Remembrances of Glen Isle

Tight-knit Riva community recalled fondly for neighborliness.

When I first arrived at Glen Isle Estates in 1985 our streets were still unpaved. Layered with a substrate of crushed oyster shells, the dust was a heralded feature of summertime. Nature and weather alone controlled the shape and integrity of our streets. You didn’t drive too fast into our community lest you discover a yet uncharted pothole. Long since paved, there are still many who drive our community roads slowly enough to savor the serenity, respect the many walkers, and bike-riders, and who still hope to stop and chat with a neighbor or two.

Correct me if I am wrong, but Glen Isle is the most neighborly community in the South River watershed. There is something timeless and magical about a neighborhood where most people can name or describe the residents of every home. That includes the dogs, by name, and breed.

Where everybody knows your (dog's) name

As an aside, that used to be easier since when I first moved here, and every dog was a relative of one extremely prolific dog appropriately named “Trouble.” Getting the breed correct was easy then, they were all mutts, but getting their names straight was impossible; they were identical.

Before county leash laws, the neighborhood dogs were an even stronger force in the community, especially since they were usually fresh from a swim in the river. The traditions of celebrating our four-legged neighbors have endured, slightly modified since one is no longer apt to be greeted by wet, sandy, unleashed affection from more than one household upon every return home.

I still marvel at my neighbor’s dog though, who predicts my schedule without fail, as well as every person in my household, but remains behind her own fence, body wagging, kisses ready, to greet us, daily.


It is the warmth of the people here that carries on a Glen Isle tradition of being neighborly. When I first moved here, I had four immediate neighbors who were long retired and always appeared instantly with advice in any number of urgent situations. Not only did they flow with wisdom and experience, but they had actually assisted with the construction and renovations of my home some 50 years earlier, so they knew their stuff.

Several of my neighbors could recount the exact year that every tree and ornamental bush in my yard was planted. Amazing to me, they could even advise about a problem before the situation was dire, and I learned appreciatively about pre-emptive upkeep on an old log cabin.

It was one of these neighbors who safely braved the enormous snake the girls and I encountered in the garden while we watched from behind the locked door. It was another of these neighbors who brought me bulbs and cuttings from his much-admired garden and whose blooms still thrill me many years after his passing.

And, it was one of these neighbors who lectured me daily in the spring, summer, and fall about maintenance and every other task a homeowner needs to understand and tackle annually. And oddly enough, and so unusual, I think, three of these cherished neighbors’ homes are still bustling with second, third and fourth generation ancestors.

I love to hear the same expression or lingering story of a generation long gone from our community but cherished still. Even the “newcomers” still recall an address or a household by a name long-passed, but still revered for their community contributions. Newest homeowners can even be heard telling someone: “I live in the old (someone else’s surname) house.”

Glen Isle encourages strong relationships among neighbors. Our beaches, our clubhouse, our homeowners’ association, all thrive because of the hard work and actions of caring community members. There are socials and activities planned and attended every season in Glen Isle.

In Glen Isle, we know and respect our history. And we know and respect each other. What more can you ask from a neighborhood? It is what makes a neighborhood a community. I live in my favorite place on earth: Glen Isle, a community on the South River.

Anne E. Levin Garrison has lived in Glen Isle Estates since 1985. Glen Isle Estates in Riva can be found at the end of Glen Isle Road in Riva. 

Theresa February 06, 2011 at 01:21 PM
Wow!...I love my home and neighborhood, but reading your article about Glen Isle makes we want to pack it all up and move there.
Michelle Stecklow February 06, 2011 at 01:25 PM
Thanks Anne for this wonderful article about our amazing neighborhood. Love the pictures and stories. I often brag about our Ladies Aux. group - how they come together when needed and provide support and delicious FOOD for any neighbor in need! I often think of you and your girls when I walk my dog past your house. We have lived in Glen Isle for eleven years and hope to stay many more!
John W. Koontz February 06, 2011 at 02:09 PM
Shame Goose Island washed away. Fun to see young people coming to the shallows of what was once Goose Island and rafting up in the summer. Now we have to protect Flat Creek as it helps make Glen Isle and this part of the South River what it is. John Koontz Harbor Hills
Susan Ohanian February 06, 2011 at 04:20 PM
Lovely piece. This sounds like where I grew up in a farming community in California. And now, Wal-Mart has bought property in that town. Now it has taken me only 10 years to learn the name of "next door" neighbor (half a mile down the road), and I don't know the name of a single dog in town. It is good to know that a community like this still exists. Susan Ohanian Vermont
Ulla Dean February 06, 2011 at 07:53 PM
Miss Anne; Beautiful Pictures, Great Story and true words of sentiment - We too love to live in Glen Isle and have been, this spring, for 14 years. Our family is what it is, because of Glen Isle, the Community with its many wonderful neighbors and our close friends! For me personally it has become a home away from home. Where else do you receive meals for 2 weeks straight with smiles, great visits, flowers and cards, when healing from surgery - Thanks GILA (Glen Isle Ladies Auxiliary), neighbors and friends we are very fortunate to live here and share all of this with one another!
Anna Seward February 06, 2011 at 11:22 PM
Great article and every word of it true!! We moved to Glen Isle early 1999 with a newborn. When our second born hit kindergarten we started to feel cramped in our tiny little starter home but held out on moving until we found a larger home right here in Glen Isle. And thank goodness we moved when we did because soon after we settled in we were blessed with a third son!! I can't think of a better place to raise my three boys than Glen Isle! Thanks for taking the time to toot our lovely little gem of community's horn!!!!
Anne E. Levin Garrison February 07, 2011 at 01:28 AM
Thank you so much for the thoughtful comments!
Shaina February 07, 2011 at 03:43 AM
Some of my favorite memories of growing up in Glen Isle are of my birthday parties at the community clubhouse. My mom would bring over our stereo from home, and she would put on my favorite music, and I would sing and dance on the stage with my friends until I was too exhausted to dance anymore. I remember opening my presents while sitting in the wooden throne, padded with blue velvet and lined with gold rope, that my parents had lugged up from the creepy old basement. I remember neighbors stopping by the party just to say hello and give me a kiss and maybe grab a cupcake before heading back home. What a wonderful amenity for a community to have . . . and what a wonderful community to place it in!
Hallie Garrison February 07, 2011 at 04:03 AM
Beautiful! It makes me think of the days that I would wake up and hop on my bike to round up a pack of neighborhood hoodlums to spend a day at the beach crabbing and swimming. Early one morning, my friend and I were out of bed and on the beach in our pajamas. We couldn't resist the temptation to get in the water--first to our ankles, then to our knees, eventually deciding to get all the way in. Our story explaining how we got wet involved a long, detailed process of her falling off the pier and me diving in to help her get out. Mom didn't believe any of it, but I wouldn't be a Glen Isle kid (or dog!) if I hadn't gotten in trouble because of our enchanting river.
Jennifer Stevens February 07, 2011 at 03:27 PM
Anne, you are such a wonderful person and a great writer. I thank you for our new friendship and all the advice you have shared with me. My most favorite memories of Glen Isle are when my grandmother (Toot's) would come get me and my brother everyday in the summer, first we'd stop and get a soft serve icecream cone then head back to her house. Then we would swim in her neighbors pool while she stayed and watched us all day only leaving so we could get a bite to eat. I also remember the gravel road coming into Glen Isle, everytime my family and I now go to "the campground", once we hit that gravel road it sure brings back those good ole memories of Glen Isle. My grandparent's have since passed on, now my husband and I and the boys reside in their home. We are very blessed and fortunate not only to be able to stay in the community but to be able to keep the generation living on in our house.
Anne E. Levin Garrison February 07, 2011 at 05:37 PM
You all are such treasures! Thank you for being a part of my story and my heart.
Margie Fleming February 07, 2011 at 05:38 PM
Well said, Anne...I am thankful daily for being able to live in Glen Isle. When I turn on Glen Isle Road after a long day at work, I immediately feel like I am at home AND on vacation at the same time! We have been here for 17 really good years now!
Martha Waltman February 08, 2011 at 03:00 PM
Anne, your comments are exactly why I have lived in Glen Isle for 34 years. My children and dogs grew up here with birthday parties on the beach, block parties, Halloween and Christmas parties at the clubhouse and the neighbors always there for families. It was great that the kids could play in the neighborhood, and we didn't have to worry about there safety. Many old neighbors and good friends have since gone (either moved or passed on), but none have been forgotten. It is great to see other generations of those families now living in the same homes. My kids and I have great memories of Glen Isle and the people.
Connie Lohsl February 08, 2011 at 06:37 PM
Wonderful account of life in Glen Isle Estates, a community with a wide variety of homes, most looking nothing alike, many built over 60 years ago, summer homes for those working & living in the DC area. My family moved to Glen Isle in 1959 & other than a two years in the 70's, I have lived here most of my life. I raised 5 children here & now enjoy playing with my granddaughter in this beautiful old waterfront neighborhood. I grew up swimming, sailing, rowing & skiing the South River from the shores of Glen Isle. My sibblings & I picnicked on Goose Island after a long row to the Riva store for treats. We caught monster-sized crabs & pulled in a variety of fish while standing on the piers. We picked raspberries that grew wild & mom would make cobbler to go with the catch of the day. Winters were spent sledding down long hills & skating on the river. At times, the ice would get so thick that you could drive a car out on the river and many did, including my father in his 57 Chevy! Oh, what wonderful memories! I have seen many changes in the Annapolis/Riva area in the past 51 years but time has somewhat stood still for many of us in the Glen Isle Estates community with the preserving of good old fashion neighborliness. Although my father has passed, my mother still lives in this community and my sister and her fammily moved back in (I believe) the early 80's. And yes, I do know the names of many of the neighborhood dogs!
Anne E. Levin Garrison February 08, 2011 at 11:10 PM
Mr. and Mrs. Waltman had one of the most renowned dogs in Glen Isle. His name was Kaiser and not only was he the ultimate loving and funny dog but he was an accomplished frisbee player! I can not think of either of them (Mr. Waltman or Kaiser) without thinking of the other, and think of them both with fond memories when I walk by their yard.
Debbie Barber-Eaton February 11, 2011 at 04:33 PM
Annie, You are a wonderful writer: Congratulations! Love to you, Michael and the girls.....xoxoxo


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