I ask for your indulgence, dear readers, as I invent my own theme for today’s post. After all, it’s not every year that April 18th* is on a Wednesday.

Memory (at least mine) is all about associations. Unless you’re one of those people who remember everything that ever happened to you, some dates stay with you while others are lost in the fog of time. When major events are associated with the date on which they occurred, they become part of the cultural consciousness – think of July 4, December 7, or September 11. Most of the time, however, those associations are personal: birthdays, anniversaries, &c. Familiar dates tend to leap out of the text; if you’re reading about, say, 9th century France,  the thing you notice is that [something important in 9th century France**] happened on what will, some centuries later, be your parents’ anniversary. Thus, when it comes to the many people who lived in the Beall-Dawson House, I can tell you the different years each person was born and died but the only specific date I know without looking is April 18, 1901, the day Margaret Johns Beall died.  (Her side of the family obelisk, in Rockville cemetery, shown above.)

Here are some other (happier) instances of this date, from our collections!

This small (2″ diameter at base) oil lamp wick holder, acquired by a previous curator as an example of lighting technology, has several patent dates inscribed on its small surface.  One of them is April 18, 1871, leading us to this patent for an improved wick raiser – overcoming the difficulties of raising a flat wick into a cylinder, “to produce an Argand flame” – granted to L.J. Atwood. 

Here is an extremely compact table-clamp sewing machine, donated to us in the 1980s by an MCHS member.   The first of three U.S. patent dates marked on the side is another April 18, 1871 patent, this time for “certain novel combinations and arrangements of parts, [with] its object to make a cheap and effective single-thread sewing machine,” granted to William G. Beckwith.

Jumping forward 91 years, we have in the collections three small trophies awarded to (and donated by) Glenmont Elementary School.  On April 18, 1962, the Wheaton Optimist Club held a “Bike Safety Rodeo,” won by Glenmont’s fourth, fifth and sixth grades.  (Or at least, that’s as much as we can glean from the plaques on the trophies; if anyone reading this is a veteran of this or other bike rodeos, please let us know!)

And last but not least, here is Edith Stonestreet Lamar’s wedding gown, donated by her granddaughter Charlotte Garedo.  Edith Stonestreet, youngest daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Stonestreet of Rockville, married George Holt Lamar on April 18, 1894.  Her gown, though relatively simple, is nonetheless in high style, with the voluminous shoulders popular in the mid 1890s.  The two-piece dress is made of white (now darkened with age) silk faille, with silk charmeuse and lace accents.  (The photo shows it minus several petticoats, which is why the skirt is a little limp; apologies to the bride.)  According to the Washington Post, “the bride was attired in white silk trimmed with lace and carried Victoria roses;” the reporter described the event as “one of the most notable social events of the season.”  (April 19, 1894)

* April 18 is your blogger’s birthday. 

** This is a completely made up scenario, though I suppose something must have happened in 9th century France on that date.

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