At 100, Life Focuses On Rich Memories

June 29, 1994|By Traci A. Johnson | Traci A. Johnson,Sun Staff Writer

Paul Englar measures out his life in the photographs that decorate the walls of his Carroll Lutheran Village apartment. A visit to his home is a walk down memory lane (or, as he says, "a trip down Englar Road").

On his balcony atop "Mount Rush No More" -- his name for the hilltop retirement community -- Mr. Englar has focused his telephoto lens on just about every aspect of life.

Today, his friends in the village focus on his -- all 100 years of it.

More than 200 people are expected today for the birthday party the Westminster retirement community is throwing for Mr. Englar. He is the first resident of its independent living and cottage section to become a centenarian.

"He's extremely likable; he has such a wealth of experience not only in his professional career, but from his avocations as well," said Teresa Snyder, director of the community's resident services.

"He likes to share that information with as many people as he can," she said

Mr. Englar has a lot to share.

From pictures of him during his military service in World War I to autographed portraits with Oriole celebrities when he was a gatekeeper at Memorial Stadium, Mr. Englar has rarely missed a photo opportunity.

Mr. Englar, a native of Carroll County, lived in the Tollgate house on Taneytown Pike in Westminster until 1900, when the family moved to North Dakota to try homesteading.

When his mother died seven months later, Mr. Englar returned to Carroll County to live with kin in Medford.

He graduated from Westminster High School in 1912 and moved to Baltimore, where he met Anna Benjamin. They married in 1920 and spent the next 70 years in the city.

Mrs. Englar died in 1990.

Mr. Englar started as a bookkeeper at the American Cigar Co. In 1915, he moved on to the bank that became Maryland National Bank. He retired in 1959, having been an assistant trust officer and assistant secretary.

While in Baltimore, Mr. Englar never forgot his Carroll County roots, and a camera was never out of reach.

Home movies of the Englars show them on county outings as members of the Carroll County Society of Baltimore during the 1930s and 1940s.

In May 1917, Mr. Englar became a private in the 1st Company, Maryland Coast Artillery Corps. A year later, when his unit was federalized, he began an overseas tour of duty in France as a radio operator.

Mr. Englar jokes about the end of World War I, how his regiment arrived to fight on the front lines of the Lorraine defensive sector two weeks before the Armistice was signed in 1918.

"I used to tell people that they were fighting that war for four years, and it only took us two weeks to put an end to it," he said, chuckling, as he carefully folded away a news clipping.

He keeps safely tucked away in a manila folder the faded, worn pictures of thousands of troops aboard transports.

Photo albums piled high on a nearby television tray continue the story of Mr. Englar's life, which he can recall with absolute clarity.

"From the belt up, I'm 50 years old," Mr. Englar said, rubbing a generous belly and grinning. "I can remember everything that happened 90 years ago."

Mr. Englar looks at a portrait of himself with his siblings in which he, as a 2-year-old, wears a fawn-colored frock. The dress now hangs on a rack in his living room.

"I used to tell people that when I was 2 years old I was a cross-dresser," he said.

In what has become a rite of passage in the Englar family, every 2-year-old -- boy or girl -- is dressed and photographed in the garment by Mr. Englar.

Framed pictures of family members in the dress -- Mr. Englar (1896), daughters Anne (1923) and Dorothy (1926), son Bill Jr. (1933), granddaughter Barbara (1956), grandson Paul III (1963) and great-granddaughter Cara (1986) -- stand on a shelf above where the dress hangs.

Pictures of Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson, autographed baseballs and signed photos of sportscasters and players adorn his walls from the 19 years he worked at gate E-2 in Memorial Stadium.

In honor of his service, he threw out the first pitch for the next-to-last Oriole game played at the stadium before it closed in 1991.

Now, the focus of his life is more narrow, something he not only looked forward to when he retired 11 years ago, he said, but has relished since.

He has worked with the county's historical society on many projects. He attends church in Reisterstown and dines regularly with daughter Dorothy Scott and her husband, Bill, who moved to Carroll Lutheran Village a few years ago.

A gorgeous view of the village's grounds and surroundings is visible whether you look out from the balcony of his apartment or have your back to it -- thanks to a panoramic photograph he has hanging on one wall.

"I fool with my photographs and my tapes in my spare time," he said, leaning back in his armchair. "Other than that, as far as what I do, well, nothing."

For him, the still life is picture perfect.

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