New Bay Times Interview: Roots of Louie
Louis Goldstein, Maryland's political institution, is a product of the American Dream.
by Sandra Martin
A man of boundless energy, 83-year old Louis Goldstein manages the fiscal health of Maryland as its comptroller, a job to which he's been elected since 1958. Louie, as everybody calls him, has been in politics since 1939 when he was elected by Calvert County to the House of Delegates.
Except for his World War II years in Guam and the Philippines, he’s lived all his life in Calvert County, not far from the Prince Frederick house where he was delivered by midwife on March 14, 1913. By that time, his immigrant family was amassing vast tracts of land that made them one of the richest families in Southern Maryland.
Today, as he continues his long career in politics, Louie Goldstein basks in honor and esteem. He is Calvert County’s favorite son and one of Maryland’s most powerful figures. Named in his honor are Maryland’s treasury building in Annapolis and Maryland Route 2/4, the fast, smooth four-lane county that bisects the county of his birth.
But Louie’s is not Calvert County’s typical success story. To a county where lineages date to the Arc and the Dove, Goodman “Gus” Goldstein came in 188? as a 14-year-old Jewish immigrant from Prussia, without friends or family and with only a few words of English. Louie’s mother, Bella, immigrated to Baltimore from Latvia. The Goldsteins’ story is the American dream come true.
Louie had planned to retire in 1998 but not because he is running out of steam. He wanted to spend more time with his wife of 49 years. But Hazel Horton Goldstein, 79, passed away in April after complications from a heart operation. Louie has decided since to run again.
On the September morning we talked with Louie Goldstein in his country office in Prince Frederick the old Martin Brothers store he dressed in a blue blazer with the comptroller’s emblem on breast pocket. He wore a pin that spells out the word “attitude” to remind him that it’s your attitude that gets problems solved.
Q At the Democratic Convention last month, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald called you the “Dean of Delegates.” You’ve been to every convention since 1940 and missed only the convention of 1944, when you served in the Marine Corps. You must know more about politics than anyone else around.
A Well, I know something about people.
Q. What makes a good politician?
A. Being of help to people, being kind, being nice, and carrying out the requirements of the office that you hold. Everybody has a problem. Some are easy to resolve; some are more difficult. [A good politician] takes time to listen to people and try to help them.
Q. Who's the best politician you've ever seen?
A. Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The times when he was serving as president were unusual times. He came into office in 1932 right at the height of the Great Depression when people were disheartened. The stock market crashed, people went broke, lost their fortunes, jumped out of buildings committing suicide. He created programs to refinance homes and farms, to get young guys off the streets and out of the back woods, to sustain families. He turned the country around.
I can remember that like it was yesterday. My father had this big country store right here where the county courthouse annex now stands, and I know how many people owed him money because of the food and credit he gave them. He put the books in the safe and said, ‘pay me when you can.’ He didn’t go out and get judgments against people and foreclose on them.
Then World War II came, and that was a difficult task.
Q. So you supported Roosevelt in that 1940 convention?
A. Yes ma’am, absolutely. And the reason we supported him was that we could see the war clouds already in Europe.
Q. Tell me more about your father, who you've said stood behind people in hard times.
A. My father, Gus Goldstein, landed in Baltimore at South Locust Point. Jacob Epstein, who was a merchant prince with a big wholesale corporation, he would meet these big fellows at the ship, and get them a peddler’s license and give them merchandise. He had all the territories mapped out and he sent my father down here to southern Maryland.
My father first came down here by steamboat to Dares Wharf, about four miles east of here. There he met a young fellow by the name of A.D. Anderson with an ox cart waiting for some freight to come in. Anderson took my father to his mother's home. She was a school teacher and taught my father how to read and write English in about a week. He was a fast learner.
He walked first; then he got himself a horse and wagon. They had to have fresh meats, and he knew how to butcher, so he went all through the country and furnished the meat for those ships. That was his first real money.
Q. And your mother?
A. My mother’s name was Belle Butcher. She came from Latvia. My mother worked in the store, too. She liked to meet people and would do all the buying of the hats and clothes. She involved herself.
My father met her in Baltimore when he went up on a buying trip. Back in those days, the way you got to Baltimore, you went to Dares Wharf or to Holland Point and got on a boat. The steamboat would stop at all these different wharves. That steamboat would go right on up the Patuxent River, then turn around and go back and pick up another load of tobacco or crops.
Q. Did your father’s luck continue?
A. He came to the country seat right here at Prince Frederick and had a store, right by the house where I was born. Then on the market came the biggest store in the county. After that, he started buying land. He bought poor land, but he knew how to make it right with horses, cows, animals to produce the manure to put the land back in good condition. He started raising tobacco, corn, crops.
My father also had the livery stable. He had horses and carriages to meet these drummers who would come in on the steamboat and carry all their merchandise around to country stores. He had the mail contract and carried the mail up to Owings, to meet the train.
Q. How was your father an inspiration in your life?
A. He taught me how to work hard and meet people. I started working in that country store when I was 11 years old. I worked in the barn, where I received the merchandise. Then he taught me how to come in the store and display the merchandise. And he taught me how to meet the customers: how to be kind and to remember people's names and where they were from.
Q. From carrying everything he owned, your father seems to have owned most of the county.
A. Yes ma’am. Now you see the nuclear power plant down here. My mother and he farmed that land, 900 acres down there. He had a saw mill there and sawed all the timber to build the barns. Had a lot of people working there. That was the biggest farm, but there were others. Several thousand acres of land.
Q. Have you ever had second thoughts about nuclear power in the county?
A. I've been in many parts of the world, and if it weren't for nuclear power, you wouldn't been able to meet demands for electricity we have today.
In the age of technology, you need to have electricity. It’s a great thing to have modern electricity. I can remember when 90 percent of Calvert County didn't have electricity, didn't have running water and women had to get over that big old scrubbing board.
We were the first house in this county to have electricity. In my lifetime, I've driven a horse and buggy and a team of oxen. I knew how to row a boat before outboard motors. I've had all these experiences, so when people talk about the good old days, I say they might have been good for a few people but these days are better than the good old days.
Q. How is Southern Maryland going to be able to handle all the development? Do you think we will have to restrict the amount of land houses are built on, ending this long tradition of being able to buy as much land as you wanted?
A. We'll be able to handle it. You and I know, the world in which we were born is not the world we live in. Life is a series of adjustments. That's why I wear this little pin, ‘attitude.’ You've got to have the right attitude. Talk things out, see what you can do and you can't do.
Q. As a member of Board of Public Works, with Gov. Parris Glendening and State Treasurer Richard Dixon, you’re inspecting Franklin Point, in Shady Side. Are you aware of the organized protest of citizens over the proposed Baldwin's Choice development, the massive subdivision along the Bay in Southern Anne Arundel County.
A. It’s very controversial. That’s why it’s coming before the Board of Public Works. The state treasurer, myself and the governor’s representative are going on the property, to touch it feel it, see it before we make our decision. [Editor's note. Goldstein later toured the property.] You can't sit in Annapolis and get the real feel of a situation. But keep in mind that there’s nothing perfect in America, and especially in Maryland.
Q. What do you count as the greatest achievements in your longest career?
A. I think having comptroller’s offices around the state and systems installed in those office to have more efficient operations for the tax-paying public. That and our great progress in health and education. We have community colleges, state colleges and universities and private colleges and universities and to me that’s a great accomplishment. And getting schools built. I go to different schools all the time and talk to the kids and ask questions. The kids are smart and glad to see you. I believe it takes a village to raise a child.
Q. Tell us about your family.
A. We have three children. Philip, who lives at Chesapeake Beach and is a member of the city council up there, shares this office. Louisa is general counsel at BWI airport, and my daughter Margaret is on the staff of a senator from Minnesota.
Q. You’ve told me you grew up with women working alongside men.
A. I've never had any problem with women working alongside men and with men. I'm a great believer in the feminine side of life to be involved, cause they can do anything men can do and more.
Q. And you married a wife who proved that?
A. My wife, Hazel, was the first woman lawyer in this county. She came from Newport Tenn., and was a member of Tennessee, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. bars. She practiced from 1947 to 1980. She was a partner in every aspect of my life, a smart lady with a good sound mind and she could understand people.
Q. How did you meet your wife?
A. I met her in legislature and first I met her on telephone. She practiced law with a senator from Prince George’s County who wanted to be president of the Maryland senate. ‘I’m calling,’ she said, ‘to see if you will support him.’
‘Yes, I’d be happy to. We served in House of Delegates together after the Marine Corps and he’s an able man, a good speaker and I’m looking forward to meeting you.’
I didn't have a date with Hazel until April, 1947 when she called me and said, ‘I need your help again.’ [Louie helped her and they had their first date in Washington.]
There she was all dressed in a white sharkskin suit and a beautiful orchid, and I said, ‘Don’t you look pretty.’ After the swearing-in, I said, ‘Let’s go to lunch.’ I took her to the Mayflower and had a real nice lunch. Then I said, ‘Today’s pretty well shot. Why don’t we ride on down home?’ We drove down to Solomons Island and she said ‘I really like it down here.’ We started courting in July and got married on Nov. 22, 1947.
Q. What's the secret of your energy?
A I always tell people they have to have plenty of home loving and plenty of home cooking. Hug your wife in the morning and hug her at night.
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Dock of the Bay
Sauerbrey Spars in South County
Marylanders don't typically get worked up about presidential politics unless their paychecks depend on it. Democrats almost always win in Maryland, an outcome even Republican strategists predict again this year.
With the White House contest boring once more, Southern Anne Arundel residents enjoyed a preview of the fiery gubernatorial contest promised two years hence when Republican Ellen Sauerbrey journeyed to Herrington Harbour North in Tracey's Landing this week.
The 200 people who paid $25 each heard an unrepentant Sauerbrey strike the conservative, anti-government theme that nearly propelled her to an upset victory over Parris Glendening in 1994.
"We don't hear about regulatory reform and tax relief. We hear about stadiums," Sauerbrey said, speaking of Glendening's commitment to football stadiums in Maryland.
Sauerbrey's message appealed to the small-business owners in her crowd, people who provide much of the economic vitality in Southern Anne Arundel. Her visit was coordinated by Claire Mallicote, a small businesswoman herself and owner of MALI Discount Inc. in Deale.
Barbara Sturgell, proprietor of Happy Harbor in Deale, catered much of the food.
Mallicote expressed optimism about Sauerbrey's chances. "I personally think we need to send a letter of thanks to Parris Glendening," she observed, referring to the rash of political problems that has afflicted Glendening.
Inside a white tent festooned with helium-filled, black and yellow balloons, Sauerbrey listened as well as talked. Several small-business owners spoke of their burdens from taxes and workers’ compensation rules. Restaurateur Elaine Reagan asked for Sauerbrey's aid changing laws that restrict advertising signs. Sauerbrey said she would "catalogue" the inquiry.
At the end, Sauerbrey said that she wanted to return ethical government to Maryland, a slap at Glendening that she expanded during an interview later with New Bay Times~Weekly.
"Clearly, this governor has put the state of Maryland up for sale to raise campaign funds," she said in the interview.
Sauerbrey will need at least $3 million herself to challenge Glendening next time, she said and more if she gets a stiff primary challenger
Two years ago, Sauerbrey aligned herself with House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., before Gingrich and his hard-charging troops found themselves hobbled by negative ratings.
Sauerbrey says that Gingrich stumbled not because of his staunch conservative beliefs but because the Republican Congress didn't follow through with its promises. She sees no need to moderate her own conservatism, as some in her party have recommended, she said.
"People who are looking for someone to run against me in the Republican primary are always quoted as saying 'she's too conservative'," Sauerbrey said. "The moderates who have been running over the years get 35 to 40 percent of the vote. I ran as a conservative; I didn't mince any words and I got 50 percent of the vote."
Sauerbrey, who is not known as an environmental advocate, said she has set up a task force to help her formulate positions for the next campaign. She may call for private ownership of oystering areas as one solution.
"People take care of what they own," she said.
Anne Arundel Farmers’ Markets Thrive Like Weeds
NBT reported last week on the crisis in Calvert County’s farm markets.
1996 has been a success story for Anne Arundel's farmers’ markets. All three locations Piney Orchard, Jones Station Road and Riva Road have loyal followers.
"You know it's a great place to shop before you even see the goods. It takes half an hour to find a parking space," says one customer of the busy Riva Road Market where 1500 customers will jockey for Saturday space.
In business since 1981 and run by a non-profit market board, the Riva Road Market has 38 vendors from Anne Arundel County. The market runs from April to December, ending with a Christmas market offering wreaths, crafts, gingerbread houses and other seasonal goods.
Bill Morris, market master, gives three reasons for the market's success: knowledgeable growers, honesty and local-grown produce.
Variety makes a good fourth. The farmers at Riva Road produce some unusual crops such as cranberries and Damson plums along with traditional garden fare. Fall brings its own opportunities to market: "Broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are good fall crops," Morris says.
In addition bringing diverse goods to consumers, Joseph Smith, market master of Jones Station Farmers' Market, says that farmers’ markets strengthen communities. "What I see is strong community support. Our farmers' market takes the place of an old-time social. People who work all week and don't see their neighbors use market time to visit and socialize. No matter how good the product or location, it takes community support for success. It's the community that makes or breaks a market."
The state-sponsored Jones Station Market is a producer's-only market: you must grow or make it to sell it. Three of the 17 vendors come to the Annapolis area from the Eastern Shore, where crops are two to three weeks ahead of ours. This allows for a longer sales season. Strawberries, for example, are sold for six weeks instead of three.
"The farmers have become like family to each other. They are competitive with each other but in a friendly way. This has added to the market's success also," says Smith.
A morning at Jones Station will fill up your car, depending on season, with peaches, string beans, tomatoes, pies and cheese. Cut flowers and potted seasonal plants are also for sale.
The baby of the Anne Arundel market family opens each Wednesday at the Piney Orchard Community Center in Odenton. Another producer-only farmer's market, it had five vendors this season. Surrounded by a new apartment complex and close to Fort Meade, the market is growing by leaps and bounds.
Each of Anne Arundel's markets thrive on good location, dedicated farmers and their supportive communities. Buying local, from farmers who are nearly neighbors, has caught on in suburban Anne Arundel County in a way rural Calvert County is still waiting for.
Where Will Odenton Town Center Be Built?
Not On Our Wetlands, Enviros Say
Odenton’s controversial Town Center plan is likely to heat up Anne Arundel County public meetings October 1 and 2.
“It’s set up as a touchy-feely thing to get the public to go along with the County,” Steve Carr, Severn River Association president, told New Bay Times. “I don’t know that there’s a whole lot to be gained by going down there. We’ve made our position abundantly clear. There is no room for compromise on this issue.” Severn River Association, Carr says, will likely not attend the meetings.
Odenton has been part of Anne Arundel County’s targeted growth area since 1968. Served by MARC rail and Amtrak trains, four highways and Routes 295 and 97, Odenton is a center of planned transportation and now the center of controversy.
Severn River Association and environmental groups like the Sierra Club have protested the destruction of up to 65 acres of forested wetlands for the yet-to-be-developed Town Center. Severn River Association suggests that the wetlands could be saved if the County builds on a nearby second-choice site on the MARC rail line at Piney Orchard. They say that mitigated wetlands cannot replace wetlands lost at the Severn River’s headwaters.
Besides the Odenton Town Center, the County promises questions and answers on other public projects and private developments now under construction in the Odenton area: the extension of Town Center Boulevard and Morgan Road; the expansion of Severn/Danza Park and the West County and South Shore Trails; and Tipton Airport.
The 30-minute small group briefings start throughout each forum, from 4:30 to 8:30pm at Arundel High School, 1001 Annapolis Road, Gambrills. Call Judy Vollmar at the county’s Public Works Department for information and comments: 410/222-7582.
Way Downstream ...
In California, the great green hope is turning out to be a dud. Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader's support in California has plummeted from 10 percent to three percent, close to his two percent backing nationally. Nader is spending no money on his campaign and not much more effort ...
Traverse City, Mich. Sheriff Harold Barr had some help in his drive to defeat a ballot initiative to decriminalize marijuana possession in the town: He made jail inmates pass out flyers. The state attorney general said Barr may have violated the law by deploying inmates. (The initiative lost last month.) ...
Also in Michigan, descendants of famed environmentalist Aldo Leopold are creating the world's first non-polluting brewery. Scott and Todd Leopold, great-nephews of Aldo, plan to build their brewery in Ann Arbor from lumber from forests not clear cut. In a restaurant next door, they'll serve organic beer and mushrooms grown from brewery wastes ...
In Bangkok, Thailand, many people are angry that the city has banned their transportation elephants. The city said that the animals are making a mess everywhere and "are dangerous for pedestrians" ...
Our Creature Feature this week comes to Kenya, where wildlife photographer Peter Beard was seriously injured this month by an elephant. He was on a picture-taking safari when he was trampled and gored.
Beard said from bed that he hurt, but no so badly as when he got roughed up by two bouncers in 1995 at a New York City club. "That was in the middle of a real jungle," Beard said.
But if these people are right, we would admonish our elected officials not to do what Agnew did. And in this election season we would add our hope that our candidates don't say the things Agnew said.
We recall a curious twist from the Agnew years.
Though the former governor and vice president paid heavy fines after his nolo contendere plea, he seemed to be going to get to keep the bribes.
A group of law students at George Washington University met with then-Gov. Marvin Mandel to ask why Agnew shouldn't be forced to give the state back hundreds of thousands of dollars. Mandel, a Democrat, was gracious to the Republican Agnew, saying the state should leave him alone.
Little did we know that Mandel soon would be held accountable for his own betrayal of the public trust. The students persevered, forcing Agnew to give Maryland taxpayers $248,000.
Corruption by powerful Marylanders is bad. But with Agnew, we worry that his harsh political rhetoric may turn out to leave a more damaging legacy than the kickbacks.
Agnew emerged as one of Washington's cultural warriors, the prototype of the mean-spirited politician.
In Agnew's case, reporters, academics and opponents of the Vietnam War were the enemy. Agnew didn't just disagree with them. He attacked their motives and their patriotism. He accused them of being un-American conspirators.
We worry that too many of our politicians today use these take-no-prisoners methods. Such name-calling turns voters off while diminishing the effectiveness of those we hire to represent us.
We worry that Anne Arundel County Executive John Gary is sounding too much like Agnew. His outbursts at teachers, police and perceived adversaries make him less valuable as Anne Arundel's CEO.
This campaign season is our time to size up candidates. Voters we talk to Agnew's defenders among them would prefer our measurements were taken without the slashing techniques Spiro Agnew perfected. So would we.
I do enjoy your paper! Your story on Deale (Sept. 1925) brought back a lot of memories for me. I’ve been coming to Deale for 70 years and it’s all so true.
I’m 71 and I remember coming down with my father from Washington. All the roads were gravel, and they’d get out with oil cans to oil them. He never left home without a 2x4 in case he got stuck in the mud.
I live in Mason’s Beach across from the old Mason homestead where the owner used to allow duck hunters to come down and throw up their tents on the property. My husband and I had a summer home here, and it was wonderful for the kids then. They’d walk the water for softened crabs, then sell them to local restaurants to earn their spending money. After my husband passed on, I stayed down here year ‘round.
So I wanted you to know how much I enjoyed your story.
Carol Glover’s article on land trusts was inspiring. Keep up the excellent writing on the environment. It has a positive impact. Many people mentioned the article to me. New Bay Times obviously has a diverse and wide readership.
In days of olde, when newspapers were bold, I worked in a smoky newsroom running copy. Smeary, penciled-up copy got stuffed into pneumatic tubes and sent downstairs to the composing room. Trays of lead type were clapped onto the presses, which would shake and roar like sullen infantry.
Aye, they were goode times. The theatre critic reviewed plays and films with high purpose, appearing in suit and topcoat, and the music critic pale, sniffling always with a weak cold wore a crisp tux to the symphony. There was a copy desk, a nicked, burned horseshoe that gathered cynical copyeditors around their silent elder, hunched over the harsh proofs in sleeve-garters and eyeshade.
No one wanted to cover Woodstock, so I did.
You feel like you’re covering Woodstock, NBT. In your pages I sense a happy, wild-haired newness. Fie on Gannett! A moldering pox on Newhouse! You run with the wench and the fishmonger and the jousting knight, and are ennobled by your company.
Editor’s note: We couldn’t be more pleased to award Peter Chapman a pair of tickets to the Renaissance Festival. Call for instructions on how you, too, can be NBT’s guest at the Festival.
In last week’s lead story, one of Deale’s four creeks was misidentified. Carr’s Creek belongs in Deale, while Carr Creek flows by the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Annapolis.