Woman's career arrives by horse-drawn carriage


February 03, 2000|By Jean Marie Beall | Jean Marie Beall,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

NEW WINDSOR resident Meg Smith got tired of cancellations from people providing wagons for a corporate picnic she was organizing. She decided to buy one instead.

That's how her business, J-Mar B Livery Service at Smith Hill Farm, began. Today, the business hires out its three carriages and four hayride wagons at about 60 functions a year.

"I wanted to do a hayride for a corporate picnic," Smith said. "But the people renting the wagons would never show up." That was in 1985, and the business began as a hobby.

"Then my sister wanted to get married and wanted a carriage for her wedding. A friend had one she wanted to sell. My parents ended up buying it," she said.

Smith said organizations and businesses use her livery service, including Spring Meadow Farms in Baltimore County in October to provide hayrides to pumpkin patches.

"We also do almost all of the weddings for Antrim," she added.

In 1986, Smith said she received a call from a producer working on an MGM-produced film about the making of the Statue of Liberty. Smith said, "He [the producer] knew some other people in Carroll County. They were looking for wagons and freight wagons that were used on the docks in Baltimore."

The film was shot near Druid Hill Park in Baltimore.

But Smith's role became more than providing props.

"They asked me to keep track of all the wagons that were on the set," she said. "We spent 18 days filming. But it wasn't straight. It was two to three days one week, three to four days another."

Word of mouth about Smith's livery service got out. She was contacted to work on the children's film "Out of Time," filmed at Fells Point in Baltimore.

Smith said she worked on commercials, including one with WJZ-TV (Channel 13) weatherman Marty Bass.

"Then, in 1996, we got a call from Steve Walker for the film `Washington Square' that was to be filmed in Baltimore," Smith said.

A year later, her company was contacted by a wrangler about working on "For Richer or Poorer."

"A wrangler is someone who works with all the wagons and such on the set," Smith explained. "This wrangler had worked on `Washington Square' and was working on `For Richer or Poorer.' "

But this time, Smith provided wagons and carriages for the set and made the Amish food used as props.

"I have Amish friends and I have been to some Amish weddings," Smith said.

The next film was "Liberty Heights," produced by Baltimore native Barry Levinson.

"They needed four horses tied to a hitching rail," she said. "We supplied the horses."

While things have been quiet with the movie business, Smith said her company has been busier than ever with area functions.

The company has four horses for the livery service. Smith's partner, Alvie May, also uses the horses on their 60-acre farm in New Windsor.

"We use the horses for plowing and working the land to grow crops to feed them," May said. "A lot of people train and break horses, but most do not use them on their farm. This is the way they used to do things 20 to 30 years ago.

"The way I do it [use a horse for plowing], this is a lost art," he said. "To do it the way I am doing it, it takes a lot of dedication and a lot more time. It's like the difference between using a horse to get to town rather than a car."

FSK Junior Eagles lacrosse

Boys and girls in grades one through eight living in the Union Bridge, Taneytown and New Windsor communities may sign up for recreation lacrosse.

Sign-ups will be from 5: 30 p.m. to 8: 30 p.m. today at Elmer Wolfe Elementary School cafeteria and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, also at Elmer Wolfe.

Information: Anita Staley, 301-898-9451.

Jean Marie Beall's Northwest neighborhood column appears each Thursday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

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