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The Turkey Thicket Griots Project

By Joy Jones

 

Turkey Thicket Recreation Center has been a part of my life for nearly all of my life.My father, W. Morgan Jones, played tennis at Turkey Thicket every weekend of my childhood.My mother, Marilyn Jones, took up tennis after retirement and has played countless matches there, too.When my sister Lorraine Jones, was a child, she was in the pre-school.My other sister, Vita Washington, brings her son Robert to play there.When I prepared for the 2001 Baltimore Marathon, I trained on Turkey Thicketís track.

 

I became more actively involved with Turkey Thicket in 1995.Through DC WritersCorps, I taught creative writing to the students.Ever since, I have been leading activities at 'The Rec'.I would have quit, but Shirley Debrow, who manages the center, is not a woman who takes no for an answer.

 

No one can mention Turkey Thicket without mentioning the Carroll Family.Their activism, commitment and creativity have helped it flourish.Natalie Carroll is a steady, loving presence and has helped to raise nearly every child in the community.WhenNicole Carroll worked there, she was known for her beautiful bulletin boards.DC WritersCorps Director, Kenneth Carroll has made writers and other resources available to the center, as well as making himself personally available.Joy Hunter Carroll once led a creative writing class there and youíll often see her and her children hanging out.Thomas Carroll currently carries on the tradition, working as a recreation assistant.But major props go to staunch, long-time volunteer and supporter Estella Carroll.Without her, Turkey Thicket would lose much of its flava.

 

With the renovation and expansion of the center, I thought this would be the right time to record Turkey Thicket's story.This project has been made possible through funding from DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and generous donations by the Kiwanas Club.Support by the Kiwanas came through author, Carolivia Herron, who was one of the speakers for the Turkey Thicket Griots and quite a remarkable griot herself.We gained more historical and social perspective from talks by Gerald Anistead, co-founder of The Turkeys Tennis Club and Natalie Carroll.

 

What follows are perspectives by the most important people at 'The Recí - the children.††