downtown Silver Spring for many years (at Frank R. Jelleff’s, Casual Corner, Philipsborn, Hechts, Suburban Trust, Colorfax, and Sales and Services (a police equipment store in the ally behind the post office at Georgia and Bonifant)…not in that order. I was working at Jelleff’s the day when a shoplifter jumped off the balcony and ran out the back door and the security guard shot his gun in the air to stop him. I was a teller in 74 or 75 at Suburban when it was robbed by 2 men with guns. “Deputy Dog” (the nickname for a beat cop in the area) walked in the front door with his gun drawn and shot it out with the robbers. Miraculously, everyone was a bad shot and not a bullet hit a person. The swat team was waiting outside and took over. (the complete story in detail available upon request). BTW, that building had a crawlspace sub-basement that I got to go into to retrieve some photos of turn of the century Silver Spring. I always wondered what happened to those photos.

I love my memories of old Silver Spring. Nice to know I’m not alone. Thanks.