Presidential Animal Lovers Calvin and Grace Coolidge

"Grace Goodhue Coolidge." Howard Chandler Christy, 1924. White House Collection/White House Historical Association.
“Grace Goodhue Coolidge.” Howard Chandler Christy, 1924. White House Collection/White House Historical Association.

Calvin Coolidge and his wife Grace were animal lovers. They owned several dogs, cats, canaries, and even a raccoon. They also received animals as gifts from other countries, which they often kept at the White House. Some, such as a black bear and wallaby, were sent to the National Zoo to be raised.

Calvin Coolidge’s favorite dog was a white collie named Rob Roy. He was prominently featured in First Lady Grace Coolidge’s official portrait, painted by Howard Chandler Christy in 1924. This painting still hangs in the White House China Room, which was decorated in a shade of red that matched her dress. Continue reading Presidential Animal Lovers Calvin and Grace Coolidge

Humans Buried at Aspin Hill

The graves of Robin Goodfellow and his owner, A. Wilson Mattox. Mr. Mattox was the first human to be buried at Aspin Hill. (Photograph taken April 2019)
The graves of Robin Goodfellow and his owner, A. Wilson Mattox. Mr. Mattox was the first human to be buried at Aspin Hill. (Photograph taken April 2019)

The statue of Robin Goodfellow sits sphinx-link on the grounds of Aspin Hill Memorial Park, way in the back near where the older burials are. On one side of the base of his memorial are inscribed these words: “To the memory of my precious greyhound Robin Goodfellow January 3, 1926 – May 24, 1935.” On the other side, it reads, “Robin’s little day on earth is ended.  He loved much, sympathized deeply, understood clearly, and was kind.”  At the front of the base is the name, “A. Wilson Mattox.” If you look to the left of Robin Goodfellow, you will see A. Wilson Mattox’s own grave stone, inscribed with his birth and death dates, November 12, 1876 to May 25, 1950. Continue reading Humans Buried at Aspin Hill

It’s Spelled “Aspin Hill”

Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery business card, ca. 1970. Digital image courtesy of the Montgomery County Humane Society
Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery business card, ca. 1970. Digital image courtesy of the Montgomery County Humane Society

Many people believe that I am misspelling the name of the cemetery on my blog and in my posts on Facebook.  Here are some artifacts from the archives of the cemetery which show that Aspin Hill really is the name of the cemetery.  As I point out in the history of the cemetery, while the road adjacent to the cemetery and the surrounding neighborhoods are called “Aspen Hill,” the cemetery’s original owners intentionally named it “Aspin Hill.”

Here is the back and the front of a postcard found in the files of the cemetery.  In this case, the reverse side is more relevant to the subject of this post.  However, I can’t resist asking, “Who puts caskets on a postcard?”  Answer:  Mr. Nash.

Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery postcard, ca. 1970. Digital image courtesy of the Montgomery County Humane Society
Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery postcard, ca. 1970. Digital image courtesy of the Montgomery County Humane Society
Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery postcard, ca. 1970. Digital image courtesy of the Montgomery County Humane Society
Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery postcard, ca. 1970. Digital image courtesy of the Montgomery County Humane Society

This is the current sign on the cemetery:

Sign for Aspin Hill Memorial Park.  July 2019
Sign for Aspin Hill Memorial Park. July 2019

Now when someone tells me I’ve spelled the name of the cemetery incorrectly, I’ll just send them a link to this post.

Aspin Hill Then And Now: The Snook Plot

Snook Plot, Aspin Hill Memorial Park, ca. 1927. Malcolm Walter Collection, MW1991.274A. From the Collections of Peerless Rockville, Copy and Reuse Restrictions Apply
Snook Plot, Aspin Hill Memorial Park, ca. 1927. Malcolm Walter Collection, MW1991.274A. From the Collections of Peerless Rockville, Copy and Reuse Restrictions Apply

Selma Snook buried four of her poodles in Aspin Hill Cemetery for Pet Animals in the early 1920s.  From left to right, are interred the remains of Boots, Buster, Trixie, and Snowball.  Their funerals were described in Aspin Hill Cemetery for Pet Animals, The Early Years.

Peerless Rockville, the historical society for the city of Rockville, Maryland, has a collection of photographs taken by Malcolm Walter.  Eight of them were of Aspin Hill Cemetery for Pet Animals (as it was called then), taken in 1927.  I was particularly interested in how orderly the grave stones were in the plot and wondered what they might look like now. Continue reading Aspin Hill Then And Now: The Snook Plot

Aspin Hill Flapper

Actress Louise Brooks, the quintessential flapper of the 1920s. Library of Congress, George Grantham Bain Collection, Call Number: LC-B2- 5474-15 [P&P].
Actress Louise Brooks, the quintessential flapper of the 1920s. Library of Congress, George Grantham Bain Collection, Call Number: LC-B2- 5474-15 [P&P].
Aspin Hill Cemetery for Pet Animals was begun in 1920, the first year of the decade of the flapper.  A flapper was a young woman who flouted convention by wearing short skirts and bobbing her hair.  She was often seen in wearing a cloche hat and galoshes.  Sometimes, her behavior might be considered risqué, but this was not necessarily so.  At Aspin Hill Kennels, Bertha Birney named one of her female Boston terriers “Aspen Hill Flapper.”  In a 1923 issue of Dog Fancier, it was reported that Aspen Hill Flapper was making quite an impression at dog shows all along the East Coast. Continue reading Aspin Hill Flapper

Rickey, Admiral Byrd’s Sled Dog

Bugler salutes Rickey during his funeral at Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery. Evening Star, June 6, 1948
Bugler salutes Rickey during his funeral at Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery. Evening Star, June 6, 1948

Military honors for the funeral of a dog are rare, but that’s what happened in 1948, when Admiral Richard E. Byrd’s most famous sled dog was buried at Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery.

Rickey, a Labrador husky, was born in 1934 at Little America, an exploration base on the Ross Ice Shelf in Antarctica. He left the frigid continent, at the age of nine months, in the company of his owner, Lt. Comdr. Frederick Dustin (USNR). The pair made two return trips to Antarctica in 1939 and 1947. Continue reading Rickey, Admiral Byrd’s Sled Dog

Vintage Photos of Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery

Boston terrier paying respects to Skippy. August 15, 1946. Reprinted with permission of the DC Public Library, Star Collection © Washington Post
Boston terrier paying respects to Skippy. August 15, 1946. Reprinted with permission of the DC Public Library, Star Collection © Washington Post

The photographs in this post are from Evening Star newspaper, which ceased publication in 1981.  The District of Columbia (DC) Public Library holds the photo morgue for the newspaper, which is archived in its Washingtoniana Collection.  The images appear on this blog with permission of the DC Public Library.

Rocky, the Boston terrier in the photo above, belonged to George and Gertrude Young.  It was the Youngs who erected the mausoleum in honor of Mickey, another one of their Boston terriers. Continue reading Vintage Photos of Aspin Hill Pet Cemetery

Rags, War Hero

Rags, War Hero. 1st Division Mascot, WW I. Aspin Hill Memorial Park.
Rags, War Hero. 1st Division Mascot, WW I. Aspin Hill Memorial Park.

There’s a granite stone at Aspin Hill Memorial Park which marks the grave of a dog named Rags who is dubbed a “War Hero” and “1st Division Mascot WW I.” I wondered how this dog became a war hero, but I didn’t wonder for long. The tale of Rags is one of the best documented of the pet cemetery stories. Continue reading Rags, War Hero