Anne Munro recalls local upbringing
In many ways Anne Munro personifies the town in which she was born and raised. She’s lovelyshe’s wonderfully artistic and loaded with easy-going charm. Anne Munro is “Old Shepherdstown.” – The real deal.
That being the case, when I brought up Streetscape I somehow expected a different reaction. “What’s not to like?” She said. “At first I was skeptical, now I’m pleasantly surprised.” Anne realized how she felt on a recent walk up German Street. “I guess I was afraid the town would be changedlose its individuality. It hasn’t.” “Shepherdstown still has that look – it’s still different. It’s just been freshened up.” Then with a little laugh, “These are the same bricks. Only walking on them is a lot saferI think that’s going to be good for business.”
Anne Noel Grissinger was born to Dr. Jane, College Professor, and the Minister of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, Reverend John. The Grissinger’s had three children: John, Jr., Anne and Bob. “We were real PKs.” Anne laughed. I had to ask. “Professor’s Kids and Parson’s Kids.” The family lived in the Lutheran Parsonage at the corner of Duke and High Streets.
“Shepherdstown was a great place to grow up. It’s always been that way. That’s why I chose to raise my son here.” And when asked about the difference she sees today she said “It’s bigger.” “And when I was a kid everybody knew each other and I mean everybody.”
Recollections of a fun childhood brought up long ago memories “Kave’s was the only place you could buy groceriesunless you went to Martinsburg. It was where The Sweet Shoppe is now. The Kave family owned it. Everybody shopped there and everything was always very fresh. I miss that grocery storeand the Pharmacy.”
“The Pharmacy was located where Greentree is and had a soda fountain and the best subs. There was another drug store up the street, Charlie Owens Rexall, (Four Seasons location). Charlie’s had basic drug store stuff, minus the prescriptions. I loved going there, especially in college, just to talk to him and hear the music. Charlie loved all kinds of music; he had it playing all the timeeverything from Puccini to blue grass.”
“When I was in high school, I was a salesgirl in Morland’s Dry Goods and Notions. Morland’s was where Step’in Out is today. It carried nice, trendy, medium priced, women’s and men’s clothing. Gary Morland was an artist and an art professor who had always wanted to own a clothing store. He went on buying trips to New York a couple of times a year and at Christmas would hand-paint all the gift boxes. Gary was great at sales and marketing. He’d enlist people from town to model clothes for advertising campaigns. I remember my mom and Guy Frank in one ad all dressed up for a holiday party.” Then, “Gary died awhile ago but his wife, Sandra, who also taught me piano, still lives there.”
“The Old Town Restaurant was across the street where China Kitchen is. I waited on tables and washed dishes for Old Town when I was in college. Students and professors were regulars and the hamburgers were cheap and wonderful. Everyone got their papers at The News Agency and Market, where 3 Onions is. I remember that front window filled with candy and the best potato chips. They sold them in bulkjust scooped them into bags”
And finally there was Smitty’s Pool Hall. Smitty’s Pool Hall – where women weren’t allowed (I believe that was the technical name for the place). Blue River is there now. Smitty’s was an old fashioned pool hallwith pretzels and beer and boys from the school and that rhymes with pool. The mind boggles at the traffic in Smitty’s. Anne always wanted to go there but Smitty’s was the Burning Tree Country Club of Shepherdstown so little Anne could only dreamwhile her brothers played. “Someday we’re going to buy the building and open a pool hall that allows women.” She didn’t laugh.
“There was always music in our home” Anne remembers. “My mother sang, my Dad loved classical music, we all took music lessons.” So when she entered Shepherdstown High School Anne began playing the oboe but switched to the flute so she could play in the band. It was a half-hearted move until she met Dr. Farrell Coy, a professor of music theory at Shepherd U. Under his tutelage she “fell in love with the flute.”
Anne earned her degree from Shepherd in music education combining her two loves, music and working with children. She soon married classmate/musician Keith McMichael and they had a son, Ian. The marriage was brief but Ian, now going for his Masters in Business Administration at WVU, inherited the drummer gene from his dad and plays in bands around Morgantown.
Anne launched a career teaching music to students from elementary through high school in the Washington County School System. “I love orchestra and getting to work with the same students at every step and watch them grow is very rewarding. ” She was in her twentieth year when a call from Mark McCoy came with an opportunity to get in on the ground floor of the Potomac Valley Youth Orchestra. “He asked me to help him start the orchestra and I couldn’t say no. I took a leave of absence from Washington County, began working with Mark at Shepherd and never went back.”
That was fifteen years ago and the beginning of a lasting collaboration between Anne and the man she says “is the reason the Shepherd music department is what it is.” Today, Anne is adjunct professor of flute, director of the Shepherd flute ensemble, co-director and coordinator of the Shepherd Preparatory Orchestra, and a member of the faculty wind trio, Shepherd Three. She is coordinator of the Shepherd University Department of Music Preparatory Division, is a member of the Two Rivers Chamber Orchestra, and has been teaching flute to area students for twelve years.
When Ian was in the fifth grade Anne married Roger Munro. Roger was a single dad to 13 year old Christina, the daughter of his first wife and friend, Sue Nash. Roger lived in the only house on Rocky Street, at the end of Princess Street and it remains Casa Munro to this day. Last year, when the town was renaming streets it planned to change Rocky Street to Munro Street because the Munros were the only family on the street. “I told Roger you haven’t lived here long enough to have a street named after you.” Anne laughed. “We suggested the name be Bones Wright Road after the former mayor of Shepherdstown, Clarence “Bones” Wright and they took our suggestion.” So Bones Wright Road it is, and the Munro home is tucked away in what seems a remote spot in the woods until you realize you could easily walk to town. Roger renovated and added on to the original house and what they have today is a spacious yet cozy place with a panoramic view of the Old Mill.
From their home Anne and Roger work and play and plan wonderful trips. “Roger believes in taking a real vacation every year and we love to travel.” In their years together they have been to Greece, Ireland, and Italy, St. Martins, Hawaii, Nova Scotia and other great vacation spots. They bike together, hike together, shop in town, eat out in town and catch every movie at the Opera House. The two are unabashed movie buffs and after seeing all the Oscar nominees are in total accord with the Academy of Arts and Sciences voting Slum dog Millionaire best picture of the year. “It’s amazing.”
Tomorrow and Sunday, The Two Rivers Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Dr. Mark McCoy, will again bring the best in classical music to the Eastern Panhandle. The orchestra debuted last year to wide critical acclaim for “the finest musicians in the Baltimore-Washington area.” The weekend’s performances, Saturday at the Frank Center and Sunday afternoon at Martinsburg High, will feature a stunning selection of Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp in C Major, featuring Anne Munro on flute and Caroline Gregg on harp.
It’s surreal, you know. One day you’re just sitting around over coffee chatting it up about movies and food and safer sidewalks with the wonderfully funny, down-to-earth Anne Munro, and the next you’re sitting in a darkened theater completely mesmerized by the music she makes. Treat yourself this weekend and see what I mean.
– Sue Kennedy is a former public relations executive and Emmy Award winning