Friday, April 19, 2013

On The Town

I came to Frederick almost by accident.  After graduating from high school in Washington, D.C. and spending a year in Venezuela, I found myself applying to colleges along with all the returning World War II vets.  Needless to say, they were considered first wherever they applied.

Finally, we settled (my parents and I) on some small girl's schools in and around Washington.  Hood College was one of the two places to accept me and in the fall of 1946 I arrived in Frederick.  I believe to this day that my exotic South American address got me accepted rather than my mediocre grades.

After the first hectic weeks of learning where my room was in Shriner Hall, locating the smoker where I learned to play bridge and go through packs of Camels, after buying books in the basement of the Administration building, getting my very own mailbox key, finding which floor which classes were on and being horrified to find that freshmen had Saturday morning classes, I began to learn to navigate the town of Frederick.

Recently I attended my 40th reunion and took a wonderful horse-drawn historical tour of the town. Where had all these things been in 1946?  What had I been doing then not to be aware of them?

To begin with, I had discovered Mac's on North Market Street.  There one could sit for hours over cheeseburgers and cokes and cigarettes and listen to numbers like "Bongo, Bongo, Bongo, I Don't Want to Leave the Congo."  Mac's was a Hood mainstay, particularly when liver or beef heart appeared on the menu back at college.

Or I might have been walking through Baker Park toward town to meet friends in "little Peoples" before going to the Tivoli.  In 1948 Montgomery Clift appeared on the cover of Life magazine and Hood girls bought out all the Life magazines in town and then crowded the Tivoli to see our idol in "Red River."

I might have been in "big Peoples" before going up to the Opera House.  (I was a big movie fan.)  I could have been getting a hair cut at the Blue and Grey Beauty Salon on Market or buying records in the music department of Sears.  Window shopping was great at Hendrickson's and Gilbert's.  On Sunday after mass at Saint John's I would head for the Francis Scott Key Hotel for breakfast.  The Francis Scott Key was the best place in town to eat.

If I landed a date with a Mount St. Mary boy down from Emmitsburg, we might have a great spaghetti dinner at Rosie's or go dancing to the jukebox at the Vet's club where we could get beer (forbidden on campus.)

We would wander all through town, buy fruit at Capello's on Market Street to eat on the way back to school.  We could get to the fair in the fall, enjoy the flowers in the spring, look at the gracious old homes.  Walking was the key word.  We could get everywhere and back.  It was a great old town and we were part of it back then.

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