Remembering when Brooklyn Park was country


October 07, 2001|By Christina Bittner | Christina Bittner,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

WHEN MARY Starner visits her aunt at Genesis Eldercare Facility in Brooklyn Park, she is transported to a time when automobiles were just starting to change American life and people lighted candles not for the scent, but to see after dark.

In that era - recalled by Starner's 102-year-old aunt, Anne Gertrude Thomas - a trip to Brooklyn Park was a visit to the country.

"When I think that she has seen three centuries, it's amazing," Starner says of her aunt. "She was born in the 1800s, lived through the 1900s and now the 2000s. She's seen so many changes: automobiles, television, running water, electricity, indoor plumbing."

Thomas is hard of hearing, but she nonetheless is able to pass on to her niece an oral history that provides a priceless "feel" for another period in time.

Starner said that before Thomas married her husband, Howard, in 1918, she did clerical work in downtown Baltimore.

"Most women didn't work back then. She went to the old school 203, and after the eighth grade went to work to help her family," Starner said. "That wasn't at all unusual back then. When she got married in 1918 she became a homemaker. That's what women did.

"Her husband was the superintendent of the post office in Curtis Bay and was active in the Masons, so she entertained a lot. She never had any children, but had lots of nieces and nephews. We lived close by, so we could visit each other a lot."

Thomas, who celebrated her birthday Friday at Genesis Eldercare, also tells stories of the early days of Brooklyn Park and her house in Brooklyn Heights.

"She said that all this was mostly farmland. It wasn't developed at all and more like being out in the country," Starner said. "When Uncle Howard was ready to move into a house he told Aunt Gertrude to design it. He said that he knew that if he didn't build that house just the way that she wanted he would regret it.

"He did a good job. Now a new family lives there, and the white picket fence that Thomas made and painted is still standing."

Starner said her uncle died in 1957, but her aunt stayed in the home until 1992.

"She was very sociable and loved to talk, so she had plenty of visitors," Starner said.

Soccer clinic

Soccer players ages 8 to 13 are invited to test their skills against the professionals when the Baltimore Blast holds a clinic at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 at William J. Myers Soccer Pavilion, 4300 West Bay Ave.

Contests will be held and prizes will be awarded. Participants must bring their own soccer ball.

Blast players will hold an autograph session from 8:15 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The cost is $5. Registration is required, and spaces are limited. All participants must be supervised by an adult. Information: 410-396-5782.

Dinner at St. John

St. John Lutheran Church's annual Sour and Roast Beef Dinner will be held this year from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday in the church social hall, 226 Washburn Ave.

The feast will include sour and roast beef, mashed potatoes and potato dumplings, green beans with tomatoes, baked apple, cake and beverage.

Tickets are $9 for adults and $4 for children age 12 and younger. Carryout service will be available from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Information: 410-355-7295.

Stoney Creek Democrats

The Friends of Joan Cadden will sponsor a bull roast fund-raiser from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Oct 14 at the Stoney Creek Democratic Club, 8123 Fort Smallwood Road in Orchard Beach. Del. Joan Cadden represents District 31.

The cost is $30. Ticket information: 410-789-1914.

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