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Anne Grulich, editor
Phone: (240) 895-2160
18952 East Fisher Road
St. Mary's City, MD 20686
Interviewed this August at age 97, Hope Grace’s memories of friends and events at St. Mary’s Female Seminary are remarkable. Hope came to St. Mary’s in 1925, a week before school started, because her parents had business in Baltimore that week. And in 1925, the trek from their home in Piney Pt. (just across the river from the Seminary) to Baltimore could be an adventure with as many as 22 tire blow-outs along the way. At age 12, Hope had never been away from her parents overnight, and she was shy and nervous about making a mistake, such as picking up the wrong fork at dinner. Hope remembers many of her teachers. The husband of her European history teacher (Sally Mill Davis) fought for the Confederates in Tennessee in the Civil War. “She was a little person with white hair and a bun, and flew everywhere she went.” Hope recalls the “old girls” (the seniors) who loved staying in the temporary barracks after the fire of 1924 that destroyed the main building (Calvert Hall).
She remembers her close friends Catherine and Anne Baroniak who were day students from among the Slavic families living in St. Mary’s City, and says she herself married a Slavic man from Pennsylvania years later. Hope remembers Fred Moreland who worked in the kitchen and was the right-hand man for the housemother, Mrs. Brome, whose little daughter, Elizabeth Cheney, was her only companion that lonely first week at the Seminary. And Hope, valedictorian of the class of 1929, remembers the only time she was disciplined was on the eve of graduation when she went to the bathrooms after the “lights-out” bell. She was sent to the principal, Adele France, whom she spoke of fondly and with respect. “She was a very nice person, a brilliant mathematician and scientist. She taught me physics…. I’m forever grateful to her. And she ran a very good, caring institution for girls.” Adele France hired Hope to work in the campus bookstore after graduation so she could continue her studies at the newly formed Junior College during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Hope laughingly recalls it didn’t work out; she was better at giving things away than selling.
In 1931, at age 18, Hope moved to Washington, D.C. and began her career of 32 years with the federal government. Herbert Hoover was president at the time. In the Treasury Department she gathered evidence for cases against certain banks that had hoarded gold coins, and she researched the price of clothing, bread, and milk when the income tax bill was being rewritten. She worked in the Office of Management and Budget in the Executive Office of the President and became an archivist, enjoying access to the State War Library, the National Archives, and the Library of Congress. “I don’t know how many times something would come up and I would say, ‘Oh, well, I learned that down at St. Mary’s.’” Hope married in 1938 and had three children along the way. After she retired and returned to St. Mary’s County, she volunteered for 41 years at the St. Mary’s County Historical Society and did various research projects, including archival work for Judge John Hanson Briscoe.
Janet Haugaard, Kat Ryner, and I were honored to interview Hope Hodgkinson Grace in her daughter Penelope Apple’s home in Charlotte Hall in August. The recording of her 90-minute interview is available in the College Archives. And we’d like your help identifying the people in this photograph donated to the College by Hope’s aunt, Vera Guyther, who attended the Seminary a decade before Hope did and became housemother in the 1950s. Hope believes the students shown here were friends of her aunt’s around 1910, and thinks Fred Moreland is on the left. Who is the other man? Please send your insights to our archivist, Kat Ryner, at 240-895-4196 or by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org