Hyattsville ‘kids’ come home again for 53rd reunion
BY HELEN PARSHALL — A group of over 40 people gathered in Hyattsville’s Historic District this past weekend to celebrate their 53rd reunion in their hometown.
“People came from all over for this” said Rick Higgins, one of the driving forces coordinating the reunion. “We’re from Florida, and North Carolina is well-represented.”
They arrived from places as far away as even San Francisco, ready to spend the weekend reminiscing and exploring how the city had changed over the last half-century.
“If you see a marauding band of seniors wandering around the streets, that’s us,” joked Karleen Higgins, Rick Higgins’ wife and co-planner of the weekend.
While not a yearly tradition, the group comes back to Hyattsville at least every several years. The last reunion that took place in Hyattsville was three years ago to mark their 50th anniversary of having left the area.
“We just get together and act like teenagers,” Higgins said. “We have a closed Facebook page that we’re all members of and we can share information about our families or vacations — anything that happens, you’re on there.”
Saturday night they met at Yoga Space on Gallatin Street, which in the 1960s was the site of Shirley’s Variety Store, a local hangout that became the thread that tied this crowd together.
“We didn’t have groups at school we all hung around with,” said Higgins. “We came here. It was like Happy Days — a soda fountain, jukebox, pinball machines. We even had a Fonzie!”
A smaller cohort met Sunday morning at the same site to set out on a walk through their old streets, ending with lunch at Franklin’s that afternoon.
“It’s a sweet experience for us to come back,” said Starr Babcock, another of the group. “The neighborhood looks much better now. They’re taking care of the houses, they’ve fixed them up. It’s amazing to see.”
The stories flowed freely throughout the morning as they recalled stories of childhood misdeeds and found familiarity in houses along the way, despite the many changes that the years had brought to the area.
“I remember the first time we had a car. It was a 1952 Ford, and it was a big deal. It was a different time, a different life,” said Babcock. “You step back in time, and it’s a rich experience.”