Dock of the Bay

 Vol. 10, No. 20

May 16-22, 2002

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On the Road: The Oranging of Maryland

If you think you’ve been seeing more orange in Maryland license plates, you’re right.

Though you might have to tailgate to discover they’re a Maryland tag — let alone to read their slogan — the plates with the folksy farm art illustration and the phrase “Our Farms — Our Future,” have been going places in the nine months since they hit the road.

Close to 40,000 Ag Tags, as they are called, have been registered, according to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration. This is music to the ears of the Maryland Agriculture Education Foundation, whose goal is to improve awareness about Maryland’s agricultural heritage through educational programs.

The 37,736 Ag Tags sold as of April 27 mean close to half a million dollars for the Maryland Agriculture Educational Foundation, which receives $10 for every tag sold.

But money was not the only incentive behind the new plate.

“Our goal was to design a tag that would be attractive to anyone, not just the agriculture community,” said Laurie Adelhardt, who did the design. “It’s nice that the Foundation is making money, but there’s another element. We’re thrilled about the publicity that has gotten people thinking about agriculture.”

A plate celebrating Maryland’s agricultural economy took teamwork by the Foundation, the Farm Bureau, farm organizations and the motor vehicle department. After the legislation was passed, the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration approved the idea.

The next step was to design the plate, and that job fell into Adelhardt’s hands. Adelhardt, who works part-time for the Foundation, was on the committee responsible for choosing a design for the tags.

“When we weren’t seeing the designs we wanted,” Adelhardt said, “I said let me take a stab.”

The plates, like the Chesapeake Commemorative plate that profits the Chesapeake Bay Trust, are $20 more than the regular plates. The unique bright orange color that may have caught your attention on the roads is one reason that the plates are becoming so popular.

“Some people who don’t even live near farms are getting them because they like the brightness of the tag. We’ve gotten very positive feedback,” the Foundation’s Bonnie Werner said.

The new color and new slogan could be appreciated even more because of the dullness of Maryland’s standard license plates.

Historically, Maryland plates have not had a slogan or symbol. According to Al Virta, who in 2000 compiled a web site of Maryland license plates dating back to 1952, they all simply said “Expires March 31.”

“Long lines that procrastinators formed in front of state offices every March 31 became as much a Maryland tradition as crabcakes or the Preakness stakes,” Virta reports on his web site,

Dozens of variations on the standard white plate are sponsored by interest groups. Members of everything from your local fire department to the Professional Disc Golf Association have specialized plates. Organizations order these from the state, charging whatever their members will pay in addtion to the $25 surcharge on the basic license fee.

Individual drivers with a point to make can add their own catchy combination of letters and numbers to Maryland’s plain white plate for $25 extra a year. Some 74,000 cars sport Maryland vanity plates.

Finally in 1990, Maryland designed a picturesque license plate. These “Treasure the Chesapeake” tags — which feature the blue heron, green cattails and a light blue Bay haze — not only look good but also do good. From those plates, which now appear on more than 800,000 Maryland vehicles, the Chesapeake Bay Trust has reaped some $10.4 million to invest back in the efforts of citizens and governments to repair Bay.

Just as saving the Bay has been Maryland’s first environmental priority since the mid-1980s, Treasure the Bay was its first commemorative plate. Now, as sprawl feeds its big appetite on Maryland farmland, the miles we drive can go a little distance to keeping farms in our future.

—Amy Mulligan

From Old Robes Are Angels Made

If you drove through Friendship around Christmas, you probably saw Mary and Joseph bent over a manger and surrounded by shepherds and wise men, all in brilliant, shimmering gowns. Five hundred motorists pulled over last year to admire the living nativity produced by Friendship Community Baptist Church on the corner of Route 2 and Jewell Road.

That success has encouraged the congregation to try an Easter scene next year in addition to the nativity. If you drive through Friendship next April, you might see an empty tomb surrounded by angels.

The costumes for the nativity were made from old choir robes; now the church needs more robes for the Easter scene. If you have any to donate, call Joyce Long at 301/261-9427 or Friendship Community Baptist Church at 410/741-5715.

— Brent Seabrook

South County Senior Center ladies all dressed up for a Victorian Tea paarty in honor of Mother’s Day.
photo by Denise Miller, South County Senior Center Office Manager
Looking Back: For Mother’s Day, Tea and Generations

The ladies who took Afternoon Tea in honor of Mother’s Day at the South County Senior Center in Edgewater not only “dressed to the nines,” as their mothers would have said. Some even brought their mothers. Among them, 90-plus-year-old Adell Walker — dressed in a salmon silk dress and matching straw hat — smiled sweetly as she was transported from her wheelchair back in time.

Large picture hats with flowers, dainty white gloves retrieved from old chests and seldom-opened dresser drawers and lots of pearls adorned the generations of ladies. White kid gloves, little organzas with ruffled cuffs and even white net gloves were brought out for the special occasion.

The only thing odd was that they brought their own teacups and saucers to join the cheery tablecloths, napkins, and plates ready for the little sandwiches and tea cakes.

But before the plates were filled, Phyllis Suhr, an expert on the art and customs of tea serving, explained the manners and mores of Victorian Tea.

Do you know which country is the top tea consumer?

Can you name two recent developments in tea drinking?

Ladies who knew the answers were awarded little prizes.

Afternoon Tea, Suhr explained, is not so demanding as High Tea. Afternoon Tea consists of three courses: little sandwiches of egg salad, water cress, cucumber or other light filling, always with crusts removed; scones or other small pastry and dessert cake cut into bite-sized pieces or petite-fours. High Tea, usually served later in the day, includes four hardier courses with beef or another filling protein.

Proper Afternoon Tea is poured from a silver tea service, an honor usually falling to the hostess or to the guest of honor. Even the very wealthy did not allow their servants to pour for their guests.

Afternoon Teas, revived in the 1980s, are gaining popularity in high-toned hotels and some odder venues, as Bertha’s Mussels in Fells Point. Bertha, it seems, is a Brit. You’re also reading this just in time to reserve your place for tea at 2pm May 23 at Historic London Town in the Glass Pavilion overlooking the South River. You won’t need to bring your own teacup, but you will need to call and pay ahead: 410/222-1919.

And now, tea answers: Turkey is the biggest tea consumer, but their tea is thick and not what Americans are accustomed to. Recent developments are tea bags and iced tea.

—Flo Ormond

The day was full of fun for little bikers Ciara Hohman, 5, and Dylan Saxton, 3.
photo by Maggie Thomas
In North Beach, Springfest Is Hog Heaven

The Calvert County town of North Beach brags that it’s cleaned up its future without abandoning its past.

So it was by invitation that with the coming of May a legion of its past 2,500 strong roared into town to mingle with thousands more reveling in the warm sun and blue sky ordered special for the town’s annual Springfest Festival.

“There has always been a tradition of motorcycles in North Beach,” said Mayor Mark Frazer. “We’re not embarrassed by it and will not ignore it. That segment is entitled to a day in the town.”

So it was that two years ago Frazer and town councilman Craig Collins — both dedicated weekend bikers — decided to honor North Beach’s biker past.

Thus, the Blessing of the Bikes was born.

“We started a new tradition,” Frazer said. “And we’re happy with the way things have turned out.
We’ve never had a problem.”

More than 2,500 bikers participated in the Blessing of the Bikes during North Beach’s annual Springfest Festival. Father David Russell and the Rev. Gary Fruik enjoy the blessings of sun and friendship with local developer Carl Raulin.
photo by Maggie Thomas
To be blessed, bikers came from nearby and far away. All was peaceful throughout the day, in spite of a recent rivalry between two bike clubs.

“Bless this bike and its riders, Father, for the coming year,” intoned the Rev. David Russell, from St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in North Beach, as he sprinkled holy water on bike after bike.

“They have tough exteriors, but they’re not so tough. They all want our blessing,” Russell said, as he hurried to the next row of bikes. “It means something to them. We’re asking the Lord to keep them safe. A blessing on their bikes is like a blessing on their fleet.”

Timber and Cindy Harrington, bikers for 20 years, rode together from nearby Rose Haven, where they live with their five children.

“We’ve been in accidents before, and we’ve been blessed to be able to get up and breathe again,” Timber said.

“We’re spiritual,” Cindy said. “My mother prays for us all the time.”

On this day, with the sun and sand as their church, thousands of road warriors worshipped together and were blessed in return.

“You go to where the people are, to tell them about the faith,” said the Rev. Fruik, chaplain since 1971 of North Beach Union Church. He is also the chaplain for The Tribes motorcycle club in North Beach. “This means something to these people. Anytime you give a blessing, you ask God to watch over them.”

As the hours passed, the sight of gleaming chrome and metal, the smell of burnished leather and exhaust, the sound of pure energy pulsated in the air. And still they kept coming.

“It’s important to have God on my side,” said Toni Whitten, who rode in from Manassas with her friend Laurie White. “We ride a long way and we ride a lot. We want to be safe.”

“We’re good to go,” White said, giving the thumbs up sign after their bikes were blessed.

Good to go for another year, when they will return to be blessed again.

“God willing,” said Fruik, as he watched them ride away.

-Maggie Thomas

Way Downstream …

In Cockeysville, even school kids are debating whether to introduce the Asian ariakensis oyster in the Chesapeake Bay, reports the Bay Journal. Most of the 36 fifth-graders in Warren Elementary School agreed with Kristen Acree, who worried that the non-native species could “bring undetected viruses, diseases and pathogens to the Bay” …

In Norfolk, Va., a manatee has made an early spring visit, according to The Virginian-Pilot. Life is hard for the blubbery mammals. Development and boating has pushed them into the endangered ranks. Only a couple of thousand now live in Florida. But they keep on swimming, sometimes far out of their range, as witnessed by this friendly, propeller-scarred visitor to Taylor’s Landing Marine Center at Little Creek …

In Canada, they must be worried that the bears will become terrorists at the global economic summit in Alberta next month. Wildlife officials plan to trap and collar about 40 grizzlies before world leaders arrive …

In South Africa, the government has run out of patience with “the national flower” — those plastic shopping bags blowing across the countryside. The plastics industry has been given one year to phase them out and to replace them with a thicker variety that can be recycled …

Our Creature Feature comes from Britain, where folks in the town of Hartlepool have made political history by electing as mayor a monkey who ran on a Free Bananas platform.

Actually, H’Angus the Monkey is a fellow named Stuart Drummond, 28, who dresses up in a monkey suit as mascot for the town’s soccer team. Even so, stuffy Brits were aghast that their experiment in electing mayors rather than appointing them would lead to paying a fellow known for monkey business $77,000 a year to run their town.

Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly