Theda Dayhoff

Theda was born and raised in New Windsor, MD. She grew up with six siblings in what she calls “a small town neighborhood”.


TERRY POWELL: I’m Terry Powell. And joining me today is Mrs. Theda Dayhoff. It is Friday February 13, 2009. Thank you Ms. Dayhoff for joining us today. First, where were you born?

THEDA DAYHOFF: I was born in New Windsor.

TERRY POWELL: And where did you grow up?

THEDA DAYHOFF: In New Windsor, Maryland.

TERRY POWELL: New Windsor, Maryland. And what did your neighborhood look like when you were growing up?

THEDA DAYHOFF: Well it was just a small town. But it was a place. I was one of seven children. And the kids all really loved that little town. And it was a typical small town neighborhood. Close friends, your neighbors were always friendly, and it was just a nice place to grow up.

TERRY POWELL: Thank you. Could you tell us about the hotel that was in New Windsor?

THEDA DAYHOFF: Luckily, I was raised right across the street from the Dielman Hotel. And it was named after, um, Lewis Dielman owned a hotel. And people would come up from the city and spend their summers there. And I thought it was the greatest thing in the world.

I loved summertime anyhow. But the ladies would come up in the afternoon. They would go out on the upstairs porch. And at that time, everybody smoked, especially people from the city.

And this lady, I thought her name was Mrs. Beads because she always wore beads. But her name was Mrs. Deeds. And she would sit up on the porch with her real long cigarette holder. And I thought that was the most marvelous thing.

And then, in the evening after the evening meal, of course, they didn’t have air conditioning then. And the doors would be open to the parlor, no less. And they had people come in and sing, and dance, and entertainment. Of course, we could see all that right across the street. It was, uh, very interesting.

TERRY POWELL: Now as a child, did you go inside the hotel at any time?

THEDA DAYHOFF: I had been in there. But not when they had guest, you know.

TERRY POWELL: OK, thank you. And your father, what did he do?

THEDA DAYHOFF: My father was a railroad postal clerk. And that’s when they sorted all the mail right on the train. And he worked from, uh, Baltimore to Cumberland. And he was gone two weeks and home a week. My mother said he treated us kids like guests because he only, you know– she had us all the time. And he was just there, you know, two weeks at a time.

TERRY POWELL: And what was your father’s name?

THEDA DAYHOFF: John Odin Warner.

TERRY POWELL: And uh, he worked two, two weeks gone? Could you tell us about the name of the company and–

THEDA DAYHOFF: Well he worked for the B&O Railroad company. Well actually, he worked for the government. He was very offended if you referred to him working on the railroad. He worked for the government. And his line was, usually, from Baltimore to Cumberland and from Cumberland back to Baltimore.

And then, he had somebody pick him up in Baltimore on Saturday evening. And then, he’d be home for a week. And then, he’d be gone again for two weeks. And actually, he worked for the government for 32 years. Then, he had to retire when he was 65.

TERRY POWELL: OK, now can you remember your first job in Carroll County?

THEDA DAYHOFF: Oh, when I was 14, I couldn’t wait to go to work and have lots of money to spend, I thought. And I worked at Shriver’s canning factory in New Windsor. And I operated a machine called the corn husker that automatically husk the corn to be canned.

TERRY POWELL: And when you say lots of money, can you give us an idea?

THEDA DAYHOFF: I think I made $0.15 an hour.

TERRY POWELL: And this is during the depression?

THEDA DAYHOFF: No, I think it was, really, after the depression. It was more in the ’40s, I believe.

TERRY POWELL: And so you made, approximately, a dollar and a half, $2, a day?

THEDA DAYHOFF: Mm hm. Something like that.

TERRY POWELL: And what does a girl do with $2?

THEDA DAYHOFF: Oh, it went a long ways. I bought my– I remember my first job. I forget what I bought my mother. But I always bought my mother something. And each one of the younger children, I’d get them a little trinket or something. But it went a long ways compared to what goes today.

TERRY POWELL: Could you walk to work?

THEDA DAYHOFF: Yes, mm hm.

TERRY POWELL: And uh huh, all righty. And then, could you explain maybe something about entertainment? What did you do to amuse yourselves in New Windsor?

THEDA DAYHOFF: Well we played a lot of games. Some of them were made up. And some of them were– all the other kids would love to play dodge ball and softball. And then, in colder weather, we played jacks, and we played cards, and we had favorite radio programs. We sat around the radio the way people watch TV now.

And I don’t ever remember being bored as a child. And we took long, long walks. And it was OK to walk the railroad tracks then. And we’d walk to wherever– down to what we called second bridge. And then, climb over the fence and pick wild flowers. That was a big deal then.

TERRY POWELL: Can you recall some of the radio stations that you liked?

THEDA DAYHOFF: WBAL. I remember that very well. And W– no, I can’t really remember anymore. But our main one was WBAL.

TERRY POWELL: And were there weekly shows that you couldn’t miss?

THEDA DAYHOFF: Oh, yes. I remember my brothers, they were very fond of Jack Armstrong. And then, there was Tom Mix and all those. They were the boys favorites. And then, there were soaps, My Gal Sunday, and Stella Dallas, and Vic and Sade. And you know, just like there’s the soap operas today.

TERRY POWELL: That’s terrific. You mentioned your brothers. Would you tell us their names, as well?

THEDA DAYHOFF: Um. My, um, older brother’s name is Alfred Warner. Alfred Oden Warner. I had a younger brother, John Lester Warner. And of course, when um– they were attacked by Pearl Harbor. Both of my brothers went in the service.

And Alfred was in the, uh, in the Atlantic. And my other brother was in the Pacific, you know, during the war.

TERRY POWELL: And during that time, did you have communication with your brothers through letters?

THEDA DAYHOFF: Oh, yes, yes. They wrote every day. Every day. Mm hm. And of course, no TV. We didn’t know. But there would be a list of the casualties every day in the paper. And we scanned them constantly.

TERRY POWELL: Mm. And rationing, was their rationing in New Windsor?

THEDA DAYHOFF: Yes, I remember the rationing books. But you know, people were so patriotic then. People did not complain about the shortage of gas. We had shoe coupons, sugar coupons, and no– that’s the amazing thing. I have never heard anyone. We just all did it together.

TERRY POWELL: Thank you. And how about school? You went to school in New Windsor?

THEDA DAYHOFF: Yes. I started, um, first grade in New, New– well I spent my whole time in New Windsor. But it was not a one room school. But I know we had first and second grade in one, one room.

And then, uh, when I got to the sixth and seventh grades, they had portables, you know, attached to that one school. And then, later went to the, um, New Windsor high school.

TERRY POWELL: Was there anything like a school bus? Or did everybody walk?

THEDA DAYHOFF: No, they had school bus for the rural children. But as I said, we lived really close to the school. And all of us kids came home for lunch. And in those days, everybody cooked three meals a day. And we came home every day for lunch.

TERRY POWELL: And there was a high school in New Windsor?


TERRY POWELL: What was it called?

THEDA DAYHOFF: New Windsor High School. Mm hm.

TERRY POWELL: And is there– are there any teachers you remember after all these years in elementary or later?

THEDA DAYHOFF: I remember my first grade teacher, Ms. Edna Wilson. I remember my, um, fifth grade teacher, Loretta Callahan. And then, I remember Paul Hyde would make quite an impression on us in the sixth grade. And Ms. Ivy Fowler, she was a wonderful teacher.

TERRY POWELL: Thank you. Now, your mom when she went to– well what was your mother’s name?

THEDA DAYHOFF: My, uh, mother’s name was Bessy Rose Ella Warner. And um–

TERRY POWELL: And when she went shopping for groceries and clothes, where did a family in New Windsor go?

THEDA DAYHOFF: Well we went to a store called Rips Groceries. But if we needed other things, our dad usually did that because there were seven of us kids. And either I don’t remember– I imagine my mother was pregnant most of the time with seven children that were all born within 10 or 12 years.

And daddy would be in Baltimore, see, waiting for his ride. And he did a lot– he did the shopping like coats and things like that for us. And then, there was a store right up the street from us called The Ark. It sold everything from lace tablecloths to horse collars. And I remember mother going there. We only lived two doors from there. And buying, uh, pajamas and personal things for the girls. I do remember that.

TERRY POWELL: And there seems to be in every small town a store that’s most popular with the kids. Was there one in New–

THEDA DAYHOFF: It was a place called Brownies Corner. And that was a confectionery store, soda fountain, and that sort of thing. That was more or less for the preteens, teenagers. We weren’t known as teenagers then, you know. But um, it was– and they sold, they had a jukebox in there, and they sold, you know, things that kids like. Ice cream sundaes, and sodas, and that sort of thing.

TERRY POWELL: If someone wanted to know more about New Windsor other than the hotel and those stores, is there something else that you think they might be interested in?

THEDA DAYHOFF: Well at the time I was growing up, we had– it was Blue Ridge College. And uh, now it is a Brethren Service Center that is known worldwide now. And um, I think New Windsor can also be classified as a beautiful little town.

I think it was an– Carol County’s always been an agricultural center. And I was told they had these beautiful homes on the street now called Church Street. And when I was growing up, they called it quality Hill. And as the farmers retired, I guess, the more prestigious you wore the bigger– you were– the bigger your house was. But they have beautiful homes, especially on that street. The large Victorian homes.

TERRY POWELL: So the current Church Street used to be?

THEDA DAYHOFF: Quality Hill.

TERRY POWELL: Quality Hill. (CHUCKLING) Interesting. Uh, would you ever have an occasion to go to the other towns like Westminster or Hampstead?

THEDA DAYHOFF: Not until we got older. No. And then, uh, my girlfriend’s parents had cars and everything. But as children, we just stayed, kind of, in New Windsor.

TERRY POWELL: Well thank you.

THEDA DAYHOFF: And we went on, um– we did a lot of, like, picnics. And we always had somebodies elses– my friends, my brother’s friends– at our house. We had a big house. And my mother was very generous. It was just never just us at the table, even during the war. It was always somebody else’s family, you know, kids that we brought home.

TERRY POWELL: So when you had free time, basically, you kids just made up your own entertainment.

THEDA DAYHOFF: Oh yeah, mm hm.

TERRY POWELL: There wasn’t necessarily a league or a club.


TERRY POWELL: You just invented your.

THEDA DAYHOFF: We all belonged to– we all went to the Methodist church, which still is there, of course. I still attend that church. And we Sunday school. And the younger group, they had a [INAUDIBLE]. And we all participated in that. In the Christmas pageants or anything that was going on, we all were a part of that.

TERRY POWELL: I see. And the name of the church?

THEDA DAYHOFF: Uh, Saint Paul’s United Methodist

TERRY POWELL: Uh, how about the holidays? Was there anything special about Christmas or Halloween that you did?

THEDA DAYHOFF: Oh, yeah. We never bought costumes. You just put on something, you know. But we always had a good time.

TERRY POWELL: Did you trick or treat? Or is that a new idea?

THEDA DAYHOFF: I think we never heard of trick or treat. We just went around and rapped on doors, you know, and did things like that. But the older boys, they did things that we wouldn’t dream of doing. You know, like, uh, some really bad stuff. Taking farmers wagons and putting them someplace else. But we, uh, you know, we didn’t do anything because we knew we weren’t supposed to.

TERRY POWELL: And uh, Christmas. Uh, you had Christmas trees?

THEDA DAYHOFF: Oh, yeah, that– in those days, your Christmas tree was the most important part of Christmas because people didn’t spend the money on gifts the way they do now. And your Christmas tree was never set up until all the kids went to bed on Christmas Eve. And Christmas morning, that was a big part of your Christmas.

And we each got a small gift. But it was nothing compared to what they do now. Absolutely nothing. But we, we thought it was wonderful.

TERRY POWELL: (CHUCKLING) Yes. Yes. Uh, so, uh, summer. Can you tell me when you had time off, and you had 10 weeks to kill with your buddies, what are you guys doing around town?

THEDA DAYHOFF: Well on really hot days, we went swimming. We walked down the railroad track to a place called Double Bridge. And there was just a creek. That’s all it was. But we all went swimming. One of my fondest memories is coming home and it’s hot. You know, very hot and coming home.

And in the kitchen, my mother would have a crock. It was made out of crockery. You know, the old crock. And a big chunk of ice in it. And the best iced tea I ever drank in my life. I’ve never tasted any like it since.

And um, we went swimming. And we all had our chores to do. And we helped in the garden and that sort of thing. I helped my mother can as I grew up. You know, can things for winter.

TERRY POWELL: Was there a ball diamond?

THEDA DAYHOFF: Yes, mm hm. That was near the Blue Ridge College, at the time. And then, everybody– I know there was another ball diamond out, uh, called, uh, [INAUDIBLE] Meadow. That’s where the young boys all got together and, and played baseball. And of course, we played in our own yard and in, you know.

TERRY POWELL: Well let me backtrack to the college for a minute. Did those students interact with the townspeople? Or did they, pretty much, stay on campus?

THEDA DAYHOFF: Well, they didn’t really. So they pretty much, uh– well you would see them around town. But see, they were a lot older then I was then. And um, most of the time, they were just with their own group. You’d see them a lot at the local drugstore and the– and Brownies Corner.

TERRY POWELL: Uh, would there be a 4th of July celebration in New Windsor?

THEDA DAYHOFF: Not really.

TERRY POWELL: No? Parades?


TERRY POWELL: Fireman’s carnival?

THEDA DAYHOFF: Oh, yeah. Firemen’s carnivals and the Ladies Auxiliary, which I was a part of. And our drill team– the New Windsor ladies drill team– were state champions for three years. And of course, everybody helped the young people and the older people too helped with the New Windsor carnival.

It was like, almost like, a big family. Everybody helped each other. Also, when anyone got sick in the neighborhood, everybody helped. They’d take meals to go sit up with someone that was very ill. We didn’t have the kind of medical care that we have today.

TERRY POWELL: Was there a doctor in the town?


TERRY POWELL: Uh huh. And they had an office on Main Street or something?

THEDA DAYHOFF: It wasn’t Main Street. But I forget what they called that. Church Street now. I forget what is was called then. And he delivered all those kids at home.

TERRY POWELL: Wow. No kidding.

THEDA DAYHOFF: All, but one.

TERRY POWELL: He was the– he was the doctor. And everybody went to the same doctor.

THEDA DAYHOFF: Yes. And then, later, we had another doctor. We had two doctors then. Dr. Marsh. Now there was enough people for that time in New Windsor that they both, you know, had plenty of patients.

TERRY POWELL: Did he serve as the dentist also?

THEDA DAYHOFF: No, we had a dentist. Mm hm. We had a dentist.

TERRY POWELL: Wow. Well I’m going to ask you if there’s something that you’d like to say about Carroll County that we haven’t covered. Would you– can you think of anything?

THEDA DAYHOFF: Except that I’d rather live here then any place else in the world. And I didn’t always think that. I didn’t always think that.

TERRY POWELL: Well, I think that’s terrific. Well I would like to thank Mrs. Theda Dayhoff on this Friday, February 13, 2009 and, uh, talking about Carroll County, Maryland.