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Monday, March 27, 2023
Editor’s NotebookEditor’s Notebook: Weirdest Arlington County Fair ever!

Editor’s Notebook: Weirdest Arlington County Fair ever!

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The headline is a bit clickbait-y, because I’m not talking about the 2022 fair. Instead, you have to go back to 1997 for my weirdest experience. And it actually didn’t happen at the fair, although it was related.

That year, as before and for some years after, the Sun Gazette’s booth at the fair gave out balloons to the young and young at heart. And in order to have balloons, you have to have helium.

That year, our helium supply ran out in the middle of the fair, and advertising-sales representative Eric Sodee (RIP, buddy) and I were delegated to go return the empty canister and pick up a full one.

Eric was driving and I was riding shotgun in his pickup when, on our journey, we spied at a local shopping center a group of – and this is where it gets weird – Nazis in full regalia.


Later investigation revealed they were marking the 30th anniversary of the 1967 murder of American Nazi Party leader George Lincoln Rockwell at a laundromat located in that shopping center.

(It often is called an assassination, but that seems a tad over the top; Julius Caesar and Abraham Lincoln were not preparing to do their laundry when they were dispatched to the Promised Land, after all.)

Those who know their local history know that Rockwell and his American Nazi Party had been headquartered in Arlington – much to the chagrin and embarrassment of many – in the 1950s and 1960s. But to prove that even American Nazis had a (perverse) sense of humor, the organization formed a mail-order record label, calling it “Hatenanny Records” – a play on “hootenanny”– and releasing the musical stylings of a group called Odis Cochran and the Three Bigots. (Do you really want to know the titles of some of their songs? You most certainly do not.)

Eric and I kept on our way to get the helium; by the time we had headed back to the fair, the group at the shopping center had dispersed. And that was the last I ever saw, with my own eyes, of American Nazis in Arlington.

To borrow the words of John Lennon: Strange days indeed; most peculiar, mama.

THE EARLY 1970s LIVE ON AS LONG AS I’M WRITING HEADLINES: That clever Brian Trompeter of our staff figured it out without any prodding, but did any of the rest of you who opened our online weekend edition to find the front-page headline “Give Them Just a Little More Time?” catch the 1970s music reference?

The song (technically “Give Me Just a Little More Time”) was made a hit by Chairmen of the Board, one of the great soulful Carolina beach bands of back in the day.

It went to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the 39th biggest hit of 1970, right above (and this’ll bring back memories for those of a certain age) “Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes” by Edison Lighthouse.

The top song of the year, sales-wise, was “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel.

Fun “Give Me Just a Little More Time” fact: General Johnson (his real name!), who sang lead on the song, was a Norfolk native who began singing in church at age 7. In 2001, the Virginia General Assembly designated June 9 as “General Johnson Day” in the Old Dominion to honor his achievements.

– Scott McCaffrey

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