Jaunts around Old Town stirred interest in history of alleys and unnamed pathways

Old Town

July 26, 2011

Someone once said, "You're nobody in Laurel until they name an alley after you." A short chuckle, and that thought was quickly dismissed. But jaunts around Old Town have stirred a deeper interest in their existence.

Most of these small streets exist between Main Street and Laurel Avenue. The vast majority of these named and unnamed roads run east to west. Those that have no name have been assigned numbers by the city, and are part and parcel of adjoining properties.

The longest of these paths runs from Route 1 to Fifth Street, parallel to Montgomery Street. It has no name designation and remains unpaved.

A little research unlocked their stories. These small pathways had two reasons for being.

Long before homes in Old Town had refrigeration, these streets and alleys made it easy for the iceman to deliver his goods to the back doors of residences.

Without indoor plumbing, family members had to visit an outhouse when the need arose. They were located as far from the house as possible, toward the back of the property. These alleys made it easier for the facilities to be cleaned.

That unenviable task was left to men known as honey dippers. They would travel the thoroughfares behind the homes early in the morning to keep things neat and tidy.

Advances in electronic cold storage brought an end to the need for the iceman, and indoor plumbing meant the job done by the honey dippers was also gone.

Some of these avenues disappeared, some grew a bit shorter, others were paved and renamed.

Bill Wellford told me that the alley that mimics the route of Prince George Street, behind what was his family home, was named in honor of his grandfather, who was the original owner of the house on that street.

Fetty and Tolson allies were named in honor of former mayors. Most recently, Peggy's Way, located behind the Montgomery Street home of the late City Councilwoman M. Peggy Anderson, was named in her memory.

Each of the oft-unnoticed and forgotten trails, once vital to our town's infrastructure, has its own story. It's pleasurable to imagine what life must have been like, when a different sort of vehicle traversed them.

Laurel Presbyterian Church honored Kristy Miller for 10 years of service as the congregation's administrative assistant.

Longtime church member Dot Brownlie said Miller "is the glue that keeps our church running smoothly," and that "Kristy is the voice of our church when people call and the face that welcomes them when they come through the door during the week."

Miller, who is from Laurel, currently lives in Scaggsville, with her husband, Robert; and their son, Christopher.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.