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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.

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