'An Overgrown Small Town'

by David L. Meyer

Our Nation's Capital is often simply an overgrown small town. Time and again over my 56 years here this maxim has proven to be true in subtle, unanticipated ways. These often spontaneous moments remind me that despite our business of politics, of acrimony, and our down-and-dirty partisan battles, shared values still can bind us to this place and time. My favorite example: As a graduate student in 1975, I loved the distinctive cadence of the "Balloon Man," who sold his helium-filled bouquets on Wisconsin Avenue at Tenley Circle, near the old Hot Shoppe restaurant. Many times when I walked to the AU campus, I would hear him say, again and again, "Balloons for the ladies, balloons for the ladies." Then one day it hit me, and I turned to him and asked, "Did you ever work concessions at Griffith Stadium?" He smiled, looked up at the trees, and said with the same melodious cadence, "Peanuts, peanuts! What would the Sen-a-tours be without peanuts?"

By washingtonpost.com editors  |  January 26, 2009; 9:00 AM ET  | Category:  Reader Submission
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