Series Part 1 – Extracts from Dickeyville Days Memoirs

Post by Anne Williams McMahan

Memories from Anne Williams McMahan

We lived up the hill on Forest Park Drive from probably 1949.  I remember coming into the village to take the trolley downtown.  In those days, most families had one car.  We moved to Tucker Lane before the school year of 1953-1954.  I was in the first grade and remember that the schools desegregated that year.  There were occasional fights between the older boys, but for the most part things went well.

My grandmother, Mrs. Anna Duling, rented the Hambleton home on the circle (5100 Wetheredsville Road) for two summers, while they travelled: 1946-47?  My mother and father lived with her during that time, and I was born shortly thereafter on September 22, 1947.   So my connection to the village goes back into the 1940’s.  Mom and Dad then lived up on Forest Park Avenue, across from the little Catholic Church, renting from a Mr. Durding, who later sold the property for an entrance into Wakefield Garden Apartments.  He was wonderful to our family, and I have great memories from that time.

Others: sledding down Tucker Lane; the fire by the Dam, dragonflies on Gwynns Falls in the summer, typhoid fever signs on Windsor Mill Road, the end of the trolley car line.

I remember the form of St. Lawrence RC Church really well. It always seemed a funny building to be a church. The trolley tracks ran right in front of the building and right next to Forest Park Avenue when I was very little.  We lived in the big house up on the hill, right across the street.  I used to roam over there as a young child.  One day, when I may have been somewhere around four years old, a couple driving by stopped, and told me to go home.  I had learned to curse at nursery school, a fact which lead my despairing Mother to wash my mouth with Ivory Soap on more than one occasion to get me to stop.  But despite that, I let them have it with my best, guaranteed to upset vocabulary.  They were shocked.  Later my Mother got an anonymous letter detailing “my atrocious behavior.” The couple was so angry partially because I refused to let them take me home.  I lived just across the street and could see my house, even though it was Forest Park Avenue, a fairly big street.  When I was very young on some days I would count about twenty-five cars a day.  There was much time during the day, when there were no cars in sight.  I loved to stand at the foot of the driveway and wave at the cars.

When I was three years old, and just out of braces for polio, which I wore for eighteen months, it was an early snow, cold, late fall morning.  I had slipped out of the house and gone to the foot of the hill to wave at the traffic.  I had found that if I took off my clothes, the people driving by would notice me and wave back to me.  The milkman came, delivering milk, and saw me standing there.  He picked me up and took me up the hill.  Boy was I mad at him.  He said to my Mother,   “Mrs. Williams, do you know where your daughter, Anne, is?”  Mom looked surprised.  Irving was little and sickly, and she had her hands full, including putting the coal in the basement furnace at least once a day.  “She was at the foot of the driveway with no clothes on!”

And there was of course the time when Michelle and I played “drop the pebble” with Eric and Michael, in the huge pipes that were used to send the stream underground, that were on the Howard property.  Michelle and I would hide in the pipe and then dart out quickly.  I was hit not by a dropped pebble but by a dropped rock and had a fractured skull.

Our [maid] turned white when she saw me with the blood gushing with each heartbeat out of my head.  I still remember the ambulance ride to the hospital (have no idea what hospital, not Kernan’s) and the emergency operation, without anesthesia and the ambulance driver holding my hand.

History of the “Williams House” on Tucker Lane

Tucker Lane was not part of the earlier restoration of Dickeyville.  When we moved there in 1953, the lane was very narrow, with a stream meandering down.

When my parents bought the house, Mom decided on the address.  Built in 1814 as a wedding present, it faced the village as it was the only house on the road at the time.

You could still discern the original drive to the house, behind the properties below us on Tucker Lane.  Many years later, it had been converted into a duplex: 2317 and 2319.  Mom thought that 2317 sounded better, and 2319 was lost.  I remember that discussion.

There were two of everything.  Front door.  Back door. Kitchen and half bath.  I am not sure that the upstairs had a bathroom.  I think that there were four bedrooms with two staircases, one on each side of the house.  Mom and Dad did all of the renovation work, including installing the upstairs bathroom and hall closet, eliminating one of the bedrooms.

They bought the house from Mr. Stokes, who changed the size of lot, creating an access to the contiguous woods.  He didn’t tell Mom and Dad in advance of settlement that he was diminishing the lot size, and Dad wanted to walk away from the sale. But Mom insisted that they sign the papers; however, before that, the bank had refused to give them a mortgage.  Mom and Dad, using the small amount of money that Dad had just inherited from his father, completely renovated the house, and then invited the bank back to appraise the house.  The bankers could not believe that it was the same property and immediately offered to finance the mortgage.

Post by Anne Williams McMahan.

Editor’s note: Please check back each Sunday to the Dickeyville Village blog to read extracts from the Dickeyville Days memoirs – a compilation of memories from previous Dickeyville denizens reflecting on a childhood spent growing up in the village during the 1940s, 50s, & 60s.  We hope you enjoy their stroll down memory lane.