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Editor’s NotebookEditor’s Notebook: FDR didn’t play the 'civic-engagement' game

Editor’s Notebook: FDR didn’t play the ‘civic-engagement’ game

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Here’s one from the Sun archives, this coming week back in 1941.

Arlington officials were “still gasping” from the announcement that the War Department headquarters (soon to become known to one and all as the Pentagon) for 40,000 employees would be constructed in Arlington.

Now, Arlington being Arlington, one presumes the federal government went through an extensive process that included a wide array of community engagement with county leaders and residents over the placement, plus what the federal government would do to help Arlington cope with the consequences of having the world’s largest office building constructed within its cozy confines.

Ah-hahahahahahahaha. One would presume wrongly.

The way it worked was the same way the feds, not long before, decided on placement of National Airport. They drove President Roosevelt around to a number of sites, and when he found the one he liked, he pointed and said “that’s it.” And that was it.

Didn’t even get out of the car, apparently. As Mel Brooks once put it: It’s good to be the king.

Arlington officials no doubt grumbled, but the placement of the Pentagon ended up being a huge net plus for the county, even though it had the negative impact of displacing residents of a number of neighborhoods (lamentably if not surprisingly, in those days of segregation, neighborhoods of those of the non-caucasian persuasion).

WAIT, WAIT, WE WEREN’T AT WAR YET, WERE WE? In that same edition (8/1/41) of the Sun, it was noted that Arlington residents collected 4.5 tons of aluminum during a recent war drive.

“War drive”? We weren’t in any war at the time (although give it four months). But I guess everybody knew which way the wind was blowing.

DON’T MESS WITH CATS OR CAT OWNERS: From the July 29, 1979, edition of the Sun, it was noted that the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors was thinking about requiring that cat owners be regulated, just as dog owners are required to get licenses for their canines.

Yeah, pretty sure that never went past the planning stage. Both the cats and their owners would have showed up at public hearings, encouraging the Board of Supervisors to, and let’s put it gently, perform an anatomical impossibility on themselves.

Anatomically impossible unless one is reeeeallllly limber, that is.

DAVE ‘BABY’ CORTEZ WOULD HAVE APPROVED: The July 29, 1959, edition of the Sun carried an ad from Hammond Organ Studios of Arlington, offering four private lessons for just $3.

Of course, their goal was to get you to fall in love with and buy one of their organs.

And in their honor, click below for perhaps the greatest organ-themed song to ever hit the Top 40.

As for Dave “Baby” Cortez, who tickled the ivories for that big hit back in the late 1950s, Wikipedia says he’s still going strong at 83.

– Scott McCaffrey

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