When I look back at my life in Emmitsburg where I lived and grew up in the 1930's, 40's and
into the 1950's and early 60's, I have only fond memories. It was a town that could have been the model for Norman
Rockwell's paintings. It was a strong religious community with 5 major churches within a few blocks and the people
attended services on a regular basis. They attended the church suppers, church picnics or any event at each others
The town, with it's main street providing what ever was needed for the community from the
ice plant with it's window card for the amount needed, to the Milk Man that delivered each and every day, just put a
note in the bottle. We had real Butcher Shops - you could see them butcher if you dropped back in the alley. A large
Shoe Repair shop to the Ohler Watch Repair that would even fix a broken cap pistol for a child. We had a weekly
newspaper "The Emmitsburg Chronicle" that carried the merchants
sale news, national news, and a lot of town happenings. We also had what many town's lacked, farm fields that were
just a block off of this main dray. Children had their own petting zoo.
During the depression, with money in short supply, merchants would carry those in need until
the better times came. We were considered a farming community but we also had 3 or 4 small factories that produced
clothing, shoes and the like. It was a quiet community with the schools providing much of the entertainment with
their plays, musicals, and even an occasional minstrel put on by talented local people. We had a band called the
Emmit Coronet Band that marched in all parades and provided a concert at times. When any national holiday would come
around, the Parade Committee would form and the first volunteers to take part were the members of the Vigilant Hose
Co., The American Legion and VFW.
Emmitsburg was blessed with one of the finest Baseball fields in Western Maryland. This
served the community and was called the Fireman's Field and had facilities for a local carnival and bingo in the
spring & summer.
Emmitsburg fielded a very fine Baseball Club and the attendance on Saturday or Sunday could
run into the hundreds. The rivalry with Thurmont and other nearby towns in their league could get quite heated.
Saturdays were the busy times for the town with the farmers coming in to sell their produce,
do their banking, shopping and socializing. They stayed throughout the day and into the evening. Merchants would
stay open to accommodate them. The factories were closed and the entire town was busy. The local Theater, shops and
clubs as well as the churches enjoyed the activities of a full weekend.
Boy Scouting and Girl Scouting would be active through the year with hikes, campouts, and
other activities and nearly always in uniform. There were swim holes in all four directions with Kumps Dam, St.
Joseph's boat pond, the willows, Hartmans bridge and Marsh Creek. In the winter these turned into ice rinks for
skating and a game of hockey. Sledding could be anywhere'
St. Euphemias hill to flat run or
Bunker Hill and Bollingers Hill to name a few.
During W.W.II you could walk up and down the streets and look at the small flags hanging in
the window with one star meaning one son or daughter was proudly serving in the armed service. Some had two or three
for the service persons from that family, and then the Gold Star, a sign that this house had someone killed in
During the war, everyone from the town took part. Young people collected old tires and old
scrap metal, milk weed pods for life preservers. Some older but too young for the service joined the Air Plane
Spotters and took their shift on top of what is now the VFW Building. Every family with a yard had a victory garden.
Many women learned first aid and served as hostess's entertaining the boys from local units at Ft. Ritchey, and the
Navy unit training at Mt. St. Mary's. The factories were at full pace and the farmers had their jobs feeding the
When the war ended and those in the military came home, many had to look for jobs in other
locations. Like many communities, the dream of having all the veterans be able to stay at home and raise their
families was just a dream. Times in the late 40's and 50,s were good for the young that were still in school but
once graduated, they had to look elsewhere. The town was getting to be a nice place to grow up in, and a nice place
to retire. In the 1960,s and into the future the town leadership had to plan for the town to grow and prosper. It is
doing just that, one step at a time, and will face the future with optimism.
As I said in the beginning, Emmitsburg could have been one of the communities that were
pictured in Norman Rockwell. Think of one of his paintings and then think back to those years he pictured about ...
I see many of our citizens that fit in with his concept of a patriotic and religious America. Thanks Emmitsburg for
the many memories.
Have your own memories of
If so, send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
other stories by Ed Houck
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