He first saw her at a picnic

their life was a banquet

July 16, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail will run "A Life Remembered." This continuing series will take a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Ethel E. Bloom Alexander, who died July 9 at the age of 81. Her obituary appeared in the July 11 editions of The Morning Herald and The Daily Mail.

Arthur Alexander was a guest at a picnic at Pen Mar Park in the 1940s when he first saw Ethel Bloom.

"We actually met through my aunt," Arthur said as he recalled roller skating with this young girl from Franklin County, Pa.

They dated some after that, but Arthur said his work in management with Acme Supermarkets was keeping him too busy for much of a social life then.


A few months went by, and one day, Arthur's mother suggested he call Ethel up. He did - calling her at the Bonded Applicators office in Waynesboro, Pa., where she was working.

The dating resumed, and in January 1949, they were married.

The couple settled in Hagerstown, first on Hamilton Boulevard where their oldest son, David, was born, then to the Potomac Street apartments when their younger son, Robert, joined the family 11 months later.

"We were both born in Hagerstown," Robert said.

After a career in computers, Robert moved back home to care of his mother as her health declined.

Ethel didn't work outside the home while raising her two sons.

"She was a housewife and mother," Robert said. "I was in college when she went back to work."

In that period of her life, Ethel was a fixture at the Washington County Commission on Aging, where she worked as a secretary and bookkeeper for more than 20 years.

Robert said she heard about the job in 1973, when the agency was on Franklin Street. The commission later moved into the Alexander House, and now is in the complex next to Christ's Reformed Church - again on Franklin Street.

Always active, she also was an election poll worker in Leitersburg for 12 years. Throughout, she kept up with her sewing, stamp collecting and volunteering at the Long Meadow Volunteer Fire Co.'s ladies auxiliary and Homemakers of Paramount.

David and Robert both said their mother rarely missed one of their Little League games, and helped out in the concession stand at games.

"She was always home when we came from school, with cookies or brownies to hold us over until dinner," David said. "I also always loved her mince pies."

David, who works for Raytheon in California, made it home for his mother's memorial service, as did other relatives from Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Robert particularly was fond of her homemade vegetable soup and spaghetti, although he admits he liked just about everything she cooked.

Arthur, now 83, still puts in two days a week at Martin's Food Market on Wesel Boulevard.

"I don't want to sit around the house seven days a week," he said.

Arthur hopes to continue that work since the house seems so empty now that his wife of 57 years is gone.

Trying to brighten the mood a little, Robert talked about how his mother always enjoyed the Christmas holidays.

"Mom would decorate the inside of the house, and we'd take care of the outside," Robert said.

This coming Christmas, the decorating all will be up to the Alexander men - inside and out.

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