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Teen turns to senior citizens for oral history on Great Depression [Lutherville]

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Each year at Ridgley Middle School, American history teacher Joe DeFilippo prepares his gifted and talented group of eighth-grade students to create an oral history presentation. Mr. DeFilippo urges his students think about this project from the first day of school. During American Education Week, he brings in former star students to show the class and visitors what is expected of the oral history presentation. The students must contact someone who has made an impact on American history and conduct and record a personal interview — video and audio. Much work goes into preparing the interview questions and coordinating the actual interview. After six months of research, the students import the recording into iMovie or MovieMaker, type the closed captions, insert photos and historical videos, and upload music. The resulting projects are rather professional looking.

I observed Josh Waleedh, 14, of Lutherville, presented his finished project titled "The Great Depression" to the residents and staff of College Manor Assisted Living, 300 W. Seminary Road, Lutherville. Two of his interviewees, Mildred Bailey, 100, and Margaret Gaily, 90, were present to watch themselves on the projection screen set up in the activities room. Josh's show lasted about 15 minutes and his audience was impressed. Mrs. Bailey said that during The Great Depression everyone helped each other the best they could. Churches often offered hot soup to unemployed, homeless and hobos. "The spirit of giving was contagious." said Bailey. Mrs. Gaily remembers her mother kept scraps of food in her ice box reserved for making soup. "Nothing was wasted — we used and re-used everything." Gaily said.

A U.S. citizen now, Josh was born in Male, Maldives, and has no relatives who lived through The Great Depression in America. He said, "I was surprised that there was such widespread suffering for Americans because when I think of America I see it as always successful and that life has always been fairly easy here. But after researching The Great Depression, I have learned that even America has faced hard times." Josh continues to admire College Manor and its history. "This place is full of history and should be regarded as an iconic building that represents Historic Lutherville."

On Saturday, June 22, College Manor will host a free concert with Helmet's Big Band, from 6-8 p.m. The entire neighborhood is welcome (this is replacing 4th of July fireworks party). Bring your chairs, blankets, and a picnic and enjoy music from the present and past. Be sure to tell Margaret Gaily, Mildred Bailey and Ann Rap, 89, (who was off to Ocean City with her family when Josh made his presentation), that you heard about their interviews.

Just up the block from College Manor is St. John's United Methodist Church. It will host a Lutherville Volunteer Fire Department Appreciation Day on Sunday, June 30, from noon till 2 p.m. Andy Anders, Lutherville, with his two partners, Kirk and Winnie Dreier, will be playing some down-home, blue grass music. Andy will be on the guitar, Kirk on banjo, and Winnie on mountain laptop dulcimer. Jams include "Old Time Religion", "I'll Fly Away", "Circle be Unbroken", and ,of course, "Amazing Grace".

The Lutherville Fire House on Bellona Ave, is just around the corner from St. John's, said Anders, and when its siren goes off during the Sunday service, the congregation has one unified thought and that is praying that all the firefighters return back safely and rescue those in need." "Our church has always supported the fire station, so we're holding our first appreciation day — not a fundraiser." The church will provide free grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, along with games such as corn hole and horseshoes. "The guys will drive a fire truck over to the parking lot for the kids to get a closer look." Anders said. They expect a good turnout of about 50 people —- so bring your family and lawn chairs to take part in the festivities at Rev. Phil Ayers' parsonage beside St. John's United Methodist Church, 216 W. Seminary Ave.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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