Grandmother Told Me
My Aunt Tiny, as all her friends and
relatives call her, sent me Don Rodgers' article on
Emmitsburg's Grocery stores. After reading the article I
started remembering my Grandmother, Helen Ashbaugh and
the stories she and my father, Harry told.
Helen was born Helen Beatrice Knott in Thurmont,
Maryland on March 29, 1900. Like so many girls of those
times, she married at the age of eighteen on March 31,
1918 to Harry Ellsworth Ashbaugh. Harry was killed in an
elevator accident when she was only 21 years of age and
carrying their first child - a boy. Harry, my dad was
born on January 17, 1922 according to his birth
certificate, but my Grandma would say otherwise, and she
should know as she always said, "she was
there", it was January 18, 1922.
Several years after the death of her husband, she
married Harry's brother George, who is know as my father's
stepfather but also his uncle. I'm told in those days it
was not uncommon to marry the brother or sister of a
lost spouse. They had three children - George (the
youngest), Ruth, and Georgette. Two have nicknames,
which they are still called by today. I would like to
share the story that was told to the grandchildren about
how their aunt and uncle got their nickname.
George's nickname is "Tick" because when he
was little he couldn't say "stick" he could
only say "tick" and this nickname has stuck
with him for 65+ years to his family and friends in
Emmitsburg. Ruth was nickname "Tiny" because
she was born premature and was so tiny they didn't think
she would survive. The colored lady that helped deliver
her at home placed her in the cook stove to keep her
warm. She is the only child of Helen & George
Ashbaugh still living in Emmitsburg. The others have
died or moved on.
I didn't live in Emmitsburg or the immediate
surrounding area as did my cousins, but Emmitsburg was
apart of my life as it was theirs. I spent many holidays
and summers with my Grandma and helped at the Ashbaugh's
Grocery Store until I joined the military in 1970 and
left Maryland for good.
The Ashbaugh's Grocery Store was first a blacksmith
shop owed by my great grandfather, Hebert Ashbaugh and
his wife Delta Gelwicks. Through the years it became a
grocery store and my grandparents, George & Helen
ended up owning and operating it until the 1970's when
my Grandma closed the store due to her age and health.
Eventually the store was sold and torn down and replaced
with a road. It's a shame so much history has been
replaced for modern times.
I can remember as a child I always loved going to
Grandma's. She spoiled all her grandchildren, but I
always thought I was spoiled a little more. I can
remember running through the grocery store door and
seeing her behind the counter in her bib style apron
waiting on a customer. Big glass top red barrels with
the big white letters of Snyder's pretzels would be
sitting on the left side of the door as you came in. I
would always dig into the big barrel to get a hard
pretzel. In the summer the store would make Snow Cones.
The snow cone machine set on the big window frame in the
front of the store. There must have been a dozen flavors
- lime, cherry, strawberry, and blueberry, etc. You
could even mix the flavors and get the rainbow. That's
the one most of the kids liked.
Then there was the big glass candy case where you
could buy candies for penny apiece. She would always let
me get a few pieces. I just loved the red licorice
sticks. I can also remember customers would call their
orders in and Uncle Tick would pack up the groceries in
a brown cardboard box and deliver to their home. I don't
know if the other stores in town did the same. Something
else the Ashbaugh's Grocery Store provided was credit
from payday to payday to their regular customers.
I remember customers coming in and Grandma slicing ½
lb bologna or cheese, or taking out a long string of hot
dogs and taking a few apart and they would say,
"put it on my bill Helen". Grandma would nod
her gray hair head and take a piece of paper and write
their name on it. On Fridays and Saturdays the customers
would come in and pay their bill off.
As a teenager girl in the 60's I really liked helping
around the store, cause all the boys would come in and
buy their cigarettes or shotgun shells. They would hang
around and talk to my Uncle while he lit his pipe about
the deer that "got away". To me it seemed like
everyone in town knew my Uncle Tick and he loved talking
about hunting. He would start a conversation about the
weather or anything else happening doing that time with
any stranger that would walk into the store. He stills
enjoy talking to anyone including strangers and I have
always found him easy to talk to. He holds a very dear
spot in my heart.
After my Grandfather, George passed away in 1959
Uncle Tick and Grandma ran the store seven days a week,
opening at 8:00 a.m. except on Sunday. Friday and
Saturday were the late nights to stay open. The store
would open on Sunday afternoon for about 3 hours after
Catholic Church let out. I can even remember a couple of
times on holidays when the store was closed someone
would come and knock on the house door and needed an
item. Grandma or Uncle Tick would go and unlock the
store so the customer could get their stuff. You sure
can't get that kind of service today.
I would like to share some stories that my father and
Grandma told us kids growing up.
The 1st story is about my Dad - I guess he was your
typical boy always getting into trouble. He would
probably be labeled today as "Dennis the
Menace". As the story goes he was around 5 years
old and was home in bed sick with the croup. Grandma had
to attend the store and left Dad in bed with strict
instructions, "don't go outside". This
incident happen during the winter. Since he was a
mischievous little boy, he got out of bed and got his
dad's ole shotgun. He went outside and saw (Charley
Shorb) "Old Man Shorb", as he was referred to
by my Dad go into the "outhouse". Dad started
firing shots into the outhouse. He said you could hear
Old Man Shorb yelling and the outhouse just a shaking.
He kept shooting until no shots were left. Dad went back
inside, put the gun up and went back to bed. Thinking
none would know it was him. Well, I guess Old Man Shorb
knew and went straight to the store to tell my Grandma.
She went to the house to confront my Dad, who of course,
denied it, but through the denying his cough was getting
worse, which gave him away. He tells, this was the worst
licken he ever had in his life and sent upstairs to bed
before the rest of the family went up.
Because the upstairs was haunted with Nancy, the
ghost, none of the kids even when I was growing up the
grandchildren would go up to bed without Grandma or
another cousin with us. As Dad told it, he would get the
licken, go upstairs, come down get another licken and
set back upstairs and this went on for over a hour until
he wore his Dad out and he let him stay downstairs until
the family went to bed. Dad would say later," he
would rather get the licken than stay upstairs by
himself with Nancy the ghost".
This begins the story of Nancy the ghost in the
Ashbaugh's house. As my Grandma use to tell us kids, if
you are bad and don't listen Nancy will come and get
you. Since none of the Ashbaugh's grandchildren were
angels we wouldn't go upstairs at night without an
adult. As we got into our teens, we would go with each
other instead of our parents or Grandma. My cousin,
Carole Weidner and I held hands going up those long dark
narrow squeaky steps at night to bed on many occasions.
Nancy was a young woman who lived in the house during
the Civil War. When the Blue Bellies as the Yankees were
called came through town she hid in the attic. They
thought she was aiding the South and killed her in the
attic and left her body there. The Ashbaugh's house was
sold a few years ago, so I don't know if Nancy remains
with the new occupants, but she did while the Ashbaugh's
owed the house. Almost everyone in the family has had an
experience with Nancy. I for one, have.
The time was around 1965. Uncle Tick was married in
1964 and moved all his belongings out. My Grandma's
house was a three-story house (if you included the
attic) and there is no way someone could get up to the
back bedroom window without a tall ladder. Even then, I
don't know if a tall ladder would do it. It was midday
and I was going upstairs to get something. Even in
midday none of us kids liked going upstairs by
ourselves, but I did this one time. I walked into the
bedroom, which was at the top of the stairs, and the
closet door was open. I thought this was funny, as I
hadn't opened it when I left and no one had been
upstairs. I crept closer to the closet and there I saw
the shoe toe of a pair of shoes sticking out from the
long dresses that was hung in the closet. Needless to
say, I was scared to death. I ran downstairs and got my
cousin, Carole. We went back upstairs and the shoes were
gone, closet door shut, and the bedroom window open. We
looked out the window and saw nothing.
The only explanation, Grandma gave, "it was
Nancy". Sometimes at night as I would lie in bed I
would hear what sounded like someone walking in the
attic. My Grandma wore a hearing aid and would take it
off at night. She wouldn't be able to hear anything, but
she would say she could feel a vibration from the attic,
"it was Nancy".
As I said earlier, my dad should have been named
Dennis the Menace he was always pulling pranks on
people. Another story he used to tell was about the
black cat that he and some of his buddies painted to
look like a skunk and released it during the Walk-a-thon
at Flat Run. As you might guess, everyone started
screaming and running all over the place.
Years have passed as well as my Grandma in 1984 and
my Dad in 1988 but I will always remember my times in
Emmitsburg and the stories told to us kids by our
relatives sitting at Grandma's kitchen table.
Don Rodgers Memories of Ashbaugh's Grocery Store
other stories by Cheryl Ashbaugh-White
know of an individual who helped shape Emmitsburg?
If so, send their story to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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