About five years ago I posted ten articles about my father, Cal Skinner, Sr.
It’s time to let new readers learn a bit about my father.
The story got out of hand, so I’ll cut it up and run some each day until I reach the end.
Calvin LeRoy Skinner was born in Wilmington, Delaware June 8, 1916, the second son of Addie Watling and Roy Skinner.
His mother was running a corner store. She already had son George when she became pregnant with Dad.
I was interviewing her in her 95th year and she suddenly asked,
“Are you in favor of abortion?”
“I don’t know, Grandmom,” I replied, not knowing where she was going.
“Well, you better not, because you wouldn’t be here if I had followed my girlfriends’ advice.”
Her girl friends suggested if she had a second child she would have to close the store.
The family also lived in Chester, Pennsylvania, and on various rental farms in Maryland, two I know of were in Queen Anne’s County.
Dad’s father was a handyman-builder and farmer. He built their home in Chester. He built a church near Crumpton. At one point his mother worked in a fireworks factory in Chestertown, Maryland, that blew up. She led survivors to safety, crawling under a wire fence.
The family lived on rental farms, one of which was next to his future wife Eleanor Stevens near Barclay, Maryland.
Another was on a road where he and his father saw a black man lynched. They were walking home as the mob was stringing the poor man up. (I wrote Maryland officials interested in lynching, but none are listed in Queen Anne’s County after 1891. I figure this probably occurred in the 1920’s, but Maryland statistics show no lynchings in that decade, even though the PBS series on the Roosevelts said lynchings continued into Franklin’s administration, although Maryland was not mentioned.)
The last farm was near Route 50 east of Crumpton and Dad farmed it during World War II when his father became unable to do so.
As a high schooler, Dad excelled in agriculture, becoming President of the Maryland 4-H All-Stars. (He must have had a politically astute Ag teacher to win the convention held in Fredericksburg, Maryland.)
4-H leaders from around the country camped around the Washington Monument at some point.
As a kid he broke his arm falling out of a tree. His father set it. The result was a slightly bent arm the rest of his life, left, I think.
After graduating from Sudlersville High School, the same year as his future wife Eleanor, in the summer before attending the University of Maryland, he may have received the first student loan.
The local banker asked him,
“Calvin, how are you going to pay for college?”
Dad told him he was going to work his way through.
“Here’s a check book. If you ever need money, write a check.”
Dad got his first car, a Model T with a rumble seat, I believe, when he walked by a man on a road who couldn’t get his vehicle restarted.
“You want it?” he asked.
My father answered in the affirmative.
“It’s yours,” the owner said and walked away.
Tomorrow, Cal Skinner, Sr.’s story continues with Part 2
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