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Monday, July 25, 2016

Building history, Part 2

1355 Odenton Road 1930's and present

This is Part 2 of an article that appears in Heritage Times, the news journal of the Odenton Heritage Society, Summer 2016. 
You may read part 1 at, Building history, Part 1

A History of 1355 Odenton Road
By Gregory Mazzella


Gilda Resnick, nee Brodsky, is the only child of Louis and Bessie Brodsky. As she recalls, the Brodsky’s moved to Odenton from Linthicum in 1931 when Gilda was one year old. They had operated a store in Linthicum up to the point of moving. Gilda thought the move was due to following their customer base that was moving to the Odenton area. Again, we see storeowners moving from other, nearby, towns to open their stores in Odenton. More than likely attracted to the confluence of trains and nearby Camp Meade. It is not known why the Brodsky’s chose the Taudte building as the location for their new store, especially making the move during the Great Depression. Probably because of the location and availability. The Brodsky’s, as did many storeowners of the time, made use of the living quarters within the store.
According the U.S. Census for 1930, Louie [Louis] Brodsky was born in Russia in 1902 and immigrated to the United States in 1921. The 1930 census has Louis listed as married. This same census year lists Bessie Brodsky as being born in Maryland in 1908 to Russian parents. Although Gilda did not recall how her parents met she was able to confirm the census data that her parents met in Maryland sometime after her father came to the United States. As Gilda grew up, she remembered Odenton being mostly fields with a few houses spotted around and, of course, the trains were an active part of the community.
The Brodsky’s maintained a general store. They too sold groceries, meats, sugar, flour, candy, shoes, clothing, etc.  The customer base remained the same: locals, farmers, Camp Meade. A lot of the store’s business was conducted through charge or buying on time. Most residents didn’t have much cash so the Brodsky’s would help out by allowing them to pay from one paycheck to another. When Gilda was old enough at 7 or 8 she worked in the store. She was in charge of the candy case, keeping it cleaned and filled. Her payment - all the candy she could eat.
            On March 10, 1943, a fire damaged the store. It was morning and Gilda remembered her mother smelling smoke. Bessie then saw smoke coming from the basement and called the fire department. Gilda remembered there actually being more damage from water than from fire. The (Annapolis) Evening Capital reported in the March 11 edition that the fire was of an unknown origin and began in the basement area at 7:00 AM. The Odenton Volunteers were extinguishing a chimney fire in Gambrills at the time. Linthicum Heights and two companies from [now named] Fort Meade arrived before the Odenton volunteers, who did eventually arrive on scene. The fire was under control by 9:30 AM. It was reported that the fire caused an estimated $10, 000 in damage, which Mr. Brodsky said was partially covered by insurance. After the fire, there was a second “grand opening” when additions were made, doubling the size of the store.
            Bessie would make the buying trips to Baltimore and Gilda would accompany her. They used the train and boarded at the Odenton station.
They operated the store into the late 1940’s. Gilda could not remember the exact year the store closed but knows that the store closed before 1951, which is the year she graduated from the University of Maryland. Louis was against Gilda attending college, but Bessie was insistent that Gilda attend college. Profits from the store paid for Gilda’s education.
The store was closed because Louis and Bessie were getting older and it was harder to operate the store. Louis had purchased land in Severn along Telegraph Road and was developing that land into a mobile home park, which was opened in the 1960’s.  Although not operating store, Louis Brodsky owned 1355 Odenton Road into the 1960’s.

Felix Marucha moved to Odenton in 1956 while serving in the Army and stationed at Fort Meade. In the Army, he had learned electronic repair. While still serving and shortly after his retirement in 1965 Mr. Marucha was doing electronic repairs at his home for a growing client base. He knew that he wanted to go into business for himself. The confines and logistical issues of running a growing repair business from his home caused him to realize that he would have to find a bigger place if he was to build a successful business. His first step was to rent a building across from the Nichols Bethel Methodist Church in 1966. After three years, still needing more space, he knew that renting was not the path to success. In 1969, Mr. Marucha began looking to buy commercial space in the Odenton area.
He received a tip from a friend that Louis Brodsky may be interested in selling his store. The Brodsky store had been closed several years and the space was empty. Mr. Marucha approached Louis Brodsky who was receptive to the idea. Mr. Brodsky not only sold Mr. Marucha the store at 1355 Odenton Road but the entire property that contained nine buildings, including the current cleaners/restaurant and the old school building.
At the time Mr. Marucha bought the property, Louis Brodsky was older and had moved on to manage the trailer park he owned in Severn.  Although some of the buildings still had tenants, the buildings and property had fallen into disrepair. 1355 Odenton Road was empty at the time. Mr. Marucha had to haul out seventeen truckloads of trash from the property that included junk cars. Mr. Marucha eventually added a storage space on to the back of the store, which gives the building its current design.
Mr. Marucha rented the buildings as apartments and to businesses while he upgraded 1355 for his store. Mr. Marucha described 1355 as being in bad shape. In addition to cleaning and fixing up, he had to replace the electrical wiring, which was outdated for the load capacity and exposed. He was able to fix up the apartment on the second floor and rented that until the store was ready. He used rent collected from the different tenants to help pay for the repairs to the store. Each time a tenant would move out, he would do improvements on the properties allowing him to ask a higher rent. Mr. Marucha eventually moved in and opened Marucha TV and Appliance in July of 1969.
During the time Mr. Marucha operated his store, the area at time was still not quite as busy as today. The area farms had been developed into housing. The roads had long been paved. Telegraph Road stopped at Odenton Road creating a T-intersection. (Telegraph Road was not extended and renamed Piney Orchard Parkway until the 1990’s) The 7-11 was in business and the garage next to it.
Due to health issues, Mr. Marucha sold the business to his oldest son, Steve, in June of 1987. Marucha TV and Appliance became Appliance Avenue. In March 1998, the business was taken over by his son Dan and the named was changed to All Home Services. Mr. Marucha still owns all of the property and rents the buildings as business and residential.

Commercial History

While researching this article the building at 1355 Odenton Road was toured. The basement displayed exposed timbers and brick walls, evident of the construction methods of the time.  A heavy wall safe was found mounted in one of the walls. The combination dial spun free and the current tenant had just located it himself. Mrs. Gilda Resnick new that her parents used the safe but had no recollection of its installation. She did know that her parents were mindful of being robbed. Mr. Marucha was also aware of the safe in the basement wall. He had asked Louis Brodsky if there was anything in the safe and Mr. Brodsky was sure there was not. Mr. Marucha had tried to open the safe himself using a stethoscope. He said the dial spun free and he heard no tumbler clicks. In 1970, while Mr. Marucha was out of town, someone, he didn’t remember who, opened the safe and told him that it was empty. That was the last he thought about it and to his knowledge it has been closed ever since.
The mortar encasing the safe had given way creating a crevice around the safe. In the crevice were found receipt slips from Brodsky’s store. Which have been graciously donated to the Odenton Heritage Society.
            New2Us Antiques and Collectibles currently operates within the entire building at 1355 Odenton Road, which is apropos both for this article and the building itself. As far as we currently know, the building is at least 100 years old. It has seen a century pass by its doors. Long gone are the horses and carts and the electric trains that ran within a hundred yards of its doors. Customers from all walks of life have crossed the threshold: from farmers and soldiers buying general goods, to newlyweds buying their first appliances, to baby boomers looking for treasures of bygone times. 1355 has been there for Odenton’s needs providing a space for young entrepreneurs to live their dreams.  The building has long provided a commercial service to the citizens of Odenton.   
Over the years, sometimes two or even three businesses have operated within the building and tenants renting the living area upstairs as well. This article was not intended to list every business that has operated from within the 1355 Odenton Road location, but rather provide the reader with some history of the building. Apologies are given to any business or family that has been omitted from this article or list. As with any historical research there is always information that is yet to be discovered. If you have any further information on the history of the building located at 1355 Odenton Road please contact the Odenton Heritage Society.
The information in this article was collected through research from oral history, newspaper archives, land records, and census data. The oral histories were collected from the Odenton Heritage Society archives and present day interviews of the following residents.
Mildred Taudte
Tempie Taudte
James Taudte
Gilda Resnick
Felix Marucha
Anthony Pokorny
Paul L. Nowottnick
Suzanne Hackman

Other sources include:
Werner Charles Rieve and His Store
By Werner J. Rieve
Heritage Times, Odenton Heritage Society, June 2000
Henry Taudte obituary, December 19, 1921, ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Baltimore Sun
Brodsky store fire, March 11, 1943, The Evening Capital
“United States Census, 1910", database with images, FamilySearch, Henry Taudte, 1910
“United States Census, 1930", database with images, FamilySearch, Louie Brodsky, 1930
“United States Census, 1930", database with images, FamilySearch, Bessie Boyer, 1930

Please help preserve the history of your local communities. As time passes and development increases we are losing the treasures of our past. This includes our oral history. Your community elders are a wealth of information.
To learn more about Odenton and become involved in local history please visit the Odenton Heritage Society.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Building history

1355 Odenton Road 1930's and present
This article appears in Heritage Times, the news journal of the Odenton Heritage Society, Summer 2016. The issue is about Odenton businesses throughout the town's history. Thought you would enjoy reading about how one building has served the shopping needs of the community for over 100 years. The article is lengthy and will be presented in two blog posts.

Please help preserve the history of your local communities. As time passes and development increases we are losing the treasures of our past. This includes our oral history. Your community elders are a wealth of information. Take the time to ask and listen. Enjoy the article.


A History of 1355 Odenton Road
By Gregory Mazzella
Part 1
The large plate glass windows filled with merchandise and the lighted OPEN sign let you know there is a business in the building. Walking through the front door of 1355 Odenton Road you can feel the history. The large, open front room, the tall ceilings. The upper floors and basement accessed via narrow stairwells. In the basement is where the age of the building is exposed as this area is mostly as it has been for a century. You’ll find that the ceiling is low. Brick walls form the foundation and heavy wooden beams support the floors above. Look around the main floor and you can imagine the setup of merchants past. Long counters with display cases, jars of penny candy, shelves filled with merchandise.  The building was constructed between 1910 and 1920. Throughout it’s history the building has consistently housed mercantile establishments since it’s construction. Whether general stores or home goods this building has served the Odenton community for a century and continues to do so.
            By the second decade of the 20th century, Odenton had been a successful hub of rail transportation for more than forty years. Odenton was still a rural area and mostly farmland and fields. However, industry, hotels, and stores had sprung up near the Odenton train station and Academy Junction. Roads were dirt and horses were still the main source of local transportation. The future intersection of Piney Orchard Parkway and Odenton Road, while not congested with automobiles, was still a bustling area for the time.  At the time, the intersection did not exist as we know it today. Where Piney Orchard Parkway now runs, a train trestle crossed over Odenton Road to allow trains to run north and south without interference. To the west was the rail station for the Baltimore and Potomac/Annapolis and Elkridge Railroad junction. To the north, Academy Junction, where the Annapolis & Elkridge Railroad and Washington, Baltimore, and Annapolis electric railway met. You can imagine lots of foot traffic, horse carts, people waiting for their trains and connections, politicians traveling to and from Annapolis and Washington. D.C., farmers bringing in their harvest for shipment. And let’s not forget about Camp Meade, which was formed in 1917, providing an influx of soldiers to the community. You can see why the area, that particular junction, was a hub for the region. You can see why a young entrepreneur would choose the area for his business.

            Henry Taudte lived in Baltimore and maintained a store in Severn, Maryland. His parents were German immigrants and operated a bakery in Baltimore. He met and married Severn resident Bessie Durner in 1906. In 1915, the Taudte’s moved to Odenton and opened a general store at 1355 Odenton Road where they lived while also maintaining the Severn store. According the U.S. Census for 1910, Henry Tandte [sic] was born in Maryland in 1877 and lived in the fourth election district, which would have included Odenton. The census has Henry listed as married to Bessie, with a two year old son, James. There was no record for Henry in the 1900 census.
It is not known if Henry built the building that would be their home and business or if the structure already existed. We are still researching the original construction. Research of land records has provided a deed dated October 29, 1917, in which Henry and Bessie Taudte purchased from John and May Watts lots 1, 2, and 3 of John Watts plat of Odenton. The deed does mention, “ together with the buildings and improvements”. It is not yet known if this verbiage construes that the building already existed or if it is boilerplate language.
From the Taudte’s daughter in law, Mildred, we know that the building itself originally consisted of two floors and a basement. The upper floors had bedrooms. The right side of the first floor had the living room, dining room and kitchen. The store was located on the left side of the first floor. You can still see that original layout, as the floor plan has not changed. The long counter, that every general store seemed to have, was on the left side as you entered the store. Named for the owner, Taudte’s store was of the general store model. They sold meats, dry goods-like sugar and flour, groceries, cloth, candy, and general merchandise. In addition to the people living near the store, the customers consisted of farmers and residents of Camp Meade. Even competition with the general store housed in the Murray Hotel just down the road.
Henry died on December 17, 1921. Bessie continued to operate both stores through the 1920”s with the help of her parents, James and Laura Durner. Bessie married Wilfred Boyer in 1925. The 1930 U.S. Census lists Bessie as being married to Wilfred Boyer. There is no 1930 census record for Henry Taudte, which corroborates the story that he more than likely died in the early 1920’s.
Bessie began operating rental homes along Watts Avenue [Now Becknel]. Again, we do not know if the Taudte’s built the homes or purchased existing properties. After she remarried, Bessie closed both the Severn and Odenton stores, moving with Wilfred Boyer to Baltimore.
The Taudte’s granddaughter, Tempie, who is the daughter of James and Mildred Taudte did not live in the area when she was younger and did not have much interaction with her grandparents having moved to Sarasota, Fl when she was 13. Tempie does recall that when her family visited she would help her grandmother, Bessie, collect rent from the renters of the houses next to the store.
One of those renters was the family of Suzanne Hackman. Ms. Hackman’s family moved to Odenton from Fort Eustis, Va in 1933 when her father was transferred to Camp Meade. She was ten years old at the time and remembers living in several of what she called “Taudte” houses. She doesn’t remember whom but does remember someone would collect the $10 rent from her mother every month. The Taudte’s managed several rentals and Ms. Hackman’s family moved often as better accommodations became available.
During the time Ms. Hackman lived in the Taudte houses the Brodsky’s had purchased the store. Although they did most of their shopping at the Camp Meade PX her mother would send her to Brodsky’s to get items like meat and bread. She remembered bread being ten cents a loaf and hamburger meat twenty-five cents a pound. Of course, being ten years old at the time, her biggest memory was the big glass candy case.


            Another, still operating, Odenton store is Rieve’s. Rieve’s store has been an Odenton landmark since the 1920’s. We bring that store into the mix because for a short time Rieve’s also operated out of the 1355 Odenton Road location. Rieve’s operated in a building originally located just north of Academy Junction until a fire destroyed the building on unknown date in 1928 or 1929. Werner J. Rieve wrote in the Heritage Times, June 2000, “At about the same time of the fire, the Taudte building became available, and my father set up his store business there. This is the building that later became Brodsky's store and the place where my father maintained his grocery business until the early 1930s . . . Originally, I believe my father wanted to keep his place of business at the old Taudte/Brodsky (later Marucha) location… with the family expanding, the living quarters were much too small.”

In his article, Mr. Rieve also gave us a glimpse into how the area looked when the Rieve’s store first opened along Telegraph Road (Piney Orchard Parkway). He wrote that the WB&A was still very much in operation and the paved surface of Telegraph Road was nonexistent. So we have an idea of how the Odenton area looked in the 1930’s as 1355 Odenton Road was taken over by another merchant. From what is known, it is believed that 1355 Odenton road was sold to Louis Brodsky, approximately 1931.

Part 2 to follow in separate post
Building history, Part 2

To learn more about Odenton and become involved in local history please visit the Odenton Heritage Society.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Social media checks

Background checks use to be associated with financial institutions during applications for loans. Now they are performed during job applications, college admissions, even dating sites. One of the most important parts of the background check is the character reference. References were historically performed by field investigators interviewing the person’s friends, neighbors, associates, coworkers, etc. This is still an integral part of checking someone’s references, but in today’s online all the time society, social media is fast becoming the standard.

Who’s looking?

Private employers are. Social media checks are now on the checklist during candidate research. HR hiring surveys estimate that more than half of employers search an applicant’s social media during the hiring process. The New York Post reported on January 29, 2016, that at least 40% of college admissions officers report they check applicants’ Facebook pages and other social media when weighing who should get accepted. A third say they Google applicants. Even professional sport franchises do their due diligence when deciding on draft picks. As part of the vetting process, social media of potential draftees are reviewed. With the media attention on football players gone wild in recent years, franchises are doing every thing they can to determine the character of the player they are drafting.

Now the federal government is getting into the game. Investigators will now be probing social media as part of background checks for security clearances. Seems far-fetched that federal investigators didn’t perform these checks in the past, but now it’s official. On May 13, 2016, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper signed a policy directive that allows investigators to collect publicly available social media information pertaining to the person whose background is being investigated. In a press release, Bill Evanina, Director of ODNI’s National Counterintelligence and Security Center stated, “We cannot afford to ignore this important open source in our effort to safeguard our secrets—and our nation’s security.” While federal investigators are prohibited from requiring or requesting applicants’ password information, they will be searching for publically accessible accounts.

Privacy concerns

States and the Federal government have responded in a challenging effort to protect citizens’ privacy and rights. Twenty-three states have enacted laws that prevent employers from requesting passwords to personal accounts to either apply for or keep a job. Maryland was the first state to enact such a law, which took effect on October 1, 2012. Maryland’s law states that employers may not require employees or applicants to disclose a user name, password or other means of accessing a private Internet site or electronic account.

The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regulate, monitor, and enforce employer misuse of social media during the hiring process. Since 2010, the NLRB has heard dozens of cases regarding employers infringing on employee rights through social media. Both the EEOC and the NLRB have issued guidance to employers regarding social media rights of employees.

Does your mother see your posts?

Whether you’re currently looking for job or suddenly need a clearance, you never know when a situation will surface that requires a background check, which will now more than likely include social media checks. As we are seeing, the trend is spreading beyond dating sites to employers, college admissions, pretty much anyone who wants to know more about who you are. A picture truly is worth a thousand words.

Getting a lot of ambiguous rejections? Check your social media posts.
Even social media posts from years ago can haunt you. During the 2016 NFL draft, a potential first round pick had his Twitter account hacked.  A years old video showing him allegedly smoking marijuana with a bong hit the web. As this sorted out, draft round after round passed. He eventually was chosen in the thirteenth round, costing him millions.

Because of the anonymity of the Internet, the narcissist in us all, and the instantaneous culture we have, social media seems to be a window into our daily lives. Not only what cat videos we find hilarious or what we’re eating and where, but social media goes a long way in determining who we are, the character of the person doing the posts. Now one could argue that it’s not how they really are, that they use social media as an alter ego. But over time, patterns do develop and the onus appears to be on the account holder to justify the veracity of their posts and not the reviewer.

A good rule of thumb is-If you wouldn’t want your mother to see it, then don’t post it.

See our blog archive for other posts relating to social media: