Dock of the Bay
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Vol. 9, No. 40
October 4 - 10, 2001
     
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Bay Country’s Calendar Returns to Normal

Canceled: “The Navy Way” Day, a chance for civilians to discover Navy and Marine Corps history, culture and weaponry as well as a chance to ‘meet’ historical figures such as John Paul Jones, right.
Photograph courtesy of U.S. Naval Academy Visitor Center

This weekend’s United States Sailboat Show and next’s U.S. Powerboat Show will drop anchor in Annapolis as scheduled. The only thing in question is the attitude of show-goers. Will you buy a boat for the economy? Will the nearly month-old tragedy fade from mind as you admire the pretty boats?

Like most events following September 11’s storm, the boat shows have steamed ahead through the chop of uncertainty, anger, fear and remorse. Organizers say they’ve held the course to raise spirits and answer President George W. Bush’s call for a “return to normalcy.”

The show went on at Colonial Players, Chesapeake Music Hall, Bowie Community Theatre and Pasadena Theatre Company. County fairs kept the course with tractor pulls and fair queens in both Calvert (26th-30th) and Anne Arundel (12th-16th).

Events were cancelled mostly for security, as at the Naval Academy. Annapolis’ Hospice Cup XX (15th) was the exception, called off at the last moment in sympathy for the victims. Even without regatta and shore party, sponsorships raised $400,000 — about the same as last year’s total — for a coalition of area hospices.

By now, the scribble of last-minute changes to the social calendar is straightening out. Cancellations have subsided, tweaks have been decided and new events have risen up to remember victims, honor heroes and bridge the gap of understanding.

Annapolis
The United States Naval Academy’s step up to high alert meant canceling “The Navy Way” Day (29th), partly because of some participating soldiers’ activation, and an Academy Band concert (28th); the fate for the rest of the band’s season has not been decided. Navy football resumed its season in a game against Boston College (22nd) following the NCAA’s self-imposed bye week, but the Mids returned to a heavily guarded stadium with armed soldiers posted at the scoreboards. That same week, the Naval Academy reopened to visitors, allowed on the Yard from 9am to 5pm and for public events, such as the Lifehouse concert (29th), with a picture ID. (For a detailed list of revised Academy access rules, log on to www.usna.edu.)

The city itself proved resilient and resolute, going ahead with big events just four days after the tragedy. Charles Carroll House’s Second Annual Irish Heritage Festival (15th) drew a strong turnout to mark the Declaration of Independence signer’s 264th birthday; September 11 was remembered by commemorative speeches and prayer. Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts forged ahead with its Arts Alive 3 gala fund-raiser (15th) as a respite from harsh reality. The next week, Eastport Yacht Club hosted its first annual Almost Around the World Dinghy Race and Scavenger Hunt (22nd) in an effort to raise spirits; 11 dinghies ranging eight to 17 feet long converged on downtown Annapolis, festooned with patriotic colors and costumed crews.

Southern Anne Arundel
South County’s events saw lighter turnouts with heavier charity. London Town’s Samplers Old and New needlework show stayed the course (13th-16th), though 30 people from Arlington missed a public tea during the event because the Pentagon commandeered their buses. The Deale Bluegrass Festival and South County Car Show (15th) spontaneously raised $1,200 for New York’s firefighters and police. This year’s Taste of Southern Maryland (16th) saw fewer food vendors but still served up treats for 1,800 people and raised $1,000 for New York City firemen and police.

Northern Anne Arundel
In North County, a flurry of new security worries contributed to canceling this year’s Maryland Transportation Authority Police Plane Pull at Baltimore Washington International Airport (29th). There are plans to resume the event next year. Army base Fort Meade, home to military intelligence and the National Security Agency, made it a point to accommodate Anne Arundel County Red Cross’ Sixth Annual Disaster Relief Golf Tournament on its links as planned Oct. 2.

Calvert County
Calvert is not without its own security worries, being the home of two fission reactors and a spent fuel storage facility at Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant. An open house (20th) was postponed as the plant ramped up already heavy security and scrambled to reschedule elements of its steam generator replacement project in the wake of September 11. No new open house date has been announced. In Prince Frederick, the Southern Maryland Islamic Center reached out to the community in a special interfaith ceremony (20th), organized soon after the attacks as a show of brotherhood. Jefferson Patterson Park quickly altered the course of its War of 1812 living history weekend (29th–30th), canceling skirmishes and weapons demos as relief from violence.

Still to Come
October 4: The Naval Academy Women’s Club’s 27th Annual Spirit of Christmas Arts & Crafts Show was moved from the Academy’s Halsey Field House to Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium for security.

October 7: Fort McHenry will honor the heroes and victims of Pearl Harbor and the terrorist attack of September 11 in a recently announced recognition service.

October 8: Annapolis’ mayoral and aldermanic candidates pay tribute to local firefighters and police officers involved in the New York and Pentagon tragedy in a ceremony at Truxtun Park.

Weekends through October 21: The Maryland Renaissance Festival continues full steam ahead.

October 27: Anne Arundel Community College Foundation’s formal Gala 2001 scholarship fund-raiser has moved from BWI’s international terminal to the community college’s Arnold campus.

October 27: Star-Spangled Banner Flag House’s Baltimore Bash was rescheduled from September 15.

November 3: Annapolis’ trans-harbor tug of war. Maritime Republic of Eastport has pledged its funds raised as “foreign aid” to benefit attack victims’ families.

— Mark Burns



Everyday Heroes: Richard Penfield, By Whom the Bell Tolls

Ringing the bell, Richard Penfield.
photo by Mark Burns

Did you hear bells in your neck of Chesapeake Country just past noon on Friday, September 14, the National Day of Prayer? How their somber message pealed up and down the Bay, joining communities across the rest of the country to remember the terrorist victims.

The bells in North Beach might not have rung out on that historic day without local florist Richard Penfield.

Penfield has always loved bells. Growing up in Connecticut, he rang the bell at his local Methodist church from age 10 until he joined the Navy at age 18. Nowadays, as the bell of North Beach’s little Union Church peals at noon each Sunday, Penfield pauses in his garden shop to revel in their sonorous tones. Union is the only town church with a bell.

Gov. Parris Glendening had urged that all Maryland bells be rung Friday after the prayer service. But the Rev. Gary Fruik, Union’s pastor, was locked down in his day job at an area military base.

In the silence of Penfield’s shop — nearly deserted like other stores in the days after the air strikes — he considered the situation. The Union bell must ring. He, as a former bell-ringer, though out of practice, could make it happen. Even if his shop got any orders, he couldn’t fill them. Flowers arrive on airplanes and none, commercially, were running. So Penfield volunteered for bell duty. Rev. Fruik was delighted.

Penfield set an alarm for 11:55 to make sure he wouldn’t forget to walk down to the church on time. Parking his coffee on a pew, he proudly pulled the rope. “I was weeping as I rang each stroke,” he explained. So too was the lone, and quite surprised, parishioner who had been praying when the bells tolled.

“It was one of the most meaningful events of my life,” Penfield reflects. “There were people looking out from the senior housing across the street. I know the mayor and everyone in Town Hall were praying.”

And so it was that Richard the Florist became Richard the Bell-Ringer on that historic day, and North Beach had bells. That day, his Yellow Page ad noting “sympathy arrangements” as one of his florist services took on special meaning.

— Patricia Kirby



For 21st Century London Town, It’s Back to 1690

What can you do with close to $3 million and an old sewage plant? Just ask Greg Stiverson. The director of Historic London Town and Gardens, the historic port town on the South River at modern-day Edgewater, is about to drop a museum into a concrete hole in the ground that used to be part of a wastewater treatment plant.

Building the museum above ground might cover up the abundance of artifacts buried in the soil of the colonial town, which is being excavated and authentically rebuilt by volunteers and professionals.

Last year, $2.5 million to build the museum and a visitor center came to London Town — once an important transportation hub — from an otherwise unlikely source: the Transportation Enhancement Program of the State Highway Administration. This year, they’ve come through with $200,000 to build and install the exhibits in the museum. The General Assembly matched that grant with a bond bill for another $200,000.

Thus granted, London Town is on the verge of a major growth spurt, and employees are working hard on both the ideological and physical aspects of the town.

New educational director Mary Nelson is heading a committee to develop the stories that all visitors to London Town — whether students on school trips, families, or people renting the gardens for weddings or other events — will get to know.

“Right now,” said Stiverson, “people come here for all different purposes, which is great. But everyone who steps on these grounds should get the same message, that they are at a rich place with a great history.”

To that end, exhibit designers are already hatching ideas for the museum, for which construction will commence in March of 2002.

For other parts of the town, the construction is the history lesson. Soon, visitors will be able to watch the rebuilding of the Lord Mayor’s Tenement, once the home of one of the richest men in town, David Mackelfresh.

“We want it to be so authentic that if a person from 1690 walked in, they’d say, ‘hey — this is how we build buildings,’” said Stiverson.

This is a task not as simple as it may sound. Archaeologists have spent over a year scouring the site for artifacts that give details about the house.

Now, a housewright — a builder expert in colonial construction techniques — is gathering authentic materials, such as live oak, to rebuild the 20-by-20-foot structure in exactly the way a colonist would have built it.

“It’s not easy to find all these things,” said Stiverson. “Some of these materials are quite rare now.” By 2007, Stiverson hopes to have fully rebuilt the town. Archaeologists are now digging up three other building sites.

Visit now while the town is in progress, says Stiverson. Some professionals and volunteers will be in character as colonial townspeople building other structures like the chicken house and the woodshed in the yard of Mackelfresh’s house; others will give furniture-building and hearth-cooking demonstrations. New educator Nelson is recruiting and training volunteers who will travel in time to educate and entertain visitors.

Walking around the town will take you back to colonial times; walking around the museum will give you a bird’s-eye view, telling the larger story of this typical tobacco port town.

“What makes London Town different from other historical places, such as St. Mary’s City, Annapolis or Williamsburg, is that those are all centers of government,” said Stiverson. “London Town was a center of commerce and transportation, an ordinary town full of ordinary citizens. That’s the story the exhibits in the museum will tell.”

Someday, Stiverson hopes, visitors to the town will submerge themselves in history. After a walk around the underground museum, he pictures colonial-style sleep-overs in the reconstructed houses, where young visitors might experience Stiverson’s idea of fun.

“No lights, no plumbing, cracks in the walls that wind whistles through, shutters instead of glass over the windows,” he says. “It would be such a great opportunity.”

— Rachel Presa


Annapolis Language Bank Wants You —
to Make a Deposit

A decade ago, a Polish seaman with an Asian crew traveled on the Bay — until excruciating pains in his side caused him to cry for help. But his cries fell upon heedless ears, as neither he nor his crew spoke a word of English.

He was saved when the Language Bank produced a Polish and English-speaker who met the man at the Medi-Vac to discover he had a burst appendix.

“I feel that the Language Bank helped save this man’s life,” says Thomas Roskelly, spokesman for the city of Annapolis. Together with the Annapolis and Anne Arundel County Conference and Visitors Bureau, the city Office of Public Information established the Language Bank in 1986 to help foreign visitors find the right words.

“The idea began when some French tourists simply wanted to cash traveler’s checks and could not find someone to direct them in French,” explains Roskelly.

Initially, the Bank’s purpose was to create a hospitable, helpful place for those not fluent in English. It soon developed into a resource for hospitals, police and fire departments and the state of Maryland.

Roskelly remembers how, through a contact in the Language Bank, a Chinese group visiting Annapolis to observe municipal government was able to gain local knowledge and facts from a Chinese restaurant owner on West Street, giving the group’s interpreter a break. “It was fascinating. These people were really getting first-hand knowledge about our government and the area in their native language,” recalls Roskelly. “Of course I had no idea what anybody was saying, but it worked out beautifully.”

Hundreds of volunteers have deposited their names in the Bank, available on the city’s website. With a listing of 36 languages, ranging from American Sign Language to Finnish to Vietnamese, visitors can find speakers who supply a range of services from translating documents to mentoring, tutoring and verbal interpretation.

Knowing a foreign language is a skill. Using it to help others is putting your skill to good use. 410/263-1183. info@ci.annapolis.md.us.

— Amanda Lofton


Way Downstream …

In Maryland and Virginia, more than 1,700 volunteers will be traipsing through forests on Oct. 20 on a mission to protect the Bay: They will be collecting acorns destined to be planted as seedlings along rivers. “It’s insane; it’s wonderful, Alison McKechie, of the Potomac Conservancy, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “It’s a perfect opportunity to get all kinds of people to help promote the cause of conservation.” …

In Maryland, by now you’ve heard of recent spottings in the Bay of Chessie, the manatee that gained fame for his Chesapeake wanderings seven years ago. Enter Bay Weekly’s Return of Chessie Contest, in which we are offering prizes for confirmed sitings and publication of any photos of our beloved visitor …

Our Creature Feature is a disturbing tale from Peru, where the annual Saint Efigenia festival in the town of La Quebrada served a strange dish last weekend to people gathering for an annual festival of music and dance. The dish is called feline fricassee, and yes, it is served up to people the locals refer to as “cat-eaters.”

A spokesman said that cat-eating was part of an Afro-Peruvian custom that dates back many years. “We’ve broken the silence,” he said, adding that organizers were dispatched in the days before the event to seek out and capture about 100 unlucky felines. Tradition or not, some locals are turned off by the revival of the custom. “You mention the word ‘cat’ and suddenly no one’s hungry,” one woman said.


Copyright 2001
Bay Weekly