Humans of Calvert County, Sarah Merranko & Anita Santoyo

Our family has known this beautiful soul for years and she has made a special place in our hearts. When I walked in to meet her for this interview, she was sitting patiently and was easily the classiest woman in the restaurant, wearing her Sunday best on a Tuesday. Just after a swift hello, she insisted on paying and wouldn’t hear any different, which just further validated her giving heart. She is always giving her time to others; whether it be a friend in need or just helping her family. There is a warmth and kindness when talking with her, which would explain how our meeting of one hour easily turned into a three hour visit. As we sat eating all the yummy foods, she admittedly wasn’t supposed to eat (oops, I said I wouldn’t tell ;)), we were often excitedly interrupted with those who would recognize her. They would eagerly hug her neck while paying numerous deserving compliments. Perhaps it’s because I wasn’t afforded the opportunity to sit at the feet of my biological grandparents as they told their stories, which fuels my eagerness to interview the generations before me, but I felt beyond honored to hear the history of not only this classy, strong, and firecracker of a woman, but the history of our County. So, here is part one ~the more light hearted side …

“My grandfather played with Owings Eagles on Grays Field. We used to do grillin’ because my husband used to love it… doing asphalt and grillin’…so, we used to do grillin’ for Mark Fisher at Grey’s diamond and ever since then he did grillin’ for Mark…at least two to three times a year. Grey’s Diamond was the all black diamond where the black people used to meet and hang out and have fun. They built this little house that had like two rooms and they would cook in it and sell food and stuff. They played baseball. My grandfather on my mom’s side was the pitcher and my uncle….I had two uncles in there…and my cousin…I had a lot of cousins who played. That diamond was in existence before I was born. It was just a meeting place for the blacks to have fun. Even when I started playing softball; it was the Owings Eaglettes girls’ softball all black team and we never lost a game. We travelled, too! We travelled to New Jersey and places and even then, we never lost a game. I remember traveling with my team to New York. We played with the Yankees. We were playing on a sand lot next to the railroad track and when the train would go by, we would wave and then go back to playing. I remember there were 15 of us and the Parker Brothers who hosted our team gave us each $40 to spend at Macy’s New York. Can you believe it? $40!! It was so much fun! I stopped playing softball when I was 56.

Victoria Spriggs….she’s still playing softball today..she’s one of the oldest women playing softball. She’s still playing softball with a co-ed team. She’s about 80, now. She was in a car accident where she messed up her legs and she went through a lot, but she came back and she still played softball. I played on the team with her. I played twenty years of fast pitch and then I switched to slow pitch. I always played third base. We came in second place in the state behind Twin Shields. I was so embarrassed on that team because I never liked the uniform. The uniform was too short and you could feel air on your buns and we just look like a bunch of hooker mommas. I played twenty years of fast pitch and twenty two years of slow pitch because it was something to do for exercise. It really didn’t matter if won or lost, though. I was just in it for the fun. I didn’t care.

My kids were in sports, too. They were in football. My son was on the team Huntingtown Trojans and I remember running up and down the sideline in high heeled shoes through the mud and everything. The rivalry was the Dunkirk Warriors and the Prince Frederick Eagles. We used to have a lot of fun. I love the kids. I loved watching all the kids. You could see the person they were trying to grow up to be.

I remember Mr. Remington showing me on film how I used to run up and down the sideline and I used to get to the goal line before my son, Cleon, would get to the goal line to score the touchdown. Then I used to holler. I used to holler like when they would pile on top of each other, “Get off of my SON!”! …but it wasn’t my son…So, then the pile would separate…one off of one…then there’s this little white boy that comes up. The little white boy stands up and I say, “HE’S STILL MY SON!”. mmhm…he’s still my son! Boy, they used to pile up. People used to say I was crazy, but it was always fun back then. Now, you can hardly say anything. I remember going to a game for my grandkids at Huntingtown School one night and I didn’t know rules had changed for the fans, you know what I mean. They were telling me, “Grandma, you gotta be quiet.” My grandson was the kicker and they were playing Choption and the referee was making some bad calls and I said, “SOMEONE PLEASE get some glasses for the referee! I can’t take this no longer! This is like Three Blind Mice!”

So, see, thats why I can’t go to the games any more. That’s ok. I had fun.” To be continued…

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...