Reminiscing about Pimmit Hills
To recollect and tell what Pimmit Hills was like in the past. Let us know yours.
David L. Meyer:
My parents purchased their first home in PH in 1950. The house was located at the-then address of 1932 Hileman Road. The house numbers were changed slightly in the 1960s to bring consistency to all homes in the neighborhoods.
The phone service that first year was a phone mounted on a pole at the intersection of Pimmit Drive and Griffith Road. This was soon followed in 1951 with party lines, where 4 houses or more would share a line. If you picked up the phone and heard someone's voice, you waited your turn.
Initially, the first homes built ended three houses east of what is now Friden. This wooded area became the second phase of homes built in the central area of PH.
In 1950, school-age children attended Dunn Loring Elementary until Pimmit Hills Elementary was constructed. Many students, my sister included, attended three different elementary schools without ever having moved their residence (Dunn Loring; Pimmit Hills; and Lemon Road).
In 1955 or 1956, the Pimmit Shopping Center opened next to the Hemsley's peach orchard on Leesburg Pike. The opening festivities included a local Northern Virginia country/bluegrass singer by the name of Jimmy Dean and his back-up players. They performed in the parking lot on the back of a flatbed farm truck.
In addition to a grocery store, which was easily accessible from the rear by using Paxton Road, there was a small bank, a High's ice cream store (5 cents a scoop), the Pimmit Grill (only place to have a beer), and the Pimmit Drug store. The fountain area offered a hot dog and a soda for 25 cents. There was a nice lady who was a teller in the bank who always had a ample supply of U.S. silver dollars. My friends and I would collect Coke, Nehi, and Pepsi bottles and redeem them for 2 cents each. After I redeemed 50 bottles, I would take my coins and exchange them for an interesting, large heavy silver dollar coin.
A formal Little League organization came to PHs around 1955. Games were played first at the new Pimmit Hills School, and later additional space was created at Lemon Road School. Games were also played behind George Mason High School in Falls Church, as well as fields off Lewinsville Road and at Dunn Loring School.
The first and closest church located in the Pimmit Hills community was St. Luke's Methodist Church, founded in 1955. The church was founded by what was then the Alexandria District of the Methodist Church in Virginia. A number of the first charter members were young families that had attended churches in Alexandria (Fairlington) and Arlington. Charter members included Charles and June Allred, Lavon and Pauline Meyer, David and Thelma Diest, and Jim and Betty Wright. The first minister was the Rev. William Jeryl Fink. The church first met in Freedom Hill School, until the first portion of the church building was completed in early 1957.
The first library services in PH were provided by "Bookmobiles" - these were city bus-sized vehicles that had two side doors, one at the front on the right side and one door at the rear of the right side. The Bookmobile had a set schedule and would park at various locations in PH for several hours once a week. For example, it would park at on Griffith Road for 4 hours, and PH patrons would walk (mostly), drive, or ride bicycles to the Bookmobile. There was a small selection of general interest reading for adults and children. The Fairfax County Library system provided the Bookmobiles in lieu of brick and mortar structures for newly emerging neighborhoods. The librarian would register parents and distribute library cards as well as drive the vehicles.
The only local radio show in the PH area was an AM station, WEAM in Falls Church, with about 5,000 watts (reduced to 500 watts at night). The local broadcaster was named Jack Alex ("JA the DJ") and in the evenings he would broadcast from a small portable trailer parked in the parking lot of Tops Drive-in (corner of West Broad Street and Shreve Road) in Falls Church. He introduced Elvis, Buddy Holly, and Bill Haley to many teens and pre-teens living in Pimmit Hills.
Pimmit Hills was what we would now call kids-centric. Life was simpler, but for everything lost, something is gained. Pimmit Hills is very diverse now, as opposed to the world of southern segregation that was gasping its last breath in those years.
There was no hospital in Fairfax County, so it was a long trip to the Emergency Room of Arlington Hospital to get stitches or a cast on a broken arm or have a new baby born.
What was then the western outpost of suburbia bumping up against Mr. Hileman's dairy farm off Magarity Road is now some of the most expensive real estate in the United States.
Those early years provided an opportunity for veterans of a terrible war to celebrate life by having children and raising them in a safe environment which was this new experiment called suburban living.
DeForest (Dee) Rathbone and wife Barbara:
We bought in June 1954 in a new section on Anderson Rd for $11,500, with GI loan, no down payment and $300 settlement costs. That section was the first to have curbs, gutters, hardwood floors and wood double-hung windows. The lot was 80 X 140.
My sister and her husband bought a year later in the new brick Pimmit Hills houses around the corner from us. The houses were so identical inside that one night after drinking a good bit at their house, we all got confused and thought we were home and were waiting for the other couple to go home.
In 1954 I bought a 20 inch box fan for $20 at the Pimmit Hills drug store and installed it in one of the bedroom windows. (No ACs then.) I now see near-identical fans incredibly after all these years still selling for about $20 in 2010.
We sold in 1959 for $12,000 and moved into a 4 bedroom brick rambler in Great Falls that cost $21,000. That was when Great Falls was really the boonies. The lot alone is now worth almost a half million. We've now been there 50 years but occasionally go back to see the old house -- which still has the boxwoods we planted there so long ago.
Old Pimmit Hills photos
Pimmit Hills in 1956