Libby McDowell

Libby, born in 1928 in Virginia, moved to Carroll County where she pursued her nursing career. Her first degree was in teaching from Bradford, and then she went on to get her nursing degree from Johns Hopkins.


LIBBY MCDOWELL: My name is Mary Elizabeth– Mary Elizabeth McDowell, better known as Libby, and my birth date is 2/27/1928.

INTERVIEWER: And where were you born?




INTERVIEWER: Near Radford?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Which is in the southwest corner of Virginia.

INTERVIEWER: And what, uh, what brought you to Carroll County?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Well I went to nursing school in Baltimore, and I was teaching at the school of nursing there. The school of nursing was closing, and by that time my brother-in-law had given us property to build on. So we moved here and I was promised a job at the vocational center as soon as it opened.

INTERVIEWER: What, what was the name of the vocational center, do you remember?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Carroll County Vocational Center. It’s something else now, Carroll County Technical Center, I think.

INTERVIEWER: Was that to do nursing?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Yes, I started the–

INTERVIEWER: To work as a–

LIBBY MCDOWELL: No, I started the LPN program at the, uh, vo-tech.

INTERVIEWER: Oh, so you were a teacher.


INTERVIEWER: Oh, OK. All right.

LIBBY MCDOWELL: I have my degree in teaching from college before I went to nursing school.

INTERVIEWER: What college?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Radford college.

INTERVIEWER: Radford College.

LIBBY MCDOWELL: It’s Radford Universe now.

INTERVIEWER: And then you came here and went to Hopkins?


INTERVIEWER: And what degree did you get from Hopkins?


INTERVIEWER: What degree did you get?


INTERVIEWER: You got your, your BSN in nursing?


INTERVIEWER: And then you came here and you started with the, uh–


INTERVIEWER: You started the nursing program here in Carroll County.


INTERVIEWER: Can you tell me a little bit about that?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Well, when we first started out we had, um, full classes, but gradually the number of students dwindled because the counselors were encouraging them not to take the nursing program. If they wanted to be nurses to go on to, to college. But we found that a lot of our LPN students, once they graduated, they worked and put themselves through college. And the majority of them did go on to RN school.

INTERVIEWER: So how long did you work at this, uh–

LIBBY MCDOWELL: I was there about 13 years, I think.

INTERVIEWER: And, um, when you moved to, uh, Patapsco in this area in Carroll County, what year was that?


INTERVIEWER: 1966, and that was you and your husband. And you built the house that you live in now?


INTERVIEWER: And so you’ve lived there every since.


INTERVIEWER: And can you tell me anything about your neighbors?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Well we have more neighbors now than we had when we moved here. We’ve had very nice neighbors, all of them. But when we first moved here we had a cornfield next to us where a house sits now. And we had a cornfield across the road from us where houses sit now. So we’ve acquired quite a few, but as I said, they’ve all been very nice neighbors, very nice.

INTERVIEWER: And, um, what did your husband do? What was your–

LIBBY MCDOWELL: He was uh, an automobile mechanic for the uh, city of Baltimore police cars.

INTERVIEWER: OK. So he had to commute.


INTERVIEWER: How did he get to work? Did he drive or did he take the train?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: No, we drove, which is another reason why I decided to start working up here because I was driving back and forth every day with two small children to take care of. And it was just too much. Sometimes on Friday afternoons it would take me an hour and a half to get home, and I, I just couldn’t handle that.

INTERVIEWER: And that was because of the traffic?


INTERVIEWER: And that was in the 60’s? That was before 795 was built so we have to come up Riesterstown Road.

INTERVIEWER: Oh, I see. OK, so that made a big difference.


INTERVIEWER: And, um, let’s see. Where did you, um, where did you sort of shop for groceries around here? Where did you get your food?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Um, in Westminster, at different grocery stores. I frequented several of them.

INTERVIEWER: Do you remember what it was like walking down the streets in Westminster?

INTERVIEWER: Quite different than it is today.

INTERVIEWER: What, what’s, what’s different about that?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Uh, different stores for one thing. A lot of the older stores that are gone now were there. And I don’t go into Westminster but rarely I go into Westminster now because– well of course I can’t get around that well now. And I just don’t go in there to shop much. But I know there are some nice stores in Westminster and if I were able to get around a little better I probably would go to some of them.

INTERVIEWER: Well, what can you tell me about the stores you remember when you were able to get around and you had your kids and things like that? Do you remember anything in particular, what it was like going into them?



INTERVIEWER: Not really.

INTERVIEWER: OK. And what was your favorite place to go in Carroll County?


INTERVIEWER: The Farm Museum?


INTERVIEWER: Why is that?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: I enjoyed the old-time things like demonstrations they gave. I especially enjoyed the quilting. I enjoyed watching that.

INTERVIEWER: Are you involved in quilting now?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: I took a class in quilting but I, I can’t quilt.

INTERVIEWER: You can’t quilt that for us. So you’re not involved with that–


INTERVIEWER: –group? OK. And–

LIBBY MCDOWELL: I do a lot of other crafts but no quilting.

INTERVIEWER: Do you do other crafts? What kind of crafts?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Oh yes. Uh, counted cross stitch, knitting, crochet. I knit sweaters for a group in New York, the Guideposts Knit For Kids. They send sweaters all over the world. In fact I just mailed a box of about a dozen sweaters to them last week. And I crochet and knit blankets for, um, Project Linus here in Carroll County.

INTERVIEWER: What is that?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: They take blankets mostly for sick children. They, uh, deliver them to children in the different hospitals, nursing homes for some of the older patients. It’s comforting for them.

INTERVIEWER: And, um, did you get married in Carroll County, or were you–

LIBBY MCDOWELL: No, we were married in Virginia.

INTERVIEWER: You were married in Virginia. OK. And, um, do you, do you miss anything about Carroll County as it used to be or–

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Well I miss the fact that there was much less traffic than there is now, and was easier for me to get around.

INTERVIEWER: And what– if you were to describe what is best about Carroll County to someone who’s never visited, what would you say?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: I think it’s a beautiful county. And I think most of the people are very friendly. I’ve really enjoyed that. And of course having grown up in the country I enjoy the country part of Carroll County.

INTERVIEWER: Did you ever grow any of your own food or, um.

LIBBY MCDOWELL: I used to have a garden every summer but I got to the point that I couldn’t take care of it.

INTERVIEWER: But you still have uh,uh a lot of plants and things.


INTERVIEWER: So what’s your interest in the plants now? Can you talk a little bit about that?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: I– I guess I just like seeing things grow. And I think the, the orchids especially are so beautiful.

INTERVIEWER: So you grow a lot of orchids?


INTERVIEWER: All right. OK. All right, now I want you talk a little bit about living in Patapsco, this area here, and, uh, your involved with your church, the name of your church, that sort of thing. So anything you want to talk about. Let’s– let’s hear about what, uh, what you’re most maybe passionate about, or what, what your best memories are.

LIBBY MCDOWELL: I feel very close to a lot of the church members. And I feel we’ve had some very good ministers in the past. I didn’t grow up in the Methodist church. I grew up in the Christian Church– Disciples of Christ. My father was a minister. So there’s been a little difference between the two churches.

INTERVIEWER: What’s the name of the church that you attend now?


INTERVIEWER: What is the name of the church that you attend now?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Patapsco United Methodist.

INTERVIEWER: And how are you involved with the church?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: I’m not very much involved now except for attending church because I’m just not able to do a lot. I used to help a lot at the church, and– or in the hall at the, um, dinners every Wednesday. But I’m not able to do any of that now, and I really miss that. But there’s, there’s so much socialization with the women. We have so much fun when we get together. My next door neighbor, his wife still works in Baltimore. And he goes down on Wednesdays and helps scrape the dishes. And he’s– he talks about how friendly the people are and how much fun they have there on Wednesdays. It’s just a, a– almost like a family, social gathering.

INTERVIEWER: What’s your neighbor’s name?


INTERVIEWER: What is your neighbor’s name?


INTERVIEWER: Well, that’s OK.

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Tom. I can’t remember his last name.

INTERVIEWER: That’s OK, that’s OK. That’s all right. And, um, what do you– what do you– what can you tell me about Patapsco, about living in this area? Um, is there anything– has changed much?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: In some ways it has. It’s not as country now as it used to be. I mean people are more oriented to Westminster and to town than they are to the little community now. Um, there’s no, um– I don’t know. There’s a feeling that, that you’ve lost some of the closeness, in the communities, I think.

INTERVIEWER: So can you tell me a little bit about these lunches? What’s uh– do you go down to the lunches in the church hall?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: I, I don’t go very often now but I used to help all the time. But I try to get down at least the um, Wednesdays that they have the women’s meeting. I try to get down for that so I can keep up with what’s going on.

INTERVIEWER: Oh, I didn’t know they had a women’s meeting.


INTERVIEWER: So do they have that before or after the lunches?


INTERVIEWER: And what do they do at the women’s meeting?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Discuss various concerns of the, uh, of the society. Um, we help the church considerably with donations of money. And we discuss problems that involve both the church and the church hall and simply the running of the, uh, women’s society.

INTERVIEWER: OK, OK, OK. And, um, what about wildlife out here? Have you seen– do you see, um, much wildlife out here where from– from where you are in the back here?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: A lot of squirrels.


LIBBY MCDOWELL: I haven’t seen any rabbits yet this year. And there used to be a little red fox that lived in the field behind the house but I haven’t seen him for several years now. Uh, when the corn field was across the road we had a lot of, um, animals then. And we still do have deer now and then. One Sunday several years ago, I looked out the back here and there were about a dozen deer in the field back of the house here.

INTERVIEWER: That’s something to see.

LIBBY MCDOWELL: They tell me that they’re there every morning but I guess I, I just don’t get up early enough to, to see them.

INTERVIEWER: How much land do you own here?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: We only on an acre.

INTERVIEWER: About an acre? OK.

LIBBY MCDOWELL: But there’s, uh, 20 acres in the– the whole farm.

INTERVIEWER: And, and tell me about the farm. How it– who owned the farm originally?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: My, uh, sister-in-law and her husband.

INTERVIEWER: What- do you remember their names?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Satterfield.

INTERVIEWER: Satterfield?


INTERVIEWER: What was their first names?


INTERVIEWER: It’s OK. All right, Satterfield. Pat Satterfield. And, um, so they owned the farm, and then when you and your husband were married they offered you some land–


INTERVIEWER: –and come out.

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Well, it was several years later.

INTERVIEWER: Several years later. And, um, do they still own out here?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: No, they’re both dead. After my sister-in-law died, my, uh– Wilbur is his name.

INTERVIEWER: Wilbur Satterfield?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Yes. He moved into an apartment in Westminster and kept the farm for three or four years I guess, and then he decided to sell it.


LIBBY MCDOWELL: And that’s when, uh, Wayne Jones bought it.

INTERVIEWER: OK, Wayne Jones. OK, that’s great, all right. Now is there anything– uh, do you have any special memories that– anything that really comes to mind about living here? Anything that– maybe fondness of Christmas or the holidays?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Well, uh, during the summer each year for several years we had a community picnic. And it got to the point that a few couldn’t come, and eventually that died out.

INTERVIEWER: So was this a Patapsco community or a church community?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: No, just, just this community around this–

INTERVIEWER: Right here–


INTERVIEWER: Here in this little area?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: And each summer we do have our Sunday School picnic at Adelle Gray’s. And we have a very good crowd there. We used to play baseball but a lot of the people who played baseball are to the point where now they, they can’t play, play baseball. So that is– but they still– we still have a lot of fun at the picnic.

INTERVIEWER: Can you tell me what you do at the picnics?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Um, most of us just sit around and talk.

INTERVIEWER: What sort of food do you have?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Everything, everything. We still have so– so much food that you carry home almost half of what you took.

INTERVIEWER: Well, like fried chicken, potato salad, baked beans.

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Hot dogs, hamburgers.

INTERVIEWER: And for the most part, people– you’re not playing a lot of games, you’re just sort of sitting around–



LIBBY MCDOWELL: The kids play and the adults– I think last summer they did play ball for a few minutes but that didn’t last long. And of course at Christmas time we have our Sunday School Christmas program.

INTERVIEWER: And what is that?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Uh, where is it?

INTERVIEWER: What is it? What does that involve?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Uh, the Christmas story mainly, the Sunday School students. Uh, and some of the classes that don’t get involved in the actual Christmas story have little skits that they perform.

INTERVIEWER: So can you tell me a little bit about this since I don’t know anything at all about it. Do the people come to the church? Is it done inside the church, outside the church, or someplace else?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: The Christmas program?


LIBBY MCDOWELL: It’s at the church hall.

INTERVIEWER: It’s at the church hall?


INTERVIEWER: OK. And so it’s like a little play?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Right, right.

INTERVIEWER: And, um, the kids are involved in that?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Yes, yes. And then of course at Easter we have our sunrise service.

INTERVIEWER: And where’s that?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Outside the church. Uh, there’s a big cross behind the church, and we gather there under the cross for that service.

INTERVIEWER: And what does that service involve? Can you tell me a little bit about–

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Just a, a scripture and a couple of hymns and the, uh, minister speaks for a few minutes. It only lasts about a half an hour.

INTERVIEWER: Are you all standing out there?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Yes, yes. They usually take a chair out for me, but.

INTERVIEWER: So you’re standing out there in the early morning.

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Yes and it’s a little chilly some Easter Sunday mornings, especially when Easter comes very early.

INTERVIEWER: As it did this year.

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Uh-huh. Because we meet at, I think 6:30 we meet. So it’s chilly.

INTERVIEWER: Yeah. So can you tell me about any of the, uh, the friends that you’ve made being at the church? Can you remember any of the names of any of your friends?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: I guess Vera is the closest friend I have. I feel friendly with the others but it’s not like, uh– I go out to lunch with Vera once in awhile. And the other ladies, I, I don’t really socialize with them that much. Um.

INTERVIEWER: Is that because it’s hard for you to get around and that sort of thing?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Uh, we used to have a progressive dinner with the church and then we’d go around to the different homes. And I guess I saw more of the homes then than I have any other time.

INTERVIEWER: What is a progressive dinner? Can you tell me that?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: We start with a salad in one place and then we move onto an, um, entree and then dessert somewhere else.

INTERVIEWER: That sounds like fun.


INTERVIEWER: And that could take up a whole evening then.

LIBBY MCDOWELL: It does, yes.

INTERVIEWER: That’s great idea. It’s a idea great. Is there any, any changes you’d like to see come about that haven’t– anything you want to see done that hasn’t been done, or? How, how do you feel about the old, the old church that’s falling down in the village, the one that happens to be next to my house?


INTERVIEWER: What would you think should be done with that?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: I, I, I don’t know because I don’t really know that much about it. I’m too new in the area to– I mean 40 years is still new as far as the community is concerned.

INTERVIEWER: Do you think it should be saved or do you think it should just be torn down?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: I don’t know that it would mean that much to most of the people.

INTERVIEWER: Oh really? To save it or tear it down, it doesn’t really matter?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Uh, to me I– it doesn’t because it has no memories for me.

INTERVIEWER: Right, right. Of course. I’m just thinking as part of the aesthetic of the–

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Right, right.

INTERVIEWER: Do you think it would–

LIBBY MCDOWELL: It, it certainly would be nice if it could be fixed up, it would– so that it looked better than it does.

INTERVIEWER: Right. Yeah, that would be something. So is there anything in particular, any, uh, particular memories that you want to, um, share about your life here in Carroll County that maybe we haven’t covered or addressed? Anything that, when you think back you think Oh, God this was– this was a great day, or?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: I really can’t think of anything.

INTERVIEWER: What about with your children? Where did they go to school? Uh, they’re both married and have families. They went to, uh, uh, Westminster High School. They went to Sandy Mount school for elementary school then West Middle and then to Westminster High

INTERVIEWER: School. And what are the names of your children?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Ann Carville who lives with me, and Kathy Gilbert who lives out past the airport.

INTERVIEWER: And are they both married?



LIBBY MCDOWELL: Kathy has three children. One graduates from high school this spring. And Ann, her husband, and their little seven-year-old live here with me.

INTERVIEWER: Can you tell me the names of the grandchildren?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Uh, Lindsey, Daniel, Ryan.

INTERVIEWER: And what’s–

LIBBY MCDOWELL: –are Kathy’s, they’re Kathy’s children.

INTERVIEWER: And their last name?



LIBBY MCDOWELL: And Emily Carville, who just turned seven in April.

INTERVIEWER: Oh, that’s great. That’s wonderful. So, uh, it must bring you a lot of joy having grandchildren.

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Oh yes, oh yes. I’d like to have more but.

INTERVIEWER: What do you and your grandchildren, um, Can you think of anything that you do that might be–

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Well my two grandsons and I love to play Scrabble. And the older one beats me every time I play with him. And the younger one gets a little upset. He’s like his other grandmother. If he can’t win he doesn’t want to play. And I keep saying I don’t play for the win, I play because I enjoy doing it. It’s like crossword puzzles for me and I love doing crossword puzzles. But, uh, we used to have a swimming pool, and they were here a lot in the summertime with that. Well they have a nice big in-ground one at their house now. So they don’t come down as often as they did.

INTERVIEWER: But when they do it Scrabble.


INTERVIEWER: Do you play cards?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: They like to play spoons.

INTERVIEWER: I don’t know how to play spoons.

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Well I didn’t either. And I’m not sure I understand exactly what it is, but you have a deck of cards and you deal some of them out. And when you get I’m not sure if it’s three or four cards alike. Oh, you start out with spoons in the middle of the table, one less than the number of players. So as soon as you have, say, four cards alike you grab for a spoon. And two other people grab for spoons. And the one who doesn’t grab soon enough is out of the game. It’s a lot of fun for young people.

INTERVIEWER: Well that’s great. Now, when your kids were young and you lived here, what sort of games did you play with them? Or do you remember what sort of games you played?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Not, not very much because I didn’t have time. I was, I was working, sometimes six days a week and I really didn’t have time to play with them that much.

INTERVIEWER: Well when you quit working at the school, uh, where did you go from there?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: I went to Springfield. I wanted to stay in the state retirement system. So I worked at Springfield for 5 and 1/2 years until I was old enough to retire.

INTERVIEWER: What’s Springfield?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Springfield Hospital, Sykesville.

INTERVIEWER: Oh, OK. And did you have a specialty? Did you have a specific area you worked in or were you–

LIBBY MCDOWELL: No. sort of general.

INTERVIEWER: You worked wherever they needed you?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Yes. And I was supervisor part of the time.

INTERVIEWER: So you enjoyed nursing quite a bit?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: I didn’t enjoy Springfield.


LIBBY MCDOWELL: No. I enjoyed nursing. Well after I retired I went back to work and when to, uh, Taylor Manor Hospital in, uh, Ellicott City, which is a private mental institution. And I was there for another five years, and then I re-retired. By that time I was babysitting two grandsons, and shortly after that I was babysitting not only those two but a third one plus two of my daughter’s friend. So I had enough to keep me busy.

INTERVIEWER: So you went into daycare then.

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Right, right.

INTERVIEWER: Well that’ll keep you young, won’t it?


INTERVIEWER: Well that’s wonderful. All right. Well, um, I think we’ve covered pretty much everything unless there’s anything special that you wanted to tell me.

LIBBY MCDOWELL: I can’t really think of anything.

INTERVIEWER: OK, all right. Do you want to say anything special to your family? Because this is going to go on tape and you’ll get a copy of it. Anything you want to say to your family?

LIBBY MCDOWELL: Just that I love them very much.