After the college purchased the Geiman farm on March 10, 1922, a portion of the property was used for an athletic field. Tailgating for events was popular from the very beginning. In this picture the farm still existed just beyond the field.
After the college purchased the Geiman farm on March 10, 1922, a portion of the property was used for an athletic field. Tailgating for events was popular from the very beginning. In this picture the farm still existed just beyond the field. (Submitted photograph from old family papers)

On Saturday, June 10, 1922, the formal dedication of the “Hoffa athletic field” took place on the campus of Western Maryland College, now McDaniel College.

I recently pondered the dedication and the Geiman Farm, upon which the athletic field is now located, while running on the track at the Kenneth R. Gill Stadium at McDaniel. I have run circles on the track since the 1960s and from the vantage point of the track I have watched a steady stream of changes take place at the college.


In the 1960s I was a Baltimore Sun “newsboy” at the college when the Baltimore Colts practiced there. I sold newspapers to the crowds who came to watch the Colts practice. I also vividly recall selling newspapers to the players. I will forever remember how incredibly nice they were to me. Many of the papers were sold to the players “on credit,” as they made their way back to the Gill Gymnasium. They did not carry money on the practice field. I would wait around until, one by one, they would return after showering, and pay me.

I also recall reading the entire paper from one end to the other. It was my portal to the rest of the world, well beyond the confines of Westminster and Carroll County.

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Shellman led the annual parade until she became too old to continue. She turned the parade over to American Legion Post 31, which continues the tradition.

I was particularly intrigued by a writer by the name of John Goodspeed. According to a tribute to him written by Jacques Kelly, on Sept. 12, 2006, Goodspeed was a “former Evening Sun columnist who collected examples of the city's linguistic train wrecks and christened the mispronunciations Baltimorese. … From 1950 until he stepped down in 1967, Mr. Goodspeed chronicled the city, its habits, and people in ‘Mr. Peep's Diary,’ a weekday column…

“Mr. Goodspeed left The Evening Sun in 1967 and went on to edit the Carroll County Times,” according to Kelly. In that time period, when I attended Westminster Junior High School, I hand wrote a “newspaper,” on lined loose-leaf notebook paper — usually while not paying attention in class — and shared it around school.

A number of the “stories” I wrote did not meet with the thorough approval of the school administration. Especially the time I wrote a book review of the 1966 best seller, “Valley of the Dolls,” by Jacqueline Susann. If you will recall, the novel colorfully-chronicled the life and times of three women right after World War II who, according to some old notes, “embark on careers that (brought) them to the dizzying heights of fame and eventual self-destruction...”

In my youthful naiveté, on several occasions I stopped by to see Goodspeed after school to see if he was interested in publishing any of my stories in the Carroll County Times. I recall he especially liked my review of “Valley of the Dolls.”

As an aside, Arthur “Tass” Samios got me the job selling the newspapers. I needed the money to pay for a baseball glove I had purchased on credit from Mr. Heagy — at Heagy’s Sport Shop, an athletic equipment and gun shop on West Main Street in Westminster. I liked the glove and Heagy let me pay for it, on a handshake agreement, with weekly payments.

In the 1950s we lived behind Samios Food Market at the intersection of Green Street and Washington Road. Samios was born in 1902 in Kythera, Greece. He was prominent member of the Greek patriarchy in Westminster that consisted of a number of Greek families that came to Westminster, worked hard, prospered, and enormously gave back to the community. Their family values, work ethic, and integrity run deep in the community personality of Westminster to this day.

As I tottered precariously around the track the other day, I studied the skyline of several of the “newer” academic buildings, added in the last decade or so; and the new entranceway on West Main Street. I pondered a newspaper article from years ago that explained that McDaniel was once again named in the guide, “Colleges That Change Lives...” I was struck with the concept of “change” as a recurring theme at the college and in our community.

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Accounts suggest that the ceremonies in Pleasant Valley began right after World War 1, however some oral traditions suggest services started in the late-1800s.

As for the 1922 dedication of the athletic field; today McDaniel College is accepted as presiding prominently in the center, more or less, of Westminster. However, this was not the case until around the 1970s when housing developments began to grow to the west of the campus.

In 1922, the campus was on the outer western edge of Westminster on the brink of a frontier of forest and farmland that stretched for ten miles until one arrived in Taneytown.

According to a definitive history of the college, “Fearless and Bold,” written by Dr. James E. Lightner; the Geiman property, a 65-acre farm contiguously situated to the west of the campus became available to the college, in 1920, upon the death of W. H. Geiman.

After the death of Geiman, the property “suddenly came on the market, and the board authorized (college president Thomas Hamilton) Lewis to purchase it for $26,201…

“It was formally deeded on March 31, 1920, using endowment funds. The purchase agreement allowed Charles Geiman to lease back part of the farm, while a portion would be used for new athletic fields.


“At the June meeting (of the board of trustees,) the alumni visitors to the board stressed the urgent need for improving the fields, and the Buildings and Grounds Committee was empowered to act.”

And “act” they did. Lightner reports that “on Saturday, June 10, (1922) a warm and sunny day, the formal dedication of the Hoffa Field was held before an audience of 5,000.”