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Posted by on Jun 11, 2014 | 3 comments

Welcome to Mid-Century Del Ray, 1950

Welcome to Mid-Century Del Ray, 1950

Last March, I posted about Del Ray in 1941 through the lens of a George Washington High School (now middle school) yearbook. Today, we’re looking at Del Ray nine years later with the help of another GW yearbook, the class of 1950.

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In case you’re wondering why I have the yearbook, my husband collects old yearbooks and every once in a while he finds one that somehow intersects our lives.

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GW opened in 1935, merging students from two of Alexandria’s high schools. In 1950, the school had students in 8th-12th grades. The vast bleachers have since been replaced, fashion has changed (love those plaid skirts and cardigans) but you can see that the school in the background looks the same today as it did then in all its Art Deco glory.

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More local architecture can be found in the background of these photos — those are the rowhouses which still stand on Glendale Ave. behind the field.

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The descriptions with the senior portraits offer a glimpse at how differently men and women were viewed in the 50s. While Donald Malcolm had “ability and enthusiasm to bring him success,” Joan Mary Maguire would be “an asset to a lucky businessman” and Elva Marye Marshall was known for being “dainty and demure.” Hmm, would you see that today?

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Another interesting find, these voting cards for class president, perfectly preserved in the pages.

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My favorite part of the yearbook has to be the ads at the back which show what businesses were in the area way back when. Not a big change, but Grape and Bean in Rosemont used to be the Rosemont Market.

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On the Uhler side of what’s now Caboose Cafe, you could hop over to Collins Barber Shop for a quick trim. Or, if you prefer Cecil Coffman’s styling, you could head to Cecil’s Barber Shop which is now Robinson’s Upholstery.

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Need medicine? Head to Bowman’s (now Bean Creative) or the Del Ray Drug Store (now Planet Wine).

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There is no 202 E Oxford today (back then home to the Del Ray Linoleum and Shade Shop) but perhaps the side of the current Virginia Commonwealth Bank was the old entrance? In the 2200 block of Mt Vernon Ave where the Del Ray Specialty Shop once stood, you can now find the Greener Cleaner (though in a more modern building).  And in 1950 you could enjoy fish and chips for the “popular price of 55 cents” at the Del Ray Restaurant, now Studio Body Logic.

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Channel’s Radio and Television Company is now home to the Del Ray Performing Arts Center.

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Schreiner’s Little Department Store is now Al’s Steakhouse.

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Thompson’s Delicatessen once stood in the block that’s now Bombay Curry Company and the Scott Shoppe (clothing perhaps?) is now the UPS store. There was also a variety store in the current home of Contessa’s Garden.

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And finally, it’s good to see that Presidents of the United States have long enjoyed visiting our neighborhood. In 1950 it was President Truman, in 1960 then Senator John F. Kennedy gave a speech at a democratic rally at GW stadium and President Obama has dined in Del Ray a record three times.

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From the type of businesses to the architecture and esteemed visitors, it’s nice to see some things haven’t changed in Del Ray over the last 64 years.

3 Comments

  1. …and that the President still visits Delray (Fireflies, Dairy Godmother and Delray Pizzaria)!

  2. Thanks for posting this! I co-own Bean Creative at 2213 Mt Vernon (note that you referred to us slightly incorrectly as ‘Creative Bean’ in this post!) and one other thing you may find interesting is this:

    Our building used to be split into two storefronts. 2213 (at least in 1950) was Bowman’s Drug Store, but if you look at the ad just below that you’ll see Fran’s Beauty Salon is listed at 2211. There currently is no 2211 on the avenue — that address is actually the southern half of our office building. So both of those businesses would have been side by side in our location. We still have an unused entrance on the avenue-facing side of our building which would’ve been 2211. Just thought you might like to know!

    (Also, I believe you are correct that 202 E Oxford — the Linoleum shop — would have been the rear side door of what is now United Bank. This makes sense because 201 E Del Ray is the rear side door of our own office building, still there today)

    • Keith – So sorry about messing up Bean Creative (fixed in post). I had a feeling Fran’s was connected to your building with that extra unused door so thanks for confirming!

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