“Favorite Regional Reads…that say DMV to me.”

I am honored to have had two of my Maryland books on the Washington Independent Review of  Books’ list of “favorite regional reads” and “books that say DMV to me.” They are:  Hidden Maryland: In Search of America in Miniature and Maryland Lost and Found.

“It’s hard to imagine a more thorough introduction to the people and communities of the Free State than this compilation of the veteran journalist’s pieces from Maryland Life magazine,” wrote Holly Smith of Hidden Maryland: In Search of America in Miniature by Eugene L. Meyer. “An earlier book of his, Maryland Lost and Found, is another winner that garnered a positive review in the Washington Post from iconic Baltimore novelist Anne Tyler.”

(The MLAF link is to the updated 2003 illustrated paperback edition.)

For Memorial Day, see chapters in Hidden Maryland under “Military Maryland.” In Maryland Lost and Found, there’s more Maryland militaria, about Andrews AFB (now Joint Base Andrews), home of Air Force One, and the U.S. Army’s Fort (formerly Camp) George C. Meade, named for the Civil War general who defeated Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia at Gettysburg in July 1863.

Purchase either book on Amazon, and, if you would like, I’ll sign or inscribe it. Shoot me an email and I’ll respond with my address. Send the book to me, and I’ll mail it back signed or inscribed. Then, you will have not just the book but a collectible edition!  And, please, rate the book(s) on Amazon and Goodreads, which Amazon also owns.  These behemoths of publishing need to hear from you. The ratings and reviews are the keys to Amazon’s algorithms. If  you’d prefer just to listen, Hidden Maryland is also available as an audiobook under “Hot New Releases” and is rated #1 in New Releases in Guided Tours Travel.

Amazon is also currently offering a 21 percent discount on my book Five for Freedom: The African American Soldiers in John Brown’s Army).  Same “sign or inscribe” offer applies.


Gerard Previn Meyer (May 29, 1909 – February 23, 1993)

My father (pictured below in a drawing by my Uncle Harry, my mother’s brother, who created the first Flash comic book) would have been 114 today.  He died 30+ years ago, and, only now, years later, have I come to appreciate him in full.  An unapologetic intellectual, he was the outlier in our family, as we grew up in the Long Island suburb of Greenvale, N.Y.  He was a poet, an author, teacher, and raconteur.

Over the years, he amassed a library of some 25,000 books in our small but unique three-bedroom, one-bath “ranch” house, designed by a California architect, with no basement but with radiant heating in the floor and a beamed cathedral ceiling.  The garage soon filled with books, with no room for a car, the first of which was a used 1946 Austin with a sky roof, leather seats and directional signals that shot out between the front and back doors. One of our father-son trips was to Mr. Langford, a British mechanic, in Rockville Center.

Then, while other dads tossed baseballs or footballs with their sons, we went to used book stores, to the Goodwill, the Salvation Army and St. Vincent de Paul in search of bound treasures. One of our favorites was Mark Thompson’s bookstore in Seacliff. Thompson, a crusty Upstater, called me “Junior” and my kid sister, Deborah (Debby, then), “Petunia.”

What other dads did that?

Born in Manhattan, he spoke German before English, and his given name was Girard, (derived from the Germanic first name Gerhard, meaning “brave spear”), later changed to Gerard, which I’ve learned only recently as I research my Previn family history.  My dad was rather formal, which I’ve only now realized related to his German Jewish background. He was not a hugger (men did not “hug” men in the 1950s), and he did not often express emotion. But he sometimes displayed a temper or made jokes to avoid difficult conversations.

He wanted to be a journalist but graduated from college (Columbia ’30) in the depths of the Depression and never achieved his ambition, though he wrote scripts for 20 years for the pioneering educational radio station WNYE-FM, authored a young adult book “Pioneers of  the Press” that was translated into several languages, and reviewed books of poetry for the Saturday Review of Literature.  He was on the board of the Poetry Society of America, and his friends tended to be of that ilk. In his later years, he published a collection of his poems, in a limited edition. The book was called “Renewals.”

In the lexicon of the day, when I was a teenager, I thought he was kind of a square. Now, I realize he was my very cool dad.



Central High School Redux

The memories of Washington’s Central High School, once the elite secondary institution for whites during racial segregation, refuse to die.  But, sadly, and inevitably, its alumni continue to do so. The latest round of obituaries appears in the Spring 2023 issue of the Central High Alumni Record. It has been 73 years since Central “closed its doors,” the headline notes. The building, at 13th and Clifton Streets NW, never closed, but it changed hands. What had been a white school in June 1950 became the Black Cardozo High School that September. By this point, Central was underenrolled, while Cardozo, then at 9th and Rhode Island Avenue, was on triple shifts.   The District of Columbia board of education made the change, prior to the Supreme Court’s 1954 desegregation decision, to maintain the fiction of “separate but equal” schools.

Joan Thuma Chaconas, Class of 1949, is president of the alumni association in her 90s. She was formerly the historian at the Surratt House Museum in Clinton, Maryland. That was the tavern owned by Mary Surratt, one of the conspirators hanged for her role in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. She misses going to work, she writes. “Things are quiet now at the Surratt House…. I just had my 92d birthday and I’m sure many of the class of ’49 have had the same. We Centralities are unbeatable!”  Yet, 22 alumni are recorded as deceased since the last issue of The Record.  In 1997, I wrote an article for The Washington Post Magazine saying that the Central alumni association had run its course.  Somehow, it has still managed to carry on for 26 more years after the article. For my May 2021 blog about Central, click here.


“The Handmaid’s Tale” was no tall tale.  Just saying.

Happy Memorial Day, everyone!



  1. Ken Rossignol on May 29, 2023 at 4:38 pm

    Gene, Thanks for the memories! Congratulations on bringing your work forward for the world in book formats. It would have been a shame to have them caught up in the collective dustbins of archives.
    Happy Memorial Day to all.

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