A Look Back with a Friendly Neighbor
Lowe reminisces about more than 50 years in Del Ray
Wondering who to thank for the beautiful weather for Art on the Avenue and the Halloween parade this year? Send your notes of appreciation to Judy Lowe, one of Del Ray's longtime residents. Or better yet, swing by her front porch on Mt. Ida Avenue for some wonderful Del Ray stories.
"I am responsible for the weather for Art on the Avenue and the Halloween parade," she jokes. "Pat Miller even thanked me after this year's great day."
Judy Lowe is the first neighbor to be profiled in a series about Del Ray's hidden treasure—its longtime residents. After 52 years in the neighborhood, she is a great resource on all things Del Ray.
Lowe moved to Del Ray with her brother and grandparents in 1958 from a "grand old brick Victorian" one block south of the Smithsonian Castle. They settled on Mt. Ida Avenue. Only three years later, Lowe got married to her husband, Larry, and the couple moved next door.
Judy and her husband worked at the Pentagon, and they would walk to Mt. Vernon Avenue to catch the bus to work. Lowe worked in the IT department of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency—the agency that helped develop the Internet, which explains her extraordinary tech savviness.
The Lowes had three children—Melanie Salzgeber, Stephanie Endsley, and Chip Lowe. Her brother, who stayed in the house next door after her grandparents passed away, had four boys, and Lowe recalls the fun the children would have on their street in the winter.
"I think we still have the orange cones under our porch from when we would block off the street so the kids could play in the snow," she said.
Although Del Ray has never had a business district as large as it is now, Lowe can remember some of the businesses that were there, including a piano store where Mancini's is now located, and The Scott Shop, a clothing store owned by a Del Ray resident that spanned almost the whole block that is now home to St. Elmo's and the Dairy Godmother.
"They carried everything—shoes, clothes—and it was all nice and reasonably priced," she remembers.
"They would park cars all over the neighborhood," she said. "So the aim of the citizens association was to make them stop it because the residents didn't have any place to park."
It seems like parking is a perpetual issue in Del Ray. Lowe mentions that one of Del Ray's current parking lots, the location of the Farmers' Market, used to be the location of a house that was the home of John Phillips of the 1960s pop group The Mamas and the Papas.
Lowe exemplifies the "friendly neighbor" ideal for which Del Ray is known. She peppers conversation with stories of neighbors, from talking about the new babies on the block to innocently dropping names of prominent community members she considers to be good friends. She greets everyone with a big smile and a hug.
"I love living in a community where all the neighbors are different," she said.
One can only assume that Judy Lowe's neighbors are thrilled to have her as a friend, historian and dedicated community member.