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Boarman's Market stocked with stories and love [Highland/Fulton]

Rosette and Larry Boarman, seated, with Ruth Beltz, Margaret Leishear and Jennie Gait.
Rosette and Larry Boarman, seated, with Ruth Beltz, Margaret Leishear and Jennie Gait. (Courtesy photo /)

The crossroads in “downtown” Highland wouldn’t be the same if Boarman’s Market didn’t occupy the western corner. I arrived in the Fort Meade area of Anne Arundel County late in the summer of 1976 and I remember taking a motorcycle ride and passing the market. Old timers will remember the gasoline pumps located in front of the store. It seemed like someone was always backing into the pumps when pulling away from the store. Larry Boarman, who recently celebrated his 96th birthday and he and Rosette’s 71st wedding anniversary, originally leased the store from the Raney family in the early 1940s. Larry wasn’t from around here. His family comes from Charles County in southern Maryland near the town of Bel Alton on Route 3. His father was a farmer down there and, when Larry came of age, he purchased a large farm for Larry on the cheap. Within a few short years, Larry turned the farm around and turned it into a top producer. I sat down with Larry and Rosette at his birthday and their anniversary celebration at their homestead on Route 216. He told me that when he started courting Rosette, he knew that she was the one he was going to marry. A typical date for them always ended with Larry ordering a black raspberry sundae. He’d always asked Rosette if she wanted one and typically, she answered in the negative. Invariably, she would wind up eating most of the sundae anyway. Eventually, he would order the sundae and ask for two spoons. His eyes twinkled with the memory and he glanced at Rosette, sitting by his side.

Larry was looking for a store to purchase and he put the word out. The local meat man told Larry’s father that he’d heard about a market for sale up in Howard County. This piqued Larry’s interest so, he and Rosette along with his mother and father, made the 60+ mile trip. The Raneys had owned the store for quite a while and were looking for someone to take it over. The Raneys wanted to see if whoever bought it could make a go of it, so the initial deal called for a five-year lease. During the initial meeting, the Raneys found out that Larry and Rosette were Roman Catholics which, for the Raneys, cinched the deal. He told me that they stood in the store while the terms of the lease and sale were recorded on a brown paper grocery bag. The Boarmans and the Raneys signed the bag, shook hands and the rest, as they say, is history.

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“That’s how things were done back then” Larry said. “I’m not sure if I still have the grocery bag but, you never know,” Larry remarked.

Larry was named after his grandfather Florentine Boarman. “My granddad was a wheeler-dealer, what’s called an ‘entrepreneur’ today”, he said. “He was always trying to make money.” One of his many ventures involved selling a new kind of grass that was being used on golf courses. He couldn’t remember the exact name but he thought it might have been zoysia grass. The grass was initially grown in wooden flats and when fully grown, were cut into one-inch plugs. Each plug would be planted in prepared soil, one plug in every square foot.

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When Larry was ready to sell the Bel Alton farm, his neighbor, who knew how well the farm was producing, asked about the price. When Larry told him what he wanted for it, the neighbor asked him to accompany him to the kitchen, where he wrote Larry a check for the full amount. As Larry said, he bought it “lock, stock and barrel!”

The market is still one of the only full-service butcher shops in the area. Larry hired a butcher named Jim Justice who was given responsibility for setting up and running the butcher shop. He worked for the Boarmans for over 20 years and had a reputation for being a world-class butcher. One of the staples of the market is the fresh pork sausage. When you visit the store, look in the meat case for the sausage shaped like a pig. “That’s one of my creative contributions,” Larry smiled. It is some of the best sausage you’ll ever eat.

Just about every son, daughter, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin, nephew, grandson, granddaughter (and then some) has worked at the market in one capacity or another - behind the meat counter, stocking the shelves, sweeping, cleaning, helping customers load groceries, pumping gas when the gas pumps were active. Larry’s grandson, Georgie Boarman, now runs the store. He is a fireball of energy. Larry said that when he was running the store full-time, he never had time to take a day off- he was way too busy. His eyes twinkled when he said, “Georgie has the store running so smoothly that he even has time to take a day off now and then.”

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