In March 1956, the small community of Ferndale still had enough rural flavor that James Lacy could fish and hunt there after his family moved to the Glen Burnie subdivision from Baltimore.
Lacy, now 65, said it wasn't long before the neighborhood began to grow. Today, Ferndale is an established suburban community with few vacant lots and steady traffic along its main artery, Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard.
Lacy lives within blocks of his parents' home, where his brother lives now. Many of the friends he went to school with also settled in the area.
"You just about know everybody, and everybody knows you," said Lacy, who meets up with friends at the Ferndale Community Club. The local hall offers dinners, dances, bingo and a cozy bar and cafe. It has 700 members, who pay annual dues.
The community also was a convenient 9-mile commute from Lacy's former job at the National Security Agency. It's also the same distance to downtown Baltimore.
According to 2007 census estimates, Ferndale has a population of 6,735 people. It is bordered by Route 97 on the east, BWI on the west, 695 on the north and Dorsey Road on the south.
Lee Clark, who has lived in Ferndale since 1991, has held an annual Halloween fright night in his backyard for the past 11 years. The free event started small, but it mushroomed over the years into an event that draws several hundred people.
Clark, 49, grew up in nearby Linbrook, but he bought his grandparents' 1955 rancher after they died. He said Ferndale is the type of place where new neighbors are welcomed as soon as they move in. In fact, Clark enjoys talking to neighbors so much he has been reluctant to trade his chain-link fence for a wooden privacy fence. The structure might impinge on their conversations.
"I don't want to put up a wall between us," Clark said. "I'd rather laugh and carry on face-to-face."
Ferndale lost a beloved community leader, Leo Harnen, on Oct. 3. The 84-year-old known as "Mr. Ferndale" was the founder of Ferndale Day, an annual parade and festival, in the late 1970s. The event was used to build the Ferndale-Linthicum Senior Citizen Center, and current proceeds still pay for its operating costs.
Held on the first Sunday in May, Ferndale Day draws more than 400 people, said Barbara Capps, who runs the hot dog stand for the event. Capps, 50, has lived in a Cape Cod-style home on Ferndale Avenue for 18 years. She said she enjoys Ferndale's friendliness.
"If you're having trouble with lawn work, your neighbor will come over and help you without you having to go ask," she said.
Housing stock : Ferndale is made up of small neighborhoods with modest ranchers and Cape Cods that make good starter homes, said Charlie Windsor, a Realtor at the BWI-Fort Meade Long & Foster Real Estate office in Glen Burnie. The area has an eclectic mix of houses in nearly every style, Windsor said.
Schools: The $4 million Ferndale Early Education Center opened in November 2007 on the site of the former Ferndale Elementary School, which closed in 2003 because of a lack of enrollment. The center is Anne Arundel County's first preschool and kindergarten center.
The residents of Ferndale are served by George Cromwell and Hilltop Elementary schools. Students then go to Lindale Middle School and graduate to North County High School. All of the schools have met Adequate Yearly Progress, with students at all levels generally performing above state standards.
Nearby private schools include St. Philip Neri Catholic School in Linthicum Heights and Monsignor Slade Catholic School in Glen Burnie. Slade also offers a part-time nursery school program.
Crime: Residents say there is little crime in Ferndale. No incidents were reported for the past two months, according to data records on the Web site crimereports.com.
Transportation: The Light Rail's Hunt Valley & Cromwell line stops in Ferndale. Public buses also leave from the station. Ferndale also is within a 10-minute drive to BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, which has an Amtrak train station.
Shopping: Marley Station Mall and Arundel Mills Mall are within a close drive. There is a Wal-Mart a few miles away in Glen Burnie.
Dining in : Two grocery stores serve as bookends to Ferndale - the Food Lion grocery store in the Burwood Village Center is at the northern end and the Giant at Cromwell Field Shopping Center is at the southern end.
Dining out : Ferndale residents can dine at several eateries at the Burwood Shopping Center, including Beijing Buffet, Buffalo Wings and Beer, and Italia's Corner Cafe.
Nightlife: The Ferndale Community Club holds dances, dinners and holiday parties and is available for rent. Residents also can head into nearby Glen Burnie for restaurants or go to downtown Baltimore, a 15-minute drive away.
Recreation: The nonprofit Linthicum Ferndale Youth Athletic Association offers intramural leagues and intermural county teams in baseball, basketball, soccer and softball. There are ball fields, tennis courts and skateboard ramps at Sawmill Creek Park on Dorsey Road on the southern edge of Ferndale. Residents also can park and then take the 11-mile BWI Bike Trail around the airport.
ferndale by the numbers
ZIP code: 21061
Homes currently on the market: 24
Average listing price: $276,000*
Average sale price: $265,000*
Average days on the market: 79*
*Information based on sales in the past 12 months as compiled by Charlie Windsor of BWI-Fort Meade Long and Foster Real Estate in Glen Burnie and Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc.