It's A Small World

Pleasant Valley is such a benign name. The Monkees even have a song about it. I'm sure there are a thousand Pleasant Valleys. Pleasant Valley, Maryland -- MY Pleasant Valley -- is, however, one of those weird nexuses (nexi?) that generates coincidences.

I just found out via a tangental comment string on Nathan's blog that John the Scientist grew up near there (not technically in PV, one valley over, between Sharpsburg and Keedysville) and graduated from Boonsboro High.

Here, John, is the location of my family home. As I said elsewhere, the farm was sold to a nice couple that were going to keep it as a farm. My parents were getting a bit claustrophobic when the dairy farm across the street was sold to a developer.

As my parents and siblings (and some childhood friends!) read and comment on this blog, I'll ask: do you guys remember anyone by the name of Roelkey/Roelke, Titus, or Cave (surnames connected to John the Scientist)?

This is not the first time I've found a random connection to PV. One of my coworkers' in-laws live in PV and have for the last 10-15 years. They live across the street from my elementary school. Rachel, my coworker, was actually living with them and working in DC at the same time that I was living at my parents' house and taking the same train in to DC to work. Needless to say, we were astonished when we discovered the coincidence.

It really is a small world after all.


John the Scientist said...

I'll repeat the comments over here that I left at Nathan's:

BHS class of 1987. I was dodging Spetznaz in Lithuania when you were worrying about a date for the senior prom. ;-)

Titus would not be a name in that area, they are in Leesburg. But Filler might be a name someone recognizes. Still not putin' my last name on the Intertubes, though. If you have a sibling a decade older than you, they might have had my mom at Pleasant Valley, though.

My aunt and uncle still live in Rohersville. We used to take Trego Road all the time to cut from MD Route 67 over to Route 1 (now Shephersdstown Pike) at Keedysville when we came back from Leesburg. I love that bumpy old Trego Road - if you triple the speed limit, your car will do a serious Dukes of Hazzard impression. I had a V-8 1963 Ford Galaxie 500 that would FLY.

Did you know the Eichelbergers?

My parents' first "house" was a double-wide up in Yarrowsburg. So you KNOW I've got redneck cred.

Was the FFA still the largest Club at BHS in 1992? It was in 1987.

John the Scientist said...

Route 34 - Route 1 was the Postal Route. It's now called Shepherdstown Pike.

I used to jog from our house, up Sharpsburg hill, and on through town for my road work.

Anne C. said...

Heh. I was going to Boonesboro Middle at the time you were in high school, right next door. I do have siblings older than me, but they grew up in Denver.

I love that spot on Trego Road. I know exactly where you're talking about. I remember leaving the pavement when my dad drove over it in the old 77 Chevy pickup (all five of us - two parents, three kids - packed in on a bench seat, in the years before children had to be in special seats).

I went to school with Larry Eichelberger. I saw him with a family at the last class reunion and was amazed at the transformation from goofball kid (which we all were!) to responsible dad. Way to go, Larry. :) I think he might have had an older (younger?) brother that I was vaguely aware of too.

I'm sure the FFA was still the biggest club in '92. It was still the sticks back then.

Nathan said...

I love how small the internet world is. This one's not like finding someone from the "holler" I grew up in, but yesterday I had a comment from Vince, who a couple of clicks revealed, is in Ely, MN. Ely is literally the end of the road. If you want to go any farther, you'd better have good hiking boots and a canoe.

And I went shopping for winter gear there the year we shot "Iron Will".

Teeny-Tiny world.

John the Scientist said...

Class of '96? 1996?!?

I was defending my Ph.D. proposal that year.


And yes, David is my 2nd cousin.

Anne C. said...

Heh, you're not far off with the "holler" comment, Nathan. It really was pretty darn rural. The city's moving in though.

I've gotta go home and dig out the yearbooks now! :)

Janiece said...

In 1996 I was starting my civilian career and assigned to the "Rocky Mountain Navy" reserves.

My own children also started school that year.

You're all babies.


Random Michelle K said...


In '96 I was two years past finishing my six year college degree and still a year away from finding a real job.

How's that?

And John,

The house where my grandmother grew up didn't originally have an indoor toilet--and it's inside the Baltimore city limits. :) The they put in one bathroom... for a family with 8 kids.

I've only been lucky enough to use outhouses at camps and parks. Though I prefer them to porta-potties.

John the Scientist said...

I love to joke about this stuff becuase it makes Nathan;s head explode when he Googles me. ;-)

My original blog title was Toilet Paper with Page Numbers. But my grandparents always had Charmin to take out to the privy.

I used toilet paper with page numbers in the USSR, though, Pravda and Izvestia. Best use for those rags,anyway.

Mummy Grabill said...

I love how when a young'un mentions the year they graduated highschool and all the old'uns start tallying off what they'd already done by that point. But the scary thing is when this "baby" is already starting to shriek about the "babies" that are starting to join the workforce. I work in HR so I'm constantly seeing the birthdate of new hires and I'm like "1985!?! You can't be joining the workforce if you've been born in the 80's!! Cripes . . ." ROFL! You're always and "old'un" or a "young-un" to someone . . . :-)

John the Scientist said...

1985? I have t-shirts that are older than that.

Nathan said...

Get off my lawn. (well, sidewalk).

Tom said...

I got nothing. Well, except to say that when the Monkees did Pleasant Valley Sunday the first time, I was a teeny digging the music.

John the Scientist said...

Hey - do you remember the "tractor corssing" sign on Millbrook Road - yellow diamond with a farmer on a tractor?

First time I took the wife home she saw that and wondered what the HECK she was getting in to.

Apparently they don't have those signs in New York City.

Mummy Grabill said...

OMG - Millbrook Road! I haven't heard that name in a long time (laughing and wiping tears from eyes). I do remember that sign - passed by it every day for 6 years riding the big yellow bus! I always thought that little farm that was split in two by the road was quite odd. It *is* a completely different world . . .

Unknown said...

Yes, I remember the Roelkes from Rohersville. Met them when we went to vote in the old Rohersville schoolhouse. That was the time to meet all the locals. I also recognize the name Eichelbergers. But as Anne and Aileen have indicated, we got to know them through the friends met at school. This is the classic pattern for newcomers to an area: meeting other adults through their children's school friends. We bought a large parcel of land, built our own home, farmed it, and then moved out when things got crowded. So we couldn't be considered locals. Besides, the wife had a funny accent.
(By the way Nathan, your photo is priceless. Was the glasses/mustache/nose combo intentionally made to look like one of those detachable rubber "disguises" that are always a tool for a joke? Great photo!)

John the Scientist said...

Hey! Did y'all see that the Boone Hotel burned again - this time to the ground? I didn;t know Nora Roberts owned that building.

Anne C. said...

Wow! More coincidences -- we find a Boonesboro link the day of a major fire there. [cue spooky music]

Brenda, we have yet to see a corroborating photo, but I believe that Nathan actually does look like Groucho Marx (actually, I believe the actual description he once gave was Gene Shalit).

John the Scientist said...

I'm going to have lunch with Nathan on Tuesday, so I shall report back.

Unknown said...

Ah! Gene Shalit it is....

On the Boone Hotel and other Nora Roberts hangouts, I remember that their Book Shop/cafe was the only place within light years that one could actually get a cappuccino or ANY kind of expresso coffee. This was before Hagerstown became civilized and set aside its Dukes of Hazzard persona.
Nora Roberts (aka Aufdem-Brinke) had a son in school with Anne. I can claim to have pointed her in the proper direction for an author when I introduced her to the science fiction/fantasy genre beginning with Anne McCaffrey and co. I noticed my sell job was successful when the book store started stocking these books.
(and no, Anne is not named after that authoress, although I have read her since before most of you were a twinkle in your parents eyes).
Aah 'member (with a quavering voice) when pappy came over the divide in aught nine....

Nathan said...

WTF are you people talking about. Did you think this was a fucking mask? A Halloween prank perhaps?

With the exception of the cigar (which I was smoking for the scene), that's a freakin' picture of me. The glasses are not a prop. I'm blind without 'em. The nose is not prosthetic. I wasn't actually born with it but grew into it over time.

Nathan said...

Browsing my stats (as I am wont to do), I found that I had a visitor from Chicago last night. It was a result of searching "Grabills in Virginia" on Google.

Hows that for small world? And don't you just love saying things like "as I am wont to do"?

Anne C. said...

I do love saying things like that. It makes me feel like I am contributing to the diversity of the English language.

John the Scientist said...

It makes you sound like Opus the Penguin from Bloom County. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I remember there was a well-known family name Roelke but I can't put a face on it. The road which was best of levitation thrills was Townsend. Our kids used to beg to take it for the entertainment it provided. In the "for what its worth" dept." in 1971 the National Geographic contained an article about our beloved Pleasant Valley. It came about only because a staffer at NG had a 50 acre weekend retreat place near Brownsville and they were inspired to write about it.

John the Scientist said...

I preferred Hagerstown back in the old days. Of course, my hang out in Hagerstown was Smith's / Cobra karate over in the West End, where I got my black belt. I thought the city was just fine without the cappuchinos, but then, all my friends over there were prison guards or cops, and they don't go for that fancy stuff. ;-)

Damn Yankees movin' in turned Keedysville into a bedroom community (there were only 400 residents when I left) and Hagerstown into a clone of Frederick. Not that downtown Leesburg's much better these days, but if I were to move back into the area it would be to Loudoun County, VA (my ancestral stomping grounds) just south of the Virginia border with Brunswick, MD. That area's still pretty nice.

Did y'all buy your feed and seed from Warrenfeltz's in Boonsboro (which is now gone), or from that place out past Sharpsburg as you head towards Williamsport?

Unknown said...

At Warrenfelt's. We had an organic free range chicken business for a while. We got our Kubota tractor at the place on the way to Williamsport.
The damn Yankees came from Burkettsville way (aka The Blair Witch Project) via Spook Hill, and over the Gap!

Anne C. said...

Warrenfelt's. Was that the place with the caramels? I liked that place. (For obvious reasons.)
I remember when we delivered "organic free range eggs" to the fancy groceries nearer DC.
I loved when we bought chicks. The chickens themselves were mean and stinky, but the chicks were adorable.

John, if you ever come out Denver way, you have to promise to visit.

John the Scientist said...

I need to find a scientific conference to attend out in Denver. Lunch with you and Janiece would be a hoot!

Laura F. said...

Sorry to come to the PV party late. I'm one of Anne's old school friends. I just recently moved back to the valley after I bought my parent's house. It's interesting to see how many things have changed, but how many things haven't. There's still no gas station or any other store off 67. I find that amazing, but also pretty cool.

As for the Eichelberger's, Larry's older brother was Barry. He was a few years older than Anne, Larry, and me.

Also, the fire the other day was pretty bad. It turns out that the only reason it pretty much didn't burn down the entire block (including the town hall, the library, and my aunt's house) is because of a firewall they required Subway to put in when they opened their shop.

People are starting to wonder about Nora's luck - first Asaro's and now the inn.

Oh, and I went swimming in Nora Robert's pool!!! :-) My claim to fame - hehehe.

John the Scientist said...

Subway! I remember when that was Earl's Lunch. Y'all are probably too young to remember but it was a place where all the locals congregated pre-1977 or so. My dad used to take me over there for lunch when my Mom was working on her Master's - my favorite: a greasy cheesburger, a glass (refundable) bottle of coke and a moon pie!

I miss Earl. Him and Ernie of Ernie's Pizza over in Shepherdstown.

Anne C. said...

Thanks for the more in depth info, Laura. Thank goodness for building codes, I guess!

Yep, Barry was the one I was thinking of. He looked just like Larry, only beefier (as I recall).

It must be a little odd, coming back to PV after being away and seeing all the places you knew as a kid, except you're now an adult.

Laura F. said...

Yeah, it was definitely weird. But I have a much better appreciation for the area now (although I still miss living in downtown Baltimore from time to time).

And I'm not sure if it was still Earl's, but as a kid, my aunt used to take me to a greasy spoon where the Subway is located now. Also, Crawford's was a favorite spot - I loved to get the penny candy.

John the Scientist said...

OK, Anne, did you have Ridenour for US history?

Anne C. said...

Yep. As I recall he was also the girls basketball coach (not that I was on the team). Why is it that the coaches of sports teams end up being social studies teachers too?
Speaking of coaches, do you remember Coach Scott?
And did you have Mr. Lemonakis for English?

John the Scientist said...

I did not have Lemonakis. I had one guy I can't rememebr the name of for Frosh year (had a moustache), Schindel for sophomore, another one who left Boonsboro before you got to high school and got arrested at South High for bringing a gun to school, then Schindel again for senior year.

Reason I ask is that I went back to Ridenour's class once with some friends who were visiting from the USSR, so there is a chance you might have been in that class. Don't remember the date, though

John the Scientist said...

"Why is it that the coaches of sports teams end up being social studies teachers too?"

Becuase you can dribble your way through college and still meet the State's horribly low expectations for content knowledge in the area.

History is not repected enough in the US high school curriculum.

Anne C. said...

I think I would remember visitors from the USSR, so it must have been a different year. We had a Swedish exchange student in our senior class though!

I had Schindel too (amazing that she was still teaching), in 9th grade English.

John the Scientist said...

Lessee - it was either when I got briefly kicked out of the USSR after my first run-in with the KGB(1990) or it was after I came back (1992), so, either way you would not have been in a freshman history class, I guess.

I do remember Coach Scott. I think he started coaching the year I was born.

Was Coach Lewis still there in '92? Short little dude they used to call "Smurf". He was football coach my first 2 years, and one season we only had one win. We used to chant out his game plan:

Up the middle
Up the middle
Up the middle

They also took down the nice blue and white sign that the class of '85 bought and replaced it with a Washington County Board of Education-issued beige "Boonsboro Educational Complex", so we started chanting "BEC" instead of BHS. When the band director heard that, he thought it was hilarious.

Laura F. said...

I completely remember when the BEC chant started. I went to football games with my parents before I was in highschool - they had season tickets. Not much else to do, eh? Actually, my ex was in the band at the time. John, you may have known him. He graduated in 89 - Brett Rohrer.

Coach Lewis was no longer there when we were in school. And sadly, Schindel retired shortly after we had her for English. The rumor was because they started an AP English program and she wasn't given the class. Too bad, too. She was an excellent English teacher. I still credit her with a lot.

John the Scientist said...

Yeah, I remember Brett. I was the first chair Baritone Horn my junior and senior years. My senior year they disqualified Boonsboro from competing in the Mummers' Parade because we had won 5 or 6 years in a row.:D

Schindel's class was AP English, even if they didn't call it that. I scored 5 out of 5 on it because of her (my dyslexic typing is not to be blamed on her).

There was no one even close to her talent in the English department - if they started calling an English class "AP" and didn't give it to her, then the administration had its head firmly up its ass.

I thought Robeson liked her. Or was Robeson gone by then? I heard the whole school has gone down the drain since we left.

Anne C. said...

Heh, isn't that what everyone thinks when they leave... well, anywhere?

Robeson was still there as I recall. Maybe he was overruled.