Leroy, born in 1936 in New York, moved to Carroll County in 1983. He talks about his childhood memories in New York.
JACKIE: Good morning. I’m Jackie. I’m here to interview you for the Carroll County Living History Project. And, um, I’m interviewing Mr. Murdoch in his home in Westminster. And, I guess we’ll just– we’ll start off easy. Um, can you tell me when and where you were born?
LEROY MURDOCK: I was born in, Sch– in Ticonderoga, New York. August 30th, 1936.
JACKIE: Which would make you how old?
LEROY MURDOCK: 74.
JACKIE: That’s all we’re sp– supposed to ask to begin with. So I don’t need that any more.
Did you grow up there? Or were you just born there and then moved?
LEROY MURDOCK: No, I was– I grew up in Schroon Lake, which is 30– 25 miles over the road from, uh, Ticonderoga. I was born in Ticonderoga.
JACKIE: OK. When did you move? How long have you been in Carroll County?
LEROY MURDOCK: Uh, 28– 28 years. Came here in ’83. 28.
JACKIE: OK. Can you tell me any– any stories about your childhood, about when you grew up, what it was like over there as opposed to here?
LEROY MURDOCK: Mm.
I don’t know whether it’d be any different than here. I was– Uh, we were lucky enough in that time and age to– to have a good school. Schroon Lake Central School was probably one of the better schools in the nation. They’ve been approved– they’ve been getting awards for the last several years, being one the number-one high schools in– And that’s where I went to school. It was, uh, 12 grades. Uh, I graduated in 1954. Uh, we had, uh, all the normal activities, you know, basketball, baseball, soccer, and, uh–
UNKNOWN WOMAN (WHISPERING): Tell them about your dad.
LEROY MURDOCK: Uh,
UNKNOWN WOMAN (WHISPERING): Tell them about your dad.
LEROY MURDOCK: Huh?
UNKNOWN WOMAN (WHISPERING): Tell them about your dad.
LEROY MURDOCK: Well, uh, my, my own father was killed in World War II, in 1944, uh, which brought a kind of a hardship on the family, but– Uh, I was lucky enough to live right next door to my grandfather. And so, he was my– I guess, one of my best friends. And then my mother remarried in 1947, three years later, to a– a fellow who was a empreneur– Is that what you call–
UNKNOWN WOMAN: Entrepreneur.
LEROY MURDOCK: Entrepreneur. And, uh, did very well for himself, uh, and raised us– uh, raised my two sisters and me.
LEROY MURDOCK: And, uh,
UNKNOWN WOMAN: [INAUDIBLE]
LEROY MURDOCK: Uh, it was a hardship, you know, because we– you know, in, in that day and age, there wasn’t a lot going on, as far as, you know– The Depression was gone– just come by. And uh, was all the people– a lot of people still recovering from the Depression. And we were lucky enough to– My father, when he– before he died had gotten a $10,000 life insurance policy.
JACKIE: Oh, wow.
LEROY MURDOCK: And uh, when he died, that paid the house off, which wasn’t a lot. A house back then was probably $6000 or so, something like that. But it paid it off. So that helped us a lot, as far as getting the situation– as far as money goes, taken care of.
LEROY MURDOCK: And, uh,
I don’t know what I’m– Life– life was better. You know, after a few years, life got better. And, I personally think I lived in the best era there ever was. Back In the ’40s and the ’50s, and the ’60s, everybody was trying to make it. And, uh, and they did, because, you know, American people are, I think, very strong as far as making things happen, and working things out, and making progress. ‘Cause we built– a nation built on, you know, people come here from all over and, uh, they make it. Some of them, it takes a little longer. But, most of them, they have a– a drive to survive, and a drive to get a good, uh, life for themselves and for their children.
JACKIE: For the American Dream.
LEROY MURDOCK: That’s what I say, American Dream.
UNKNOWN WOMAN [QUIETLY]: Tell them about how you used to cut ice on the lake.
LEROY MURDOCK: Oh, well, we–
JACKIE: She should be doing the interview. [LAUGHING]
LEROY MURDOCK: Nah, we’ve– we, uh, we used to, uh– Well my father sold ice in the summer. And that– up in that area, there’s a lot of, uh, transit in the summer for, uh, people coming from New Jersey, New York, uh, City, and Long Island, to come up there. And, of course, back then, on the one si– on the back side of the lake, which– the other side of Schroon Lake, there was no electricity. The only thing electric was if somebody had generators and stuff.
So, we used to– s– In the winter we– my father and some of the people around, the farmers and stuff, would– would cut ice, big blocks of ice, and bring them up. And we’d put them in a– in the ice house. And, uh, of course, that was a lot of work, putting ice away. But, you stored the ice and then you covered it with sawdust. And then you put more ice in, and you covered it with sawdust. And it would sit there from probably January or February until June. And then we would take it out and sell it–
LEROY MURDOCK: –by the cake. You wouldn’t believe it’d still be good, but–
LEROY MURDOCK: –it still– It didn’t melt. Sawdust insulated it and kept it from melting.
LEROY MURDOCK: So we– we used to sell ice. And people would come and buy a cake of ice for about $1 or $1 and a quarter a piece. And– and they’d put them in their ice– iceboxes in their houses, and keep their food.
JACKIE: Right, well if they didn’t have electricity, they needed something.
LEROY MURDOCK: No, they didn’t have electricity at that time but then they– then later on, they did– they had it. But, uh, it was, uh, a different– you know, a different lifestyle. Just getting them big blocks of ice– They probably weighed about– they probably weighed about 100 pounds.
LEROY MURDOCK: But you pr– took a pair of tongs, ice tongs, and you’d drag them on top of the big– We’d have ice packed up– a place big as this room with ice and then we’d, uh, cover it with sawdust.
UNKNOWN WOMAN: [SNEEZING]
JACKIE: Bless you.
LEROY MURDOCK: Any how. But, uh, you know, I– We had lots of snow, lots of ice, lots of winters skiing–
UNKNOWN WOMAN: [SNEEZING]
LEROY MURDOCK: –and all that.
JACKIE: Bless you.
LEROY MURDOCK: Nowadays we got, you know, the snowmobiles and all the other stuff that goes along. But back then, we– we’d just all get together on a Saturday night, and build a big bonfire and slide down the hill all night, ’til we got tired. And then we’d go home. But we used to– uh, it was a different lifestyle. But–
LEROY MURDOCK: I survived. [LAUGHTER]
JACKIE: Well, thankfully.
LEROY MURDOCK: [LAUGHTER] Nope.
UNKNOWN WOMAN [QUIETLY]: Tell them about scaring Nana.
LEROY MURDOCK: Oh, well, that’s– that’s when I– that’s older. That’s when I was– After I graduated from high school, I went to college at, uh, Morrisville, uh, Agricultural and Technical Institute in Morrisville, New York, graduating in eight– in, uh, ’56.
And while I was doing that, in the summers, I would, uh– I worked for a friend of mine called Stanley C– Cole, who was, uh– who had a boat livery at the, uh, big Jewish resort of Scaroon Manor.
And, uh, and we’d rent boats, teach water skiing, take, uh, cruises on the lake on a– in a big, uh, chris craft or a Century boat. Take probably, like, 10 or– 10 people or so on a boat and go around– and go around the lake and, er, show them all. Because there’s a lot of, uh, girls and boys camps there, all around the whole lake and– So we’d go around and point out all the, uh, points of interest to the people, all the camps and stuff, and teach water skiing. I taught water skiing for about three years.
LEROY MURDOCK: So.
JACKIE: Do you water sk–
LEROY MURDOCK: Make a– make a living. [LAUGHTER]
JACKIE: Do you still water ski? Do you have–
LEROY MURDOCK: I used to. I did while water ski up ’til about, what, 15, 20 years ago. But now that I’m getting old and my knees are falling apart–
LEROY MURDOCK: So. But any how, it’s, you know, life was good and I can’t complain.
JACKIE: Well, that’s good.
LEROY MURDOCK: Then when I grad– and when I– then after I got out of college, I went to– went in the service. Was in the service for two years.
Got out of the service. And, uh, first Christmas after I got out, I came down to Maryland. And there was no jobs in New York, and there’s still no jobs in New York. Northern New York didn’t amount to anything. So anyhow, so I came down here and, uh, at Christmas time. And I looked in the paper and there was hundreds of jobs in the paper. I said, well, the best thing I can do is to go home and get– pack my bags and come back.
JACKIE: Huh. Did you come here as a fluke, or did you come here to Maryland specifically?
LEROY MURDOCK: I came specific to Maryland, yeah. And then I went to– I came here on a Monday and went out for a couple of interviews on Tuesday and Wednesday. And Thursday, I went to work.
LEROY MURDOCK: Been here ever since.
JACKIE: All right.
LEROY MURDOCK: That was 1950– 19– 50–
Came here in 1959, Ja– January 1959.
JACKIE: What kind of job did you get?
LEROY MURDOCK: I started at Wissinger Chevrolet, on Four Corners, Virginia. In the body shop.
JACKIE: Nice. Now, is that what– that’s not what you went to college for?
LEROY MURDOCK: Yeah. It was–
JACKIE: Oh, it is?
LEROY MURDOCK: Automotive, yeah.
JACKIE: Oh, OK. Well, then, that’s perfect.
LEROY MURDOCK: I got– I got in– got a job. Worked.
So, anyhow, so I’ve been around here a long time. I’ve been here– I’ve been here 26 years.
JACKIE: In this house?
LEROY MURDOCK: Yeah. You know, we bought this business– bought the business here– Well, I didn’t buy the business. I bought the– The business was here. A guy had a business here. But I– I just bought his property and, uh, had my own shop. And I’ve worked here– This is a little easy going to work. I just walk across the driveway.
JACKIE: [LAUGHTER] So how long did you stay with the– the first job?
LEROY MURDOCK: Probably about three years.
JACKIE: Three years?
LEROY MURDOCK: And then I went next door. Went to work at– at, uh, Seven Corners Auto Body. Worked there for six– several years. Then I went to work for Call Carl in Falls Church. So. Then I went to work for, uh, Earl Scheib Auto Paint out of, uh, out of, uh–
UNKNOWN WOMAN: The way he talks, you won’t be able to keep up with him.
LEROY MURDOCK: –out of Philadelphia. And I worked for them for, probably four or five years. And then I–
UNKNOWN WOMAN: You had your own place.
LEROY MURDOCK: I had my own shop in– in, uh, Highland, Maryland. I had a shop in Highland, Maryland. And I had a shop in Dayton, Maryland. I had a shop in West Friendship, Maryland. Had three shops at one time going. And, uh, I worked, uh, them until 19– 77 or six. And then I went– then, uh,
I sold that business and I went to work, uh, for a friend of mine in a– in a shop in Mt. Airy. So I worked in Mt. Airy for a while. And then I, uh, then I moved to– moved up here in ’83. We’ve been here ever since.
JACKIE: Now you jumped–
LEROY MURDOCK: I like Carroll County. Huh?
JACKIE: –around a lot. You jumped around a lot with jobs.
LEROY MURDOCK: Oh, yeah, well, I never
JACKIE: Was that just boredom? Or–
LEROY MURDOCK: And I’ll tell you what. No, I just– I just, er–
JACKIE: Better opportunities?
LEROY MURDOCK: Oh, I don’t know. I– I’m– I’ll tell you what. I’m 74 years old. I’ve never drawed unemployment. And I’ve never been unemployed in my life, so– so, I could–
JACKIE: That’s something worth saying. That’s–
LEROY MURDOCK: I always could get a job. Never had any problem getting a job. You can always, you know– If a man wants to work, and I think– I think he can get a job. I– Might not be the best job that you want, or the right pay, or whatever. But it works out, so.
But any how, I’ve spent– I’ve spent all my life, just about, since ni– ’67. I’ve– I’ve been in business for myself since ’67. 34 years– 44 years. So, I don’t know anything else. [LAUGHTER]
JACKIE: Well, if you’re good at it, that’s something to be proud of.
LEROY MURDOCK: I love what I do. I mean, I really always have.
JACKIE: That’s a rarity, you know. Most people don’t get to do what they love doing for a living–
LEROY MURDOCK: That’s right.
JACKIE: –let alone do it for so long.
LEROY MURDOCK: Plus, I don’t have to drive anywhere. I’m here at the house. I’m, you know– Life’s been good. I can’t complain.
JACKIE: Good. Tell me a story.
LEROY MURDOCK: Huh?
JACKIE: Tell me a story. Tell me a story about, you know, I guess– When you moved here, was it a– a change?
LEROY MURDOCK: Well, we were looking for a– I was looking for a place to live. Well, we had a– We lived on a farm over in, uh, the other side of Westminster.
LEROY MURDOCK: And, uh we were kinda looking for a– a place– a business to buy. And, uh, I don’t know, just by a fluke, we picked the newspaper up. And then the newspaper says he’s got a place out here– a shop and– The problem with business is– is you have to have a zoning, in order to get– you know, they harass you to death if you don’t have real zoning. So–
LEROY MURDOCK: We were looking for a place that had real zoning. And this guy said, well I got this place for sale, and it’s got the big garage. And uh, he says I’ve been working here for two or three years. And he said I want to– Uh, he just wanted to– He didn’t want to work anymore. He just said he didn’t want to work any more, and he wanted to sell it. And he said– put in the paper. And so we said– Uh, we came out and looked at it. I said boy this is ideal. Perfect.
UNKNOWN WOMAN: Split zoning.
LEROY MURDOCK: Split zoning. See? You can’t find that.
UNKNOWN WOMAN: That’s why.
LEROY MURDOCK: See, that side’s commercial–
LEROY MURDOCK: –on the other side of the driveway, like, and this here’s residential.
LEROY MURDOCK: So most– this is a very, very strange type. Because most everything, when you get commercial–
LEROY MURDOCK: –it’s all commercial.
LEROY MURDOCK: But this is half and half.
JACKIE: So there’s–
LEROY MURDOCK: So, I have– so– So I don’t have to worry. I mean there’s only– I mean the county can harass me forever. But I got zoning. I got a zoning certificate. That’s what I wanted.
LEROY MURDOCK: So I got– bought this place and, uh, we’ve been here ever since.
JACKIE: So there’s different– There’s different rules? I’m trying to understand the zoning–
LEROY MURDOCK: I don’t know eith– I don’t know–
JACKIE: You don’t understand it either?
LEROY MURDOCK: –how it ever got done. It– This guy who– This guy’s father and him got it done. I don’t know how they got it done, but–
JACKIE: They must’ve known somebody–
LEROY MURDOCK: That’s what I figure. That’s what
JACKIE: –who knew somebody or something.
LEROY MURDOCK: –I figure.
JACKIE: That’s– That’s luck. That’s nice.
LEROY MURDOCK: But anyhow, you know what I mean. You know, I’ve had problems with– with the neighbors and stuff at times, because they can’t figure out why I– why I got zoning, you know. And I said, I didn’t have nothing to do with it. I bought the place–
LEROY MURDOCK: –with the zoning, so–
But, uh, I w– I was back here– I’ve been back here, I mean, 26 years. And the people over across the road there, living in that house there, uh– the, uh, muffler fell off their car one day, and they– they asked somebody where they could get it fixed. And he said, take it across the road. Man’s got a garage right there. They’d been here six or seven years, and they didn’t even know I was even here.
LEROY MURDOCK: So, anyhow. So–
But, uh, I don’t know what else you need to know.
LEROY MURDOCK: [LAUGHTER]
JACKIE: I don’t know. Tell me– Tell me how you met your wife.
JACKIE: I mean that’s, uh–
LEROY MURDOCK: [LAUGHTER] Well, we– We went to the same church, and somebody said–
JACKIE: No cheating. [LAUGHTER]
LEROY MURDOCK: So, yeah, so she, uh– And we met and, uh, we knew each other for maybe a– a year or so. And then finally, we decided maybe we was interested in each other, and then–
JACKIE AND UNKNOWN WOMAN: [GIGGLING]
LEROY MURDOCK: –we went together about three years, and– and we’ve been married 31.
JACKIE: Wow. You guys–
LEROY MURDOCK: Of course, this is the second marriage for me. My wife– I had three children, and my wife left me. And I had, uh, three kids to raise.
LEROY MURDOCK: So, then we met– I met her and we married. And– And my kids get along good with her.
JACKIE: Good. So you got lucky twice.
LEROY MURDOCK: I get along good with her kids. Huh?
JACKIE: You got lucky twice.
LEROY MURDOCK: Yeah, that’s right. Yep. Yep. Yep. So– But, I don’t know what else I can tell you.
JACKIE: Hm. So your children– they grew up here in Carroll County? Or–
LEROY MURDOCK: No. One of them graduated from Westminster High in 19– s-
UNKNOWN WOMAN: [QUIETLY] I don’t remember dates.
LEROY MURDOCK: –six– se– do,do, do, do ’80– ’85. Graduated in ’85. Went in the service. Been in the service. Uh, he’s retired now from the Navy after 20 years. And he worked for the na– uh, Andrews Air Force Base. He’s in charge of security at Andrews Air Force Base.
LEROY MURDOCK: My other daughter is a haha– and her husband are, uh, well, they’re DJs. They got a DJ business. Been DJs for, I guess, probably 20-some years.
LEROY MURDOCK: And she’s an insurance agent, plus she’s a travel agent, and she’s an accountant. She does a little bit of everything.
JACKIE: That’s useful, especially with the economy the way it is.
LEROY MURDOCK: Yeah, she’s– she’s– Yeah, she’s sharp on– She’s sharp on, you know, income tax and all that kind of stuff. She’s– So, that’s what she does.
Then my other daughter is married and she lives in Dover, Pennsylvania. And she’s got two boys. And they’ve been married 30– 33 years.
I just like to– I just like to see what’s going on. I like to keep up with it.
JACKIE: Well, it’s good to be aware, you know.
LEROY MURDOCK: So. Not that I ever was a politician, but anyhow. [LAUGHTER] They say, don’t talk politics, right? That’s what they always say– always tell you, don’t talk politics. But anyhow–
JACKIE: Yeah, everyone’s entitled to their opinion.
LEROY MURDOCK: Well, anyhow, I think that– I think that Carroll County– It’s a nice place to live. It’s got beautiful countrysides. I think Maryland’s a wonderful state to live in. You can go to the ocean. And you can go here, there, and all over–
LEROY MURDOCK: And you can go to the mountains. Or you can go to the ocean. Or you can– you can go out and ride around out in Western Maryland. It’s beautiful out there. So, I think that Maryland has everything that a man would want, as far as climate– You can, you know– So anyhow,
I just– I just, uh, I’ve always liked Carroll County. I’ve been here long enough to be around it. So–
LEROY MURDOCK: And the people, you know, most of people– Once– Once you’ve been here a while. But if you come in here as a newcomer into Carroll County, uh, they– They’re hard to get along– hard to get to know people.
JACKIE: Do you think that’s changed? Do you think people’s attitudes– I mean, I’ve heard, you know–
LEROY MURDOCK: I think it’s better– It may be better right now. But when I first came here 30 years– 25 years– 28 years ago, I think they were– I always felt like they were a little bit snooty or something, maybe. If you didn’t– If you weren’t born in Carroll County, you, you know, they don’t– you know– They think about you as a [INAUDIBLE]
But now it seems like there– there’s more people moving in, and it’s a different climate. And I think that, you know– I think it’s better. It seems like it’s better. People are more friendly now than they used to be. Well.
I don’t know, other than that, uh, what else to tell you. What else you got on your mind?
LEROY MURDOCK: Can you give me some advice on how to age healthy? I mean, that’s–
LEROY MURDOCK: Ha, I don’t know.
JACKIE: I mean what do you think you’ve done that has helped you stay as healthy as you are.
LEROY MURDOCK: Well, I never drank and I never smoked. So that helped, I think.
JACKIE: That’s definitely a good start.
LEROY MURDOCK: And I feel good. I mean, I’m, you know, I don’t– It’s not that I don’t have– I got– My knees are falling apart, and stuff, but– I just– but, um, I don’t know. I eat good, and– and, uh. Probably should exercise a little more than I do, but–
JACKIE: Hnh. I think we can all say that.
LEROY MURDOCK: I walk– I walk some, and– an– but I’m out there working every day. So it’s like– I still work. I mean, I still work every day. So I think that probably helps, too– being active. I don’t think you can– Person comes down and sits down and forgets about everything, and– They don’t live too long.
JACKIE: Yeah. That’s something I’ve heard a lot in the past couple days.
LEROY MURDOCK: I’ve got some friends of mine that, once they retired, they didn’t do nothing, and, you know, it wasn’t long before they were gone. But, you got to have– You got to have some kind of something to do. Keep busy. Seems like when you retire, that most people think they’re busier than they were when they were working. [LAUGHS]
LEROY MURDOCK: I don’t know.
JACKIE: Do you have any hobbies that you have– that you’ve always had or– other than what you do for a living? But–
LEROY MURDOCK: Uh, no. I’ve– you know, I’ve, uh, been involved with my church for years. And I’ve been involved with Lion’s Club for 4– over 40 years.
LEROY MURDOCK: So, I’ve been in the Lion’s Club. And I– That keeps me pretty busy, just being a member of the Lion’s Club, because they always give me two jobs to do. [LAUGHS] But, anyhow, uh, I think that helps. You gotta have something to do, you know, just– just to keep from being bored, I guess you’d say.
LEROY MURDOCK: Uh. I don’t know what else to tell you.
JACKIE: Do you have any financial advice? Because finances are a pretty big part of being successful.
LEROY MURDOCK: Hm. I’ve always been able to provide. And– And, provide, and, uh– I’ve been here 28 years. I’ve never advertised one day for anything to do. And I have people coming from– I used to, years ago. I used to have people coming from down in Howard County, because I lived in Howard County for 25 years. You know, it just seems like, if you do a good job, try to be honest with the people, they’ll come to your door, and you can do work and make a living. That’s my theory. Secret’s doing good work, and don’t rip the people off. Don’t charge them too much.
JACKIE: And that’s hard to find.
LEROY MURDOCK: Yeah.
JACKIE: Really, really hard to find.
LEROY MURDOCK: Oh, I know. I tell you what, it’s terrible. My grandson was just telling me the other day– He bought a new Honda. He took it back to– It’s got 15,000 miles on it. He took it back, and– They change oil. They change oil for free, so he took it back. And they– They told him some gasket was loose, and it’s going to cost $100. And they told him something else was loose, and it was going to cost $200. I felt like telling him– I told him, I says, you should have just told them, if the car’s that bad after 15,000 miles, you better give me another car.
LEROY MURDOCK: But that’s what they do. They get you in there–
JACKIE: They’re trained to lie. My dad was an auto mechanic.
LEROY MURDOCK: My granddaughter, she took her car She had a new Alexis. She took it in to get a 36,000-mile warranty check. And– And they told her it’d be $600. And they didn’t do nothing– changed the oil and maybe looked at it a little bit. It’s a rip-off.
LEROY MURDOCK: I don’t know how I don’t know how they can sleep at night, to tell you the truth.
JACKIE: Yeah. My dad used to work for Firestone. And they would yell at him. He would be honest with people. To be honest with you, your brakes are fine. You know. There’s nothing wrong with the car. And they would yell at him. You know. Why didn’t you change this? Why didn’t you tell them this was bad? And he hated it. But that’s what you had to do, unless you have your own business, you know.
LEROY MURDOCK: Oh, yeah, that’s, uh, that’s the thing. I tell you today, it’s hard to find any guy out there that’s, you know, pretty honest about what he– Of course, I’ve been used to looking around. And over the years, I’ve been able to steer some people to some people that are, I feel, fairly straight-up. So–
JACKIE: Well, that’s good.
LEROY MURDOCK: We have some friends whose business– I have friends in business that I would say are pretty straight-shooters, you know, don’t take– rip the people off.
LEROY MURDOCK: So, anyhow, it’s hard to say.
But, anyhow, Carroll County’s been good to me. I can’t complain. And, uh, you know, the county’s– hasn’t changed that much, I don’t think, it’s, you know. I think if you’ve been here a while, it’s a little easier on you. I really believe that. I know when I first came here, they wanted to know where I came from, and how I– [LAUGHTER] So, anyhow, once you’ve been here a while, they accept you, I think.
JACKIE: Well, that’s good.
LEROY MURDOCK: Yep. I don’t know whether you learned anything, or not.
JACKIE: I definitely learned stuff. [LAUGHTER]
LEROY MURDOCK: OK. Is that good?
JACKIE: Do you have anything else to add? Anything you think I missed?
LEROY MURDOCK: Nope. Nope. You girls been good, and–
JACKIE: Nothing that you’re just dying to say?
LEROY MURDOCK: No, not really. Uh.
JACKIE: All right. Well–
LEROY MURDOCK: Thank you, girls, yeah.
JACKIE: Thank you for your time.
LEROY MURDOCK: Okay. No problem.
JACKIE: And thank you for letting me videotape you and–
LEROY MURDOCK: Yeah. OK. No problem. I don’t care.