Interview with Ann Brock
Oral histories are used to understand historical events, actors, and movements from the point of view of real people’s personal experiences.
Arlington in the 1940s and 1950s was very different than it is today, but it has always remained an interesting and unique place to live. In this oral history segment, longtime Clarendon resident Ann Brock shares her memories of renting apartments in the neighborhood when she and her husband were newlyweds in the early 1950s.
Photo of Clarendon Circle Intersection, circa 1950s. On the right is Washington Boulevard, top center is Clarendon Boulevard. and left is Wilson Boulevard.
Narrator: Ann Brock
Interviewer: Emily Curley
Date: February 27, 2019
EC: So where was the first place that you lived in Clarendon?
AB: Are you ready for this?
EC: I’m ready.
AB: Where the IHOP is now, there was a Chinese laundry and my husband and I had an apartment over top the Chinese laundry. That was our first residence.
EC: (laughs) Okay, and what was that like?
AB: It was unusual—(laughing)—but it was fun.
EC: Okay. So where did you move after that?
AB: Well, I’ve got to think because we moved quite a few places. Let me say at one point we lived on North Nelson Street in a duplex apartment there. And then we lived at what was called then, the Lehigh apartments which bordered Arlington Boulevard and the name Lehigh came from the old Arlington Boulevard being Lee Boulevard, which divided north and south. And then we moved, briefly, out to McLean and we were only there about a year and then we came back. We rented our house on Washington Boulevard for fourteen years before we purchased it.
EC: Okay. Can you describe what renting was like back then? Was it as difficult as it is now?
AB: Oh, it was nothing—when we lived in the Lehigh apartment we had a one-bedroom apartment for $37.50 a month. And then after we had our son we moved to a two-bedroom apartment in Lehigh, same place, and that was $97.50 a month. Unbelievable isn’t it?
The goal of the Arlington Voices project is to showcase the Center for Local History’s oral history collection in a publicly accessible and shareable way.
The Arlington Public Library began collecting oral histories of long-time residents in the 1970s, and since then the scope of the collection has expanded to capture the diverse voices of Arlington’s community. In 2016, staff members and volunteers recorded many additional hours of interviews, building the collection to 575 catalogued oral histories.
To browse our list of narrators indexed by interview subject, check out our community archive. To read a full transcript of an interview, visit the Center for Local History located at Central Library.