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Charlotte Martin had the recipe for being a good wife and mom

September 25, 2005|By MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

Two years ago, Robert and Charlotte Martin were having dinner at a fast-food restaurant on Northern Avenue when a man approached Charlotte with an amazing confession.

The man told them he used to work at a grocery store on Potomac Avenue in the 1930s and 1940s and remembered Charlotte from when she shopped there as a young married woman.

"He recognized her and told her he thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world," Robert said. "I told him I didn't mind because I am the one who got her."

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For 66 years, Robert and Charlotte were together, a couple in every sense of the word. Even though Charlotte passed away Sept. 20, Robert said she still is with him and always will be.

Married in 1938, Robert and Charlotte met four years earlier in Sunday school.

"We dated for four years, but I knew right from the start she was the girl for me," Robert said.

At the time, Robert was working at the H.L. Mills grocery store on Baltimore Street and Charlotte was an operator for the C&P Telephone Co. Charlotte worked for a while after they married, but when their first daughter, Barbara, was born in 1941, she became a full-time homemaker.

"I wanted a little sister and I finally got one when Patricia was born in 1951," Barbara said.

Because of the nine-year age difference, the siblings often were at odds in their younger years. But now they have never been closer, Barbara said.

Barbara Martin Hutchinson lives in Ohio and her sister, Patricia Martin Kearns, resides in Williamsburg, Va.

Robert studied at the Maryland School of Accounting and went to work first at the Pangborn Corp., then at the Western Maryland Railway. The Martins lived in Hagerstown all of their married lives, the last 22 years on Highland Way - just across the street from the home where Robert grew up.

"She was a wonderful mother," Barbara said. "If anything needed to be baked or made for school, she was there."

Famous for her fasnachts before Lent and her sand tarts at Christmas time, Charlotte's prowess in the kitchen was well-known among her family and friends, as well as the women at the beauty parlor and her card clubs.

"We could hardly wait for that box of Christmas cookies in the mail," Barbara said.

During the years that Barbara lived in Indiana and then Ohio, she grew closer to her mother.

"For all the trouble I gave her when I was younger, we'd get on the telephone and talk and talk," Barbara said.

Robert said his wife made a lot of candy and fudge through the years.

"She rarely ate any of her own treats ... she just enjoyed making them for others," Robert said.

Charlotte also sewed all of her daughters' clothes, as well as costumes needed through their school years, Barbara recalled.

Gardening was another of Charlotte's strong suits, Robert said.

"One year, we planted 300 vinca plants in our yard - they wouldn't have dared not to flourish for her," he said.

Family times always centered around children, first her own and later, her grandchildren, great-grandchildren and even youngsters in the neighborhood.

"She loved kids," Robert said. "They would bring her flowers to the hospital."

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