Remembering Valley Crest
by Ed Nelson

My family and I moved from Cambridge on the Eastern Shore into Valley Crest, 1912 Lyden Rd. on February 28, 1957. When we learned we would be moving to the Baltimore area, we were advised to look at the Towson area because the schools were better there.

1912 was the last house available in the Cherhkoff developed estates. The ranchers had been selling for $32,000 and the Split Levels were $34,000. My 5% mortgage was 25 yrs.

Cherhkoff also developed Campus Hills and Towson Plaza, now Towson Towne Center.

The plat for Valley Crest was approved by Baltimore County on June 30, 1954 and shows the owner of the property as Anthony Sanzo. I believe the developer built the double split level on the corner of Ivy Church and Southbourne for him.

Ivy Church Road was the northern boundary of the development with two houses on Dumont north of Ivy Church and two houses off of Gateswood on what is now Dumont, but is shown on the original plat as Loxwood Rd and the Court was Loxwood Court.

The foundations for 1908 and 1910 Lyden were laid but were not completed until 1960. In the meantime, some changes were made in the design.
Lyden Road was a dead end street and the neighbors dumped yard trash at the end. The area south of where Lyden ended, including what is now Ridgely Road, had a heavy growth of trees and vines and the rumor was that it was too rocky and would be too expensive to develop except for four or more houses per acre. That was a big concern to everybody.

Fortunately the rumor was wrong. Ridgely Road ran from York Road to Pot Spring. Later it was cut through to Dulaney Valley but remained a dirt road for a couple of years before it was paved.

Pot Spring was originally a toll road and when we moved here the toll house was still standing at Pot Spring and Dulaney Valley Road.

My office was on Pulaski Hwy and that part of the beltway from Dulaney Valley Rd to Pulaski Hwy was the last to be constructed.

The only things growing on our property were two maple trees next to the street - no grass, no other trees and no foundation plantings. This same condition existed for all of the homes.

Our driveway was in bad condition. The yard was still just bulldozed clay and we walked to the front door on boards. Within a week after we moved in, the driveway was rebuilt, slate was put down for the walkway from the street and the walkway from the driveway to the front door and the yard was sodded.

Some good natured competition developed among the neighbors on Lyden Road to see who had the greenest lawn. I Think Jack Linthicum at 1913 "won the ribbons" and Jack Funky at 1916 placed second.

The shrubbery and trees were newly planted and still small so the yards were practically all grass.

I was flying in the Marine Corps in the 50's and '60's and flew over Valley Crest occasionally. I could pick out Valley Crest long before I got near it just by looking for a large patch of green. It really stood out.

Our daughter, Shelley, completed her third grade at Lutherville Elementary on York Road and in September 1957 she returned to the fourth grade on a split shift basis. Later in the school year, Hampton Elementary was completed and she moved there.

Two years later, she entered the new Timonium Elementary when it opened. When she finished there she opened the new Ridgely Middle School and then opened the new Dulaney High School. Baltimore County was the fastest growing county in the United States.

Every home on Lyden Road and Walpole Court had one or more small children. Most of those children and those on nearby Ivy Church played together and most of the families on Lyden Rd would get together socially.

Many would have parties in their homes with their neighbors invited. It seems that the children were the catalysts for this socializing.

Then the Dulaney Cabana Club was built and this brought the families even closer together.

Mike Costanza and/or Tony Sanzo, both of whom lived in Valley Crest, built the Tail of the Fox Restaurant on York Road. It was an excellent restaurant, very attractive and very popular with the residents. The Annual VCCA Dinner was always held there.

It was a pleasure to walk to the "Rocks" at Loch Raven from where the present entrance is and my son, Patrick and his friends fished and swam there often. It was an excellent area for the kids.

The trees had been planted by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) a government "make-work" agency during the depression. Unfortunately, we woke up one morning and the City had built a rifle range where the pathway had been.

Then the City sold the hardwood trees and that left large open spaces where the trees used to be. I don't recall the Community Association ever having any input on either of those developments.

The residents have generally done a good job of maintaining a good appearance for the community and I hope this continues.

We are blessed with good schools, good shopping areas, easy access to Light Rail, I-695, I-95, I-83, good fire and police protection, a low crime rate in the immediate area, churches of several denominations, several hospitals nearby, City Water, sewage and natural gas, effective zoning laws, increasing property values and other community assets. Let us be ever vigilant by supporting our association so that it can remain active and alert to retain these precious advantages.

Back in the day we did much of our grocery shopping at Food Fair on the SE corner of York and Seminary.

In a couple of years Pantry Pride, which was a subsidiary of Food Fair, replaced Food Fair in the same location and Food Fair became an anchor store on the second floor of the Towson Plaza when it was built in 1958. Food Fair and Pantry Pride were both supermarkets.

A & P and ACME were in Towson on Chesapeake Avenue across the street from each other. ACME had the reputation for having the best beef. They were not supermarkets, but were about the same size or smaller than Eddies on Charles Street.

In 1963 A & P was in the Yorkridge shopping center. When the shopping area at the corner of Pot Spring and Ridgely was built about 1965, 7-11 was the anchor store.

The strip mall where the Dunkin Donuts store is now was called the Yorkshire Shopping Center and it was here when we arrived in 1957.

Andy & Frank's was there and was our most convenient grocery store. Benson's hardware store and a High's store were also there.

A lot of our groceries were also bought from delivery trucks serving the area.

Mr. Sterner delivered eggs twice a week. He was a tall, very thin man, rarely ever smiled and wore a broad brim felt hat.

My son told me the other night that he was afraid of him and hid whenever he drove into the driveway. About half the time his daughter would be with him and she brought the eggs to the door and you paid on delivery.

If you weren't home they were left by the front door - the same way as the milk.

Green Spring Dairy delivered the milk in glass bottles 3 times a week. The top two or three inches in the bottle were cream.

Sometimes in the winter, it would freeze and the cream would rise up above the top.

Buddy's Produce delivered fruits and vegetables at least once a week. He had a Chevy Metro Van with a canvas curtain on each side that rolled up to display his bins of produce.

He had a bell that announced his arrival in the neighborhood. You would go out to his truck, select your produce and pay.

Rosen's was a liquor store in Towson. They would call by phone once a week and take your order for beer, wine, soft drinks, liquor and potato chips and deliver the next day.

The chips were in the large (about 3 gallons) slip cover "lard can". When they delivered a full can they would take back the empty. They would bill you at the end of the month.

We subscribed to the Morning and Evening Sun and it was delivered at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning and about 4 or 5 in the afternoon. Another delivery man served the Baltimore American paper.

The strip mall across Dulaney Valley road from Towson Town Center (where Fresh Market is now) replaced a rather primitive garden center. We bought several plants and trees at their "Going-Out-Of-Business" sale when the mall was built. Some of them were Honey Locusts and they grew fast.

I was going to buy a couple more but the owner said: "I think that will be as many as you want." They turned out to be the dirtiest trees I have ever seen and I cut them all down except for one, which is still messing up my yard every spring and fall. But the birds and squirrels love it so I tolerate it. I have thanked that nurseryman many times for holding me back.

1958 – "The Greatest Game Ever Played." After that season we all had season tickets and our Sunday with the Colts began about ten o'clock when we boarded the bus for the stadium.

We were with a group of about ten others and it was a lot of fun. Lunch was a picnic in the stands or if we drove our cars it was tailgate parties in the parking lot.

Gino Marchetti, Alan Ameche and Bill Pellington were all big Colt stars and each of them opened restaurants after they retired.

Pellington opened his Iron Horse restaurant in the Ridgely shopping center where Charred Rib stood.

Gino had a chain of McDonald type hamburger stands (which have recently re-appeared in the region). As I recall there was one at Yorkridge and another south of Towson not far from the college. Ameche opened his at Loch Raven and what is now Goucher Boulevard.

Unitas opened the Golden Arm later down York Road across from the old Stewart's Department Store.

Johnnie Unitas and Don Shula lived on Pot Spring road and Art DeCarlo, another Colt, built the home on the west side of Lyden at Ridgely.

Timonium Pharmacy on York Road across from the present Dunkin Donuts was our pharmacy until the Lykos Pharmacy opened about 1962 at Timonium and York Road. The Lykos family has been long-time neighbors in Valley Crest.

Across Timonium Road from the Lykos Pharmacy was a drive-in called the Peacock Inn. It was a drive-in restaurant where you could call in your order from a speaker in your parking space and it would be delivered to your car on a tray that fastened to the window. You could also go inside and be served.

I think it was replaced by an Ameche's restaurant. Down York Road past where the Towson Diner is now was an A & W root beer stand. They served big frosted mugs of root beer and that was a favorite stop.

Another very favorite stop was the Timonium Drive-In Theatre off Timonium Road near where the former Holiday Inn is now. We would average maybe once a week going there with the kids.

Big events of the summer for the kids - and the adults enjoyed them too - were Fourth of July at the Dulaney Cabana Club and the Timonium Fair with the rides and the animals and the food stands.

My daughter Shelley and my son Pat helped me with some of my memories. Pat was telling me that he and the two sons of Mike & Ruth Costanza were good friends.

The Costanzas lived at 313 Ivy Church next to the Sanzos at Southbourne Road and Ivy Church. Mike Costanza was an engineer and worked on the Valley Crest project. He also was an engineer at the Tail of the Fox restaurant and became part owner.

Pat said that, when it snowed he and the Costanza boys would pour water on the banks in back of their home. The water would freeze and he could go on his sled from Southbourne & Ivy Church through the back yards, down the banks to Walpole Court, to Lyden Road and then up our driveway without stopping.

My wife Anita, and Marcie Caffee, who lived in the last house on the East side of Lyden before it was opened, each had a bell that they would ring when they wanted the kids to come home.

Before Lyden was cut through to Ridgely the area at the end of the street was loaded with blackberry bushes. The downside was that it was also loaded with Poison Ivy and Sumac.

Incidentally, you can still see where Lyden ended by the difference in the macadam between the old and the part that was laid after the cut through to Ridgely.

The #4 Streetcar was still running to Towson in 1957. School buses did not come to this area for Ridgely Middle or Timonium Elementary schools; however, there was a bus for Dulaney High School. The pickup spot was at Ivy Church and Gateswood.

Along with Tail of the Fox and Valley Inn, Green Spring Inn was a favorite Saturday nightspot. They had a large dance floor and live Big-Band music - Ray Girard among others. We were never there, but the Summit, also on Falls Road, was a popular dance spot where Stan Kenton once played.

We attended the First Methodist Church when it was in Towson but in 1958 we built the new church with the spire on Hampton Lane.

Bethlehem Steel, BGE, McCormick, Black & Decker were the big employers and many of the residents worked at one or the other.

I heard several times that the taxes paid by Bethlehem Steel were enough to pay for the County police and fire departments. I can believe it but I have no way of knowing for sure if it was true.

It was traumatic for my children to leave their home and friends in Cambridge and move to Timonium, but they adjusted quickly and have told me many, many times that they feel so fortunate that they lived here during their school years.

We tried to pacify our daughter, who was eight years old when we moved, by telling her she could take horseback riding lessons when we moved here. This worked and when we moved she took lessons at Mrs. Bosley's riding academy at the corner of Cinder and Pot Spring Roads.

While we loved Cambridge, we learned to love Baltimore County even more and remained here after I retired. We never regretted it.

When we would run into friends from Cambridge, who couldn't imagine that we would prefer the "City" to the Eastern Shore, they would always ask: "When are you coming back?" We would say: "We're not!"

Ed Nelson lived in Valley Crest for more than 50 years. This article is compiled from his remembrances of Valley Crest previously published in the Spring and Fall 2008 community newsletters.

Home || News & Events || About Us || Newsletter || Links || History || Message Board || Map || Contact