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Attracting jobs and economic development in 1925 was critical to the future of Westminster and Carroll County. That's because commuting out of the county for meaningful employment was not a viable option.

Carol Lee observed in "Legacy of the Land," her book on the history of Carroll County, that: "During World War I, Carroll County had only 69 miles of paved roads; by 1935 it had 240 miles." After the first world war, agriculture commodity prices plummeted in the county. Lee reports that throughout the 1920s, "agriculture got into an increasingly perilous condition."

The decline of agriculture had a far-reaching impact on all business in the county. Younger citizens moved out to find work.

It's with this context that one may understand that a new shoe factory in Westminster was greeted with celebration.

A May 29, 1925, Westminster newspaper described in detail a parade and a daylong celebration to mark the opening of the Newark Shoe Factory plant on East Green Street. Reader Jamie Wehler recently wrote that her research indicates the even Westminster (Municipal) Band, which still performs to this day, took part in the parade.

The newspaper article also noted some of the other participants in the parade -- the Western Maryland College ROTC, Mayor Howard Koontz, the Westminster Common Council and the Union Bridge, Taneytown and Westminster fire departments. "The celebration closed with a meeting in the firemen's hall at 8 p.m., when addresses were made by Congressman Millard E. Tydings, Mayor Howard E. Koontz (and) Senator Daniel J. Hesson."

Meanwhile, at the other end of Westminster, last week's Carroll Eagle trivia question asked for the name of the shoe factory at the far end of Pennsylvania Avenue near Vetville. We also asked if anyone could tell me the name of the car dealership and garage at 56 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Many folks knew the answers. This week's winner of the Carroll Eagle mug, Gertrude Robertson, wrote that she once worked in the office at Kessler Shoe Factory.

Wayne Wrightson, of WTTR-AM 1470, wrote, "My fiancée's father, Bill Kuhn, a Westminster native of 84-plus years remember(s) the shoe factory by Vetville was Kessler's."

After a break from the world of the 1920s, I will remember to go over the many other reader responses about the shoe factories, walking to work and Wilson's Garage -- the "Willys-Overland" dealership on Pennsylvania Avenue -- in a future column. And we'll resume the history trivia quiz next Sunday.

Grand ol' Flag

Meanwhile, let's remember that today is Flag Day. If you have a few minutes, go by the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Lodge 2277 on Gorsuch Road, Westminster. The Elks will host a Flag Day ceremony today, 2 to 3 p.m. Hampstead Mayor Haven Shoemaker will be the guest speaker. There will be a retirement ceremony for worn flags. Guests may bring old flags for retirement.

When he is not waving the flag, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at kevindayhoff@gmail.com or visit him at www.westminstermarylandonline.net.


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