Vera Blum

Vera was born in Patapsco, MD in 1929. After getting married her and her husband moved to Baltimore and then eventually to Westminster, MD. She shares her stories about working in her parents candy shop.


VERA BLUM: Kathleen Vera Barrick. I’m Vera Blum. I was married to Raymond Blum. I was born April 2, 1929, Barrick Road, Patapsco.

INTERVIEWER: OK, great. Now, where all have you lived here in Patapsco?

VERA BLUM: Lived on Barrick Road. And then my mother and father bought the general mer, merchandise store, which is now known as The Whistle Stop. Their names were Norman and Darce Barrick. And then when I married Thomas Hock, we moved in to Baltimore, and then moved back up here, and lived down on Wesley Road. And then I lived in Westminster when we had our business, the Hock Upholstering business.

INTERVIEWER: Great. So what was life like for your, living at the Whistle Stop, which is where you lived as a child for awhile?

VERA BLUM: Uh, it was, for a child, it was wonderful. Because everyone, especially the young girls, thought that it was great that I could wait on people in the store. And of course, I had to keep the candy dishes clean. And naturally, that meant I could sample if I wanted to.


And, um, so it was really a wonderful childhood. Um.

INTERVIEWER: What kind of candy did you sell?

VERA BLUM: A penny candy, and of course, a lot of it was chocolates. I can remember also the, um, Hershey bars and the– what were the little yellow wrappers? Um, Bit-O-Honey, Mound bars, um, just the variety, uh, like you do. Of course, like I said, most of our candy was loose. And we put them the glass dishes. And we sold them for a penny.

INTERVIEWER: Where did your parents get the candy from?

VERA BLUM: Uh, there was a company called, um, Maryland, I think it was called Maryland Candy Company up in Westminster. And then we also bought some things from, um, FA Davis Company from Baltimore.

INTERVIEWER: Now, what was it like– what was a typical day? Let’s go back to like when you were 10. What was a typical day for li– like for you? You, you know, what time would you get up? What would it be like?

VERA BLUM: During this summer, Mother wouldn’t let me sleep past nine o’clock. So I had– I was usually up fairly early. Um, we would have breakfast. Um, Mother got up at six and served– uh, took care of the store. She had some men that she pack lunches for before they went to work. But, uh, we didn’t always have breakfast together. Because they would be– Mom and Dad would be busy at the store.

My father was postmaster. So therefore, he had to take care of the mail. And at that time, we had trains that went through that were also mail trains. And there was a, um, I forget what you would call it. But it was a, um, in other words, my father had to hang the mail bag out, so that if the train wasn’t stopping, it would pick it off with an arm and put it on to the train.


VERA BLUM: And, um, and then my grandmother lived with us, Grandmother Gray, which was my mother’s mother. And, um, usually, uh, as a child, at 10 years old, I didn’t have a whole lot to do. As I got older, of course, I had more responsibility in store. And I can remember, as far as the post office, at Christmas time my father didn’t require everyone to put their stamps on their envelopes. So I had to help lick the stamps, too, at, uh Christmas time to send out post– the Christmas cards.

INTERVIEWER: What were the years that you lived at the Whistle Stop?

VERA BLUM: Uh, Mother and Dad bought it in ’39. We had owned, excuse me, we had owned a little store up the street here, uh, for about a year. And then in ’39, Mom and Dad bought the store down here. And then they sold it in ’49 to a Mr. Philip Moody.

INTERVIEWER: And how long did he have it?

VERA BLUM: So it was– oh, Mr. Moody had it, um, oh my, I would say about 20 years maybe? He had it for quite some time. Mom and Dad had to sell because of Dad’s health. They couldn’t, you know, keep it any longer.

INTERVIEWER: Right. Right. OK, so what do, what do you remember about going to school? Because you went to school here in Patapsco, correct?

VERA BLUM: I had first grade over here at our two room schoolhouse, right here in Patapsco. Mrs., um, Pansy Burke taught first, second, and third. And then Mr. Yillie had fourth, fifth, and six. I’m not sure about the seventh grade. I forget if we had that here.

But it was a two room schoolhouse. And then there was, um, a little place in the center which was called our coat room. It was a little separate room. And, um I, I do remember.



INTERVIEWER: We can stop.


VERA BLUM: I said I didn’t know if you were coming. Because we had gone and, uh–


VERA BLUM: We all together now?

INTERVIEWER: We are so together now. Well, take your glasses off for me.


INTERVIEWER: We get a glare from them.


INTERVIEWER: And the window. Here we go. Wonderful. Now you’re going to look at me.


INTERVIEWER: OK. So let’s talk about the school house, what it was like going to school in the little schoolhouse here in Patapsco?

VERA BLUM: I think I had said that we had the two rooms, and the little cloak room in between. And if I remember correctly, we had just, um, a bucket. I think it was just a, uh, galvanized bucket with one dipper. And we all drank from that. Um, we had two little back houses that we used for our toilets.

We had Miss Pansy Burke had first, second, and third grade. And Mr. Ralph Yillie in the other room had fourth, fifth, and sixth. And I really don’t remember if we had seventh grade there or not. Uh, I went there in 1935, and for my first grade. And then I just went, uh, one or two months for my second grade, because then I went out to San- Sandymount Elementary.

And, uh, we graduated there after the seventh grade, and then went on to Westminster High. At that time, we only had 11 years when we graduated. We didn’t have 12 years.


VERA BLUM: The ones that were coming in the seventh grade of that year, of ’46, they went on to have 12 grades. But we only had to have the 11 to graduate.

INTERVIEWER: Did you go on in school after that?

VERA BLUM: I went to, uh, Baltimore Business College. Uh, I took the six month course, since I had been a commercial student anyway up at, uh, high school. And then from there, um, they of course would send you out for interviews. And I interviewed with the, um, Federal Land Bank. And I was able to– I, I got a job with them right out of, um, the business school.

INTERVIEWER: The Federal Land Bank?


INTERVIEWER: What, what was that?

VERA BLUM: Up on 24th, I mean, St. Paul and 23rd Street in Baltimore. I went as a junior secretary. I think I was making $29.95 for a week, something like that.

INTERVIEWER: And how did you get there?

VERA BLUM: I rode– we would take the train, uh, from here at Patapsco down to Helen Station, where the train stopped. And then we would walk from, uh, Helen Station up to Baltimore Street. At the corner of Baltimore and Light is where the college was. And that’s how we got back and forth. And of course, that’s how I got down to college when I went there, was with the train.

INTERVIEWER: And then you started working down?

VERA BLUM: And then I, when I worked at, um, the uh Federal Land Bank, I had to get off at the Pennsylvania Station when I got off the train, and then walked up to, uh, 20– I think it was 23rd, 23rd and St. Paul. So I worked there until I was married.

INTERVIEWER: Uh-huh. And then did you quit working when you got married, or–

VERA BLUM: I kept working until, um– we were married in February. And in September, I found I was pregnant. So they would only let you work six months then. So I had to quit work in March of the following year.

INTERVIEWER: And then you– you wouldn’t have gone back to work?

VERA BLUM: Uh, no, I do not go back.

INTERVIEWER: OK. What do you remember about your neighbors here in Patapsco?

VERA BLUM: Um, I– we were all friends. I, I really don’t remember not getting along with people, um.

INTERVIEWER: Who were your sort of favorite people, or people that really, um, you remember most from your childhood?

VERA BLUM: Well, Darce Dixon, was Darce Knight at the time. Then there was, uh, uh, Virginia Sykes. She was Virginia Webb. That was her maiden name. I remember one time with Virginia when the new [INAUDIBLE] was put through. She and I were running up and down it, you know, just to test it out. And I fell and scuffed up my knees. I do you remember that with Virginia. [LAUGHTER] I think that was maybe in about ’39, ’40, somewhere around in there, um.

INTERVIEWER: What kind of clothes did you wear? Do you remember?

VERA BLUM: Well, uh, we wore skirts and blouses a lot.

INTERVIEWER: What were they made of?

VERA BLUM: And of course, um. Well, I was fortunate. I was an only child. And all my clothing was bought. Mother would order them sometimes from Sears or Montgomery Wards. And I can remember going to Baltimore with Mother to Montgomery Wards. And that was quite a trip for us to go down there, or even to go into Baltimore.

INTERVIEWER: Where was it in Baltimore?

VERA BLUM: Uh, it was out on, um, was it Washington Street? It was sort of on the outskirts of Baltimore. But then we would go into downtown Baltimore, which was we dressed up. You had your hat and your gloves. And you’re very dressy. And, uh, there was, uh, Julius Gutman’s. And they had a tea room, so mother would always take me to the tea room, where we would have lunch.

INTERVIEWER: What did you have? Do you remember what you would eat there?

VERA BLUM: What would I eat there? You know, I honestly don’t remember. I don’t think it was a salad. It was pro- probably, um– I, I just don’t remember.


VERA BLUM: I don’t remember what it was. But that was quite the thing back then, you know, to go into Baltimore to shop. And of course, that was downtown Baltimore at that time.

INTERVIEWER: And you took the train down from Patapsco?

VERA BLUM: Uh, now Mother by then, um– well, dad always had a car, though. And dr- usually would drive down. And we’d like to go to the Lexington market. Mother loved, um, smoked herring. And, uh, we would go there and get the fish. And also, there was a taffy, a pulled taffy, that we liked. And we would always go to get that, too.

INTERVIEWER: Do you remember any places like, uh, in Westminster that, uh, were sort of favorite places like that that you used to go to?


INTERVIEWER: Do you remember about Westminster?

VERA BLUM: I remember there were stores where we usually would shop for clothing, Rosenstock’s, Kaufman Fisher’s, Penney’s.

INTERVIEWER: Uh, in, in Westminster?

VERA BLUM: Mhm. Right downtown.


VERA BLUM: Yes, downtown Westminster. Um, there were a couple of drugstores there. Uh, it was called Reeds at that time, which is now Rite Aid. And, um, there were a couple others there. Razinksi’s was another one. And I forget this– oh, and then when I started dating, I’ll have to tell you. [CHUCKLE] We would have $1 for the two of us.

And, uh, we go to the movies. And I was lucky. The boy I was dating at the time had a car. And, uh, we would go to the movies. And then we would go down the street to, um, Griffin’s. They had hot chocolate that we could get. And for $1, we could have a date, both of us going to the movies and having a cup of hot chocolate when we came out, so.

INTERVIEWER: Was Griffin’s a drugstore or something, Or?

VERA BLUM: Uh, it was just a little, uh, just a little restaurant where you could get a sandwich, um, get a soft drink, you know, usually fountain Coke, something like that.

INTERVIEWER: Now how old would you have been then?

VERA BLUM: I was, uh, 15, I think, at the time. Mhm.

INTERVIEWER: So you got to go in a car with a boy?


INTERVIEWER: On a date. And you went into Westminster.

VERA BLUM: Went to the Carroll Theater, which is now the Carroll Arts Center. And, uh, we could just walk down the street then and get our cup of hot chocolate. [LAUGHTER]

INTERVIEWER: That’s wonderful. OK. So, do your remember, um, what your father did? Oh, your father owned the store.

VERA BLUM: Well, uh, before that, uh, I was 10 when he came down here, nine when we were in the little store up here. Um, and that was the store that Avi was talking about was owned by his grandfather, Charles Spencer. And, um, I was 10 then when we came down here to this store. And what was the question? Now I’ve lost my thought.

INTERVIEWER: Other than working with the store.

VERA BLUM: Oh, Daddy.

INTERVIEWER: What did your father do?

VERA BLUM: Um, he worked down– let’s see now. When I always born, I think he was down at the [INAUDIBLE] at that time. But then, he work for, um– Lex and Emil Caples had a garage out in Reese. And he worked as a mechanic there. And then they bought the stores. And Daddy was the postmaster. And Mother was the assistant postmaster.

INTERVIEWER: And that was when no one actually had an address to their house?

VERA BLUM: Just Patapsco.

INTERVIEWER: When did the addresses start? Do you know? When did they start to–


INTERVIEWER: Get numbered.

VERA BLUM: Um, let me think. The, uh, it would’ve been maybe in the– I’m trying to think. My hus, first husband died in ’73. It was soon after that that we went to Finksburg. So it was maybe just a few years before that. Maybe, maybe say around 1970, something like that we actually got a address, like Wesley Road, Patapsco Road, and numbers. It, it hadn’t– I don’t think we had it too long before Tom passed away in ’73.

INTERVIEWER: Now, Patapsco Road splits. There’s two Patapsco roads now. You have one that crosses over here and cuts into Wesley just, uh, starts Wesley Road. And then the other one, it starts.

VERA BLUM: Well, it really starts at Carrollton Church of God, and comes all the way down. And then you come across the bridge and take Patapsco Road over to Wesley Road.

INTERVIEWER: Has it always been like that? Because it’s odd that you have two, literally two, Patapsco Roads.

VERA BLUM: Mhm. As far as I can remember, it’s been like that.

INTERVIEWER: It’s always been that way. I wonder why they– I often wonder why they did that. Um, let’s see. Can you remember walking down the street in Westminster when you were a girl on this date. And sort of what would you have seen? What was it like? Remember anything in particular, even the way things sounded, or smelled, or?

VERA BLUM: I know, uh, your streets were more crowded, especially on Saturdays, Saturday night. Because that was the big thing, you know, to go to town on Saturday night. And all of your shopping was done on Main Street. Because we didn’t have any shopping centers or anything like that. Um, you usually saw a lot of people that you knew. Most of the time now you can walk down Main Street and not see anyone that you really know.

INTERVIEWER: And nobody walks down Main Street anymore.

VERA BLUM: Right. Not, not like it used to be. And, um.

INTERVIEWER: Did you dress up? Did you dress up to go to town on Saturday night.

VERA BLUM: Yes. Yes. You had to be like you were going to church or whatever. You know, you had to be dressed up.

INTERVIEWER: Do you remember what you might have worn? Would this be something when you would wear a hat and gloves, or not?

VERA BLUM: I don’t think I ever wore a hat and gloves to Westminster. We did that when we went to Baltimore. But, um, I would probably have had a skirt and blouse, maybe a suit that I wore. Uh, you didn’t wear many pant suits back then when I was growing up.

INTERVIEWER: Right. It was really before their time, huh?

VERA BLUM: Mhm. And of course, we could go– there was uh, I don’t know it was 2:00 or 2:30 train that went to Westminster. And we could go up to do our shopping, and then catch the 5:00 or 5:30, whatever it was, back home on Saturday then if you didn’t have a car to go into town.

INTERVIEWER: So what would you do on Saturday night after coming back from, uh, shopping in Westminster. What would you do here in Patapsco? How would you spend the, the evening?

VERA BLUM: Well, now when I, when I still lived up on, uh, Barrick Road, Mom and Dad had a lar– the first radios that came out were very large. And of course, we would gather around and listen. I, I can remember one of them was Orphan, Orphan Annie, I think it was called. We used to listen to that. And Mother had a couple soap operas she’d listen to during the day that she liked. Um.

INTERVIEWER: Soap operas on the radio.

VERA BLUM: Mhm. And Fibber McGee and Molly. That was another one we liked at night. Um, right offhand, they’re about the only ones I can think of right now that we listened to.

INTERVIEWER: And where did, um, what was the grocery store that– I know you guys had your own store. But before your parents had a store, where did, where did they go for their groceries?

VERA BLUM: Well, on Main Street where, um, let’s see. What would be there now? Almost down the railroad the– it was the A&P, which is now Super Fresh. That was right there on Main Street. And, uh, not too far up above where [INAUDIBLE] is, right in there was the Acme it was called.

INTERVIEWER: That’s a grocery store?

VERA BLUM: Mhm. And then on the corner of Liberty and Green, there was William F Myers. They not only had their meat packing there, but also a grocery store.

INTERVIEWER: Did you ever, um, have any, um, encounters with any of the salespeople that you might remember? Were any of them particularly interesting?

VERA BLUM: Over here at the store?


VERA BLUM: Uh, we had a little short man that deliver Dr. Pepper. I remember him. I don’t remember his name. Um, Mother had a, um.

INTERVIEWER: Now, when was that? When do you think that was?

VERA BLUM: Well, we were– that would’ve been, uh.

INTERVIEWER: Between ’39 and ’49?

VERA BLUM: Yes. Mhm. Mhm.

INTERVIEWER: When you were here at the Whistle Stop?



VERA BLUM: Mhm. And then there was a– Mother had a, uh, Wurlitzer.


VERA BLUM: No, the music box. A jukebox.


VERA BLUM: She had that put in. And for a nickel, you could play a song back then. And, um, the gentleman, I’m trying to think of his name, that would come and change the records on it and collect the money, well, he got so that he knew that Mother would be honest with him. So she could go and empty the, the box of money, you know, and keep it for him, and then start it over again.

But we used to have a lot of fun. Because, uh, during the war, of course, we didn’t have the men here. And my, um, friend, uh, Ethel MacMillan, had lived with us for awhile and helped in the store. So she and I and some of the other young people, we’d put a nickel in the jukebox and, and do our jitterbugging there in the store.

INTERVIEWER: What all did you sell in that store? What was it like [INAUDIBLE]?

VERA BLUM: Anything that you wanted. It was general merchandise.

INTERVIEWER: General merch. So what–

VERA BLUM: My mother.

INTERVIEWER: Did it look like inside?

VERA BLUM: Uh, well, as you would walk in, Dad had his post office on the right hand side there. And then we had our candies, uh, on the, uh, um, along on the counter, and then a little, um, place where we wa, walked back into a back room where we kept like– we had soda bottles then that we had to keep the the glass bottles. And then Dad had, um, some feed. I think it was like cracked corn and some meal, and that sort of thing back there, and kerosene. We also had a pump back in there with the kerosene.

And then the next part of the counter, we had bins where you had sugar, and, uh, flour, and beans. Uh, we had the, um, like soup beans. And then on the back of the store was our meat counter. And, um, mom and dad both did the, the cutting. And my first husband, uh, Tom, he had gone when he got out of the service, he went to the, um, uh, to under the GI bill to learn butchering. So he could do that, too.

And then we had our ice cream there. And during the war, we could only get a, a, uh, small amount of ice cream. And of course, we had people when they knew that the ice cream man was coming, we just kept dipping ice cream until it almost gone.


And then on the other side of the store.

INTERVIEWER: What kind of ice cream was it?

VERA BLUM: Borden’s.

INTERVIEWER: What– did it have flavors, or was it–

VERA BLUM: Oh, yes, chocolate, vanilla, um.

INTERVIEWER: Strawberry?

VERA BLUM: I, I think so. I, I can’t remember butter pecan. That’s my favorite. But I, I don’t remember that one. But at least we had those three. And fudge– I think we had the fudge with the ripple through, you know. And then on the other side of the store, we had, um, dry goods. Um, we had, um, uh, Mother would pray in the wintertime for snow, because we sold, um, what we called rubbers at the time. And the, uh, regular boots, you know.

We had, uh, perfumes, and deodorant, and all that sort of thing. And, uh, of course, then we had shelves where we had like cereals and all that sort of thing on, you know. But it was a, a real general merchandise store.

INTERVIEWER: That’s wonderful.

VERA BLUM: And I had, being an only child, I never felt alone. Because my Grandmother Gray live with us, my mom’s mother. And then, of course, when we moved down here, I had people around me all the time. So I, I never minded being an only child.

INTERVIEWER: Um, can you tell me about the building that we’re in? Can you tell me a little bit about this building?

VERA BLUM: It was built, I’m not sure what year it was built. But I think according to that deed, it was around 1925 or so, something like that. It was built for the Red Men’s lodge. The men’s part was called the Mohawk, Mohawk Tribe. The, uh, women had, also had, uh, I think it was called the [INAUDIBLE] Council, I believe it was called.

INTERVIEWER: Pocahontas.

VERA BLUM: I said Pocahontas, but, uh, as I was thinking about it, maybe it was. Anyway, we’ll say Pocahontas. Because then it joined with another group down in Baltimore, when it was, um, disbanded. But they had, um, a pool table up there that the men could play pool.

And, uh, they had stations, uh, all around, where the different men would have, you know, like– I can’t remember the names anymore, but be like a president and vice president. Or I think they used the names of Indians. And, um, they did some good works, you know, just like your Lions Club and those type of clubs do today.

INTERVIEWER: So this was a a clubhouse in a sense.

VERA BLUM: In a sense. Mhm. Oh, and, uh, also, well, we’ll finish up with that. They had, upstairs– they had to have it on the second floor because it was their clubs were supposed to have a second floor in the building, rather than their meeting on the first floor. They had initiation for you to get in. And if a new member wanted to come in, they voted. And they had marbles that they put in a box. And if you have one black ball in there, you were black balled. You couldn’t belong to it.

And they had a room up there called the goat room, where they would have initiations. And you had a password that you had to get them before they’d allow you to come in. And the women were similar to that. But, um.

INTERVIEWER: So that’s the term where the blackballed.

VERA BLUM: Mhm. They were white and black marbles that you had and you put in. If you didn’t want someone to come into the lodge, you put the black ball in. So [INAUDIBLE] blackball.

INTERVIEWER: Wanted to keep you out?

VERA BLUM: I think so. I’m not sure about that. But I think so.

INTERVIEWER: That’s fascinating.

VERA BLUM: But now the downstairs, we had the circus come here when I was a kid. And, um, uh, they would have, of course, your Cracker Jacks and with little prizes in them. And, um, what else did we have here? All the school plays when we had just the two room schoolhouse here, the school plays were presented here. Because where our kitchen is now, we had a stage. And they, uh, we could perform on the stage.

And also, during the war, we had what we called Turkey Holla shows that we put on to raise money to send gifts to the, uh, servicemen. And it was mainly the women of the community that put it on. It was more or less a variety show.

INTERVIEWER: So, uh, what sort of gifts would they send the men?

VERA BLUM: Uh, Mother had one of the men in the community, Mr. Finn, make us wooden boxes. And she would– of course, at that time cigarettes weren’t considered harmful.


VERA BLUM: So it was cigarettes, candies, um, maybe deodorant, or anything we thought that that a serviceman could use.

INTERVIEWER: And, uh, do you know how much money they might have raised in a performance for something like this?

VERA BLUM: I’m trying to think of some articles that I’ve seen. I,I really don’t know, tell you the truth.

INTERVIEWER: OK. The plays sound like they were fun.

VERA BLUM: They were. We had.

INTERVIEWER: Did you guys create them yourself, or were they?

VERA BLUM: Well, uh, like one of the ladies, Ruth Knight, used to do a Minnie Pearl impersonation. And then Ali Spencer’s mother, Myrtle, uh, she more or less headed it up and would come up with, um, the songs that we should sing. And like myself, I maybe would sing a solo. And some of the other girls maybe would do, um, the, uh, a duet or something like that. Of course, we would dress up. I can remember one time them having, um, like grass skirts and the, the uh, wreaths around their, their heads, you know.

And, um, they would dress up for it. Some of them, some of them would wear– I remember Miss Selma Shafer, she wore, uh, an old pair of coveralls. And, um, we just had a wonderful time, or, uh, having fun, plus you know, doing good, too.

INTERVIEWER: That’s wonderful.

VERA BLUM: And we had dances here afterwards, or for like March of Dimes we would raise money for that. We used to have bingos here. But of course, being Methodist, we didn’t think of doing it for money. We would have little prizes that we would give out, you know, maybe a a little glass dish, or something like that that we would give out if you won.

INTERVIEWER: So you didn’t do money to raise– you didn’t do bingo to raise money for the [INAUDIBLE].

VERA BLUM: No, no.


VERA BLUM: Not that I remember, anyhow. Of course, we’ve always had our luncheons here. My mother and her sister-in-law and Rita Ba– Rita Spencer, several of the women started quilting. And they would go house to house at first. And then they asked the Red Men if they could meet here. And they started bringing sandwiches and making soup.

And some of the men that were working in the area asked if they couldn’t come and have lunch with us. So this was like in ’39, ’40, 1940. And then it just went from there, where we’ve become, uh, really we do 12 lunches in the spring and 12 in the fall, and it’s become very popular.


INTERVIEWER: So that’s how it got started.

VERA BLUM: Mhm. The public comes and enjoys a nice lunch with us. And we try to, uh, um, be the kind of person that maybe the Lord would want us to be in meeting people.

INTERVIEWER: That’s wonderful. And it all started because of the ladies that wanted to do quilting.

VERA BLUM: Went to quilting. Mhm. And of course, I should add, we still do the quilting.

INTERVIEWER: And what do you do with the quilts? How does that work?

VERA BLUM: People call us and say, I have a quilt top. Will you do the quilting for me? So in other words, we don’t really make the top itself. They bring that and, uh, the materials to put on the bottom, the the padding and everything, they bring all that to us. And the we, we do the stitching on it, hand stitching.

INTERVIEWER: What other, um, things does the church do in the way of outreach?

VERA BLUM: We usually have a mission. We have four missions a year. Each quarter, we pick a mission. Um, this quarter, the the first quarter we did the ARC, which is, uh, located, uh, in Westminster.

INTERVIEWER: And what is that?

VERA BLUM: Well, that’s for the, um, it used to be called retarded. But I, what do I want to call it now? But, uh–

INTERVIEWER: Mentally challenged.

VERA BLUM: Yes. Yes, that organization. Now this, this, uh, quarter, we’re doing, um, the Carroll County, um, Food Sunday. That’s our mission. And, uh.

INTERVIEWER: What does that, what does that mean? I don’t know what [INAUDIBLE].

VERA BLUM: Carroll County Food Sunday, people who qualify can go there and get food and not have to pay.

INTERVIEWER: What sort of food?

VERA BLUM: Uh, canned good. Uh, eggs. Um, I, I think in the summertime they might even have fresh vegetables.

INTERVIEWER: And who are the people that qualify? How do they qualify to get the food?

VERA BLUM: I, now that, I’m not sure.


VERA BLUM: Because I think it would be like through the, um, human services maybe.

INTERVIEWER: Oh, so you raise and you give it.

VERA BLUM: We raise money, give it to them. Now, we’ve done the Westminster Rescue Mission, the Shepherd’s Staff that goes through the Lutheran church there. We try to keep most of our, um, missions local. We’re going to do Mission of Mercy as our third. And also, we have done, um, our Methodist Church has what we, what’s called the Red Bird Mission, where, uh, it works down in the Appalachian Mountains. And we do raise money for them sometimes.

INTERVIEWER: Here comes the train.



You know you’re in Patapsco.


INTERVIEWER: Isn’t that great. So no– how far down does that train go now, because it’s no longer a passenger train.

VERA BLUM: No. I know it goes as far as Cedarhurst the, uh, Congoleum. Whether it goes beyond that or not, I don’t know. Because when we had the flood, of course, it took the, uh, ties out and they had to rebuild it.


INTERVIEWER: When was the flood?

VERA BLUM: In, um, 1972. And we were involved in that. Because we lived on Wesley Road. And the, um, water came up into our home there, 18 inches on the first floor. So we had a lot of things to throw away from that one. Yeah.

INTERVIEWER: It’s odd to be flooded here.

VERA BLUM: Yes, that’s the first time. That house was built in the late 1800s. And it’s the first time it was ever flooded.

INTERVIEWER: What caused the flood?

VERA BLUM: Um, the, um, Agnes, the, uh, hurricane.

INTERVIEWER: Oh, hurricane?

VERA BLUM: Mhm. Mhm. Yeah.

INTERVIEWER: So did it affect– it must have affected this church hall then. The flood waters, did they come in?

VERA BLUM: Yeah, I, yes. Uh, not is much, though, because you have the railroad.


VERA BLUM: You know, it blocked it. Mhm.

INTERVIEWER: OK. OK. All right. And what sort of things did you do for fun as a child? What sort of– like what was your entertainment?

VERA BLUM: Um, mainly playing outside. My cousins, the Barricks, um, it was, uh, Douglas and Donald who were close– Douglas is my age. And Donald was just a couple years older. And, um, we would play down in the woods, you know.

You bend a tree over and made it a horse. Or you got on the grapevines and went out over the side of the cliff there, or whatever, you know. Had a little stream down back that we could go down and play in. Go out and pick strawberries. Um.

INTERVIEWER: Are there any wild strawberries here anymore, or?

VERA BLUM: I, I don’t know. I’m not aware of any. Not where–

INTERVIEWER: Where did you find them? Where were the strawberries?

VERA BLUM: Uh, where I did there on Barrick Road, we would go down to a meadow across from us there. And, um, there were plenty in the meadow there that we could pick. And one of my, um, fondest memories of my dad when I was real little was he used to take me when he would go pick cherries.

There was a tree down in that same area where we got the strawberries. And he would set me up on a limb while he did the, the picked the cherries, you know. And, um, I can still remember that. But I was with Dad, you know. So that was great.

INTERVIEWER: That must have been wonderful.

VERA BLUM: Yeah. We had a wonderful childhood. We really did. It was more carefree than what we have today. Because Mom and Dad could let me go out in the woods and meander around with my friends. And you, you didn’t have any fears then of what might happen. We uh– it was a lot freer then.

INTERVIEWER: What about any of the wildlife around here? What do you remember about any of the wild animals?

VERA BLUM: Well, we didn’t have deer then, not in the, not in the early ’30s. Because they had to reintroduce them down here. Now of course, we have plenty.

INTERVIEWER: They actually intr– reintroduced them?

VERA BLUM: In, into this area. That, and the wild turkeys, too. We didn’t have those. But, uh, Dad would go out and go rabbit hunting and go after squirrels. Um, I can’t remember– and I’m sure we had snakes around. But I don’t even, I don’t remember being afraid of them.

INTERVIEWER: What happened to the deer that they had to reintroduce them? Were they just all killed, or?

VERA BLUM: Uh, that I don’t know. But I know when we grew up, we didn’t have them at that time back in the early ’30s. But of course, you know, you go out deer hunting now. Because we have so many.

INTERVIEWER: Have you seen any other animals around that are unusual?

VERA BLUM: Oh, no. The pheasants, of course, we had pheasants back then. You don’t see many of them now, the red fox. Um.

INTERVIEWER: You still have the foxes, right?

VERA BLUM: Mhm. I haven’t seen one for a long time, though since they took– started building across from me. I haven’t seen them. There are still deer. I did have some apple trees. And the deer would come after the apples. But I did cut them down last year, so I don’t have an apple supply for them anymore.

INTERVIEWER: Oh. Oh. How come you cut down the trees?

VERA BLUM: Well, my husband had planted them. And he was able to tend to them. But then he passed away in ’96. And I, I just cannot do the spraying and. And really, I was, I– the fruit was not good. Because I wasn’t able to spray.


VERA BLUM: And it was a mess on the lawn for, uh, for us to mow and everything. Of course, I fed the deer, and the groundhog, and the birds, so.

INTERVIEWER: A lot of bird.

VERA BLUM: Mhm. Yes.

INTERVIEWER: A lot of birds.

VERA BLUM: Yes. My late husband, Raymond, he was, he connected with Cornell University. And they have the Bird Count. And he would always do that all winter into spring. And so we always fed them. So far this year, I have the uh little hummingbirds are back. And , uh, the catbirds are back. And of course, you always have your cardinals and, and the other, the spar– oh, and the goldfinches. We love the goldfinches. We have them.

INTERVIEWER: I’ve seen a Baltimore oriole. Have you seen any? I’ve seen some Baltimore orioles down here.

VERA BLUM: No, I haven’t. I haven’t. Uh, plenty of robins. We used to get um the Baltimore oriole, and also, um, partridge. We don’t call them partridge, though. Um.


VERA BLUM: I have plenty of doves. Oh, what– you go by their call. But anyway, they used to come into some of the, uh, big apple trees that we had there. But, um, of course, with them pa– I had to have those taken down, too.

INTERVIEWER: I’m sorry. Give me just a minute.


INTERVIEWER: I have to [INAUDIBLE] cover so many things. Um, what would you have most liked to change about Carroll County when growing up during your early years, if anything?

VERA BLUM: Hmm. During my early years. I don’t know. I guess I’ve always been happy with the situation that I was in.

INTERVIEWER: You’ve always loved everything about Carroll County?

VERA BLUM: Mhm. I, I right now, I know that you can’t stop development. But I yearn to see more of the farmland stay as it is, rather than being developed.

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

VERA BLUM: It’s a beautiful county. Um, I think that as far as, uh, crime, we’re one of the lower rates in, uh, in uh, Maryland. Um, you have plenty– you have wonderful school system.

INTERVIEWER: Can you tell me a little bit about your church?

VERA BLUM: Our church was built back in 1884.

INTERVIEWER: And what is the name of your church?

VERA BLUM: It’s Patapsco United Methodist. Um, we always have been a strong, stronghold in the community.

INTERVIEWER: Can you tell me about the, uh, the reason you ended up with two churches in the village. What was the story with that, the one that’s now not be used as a church?

VERA BLUM: The Methodist church had a split. And they, um, major– or some of the people felt that the bishop and the district superintendents and all had more power than they wanted them to have. They wanted the, uh, lay people to have more voice. So they split. And they called it the um Methodist Episcopal and Methodist Protestant.

INTERVIEWER: And which one was which?

VERA BLUM: Now, the the Episcopal went more for the, uh, bishop and the superintendents to have, and the ministers to have the say. And the Protestants went more for the lay people to have the say. And then, um.

INTERVIEWER: Now which church was which? The one on the hill.

VERA BLUM: The one on the hill was the Episcopal, Methodist Episcopal. And the one down in Patapsco was the Methodist Protestant. And then, of course, they went back together as the Patap– as the, uh, United Methodist Church.

INTERVIEWER: Can you tell the story about how the uh, the uh, church down here, the, the which one is it? Methodist.

VERA BLUM: The, the Methodist Protestant?

INTERVIEWER: Uh-huh. Got into that position. Can you tell the story about the church, how it was bought, and moved, and everything?

VERA BLUM: You mean when it was brought here?


VERA BLUM: That, I, I don’t know the story behind that. I know it was an old, um, I think it was like a–

INTERVIEWER: It was a Lutheran church.

VERA BLUM: German Lutheran church. And it was dismantled and brought here. I, I don’t know the members that were–


VERA BLUM: Involved with that. I know there’s been some stories written about it. But I, I really don’t know.

INTERVIEWER: OK. OK. And, um, any of the buildings in Patapsco that are particularly interesting that we haven’t talked about, like the saloons, or whatever was there before.

VERA BLUM: I know friends of my mother’s, Mother and Dad’s, the the last name was Feaser. They had the house there that’s just been renovated by the railroad. They had a, uh, tavern there, uh, where they would serve drinks and sandwiches, that sort of thing.

INTERVIEWER: And what were some other buildings used for, other than, uh, houses? You had the tavern. You had the Whistle Stop.

VERA BLUM: OK. I think the house that’s, um, next to the Spencers, where the Bells now live, I believe that that was, I think that was a barber shop. I’m not, and I’m not positive about that, though. Seems like I’ve heard Dad talk about it being a barber shop. And you know, the barbers used to be dentists, too.


VERA BLUM: So. Sometimes they [INAUDIBLE],


VERA BLUM: Well, that, that I’ve just gotten from shows I see on TV. So I’m not sure about that. [LAUGHTER]

INTERVIEWER: Oh, OK. All right. And, um, your mother’s family, she was a Gray, right?

VERA BLUM: Mhm. And Mother came here from England.

INTERVIEWER: Yeah. Let’s hear about that.

VERA BLUM: My grandfather Gray have to come ahead of them and find a job. So he came over in, I’m not sure about the date, but probably 1908. And then Mother, my grandmother, with three children came over in 1909. We have the, um, ship’s, um.


VERA BLUM: Registry showing their names. It was my grandmother, my uncle George, my mother, and my Aunt Vera, who I’m named after. So they came over and came into, um, New York. Mother said she could still remember the Statue of Liberty as she came in. And of course, they went through Ellis Island.

And my grandfather had found a job down in Annapolis, Maryland. And, uh, they, I, I don’t know how they came down. But anyway, they ended up here in Annapolis then. And Granddaddy was a chauffeur. He got a chauffeur job.

INTERVIEWER: And how did, how did your family end up in Carroll County?

VERA BLUM: Um, Mo– let’s see, they lived in Annapolis, moved to Baltimore City. My mother worked in a, uh, candy shop and bake shop down there. And then my father somehow, through a friend, met her. And they, of course, dated and married. And he moved her back up here. Because Dad was from up here. So that’s how she got into Carroll County.

INTERVIEWER: OK. And he’s a Barrick.

VERA BLUM: A Barrick, mhm. Norman Columbus Barrick. Because he was born in October, I guess is where the Columbus comes from. [LAUGHTER]

INTERVIEWER: And the Barrick family has been in this area for– do you have any idea how many years?

VERA BLUM: A long time. Because I have, uh, through the family a old three corner cupboard that was built in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in, in late 1700s. So, uh, exactly when they came into this area, I’m not sure. But from some of the, um, my, my daughter took the lineage back to the Revolutionary War so she that would be in the DAR.

And we know that they came into Frederick. And then they came from Frederick down here. But now how they got from Pennsylvania down here, I’m not sure about that part.

INTERVIEWER: And the Grays. What part of the UN did the Grays come from?

VERA BLUM: Westbury, Wiltshire.


VERA BLUM: Mhm. Mhm.

INTERVIEWER: That’s wonderful. And, um, have we talked your children and grandchildren?

VERA BLUM: I have just one daughter. Um, Kath, Kath, well, we call her Kathy. Her name is Kathleen. And, um.

INTERVIEWER: And who is she married to?

VERA BLUM: She’s married to Robert DeSear. And they have adopted two children, a boy and a girl.

INTERVIEWER: What are their names?

VERA BLUM: Um, they are, um, another Kathleen.


VERA BLUM: And, um, we call him RA, because he’s named after his father, Robert. So we have Kathleen and Robert. And so far, I don’t want any great grandchildren yet, because they aren’t married.


INTERVIEWER: Now, do they all still live here in Carroll County.

VERA BLUM: Oh, no. My daughter left here to go to college, Jacksonville University. And, um, she graduated in ’66.


VERA BLUM: She went down there in ’67. Because she went one year Frostburg and didn’t like it. So in ’67, she moved down to Florida. And she met her husband there. And I’ve lost her for 25 years. But then in ’92, they had an opportunity to come up to, uh, Woodstock, Virginia. So now I can get in the car and go visit her, or she can come see me. I don’t have to get on the airplane.

INTERVIEWER: Oh. So can you tell me what is maybe your favorite thing about living in Carroll County?

VERA BLUM: My favorite thing.


VERA BLUM: Well, mainly, mainly most of my family is here. Um, my friends are here. It’s a beautiful county. Um.

INTERVIEWER: What makes it beautiful?

VERA BLUM: The rolling hills. And we still have some beautiful farmland left. Uh, we have some wooded areas that are beautiful. And the rivers that we have. We have a little bit of everything here. Um, I have my church, of course. And, um, I, I, I just think it’s a wonderful place to live.

INTERVIEWER: [INAUDIBLE] anything else I can get here. Oh, what is the most vivid memory that comes to mind from sort of living here?

VERA BLUM: Not necessarily my childhood?

INTERVIEWER: Yeah, it can be your childhood. It can be anything. It’s fine.

VERA BLUM: Most vivid memory. Um, of course, I guess one of the things was living through a flood. But that wouldn’t be a favorite. [LAUGHTER]

INTERVIEWER: Well, that’s OK. That’s a vivid memory, though. What was, what was that like? I mean.

VERA BLUM: Well, we had gone to bed. We knew it was a storm. But we had gone to bed. And the police pounded on the door in the middle the night and told us that the water was rising. So we quickly just grabbed medicine and glasses. And we had a piece of– we had raisin bread, so we took raisin bread and peanut butter. And we went up to a friend up on the hill. And uh, of course, my mother we’re still living with us. And she invited us to come into her home.

INTERVIEWER: And who is this?


INTERVIEWER: Who invited you?

VERA BLUM: Uh, Geraldine Redding.


VERA BLUM: She lives on top of the hill there on Wesley Road.

INTERVIEWER: So she was your neighbor.

VERA BLUM: Yes. Mhm. So she invited mother to come in. And she made her go lay down to rest a little bit. So we stayed there, um, most of the night. And then the police came and told us that the water had receded, that we could go back down. And of course, then the work began. Because we had mud on our– the water with 18 inches on the first floor. And we had mud and everything.

And our neighbors, Carlis Raver, and his wife at the time was Janice. And, um, they came over and helped us. And we took everything out and just put it all in the yard, you know, so that we could scrub and clean everything up. And our friend, Walter Haines had the, um, the, um, cleaning– not, not Modern Ideal. Anyway, he had the cleaning space, place up there in Westminster. And– Quality, Quality Cleaners. And he came down and used his big machines and, and vacuumed up our, the water from our, uh, rugs.

And it was just a very trying time. But we lived through it. And we always thank God that none of us, you know, it didn’t harm us. It just took some of our possessions, which you can replace.

INTERVIEWER: What did you sort of lose in that flood?

VERA BLUM: I remember one thing very vividly. Uh, my dad had made a little green wooden chair for me. And somehow, when they were taking things away to take to the dump or whatever, uh, that little wooden chair got away. So I, I did miss that. But other than that, it was washer and dryer, that sort of thing. Mother’s canned goods, we did have– you know, that had to go, too, that she had in the basement.


VERA BLUM: Yes. Because the water, you know, had covered them. And we had to have– we had a hand-dug well. And that had to be pumped. And, uh, Cl– we had to put Clorox in it, and, and to clear it all up. But, uh, but I had many happy times, too. Uh, like–

INTERVIEWER: And when was that flood again that was?

VERA BLUM: In 1972.


VERA BLUM: In June. Mhm. Yeah. I remember it vividly, because the my husband, uh, died the following year, ’73, Tom Hock.

INTERVIEWER: And where was your house again when the flood came?

VERA BLUM: Uh, on Wesley Road. It was 1550 Wesley Road, right at the corner of the railroad and Wesley Road.

INTERVIEWER: So, um, there’s three house there, a white one, a stone one.

VERA BLUM: It came.

INTERVIEWER: And a brown one.

VERA BLUM: It came in to the, um.

INTERVIEWER: Yours was the stone one?

VERA BLUM: Our was the brown one.

INTERVIEWER: The brown one.



VERA BLUM: And then the, um, Stephans that lived on the other side, it took the front part of their house that Annie Dowell was telling you about, took the front of their house off. And just the stone part was left. But now, the Knights who lived in the white house, it didn’t get over to them. It went across the road but it didn’t get into their home.


VERA BLUM: And it sto– started to recede before it got that far.

INTERVIEWER: OK. And the name again of the people in the stone house is?

VERA BLUM: Is, it was Morris and Vivian Stephan.



INTERVIEWER: And they’re still there?

VERA BLUM: Still there. Um, Morris has passed on. But Vivian’s still there.

INTERVIEWER: Still there. OK.


INTERVIEWER: OK. That’s wonderful. And the Knights, uh, Mrs. Knight,


INTERVIEWER: She’s Doris Dixon’s



VERA BLUM: Mhm. Mhm. And she has moved from there just a few years ago. She sold the home. But she’s in her ’90s now. So she’s gone up to Westminster Ridge.


VERA BLUM: And lived there in an apartment.

INTERVIEWER: OK. So, um, living in, basically this is it. You, you, you’ve basically always been here.

VERA BLUM: Well, we lived in Westminster for a while. Because my husband and I started the Hock Auto Upholstering Company.


VERA BLUM: And we lived there, uh, we built our first building in, uh, ’52. And, um, then we built at the present building. It’s still known as Hock Upholstering. And, um, we lived up there til my father died in ’64. And then we moved back down here with my mother. She was physically able to do, but not financially able.

INTERVIEWER: OK. That’s wonderful. And, um, so who lives with you now?

VERA BLUM: I’m by myself.

INTERVIEWER: You’re by yourself.




INTERVIEWER: All right. Good. And how do you spend, uh, most of your time now?

VERA BLUM: Most of my time is church work. You know, we work here at the church hall. We have things that, up at the church. We help with friends. We take care of, uh, a lot of the, uhm secretarial part. My friend, Mary Barasoks is very good on the computer. So she comes and helps me with that.

And I have friends, um, that I go with to different places. Last Saturday, I went to tea up at Crowders, uh, United Church of Christ, and those type of things. I like church activities.

INTERVIEWER: So it’s all to do with Carroll County. It’s all within Carroll County.

VERA BLUM: Yes. Yes. Mhm.

INTERVIEWER: That’s pretty much been your mainstay your whole life, Carroll County.

VERA BLUM: Yes. Mhm. Mhm.

I you love.


INTERVIEWER: Well, this has been great.


INTERVIEWER: And we’re out of time. I want to thank you so much for, for doing this.

VERA BLUM: Yes. Well, I, I’ve enjoyed it. I really have.