Families in Shipping and Commerce

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“Great people have great values and great ethics.” ~ Jeffrey Gitomer

I recently revisited a National Historic site that I remember from my childhood.  It’s just a couple of miles from where I grew up in Towson, Maryland.

Hampton Mansion, tagged as a “Palace in the Wilderness,” at one time equaled half the area of present day Baltimore. The site tells a story of early settlers, the Ridgely family, prominent Marylander’s who were colonial merchants in iron production, shipping and commerce. Ridgely’s iron was said to be “the most profitable exports in the mid-Atlantic colonies.” Read more about this tale of an industrious family who helped fuel a new nation.

The artifacts, beautiful gardens, parterres and vistas, the Georgian mansion, stables and workers quarters for the indentured servants are all evidence of a powerful businessman, who was said to be “genteel” kept “the best table in America” and was “very kind to his servants”. Written entries in journals evidence the care that was taken make Christmas gift lists for all the domestic help of the estate.

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Focus on Simple Pleasures

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There are few things in common between where I grew up, in Towson, Maryland and where I am residing at this moment, Steamboat Springs, Colorado except great peaches and sweet corn.

It is an unexpected gift when you live high up in the magnificent Rocky Mountains to find corn and peaches as good as what’s grown in Maryland.  The produce comes in  from Palisades, Colorado every weekend on a truck.

We are getting into the fresh from the farm season! So, although, I am living many, many miles away from all of our family – today I would like post a reminder to myself.


And as gift for my readers on this sunny summer day – here is something you can make that is useful, healthy and delicious.It comes from http://www.OasisAdvancedWellness.com. Visit their website, there’s other fulfilling things they’ve posted for the visitors of their space on the internet.

See you tomorrow on All Things Fulfilling! This blog brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected. NOW AVAILABLE IN AUDIO BOOK, TOO! http://amzn.to/1rDx80a.

Peaches two


Towson, Now and Then


Friendship is…..one of those things that give value to survival.” ~ C.S. Lewis

Today I am going to take a trip down memory lane during the 1950s and 1960s  to my native stomping grounds of  Towson, Maryland (in Baltimore County) . It’s the  home of Goucher College http://www.goucher.edu/  and Towson State College (now known as Towson University)http://www.towson.edu . Johns Hopkins University http://www.jhu.edu/ and Loyola University http://www.loyola.edu/ are  just down the road in Baltimore City.

When I was a young girl, Towson Plaza, was our shopping mecca. Stores like Tuerks (Twerks, as Fanny the stellar character in my memoir called it), Reads Drugstore and The Plaza Florest were just a few of the stores located there. Of course, S.S. Kresges (aka  Kresgeree’s according to Fanny) was the “flagship store.” It anchored all the rest of the stores and really kept the shopping center active with business.

Towson Plaza

Just down the street, within walking distance was Towson Bootery, Stebbins Anderson, Finkelstein’s and Sunny Surplus – my Dad’s favorite store! The last time I went into Sunny’s was in the mid-to-late 1970s when I took my husband-to-be there. He nearly went crazy. I wonder if it’s gone out of business?

In the early nineteen-seventies, during the years I went off to college in Vermont, progress really began to take place.Commercial real estate development changed the entire look and feel of that area of town. Evidently, it’s gone through several renovations and revitalizations since then. Here’s a photo with just one of the crown jewel stores in the “Towson Plaza” area now.

towson plaza now


Although I visit family in Towson now and then, its been quite a while since I have been to the “Towson Plaza” area. I bet I’d have a hard time finding my way around. I’m hoping to return to the area this fall and do a book signing of “Gift of a Lifetime:Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.”

I’ll keep you posted. It would be wonderful to see old school friends, aquaintances and people who have done business with five generations of the Batton building businesses throughout Baltimore County and beyond.   http://on.fb.me/1k1hWb5  and http://bit.ly/1u2nrdE.




Turning Points

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Nothing is predestined. The obstacles of your past can become the gateways that lead to new beginnings.” ~ Ralph Blum

air raidsOver the last week, I have been writing  about freedom of our country. Today’s topic concerns my own journey toward independence from what was to my life as it is today.

The first four years of my elementary school education were spent at Hampden Elementary School in Towson, Maryland. Those years held some uncomfortable times for me as a student and also uncertainties for our country. Remember air raid practices?

Overcrowded conditions in Towson and in other growing post war suburban neighborhoods led to the building of  new schools. In fifth grade I began attending Cromwell Valley Elementary School.

Cromwell is now  a magnet school. It was recently nationally recognized for it’s excellence in outstanding technology programs. http://towson.patch.com/groups/schools/p/towson-magnet-schools-earns-national-award-for-excellence.

cromwell valley elementary schoolIn retrospect, Cromwell probably holds happier memories  than Hampden Elementary. By the time I entered fifth grade, I was really getting stronger from my “pioneering” heart surgery at Johns Hopkins. A chance at new beginnings.

Two years later, when I was in seventh grade, one memorable day in the gym became a real turning point. That day is recounted in my memoir, Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected, in the chapter titled Stronger than You Think.

This blog brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, author of Gift of a Lifetime:Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.Sue’s memoir

Photo above:  The second of my two elementary schools.

Life Transitions


Since I left high school in Towson, Maryland in 1971, I rarely have looked back to those teen years. In fact I have never driven by the site of the school, not even to get a glimpse to see if anything has changed and I’ve never returned for a high school reunion.

A couple of summers ago when I was in the area of where I grew up, visiting family, I did drive by my three childhood homes, all within the same neighborhood. How I was feeling was hard to grasp. I suppose it could be described as a mixture of beautiful feelings and a very quick dash of sadness that life marched forward. The melancholy feelings lasted only a few brief minutes.

Funny, isn’t it, how some people live their entire lives in one place feeling completely fulfilled and others move on. For me,  I can’t imagine having stayed for all these years in the same environment where I spent my childhood.

My husband feels the same way. He left his childhood surroundings on the northern shores of Massachusetts (north of Boston) and never looked back. I suppose we were meant for each other – Baltimore girl, Boston boy, parents to a son raised in Vermont – now living in Albuquerque, New Mexico – a transient three, aren’t we?

Its taken me a life time to learn there is truth in Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quotation, “the only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”   I’ve come to many more conclusions about how life takes unexpected turns as I have written my memoir.My reckonings will give me plenty more to write about.

towson high school

Photo Above: My high school in Towson, Maryland.

Interesting fact: Swimmer Michael Phelps, holder of 22 Olympic medals, also graduated from this school about twenty-five years after me.

Photo below: Overhead view of where I grew up – moved to three different homes in the same neighborhood. My dad built all three. The first house was a small cape style house, then onto what might be described as a southern colonial farmhouse and then to a 1970’s modern-style home which is smack in the middle of this picture.

Glenellen ct arial view-1

Tomorrow’s blog is about a hard learned lesson that happened in the 2nd of my childhood homes.Sue’s memoir

Do return to All Things Fulfilling tomorrow. This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

Lesser Known Facts about F. Scott Fitzgerald

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All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.”  ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

Yesterday was the birthday of author of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

We are all familiar with his notable books, which have become classics, but there are some lesser known facts about this author. Francis Scott Key, the composer of our National Anthem, was Fitzgerald’s 2nd cousin, three times removed.  Fitzgerald’s parents honored the memory of the composer Key by using “F.Scott ” to name their son.

He also spent time living and writing at the Paix Estate in the suburbs of Baltimore in Towson, Maryland, the town where I grew up.   He lived there while his wife, Zelda, was being treated for schizophrenia. At that time he worked on his story of Dick Diver, a bright young psychiatrist who falls in love with one of his patients. Some historians say that his writing of this book provided Fitzgerald with a fulfilling way to tell his story of his marriage to Zelda and her mental problems. For info on the 2013 publicationk about Fitzgerald’s wife, please click here  Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald.

His remains are in Maryland. Evidently because his parents were practicing Catholics, whereas he was not, there was controversy over his burial. To read more about his life and death, please visit this link. http://bit.ly/2IvUY8

F. Scott Fitzgerald also wrote for the Saturday Evening Post, Colliers and Esquire Magazine. His face graced the cover of the “Post” in a painting by Norman Rockwell that complimented his short story called “Bernice Bobs Her Hair.”

Happy Belated Birthday to F. Scott Fitzgerald, an author who helped to shape the literary world in this country.

This blog brought to you by www.CornerstoneFulfillmentService.com.