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Margaret Myers learned hard work as a girl


Editor's note: This is one in a series of profiles of area residents who share the stories of their lives and experiences. A profile will be published on the last Thursday of each month on the Young At Heart pages.

If there's one thing Margaret Myers knows, it's hard work.

Born and raised on a Washington County farm, the Williamsport resident has tried her hand at a lot of things, from shocking wheat to grinding lenses for microscopes.

In addition to holding down a job most of her adult life, she has kept house and raised a family.

She admits she's had her share of ups and downs, but insists that hard work never killed anybody.

Her daughter, Carla Kann, says her mother's work ethic is admirable. Kann says her mother instilled in her three children "the value of working hard, respecting one's employer and working to the best of our ability."


Now 85 years old, Myers is retired and "enjoying the good life." But she hasn't forgotten days of getting up in the wee hours of the morning to tend to farm chores, and later in life, to head off to a factory job.

Born Margaret Louise Sinnisen, her life began in a tenant house on the Toms farm along Toms Road in Benevola. Her parents later farmed the Huffer farm on Monroe Road in Boonsboro and the Newcomer farm in Beaver Creek.

"My parents tenant-farmed all their lives," she says, "generally on thirds or halves with the farm owner. When we moved it was always before April first, because farmers had to get their crops in.

"I always had a lot of farm chores growing up, but I never learned to milk a cow," she says with a smile. "What I did do was carry wood, feed the chickens, gather eggs, empty slop jars, scrub clothes on a washboard, shock wheat ... there was always work to do."

And always, she recalls, the family lived in houses without indoor plumbing and without electricity.

"Children these days don't have any idea of what life was really like back then," she says.

Myers began school at the age of 5, because her mother wanted her to go with her older sister and brother.

She attended a one-room school in Benevola and then a two-room school in Beaver Creek.

When she was ready for high school, she says, "I walked a mile to catch the school bus."

She graduated from Boonsboro High School in 1938 at age 16.

She got her first job at Hagerstown Leather Co., when it was in Hagerstown City Park.

Twice married and twice widowed, she has always relied on her own resources to provide for her family.

After her first marriage ended, she went to work at Porter Chemical Co. on Prospect Avenue, making lenses for microscopes.

"You had to embed the glass on a plate and grind it down," she says. "It was the hardest job I ever had."

She later returned to Hagerstown Leather Co. when it relocated to Willow Circle. She stayed there for 23 years, working first as a cutter and then as supervisor in the heat-sealing department.

"We made notebooks, billfolds, pocket pencil holders, lunch boxes, a lot of plastic products. You had to be very careful around the machinery."

When Hagertown Leather left town, Margaret took a job at Maryland Ribbon Co. as supervisor on the third shift. She stayed there until the company moved its operations to Virginia.

She retired in 1989 at age 68.

Now living in a retirement cottage overlooking Williamsport's Byron Memorial Park, she says, "I hope I never have to move from here. Everything in town is handy, and I can sit on my patio and listen to the summer concerts in the park."

She admits her life is "pretty darned good. I enjoy my family, I like my community, and I can still drive to church and to visit my sister."

A member of Benevola United Methodist Church, she's one of several widows who occupy what they call "the widows' pew" every Sunday morning.

She regularly attends worship services and Sunday school at the church, and sometimes helps prepare meals there.

She doesn't let summer storms or winter snow keep her indoors.

"I keep a shovel in my closet," she says. "If I want out, I'm going out."

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