It’s 1942. The nation’s at war. And Forest Hills is part of the fight.
That’s the setting for The Scientists and the Spy, a novel by Anthony Dobranski. Our Forest Hills neighbor and author is publishing this story, chapter by chapter, week by week, right here on ForestHillsConnection.com. And we celebrated the launch of this one-of-a-kind work with a kickoff event at Forest Hills of DC on April 23rd.
Members of the community gathered to hear Dobranski talk about his writing and research process. In addition, we heard from special guests Margery Elfin and Jim Schooley. If you missed their talks you can listen here, or read their prepared remarks linked below.
Elfin, an editor of Images of America: Forest Hills and organizer of Forest Hills History Day, spoke of the importance of celebrating and recording our neighborhood’s history. You can read her prepared remarks here.
Schooley is a retired scientist of the NBS who has written extensively about the history of the National Bureau of Standards. He spoke about the scientists and staff who toiled in anonymity to support the development of our industries, the war effort during both world wars and much needed standardization. Read his prepared remarks here.
Dobranski described how he immersed himself into 1942 Washington and Forest Hills, where the characters in his story live and work. (Read the transcript.) In addition to the source material and photos he dug up with the help of local historians Ann Kessler and Anne Rollins, eBay became a portal into this era by showing him the “stuff” of this time and place. He even purchased a few items. Dobranski passed around a “war clock” made of cardboard, mass produced and sold cheaply so that the workers so necessary in supporting the war effort would never have an excuse to show up late for their shifts.
Dobranski’s clock still works – and it ticks so loudly it hard to imagine anyone could sleep with it close by.
He also read his first chapter, which starts at the Chevy Chase Ice Palace, a popular hangout, and introduces one of the main characters, soldier Enos, who enlisted to go to Germany due to his language ability, but had been assigned to the National Bureau of Standards due to his mechanical aptitude.