QUEENSTOWN — Sunday afternoon, April 18, two days before native Queenstown resident Irving Pinder’s actual 97th birthday, April 20, Pinder’s family gathered at his home in Queenstown to celebrate the birthday together. Little did he know that many who have known and loved him all his life, had planned with the family for a big surprise! The main organizer, outside the family, was local American Legion, Post 296, supporter Beth Anthony, who has known Irving Pinder all her life.
A beautiful afternoon, the family arrived and gathered outside on the front lawn. Just up the street, about a block from Pinder’s home, people began gathering along Main Street, lining up decorated cars, fire trucks from four different area fire departments; Queenstown, Goodwill, Kent Island and Grasonville, and some floats that had been made for the occasion.
Pinder could see through the trees in his yard, something was going on down the street, but he had no idea what it was. What it turned out to be was the first parade in Queenstown in almost a decade, and it was a big one.
At exactly 1 p.m., the parade started down the street with a group of friends and neighbors carrying a large banner, stating, “Happy 97th Birthday Mr. Irving Pinder, WWII Veteran”, donated by Lite Beer. Behind them trucks and people on foot followed. It took almost 20 minutes for the entire parade to pass by. Pinder stood the entire time, waving at all who passed.
He said afterwards, “That parade really surprised me!”
Born April 20, 1924, right in the midst of what was known as the “Roaring 20s”, a seemingly great era of prosperity in U.S. history, Irving was only 5-years old when the Great Depression started, so he didn’t know much about having lots of anything during the 1930s depression era time. He has been known to share stories with his grandchildren over the years, saying, “You don’t know what it’s like to have nothing!” Possibly to teach them to appreciate having what many children have in today’s American society.
He graduated from Centreville High School, Class of 1942, was immediately drafted in the U.S. Army, went to basic training and shipped off to join efforts in World War II in Europe. It was reported that he even served during the Battle of the Bulge. He was honorably discharged in 1945 following the victory of the war.
He returned home to marry, “the prettiest girl in Cambridge”, Louise Thomas, who he was married to 68-years until she passed in 2016, at the age of 89. The two were blessed with four children; one boy, Irving, Jr., and three girls, Irene, Bonnie and Terry. Today, Irving has eight grandchildren, five great grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild.
Pinder had many career experiences during his wonderful life, as a waterman, tonging oysters and crabbing for many years, and then working for Greenspring Dairy as a foreman at the Queenstown cottage cheese plant, “back in the day” where he became a self-described “cottage cheese specialist.” From there he would become postmaster of the Queenstown Post Office for 20-years, until he retired. Pinder even served one term elected to the Queenstown Town Commission.
In his lifetime, which by some accounts might be described as the “Golden Age” of America, Pinder has seen major changes transform the Eastern Shore of Maryland. He continually reminds his children of the history of Queenstown.
Asked, “What do you attribute most to your longevity of life?” His reply, “Good genes! Both my parents lived long lives, and so did both sets of my grandparents. I get it from all of them.”
As the parade passed by his home, a number of people jumped out of their cars to hand deliver a birthday card to family members to give to Irving. No one came up into the yard other than family members. With the pandemic still going on, social distancing was still in practice from the street. No hugs, even though their were plenty people who wanted to hug Irving on his day.
Beth Anthony was one of those. She delivered her card, waved, and yelled from the street, “We all love you!”
Sgt. J.A. Davidson, from the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office, delivered a congratulatory citation from Sheriff Gary Hofmann to Pinder. Former Queen Anne’s County Circuit Court Clerk Scott MacGlashan drove past with his wife in their car waving. There was a very large contingent from the American Legion Riders Motorcycle Club in the parade.
Also in the parade, coaches and players from the Kent Island 11 & Under Baseball Team, walked by, following baseball tradition, removed their caps waving them toward Pinder in his honor. A real winning team!