50 Years Ago: A tragic week across Harford

July 11, 2011

From The Aegis dated July 13, 1961:

Much of the news on the front page wasn't good this week 50 years ago. Three people – a well-known farmer, a 2-year-old girl and an elderly woman – died in separate incidents.

William Posey Choate, 53, who farm was near Upper Cross Roads, died in a freak farming accident. He was mowing a nearby property when the wheel slipped into a ditch. The tractor tilted and Mr. Choate was ejected forward. Mr. Choate told rescuers the right rear wheel of the tractor, with big metal cleats, ran over him. Hospital personnel said Mr. Choate, who lost his hand in a farm accident a year earlier, died of aheart attack.

A woman believed to be in her mid-80s died in a house fire 50 years ago. Alice Chambers, a retired school teacher who was nearly blind and often used matches to see around her house, died in the blaze in the apartment on Tollgate Road where the woman lived by herself. An autopsy was being performed.

Lastly, a 2-year-old girl injured when a motorcycle fell on her, died a few hours later at the hospital, despite doctors trying their best to revive her by messaging her heart.

The girl, Diana Lee Ross, had gone inside to play when the motorcycle fell and crushed her chest. She was thought to be dead when she arrived at the hospital, where doctors got a heartbeat by messaging her heart, but she eventually died.

In some good news, two from Harford were finalists in the Miss Maryland Pageant in Salisbury. Carolyn B. Wright, Miss Harford County, placed second in the pageant, while Margaret Rose Scarff, Miss Bel Air, placed fifth.

Extra efforts by the Maryland State Police to deter accidents appeared to be paying off in 1961. The number of crashes hit a new low – to date four people had died in highway accidents in Harford County. Though it was only July, in the previous three years, 22, 34 and 20 people had been killed on local roads.

Clearing was getting ready to start at a site on Broadway and Franklin Street in Bel Air for new apartments. Eleven "badly needed apartments" were planned for the site owned by Dr. and Mrs. Richard F. Faber. Actual construction on the two story, L-shaped complex was expected to start between Aug. 15 and Sept. 1.

The status of other Harford apartments was less clear 50 years ago. A board of zoning appeals hearing on the rezoning of property to build four apartments buildings at Edgewood Meadows was postponed. The local civic association asked for the delay.

Thomas W. Price was named to the staff of the environmental health section of the Harford County Health Department 50 years ago. He was formerly a manager of Gifford Ice Cream Company branch in Sliver Spring before being appointed milk sanitarian in Harford.

A Route 40 restaurant was in the doghouse 50 years ago: "Washington and State of Maryland officials were quite upset when they were notified that a Route 40 restaurant, near Edgewood, had on June 26 refused to serve the first ambassador from the Republic of Chad, Adam Malik Sow. President Kennedy has strongly urged that no discrimination be shown against African diplomats."

In one of the most eagerly anticipated games of the season, the Perryville Railroaders beat the Havre de Grace Chiefs in a tight game to take over sole ownership of first place in the Harford League.

The Chiefs, down 8-0 at one point, rallied in the seventh and eighth innings to close the game to 8-7, but ran out of time to catch up, and lost to the Railroaders 8-7. The two teams had been tied for first for the last month, but with the win, Perryville moved ahead.

At the movies this week 50 years ago, Bel Air Drive-In Theatre on Route 22 in Churchville had the "first area showing" of "Sunlover's Holiday," as well as "Night Girls." Also at Bel Air was "Thunder Road," starring Robert Mitchum, and "War Drums" "Brides of Dracula." The following week, the drive-in was scheduled to show "Ben Hur" for an entire week.

At Bel Air Theatre on Main Street, "The Alamo," starring John Wayne, Richard Widmark and Laurence Harvey was playing Wednesday through Saturday, to be followed by Marlon Brando and Karl Malden in "One-Eyed Jacks."

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