Carroll seniors recount their favorite summer memories

August 18, 1999

This month's question: What is your best summer memory?

Lea Baetz of Westminster: "I am 80 years old. The Saturday my parents had an extra 15 cents, and the ice man would leave a big block of ice. My dad had a hand ice shaver, and we would all line up for a snowball, with homemade root beer over it. What a treat."

Paul R. Unger Sr. of Sykesville: "My most memorable experience was in 1930. As a happy boy of 10 picking up the winter supply of coal along the railroad tracks in my bare feet. It was a very hot summer, and to cool off I would go inside the heading of the coal mine."

Fran Bartlett of Westminster: "In the summer of 1948, I had a unique experience which stands out as the most meaningful single week in my life. At that time, the Methodist Church was divided -- the Baltimore conference, white, and the Washington conference, African-American -- both covering the same geographical space.

"As a member of the Methodist Youth Council of the Baltimore conference, I was asked to be a fraternal delegate to a summer institute held at Morgan State College. I was totally agreeable until some friends questioned my doing this, and a minister friend said he would refuse to go.

"They raised some doubts in my mind, but I went, a decision for which I have been eternally grateful. There were over 300 African-American young people and me.

"My roommates were sisters, Jesse and Ruth. Jesse recently graduated from Morgan and was the president of her conference youth council.

"We attended classes, did crafts, played games, folk-danced, planned and led vespers, and sang `I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream' as we waited outside the dining room door.

"But the most unforgettable moments were those when we talked after lights out. The three of us shared thoughts, ideas, personal plans and hopes, basically ourselves.

"Later that summer, as I boarded a bus in Baltimore, I spotted Jesse and there was an empty seat beside her. I caught her eye as I started to join her; she half-smiled, shook her head almost imperceptibly, and turned to stare out the window.

"It hurt to be ignored by her. Then I realized that in that brief glance there was a trace of fear. Apparently, in 1948, a young black woman and a young white woman did not ride together on a public bus in Baltimore.

"I was ready to cross barriers -- she was not, at least not in that setting. But I could respect her feelings; I had nothing to lose I was white. As I reflected on this incident, I realized that the very existence of such a situation in our country was much more hurtful than Jesse turning away from me."

Next month's question: What was "back-to-school" like for you?

If you would like to respond, send a letter to the Carroll Sun Seniors Page, Winchester Exchange, 15 E. Main St., Westminster 21157. Or send e-mail to:

Include your name and a phone number where you can be reached during the day. Please respond by Sept. 13.

Pub Date: 8/18/99

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