Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Silver Spring: Back in the Day - Part One

This will be the first post of a new feature I plan to do on a semi-regular basis called “Silver Spring: Back in the Day”. In this series, I will revisit places that I used to frequent when I was a kid during a period many might call the “Dark Ages” of downtown Silver Spring: the early 80’s to mid-90’s. Most of them may not be that great, and some of them Silver Spring is probably better off without, but all of them still hold a place in my memory. Note that in some cases, these memories may a bit hazy regarding where exactly things were and what years they were there.

Without further ado, here are the first three entries for Silver Spring: Back in the Day.

Back in the Day: Geppi’s Comic World
Now: Alliance Comics & Games
Location: 8317 Fenton Street

Somewhat surprisingly, there is still a comic book shop at this address, although it is no longer Geppi’s (it is now Alliance Comics & Games). This used to be a great place to burn my allowance, back when comics were just 60-75 cents. I used to love calling their hotline each week and listening to a recorded listing of all the comics that had just arrived. I checked out Alliance, and although it is definitely nicer than Geppi's was, it just doesn't have the volume of comics that made Geppi's so great. The lower floor used to be packed solid with boxes of comics. I was always surprised that the Geppi's staff allowed kids go downstairs without supervision. Even though I'd never steal anything, I always felt like I was doing something "bad" by being down there.

The Geppi’s chain was pretty big back in those days, at least as far as comic stores went. I remember they had ads up in Camden Yards when it first opened. It looks like they are no longer in the retail business, but the company still distributes comics as Diamond Comics.

Back in the Day: Silver Spring Flea Market
Now: Whole Foods & Strosniders Hardware Parking Lot
Location: Corner of Wayne & Fenton Streets

There used to be a flea market held once a month (I think) in the county parking lot that was between the old Silver Spring Armory and St. Michael’s Church. In those pre-eBay days, you could find all sorts of interesting things at the flea market. I still enjoy those kinds of sales – perhaps this could bring this back when/if the new Silver Spring Civic Center is completed.

Back in the Day: Roth's Silver Spring East
Now: Chevy Chase Bank Parking
Location: Thayer Avenue

At one time, there was a single-screen movie theater on Thayer Avenue parking lot for Chevy Chase Bank now stands. This was one of three theaters that used to operate in Silver Spring when I was a kid, the others being the Silver Theater and the Roth's Silver Spring West on Georgia Avenue (now the Beth El World Outreach Center).

This theater didn’t survive as long as the other two, and was dark for some time before being torn down. I vaguely remember seeing a Muppet movie here, either the original or more likely, The Great Muppet Caper. Either way, it was a loooong time ago.


Chuck said...

Sligo, I'm a little amazed no one corrected you on this one about the movie theater and Quimby's. Either I'm older than you are or you know something I sure don't. Roth's Silver Spring East theater occupied the site that is presently the drive-thru ATM location for Chevy Chase Bank. Quimby's was always a car repair business for the entire 39 years I lived in S.S. and old man Quimby was a darn good mechanic so I was told.

Sligo said...


You are correct. Now that I think about it, I may have been off by one address.

Brian said...

I remember skateboarding at the old movie theater in the late 80- early early 90s. If my memory is correct, it was an ugly shade of brown. Also, the Chevy Chase building used to be where the Gaylord restaurant is now. From the mid 80s until approx 1995 the building that is now Chevy Chase was an abandoned boarding up building. Before it was vacant it was a peoples drug store.

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