Mapping Georgetown: Boundless Compassion Brings Love for Thanksgiving
By November 20, 2023 0 481•
“Dressing” for Thanksgiving? Here’s a Thanksgiving love-story to help us all be grateful for the big-hearted and large-souled people in our lives.
If an Angel disguised as a man with a debilitating muscular disease were sitting in a wheelchair with a boom box, in the middle of the foot traffic commotion of M Street, and you walked by, would you even notice? How about, if the love of your life donned a costume of compassion?
Today’s story is from Chip Reid, author of Battle Scars, a book about U.S. Marines who fought their way to Baghdad in 2003 — a book Reid, who was an embedded journalist in Iraq, wrote following his 2021 retirement from journalism in 2021.
But, instead of a battlefield remembrance, Reid’s Mapping Georgetown story is a true Georgetown romance guaranteed to bring abundance and thankfulness to your Thanksgiving and Holiday Seasons!
Chip Reid’s Mapping Georgetown Story
For decades Johnny Davenport’s brilliant smile and joyful attitude brightened the corner of 31st and M, where he was usually stationed in his wheelchair. His passing was an especially big loss for me because not only was he a beautiful man, but he also played an important role in my love life. I’m not kidding. Allow me to explain.
I had just started dating Nina Black (who is now my wife of 18 years). When we came upon Johnny one day on M Street, they were overjoyed to see each other. They had been close friends for years because Nina passed this spot on countless occasions going to and from her many places of work and play in Georgetown. Over the years Nina did everything from tending bar at Nathan’s to managing a hair salon to teaching exercise at numerous Georgetown studios, including Somebodies (which she owned for a time) and the Four Seasons.
Nina kissed Johnny on both cheeks, hugged him repeatedly, cleaned the moisture that had accumulated around his mouth and eyes (places he could not reach), helped him find a more comfortable position in his wheelchair, and put a twenty dollar bill in his container.
Nina and Johnny had a long and joyous conversation, which astounded me, because I could hardly understand a word he said. But after so many years and so many hours of conversation, she understood him perfectly. At that moment, as I watched Nina shower Johnny with love and kindness, a wave of love for Nina washed over me. It was the first of countless times that I saw in Nina the biggest heart of anyone I had ever met. I fell in love.
In time, I came to understand Johnny’s words too, and always stopped to talk with him whether or not I was with Nina. He would always ask about her and I would call her on my cell phone so that she could tell him how much she loved him.
Thank you Johnny for helping me realize that in Nina I had found the love of my life.
Thank you Chip, for treating us to this lovely reminder as we get lost in the busy-ness of getting ready for our Holidays.
And let us not allow our very own, Chip Reid, to go unnoticed as the outstanding national network journalist and author he is. Thank you for your passion and service! Your heart-warming story is priceless!
Mapping Georgetown has a previously published story about Johnny Davenport you can access here: https://georgetowner.com/articles/2022/10/17/johnny-davenport/
Our full collection of Mapping Georgetown stories in the Georgetowner can also be viewed in full here.
We invite you to add your story to our Mapping Georgetown collection. Blank templates can be printed from the home page of www.mappinggeorgetown.com or picked up from The Georgetown Public Library.
Mapping Georgetown is a community project. The originals will be archived in the Georgetown Neighborhood Library’s Peabody Room for posterity and be reviewed for inclusion in an anticipated publication.