The Times and Tides of Ocean City, Maryland
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School Days
by Carole Hitchens Quillen

Carole Hitchens Quillen
with Mayor Harry Kelley
Well, if it weren't for school the parents would have to have invented something like it to keep us kids from driving them crazy! Like I said earlier there wasn't much to do!

I attended school in the same building that my father and his siblings attended. This was the same building in which my grandfather Lawrence Hitchens helped install the plumbing for the Nun's School all those years ago. This building is now City Hall for the Town of Ocean City, located at 3rd Street and Baltimore Avenue. Just before I started school here the Worcester County built Stephen Decatur High School, Route 50 in Berlin in 1955. So, for me, this was the elementary school, first through sixth grades. I can still remember were my favorite book was located in the second floor library. Fortunately for me, I turned to books and became a confirmed bibliophile, reading everything in sight, but always loved that book of Grimm's Fairy Tales.

Our playground is the present City Hall parking lot, but back then (really no dinosaurs) it was fenced in with chain link fencing. It included a seesaw that nobody would use because most of us had the nasty habit of jumping off when our side was down, this left the other person to drop four feet onto the wooden slab, ouch! There was a "jungle gym" and a large heavy-duty swing. On this swing daredevils like Richard Cropper would swing until he went all the way around the top bar. I never did atsitet that feat! I won't mention names, but every schoolyard has its bully. Now we had a youngster that was extremely small for his age and very frail, we called him Peanut. This bully had poor Peanut backed up against the south wall of the now City Hall and was punching him unmercifully (of course the bully out-weighed Peanut by at least fifty pounds. Being a sweet little kid, I told him to go pick on someone his own size.

For that I got punched in the stomach! But you know, everything seems to even out over the years. The bully now has Crone's disease and it's his stomach that aches. When I was in the sixth grade the school came in the possession of giant sliding board (I understand it's still in use at the Elementary School in West Ocean City). You had to be really brave to climb to the sixteen-foot top and slide down, but being kids we were soon sliding down the leg braces instead. "You get off of there, you're going to break your neck!!" I wonder if today's kids do that as well.

Speaking of breaking your neck, there were only a couple of us with bicycles and it's a wonder we're alive today. We would ride our bikes as fast as we could up the sidewalk (on the side streets) to the edge of boardwalk where it fell five feet to the sand below, and . . . jump off in midair. Like I said, there really wasn't much to do!

On a more pleasant note, every day on the way home from school I would walk by Mayor Daniel Trimper's house and there he would be, out by the gate shelling and eating peanuts, he always shared them with me, nice man. I would walk to school by going up the alleys between First Street and Third Street. At First Street, on the corner of the alley, lived the Massey family; they had a yard that was fenced in by vertical boards. These boards had a few cracks so you could peek in and see all the funny looking chickens running around the yard. In the springtime there were always a bunch of kittens to play with as they wandered out under the fence. I remember the Massey's sitting on their front porch in their rocking chairs with big smiles and waving hello whenever I passed.

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