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Burton on the Bay | Reflection | Editorial | Letters to the Editor | Bay Life | Dock of the Bay
Laughing Gourmet | Green Consumer | Earth Journal - Who's Here
Fourth of July Fun and Fireworks: What, Where, Wow!
by Liz Zylwitis
Travel back in time to 1776 with the cast of The Annapolis Dinner Theatre’s production of the Broadway smash hit 1776, July 3 and 4, on the terraced lawns of the Charles Carroll House, home of Charles Carroll, signer of the Declaration of Independence of Carrollton, Maryland. Bring a blanket to enjoy an 18th century picnic as part of this patriotic evening of food, fun and family, at 5PM. $30-$35: 410/626-7515
Or recall the spirit of Annapolis holidays in the early part of this century with the cast of Annapolis Celebrations, playing at St. John’s College in Annapolis, July 1 and 2, at 8PM and July 3, at 2PM. Tickets are $10 at Art Things in West Annapolis, Jackaroos at the head of Main Street and at the door.
Speaking of Annapolis traditions, our annual Fourth of July parade features music this year from The Naval Academy marching band, The Annapolitan Drum and Bugle Corps and the Chesapeake Caledonian Pipe Band, plenty of handshaking and waving from Annapolis mayor Al Hopkins, and gubernatorial candidates Ellen Sauerbrey, Parris Glendening, Mary Boergers and Helen Bentley, karate chops from the Annapolis Karate Masters and hoof-trotting from, you guessed it, Willie the Clydesdale.
At about 6:30PM, the parade will wind through the historic downtown district, beginning on St. John’s Street, turning right at College Avenue, clockwise around Church Circle, down Main Street, left on Randall Street, right on King George Street, into the Naval Academy at Gate #1 and traveling along the perimeter of the Yard, disbanding on Halloway Road near Santee Basin, by 8PM, in time for you to catch the fireworks display that almost never was as it rings out over the Annapolis Harbor from the Severn River to the backwaters of Spa Creek.
Baltimore celebrants get a four-day headstart on the Fourth of July at the Harbor Place Amphitheatre (410/752-8632) with musical performances (including the sensational South African Mahlathini and the Mohotella Queens), an appearance by Winnie the Pooh and Kids’ Korner children’s games and entertainment.
The Greenberry Woods perform their trademark mix of progressive and popular music, Thursday, from 5:30-7:30PM.
Grandsons of the Pioneers don’t take you to a disco; they play old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll, Friday, from 5:30-8PM. Part Harmony sings a cappella into the night.
Saturday is Children’s Day with Winnie from 1-4 and Kids’ Korner games and entertainment overlapping until 2:30.
For adults at 7PM are jazz rhythms from The Beefeaters and African beats from Mahlathini and the Mohotella Queens.
For military marches and patriotic hymns, on Sunday, it’s the 1st U.S. Army Band, from 4-5PM and the 229th Army Band, from 6:30-8:30PM.
The festivities are capped off Monday by a Classic Car Rally, live country and blues music and a fireworks extravaganza over the Inner Harbor, at 9:30PM.
At dusk, a choral concert at the Long Wharf: (410/228-4020) preludes a spectacular fireworks display over Choptank River.
For the best inland view of the largest fireworks display on the Chesapeake Bay with beach music by The Drifters and Second Coming, Murphy’s/Rod ‘n’ Reel (301/855-8351) is the place. 1:30PM. Gates open at 11AM.
Weekend concerts featuring R&B group Miracles, Fantasies and Dreams, Friday, at 7PM; Smokey Robinson, Saturday, at 5:30PM; and country band Restless Heart on Sunday, also at 5:30PM, are the events everyone’s waiting for. Monday the Fourth brings performances by some of the best local bands, including the U.S. Army Band at 8PM, and a fireworks display to follow at Burba Park (410/677-7354).
The 55-piece National Concert Band under the direction of John “Fritz” Velke performs military marches and patriotic hymns before a spectacular fireworks display at West River Sailing Club in Galesville, at 8PM. Bring lawnchairs or a blanket; pack a cooler; or enjoy the food concessions. (Tom Coleman: 410/867-0888).
Unicyclist, juggler and comedian Paul Hadfield brings Vaudeville to St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds (301/475-5621) for Freedom Fest ‘94, Monday, July 4, at 4PM. Joseph Norris kicks off this family celebration with folk songs. Storytellers take over the stage at 5:15PM. Then it’s Reptile World, a menagerie of animals on display at 7PM. There will be pony rides, a demonstration by the Maryland State Police Canine Unit and patriotic arts and crafts for kids. On the menu is barbecued chicken, Thai dishes, pizza and ice-cream. At dusk, local bands perform. And once the sun fades in darkness, a fireworks display is the grand finale.
Fireworks on an ocean vista make the headaches of getting to O.C. and back worthwhile. A fireworks display on each side of the Inlet at 9:30PM follows a full day of music, arts and crafts, food and more in Northside Park, 125th Street Bayside (800/OC-OCEAN).
The Maryland Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Barry Tuckwell, performs light classical and patriotic music with cannon fire and fireworks at Antietam National Battlefield, the site of the bloodiest battle of the Civil War (301/797-4000).
Herrington on the Bay lightens up the day Sunday, July 3 with a Patriotic Pool Party and the night with one of the largest fireworks shows ever in the state of Maryland. For the bargain price ($10 for adults; kids 4-12, $6; and kids under 3 free), you enjoy All-U-Can-Eat hamburgers, hot-dogs, potato salad, cole slaw, chips and sodas with your live music (301/855-8435).
Bay Winds Concert Band performs at 1PM as part of the Shady Side Rural Heritage Society’s old-fashioned Fourth of July featuring a parade, country fair with cooking contests, hot dogs, flags and children’s games. Free:
What would the Fourth be like without a good old-fashioned parade? To parade yourself or watch as others do, meet at the Shady Side Post Office where the parade line starts at 9AM. (Leigh Woodling: 410/867-2363.)
The Bayside Jubilee Barbershop Quartet plays the music for the Old Fashioned Fourth of July in Solomons. Under the Big Tent, you can get your face painted, watch animals being made out of balloons, and consider mime. The Chesapeake Chamber Orchestra of St. Mary’s College performs a sunset concert, before a spectacular show of fireworks. (410/326-0454)
The Smithsonian helps to kick off the Fourth of July weekend on the Mall with its folklife festival on Saturday and Sunday. Monday’s celebration features the annual parade up Constitution Avenue, country, jazz and blues from local bands and a fireworks extravaganza at 9PM. (202/619-7222)
Six great local bands The Ocean Blue, BS&M, YNot, Egypt, eddie from ohio and B4:5 play for eight hours to celebrate the Fourth at Washington Harbour Park. Tickets cost $10 (703/218-6500).
The 15th Annual D.C. World Festival features only the area’s best jazz singers and groups, July 1-4. At the Lincoln Theatre, on July 1, In Process, Zap Mama and Cassandra Wilson, at 8PM. At the Warner Theatre, on July 2, Danny Gatton, Gato Barbeiri and Paquito D’Rivera and the United Nation Orchestra, also at 8PM. Starting at 2pM at Freedom Plaza on July 3 and 4, Paul Murphy, Danny Gatton, Don Byron, David Sanchez, Nasar Abadey and Supernova, Mahlathini and the Mohatella Queens and Yousou N’Dour. Balcony seats for Friday and Saturday cost $20 and orchestra seats, $25. The events on July 3 and 4 are free (210/783-0360).
There’s no end to the entertainment at the Carroll County Farm Museum, starting with a Victorian tea party in the flower garden, the polite fun continues with old-fashioned children’s games, music, food, crafts, guided tours of the farmhouse and, yes boys and girls, fireworks at 9:30PM (410/876-2667).
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From Washington or the Bay, Frank Wright Has a Window on America
by Sandra Martin
Frank Wright makes his living out of curiosity. “I had my deck enlarged,” Wright admits, affably, “so I could get a better view.”
Wright is an artist, painting in oil on canvas and etching on copper. “My work is a window on life as I’ve seen it for 30 years from the deck and my studio,” he says.
Everything Wright sees out his window, you too can see. Not, perhaps, right where he first saw it. The family that lives up the hill in Fairhaven on the Bay might turn up on “The Mall on the Fourth,” picnicking in the twilight hours before the sky lights up in fireworks. The lovers in this three-by-four foot canvas pose for a camera that might have found them another day. The guy in the wheelchair, the dog and man playing Frisbee, the trim Marines wherever they came from, they deserve to be here now. The young man on the blanket nearest to you, who shoots you into the picture like an arrow, is a student of Wright’s who reclined for his portrait in the studio.
In The Mall on the Fourth (New Bay Times’ cover this Fourth of July) and “thousands … at least a thousand well over that” of other pictures, Wright opens a window on the America that he and I maybe you? see everyday. “I paint idealized reality in a cheerful blending of life as it is and life as it ought to be,” says the 62-year old, grizzled watcher.
Watching and Watched
Several are the reasons why Frank Wright’s neighbors don’t mind his watching.
His cheerfulness is one. Trusting in his good nature, his neighbors are confident that Wright will not transpose them to a place they wouldn’t want to be. Not, he hastens to assure me, that he couldn’t create shocking states or company. But that’s not the vision to which he’s been faithful for 45 years.
“Like the singer who loves to sing or the writer who knows what he wants to write about, I have always known what I wanted to do as an artist. I have deliberately eliminated things repellent to me in favor of a semblance of reality that is as much what I wanted people to aspire to as what is. I’m not interested in biting satire,” Wright says.
If Wright’s neighbors trust him not to catch them at their worst, they’ve also gotten used to his ways. He’s as familiar to his south Anne Arundel County weekend home as its view of the Bay. Even in a community where three generations are common and four not unknown, Wright goes back a long way.
“I can remember the day my mother planted those trees,” says Wright, introducing the twin Junipers that frame his deck. Wright was 13 and his young mother was dying of cancer when his father, a truck driver in D.C., bought the Fairhaven cottage for a “semblance of normal life and happiness.”
Now more than the trees are old friends. Village elders have slender youths for their twins in Wright’s memory. Objects tell familiar stories. A cement post that looks like a hand-poured miniature of the Washington monument came into being one summer in the mid-’40s, when Wright’s father grew tired of his neighbors’ prolific, gregarious ways. The wire mesh he’d intended to string to keep ‘em out remained under the porch until, from his nursing home bed, the elder Wright “tidied up his life” by asking his son to deliver it, still in a roll, to the son of a nursing home mate.
The vistas, homes and children, and the Bay are reflected in the fond light of esteem in over a dozen of Wright’s paintings. Some scenes, like the marsh lake, he has repeated season after season: in autumn, in snow, and just this time of year, with day lilies and Queen Anne’s lace blooming. “This place has tremendous meaning to me,” Wright says.
Like any good village, Fairhaven accepts its own. But Wright’s neighbors’ tolerance of living under his unremitting observation has another cause. They are, you see, watching him just as curiously.
Anything they might want to know about Wright turns up sooner or later in his paintings. They chronicle, he confesses, “what my life is like at this moment in time, unfolding like the rings of an onion: family, friends, my studio and self, and things that interest me.” Wright regularly bears the bosom of his family, painting, for example, wife Mary and daughter Suzanne reading the Sunday funnies in bed.
One Window is Not Enough
The view from Wright’s downtown Washington studio is as generous as the view from his deck. For 30 years he has painted on the first floor of Washington’s oldest office building, the LeDroit Building at 8th and F Streets. There his three windows stand 11-feet tall and open a good six feet. “Glass has given me an incredible rapport with both my neighborhood and historic Washington,” says Wright.
Watching and working five 11-hour days each week (except 9AM to 9PM on Mondays and Wednesdays, when since 1966 Professor Wright has taught at George Washington University), he has memorized the city. “I calculated recently that I have had well over 9,000 morning coffees watching life go on in from the National Portrait Gallery.”
Over the years, Wright has delighted in the “caravan of people” who visit his studio, many of them invited in after peering in through his huge windows at the artist at work. “I love it when people drop in,” says the gregarious artist. “They’re a delightful distraction. I don’t try to get rid of them; I just let things take their course, busying myself with varnishing paintings or cleaning brushes. I’ve made many friends that way,” says he. Wright knows and is known by every vagrant and street person, who appear as familiar characters in the familiar Washington scenes of Wright’s paintings.
In his beloved LaDroit Building for three decades the near victim of regular waves of urban renewal Wright is surrounded by “former students and friends.” Moments away are other old friends Wright visits each day: the National Portrait Gallery, the National Museum of American Art, the National Gallery.
Somehow, during all those hours, Wright has learned to see the past as well as the present. Research as well as insight guide him. He owns, for example, 36 bound volumes of the old Washington Star from Civil War days, including the date of Lincoln’s assassination. Engraved on his mind as on a copper plate is the history of buildings, corners and streets. “Had I been sitting in my studio on April 14, 1865, I could have watched John Wilkes Booth race away from Ford’s Theatre after assassinating Lincoln,” Wright is fond of saying.
He sees visions and from them historic Washington rematerializes in his paintings. Lincoln remains in his thoughts, and he ponders a painting of Lincoln being carried from Ford’s Theater to the house across the way. He loves parades and has painted nearly a century of them, all the way up to FDR’s inauguration. His sizable canvases can encompass hundreds of separate images borrowed from, he says, as many as “300 sources from historic reenactment to contemporary pictures of people and places to friends posed in period costumes and pieced together as in a movie.”
“I paint America. I am as interested in daily life as in great events, as interested in my times as in past time. I believe my honest depictions of our times will interest people in 50 years as much as the events of 50 or 100 years ago interest me today,” says Frank Wright, who is watching me as I watch him.
See more of Frank Wright’s America at his Washington studio in the LeDroit Building at 8th and F Streets Mondays through Fridays (202/638-1850).
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Dock of the Bay
Cats and Coyotes in Maryland
Here’s what you do to find out if a bobcat’s around: Draw a three-foot circle in open dirt. Sweep the circle to make it nice and clean. In the center, erect a post and now here’s the hard part scent the post with urine from a bobcat or a fox. That’s a smell no bobcat can resist. The curious critter will step right up, and in the nice fresh dirt, you’ll find the toenail-less tracks that say, “Bobcat was here.”
You can draw your circle anywhere, but only in western Maryland is it likely to draw bobcats, says Peter Jayne, DNR’s man in charge of fur bearing and upland game. In the ages before Europeans came here, bobcats were all about. But settlers cut down all the forests and, with hunting and trapping, pushed bobcats to Maryland’s western border. Today bobcats are not unheard of, though seldom seen, east of Frederick.
Where ever DNR hears about a bobcat as they do in the Patuxent and Pocomoke basins now and again they draw their circle. Seldom do they confirm a cat though a bobcat walked through Harwood (Anne Arundel County) in 1983, through Hollywood (St. Mary’s) in 1986, and through Smallwood (Charles) in 1992.
You want to see a wild thing, coyote’s your creature.
What coyotes can’t resist is cats. “They just love housecats. They’ll do anything to get one,” says Jayne. Small dogs, too, though Labs are probably safe.
Melons are almost as well regarded as cats. And you bet they can’t eat just one. “Watermelons, canatloupes, they take bites out of a lot of them,” Jayne says.
So if you love cats or raise melons, Maryland’s coyote invasion is news for which you might want to brace yourself. Hold on.
Coyotes which have migrated here from the prairie states are about as prolific as the rest of us Maryland non-natives. Look how well they’ve taken root in earlier adopted Mississippi: 500 pelts were taken in 1975; by 1988, the number soared to 40,000!
Coyotes are now thriving in all of Maryland’s Pennsylvania-verging counties. With adolescents typically moving about 75 miles away from their parents’ territories to set up housekeeping on their own, their range keeps growing.
These handsome eastern coyotes of ours are way bigger than their western relatives, so much so that they seem to have mated, somewhere along the way, with wolves. A very big male may top 50 pounds, and they’re willing to feed on prey larger than themselves even deer if cats or melons aren’t convenient.
Such a Ticket: Bernie and American Joe!
The Chesapeake’s environmental champion, newly retired state senator Bernie Fowler of Broome’s Island, was smiling last week when he told New Bay Times how proud he’d be “to have the liberty of leading the charge for the environment, watermen, and our agricultural community” for a gubernatorial candidate still to be named.
We were about to go to press yesterday when Sen. Fowler called to name names: American Joe Miedusiewski is the man who hopes to lead an all-American, Baltimore-meets-rural-Maryland ticket to victory.
American Joe is a name we’ve always admired. We had sentimental reveries over the pride Mrs. Miedusiewski must have felt to christen her son with such a name. Our admiration didn’t change when we learned that American Joe had christened himself, legally taking the name of his saloon when he entered the political arena.
Now that he and Bernie are on this high road together, we’re looking forward to finding out more. Here’s installment one, why Joe wants Bernie:
“For too long state government has ignored rural Maryland. I want to send a message to southern Maryland, western Maryland and the Shore that rural Maryland will be represented in my administration. Senator Fowler will give me a leg up in rural Maryland,” says American Joe.
Conowingo Creek falls a quick eight inches as four kayaks and 22 canoes ready ourselves for Day Four of this year’s six-day Susquehanna Sojourn.
Tides on an inland Pennsylvania river? No, the Bay’s tidal reach does not extend this far. These man-made tides respond to electrical production. Pennsylvania Power and Light, operator of Safe Harbor dam just out of sight on the river, holds the water back or sends it frothing and boiling downstream. Sirens and flashing lights warn river users when to flee a new down-flux of water.
Like the tides, our spirits are high as our 26-foot “war canoe,” powered by six paddlers, that moves its eight paddlers quickly past the pack into the calm at this north end of Lake Aldred.
A lake on a river? Damming the river, which was in earlier times shallower and more dangerous with its rock strewn bed and roaring rapids, has turned it into a series of terraced lakes between dams. This day’s paddle will be completely on Lake Aldred 8.5 miles from Safe Harbor dam to Holtwood Dam.
Now we paddle out to a large mid-lake rock carved with ancient petroglyphs from a mysterious past. A beautiful stick figure no bigger than a hand is ours to retrace with a finger. These concentric circles are open to our individual and varied conjectures. Archeologists can attach no meaning to these antelope drawings or these circles with eyes because there’s no evidence by which to date them, Andrew Wyatt of the Pennsylvania State Museum, tells us.
The drawings are certainly less than 10,000 years old for that’s how long ago the Chesapeake Bay was created by sea water rising into a gorge left by retreating ice age glaciers. That’s how long ago the Susquehanna began its rush to add freshwater to the Bay now an astonishing 19 million gallons every minute.
On this hunk of rock one of many carved with petroglyphs in this small section of a 444-mile river we drink in the present with its pink and white morning glories, grasses, ubiquitous honey locusts, bees, dragon flies, great blue herons, humming hydro-electric plant and chattering humans. Our minds open to the immensity of times and distances past touching in spirit the whole of human life.
By lunch, newcomers and second-day sailors unused to paddling against headwinds, welcome our lunch stopover at Indian Steps, a comfortable park and museum.
Too soon for some we’re angling back out across the river, so power paddler Alan Quant’s lecture on canoeing lore and history is a welcome distraction. His 26-foot Canadian Clipper canoe descends from the crafts of French fur trappers. Typically, four traders paddled a fur-laden canoe across Canada’s lakes. They could be no taller than five-foot-six and strong enough to lift several hundred pounds, portaging their laden canoes between lakes.
With just one mile to go, we contemplate the reason for this trip. Eight years ago Cindy Dunn, of the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and Bill Eberhardt, imagined a canoe trip to teach people about the river’s contribution to the Chesapeake Bay. The 444-mile river draws water from 13 million acres of land plus tons of nitrogen, phosphorus, toxics and sediment. Farmers and homeowners are the source of much of that burden.
Four years ago, the idea became action. Each year’s trip has moved south; this year’s trip started at Harrisburg and ended at Havre de Grace on the Bay. Half of this year’s participants have made the trip before. Others joined just this year some for the whole six days, camping overnight along the way; others for a day or two or just a few hours. Ages range from eight to 70.
Most of the group will be back next year when the trip moves north to the Juaniata River. It has become a class reunion as well a summer vacation and an environmental call-to-arms.
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Cutting Summer Ties (Trousers, Too)
We at New Bay Times invoke the power of the press to make this decree:
With summer officially here, you may shed hot, tight or uncomfortable clothing until after Labor Day.
We are inspired by Miami’s Metro Dade County Board of Commissioners, which passed a resolution recently declaring June, July and August “official guayabera months.”
A guayabera, in case you missed it, is a loose-fitting, comfortable shirt worn by millions of people in Latin America and the Caribbean region. You’ve seen them. Most are white; worn untucked, they are eminently sensible; and with their four pockets, they’re prudent.
In Miami, you can wear a guayabera now for all sorts of business or pleasure, and nobody will raise an eyebrow.
Thanks to global warming, summers are about as hot in Maryland as in Florida. Wasn’t it 95 every June day? Let’s wise up and dress accordingly. You don’t need to have a guayabera, but if you do, all the better.
Starting today, we have given you permission to park your suits in the closets (unless they’re seersucker or linen) and leave your ties on the rack. Socks are optional and Bermudas are better.
Women, leave your pantyhose, petticoats and ruffles in the drawers. It’s time for spectators, sandals and open-toed shoes. It’s time for old-fashioned, multi-colored bare-legged summer style and no more of that winter-woolly look.
Nobody even think about wearing polyester.
If a boss, restaurant host or any oppressive, close-minded sort gives you the fish-eye, tell them to loosen up, have a rum cocktail and find themselves a guayabera, henceforth the official dress summers on the Chesapeake.
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Letters to the Editor
A Volcanic Adventure
Dear New Bay Times:
I am flattered to learn that my dispatch (Vol 2: 11, “Chesapeake to Chiapas”) made it into your pages. A partial list of my recent clients: New York Times; New Bay Times; Newsweek; Christian Science Monitor; San Francisco Weekly; Miami Herald; and CBS News.
I have been on top of the volcano in Guatemala more times than I can count (17 or so in eight years.) The last trip, to see the lunar eclipse in May, we almost went out in a fiery blaze of glory. It was on red alert and we didn’t know it but we soon found out.
Thunderous eruptions, some 900 feet in the air, poured out every minute or so. Suddenly, fire was dropping on top of us. Changing its pattern, tongues of silent flame erupted from the mouth of the crater, dissipating into ugly black mushroom clouds that looked like skulls. It must have been like this at the beginning of time.
A couple of inexperienced friends were succumbing to paranoia. By then, we had become enveloped in a thick cloud bank and probably wouldn’t have found our way down off the cone through the burning coals, black cinders and petrified lava rocks if we had tried. Unless the full moon is showing you the way down, you can wander dangerously in the wrong direction.
All I could do was light my cigarette from the flaming boulders that were landing inches away and say: “Hey, you gotta have faith, cause there ain’t nothin’ you can do.”
It is a strangely liberating feeling, not to mention humbling, to know that you are completely at the mercy of something so vast and powerful as ... God.
It’s funny: gripped by the sheer, absolute terror of it all, your basic survival instincts and fears cook you up dangerously close to meltdown. It is also feeling alive. Earth, wind and fire.
I’m sure there are many other things I must tell you, but time is short, and the evil machinations of small-minded bad men trying to take away our liberties demand full attention.
San Salvador, El Salvador
Letter from Latvia
Dear New Bay Times:
My wife and I stare in disbelief at the superstructure being added to the classical Opera House.
As a child, before she fled with her family in World War II, Lucy saw her aunt perform there; 20 years ago I escorted the Jose Limon Dance Company from America to a vibrant reception there. For 40 years a broadcaster and editor at the Voice of America, she has returned several times. But in our first visit together to Latvia, change has many faces.
Riga, a central trading point in the Baltics, was founded in 1201. Germans, Poles, Lithuanians, Swedes and Russians have overrun what became the Republic of Latvia after World War II. Twenty years later it was occupied by the Soviet Union, then the Nazis and again the USSR, which deported an estimated 600,000 Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians almost 10 percent of the population to exile and imprisonment, mostly in Siberia.
Latvia regained freedom in 1991. An Englishman writing in The Baltic Observer finds the much the same standard of living and “drive to make a new life” he remembers in post-World War II England.
Witness Karlis Freibergs, who came from Canada in 1991 to see the country his parents had left. He stayed to start the Observer, an English-language weekly now in the black with circulation of 10,000 in Latvia and overseas.
For a taste of the demands of daily life, Lucy and I stay in a hard-edged apartment in the plain-Jane Nordeki section, travel the cheap, reliable public trolley busses and fixed-schedule taxi-bus, and load up on tangy dark bread and canned sprats in no-nonsense food stores.
Signs proclaim HELL FIRE American Musical Night Club. Around town, shirts, caps, jackets and you name it sport American place and product names; graffiti on walls includes BIOHAZARD, The Cure, Heavy Metal and, umm, F___ You.
We regret having to leave shortly before the ribald annual Midsummer’s Night celebrations.
Port Tobacco, Md.
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Crabs: With no Flurry, Need We Worry?
Something is missing as I write on the east porch of my home, looking across Stony Creek. Where are the crabbers usually about this time of year on the docks of this Anne Arundel County tributary of the Patapsco River, which meets the Chesapeake several miles downriver?
There’s no knowing where they are, but their absence is ominous. It means that here, at least, crabs aren’t running yet. The Fourth of July weekend is just several days away and no crabs?
When I moved here nearly 23 years ago, recreational crab were caught as early as Memorial Day. By now, the season was in full swing.
So is there anything to worry about?
Pete Jensen doesn’t think so. Charlie Schnaitman thinks so. Jensen heads tidewater fisheries in the Department of Natural Resources; Schnaitman operates the largest crab-oriented rowboat livery in Maryland. Both men have their followers in evaluating crab prospects for 1994.
Schnaitman, on Sunday afternoon, was at his docks at Wye Landing, where about 60 boats of his recreational rental fleet of 90 remained tied to pilings. Business was slow because crabbing was slow. Days lost in early season can’t be made up for later.
“I can’t tell you why, but crabbing starts later and later year after year,” said Schnaitman, whose family and friends are also involved in commercial crabbing. In a vague way, he expressed doubts about DNR’s crab management and crab management plans, but pointed no fingers.
“Things will get better once the crabs start running, but things aren’t like they used to be and no way can I make up for those lost early weeks.”
State Says Be Patient
By phone the next day from his office in Annapolis, Jensen granted that crabbing is off to a slow start, but he wasn’t worried. He has been through this before.
The quality of crabbing is gauged by commercial crab catches. But there is no way to monitor the recreational crab fishery, neither the numbers caught nor the crabbers participating. DNR had hoped a crabbing license would provide some answers, but licensing legislation failed in the past session of the General Assembly.
Commercial crab catch figures are volatile many years, as many seasons. One month can be great, the next dismal, and vice-versa.
Through May of any year, only about 10 percent of the annual commercial catch is traditionally taken. This year, we were a little below it, conceded Jensen. June appears to be a bit below normal, but not significantly so. From June through October, 90 percent of commercial crab catches are made, Jensen reminded me and four months follow June.
He looks for a catch of 42 to 55 million pounds as compared with 1993’s record 56 million pounds. He figures we’re on track, though winter mortality could be playing a role in the slow start.
No one needs be reminded about the past winter. But different people look upon it in different ways. We had some might severe winters back in the 70s, but the crabbing didn’t start off as slowly as this, said one of the regulars at the shop where Schnaitman carries out maintenance work on his fleet.
Another crabbing regular at Schnaitman’s suggested that the past winter wasn’t really “that bad” in the Chesapeake. “For us on land, it was bad,” he said, “but not that bad out in the Bay. Colder winters have hit the Bay much harder and we didn’t have to wait this long to have good crabbing,” he said.
Seeing for Ourselves
While crabbing in the Wye earlier with Joe Bernard and Mike Rossbach, the opinion we heard from some of the crabbing regulars was that winter wiped out the smaller crabs, and we were fishing the larger ones. New hatches would soon fill the void, they suggested. Hopefully.
One thing was for sure. Though our catches were only a fraction of normal for this time of the year, the crabs were of exceptional size. We had set our legal limit of 1,000 feet of trotline a pair of 500-footers and caught 13 crabs. Several were 9 inches point to point, most of the rest were well above 8 inches, one was about 7 inches, and another of just over the 5-inch minimum.
The day before had been the best of the year for Rossbach and Bernard. They caught 37, with about the same variety in size. They almost filled a bushel basket, which was good, but so far this season they have yet to get their bushel limit. In their years on the Wye where they live, their eel baits have rarely failed to produce limits by mid June at the latest.
Their crabbing expeditions are purely recreational, though they are very much involved in the commercial crab fishery. Both operate Wye River Inc., which makes crab soups, seasonings and other seafood-related items. Until the day we crabbed, they were becoming increasingly concerned about the scarcity of crabs Baywide.
They need crabs as ingredients for many of their products. And they need people, for sport and commerce, catching crabs to create a market for their seasonings.
Though it was Sunday, Bernard made his usual daily calls to monitor catches. Things remained slow on the Bay, he found, but the good news was that in North Carolina after an exceptionally slow start crabbing had suddenly erupted, so strong that crab prices had dropped dockside to $14 to $16 a bushel.
Realistically, that is a double edged sword. The blast-off in North Carolina crabbing usually signals that things in the Chesapeake will follow suit within a couple of weeks. But it also means that crab prices will drop dramatically.
The crab market is highly competitive. Many of the North Carolina crabs will end up in Maryland, which means that by the time crabbing picks up hereabouts, prices will be attractive to consumers but not to commercial crabbers, who will miss the opportunity for extra profits.
Jensen concedes there could have been crab mortality the past winter in the Chesapeake, much of which was covered with ice in its upper reaches. Crabs move around, even in winter, said Jensen, but some might not have burrowed deep enough to survive. Also, cooler waters in April and May could also have affected catches, he added.
But in a few weeks, he figures, everything will be back to normal and we’ll be catching crabs as usual, which for Charlie Schnaitman could mean that on weekends, most, if not all, of those 90 rental skiffs will leave the docks in the morning. He once had a fleet of 100 and a waiting list on weekends from late June on, but he doesn’t figure he will see days like that again.
He used to build his own wooden boats, but no longer. “I maintain the ones I have, and the way business is, that should be enough for a long time to come.”
It isn’t just the scarcity of crabs that sometimes affects his livery business, it’s the cost of crabbing. Outside his headquarters, Schnaitman has a large white sign with black printing to advertise rentals at $20 a day. But there are a few other costs.
Talbot County has a five percent amusement tax, one buck per rental. At the public launching ramp next to his livery, there is a stiff fee structure: $35 for a season, $10 a day for non-Marylanders; $10 a season, $5 a day for Maryland residents. And that fee applies only to launching in Talbot County.
A slack in boat ramp business means fewer crabbers stopping in to buy crabbing gear and bait before heading out in their own boats. Chicken necks are big business for Schnaitman. They are the preferred bait for those with collapsible traps, trot lines and hand lines. Cut eels are another popular item, but now that there is a good foreign market for eels as seafood, they are expensive. Pork and beef tongues are more for commercial crabbers.
Schnaitman is also concerned about the resurrection of the crabbing license in the General Assembly. “They will keep bringing it back until they get it,” he said glumly. “And that will discourage those who don’t crab very often.”
Famous Wye Crabs
The Wye is Maryland’s, if not the entire coast’s, most popular crabbing location. Some of that popularity can be attributed to the proximity of good catching areas to Wye Landing especially for rowboaters who don’t have outboards. They don’t have far to row.
But the big drawing card is the size of Wye River crabs. Generally, they run larger than anywhere else a phenomenon pretty much acknowledged by all but which fisheries scientists cannot explain. At any time of the season, one can pretty much count on the Wye to produce bigger crustaceans.
Schnaitman has seen occasional crabs of 10 inches point to point over the years. Bernard said he has caught Wye crabs that touch both sides of a bushel basket when the claws were extended.
None of such dimensions have turned up this year, but there was one unusual specimen. One of Schnaitman’s patrons brought in a purple crab. It was of just legal size, purple on both its top and underside, a definite dark purple, said Schnaitman. “I never saw one like it before, probably never will again.”
Oddly, some Western Shore crabbing spots are turning up slightly better catches than on the Eastern Shore. One of the most popular crabbing spots on this side of the Bay is at the long pier at Scheible’s Fishing Center on Smith Creek at Ridge, which is just off the Potomac near its confluence with the Chesapeake.
“Things started slow, but now the catches are good, and the crabs are of fairly good size,” reports Capt. Bruce Scheible.
Curiously, at the very beginning of the crabbing season, there was a spurt in catches on both sides of the Bay, prompting hopes among some for a great early season. But some wise old-timers cautioned that commercial crab landings might be up at that time for another reason.
There were more watermen crabbing early than ever before, they said. Because the oyster season was so unprofitable, they had to do something else quickly.
It was pretty much the same story in the back bays at Ocean City. Early catches were fairly good but have since slacked off. There, they catch the same crab as in the Chesapeake. But about 25 years ago there were short-lived hopes for a market for a different variety of crab.
Avoiding the Red Crab’s Fate
The crab carrying those hopes was an ocean species known as the red crab. It was dredged from deep waters, named for its color, and while there wasn’t much meat in its body, the claws were tasty and large.
It was hailed as a backup for our blue crab back in the days when Texas, Louisiana and Carolina crabs were seldom seen on the Maryland market. It also figured to be less expensive and unlimited in numbers. It was introduced with much fanfare. But a season or two later, it was pretty much forgotten.
Though its taste was somewhat similar to that of our blue crab and the price was right, one thing went wrong. The offshore red crab fishery wasn’t as abundant as originally figured. Soon, it was pretty much fished out.
We’re told we don’t have to worry about that with our Chesapeake Bay crab, but every year when things start out slowly, we get the jitters.
We have witnessed dramatic declines in oysters, clams, yellow perch, shad, rockfish, herring and now bluefish, all of which once appeared as plentiful as blue crabs. We have become concerned for good reason.
Enough said ...
What a turnabout. The fishing is better than it has been in ages. Fish are plentiful, but not fishermen. The charter fleet is hurting badly despite excellent bottom fishing. It’s hard to figure, especially in the lower Chesapeake where small bluefish are abundant in addition to the bottom species. Let’s take a look:
MID-CHESAPEAKE: Occasionally black drum are still taken at the Stone Rock and Poplar Islands; blues are scarce. Hardheads of medium to large size are plentiful at the mouth of the Choptank and farther upriver, as at Holland Point, Plum Point and Eastern Bay. Spot are also plentiful, but sea trout remain scarce. Best bets are bottom-fishing for hardhead and spot, but where are those anglers who have been asking for this sport for many years? Headboat fishing is good, and for catch-and-release buffs, there are rockfish.
LOWER BAY: Waters hereabouts are loaded with fish. Hardheads galore at Tangier and Pocomoke Sounds; also off the Potomac and inside of it. Add white perch and spot (including some jumbos) inside the Potomac. Hardheads and spot also in the Patuxent. At the Middlegrounds off the Potomac there are two to three-pound blues for both chummers and trollers and all the rockfish one wants to take on a catch-and-release basis. Some of those rock go 10 to 15 pounds, and rock often take baits fished for blues. A few flounder (wait another couple of weeks), and also some sea trout scattered in deeper waters.
UPPER BAY: Not many fishermen out, but in much of this area, hardheads and big spot (not quite jumbos) are everywhere from Thomas Point northward. Catfishing remains good, with some of five and six pounds off Hacketts. The white perch run is excellent. A few blues can be taken on trolled surgical hoses.
OCEAN CITY: Shark fishing continues good, tuna catches still improving when winds aren’t blowing too strong. Dolphin fishing improving, and headboats are doing fair for bottom dwellers like sea bass, ling and tautog. Not much in the surf for those after blues, but occasionally they catch kingfish, sea trout and flounder - maybe even a few blowfish, which have been scarce for years. Flounder fishing fair at best.
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Pursuing Summer’s Tasty Crab Cake
In which our traveler heads across the Chesapeake and back again on a consuming mission
by Todd Tyson
In sunny, summer reverie, my thoughts drift to summers past.
Often, these are memories of crabbing and frolicking at the Bay. With our chicken parts and twine, my father, four brothers, assorted friends and I would crab at Carr’s Wharf, Point Lookout, Colonial Beach and any other place we could drop some lines. Heading home, in the back of Dad’s pickup, we’d secretly pry open the bushel basket lid, challenging the crabs with stick or finger; the jimmies would lift their menacing, blue claws for a bite of us.
Once again crabs have brought me to the Bay. This time, my search is for crab cakes. I will hit six eating establishments in two days three on each side of the Chesapeake.
By Kent Island, where a billboard with the business end of a shark announces “Killer Seafood” at the Fisherman’s Inn, my salivary glands and digestive juices are aroused. Ignoring them, I push on into what is, for me, remoter Bay country.
At 11:30, I cross the Chester River into Chestertown and Kent County, hoping to run into the perfect crab joint a place with weathered boards, a hand-scrawled menu, crab pots and bushel baskets out back and a view of the water. As I pass impressive brick homes dating from the1700s, my stomach growls its impatience.
One establishment overlooks the Chester River, but I am not certain it jibes with what I want. Some finely dressed elderly women and I reach the front door where I read the menu: $14.50 for two crab cakes.
Ignoring hunger pangs, I leave.
I head back to the Bay, past the brick buildings of Washington College, established in 1782, toward Tolchester Beach a promising name.
Through rolling farmland I drive with renewed anticipation. Then Rt. 21 ends; Tolchester Beach is but a boat ramp jutting into the Bay.
My stomach protests. At 12:24, as I turn onto Rt. 445 south toward Rock Hall, a great blue heron flies overhead as a token of promise.
“Welcome to Rock Hall,” an official sign welcomes. “Nice People Live Here” is its subtext. Overhead, along the home-lined street, red, white and blue pennants flutter. Upcoming in August is a bull roast. Where the road opens on to Rock Hall Harbor is the Waterman’s Crabhouse and Restaurant.
At the door, in the shade, a wizened man who looks like he’s spent a lifetime on the water says good day. By the window, overlooking the marina, I order a crab cake sandwich ($6.99) and a cold Bud. The decor is functional and casual a place to relax after a day on the Bay or road. Tables are topped with Plexiglas, embossed with crabs. Oyster shell wreaths and mounted, large jimmies line the walls. “Jimmies” and “Biddies” mark the restrooms.
Then the crab cakes come. What a delight! They are golden brown, almost as tall as they are wide, with sweet, unbroken lumps of meat throughout. They are served on a fresh, toasted bun with lettuce, tomato and tartar sauce. A pickle spear and a small tub of good cole slaw accompany. I wolf it all down.
At 1:28 I leave Rock Hall, satisfied but not for long.
Recrossing the Chester River, I see a new Bay sight: On a deck overlooking me and the river is a bottomless sunbather. What I think is a white bikini bottom is a white bottom! (Hope she’s using strong sun block.)
The Wye Oak is my first stop on the way to St. Michael’s. I nearly pass this majestic oak, for it stands only minutes past Rt. 50 on Rt. 662. Blink and you miss the largest white oak in the U. S., a tree dating back to the time of Columbus.
Rt. 662 to Rt. 33, I head due east, arriving in St. Michael’s at about 4:00. Here The Carpenter Street Saloon looks promising.
From the menu, I learn that this saloon, built in 1874, has “served the Community as a bank (the vault presently serves as a cooler), a newspaper office, post office, and telephone company.” Now, one side serves as a restaurant and the other as a bar dark with worn wood.
Here a crab cake sandwich costs $4. Although the price is better, the quality is not. No lumps, more filler and a lack of that distinctive sweet taste. But the sounds of singing to a strumming guitar sweeten this stop. I leave St. Michael’s at 5:30.
With 167 miles under my belt, I make for Kent Island. As many times as I’ve crossed Kent Island on my way to Ocean City, my stops there have been brief and usually on the Rte 50 strip. This time I take Rt. 8 South to see what I can find.
Gravitating toward the great expanse of the Chesapeake Bay, I’m ready for adventure. I cross a grassy area, jump the bulkhead, kick off my sandals and dig my feet into the sand. Irresistibly drawn, I swim in my street clothes.
As I dry off, a working boat catches my attention. Walking closer, I see a writhing cargo. Eels, tons of them, are being transferred to a truck with oxygenated water for shipment to Japan where they’re a delicacy.
Here too I meet a new friend, and we end up on the deck of his boat. Ke Shu (Chinese for “Western Barbarian”) is a1942 English lifeboat; is it a mate to the Nancy B of New Bay Times fame, I wonder. He tells me of a resident great white clam: “One day, a fisherman went out to get it and soon all that was left was his white boots ... just sucked him right up.”
By now, I’m too hungry again for crab cakes not to believe him. One of his friends happens by and recommends Angler’s Restaurant and Marina at the south side of the old Kent Narrows Bridge.
With cars whizzing by on the higher, new bridge, I pull in at 8:00. Beneath the bridge, betokening a warmer sense of community, a Chesapeake Bay retriever trots over for some loving.
Inside, crab cake sandwiches ($4.15) come with chips, pickle spears, lettuce, tomato, tartar sauce and my first lemon wedges. (I don’t do lemon on my crab cakes.) The cakes have more flavor than those at the most recent stop but are not the golden jewels of Waterman’s. Despite the shells in my sandwich, I like the place laid back and cheap.
I leave Angler’s weary with contentment. The day has been long, but rich in crab cakes and discovery.
Bring On More Crab Cakes
Brenda, my wife, joins me for the second leg of this quest. The western shore has provided much of my youthful crabbing pleasure, and so I anticipate a day of reminiscence. We leave home at 10:30AM.
With Brenda nine months pregnant, I can ill afford to deny her food for three hours even for a crab cake. Our first meal is a first and last: apparently too many people shied away from visiting Sweet Mama’s Home Cooked Food, for that ramshackle Central Avenue landmark is no more. Both Brenda and I mourn its home-style, home-cooked flavor.
Continuing east on Rt. 214, we connected with Rt. 468 South, which hooks around the West River and ends at Shady Side. Over the years, whether from boat, pier or shore, I’ve crabbed this area. It all looks so familiar yet distanced by the passage of years as we travel through Anne Arundel and into Calvert County toward North Beach.
North Beach features a large pier for fishing or crabbing and a decent stretch of sand. In beach chairs, we relax to the sounds of lapping waves, gulls and occasional squeals of children. With our feet soaking in the lukewarm water, we gazed at clouds resembling fish scales.
Then, stirred by rumbling stomachs, we head for neighboring Chesapeake Beach. At Rod ‘N’ Reel, I am drawn by nostalgia: this area had been a point of excursion for fishing and slot machines for my father. But now, instead of yelling “Jackpot,” players cry out “Bingo.”
Bingo is being played upstairs as we place our order for a pair of good-sized crab cakes ($5.95 with either fries or slaw) that we enjoy with a splendid view of the Bay, where swallows pirouette and geese bully ducks.
By the time we reach at Calvert Cliffs State Park, a half-hour south, the trail has closed. Be warned that trail and beach close at 4PM so latecomers lose their opportunity to hunt fossilized shark teeth. We have to make do with looking at the prehistoric wonders at Douggie’s fossil stand across from the park on Rt. 2/4.
At 6:30, we’re comfortably settled on the dock of Solomon’s Pier Restaurant where we have a commanding view of a sailing regatta. We order two crab cakes ($7.50 each) and learn from the menu that this pier, built in 1919 by Captain Pert Evans, supported first an ice cream and confectionery parlor; then, in the early 1920s, a waterslide, and from 1934 through the 1960s a movie house.
Our crab cakes come with tartar sauce, lettuce, tomato, red onion, a pickle spear and a side of fries seasoned with Old Bay. Sailboats pass the dock, unfurling their colorful spinnakers and catching the tailwind. All our senses are titillated: we savor the crab, hear the murmur of wave and cry of gull, welcome the warmth of the sun.
My mission is complete; I have eaten crab cakes in six places around the Bay. What remains most memorable is not the food but the unexpected pleasures: the regatta, the Ke Shu, the swims and views, Sweet Mama, the Wye Oak, the bare-bottomed sunbather.
The crab cakes were just the icing on the cake.
As contented as kids after a day at the Bay, we leave for home.
Todd Tyson, a mailman who studies English at University of Maryland, writes from Laurel, Md., where he and his wife are enjoying their son, Kyle Cory. This is his second story for New Bay Times.
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In terms of size, they’re, well, fleas and ticks. But these tiny creatures can wreak large-scale havoc. On pets they can spread disease and parasite infections. Bored with frolicking in fur, they may decide to feast on humans, causing no end of torment.
And for every flea found on your pet, there may be as many as 100 more lurking around.
So what do you do when these tiny, thick-skinned, blood-sucking insects hitch a ride into your home on the back of your dog or cat?
For many people, particularly those prone to being bitten, no means of destruction is too brutal. Sprays, powders, shampoos, pesticide bombs whatever works is fair game. But there’s an environmental price to be paid. In the end, we may harm ourselves, our environment and our pets.
Most commercial flea and tick sprays contain carbaryl, a pesticide known by its trade name, Sevin. It works by attacking pests’ nervous system. Carbaryl is a teratogen, meaning it can harm developing fetuses in both animals and humans. The Environmental Protection Agency says carbaryl is safe if used properly.
But what exactly does “properly” mean? Pet owners often figure that if a little pesticide is good, a lot is better. The result may be pet poisoning.
For, there are less toxic alternatives for example, a breed of pesticides containing pyrethrin, a natural ingredient derived from chrysanthemums. Pyrethrin increases insects’ neurological activity, overstimulating them; in effect, the insects burn themselves out.
Even pyrethrins must be used with care. Experts warn that people and animals with asthma, particularly those allergic to ragweed pollen, may react to pyrethrin. And pyrethrin can be toxic to aquatic life and should not be used near water.
Such pesticides are for attacking full-grown pests. But chemicals that kill adults generally won’t harm eggs, pupae and larvae, which represent 95 percent of the flea population.
Getting rid of them requires a category of pesticides called “growth regulators.” They interrupt the development of preadult fleas by rendering the larva incapable of developing from pupa to an adult.
One new product to consider is Bio Flea Halt!, which uses beneficial nematodes, a naturally occurring microorganism that preys on preadult fleas outdoors without harming people or pets. For about $20, you get roughly 100 million microscopic nematodes, capable of covering 2,500 square feet.
Don’t overlook the basics. Keep your pet clean. Use a fine-toothed comb on your pet to remove existing fleas. And vacuum regularly. Fleas hate clean homes.
(Joel Makower is editor of The Green Consumer Letter, based in Washington D.C.)
© Copyright 1994 Tilden Press Inc.
Distributed by Universal Press Syndicate
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Earth Journal - Who's Here
In the Fields
Sympathy with summer’s sun is gilding the lily as June yields to July.
Golden heads of winter wheat have met their reaper: combines have made their yearly run, leaving the fields sticky with stubble. Their passage is a ritual of my year, too, reminding me that time’s passing will not excuse my busyness. Or yours. Like the wheat, we had better be here now.
What better time! Can anything in life feel better than June’s evening breeze, cool as going swimming? Or look better than June’s golden fields? The only way I know to gild this lily is to sprinkle red poppies among the wheat, a spectacle I once saw and hope to never forget in an Italian field.
Gold is everywhere: in the wheat, in black-eyed Susans clamoring along the roadsides, in the irrepressible lilies indulging their short season, in cosmos and sunflowers and coxcombs, in Monarch butterflies sampling all those golden flowers.
In a Neighbor’s Backyard
Taking an early Saturday stroll in my yard, I heard a woodpecker pecking in slow motion. About 20 feet up in an ancient maple tree next to my house, I located the dove-sized bird, but except for its bogging head the creature seemed to blend into the trunk of the tree. By the time I got my binoculars, it was gone.
Later I heard the same slow tapping from another direction. The same type of bird was slowly chipping away at the maple on the other side of the house. In the better light, I saw it was a Common Flicker carrying on in my trees. As the bird pecked, now and again it would spit out a wood chip.
Into afternoon, the flicker worked at that same hole until it was large enough for the bird to climb into. What I saw next was one of the most peculiar displays I’ve ever seen outside of animated cartoons. This character would climb into the hole, peck industriously for a time, turn around, poke its head out of the hole, and shake its head vigorously from side to side, spewing wood chips all the while.
The pile of chips grew into a high pile of free mulch.
When we checked again that evening, Flicker was looking at us from its hole.
So we all grieved when we found that the cat had killed a flicker. Yet the next day my son, Patrick, heard that familiar pecking sound. Out he went to investigate. When he saw no bird, Patrick knocked on the trunk of the tree. Out came the flicker’s head.
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Singing America’s Diversity
by Sandra Olivetti Martin
The great ships that climb the Bay sing wide-world songs in their passing. Whether I’m straining my eyes to give form to a ghost-ship on the horizon or holding my breath in a close mid-channel encounter, I feel a moment of wild surmise. Liberia, Norway, Panama, Saudi Arabia: their partner port could be anywhere. This Chesapeake of ours joins us to the world.
So on this, our celebration of Independence, Chesapeake moves me to sing of the diversity of our United States. The verses of my song may be different from yours, but we share the refrain: how closely this world is connected!
The name Mattingly dogs me through Southern Maryland: I read it on mailboxes and the side panels of pick-up trucks; in phone books and in graveyards. Every third person I meet is likely to be a Mattingly or related to one.
Me too. Long before I knew where Maryland was, I knew Mattinglys had come there on the Ark and the Dove. Half way across the country in the green, mineral-rich hills of Missouri, Mary Mattingly who is my sons’ Grandmother Knoll told me that story. The first American Mattinglys traveled the Chesapeake, then followed the wide river we call the Potomac, first to St. Clement’s Island, then up a protected river to St. Mary’s where they began their new world. And their disbursal.
I am not enough of a genealogist to trace the routes some restless Mattingly followed from Maryland to Missouri. More interesting to me is psychic landscape. When I read that the Mattingly line carries the rare genetic disease, I wonder what else comes with a name. Perhaps qualities of soul survive America’s melting pot with a flavor as distinctive as a turnip’s.
How many bloodlines intertwine to make each American stew? Analyzing them is like teasing out the colors in a game of pick-up sticks: to my sons’ English Mattinglys and Knolls I add Martins and Olivettis upfront with a tangle of names behind them. The names stick in memory; sometimes they are the only remnants of irrecoverable lives as conscious and insistent in their time as I in mine. For all they stand for, I lock these names in the private treasure chest of my memory.
So what are a pair of my secret family names Rue and Bunting doing on Maryland’s Eastern Shore?
Little Baby Bunting, Daddy’s gone a’hunting,
to catch a little rabbit skin, to wrap a Baby Bunting in.
I thought Rue Bunting was my father’s mother’s mother a very old lady when I was a tiny girl, a women preserved by my mother as great in stature. Instead I find a Chesapeake mystery to be, some leisure day, played like a game of pick-up sticks.
Not only English men and women with names like Rue and Bunting and Mattingly reached America’s shores by Chesapeake ways. Look and you will find many other bloodlines here as well. As a major port of immigration, Baltimore has received generations of new Americans. In Baltimore’s City Archives, you can trace wave after wave of a tide originating ever farther eastward. You can read their names on original ships’ manifests in their captains’ very hands.
Johan Paul and Elizabeth Bauer and their seven children came from Germany in 1933. Catherine Rafferty and her four children came from Ireland in 1846. Henry Collie came from Scotland in 1858. Domenici, Luminata, and Lattante Cincotta came from Italy in 1866. Franz and Francisca Pozylitsky came from Austria in 1877. Israel Cheifetz came from Russia in 1886. Franz Naja came from Poland in 1896.
Who can tell where and in whom their bloodlines have traveled? Perhaps in you or me.
More elusive are the names of Africans who traveled the Chesapeake as slaves, but many Marylanders carry their lineage.
Once any of us picks up a stick of our past, another is likely to follow. That’s why I am singing my song today.
As the Chesapeake twinkled outside my front windows this Saturday morning, a man phoned to say he was my cousin. Those are startling words to me, the only child of only surviving children. Yet Stanley “Sonny” Kelly, a lifelong New Yorker who is in fact the United Parcel carrier for the Empire State Building, has found me.
What a crooked path his discovery has followed! From New York, where his great-grandfather settled in 1898; to tiny villages in the Italian Alps; through Illinois, where my grandmother immigrated in 1920; to my Maryland kitchen. The “stick” we had each picked up was a name, Bergamino, remembered from across the ocean.
On July 4, as I watch fireworks explode over the beckoning Chesapeake, I will be thinking gratefully of all the lines that link each of us Americans to the wide world.
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