Stephanie shares memories of walks with her grandmother, Rose Behnke, in Burtonsville, Maryland as a little girl.
If these walls could talk, what a story they would tell. Last year I wrote an article, Behnke These Old Walls, about finding some long-ago photos behind some office walls. Last October, Frank Gosman’s daughter Shelley McNeal contacted me about the article. She was so excited to see old pictures of her father and hoped she could have a few. Glued to the wall, the photographs could not come off. Shelley contacted her cousin Sharon Roby Daniels to see if she could take pictures of the pictures.
Tearing Down Walls
Walking into an empty building, stripped metal and wiring, it looked like a war zone. Drywall and furniture that no one wanted laying all over the floor, making it hard for us to get to the room where the photos were. Sharon and her brother Mark Roby came prepaid to tear down some more of the walls to see any more Frank Gosman photos. With a crowbar in hand along with our cameras, the walls started coming down. What a mess, but what a sight to behold. Photos after photos of the good old days when Frank had his County Music Jamboree called the Tin Dipper.
The old George Jones song, Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes, kept playing in my head as more and more pictures showed up. Who were these people? Of course, I recognized Roy Clark and some local folks along with Frank. We found a photo of Frank’s daughter Shelley when she won the Miss District Of Columbia. There were many of the local favorite D & D Band (The Dawnrose Drifters). Then I saw pictures of the Grand Ole Opry. Frank was very much involved at the time with the Country Music Association. Photos with Frank and his different guests on his radio show CSA Jamboree 1540 WLMD that was broadcasted right there in the Dawnrose Building were everywhere. I wondered to myself, who were the guys in the Stan Dee Band? Their names, Brad, Perry, Ronnie, and Donnie, were on the drum, but who were they? Did they go on to play in other bands? Maybe someone reading this knows?
The Minuteman Building
While chatting with Shelley on the phone, she told me about the small room’s history with the fireplace facing Rt 1. In the kitchen was a stained glass window. That was once a Minuteman building, used during WW 2 as a place for soldiers to watch for enemies. When her dad built Dawnrose, she told me that he kept the Minuteman building, basically building his right over the top somehow.
One of my uncles recalls that it was there as does my mother, Sonja Behnke Festerling. Mr. Kennedy was involved with the building according to my mother. Mom and her husband mentioned to me that Frank use to play the drums in the little building around 1968. Shelley asked me if I knew whatever happened to that stained glass as she had her wedding reception back in 1970 at Dawnrose. She told me that since her church did not have any stained glass, they had some of their wedding photos taken next to it. Unfortunately, no one seems to know where it ended up.
Alfred Millard, Behnke’s former president mentioned when Behnke Nurseries purchased Frank’s property, the county had us take the front part of the building down. The small building was removed then. As for the stained glass, who knows? Maybe her father took it with him to his farm. I guess we will never know. However, I wanted to learn more about precisely a Minuteman and why there was a building. I found an excellent opinion piece from the Washington Post that explained it the best. After reading his article, you can scroll down and read what Gov. Herbert L O’Conor said to Maryland’s people on March 10, 1942.
Frank Gosman’s Daughter Shelley Remembers
I asked Shelley to give me a little history about her father and why Dawnrose came to be. Below is what she wrote to me. As you can see, Shelley is very proud of her father and his history in Beltsville, along with his contribution to the music industry.
“Dawnrose Farms started in our backyard on Roby Avenue around 1959. Dad had quit working as a milkman for Sealtest Dairy and decided to pedal his fresh farm eggs and produce door to door. The business boomed, and before long, he had five refrigerated trucks on the road selling fresh meat and chicken, along with his eggs. The Health Department told him he couldn’t cut up meat in the lower level of our two-story chicken house, so it became time to move the business. That was 1962. He had learned to lay brick at the University of Maryland in the late ’40s and built three buildings with that skill – our house on Roby Avenue, the large chicken house, and eventually, Dawnrose Farms butcher shop on Rt. 1
Butcher Shop To The Big Dipper
In 1968 he turned one side of the building into the Tin Dipper night club. He jokingly said, “I knew if I built my nightclub, I couldn’t get fired as the drummer anymore, I was wrong. I eventually had to quit playing the drums to manage the club.”
He was advertising his butcher shop on WDON radio. Tom Cat Reeder was the salesman that worked with him. Dad kept complaining that the radio announcers weren’t pronouncing the cuts of meat correctly. Tom Reeder suggested he come to the station and do the ads himself. Before long, he was doing a live, 30-minute radio show from the Tin Dipper every Sunday afternoon, playing music and advertising both businesses. People came from all over the Maryland and DC area to find his club after hearing him on the radio.
I was crowned Miss DC in June of 1969, and became a contestant in the Miss USA pageant. Mom and Dad hosted a party for me at the Tin Dipper. A year later, I was there on June 20, 1970, the year my dad built a second story onto his building. The upstairs club, The Big Dipper, seated about 300 people and was opened three nights a week in its heyday. Frank did a live radio show on WISZ for nine years and hosted an amateur singing contest every weekend. The big winner of the year won a recording session in Nashville that dad sponsored. He even had a live tv show for two years. But it got too expensive to continue.
He closed the business around 1980. Francis (Frank) Gosman was an amazing entrepreneur who enjoyed thinking of new ways to make money. He was sharp-minded, funny, and the hardest working person I ever knew. Also, he was fond of Behnke’s owners and admired Albert & Rose Behnke very much.” by Shelley McNeal
Photographs To Enjoy
Here is a link to a photo album of all the pictures I took before leaving the building. I will love it if anyone recognizes anyone for them to leave a comment. Maybe you were in some of these old photos? Or your parents? I hope you enjoy this little road down history lane and perhaps took the time to listen to George Jones while you look through the photographs. ~ Stephanie