Bipeds of Brookland: Alex Mathews
Alex Mathews was living in Hyattsville in 1978 when he drove through Brookland with an architect friend from NY, who said, “are you looking in this neighborhood? This is a wonderful neighborhood.” He believes “it was that architectural eye that caught their fancy on Brookland.” The house he found needed a lot of work. He fixed it up with the help of his father who was a plumber and was very good with his hands.
He remembers that in Brookland, “you couldn’t walk down the street without someone saying hello to you. Unfortunately, that’s no longer the case. The old timers wouldn’t only say hello, they’d cross the street and say hello. Everybody’s too busy for that now.”
Alex was one of the original subscribers to the Brookland listserv, and has been a member of the Greater Brookland Garden Club from the beginning in the 1990s. “When I first moved to Brookland, there were very few gay people. Now a considerable number have moved to Brookland, such that we have our own listserv and we get together once a month.”
Alex came to DC after serving in the Air Force with time spent in Germany and Turkey. He began taking classes offered through the University of Maryland while overseas. He finished his degree in History at College Park and began working at the Library of Congress. He began attending Quaker meeting on Florida Avenue, where he appreciates sharing “the values of anti-war, cooperation, living simply.” In 2001 a friend from the Quaker Meeting who was a tour guide encouraged him to explore that opportunity. So he took the test to be a tour guide, and has continued in that job to this day.
In 2013, Alex was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer during a routine physical and required surgery. “That was 3 years ago. I’m the only one of the four colleagues (tour guides who had cancer) who is still alive. I’m feeling that I’m just living on this amazing borrowed time, and I’ve got to use it well. The friendships I have made in Brookland have been wonderful and long lasting. There are lots of people who are my friends for life at this point.”
Bipeds of Brookland: A weekly series introducing the people who make Brookland their home, one step at a time.
Article and photo by Tom Sabella.