Today Shepherdstown is a well
preserved and active community celebrating its 250th anniversary thanks
to efforts by many people, including ‘old timers’ James C. Price and Betty
The two grew up together in
Shepherdstown in the 1940’s. They were in their early teens during World War
“And they were dark, bleak
times for the world but we really didn’t understand that,” Price said. “But we
had this closeness because we weren’t connected to the outside world as much
but we became more of a family, brother sister type relationship, and many of
those have lasted since the 1940’s, those of us that are still living.”
“It has changed because it was
a small town, everybody knew everybody,” Lowe said. “It was made up mainly of
the merchants, farmers would retire and move into Shepherdstown and of course
the college had its professors who lived throughout the town. It was a safe
little town, you could walk everywhere at night and be safe.”
Lowe said recreation for
children involved creativity because they didn’t have a lot of pre-made or store-bought
toys to play with.
“Our fun for summer was baseball
games in the street, hide and go seek after dark and we did the usual things
like hopscotch and marbles and we had a field down there below us that we could
play baseball in,” Lowe said.
Price and Lowe attended
Shepherd College together and as adults, both have worked to preserve the
town’s history. Price is Shepherdstown’s historian laureate and has made it his
mission to keep the facts straight.
“I definitely wanted to do all
that I could to make the history that would be published either in brochures,
in books, in the way the docents were trained would be the exact history,”
“Because visitors to our town,
a lot of them are college professors, ex college professors, historians,
preservationists and they know whether or not the story they are hearing is
true or not,” he added.
While Price has documented
mostly general town history, Lowe focuses primarily on genealogy. She has a
library in her home with books and records on about 150 families.
“I answer the letters that come
to the museum and library and other local people,” Lowe said. “They want to
know their roots. They had someone born here or they’re connected to a family
If you stroll through downtown
Shepherdstown today you’ll see an assortment of shops, galleries and restaurants
that cater not only to locals but to college students and tourist. This is very
different than the town Lowe and Price grew up in.
Back then there were three
grocery stores and one took orders by phone which it delivered.
Lowe said they looked forward
to seeing films at the one movie house.
“We had movies only on
weekends,” Lowe said. “Wednesdays and Thursdays were the classics and Fridays
and Saturdays were the country westerns and we always had to babysit one
weekend so we could earn 25 cents to go to the movies the next weekend.”
Buildings that house popular
restaurants and shops today once offered more utilitarian services, like
hardware, groceries and pharmacy supplies.
Lowe said her father was deputy
sheriff and the China Kitchen Restaurant now occupies the space that was once
“And it was a gathering place
for all the men on Saturday night,” Lowe said “And then across the street where
Kazu’s is was the hardware store, Byron’s Hardware, and those were the two
places where men gathered on Saturday night, because all the stores were open
on Saturday night, so all the men would gather there and discuss the week’s
events and visit back forth to the two places.”
Students today attend
Shepherdstown Elementary and Middle Schools before going out of town to
Jefferson High. Price pointed out children once went through all grades at two
schools in town. The grade school educated first through sixth graders and those
in seventh through twelfth went to the high school.
“And then after school we would
go downtown to what is now Betty’s Restaurant except it was Byers’ Restaurant
then,” Price said. “There was a little dance hall attached that had a jukebox
in it and they would wax the floor with the stuff that comes out like parmesan
cheese, or something and when we were old enough teenagers to dance to the
jukebox we had a place to dance.”
Price and Lowe have witnessed
many changes in the decades they’ve lived in Shepherdstown. Both enjoy the
existing shops, restaurants and entertainment and are grateful to everyone
who’s had a hand in preserving the town’s buildings and its stories.