Beauty and vitality blend in Woodsboro Where a father can let his kids play outside 'without worrying'

Neighborhood Profile

September 01, 1996|By Joanne E. Morvay | Joanne E. Morvay,Special to The Sun

On a recent evening in Woodsboro, as the sun slipped away for the night, the playground at Woodsboro Elementary School echoed with children's laughter. John Gaver -- looking decidedly too old for the jungle gym on which he was perched -- smiled as he surveyed his offspring.

Robert, 13, and Tommy, 12, were engaged in mock competition on the horizontal bars while the 6-year-old twins, Kelly and Michelle, raced around in circles on the grass until they collapsed in giggles.

Gaver, a Frederick carpenter who has custody of his children on weekends, said the weekly trip to the playground has become a family tradition. His kids can barely contain their enthusiasm as they make the short walk from the house that Gaver rents on Main Street -- a large historic home remodeled into a duplex. They are just as excited on Saturdays, Gaver said, when they march a few hundred yards farther to Woodsboro Regional Park for an afternoon of fishing.

Gaver, who's lived in and around Woodsboro all his life, grew up with the same simple pleasures.

"This is a very nice place," he said. "It's quiet and I can let my kids out to play without worrying what will happen to them."

Unlike many of the hamlets that front on Route 194 between Hanover, Pa., and Frederick, Woodsboro -- in eastern Frederick County -- has continued to thrive without losing its small-town identity. Established in 1786 and named for the Wood family, which owned the property at that time, the land under Woodsboro was originally purchased from King George III, according to records kept by the Historical Society of Frederick County.

Today's residents support a large grocery store and a few restaurants as well as a number of other businesses, including a bank, florist, garage and locally owned home improvement center. The whole town turns out for the firefighters' summer carnival. And local organizations -- from the churches to the American Legion -- are known for reaching out to neighbors in times of need.

"These people are genuine," said Ed Reynolds as he and his wife, Pat, exchanged pleasantries with fellow shoppers and the women behind the deli counter at Trout's Market on a recent Friday night.

The Reynoldses said they stop at Trout's three or four nights a week for the market's hearty take-out dinners. Though there are larger chain stores a few miles away in Walkersville, the couple said they prefer to shop at their hometown grocery.

Except for a decade when the market was owned by the now-defunct George's chain, Trout's has been a Woodsboro institution since 1964. John Trout, who manages the store for his brother, Steve, said the store prides itself on providing the community with fresh products at affordable prices. Rarely is the parking lot empty. And customers appear to spend as much time chatting as they do shopping.

Steve Trout also operates a wholesale seafood distribution business and the market has become known for its fair-priced, already-cooked crabs and shrimp. "We'll steam 75 to 80 bushels of crabs in a summer weekend," said seafood/deli manager Kenny Marshall. "And we get customers from as far as Germantown and Damascus in Montgomery County and Fairfield Pennsylvania."

Ed and Pat Reynolds said people who pass through Woodsboro tend to be struck by the town's beauty. Well-preserved historic buildings such as the red-brick Woodsboro Savings Bank and the Rosebud Inn line Main Street. The bank, founded in 1899, has never been robbed and has always operated in the black -- even during the Great Depression.

The inn -- a former bed-and-breakfast now on the market -- was the home of the late Dr. George F. Smith. The pharmacist founded the Rosebud Perfume Co. next door to his home in 1895 and developed the formula for his famed Rosebud Salve.

The salve and the company's other products -- including Grandpa's Old-Time Pine Tar Soap -- are still manufactured in Woodsboro and sold at Trout's and other retail outlets.

The Reynoldses built their raised rancher a short distance outside town 18 years ago.

"We planned to live here three to five years, but then the interest rates went up and we couldn't afford to move," Pat Reynolds said. "Now it's affordable again, and we don't want to."

She runs her own insurance agency in Frederick, while Ed Reynolds commutes to AR Inc. in Annapolis. He also teaches marketing part-time at Mount St. Mary's College in nearby Emmitsburg.

The couple share their 4-plus acres with a couple of horses and several dogs. They enjoy most, however, their unsurpassed view.

"We can see the [Catoctin] mountains from our house. When Ski Liberty [in Emmitsburg] is lit up, you can see the slopes," Ed Reynolds said.

Cecilia Bach, a Realtor with Bach & Associates Inc. in Frederick, said much of Woodsboro's appeal is that it allows homeowners to escape the congestion of city life without moving to the middle of nowhere.

Some residents work in local heavy industry including three limestone quarries and concrete and asphalt plants that

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