Ann L. Talbot
Ann was the first female to participate in the band at Robert Moton school. She played the alto saxophone.
INTERVIEWER: What were you talking about out there? It sounded so amazing.
ANN TALBOT: Well, I was very musically inclined when I was here at Robert Moton, and, um, I became the first girl that participated in the band. And um, I can’t remember how old I was, probably about 11 or 12, but I played, uh, the al– the alto saxophone. And that’s, that’s what I was having fond memories of.
INTERVIEWER: Have you continued doing musical education?
ANN TALBOT: Uh no, not really, but, um, I still own saxophones for my, my grandchild– for my children and my grandchildren. Um, and I recently started playing again for myself. Um, I had a little bout with cancer, and, after the cancer, you know, you’re, you’re um– You kind of find yourself in a place where you need something different. And that music from playing the saxophone made me go out and buy another one.
INTERVIEWER: I like that story.
ANN TALBOT: Right.
INTERVIEWER: Um, you– the Talbots are from Carroll County?
ANN TALBOT: Uh, yes. Um.
INTERVIEWER: Who was born here?
ANN TALBOT: Yeah. My father, um, lived in Eldersburg, and, uh, my mother lived right here for in Carroll County, right, right in Westminster. And, um, both of them, you know, grew up around the same area. Yeah. Because it’s not that far.
INTERVIEWER: Do you know how they met?
ANN TALBOT: Um, I know that there were, like, maybe five Talbot boys, and they only had one sister. And, um, my mother was 25 when she get married, which was kind of, like, late, you know, because she was like a late bloomer. But, um, she fell in love with my father, and, uh, from seeing him come to Westminster, and, um, that, that’s– I think they met just, just being around each other. You know.
INTERVIEWER: And how many children did they have?
ANN TALBOT: Just me.
INTERVIEWER: Oh. Only child.
ANN TALBOT: I’m, I’m my father’s only child. Uh-huh. Now, my mother had other children. Yup.
INTERVIEWER: And if we go back to your childhood, can you talk about what Westminster was like when you were a little girl?
ANN TALBOT: Well, I can remember at age– I was probably about five, five years old, my grandfather, who just lived up the street, my father’s father– and every day he would go milk a cow that was right, it was just down the street from the school. And at that time, we called it the holler because it was like a little area that was just, um, kind of like abandoned. But he kept his cow down there.
And so he would put me on the back of his, um, um, wagon, because he had a horse that carr– that would take the wagon down there. And we go down into this area right down the straight from this school, and we’d milk the cow. And then he’d bring me back up to, um, Charles Street.
And, uh, the wonderful thing about it was that my grandfather had something that they called sleeping disease. And, um, he would go to sleep, but the horse always knew the way to get down there and to get us back. So even if my grandfather fell asleep, you know, with the horse, with the horse moving, the horse would just– he would stop right on the corner of Charles and, um– I think it was Center. And then he’d come on up to where our first house was, and let me off, and then he’d go on up the street with my grandfather. And so Westminster really was– it was like, it was like the most wonderful place that I ever had to live.
One of the other things that’s so interesting about Westminster is that everybody in Westminster at one time used to know each other. We knew who the, uh, first policeman that, uh, was here. We knew him by name because he would come over to Charles Street. Um, we also knew the first sheriff. Um, uh, we just got to know everybody because of the fact that we were, um– we were all friendly, and they were all friendly with us. So it, it’s always been to me one of the most special places in my life, being here in Westminster.
INTERVIEWER: So the issue of it being a segregated school was– what– was it a problem for you? Or Were you unaware, or?
ANN TALBOT: Well, because we lived on Charles Street, and we could just run around the corner and come to– go to school, and then run back at lunchtime, have our lunch, and then come back up to the school. To me it was just perfect. And so, at that time, I wasn’t aware that we were even separated. And even though I knew we’d have to stay in a school from the first grade to the 12th grade, it wasn’t difficult. Because it was like all my friends, all the people that I loved, all the people that knew me, were right here. So from the first grade–
And then the other thing is that the kids that were in the 12th grade or, let’s say, the 9th grade through the 12th, they were right in the same school. And so they kind of were our mentors. They were the ones that we really enjoyed. Because, as being first, second, third graders, we all looked up to them.
INTERVIEWER: So classes were individual grades or mixed ages? Or what– what was– what would be a class size, for instance?
ANN TALBOT: Uh, probably about maybe 20 or 30 kids at a time.
INTERVIEWER: Of the same age?
ANN TALBOT: Mm-hm, yes. But then like first grade, I think Miss Shockley, who was a teacher that was here– um, she had first and second grade in, in one of her classes. And then Miss Evans, which was the next step up, she had two classes in her room, too. I think she had third and fourth. Um, but then when you got higher, they started separating the classes. But it was probably about 30-some kids in the, um, graduating class.
INTERVIEWER: Did you choose to continue to live in Carroll County, or did you move, or?
ANN TALBOT: Well, even though I– um, I left Carroll County for awhile, and, um, I moved to Baltimore, and my home really is right here in Westminster. My grandfather had a house on Charles Street. My uncle had a house on Charles Street. Now my aunt and everybody is right up here. And one of my uncles that moved from here to Baltimore has, has in the last 20 years come back. And it was 14 of my grandfather’s children.
ANN TALBOT: And, so you can imagine, this is home for us. The Durham family is, uh, is my background, and so, you know, that this is home for us.
INTERVIEWER: If you go back to the time, um, when, of segregation and being in the beginning of, of the uh integration, can you talk about what was happening on Charles Street and Union Street as you remember it?
ANN TALBOT: Well, as I remember it, I think my sister Cathy and my sister Joan– my sister Joan was– uh, it was like 10 years difference between us. And so she was probably one of the first kids that, that, uh, had to be integrated. Uh, you know, that no, no more of the segregation. And she did– she did very well. Um, I think she wasn’t as well rounded as some of the other kids. And on top of that, she was a little shy. So for a while it was difficult for her.
My sister Cathy was just the opposite. And when, when the schools were integrated and everything, she just– She just prospered. She was, uh– she came out of school probably with a 4.0.
ANN TALBOT: And, uh, she did very well. And, at her graduation, I can remember seeing all this huge class, like 600 kids, and they kept saying, Irene Catherine The– Irene Catherine Smith. Irene Catherine Smith. And she got so many awards that, you know, it was just– she just, um, soared over the other, oh– over the other classmates of hers. So, um, I don’t think she had too much of a problem.
INTERVIEWER: Did she go on to teaching?
ANN TALBOT: Yes, she taught for a while. Um, she, she had taken up, um, elementary education. Or, yeah. And for a while she ran a daycare center right here in Westminster. And, of course, majority of the day care that she wrote– that she took care of, uh, were white kids. And the white kids loved her so much that there were times when she would take them– I don’t know if you’ve heard of Western Chapel Road or not– but there were times when she would overnight them out on Western Chapel Road at my mom’s house.
So that, you know, even though there were, um, difficulties as far as other people, you know, coming in that, into the city that were, um, I’ll say opposed to it, Cathy, um, found those who were not opposed to the segregation. And, I mean, who were, were– not– yeah, that’s right. That they weren’t opposed. And so, um, those were the parents that just loved and were endeared by, by the way she treated their kids.
INTERVIEWER: Was there anything about Carroll County that you would have changed as a child?
ANN TALBOT: Ah, anything I would have changed. Um. Yes. I hated the, um, outhouses. I hated that. And, um, I think to me it was one of the worst things that ever could have existed. But, I, um, I loved some of the opportunities that some of the whites in the community had given.
Um, even my father, was, um– he was a chef for one of– I can’t remember what the man’s name was, but it was somebody big here in Westminster. And they, they, they had loved my father. They just thought that nobody could cook and nobody could do anything like my father could.
And, um, with my mom– she– most, most of my mother’s family worked at Western Mount Maryland College. And that was another thing that they, they, uh– that we could appreciate. The fact that when I was, like, 14 I could go to Western Maryland College, work after school, and the kids at Maryland, Western Maryland College would actually help me with my homework.
ANN TALBOT: And my mother worked there. My– and I worked there. My uncle worked there. His name was, um– We called him Uncle Bucky. Uncle Bucky worked there until he died really almost. And, and, um, Uncle Gordy worked there.
So all of, all of my family had an opportunity to really mix in to the community in Westminster just beautifully. Yup.
INTERVIEWER: I want to go back to you talked about the outhouse. Didn’t sewer, sewage didn’t come to Charles Street until, what? The ’70s or something?
ANN TALBOT: It was really late. It was really late. And when it did I could remember, um, my aunt had the house at that time. Of course, my grandfather and all of them were, were gone. And, um, and I remember saying, well, where on earth will you put a bathroom? And she said, I’m going to put a bathroom in Uncle Hal’s old room. That was one of her brothers. And, um, then, you know, she prepared everything.
In fact, she had an old antique bureau that she made, um, into a wash sta– stand. And it’s just absolutely gorgeous. But the thing of it was is that, you know, we had so long to wait before they did that, you know? Uh, it was quite a while. So it hasn’t been no more than probably 30 years ago. Yeah, about 30 years ago that they finally got it done.
INTERVIEWER: I know when I just moved here and learned that, that parts of town had no sewage, I was amazed.
ANN TALBOT: Right.
ANN TALBOT: Right. Yup. Oh there’s– I have an aunt that also– She, um– Aunt Jessie is a teacher, and she teach– she’s the first black teacher up into Taneytown. And, um, I mean others have followed her since, but you can imagine. She just–
I heard them tell a story about, um– one, one day when– her first day when she got to the school, she said two students were missing when she called roll. And everybody said, oh, they ran out because they didn’t want a black teacher. So she said she got so panicked, she was like, what am I going to do? Here is two students run away already?
So she went to the principal, she talked to her, and she said, what are we going to do? So the principal said, well, let’s send someone out to see if they find them. So they found, found these kids, and they explained to them that you’re going to stay here. We want you to be here, and you’re going to meet Miss, Miss Cook, and you’re going to like her. And surely they did because I’ve been with Aunt Jessie since, and every white kid that she ever taught just absolutely adore her.
ANN TALBOT: Yup. She lives on Center Street. Yup. You have to pass her house to get here.
INTERVIEWER: Oh yeah?
ANN TALBOT: Yes. Mm-hm.
INTERVIEWER: Maybe we could get you to get her to do an interview.
ANN TALBOT: Yeah, she’s out there now. Mm-hm.
INTERVIEWER: She’s out there now?
ANN TALBOT: Yeah.
INTERVIEWER: Oh, wow. OK. That, we’ve got done 15 minutes of interview, Ann, and that you’ve done a beautiful job. Anything else that you want to talk about? Anything?
ANN TALBOT: Um, just a little bit more about the band.
ANN TALBOT: Uh-huh. Um, we had a teacher– well, well, all of our teachers were so dedicated to us that sometimes I used to think, My, my teachers don’t have a life because they’re so dedicated to us. That wasn’t Miss Harris, um, Miss Prince, um, Mr. Gates, um, Miss– Mr. Chase. They were all just so dedicated to us. And Mr, um, Kane, who was the music teacher was extremely dedicated. And, uh, you know, whatever he could do to pull this band together for school, he did. And even if it– even if it meant after school practicing until you got it, you know, with the instruments that you had.
And my uncle was the one who gave me my saxophone. He just loved the alto sax. And so he said, Ann, you have got to play this sax. And that’s how I ended up being the first girl in the school band. Because all the other guys were playing saxophone. They didn’t think a girl could do it. But I loved it, and I loved doing it. And, um, Mr. Kane was so– he’s dead now, but he was so dedicated to us that it, you know, you just remember everything that happened to you because of him.
I can remember one time I got up on the stage because we were giving, uh, um, like a recital. And, uh, I went to blow my saxophone, and the weirdest sound came out. It was like, skeee! And evidently, I had, uh, not adjusted my reed on my saxophone properly.
So he came over to me, and he said don’t, don’t panic. Everything’s OK. And he adjusted the, uh, head– you know, the uh, top of it. And after he got it adjusted, I put the saxophone back on, and I played this song throughout. And everybody just applaud. And that’s what, that’s what really has given me so much love for this school and for Westminster, uh, completely because of the things that have happened to me here.
I told my husband when I got married, I said, you know, I would love to go back to Westminster to live. That’s where my home is. That’s where my heart is. And that’s because I had such good experience. And I told my children. I said, I wish everybody could grow up the way I did. To have the attention of teachers, to have the attention of those who love you, to have the attention of the older classmates.
The kids would– when they would graduate. We always had a thing where they had to leave, um, something to someone else. So I can remember there was a girl named Marlene Norris, and Marlene left to me the ability to be a cheerleader. And because she did that, I became a cheerleader. And then another friend, his name was Anderson. Um, he played, the bigger sax, the tenor sax. And he left with me the ability to play the saxophone. You know, because we left each other something when we graduated. And that to me was, uh, a really good life for me.
INTERVIEWER: That’s a beautiful story.
ANN TALBOT: Yes.
INTERVIEWER: Thank you, Ann Talbot.
ANN TALBOT: Thank you.