Perhaps you have found yourself giving directions to our beloved, little village of Granite by saying, “You turn at the snowball stand on Route 99.” There seems to be immediate recognition from the visitor, “Oh, yeah, I know where the snowball stand is!” And, perhaps, rightly named The Snowball Stand, for it is the special place in our community for young and old alike. Mrs. Shirley Merkle, who lives next door to The Snowball Stand on Woodstock Road, knows best about its origins; it was her father, Mr. Hobart Noll, who built the existing corner house along with what was then a filling station and convenience store. The construction took place in the early 1930s, and the original structure houses the current snowball stand. It was Mrs. Merkle’s maternal grandfather—Mr. George Albert Humphrey—who ran the combination store/station. Canned goods, milk, penny candy, Gerber’s bread and sardines were just some of the wares. The filling station sold coal oil kerosene. After Shirley’s grandfather died in the 1940s, the family hired Frankie Crum to run the store until he went into military service during World War II. It was then leased to various people.
In the early 1980s two young women from the area leased the store as a craft shop called The Dandelion Patch. They successfully ran it for a couple of years. Then the Clarks rented the store as a shop for Mr. Clark’s woodworking hobby. He made such items as picture frames, and with his wife’s connections with Roy Rogers, he produced items for the Roy Rogers’ restaurant chain. It was Mrs. Wilma Clark’s daughter who suggested that a little snowball stand be built under the tree by the store. The daughter ran the stand. With the death of Shirley Merkle’s mother, Mrs. Lillian Noll (longtime postmistress of Woodstock), the corner property was sold in 1991 to the current Snowball Stand proprietors, Cathy and Harry Miller. The summer of 2001 is their eleventh summer to be open. The stand operates from April to October, employing three from the Miller family: Cathy, her husband, and daughter, Kelly. In addition, they have 16 other employees, primarily high school and college students. She said that people come from as far away as Bel Air and D.C. They come, she says, for the product as well as the friendly service.
The Millers experienced the Howard County zoning process where they were told they could not sell soft serve ice cream, because, as Cathy recalled, “It would change the area too much”. Referring to recent development along Old Frederick Road, she remarked, “Now look at the area…The biggest change that has taken place is the landscape; there used to be no houses on Route 99.” Her philosophy speaks volumes, “Do one thing and do it well—that’s what we have tried to do.” The Snowball Stand has provided two Miller sons with college educations, and daughter Kelly will be the next. The Snowball Stand in Woodstock has been a real success story—not to mention a handy landmark for those coming to Granite.
Brenda Logue, in conjunction with Anna Rose Anderson and Beverly Griffith