Hurricane Hazel hit the same day couple got married

October 17, 2004|by TONY MULIERI

I got a note in the mail the other day from Joyce Ridenour of Village Mill Drive in Maugansville. She and her husband, Don, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Friday.

What was interesting was she mentioned in her message that they got married on the same day Hurricane Hazel roared through Hagerstown on Oct. 15, 1954.

She said they thought about canceling the wedding, but someone told them that would be bad luck. They went ahead with the ceremony, despite the threatening skies.

You could say they weathered the storm - after 50 years.

"The main thing was it was a Friday and I was working that day at Maryland Ribbon." Joyce said. "I got my hair done and we went ahead with the wedding. Some of our guests never made it to the ceremony, though."


I am old enough to remember Hurricane Hazel. I lived in Annapolis at the time and the image I recall is of my mother trying her best to shut the screen door on our front porch. The wind sounded like that proverbial "freight train" everyone talks about hearing when a nasty storm passes through the area.

I was only 4 at the time and our house made it through the storm. Joyce Ridenour's note brought back memories.

"I can't remember if there was a lot of damage in this area," Joyce said. "I guess trees were uprooted and such. We got married at the Church of the Brethren. We had the weekend off before we had to go back to work."

The Ridenours have two sons, Frank and Phil, one granddaughter and three stepgrandchildren.

None are named Hazel.

Joyce and I agreed that we've been pretty fortunate in this area.

After watching what Floridians went through this hurricane season, we should all appreciate living in the Cumberland Valley. I've heard a lot of people say the mountains protect us, but I don't know if that is a fact or just something people say.

After I wrote a column several weeks ago about the many celebrity sightings in this area, I heard from some readers about some other famous people they saw here.

Jack Patronik, a friend I play golf with, told me he was sitting in Oliver's Pub in Long Meadow Shopping Center one evening a few years ago when he saw actor Christopher Lloyd sitting at the bar.

Lloyd, who starred in the "Back to the Future" movies and the TV show "Taxi," was passing through the area and found his way to Oliver's. Jack said Lloyd was a really nice guy who agreed to come into a side room at Oliver's where Jack's friends were having a birthday party.

I received this e-mail from Richard Babylon after he read the column:

"I'll add one. From 1976 to about 1980, I worked at Long Meadow Cinemas in the Long Meadow Shopping Center, in various capacities - including projectionist and manager. I heard from co-workers at least once that Jean Stapleton (who played Edith Bunker on TV's "All In The Family") would stop in for a movie on occasion. Unfortunately, I was off when it happened (at least once) during my employment, so I missed her. But I gather she lived in Pennsylvania at the time (maybe still does) and know she was involved in some way with the Totem Pole Playhouse, aside from performing there."

Then there was Don Snyder of Hagerstown, who sent me a collage of photos of himself taken with famous people, including actor Nicolas Cage, actress Shirley MacLaine, former Baltimore Oriole Boog Powell, Baltimore Colts great Johnny Unitas, country singer Boxcar Willie, singer Ann Murray, the Smothers Brothers and the Phillie Phanatic among others, who all visited the Hagerstown area at one time or another.

Tony Mulieri is managing editor of The Daily Mail. He may be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 7647, or by e-mail at

The Herald-Mail Articles