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Memories of Living in Maryland during the 1980s

Updated on August 18, 2017
Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul is a retired American expat living in Thailand. Besides being an English teacher and translator, Paul likes languages and most sports.

Annapolis, the Capital of Marylland


Maryland in the United States


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 my family travel in and around Maryland.

Toledo, Ohio

Skyline of Toledo, Ohio, looking across the Maumee River
Skyline of Toledo, Ohio, looking across the Maumee River | Source

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 unexpected surprise and delight, I was offered a job with the NSA in Central Maryland with a starting date during the first week of December of 1980.

Map of Maryland Counties


Location of Severn in Anne Arundel County


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 prior to 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 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. 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 town house 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 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 town house 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.

Location of Glen Burnie in Anne Arundel County


Glen Burnie, Maryland


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 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 back yard. During the first week in December of 1983, we moved less than a mile to 383 Jay Bea Court after doing some painting and wall papering following the closing on this house.


Taiwan is an island situated off the southeastern coast of China.
Taiwan is an island situated off the southeastern coast of China. | Source

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina


Epcot Center at Disney World

The Spaceship Earth icon of Epcot Center at Disney World
The Spaceship Earth icon of Epcot Center at Disney World | Source

Disney World Magic Kingdom


Wisconsin in the United States
Wisconsin in the United States | Source

Ocean City, Maryland


Pennsylvania Amish

Pennsylvania Amish in Lancaster County
Pennsylvania Amish in Lancaster County | Source

Atlantic City, New Jersey

The Tropicana Casino on the Boardwalk in Atlantic city
The Tropicana Casino on the Boardwalk in Atlantic city | Source

A Maryland Blue Crab


Living at 383 Jay Bea Court 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 in the Williamsburg which my son loved. 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 night life.

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.

© 2016 Paul Richard Kuehn


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    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 16 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      revmjm, Thank you very much for your comment. I'm very pleased you liked my hub, and look forward to reading your future article about Virginia.

    • revmjm profile image

      Margaret Minnicks 16 months ago from Richmond, VA

      Paul, this is a great article. It has given me the inspiration to write an article about my own state.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 16 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Moonlake, Maryland was a very nice place to live in the 80s and 90s. You can't beat its close location to the seashore, mountains, and big cities like Washington D.C. and Philadelphia. Thanks for sharing this hub!

    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 16 months ago from America

      Interesting hub. I have a friend who lives on the Cheaspeake Bay in Maryland. It sounds like a nice place to live though I've never been there. I sure wouldn't mind having some blue crab. It seems there is so much to do in and around Glen Burnie.

      Shared this hub.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 19 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Thank you very much for your comments. I will always regret not visiting Boston while I lived in Maryland. Thank you for pinning and sharing this hub!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 19 months ago from North Texas

      Good that you were able to get out and see and do all the things in the area. When I and my family lived in Boston we made every effort to visit interesting things nearby, and of course there are a lot of things within an hour's driving distance or less from Boston, not to mention all the history in Boston itself.

      Have moved many times in my life, mostly across town or to a town nearby, but there were about 6 cross country moves. I sympathize with all the work you and Mona had to go through on those occasions.

      Pinning this interesting article to Awesome HubPages, and sharing it with followers.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 19 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Thank you very much for your comments. I'm glad that your son was able to overcome his bullying at school.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 19 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      You shared memories that remind me of some parts of our lives living in a foreign country. My son was bullied at school and he sorted that out by himself.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 19 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      I am sure you will enjoy Maryland because the geography is varied and there are so many interesting things to do. It also is in a great location being only two hours from Philly and four hours by car from New York.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 19 months ago from Brazil

      No, I haven't. Up and down the west coast and across the lower states to Florida a few times.

      I have heard how beautiful it is and one day, I aim to go and see it for myself.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 19 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Thank you very much for the comments and I am happy you liked this hub. Have you ever visited Maryland or the surrounding area?

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 19 months ago from Brazil

      What fond memories (except for that bully and drug pushers). It sounds like once you got to Maryland, you and your family really got out and about.

      I can imagine that moving often wasn't easy and for your wife, being a foreigner can be difficult. Going out to bingo and other public events I am sure helped. Often people get into little groups and don't want to accept newcomers to an area.

      You guys have seen a good portion of the country, more than many Americans have.

      Thanks for taking us down memory lane with you.