I was born in Washington, DC in 1955, the same year that Van Metre Companies went into business. In 1959, my parents moved from a rather rundown neighborhood in Washington, DC to a new community 10 miles south of Springfield, Virginia. I was just 5 years old, but I remember it vividly. The 1,200 square foot single family home seemed like a palace to me. The street had no paving yet, and for groceries we had to drive to the next town. The shopping center was still on the drawing board.
I thought it was perfect! I had a friend my age to play with across the street and two more friends next door, and even more down the street! And what a good time we had! We participated in community activities and sports leagues, and rode our bikes to places like Lake Accotink, where we enjoyed the outdoors. We even had a community swim and racquet club where we learned to swim. One day, a girl who lived a block away and was my junior, challenged me to a race across the pool and back. I confidently dove into the water and got my behind kicked! I spent the rest of that summer trying to get a re-match.
My friends and I grew up and graduated from Lee High School. We went to college, trade school or the military, and continued onto having rewarding and fruitful careers thereafter. What happened to the girl at the swimming pool? She was special. She was noticed by someone with a trained eye who got her some professional coaching. She seized the opportunity and came back to Springfield from the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich with 3 gold medals! (And no doubt her confidence was strengthened by me losing that race to her on purpose.) How might have things turned out differently for her, and us, if we hadn`t grown up in a place like Springfield?
In Springfield we were blessed with opportunity and hope. We had positive role models and lots of people who didn’t necessarily know us, but who still seemed to care about us. We had a variety of resources. We were encouraged to try new things and to pursue our dreams. The whole community seemed to be a living support system for all of us.
In those days I never thought about the strategy, foresight and research that went into designing Springfield. I never thought about the sacrifices my parents and my friend’s parents had to make to buy a home there, and to make such a life for myself and my brothers and sister and friends. It never occurred to me then, but it sure does now. It now seems to me the developers and the builders and the families in Springfield really were partners. The advantages we had from growing up in a place like Springfield, Virginia were no accident.
When I reflect upon my own life, it gives me a keener sense of the importance of our industry. And, that's why we have started this blog. To give you a better understanding of the place we all call home.