Spotted Horse Lane

We moved from Berwyn Heights to the new city of Columbia, Maryland, in October 1967.  Ann had been following news of the plans for Columbia several years and was very eager to move there.  I shared her enthusiasm.

Ours was one of the first hundred or so families to move to Columbia, and we were projected to live in the second of the two villages under construction.  Bryant Woods was partially completed, and Faulkner Ridge was just getting under way.  We had to rent an apartment in Bryant Woods as we awaited completion of our home in Faulkner Ridge.  To make things even more complicated, I was scheduled for a trip to Europe that November in connection with my work.

When we moved to Columbia there were no schools in the new town.  Sandy Jr. and Stuart were bused to a middle-school in Glenwood, Maryland.  Harold and Robert attended an elementary school in Allview, only a few miles south on Route 29.  Adjusting to the change of schools was somewhat difficult.  Sandy Jr. had an especially hard time because of the unwelcome attentions of some bullies, though we were not aware of the situation at the time.  Some old Howard County residents were resentful of James Rouse’s Columbia, and occasionally that attitude was passed on to their children.

In September of 1968 Bryant Woods Elementary School was open for Harold and Robert, and the following year they transferred to the newly constructed Faulkner Ridge Elementary School.  In 1970 Eric joined them there.  In 1970-71  Stuart attended Mount Hebron High School, and in 1971 he helped open Wilde Lake High School in Columbia.  Our four youngest sons all graduated from Wilde Lake. Sandy Jr. attended Glen Elg High School in Glenwood, Maryland beginning in 1968, and he graduated there in 1972.  He was our only child never to attend a primary or secondary public school in Columbia.

Columbia was built on what had been farm land, and on a quiet evening that first year we could still hear cows lowing in the distance.  Sometimes, in the days immediately following our move to Columbia, Sandy Jr. and Stuart and other teenagers were recruited by the Columbia Association to chase cattle out of the area soon to be known as downtown.  Meanwhile the family waited impatiently for our new home to be completed.

Everyone had high hopes for Columbia, the planned city.  It was a vision of James Rouse the developer, and he had prepared detailed plans for this culmination of his life’s work. The new city was to consist of a number of villages, each clustered around a village center composed of shops, recreation areas, a middle school, a high school, etc.  A village would have four or five neighborhoods (individual homes, townhouses, and apartments) built around an elementary school and recreation center.  In addition, there would be a downtown area composed of office buildings, restaurants, department stores, etc. Throughout the city there would be numerous parks, bicycle paths, ball fields, etc.  It was a good concept, and although there have been alterations and compromises over time, the general plan has been followed.

We moved into our new house at 10588 Spotted Horse Lane in Faulkner Ridge in January 1968, and that was our address for the next 17 years.

It was a great place to rear a young family.  After the first year or so all the boys except Sandy could walk to school, we had a recreation center in our immediate area that afforded hours of healthy exercise and entertainment, and there was a neighborhood swimming pool that the entire family could enjoy.  Once we moved from Berwyn Heights, even Ann’s chronic sinusitis disappeared, which was a great relief for her. We also made scores of new friends.  Everyone in Columbia was new to the area, and most of them seemed eager to establish new relationships.  Everything considered, the years in Columbia were good for the family.

Spotted Horse was an unusual street name.  In fact, the street names in Columbia were different.  Neighborhoods in the various villages were named for authors, Bryant, Faulkner, Longfellow, etc., and the street names in the neighborhoods were taken from the author’s writings.  Our neighborhood was named for William Faulkner, and “Spotted Horses” was the name of one of his stories.  Citizens of surrounding towns often found Columbia street names a source of hilarity — names like “Hesperus Drive” in the Longfellow neighborhood, “Painted Cup” in Bryant Woods, and so on.

Some years later a bit of confusion over the name Spotted Horse gave me considerable amusement.

I had ordered an item from Sears Roebuck and called their operator to check on its delivery.  I had an invoice in my hands.  The conversation went something like this:

“You are Mr. Edwin Jordan, and your address is 10588 Spotted . . .”

The operator hesitated.

“That’s right, 10588 Spotted Horse Lane, Columbia, Maryland.”

At that moment, I looked at the invoice more closely and nearly fell out of my chair laughing.  I understood why the operator had hesitated.  The invoice read “10588 Spotted Hores. . .” I wondered if that operator had envisioned a horde of herpes afflicted ladies of ill repute dancing through our Columbia neighborhood.

Actually, Spotted Horse Lane was in a rather sedate, middle class neighborhood.  If any prostitutes were active on our street I certainly was not aware of it.


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