Forget your gender stereotypes, I can report that our county’s most exuberant Redskins fan is of the female persuasion. The proof is the Redskins room that Mary Holt, age 87, maintains in the North Arlington rambler she and her husband have occupied for 57 years.
Mrs. Holt’s phantasmargoric gallery of burgundy and gold gathers some 1,500 team knickknacks ranging from napkin holders to clocks to team photos to Redskins Wheaties cereal boxes. The middle-brow collectibles cascade from every inch of her “woman cave” – a spare room with an organ, an easy chair and a large TV where you find her unbudging every game day.
“Who knew when I started with a Hogs Christmas wreath that this would go hog wild,” she says to the bemusement of husband Roger who, though lukewarm on the Redskins, has built his wife several gems, such as a Redskins miniature covered wagon.
Since the 1980s, Holt estimates she has spent some $2,300 on such Washington-area must-haves as Redskins toy buses, playing cards, coffee mugs and a champagne bottle. Others came as gifts, such as the poster congratulating the 1991 NFL champs that once adorned the Falls Church Giant Food.
Once the collection began to bulge, Holt’s son and daughter surprised her when she returned from vacation to the room with its door shut. She flung it open, and there the collection was arrayed against a two-tone burgundy-and-gold paint job (four coats) with chair rails and an upper ceiling strip of Redskins-colored tape.
The variety of objects overwhelms the visitor: A Redskins Tiffany-like lamp, Redskins message-holders, Redskins….. sweatshirts, pompons, book covers, dolls, beer mugs, helmets (real and toy), mini-airplanes, tissue dispensers, a flag, napkins, towels, gloves, birthday cards, earrings, footballs, stuffed hogs, cup warmers, light switch covers, scarves, shot glasses, coffee mugs, Christmas stockings and ornaments, puppets, brooches, bedroom slippers, a broom. Holt can locate any one in a flash.
The favorite is the Hogs Christmas wreath, says Holt, who wears a Redskins necklace and a watch.
On her walls are team portraits for Super Bowl seasons ’82, ’87 and ’91, sports-page photos and cheerleader squad portraits. She owns jerseys of Hall of Famers Art Monk and Darrell Green, and signed portraits of Joe Theismann and huge Hog Joe Jacoby.
On her floor is a stencil reading “Redskins Drive,” which a friend found discarded at Ashburn. She also has a large “R” logo floor tile.
Oddities include a Redskins blanket with a wrong date for their arrival in D.C. (1935 instead of 1937) and a Washington Star farewell edition with a feature on Billy Kilmer.
A Redskins red brick is made of sponge so she can throw it at the TV after a bad play.
Though Holt once had season tickets and would wear her Redskins jacket to the stadium, she now prefers acting out her obsession in front of the TV.
She’s not sure the Redskins office is aware of her devotion-they were surprised the time she phoned and ordered, as a woman, a personalized plaque declaring her a “Redskins Biggest Fan.”
Some day, when the Redskins must take the field without her one-track attentions, Holt hopes her children will preserve her treasures. “I tell them, Don’t you dare destroy this,’ ” she says.
“Find someone who wants it, or I’ll haunt you the rest of your life.”
Charlie Clark may be e-mailed at email@example.com