Glenwood man, 84, is a living history book WEST COUNTY -- Clarksville * Highland * Glenelg * Lisbon

September 09, 1993|By Erik Nelson | Erik Nelson,Staff Writer

Anyone who wants to know something about Glenwood's history will no doubt end up in the same place -- a plain-looking white house with a 1789 desk and volumes of memories under short-cropped gray hair.

William W. Pindell, 84, does not claim to purposefully gather the history for which people have come to depend on him.

"I never really collected it, I just remembered what people said. I have some stuff, if I could just find it."

Included in that local treasure of historical "stuff" is a 1911 trader's license, framed and hardly yellowed on his living room wall.

The document indicates that it was purchased for $22.60, bearing the names of Mr. Pindell's father, R. C. Pindell, his uncle R. S. Pindell and his aunt, Cora Mathews, all licensed to buy and sell goods for C. P. Mathews & Co., the general store and U.S. Post Office on the west side of the Washington to Westminster Road.

Other memorabilia include ancient maps, newspapers from a half-century ago and antique furniture passed down through many generations of Pindells, or William Pendell's maternal ancestors, the Wellings, his mother's side of the family.

To talk to Bill Pindell is to know that Glenwood was once called Mathews, after its first postmaster and merchant, James B. Mathews.

Stay a little longer and one is likely to hear about Mr. Mathews' brother, L. G. Mathews, principal of the Glenwood Institute.

The institute, which prepared boys for the naval and military academies and the Johns Hopkins University, became a boarding house and burned down in the early 1920s.

"There used to be a country club here," Mr. Pindell says of the site of his home of 10 years, which is on the property of Glenwood Gardens nursery.

The Glenwood Country Club, he explains, "was just a big building where we held dances. Then it closed up during the war."

Mr. Pindell still has a couple of folding chairs tucked away to remind him of when people from beyond Howard County would come to waltz and foxtrot.

"It was very formal -- the women all wore evening clothes, and the men, some of them wore tuxedos,and blue suits," he recalls.

Wearing his silver horn-rimmed glasses and his green and blue plaid slacks, Mr. Pindell notes that he has an advantage over younger historians.

"If there's any mistakes in what I've given you, I don't know who's left around to correct me."

Harry Brunett, vicar of St. Andrews Church Episcopal Church in Glenwood, says that Mr. Pindell, a member of his church, has been an invaluable help in nurturing his 13-year-old congregation in the 1833 Union Chapel.

"For someone who's come into a community as recently as I have, he certainly has been a gold mine of the lore of Glenwood," Mr. Brunett says.

The vicar says that he has sat for hours in Mr. Pindell's living room, going through scrapbooks and collections of newspapers going back to World War II.

As a 30-year member of the Union Chapel Board of Trustees, Mr. Pindell is also one of the church's landlords.

Mr. Pindell's longer-standing membership is in the Glenwood Lions Club, which he helped found in 1950.

"We could not adjourn a Lions Club meeting unless Bill Pindell says, 'Move we adjourn,' " reports Mr. Brunett, a fellow Lion.

Besides possessing a keen knowledge of the work of his predecessors in Glenwood, Mr. Pindell has made a little history of his own.

In the late 1940s, he ran the family store in the small building with wooden siding near the current post office.

Customers, most of them farmers or farm workers, could buy bolts, hinges or chains, or they could simply sit on the porch and eat bologna and cheese sandwiches, and some pie for dessert.

For the children, Mr. Brunett had 1-cent chocolate or gum drops.

"What I didn't like was getting up early and opening the store," Mr. Pindell says, explaining why his openings started at 6:30 a.m. and got later over the years.

When he wasn't running the store, he was rising in the ranks of the Republican Party.

He was appointed as a Republican election supervisor in 1946, a post he held through the 1950s, and he served on the Maryland Republican Central Committee, twice helping to elect as governor of Maryland the late Theodore McKeldin.

Mr. Pindell became proprietor of Glenwood General Merchandise upon the death of his father in 1934, and he ran the combination store and post office until his retirement in 1979.

His wife, Elizabeth T. Pindell, was the Glenwood postmaster from 1937 until she became ill in 1979. She died the following year.

The store building was sold in 1981 and moved across Route 97 to become the garden shop for Glenwood Gardens nursery.

Born in a house near where Glenwood Middle School was later built, Mr. Pindell attended the old Lisbon High School and Charlotte Hall Military Academy in St. Mary's County, graduating in 1927.

He returned to Glenwood to work in the store and sell real estate. From 1943 until 1945, he was a quartermaster in the Army Air Corps in Louisiana.

And, yes, Pindell School Road was named after a school taught by one of Mr. Pindell's ancestors, a great-great-grandfather named Richard S. Pindell.

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