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Monday, September 26, 2011

Former students have fond memories of Masonville Elementary

Masonville Elementary in 1974-75.
Former Annandale resident Carol Morris Dukes has such fond memories of the long-gone Masonville Elementary School in Annandale, she created a Facebook group for alumni to share their memories.

She believes it’s especially important to reconnect now that the building has been torn down.  A new elementary school under construction on that site is scheduled to open in fall 2012.

Carol, 54, started first grade at Masonville in 1963 and went there through the sixth grade. She then went to Poe Middle School and Annandale High School.

Fairfax County public schools didn’t have kindergarten then, Carol says, and kids used to go to private kindergartens in people’s houses. She remembers going to kindergarten in a house on the corner of Gallows Road and Brookcrest Place.

At the time, her family lived on Lincolnshire Street on the other side of Gallows from the school, and later moved to Beverly Manor Drive, just a block away. She stayed in Annandale until her oldest son was in high school and now lives in Loudoun County.

Steve Shipp and Carol Morris
in third grade
Carol is still good friends with some of her Masonville classmates, but she created the Facebook group to try to find other former students. “Your buddies in school were such a big part of your life,” she says. “Reconnecting with people I lost touch with has been very satisfying.”

The Facebrook group, which has 108 members, is called  “Masonville Elementary . . . and here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson.” It’s named for the principal whom Carol describes as a “very strict disciplinarian.”

She remembers Mrs. Robinson calling Billy Taylor into her office for not tucking in his shirt tails, which was the style then but was against the school rules, and cutting them off with a pair of scissors. Being sent to the principal’s office was “very, very scary,” Carol says. “She would use a ruler on you.” If she were to act like that today, “she would be jail.”

Mrs. Robinson
Mrs. Robinson “was very full of herself,” Carol adds, noting that “she made a song out of the Pledge of Allegiance, and everyone had to sing it every morning and every time the there was a school performance for parents. “It was ridiculous.”

Among the teachers Carol remembers are Mrs. Dysart, whom she had for both fourth and fifth grades, and who transferred to Woodburn Elementary after Masonville closed. She recalls Mrs. Ridgeway, who died young, as “a wonderful, loving first-grade teacher. The kids adored her.”  There were two or three teachers for each grade, and they tended to stay there a long time, so students knew all the teachers, she says.

Among the students she remembers are James, Ann, and Mouzetta Zumwalt, the younger children of Adm. Elmo Zumwalt Jr., who lived on Lockwood Lane.

Nearly everyone walked or rode a bike to school back then, she recalls. There was no air conditioning, so it did get hot at times.

Carol says she was sad when the school closed, in 1980, but was glad to see that the building was being used for something else. It was converted to a Fairfax County Public Schools administration building, called the Lacey Center, and continued to be used for community meetings and voting.

Carol and her friend, Heather, went back two or three years ago and roamed the halls, trying to figure out which offices once housed their classrooms and reminiscing about their school days. “We had a blast,” she says.

“Recess was really fun,” she says. Kids played on a jungle gym, parallel bars, and those merry-go-rounds you push and jump on—“the kinds of things they don’t allow any more,” she says. They also played hopscotch, four square, and tag. “You had the run of the grounds.”

There was a PE class once a week, taught by a regular teacher. “We spent a lot of time learning traditional dances. It took half a year to learn the Virginia Reel,” Carol says.

The school lunch was “fantastic,” she remembers. “You always got a hot meal. The food was made from scratch, it was always fresh, and there were big portions.” Her favorite was spaghetti and meatballs.

It wasn’t all fun and games, however. The Cold War was going on, and during the Cuban Missile Crisis, a siren at the Annandale firehouse would occasionally go off, and students would have an air raid drill. “We would line up in the hallway. They told us to ball up real tight, stooped over, with our feet on the floor and our head between our legs,” she says. “I didn’t realize until later what that was all about, that they could launch missiles at us. It was terrifying.”

The student population was much less diverse compared to public schools in Annandale today. Carol can’t remember any African American or Hispanic students, but says, “I was so na├»ve I wouldn’t have recognized any racial disparities unless someone looked very different.”

The new school on Sept. 25, 2011
“Annandale has changed so much. Those of us who grew up here no longer recognize it. Many old houses have been replaced by mcmansions,” she says. “You tend to cling to the things you can hold on to. Masonville was still there, and it was nice seeing that something that symbolized your youth was still there.”

“That’s why it hit so hard” when she heard Masonville was going to be torn down. “I was devastated,“ she says. “But it’s good to know that a new school is going to be there.”


  1. I was at Masonville from the fall of 1958 until the spring of 1964. Miss Tubbs was the principal during that era. Of the six teachers I had, the two who worked the longest at Masonville were Mrs Graves (4th grade) and Mrs Van Metre (5th grade). I think I was in the same class as Kay Cannon every single year, and we used to compete for grades. Thanks to Carol Morris Dukes, a classmate of my sister Meg's, for reawakening long lost memories of Masonville, Broyhill Crest Pool, and Annandale in general. Charlie Baker.

    1. Hey Charlie -- This is George Landes. We lived on Larchmont Dr. I believe you knew my brothers Kerry & Kevin. Best, George Landes

  2. I remember Mrs. Higley in the cafeteria. Does anyone else?

  3. What a wonderful blast from the past. Hi, Charlie. I too have fond memories of Masonville with Miss Tubbs, Mrs. Van Metre and Mrs. Graves. What an impact they made on my life and career choice. I remember standing in line in Mrs. Graves as she asked multiplication facts and gave candy if you got it right. To this day, I use a variation on the same technique with my students. (yes, after 38 years, I am still teaching.) My love of teaching can be directly related to the many positive experiences I had at Masonville. I would love to hear from other alumni. Where is Libba Elmore or Debby Lang? Wouldn't it be fun to organize a get together to see who is still in the area? Kay Cannon Sylvester, Masonville class of 64!

    1. What a blast! I remember all the above. I still have the picture from my class field trip to Wonder Bread.
      Jeff Pattyson.

  4. Mrs Grazier was my teacher in the 6th grade back in 1971/72. She was so memorable because of her age for one, she was a skinny old woman in her 60s at least. But she was so wonderful to us students. We got to sit wherever we wanted, brought rugs in for under our desks and all the students clumped up by who they were friends with. One girl was even allowed to have her desk in the broom closet! Good times with Mrs. Grazier !!!

  5. I attended from 1972-1977. My first grade teacher was Mrs. Martin, for a minute! She cut off all our erasers from our brand new pencils and was so strict I cried. Not just any crying, the kind that makes the staff move you to a sweeter, kinder teacher for all of 1st-3rd grades...yeah, I really know how to win friends and influence people! LOL! I used to love the way the playground smelled! Fresh walnuts out there!

    1. Richard Gordy6/20/14, 5:15 PM

      I attended from 1971-1976 and remember Ms. Bivens first grade, Ms. Dysart 2nd grade (and my neighbor) .Ms. Matthews 3rd grade, Ms. Bleggi 4th grade, cant recall 5th and had a man named Schied? in 6th. Great memories of Masonville walking to school lived on Gallows Road

  6. I just came up for a visit from Florida last weekend. I decided to drive by the old school, which I always try to do when in town. I could not believe my eyes when I saw it was gone. I was a student (but not a good one) when the school first opened, then went on to Annandale High School from there in 1959. Graduated Lee High School in 64. Then to the University of Miami. I remember the teachers mentioned by others. But let me add Mr. Porter. The Zumwalts originally lived on Pickett Ct just around the corner from where we lived on Stuart Ct. The young Elmo was in my cub scout den. Anyone remember the janitor's name? Mr. Davis. But I cannot remember rhe original pricipal's name. He was a scary guy.
    George (Billy) Vass

    1. I lived just down the street on Oliver Ave. Elmo Zumwalt Jr was in my Boy Scout Troop 689. Did you know that Elmo "Zumwalt, commander of Navy forces during the Vietnam War from 1968 to 1970, believed he inadvertently caused the death of his own son, Elmo Zumwalt III, from cancer by ordering the spraying of Vietnam jungles with the defoliant Agent Orange, which contained the toxic chemical dioxin.
      Zumwalt's eldest son fought under his father's command in Vietnam and died of cancer in 1988 at age 42. The elder Zumwalt said he did not regret ordering the use of Agent Orange because it reduced casualties by making it difficult for the enemy to hide and find food." from Jim Baker

  7. Wow. Decided to Goggle Masonville and see what it brought up. Went to Masonville from 63 to 70 I think. Had a crush on Sandy Johnson in first grade. Susan Albro in second. Diane Darling in third. Did 3rd grade twice! Teachers = Mrs Ridgeway in 2nd, Mrs Calain and then Trail for 3rd. Miss Rice in 4th. Mrs Dysart was in 6th. Went to Edgar Allen Poe and then Annandale. Was a patrol in the hallway leading down to the 5th and 6th grade area. Lived on Wayne drive one house from the corner of Wayne and Crest.

  8. I remember Miss Tubbs. She drove an Austin Healey as I remember. Mr. Conglin was the original principal. They should have named the new school Masonville. Charlie, did you have a sister by the name of Susan?
    George Vass

  9. Steve Rivkin6/26/12, 5:16 PM

    While it wasnt all bad, I have many bad memories of Masonville. A local gang of punk kids who tried to kill my brother and a few rotten teachers, like Ms. Irons. I could name names on the rotten kids, they are lucky they didn't meet me years later as I became big, strong and fast. They were into spanking sometimes at the school, was that Mr Coglin? One teacher hit the hands with a ruler. Ms Irons seemed to hate boys. I was not a trouble maker, but you will likely doubt me. I went there 1960 to 65. We lived behind the school on Brookcrest Place.

  10. Steve Rivkin6/26/12, 5:19 PM

    I remember Ms Tubbs, Ms Irons in 3rd grade, Ms Connie or Connie in 1st grade 1960, she was great. I think I remember Mr Conglin perhaps it was another man or Asst Principal. I think my brother had Mrs Graves. I remember tether ball, kick ball, king of the hill on the broken see-saw, etc. Local tales of quick sand, the time the area had some flooding and another time when the snow got up to the car window.

  11. I was there from 1960 - 1966. Mrs. Robinson "strangled" me in the lunch room for putting my elbows on the table. My mother was furious and called her to give her a piece of her mind.

  12. I made a little video about Mrs. Robinson and the Duck and Cover exercises. If you watch it and remember me, please use the contact form on my website to reach me.