Today we have a celebratory pennant, welcoming four new Metro Red Line stations to Montgomery County:

DSC07850This 30″ red felt pennant, donated by Trish Graboske, is printed in white with the Metro logo and text: “Montgomery County Welcomes Metro Red Line   December 15, 1984   White Flint   Rockville   Twinbrook   Shady Grove”

Montgomery County is on the Washington Metro’s roughly-U-shaped Red Line, with its upper reaches in the county and the base in D.C.  (Current map here; a history of the system, and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, here.) The first station in Montgomery County – Silver Spring, on the eastern arm of the line – opened in 1978.  In 1984, the western arm was extended into the county in two increments, with stations from Tenleytown (in D.C.) to Grosvenor opening on August 25th, and the final four stations from White Flint to Shady Grove opening on December 15th.  (The eastern arm was eventually extended as well, with Forest Glen and Wheaton opening in 1990, and Glenmont in 1998.) 


Metro’s 1984 arrival was seen as a boon for Montgomery County’s commuters and shoppers, particularly as it would relieve heavy traffic on Route 355.  County and municipal governments took the opportunity to revitalize development, entice new suburban residents to the area, and improve roads and infrastructure.  The Red Line caused a few problems just as it alleviated others, however.  Metro construction threatened some historic buildings; residents of Lincoln Park, a predominately African-American neighborhood in Rockville, fought (unsuccessfully) against the closure of a main vehicular access road, which the Red Line crosses.  New traffic woes appeared – a December 16, 1984 Washington Post article suggested alternate routes to “avoid traffic congestion near the Shady Grove Metro station,” on only the second day of operations – and parking lots were quickly overcrowded.  As many current riders know, sometimes Metro travel can be a love-hate situation.

. . . But opening day, December 15, 1984, was a time for celebration, not grievances.  Fares were waived for part of the day; there was free coffee at Shady Grove, a live radio broadcast from White Flint Mall, and musical performances at Shady Grove and Rockville.  A ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Rockville station was attended by “about 300 officials, development representatives and Chamber of Commerce types,” according to an article in the Post (“A Rainbow Coalition Flocks to Red Line,” December 16, 1984).  And of course there was giveaway swag, including balloons, cardboard train conductor hats, and red felt pennants like our friend here –  which, judging from photos in the Post, were particularly popular among the children on hand.  WMATA estimated that 26,500 people tested out the four new stations on opening day.

As I read newspaper articles from 1984, looking for mention of our artifact, I found myself wondering, Why a pennant?  True, it’s always fun to wave flags around at events – these pennants were originally on sticks, inserted into the strip of white felt on the end – but why not a rectangular flag?  Perhaps because pennants, so often associated with sports, convey a sense of victory, achievement, and team spirit – all good things at the opening of a major, long-in-coming development.  Those red pennants waving on opening day proclaimed, “Hooray, Metro!”

Bonus photo: Following on the sports/team spirit pennant theme, here’s a 1913 student’s room at the Briarly Hall Military Academy, Poolesville, totally done up with school pennants:

From the 1913 school catalog, courtesy Byron Thompson.

From the 1913 school catalog, courtesy Byron Thompson.

Bonus question, first posed to me by Eileen McGuckian: There’s something slightly off about the wording on the pennant – can you spot it?

The weather’s pretty steamy here in the DC area, so here’s something useful from our collections: A pair of hammock anchors.

y1300abEach little anchor measures 2.75″ long, is made of a light but sturdy metal, and is marked (faintly) “Pat. May 3 ‘81.”


These clues -and the fact that my predecessor helpfully cataloged them as “hammock anchors” –  led me to US patent #240,866, issued May 3, 1881 to Vincent P. Travers, for a “Clasp for Adjusting Hammocks, &c.”  The drawing shows a plain style of clasp; our more nautical examples are probably a later version, borrowing the anchor form (reflecting both the function and the whole ‘sailors sleep in hammocks’ notion) to make them more attractive to buyers.  (It would have worked on me; these items had not been photographed before this morning, and I was highly entertained to discover that they are literally anchors.)

patent 240866How do they work?  The patent description explains, “The attachment is a metal clasp, which has an eye or hole at one end and a hook or pair of hooks at the other end, and is intended to operate as a friction-clasp and slide on the rope that is passed through the eye and caught in the hook thereof. . . . The invention is particularly advantageous for use on hammocks, as shown in Fig. 1 [left], where the letter C represents a hammock, and B are the ropes by which it is suspended from suitable trees or other supports.”

Continued searching showed that Vincent P. Travers received many hammock-related patents, including some assigned to him by other inventors, and his patents are occasionally cited in 20th century hammock designs. He also successfully sued at least two patent infringers in the 1890s.  Mr. Travers meant business, it would seem.  At last I found this reference to the Travers Brothers twine manufacturing company in New York’s Great Industries (1885), which notes that the brothers (including our V.P.) are “the only manufacturers of [Braided Edge Mexican Hammocks] in the United States.” Click the link above to see an illustration of how one should enjoy one’s Braided Edge Mexican Hammock  – remember, ladies, you’ll need one book, two swains, and a game of lawn tennis (to distract your rivals).

Though hammocks have been around for centuries, they enjoyed a resurgence in the late 19th century and were a fashionable – and functional, in the pre-air-conditioning era – home accessory.  The 1881 Lord & Taylor (New York) catalog offered cotton and “manilla” hammocks, in sizes “full” and “children’s,” ranging from 75 cents to $3.50.  The 1886 Bloomingdale’s catalog included “cotton hammocks, ten feet long” for 98 cents, “better quality” hammocks for $1.49, and “Mexican [hammocks], white or colored,” for $1.25, as well as pillows and spreader bars for 25 cents each.  Hammocks were featured in literature (e.g., Little Women) and art (the blog “19th Century American Women” pulled together several Victorian hammock paintings), and looking through our own late 19th century photo collections, a variety of hammock styles can be seen in the yards and porches of Montgomery County suburban homes.  (And don’t forget our Rockville ladies, who were startled out of their hammock by the 1884 earthquake.)

The Almoney house, Rockville, circa 1900. Donated by Albert Brunett.

The Almoney house, Rockville, circa 1900. Donated by Albert Brunett.

The England house, near Shady Grove, 1890s. Donated by Warren Conklin.

The England house, near Shady Grove, 1890s. Donated by Warren Conklin.

Dr. Crampton's house, Somerset, circa 1895. Somerset Community Collection.

Dr. Crampton’s house, Somerset, circa 1895. Somerset Community Collection.

As for the particular hammock once anchored by the anchors, it was most likely owned and used by the Poole family.  Katherine Poole donated the anchors, along with a number of other kitchen and household tools, in 1973.  Miss Poole’s mother owned a summer home in Rockville (featured a few weeks ago), and perhaps Mrs. Poole and her daughters installed a hammock there.  Unfortunately, we have no Poole family photos that back up my theory; I’ll have to leave you with the Bennett ladies posing on their own hammock, instead.

Mary Shaw Bennett and one of her sisters-in-law, probably at the Bennett home in Spencerville, circa 1895.  By Hallowell Spencer, donated by Laurence Halstead.

Mary Shaw Bennett and one of her sisters-in-law, probably at the Bennett home in Spencerville, circa 1895. By Hallowell Spencer, donated by Laurence Halstead.