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Resident Spotlight: Barbara M.

Barbara M., Highlands resident since 2019, has made quite her mark on local history! A native Washingtonian, Barbara was known for her adventurous spirit and willingness to dive into the unknown from an early age. As a young woman, she “snuck” her way into the British Embassy for an audience with none other than Queen Elizabeth. Her father, who worked for the Eisenhower administration, had been invited to an evening at the Embassy with the young Queen. Having already had a long-deserved vacation planned, Barbara’s parents RSVP’d that they would not be attending. But after they left town, the 20-something Barbara called the Embassy pretending to be her mother, stating that she’d changed her mind. She found herself a “fella” to escort her and that night, she met both the Queen and Prince Phillip! Her bravery and curiosity spilled over into other aspects of her life, like her passion for animals. She once delivered a newborn foal – legs first – by herself in the middle of the night, then went onto break and train the horse just two years later.

After graduating from Sidwell Friends, Barbara left DC for the first time to attend Vassar College. There she majored in Medieval History and roomed with 10 women, all of whom she still keeps in contact with. She later earned her Master’s in English Literature from American University and went to work for National Geographic as a researcher. During this time, she married and was expecting her first child – which, if you can believe, was the reason behind her forced resignation, as Nat Geo did not allow pregnant women to work. The proud mother of four children, Barbara did not return to the workforce until all her children were in school.

She resumed her career by working for a small bookstore on Pennsylvania Avenue, marking the start of a long and illustrious career in the world of book sales. Shortly thereafter, she opened The Book Stall in Potomac before moving out West to work in publishing and open more bookstores in places like Portland, OR and Telluride, CO. When she returned to DC, she yet again jumped in with both feet and decided to go into business with a woman that she had met through the classified ads. The ad called for someone with knowledge and experience in the book business, so Barbara replied right away and the rest is a beautiful, decades long history! Together, she and her partner Carla opened Politics and Prose, which would go on to become one of the best-known independent bookstores in the country. As co-owner, Barbara hosted authors like Tom Wolfe, John Updike, Julia Child, Bill Clinton and many more.

After over two decades in business, Carla sadly passed away so Barbara decided to sell the store to retire and spend more time with family. Barbara stays very busy with her 11 grandchildren, her ever-changing list of books she’s currently reading and her many good friends. If Barbara could pass along one message to the reader of this newsletter, she would like everyone to know that she has met so many interesting people here at Kensington Park. She said, “once you get behind the masks” there are a lot of wonderful people who she has truly enjoyed getting to know.