09/05/05 — Little Washington holds reunion

View Archive

Little Washington holds reunion

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 5, 2005 1:46 PM

Back in the day, Little Washington was a town within a town.

It had everything - restaurants, funeral homes, cab stands, shoe repair shops, nightclubs, beauty and barber shops, doctors, lawyers, churches and schools.

From Miller Avenue to Elm Street, U.S. 117 to Center Street, the self-contained community was closely knit together.

"When they say it takes a neighborhood to raise a child, that's true," said Ray Fennell, remembering his childhood there.

"You could do something on Pine Street and your people would know about it when you got home. And in those days, most people didn't even have a telephone."

Fennell was among the more than 100 reminiscing with pride on Saturday during the third annual Little Washington Reunion, held at Waynesborough Village.

Those gathered shared pictures, stories, and fond memories of days gone by as they gathered for a fish fry and all-day family event.

The idea to reunite came to Doreatha Macklin nearly five years ago and is one she plans to continue "until I get too old to do it," she said.

Likening it to a family reunion, Ms. Macklin said the community affair has been a wonderful way to bring former friends and neighbors back together to keep their history alive.

"We were proud of this section of town where we grew up," said fellow organizer Dorothy Bowden.

Things changed in the 1970s, though, when urban renewal took over, Ms. Macklin said. Many homes were sold and the neighborhoods splintered to make way for other businesses and roadways.

But not before Little Washington had made its mark on the lives of those who had lived there.

"The first two black police officers were from Little Washington, as was the first black fireman," Ms. Macklin said.

Others have gone on to become doctors and lawyers in major cities, Fennell said.

Those who stayed, such as the Rev. Charles Williams, a city council member, weighed in with pride at having a connection to Little Washington.

"I was born on Georgia Avenue and reared in Little Washington," he said before calling out a litany of names of former residents to see how many in the audience also recalled the families.

Ms. Bowden said a history book of the Little Washington community is being developed. Pictures of families, friends, homes, stores, schools, churches and other buildings are being sought, as are stories to weave it all together.

For more information, contact Ms. Bowden at 736-2600.