In the dimly lit , about 30 residents from Potomac and surrounding areas quietly listened as Robert Hanson told them about his life on a farm.
Hanson, now 87, grew up on a North Potomac farm at Travilah and Quince Orchard roads, where he and his family raised Angus cattle and grew wheat, barley, corn and hay.
His talk on Saturday was a part of a series of Potomac-centric events hosted by the Potomac Oak Center.
Ellie Pisarra-Cain, who acted as the moderator, told the audience she hopes these stories of Old Potomac will make current residents more curious about the area they live in and about the historic properties along their morning commute.
“It would be good for folks to get out and meet one another,” she told the crowd.
Like Hanson, Cain grew up in Potomac and now she’s hoping to take her memories, documented history and photography and the stories of others, and publish a book about Potomac’s history.
As he told the guests, Hanson’s fond memories started in the early 40s, when his family bought the farm.
He told the group tales of fox hunting with George S. Patton, going to classes at George Washington University, while working on the farm, tales of other farm owners and growing up in a time when Potomac was without its many cul-de-sac neighborhoods.
But the story that affected him the most was a personal tale about his own father, William, who had a peculiar relationship with a goose.
Their farm had one of the first man-made ponds in the area, and locals from Travilah Baptist Church would baptize their congregation in the water.
He said his father would bring whole cobs of corn to the geese by the pond so they could pick at it.
Each winter, when the geese would fly south, one goose would not go since he only had one leg.
“My father would go down after the pond froze over and break the ice,” Hanson said, so that the foxes wouldn’t get him.
His father named him PegLeg, and for 25 years the goose would hop up to his the house and he would feed him the corn.
All of Pegleg’s honking would bring thousands of geese to the farm, and his father, being an animal lover, wanted to make sure no one went hunting on their land. So he placed a sign on the edge of his farm that read, “Please don’t shoot the tamed wild geese.”
When his father died in the 60s, the geese showed up two hours after his death, although they hadn’t been to the farm in two years.
Leonard Proctor had several historical photos and articles for residents to view as he told of the traditions of fox hunting in Potomac, which were three times a week in the 30s and 40s.
Back then Potomac wasn’t Potomac, Travilah and North Potomac, but instead Offutts Crossroads, Proctor said, named after a prominent, local family. He said major changes to Potomac’s landscape began in the 1970s.
Now a Gaithersburg resident, Proctor lived in Potomac from 1947 to 1975, and said one of his fondest memories was playing baseball in a field located where the Safeway now stands.
Proctor said he hopes they will continue to host programs like this in the future.
"At least once a year, would bring the community together,” Proctor said.