Karl Alexander

Karl was born and raised in Virginia. He served in the military and a little while after he left the service and bought a house in Carroll County, where he lives now.

Transcription

KARL ALEXANDER: My name is Karl Alexander. I’m now living in Carroll Lutheran Village. Been here for about three years.

INTERVIEWER: And where did you grow up?

KARL ALEXANDER: Well, I was born and raised in Virginia, a little town called Harrisonburg.

INTERVIEWER: So how’d you come to be in Carroll County?

KARL ALEXANDER: Well, I had a– after I got out of the service, I went to work for an outfit called Bendix, and that was here in Baltimore. And we– we lived in, then, the Pikesville area for awhile. But when we went to buy a house, we’ve decided that Carroll County was as near to Shenandoah Valley as anything was around here.

INTERVIEWER: I see.

KARL ALEXANDER: So we came up here looking. The mountains are little further away. But it’s very much similar to the valley. So it was kind of like, almost home.

INTERVIEWER: And, uh, that’s the unique thing about this county.

KARL ALEXANDER: That’s the unique thing. It’s– it’s– it’s country. It’s what I knew. It’s what I was raised in. And so, it’s– I didn’t know as many people here as I do down there, but I have now. I think I probably know as many.

INTERVIEWER: Mhm.

KARL ALEXANDER: Nice to have them.

INTERVIEWER: Where did you– what town did you buy in when you moved here?

KARL ALEXANDER: We bought out in the country. We– we were about four miles out of town. We bought nine and a half acres and built a house right in the middle of it.

INTERVIEWER: Mhm. Outside of Westminster?

KARL ALEXANDER: Yep. Right in the woods.

INTERVIEWER: And so, how is Westminster– how is it different than– than now?

KARL ALEXANDER: Heh. It was a little more country-fied then. We didn’t have– the people– I– I used to go– we used to go to the par– I’ve gone to the Memorial Day parades. I haven’t marched in them for– since we’ve been here. And we used to stand in– well, we still stated in front of the Methodist church and watch.

And in the early days, I could walk from the Methodist church down– all the way down Main Street to get a cup of coffee, down at one of the restaurants. And turn around and walk back, and by the time I did that, I’d spend a couple hours, because you knew almost everybody you saw. I go to the same place, the church, yesterday– or Monday, actually– to watch the parade. I walked down to the corner and come by. And I don’t see anybody I know.

INTERVIEWER: Aw.

KARL ALEXANDER: So it’s different. It’s– it’s growing up an awful lot. And there’s an awful lot of new people. I guess you have to expect that. The same thing happened down in my hometown, when I go down there. I get lost.

INTERVIEWER: Right.

KARL ALEXANDER: Because it’s grown up so much. But this was very near what we’d like, what we knew we– And one– one thing we did here, we always heard– always heard– that if you weren’t a third or fourth generation Carroll County, you’d never really be accepted in the county.

Uh, I guess we were fortunate, because we ran into third and fourth generation people that we got to be friends with. And we got– we feel like we were accepted almost from day one. And have been here and just– it’s– it’s great.

It’s a great group we got into. We got some good friends here, and they’re still here. Some of them are. Most– some of them have gone. And– and it’s just a nice county. It’s a nice place.

INTERVIEWER: Mhm. How would you describe it to somebody’s who’s never been?

KARL ALEXANDER: Carroll County?

INTERVIEWER: Mhm.

KARL ALEXANDER: Well, it’s still country. It’s not near as country as it used to be. But it’s country, and it’s a nice place to live. I think it’s a nice place to raise a family. We raised four boys here. They all went to public schools. They all went on private colleges. And they’ve done a great, so I think the school system is very good, despite what you read about in the paper.

INTERVIEWER: Mhm. You talked about the Memorial Day parade, which is a long-running–

KARL ALEXANDER: Yep.

INTERVIEWER: –parade in– in the country. What other kind of activities did you participate in when your kids were growing up and?

KARL ALEXANDER: Oh, you mean with– around here?

INTERVIEWER: Mhm.

KARL ALEXANDER: Well, I played with the municipal band for a number of years. And so, in those days, what I was doing then, I used to march in the parade.

INTERVIEWER: Oh.

KARL ALEXANDER: I’ve kind of given that up now, because it’s a little– it’s a little long and hot. But yeah, I marched in that. We played at the ceremony at the– at the cemetery. Some of our boy– one of our boys read the– read the Gettysburg Address at the cemetery one year. They have somewhat usually read it every year. And we did that. So it’s– I don’t know. It’s just a nice, homey place.

INTERVIEWER: Mhm. Now, you commuted, from Westminster or from Carroll County, into the city to work for Bendix, right?

KARL ALEXANDER: For a while, yeah.

INTERVIEWER: So what was the commute like back then?

KARL ALEXANDER: Well, in those days I went down every 32. And it took about 20 or 25 minutes. It was very little traffic. I always felt like I was on the back roads. if I do the same thing now, it could take an hour to an hour and a half. It’s– It’s just outlandish. It’s fantastic.

INTERVIEWER: And you think more people commute these days than they used to?

KARL ALEXANDER: Oh, yeah. I think most of the new people up here are here to commute. They want to go to– get in the country. Get in the country. I worked– I worked down there for– for, I guess, a number of years. And then, I retired from wor– from Bendix. And I went to work for the county–

[AUDIO OUT]

–to it. So we– we separated out public works and general service. And we kind of put things together, and–

INTERVIEWER: Wow. Well, you’ve seen everything change, then.

KARL ALEXANDER: Oh, yeah.

[LAUGHTER]

INTERVIEWER: All of–

KARL ALEXANDER: Yeah.

INTERVIEWER: So you’re part of the planning for the– for the future planning of the county?

KARL ALEXANDER: I wasn’t in the planning part, no. That was Ned [INAUDIBLE] when I was there. But I was– I was in the organization of the county– the reorganization of the county, I guess. And it tickled me.

I– we used to– well, it wasn’t funny, I guess, but I used to go to, like, a meeting, and there would be people there complaining about somebody ran their– their children off the little league courts, because they– or the big guys came in and wanted to play. And they ran the little ones off, or something.

And they thought that the county should have more people out there, taking care of them and supervising them. Because you know, we– they came from Baltimore County. And that’s the way it was down there. And they have– and I always had to bite my tongue to stop from saying, why don’t you move back to Baltimore County, [INAUDIBLE]?

[LAUGHTER]

Well, they came up here and they expected us to be like them.

INTERVIEWER: Mhm.

KARL ALEXANDER: So it–

INTERVIEWER: It was a little different.

KARL ALEXANDER: Yeah, a little different. But it’s great fun. We– I had great fun working with George. He– I guess everybody in the county, just about, knew George and– and he was quite a guy.

INTERVIEWER: Mhm. Was there any other stories that you wanted to share about Carroll County?

KARL ALEXANDER: Well–

INTERVIEWER: How have the, um, merchants changed in the– in the town?

KARL ALEXANDER: Well, I criticized– I didn’t criticize, but I told one guy that his– had a store that was down on Main Street. And I thought he was making a big mistake when he moved out of town, built a new building, and put his store there. It seems like he’s kind of probably sorry that he did, now, because I noticed that his business probably isn’t as good as he thought it was going to be.

But he got out of the way of Main Street. And I thought– I though Main Street had a lot of– a lot to offer, despite the moving out because of the ball. Everything seemed to go out the ball. But yeah, the county’s still a nice place.

INTERVIEWER: Yeah. I think that people are– are downtown more than–

KARL ALEXANDER: Yeah. Yeah, we built a– we built–

INTERVIEWER: Big interest in it, now.

KARL ALEXANDER: –built a nice library down there. That’s what I was doing with the county, was mostly construction, mostly buildings I built when I was down with the county. I built– I don’t mean I physically built them, but I hired the architects and worked with them and got the contractors and built them.

So that was a lot of fun. We built the library, we built the courthouse, we built the courthouse annex. Not the old courthouse, of course, but the courthouse annex. We built the county office building, almost all the Health Department buildings, the libraries, everything. It just– we had a great time. I enjoyed it.

INTERVIEWER: Good. Good. Well, thanks for sharing those memories with us about Carroll County.

KARL ALEXANDER: Thank you. It uh– I don’t know what I contributed, but I hope it was worthwhile.