Showing posts with label Halloween. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Halloween. Show all posts

Monday, October 30, 2023

The Phantom of the Shady Grove Metro station

Montgomery County Halloween Countdown

Tomorrow is Halloween, and what is Halloween without a ghost? There's one who haunts the area around the Shady Grove Metro station in Derwood, and has since his untimely death there in 1864. Walter "Wat" Bowie was among many Marylanders who were Confederate sympathizers during the Civil War. Like some, such as Bethesda plantation owner Nathan Loughborough, Bowie couldn't resist getting in on the fighting action himself despite living in a state that hadn't seceded from the Union. And yes, Wat Bowie was a member of that Bowie family, whose home turf is now a fast-growing city in Prince George's County.

Bowie's final adventure began on an ambitious note: a botched plan to kidnap the governor of Maryland. Retreating back to Virginia from Annapolis via Montgomery County, Bowie made the mistake of trying to loot a store in Sandy Spring. Tired after previous pillaging by earlier Confederate raiders, the store owner rounded up a posse, and pursued Bowie and his men as they traveled toward Poolesville. 

The vigilantes caught up with Bowie in Derwood, near the site of today's Metro station. His party escaped, but Wat himself wasn't as lucky. Bowie was shot off his horse with a shotgun blast. Historian Earl Eisenhart pinpoints the exact location as being next to the Metro tracks off Somerville Road, by the McDonald's. Bowie's ghost is said to haunt that area to this day.




Friday, October 27, 2023

Route 666, the real-life Highway to Hell, is in Montgomery County

Montgomery County Halloween Countdown

Did you know there is a real Route 666, and it is located in Kensington, Maryland? The Satanic-numbered Maryland highway designation was given to Armory Avenue, a portion of Howard Avenue, and St. Paul Street, when they served as the original route to cross the Baltimore & Ohio (now CSX) Railroad tracks in Kensington. Today, the newer Connecticut Avenue serves that purpose to the west, with a grade-separated bridge crossing. The controversial 666 route number was removed in 1958, but you can still drive the real-life "Highway to Hell" today. However, the only way to travel the entire length continously is on foot, by using the pedestrian crossing at the Kensington railroad station. 

Thursday, October 26, 2023

The creepiest license plate in Montgomery County

Montgomery County Halloween Countdown

Today on the Montgomery County Halloween Countdown, we have the creepiest license plate you're likely to find in MoCo. "Casket" is the vanity tag for a Chrysler 300 sedan staff vehicle at the Robert A. Pumphrey Funeral Home in downtown Bethesda. The black car also features the flashing emergency lights for funeral processions that have become standard on most funeral home hearses in recent years. Don't expect an actual casket to fit into a Chrysler 300, despite the spine-chilling tags.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

The Rockville Mall had a newspaper, and it could be as creepy as the mall was (Photos)

Montgomery County Halloween Countdown

Today, as we count down the final days to Halloween, let's take a look at the Halloween 1976 edition of The Rockville Mall Times. Yes, Rockville's ill-fated dead mall of the 1970s and 80s had its own newspaper, and it could be as creepy as many considered the mall to be. Especially the Halloween edition. Who was Mr. Barfly, and was he a denizen of the shadows of the mall? Are you encouraged, or discouraged, to visit Ransom's, with Mr. Barfly as the face of the business? His disturbing visage suggests a ransom may indeed be involved to secure your release from his clutches, and from the mall's infamous dark parking garage.

Mr. Barfly, a denizen of the darkest
corners of the Rockville Mall

"Hey, kids! Let's all pile into the station wagon and pick up a copy of Adolf Hitler by John Toland at Waldenbooks at the Rockville Mall." With Roots as the other choice highlighted, talk about a stark contrast in offerings. Some lighthearted reading for the whole family at Waldenbooks.

Name-brand leisure suits were 50% off - if Herb Tarlek didn't get to Crane's Men's Shop first and clean 'em out. It's hard to get more 70s than leisure suits. But Beyda's gave it the old college try with corduroy, gabardine and velveteen pantsuits.

The front-page story in the Halloween 1976 edition of the The Rockville Mall Times looked back at the tragic demolition of the Rockville's historic town center with an almost-giddy glee. Vinson's drugstore and the Milo theater are visible in a bustling scene from 1945. Thirty years later, the Rockville Mall fills the field of view from the same photographic vantage point (and only 20 years later, the mall itself would be demolished). 

"Progress comes to Rockville," the headline reads. "Shopping sure has changed in Rockville," the article begins. The uncredited reporter made sure to thank the city politicians who approved the demolition of most of the original, historic buildings in downtown Rockville. "During this week, Rockville Mall also salutes the City of Rockville for the many years of progressive city planning that has made Rockville a model city for responsive government, and a convenient place for residents to shop."

A 1976 mall directory shown lists more than 30 tenants. But in a sign of the mall's struggles, previous department store anchors Lansburgh and Lit Brothers were already conspicuously missing from the roster. The interesting names among the remaining tenants were Roy Rogers, Franklin Simon department store and W&J Sloane furniture (both from the same ownership group as Lansburgh and Lit Brothers, coincidentally), King's Court (an original tenant when the mall opened, the restaurant closed in 1984 when its space was replaced with an elevator shaft in the "Rockville Metro Center" makeover of the mall), Friendly's Ice Cream and Real Rich Ice Cream (2 ice cream shops! Which one was better?), Masi's Fun House (was Mr. Barfly ever lurking in there, as well?), Kurly's (what's that?), Empress Restaurant and Waxie Maxie's record store. 

In case shoppers didn't already have it penciled in on their calendars, The Rockville Mall Times noted that National Alcoholism Week was rapidly approaching on November 12. But just when the gloom became too much, the Times promised that "Santa arrives at Rockville Mall Friday, November 26 at 10 AM." After a reminder to "Support your local Rockville Mall merchant who supports you with low prices," the front page ends with the mall's 70s logo, and the tagline "GOOD NEWS/GOOD TIMES."

Saturday, September 16, 2023

Spirit Halloween to haunt former CVS in Rockville

After inhabiting the former Pier 1 store at Pike Center for several spooky seasons, Spirit Halloween will possess a different vacant storefront for 2023 in Rockville. The costume and prop chain has chosen the Twinbrook area this year. Spirit Halloween will be in the former CVS Pharmacy at 2210 Veirs Mill Road in the Twinbrook Center. This is the second Spirit Halloween location announced so far this year; the other will be at Rio Lakefront in Gaithersburg.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Spirit Halloween returning to Rockville for 2022

Spirit Halloween
will once again open a seasonal store in Rockville for Halloween 2022. It will be in the former Pier 1 space at the Pike Center, at 12137 Rockville Pike. A tour of Spirit Halloween has become a Halloween activity and tradition in itself. New animatronics this year include Lord Raven, Bog Zombie, Monty the crazed cymbal-wielding monkey, Lucky Bottoms, Bag o'Bones, and Nozzles the Clown.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Spirit Halloween opens in Rockville

Spirit Halloween
returns to Rockville for 2021. This year, it has leased a space in the Pike Center at 12137 Rockville Pike, near TGI Friday's. A tour of Spirit Halloween is a Halloween-season event in itself. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Spirit Halloween to return to Rockville for 2020 in new location

Spirit Halloween, the king of seasonal Halloween retailers, is returning to Rockville for the 2020 Halloween season. Last year, they used REI's old space on Rockville Pike. This year, they're relocating a few blocks south of there. The props and costumes store will pop up in the old Five Below space at Federal Plaza this time.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Another Extreme Halloween in Rockville

Halloween will be extreme again in Rockville this year. Extreme Halloween is back at 1616 Rockville Pike with costumes, props and decorations. They are located next to Mattress Firm, at the corner of Rockville Pike and Halpine Road, across from Congressional Plaza.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Extreme Halloween opens in Rockville

Extreme Halloween returns to Rockville Pike this year, with a slightly different look, and a new location. Shop their selection of costumes, accessories and decorations at 1616 Rockville Pike. It's tough to take on Spirit Halloween, but I like that Extreme Halloween's funereal black shopping baskets say "Halloween" on them, for an extra dose of holiday "spirit."

Friday, October 6, 2017

Halloween stores face off across Rockville Pike (Photos)

Spirit Halloween in Rockville
Ghouls have overtaken the former REI outdoor store at 1701 Rockville Pike. America's most popular Halloween store, Spirit Halloween, has moved in for the frightful season. Just across the street at 1616 Rockville Pike, in the former Annapolis Lighting showroom, Xtreme Halloween returns to scare up business. Both offer costumes, props and accessories. A tour of the animated props at Spirit Halloween is a Halloween season event in itself. But remember, when you see someone down in a sewer in Montgomery County, it's just as likely to be a crooked County Councilmember as a demonic clown. Well, technically, both are clowns.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Rockville candy store predicts "one scary election" (Photos)

ITSUGAR at Rockville Town Square has put America's "scary" presidential campaign front and center. Get ready to argue with friends and family on Gibbs Street while gobbling down the sugary treats representing your candidate. For Libertarians and Greens, there is no Gary "And what is ITSUGAR?" Johnson or Jill "I was invited to vandalize private property" Stein up front.

Trump or Treat? Or Happy Hilloween? You decide, unless you "don't know what you're going to do" like some establishment Republicans. Ghastly renderings of Donald Trump square off at the Square with a depiction of Hillary Clinton as a witch.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Halloween will again be Xtreme in Rockville

Xtreme Halloween is returning to Rockville this year. The pop-up Halloween retailer is once again opening in the former Pier 1 Imports at 1590 Rockville Pike.

Monday, October 27, 2014


The Halloween Countdown is underway on the Robert Dyer Channel, and the latest video is a review of the Halloween Lunchables of 2014. This year, dessert seems to be the theme, with an Oreo-based Dirt Cake, and S'mores Dippers. I tried out both, and here is my review. Both have great Halloween themed packaging, but let's find out if the actual product is as good.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Caramel Apple is the new Pumpkin Spice this fall. Get ahead of the trend by watching my review of Milky Way Caramel Apple Minis candy. Our esteemed expert makes an appearance, and there is a surprise in store later in the video worth tuning in for!

If you like Halloween as much as I do, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel, and you won't miss a single episode of the Halloween Countdown.

Monday, October 21, 2013


Entenmann's has the perfect donut for fall: classic Cider Donuts, available for a limited time. Are they worth picking up at the grocery store? Watch my review, and find out.

Friday, October 4, 2013


If there's one candy closely associated with Halloween, it would have to be candy corn. Now the classic American candy has joined with the classic American cookie (Oreos). What is the result? Watch my video review, and count down the days until Halloween with the Robert Dyer Channel Halloween Countdown.