Volume 1 Issue 6 1993

Previously inaccessible archives from 1993-1997 now coming on-line, with more each week! Note that this is working copy (uncorrected text, no photos, including covers).

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Bay Ball: Where They Pursue Fun and the Real Thing
by Bill Lambrecht and Sandra Martin

Any Sunday along the Chesapeake, George Spriggs and his Tracey's Twins will show you baseball as it once was

The Bay sun beats down on the Hot Sox field like hard foul balls. You see how bleachers got their name. A week without rain has baked the grass and the day is humid and dusty. But no one on this Sunday afternoon seems troubled as they wait for the newest episode of the Chesapeake Independent League.

‘‘Come on you guys, get this party started now,” a woman yells.

‘‘Get this party started RIGHT now,” a little girl chimes in.

They’ve come for the contest between the homestanding Hot Sox (6-4) and Tracey's Twins (8-2), two of the 12 teams in the league. Families together on their weekly outings settle in with hot dogs and fat fish sandwiches.

Women and girls sachet up the stands in bright summer dresses, ready to cheer their men. Beer drinkers seek solace from the elements and bikers arrive to display candy apple-red Harleys. Three bucks for real baseball and an afternoon of fun.

‘This is my Sunday,” beams Ida Medley of Tracey's Landing. “When it rains and the Twins don’t play, I miss the boat.”

As she speaks, George Spriggs is preparing to put his Twins on the field. We’re speaking here of the George Spriggs, former Pittsburgh Pirate and Kansas City Royal.

Spriggs is a beloved figure around the league, a genuinely nice man who patiently imparts his baseball skills. Young players see in Spriggs a man who grew up in local baseball and has performed in nearly every major-league city, not to mention the winter leagues of Mexico, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.

At this moment, Spriggs, 52, sends his Twins to bat.

“Hit me a home run,” a fan sings. ‘‘I ain't seen one in so long, I don't know what a homerun is.”

For the Twins, Dean Kent, 24, is warming up. He may not be the Twins' best, but he's eager and he's been working under the tutelage of veteran hurler, Larry Mulloy. Opposing him on the mound is Dale Castro, a well-known local athlete and former University of Maryland sports star. Says Kent: ``I get the praise or blame one way or another.''

This is true for all pitchers. For Kent on this day, it may be his lament.

Similar dramas are unfolding at this very moment at five other fields from Annapolis to Charles County. Every Sunday at 3pm, from April through September, the league cranks into action. Then, like an encore, playoffs start.

In the Chesapeake Independent League, baseball is the way it used to be: by and for people who love the game. This is baseball absent pouting stars. Without the yuppies who show up at Baltimore’s Camden Yards for an hour or two of detached entertainment. By the seventh-inning stretch, their Volvos are headed home.

Sure, it ain’t the big leagues. Nor are they consumed by money and highjacked by television networks. They still wear stirrup socks along the Chesapeake, unlike the Bigs, where the stovepipe legs have drooped to the shoes.

With the likes of George Spriggs in the dugout, the Chesapeake Independent League is a throwback to the era when the young loved baseball and revered baseball heros.

These days, in cities especially, basketball’s the game and Jordan and Barkley are the heros. Scouts complain about the dearth of new baseball talent in inner cities.

“People used to have it in their blood,” observes Spriggs, who was born nearby in Jewell.

In a league that is perhaps three-fourths black, Spriggs worries about the younger players.

“It’s definitely good for them, because the more active they are, the less trouble they get into. If there were more little leagues, it would be better. Kids would love to play, but they don’t have a place.”

By the bottom of the second, the Hot Sox are stroking the ball off of Kent. Their catcher jacks a two-run homer over the left field fence, and two hits follow. Mulloy warms up a new pitcher in the rutted road between the diamond and the concession trailer.

For the Hot Sox, Dale Castro is throwing BBs.

In this league, most players are beyond the day when their star will rise. Some still hope for a shot, like George Spriggs got one day.

In the 1950s, his uncle, Fulton Spriggs, played in the Negro Leagues with the Baltimore Ely Giants. The team was about to head out barnstorming, and it needed one more outfielder to fill a hole.

George Spriggs went along, to Virginia, North Carolina and to parks across the South so full of people it could make a young man dizzy. But it was only the beginning, for soon, he was spotted by a scout for the Kansas City Monarchs.

He accepted an invitation to sign with the Monarchs. Spriggs, 18, soon was playing alongside the legendary Satchel Paige, who, in his late 50s, was winding up a storied career.

“He’d only pitch an inning a game, but he didn’t give up much even then,” Spriggs recalls.

Next, a representative of the Pittsburgh Pirates liked what he saw in Spriggs. But before a contract could be worked out, Spriggs was drafted. Lucky for him, he could play ball in the Army, in Germany. The Pirates kept up on his stats.

What followed was a professional baseball career for Spriggs that endured for more than a decade. He spent some of those years in the minors, leading the International League with 66 stolen bases in 1965. One year in the minors, the left-handed hitting Spriggs scored 103 runs and he was so fast he didn’t hit into one double play.

He played his first major league game for the Pirates in 1965. His first time up, he faced the hard stuff and big kick of Juan Marichal, one of the all-time greats.

Among his teammates on the Pirates was the great Roberto Clemente, who would die shortly in a plane crash. Spriggs played alongside Willie Stargell, too.

It was an era of some of the game’s greatest stars, shortly before the game at the major league level began to change.

“After guys like Clemente and Pete Rose, they stopped hustling. Now, they’ll hit a pop-up, and they won’t even attempt to run it out,” Spriggs says.

Spriggs sees the vast amounts of money in the game as the culprit. In the Chesapeake Independent League, money never will corrupt. Players sign contracts, but get no salaries.

“Baseball isn’t for fun anymore,” Spriggs says. “It’s the money that runs the game.”

By the end of the third inning, Dean Kent is having no fun himself. The Hot Sox have beat him up for five runs, one of them on a passed ball. “Work the count, Deano,” counsels the Twins multi-talented Larry Smith, who’s grabbing a smoke in the cinder-block dugout. A pitching change is in order.

But fans remain happy at their afternoon social, using the occasion to greet one another in the stands.

“How’s your mother,” a woman asks.

And the players have their Gatorade to draw on and their incessant chatter.

George Spriggs isn’t pleased with what he sees, and frustration shows on his broad face. It is a face that has seen adversity before.

In 1970, after one of his better years, the Royals traded him to the Mets. He started the next season at the Met’s Triple-A Tidewater club, and four games into the season smashed up his left knee in a collision at home plate.

Three operations later, it became clear that Spriggs’ knee would require a lot of rest if ever it was to mend. When you’re scraping to get back to the big leagues, time is in short supply.

Later, back in Maryland, Spriggs would become known in the Chesapeake league as a patient coach willing to pass on his knowledge.

“He’s very understanding, and he let’s everybody play,” notes Larry Mulloy, a Twins’ pitcher.

Had Spriggs known after his knee problem that he would take so smoothly to coaching, he might have taken the job that the Mets offered him as coach in their system.

But who knows what the fates will pitch us, or what nasty curve balls will come our way. For George Spriggs and his wife, Alice, the worst of all happened in 1988, when they lost their son.

Geno Spriggs, 20, was a top prospect in the Pirates organization and one of the finest athletes ever nurtured in Anne Arundel County. After his second season in the minor leagues, on the night of Dec. 2, he died from injuries suffered in an automobile accident.

“I’d taught him everything I could,” Spriggs says. “Things happen.”

After the third inning, the Hot Sox would would be shut down by two of the Twins’ other pitchers, including Mulloy. But Castro is untouchable on this day, and the Twins can manage only a lone run in the ninth on a sacrifice fly. The final score: Hot Sox 5, Twins 1. In the last contest before the all-star game, the standings in the league have tightened.

They say of baseball that people love it for its constancy. You can start your day with baseball in the newspapers and keep the rest of the world at bay. At day’s end, you can sign off with ball on the radio or television.

And baseball is better than any calendar for changing seasons. Some people have just two; Opening Day through the World Series, and the lost months in between.

Along the Chesapeake Bay, we can rejoice that the baseball season is but half over. Teams in this league will play one another once more, and every Sunday will hold new promise, not to mention a picnic.

Next time the Twins and Hot Sox play, they’ll do so at the Twins’ home park—called Geno’s Field, for Spriggs’ late son. Tucked behind the Spriggs home in Lothian, just off Rt. 2, is the idyllic little ballpark which comes to life every other Sunday.

Here, the right-handed pull hitter will look into a setting sun come September. All season long, batters try to yank homeruns over the rightfield fence, just 301 feet down the line. But they’d better not try muscling it into that ancient, gnarled tree straighaway on the horizon because centerfield is a deceptive 400 feet away.

July 11 and every other Sunday afterward, the Harleys will park by the barn next to the family sedans. The smell of hot fish will waft over the diamond. Ida Medley will be in the stands with her eye on the Twins’ third baseman, although she insists that she follows the team, not the players.

Then George Spriggs will take a short walk down a hill to Geno’s Field to set the magic in motion.

This is what he says about it, and who’s to doubt him. “We play real ball here, baseball like it’s supposed to be.”

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The Biggest Teeth on the Bay
by Sandra Martin

If the state doesn’t chase them off Calvert roads, Douggie and John will surprise you with ancient treasures.

Necks whiplash and brakes squeal on Rt. 2-4 near Solomons, in Calvert County. It’s no accident, just the show-stopping signs of local entrepreneurs Douggie Douglas and John Rue.
Whales! Great White Sharks! Fossil Teeth and Vertebra!

Looking around at the rolling green hills and farm fields beyond state comptroller Louis Goldstein’s wide, undulant highway, you wonder what these guys can be talking about. Nary a wave, whale or shark is in sight, and it’s hard to believe, even when you know for a fact, that you’re not too many miles from the Chesapeake to the east and the fat, swelling Patuxent River to the west.

So you swerve to the side of the road and you find out that there’s more hereabouts than meets the eye. “There’s millions of years of history out there,” says one. “Waiting for you to find it,” adds the other. Sizing up John and Douggie’s wares and listening to their side-show spiel, words flowing and arms fluttering, you return to an age of giants.

Millions of years ago, Chesapeake Bay was an ocean teeming with giants. Mastodon and rhinoceros visited these shores. Whales rolled and stingrays glided in the warm waters. Scallops grew the size of soup bowls. Crocodiles wallowed in the shallows. Sharks big as big as boxcars—big eaters fitted out with layered rows of razor teeth—preyed here.

The sharks that tyrannized those ancient waters seldom went hungry. Nature equipped each shark, then as now, with as many as 85,000 knife-sharp teeth. Whenever a tooth wore out—their useful life was as short as a week—a new one would come forward to take its place. The littlest might be as small as a thorn on a tea rose. But the biggest—the teeth of the extinct great white shark, Carcharodon megalodon—could be as big as seven inches long.

You doubt? Douggie and John will show you proof. John’s big tooth is about 6 and 3/8 inches; Douggie’s, at about 6 1/4 inches, is not quite so long but wider. Both are between 12 million and 18 million years old.

All that remains of other brutes and monsters is laid out for you to see and handle at Douggie’s road stand at the entrance to Calvert Cliffs’ State Park. Ditto at John’s stand, situated at the entrance to Calvert County’s Flag Ponds Nature Park.

In addition to perhaps the biggest teeth on the Bay—teeth that weigh in at a pound and a half—you’ll see small, medium and large sharks’ teeth both plain and made into jewelry. These teeth are for sale, of course.

There are full sets of sharks’ teeth still set in gaping, dangerous jaws; crocodile and stingray teeth; whale and porpoise earbones and vertebrae; mastodon parts; and such ancient seashells as Maryland’s own ecphora.

“It’s just amazing. You never know what you’re going to find. Once it gets in your blood, you never get enough,” says John, laying stresses of enthusiasm on his words.

These guys are pros; they’re hooked on fossils. Just about any time they’re not here on the road showing and telling, they’re in the water or on the beach, hunting.

“Both of us can get close to those old sharks,” Douggie says, shivering. “I’ll feel chills and think I’ve seen a dorsal fin when all I see is a tooth. But I know a shark must have been there.”

There is the old ocean floor. All those teeth fell to the ocean bottom, as did the creatures whose mouths they once filled. In the sediment, flesh and cartilage decayed or were eaten, but hard parts—bone and teeth—endured. Strengthened by enamel and petrified, the teeth of sharks and bones of whales outlasted the epochs.

Years passed by the millions as the ancient Miocene epoch yielded to the Pliocene epoch, and finally to the Pleistocene, our own epoch. Twenty and more million years of history are deposited there.

Today the old ocean treasure trove is covered with sand and sediment on the Bay’s bottom or thrown up by relentless geological shrinking and swelling as the 30-mile range of Calvert Cliffs. The Bay region isn’t unique in hoarding Miocene fossils, but it’s particularly rich.

The cliffs, Calvert County’s face on the Bay, are steep, rising as high as 100 feet, and often bare. As the cliffs crumble under the assault of winds and waves, beaches form at their feet. The beaches are larded with the cliffs’ unburied treasure. And scoured by treasure seekers. Today the hunters of old have become the hunted.

Bayside children grow up hunting. Squatting Indian-fashion on the strand, they sift the sand to fill their palms with fossils. Geoffrey Sherman was a bored kid, following raccoon tracks for something to do when he bumped into his big one in a cliff.

Old timers may have collections of hundreds, if not thousands, of fossils. Some even have teeth as big as John’s or Douggie’s. Connie Smith, a 30-year beachcomber, stumbled over her six-incher on the marvelous beach at her old Girl Scout camp, Matoaka Beach Cabins. Jonathon Sheldon stopped by John Rue’s stand to show off the gleaming white six-incher he found at Randle’s Cliffs. Another six-incher tonged up by an oysterman has been passed down for three generations

As well as legions of pleasure hunters, the Bay supports several fossil clubs and inspires the Maryland Geological Society. Douggie, who has been at it for 30 years, has an extreme case of the lifelong fever that afflicts all the hunters.

Says Smithsonian paleontologist Dave Bohaska, a Calvert Countian: “The hunt is fired by the thrill of discovery. Each find is something completely new, something no one has ever touched before.”

Along the beach the hunters creep, alert as gulls aiming for dinner. Among all the grains of sand it takes to make a beach, fossils are secreted. The odds are against the hunters, but just as gulls eat, sharks’ tooth hunters are rewarded—some more than others. Douggie, who knows every beach and its likely rewards better than many of us know what’s in our refrigerator, makes it seem those old sharks are just keeping a date with him.

John Rue makes his dates on the Bay bottoms. “In between sandbars are hard clay fossil beds. Furrows and ravines are natural catch traps,” explains scuba diver Rue, whose finds include “vertebrae as big as young tree trunks just sticking out of the bottom.”

Diving’s too easy, some land hunters complain, and compare it it shooting fish in a barrel. They worry that overharvesting, even greed, will strip their beaches. Rue, however, says that the sport teaches its own discipline: “Mostly I just admire and keep going. I can’t carry home everything I find. If I did, my wife would get after me,” he says.

On the beach or in the water, hunters pray for bad weather. “Shifting, scoring sands, burrowing crabs, dissolving clay and storms push everything around, ” says Rue.

“We want erosion, storms and hurricanes—not to hurt anybody, just to stir things up,” continues Douggie.

Their eyes are gleaming.

You’d think a state would be proud of entrepreneurs who recover history and deliver it to roadside travelers. At least as proud as of its roadside markets featuring locally grown produce.

In regulation-crazed Maryland, think again.

A state law passed last year to discourage roadside vendors of Carolina furniture and Mexican furniture would ban Rue and Douggie from highways. They avoid the ban by selling on park land.

“They made me a criminal!” complains Rue, who’s fighting for a variance on the grounds that Calvert fossils are a native product known throughout the world.

Douggie couldn’t agree more.

“About half of what we’re doing is entertaining people,” he says. “While we explain things, they can pick ‘em up and look at ‘em, all for free.”

See lots more big teeth at the Fossil Festival at Flag Ponds Nature Park . Set up a display table (reserve ahead): 410/586-1477), bring your finds for identification, or browse. Sunday August 8 from 1-4.

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Questioning Technology
by Frank Beacham - Original to AlterNet

Science Finds, Industry Applies, Man Conforms. Those words, the celebratory motto of the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago, expressed a revealing truth that by today’s standards is shocking in its honesty.

Sales pitches for new technology in the 90s would never suggest that human conformity is part of the high-tech transaction. Personal “empowerment” is the latest buzzword from the technology merchants. Technology makes us more powerful and gives us greater personal freedom, the spiel goes.

Yet the implications of the rapid convergence of television, computer and telecommunications technologies mean most Americans will have to play along to get along in the brave new digital world. In a society that lives and breathes on speeding fixes of “information,” one is either connected or disconnected, an information “have” or “have not.”

On a recent television news program, Apple Computer Chairman (and now ex-CEO) John Sculley was asked by a reporter what will happen to those in American society who will not or can not participate in the information revolution. Sculley skirted the question, suggesting only that the future will be bleak for non-payers and that as a society, we must try to bring everyone on board the high-tech bandwagon.

In his 1991 book, In the Absence of the Sacred, (Sierra Club books), author Jerry Mander warned this would happen. He described how individual technologies would expand their impact, interlock and merge with one another. “Together, they are forming something new, almost as if they were living cells; they are becoming a single technical-economic web encircling the planet,” Mander wrote. He called this phenomenon “megatechnology.”

Mander put in stark terms what we are facing as the much-heralded digital information age unfolds around us. He also offers insight into why Americans are so susceptible to the charms of new technology while failing to recognize the dangers that lurk beneath the surface.

In our culture, Mander notes, new technology comes only from a single source: the corporation. The one and only reason a corporation introduces a new technology is to make a profit. The marketing goal of the corporation is to persuade us to “conform” to their latest technology by any means necessary. Once we accept and embrace a new technology as part of our life, the corporation reaps the reward of immense wealth.

The new toys of the digital age are being presented by the traffickers of high-tech as hip, sexy and glamorous. There are always good reasons to go along. Because it’s so obvious that technology makes our daily lives easier and more fun, we find easy justification to buy in. Why not accept it, use it and go with the flow?

What we often forget in the swirl of hype is that every technology is a two-edged sword. New technology is always introduced in its best light. All emphasis is on the benefits. During the sales pitch, the negative effects are hidden. Only after the technology becomes embedded in our daily lives do we begin to understand the tradeoffs we have made in embracing it.

All this is a very deceptive business. Everyone can cite the benefits of certain technologies. We tend to take a narrow view and think of technology on a purely personal level. Only by adopting a wider view—one that encompasses an examination of how technology works as a whole—can we get an accurate assessment of the true impact a technology is having on our way of living.

When taking a wider view of technology, we see that most of us are surrounded by a tangled web of interrelated technologies that become our living environment. We live and work in a manufactured bubble of air conditioned apartments, offices, malls, automobiles and airplanes. Urban dwellers move about on paved sidewalks and roadways, encountering “nature” only in landscaped parks. We are dependent on electric lights, telephones, computers and a myriad of appliances that are, in turn, all dependent on fossil fuels for energy.

We live inside technology, Mander writes. We exist in an artificial world totally created by humans and increasingly disconnected from all that is natural. Because of its physical comfort and illusions of security, humans easily adapt to this controlled environment. Unfortunately, once inside this artificial cocoon, we don’t easily or accurately detect and assess the effects of technology on our world.

Those effects do exist because every technology has a bias and carries an inherent message. No technology is value-free. There are social and political implications inherent in the introduction of every new technology. New technologies change power arrangements. After the introduction, there are always winners and losers.

Yet, saying “no” to new technology is a foreign idea to most Americans. Even public debate of the social implications of a new technology is rare in our culture. Few of us consider that we have the right to prevent the deployment of a new technology that might negatively affect our lives.

As Mander suggests in his book, the ability to question and evaluate new technology is an essential survival skill. Only by moving beyond the commercial propaganda associated with new technology introductions can we hope to cut through the distortions and define the tradeoffs in accepting a new technology.

As Henry David Thoreau wrote in his journal on July 16, 1845: “Men have become the tools of their tools...”

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Behind the Flash and Boom: Fireworks Backstage
by Bob Weckback

Wild joy…the oohs and aahs of our patriotic pastime…the thrills and chills of kids…the tangible energy of the crowd... we Americans pack meaning and memories into our fireworks.

But have you ever looked behind the scenes?

Come with me…I’ll show you.

Fireworks don't just happen; ask Glen Rogers of the Kiwanis Club of Shady Side. First you have to come up with money. Imagine what machinations he and his group applied to win a $5000 grant from Anne Arundel County to put on the display for Galesville and Shady Side. Next, the Kiwanis had to hire a barge for a West River staging platform. Then, of course, came the permits: a marine event permit for the barge, a fireworks permit from the Maryland State Fire Marshall. Don’t forget the “works”: the Kiwanis contract with Zambelli Internationale, a company that sends a team to descend upon Galesville like interstellar bearers of space-fire.

But the future of fireworks on the West River is uncertain. The grant from the county will not be renewed next year, according to Rogers. The tax cap and the economy has “put Anne Arundel County in a dried-up situation,” he says, adding that fireworks displays will be cut before more vital public services.

“If the community wants the show, somebody’s going to have to come up with donations. The Kiwanis Club is not going to mess with it next year,” says Rogers in an ominous plea for more support.

Not only money but also technical expertise is required for fire in the sky. That’s George “Boom-Boom” Zambelli’s expertise. His Newcastle, PA-based company DOES WHAT?

“Like with any production,” Zambelli says, “you’re excited and check and recheck everything up until the last minute.”

What happens when it’s time to let go? For small affairs, “port fires” glowing torches much like the fuses we use to light fireworks at home, get the show going. If the show is larger or choreographed to music, the fuses are each connected to a “squib,” a device that transforms electrical impulse into spark. Squibs are in turn connected to an electronic firing system through a “slat,” which is roughly the same as a telephone cable. All this and more must work just right to dazzle us with thunder-claps of purple, gold, and blue.

“Boom-Boom” Zambelli also knows all about the history of fireworks. For example, “Years ago,” he says, “there used to be regulations against having fireworks near hospitals. Now hopitals have their own displays because their magical and healing qualities have been recognized.”

To be sure, the wonderous qualities of fireworks have been recognized by many. As we celebrate American independence on the Fourth, we might also pause to reflect that we are also joining a world tradition:

“Everybody the world over loves fireworks,” Zambelli says, “and each country has its own traditions and style in fireworks.''
“Tradition and style: as we shall see around the Bay on Sunday, our young country indeed has its own.

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Bombay or Our Bay?
Joe Bernard is president of Wye River, Inc., which brings you crab seasonings and more. His company is going gangbusters, and Bernard has won an award or two for his business skill.

But Bernard still baits a trot line for his personal crabs. And despite his success, he regards himself an Eastern Shore homeboy.

“I’m a true Maryland dude,” he remarked recently.

That’s why the decision by McDonald’s to begin using crabs imported from India rather than Bay crabs for their sandwiches is more to him than a business loss.

“They’re calling them Maryland-style crabs, and it’s a farce,” Bernard said. “The Bay crab is a pawn, and the entire industry here stands to lose.”

McDonald’s acknowledged last week that they had changed the recipe of their crabcake sandwiches and now use over 80 percent meat from India. McDonald’s meat once came from the Chesapeake Bay, via Wye River.

Bernard is crying foul. He sold McDonald’s on the crabcake, he says, and McDonald’s sold 1.3 million of them last year in Maryland, according to his calculations. He’s talking lawsuit.

Maryland watermen are upset, too. Larry Simns, president of the Maryland Watermen’s Association, was slightly irked from the beginning after finding out that Wye River got a lot of its crab meat from Virginia. But at least it came from the Chesapeake Bay.

Simns, of Rock Hall, is quite unhappy that McDonald’s is selling crabcakes from India “right in our back yard” at 21 Eastern Shore restaurants.

“We’ve got people coming here from all over the country, expecting to eat a Maryland crabcake,” he said.

Nor is Simns happy about competing with a country whose standards are far less rigid than those in Maryland.

“We went to bat to get McDonald’s to do this crabmeat thing,” he said. “I guess it’s pretty typical of a big corporation.”

Chuck Tildon, who works in the marketing department at McDonald’s corporate office in Columbia, contends that the recipe was changed because people didn’t like the crabcakes.

“We certainly weren’t trying to get anybody upset. We were just trying to please our customers,” he said.

Simns, for one, won’t be conducting a taste test of his own.

“I wouldn’t eat one of those things if you gave me $100,” he said.

Death of an Eagle
When motorists discovered the young bald eagle near Edgewater last week, the prognosis wasn’t good. The bird, less than three years old, was lurching along a road. A wingtip had been broken and its six-pound body was covered with maggots.

After a stop at the Chesapeake Wildlife Sanctuary in Bowie, the eagle was moved to the Falls Road Animal Hospital in Baltimore, where veterinarians trained in exotic animals could provide care.

But the eagle succumbed, apparently to pneumonia or a form of cellular bacteria.

The eagle is believed to have been on the ground for two days or more, perhaps after encountering wires or a fence. The eagle was blind in one eye, a congenital deformity and perhaps the reason that it failed to negotiate some hurdle constructed by humans.

Last year, Falls Road ministered to two eagles. One was shot and the other ensnared in a muskrat trap. Both survived.

This one didn’t.

“It really bothers me that a young bird like this could become so debilitated,” said Keith Gold, a vet who tended the eagle.

Chesapeake to the Rescue
We swim in it, float on it and eat out of it. That Bay of ours does it all, even douse our fires.

Bay water fought a serious fire last Saturday night at a saw mill about a mile north of McKendree Road in Tracy’s landing.

From 5pm to 11pm, trucks from 11 companies continually made runs to Herring Bay along Fairhaven Road.

The fire was believed to have been triggered by a faulty voltage box. Firefighters used front-end loader to move tons of saw dust away from the mill to keep the fire from spreading.

Stan Coffey, vice president at the mill, seemed dazed as he watched the proceedings. He had little to say, other than that the mill would be rebuilt.

South Anne Arundel County draws its water from privately owned wells. So firefighters use our ever-friendly Chesapeake to keep us from harm.—DH

No Nettles Yet
There may be few bluefish, but at least we can jump in the Bay.

Unusually low salinity in the Chesapeake is keeping the nettles away, but you’d better do your swimming soon.

Nettle sightings are starting to be reported, though not too frequently. But researchers say the salinity is starting to return to normal levels.

At the mouth of the Patuxent, the salinity has more than doubled recently, according to Kent Mountford, senior scientist for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Bay program.

“The fresh water has caused a complicated an unpredictable effect on the Bay,” he observed.

The nettles just can’t abide fresh water. Nettles emerge from polyps, which also wind up getting smothered by sediment that travels with the fresh water.

But with salinity on the rise, the nettles can’t be too far behind. —BW

Way Downstream...
Maybe, just maybe, we’re discovering escapes from the Chemical Age.

A British company, Edward Billington & Sons, is producing a new industrial cleanser and solvent made of orange peels. The product, called Pronatur, dissolves even oil and tar. At about $3 a liter, it’s cheaper than cleaners made from oil.

And this stuff is billed as being so safe that you can drink it. Of course, it tastes so foul you wouldn’t want to.

Closer to home, Baysiders ought to keep tabs on a new product guaranteed to make boats hot. McCormick and Co., the venerable spice-maker from Hunt Valley, MD, is testing a bottom paint derived from peppers. One such pepper paint, called Barnacle Ban, already is on the market.

The paint deploys an extra-hot version of habanera peppers, those gnarled, orange little devils that are growing in popularity north of the border. Pepper paint is said to keep barnacles away while not harming marine life...

Sister Bay Update. Down Florida way in Estero Bay, some of the locals have decided they need to keep a closer watch on islands. Captains Charlie Weeks and Carl Johnson, from the Bonita Springs area, say environmental concerns prompted them to found “Adopt an Island.”

Theirs is a free-spirited organization with no dues, no regular meetings and a no-nonsense approach to keeping vigil over Gulf Coast islands. They might have some tips for like-minded folks: 813/992-2200.

Also in Florida, a volunteer effort is gearing up for a sensitive and important effort to begin restocking scallops near Tampa Bay. Pollution wiped out virtually the entire scallop population in the 1960s.

The volunteers will transplant thousands of ready-to-mate scallops in hopes of recreating the past. It could take a few years to work...

This week’s Creature Feature is almost too scary to write about. It comes to us once again from Australia, where last week we visited the 10 foot-long worm. As our friend Dave Barry might say, we are not making up the story of the Tasmanian Killer Starfish.

These aquatic creatures are reported by the Sydney Australian to be sweeping through coastal waters, devouring all marine life in sight. Australians are likening it to the rabbit plagues 100 years ago, when herds of bunnies denuded vast tracts of land.

These new Tasmanian devils of the deep eat everything they can find and then they eat each other. “It’s absolutely devastating,” observed Dale Bryan, head of the head of the local fishing council. Bryan lamented to the paper last week that watermen can get no attention to their plight.

Well, Mr. Bryan, you just got some attention, a world away along the Chesapeake Bay.

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Curried Crabs and a Shrinking World
Baysiders were piqued to learn that some of those McDonald’s burger joints are slapping together Maryland-style crabcakes with meat from India.

To some, it’s a kick in the chops to Chesapeake watermen. Others regard it as a perversion of something local and sacrosanct—the one and only, fat and spicy, need-one-now Maryland crabcake.

We’re not happy about it, either. Nor are we surprised.

McDonald’s is hardly alone among corporations looking across borders and oceans for calculated business reasons. Next time you’re in a clothing store, check some labels. Or just look inside those spiffy cross-trainers on your feet.

Thanks to American consumers, Japan alone will ring up a $60 billion trade surplus with the U.S. this year. That’s wealth and savings flowing east, never to return.

We’ve watched over the past decade as major manufacturers moved jobs to Mexico. Some of us at New Bay Times have witnessed the results. Here at home, we see boarded-up factories and weeds sprouting in empty parking lots.

In Mexico, the aftermath is downright haunting. People flock from the countryside to make televisions, shoes, car interiors and just about anything you can imagine for 75 cents an hour or less. At night, they return to wooden shanties with no electricity or plumbing. Toxic creeks from barely regulated American plants run through their housing colonias, leaving infants with dysentery and worse.

Sure, we’ve strayed a ways from the Bay. But McDonald’s new crab meat travels an even greater distance.

What’s a Baysider to do? We couldn’t blame you for just cracking another beer and saying hey, it’s out of control. Maybe so. But as the world shrinks, awareness must grow. Awareness about health standards, inspection rules and more.

You can be sure that neither India nor Mexico nor any of the developing nations have standards that match ours. And we know from experience that our government tests only a tiny fraction of imported food.

Here’s a concrete example that will affect your family. Very soon, the federal government will be taking up the North American Free Trade Agreement—NAFTA, for short. NAFTA won’t be stopped, and when it happens, even more of our food will come from Mexico and Latin America.

One of NAFTA’s sticking points right now is the environment. Your senators and members of Congress will have the chance to vote on whether we have enforceable controls on the border environmental problems that are certain to result when more American industry heads there. We can send a powerful message about what we require from our trading partners.

Also, some of those trucks of fruits and vegetables heading north are full of dangerous pesticides banned in the U.S. As it stands, the U.S. checks fewer than five per cent of the shipments of imported food. Bet you didn’t know that.

Whether you bite into McDonald’s new Indiaburger or munch imported vegetables, tell your grocer, your government and your restaurateur that want your food pure and tested.

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Box this one in center of page: Aesop’s Birthday Totem
Dear New Bay Times:
On my birthday morning, Sunday, June 27, I walked alone along the Bay and Fairhaven’s quiet country roads. Attentive to nature’s offering, I’d found a small perfect feather, a tiny shell with iridescent blue interior and an hydrangea blossom cut by the previous night’s wind and rain.

Heading back to my friends’ house, I saw a lump in the road. a young hare had met an unhappy end. I collect rabbits and consider them a totem. I gently pulled the limp bunny to a final resting place in the grass. I looked up. The black, bright eyes of a tortoise stared at me.

Time to change my totem, I thought. Aesop is rarely wrong.
L. Peat O’Neil, Silver Spring

Joy to Read
Dear New Bay Times:
Few on the Bay would believe—or care—that part of the gestation of New Bay Times took place in the bleak, wintery cornfields of Central Illinois

But I know that to be the case, and it has been a pleasure to see this idea, dream, ambition or fixation come to life in a publication which looks professional and is a joy to read—even here.

How I wish we had a crab house to advertise in our newspaper!
Bob Best, Publisher, News Progress, Sullivan, ILL

Superb and Appealing
Dear New Bay Times:
The newspaper is superb in every respect—its courage, variety, photographs and appealing lay-out and design. This is a venture that holds great promise if the issues I've seen are a preview of what’s to come.

And it’s a much bigger paper than we expected to receive.

Well-known movie critic Rich Shereikis suggests using reviews instead of astrology. But I pointed out that your astrology has been singled out as a reader favorite in letters to the editor.

Please let the rest of the staff know how genuinely impressed we are.
Judy Shereikis, Springfield, Ill

Gold Mine
Dear New Bay Times:
I’ve just seen your paper. Nothing else that I’ve read is half as entertaining or wise about our area and what to do in it. You’ve got a gold mine.
Cheryl Coull-Perry, Annapolis

Around Towns
Dear New Bay Times:
Ron Russo’s letter in Vol. 1 No. 3 regarding towns around the Bay is a great idea. It’s one of the very reasons I subscribed to your wonderful weekly.

Keep up the good work.
Paul Mann, York, PA

Homesick for Chesapeake
Dear New Bay Times:
I have to commend you. People are so hungry for a paper like this. I shared it with my brother-in-law, who moved from the Bay to Connecticut. He agreed that the paper was wonderful and that you do a really good job. New Bay Times reminds me of how much he misses the Bay.
Sharon Brewer, Fairhaven, MD

Editor to Editor
Dear New Bay Times:
Impressive, very impressive, very professional and noteworthy is your New Bay Times!

As one who knows about those mundane things, you should also soon be profitable. At least I hope so.
Al Rosenthal (former editor, Outdoors in Maryland), Silver Spring

Full Reporting, Please
Dear New Bay Times:
We attended the South County Festival in Deale last month and would like to congratulate the Southern Anne Arundel Chamber of Commerce for putting on an outstanding event. We look forward to what promises to be an annual festival.

Many of our elected officials came: Congressman Steny Hoyer, Delegate John Astle, and Sheriff Peppersack, and we’re pleased that they’re reaching out to South County. But we were disappointed that the Capital mentioned only that Marlin Fitzwater, press secretary to former President Bush, had been there.

Again, our congratulations to the Chamber. We hope to see even more participation next year.
Wally and Kay Guyot, Shady Side, MD

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by Joe Browder

Haunting Lights of Chesapeake Nights
Life on the Bay, like in most places, involves us in cycles.
Some we participate in so gradually that we have to pay close
attention to be aware of the transition. Where did the year go for
us, as the earth made another annual run around the sun?

Other changes take place more quickly, at a pace that more easily matches our own ability to observe. We may be surprised that another full moon has risen so soon, but we did see it coming. And the daily tides of light and water have immediate impacts on our lives, as sunrise and sunset, high and low water, change what we can see and what we can do.
But what about the unexpected, the unpredictable, the transitions so rapid and fleeting or mysterious that our eyes and
minds can’t really comprehend or adapt?

We are at that time of year when, in our country, we make our own lightning in the evening sky. The occasion for the Fourth of July fireworks in the U.S. is patriotic, but the human need to send pulses of light into the night is global, associated with joyful celebrations. In Mexico and throughout Latin America, in Asia, in all parts of the world where people have sense enough to find frequent cause for public joy, fireworks are a year-round treat.

Why do we do it? Not just to bring light to dark places, because campfires and torches and now electricity do that for us. We may do it to try to answer, explain, and emulate the lightning and the lightning bugs, the glowing tides and the eyes that shine in the dark.

Is the night foreboding to many people because of the dark and silence, or because of what we see and hear at night that we can’t fully understand? Long before red-eye became an inconvenience for flash photographers, glowing eyes were a source of fear and wonder to people. In the blackness beyond the fires, flickering eyeshine came from wolves, hyenas and worse.

One of the first books in my memory, Great Historic Animals: Mainly About Wolves, by Ernest Thompson Seton, had a cover illustration of campfire embers, just light enough to show the fiercely burning eyes of the wolfpack gathering closer. Fascinated as I was with the stories, for years my last waking thoughts wondered about eyes glowing under the bed .

What would our myths be if the sights and sounds of night were routinely predictable? If, during the daytime, sudden episodes of blinding darkness made the world disappear? And even without the darkstorms, unseen sources of silence made us momentarily speechless and deaf, and small unknowable spots of blackness meant the tigers were watching? Lightning, untraceable sounds, bright eyes piercing the darkness, were wondrous and terrifying phenomena of the night.

Animals comfortable in the night were seen (or unseen) as threatening. Because birds were considered daytime creatures, those that venture into the dark, such as owls and goatsuckers, were thought to have special powers. As we shall see, some do.

Now, around the Chesapeake and over most of the earth, the non-human predators that can threaten people are gone or isolated in nature preserves, but the night lights are still here. In the Bay and the Atlantic, tiny marine animals glow at night like fireflies when disturbed by a wake or a fish.

Our most easily watched night-time performers are in the air, not the water. This year’s long, cool spring seems to have changed the behavior of fireflies in our part of the Bay country. Instead of filling the trees with light, fireflies have been skimming the grasstops in meadows and marshes. Without sweetgum and oak and tuliptree leaves to screen many of the fireflies’ signals, we see all the green flashes, all the frequency and intensity.

As for the real thing, we’ve had only a few impressive lightning shows so far this season. For me, the year’s best light
show has come from a bird.

In Fairhaven, several hours after sundown this spring, a powerful flashlight turned on a night bird showed something
astounding. The bird, a Chuck-Will’s-Widow, was on a locust limb, just above eye level and less than 30 feet from our deck. Its repeated call had been loud enough to drown out the 11 o’clock news and lead me to turn out the lights and grab binoculars and the flashlight. In the beam, the bird’s one visible eye looked huge, and glowed a pale but intense orange.

Beautiful, but no surprise. Many creatures signal back when we put them in a light beam at night. The bird’s eyes do shine in a light.

But as this Chuck-Will's-Widow turned its head, the eye turned green, pale and bright as the orange. The bird twisted its face from side to side, eyes alternating both green, both orange, left green right orange, left orange right green, rapidly and randomly.

I lowered the flashlight, quickly returned with more powerful binoculars, and the lights resumed their dance. Another minute, the light went down again, so I could call our neighbors. They’ve been dragged out of bed before, to witness late-night Woodcock flights.

Not this time. As fast and silent as an owl, the bird dropped from the locust and flew into the darkness. If centuries ago, by firelight or lightning, this magical orange and green semaphore had flashed at me, the temptation to answer would have
been great. It still is.

Happy Fourth of July.

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Singing the Bluefish Blues for Lona B
By Bill Burton

What a stately yet traditional boat she was; the kind that make memories. How satisfying to recall sailing aboard such a craft as the Lona B.

“Sailing” is a figurative expression. The Lona B has no mast—just a single gasoline engine not powerful enough to put her out of the slowpoke class. I first boarded her in 1957 at Scheible’s Fishing Center near Ridge, Md.

She is big, some 52 feet, with a 13 1/2-foot beam. She’s seaworthy, with 12-inch wide Georgia pine planks, 2 1/2 inches thick, each of more than 50 feet in length. Now she has a cabin and large canopy over her spacious cockpit; back then she had a small pilot house and forecastle.

It was a windy and rainy day, but as the late Capt. Andy Scheible said she could be fished in anything short of a gale. We caught hardheads, rock, trout, flounder, porgies, sea bass, white perch, Norfolk spot and even a few blues—a species beginning to emerge after a 20-year hiatus.

The Lona B came on the scene at a bad time and could be going at a bad time. She was built in 1929 to ferry ice to Bay fishing centers; then came the Great Depression. Eventually she ended up at Scheible's located on Smith Creek, only a long cast from the Potomac.

She has been worked hard, carried countless thousands of anglers, caught many tons of fish, yet is still seaworthy though Andy’s son Capt. Bruce Scheible concedes she needs “a bit of work because we haven’t fished her much the past couple years, what with bluefish and fishing parties fading.”

The Lona B is just one of many casualties as once again the emphasis on Chesapeake Bay fishing turns from blues to rockfish. It has happened several times before, but this time fishing for rock is tightly regulated. Currently the season is closed; it is against the law to even fish for them—even if they are promptly released.

The Lona B is among several boats Scheible has on the market. He loves the Lona B, but he’s a businessman who wants to stay in business. He doesn’t expect any serious offers.

“The way the fishing is, who wants to buy a fishing boat?” asked Bruce.

If you know the answer it isn’t a question. This is no time to get into Chesapeake partyboat fishing. The business is struggling. Some fishing centers are like ghost towns. Skippers find it tough to meet expenses and boat payments. Other businesses that cater to sports fishermen share in the economic woes—the service stations, boatyards, marinas, bait shops, restaurants, motels and such—not to mention college-bound students who normally make tuition money serving as mates on charter craft.

“Cheer up, it can’t get any worse,”was the byword the past several years as bluefish runs deteriorated. But this year, it has gotten even worse. Some of the Bay’s biggest fishing centers send only a few boats out on weekdays, maybe six to ten on weekends. Several years back, you multiplied those figures by three or better.

Should charterboating no longer be a viable business, there is still another category of victims. Fishermen. Currently there are more than 500 licensed charterboats on the Bay , about 300 signed on with the Maryland Charterboat Association. Without charter craft available, many thousands of people throughout the region would not have access to the fish of the Bay .

Fishing out of Rose Haven is Capt. Joe Rupp, president of the Maryland Charterboat Association, who now has to back up his operation with a second port in St. Mary’s County. He must be in the vicinity of fishable fish populations and switches his location depending on runs, primarily of blues.

“Business in general—it’s dead,”said Rupp. “We need blues—and maybe they’re coming—or we need to be able to keep some rock. The parties who once said ‘Oh, not another blue’ would sure like to catch some now.”

Where are the blues? Who knows. Six years ago, they were unloaded by wheelbarrows; many topped 10 pounds, some were 15 pounds or more. Catches were 50 or more to the boat. Then, amid speculation that coastal fishery managers were overestimating coastal stocks, bluefish numbers started downhill.

Increasing pressure by tall draggers didn’t help. Scheible complains 30 trawlers are now working the Bay in Virginia, accompanied by nine spotter planes to lead them to fish in waters from 13 to 130 feet.

Some blues will come back this summer though probably smaller and in fewer numbers than in ‘92. But the partyboat business is akin to the tourist business in Ocean City. The season is short, and time lost cannot be made up. But expenses continue.

Every day without a party represents $300 or more of lost income, but there remains annual dockage fees of from $1,000 to $3,000 or more; licenses of $250 or more; insurance bills of $1,000, dry dock and fitting out costs of $1,000, tackle and bait expenses of $1,000 to much more, and so on. It takes many parties just to cover basic expenses, never mind daily operating costs.

In days past, when charters were slow, skippers turned to crabs, clams, oysters, gill nets and such, but now business is just as tough on the commercial fishing front. Some charter skippers turn to carpentry or other dockside duties on off days.

Capt. Buddy Harrison, a member of the Rockfish Advisory Board and owner of Harrison’s Chesapeake House—the biggest charter facility on the Eastern Shore—sums up business as “terrible, terrible, terrible.”

Capt. Ed O'Brien of the Semper Fidelis out of Chesapeake Beach—and also a member of the rockfish board—insists rock must be officially declared a recovered fishery to enable charter patrons to keep one a day in summer. Currently, rock are fished in one-month seasons in May and October.

Last May’s trophy rock season started ‘93 off right, but since then blues have been scarce and black drum sporadic. Flounder didn’t start fast and furious like last year, and spot were late. The reduction to nine inches of the hardhead legal length limit helped in the lower Bay , but once abundant sea trout are missing.

There are hopes Spanish mackerel, unheard of a decade ago, will move up from the mouth of the Bay to help fill the void, but realistically—other than bottom fishing for spot and hardheads— there aren’t many bright spots until the fall rockfish season.

Ah, the rockfish. With business bad, everyone wants a shot at them. Some boats now catch 50 to 100 or more (many of better than 5 pounds) while trolling and chumming for blues. Their parties grumble about throwing them back. They want fish to take home.

The Atlantic Coast Marine Fisheries Commission is adamant that rock regulations not be relaxed at this time—and it rules the roost. Its members don’t want to hear the valid argument that Maryland (where 80 percent or more of rock are hatched) isn’t getting its traditional share of the harvest since the moratorium was lifted.

Tied are the hands of the Department of Natural Resources, and tied to the docks many days are the charterboats. Meanwhile, the Lona B sits at her mooring at Smith Creek waiting for a buyer who probably won’t come until the blues return. And then it could be too late.

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Earl Hargrove, Flag Waver
by Sonia Linebaugh

Without Earl Hargrove, there’d be no parade.

But he, a master of understatement, calls his Lanham company, Hargrove, Inc., a “backstage business.”

For 39 years, Hargrove has been designing and building fantasies: floats, exhibits, reviewing stands, light shows, signs, banners, huge dinosaurs, small statues of Miss Liberty and more—setting the stage for Presidents, Miss Americas, baseball stars and more. But, he says, “We do these things for someone, somewhere. Not for ourselves.”

So Hargrove cherishes the time he came out onto his own stage as his greatest business accomplishment. The year was 1976; Hargrove had had a hand in designing the enormous parade that snaked through Washington, D.C. on Saturday, July 3 in honor of America’s 200th Anniversary.

But it’s Sunday July 4th that glows in his memory. After the Washington festivities the Hargroves brought home a bandwagon used in the parade. That Sunday they loaded up 40 or 50 friends, including Roy Shields (of Twin Shields Country Club) who dressed as Uncle Sam, plus some musicians. The bandwagon followed all the back roads in South county—to Galesville, Fairhaven, Chesapeake Beach— playing “God Bless America” and other patriotic songs, greeting folks, and celebrating. When they encountered a family picnicking along narrow, winding Fairhaven Road, the children ran out into the road, surrounding the bandwagon and overwhelming the crew with their glee.

Hargrove relished his only stint “on stage” on one of his creations. “We do things all across the nation and across the world, but to have that response here at home was the best,” says he.

Hargrove has always been a flag waver. Flag, patriotism and pride in country are important, personal symbols to him. On one float, a huge mechanical flag made in undulating sections appears to wave. Indeed, with the American flag blowing proudly in front of his company, Hargrove, Inc. might be mistaken for the post office that it used to be. Inside, however, are no bags of mail.

Sales people toil at computers in the front office. Behind them in the labyrinth of 100,000 square feet of warehouse, designers closeted in cubicles create Hargrove’s ephemeral monuments. Small colored versions of signs here will be blown up for the All-Star Game. One says “WELCOME” in red and blue.

Beyond the designers, printers shape blue Mylar letters. Then vast space opens up, dotted with circles of concentrated activity where people, who seem to know exactly what they are doing, cut wood, assemble, paint, and facade.

From a balcony, a crowd of huge fantastic figures—one of them is the Orioles’ mascot bird-look down on the organized flurry. Ready to move out are the last of eight floats for Philadelphia’s grand Fourth of July parade. “Avenue of the Arts” features giant rotating triangles that display three different messages as they turn in synchrony. Nearby, on the three huge tom-toms that form the “Native Indian Float,” a painter is dabbing a last spot of brown paint. Between the floats stands a six-foot model of Philadelphia’s Constitution Hall. Already in the Hargrove warehouse in Philadelphia is “We the People,” a huge, moving replica of the partially rolled scroll of the Constitution.

Although floats featured in parades and events—Cherry Blossom, Rose Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Miss America—all across the Nation account for only three percent of Hargrove’s business, they’re special to Mr. Hargrove. According to David Hancock, general manager, Hargrove often creates the original model concept “from ideas rolling around in his head” and then makes a rough drawing for the designers to work from.

Hargrove made his first floats while he was still in high school, working with his father on Harry Truman’s inaugural parade. Until then Earl Sr. had been a window decorator working first for a distillery and then on his own making displays for liquor store and distillery windows.

In 1954, father and son went seriously into business together with a $5,000 loan against his mother’s house and the $300 discharge money he received from the U.S. Marine Corps. In that year, they put on the parade when the Orioles first came to Baltimore. Eighteen years later, they staged the parade and extravaganza that marked the opening of Camden Yards.

In late June, 1993, everybody at Hargrove’s not finishing the Philadelphia parade floats is working this year’s All-Star Game, where exhibition booths of baseball history and heroes will supplement the other hoopla surrounding the game.

Scenic painter Walt Halstead is working on All-Star graphics. He takes the small line drawing of a building front from the design department, projects it onto a 20-foot length of foam board and draws it on. Then he strips away the surface of the board just where he wants to put the first colors. He’s using printer’s inks—something new—this time and must match the colors and textures of another piece standing near by. When the pieces are finished, they’ll go straight into truck trailers, now waiting in open bays, for temporary storage and eventual transport.

Besides the works in progress today, Hargrove also makes exhibits and backdrops for conventions, presidential inaugurations and dinners, charity galas, wedding receptions, and bar mitzvahs. Their high-tech audio-visual arsenal includes lasers, fiber optics, indoor and outdoor pyrotechnics, and interactive video with specialty lighting, sound and entertainment. They handle scheduling, tracking, budgeting, installation, supervision, maintenance, dismantling, shipping and storing.

Helping to make sure everything goes right are Hargrove’s five children and two sons-in-law. Chris, the oldest son and general sales manager, is currently in Belgium for the company. Daughter Kathy Kelly is in public relations. Daughter Carla McGill and her husband Tim, Lothian residents, are both in sales, as is daughter Cindy. Cindy’s husband, John Kluh, is director of operations. Youngest son, Carey, a student at Washington College, helps out in the summer. Wife Gloria stays out of the business, running the family estate, Holly Springs Farm, in Lothian.

Hargrove is clearly a proud man—proud of family, country, state and community. He’s proud of his successful business, proud to decorate the Nation’s Christmas tree, proud to allow some 30,000 visitors a year to drive by his wondrously decorated home each Christmas. Some people have called him “the White House electrician.” He’s proud of that too.

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It’s the Berries:
After a Berry Picking Outing, Spend the Afternoon Jamming
by Sandra Martin

In this first heat of early summer, berries are swelling with sugar, ready to fall from laden canes into the stained hands and watering mouths of gatherers.

We who penetrate the bramble and brave the thorns to gather berries are united by our shared love of berries and the summer sweetness they bring us. Some risks, too.

I’m an itinerant picker, a grasshopper favoring roadsides where poison ivy licks at my ankles. At the heart of each bush may be the snake about which my grandmother warned me. Each time I pick, I earn with my berries the reward of danger surpassed.

Of course, I also frequent berry farms and the patches of amiable friends.

The ants, in whose friendship I rejoice, are planners whose faith in constancy is an investment in harvests years ahead. June’s nature is generous and good to grasshoppers as well as to ants. Shortsighted and swayed by change though I am, I share the season’s reward.

What’s more, with each berry I harvest a lifetime of memories, for I am the daughter of a hawk-eyed mother who would not allow a roadside thicket to pass unreaped.

Already this season I have:
  • Plucked black raspberries from serendipitous bushes sowed along my country road by heedless birds.
  • Gathered blueberries at Johnson’s Upper Marlboro Berry Farm.
  • Shared my neighbor’s crop of red raspberries.|
  • Harvested my new friend’s abundance of prickly gooseberries. I think they are my favorite—though perhaps in this taste my heart informs my tongue.

“Gooseberries!” the family snickered when I returned with my treasure. For them, any berry worth the name must be a mouthful of immediate sweetness. For me, gooseberries have another kind of sweetness. My basket brimmed with the sweetness of time.

On the way to my elderly Illinois cousins’ outhouse, gooseberries grew among tiger lilies, to be harvested in sunbaked, peach-smelling afternoons. In the cool of early evening, the woodstove would be lit and from its Vulcanic heat, shining glass jars of red-golden fruit—berries for jam and pie—would emerge.

How will I best use my treasure? The answer is easy. Pies are for now, but jam lasts. Glistening in neat rows on filled shelves, the jars keep a household in summer all winter long. I would make jam with my gooseberries. But after intention, jam is still a ways to go.

Gooseberries are demanding, as befits an acquired taste. They prickle the picker to tears and splinters. Next, berries must be “picked” again, because holding fast to the blossom and stem ends are tiny, tender thorns. Sharpened as your fingernails may be for this delicate work, fruit tears away with thorn. The green, translucent flesh with its droplet seeds bursts from the ruptured berries, and juice runs down the arms. In this sticky work, picker as well as fruit is prepared. To put summer up in jars, one must be stewed in its essence.

Washing the berries is a welcome respite between the warmth of picking and the heat of jamming. In their cold bath, they slip like smooth river stones through refreshed fingers. Water as well as heat, rain as well as sun, has swollen the fruit. And now the berries return to their elements.

In my youth, the handiwork would be admired for a day. Then the cousins would see to the future, carrying the brilliant jars off to join cherries, cling peaches, and creamed corn in the cool dark of the fruit cellar.

The alchemy begins as the berries are crushed, a layer at a time, in the second largest kettle the kitchen has to offer. The largest kettle, filled with jam jars in a shallow bath of water (save energy: the water will rise into the vacuum to sterilize the whole jar), is put on to boil.

When steam begins to rise from the jar kettle, the fruit mash is combined with pectin and set on the fire. Wraiths of steam cover exploding bubbles as if a pair of domestic volcanoes were about to erupt. Masses of sugar sacrificed to jam kettle only feed its fury. Soon the fruit lava will rise to a boil so furious it cannot be stirred down. One minute more and the gooseberries will be jam.

As I grew up, gooseberries grew scarce. Like Cousin Cora’s filled jars, old times were put up to gather dust. But now and again in some out-of-the-way place, that cellar door might creak open. Once, in an industrial town in downstate Illinois, musty with the smell of processing soybeans, I devoured gooseberry pie in a restaurant as famous for pies as Howard Johnson used to be for ice cream. Each syrupy, sweet-sour mouthful smacked of summer.

Years later, a best friend turned homesteader. Because she could not kill her geese, gooseberry jam became her Christmas ritual.

Later still, a quart of dusty gooseberries—green as cats’ eyes, hard as marbles—rewarded me for a stop at an Eastern Shore roadside market. And now a new friend has invited me to pluck her gooseberries.

Red cheeked and wreathed with tendrils of damp hair, the jam- maker steps fast to keep time in this midsummer ritual. Jars must be tonged from their boiling bath, the jam funnel dropped in each hot jar’s mouth, and the nearly boiling nectar ladled in, scoop after thick, sugary scoop.

Each jar is well and rosily filled, but has the alchemy worked? Will the jars seal? The jam-maker continues to stew until, finally, the pop. pop. pop of lids on jars lined up in a row signals partial success.

But will the jam set? A spoonful is dropped on a cold saucer to be tipped, dipped, and prodded. Anxiety rises. Have I put up syrup (“but you can still eat it,” friends console) or sticky fruit gum? Must a whole winter be spent with the clear proof of failure? At last the spell takes. The reward is blushing, puckery gooseberry jam, a perfect concoction of fruit suspended lightly in jelly.

Will my jam taste as good as my memories? There is only one way to know.

Always a little jam is saved over, in a lidless jelly jar because it will not last long, for the final test: the jam and bread test. Tomorrow morning the jam will adorn hot, fresh-baked biscuits. Now I spoon it over buttered slices of white bread.

I do not have to call the family. Smell will summon them at the very moment I lift my jam bread to my mouth. Ready for them, I have prepared a plateful. The taste is breaking on my tongue when my son joins me. “Wow! It’s better than you get in the store,” he says.

I grin. Though no supermarket has ever shelved such jam, this is a compliment as sweet as a county fair blue ribbon. “Have another,” I offer, “and I’ll tell you how gooseberries came to be jam.”

The alchemy has worked. The jam is good. The spell is binding another generation.

Sandra Olivetti Martin has won many ribbons at County Fairs for her jams. For gooseberry jam, follow a berry recipe in your box of Sure-Jel, adding 6 cups of sugar to two quarts (four cups crushed) ripe berries. If your berries are green, you can skip the pectin (Sure-Jel) and cut the sugar to 3 cups.

Turn to “Laughing Gourmet” for the gooseberry grower’s family’s favorite pie.

To discover where to pick berries, watch the roadsides for berries and signs or pick up your copy of the 1993 “Maryland Direct Farm Market and Pick Your Own Directory” from any county library.

Running Wild
Daylilies, now delighting us along the roads and beaches of the Bay, belong to the genus Hemerocallis, Greek for “beautiful for a day.” Each blossom stays open for just one day before fading. Luckily for us, each plant produces a succession of flowers to make a long growing season. Watch a daylily open and you’ll see that while the stamens start out black with an edge of yellow, as the petals begin to open the stamens turn inside out to reveal golden yellow pollen to the enjoyment of bees and butterflies.

Hollyhocks are said to be biennials, but those that grace our neighborhood either haven’t been told the schedule or they drop seeds each year to cast up new plants. The old fashioned variety, which is a native of China and came to America with early colonists, stands erect up to nine feet, often needing a fence or wall for support in stormy weather. It has a leafy spire of stem with red, pink or white single flowers in terminal clusters. It’s called marsh mallow when growing wild in the salt marshes.

Mimosa trees, true Southerners who won’t thrive in climates much colder than ours, are bright with flowers as showy as Japanese fans.

In sum, it’s high summer.

In the Garden
Berries are burgeoning to satisfy every taste. Take your pick, literally: blueberries, black raspberries, gooseberries, red raspberries. You can afford to be choosy, like the friend who turned down an offered black raspberry windfall. “They’re not my favorite,” she could afford to say, when red raspberries (they are her favorite) were hers for the picking next door. Even a few mulberries are still to be found. All that’s missing is blackberries, and they’re ripening. (For more on ‘em, read this issue’s Diversion and Excursion, “It’s the Berries.”)

In the Water—Dino What?
What’s that glowing stuff in the Bay water with you during that evening swim? Dinoflagellates.

So, what is that stuff? Dinoflagellates are tiny, tiny organisms—probably plants rather than animals—living among plankton. You can see them only because there are so darn many of them. If you looked at one under a microscope, you’d find something with two movable, hairlike appendages, one winding around the body in a spiral groove, the other usually trailing behind.

A few kinds are poisonous, like those causing “red tides,” but most are harmless. Many are luminescent—they glow in the dark—when stimulated by contact with other things in the water or simply by the movement of the water itself. The glow is often bright enough to be seen in the wake of a ship or even on the crests of waves. Since dinoflagellates are more numerous in summer and fall, that’s when you’re more likely to see their glow.

Fish sometimes stir up trails of light for night fishermen to spot by just swimming through herds? schools? tides? of dinoflagellates. Sardine and anchovy fishermen once worked only in the dark of the moon when luminescence outlines the schools of fish, each of which leaves a slightly different trail.

In another bay, an ocean inlet in a small island offshore of Puerto Rico, the glowing organisms are so concentrated that nighttime underwater swimmers are bathed in light, A rise to the surface for breath brings cascades of green washing down the swimmers’ bodies.

Aren’t you glad you asked?

In the Air
Lightning bugs! Fireflies! Look for yourself, and read Joe Browder’s “Bay Reflection.”

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Creature Feature

The Turtle Who Stopped Traffic
by Sandra Martin

Turtles keep crossing my path

Why does the turtle cross the road?

“Because the road is in its way,” explains reptile biologist Suzanne Demas, of Fairhaven.

When spring wakes them up, turtles head out, looking for a “nice damp, leafy, woodsy spot—and for females.” This year, when turtle appearances have been sporadic, they’re still looking.

With male turtle determination as high as road caution is low, the highways of warm weather tell a sad tale.

So begins for two species another seasonal ritual.

No matter how pressing the deadline or how many miles separate us from our desks, our family stops to assist turtle corssings. Reptilian head cranes and red eyes gleam in slow curiosity as its rescuer’s fingers spread round the high dome of its mottled shell.

Usually we take them across the road in the direction they were going (and will return to after you leave them alone, Demas advises) and deposit them well into the safety of the underbrush. That is just what I did in the last few days, assisting two perfect yellow and olive specimens of turtlehood on their pigeon-toed way toward their woodsy retreat.

One year when we knew less, we couldn’t resist taking them home. Turtles regularly summered on my sunken patio.

A middle-sized turtle gaily painted in summac red stayed all season. Others quickly escaped and I was glad, for several were intended as gifts for the children of city folk who have no turtles of their own.

Over the years, I’ve come to agree that turtles make poor pets. They’re smart enough, and they can unpuzzle mazes even more quickly than rats. But to thrive, a turtle needs careful attention. All my mother’s attempts to make useful pets of turtles failed; once put in the basement to eat bugs, they were never seen again. No wonder: box turtles are vegetarian—indeed, vegetarian gourmets. The turtles Demas studied preferred raspberries; mine scorned bananas. Yet a turtle friend of ours in Washington, who goes by the name of Highway Haven, one day discovered a sudden and voracious yen for bananas.
You never know.

I’ll gladly rescue turtles, but I’ve no desire to run a turtle shelter.

The morning after a great rain last summer, the dog’s barking alerted me to a stranger. His hackles had risen. At the door, I saw why: two feet of prehistoric menace occupied the front stoop.

I stared. A turtle lurked, a turtle like I had never seen. His head (anything so ferocious was bound to be male, I figured), beaked and large as a tomcat’s, peered beadily out of the folds of turtleneck.

Sturdy, armadillo-like legs tapered into ominous hooked claws. A Baywater-brown shell was surprisingly flat to contain such a monster—about the size and shape of an English riding saddle. From the back of that shell protruded about a foot of spiky, rhinocerous-hided tail.

What, I wondered, was this beast doing on my stoop, a good quarter of a mile uphill from the nearest swamp?

For the moment, it was looking at me. I retreated.

When I checked back moments later, he was gone. So much for one truism. There was nothing slow about this turtle.

Max the dog and I went seeking together. He found the turtle first, 20 feet away and about to cross the road.

A turtle of this size, squashed, would be a spectacle I didn’t want to see. The dog charged.

That’s when I concluded this turtle was a snapper. It dug in its billhook claws, opened its beak on a rosy mouth, and hissed. The 105-pound Lab retreated behind my skirts.

I imagined myself setting up a chair in the road, diverting traffic until the turtle crossed in his own good time.

I might have done just that had neighbor Billy not happened by to congratulated me on my turtle. “Nice alligator turtle you’ve got there,” said Billy. “Going to eat it?”

Billy earns his living as a crabber. He is younger than some of the other crabbers in the neighborhood, who admire his strength and endurance.

I admire turtle soup—as long as someone else does the dressing. “You cut off the head first, so it doesn’t bite,” my resourceful mother had told me. “But getting it out of the shell is the tough part.”

Tough indeed, I imagined, sizing up this turtle.

I didn’t want to eat him, I admitted. “Do you?” I asked.

“Too much trouble for me,” Billy said. “But I’ll take it down to the marsh for you.”

And fearless Billy hauled up the turtle by its stegosaurian tail.

“He’s probably a she,” corrected Billy. “They live down there. Swim up under baby ducks and snap ‘em under. But they come up here to lay eggs.”

Suspended upside down, the snarling she-turtle arched and twisted to reach the crabber’s hands. “Hey, she’s heavy,” said Billy, and dumped the turtle in the bed of his pick-up.

But before he drove the turtle home, Billy had errands in town. His errands stretched out, and Billy had forgotten the turtle behind him, until he glanced in his rearview mirror and saw its malignant face leering at him through the back window of the cab. He hit the brakes, and the turtle went flying.

There’s only one stoplight in town, but plenty of police enforce the 25 mph speed limit and keep the citizens under control. Knowing this, Billy watches his step and his speedometer when he’s in town. So he was surprised when the blue light bore down on him.

“What’d I do?” Billy complained when the cop swaggered up.

Billy’s blue-eyed gaze, following the officer’s finger, found the alligator turtle clinging to his tailgate, hissing balefully.

“Mister, that turtle’s so ugly it’s stopping traffic,” the officer said.

A month or so later, I found a second turtle on our patio. It had the color, disposition of our alarming visitor and was about twice the size of a ripe, unhulled black walnut. The only time I tried to pick it up, it hissed, showing a rosy mouth.

I guess Billy was right about the sex of the Turtle that Stopped Traffic.

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Landfill Reprieve
The saga of the Sudley landfill continues, but things are clearer for now.

Anne Arundel County’s Utilities Department has extended until Sept. 30 the date for closing the South County landfill to small businesses. The county has said that it won’t be classifying small businesses with commercial haulers constantly needing dump space.

To people accustomed to government’s frequent dictates, the county’s attitude is welcome.

“We've had nothing but open ears,” said Claire Mallicote, owner of Mali Discount office supplies in Deale and an active member of the Southern Anne Arundel Chamber of Commerce.

Ultimately, the county will be forcing people to make burdensome drives north to the Millersville. This is being done, the county says, because of problems that boil down to money. The county claims it can’t afford to make the alternations needed to expand Sudley.

The decision raises questions that involve fairness to fairness to South County taxpayers.

“It’s difficult to protect the environment, provide service to customers and be equitable to everybody,” observed Jody Vollmar, spokesperson for the public works department.

Meanwhile, the Southern Anne Arundel Chamber of Commerce is suggesting that haulers needing space contact private, for-pay landfills: Al-Ray Rubble or PST Reclamation, both on Sands Road in Lothian.

Pesticide Perils
In the summer of 1962, Rachel Carson warned of dangers from farm chemicals. Her book, Silent Spring, led to banning of DDT and new awareness that massive use of chemicals that kill things may not be wise over time.

This week, the prestigious National Academy of Sciences finally issued its own warning, saying that pesticides may harm children.

The Academy’s report was written by pediatricians and physicians, not by environmental advocates. It warned that because of children’s metabolism and the amount of fruit they eat, we’d better cut back on the pesticide residues we permit on produce.

The report will affect all our lives and government’s role as protector. Federal agencies immediately said they would write new regulations and develop new tests.

What should we do in the meantime?

  • Wash fruits and vegetables like our kids’ lives depend on it.
  • Find out where produce comes from and encourage inspections, especially when it is grown in countries with lax standards.
  • Learn about organic growing, mulching, crop rotation and methods to manage pests and weeds without dumping chemicals on the earth.

Bluefish Confusion?
Maybe what the government types are telling us about the lack of bluefish is overblown.

Captain John MacEwen, who operates Janet M II out of Deale, says he’s running into blues in the 2-4 pound range. And there are the bigger blues, often to be found feeding with the rockfish.

But, he says, there are so many rockfish—which are out of season, of course—that they’re a nuisance when trying to hook a blue.

Wishing for a Clean Bay
Who would have thought that visitors at Luray Caverns in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley would be helping the Chesapeake by peering into a wishing well?

That's the way it’s turned out, with announcement that Luray has donated $50,000 to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s education fund.

People come from all over the world to the Blue Ridge Mountain landmark. Invariably, they gaze into the six feet-deep well and reach in their pockets for coins. At year’s end, the well is drained and roughly 700,000 coins are shoveled into wheelbarrows on their way to be cleaned in cement-mixers.

Next, they are dried by a flame-thrower, bagged and deposited in a special account for charities. Since 1954, these gifts have totaled nearly $350,000. This year’s $50,000 grant to the foundation and a grant of the same size two years ago to fight Alzheimer’s disease were the biggest.

The new grant will pay for field trips to increase awareness of the Bay’s fragile condition.

Foundation president William C. Baker referred to Luray Caverns as one of most Virginia’s most treasured wonders and added that as a result of the gift, “another marvel of nature, the great Chesapeake Bay, is a step closer to its restoration.”

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Who’s Got the Best Barbecue on the Bay
We’re still looking, so shape up your act and send in your nominations

Summer’s hit the Bay, like a hot, wet washcloth across your face. Heat shimmers in the air, reflecting off suspended beads of moisture waiting to cling to exposed flesh. Kids splash in swimming pools, the Bay and hoses, trying to keep cool. Parents and those of us more wise in the ways of beating the heat lounge, conserving energy so as not to sweat. Some, done in by the heat, revel indoors in front of fans or air conditioners.

During these high days of summer, rays of heat can clench your stomach like the hands of Charles Atlas and constrict your appetite into that of a 99-pound weakling.

Sunset relaxes that grip a little. Not much, but enough for the rumblings of hunger to make themselves heard. But what to eat? Outside heat still rises from the earth like a casserole just out of the oven, and the last place anyone in a Chesapeake summer wants to find themselves is in front of a baking-hot oven or eating a steamy casserole.

So what to do?

Barbecue. And there are two ways to go about it.

First, you can fire up the grill, whip up a sauce and do it yourself. But a good home-grilled barbecue takes some preparation and more than a few hours to cook, so let’s come back to it a little later.

The second option is easier and closer at hand. You can let someone else take care of the hot stuff at any number of ’cue joints around the Bay.

A lot of restaurants brag that they have the best ribs around. But unless a place specializes in barbecue—serving little, if anything, else—chances are their ribs and sandwiches will bear an aftertaste of neglect.

Good barbecue takes time and attention that few restaurants with a deep menu can muster. Great barbecue—the kind that gets you salivating from the smell and tightens your belly in anticipation of that first bite of meat—demands absolute devotion and sometimes generations to perfect.

What makes great barbecue? Different people like different things. But there are only two real differences: wet or dry, and what goes on top. Wet barbecue, also known as Memphis- and Kansas City-style, soaks in a tangy sauce AFTER it’s been slowly smoked over a hard-wood grill or fire. Dry, Texas-style barbecue, comes just like it sounds—dry. No sauce. No nothin’, except for some unadulterated, fine-tasting, slow-smoked meat dripping with juice.

Baysiders have it both ways. Ribs almost always come smothered in sauce, as do minced pork sandwiches. But stacked beef and pork sandwiches usually come dry.

Around the Bay a scoop of slaw on barbecue sandwiches is standard, as it is in Memphis and throughout the South. Midwestern Kansas City style opts for potato salad on top. In Texas people’ll throw dirty looks your way if you put anything aside from jalapeno peppers and some hot sauce on your ‘cue.

In the end, though, what you do to your ‘cue is up to you, ‘cause you’re eating it.

Here’s a rundown of some of the Bay’s many barbecue joints.

PIG PEN, Mayo *** 1/2
Tucked away in a strip mall on the side of Route 214, Pig Pen grills barbecue over a mix of charcoal and hickory. Although they don’t specialize solely in barbecue, theirs is not too shabby. The meat carries a smokey flavor, perhaps at the price of tenderness. The sliced beef and pork sandwiches comes with a ton of meat stacked high. But there’s only a dollop of what might be a delicious sauce—if you could find it. This isn’t such a problem with the babyback ribs, the chicken, or the minced pork sandwich, but you may want to ask for a side of sauce just to be safe.

RED HOT & BLUE, Annapolis ***
Founded by, among others, late 1988 Republican presidential campaign strategist Lee Atwater, Red Hot & Blue makes a pretty good barbecue for a franchise. Their meat comes out with a pink tint that makes you wonder if it’s cooked enough. The deceptive color comes from the long and slow cooking over a bed of hickory, which ensures that the meat remains moist and tender.

Red Hot & Blue serves wet, Memphis style ribs as well as dry ribs dusted with Cajun blackening spice. The sandwiches don’t hold their juice as well as the ribs and chicken and need extra sauce as a result. Which leads to one of Red Hot & Blue’s problems: they serve their sauce in little individually sealed plastic containers made and packaged God only knows where. If there’s a secret ingredient to the sauce, you’d never taste it.

For a sit-down joint the service runs slow and sometimes unfriendly. One unsmiling waitress—who must have had somewhere better to be—was never around when my beer mug was empty. After walking to the bar, I had to yell over the bartender’s attitude to get a beer to carry back to the table. Both these problems are common to chain restaurants and don’t taint the food’s flavor. But they do taint the overall experience.

J.R.’S OPEN PIT, Bowie ** 1/2
Like many ‘cue joints, J.R.’s, located in a shopping center off route 301, is a shack offering carry-out and outdoor dining at their three picnic tables. The sandwiches are good, although again a little on the dry side, and their ribs are good but the portions small. The weakest point at J.R.’s is the sauce, which tastes vinegary like it’s fermented.

PAT’S DIXIE PIG, Upper Marlboro * 1/2
Only in operation near the intersection of Route 202 and the Marlboro Pike for a month, Pat’s carry-out has a lot to learn about good barbecue. To begin with, the ribs are grey and look boiled, although they’re supposedly roasted; either is taboo in the world of barbecue. Then there’s the sauce, which may be barbecue sauce but is definitely not home-made. If nothing else, they should switch brands.

Bayside Bull, Edgewater ****
This little barbecue hut, on Route 214 just off of Route 2, serves only sandwiches, although not only barbecue. It’s all cooked over hard-wood charcoal, which would upset a purist. Still, it’s darned good. The meat’s all smokey-flavored and moist. The stacked sandwiches come dry, whereas the minced pork comes with the sauce mixed in. Either way, if you’re a real sauce lover you’ll want to heap a big glob on top because it’s so tasty.

ADAM’S, THE PLACE FOR RIBS, Chesapeake Beach, Edgewater, Severna Park, Solomons ***
Another full service restaurant geared to ribs, Adam’s does a decent job with their ‘cue. Ribs and chicken are cooked to perfection so that the meat comes off the bone without a fuss while remaining moist. The beef and pork sandwiches are also moist. Everything comes with the sauce already on, but you may want it left off. It’s not homemade, and you can tell. It doesn’t do justice to what might otherwise be a fine barbecue.

J.P.’S BAR-B-QUE & CATERERS, Landover *** 1/2
Unless you already know where J.P.’s roadside stand is, you're gonna have to hunt for this barbecue. And it’s worth it, especially if you’re hungry and headed north on route 202 and nearing Interstate 95. There, on the right-hand side at Lottsford Rd. in a hand-made, metal sided trailer with smoke pouring out, is where from noon to ten you’ll find J.P.’s every day of the week except Sundays and Mondays.

The aroma of barbecue overpowers the smells of traffic. The sandwiches are meaty and the ribs and chicken tender without being underdone. The prices are a little steep, which could be due to the proximity to Washington. If the sauce is bottled or canned, the folks inside the trailer won’t let you know and neither will the pieces of beef and pork floating in it.

JOHN’S OPEN PIT, Huntingtown **** 1/2
If you stop in at John’s, situated just off of Route 2/4, be sure to bring along an appetite. Everything here is cooked over a hickory fire and the home-made sauce is served on the side or not at all. The beef and pork sandwiches are stacked so high that you may want to eat the top and bottom separate and open-faced to fit them into your mouth. The ribs and chicken are marinated in 12 spices and then slow-cooked. Add some sauce if you want, it’s real good, but the meat is so tender and rare that none is needed.

PIG OUTS, Deale *** 1/2
Located in a strip mall to the side of Route 256, Pig Outs offers dining room service, a full menu and barbecue that doesn’t suffer too much for it. Ribs are definitely the way to go here. They’re slow-cooked over a charcoal grill and tender so that they pull from the bone without a struggle. If you choose a sandwich instead, expect a big pile of beef or pork on the side separate from the bun. Chances are you’ll wind up with more meat than bun. All the barbecue comes served with the sauce, which isn’t home-made but is jazzed up with extra spices and the like.

SID’S FLAMING PIT, Deale **** 1/2
Of all the little walk up ‘cue stands, Sid’s is the smallest—but there’s a lot of flavor packed into that little place. Don’t expect anything resembling rare because the meat at Sid’s is definitely well done. But the special Pennsylvania charcoal and hardwood mix leaves a dense smokey flavor and the thick, sticky, home-made sauce will make you smack your lips in appreciation. The sandwiches aren’t the biggest, but they are filling and satisfying. For all their doneness, the ribs and chicken at Sid’s are tender and tear easy.

You’ll notice that none of the barbecue joints listed has five stars. For that you’d better get to work on your own secret recipe.

Here are a few tips to get you off in the right direction, but don’t expect rave reviews overnight. If you’re lucky, your grandchildren may be near to perfecting your recipe years from now.

To start with, great barbecue is usually pork. Now I know fans of Texas-style brisket barbecue will say you don’t get nothing unless you’re working with beef. But that’s the way Texans are.

Go to the store, or better yet to a butcher shop, and look for ribs with lots of deep pinkish-red meat with snow white fat running through it. The redder the meat and the whiter the fat the better the ribs. Remember, the fat holds the flavor, so don’t trim away too much of it.

Once home, start a charcoal fire in a Weber-type grill. Once it heats up, spread the coals around. Then add some fruit or hard-wood branches, wood chips or charcoal. The wood puts out more smoke if it’s green or soaked in water.

Next, boil some water, add some spices and herbs (this is the first experimental stage) and throw in the ribs for NO MORE than five minutes. The idea here isn’t to cook them, but to parboil away excess fat and to seal in the flavors.

Once the coals have cooled a little and there’s no trace of flame, put on the meat and cover. The wood should smoulder, not burn. If flames appear, spray them with water. Turn the meat regularly. The cooler the fire, the longer the meat takes to cook and the better it tastes. If your flame is just right, a rack of ribs should take no less than four hours to cook.

While you’re waiting, you can head back to the kitchen and work on sauce. There are several good sauces on the market and a few additions can make it better. But a real barbecue fan should “play” around. Open the spice cabinet and see what catches your fancy.

Most barbecue sauces start with a ketchup base, and there’s no reason you shouldn’t. But don’t be afraid to try tomato sauce, salsa or whatever else grabs your attention. If you screw up too bad there’s time to start over before the meat’s done. Do you like it spicy? Add chili pepper or hot sauce. Sweet? Throw in some honey or molasses. Sour? Try a little vinegar or lemon. Leave your inhibitions behind when you’re looking for that special barbecue sauce recipe.

Once you’ve got a sauce you’re happy with, wait until the ribs are almost done. Then spread a dab of sauce on each side and let them cook a bit longer. Be careful not to let the sauce burn, because the sugar will carmelize and get crunchy like charcoal.

When you think it’s time, pull the meat. If you like your sauce on the side, it’s time to eat. But if you like your ribs laden with sauce, soak them in a pan with the sauce and put the whole mess in the oven for about 15 minutes at 300°.

Last, put on a T-shirt and grab plenty of napkins, because really great barbecue should be messy. Now, it’s chow time.

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What’s more American than apple pie? Maybe gooseberry pie? We can’t decide, so here are recipes for both.

Pat Bramhall of Lothian assures us that her fillings for both are Maryland’s best. The secret, she says, is mixing all the ingredients together to swell the flavors.

Naturally, you’ll need a best crust to put those fillings in. I think you’ll find that Illinoisian Barbara Manning’s fills the bill.

Finally, here’s a lovely cooler for your holiday, concocted by Lee Summerall of Owings Cliffs.

Apple Pie Filling
In a large bowl stir together:
2/3 C sugar
2 T flour
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1/8 t ginger
1/4 t salt
1/2 t grated lemon rind
Add and toss to coat:
5 C peeled apples, thinly sliced

Spread apples in 9” pastry-lined pan. Dot with 1 T butter, cut into bits. Cover with top crust. Slit decoratively, brush with 1 T heavy cream. Sprinkle with 1/2 t sugar. Bake 1 hour at 350.

Gooseberry Pie Filling
2 1/2 C gooseberries (both stem ends removed)
1 1/4 C sugar, divided (3/4 and 1/2)
1/2 C water
1 T cornstarch
1/2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1/8 t salt

Cook gooseberries in water and 3/4 C sugar until soft. Combine remaining 1/2 C sugar with cornstarch, salt, and spices. Add to gooseberries and cool.

Brush bottom pie shell with unbeaten egg white. Fill with fruit, dot with butter, top with pastry. Gash top and seal edges. Bake for 10 minutes at 450; reduce heat to 350 and make 25 minutes longer.

Barbara’s Best Pie Crust
Keeping cool is the secret. Use ice water, and never touch the dough with your fingers: your body heat will melt the shortening. Barbara even uses and old-fashioned glass rolling pin filled with icewater.

For 2 crusts:
2 C flour
1 t salt
3/4 C shortening
4-5 T ice water

Spoon…flour into measuring cap and pour into bowl. No need to sift.
Add…salt to flour and blend
Cut in…half of shortening (for fork, knives, or pastry cutter) until mixture resembles coarse meal. Then remaining shortening until particles are the size of small peas
Add…ice water a little at a time, mixing lightly w. fork
Shape…dough into firm ball. Divide in half.
Roll out…half of dough to 12” circle in lightly floured cloth covered board
Place…loosely in 9” pie pan; trim at edge of pan
Fill…unbaked crust w. pie
Roll out…remaining dough for top crust. Cut decorative slits for steam to escape.
Place…over filling. Cut 1” larger than pan
Fold…edge of top crust under edge of bottom crust. Moisten rim of pan. Flute edge.
Bake…as directed for filling.

Fourth of July Cooler
Eight generous glasses to sip while you watch the fireworks.

2 16 oz. bottles white grape juice
1 liter seltzer water, unflavored
1 C strawberries, washed, hulled, and halves
1 C blueberries, washed
1/4 C white sugar, dissolved in 1/4 C hot water

Do not make ahead. Pour juice and seltzer into pitcher. Sweeten to taste w. sugar syrup. Add fruit. Pour over ice cubes in tall glasses. For more color, freeze whole blueberries into the ice cubes.

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Moon Facts
It takes the Moon about 28 days to traverse all the constellations of the zodiac. We see the full moon when the sun is in a constellation opposite the moon. At the start of July, the sun is midway across Gemini and by the end will be midway through Cancer. That means that the full moon of July third will be in Sagittarius, the constellation farthest away from Gemini. By the time of the new moon—the dark of the moon—on July 19, the moon will be in Cancer with the sun whose brightness will hide it.

Symbolically, the moon is associated with mother, females, the mind, common sense, memory, emotional fluctuations, sensitivity, pearls, silver and Monday.

Early Romans praised Diana—from a root meaning “to shine”— as goddess of the moon and showed her with a crescent moon caught in her hair. Christian artists borrowed the symbol for Mary, the mother of Jesus, who is often represented standing on a crescent moon.

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Kids Play Ball
On the mound, he feels “scared and nervous because you never know what’s going to happen. Once with two strikes and no balls, a kid whacked the ball and got a homerun on a triple.”

Marc Limburg, 10, of Chesapeake Beach, shakes his head in amazement but he’s not dismayed. He likes pitching and he’s good at it. He loves baseball and has always wanted to play. The fact that Dad, also named Marc Limburg, is a baseball fan and his coach may have some influence.

Marc says that of the other kids he plays with only his friend Kevin shares his passion for the game.

Marc’s heroes are Brady Anderson, Cal Ripken, and Mike Devereaux. He can’t quote their stats but he’s seen them play. He’s been to two Orioles games this season. He went to the last game at Memorial Park. He said, “I was crying about that because I didn’t want it to go down. I thought they would tear it down. But now Bowie Bay Sox—a AAA Orioles team—plays there.” Marc also went to the first exhibition game at the new Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

What’s his best game? Marc talks about the last game of this season for his Babe Ruth League team, the Royals. “We were down 9 to 13 but we caught up and went to 14. Then the Blue Jays got one and then another. We played our hardest through the whole game. We all felt good even though we didn’t win.”

His advice for others who want to play ball? Marc says, “Find the best coach. See if my Dad will coach you.”

Information about fall ball: 410/741-5522. Leave a message. Someone will call back in a week or so.

Kids Book Reviews

by Cynthia Voigt
Try to imagine this. Your Mom wakes you up in the middle of the night, makes you pack your clothes, and drives off with you and the rest of the family. She doesn’t say where she’s headed. The next day she stops at a shopping mall, walks in, and never comes back. Not the best feeling, is it?

This is the premise of Cynthia Voigt’s prize-winning book. Dicey, the oldest of the abandoned children, must find for herself and her brothers and sisters a safe haven in the unfamiliar Chesapeake Bay area. There are many troubles, including avoiding the police, finding food, and keeping the family together. When the children finally discover their eccentric grandmother on the southern end of the Eastern Shore, they must fight to stay with a woman who does not want them. It is a battle of wills that the children eventually win.

A resident of Annapolis, the author describes areas of her town and the Eastern Shore in great detail. The four children pass through places that we see every day making their problems seem all the more close at hand. To tell the truth, I first read this book ten years ago and I haven’t found another story as strong as Homecoming.

—Reviewed by Mason Schoenfeldt

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