Written by Darlene Pruett and Kathy Leaman ~ friends and admirers
We have participated in and have been members of the Marietta Restoration Associates (MRA) and The Marietta Community House. Rivertownes PA USA is a direct descendant of MRA. We are impressed with the number of volunteer organizations still benefiting Marietta. We have always been in awe of the commitment to these organizations by many generational Mariettians. They created and organized boards that preserved the history and historical architecture of Marietta and served on those boards for decades. They organized fundraisers and contributed to them. How did they accomplish so much while raising families and working outside the home? Where did they find the time and the energy?
We created a list of names of some of the amazing Mariettians we would love to interview and were overjoyed when our first ask, Vivian Moran Carroll, said “Yes!”
We met in person, had written questions, and taped some of our conversations reassuring her that we would reveal her answers as close to her verbal and written responses as possible. As we talked with Vivian and delved more deeply into her memories and her past, we didn’t realize it at first, we were really uncovering and attempting to chronicle a once in a lifetime romantic love story. Suddenly the questions and answers became so much more than listing the attributes of an overachiever, we wanted to share the life story of undying love and commitment of two people to each other and their community.
~ We invite you to meet Marietta’s one and only Vivian Moran Carroll ~
In the Beginning
What is Your family’s history in Marietta?
It starts with my paternal grandparents. Thomas Moran left Ireland and spent time mining diamonds in South America, he met his future wife Kathryn McGonagle in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, she died rather young, and my grandfather sent my father Thomas, a young boy, and their only child, to live with family in Emporium, Pennsylvania. He was afraid he would lose custody of him to his in-laws. They reunited several years later and lived in Marietta. My Grandfather Moran was always close by and supportive of our family, especially when my father was fighting in World War II.
My maternal grandparents, Ella (Smeltzer) Rinehart and Abram Rinehart, lived in Mount Joy. My grandmother had a car and provided much needed transportation. I suffered a complication from measles that resulted in crossed eyes. When I was about 8 years old, surgery was recommended. First, for two weeks, I had to perform some exercises that were offered in Lancaster to see if surgery could be avoided. My grandmother made sure I attended the exercise classes. Surgery was needed, it was performed by Dr. Fulton and was successful.
Question: Your parents, Thomas Frances Xavier Moran of Marietta and Vivian Rinehart of Mount Joy married at St. Peters in Elizabethtown, in 1933. What were your parents like?
Vivian: They were wonderful, they never said I love you, but we could feel their love for us and each other. They taught us respect for ourselves and others and to practice kindness. My parents were Catholic. My brothers and I were raised in the Catholic church. My father had various jobs, he served in the Army in World War II, worked at a gas station on the square in Marietta, worked as a cook at my grandfather’s restaurant in Marietta, and as an electrician, maintenance man for Watt & Shand in downtown Lancaster. My brothers and I loved going to visit him there. My parents were so involved in my children’s lives they were fondly called “Other Mommy” and “Other Daddy.”
Question: Did you have any siblings?
Vivian: Yes, I have two brothers, Thomas R. and Patrick Thomas. Thomas was two years younger than me, and Patrick is seven years younger. They were little devils. As adults, they both lived in Mount Joy. Patrick is still there, unfortunately Thomas has passed away. Both of my brothers married in the same church my parents did, St. Peters in Elizabethtown.
Question: Where did you live as a child?
Vivian: 115 West Walnut. It was a 2-way street at the time. It was very hard to traverse West Walnut when it snowed, there was no way to dig out the cars. We had dogs as pets. My best childhood friend lived next door, Ginny Eurich (Sargen). We loved playing in the backyard and riding bicycles. I shared a bicycle with my brother Thomas. Ginny and I were the same age and even attended high school together.
Question: What stands out in your memory of your childhood?
Vivian: One of my most poignant memories was living through World War II. It was the most horrible time of my life. My father was drafted into the military and was sent overseas, first to France and then to the Philippines. I was around eight years old, and my brothers were six and one at the time. My mother, like a lot of mothers, had to take in work to make ends meet. The military pay was approximately $30 per month. She spent her days working by taking in laundry and sewing for the Army Depot. I was responsible for my brothers’ needs and spent two years caring for them. My biggest fear was losing my father. My brother, Thomas, really missed my father, too, and sometimes acted out. He once set a fire in a vacant field on West Walnut. Thankfully it happened on a Monday, wash day, and all the women brought their wash water to extinguish the flames.
I also remember hobos, always men, coming to our back door to ask for food. My mother always gave them something- coffee and sandwiches. This happened about once a month and the hobos were always polite and thankful. I think they knew where to stop. Bob said his mother did the same thing.
We never really took family vacations; however, our holiday celebrations were special, if simple, with dinners and small gifts.
Question: Where did you attend elementary school?
Vivan: I went to nursery school at The Marietta Community House. I attended first grade at the Marietta Public School. My mother asked the boys passing by if I could follow them to school and they said “yes.” I met Henry, Skip, Louie Liphart, and Jack Denlinger. They all became lifelong friends. I attended Holy Trinity Catholic elementary school in Columbia. My grandfather challenged the choice of school as he wanted me to attend St. Peters in Columbia. Apparently Holy Trinity had a German affiliation and St. Peters has an Irish affiliation. My Father, Thomas, chose Holy Trinity and that is where I went.
Question: High School was not a Catholic school?
Vivian: I attended Marietta High School. It was a very special time in my life. I loved it. There were twenty of us in the class. I was chosen to be a cheerleader in my freshman year. The basketball coach, Hubie Peters, chose the cheerleaders and I was thrilled to be part of the team. I was captain of the squad my Junior and Senior years. I was also in Girl Scouts. My Freshman year one of the scouts’ fathers allowed us to camp out at his place along Chickies creek on the outskirts of Marietta. The other girls all invited their boyfriends and when my father dropped me off he asked why they were there, and I explained. My father went to Hick Rapp’s restaurant after dropping me off. He was having coffee when Bob (Robert) Carroll walked in. Bob was going to play cards in the basement of the restaurant. He was 4 years older than I was. My dad asked him if he would like to meet his daughter and explained where I was and why. Bob agreed and came out to meet me. He said my dad sent him. I never dated anyone else. Who could have known my father would be responsible for choosing my future husband.
I remember playing hooky one afternoon with five or six girls from my school. We all went to Hertzler’s Dress Shop. The school was trying to track us down and one of the mothers of my friends called the dress shop to see if we were there. We were caught red handed and our Principal, Ralph Colman, was going to ensure that this kind of behavior would not be tolerated. He threatened to cancel the Senior Play and suspend us. I guess five or six missing students really stood out in a class of twenty.
My senior class saved money to take a chaperoned trip to the New York State for ten days. We hired a bus and driver and for three of the days we stayed at a hotel on 43rd Street in New York City. We attended a concert, Nat King Cole! Admission $1.00 and included a movie. It was all planned by us and paid for by us and our parents. Our chaperones were Mrs. Schenck and Mr. Weaver. Me and 3 other classmates are still living and still in touch with each other.
I was on the Marietta Recreation Association when I was in high school and worked for Donegal Insurance my senior year.
Question: What did teenagers do for fun in Marietta?
Vivian: Oh, there was so much to do. We loved dancing. Bessie & Charlies Candy Shoppe opened the back room of their store and called it the Rendezvous. Twenty-five cents admission to a teenager’s dance club, we wanted to dance and be together, so we were all well behaved. Movies, the theatre was right in the middle of town, Bob and I would go and hold hands. I remember most of them were cowboy, Roy Rogers, and war movies. Hershey Park was a popular place offering dancing and swimming opportunities. We went to all the school activities, baseball, basketball. I was not allowed to go to the river or to Elgin, a dance place next to where Molly’s Café is now.
Question: When and where did you marry Bob Carroll?
Vivian: Bob was in the Army Rangers when I graduated from high school. I graduated in May of 1952, and we were married in September of that year. We married at Saint Mary’s Catholic Church in Marietta, the same church I was baptized in and received first communion and confirmation. We did not live together until 1953 when I was allowed to join him in Fort Benning, Georgia. We moved home in 1954 on our 2nd wedding anniversary bringing our new son Bobby with us. There never seemed to be a question as to where we would settle, we came right back to Marietta. We were married for 62 years before Bob passed away in 2014.
Question: There is a rumor that the Carrolls lived in every house in Marietta. We assume it is an exaggeration, where in Marietta did you two create a home?
Vivian: Ha, ha, not true, only five. Moving here in 1954 we rented an apartment at 580 E. Market Street. Next we moved to an apartment on Chestnut St. near Hinkle’s Sunshine Dairy Barn. Then 145 East Market Street. In 1958, we were looking for a bigger apartment or house, our son Michael was born in January and Jean (Regina) Sumpman Lowe suggested to Bob we buy the house next to her for $18,000. She convinced Bob and the bank, and we bought the house at 328 East Market Street. Jean and I became the best of friends. We lived there for 22 years; the rest of our children were born during this time. Twenty years after buying the house, Jean confessed that her best friend at the time, the owner of the house, paid her $500 for selling the house to us! You would often find us sharing a drink on Friday nights at Shank’s Tavern. She was so fun! Her daughter, Gail, and I stay in touch.
I always loved the house at 72 Fairview Avenue, it was the house of my dreams. Bob made my dream a reality. I remember hosting a Christmas party at the house, I asked the florist in Marietta, Kathy Frey, to help me decorate. She placed beautiful poinsettias on the floor totally covering the area underneath the dining room table. It was breathtaking! We lived there for ten years.
From Fairview Avenue, we moved to 303 W. Market Street and then to a condominium at the Silk Mill. We would alternate between the Silk Mill and the A Frame house we built along the river on the Wrightsville side, Murphy’s Hollow. I now have a beautiful condo with a loft at the Silk Mill.
Question: You mentioned four children. Three boys and a girl. You said they were one of your greatest accomplishments. Tell us a little bit about them.
Vivian: Robert (Bobby) was born on September 8,1954. He was always adventurous and determined. He used to “run-away” to his grandmother’s (my mom). He would pack his socks and underwear in a paper bag and leave the house. She lived on West Walnut, and I would call her to let her know to expect him in about five minutes. Bobby married Vickie Herman; they live in Murphy’s Hollow.
Michael was born on January 7, 1958. He is married to Christy Hadley. In 1991, he gave me what is now my favorite book, “Love You Forever.” Michael travels a lot for work, he calls me from everywhere to bring me up to date. They live in Cochransville, PA.
Kathryn (Katie), born June 14, 1959 (Flag Day) married Dennis Hostetter. They live in the Carroll family home in Marietta. My prayers were answered, a baby girl. When she was in 5th grade, they put jars in various businesses where you would put donations in for your favorite and she won.
James Joseph (Jimmy Joe) arrived on October 20, 1970. Married to Jody Klinedinst. They live in Mount Joy. Jimmy was the sweetest, most loving young man. I always got a hug from him before he left the house even in front of friends.
I am the proud Grandmother of 12 Grandchildren, all but one resides in the immediate vicinity. Unbelievably, Great Grandmother of ten! Truly Blessed!
Come Along for the Ride
Question: Bob owned a business in Marietta, one that complemented his love of cars and specifically his love of drag racing. You were very much a part of that scene. How did this impact you and your marriage?
Vivian: During the late 1950s into the early 1960s Bob owned “Custom Auto Parts Speed Shop,” it was located at 422 East Hazel Avenue. It was a total family affair, his brother Joe with his wife Betty, along with my brothers Tom and Pat, friends Bill Baker, Sam Zuch, and Mike McDivett all helped Bob greatly modify a Fiat Bug into a competitive drag car. Their efforts paid off handsomely by garnering dozens of trophies for Fiat. Fred Zipp was the driver for many years. Bob was ranked #2 nationally in AA Racing Circuit. Drag racing was an expensive sport and without financial sponsors it was impossible to sustain. Sponsorships were hard to come by and our adventure in the sport slowly came to an end. He was inducted into the 2013 Eastern Hall of Fame Drag Racing Museum in York, Pennsylvania.
However, in the early 1960s things were going well for Custom Auto and Bob decided to take me to New York City for a weekend to celebrate. The first night we went to see the play, “Damn Yankees.” The second day we, of course, attended a car show. Then dinner at a great restaurant. We stopped for a few nightcaps, our waiter was very attentive, asking if we needed more drinks! We had a great weekend as a couple, three children were waiting for us at home. During this time, I took a shopping trip to Philadelphia and found a fur stole at Macy’s, Bob said have them send it the house C. O. D. I still have the stole. We were partners in everything, marriage, parenting, working, community service, enjoying life.
Races were held in York and all over the country. I participated in starting races and was asked to work for the York US30 Dragway counting money and handing off winnings. Alice Ann and Bill Holtz were managers for the nationally known US30 Dragway. Dragsters from all over competed there in the 1960s. It was an exciting time to be part of the racing experience. I was asked by Alice Ann Holtz if I would be interested in helping her host car shows. My answer? Absolutely! Yes, I was!
We set up car shows in large venues in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Lancaster, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Ohio. The shows took place over weekends, and we would travel to the venue, set up everything for opening with the help of a crew of drivers and movers. The two of us were totally in charge, dressed in our skirts and heels, sometimes moving heavy equipment, handling registration, advertising the event, collecting money. We handled it all and hosted very successful shows. I remember one event where we were at a venue that hosted ice hockey when a brass standard division fell on my toe. I was in a lot of pain; someone found the hockey trainer who stated my toe was broken. He wrapped it and I slipped back into my shoes and the show went on as scheduled. We were treated with great respect by our crew. So much so that during a show in Philadelphia, a member of the crew needed someone to drive an empty tractor trailer from a parking lot off site to the venue. I insisted I could not do it, he insisted I could. I DID! It was late at night – early in the morning, streetlights were all flashing yellow and off I went driving a tractor trailer through the center of Philadelphia. I am still in awe of that moment.
One of the highlights of the Philadelphia show was having Bobby Darin’s car displayed. It took seven years to restore was worth about $150,000 and described by Bobby Darin as, “It’s a gas.” Beautiful car!
In the 1960s Bob bought me a Studebaker, the one that looked like a bullet. I drove it for about a month and really didn’t like it. He said go get what you want. I bought a pink 1960s Ford Thunderbird all by myself. My kids ended up driving it to Donegal High School.
I could not have left for weekends, could not have had all those exciting experiences, could not have found such a sense of accomplishment without help at home. I made good money and was able to contribute to our family. Bob and my parents made sure the children were well taken care of. Bob was very supportive of me and encouraged my independence.
Question: You have mentioned how your faith has helped sustain you throughout your life. It appears all your milestone celebrations took place in the Catholic Church, St. Mary’s in Marietta and now the Parish of Mary Mother of the Church, in Mount Joy. How did it shape your life?
Vivian: It’s hard to really put into words. My faith has guided me through my entire life.
I was baptized had my First Communion and was confirmed in the former St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Marietta. Bob and I were married and raised our four children, Bobbie, Michael, Katie, and Jimmy in the church. They were also Baptized, received their First Communions, and were confirmed in St. Mary’s. Bob converted to Catholicism after 39 years of marriage.
I worked at church as a teenager and babysat children so their parents could attend mass.
I was a member and president of The Council of Catholic Women, set the alter before mass, and laid out the priest’s vestments. I also cleaned the church and rectory.
I now attend Mary Mother of the Church in Mount Joy.
My faith sustained me during the terrible accident of my son Jimmy when he was a teenager, the heart surgery I had in Cleveland, the loss of my great grandson, and the death of my husband.
My favorite scripture: Psalm 118 verse 24:
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Question: You and Bob spent a lot of time giving back to Marietta. What are the organizations that tempted you to donate your time and attention? What did you enjoy most?
Vivian: Marietta Restoration Associates, Bob and I both were members. We were on the board that sought to and acquired the stewardship of The Olde Town Hall, now housing the Marietta museum. We also maintain the Union Meeting House and surrounding cemetery. This year marks my 57th year as a member. I served on the Board as President and loved hosting the gift shop in the bank on Market Street. I’m a little disappointed I didn’t delve more into retail after the fabulous experience of selecting items for the shop. I volunteered for, and was so honored, to be Mrs. Santa for the MRA tree lighting events. It is so special for the kids in Marietta. Still my favorite event, this year I am helping secure the homes to view on the Candlelight Tour.
The Marietta Community House celebrated its 100th birthday in 2019. Dave Hickernell awarded members having served more than 25 years, with a commemorative folder. I have served in several capacities on the Board of Directors for The Marietta Community House for over 40 years. The house has served the community in many ways over the years and was the original art school that evolved into The Pennsylvania School of Art and Design.
Rivertownes PA USA organization. Bob was heavily involved in the restoration of the Vesta building. The invitation to join historic preservation efforts by the three river towns of Marietta, Columbia, and Wrightsville into a united organization really strengthened the mission of restoration for our area. Marietta Art Alive just finished a very beautiful and successful Plein Aire event sponsored under the Rivertownes PA umbrella.
American Legion Post #466 – A wonderful organization supporting veterans and the community. Great place to socialize. Bob and I were both active in the organization.
Marietta Recreation – I was a member of this organization when I was in high school. It oversaw the Marietta Borough War Memorial Park. Now I overlook the park from my condo.
Within the scope of these organizations, and as a group, I feel we absolutely accomplished great things for Marietta. We thought it important to share the richness of the community that lives within our boundaries. We all shared a common goal – make Marietta a good place to call home. Personally, Bob and I loved the opportunity to socialize and make new friends or solidify old. We attended every social event we could, and he usually ended up being the bartender, he loved it and served every drink accompanied by a joke.
I met Margaret Hunt Landis (Margie) when our children were in school together, my Michael, Katie, and her Barbara. We grew close as friends through our shared interests and volunteer organizations. We had a habit of calling each other late in the evenings. Margie was a lifeline after I lost Bob, we continued our calls almost every evening covering every subject and story possible. Later when she was no longer allowed to drive, I became her lifeline and made sure she attended meetings and other events. It was a beautiful friendship. I am very close to her son James, who, by the way, is very involved in the Marietta community.
Question: We know you are still serving on the boards of MRA, The Marietta Community House, and Rivertownes. What else do you do in your free time?
Vivian: I will help with the elections in Marietta. I sit at the polls; I have been doing this for about 15 years. I helped with the Plein Aire Art Show.
Future of the Carrolls in Marietta
Question: Your granddaughter, Rebecca Carroll Baltozer, is the new Mayor of Marietta. After reading her introduction to Marietta in an article in the Traveler, it is apparent she has an appreciation and love for you and Bob. You were great role models. How did you handle the news?
Vivian: We talk almost every day. I never doubted she could accomplish anything she really wanted to accomplish. I do think her grandfather and I helped to shape her view and love of Marietta. I know he would be so proud of her, I certainly am.
Thanks for the Memories
Vivian, when asked what part of your life you would like to relive, you replied “your marriage.” It is apparent through our conversations that you and Bob shared a truly unique, exciting, fun, loving, supportive marriage. It is also apparent that you were best friends.
You have shared how much you miss him and with your permission we are sharing the song you listen to every night before you go to sleep.
Sung by Kenny Rogers
Written by Lionel Richie
I wanted for life, you and me in the wind I never thought there’d come a time that our story would end It’s hard to understand but I guess I’ll have to try It’s not easy to say goodbye For all the joy we share, all that time we had to spend Now if I had one wish I’d want forever back again To look into your eyes and hold you when you cry It’s not easy to say goodbye I remember all those great times we had So many memories, some good, some bad Yes and through it all those memories will last forever There’s peace in where you are maybe all I need to know And if I listen to my heart I’ll hear your laughter once more And so I have to say I’m just glad you came my way It’s not easy to say goodbye Goodbye