Haines grew up as a farm boy. he lived on a farm on Bethel Road in Carroll County, MD. He lived on the same street of both sets of grandparents.
INTERVIEWER: This is John [INAUDIBLE]. I’m interviewing Donald E. Haines, a lifetime resident of, uh, Carroll County. He Grew up in the Winfield and Woodbine areas. Don, could you, uh, tell us something about your early childhood?
DONALD HAINES: Well, I was, a, uh, farm boy, uh, like, uh, a lot of young fellows my age. I grew up on a farm, uh, on Bethel Road. Bethel Road is– was and still is a dirt road that runs between Gillis Road and Woodbine Road. And, uh, in the same neighborhood, I had to both sets of grandparents. I could walk a mile in one direction, and I would be my paternal grandparents’ home, and, uh, another direction. I would be at, uh, my maternal grandparents’ home, so.
Uh, I was– all my life I’d been big on family, extended family as well as immediate. Some of my, uh, earliest friends and playmates were– were blood relatives, um, and because, I guess, of my– my background, I was– I was at an uncle’s funeral in 1994, and we had talked about the fact that, uh, we’d gotten to the point where we only see each other at, uh– at funerals and that, uh, our family had a– a lot of, uh, history that went back a long ways. And, uh, when we looked at, uh, my uncle Jake, actually, at the– in his casket, we were talking about what a great guy he was and how Uncle Jake in time would be forgotten because the only history was oral history.
I spoke up– somebody else spoke up and said somebody ought to do a book. And I don’t know whether it was foolish or not, but I spoke up and said, well, I’ll write one, and the result of, uh, my impetuous, uh, desire was, uh, this book that I started writing in early ’94. It came out in, uh, ’95. And this was my first attempt at, uh, writing anything, up until now, nothing but, uh, essays in school, maybe letters to the editor, something like that. But all in all, I think it turned out really well, and the other members of, uh, our family will now have this to, uh, refer to when they want to go into their family history and look up just where they came from.
I think, uh, it’s a pretty good record of the Haines family and my mom’s family, the Bair family, and that’s what I entitled it, The Haines Family, Bair Family– Carroll County, Maryland. So that’s, uh– that was the story.
INTERVIEWER: That’s great and very interesting. Not many people have, uh, or are fortunate enough to have that much history.
DONALD HAINES: I think that’s true too. Most families don’t.
INTERVIEWER: What are some of your fondest memories of growing up on the farm before school? What kind of chores did you do?
DONALD HAINES: Well, on the farm you always had, uh, uh, chores. Um, I know the earliest part of my life we had, uh, milk cows, what had to be milked twice a day. And I was too young to really have to participate in that, but later on we did have just one family cow for milk, and her name was Brooksy Belle, and that was my job. I had to milk Brooksy morning and night. Uh, we had quite a relationship over the years, and I still miss Brooksy, to tell you the truth.
And we had also three horses on the farm, so and, uh, I was always an animal person. I was not a machinery person. I didn’t really have anything– want anything to do with tractors or any of the farm machinery, but the animals were my– were my thing. Uh, when it came to butchering day, every, well, about this time of year, November, uh, by that time, I had already made friends with all the hogs that were going to be slain, so I could not observe that being done. But I did help with other things as far as getting wood– wood for the other things, wood for the fire, stuff like that. But, uh, I was just an animal person, and, uh, I used to think a lot of ribbing for that when I got too close to all the animals. But, uh, I’m still an animal person, that’s for sure.
INTERVIEWER: That’s great. Where’d you go to school?
DONALD HAINES: Well, my first, uh, uh, six years, uh, were at, uh, Winfield School– elementary school. Uh, well, in fact, I was there seven years because– and my grandkids love this story. I flunked the first grade, so. They– it’s something they can’t connect to. But I spent seven years at Winfiled School. And at the time, you had a choice when it came to high school of Mount Airy or Sykesville, and since my, uh, family tradition was Mount Airy, that’s where I spent my high school years, uh, graduating in 1953.
INTERVIEWER: Throughout your teenage years and your farm years, uh, was there any special crops or special memories you have of, uh, working on the farm?
DONALD HAINES: Well, you know, we did all the– the traditional stuff, you know, hay and wheat and, um, corn, things like that. But really our big crop and our cash crop was, uh, wormseed. Uh, wormseed, uh, is really a big part of Carroll County history because, in fact, it’s a history of only one half of Carroll County, from about Westminster south. Um, it’s the only place in the world where wormseed was grown, and, uh, it was a, uh, crop that involved a lot of hard work.
Every step was hard work. The first thing you had to do in March, you had to go out in the woods, and you had to cut down trees and clear stumps because the wormseed that had been saved from the previous year would only grow in new ground, ground that had never grown anything before. So, uh, you made the, what we called the, wormseed bed in March. And probably the last of March, uh, first of June, uh, the fields would be tilled and prepared for the wormseed plant.
We would have to go out in the woods, the wormseed bed, pull the plants, uh, one at a time. And we had a, uh, what we called a wormseed plantary– a, uh, transplanter– uh, pulled by either a tractor or a couple of our horses, and the plant had to be planted one, uh, plant at a time. Uh, my parents were– did most of the, uh, planting. Uh, uh, my mom would sit on one side of the planter, my dad, on the other, and they were a great team, mainly because my mom was right-handed, so she could plant with the right hand, and my dad, on the other side, was left-handed. He planted with this, uh, left hand.
And, of course, after the plants got in the ground, uh, in [INAUDIBLE], I believe some of them would die, so you had to go down the row, and with a wooden peg you would replace the plant that had died. And after that, you waited until about the last part of September, first of October, and that’s when, uh, you got the crop in. Now, wormseed– it was a one-step-at-a-time thing, and you had to do just about everything by hand. You– the– the root grew very crooked, so it had to be, uh, cut with a, uh, wormseed cutter one plant at a time. And you just left it lay in the field, uh, to– to cure.
And, uh, after a few days, after it had cured, you had to get up very early in the morning. It was about– about 3:00 AM. And with pitchforks, we’d put the wormseed plant on the wagon. One person would be on the wagon to load, and you’d have two or three, even four people, uh, getting the wormseed plant on the pitchforks and putting it up to– to the loader.
And after– after that, uh, there were, uh, various places around the county that had what they called a wormseed still. Uh, and our nearest one most of our life was, uh, Mr. Gus Fleming’s wormseed still up on what is now Fleming Road. Uh, actually, before that, my father, uh, had a wormseed still, uh, on our farm for a while.
Uh, they’re like giant pressure cookers, I would say, that you put the plant in. And there again, it had to be, uh, tossed off, uh, the, uh– the truck or the wagon, whatever you had loaded it onto, into one of these giant pressure cookers. Then you had people in there who would tramp it down, so you could get in as much as you could.
And then you clamp the lid down, and the oil from the wormseed plant would come a spigot into a– into a bucket. And that’s what you sold, uh, to usually a supplier or suppliers in New York City. It’s– a lot of people, uh, would sell it to the guy who did the distilling, but there were some people, like the Harrison brothers, they would take the, uh– the liquid. It– it– it was weighed by pounds, even though was liquid– liquid. And they would journey to New York City, uh, because there was no middle man, and they would get a better price.
Of course, they also got a trip to New York City, which was a big deal for around here. So I’m not sure whether it was about the money or getting to go to New York, but anyway. I never got to go to New York myself, but.
INTERVIEWER: That’s very interesting and something very few people are aware of.
DONALD HAINES: Yeah, well, there again, if you want to read the Haines Family, Bair Family, there’s a large– big chapter on– on wormseed. That way wormseed will never be forgotten, because we haven’t grown it since ’61, so the number of folks who remember it, it gets smaller every year, so I’m glad I could record that.
INTERVIEWER: That’s great. After high school, what– what happened in your life?
DONALD HAINES: Well, my first attempt at college, uh, I have to be very candid, was a disaster.
INTERVIEWER: Not unusual.
DONALD HAINES: What that’s?
INTERVIEWER: Not unusual.
DONALD HAINES: No, I don’t think so. I wasn’t the only one that happened to. Anyway, when I came, uh, back from, uh– from college, of course, I needed the job, and knew that I didn’t want to, uh, uh, be a farmer. I– I was, uh– you know, working the– the– the dawn-to-dusk, uh, job, I didn’t think would be for me. So somebody suggested that, uh, maybe I would go down to, uh, Springfield State Hospital, which was one of the larger– it may have been the largest employer in Carroll County. I don’t know.
Uh, so like I say, at– at– up until that time, I didn’t know what I was going to be good at. Uh, but sometimes you– you sort of stumble onto things. So I had to have a job, so I went down there, and it didn’t– and they put me, uh, on a ward with the psychiatric patients– very, very sick people. But it didn’t take long to realize that hey, I can do this. And, uh, so I went to, um– I’d only been there about four or five months and really wasn’t eligible to go to their practical nursing school, but I must have impressed somebody because they suggested that I apply, and I- I did, and I got in.
I was still very green, and as far as, uh, knowing anything about how– really, how to take care of sick people, I didn’t know anything yet. But at the end of that year, uh, I did very well in the school. And, uh I went through– and I stayed at the Springfield for about two and a half years, and then me and a couple of other guys, buddies of mine, we got– we kinda got itchy feet, and we decided we were gonna go somewhere. We were all single guys.
So I had a car, and we decided– well, the place to go back then, if you wanted to go anywhere, was California. Every– that’s where everybody wanted to go, so we said, what the heck. We’ll go. We’ve got nothing holding us. So– so– and I remember that we drove almost straight through the 2,800 miles. You know. you’d get in the back, sleep a while, and somebody else would drive. And I think one night in around New Mexico we did stop at motel and sleep for a few hours, and, uh– and finally ended up in, uh, Riverside, uh, California. And we worked in a hospital there for– for awhile, another state hospital in California.
And it was at that point that my draft notice came. Back then, you know, John, that everybody, if you were physically able, you– you went in the military, whether you– you didn’t have a choice.
DONALD HAINES: That’s the way it was. So anyway, I knew my mom would want me to come home before I left home again, so we came, uh, back to Maryland. Uh, and I, for a while, I was at Mount Wilson State Hospital, uh, for about three or four months. I came home, got my physical examination, passed that, but I still didn’t know when I was gonna go in the army. So it was a TB sanitarium at the time. We don’t have those anymore because TB– TB has been pretty much eradicated, and there are, like I said, no more TB hospitals.
But I did very well there, and then the army informed me that, uh, um, that I would be going in, uh, either March or April. And I– when I heard March, I said, well, it’s kinda cold in March, and I’m wondering how I can rearrange to wait til April to go in. Well, somebody said, why don’t you go up to Mount Airy and talk to Zeke Watkins. Zeke Watkins was a recruiting sergeant for the army, and he was a Mount Airy native all of his life, and– but he ran the recruiting office up in Frederick.
So I went up and talked to him, and he said, well, what you can do is– you’re gonna be drafted, so what you can do– you can– you can join the reserves, and then you could pick a time when you want to do your active duty. And I said, well, I’d like to start on April first. He said, well, we’ll sign you up right here, and you’re gonna be a reservist until April first, and then you’ll go on active– go an active duty. So that’s how I got in the US Army. I was still technically a draftee– draftee– in the sense that I would not have went if I didn’t have to go, but I was considered a, uh– a reservist and would end up spending, uh, six years in the, uh– in the military.
I– I kinda took to Army life, and, uh, uh, I found out that it really gave me the sort of– a sense of discipline that up until that time, I– I didn’t– didn’t really have, you know. But the– the military will make you grow up in a hurry, and I think, uh, that– that happened to me. And it wasn’t until I got my own family and was not looking forward to being assigned somewhere where they couldn’t go, uh, that after six years I– I got out of the, uh– the military.
INTERVIEWER: After the military, I assume you went back into nursing, and you remained in that career– the nursing career.
DONALD HAINES: Yes, I did. I was, uh– I was– went down to, uh, Spring Grove State Hospital in– in Catonsville. Um, they– they were doing, um, psychiatric research down here, and that’s something I thought would interest me. So I– I worked there for something like, uh, nine years, I guess. And then, uh, I saw an ad in the paper. Uh, the University of Maryland had ran an ad that they were looking for a nurse to, uh, work in infectious disease research.
Well, I hadn’t done much with infectious diseases, but I had worked in the TB hospital. So that’s a communicable– communicable disease. And I– so I went down, and I interviewed for that job, and I remember that the– the– the pay they were offering was much better than I was getting at Spring Grove. The downside was the job was at the state prison at Jessup. Well, needless to say, I hadn’t had no experience working with, uh, criminals before. Uh, but the criminals down there were, in fact, our– our patients.
Uh, they would be admitted to our unit, and I’d tell people that, uh, we would make them sick, and then we would cure them, and that’s essentially what it was. We worked with a lot of really, uh, bad stuff. We worked with cholera, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, typhoid, all kinds of bad stuff, and, uh– but the, uh, inmates who volunteered for, uh, our research studies, uh, we– we had plenty of subjects because their prison job would pay a max of a dollar a day. Uh, with our– if they wanted to do one of our studies, we’d pay them $2 a day. So that’s a 100% increase in salary.
Let me say right now that you can’t do this anymore. I stayed out there until 1976, and I– and I tell people that it took me two years to get used to working in a prison. But at the end of eight and a half years, when we were actually forced to leave, uh, I really didn’t want to leave. I had, at that point, adapted.
But,uh, a doc down at University of Maryland Hospital ha seen the writing on the wall, and he knew that research with– with prisoners was coming to end, so he had went in there, and he had opened another unit where he used college students, uh, folks off the street, and he asked me if I’d like to come in their and work for him. So I– I went in there and was on that unit. I had a total of 10 years, uh, on that unit. I was actually there, uh, uh, three different times.
It was while I was at the prison, however, that– back to my army days. When I got out of the military in 1963, there was no GI Bill, no– you couldn’t get college paid for. And I had a family, so I– I couldn’t do anything as far as furthering my education. But then, uh, during Vietnam, they came out with a new, uh, GI Bill. And since, uh, I had not been discharged until 1963, and the Vietnam era actually started ’61, even though I had never been in Vietnam, I was considered essentially a Vietnam vet, so I had a, uh– I could get, uh, a check every month, and, uh, so I went back to school, uh, through the VA, and I’ve always been very grateful for this.
And I was able to become a registered nurse, and it meant a– a lot over the years as far as a salary went. It was much better– much better pay, and so– and that’s what I did. Uh, stayed with the state for 36 years but always worked two jobs. So most of the hospitals in Baltimore, if you went there now and talked to somebody who had been there a while, they would know me, because I probably hit that hospital. And so, but it wasn’t– I did that until really 2000.
I was 66 years old. I had, uh, about 46 years, uh, in nursing, in working, and I decided it was a– it would be a good time to retire. And I haven’t been– haven’t been sorry.
INTERVIEWER: Now, I know that besides your active career, you also have been very active in sports, especially in supporting the neighborhood children and the boys in Little League and whatnot.
DONALD HAINES: Yeah, it was in 1972. I had, uh, uh, two– two kids who were in that age group, and I had talked to somebody up and Winfield Little League, and they said they were looking for another team, and, uh, I’ve always liked working with kids, and I’m a sports nut. So essentially I created what, uh, became the Woodbine Tigers. It was a Little League team. Uh, we played up at the Winfield. They allowed us to come into their league. And, uh, I had that team for four years, I guess.
And I– it– it– it has to be one of the highlights of my life, I guess. See, I didn’t know what it would be going in, but more importantly, uh, I could tell that it meant a lot to the kids that played on my team, so. It was few years back that, uh, one of my sons called me on Saturday, and he asked if, uh, he could bring some of his friends, and we were gonna go over to Salt Box Park and play some softball.
And I had never played softball at Salt Box Park, but I’m pretty gullible. I said, well, I’ll go over there. So anyway, I go over there, and I walk in, and they have all these signs, “welcome Woodbine Tiger alumni,” all this stuff. Anyway, it was a giant celebration organized by now grown men, uh, who had been on my team back in the 1970s. Uh, we had two, uh, brothers who came all the way from Maine to participate in our reunion.
INTERVIEWER: Wow, that’s impressive.
DONALD HAINES: Uh, a young– one– one of my pitchers, who was in California, he couldn’t make it, but he sent a very long letter describing what the team meant to him. I had no idea it meant that much to these kids, you know, when I was doing it, but apparently it did. But we had a good reunion, and, uh, this– we went out to I think Friendly Forms on 140, and on the marquee they had, “welcome Woodbine Tigers.” We went in there, and we had a meal. We had a great time. But it was, uh– it, uh, it– any doubts I had about should I have worked in Little League, uh, were dispelled at that time. I realized it was– it was well worth it to all these guys
But after Little League, too, I did do four years in a Babe Ruth Baseball, which is age 13 to 15, so. Uh, and I can remember back in ’60s, when the 4-H club had– they wanted somebody to coach one of their, uh– a basketball team– the 4-H club. So I did that for a while. We would play a tournament every year, I think, in Westminster. Uh, I did that for three years. I know I had the same kids for years. And the first year, we got beat the first game. I think we scored one point, but at that age group, a year makes a big difference.
So the next year we won five or six games, whatever it took, and we won the tournament. And by the third year when we went up there, I was feeling sorry for the other teams because we– we were dominant. So that’s another, uh– a good memory. But, uh, I think all the kids who did that, uh– they will remember it too. But, uh, like I say, I’ve always, uh, liked working with kids and always thought that I sort of had a knack for it.
INTERVIEWER: You said you retired in 2000?
DONALD HAINES: Right.
INTERVIEWER: What have you done since 2000? You don’t like a man that’s just going to lay around the house and do nothing.
DONALD HAINES: No, I can’t. I have to do something every day. I’m obsessive like that. Well, anyway, like I say, this– the book Haines Family, Bair Family, that was actually the first thing I ever wrote, but I had always been good with the written word. Uh, in school, uh, I was very good at essays, things like that. And, um, as far as handling the written word, uh was always good at it, enjoyed writing, so I was– I decided I would just take a– a crack at freelance writing.
And my first, I think it was in ’96, I, uh, wrote a piece about, uh, uh, nursing, about being a man in essentially a woman’s world and what it was like. And I– I sent it into a nursing magazine, Nursing Spectrum. Not a very big publication, but it’s just something nurses subscribe to, and they sent me check a for $75. And I said, well, I think I’ve got something to do during– during my retirement years.
So I started, uh, writing for magazines, and I would say that if you’re going to start writing, the one thing– the kind of person you have to be, you have to be somebody who knows how to deal with rejection, because you’re going to get rejected a lot. You can send something out you think is good, but the magazine, they won’t think so. I started out with small magazines, and, you know, some of them I didn’t get anything for. But what I was doing, I was getting what they call clips, which showed that I could write.
So then I started sending stuff to, uh, bigger magazines. Uh, I don’t whether you’re familiar with the Chicken Soup books or not, but, uh, uh, they wanted a– the Chicken Soup people wanted a, uh, wanted stories, uh, for Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul. And I said, well, I was a nurse for a long time, and I had some very good experiencee– funny experiences, touching experiences. So, uh, I sent a submission into them, and it’s pretty competitive. They– they take 2,000 submissions, and they published– they publish 100, so you have a 1 in 20 chance of getting into the Chicken Soup book. But I got into the Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul.
And I’m in my 11th year of writing the “Nostalgia” column for Carroll Seniors mag. Uh, it’s, uh, something that’s been a lot of fun. I have to send in a piece, uh, every, uh, month about the old days, sometimes my childhood. But then I interview other people about things they’ve– they have done. I know in December– a lot of Decembers I would hunt up a, uh– a Pearl Harbor survivor, and we had several around here. And would interview them and– and write– write about that.
And, um, my wife Sheila, she’s from North Carolina, so we go down there at least once a year, and, uh, she’s got some brothers who live down there, who sort of– I call them ‘old mountain men.’ But they can– they took me some– to some unbelievably out-of-the-way places. And there’s a magazine called Our State, and I’ve sent in several submissions, uh, from stories that I did down in, uh, the North Carolina– uh, very nice magazine, nice to work with.
Also another, uh, magazine most people are familiar around here called Blue Ridge Country and, um, I have a story in that, uh, about a long-ago murder down in the mountains of North Carolina. And Blue Ridge Country still has this listed on their website as one of their best stories, so I am rather proud of that. And I’m really into history, so, uh, I did a story for World War II History Magazine about three young fellas, uh, during the– after the Pearl Harbor attack found themselves in the pump room of the USS West Virginia marooned down there. And, uh, for 16 days they banged to try to get somebody to come and get them, but nobody could come and get them.
In the pump room they had an a eight-day clock. They had a calendar, and with every 24 hours that passed, they’d mark off a date on the calendar. The last date marked off was Christmas Eve of 1941. In May of 1942, the salvage people finally got into that pump room, and they found these fellows all huddled together on a shelf, uh, down in the pump room. It’s a heart-wrenching story.
When I did this, I contacted family members, survivors, and they were very nice. They sent me old newspaper clippings about, uh, uh, their, uh, brothers. You– it– it was always brothers. And, uh, they also send me photos of them when they were little guys before they ever went in the navy– a very, very, very touching story, probably one of my– my favorite stories, the guys on the West Virginia.
And then there’s a magazine called Vietnam Magazine, and I did a story in this about a lady photojournalist named Dickey Chapelle, uh, a very gutsy lady who went in with the troops. And not like a lot of photojournalist who did their reporting from a bar stool somewhere, uh, this lady went right in with them– uh, magnificent person. I really enjoyed doing– doing– doing her– doing her– her story.
And there’s a local magazines, another very nice magazine, called Maryland Life, and I’ve been in this magazine, um, several times. They’re located up in Frederick. And, uh publishing– publishing has changed a lot because you do just about everything by email. I– I have no idea what the editor looks like. The folks up there, I don’t know even know what they sound like, because I do the photos and every– and the manuscript– all via email. But I’ve had a good– I’ve really enjoyed, uh, working with them.
Uh, now this one, I don’t know; you might want to, uh, edit this one out. But, um I don’t know whether you remember or not, but starting back in the ’30s, they had what they called True Detective Magazines?’
INTERVIEWER: I remember those.
DONALD HAINES: Yeah, OK, and, uh, there was always on the– there was always a scantily clad lady on the cover carrying a great big gun. And I think they’ve used the– they use the same gun all the time, but they change the scantily clad ladies. But I, uh, have covered some of Maryland’s most famous, uh, crimes for True Detective Magazines. Unfortunately, this, uh, market, uh, died out. The National Enquirer, uh, bought Glove Communications, and they decided to discontinue the detective magazines, which kind of broke my heart, but I guess detective magazines weren’t raunchy enough for National Enquirer. I don’t know what the problem was.
Another series of articles– I’ve done, uh, 13 stories on what I call my ‘fallen officer stories.’ It’s the stories of, um, police officers who have been killed in line of duty by gunfire. The first, uh, story I ever did was our, uh, young, uh, Randy Brightwell, who was Woodbine boy here. He is still the only Howard County policeman killed in the line of duty, uh, by gunfire. He met two bad men on a dark road one night on a traffic stop, and they– they murdered him.
Uh, I’ve also done, uh– there are eight state– Maryland State troopers who have been killed by gunfire in line of duty, and I’ve done all of those stories also. One of the most memorable probably was, uh, Ted Wolf, who killed down on I-95 by a couple bad guys in the middle of the night. He made the mistake of putting them in a car with him while he wrote out a ticket. And one of them was, uh, armed and shot him in the head, and he, of course, was killed. So, uh, I said when I did the last state trooper, uh, story that, uh, I hope, uh, that it’s the last one.
And I’ve also done two Baltimore County policemen– a gentleman named John Stem, who lived right here, uh, on Hoods Mill Road. Um, John was not killed, uh, uh, at the time, but he was paralyzed and spent the rest of his life, uh, in a wheelchair. He actually died of cancer that became so far advanced because being paralyzed from the waist– above the waist down. He had use of his arms. He could not feel pain, so the cancer was doing its dirty work for many, many years, and apparently he finally felt something. He wasn’t sure. Anyway, when they, uh, uh, operated on John, they found that the cancer was so far spread that it was inoperable, and he died just a few years ago.
And, um, I’ve also been in–in Baltimore Magazine. Baltimore is a, what I call a ‘uptown magazine.’ It’s more like for sophisticated people, uh, but I did manage to, uh, get in Baltimore Magazine one time, which is not– not an easy chore. And, uh, that’s as far as– that’s some of the magazines I’ve been in. I couldn’t possibly show them all to you.
INTERVIEWER: Obviously you’ve been busy in your retirement.
DONALD HAINES: Oh, yes, I am, yeah. Really, the latest project, my writing project, um, uh, August of 2006 I was, um, approached by a couple of Westminster guys, one of whom knew that I was a writer, and he knew that I enjoyed sports. And they had the, uh, vision of doing a– somebody doing a sports history of Carroll County. So they approached me, and this is, uh– this is a project I had to think about long and hard because you can imagine how much work, um, went into this book. Uh, it came out last, uh, January, has been well received.
And, um, like I say, this, uh, the people– I had two other people who backed it financially, and they wanted to do it first class all the way. So it’s– it’s a hardcover. It’s fully indexed. We even have a dust cover. And, um, like I say, um, I could not have done this on my own because I would not have had the funds to do it. Two other people paid for the– the whole thing. And right now, I think, uh, that we will be able to recoup their investments for them. I certainly hope.
INTERVIEWER: That’s– that’s great. You’re a– you’ve also been very active in some community, uh, organizations, especially the American Legion.
DONALD HAINES: Yeah, I’m very proud to be a member of Post 191 in Mount Airy. Uh, I didn’t join the Legion until really after I retired because I would not have had time to be an active member anyway, and I couldn’t see joining something just to be on the member list. But, uh, I was chaplain for four years, and right now, really, my only duties are I do edit the newsletter, which comes out six times per year.
But, uh, I take pride in being a member up there because, uh, 191 is a very active post, and they do a lot of work, and they’re a valuable member of the community, and they’re really– uh, of course it’s a veterans group, and they do a good job of looking out for– for veterans. And, um, and I think once you’ve been a vet, you have an affinity for other vets. You want– if– if you’re going well, you know, you want to help somebody out that’s not doing well.
INTERVIEWER: You’ve obviously had a very long and active life. Uh, what are you looking forward to doing in the– in the near future and in the long term?
DONALD HAINES: Well, I want to keep writing. Uh, I really haven’t talked family, but I’ve been married– we just celebrated our 50th, uh, Sheila and I, uh, last, uh, January. And, uh, we have, uh, uh, three sons, and right now we’re up to, uh, uh, 10 grandchildren, uh the youngest six. And, uh, uh, the oldest 23, um, Graham, he is in the navy, has been in for about five years, and he has about a year to go. He’s– he’s the oldest grandchild.
Now I will say that three of these– uh, the three older ones– were inherited, uh, when my middle son married a widow, but it’s– it’s funny how they all become part of the same bunch after a while. You don’t really differentiate, so. But I have 10 of those, and I think they– what I like most– most– I think is they still enjoy– enjoy– coming over to see Grandpap and Mawmaw. They’re– they’re a big part of our lives right now.
INTERVIEWER: I can relate to that.
DONALD HAINES: And we’ve done a– you know, we’ve done a good bit of traveling by– by car. We’ve been out West a couple times, all through the usual sites– you know, the Mount Rushmore and the Meteor Crater and– I’m a big student of Little Big Horn, where last– Custer made his last stand. I’ve been there twice, and I’ve read practically everything on that subject. And we’ve traveled a lot throughout the South, and– and, like I say, uh, a lot of my best, uh, stuff, uh, as far as writing, came from some of my– my travels. I have one trip to Alabama and Mississippi. Uh I can’t remember what we spent, but I covered just about all that by coming home and writing stories and sending them to magazines down there, so it pays off.
INTERVIEWER: I wonder if we could go back a little bit to your early childhood again and your memories of your parents and your grandparents, any special memories you have of those good folks?
DONALD HAINES: Oh, sure, like I say, my– my grandparents, I was very, very lucky. Um, I did have one grandmother who died when I was 14. Uh, but the other three grandparents, uh, lived until I was well into my adult years. Uh, uh, I vividly remember my– my Grandpap Haines because during his later years, he spent a lot of time living with us, and, uh, he was always somebody that I just, uh– I loved. And when I got to be a grandparent, and they asked me, what do you want to be called, you know, whether it’s grandpa or– and so I wanted to be grandpap, so I’m the second Grandpap Haines.
And on my mom’s side, uh, my, uh, grandmother and my granddaddy Bair, they were a big big part of my life. Like I say, they lived close to me, and I probably spent, when I was a little kid, as much time at their house as I did at my house. But growing up on a farm, it– it is a good life. Um, I can remember, uh, there was a lot of work, of course. I’ve already talked about wormseed, and you have to milk the cows, and you’ve got to feed the animals. And, um, you know, when it comes time for– to get the wheat in, and– and, uh, we called it thrashing back then because we didn’t have combines, but it was a lot of work.
But then there’s also we had the south branch of the Patapsco River, the same one that goes through Woodbine, ran through our farm. So, you know, we had plenty of, uh, swimming holes. You know, we’d dam it up and, uh, always had time to go swimming. Of course, you were swimming with the fishes and the snakes, but that was OK. It didn’t– it didn’t really bother us. And a big thing was, uh, you know picking, uh, blackberries every summer. I’ll never forget that, uh, because we would, of course, can some, and then we– we would also sell– sell some of those, and blackberry picking was a big deal.
Every September we had a– actually, it’s– I think it’s a hazelnut or something like that, really, but we called them ‘chinky pins.’ The correct name is [INAUDIBLE] It’s an Indian name. It sort of a small nut that grows, uh, on a more a bush than a tree. And, uh, we would pick, uh, those every– every September, and people would come from all over to our farm to pick our, what we call ‘chinky pins.’ We didn’t know what their real name was. But, uh, the only thing about those was, you know, you could eat too many, and you could– you would wake up with a stomach, uh– stomach ache, uh, next, uh– next morning, and I do remember a few times when the [INAUDIBLE] got me out of going to school that day, so it wasn’t all bad.
But, you know, and during the summer we always had, uh, like I say, cousins who came and spent– spent time with them– with us, um, from both sides of– of– of the family. So the, uh, summers, uh, were always– I don’t ever remember being bored during the summer. And every summer back then we also had family reunions, which you don’t see much anymore, you know, where immediate family, extended family, they all got together and had a reunion. Sometimes we’d have them on our farm, but there were times we used to go up to Big Pipe Creek Park every summer. And, uh, the Haneses and Bairs and I don’t know how many people, but it was a long table where the food was. I know that. But they were always precious memories. I’ll never forget those, and, uh, we don’t have them like that anymore. I think it’s kind of a shame, you know. But, uh, people are going in so many different directions these days.
INTERVIEWER: Family reunions really are a special event, and it sounds like you had quite a few of those very vivid memories, where the families got together.
DONALD HAINES: Yeah, well, I’m blessed with a good memory that’s– memory– that’s why I can do what I do. That’s why I can do Carroll Senior stories for 11 years because I have all these memories that I can put down on– on paper. Uh, this past month, uh, I recalled in 1952, when I was a senior at Mount Airy High, and I belonged– I was president of a student organization called the Key Club. I think they still have it. It’s really a junior Kiwanis Club. And, um, we would do different projects during– during the school– school year. And in ’52, it was an election year, so we decided one of our projects would be to announce that anybody who couldn’t get to the polls on election day, we would come and pick them up and them them– take them to the polls. And I remember we had a great time doing that, and most of folks were, you know, elderly people who didn’t have a way. I think some of them probably had a way, but they liked the idea of being picked up and taken to the polls.
I still remember some of the conversations I– I had. I was taking one lady, and she asked me who I was gonna vote for, and, of course, you had to be 21 to vote back then. Um, I was 18 the time. I said, well, I can’t vote, and she was silent for a while, and she says, well, I know you’re a Republican because I knew your grandaddy, and he was a Republican, and he’d rather die than vote for a Democrat. So she was just feeling me out to find out how [INAUDIBLE]. She already knew the story, I guess. But I do remember that specifically, and, uh, we had a– had a great time, uh, with that.
I had a lot of– a lot of good times at Mount Airy High, you know. I was able to play on the basketball team and softball team and stuff like that, and never a superior athlete, but always good enough to be– be out there. And there’s some good memories, too.
INTERVIEWER: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us before we close up this interview?
DONALD HAINES: Uh, no, I would say what we’ve done is give a pretty good picture of me and my life, uh, you know, nothing– nothing special, um, just an old Carroll Countian who feels very fortunate to have spent my life here. And I like to say that I was born here. I was raised here. I live here, and someday I will die, and I will become part of it. That’s about as good as it gets, I guess.
INTERVIEWER: That’s wonderful. Well, thank you very much, Donny, and wish you well for the rest of your retirement and the rest of your life.
DONALD HAINES: Thank you very much.