Darryl was born in Westminster in 1941. Darryl has spent his entire life in Carroll County.
JAMIE ADRIAN: I’m Jamie Adrian, and joining me today Darryl Seipp. It’s November 7, 2011. Thank you, Darryl, for being with us today and sharing your memories.
DARRYL SEIPP: You’re welcome.
JAMIE ADRIAN: I’d like to just start off with some basic questions. Can you tell us where and when you were born?
DARRYL SEIPP: I was born in Westminster here in Carroll County in 1941, 1st of September.
JAMIE ADRIAN: Good. And did you spend your entire life here growing up?
DARRYL SEIPP: Yes, I did.
JAMIE ADRIAN: Did you go to all your schools here?
DARRYL SEIPP: Yes, I did.
JAMIE ADRIAN: Where did you go to school?
DARRYL SEIPP: On Pennsylvania Avenue. I went to West End. I started my first, second, and third grade, West End School.
JAMIE ADRIAN: And who were your parents?
DARRYL SEIPP: Mr. and Mrs. Charles L. Seipp.
JAMIE ADRIAN: And what did your parents do? Were- was your mother a homemaker, or did she work outside of home?
DARRYL SEIPP: Mother was a homemaker, and dad was a– worked on the police force for Westminster.
JAMIE ADRIAN: You had said earlier to me off camera that he was the chief of police. Was that interesting having the chief of police as your father growing up?
DARRYL SEIPP: It was. Growing up as a child, you couldn’t be bad or anything, because he’d bring that up to you. He’s say, what will people think? So I had to be a perfect little kid.
JAMIE ADRIAN: And you said earlier to me that you have some siblings. How many siblings do you have?
DARRYL SEIPP: I have one sister and four brother.
JAMIE ADRIAN: Wow, that’s a big family. How was that like growing up with such a big family?
DARRYL SEIPP: Sometimes it was hectic. Everybody would be sitting around the table, and it was interesting. In the evenings, you sit out and talk about the day’s happenings. Nowadays, people doesn’t do that.
JAMIE ADRIAN: Um-hum. So can you tell me some interesting things about Westminster and this area from when you were growing up? Things that–
DARRYL SEIPP: I remember Westminster is the main street was on Friday and Saturday nights, that’s where all the shopping was. People would be on the street shopping, and for the– they’d close up about 12 o’clock. They rolled up the sidewalks, but people would be sitting and talking outside their cars, and have the doors open in summertime.
They’d go to the movies. We had two movie theaters, the State Theater and the Carroll on Main Street. They’d go to Coney Island and get a hot dog for $0.30 or whatever. We had the hot dog places, two of them, right next door to each other. They got along fine. They had plenty of competition. You know, they didn’t have no problems.
And the railroad was kind of the center downtown. My father used to direct traffic down there a lot because there was a lot of foot traffic. And on Friday, or mostly Friday or Saturday night, he would direct traffic down there and help people get across. And all the farm families would come to town to do their shopping. That was Saturday Night and Friday night.
And that was kind of the center, down at the railroad. There was a man there used to sell homemade candy. And dad’s police sign was there by the railroad where they parked their cars, and then they’d walk on foot patrol. And just mainstream was the thing. Where there’s no mall, you could walk to all the stores.
Uh– that’s about the only thing else I can tell you, that the Main Street was the main hub.
JAMIE ADRIAN: And where in Westminster did you grow up?
DARRYL SEIPP: I lived at Pennsylvania Avenue, 101 Pennsylvania. My father there, and his– his chief was up the street to him. There was two officers on Pennsylvania Avenue.
JAMIE ADRIAN: And what was your neighborhood like?
DARRYL SEIPP: Oh, just all us kids playing. At nighttime, you’d play high spy. Have a telephone pull out front. You’d cover your head, and run. And we had a streetlight there. That was a big thing, we’d play high spy in the evenings. And playing cowboys and Indians, too. Up around the back was a powerhouse that made all the hot water and power for the heat for the Western Maryland College.
It had a big stack and a cold pile. We’d be running around, playing on the cold like a– like in the Western movies. That as a thing we did, up in the back alleys playing cowboys. We’d reenact what we saw on the Saturday matinee theaters.
JAMIE ADRIAN: What sort of jobs have you had?
DARRYL SEIPP: Oh, when I grew up, um, I carried papers. When I started in fifth grade. Made a dollar and a quarter a week. I think when I left, when I was in 10th grade, I was up to $2.50. Then I was old enough to get a Social Security card, and then I started at GC Murphy Company. That was down by the railroad there where– I think the place is there, it’s a restaurant there now. I can’t think of the name of it offhand– Johansson’s. That was GC Murphy’s, five and dime.
I worked in the stock room there after school in the evening and worked Saturdays, Friday nights when the store was open. I think I ended up maybe making $20 a week clear. But that was the first real job where we worked on Social Security and everything.
And then after graduating from high school, I went into the arm and served three years. Now I come home, found a job over at Black and Decker, and I worked there 35 years until I retired.
JAMIE ADRIAN: OK.
DARRYL SEIPP: That’s the sum total.
JAMIE ADRIAN: What did you do in the army?
DARRYL SEIPP: Uh, I was in the security outfit. We had the secret clearances, and we guarded the secret base. That was the main thing we had there. I was in Germany, and I was over then when the war went up. It was very serious. It was– we thought was going to war there because we was on high alert.
JAMIE ADRIAN: Interesting. Um, can you think of somebody who’s been a big influence in your life, and what lessons did you learn from that person?
DARRYL SEIPP: My father. I figure that was the main. Yeah, dad. Cause he taught us boys to always tell the truth, you know, never tell lies, or don’t tell somebody you’re going to do something and then don’t do it. Always a big influence, and I’ve always tried to train my two boys the same way.
JAMIE ADRIAN: That’s great. That’s wonderful, and that’s something wonderful to share with your family. Can you think of some really happy moments that you had with your dad or maybe with your family as a whole, some fun things that you would do together?
DARRYL SEIPP: Oh, Christmas was a big time in my home because mom used to make a big dinner for all of us. Later on, the boys was married. They’d bring their wives and come. Bit Christmas dinner you need two tables for. One table would eat, and then they’d get up, and my mother made everything homemade. Bacon for Christmas and everything. That was a big thing.
And me and dad working together, like in the garden. His hobby was gardening, and I used to help him out around the garden. And that wood pile for cutting wood. We used to use wood to heat with. And we’d work together, and that’s how I learned. I learned a lot of things from him about what going on around town. I learned, uh, about hard work and doing a good job. When you did something, do it right.
That. and we went on, uh, family picnics and things. Never went away on big vacations or nothing. That was something you wouldn’t do in them days, vacations.
But mom was a– my mother as a great cook and everything. She influenced me, too, but dad was a lot on the other– on the discipline stuff.
JAMIE ADRIAN: Where did you take family picnics to? Did you say in the Carroll County area?
DARRYL SEIPP: We went up in Frederick, up to Gambrill State Park, Washington State Park. And one time when I was little, we went to the zoo down in Washington. That was a big thing. My brother-in-law was the driver. He used to always drive because we didn’t have a car at home. So, sister was married, and her husband used to take us. He was the main chauffeur.
Yeah, that was a big thing when I was just little, went down to Washington Zoo.
JAMIE ADRIAN: And I’m sure it took a long time to get down there compared to today.
DARRYL SEIPP: Yeah. Mm-hmm.
JAMIE ADRIAN: How have you seen Carroll County change over, um– well, since you’ve been here, over your lifetime?
DARRYL SEIPP: It’s not as simple now, I’ll put it that way. It was simples times then. Now it’s the traffic and the amount of people, you know, moving in, coming up from the city. And it’s just different. I don’t enjoy it like I did as a child. It’s– it’s sad, but I’m not going to run me out
But it’s grew too much. The county, I’m worried about we’re losing a lot of our farmland. Carroll County was, you know, a rural area. It’s just the way it was. But now, it’s growing up, a lot more people, and people you don’t know. When I was a kid, you could go around and leave your doors unlocked. Now, you can’t do that.
We do not have no drugs in Westminster. The only drugs you heard of as a kid was dope for painting your airplane dope and stuff. That’s one thing you knew about, dope. That’s– that’s the sad part, you know. It’s just not as quaint as it was.
Uh, that’s about all. It’s just that the change is not good, I’ll put it that way.
JAMIE ADRIAN: Has your family, the rest of your children, stayed in the area?
DARRYL SEIPP: Yes. Well, the closest one lives in Westminster, the oldest son, and the other one lives furthest. He lives in Pennsylvania up at Littlestown. I have two sons.
JAMIE ADRIAN: So just a couple more questions to sort of finish up. Things I like to ask is how would you like to be remembered, either by your family or by your friends?
DARRYL SEIPP: I think have been friends. They’re worth– to me, they’re worth their weight in gold. Good friends you can call by– you know, that’ll help you out when yo need help, or you help them out. I’ve always told some of my friends, I said I’m like the old pioneers. I said, if your cabin’s on fire and the Indians are attacking, and I hear it, I’ll grab my rifle and b coming to helping you.
That’s the way I am. I believe, you know, being a good neighbor and treating people the way you want to be treated. I think that’s the most important thing. I’d just like to be remembered to that, as a good, honest guy.
JAMIE ADRIAN: And if there anything else you’d like to share with me today?
DARRYL SEIPP: I can’t think of anything right off hand, Jamie, but, uh, it’s just that, uh, it’s growed too big around here. That’s what I don’t like to see. I like Westminster the way it used to be. Saturday matinees at the State Theater, which the State Theater’s gone. The only thing we have left is where the Carroll is is now the Art Center. They show a film now and then.
But that was– that was the theater out there, and the State was downtown there close to, uh, John Street, which is tore down now. And they was the ones that showed all the westerns on Saturdays, serials. Every week, you had to go back, catch up to the serial.
And, um, I– that’s just the things I remember. Carrying papers, and you– I just walked my route. Now children don’t even have a chance for a job like that. No jobs for kids to do after school like bagging groceries. They don’t do that no more. It’s sad that– it’s hard for children to get jobs now while you’re in school.
One of the mayor’s friends, Mr. Frank Thomas– uh, Thomas, Bennett, and Hunter– he got a ticket because he was parked on the fire hydrant. He called dad in wanting him to take the ticket back, and he wouldn’t do it. So he was– he said, OK, I’ll quit, then. I’ll go home and take the uniform, and bring it back. And the other officers all backed him up because my brother Earl come home from school, and I guess up at East End.
He said, they were all sitting mad in the front room. Of course, [INAUDIBLE] was wrong, and I don’t know if they told him or not, but they all– so that night the city didn’t have no officers on duty. They were all quit. Because he– next morning, he apologized to my father and reinstated him.
But he believed in why should one man get away with not paying a ticket? That’s– that’s the way you want to be, being honest, you know? Otherwise, that wouldn’t graft.
JAMIE ADRIAN: You said your father became an officer in ’25?
DARRYL SEIPP: 1925.
JAMIE ADRIAN: And chief in ’40–
DARRYL SEIPP: 1946 became chief until he retired in 1965.
JAMIE ADRIAN: Um-hum.
DARRYL SEIPP: He always said he wanted to make 40 years, 1925 to ’65. Yeah.
Yeah, and the force was enlarging then later on– after the War. That’s when they started getting more men. It was veterans that come home, and I– I used to talk– sit over at City Hall. Before I went to school, I sit there and talk to all of them about the war stories, get souvenirs from them and stuff. I knew all of them in that picture there.
And it was, uh, good times, and the armory down there is where the recruiter was where I joined. Not it’s a city center where they do exercise and stuff, a community center.
But, uh, yeah, that was one of the stories. But that night they didn’t have no officers on duty because they all backed my father up.
Then the mayor apologized to him and reinstated him. I guess they have anymore problems. They knew they wouldn’t get away with anything like that.
But to this day, anybody sees a picture in the paper, they’ll say, oh, your father, he was a good man. I never– there might have been somebody that didn’t like him somewhere’s, but far as I know, everybody told me he was a good man. It’s just the older people in Westminster would know him.
Yeah, I always say I’m the baby. It was, uh– my father was a lot older when I– the other kids were older. My mom was back like 39, and dad was about nine years older. He about 48 when I come along, cause he always used to refer to me as the baby.
Yeah. Anything else I can help?
JAMIE ADRIAN: You got lots of good stories. I could listen to you all day.
DARRYL SEIPP: One– one man clipped him one time with a flashlight.
JAMIE ADRIAN: [LAUGHS]
DARRYL SEIPP: He was drunk and disorderly down on Main Street, and that was a big thing on Friday and Saturday night. The crime wasn’t. The most thing was drunk and disorderly. People, you know, carried on on the street. And you never want drunks staggering around when people are shopping. The pavement was full of people. You walked on each other’s heels because there’s no mall. It was all the stores were along Main Street.
I think dad put him in the sidecar, on the motor. He went around to get on to crank it, and he carried a flashlight. And a big one was about 8 battery– 8, 10 cell battery. A big flashlight, about a foot long. He took and cold cocked my father. So, he was all bloody and everything, and he took him to jail.
And they all– they all were kidding my father later about Dewey Martin clipping him with the flashlight. Nobody knows– he didn’t do nothing to him on the street. He got him over in the jail–
He was mouthing off and carrying on over, and he said, I think one of the turnkeys or the deputies there. Somehow my brother found out, one of the older brother. So dad just took him, went boom! And he just slid right down the wall like a dead fly, and he didn’t run his mouth anymore. So he got his justice.
That was the cheap shot, but that’s the only time I ever heard my father or anybody, you know, trying to pick a fight with him.
I think another one
Another one was in the city restroom.
JAMIE ADRIAN: Um-hum.
DARRYL SEIPP: There was a drunk and disorderly fellow in there, and dad was out in the car. and one of the other officers went in, was pleading with him to come out. And there was a lady worked in there. In later years, she married one of the other officers. But she was a waitress. She told me the story that dad got tired of waiting on her. He come in, picked the guy by the scruff of the neck and the seat of the pants, and just slid him across the floor to the door. And then he went off to jail. That was another story that I heard.
JAMIE ADRIAN: He was quite a character, I’m sure.
DARRYL SEIPP: Now it would be police brutality. They used to use– they carried a little blackjack on them. People got [INAUDIBLE]. They– well, they disciplined them. People had respect for the law.
I don’t know anymore stories like that. I knew dad would make me pick up a drunk on Friday or Saturday night. People got paid then, and they’ve be celebrating too much. Dad would take him home to his wife, you know. But if he turned around and come back down to fight him, then he went over to the cooler, over to the old jail, which was a dank and dark place. I was in there one time, looked at that as a kid. Bugged him to take me over to see it. It was some place to see.
Then’s when the sheriff’s wife used to cook for the prisoners, too, in those days, the county.
JAMIE ADRIAN: Oh, neat.
DARRYL SEIPP: Yeah, yeah. They lived there, the sheriff. Him and his wife lived in their quarters, and then she cooked the meals. Dad used to say, they got a big meal in the evening, and lunch was like black– black coffee and molasses bread. Now it would be cruel and unusual punishment.
The stone building, though. They didn’t have all this fancy one like they got now where they can learn to work computers and all that stuff. But they had the harsh times in that jail.
And, uh, like I said, the sheriff’s wife was– just the county supplied the food and everything, and they cooked, and they lived there until they was voted out or whatever.
Yeah. That’s some stories. I can’t– the railroad was the big thing down there. Uh, I don’t– if you had pictures of it, it showed the gates down there. They use to– a man would come out of the watch box, and blow a whistle, and lower the gates. Cars would stop, and then the trains would come through [INAUDIBLE]. At nighttime, it would get dark. He’d blow the whistle and lower the gates, and go out and hang a red lantern on it.
Because I used to visit down at the station with my older worked in the railroad. When I was older, I walked down and shoot– shoot the breeze with him and watch the trains come down. And I used to talk to the watchman in the box. That was his job, sitting in this old building and take care of the gates when a train come. I used to think, man that’s the kind of job I’d like to have. Course, the railroad did away with it.
He was a veteran, too. I used to sit there and talk. He had a little potbelly stove in there. He sit there with the door open, it’s be so hot in there. But, uh, he would go out and put the gates down, and then later on they got the automatic system and did away with the gates. So that cut a job.
Yeah, kind of, I would say the railroad’s kind of the hub of things in downtown, Friday and Saturday nights. People would– that’s how they all knew my father. All the farmers come to town. Everybody knew who Charlie– they call call him Charlie. Some would call him the chief. But he had a good reputation.
I– he’d be here now. He wouldn’t understand how the town’s gone because he was from another– he was in the other century, in the 1893s when he was born. Used to tell me all kind of stores. We’d be working together, working in the garden, and the wood pile and stuff. That’s where I learned a lot of stuff, how it used to be.
Uh, I know another story. He get a good deed for– up at Grace Lutheran Church. He used to be our minister up there. He used to be my minister, too, with Pastor Eckhart. He said when he was a young college student, he was walking down, and he said my father stopped him. Said hop in, and they took him up Western Maryland to call for him. Just little things he would do like that. He still remembers that. He used to tell me, he said, your dad stopped and picked me up, slipped me up to the college in the sidecar. That was just one of the stories.
JAMIE ADRIAN: Well, those are great stories. I appreciate your sharing those with us.
DARRYL SEIPP: Glad to be able to do it.