Remembering Arnold Anne Arundel County: Bill Schriefer's recollections on the Broadneck lend perspective.

March 28, 1997

FEW MARYLAND COUNTIES can compete with Anne Arundel for the richness of local history: Some of this country's earliest European settlers walked along the Chesapeake and its tributaries on lands which up to that point had been the hunting grounds of native Americans. Later, notables from George Washington to Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson used the local ferries on their travels from the nation's capital to New York and points north.

George W. "Bill" Schriefer, 73, obviously did not witness those events. But the Baltimore native who grew up in Anne Arundel County in the 1930s has seen plenty. He shares his memories in talks with church and school groups in the Broadneck Peninsula area.

Such oral historians perform an invaluable function. They give residents a much-needed historical perspective that provides context for today's debates on growth and development.

When Mr. Schriefer moved to Arnold, Anne Arundel was still one of the area's biggest agricultural producers. Tobacco was waning but no other metropolitan county except for Harford devoted more acreage to truck farming. Canning was an important subsidiary industry.

As a boy, Mr. Schriefer fed chickens there, brought in kindling wood and carried water. He recalls the installation of electricity in the 1930s. Mr. Schriefer can also remember the days when only two red lights slowed motorists in the 25 miles between Arnold and Baltimore. Of course, not many folks had cars in those days. People were accustomed to walking great distances -- or taking the Baltimore and Annapolis Railroad.

Mr. Schriefer left Arnold in 1942 and was stationed at a submarine base in Pearl Harbor. When he returned home, he found a job at Kennecott Refinery Corp. in the Curtis Bay area. Thus, he became part of the post-war trend toward industrialization that was changing northern Anne Arundel in particular. Indeed, the de-industrialization is reflected in the modern growth of the county community college that's based in Arnold.

Local history projects have come a long way since the 1970s, when the U.S. Bicentennial triggered concentrated documentation efforts. Resources such as Mr. Schriefer help preserve the lore of smaller communities like Arnold.

Pub Date: 3/28/97

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