Barbara Magruder (Source Tape)
Barbara grew up in Westminster, MD. She explains that it was the best place to grow up as a child. She shares a little about her experiences as a child growing up in Carroll County.
INTERVIEWER: So did you grow up in Westminster?
BARBARA MAGRUDER: I did.
INTERVIEWER: What– can you tell me a little bit about what that was like?
BARBARA MAGRUDER: It was for the time the best place in the world to grow up and having a childhood. A lot of the parents and children of those parents were friends. And I still remain friends with some of the children that I grew up with. And we had a lot of fun.
It was like being in a place where children were safe. We walked a lot of places. We roller skated, and rode our bicycles a lot of places without fear of having anybody harm us in any way. And that was one thing that I think was a time where parents didn’t have to watch over their children as much as they do nowadays.
One of our biggest playgrounds was Western Maryland College campus. There were hills in the wintertime loaded with snow. In the summertime, we’d go up on the tennis courts and play tennis. There was a pond in back of the stadium on the field that had vines we would swing across, or catch crawfish, and tadpoles.
And our mothers would yell out the back doors, call our names, and you could hear whose mother it was just by the sound of the voice, or the tone she used. And we would, “so-and-so, your mother’s calling.”
And then we all went to church on Sundays. It was a ritual. If you didn’t go to church on Sunday, you know, that was part of the upbringing. So all of us who lived on Union Street at the time were required to go to church, and me especially. Well, my family especially, because we were only two doors away. So. But it was a great time. It was a great time.
INTERVIEWER: What would a day like– what would a school day be like for you? Did you walk to school, or?
BARBARA MAGRUDER: Yes, I was one who walked to school. And some days my dad would pick us up. Although some days we would hide from him, because the car would always break down. And he’d have to get my brothers to give him a push down that hill.
But we walked to school most of the time, and walked home. And it was fine, because we did it in groups, and of course played games along the way. We were never late, because parents would be made aware of it. So you always had to be at school on time. And then we’d walk home.
INTERVIEWER: And what school are we talking about?
BARBARA MAGRUDER: Robert Moton.
INTERVIEWER: This very building.
BARBARA MAGRUDER: This very building. It was home to a lot of black children in the neighborhood, and from other neighboring counties.
INTERVIEWER: Are there any particular teachers that you remember?
BARBARA MAGRUDER: Well, yes. Daisy Harris, she was Home Economics. And to this day I credit her with knowing how to construct clothing. I don’t sew as much as I used to, but I used to make everything I wore. However, if you did something that didn’t– that wasn’t in line with her instruction, she would crack you on the fingers.
BARBARA MAGRUDER: So I remember having that done once or twice. But no harm.
INTERVIEWER: So the whole system at that time was segregated, correct?
BARBARA MAGRUDER: Um.
INTERVIEWER: Robert Moton would be–
BARBARA MAGRUDER: Yes.
INTERVIEWER: Considered a segregated school?
BARBARA MAGRUDER: You might want to stop. I just gave you the wrong teacher’s name. It was May Prince who was the home economics teacher.
INTERVIEWER: Oh, it doesn’t matter. Doesn’t matter.
BARBARA MAGRUDER: OK. But it was May Prince who was the home ec teacher. Ms. Harris was the English teacher.
Anyway, yes, segregation was a big part of what this school became for us. But for me, because of where I lived, my neighbors were white. And I never knew there was a problem until the Civil Rights Movement started.
I had friends I would go to visit. One of the professors at Western Maryland College started a Girl Scout troop, and let some of us little black girls join the troop. So I was friends with them, and still keep in touch with one or two of them.
INTERVIEWER: Do you remember who that teacher was?
BARBARA MAGRUDER: Her name was David– what was her first name? I don’t remember her first name, but her children were Lucy and Jonathan David. And I would be invited to dinner and would spend the night. And another well-known person of the neighborhood was Doctor [INAUDIBLE]. His daughter, I was friends with.
And a matter of fact, he had to give me a physical some years ago. Because when I was working for the State of Maryland, I had to get a physical every year. And when I scheduled this physical, they sent me to him. And he remembered me. So I was very flattered that he remembered who I was.
But, yeah, it was a big shock when it all became an issue that had to be dealt with.
INTERVIEWER: Talk about how the issue was handled, maybe?
BARBARA MAGRUDER: I’m sorry?
INTERVIEWER: Talk about how that issue was handled on Union Street.
BARBARA MAGRUDER: Oh, for Union Street, it started with a violation of– someone in the neighborhood road through the street one night, and broke out a car window. And I remember, that’s when the Concerned Citizens of Carroll County was formed.
And then a lot of the men in– and on Union Street, particularly, and Charles Street at the time were the only two streets that black people lived on– got together, and decided they would protect their own properties, you know. So it was kind of interesting to see how they would get on the roofs of buildings, just to watch and see who was coming through the streets at the time. There weren’t any weapons used, or anything like that. But you could see that the unrest was building between the whites and the blacks in the community at the time.
INTERVIEWER: Did– was there some kind of outbreak, finally, or? What was the solution?
BARBARA MAGRUDER: I know that through this committee that was formed, we decided to take part in the March on Washington. We went down to Washington. And when the people were building the shanties down there around the reflection pool, that I remember we took donations of food and clothing down there.
And we helped out as best as we could. It rained for a few days, and it was mud up– I remember having mud up to my knees, which wasn’t easy. But in helping to prepare food, and dole out medications, and things like that.
But for the people who lived here, I think because the tension was so high, so very high, a lot of people just stayed to themselves. They stayed with who they knew, and who they trusted, as opposed to wandering into other neighborhoods starting, you know, problems. But it was a tense time, but it remained civilized, if you will.
INTERVIEWER: When you think about the past, and your youth, you said was the best place to grow up. What do you– how do you think it is for a young African American person today in Carroll County, in this school system?
BARBARA MAGRUDER: Well, I’m– I’m just going to give you what I know of, because I still have nieces and nephews, and great-nieces and nephews that go to the schools here. I, myself, as a special– Special Education teacher in Fairfax County, I think their education is probably better than what I got as a child here.
Probably the difference is that it’s not as close-knit as it used to be. The teachers would live on the street with the students. They would act as another pair of eyes for the parents, or you could go to them if you had a problem. I don’t think the students nowadays have that connection, but I think their education is probably the best that they can get here, sure.
INTERVIEWER: So you are a Special Ed teacher–
BARBARA MAGRUDER: Yes, I am.
INTERVIEWER: In Fairfax County. Wow. That’s impressive
BARBARA MAGRUDER: Well, I’ve worked with children for like– this is like 31 years. I started in 1970. I’ve just always thought that if children had somebody they could look up to, and treat them with respect, along with teaching them right from wrong, that the world would be a better place.
So I’ve made it my career to work with children. I started out at the Carroll County Daycare Center, which, at the time Doctor– what was his name? Mr. Haines was the director at the time, when this was a new concept of childcare. And somebody dared me to go and apply for one of the positions. Because I had children of my own by then, and I was like, oh, no, I don’t want to.
But it became a dare that proved to be my reward in life. Because I’ve taught, supervised, and worked with, I would say, over 3,000 children. I moved on from there to schools in Baltimore, and from Baltimore to Bethesda, and then to Fairfax County, which is where I am now, so.
BARBARA MAGRUDER: It’s been a rewarding thing.
INTERVIEWER: Impressive career. What– if we go back for a few minutes to your childhood, what were some favorite places for that kind of wonderful, delicious childhood? What kind of places?
BARBARA MAGRUDER: All over, the streets, roller skating through the streets, just walking everywhere, because our parents didn’t drive us everywhere like they do nowadays. You had to walk to baseball practice, or football practice. Walking, you knew people who lived on Green Street, you knew people, the stores on Main Street. Or walking out to Western Chapel to visit people’s grandparents, or aunts and uncles that lived in those areas.
And everybody knew you. You– you stayed out of trouble, because what would you do? You know, everybody knew who you were, that you were one of Josh Magruder’s children, or Dave Brown’s children, you know. It was one of those situations where we did the right thing because it was the right thing to do. We just never wanted to have to deal with our parents having to straighten us out.
INTERVIEWER: If you were describing Carroll County today to someone who was concerned about race relations, how would you speak about our county? Say a young couple that wanted to move here.
BARBARA MAGRUDER: Hmmm. Now that, I have to honestly say, I don’t know what the race relations are, because I don’t live here anymore. I live in Silver Spring, Maryland. But I have family who still live here, and I don’t hear of any problems going on that involve race. There are problems, but it’s not racially motivated problems.
But I would suggest it’s a quiet– it has a comforting feel to it. And when I moved away from here, they didn’t have all the convenience of the stories now, so. You know, at least there are more opportunities to be able to have what you’d find in another city, or another town.
But whenever I do come home, I’m always treated very well wherever I go. And so I guess in that sense, it would be a great place to move, or live, and raise children.
INTERVIEWER: We’ve got– we’ve done about– almost 15 minutes. Are there some things that you would like to talk about that I haven’t brought up?
BARBARA MAGRUDER: Well, um, it will always be home, no matter how far I’ve travelled or gone in the world. It will always be home. I’ve– I still have family here. I love coming back for the celebrations, and the Former Students of Robert Moton Scholarship affairs. It’s always a great time to come back and visit.
Or when, on occasion, have to– a last send-off for somebody who’s passed away. I just feel like this is the place I grew up. This is the place that grounded me. And successfully, successfully–
BARBARA MAGRUDER: Had me grow up to be who I am today.
INTERVIEWER: Thank you, Barbara Lee.
BARBARA MAGRUDER: You’re welcome.
INTERVIEWER: That was wonderful.