I have fond memories of ice-skating years ago on Schoolhouse Pond in Upper Marlboro. I recall seeing fish swimming beneath the ice. And I remember warming up with other shivering skaters at the fire set in old tires pond-side.

In the 1970s Maryland-National Capital Park & Planning dredged that pond, which is across the street from the county administration building. They added a one-mile boardwalk around the pond, a fishing pier, photo-blind and picnic area.

On the last Sunday in December, my daughters Kathleen and Therese, grandson Conor, his wife Heather and their kids, Mary and Wesley, visited Schoolhouse Pond. They knew they’d enjoy the walk around the pond, but also checked for wildlife. They were told a family of otters lived at the pond, and might see them if they were very quiet. They didn’t see them.

Therese, however, made a list of interesting birds spotted, among them: double crested cormorant, great blue heron, bufflehead duck, northern shoveler, fire-billed gull and, especially, a bald eagle. Birders among you might want to head for Schoolhouse Pond.

Wesley spent time lying on the bridge, poking with a stick the ice around the edge of the pond. And there was a man fishing. If I’d been there, I would have asked (very quietly) what he’d caught.

By the way, there are parking meters in front of the park. Free on Sunday.

And I suppose ice-skating is no longer allowed.

Happy 100th birthday, Gene!

I knew Gene Desmarais well when she and George lived in Auth Village. They attended St. Philip’s and had children who went to St. Philip’s School with mine. Gene (short for Genevieve) played bridge and was a dear friend. Some years ago they moved, and moved again and now live at Brightview in Annandale, Va.

On January 3rd, Gene turned 100. And what’s more, she is still married to George. They met at the USO back in the mid-1940s. George was in the Air Force and Gene was a Navy Wave.

A Birthday parade was planned for January 3rd to celebrate these two WWII veterans, and especially Gene’s 100th birthday. At 2:30 the six Desmarais children, grandchildren and other family gathered with Honor Flight in the park across from Brightview. Permission was given to allow two or three at a time (well masked) to visit and toast the honoree with champagne. A drive-by followed. I wish I’d been there!

The Archbishop is back home in Eritrea

Archbishop Menghesteab Tesfamariam has finally been able to fly back to Asmara, the capital city of Eritrea, where he is the head of the Catholic Church in Eritrea.

He flew to Washington last March, on church business, and then the pandemic hit. All flights in and out of Eritrea had been cancelled, at the demand of President Isaias Afwerki. The virus may have been somewhat responsible.

Since March, the Archbishop has been living at the guesthouse of the Daughters of Saint Anne who have a convent just around the corner from me. During his time here he met with Washington’s Cardinal Wilton Gregory. But just last week he was able to catch a flight to Ethiopia, and then to Asmara.

I invited the Archbishop to come for coffee one day and learned he speaks about eight languages and has traveled all over the world. Every day I passed on to him the front section of the Washington Post to help him keep up with world news. I miss seeing him take his daily walk. But I know he’s happy to be home.

Neighbors & other good people

Daniel Hogan, a teacher (1967-1978) at Francis Scott Key Junior High in District Heights, died Oct. 26 at his home in Harmans, Md. He was 79.

Beverley and Bob Stolarski and their four children lived years ago on Clayton Lane, in Skyline. I just had a newsy letter from their daughter Mary Alice, bringing me up to date. Her dad Bob died in 1996 and Bev in 2008.

Mary Alice is married to Jeff who is a puppeteer by trade, and Santa at Christmas. He finally got a Santa gig at the N.J. Aquarium in Camden where he worked inside a snow globe and couldn’t even hear what the kids wanted for Christmas.

COVID-19 report

Out in Austin, Texas, I’ve just learned my niece Cathy and her husband Monte both have the virus. Say a prayer for them.

Meanwhile, here in Maryland, we now have 273,689 cases, of which 2,628 are new. As for deaths, Maryland has had 5,848 Marylanders die, 45 of them on Dec. 30.

Morningside Memories

The Jan. 1990 Morningside News announced the winners of the Christmas 1989 House Lighting Contest: Religious: 1st place, Benjamin family, 6606 Poplar Rd.; 2nd, Groom family, 4608 Morgan Rd. Colonial: 1st, Shaner family, 6901 Marianne Dr. Child’s Delight: 1st, Kiker family, 6810 Marianne Dr.; 2nd, Valdez family, 6705 Marianne. Judge’s Choice, awards but names not listed: 1st, 6606 Maria Ave.; 2nd, 6201 Suitland Rd.

Town of Morningside

Meetings: Town Council work session, Tues., Jan. 12, 7 p.m.; Town meeting, Jan. 14, 7 p.m. For information, call 301-736-2300 (fax, 301-736-7440); email Generalmailbox@morningsidemd.gov.

The Administrative Office is open Mon.-Fri., 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed Monday, Jan. 18 for the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.

Milestones

Happy birthday to Sister Haimanot, Dorothy Cullinan and Bridget Vilky, Jan. 1; Evelyn Lozano, her 100th on Jan. 2; Gene Desmarais, her 100th on Jan. 3; Courtni Bland, Jan. 3; GI Market’s Jennifer Jung, J.B. Thomas and Christa Neale (great-granddaughter of Edythe & Bob Neale), Jan. 4; Darlie Norton. Ariel Thomas, Sarah Vilky and Terry Foster, Jan. 6; Eva Hugings and Charles Boxley, Jan. 8; Patty Gallatin, Jan. 11; Martin Miller, Frank Binsted and Roc Wheeler, Jan. 13; Curtis DeMarco Knowles, my son Mike McHale, Kathleen Giroux and Joanie Mangum, Jan. 14.

Happy anniversary to grandson Conor and Heather McHale, Jan. 3; Tom and Monique Laws, Jan. 3; former Morningside Vice-Mayor James and Yvonne Ealey, Jan. 6; Diane and Steve Zirkle, Jan. 9; David and Lori Williams, Jan. 9; and Gary and Melody Barnes, Jan. 14.

And a Blessed 2021 to all my Readers!