Donna Reese

Reese was born in Baltimore County and lived there until she was 2. She moved to Finksberg until she got married. Living there, everybody knew everybody that lived there. Everybody who lived in her neighborhood would always stay together and play together.


JAY GREENE: I’m Jay Greene, and joining me today is Donna Reese. It is September 2, 2009. Thank you, Miss Reese, for being with us today and sharing your memories of Carroll County.

DONNA REESE: You’re welcome.

JAY GREENE: To get started, uh, when and where were you born? And, uh, where did you grow up?

DONNA REESE: Well, I actually was born in Baltimore County around Hereford, Maryland. I probably lived there maybe ’til I was two years old. I don’t really remember all of it. Then we moved to Finksburg, and then we moved to Bird View Road which is Smallwood-Gamber area. Uh, grew up there just about all my life until I got married.

Uh, and back then on Bird View Road, which is off of Deer Park Road, everybody knew everybody that lived on the road– everybody. Now I go down that way, I don’t know anybody. There’s one family that’s the original family from Bird View Road, and that’s the Lepo family.

JAY GREENE: Um, what was childhood like growing up in Carroll County?

DONNA REESE: Well, um, the neighborhood– everybody just mingled together. Whenever you went outside to play, everybody was together. We had friends down the road, a mile or half a mile. We would walk back and forth to each other’s house.

Um, when it snowed, we– we were lucky because our road was like a hill. So we went sled riding on the road. Because everybody knew that when it snowed, to watch out for us kids because we’d be sled riding out on the road. And, um, then sometimes our parents would come out and sled ride with us. We’d build jumps to jump, you know, your sled. And we even had fires– built fires to keep warm outside. And we would sled ride until there was no snow left on the ground.

JAY GREENE: Are there any other, uh, childhood memories that kind of stick out?

DONNA REESE: Um, well growing up, we had horses. So, uh, we went to horse shows a lot– um, which, um, we did a lot of jumping in shows. We, uh– trail riding. Um, back then, I mean, you could ride horses forever. But now it’s all grown up, and there’s really not a whole lot of place to ride. And my father, um, he rode horses since he was, like, 10 years old. So– and he stopped riding until he couldn’t ride anymore, because he got cancer. And he did a lot of fox hunting. Which, um, I know a lot of people don’t understand fox hunting. They don’t shoot the fox. They chase them with hounds.

JAY GREENE: Was growing up in Carroll County a, uh, accurate reflection on the times?

DONNA REESE: Um, what do you mean? Now?

JAY GREENE: Back then.

DONNA REESE: Back then? Carroll County, we were really considered country. A lot of people just thought Carroll County was country. And back then, it was. Because we had open fields, and you could walk forever.

And we rode our bikes everywhere. I mean, we rode to Gamber. It used to be a Ford’s Store down there– which is probably about three or four miles. And if we wanted to go anywhere as kids, we walked. And back then, you could do that. It was safe to do that.

When we went trick-or-treating, we would walk miles for trick-or-treating. Sometimes we would go trick-or-treating two nights instead of one night. But, you know, we knew everybody where we went.

JAY GREENE: How have historical events affected your family and community growing up in Carroll County?

DONNA REESE: Well, um, we– we were involved in the community as far as we all belonged to Deer Park Church, so we did function with them. Um, my brother– my one brother played football at the, um– I think it was Gamber– Optimus Club then. Um, we were in MYF, uh, with Deer Park Church– which, um, we did a lot of activities in the community.

And back then, Halloween was a big thing. Christmas– the community, we went Christmas caroling. We actually would go knock on the doors. We’d have our little candles and would sing Christmas carols.

JAY GREENE: So, uh, you’d celebrate traditional holidays in your family?

DONNA REESE: Well, yeah– starting, um, with my great-grandmother, Christmas Eve was our big thing– as you know, Jacob. Um, and my grandmother, she picked it up when my great-grandmother couldn’t do it any longer. Then my mother, she started having Christmas Eve. And, uh, my dad passed away in ’97, so now I have Christmas Eve with my side of the family– which is the Greene side. My maiden name is Greene. So we all get together with Christmas Eve, and that’s the big thing for us. And that started with my great-grandmother.

JAY GREENE: Do you know any stories from when your family first came to the United States?

DONNA REESE: Oh gosh. No. Let’s see, my mother is from Hereford, um, Baltimore County. I don’t have any, um– I don’t know a whole lot about that. But my mother’s side of the family, they were all in the fire department. And that my Grandfather Palmer, he, um, started Hereford Fire Department. And they were in the fire department. My mother– they were all involved. They had carnival over there, and they were big in that.

JAY GREENE: What family heirlooms or keepsakes do you possess? If any.

DONNA REESE: Oh my. Let’s see. There’s only one, and I don’t have it. My brother has it. I did have it. Um, is a, uh, blanket chest that my great-grandmother had. And, um, when my– when my– my great-grandmother, what, she lived on Deer Park Road. And she would take in, um, people– older people– to take care of. And this blanket chest came from there. So that’s pretty sentimental to the family.

JAY GREENE: What stories have come down to you about your parents or grandparents or more distant relatives?

DONNA REESE: Stories– let’s see. My father always told us he loved to tell stories about when he was growing up and how much he loved horses; and how much he wanted one; and how he would go out in the barn when my grandmother, uh, was married to, uh, Mr. Ash. And how he would, um, sit on the horse’s back and just sit there and just dream of– of just riding his horse all the time. And then finally that dream came true.

And then my great-grandmother, um, I would love to sit and listen to her because at Christmas time, she said the only time they ever got fruit was at Christmas. And for Christmas, that’s what they got– a bowl of fruit. And that was really a big thing. And I’d love to sit and listen to her tell stories. She was a sweetheart.

JAY GREENE: Do you have any siblings growing up in Carroll County or living in Carroll County?

DONNA REESE: Well, let’s see. I have five brothers. I’m the only dau– um, girl. Um, I have two brothers that moved to Florida. My mother’s in Florida. And I have three brothers that live here in Carroll County– uh, two in Taneytown and one, Westminster. I live, um, Cranberry– which is right behind Cranberry Mall. So, um, I just kind of never left the area.

JAY GREENE: Was it hard being the only girl? Out of six kids?

DONNA REESE: Well, we have a lot of fun. Um, of course, we had our little, um– uh, we had times when, you know, we got on each other’s nerves. But, um, my oldest brother, he– he was probably– I wasn’t as close to him as I am now. It seems like, as we’ve gotten older, we’ve growed closer together.

Now my two youngest brothers, I wer– was closer to them because it was, like, um, I played with them. I took them sled riding. My youngest brother, when he would have school functions, I would take him. And, uh, Christmas shopping– I took my younger brother to buy Christmas gifts for his mom and dad, and that was a lot of fun.

JAY GREENE: Is there anything else that is interesting about your life in Carroll County that you’d like to share?

DONNA REESE: Well, let’s see. Um, schools are a little different now. I went to Mechanicsville Elementary and then– we didn’t have middle schools. Then we had– oh, you went to junior high school. And I went to– it was called Westminster Junior High School, which is now West Middle. And then, um, my class– Westminster High School– was the first class to go 9 through 12th. And my one broth– my oldest brother was the first class to graduate.

Now back then– now when we first started Westminster High School, it was kind of fun in away, because everybody was lost. It was the biggest school they had ever built so, you know, you could get lost– sometimes accidentally, sometimes on purpose.

And, um, back then, they, um– they had a smoking lounge over there for students. So what you had to do was you had to get a new from your parents, stating that you could go down in the smoking lounge and smoke. Well, I never smoked, but I wanted to be with my friends. So, um, sometimes I could g– get in, and sometimes I couldn’t. [CHUCKLES]

JAY GREENE: Does your family hold re– reunions? When, where, and who attends?

DONNA REESE: Well, um, my mother’s side of the family– which is the Palmer side of the family– um, they used to hold reunions. And that’s been years ago. And their big thing was called, the Candy Scramble. And we always looked forward to that. The, the– my aunts would, um, just go out, and us kids would line up. And they would just throw candy, and you would run and get as much candy as you wanted. And that was a big thing.

Um, now, um, my mother’s parents– well, they’re deceased, but it’s called the cousin reunion. We’ve started this, just like, five years ago. So, um, every five years we have, um– it’s called the Pearl and Earl Palmer Reunion that we have.

JAY GREENE: What jobs have you had, and, uh, what are you doing for a living now?

DONNA REESE: Well, let’s see. My very first job was Bulloch’s Restaurant, down on, uh, Sykesville, Road 32. And I cleaned off tables. That was my very first job, and I made, like, $2 an hour. And that was a lot of money. I mean, I was just really excited.

Then, um, my uncle bought a restaurant, so I worked there. And at Westminster High School, if you had a job, uh, it’s in your Senior year– I mean, it’s not like it is now. If you had a job, that’s fine. I went to school ’til 11 o’clock, and then I went to work. So, um– but now, it’s, it’s– it’s a lot different.

But, um, then I worked at Gold Telemecanique. And then I worked at Suburban Propane, and now, um, at the Career & Technology Center, former Vo-Tech. It used to be called Vo-Tech, and now it’s the Career & Technology Center.

JAY GREENE: When did they change the name to the Career & Tech Center?

DONNA REESE: You know, we were just talking about that this morning? [LAUGHS] And no one really knew. Um, if I asked Miss Ingle, I’m sure she would know.

JAY GREENE: Uh, do you know when the Career & Tech Center was built?

DONNA REESE: It was built in 1971– ’72. I came to the Tech Center, and that place was called Materials and Handling. And that was more or less, like, you checked, um, merchandise in for the Tech Center. And we learned how to do a pull-purchase orders and sort of things like that. I only did that for a year, because then I wanted to go out to work and only go ti school ’til 11 o’clock.

JAY GREENE: Well, thanks again for Miss Donna Reese for sharing memories of Carroll County with us today– Growing Up in Carroll County.

DONNA REESE: Thank you for having me.