Memories of Living in Maryland during the 1980s
Annapolis, the Capital of Maryland
Living in Maryland
Around the middle of December of 1980, I moved from Toledo, Ohio, to the state of Maryland. Having accepted a position with the federal government at the National Security Agency (NSA), for the next 23 years until 2003, I lived in Central Maryland in homes which I first rented and later owned.
This article focuses on my life in Maryland during the 1980s. After explaining my move to Maryland, this article describes the various places which I first rented and then purchased. Some of my happiest memories are recalled in family travel in and around Maryland.
Map of Maryland
Why I Moved and Lived in Maryland
From August of 1979 until December of 1980, I had lived and worked in Toledo, Ohio, after returning from six years of residence in Taiwan. I happened to settle in Toledo after my son was badly injured in a car accident. While living in Toledo, I supported my family and myself by teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) in Toledo Public Schools and also by part-time security guard work. In January of 1980, I started to receive VA educational benefits when I enrolled at the University of Toledo and began working towards teacher certification in secondary education. At the same time, I applied for positions with the U.S. State Department, Voice of America, and the National Security Agency. Since there was no guarantee for me to get hired by the government, I planned to become a high school teacher of history, Chinese, or chemistry. To my surprise and delight, I was offered a job with the NSA in Central Maryland with a starting date during the first week of December 1980.
Living on Pioneer Drive in Severn, Maryland
After dropping out of school and terminating my employment with the Toledo Public Schools, I arranged to ship a few household goods from Toledo to Severn in Anne Arundel County in Maryland. A week before moving, I had driven out to the Severn area and found a two-bedroom townhouse to rent which was only a ten-minute drive from the location of NSA on Fort Meade where I would be working.
My wife and son flew from Toledo by way of Pittsburg to old Friendship Airport now Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) about 15 miles south of Baltimore and 35 miles north of Washington D.C. I drove with our Afghan hound, Foreigner, in an old '71 Dodge Polara the 500 miles from Toledo to Severn.
After enrolling my son in a local school, my wife had a rough first month adjusting to life in a new environment. Mona did better after she made friends and learned her way around our neighborhood. It also helped to have two dogs. One was Foreigner and the other a small Yorkshire terrier, Bingo.
As newcomers to Maryland, Mona and I enjoyed playing Bingo every Monday evening in Glen Burnie, a neighboring town, and occasionally going to harness horse races at the old Freestate Raceway in Laurel and the Inner Harbor in Baltimore. During our first two years in Severn, we visited Washington D.C. and Ocean City on the Eastern Shore. We also made a trip to New York City and a summer trip back to Wisconsin in 1981 to visit my folks.
Although our townhouse on Pioneer Drive in Severn was comfortable and close to my work, it was in a bad neighborhood and we were having problems with some of the neighbors. A couple of boys living our court were bullying my younger son, and they loved teasing our dog Foreigner that we had running in our fenced-in yard. After Foreigner bit the older neighbor boy, his parents decided to sue us. In addition to this, drug pushers had already entered our neighborhood and it was always noisy on the street after 9:00 P.M.
We almost moved in July of 1982 until I found out on moving day right after we arrived with our loaded-up U-Haul truck at our agreed-upon apartment that it was going to be demolished within nine months. When I had earlier made an oral agreement with a young couple to sublet their apartment, they had never informed me about the plans to tear down the apartment in the future.
After I found out this bad news from neighbors after arriving at the apartment, I never unloaded my U-Haul truck and moved back to the townhouse where I had been living on Pioneer Drive. The young couple was furious and sued me for damages in small claims court. After pleading my case to a judge, I won the case.
The Inner Harbor of Baltimore
Living on Ridgely Road in Glen Burnie
Finally, in April of 1983, I found a detached house for rent on Ridgely Road in Glen Burnie about eight miles from Pioneer Drive. The house was set on a small hill on a corner lot and had a good-sized yard in the front and back. The living room, dining room, and kitchen in this two-level were spacious, and the finished basement had a nice bar.
We would have moved a year later, but I had recently found out that the government was not sending me to Taiwan for one year of Chinese Mandarin study in 1983. I was not going because my wife had not yet obtained her U.S. citizenship.
It was great living in a bigger and better house on Ridgely, however, my wife made the mistake of letting the owner of the house see our dog Foreigner when he visited in the summer of 1983. Since our lease specifically specified "no pets," the rental agent employed by the owner informed us that we were in violation of the lease and would have to move out before the end of 1983 unless we got rid of our dog.
At that point, we decided that it was time for us to buy and live in our own home. After searching in the Glen Burnie Park housing area where we were living, my wife spotted a 15-year-old split foyer for sale. It had three bedrooms, a family, living, and dining room plus a very big fenced-in backyard. During the first week in December of 1983, we moved less than a mile to 383 Jay Bea Court after doing some painting and wallpapering following the closing of this house.
Living at 383 Jaybea Ct. in Glen Burnie
We spent the remainder of the 1980s living at 383 Jay Bea Court in Glen Burnie. This home was in a much better location than the one on Ridgely because it was within walking distance of a shopping center which has a big supermarket, department store, and other smaller stores. It was also only 20-25 minutes from NSA.
Shortly after moving into the house and Mona getting her U.S. citizenship, I was selected for one year of study abroad in Taiwan from August of 1984 until August of 1985. My wife was extremely happy and excited because we would be living in the Taipei area only two or three hours by car from her relatives who lived in Central Taiwan.
Before moving to Taiwan, we engaged the services of Century 21 which found a renter to sign a one-year lease on the house while we were away and to handle the property management.
After spending a joyous productive year of study in Taiwan, we moved back into our home in August of 1985. One of our first projects was repainting the interior and exterior of the house. Since my income was still quite modest even with a part-time job, I did my own home maintenance and even changed by myself the oil in the car.
Starting in 1986, we started taking an annual summer vacation outside of Maryland. During the period 1986-1988, our family made trips to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina, Norfolk, Virginia, and to Disney World in Central Florida.
The one week vacation at Myrtle Beach in 1986 also included day trips to Charleston and to Wilmington, North Carolina, where we toured the Battleship North Carolina.
In 1987 we had a great time for one week in the Norfolk, Virginia, area. In addition to visiting nearby Virginia Beach, we spent one day touring the historic areas of Jamestown and Yorktown, and a special day at Busch Gardens which my son loved in the Williamsburg area. On another day, we also went to the MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk and learned very much about General Douglas MacArthur.
Our summer vacation to Florida in 1988 was most memorable. Since I did all of the driving down to Florida and back to Maryland, we allowed two weeks for the trip. At least three days were spent visiting the Magic Kingdom and Epcot Center at Disney World in the Orlando area. After spending a day or two at Daytona Beach and Cape Canaveral, I remember driving down to Fort Lauderdale and spending at least two or three days there. What I still recall is our boat ride on the Intracoastal Waterway.
On the way back to Maryland, we stopped for two or three days at Myrtle Beach. It was a whole lot of fun on the beach and enjoying the carnival nightlife.
1987 is also a year I remember for making two trips back to Wisconsin. In February we drove to Wisconsin to attend the wedding of my favorite sister, Doctor Pat. The second trip was right before Christmas to attend the funeral of my favorite uncle who had died of a sudden heart attack. We also got the chance to spend Christmas with my folks.
When we weren't making long-distance trips, there were certainly many things for us to do in the Maryland, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, and New Jersey areas.
Almost every year, we would spend a few days at Ocean City which was only two or three hours away on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
When my parents visited us in 1986, we saw the sights in Washington D.C. and even toured inside the White House. We also drove into nearby Pennsylvania and showed mom and dad the rural Amish country.
On two or three occasions, we also made a three hour trip to Atlantic City, New Jersey, to try our luck at the casinos on the Boardwalk. Although my wife and I never won anything playing the slots, it was still a great deal of fun.
In the near vicinity of Glen Burnie, there was also very much to do. Each summer we made one or two trips to the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, and once or twice we saw a baseball game at old Memorial Stadium on 32nd Street.
There were also many parks nearby where we had cook-outs and even did some blue crabbing in the Chesapeake Bay waters.
Compared to Toledo, Ohio, there was much more to do in the Anne Arundel area of Maryland where I lived in the 1980s. This was one of the most memorable decades of my life.
Disney World Magic Kingdom
Maryland Blue Crab
Along the Boardwalk in Atlantic City
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2016 Paul Richard Kuehn