Growing up in the 1940s on the family farm, a few miles north of Westminster's city limits near Union Mills, one of John Chambers' responsibilities was to take produce remnants from the porch to a compost heap some 50 feet from the house. Inevitably, seeds from discarded pumpkins took to the soil and grew into a patch of sorts, with some two dozen pumpkins at various stages of ripeness by late 1948.Share
From that unintended pumpkin patch came a moment of inspiration by his father, Whittaker Chambers, that turned into the biggest news story in the country and thrust the Chambers family, a cast of characters that included future President Richard Nixon, and, indeed, Carroll County into the national spotlight like never before or since.
Nearly 70 years later, it's still a common occurrence for John Chambers to be asked about the Pumpkin Papers, so named because his father hid inside a hollowed-out pumpkin five canisters containing microfilm of sensitive documents that implicated a prominent government official named Alger Hiss. (Read more.)