One of the exciting aspects of getting these interviews is that you always learn something unique about a person.
Cecil Hill Sr. shares a part of his career path that absolutely blew me away. It also proves that if we live a long life, we will have a number of twists and turns along the way. Cecil loved growing up in Havre de Grace and really enjoys sharing the highlights from his childhood. His memory of details is outstanding – right down to phone numbers when they were 3 and 4 digits. This is only an excerpt. The 50 minute full length audio has even more details. Plus, I hope to interview him again. Enjoy this interview. Be sure to sign up for our e-mail list (in the menu to the right) so that you didn’t miss any news or updates. If getting the full length audio tapes and transcripts sound intriguing to you, join our membership. I’ll be offering 2 full interviews each month beginning in January 2017.Want to know more? Want to know more? CLICK HERE! Til then, I look forward to our next chat! Warmly, If you enjoy these excerpts, click on my SUBSCRIBE PAGE and sign up for our special deal for full length audios and transcripts. Special Deal Ends Dec. 15, 2016!
Cecil Hill, Sr.
interviewed on May 24, 2016
I guess I remember 554 Bourbon Street where I was raised. I remember riding a 2-wheel bike, when I learned how to ride a Roadmaster bike, on Bourbon Street. There were no curbs and gutters on either side of the street. You just rode down a path in the center of the street. A car would come by and another car would come by.
In the 40s you only had to pave a small distance because there were no gutters in those days. Yes, they did have sidewalks. I can remember the curbs and gutters put in when they paved the street. In between they used a lot of oyster shells.
It was a 2-wheel bike, I was probably between 5 and 6 years old. I don’t remember the parade in 1945. I was 5 years old. It was called the McCaulah parade – Levern was Elwood’s brother. He came home from the WWII in 45. They had a big parade in celebration for him.
(how many children in your family)
I was the only son. I was the only child. I was born August 10, 1940. I had an identical twin brother. His name was Frank and he was a blue baby. Dr. Wolbert (?) and my aunt, Margaret Young, my mother’s sister, they stayed with him all night long. They did everything they could possibly do. They couldn’t save blue babies until 1945 when they rushed them to Hopkins and it was a minor operation by Dr. Blalock and they named a wing after her. I think it has something to do with the heart not pumping enough fluid.
(Did you ever feel like you missed a twin?)
I didn’t because I guess it happened so early. I always think about it certainly would have been nice to have a twin brother.
My father and mother both were from Havre de Grace. But my mother was in an orphan’s home. Her parents died when they were just very young. She was in a home in Baltimore. Three sisters were here in Havre de Grace. When she was 17 they gave her a pass to come to Havre de Grace. She stayed with my aunt, which was Margaret Young, at the time. She stayed with some people who couldn’t speak, they used sign language. When they came to find her, my mother hid under the bed. So when they came looking for her, they said she wasn’t there. So they left and never came back for her.
She stayed here and ended up marrying my father in 1926. And then they tried to have children from ’26 to ’39. In 1939 my mother said to Dr. Wolburn (?), “I understand there’s a doctor in Towson for $50 that can help open my tubes so I can become pregnant.” The Dr. said, “Well, I can do that for $3.” So whatever happened, happened. And she got pregnant with the twins.
(what was it like being a kid in Havre de Grace)
It was real nice. Back in those days there wasn’t many cars. We played football and baseball in the streets those days. In 1950, a fella by the name of Warren Todd came to Havre de Grace and started Little League Baseball right out where the new gym is. The new auditorium and the gymnasium is there now. That’s where the old school was. The one they tore down. That’s the one with the big bell on it. I only lived a block away. I knew it was time to go if I heard the first bell.
He started Little League. I have a picture in my scrap book and it must have 75 kids there from all around Havre de Grace. And you know most of them. A lot are deceased now. One was William Boyd (Woofy Boyd), he lived at the Graw. He was in a wheel chair at the end. He lost his leg to diabetes. But he was such a good pitcher. I pitched also in Little League Baseball. And we went to Williamsport one year – home of Little League Baseball. We lost the game 1-0 but I’ll always remember that.
(Since you didn’t have computers and technology what did you do for fun besides the games you played?)
Back in those days we had three square meals, played in the street, rode bikes, we had roller skates – the old Union and Chicago Skates that we put on our feet. We raced around the block on those skates. And we saved cards - bubblegum cards. And we walked over to Lauder’s Store. It’s still there but I think everything’s closed up. It was at 116 South Stokes Street. It would be across the street from … right on the same block the Baptist Church is in… between Congress and Bourbon.
Murray Lauder had a pawn shop there. He pawned rifles and shotguns, diamonds and jewelry and clothes. Everything in there. He sold sodas, dipped ice cream, sold bread, milk and eggs. He had a slicer there and sliced meat, ham and cheese, whatever.
There was another store where I had my first job when I was 11. That was at Freedom Lane where Ontario Printing is now. That was called Inman’s Grocery Store. Then they sold it to Disbraugh’s (Jane Disbraugh’s father and mother and Peggy Brogan/St. Amore – that was her mother and father). My first job.
Then I had a job when I was 12 - going on 13, at the Havre de Grace Banking and Trust Company. Later it was Ruth’s School of Beauty Culture. And then it became MacGregor’s Restaurant. That was an old bank. My father was friends with the banker. Back in those days, they gave me a key to the deadbolt in the front- right where MacGregor’s door goes in. I’d unbolt it. Go inside. Bolt myself in. Go past all the old cages, past the safe and on into the room where they make the coffee and serve the ice tea, then I’d go downstairs and file cards for a whole summer on Saturdays. Mrs. Pascalini (?) worked there.
(When you say cards, you mean 3x5 cards or something)
Yes, they were cards that people filled out and I filed them.
(how would you explain life then to kids now)
Everything was so much simpler in those days. You didn’t go to restaurants those days. We ate at home: breakfast, lunch and dinner. We ate as a family. Today’s there’s so many… we see these kids throughout renting apartments…they wouldn’t know what it would be to sit down and eat a meal. Mother might go and bring a whole bag of dinner from McDonald’s or pizza.
Bicycling was so much simpler. You didn’t have the handbrakes, the gears. You had two wheels and a brake. I had a RoadMaster. I did have a headlight and a brake light on it. That was amazing.
We went hunting. My father took me rabbit hunting and squirrel hunting when I was 8 – 9 years old. I had a little 410 shotgun. His first car was an old 1939 Dodge. He had that til ’49. I was 9 and he bought a Nash.
(what was discipline like)
Discipline… I pretty much behaved myself. I didn’t really get into too much trouble. I guess the ah… the worst thing I ever did. There was a crab apple tree on the old Silver property which is the Spencer-Silver Bed and Breakfast now. We put an apple on the end of a stick and whip it. Well, we hit a couple cars one time. Father heard about that and he stopped that. That was the worst thing.
Halloween time we trick or treated. We might carry a bar of soap and soap a window or something, which came right off.
(what events do you remember)
Well, Cub Scout events. Church Sunday Schools. At the Methodist Church I was baptized there and became a member in ’52 when I was 12. Little League. I do remember going and having crabs maybe once or twice at Price’s Seafood because they’d opened in 1944.
(most of us now know you as being in real estate)
I quit that job and went to Barber School for 4 months and quit and went to work for Johnny Marcusi (?). He had a barber shop in the little building where Dwayne Henry’s house is. And Jack Dry, Johnny Dry’s father was in there and Johnny Marcusi. They both taught me to cut hair.
I left there. The Old Chesapeake was across the street. And I went to Perry Point VA Hospital and worked there for 15 years as a barber. I left there when I was 35, just 36 years old. I had a muscle collapse in my hand and couldn’t hold the scissors.
I left there and a couple years later I bought an apartment building.