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Dayhoff: A dip back into Carroll’s Thanksgiving history

A lot happened in Carroll County history during the Thanksgiving holidays.

On this date in 1897, a local newspaper, the American Sentinel reported that “Thanksgiving day was observed in this city by the general cessation of business and by religious services in most of the churches. The union service at the Methodist Protestant Church was attended by a large congregation. The sermon on the occasion was delivered by the Rev. C. S. Slagle, pastor of St. Paul’s Reformed Church.”

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The Dec. 3, 1920 edition of the Union Bridge Pilot newspaper reported: “A pair of trousers was stolen early in the evening from the wash line of Mrs. John Pittinger about a week ago.”

The Nov. 27, 1897 edition of the American Sentinel reported that the Chesapeake and Potomac Company’s 32 telephone subscribers in the county had the opportunity “of hearing … a phonographic concert, over the long distance telephone, at the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Exchange, in the Wantz building, on Monday evening.”

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The Democratic Advocate reported on Nov. 24, 1922: “On Friday evening an alarm of fire was sent in for a leaf fire at Western Maryland College. On the arrival of the fire company they were notified not to throw any water on the fire as they were initiating a student, it is said. Chief Shaeffer ordered the firemen to put the fire out at once, as it was close to a building.”

The Carroll Theatre, now the Carroll Arts Center, is shown in 1938. The Art Deco style Carroll Theatre at 91 W. Main St., Westminster, originally opened on Thanksgiving Day Nov. 25, 1937. Westminster purchased the Carroll Theatre in 2000 and immediately began major renovations for the historic theatre to be repurposed as the Carroll County Arts Council. SUBMITTED PHOTO
The Carroll Theatre, now the Carroll Arts Center, is shown in 1938. The Art Deco style Carroll Theatre at 91 W. Main St., Westminster, originally opened on Thanksgiving Day Nov. 25, 1937. Westminster purchased the Carroll Theatre in 2000 and immediately began major renovations for the historic theatre to be repurposed as the Carroll County Arts Council. SUBMITTED PHOTO (Kevin Dayhoff)

The Art Deco style Carroll Theatre at 91 West Main Street opened on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 25, 1937. Westminster purchased the theater in 2000 and immediately began major renovations for the Carroll County Arts Council. Westminster’s adaptive reuse of the former Carroll Theatre opened a new chapter in the history of the building, which reopened on April 4, 2003.

According to an article in the New York Times on Sunday, Nov. 27, 1938, “The Maryland State Tax Commission approved yesterday an agreement among the Carroll County Water Company, the Bel Air Water Light Company and the Ellicott City Water Company to be merged Into the Maryland Water Works Company, according to an announcement made here by the Associated Gas and Electric Company.”

The big news in the fall of 1945 were reports that the wartime rationing of nylons, tires and radios were about to end. An article Aug. 24, 1945 in the then-local newspaper, the Democratic Advocate reported, “Nylon stockings may be back in circulation by Thanksgiving, or at least by Christmas. The Government … said 3 1/2 million radios may be on the store shelves by Christmas. This was a surprise. The reason: An 80 per cent cut in military orders for radar and radio.”

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Years ago, newspapers, the library bookmobile and, later, the radio were very important to the Carroll farming community. Agriculture in Carroll has historically been greatly affected by national and world events and keeping up with the news was a necessity. Long days with farm chores combined with the time required to travel long distances between farms and towns over poor roads was a problem.

The groundbreaking ceremonies which marked the beginning of the renovations to the historic Carroll Theatre took place on April 4, 2003. The Art Deco style Carroll Theatre at 91 W. Main St. originally opened on Thanksgiving Day Nov. 25, 1937. Westminster purchased the Carroll Theatre in 2000 and immediately began major renovations for the historic theatre to be repurposed as the Carroll County Arts Council. Westminster’s adaptive reuse of the former Carroll Theatre on W. Main St. in Westminster opened a new chapter in the history of the building. Courtesy of former Westminster Economic Development Administrator Stan Ruchlewicz
The groundbreaking ceremonies which marked the beginning of the renovations to the historic Carroll Theatre took place on April 4, 2003. The Art Deco style Carroll Theatre at 91 W. Main St. originally opened on Thanksgiving Day Nov. 25, 1937. Westminster purchased the Carroll Theatre in 2000 and immediately began major renovations for the historic theatre to be repurposed as the Carroll County Arts Council. Westminster’s adaptive reuse of the former Carroll Theatre on W. Main St. in Westminster opened a new chapter in the history of the building. Courtesy of former Westminster Economic Development Administrator Stan Ruchlewicz (Kevin Dayhoff)

According to then-Carroll County newspaper reporter Kelsey Volkmann, in 2006 a state education department report revealed that Carroll had the highest library readership levels in the state. 85 percent of all Carroll countians had a library card.

In my Baltimore Sun column on Dec. 2, 2013, I noted, “A large audience tuned-in to the importance and long history of radio in Carroll at a recent box lunch talk by the Historical Society of Carroll County by local historian Sam Brainerd; who also reported upon his extensive research in the Carroll History Journal publication in early 2012.”

“Baltimore’s first radio station was WKC, which began broadcasting on March 23, 1922. Within three months the city had two more: WCAO (still in operation today) and WEAR (now using the call letters WJZ). WNAY began in 1923, followed soon after by WCBM and WGBA,” Brainerd recalled.

In 1930, according to Brainerd, “A notice in the April 4, 1930, Carroll County Times announced the upcoming schedules of Westminster’s two experimental stations. Station WEST, operating on a frequency of 1340 kilocycles (kc) in the standard broadcast band, would be on the air every Sunday at 2 p.m., featuring ‘local talent.’

“Anyone wishing to air their talent was told to write to the Studio and Program Manager of WEST by the Tuesday before the broadcast. Local acts had been performing this way on nearby radio stations for at least six years. In May 1924 the Jesters and the Powder Puffs, two performing troupes from Western Maryland College, presented a concert aired by radio station WGBA in Baltimore.

“Westminster’s other experimental station, W3XAP, operated in the shortwave band and so could be picked up only on the minority of radio sets able to pick up those frequencies.”

Carroll County, according to Brainerd, “did not have a permanent radio station until WTTR went on the air in July 1953…”

Remember, whatever your faith, the upcoming holiday season is time that should be centered upon the family. Let us reach out with care to those in need of food, shelter, and words of hope.

Happy halidaze! Please remember to place a lemon slice in the dog’s water bowl.

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. His Time Flies column appears every Sunday. Email him at kevindayhoff@gmail.com.

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