Mildred 'Millie' Ebersole takes pride in West End

'If it's so bad, I don't know why it's not bad for me'

January 13, 2011|By JANET HEIM |
  • Millie Ebersole sweeps snow off a sidewalk at her West Washington Street home recently.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Go ahead and call Mildred "Millie" Ebersole a West Ender. She takes pride in having been born and raised on that side of Hagerstown and doesn't understand why it gets a bad rap.

"Everybody says the West End is bad. Well, if it's so bad, I don't know why it's not bad for me. Everybody talks to me, treats me good. I think it's their attitude, how you treat people," said Ebersole, 80.

Ebersole focuses on simple ways to make her corner of the world a better place. Sweeping the sidewalk year-round, regardless of the weather, is just one way.

"I'm not someone to sit around and lay around. I'm up at 5 every morning," she said.

She jokes that what the city doesn't do, she does. Summer can be busy with lots of West End Little League traffic near Ebersole's house.

Ebersole offers beverages as needed — bottled water in the summer and coffee in the winter — to passersby or congregation members she sees mowing or shoveling at Trinity Full Gospel Church next to the West Washington Street house in which she has lived since 1971.

It was church members Guy and Millie Harne who took Ebersole in at age 16 when she didn't have anywhere to go.

"It's a nice church. They all check in on me," said Ebersole, who noted that many fellow church members came to an 80th birthday open house for her in mid-December.

Ebersole was one of nine children. She and her brother, the two youngest, were raised by an aunt and uncle.

The aunt died when Millie was 8 and her uncle continued to raise her until his death eight years later. Millie, whose maiden name is Guessford, was 16 when she moved in with the Harnes family.

Ebersole helped Millie Harnes, a breast cancer survivor, after Harnes found out she had cancer. Now Ebersole is waiting to hear more about a spot that was detected on her lung.

"Now we'll be here for her through this," said Annette Cooper, Harnes' daughter.

Ebersole said she attended school through the ninth grade in Clear Spring, then went to work. She remembers helping clean outhouses, and said she has worked hard for everything she has.

"I never lived nowhere that I didn't help, or anyone I could help I would," Ebersole said.

She worked at a number of businesses and retired from Ravenwood Nursing Home at the end of 2000.

Ebersole now helps out by cleaning about an hour a day at the West End Pub, in exchange for breakfast and a chance to get out of the house.

While Ebersole likes to clean, she said she never liked cooking and left that to her second husband, Richard Ebersole, who died in 1998. Microwaveable meals, grilled cheese or egg sandwiches round out what she fixes herself now.

Her first marriage was at age 18 and her second at 40. Millie met Richard at the Cannon Shoe Co., when they both worked there.

Millie has never driven and walks most places she needs to get to. She said when Richard was sick, she would walk into downtown Hagerstown to get his medicine, about an hour roundtrip.

She used to walk to the Key Market. But now that that's gone, she depends on Cooper to pick up some groceries for her.

Ebersole admits to being a homebody, with simple needs. She has never been out of Maryland, nor had a vacation where she stayed in a motel.

"This house and end of town has been her life," Cooper said.

"I'm just glad for a bed to lay in," Ebersole said.

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