Mapping Georgetown: Recordings of a Father


This Mapping Georgetown story’s like a peak into a precious diary. It’s about a son, Bill Brown, assisting his dad, Kelly Brown, in recording his memories. It all started in 1904, with Kelly being born and raised in Georgetown.

The stories “are not first-hand experience/recollections but those of my father Raymond Robert “Kelly” Brown who was born [in Georgetown] in 1904,” Brown told us. “Before [my father] died in 1976 he spent a few hours recording his reminiscences of “Growing Up in Georgetown,” which I later transcribed, illustrated with photos (both old family photos and ones I personally took to document the locations) ….’

 

Bill Brown’s Mapping Georgetown Story. Courtesy Mapping Georgetown.

Kelly Brown:

A fourth generation Washingtonian, Kelly was born in his maternal grandmother’s house at 3416 T Street (now Reservoir Road). He spent most of his life either in Georgetown or later in Foxhall Village. During the years his folks rented on Dent Place, he spent many hours hanging out at Engine Station #5 nearby where he “Bon Ami’d the brass pole and tended the horses,” becoming the station’s “mascot” himself and given the nickname “Kelly” as in “Kelly the Chief.” He attended Fillmore Elementary School, Western High School and Tech (now McKinley Tech) High School. He was a salesman and later system installer for the Burroughs Corporation for 37 years. After his retirement he dabbled in local real estate for Boss & Phelps Realtors.

Kelly Brown as Choirboy, circa 1915. Courtesy Bill Brown.

 

Kelly Brown as teenager, circa 1915. Courtesy Bill Brown.

 

Kelly Brown, 1935

Bill Brown:

A fifth generation Washingtonian, Bill was educated in the public schools of the District and graduated from American University in 1971 with degrees in Communication and Psychology. After serving as program director of WAMU-FM through 1977, he joined the Fairfax County Police Department from which he retired after 25 years in August 2002 having achieved the rank of deputy chief. Following retirement, he served as a park ranger with the National Park Service at the C&O Canal National Historical Park in Georgetown. He also served as president of the Association of the Oldest Inhabitants of the District of Columbia – the District’s longest-running civic organization, founded in 1865 — from 1999 until 2019.

Bill Brown working for WAMU-FM in the 1970s. Courtesy Bill Brown.

 

Bill Brown, Deputy Chief of Fairfax County Police Department, circa 2001. Courtesy Bill Brown.

 

Bill Brown in historical period clothing, with horse, Ada, while serving as park ranger for the C&O Canal National Historical Park, circa 2005. Courtesy Bill Brown.

 

Bill Brown’s Mapping Georgetown Story recording his father, Kelly Brown’s recollections. Courtesy Mapping Georgetown.

#2 We had a lot of nice people in our neighborhood right there in Georgetown near Dent Place and 34th Street.  There was one grocery man on the corner and another grocery store on the other corner. And my friend, “Buster” Beale, Ninian Beall, who just retired as a plumber, used to work in this particular grocery store and the owner did most of the butchering of the meats. And there used to be so many flies around in those days, the owner used to give us kids a piece of licorice stick or hard ball candy or something for the number of flies we would swat and kill. I remember sometimes, some kids would get as high as a cigar box of flies and therefore they’d earn a lot of candy.”

Thank you, Bill, for this priceless gift!  Thank you for all the time and energy you put into your Mapping Georgetown story for all to enjoy and savor!  We can feel your and your father’s spirit in these stories!

To learn more about the Mapping Georgetown project see https://georgetowner.com/articles/2021/07/19/marilyn-butlers-vision-for-mapping-georgetown/.

To submit your Georgetown recollections to Mapping Georgetown go to www.mappinggeorgetown.com  or visit the Georgetown Public Library to pick up a physical map-story form to fill out.

Marilyn Butler can be reached at: marilyn.butler@gmail.com.

 

 

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3 comments on “Mapping Georgetown: Recordings of a Father”

  • Bill Brown says:

    A copy of “Growing Up in Georgetown,” Kelly Brown’s recollections is available at the Peabody Room.

  • Tom Knowles says:

    Enjoyed reading this. Many years ago, in the early 1960s, Joe Barbaro and I used to visit Kelly on Surrey Lane near Greenwich Parkway. We would sit around the back screened porch together with Hulit and Bill and just pass the time away with good conversation and friendship., Many good memories and thank you Bill for keeping the memory of your father alive. Tom Knowles

  • Bill Brown says:

    When I left my note about the manuscript’s availability in the Peabody room, I should have included a link to the Power Point movie of Kelly’s first-person recollections on YouTube. You can view it here: https://youtu.be/cUY6Mwd385o

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