1950s


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Post card from 1950 Courtesy of Peggy Jones McAllister


Map of neighborhood-1954
Town Point Road
Fairhaven Rd
The "tobacco families"
Cottage Life
Social Life and Entertainment
Grocery Options
Local Farms
Schools 1950s
Beaches and Cliffs
Creek and Cove/Lake
Fish, Crabs, Birds and Wildlife
Boats and the Platform/Net/Float
Kids Life in the 1950s
Other neighborhood landmarks


Editors note: Source cited as "Friends, 8/2015" reflects notes taken at August 1, 2015 conversation with Peggy Jones McAllister, Sue Fritz Owens, Phil Ross, Anne Ross Stewart, and Polly Keegen Wood--friends who kids here after WWII-mostly in 1950s.

Town Point Road

Doug Muir. Leitch Road, up till the fifties, was the only way to get to Town Point. Town Point Road did not exist. The first time I drove by it was 1954. I think it was made in '53, I'm not sure. The only way to get into Town Point was Leitch Road, off of Franklin-Gibson. It seemed like any rainstorm that hit on a Sunday made Leitch Road impassable, and to get the cars out, we used oxen to pull them up the hill. We got the oxen from the farms near Arkhaven -- what is now the Crandell farm or the Tacaro Farm. They would supply the oxen. Oxen were very common around the area -- a real burden beast -- working beast.
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Fairhaven Road
Friends, 8/2015. Fairhaven Rd. was a gravel road. Took at least an hour for them to get to work in Washington DC.

Phil Ross, 8/2015: As I remember it, Fairhaven Road (Rt. 423), west of Fair Haven Cliffs was a single-lane, dirt road at least in the ‘40’s with well-defined wheel ruts ... which made travel (more) hazardous in rainy weather. It was safest to drive .. at night .. when you could at least detect headlights of someone who might be heading towards you. Many times, drivers had to negotiate which car needed to back up to a place where they could successfully pass each other.
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Keegans, Fairhaven Rd.Courtesy Peggy Jones McAllister

















The "Tobacco Families"

Mary Colby. The Tobacco people would be in Fairhaven before we got out of school. When we opened our cottage in June, men from Kentucky and North Carolina were already there, bidding on tobacco in Upper Marlboro. The bidding season started in April and ended in July. At some point, probably around 1960, they stopped coming. By then, I was too caught up in my life to notice when or why.

It was the custom of the bidders to bring their families to join them at the beach for the second half of their rental. Some families would return year after year and others would arrive one summer and never be seen again. Our friend was Sidney Crouch from Kentucky. She and her parents stayed in a rental of Gertrude Gingell’s which is now where Artie and Theresa Mills live with their boys [on Revell Rd]. They had friends from Kentucky who stayed in the Flats. The two children were Laurice and Buddy Boy Ford [no relation to Mutt and Sug]. Laurice was older than I was, but Buddy Boy was about my age.

In 1950, Dad decided it was time to take his family to see the country so he rented our cottage to a tobacco family and off we went with the idea of being gone for a couple of months. My father was never one to do things slowly so we were back long before the rental was over. An aside: Our first stop on our trip west was a surprise visit to Sammy Baugh who had just retired from the Redskins. Dad had never met him, but assumed that he would be delighted to have a fan drive into his Texas farm to shake his hand. His wife called him in from the field and he was very gracious.

One night in July of 1952, I was sitting on the bridge with my friend Susie Krebs and a gorgeous blond tobacco girl from North Carolina. A car stopped and two teenage boys introduced themselves. One was my future husband, Dick Kelly, and the other my future brother-in-law, Jim McCaig. I have always wondered how many Kellys and McCaigs would still haunt Fairhaven if it wasn’t for that tobacco girl.
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Cottage Life
Friends, 8/2015: People knew the cottages by nicknames. Anne Ross Stewart’s house was “top of the world;” Ed Becke’s house was “pop’s place.” When they were teenagers, they used to hang out at a house in the flats called the “dog house,” which also was known as the “fire house.” (Editor's note: see Map of the neighborhood, 1954 for more nicknames, including Anchor's Inn, Sea Gull, Black Cat, and others).
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"The dog house" circa 1954. Courtesy of S.Fritz-Owens


Some of the cottages didn’t have running water yet. Everyone had “rain barrels/cisterns” to collect water they could use for flushing, etc. Kids in Fair Haven Cliffs would get buckets of water from the community pump for flushing toilets or washing clothes. Revells had a well with a pump. Someone in Owings Cliffs had an artesian well. Water used to run from it all the time. Sue remembered staying at a friend’s house and being anxious about going to the outhouse at night because there might be spiders.

Many cottages relied on kerosene for light and heat. Used to buy kerosene at Padgetts’ store.

Phil Ross, 8/2015: In my pre-teen and teen years, one of my “jobs” was ensuring that we had plenty of fresh water (for drinking, cooking, etc.). On a utility counter next to the kitchen were two or three large enameled buckets for holding fresh water. My job was to replenish the water whenever needed, and I’d usually take two empty buckets down to the community well pump, fill both buckets, and bring them back. Usually a dipper was in one bucket for quenching one’s thirst as needed. During high-use periods, the community pump kept its prime from day to day. Offseason or during other low-use periods, it often had to be primed before it’d work.

Social Life and Entertainment
Friends, 8/15: Radio was a big deal. The family would sit in a circle to listen. In the late 40s, it was mostly news but they remember listening to the Kentucky Derby. The Ross/Stewart house still has special spaces that were for reserved for the radio. Sue remembers their family’s first TV. It was a huge box with a 7 inch screen. She loved to watch Howdy Doody.

Some of the men used to hang out at Walke’s store in the evening.

In the summer, Mr. Lewis from Fair Haven Cliffs used to lead evening hymns on the grassy area by the little beach every Sunday. Families (including Catholics who put their dresses back on) would sit on blankets on the hill. Mr. Lewis used to have contests for the kids that made every kid feel good. E.g., even a small crab shell might get an award for biggest crab. Peggy and Sue remember going to vacation bible school at Friendship Methodist.

Polly remembered the moms having Toni” day/night. Her mom, Mrs. McCarthy, Haddie Gibson, Edna --- (others?) gave each other permanents. They always had a ‘cheese” glass full of something to drink. The permanent mixtures smelled terrible. The girls got “tonettes” sometimes.

Grocery Options
Friends, 8/2015: They purchased necessities--and candy--at Padgetts store. They also bought food in Deale, North Beach, and Annapolis. Think perhaps dads picked up food, etc. from city. Another highlight was going to Mr. Walke’s store in Friendship to get ice cream.

Sue said her dad had a huge vegetable garden and her mom canned and froze much of it. Grandma Ross used to grow chickens that they would eat for dinner. Anne and Phil did not like that.

Local Farms
Friends, 8/2015: Most of the land to the west of the cottages was farmed. Several families had large farms: Eversfield, Sansbury, O’Leary, and Milburn. Oswald Wilson had saw mill on Sansbury Rd. Sue Fritz’s father worked in DC as an electrician, but he also grew tobacco. The tilled land was to the back/west of the property, not near the steep slopes by the road. They had tenant farmers who lived in tenant house that her father built. Sue loved to go in the tobacco barns because of the very soft brown powder that came off the tobacco leaves as they hung in the barn. She also liked the smell; it isn’t like smell of cigarettes, it’s more earthy.

Hurricane Hazel was bad. A barn near the intersection of Genoa (?) and Fairhaven fell over. It had a hogshead press in it.

Schools
Friends, 8/2015: There used to be a school in Fairhaven, on Fairhaven Rd. near the property with the rock garden. Several different opinions on where it was located, but it did exist. Moved out of Fairhaven school and into new school (Tracys) in 1933.
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Tracys Elementary School, 1950s, courtesy S. Fritz-Owens
In the 1950s, the school bus stop was at Padgett’s store. Photo of children waiting for the bus: Skippy Jones, two Millburn girls, Timmy Jones, George Millburn, another Millburn girl.
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Kids waiting for school bus at Padgetts, circa 1950s, courtesy Peggy Jones McAllister.

Beaches, Cliffs, and Sharks Teeth
Friends, 8/2015: You couldn’t see Rosehaven from the little beach in Fair Haven Cliffs because the cliff at Windy Crest was so far out in the water. There wasn’t much of a beach below what is now Cliff and Juanita’s house. There was a long stairway, but not much sand at the bottom. There was a pier on the little beach in the 1950s (see picture). It came and went with hurricanes, so there were periods when there wasn’t a pier. Always knew where to rebuild because posts would still be standing.
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Cliffs pier, circa 1953,courtesy of S. Fritz-Owens


There was always a big beach in front of Old Colony Cove. Kids used to play on the cliffs at Old Colony Cove. After big rains, the clay was very elastic/pliable. They would jump off from above onto the clay slope. It was so soft it would break your fall. Did it over and over. One of Sue’s favorite memories was making pottery out of clay from the cliffs in Mrs. Potter’s 4th grade class. It was easy to work with and got very hard. She was very proud of what she made.

There wasn’t much submerged aquatic vegetation (SAV) in front of the Owings or Fair Haven Cliffs when they were kids. Perhaps got some later. There were more grasses toward Old Colony Cove. Remember “seaweed” getting caught in propellers. That’s where they’d go to look for crabs, because the crabs would be in the grasses.

There used to be huge sharks teeth. Used to find them early in the spring where cliffs had washed down and had piles of rock, usually out in the water.

Phil Ross, 8/2015: Contrary to popular belief, the prehistoric Megalodon sharks teeth that we found on the shore came from the very bottom (shoreline level) of our cliffs, in that hard, dark blue clay; not in that very soft clay that makes up almost 100% of the visible part of the cliffs. Shark teeth are best found on the beach or just offshore within “gravel” sediment of the same size, i.e., large teeth will be found where you find sediment of similar size – which, in the case of large shark teeth, is in the larger gravel sediment just offshore and not in the tiny gravel sediment on the beach.

Skates and Horseshoe crabs didn’t start appearing in our sandbar areas until the late ‘50s ... and first appeared in the less-disturbed sandbars of Colony Cove.

From the Fairhaven Cliffs beach, it seemed like there were about a half-dozen or so sandbars on the way out to the nettle net. When the water was very clear, one could see the sandy bottom almost all the way out to the net. It was very clear in the ‘40s but seemed to slowly get slightly cloudier or murkier as time passed.


Creek and the Cove/Lake
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Creek flowing in front of Waltons, 1952Courtesy of Pat Keegan Grisby

Friends, 8/2015: The creek used to change direction after hurricanes. Sometimes it went straight into Herring Bay. Other times there would be a sandbar and it would run parallel to the bay can come out in front of Waltons. One time the creek got dammed up in the lake by a sandbar. When the dam broke the water came rushing out and kids rode the flow like a water slide. It lasted about 2 hours or more.


The creek was a good place to catch crabs. People used to catch snapping turtles in the lake for turtle soup. Snippy Revell’s wife Lil used to make turtle soup. There were
lots of king and black snakes, toads and turtles.
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Facing EAST from bridge;Courtesy S. Fritz-Owens


They rarely played by the lake in the summer. When they were kids, they used to think there were monsters in the lake. They knew the bottom was like quicksand, so you didn’t want to go it. Used to ice skate on the lake in the winter.
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View of lake from Padgett's store, 1950sCourtesy Peggy Jones McAllister




Phil Ross, 8/2015: When we ventured into the lake/pond area, using crab nets to try to catch turtles, we’d take the occasional snapping turtles to Mrs. Revel, as she would always be really happy to get ‘em when we caught ‘em. I’d park the boat at the bridge, take the turtle by its tail, and run in my bare feet all the way up to her house. My arm would really ache from carrying him at a safe arms-length distance all that way. (My feet were like shoe leather by mid-summer and were impervious to burning beach sand and summer-heated Macadam roads.)


Fish, Crabs, Birds and Wildlife
Friends, 8/2015: One time, the spot in the freezer came in handy. Phil was out in his row boat and saw something odd floating in the water. It was a baby osprey that had failed to fly on its maiden flight. He brought it home, dried if off, and thawed out some spot for it to eat. He kept the baby osprey on the roof and kept feeding it spot and water. One day, Phil tossed it in the air and the osprey flew a few feet to another neighbor’s roof. After a few more days of small flights, the osprey flew off on its own. Phil and Anne’s mother was happy about that.

Do NOT remember herons. Think they came later. They never saw an eagle then but had osprey. Lots of buzzards. Had bobwhites. Bluebirds lived in tree holes. Remember scarlet tanagers. Remember parents telling them to never disturb or touch a bird nest.

One time Anne and Lavina saw a baby skunk on the hillside of the cliff alongside JB’s house. They “rescued” it with their crab net and took it home to show Anne’s mom, Martha Ross. She told them to set it free outside.

The crabs were always amazing. They’d use a dip net. Also caught grass shrimp with nets. Probably used shrimp for bait for fishing. Anne dreaded having to put bloodworms on the hook when she went fishing early in the morning with her grandmother and mother. They used to go just beyond the nettle net and duck blind.

Caught tons of spot—dozens of “stinking little spot.” Used a straight/wooden rod with twine.Used spot for bait. Phil said it took him a long time to get over his dislike for fish after eating so much spot. Very boney. Their mother used to keep pounds of it in the freezer. Their grandfather caught rockfish with a reel. Also remember catching toad fish. Bluefish were caught south of Fairhaven, but not here. Charlie Walton was a fisherman. He used to tell them that to catch blues, you would “have to go down the bay.” They did not catch flounder.

Phil Ross, 8/2015: In the ‘50s, when crabs were running, one could just pick a good path between two sandbars and walk (or pole your row boat while standing on the bow) along that path, stopping only to (jump off the boat and) “net” your catch, and proceed onward. If you weren’t pulling or poling a boat, you might have an “inner tube” with a basket in it .. to hold your catch. On good days, you might net a dozen or two really nice-sized blue crabs. We used to always throw the females back regardless of size.

Boats and the Platform
Friends, 8/2015: They had row boats and canoes. Biggest (outboard) motor was 5 horsepower. Motors were so small you were better off using oars.

Platform had two decks most of the time. Part built on/by duck blind. Used to swim to the duck blind. The “net” worked well at keeping out jellyfish. The kids helped repair the jellyfish “net” in the spring. Took the net out in a row boat. Think the net was stored in Owings Cliffs. They also had a raft/float on oil drums. The raft was lots of fun. It was stored on the beach by Hisers.

Phil Ross, 8/2015: The floating platform (buoyed up by empty oil barrels) in the late ‘40’s(?), that was anchored halfway out (or more) towards where the nettle net would be, was affectionately called “the Float” ... by at least some of us.

The first “nettle net” that I remember was in the ‘50s, which was built around some existing old duck blind pilings. It had two platforms, one about a foot higher than the other; a wooden ladder on the outside and on the inside; and a rectangular, enclosed area. The enclosed area was on the outer side a sandbar, so that the shallow side was around three feet deep at low tide, and the deeper side was about six or seven feet deep at low tide. (This definitely should be corroborated.)

Kids' life in the 1950s
Friends, 8/2015: The“city people” would come for the whole summer. Dads would commute to their jobs. Some dads would take off a whole month to spend in Fairhaven w/their families. City kids hated to leave at the end of the summer.

Growing up here in the 40’s and 50s was “absolute heaven.” Would leave in the morning, come home to eat, go back out. Never looked at a clock. Not sure they owned one. They don’t remember being indoors. They weren’t afraid to get wet. Would be gone all day and no one would know where they were. But they were never too far because they had to walk. Never got in any “real” trouble. Anne said they were supposed to be within earshot of their mother’s whistle. Mrs. Ross had a distinctive whistle for Anne and Phil.

Peggy and Sue were the only girls who lived here year round—they joked that they had to be friends. Peggy lived at the top of Revel Rd. in Owings Cliffs in house while Sue lived at xxx Fairhaven Rd. They had free reign of the neighborhood when the city people were gone. Thy hiked through neighbors’ yards to get to see each other. They went everywhere and would be gone all day—because it took all day to come and go.

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Kids hanging out in the 'hood, 1954,Courtesy Sue Fritz Owens

They would swim all day until the jellyfish came.One day, Anne and her friend Lavina decided they were going to collect all of the jellyfish in the bay. They scooped them up and put them in a rowboat. Then Lavinia slipped and fell in and got stung!

They never wore shoes—always barefoot. They remember getting bee stings in the clover. One time Sue got a huge splinter in her foot and had to hop all the way home. She knew it was a big deal because her mother filled up the tub with several inches of water—usually they only got a couple of inches to take a bath. She told her mom it didn’t hurt; you wouldn’t want to have to start wearing shoes!

Parents worried about polio. Kids had to change bathing suits throughout the day because of concern wet bathing suits increased risk. Concern stemmed from the fact that Franklin Roosevelt came down with polio after swimming. However, polio wasn’t that common here. They knew of people who had it, but no one directly.

Some neighbors were doctors, and families went to them when they got hurt. One time Anne fell out of the car as it was driving at slow speed around the “loop.” Her parents took her to Dr. Conklin to see if she needed to go to the hospital.

They played “jacks” a lot, and canasta and other card games. Sue used to have paper dolls and bought new ones whenever they went to the store. Sue’s house had a big basement. They would roller skate in it.They used to put peanuts in Pepsi; it would fizz. “We were never bored.”

Sue and Peggy used to play in the woods a lot. Sue remembered making boats with leaves and floating them down the stream.

The church in Friendship used to have a Halloween party for the kids since they could not go trick-or-treating. Later, Gertrude Gingell made caramel-covered apples for them.

Other neighborhood landmarks
Friends, 8/2015: When they were teenagers, they did cross the “bridge.” One house in the flats used to have a pond in the yard.

When Rt. 2 was being rebuilt, the construction workers found an unmarked cemetary somewhere between Fairhaven. Rd. and Rt 258 (not sure where exactly). They had to stop work for months while they identified the remains, contacted families, and arranged for reburial.

The Fairhaven Hotel was torn down in 1933. House finished January 17, 1934.

Map of neighborhood, 1954, by Col. Merritt Booth, courtesy of Barbi Eversfield-Shields.

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