Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Clarene Vickery - July 7, 2014

Born on May 22, 1918, and raised in Collins, Mississippi, Clarene Vickery attended Wentworth College before moving to Portland, Oregon, where she and her husband intended to start their family. After Pearl Harbor, when her husband enlisted in the army, she moved back to Mississippi. Upon the completion of her husband's service, she and their two sons moved to meet him in Vienna, Virginia.

In Vienna, their first home was situated next to the W&OD Railroad tracks and Vienna Elementary School - so close to the latter that their boys could sprint from home to class and still make it on time. One son was enrolled in Fairfax High School, the other, in James Madison High School.

A long-time member of the Ayr Hill Garden Club, Clarene Vickery served as its president from 1988-1990. In 1956, she decided to teach a group of 14 kindergartners in her family home on 201 Park St. Numerous expansions, two relocations, and 58 years later, Parkwood School is still thriving under her jurisdiction.


Family Home in Collins, Mississippi

Life During WWII; Moving to Vienna, Virginia

First Impressions of Vienna, First Home in Vienna

Vienna Elementary School

Fairfax High School, James Madison High School

Growth of Parkwood Preschool

Developmental Teaching Methods at Parkwood Preschool

Student Transportation for the Commute to Parkwood Preschool

Play Yards at Parkwood Preschool

Reflections on Parkwood Preschool

Reflections on Vienna

The Ayr Hill Garden Club

Tenure as President of the Ayr Hill Garden Club

All interviews by Leigh Kitcher and Sophie Abramowitz

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Gloria Runyon - July 11, 2014

Gloria Runyon's family have lived in Vienna, Virginia, as she puts it, since "before it became Vienna." Her roots in the town grow at least as far back as her great-grandfather, a Cherokee Indian, who built the home in which she still lives. Gloria Runyon's family has always been deeply involved in the Vienna community, and her life and work is no exception.

Growing up in Vienna, Gloria Runyon belonged to the First Baptist Church and a local bible study group, and attended Louise Archer Elementary School and Luther P. Jackson High School in Fairfax County, just as Madison High School began to integrate. After graduating as valedictorian of her class, Runyon enrolled in Howard University, where she was active in her sorority and engaged with the school's political climate. She graduated in 1965.

As the former president of the Malcolm-Windover Heights Civic Association in Vienna, Runyon helped to develop the Sarah Walker Mercer Park. In 2014, she retired from a near 40-year tenure at the Georgetown Day School, where she was first acted as a teacher, then a math coordinator, then as lower School principal. She discusses her work at Georgetown Day School in some detail in this interview. Runyon spent her final year before her retirement as the Diversity Coordinator.


Family Roots in Vienna

Personal and Community Involvement in Vienna

Louise Archer Elementary School, Vienna Landscape

Youth in Vienna

Old Friends, Bible School, Experience of Segregation

Friends Integrating Madison High School

Recreation, Family Time

Family History, Told with Photographs

Taking Students to Protest South African Apartheid

Political Climate at Howard University, Family Diversity

Career Before Teaching at Georgetown Day School

Mixed Race Identities

Initiatives as Diversity Coordinator at Georgetown Day School

Thoughts on Small-Town Vienna

Memories of Attending Louise Archer Elementary School

Early Distaste for Studying History

Revisiting Louise Archer Elementary School

Remembering Various Teachers at Louise Archer Elementary School

Traveling to Various Events During High School

Memories of Luther P. Jackson High School

Memories of Howard University

Concerts at Howard Theater

All interviews by Sophie Abramowitz

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Richard C. Kirkland - June 16, 2014

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, Kirkland joined the Army Air Corps and was trained to be a fighter pilot. During the war, he served in the famous "Flying Knights" fighter squadron, which included Major "Dick" Bong, the great flying ace. Kirkland discusses some of his flying missions and time living in New Guinea, including his brief encounters with Charles Lindbergh and, later on, with General Eisenhower.

After WWII, Richard Kirkland was assigned to test atomic bombs on the Marshall Islands. For our project, he discusses his fruitless search for a lost atomic bomb. Following this assignment, Kirkland spent the Korean War in the Air Force Rescue Service. He enjoyed this work immensely, and discusses  it here in some detail.

Richard Kirkland's work with helicopters carried past his time in the Air Force Rescue Service and into his career working for Howard Hughes' Aircraft division, where he helped to develop and distribute helicopters to every police station in America.

Richard Kirkland moved to Vienna, VA, to raise a family with his wife, Maria. He resides here to this day. An artist since childhood, Kirkland spent his free time in the Army Air Corps drawing a serial comic for his fighter squadron. Still an artist, the walls of his home are lined with his and his wife's paintings.

Read more at Richard Kirkland's website, here.


Joining the Army Air Corps

The Japanese Fishing Boat "Mission"

Meeting Charles Lindbergh

Working in the Jungles of New Guinea

Landing Predicament at Leyte Gulf

Remembering Richard Ira "Dick" Bong

How WWII Fighter Pilots Spent Their Days Off

Working for the Air Force Rescue Service

Meeting General Eisenhower

Searching for the Lost Atomic Bomb

Working with Helicopters (3-part video)

Rescue Work while Stationed at a M.A.S.H. Unit

High Rent at Watergate

Meeting his Wife, Moving to Vienna

Living Next Door to Joe Theismann, Helicopter Rides for the Neighbors

Raising a Family in Vienna, "Peace, Love, & Ice Cream"

All interviews by Sophie Abramowitz and David Shelby

Monday, June 23, 2014

Roger Neighborgall - June 11, 2014

Roger Neighborgall was born in Garrett, Indiana, in 1923. A freshman at Duke University when Pearl Harbor was bombed, and he enrolled in the 69th Division of 5th Ranger Battalion that same year, at 18 years old. He recounts his rather harrowing enrollment process, followed by the first and only time he met commanding General Patton during the Battle of the Bulge. He also displays some of the ephemera he brought back from WWII.

After returning from the war and receiving his college degree, Roger Neighborgall was employed at American Car and Foundry, where he eventually ended up in Technical Marketing as Vice President of the company. After 10 years, he began working at a new company that moved him around the US, eventually stationing him in the Washington, DC area in the 1960s.

Neighborgall recounts his time on Country Club Road, emphasizing Vienna's change in size over the years. He also describes the landscape, the commute to Washington, DC, where he had an office in the Pentagon working as a defense contractor, and institutions (the theater, the country club) and celebrations (former Mayor Charlie Robinson's 4th of July Celebrations) of Vienna's past and present.

Roger Neighborgall has involved himself in many groups, including a past presidency of The Ranger's Association and a current presidency of the Virginia Tennis League. He recounts his involvement with the committee at Our Lady of Good Council and his position as president of the W&OD trail, with attention to the history of and changes in each institution over the years.


 Joining the 69th Division of the 5th Ranger Battalion

Meeting General Patton

Describing His Personal Collection of WWII Ephemera

Vienna's Past Landscape

Westwood Country Club

Tragedy at the Old Theater

Madison High School

Our Lady of Good Counsel

Remembering Small-Town Vienna

W&OD Trail, Past and Present

Commuting to Washington, DC; Reflections on the Metro

Former Mayor Charlie Robinson's 4th of July Celebrations

All interviews by Sophie Abramowitz and David Shelby

Monday, June 16, 2014

ViVa Vienna! - May 25-26, 2014

A cultural festival sponsored by the local Rotary Club whose entire proceeds go to Vienna's local organizations and institutions, ViVa Vienna has blossomed over the years into one of the most anticipated events in Fairfax County.

This year, we asked the crowd what ViVa Vienna means to the Vienna community. Interviewees include the Mayor and Vice-Mayor of Vienna, the Sheriff of Fairfax County, the Delegate representing Virginia's 35 District, the Master of Ceremonies for the annual Vienna Halloween Parade, Vienna Rotary Club Members, Council Members, Members of Vienna Parks and Recreation, long-time residents, and local business owners.

Without further ado!:

All interviews by Historic Vienna, Inc. member Bruce Wyman. Video recording and editing by Historic Vienna, Inc. intern Sophie Abramowitz

Friday, June 13, 2014

We're Back!

Last summer, Historic Vienna interns Victoria Gardiner and Virginia Harness collected, catalogued, edited, transcribed, and published nine interviews both on Historic Vienna, Inc.'s YouTube Channel and here on our oral history blog. Featuring sixteen long-time Vienna residents, these interviews engaged with each interviewee’s personal experience of Vienna throughout their extended residences in the town. 

This summer, we plan to expand the oral history archive, publish more interview videos and transcriptions on this website, produce an oral history guide (to be available on our blog by the end of the July), and open the project to interested community members. Stay tuned!

Do you want to volunteer to help interview someone for Historic Vienna Oral History Project? Do you know someone who you think we should interview? Please email us at!