On Feb. 4 I got my shot. Daughter Sheila drove me to the Prince George’s Sports & Learning Complex in Landover, a stone’s throw from FedExField. The parking lot was pretty full, but we had no trouble finding a convenient spot, as I have a handicapped placard. We met up with granddaughter Heather.

We had been told to bring an I.D. and to stay with the car until 10 minutes before our appointment. When we started walking, a golf cart passed by, picked us up and delivered us to the proper door.

From there, we were met by attendants who asked names, checked a list, took temperatures, and pointed us on our way. We finally entered in a huge room filled with about 48 white tents, bearing numbers. Each of us was directed to one of them.

My tent had a desk, two chairs, and a cot. And Thelma. She asked for an I.D. and then, with no further questions, gave me the shot in my right shoulder. She told me it was Pfizer vaccine. Then Thelma started a timer set for 15 minutes, giving me time to be sure I had no immediate problem (or, I guess I’d ended up on that cot).

After 15 minutes, we were given leave to go, and as we stepped outside, there was the golf cart with the same helpful driver. He took us to our car and Heather drove me home.

As I entered the house, I checked the time. From the time we first boarded the golf cart to the time he picked us up after the shots and we drove home, the whole event took just a little more than an hour. I was greatly impressed with the efficiency and the helpful workers.

It’s now seven hours since I had the shot. I’ve still had no reaction, though I wonder if it’ll catch up with me tomorrow morning.

Three weeks from today (Feb. 25) I’ll get the 2nd shot. But this time, it’s scheduled to be at the Southern Regional Technology & Recreation Complex, in Fort Washington.

Remembering Kenny, firefighter

Kenneth Michael Hedrick died in a house fire on Walls Lane in Suitland the morning of Jan. 12, 1992. Kenny had entered the burning house and helped rescue 9-year-old Shawn Sanchez. Then Kenny, believing there was another to rescue, reentered the house, got tangled in furniture, lost his breathing mask. And his life.

Young Shawn did not survive either.

Kenny was the son of Morningside’s Fire Chief Les Hedrick and his wife Cathy. Even as a child, Kenny loved hanging out at the firehouse. At 16 he became a Level 1 hazardous waste tech and, later, the youngest Level 2 in the County. At 18 he was getting ready to apply for a career position, had just made the first payment on his car and planned to marry Frances Loar.

I was among the more than 2,000 mourners at Mount Calvary Church on January 16th. During the service County Fire Chief Steven Edwards named Kenny an honorary firefighter and, at the grave, presented him with Kenny’s firefighter’s I.D. and silver badge.

After the funeral, pallbearers carried Kenny’s coffin past an honor guard and lifted it onto Morningside Engine 272. The engine, its emergency lights flashing, turned out of the church parking lot, passing beneath an arch formed by two aerial ladders draped in black bunting. A procession of 500 vehicles, lights on in solemn tribute, stretched six miles through Forestville, down Suitland Road past the Morningside Fire House, to Cedar Hill Cemetery. At one point, as the fire-bell pealed, a voice intoned, “This is the last alarm being sounded for firefighter Kenny Michael Hedrick who died in the line of duty on January 12, 1992 in Suitland, Maryland.”

Every year, on January 12, the men and women of the Morningside Volunteer Fire Department gather to remember Kenny at his memorial next to the firehouse. Drop by yourself some time and think of Kenny.

Neighbors & other good people

Happy 100th anniversary to the Maryland State Police, founded January 10, 1921 with 36 recruits.

Census Director Steven Dillingham resigned January 20. He was appointed two years ago but has been under fire. The new acting director is Ron Jarmin. So many in my community have worked for Census over the years. It’s only three miles away. And huge.

My daughters Kathleen (lives near Cincinnati) and Therese (lives in Brownsville, Tex.) are both involved in the Johnson & Johnson virus vaccine study. They are compensated for their time and travel. More volunteers are needed; maybe you might be interested—check it out. J&J’s is a little less effective than Pfizer and Moderna, but requires only one shot. You’ll be hearing more about it.

Blessed event

John and Stacy Smith, my dear next-door neighbors, welcome their 14th grandchild, Rimi Cheyenne Wilson, born Jan. 19. Rimi’s proud parents are Ricardo Wilson and Michelle Branham. Proud big brother is Amir Jacobs, 12.years old.

Changing landscape

The 17-year cicadas will return this year. They have spent the past 17 years underground, feeding on tree roots. Beginning around mid-May, millions of nymphs will simultaneously emerge, latch on to trees or walls, shed their exoskeletons and harden into adults over a period or four to six days. And they’ll be loud!

Andrews Cleaners, at 6417 Suitland Rd, has gone out of business. They have been there in the little Skyline shopping center since about 1994. Earlier this year, I had Andrews Cleaners clean a down comforter and they did a good job. I’ll miss them.

The $20 bill will have a new face as of 2025—Abolitionist Harriet Tubman will replace Andrew Jackson.

Liz Young, Central Baptist Church member

Elizabeth Lucille “Liz” Young, a very active member of Central Baptist Church of Camp Springs for more than 40 years until her health failed, died Jan. 14.

She worked for 20 years in food service and 30 years in her home-based child-care. She loved to travel, dance, cook and entertain her family.

Liz leaves behind son Frank, daughters Annett, Love and Theresa, grand- and great-grandchildren. Service was at Central Baptist with interment at Quantico.

Milestones

Happy birthday to Angie Miller, Katelyn Dudding and Pat Miller, Feb. 13; Joan Rose, Scott Jenkins and Mary Reilly, Feb. 14; Father Ted Hegnauer, David Chambers and Mary Young (VFW), Feb. 15; Dean Woods and Sarah Anderson, Feb. 16; Charlene Holmes and Danny Fowler, Feb. 18; and Clifford Lantz, Feb. 19.

Happy anniversary to Frank and Soo Wilson, Feb. 15; and to Wilda and Joe Cheseldine, who were married at Mount Calvary Church on Feb. 16, 1958.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all my readers!