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Burton on the Bay | Editorial | Letters to the Editor | Dock of the Bay
Sky Talk - Who's Here | Bay Life | Reflection
The Baysox Come Home
So Do Sox Fans
by Sandra Martin
As the sun falls, the crack of the bat echoes through newly opened Prince George’s Stadium, and a fly ball sails toward the trees. Renowned broadcaster Harry Caray would say: “It might be … it could be … it is...”
Sorry, Harry, no homerun. What we have here is a foul ball that rockets off the porta-potty behind the left-field foul line, an awakening experience for the fan inside.
Twenty kids droopy-drawered young teens and fuzzy-headed youngsters scurry for a souvenir. A chunky nine-year-old corrals the runaway ball with a deft scoop of his baseball mitt and leaps in the air to exult. The crowd of 5,000 cheers.
Whoever said it was right: You can’t beat fun at the old ballpark.
Only in this case it’s the new ballpark, Prince George’s Stadium, inhabited just last week by the Bowie Baysox. Finally, two months behind schedule, the Double-A Baysox are playing home games where they are meant to be played. At home. A cozy park except in center field, where the fence is a long 405 feet from homeplate. With left and right fields 309 feet deep, PG Stadium duplicates the dimensions of Memorial Stadium, the Orioles’ old park.
The winter’s freak ice storms froze construction for three months, sending the Sox barnstorming in search of home fields for the first 64 games of the season.
“It’s not the kind of park or the kind of food we had hoped to be presenting people, ” said owner Peter Kirk, apologetically, as he watched his Baysox upend the Binghamton Mets, 2-1, in a taut thriller last week.
Don’t worry. After an evening of tall-stretch catches, somersaults, near-collisions and rhubarbs, most fans would agree that there’s no need for Kirk to apologize. The only ice on folks’ minds nowadays is the refreshing Italian Ice sold at the Baysox ballyard.
Whether they’re stat-gobbling, mitt-toting baseball nuts or folks just looking for clean fun in confusing times, Marylanders have a new world opened to them now that the Baysox have come home.
It’s a world probably closer and more accessible than most people know on Rt. 301 just south of Rt. 50.
The mountains of dirt and earth-movers on the road in, the girders piled outside the stadium and those portable toilets are forgotten when fannies are parked in their comfortable seats and the first ball is flung toward the batter.
Sure, this is the minor leagues, but don’t forget that it’s still professional baseball. The well-coached Baysox, an Orioles farm-team, are among the Eastern League’s top two or three teams.
In a couple years, you’ll be saying you saw swift outfielder Alex Ochoa when he was at Bowie. Or pitchers Jimmy Haynes or Scott Klingenbeck (who had a one-day success in the big leagues earlier this year).
Then again, perhaps it’s an evening out you desire, along with the simplicity of just going to a game rather than concocting an expensive plan months in advance. (Have you ever felt that at Camden Yards, the trendy and well-connected have hijacked all the fun?)
Don’t take Kirk seriously when he speaks modestly of his ballpark’s food. Besides the normal ballpark fare of, what else, hot dogs and beer, you can find crab cakes ($5) and a devilishly good deal in a 24-ounce Wild Goose ale for $3.50. Finish off with cotton candy, Italian Ice, or a Dove bar.
What’s more, the Baysox offer the opportunity to see baseball at its purest, when owners and players aren’t in a perpetual ruckus and baseball still is a game, not a confusing parade of statistics.
The world of the Bowie Baysox will become even more special if the major league season is halted by a work stoppage because of owners’ new demand for salary caps.
A lockout or strike is no sure thing, but players and owners appear headed down the same path as in 1981, when a dispute cut the heart out of the season.
Back then, Kirk was running a team at Hagerstown; he recalls that the minor leagues suddenly became so popular that the games were being showed on television. A major league shutdown this summer would provide a similar, short-term boon for the Baysox, Kirk acknowledges. But he doesn’t want to see it happen.
“In the end, it would be a black-eye for baseball,” Kirk said.
But, in the event that major league baseball screeches to a halt around mid-July, it might be a good idea now to stake out some seats at Prince George’s Stadium before the trendy and well-connected from Camden Yards discover the Baysox.
There’s not a bad seat in the house, and you’ll be able to walk right up and buy either box ($7) and general admission (free to $5) seats whenever the mood hits. Many games feature giveaways and special events, like Max Patkin, the Clown Prince of Baseball, on July 9 and Morganna, the Kissing Bandit, on July 16. Games start at 7:05PM except Sundays, when play is scheduled for 2:05PM. Gates open an hour earlier, and parking is free.
If you’re worried about a little dirt in the parking lot, don’t wear your new open-toes to Prince George’s Stadium. If you need to spend a lot of money, see the Baysox and give what you’ve saved to the homeless.
And if someone knocks one time while you’re in the porta-potty, don’t hurry. It’s probably just a foul ball.
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Al Petteway Sings the Waters and the Wild
by Sonia Linebaugh
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand
For the world’s more full of weeping
Than you can understand.
Heavy metal guitarists stop to listen when Al Petteway caresses music of the Chesapeake’s watershed Chesapeake, Shadyside Blues, Accokeek Shore, Shadows on the Marsh out of his acoustic guitar. They listen because they appreciate the sounds that talented fingers can entice from a sound board that’s not plugged in.
“Liquid finger-picking with open tunings very fluid,” is the description of Al’s playing from Maggie Sansone, owner of Petteway’s recording label, Annapolis-based Maggie’s Music.
Petteway doesn’t strum the guitar and he doesn’t use a pick. His open-tuning technique means that he knows how to keep the chords ringing while he plays new notes and chords on top of them. This gives his blusey, jazzy ballads a rich depth of sound that much guitar playing misses.
“Guitar is the instrument of our generation,” says Petteway, who at 10 or 11, back in the early ‘Sixties, got hooked like many of his age on The Ventures’ fancy guitar work. Like many others, he started guitar lessons. Dave Cleveland, a jazz guitarist near Mt. Vernon, Virginia, where Petteway grew up, was his teacher. In high school he played percussion and string bass, going on to major in bass and musical composition at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, while supporting himself by playing guitar on the side.
Eclectic years followed: lute player with the Madrigal Singers, bass player with Norfolk Ballet Orchestra, guitar backup in studio recording sessions, guitar in nightclubs on the top 40s rock circuit. “You had to play exactly like the record,” complains Petteway. “No creativity allowed.”
“Now,” he continues, “all that is gone. I’m doing music that’s coming from me and people enjoy it. Now studios call me to play as Al Petteway not as someone else.”
Another thing that’s new is Petteway’s affiliation with Maggie’s Music in Annapolis. Owner Maggie Sansone says, “When we decided to expand from our Celtic (pronounced keltic) music, we courted Al because the his sound reveals those same roots.” Petteway’s The Waters and the Wild album was released by Maggie’s Music in 1993. Whispering Stones is their 1994 release.
While Petteway was suffering on the guitar circuit and developing his sound, Sansone was playing hammer dulcimer (a Persian instrument that had made its way north to the coast of Ireland in the Middle Ages) at annual Renaissance Festivals. “When the technology became accessible and affordable for individuals, I started Maggie’s Music and produced my own first album for $450. I took a cart stocked with tapes to the Renaissance Festival and recouped my investment in no time.”
Maggie’s label now represents eight artists; five records have been produced this year. “It’s suddenly blossomed,” says Sansone. “We won more awards than any other label from the Washington Area Music Association last year. In addition to our Label of the Year, our Celtic harpist, Sue Richards, won Album of the Year and Best Folk Traditional Album. Al won five awards.”
Petteway says, “I don’t know why I won. I guess a lot of people know me because I play backup on recordings with a lot of different people.” He’s pleased but not overwhelmed by the honors: Musician of the Year, Artist of the Year, Best Folk Contemporary Instrumentalist, Best Folk Traditional Instrumentalist, Best New Duo (with Debi Smith).
William Butler Yeats, the poet Petteway takes as his music’s talisman, makes another bridge between Petteway and Sansone: Yeats sought his magic from old Celtic ways and rhythms, just as these moderns do. Here on the Chesapeake, we too find a “faery” bridge “to the waters and the wild.” Hearing Petteway’s liquid plucking, we revisit familiar places Chesapeake, Shadyside Blues, Accokeek Shore, Shadows on the Marsh in a new, receptive mode.
“I’ve spent many a peaceful hour near waterways that feed the Chesapeake, and I’ve marveled at the majesty of the Bay itself. When composing the music of The Waters and the Wild, I used these watery locations as inspiration, hoping to convey some of the magical character of the region to my listeners,” says Petteway.
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Dock of the Bay
Marylander in Tragic Fishing Accident
OCEAN CITY Ocean City calls itself the Marlin Capital of the World. Down at the Fishing Center, fishing pros mourned the loss of a popular captain who was pulled overboard last week by a powerful blue marlin.
After searching two days in North Carolina waters for Chris Bowie, 29, a Howard County native, the U.S. Coast Guard called off the search at sundown on Friday, June 17.
“The Coast Guard gave up the search after assessing the probability of finding him alive,” said Ensign Andre Billeaudeaux of the Coast Guard group at Fort Macon, N.C.
In the literature of the sea, it’s hard to find a fate more tragic than Bowie’s. Not in Hemingway’s sad tales or in the South American seacoast stories of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Maybe not even in the Bible or Koran, both of which tell of Jonah pondering his sins in the belly of a whale.
Bowie’s family and friend’s are haunted by how it could have happened; how something so terrible and unforeseen could strike a young man so popular and skilled.
“Chris never made a mistake. That’s what baffles me more than anything else,” said George Purnell, a prominent Ocean City businessman who fished with Bowie in Mexico, the Bahamas and along the East Coast.
The accident happened 60 miles southeast of Cape Lookout, N.C., as Bowie fished aboard Trophy Box in the Big Rock Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament. Bowie operated his own boat, Midnight Hour, in Ocean City and in Florida.
But he freelanced in tournaments for the money and the action, and his expertise had won him the nickname T.M. for Tournament Mate.
According to reports that reached Maryland docks, Bowie had wrapped the stout wire leader around his hand as he pulled a blue marlin alongside the boat for tagging. The fish was estimated to weigh between 175 and 225 pounds, a big fish by Maryland’s white marlin standards.
But blue marlin can grow to 1,400 pounds, and the relatively small size of the one in North Carolina is yet another troubling aspect to the story. Bowie was compact but extremely strong. He had wrestled in high school in Woodbine, Md., and kept himself in shape, friends said.
“I’ve seen him flip fish that size in the air,” said Purnell.
The moment the tagging stick touched the marlin’s dorsal fin, the fish bolted. “Went crazy,” said a fisherman who had gotten a report. When the fish shot from the boat, the line behind Bowie snapped, possibly from a kink. Bowie was yanked overboard and under.
Helicopters from the Coast Guard, Navy and Marines looked for Bowie and Coast Guard boats, assisted by local vessels, circled the 1,200-feet-deep water in vain.
Back in Maryland, as the grim news sunk in, Bowie’s friends recalled his skills. He’d fished Belize, Costa Rica and many more productive waters, and when the fish stopped running, he went bow hunting.
“I can’t think of anybody who was as well-liked,” said an Ocean City fishing friend. “He was just terrific in tournaments.”
Purnell observed that Bowie’s steadiness and easygoing manner continued on shore. “He was just a fine young man in every respect. He would do anything in the world to help you out.”
At Bowie’s apartment, a block from the water, Laurie Ann, his wife of two years, warmly greeted a reporter. Their first child is due in August.
On the wall are action photos of an 800-pound tuna chasing a bluefish, a constant reminder of Chris Bowie’s passion.
“We’re eager to get beyond this accident and all the horrible details,” said Diana Walker, Laurie Ann Bowie’s cousin.
“He was fortunate enough to be able to make a good living at what he loved,” Walker said. “What he loved was fishing, and he was very good at it. We’ll all miss him a whole lot.”
Chris Bowie’s memorial service will be held Saturday, June 25, at St. Paul’s By The Sea Episcopal Church in Ocean City. Contributions in his memory can be mailed to the Calvin B. Taylor Bank; PO Box 520; Ocean City, Md. 21842.
Annapolis Decides Show Must Go On
Annapolitans won’t go without fireworks this Fourth.
1994 was almost the year the Grinch ended this all-American tradition in the Bay city that was the first capital of the United States.
Last year a frugal City Council left out of its budget the usual $50,000 needed for fireworks plus police and firefighters’ overtime.
When the City of Annapolis announced this year’s fireworks-less Fourth, appalled Annapolitans appealed to the City Council to restore the annual fireworks display.
Last Friday, facing angry citizens and city merchants, the City Council restored $20,000. Thirty thousand dollars more would have to be contributed by private citizens and businesses.
Eastern Waste Industries of Annapolis, Anne Arundel’s garbage and recycling collector, was the first and biggest donor, handing over $10,000 on the day of the announcement. Over the weekend city officials scrambled for donations; by Tuesday they had collected over $19,000 in pledges. Several pledges topped $1,000. On Monday aldermen and city officials expressed confidence they could raise the rest of the money.
To help light up the skies over Annapolis this July Fourth, call City Hall: 410/263-7997.
Best spots to see the $50,000 show: Farragut Field, Dewey Field and Hospital Point, on Naval Academy grounds. Or try City Dock, the Eastport Bridge, and street-end parks in Eastport.
To beat the traffic, take the shuttle from the stadium.
Chesapeake Beach Gets into the Swim
This time next year, you could be in cool water in Chesapeake Beach: zipping down waterslides, bobbling in tubes, swimming and splashing without fear of jellyfish.
“Grandma will be sitting in the shade dabbling her feet while watching her great-grandkids wade in foot-deep water. And she’ll have gotten there without having to go up steps,” said Dave Sisson, the town’s special project coordinator.
This year, when the Bayfront town celebrates its centennial, the special project is a big one. The plan is to bring family recreation back to the old Bay resort in a big way. A swimming acre, combining pool and deck, will dominate the 10-acre complex donated by the city. Added to existing ball fields will be a running rack and basketball court. Slips are right next door, as is boat ramp, now to be managed by Department of Natural Resources. For in-door fun, there’ll be a community center and gym. Rounding it all out will be 80 units of affordable housing and a Park and Ride.
A special project so big takes lots of partners. Groundbreaking on the first day of summer brought many of them out. Hardhats on heads and feet poised on gold-plated brand-new shovels were a line of 20 partners, including two state senators, a delegate, a county treasurer, a handful of county commissioners, a mayor and council people from the twin towns of Chesapeake and North Beach.
“Team work and enthusiasm got the ball rolling. It’s only going to get better. I hope to see you all next year in your bathing suits,” said Chesapeake Beach Mayor Gerald W. Donovan, beaming.
School’s Out for 30-Year Bus Driver
In 1964, Audrey Wayson retired from the rigors of keeping up a household for a second career behind the wheel of a 65-passenger school bus. She and her husband own and operate two buses, No. 34 and No. 35, to transport children to and from school.
June 17 was the last day of school in Anne Arundel County for kids as well as for bus drivers like Audrey Wayson. But when fall returns, and the kids go back to Tracey’s Elementary and Southern High School, Wayson will not unless her daughter, who will be taking over old No. 34, gets sick.
“I was a mean old driver,” said Wayson, reflecting on her 30 years meandering on Maryland roads. When Wayson was not blowing the whistle given her by a sympathetic parent, she would simply stop the bus and wait for the “bad seeds” to calm down.
Audrey Wayson may or may not have been mean, but she sure was dependable. In three decades, only one accident stopped No. 34. Ten years ago, a tractor-trailer smacked her rear end when she was stopped. Old No. 34 was totaled. Only one kid was hurt, suffering a broken leg. “We all have to be careful ” Wayson said, observing that some people “drive like maniacs.”
The changes over the years seemed small to someone who watched them so gradually. This year, it was the kids from Deale who stick in her mind. While their school was being remodeled, they had to ride more than a few miles to Harwood.
Used to walking a block, it was all they could do to endure the endless ride to Harwood. Wayson likes all her riders, but in summing up her last year behind the wheel, she says this: “Those Deale kids just would not sit in their seats.”
Antique and wooden boat enthusiasts converged on the piers of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md., in 90-degree heat this past weekend, bringing with them close to a hundred magnificently restored vintage boats.
Ninety-seven boats were registered for the yearly event, sponsored by the Antique and Classic Boat Society, according to organizer Herb Von Goerres. Participants came from as far as Ontario, Canada, and Lexington, Ky., he said.
Despite a few no-shows, there was still enough polished mahogany, chrome and brass on hand to make any boat lover green with envy.
These slick, varnished boats of the past even make their owners green.
“They can be a very good investment,” Von Goerres said. Thirty years ago most of these boats sold for $2,000 and now, in good condition, they’re worth at least $30,000, he said.
But for their owners, these boats are worth more than money. They represent dreams.
“I grew up on the Magothy,” said Herb Zorn, explaining his love for his Chris-Craft a truly classic wooden boat. He watched three Chris-Craft, he explained. “I had a 12-foot rowboat with an outboard and I used to salivate whenever I saw ‘em,”
Now Zorn, of Annapolis, is the one making others drool.
His perfectly restored, 1931, triple-cockpit Chris-Craft 105 was a real crowd-pleaser at the museum’s dock. Built during the Depression for the luxuried upper class, the currently unnamed boat stretched long and sleek, accented with green leather seats, mahogany glass holders alongsides the cockpits, chrome towel bars afront each seat and a 24-karat gold-plated instrument panel.
“The ride is thrilling,” explained Zorn’s friend Marge Bristow of Severna Park. “And then everyone’s looking at you and giving you the thumbs-up.”
Another thrill, she said, “is having a plastic boat come up to you and try to get you to race and you fly right by them.”
This writer and a New Bay Times photographer were lucky enough to experience this first-hand, when Zorn invited us out for a spin.
He fired up the 351 Ford engine and she roared like a lion before settling into a gentle purr.
We nosed into the channel, gently gliding past the other boats. Our speed picked up fast … real fast. The engine vibrated through the hull and the small waves sent shocks through the padded seats.
As Zorn opened the engine, the tachometer climbed to 35,000 and the wind got to whipping as we sped over the water at around 45 miles per hour.
As Bristow had said, people do look when you’re out in one of these dream-boats. They come above deck and they crane their necks, nod and stare.
J. Alex Knoll
Managing Your Backyard Sewage Treatment Plant
“Your own small sewage treatment plant.”
That’s how Dick Gessford of Annapolis Septic and Drain Cleaning Service would like to think of your septic tank.
“Most people don’t even know they have a septic tank,” he continues. “They think they’re on a city sewer line.”
If you live in a rural area of Anne Arundel County or Calvert County no matter how suburban it looks chances are good that you have a septic tank buried in your yard. Into it flows all your family’s used water.
The bathroom contributes the biggest proportion: 40 percent from toilets and 30 percents from bathing. The washer accounts for 15 percent more of your wastewater, the kitchen 10, and miscellaneous the final five percent.
Your own small sewage treatment plant is comprised of two parts the buried tank and a soil absorption area. In it, household waste from bathroom, kitchen and laundry are liquefied so they can drain out into the soil. They’re also purified so they can do so without contaminating ground water, nearby streams or the Bay.
All you know about to be a good treatment plant manager can be reduced to two lessons, says Todd Olson, of the National Small Flows Clearinghouse, whose business is to advise on domestic waste water treatment.
• Know how to treat your system. “Never, never clog up the pipes,” he says. “Never put disposable diapers, sanitary napkins, food wastes, cigarette butts or any trash down your toilet. This is likely to clog up the pipes into or out of the tank or the drain field itself.” For this reason, garbage disposals are illegal in AA County homes that have a septic tank.
• Know how your system operates and how to maintain it. “We recommend having your system pumped out every three to five years. Older systems may require more frequent pumping, newer systems less, but you need to have it checked. Once a year is too often because nothing has had time to break down yet,” Olson advises.
How It Works
Wastes flow by pipe into a buried septic tank. There, solid materials float to the surface into a layer called scum, where bacteria convert them to liquids.
Inorganic materials sink to the bottom into a layer called sludge.
Between scum and sludge, clear water overflows through the outlet pipe into the septic field, where soil and gravel act as filters for the dispersing water.
Here’s how a system goes bad:
Lack of bacteria. You’ve got to have bacteria to break down solids in your tank. Bacteria are sensitive creatures; they can be wiped out by excess use of ordinary home chemicals like caustic drain openers, acids, bleaches, toilet cleaners and detergents. You’d have to use nine gallons of bleach per day to do any major damage, but an excess of salt from water softeners can also kill the bacteria, Gessford say from experience.
Bacteria can be added to the system; you can buy powdered enzymes at hardware stores.
If the scum is not broken down by bacteria, it will accumulate until it overflows, clogging the field and costing you a lot of money and a dug up yard.
Sludge in the tank. Sludge does not decompose. The only current solution is to have it periodically removed by a septic tank pumping service. If so much sludge accumulates that it clogs the inlet and outlet pipes, your toilet and waste pipes will back up costing you a lot of aggravation and a lot of money.
As many as 80% of Anne Arundel County septic tanks have never been serviced, Gessford estimates.
Manager, it’s time to give your plant some thought.
For septic system advice, call the National Small Flow Clearinghouse at 800/624-8301. For $2, you can order a brochure about septic tanks from NSFC; P.O. Box 6064; Morgantown, WV 26506-6064.
In Germany, BMW is getting the jump on a debate this year that could require 100 percent of every junk car to be recycled. BMW signed an agreement recently setting up auto dismantling centers across Europe ...
Remember Chairman Mao’s five-year plans? The Chinese are waging a new national crusade eliminating dripping toilets. Officials say that cheap toilets waste 200 million cubic meters of water yearly, one reason the country has serious water shortages in most of its cities ...
C Our Creature Feature this week comes to us from California, and a cheery little item it is. With its population approaching its highest levels ever, the gray whale last week became first marine creature ever to be removed from the endangered species list.
Skeptics called the move symbolic to placate those who say that the Endangered Species Act is just a one-way street.
Now there are 892 species of plants and animals remaining on the endangered list including seven kinds of whales.
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Everything Matters Even Your Kitchen Sink
From eating a burger to driving a boat, we cruise through life learning only enough to make things work for us.
We don’t care how our food is raised, killed or handled as long as it arrives for our use in a clean clear package with a minimum of blood showing.
We don’t care what makes that boat go or how it affects other boaters, water life and shoreline. All we want to do is put a hand to the throttle and go.
We learn to use things without knowing where they came from or what their consequences are. We certainly don’t want to know what happens when we flush the toilet. We just want to use it.
What’s our point? Just this: when polls show that voters are strongly in favor of environmental protection and kids are scared about the future of our polluted planet, it’s time to take personal responsibility when and where we can. Stop waiting for someone else.
Sure, some of us go out and pick up trash once or twice a year while others continue to toss beer cans and cigarette butts blithely out their car windows. Some of us will search out organic pest control methods for our gardens, while others of us spend good money to pour destructive chemicals on our lawns and into our watershed.
Few of us homeowners realize there’s a septic tank buried in our yard though most of us who live in suburban or rural Maryland in fact have one. Still fewer of us go to the trouble of finding out what a septic tank has to do with our toilet, laundry and kitchen sink.
How many of us really want to know how our septic system influences the health of our own community water sources our aquifers, waterways and the Bay? How many of us will take seriously our responsibility as manager of our own small sewage treatment plant?
Yet these are matters we can take care of ourselves. In fact, we have to. We don’t have city sewer lines to make it easy on us. We don’t have that one more bill to pay nor the over-development of our pleasant small community to worry about. We don’t have government to blame. Just ourselves.
Ignorance of your septic system, as we’ve learned from massive failures on Mayo peninsula and Holland Point, is no defense from consequences.
Lift a little bit of your weight off the planet. Start by taking responsibility for your septic tank. You’ll find out how in this week’s “Dock of the Bay.”
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Letters to the Editor
Full House at North Beach
Dear New Bay Times:
On behalf of the North Beach House and Garden Club, I want to thank you for your efforts to help make our Ninth Annual Home and Garden Tour such a rewarding success.
A warm, rare day in June greeted tour goers as they either strolled from home to home or were shuttled in antique cars provided by the Southern Maryland Model A Ford Club. The Garden Club extends a special thank you to Larry Fieldler for delighting the crowd with his antique bicycle.
Visitors from Annapolis, Baltimore, Washington, various Anne Arundel and Calvert County sites, and even Scotland were charmed by the featured homes and gardens that allowed them a glimpse of our diverse, relaxed living styles in our Bayfront town.
This year’s homeowners Bob and Betty Ainsworth, Amy and Rich Roberts, Jenifor Klindt and Rich Walsh, Dana and Scott Rupard, Elizabeth and Mike Bailey, Robin and Glenn Sanders, Carol and Ron Payne, Sue and Jerry Grant, Vicki and Jim Weaver, and Charles Varipapa are to be commended for the shine not only on their rooms but on their blooms, too.
Nice & Fleazy Antiques was again the headquarters for the well-attended tour, and the Chesapeake Railway Museum was filled with visitors wanting to know more about our charming area.
Next year, 1995, marks the tenth anniversary of the Home and Garden Tour held on the first Sunday in June. It promises to be spectacular.
One More Ghost Story
Dear New Bay Times:
I read with relish your recent article, “Railroad Ghosts,” discussing the Chesapeake Railroad. I have a “railroad ghost” story of my own.
Last year, when teaching a children’s summer environmental class, I accompanied a group to Jug Bay Preserve. Part of its tour went along an old railroad bed for the train that crossed Jug Bay. The children and I were fascinated to find old rail spikes along the trail.
At the end of the trail, the train would cross the Patuxent. All that remains of the crossing today is the concrete abutment to which a revolving rail was attached. It would swing around to connect the two sides of land when a train came through. Otherwise, it was left open to allow boats to pass.
One of my students, Joey, fell behind on what was a very hot day. I remained behind to walk with him. We talked about the old train and the hot weather until suddenly we heard I swear it a whistle very much like a locomotive. We also thought we heard the rush of wheels on a track.
Joey and I looked at each other me an adult, him a kid and said “Yikes! What was that?” Our group had gotten far ahead of us, and we were the only ones who heard it. Thoroughly spooked, Joey wanted to run from what he (and I) was sure was a ghost train.
Later we were told it was probably a boat whistle. It sure must have been a large boat in the shallow waters of the Patuxent.
Joey went on to write a rather good poem about the ghost train, and I am left with an intriguing memory.
Thanks for a very good railroad story.
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Better late than never. Bluefish are finally showing in Chesapeake Bay, not big in numbers and size like the good old days, but there’s something to be said for these smaller fish. They taste better.
Sure, the bigger ones fight better, but if you rate a blue on the table above a blue fighting in the water, pick the smaller ones. Only one thing beats the two-to three-pound blues in the Chesapeake this year and that’s even smaller ones, which we could get a bit later in summer.
Blues grow fast: 12 inches in their first year. Say what you want about blues being fatty or oily, get a young one of about 12 inches and you will enjoy sweet, white and well-textured flesh. No need to marinate, smoke, or dose with spices and herbs. It can stand alone.
None of those small blues are here yet, but the snappers moving up the Chesapeake are the right size for stuffing and baking, grilling and also for a modified version of an old rich and buttery poached bluefish dish, which we will get to later.
Making the Most of Our Blues
So let’s make the most of our blues. At the market, you will find filets are selling as high as a couple dollars a pound; yours, fresh caught by you or friend, are even more valuable but only if properly handled beginning with the moment they are caught.
Keep bluefish chilled. In his authoritative book Bluefishing, Hal Lyman best summed up why:
“Considering the bluefish itself, never forget that it is a voracious feeder, and as such has incredibly strong digestive juices in its stomach. Left uncleaned without refrigeration (or ice) for any
length of time, it will literally digest itself.
“The entire body cavity will spoil in short order and the flesh will be tainted. Clean your catch as soon as possible.”
A few other things to keep in mind about bluefish:
• They are best when eaten on the day caught. They can be refrigerated for several days if well drained, but flavor and texture diminish in relation to the time between catching and eating. Old, larger blues become rich and oily. Their flesh softens.
• Rating blues for taste: one to three pounds, excellent; three to five pounds, good; six to eight pounds, okay, 10 pounds and over, recommended for those who insist on fish “flavor.” The bigger the fish, the more important to clean and chill promptly and to keep chilled.
• Blues are sweeter of taste when skinned; however, skinless filets are more difficult to fry or grill without breaking up. (Fish fanciers claim fatty fish shouldn’t be fried anyhow) Also, the less dark red flesh left on filets of larger fish, the less the likelihood of a “rich” taste.
• If blues are to be frozen (I wouldn’t even consider it for those of more than six pounds), do so in a saltwater mix with a bit of vinegar added,; then squeeze fresh lemon over them. When thawing, run water over the container and remove the fish. Do not thaw in such a manner that the fish will lie in water from melted ice for more than a few minutes.
• To lessen chances of a fishy taste with a larger blue, or to embellish flavor, consider including any of the following in bluefish recipes: Tomatoes, tomato sauce, curry, lemon, wine, fennel, dry seafood seasoning (I prefer black), salad oil, marjoram, mustard or mayonnaise. A mustard-mayonnaise mix brushed heavily makes for good tasting when grilled over charcoal.
• Raw, a three and one-half ounce portion of blue is of about 120 calories. For a total calorie count, consider what is added before, during and after cooking.
During the 14 years I wrote a fish and game cooking column for the Evening Sun, there were more queries wanting new recipes for blues than all other species combined. Many wanted to find a way to cook blues so everyone in the family would like them; others caught so many blues, they wanted variety.
Ben Florence, a DNR fisheries scientist also known for his catching and cooking ability, passed this recipe on to me. I liked it.
Baked Spicy Bluefish
1 large bluefish filet, about 1 and 1/2 inches thick
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 T Worcestershire Sauce
2 T butter
Seafood seasoning: Old Bay, Wye River or such
Sprinkle filet with seasoning; baste well with mix of lemon juice, Worcestershire and butter.
Place in pre-heated 450-degree oven and bake nine to 12 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
The test of a baked fish filet is whether it can be converted to a good fishcake. Florence’s passed the test. He even suggested it be substituted for crab in a crabcake recipe but I’ll take the real crab, thank you.
Blue Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken
With chicken it’s taster’s choice. Light meat or dark?
Not so with bluefish. Stay with the white flesh; get rid of all the dark.
That’s what Karen Wood did one evening, and the results were glistening white pan-fried bluefish fillets. Who said blues were too oily to be fried? Those fillets were among the tastiest bluefish I ever tried and the preparation among the most simplest.
The dish was as fresh as its ingredients: bluefish just caught in the Chesapeake, and chopped fresh dill, chives and parsley.
Wood stressed “fresh.” No dried herbs, or frozen fish. The blues she used had been caught earlier in the day off Tilghman Island.
Surprisingly, the fish weren’t those tender one-or two-pounders preferred for eating. They came from a six-pounder.
The secret was cutting out the fatty, dark red flesh strips after filleting. It takes a sharp knife to trim away these segments, which can be blamed for both strong and oily flavor. The sharp knife allows the filet to be cut neatly. A dull blade creates a ragged edge.
Some cooks steam or bake bluefish fillets briefly to make cutting away the red flesh easier, but I think that detracts from the final dish. Those who prefer a robust, fishy flavor, ugh, don’t bother remove the dark flesh.
Karen Wood’s Fresh Fried Blue
Mix equal portions of fresh chopped parsley, chives and dill in a shallow bowl. Into another bowl, pour melted butter.
Dredge fillets of from one-half to three-quarters inch in thickness through the butter, then through the herb mix. Pop them into a hot skillet and fry for about one minute on each side. Do not overcook; they should be moist, not dry.
Many warm days and hungry bluefish still remain in late summer and autumn. A potato salad would be just the thing to accompany pan fried blues. Again, the recipe is simple.
This comes from my favorite cook, an aunt, Marjorie Brush of Arlington, Vt.
Boil potatoes with skins on until done. Cool slightly, peel and cut into cubes. While still warm, add a little mayonnaise (not much because more will be added later), salt, pepper, paprika, and finely chopped onion to taste.
Mix well and refrigerate until potatoes are cool. Just before serving, add chopped hard boiled eggs, celery salt, chopped fresh parsley, and as much mayonnaise as needed for desired consistency. You might want to add a tad more salt and pepper.
Bluefish Salad Supreme
There is a time and place for everything. Including bluefish salad. But use the smallest bluefish available; no fishy taste, please.
Cut halfway through the tail end of the fish just ahead of the tail; also cut the main gill artery ahead of the throat. This done, place the fish on ice and allow it to bleed.
When cleaning the fish, trim off the fatty sections such as the belly flaps and the dark red meat along the lateral line. You don’t have to do any of this with the smaller blues: just poach or steam them, and they are ready for a salad.
Poach in a salt-and-peppered liquid mix of inexpensive white wine and water. As soon as the fish flakes easily, it is done. Matter of fact, right then you can roll back the skin of the fish, add a dab of butter and you might be tempted to forget the salad and enjoy the fish straight.
But a bluefish salad can be simple and fast. It is important to toss gently; don’t mash the fish when mixing ingredients:
2 C flaked bluefish, poached or steamed, with skin removed.
2 T finely chopped onion.
2 T finely chopped green pepper
1/2 C salad oil
1/4 C wine vinegar
1/8 t garlic powder
1/4 t oregano leaves
2 t parsley flakes
Salt and pepper to taste (go light)
1/4 C sour cream or mayonnaise.
Place small sections of bluefish in a bowl; add all ingredients except sour cream. Toss gently; do not mash. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Lightly stir in mayonnaise or sour cream just before serving.
The Scheible brothers of lower St. Marys County guide more fishermen to more bluefish than any other family fishing team on the Chesapeake Bay. Captains Bruce, Doug and Andy Jr., who fish out of Wynne near the mouth of the Potomac, concede their business depends on parties wanting to catch bluefish. To eat.
“So, we hype bluefish; play them up with our parties,” says Bruce. “We tell them how good they are on the table and how easy they are to prepare.
One of the easiest recipes for blues comes from Leah Scheible, wife of Andy Scheible. Don’t worry about a fresh bluefish tasting fishy in a tangy salsa dish. Salsa of from moderate to hot is available in markets, or you can make your own.
Leah’s Salsa Bluefish
6 bluefish filets
2 cloves minced garlic
Salsa, enough to fully cover filets
Butter, as needed
Salt and pepper to taste
Brush bottom of a thin flat pan with butter. Place a layer of thin onion rings in pan; place fillets on top of onion rings; brush with butter. Sprinkle salt, pepper and garlic to taste. Top with salsa; then bake in pre-heated 350-degree oven for 30 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
Bruce Scheible prefers smoked bluefish, which I’m kind of partial to myself. Smoking is simple and it’s hard to make a mistake if the smoke is hot enough and the fish well seasoned. Show me someone who doesn’t like smoked bluefish, and I’ll show you a person who hasn’t tried it.
Bruce’s Smoked Blues
Bluefish fillets or dressed small blues
1 gallon water
2 C brown sugar
1 C kosher salt
4 T dry mustard
4 T seafood seasoning
4 T black pepper
Soak fillets in mix for 12 hours in refrigerator or other cool place. Pat fillets dry. Hang from smoking rack or lay flat in one layer only on grill after sprinkling with granulated brown sugar. Smoke over wood chips five to 8 eight hours, depending on smoking heat.
This recipe is suitable for gas, electric or charcoal smokers. Fish should be stored in refrigerator for consumption within a week at the most. Otherwise freeze.
Here’s something else to try with a dressed whole blue or Spanish mackerel (minus head, tail and innards). It takes time and effort, but is well worth it
Burton’s Poached Bluefish
1/4 C light cooking oil
1 stick melted butter or margarine
2 t fresh lemon juice
1/4 clove garlic
1 t parsley
4 ounces white Chablis
2 T pimento
1/8 cup sweet onion
Salt and pepper to taste
Emulsify garlic in blender and add to butter. Chop green pepper, onion and anchovies finely, add to all other ingredients, blend well.
Place fish in pan; pour mix over it You want just enough to cover the fish. Add more water or wine if necessary.
Bring to boil; maintain vigorous boiling 4 to 6 minutes. If you want something closer to the original recipe I modified after open heart surgery, use three sticks of butter, and add no oil or lemon. It will be rich, loaded with calories, but, what to heck, just once.
Catch a Spanish Mackerel …
To capture utmost flavor from Spanish mackerel, like blues, cook them within two days after they are caught. Incidentally, bluefish and Spanish mackerel recipes are interchangeable. Here's what I often do with mackerel, which in several weeks will start to move in:
After scaling and dressing the mackerel, rub well with onion, then salt and pepper, and brush it liberally with a mix of equal portions of Dijon mustard and mayonnaise. Placed in a microwave and precook for three minutes at a half-way setting.
While still warm, place in a hinged grill; grill over hot coals for five minutes on each side with the top of the charcoal cooker closed.
Precooking in the microwave reduces grilling time enough that the fish doesn’t dry out. You want it moist
Enough said ..
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Sky Talk - Who Is Here
Summer sets a richer stage than Shakespeare, and legion players have their day.
In the Act of the Flowers, lilies are this week’s stars. Sun-sweet as yellow are, I like the orange best, like the ones we used to call Tiger Lilies. Profligate these lilies are, just like the parable says: queenly as their colors are, they grow as happily in field or road side ditch as in tended bed.
And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin … And yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Matthew 6: 2829
In the heady Act of Fragrances, trees are this week’s stars. The heavenly scent of honeysuckle and honey locust have faded. Replacing them: the all-too earthy odor of Ailanthus, also known as stink weed, and the primordial funk of other priapic, arboreal flowers. Don’t breathe too deep!
In the Act of Fruit, bright-red cherries have swollen from the blossoms of spring and black-barked trees are laden. You’ll find some of those trees sporting “hairnets,” arranged by families who’d rather eat their own cherries than sacrifice them to the birds. You’ll have good luck all year if you climb into a fruiting cherry tree. So will your family if you pick the sweet fruit and make cherry jam. A cherry pie won’t last as long, but can anything taste so good?
In the Act of Air, butterflies are in full ballet. They’ve answered the call of the lilies, who they’re drunkenly bumbling and pollinating. Stand in the right place, and they’ll caress you, too. Imagine the fame of the designer who could match the colors of their raiments! The tuxedo in that line would have silver stripes and swallow tails. A sun dress would copy the colors of the lilies in diaphanous fabric with rills and ripples.
In the Act of the Crabs, beaches and finally bushel baskets are full.
Along all the beaches, horseshoe crabs have crawled up from prehistory and gathered in mating orgy. As well as pairs, we’ve sighted piles of a half-dozen or eight. Then, along the shore, we find singles: big barnacle-encrusted females and smaller, fresher males tipped over by the tide, their stiletto tails pointing to heaven, their jointed, sea-weed black legs writhing. Toss them back and away they swim.
Even more welcome news is the blue crab’s arrival to mid-Bay waters. All spring, crabbers have suffered, and seafood wholesalers have set up regular Carolina routes to satisfy Baysiders’ won’t-wait hunger. This week plenty has begun. A local crabber took 16 bushels from Herring Bay on Monday: twice the number he’d retrieved all last week. We’ve already eaten soft-shells, but we’re more than ready for hard.
In the Act of the Fishes, Bill Burton was telling the truth. Having read in “Burton on the Bay” of the arrival of drum, indefatigable fisherman Rick Blackwell went out to see for himself. He returned triumphant with a 60-pound black drum.
Skin is thick on so big a fish. Cut it off. Then slice the big fillet into steaks to be sautéed in a light garlic butter. Yes, drum is good eating.
Catfish too are climbing the Bay, and crabbers are taking big 16-inch ones in their pots. Eels, too. Turn to Bill Burton this week for delectable bluefish recipes fitting for any fish.
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Tribute to a Teacher
by Nancy Kelly
If you’ve ever needed help, real help, with one of your own children you’ll understand my feelings for Mary Ellen Staley. If your mind has ever been weary and your heart so swollen with concern for your child that it feels bruised inside and so very tender, you’ll understand my joy and gratitude for this wonderful teacher.
Mary Ellen Staley is a special education teacher at Central Elementary School in Edgewater. She teaches a handicapped class, with only eight to 10 children because of the special care these children need. On June 17, half her class graduated along with the other fifth graders in the school.
Mrs. Staley’s class was full of order and love. She expected manners. Each girl and boy was trained to be courteous and thoughtful of others: “Hello,” they said and shook your hand. Nice to meet you.”
Academic standards were as important as manners. Each child’s lessons were created for that child’s growth. My heart filled with hope when I saw my son, Paul, learning so much under six years of her persistent encouragement.
Paul had suffered a stroke in infancy. Like other kids, he wanted to do well in school. Unlike some other kids, he needed special help with staying focused and on task. Mrs. Staley’s strength in teaching Paul and the other students has made all the difference. Paul also had a very difficult time connecting his actions to the consequences they brought with them. Mrs. Staley was relentless in holding him accountable and helping him to retrace each situation, then confirm what would have been the better thing to do.
As Paul grew, my heart was released to beat singly again. I could now look forward, rest a minute and enjoy a smile at the bus stop. Mrs. Staley rewarded her class’s good behavior. She didn’t shy away from field trips or even a quick trip for lunch out. I was with her once at the Baltimore Aquarium, and I stood in surprise to see her lifting and spending the energy it took to make the trip fun for them.
Holiday parties couldn’t have been any better. Every year the children enjoyed the anticipation of lovely parties. At Thanksgiving, she delighted them all by letting them cook a full Thanksgiving meal. They had it all. It was fun. They gave us a play one year for Mothers Day. We waited in the lounge where the children came to decorate us with corsages. We were then escorted by our son or daughter to the classroom where all the preparations had been made. The props for the play and the play were wonderful. Afterwards they served us lunch. The table was set beautifully and the pride and joy they owned to honor us with this charming time was all the gift any mother could want. Mrs. Staley made this connection possible.
At Christmas, I’m sure her classroom was a coveted place in that school, for the grownups as well as the other students. She created an atmosphere kindred to “olden times, happy golden times of yore.” We were always invited to come to the Christmas party on the last day of school before Christmas break.
The first time I attended I couldn’t believe my eyes. The room was beautiful. She had taken a piece of equipment that was used to help a child stand up, covered it with brown paper and decked it with brick paper and a mantle. All the children in her class had a stocking with their names hanging on the “fireplace.” Presents were spread on the floor in front of the fireplace given to them by their speech teachers and therapist and other admirers.
But the really wonderful spirit that settled over the room was Mrs. Staley’s. She was loving them and they were enjoying it. Before the party began, she dispatched them all in different directions as they were able with presents and parcels to deliver around the school. They had made these things as a group to give to others. This they were thrilled to do for we all know the secret of being lovely is being unselfish. All this was part of the plan Mrs. Staley brought into her room for her kids. Important, indeed and precious to behold.
The gifts that she gave to them were always things she had made personally for them. I can remember a tote bag with a name crossstitched on the front, a hat with their name crossstitched on top, a coat rack with their name blocked with wood. One year she made Paul a checker board, painting it nicely. But best of all she gave the gift of herself.
Now, the time for change has come. The fine young man we now know is ready for his next step. We thank Mrs. Staley and her faithful aids Mrs. Dehn, Mrs. Conroy, Mr. Krissoff and many more for their help along the way. God bless you.
Celebrate Paul’s 13th birthday with his class and neighbors in this week’s “Not Just for Kids.”