Dear Elizabeth: (With copy to my son, Tom)
It was Monday, August 11, 1913, and Bill was working in the store of Mr. Davis at Gwynbrook, Md. He has only worked for Mr. Davis a short time; in fact, this is the beginning of his third week. Bill is from Phoenix, Md. and his full name is William Thomas Alban. Bill asked Mr. Davis who the young lady was that just left the store, she had bought a couple of things and she was twenty-three cents short., so he told her, she could pay the difference the next time she came in. Nellie was there the next morning, paid her debt, and then bought five yards of dress material, a pattern and some new buttons. Out of $2.00, she got eleven cents change. To sound interested, Bill inquired as to who was going to do all this sewing. Nellie replied: I am, I have four sisters and Mom taught all of us how to sew.
Mr. Davis was the fourth owner of the store - first there was a Mr. MacElroy, then a Mr. Jones and then George French and then George Davis bought the store from Mr. French. The Western Maryland ran by the store so in 1890, it was established as Gwynbrook Station with a ticket office, an express and freight office and a post office and of course, the grocery store where you could buy anything and everything. The building was a three-story stone structure. In those days, the store had warehouses on both sides of the Western Maryland Rwy.
Since the store was closed on Sundays, Bill decided to go to a nearby church; it was called Gills Methodist. He would know some of the people because of their coming into the store. Rev. Jones invited Bill to come next week to Sunday School - it would be Rally Day and stay for church and after the church service, they would gather on the lawn for a picnic. The only day that Bill ate with the Davis family was on Sundays, the rest of the week the family ate while he tended the store but there was always plenty of food left over for him on the sideboard.
When Mrs. Davis heard that Bill would be taking dinner with the people at Gills Church, she sent along a ham with Bill. The Davis family were church goers but they attended St. Thomas Episcopal Church. After Bill sat down for Sunday School to start, a young man by the name of Clarence Moser come and sat with him and introduced himself. Bill could see that each class was sitting with their teacher. A Mrs. Williams had the little children, the Pastor had the mens class; a Miss Mattie Hipsley that teaches public school in the one-room school house just a stones throw from here, was teaching the ladies and a Mrs. Beach was teaching the young-adult class - Bill could see Nellie Moser over there in her new dress. There was enough food for an army - it was good that Mrs. Davis had sent the ham with Bill because everyone else had fried chicken to bring with them. The potato salad was good and so was the slaw and that home-made bread - all of it was delicious. It reminded Bill of being back on Uncle Toms farm where he worked from the time he was eleven until he was about eighteen.
Bills mother was only 29 years old when she passed away and Bill was only five. His older sister, Bess was pulled out of the fourth grade at school to take care of Bill and Sam another brother, age seven and a little sister, Clara - three years old. What a difficult job for someone so young. Hellen Elizabeth, our grandmother had a baby that was only five months old when she passed away and the baby, another girl - named Ethel Mearl died eighteen days after her Mother passed away. Bess sure did have her work cut out for her. She did it for six years and her father married a widow by the name of Maggie Anthony who had teen-age children. Whether any of Maggies children ever lived with Grandad and his new wife, I dont know but I was told a couple of times that whenever any of Maggies children by her first marriage came to visit, she would give them just about everything until her cupboards were bare and she had nothing to feed her family. Grandad had four more children with Maggie: Eleanor, John, Amy and Dora.
When Bill was 18 or 19 years old, he went to Strayers Business College and learned Pittman shorthand and he went to work for the Pennsylvania Railroad for about fifteen months and then was laid off because of a recession in their business.
Grand Dad Alban worked for the PRR - he was a track foreman and worked with four or five other men on the Main Line of the Eastern Region. The Main Line started at the Baltimore Produce Terminal and ran out to Brilhart, Pa. I am sure he wasnt responsible for the track all this distance but I have heard him talk frequently of Glencoe, Monkton and Parkton. One day while he was looking for repairs that must be made, he came across a place where the track was separated from the next piece of track.
He knew this would cause a derailment, so he used the hand car and went up around the next curve where he could see the train coming from more than a half-mile away. He managed to flag down the on-coming train and explained to the engineer and conductor of the train that it would take thirty-five or forty minutes to repair it. Grandad prevented a derailment and saved the Pennsylvania RR thousands of dollars. For this he received a certificate of recognition from the executives of the company.
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