Prepared by Hugh Keedy and Jessie Bennett
Co-directors: Bethesda Museum
Annie Lou McCord
I was born in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia to parents who were struggling on a small farm. Within a year they moved to the Baltimore, Maryland area where my father worked as caretaker for Mr. Hinds, the inventor of Bromo-Seltzer, on his estate. We weren't rich but the depression did not affect us much there. Dad received $75 a month, a comfortable house on the estate, and food from the garden. Mr. Hinds died in 1935 and Dad worked in various places as caretaker until he got permanent work in 1938 in a steel mill in Baltimore. We moved often during this period. When we located in Baltimore, I began the seventh grade in the 12th school that I had attended. I did stay there three years and three years at one high school. Dad and Mom lived in a "row house" in Baltimore from 1938 until the mid 1980s when they both entered a nursing home. So, I grew up knowing about both the city and the country, but without the chores that may country boys had.
World War II was in progress when I graduated from high school and within six months I was in the army. I went through Surgical Technical School there, traveling to Texas, Missouri, Colorado, Kentucky, and South Carolina. By the time my training was complete, the wars with Germany and Japan were both over but I was sent to Cairo, Egypt for eight months to close down a station hospital that had been there during the African campaign. When that was done, we returned to the States and I was discharged after 19 months and 8 days of service, on August 22, 1946.
I enrolled at David Lipscomb in Nashville and began in January 1947, staying through the summer quarter. During that time I met Marjorie Bomar, my wife-to-be. I left Lipscomb one year to the day from my discharge from the army and returned to Baltimore where I began working as a draftsman for Koppers company. Two years to the day after my discharge from the army, Marge and I were married. She had finished her degree at Peabody and taught in Baltimore the first year we were married. During that year I decided to use my GI Bill and return to Nashville to attend Peabody.
I was able to finish my undergraduate work in two years by taking heavy loads and going year around. Those days, with only a meager GI stipend as income, were the toughest we have had, but they still were enjoyable in many ways. Marge worked, as did I some. We still talk about going to the corner grocery and standing there, discussing what we could get for 25 or 50 cents for supper.
By the summer of 1951, I had actually had some graduate work, my GI entitlement was running out, and I was beginning to wonder what I was going to do. One day, when I went to class, the teacher said there was someone outside the room who wanted to see me. It was the department chairman of Engineering Mathematics at Vanderbilt. There was an opening and my name had been given to them, based on my math major, physics minor, my drafting experience, and the pre-engineering subjects I had taken. I began teaching engineering math classes in the fall of 1951 and remained a faculty member until my retirement on the last day of December 1989, a period of 38 1/2 years.
We bought a house, which was right in the middle of what is now Briley Parkway in Nashville, and lived there several years. With a change of Dean's at school, I was urged to get a doctoral degree and was assisted greatly in that by Vanderbilt and a NSF grant. By this time we had a daughter, Susan, and a son, Bruce. In January 1961 we moved to a icy, cold, snowy Ann Arbor, Michigan and I began work at the University of Michigan. Despite the cold winters, we all thoroughly enjoyed the five years that we spent there.
When I returned to Vanderbilt, my teaching shifted from mathematics to engineering subjects and to interests in engineering education. I became quite active as a member and officer of ASEE, the American Society for Engineering Education. I developed several new courses and headed the freshman engineering program for nearly the last 20 years I was at Vandy. The freshman computer drafting course we began was the first of its kind in the country.
When I retired at the start of 1990, we were living in Nashville but began to look for a place in the country. Marge grew up on a farm close to Shelbyville, so we both had roots in country living and enjoy the outdoors. Our daughter-in-law, Pris Keedy, found a place on Lane Road that was for sale and told us about it. They were living on Bethesda-Duplex Road at the time. So, in April 1991 we bought the Trice place, with its old house and 53 acres.
For the next year, we spent about half our time on Lane Road, working on the house and planning a new house. The rest of the time we spend in our Nashville house. In August 1992 we sold our Nashville house and moved into what had become know as the "little blue house." The paint was sold to us as a grey, but you would never know it by looking at it. The Maxwells started our new house on the hillside up in the valley that same summer, and we moved into it on February 10, 1993.
Our daughter, Susan, her husband Andy, and their four children moved into the little blue house almost immediately. They had sold their house in Nashville and were deciding what their next move would be; living in the little blue house gave them some thinking time. It also made them develop a love for the country. However, Andy travels extensively and found the trip to the airport too long, so they bought another house in Brentwood. Meanwhile, Bruce and Pris had sold their house on Bethesda-Duplex and moved into the little blue house almost before Susan and Andy had moved out. They stayed there for about a year, during which time they purchased a farm on Route 431, where they now live. Having the grandchildren as close as they have been and still are is a luxury not too many can claim.
Since moving to Lane Road Marge and I have become more involved with community activities, in Bethesda, Flat Creek, and College Grove. We both spent our early days in the country and are now enjoying our retirement days in the country, which we both love.