Written by Kathy Leaman and Darlene Pruett
In our continuing series of interviews with Marietta’s finest generational citizens, we spent several afternoons with Harold Kulman. He was generous enough to share his personal history and memories with us. He is quite a vivid storyteller, with a touch of mischievousness. We feel privileged to share his story in his words with all of you.
We invite you to meet the one and only Harold Kulman.
My maternal relatives sailed from Rotterdam in 1748 and arrived in New York and later in Maryland. I knew my maternal grandparents Harry and Minnie. My grandfather, Harry Penwell, came to Marietta before 1883 from Maryland, then married Minnie Ruby.
My paternal relatives came to America in the 1800s from Lithuania or Latvia. They came to New York first (Ellis Island) and then settled in New Jersey.
I did not know my paternal (Abram and Rose Sroka Kulman) grandparents. Around 1919, my father, Benjamin Harris Kulman, arrived in Marietta to run the family’s silk mill business. He met and married Elsie Penwell who worked at the mill. My father was very bright and very gentle. He was very community oriented and served as president of many newly formed Marietta organizations. My mother had an enthusiastic sense of humor and I inherited some of it. I had an older brother, Allan Richard, who was injured in WWII. I was 12 years younger and learned to play God Bless America and Home Sweet Home on the accordion to welcome him home.
I was born at home and my dad wanted a boy. Dr. Lawrence called down to dad “Ambrose is here” and his nurse Blanche shortened it to Brosie. The name stuck and everyone called me Brosie, my parents, my teachers, my friends, my first wife—many people did not know my real name.
Marietta Grade School & High School—Last graduating class from Marietta High School (1954) before consolidation to Donegal High School with Maytown and Mount Joy.
Franklin & Marshall College—BA in Psychology in 1959
University of Louisville — MA in Clinical Psychology in 1960
University of Kentucky—Doctoral Study in 1961
Ancora State Mental Hospital, 1962 — Completed internship in Psychology and became a licensed Psychologist, retiring in 2019.
Originally, I wanted to be an FBI agent, but I needed a degree in accounting, and I failed accounting! I was always interested in law enforcement. I was in the National Guard and underwent basic training at Fort Knox. I was then discharged because they did not see the need for psychologists at the time.
While growing up in Marietta, I worked briefly for my dad in the silk mill. After a couple of hours as a duster, walking down each isle sucking up the dust with my vacuum, I realized I then had to do it all over again, so I moved on. I briefly worked stocking shelves at the Acme Grocery Store, which is currently the laundromat and Marietta Arts Alive. I left because the manager would not let me off to go to the Inauguration of President Eisenhower when I wanted the chance to see the president in person.
My next job was working for Wyeth. I was cutting grass in the front of their office, fully aware that there was a new secretary inside. Turning to face her, I hit a light post that knocked me off the mower. I chased the mower, hopped back on thinking and hoping no one had seen me. Three of my coworkers waved to me. I decided to work the night shift after that. One year I was hired for the Christmas season to deliver packages for the Marietta Post Office. While on the route, my friend and I decided to stop for breakfast. After breakfast, much to our surprise, the truck would not start. We had to be rescued. The Post Office never hired Christmas help again.
After graduating from college and getting my license, I worked as a vocational psychologist/administrator in Philadelphia for 18 years. During this time, I also worked part time as a vocational expert for the Social Security Administration, which I continued to do for 32 years. I then started my own business as a vocational consultant/rehabilitation psychologist in 1980 and did this until retirement in 2019.
My part-time job was a police officer. Since 1972, I worked with the Marietta Police Department / Susquehanna Regional Police Force. In 1982, I went to the Police Academy in Harrisburg for training for one year to become a regular police officer, graduating in 1983. I worked weekends for the Marietta Police Department. In September 1988, the Lancaster County Drug Task Force was formed, and I was sworn in as a Special County Detective volunteering to serve on the Task Force. I retired from Susquehanna Regional Police Force and the Lancaster County Drug Task Force on Dec. 3, 2003. I still miss this work.
My dad’s silk mill was a major employer in Marietta during the 1900s until 1955, when it closed. In 1958 it was used to store tobacco which then caught fire and burned to the ground. The town smelled like tobacco smoke for days!
My dad was from a city and did not know about hunting season. The employees all thought the mill would be closed for the first day of hunting season, but my dad said if you want to be off, you will need a doctor’s excuse. All the men took off and all had doctor’s excuses!
During WWII, I remember when the soldiers from the Marietta Depot (now Armstrong) would march down Market Street.
I also remember the low line railroad on Front Street and the offshoots for the businesses. Many people from town would meet there to go on a free train ride to Atlantic City sponsored by the Grocers. It was called “The Grocers’ Picnic”. I was just a child when my parents would go, I always wanted to go with them. I would look out my bedroom window facing down Perry Street to the station, waiting for them to return.
My mother’s father lived on the second floor of the Linden House. We went there every Thursday night for dinner. It was somewhat of a treat as we did not have to eat strictly kosher food there. My grandfather liked to play cards, but he would cheat and tease me. He had lost the lower part of his right arm in a gun accident. I would ride with him as he worked delivering bread, helping to crank start his truck.
I lived at 278 West Market Street and my friend and I made a sling shot out of tubing and a leather shoe tongue. Rumor has it raw eggs hit the side of The Marietta Community House…still an unsolved mystery, there were no confessions.
My friends and I had fun celebrating Halloween. We would build strawmen, lean them against an unsuspecting neighbors’ door, knock, then hide. The door would open, and strawman would fall inside and onto the person. We would also smear molasses on doorknobs throughout Marietta. It did get a little out of hand. Chief Tilman paid a visit to our high school searching for the culprits!
The construction of the Route 441 bypass around Marietta changed the traffic pattern and people no longer passed through the town on their way north to Maytown or Mount Joy. Having the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail finally completed brings scores of young people through downtown Marietta. The borough is being rediscovered and it is encouraging to see visitors want to live here.
I have three daughters: Tammy, Paige, and Whitney. Paige and Whitney both live in Marietta, Tammy lives in Colorado. Nancy, my lovely wife, is originally from York County. I have a wonderful family and thoroughly enjoy my eight grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
When Harold met Nancy:
Nancy Resides was buying a ticket at the Lancaster train station. I was hoping she was going to choose my train car to Philly. She didn’t. We both worked in downtown Philadelphia and the train was our mode of transportation. I rode the “Party Train Car” and when the train stopped in Downingtown, I would jump off and buy drinks for everyone. It was a smoking car and Nancy did not smoke; however, she eventually joined us. We had so much fun and made many lasting friendships.
Federal Judge Newcomer, a Lancaster to Philly commuter, told us we would get married because we were always smiling and laughing together.
(They are still 43 years later.)
Time as Mayor
It was interesting, and I enjoyed most of it. I especially enjoyed being on the Police Commission because of my interest in police work. I like talking to people and trying to help them.
Involvement in Marietta Organizations
I was on Marietta Borough Council for many years, starting in the 1970s during Agnes and later off and on until I became mayor. In the aftermath of Hurricane Agnes, Front Street homes had to be inspected for electrical and foundation issues before allowing homeowners to return to their homes. Government trailers had been set up at the War Memorial Park on East Walnut Street to temporarily house them. Obviously, the homeowners (approximately one hundred people) were anxious to return to their homes. The mayor and I held a meeting to inform them they could not presently return. As you can imagine the homeowners were irate hearing that news. Suddenly, the lights went out and when they came back on, the mayor was found sheltering under the table.
I was on the Marietta Borough Council when they implemented the public sewage system. It was a large undertaking trying to convince many homeowners that this would be an incredibly good thing for them and the borough. I was charged with inspecting the system that originated from the street to the connection inside the homes. I inspected several incredulous hookups where the homeowners chose to have the sewer line connected to their private outhouses. Their reasoning was that taking a sewer line into their homes would have been unsanitary. It took some persuasion to convince them otherwise.
As a past president of the Marietta Jaycees, I helped with the Marietta Fireworks display and Carnival for many years. I joined the Marietta Pioneer Fire Company when I was eighteen and in January 1999, I became a life member.
In 1966, I was a charter member of the Marietta Restoration Associates. My involvement is shared by my wife Nancy and our homes have been featured on the annual Candlelight Tour numerous times. We enjoy buying and restoring houses in Marietta. I have always been proud of my hometown and working to better it any way I can.
I served on the Board of Directors for the Farmers First Bank in Marietta and on the Main Board of Directors for Farmers First Bank which became Susquehanna Regional Bank (now Truist Bank), retiring from the Board in 2005.
A lifelong member at St. John’s Episcopal Church, I remember being paid a dime, as a child, to sing in the Boys’ Choir. I was part of the church vestry and past warden on vestry.
This is Marietta.
This is where you are.
This is where you should be.
This is where you should come to live, work and play.
This is where the Lord intended you to be.
-Harold (Brosie) Kulman
Thank you, Brosie!
Our time spent with this complex and interesting man was fascinating. Brosie has many, many more stories centered around Marietta and its eclectic cast of characters. When you encounter Harold and Nancy on their frequent walks through town, you must ask him about the turtle story. With all his accomplishments and interests, Harold could have lived anywhere in the world. A true Mariettian, his journeyed life brings him to reside within five blocks from his place of birth.