Series Part 16 – Extracts from Dickeyville Days Memoirs
By Susan Crosby Taliaferro.
Memories from Susan Crosby Taliaferro
The Crosby Crew Take Dickeyville
I think I must have been about ten. That would have made Nelson twelve, Ramsey, eight, Lucy, six, and Andy, four. Sarah would have been about minus seven. On the day we moved in, Dad had to cut a hole in a wall so we could get upstairs to go to bed. The house had been cut into 3 apartments before we arrived: the first floor, the second floor, and “the apartment.”
The first neighbor that Mom met was Freddy McDorman, who called the next day to ask if Mom “owned” a cute boy who looked to be about 4. Mom said she did. His name was Andy. Freddy called out his name, and he looked up from what he was doing. “I think this one must belong to you. He’s digging in my trash. You may want to come get him!” A lifelong friendship was born! Peggy McDorman McKisson and I shared out 1st apartment together, and Donald McDorman played the organ at my wedding in Monkton in 1978.
I have frequently thought over my lifetime, that it would have been such fun to buy up a tiny town, along w/all my friends, and move in there, and raise our children together, and share our lives together. That’s what Dickeyville was, though not by intention. It was such a fantasy land for all of us, but it was probably even more so for our parents, knowing their children were safe and happy, and most of the time, not at home!
My memories are mostly of growing up. First, I think, at the Raileys with Beverly. When she and I talked, just recently, memories flooded back. Her mother taught me to sew on a machine. Her Dad built her a fabulous Barbie house. It was essentially 2 pieces of intersecting plywood. Our Barbies would simply jump over the walls to get to the next room. Shoot, worked for us! Her Mom made buckwheat pancakes with venison gravy! We met Sidney Poitier on a trip to DC where her Dad got us into The Blair House. I ate my first crabs at Deep Creek Lake and learned to water ski. Then she moved away, but we had learned how to be kids together.
I learned how to be a teenager with Karen Hudson Flowers. As I recall, that involved hanging out mostly w/boys! Wayne Markert, Mike Gibbons, Ralph and Steve Lloyd, B Leonard, and I’m pretty sure that Nelson must have been in there somewhere. Odd that I have no recollection of other girls! There was lots of guitar playing, lots of time spent in the Markert’s basement, spin the bottle, Colt 45, kissing on the dam wall, trips to Dewey Beach, where Wayne met Diane, and generally going through puberty in a big lump. I remember sneaking out of “the apartment” bedroom after hours with Karen. We’d go out the bathroom window and shinny down the chimney to the ground! Don’t recall what we did once we were on the ground!
I went to St. Gino’s Church with Wayne every Sunday. He’d pick me up w/ just enough time to get over to St. Lawrence on Security Blvd. for the noon mass. But instead, we’d go hang out at Gino’s on Rt. 40 until he’ drop me off at about 1:15. I was living in a fool’s paradise! Wayne had a fight w/his girlfriend, was in a fussy mood, and took me home way too soon! BUSTED! Practically beached for life! How many of you remember that navy term, used by Bob Crosby to refer to total loss of privileges?
So many vague memories. Playing Simon Says on the porch of the Parish Hall. Playing with Michelle Howard. Babysitting for almost every little kid in Dickeyville- for 50 cents an hour! Telling Peggy McDorman that there was “no such thing as Santa Claus,” and enduring Freddie’s wrath! The dinner parties that Freddie and Donald had for Peggy! Going to Brownies in the Parish Hall. The army, headquartered in the Gibbons studio. Walking down to the dam, with skates over my shoulder. Selling Girl Scout cookies to Ruth Conry. Carpooling w/the Colgans and detouring to fires. (Warren Colgan was a fire chaser. He had a fire radio in his VW so he heard all the calls. Several times, on the way to school, we detoured to fires. Crazy but true! Just another quirky thing to keep a boring carpool more exciting!) Riding to Western with the Harigs, and spying through Nelson’s telescope on Mr Stissel, sitting at a desk in a window, probably paying bills. The Moritz twins had a schnauzer. We had Muff, the blind Airedale who could walk himself all the way up, the back way, to the Turners and get home safely. Riding a pony in one of the 4th of July parades and being terrified. Making a raft with Dad for a 4th skit. At the performance, it sank! Having the new road cut through our yard and having the Italian mason build that huge stone retaining wall. Andy used to go out and eat lunch with him every day. Kevin Weber and Ramsey up in the tree at the Littles, dropping pebbles on cars, stupidly, while Lucy played in the front yard and watched! Millie Nicolai shouting, “Go home, Muff! Go Home!” Jane Brady took Lucy’s and my Shirley Temple dolls and made perfect Mt. Saint Agnes school uniforms for them, right down to the pin tucks on the blouses! We got them for Xmas. So many memories that leave me knowing my childhood couldn’t have been better.
Many years after Dickeyville, after I had married Peter Taliaferro, he and I were at his Aunt’s for some family do and I was looking at her watercolors on the walls. She had been the head of the Balto. Watercolor Society for years. When I saw one of her paintings that I hadn’t seen before, I shouted, “Oh! The Dickey Memorial Presbyterian Church!” His Aunt, Emily had painted the picture from a photograph but had never known where the church was, nor had she been able to find it. She was thrilled that I was able to identify it for her,that I had grown up across the street from it, and had gone to Scotland with the Littles when the Browns came to Dickeyville. I don’t know which of Emily’s daughters has that painting now. I’ll have to find out.
Tempus fugit. Trees grow. Things change. The Parish Hall is a house and our house has a porch across the front. I look forward to seeing old friends in October. The memories that have been stirred up have been warm, fun, poignant. You can’t go home again, but you can come pretty close!
By Susan Crosby Taliaferro
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.