Cumberland Sunday Times-News, July 30, 1989; C12
Midland Area is a “gold mine’ to ‘Clary’ Miller
By Debbie Meyer
Old Midland Bank
(Courtesy of John McGowan)
A man’s memories are his most valuable treasures. With this in Mind, the Midland area could be considered a veritable gold mine.
Clarence “Clary” Miller is “richer” than most men. A native of Miller Mines, he speaks fondly of growing up in this area.
Miller attended grammar school across the road from his home. He clearly remembers those school days. “When I first started, Cecelia Burns was our teacher. Then she got married and her sister taught. I just counted the other day how many of us are left, just three,” he pondered. A 1925 graduate of Midland High School, he had plans to attend Frostburg State Normal School but didn’t go.
“I worked at Kelly for about six months but didn’t like that,” Miller explained. “Then Daddy bought this farm (405 acres). We moved up here and with another brother started the dairy business here. We were just lucky, that was all.”
HOME PLACE - Pictured is the old home place of Midland-area resident Clarence "Clary" Miller. A 1925 graduate of Midland High School, Miller joined his father and brother in managing a "new" dairy farm located up the road from the original home place.
Miller continued, “We just had one cow. The three of us got to talking with Mother and decided to contact our uncle in Cortland, M.Y. We wanted good cows that would give milk.”
It must have been quite a sight the day the Miller family greeted 18 cows and a bull they had transported via C&P Railroad boxcar to Midland.
Other family members Miller recalls include his uncle Tom McFarlane who was a supervisor for Consolidation Coal Company and the uncle he was named for, Clarence Ort, who owned the bakery in Midland. “We went there lots of times,” he reminisced.
Miller continues to speak about growing up near Midland, “The people who owned the mine were named Miller, a distant relation. There was a mine right down here in our field, but I don’t remember it working. There were three of us boys; I was the baby. I’ve had a pretty good life of it and a good family.
Miller and his wife, Lib, are the parents of five daughters and one son.
Another Midland resident, Mary Lou (Kilduff) Blanco, shared her most treasured moments. Blanco described herself as a nosey kid who sat and listened to people and remembered.
The most vivid character in her memory bank was Mrs. Noel, who operated a confectionery in town. According to Blanco, she was great for letting cats in. Her store was a town bus stop. “She would ask everyone waiting for the bus, “Where you going, Bub?”
Blanco and her friends would visit the establishment to order a chocolate Rickey and nickle[sic] pretzels. “Some of us would order cherry. We were never allowed to linger.”
Blanco also recalled the peculiar habit of Florence Blair who ran the post office. “She would lock the doors and make you stand in the cold until the mail was sorted. If you wanted to pick up the evening mail, it would be dark by the time you got home.”
According to Blanco, a lot of the town’s building have changed. The town hall used to be the fire department and it was a department store. There was an old opera house where all-night balls were held. People would come into town on the train to attend.
The house Blanco and here husband, Manuel “Tor,” reside in belonged to her brother-in-law, Mike Cunningham. “It’s a little bit sentiment, why I moved in,” Blanco explained.
Cunningham ran a saloon, with the Blancos' living room as a dance floor. "He didn't allow women in the bar but the back door was for them to come in and dance.
"There are other things I still laugh about. St. Joe's nuns were sort of strict. I can barely remember the train trestle. We weren't allowed to go on it because it was rotten." Blanco also related vague memories of the church ceiling coming down and the fact that nobody was injured in the accident. There were apartments where the bakery used to be, which was a hotel first. "Every once in a while when there was a fire, a woman would throw the bed clothes out the windows."
"It's odd, yet interesting to learn just what a "nosey Midland kid" might remember.
Blanco has spent most of her life in Midland and has been a teaching assistant for 20 years in Allegany County.
Sally C. Butler, English teacher at Valley High School, shares several of her favorite recollections of growning up in Midland in the 1940s. "We didn't have much, certainly, no high-tech gadgets or electronic marvels."
Her home on Railroad Street afforded a quick route to "The Hill" in the woods, where boys and girls alike flocked. Butler can retrace her steps to the childhood play area: past the post office, to Florence Thompson's, a left turn at the fire hall, past Miss Pipton's little house, past Taylor's house, across the bridge to "The Hollow", which some people called Squirrel Neck.
The winding road ascended leisurely, " Butler said. "Up we'd go, perhaps waving at Aunt Bertie as we passed. Rounding the bend we came to the last house, the Miller home. Here we always stopped to look at the may squirrel tails that Mr. Miller and his son Bobby had nailed to the garage doors. We considered this quite a tourist attraction and pointed to it with pride when we had visitors."
When Butler and her best friend, Erma, would return home with handmade crabapple blossom wreaths, many of their neighbors would admire the masterpieces. "Maybe Kate Atkinson would call out to us from her porch swing. Maybe Bob or Mary Blair would come to the fence for a closer look and a word of praise. All the attention made us feel very special.
"Pride and happiness filled my being. Today it is a precious memory of my childhood days."
THE OLD CUMBERLAND
Savings Bank, at thge[sic] corner of Virginia Avenue and Industrial Boulevard, was founded in 1899 to serve the financial needs of South Cumberland, which were rising due in part to increasing Baltimore and Ohio shop activity in the area. The bank's first officers were prominent businessmen H.H. Dickey as president, and the County Treasurer at that time, John E. Edwards, as cashier.
In 1908 Dickey was succeeded by Lloyd Lowndes, son of the former govenor and vice president of the Cumberland Daily news. David Bradley, a Frostburg native, became cashier at that time. The bank boasted of fireproof and burglar proof vaults, and as of Sept. 23, 1908, had deposits of $73,491.34, paying and annual interest rate of three percent. Cumberland Savings advertised itself as a conservative institution thast[sic] never risked its depositors' money.
ONE-ROOM SCHOOL -- Students of all ages joined together in the Miller Mines Elementary School building which consisted of a single instructor teaching them in one room. Located just outside Midland, the classes accommodated about 15 to 20 students at a time
(All photos Courtesy of John McGowan)