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College Alumni Meet-up in Roosevelt Center, with Visits to New Deal Cafe and OGT

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I recently learned that a really fun, easy and well-received meet-up for my DC-area college alumni group is to share the Old Greenbelt experience with them. A couple dozen Oberlin College alums, of which there are over 800 in the D.C. area, visited here last month, with the highlight being the New Deal Cafe’s back room for socializing and enjoying the legendary Nighthawks Band in their first show at the Cafe since 2019.

At the New Deal Cafe

On the photo above do you see the “Oberlin Alumni” sign on our table? Well, that turned out to be magical because three other Oberlin alums (including one from the class of 1954!) happened to be there at the time, having no knowledge of the special event. They got to join in the connecting.

Above, the short video I made of clips from the Nighthawks’ first set, the one we heard.

Above, the photo on the right includes Oberlin Club of Washington president Clyde Owan with one of the alums who just happened to be there – for someone’s retirement celebration.

At the Old Greenbelt Theatre and Community Center

We didn’t want our visitors to leave without seeing the inside of the incredible Old Greenbelt Theatre, so we arranged for a short tour after their last show was over. Coincidentally, one of our group was very involved in turning the Silver Theater into AFI Silver, and she told us she was very impressed with what she saw in the OGT. We knew it!

And the theater is a nice backdrop for photos. I’m on the left in this shot with my New Deal Cafe T-shirt and geeky nametag.

We also offered a short tour through the Community Center for visitors wanting to know more about Greenbelt history. (The hallway photos alone!)

Reunion-Sparked Event

That nametag of mine is a souvenir from my delayed 50st reunion last month. (Go ahead and do the math – it’s a whopper.) It was my first and only college reunion and I was so glad I made the 6-hour drive to be there. Besides seeing old friends, I got to meet three classmates who live in the D.C. area and I began pondering how I’d get to see them again.

That led to discussions with Mark Cheater, an ’81 alum and secretary of the New Deal Cafe Board. He co-hosted with me and some other local “Obies,” including the Greenbelt News Review’s managing editor Amy Hansen, joined us.

Another great photo location is the pretty darn iconic “Mother and Child” statue by Lenore Thomas Straus. Greenbelter Mike Stark is on the far right.

What the Visitors Learned

  • Greenbelt is closer than they thought it was.
  • It has plenty of free parking. (Don’t try this in Bethesda.)
  • An overview of Greenbelt’s history, plus details about our co-op housing and architectural styles.
  • Greenbelt has an award-winning music venue/community living room.
  • And the county’s only nonprofit movie theater. Unlike so many historic, big-screen theaters, it won’t be demolished or turned into condos.
  • Old Greenbelt is a vibrant walkable place filled with creative people and a fabulous place to retire to.

How about inviting YOUR group come on down to Old Greenbelt for a good time?


Photos primarily by Clyde Owan.

Follow Susan Harris:
Susan started blogging about Greenbelt soon after moving here in 2012, and that first blog has grown into this nonprofit community website. She also created and curates the Greenbelt Maryland YouTube channel. In 2021 Susan joined the Board of Directors of Greenbelt Access TV. Retired from garden writing and teaching, she continues to blog at GardenRant.com.

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