Ed Beard

Ed talks about being born in Westminster, MD. When he was 3 years old they moved to a farm that they lived on until 1965.


INTERVIEWER: We’re here celebrating Carroll County history week by talking with a variety of long time residents of the area. Today we’re chatting with Ed Beard. Ed, maybe you can tell me a little bit about where you grew up in Carroll County– what the circumstances were?

ED BEARD: Well, I was born on Milton Avenue in Westminster in a house that belonged to my maternal grandmother. Little interesting side note, they took their money out of the bank in 1928 to buy that house and then the banks crashed.

She was a single mother, and I lived there until I was three and my parents married. And my dad lived there with them and worked on the farm, which belonged to his father, just outside of Westminster. And I was about three, we moved out to the farm.

INTERVIEWER: Is that where you’re currently living?

ED BEARD: No. That form was just west of Western Maryland– what was Western Maryland College. And lived there until 1965. So I grew up there.

INTERVIEWER: Have there been any changes to that farm?

ED BEARD: Yes. It’s shopping centers and houses.

INTERVIEWER: Surrounded by houses now.

ED BEARD: Covered by houses.

INTERVIEWER: Covered by houses. Yeah. When did you move to the farm that you’re living in now?

ED BEARD: 1965.

INTERVIEWER: Can you tell us about the farm?

ED BEARD: Well, at the time we lived there, we were kind of out in the country, even though we were near town. We had a lane that was probably– we had three ways to get out there, and it was about half mile or more either way. And none of them were bad weather roads.

The one– one we could use in the wintertime, and you could almost get home, usually. It was a steep hill– we called it the hog house hill. It was just before you got up to the buildings, and it was pretty steep. We just had field stone in it, and sometimes you couldn’t get up and my mother would do this to get the car up. Sometimes we had to walk. We could get out, but we didn’t always get back in.

INTERVIEWER: You grew up there with– do you have brothers, sisters?

ED BEARD: No. Only child.

INTERVIEWER: You’re an only child?


INTERVIEWER: What was it like for a typical day when you were growing up?

ED BEARD: Mm, I– I pretty much entertained myself. Of course, I like to hang around with what was going on the farm, which was nice. There was plenty to get into and to do. And, uh, until I went to school, I just got up and, you know, watched or got involved with whatever was going on. And course, when I got older, I had chores to do. Little jobs to do. Fed the pigs and gathered eggs and fed calves and things like that.

INTERVIEWER: Was there anyone else to help on the farm? That’s a lot of work for just your dad.

ED BEARD: Well, my mother worked very hard as well, and my grandfather, after dad took over the farm, worked for him for a few years. And would’ve probably kept on with that, but at the time the social security rules said that you could not pay into social security on a relative.

So he had to go get a job in town and over at [INAUDIBLE] and other places to get his credits, which he only did for a few years. And we did have, from time to time, some hired help. It was a double house, and the help lived in the other half of the house. My grandparents had moved to town.

My dad’s cousin worked for him for a few years, and then another fellow worked for a few years. And then we had a gentlemen that was an Ag student at Cornell, and he was a city boy and he had to have some form experience to get his degree, and the county agent, Mr. Burns, came out there and wanted Dad to take him on for the summer.

He was taking some summer courses at Western Maryland College. He turned out to be quite a character. But anyway, he worked for us for a summer, and then the next summer, he came back with his Long Island debutante wife– and didn’t know how to boil water– and spent that summer with us. And we’ve kept in touch with them over all the years.

INTERVIEWER: Were there– when you say when you started to go– when you went to school, where did you go to school?

ED BEARD: The first four years, I want to West End Elementary, and I’ll bet you couldn’t find it. There’s, uh, West Main Street, Pennsylvania Avenue, and Union Street. They form a triangle. The old college power plant was down there and they burned coal to heat all the buildings, and it was back in there in the ally. And it was four grades and four classes.

INTERVIEWER: You remember the teachers or anything that–

ED BEARD: Mm, Miss Bankard. Miss Poist was my first grade teacher. Fortunately, because there was a lady, Mrs. Shoemaker, that had a kindergarten, and a few of the advantaged kids got to go to kindergarten, and they knew stuff that I didn’t know. And when the teacher would ask me anything, I’d say, I don’t know. I didn’t go to kindergarten.

But she happened to know the family, so she knew I wasn’t that dumb. So she got me off to a good start. And Miss Bankard was the principal, and she could stare a hole right through you. And I don’t really remember the other grade teachers particularly.

And then fifth grade and sixth grade, I went up on Center Street. It was then called Westminster Elementary. Well, the– My dad went to high school there. They condemned the building, and they took one story off, and it’s still there. But I went there.

Then sixth grade, we went over to Westminster High School on Orwell Avenue. Six– six grades, then high school. That was– that was a big event, you know, when you went over there. Actually had a cafeteria and a gymnasium and all kinds of stuff that we didn’t ever have before.

INTERVIEWER: What was your first job in Carroll County?

ED BEARD: Well, when I got out of high school, I went to Florida. And when I married and came back, I, uh, helped my dad on the farm in the summertime. And then in the– because our dairy operation wasn’t real large at the time, I took a job as a mechanic at W.H. Davis, down at the truck center on 140.

I was a mechanic during the winter, and they actually ran a night crew to service gas and electric trucks and stuff like that. I wanted to work the night crew, and the foreman told me I couldn’t work at the daytime and nighttime too, so then I– so then I worked– went to work for Ralph Lecron at a Gulf station at the forks area, Pennsylvania Avenue and Main Street. And worked there evenings and weekends, and worked on the farm.

INTERVIEWER: You didn’t have much time for entertainment.

ED BEARD: Not at that point. [INAUDIBLE] before I got married.

INTERVIEWER: What did you do for, uh, for fun?

ED BEARD: Well, when I was little, I entertainment myself. I had a wagon and a tricycle and a scooter. And of course, I always liked what was going on around the farm and everything. And then I guess, uh. in evenings I liked that we had a big old Atwater Kent radio, and I listened to the dramas on the radio until bedtime, which was early. And in the winner we’d go sledding.

And, uh, then as I got older, I got a– at some point I got an electric train, and I’d spend a lot of time playing with that. And I had a friend who lived out there on West Main out at the end of one of our driveways. He was a year younger than me. We were like brothers. He moved there, I guess, when I was in the fifth grade, sixth grade. And, um, his dad taught at the seminary– at the college at the time.

And I’d– we had a big room at the house. It was a double house, and nobody lived in the other side. And we had both our train sets set up together on a big platform in that room. They stayed up all year round. And then in the winter, we’d– Saturdays and stuff, we’d go in there and fool with those. And I was involved in 4H when I got to be nine or 10.

And a little older, I’d go to [INAUDIBLE] swimming pool some. And when I drove, go to drive-in movies and school dances and football games and basketball games.

INTERVIEWER: So that’s pretty much– like a typical teen today would be doing–going to games and things like that.

ED BEARD: Yeah. They’ve got a lot more activities today. They complain there’s nothing for the kids to do, but I told my daughter I never said that, because they’d find some– they have a lot more to choose from. But yeah, our activities were centered around church activities, 4H activities, and school activities.

INTERVIEWER: What did you do in 4H?

ED BEARD: Well, I had a dairy project. I actually had animals that were mine that I raised from the time they were a calf and you had to keep records on their rate of growth and their– how much you fed them and all the– learn the little record keeping. And then showed at the different shows around.

INTERVIEWER: Do you still have dairy cattle?

ED BEARD: No, I don’t. There are cattle on the farm, but they’re not mine. I sold them several years ago.

INTERVIEWER: When you were growing up on farm, where did, um, where did you go to– for shopping, like for groceries or clothes or–

ED BEARD: We went to– we went to downtown Westminster.

INTERVIEWER: And what was in downtown Westminster?

ED BEARD: Oh, there was JC Penney’s. There was Mather’s. There was the Hub’s men’s store. At one time the co-op was– grocery store was downtown. William F. Mars was on the corner of Liberty and Green streets. My mother actually cashiered there before I was born. Worked there.

Um, there was Albert’s hardware. Smith and Ray Synder Lumber right in– right in the middle. Turned off of Main Street and went in the office and went through a tunnel and back into the lumber yard, back where the fire department is now.

INTERVIEWER: I even know where that is.

ED BEARD: Well it’s a floor– floor covering place in there now. Wheeler floor fashions.


ED BEARD: Carpet place. Yeah. And back behind there, of course, that’s where the fire always– that’s where the actual lumber yard was. You got your– got your yard man and went out there and picked up your [INAUDIBLE].

INTERVIEWER: What was– where was your favorite place to go in Carroll County when you were growing up?

ED BEARD: Well, I liked to go– when I was little, we used to go to the county fair Taneytown, when it was held up there where the– it’s a fairgrounds village shopping center now. There was a fairgrounds there. They actually had a race track and a grandstand an used to have, uh, horse races there at one time.

They held the county fair up there, and that– we’d go and get to see all the latest farm machinery. Of course, then later on, when I showed in 4H, well, I took the cattle up there to show before the fair moved to Westminster.

INTERVIEWER: When did it move to Westminster?

ED BEARD: Mm, about 1956. They– it was Landon Burns’s– the county agent’s– dream of having an agricultural center here in the county– Well, and then the– the farm museum. He was instrumental in getting that started as well. My dad served on that board of directors for a number of years.

And, uh, acquired that property up there and most– all the original buildings were built with– except what you call Burns Hall, were all built with vol– volunteer labor. Farmers hauled the logs to the sawmill and got them sawed and put the sheds up and everything. Of course, that’s changed a lot now.

INTERVIEWER: Yes. It’s beautiful. Especially with that new big building [INAUDIBLE]. What was your favorite thing when you were a kid that you’d like to do during the summer?

ED BEARD: Well, [INAUDIBLE] I went to fair. I went to– the farm bureau used to have a county picnic a big creek– pipe creek park, and that was fun. My mother had a college classmate that lived the New Windsor, right by the railroad. Almost to the railroad tracks. And they would take me to Westminster and put me on the train.

And I’d go to New Windsor and spend a few days up there. And she’d gather up other kids, and then [INAUDIBLE] I had mixed feelings about it. There was a lot of neat things to do. We’d ride down the roller down there at the old Sealtest creamery, where they used the role the milk cans back out and put straight pins on the railroad tracks so when a train ran over them it made them stick together and make little scissors.

And then there was a Hudson dealer across the street. You could go play in the junk cars. The only drawback was she made me take a bath at least once a day. And there was actually a movie theater in New Windsor, and one day she gave me a quarter– I guess I was about five years old– and sent me to the movies. It was Robin Hood. And I got inside in the dark in the day time and slept through most of it. Then when I went to school where everybody was raving about Robin Hood and I didn’t even watch it.

That was one of the few movies I ever went to see. I think when I was a little older, my parents took me to see Wald Disney’s Song of the South at the Carroll theater, but we didn’t go to the movies.

INTERVIEWER: What did you do when you were a teenager?

ED BEARD: Oh, I can’t tell you all that. Well, when I was a teenager, I, you know, liked to right around. And like I say, I went to school football games and had a buddy with a new car and a Gulf credit card, so we’d go to the away games. That was a strange– a rarity then. People didn’t have credit cards. I think it was just for gas. And, uh, basketball games, of course.

I was in the camera club at school, and we’d go to the basketball games and take pictures, a couple of us. And I was on stage crews, so whenever they did productions, I’d work with that. And [INAUDIBLE] involved whatever 4H, usually just a monthly meeting during most of the year other than fair time. You know, but that was about the size of it.

INTERVIEWER: What did you like the most about growing up in Carroll County?

ED BEARD: Well, that said what did I like, and I liked– I did like everything, and I still do, because I didn’t have anything to judge it by. I never felt– I guess I used to think I’d like to have a brother, but the I sort of gained one with my buddy up there. And he’d come home with me after school and help me. We’d do chores together. And he’d come work on the farm in the summertime and everything, and we hung out together a lot. His mom was our Cub Scout leader and so on. So I don’t really– I don’t see any drawbacks. There’s nothing I miss.

INTERVIEWER: Um, is there anything that you would like to change about Carroll County today?

ED BEARD: I guess I’d kind of make it more like it used to be, but I can’t be one of those people. The ones that moved here last year say that, so that sort of annoys me a little. Because their house is in the middle of what used to be a cornfield, too.

INTERVIEWER: How many acres do you have still of your farm?

ED BEARD: 170.

INTERVIEWER: 170 acres?

ED BEARD: Mm hmm.

INTERVIEWER: But you’re not farming it? You have–

ED BEARD: It’s– it’s leased to the neighbors. Yeah.

INTERVIEWER: If you think back on your whole life growing up, what was your most vivid memory?

ED BEARD: Yeah, I gave that a little thought. V-E Day. I was in grade school, and you knew about the war because you had rationing. You had gas rationing. You couldn’t buy tires. You couldn’t buy machinery. You couldn’t buy anything. And you heard programs about the war.

And I walked home from school because that was– I didn’t have to walk any further across the golf course than I did from where the bus dropped me off out at the end of the lane. And I walked home. And I remember a newspaper vendor on the street, extra– put out an extra edition. Read all about it, like you see in the old movies. And although I was very young, I realized the implications of that.

And then, of course, when they built Route 140, that was sort of a big event, because the old road to Baltimore wasn’t much fun. And of course the fact that it came through our farm catty corner from one corner to the other, which is part of the reason we moved. And then when they did 31 down there in the bottom in our cow pasture was then across the road from 140, and we had to take cows across the route.


ED BEARD: Well, yeah. You had to open the gate and run out in the road and wave the flag and stop everybody, then go back and chase them across. We only did it in daylight.

INTERVIEWER: And you say some of your activities were also surrounding, um, the church that you attended. Where did– where did you go to church?

ED BEARD: Well, I grew up in the Westminster Church of the Brethren. And I now am a member of the Hampstead Baptist Church.

INTERVIEWER: Did you attend functions and things at the church?

ED BEARD: Yeah. Yeah. They had– well, we had youth group and went to church. Sunday school and church. Vacation Bible school. There was a family by the name of Ditman. They had a big house up on Washington Road, and Mrs. Ditman would have a picnic for all the Sunday school kids in the summer. That was a big event. And, uh, see back then, we were hard to please. And, uh, and whatever. And youth went to youth conference. A lot of things like that.

INTERVIEWER: If you were– if you had to describe what’s the best thing about Carroll County, explain it to somebody who has never been here, how would you describe it?

ED BEARD: Well, it was picturesque. There’s a lot of historic and scenic things around to see. If they were thinking about moving here, I’d say we have a relatively good school system. Um, people are generally friendly. Not– now in the old days, you knew everybody, or they– they knew who you were. Or already knew family. I mean, we’re all related.

I remember when I was first married and what functions we went to, and my wife decided that I was related to everybody in Carroll County. And of course, now I can go to [INAUDIBLE] and maybe not see anybody I know.

INTERVIEWER: That has been a big change in the town.

ED BEARD: And so– and people, they commute, so they really don’t– you know, some people calmly want to fish in the pond or want, you know, to come and talk to you about something or another and so on, but your neighbors now really– I don’t think they’re really interested in being neighborly with their neighbors. They like to keep to themselves. They have their own life.

INTERVIEWER: Is there anything special that you’d like to share with us about your memories of Carroll County?

ED BEARD: Mm, I can’t think of anything good except I really enjoyed growing up. I think I was very fortunate to grow up on the farm. I had friends and kids that lived in town, and they had activities and had a life and did things, and a lot of them would come out to the farm because they thought that was great fun. And at least for a little while.

And my mom used to call me Tom Sawyer because guys, when I got older, they’d want me to go somewhere with them. And well, we’ve got to pick these stones. Back in the day when we had to pick stones out of the field. We have to do that first, or unload this load of straw, and then they’d chip in and help me.

But no, it was– it was very enjoyable. And, you know, don’t– didn’t really see any downside to my experiences growing up.

INTERVIEWER: Well, I do want to thank you very much for coming and participating in our Carroll County history week. And we certainly do thank you very much, Ed, for coming and sharing some of your memories of Carroll County with us.

ED BEARD: Thank you for the opportunity. I enjoyed it.