Dock of the Bay

 Vol. 10, No. 23

June 6-12, 2002

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Marlin Fitzwater, left, stands between a portrait of himself and the portait’s artist, Richard Whitney. At right, Fitzwater’s friend and former boss, George H. W. Bush smiles on.
photo by Tom Abercrombie
Former Press Secretary Fitzwater’s Name Graces Journalism School

Way up north in New Hampshire’s Franklin Pierce College, a $4.5 million, state-of-the-art journalism building has been named for Marlin Fitzwater, who settled down on Parkers Creek in Deale with his wife Melinda after a 10-year stint as press secretary to presidents Ronald Reagan and the elder George Bush.

The gleaming 12,000-square-foot Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communications includes classrooms, television- and radio-recording studios and video-editing labs as well as a center for public-opinion research.

Fitzwater is well known for his best-selling memoir of his White House days, Call the Briefing. Last year, he published his first novel, Esther’s Pillow, based on a controversial incident in the Fitzwater family back in Kansas during the 1920s. It was in Kansas that Marlin was raised, attended university and edited a small newspaper before seeking his fortune in the nation’s capital. He is now several chapters into his second work of fiction, based on life along the Chesapeake creeks of Deale.

Festivities at the college began at a small reception in the college president’s manor. An amazing lifelike portrait of Fitzwater by New Hampshire artist Richard Whitney was unveiled by former President George H.W. Bush.

“It looks more like me than I do!” a pleased Fitzwater chuckled.
At three in the afternoon, the dedication ceremony began, a world-class event by any definition. Some 2,300 guests gathered under a white lawn tent of Barnum and Bailey proportions to be serenaded by a hundred-member choir, followed by a concert by the New England Brass Quintet.

Master of Ceremonies Sam Donaldson then introduced the speakers: former U.S. President George H.W. Bush; Mike McCurry, White House press secretary under President Bill Clinton; and Pierce College President George Hagerty. Well-known for his tenacious questioning, Donaldson recalled some of the head-to-head duels he fought with Fitzwater on live television during official White House briefings.

“In what was a most sensitive job — getting the word from the president out to the world — Marlin could stand awfully firm. We reporters didn’t always agree with him, but he was always honest and fair.”

Mike McCurry praised Fitzwater for his objectivity. “He was never political, a trusted pro …” and then with a wink “… just like Allison Janey’s C.J. on the West Wing TV series — though not as slim and sexy.”

Waiting his turn at the rostrum, Fitzwater smiled. An advisor to the producers of West Wing, he has written several scenarios for them and recently appeared on the show with former presidents Carter, Ford and Clinton.

The principal speaker, America’s 41st president, spoke of Fitzwater’s down-to-earth qualities. “He maintained that charm of small-town affability, whether formally welcoming Boris Yeltsin or Margaret Thatcher or patiently fielding questions of complicated foreign policy shouted by sometimes aggressive, always news-hungry reporters. And he always kept his cool.”

Under another lofty white tent on the college green overlooking the lake, 250 of Fitzwater’s friends from all over the country dined on beef Wellington and salmon-en-croute as he table-hopped to trade reminiscences. Dessert was followed by the grand finale, an eye-popping skyful of fireworks fronting a full moon.

So how did this well-known Washingtonian from Abilene find further adventures in New Hampshire?

“I met Marlin on one of his New England lecture tours,” explained Pierce College President Hagerty. “We are a small school — only 1,500 undergraduates — but we have more than 150 journalism majors. We wanted to expand our facilities and connect with the larger world of journalism.”

In 1997, Fitzwater joined Pierce’s board of trustees and began consulting on planning the new center as well as helping with fundraising for the enterprise.

“I was fortunate to have a rich and rewarding life in journalism,” Fitzwater said. “I felt I owed something to the profession.”

— Tom Abercrombie

Abercrombie, of Shady Side, is a retired writer and photographer for National Geographic — and was one of six locals at the dedication.

Gotcha? Not Yet in Southern Anne Arundel

Southern Anne Arundel County tries its best to stay out of the way. But the three cameras mounted on traffic lights at the intersection of Routes 256 and 468 — Deale-Churchton and Muddy Creek roads — seemed to mean that modern times had caught up with the sleepy south.

Not so fast. Instead of the dreaded tattletale traffic cameras to catch red-light runners and notify them via snail mail that they owe a hefty fine, the eyes on Churchton are a much friendlier technology. Auto Scope Cameras like these are being installed throughout Maryland, confirmed the State Highway Administration’s Charlie Martin, to move traffic along. Sensing the flow of traffic, the cameras change signals to accommodate waiting cars.

Auto Scope Cameras replace the old loops that were commonly installed in pavement to monitor traffic patterns. When loop sensors were damaged by weather or wear, roads had to be torn up to make the repair. Suspended in the air, the cameras are easier to replace.

What’s come our way is a technology that should help Southern Anne Arundel get back to civilization a bit faster. There, five sets of Automatic Traffic Enforcement Signals are up and working, according to Lt. Keith Williams, commander of traffic safety for the Anne Arundel County Police Department.

Forewarned is forearmed. The gotcha cameras await you at Ritchie Highway and Route 10 in Pasadena, Route 3 and Evergreen Road in Crofton, Riva Road and Route 665 in Annapolis/Riva, and at two places in Arnold: Ritchie Highway and Arnold Road and Ritchie Highway and College Parkway.

— Flo Ormond

Some 16,000 people showed up at the Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival, helping the two-day concert extravaganza raise more than $100,000 for charity.
May Festivals Made Big Money

Nearly 16,000 people converged at Sandy Point State Park on May 18 from points as distant as New York, Pennsylvania, the Carolinas and even California. They came not for crab cakes or rockfish, but the blues.

“The Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival was incredible,” fan Larry Gareau said. “I had a great time and will be back every year.”

“This was my third Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival,” said fellow fan Michael Neal. “My only regret is that I was unable to attend all five. It is by far the best festival of its type anywhere in the area!”

Gareau agreed. “I was telling everyone I came in contact with that it was one of the best-run festivals I have ever attended,” he said. “The food was great and you couldn’t beat the location.”

That Saturday dawned gray and cloudy. Fans clad in black plastic dotted the crowd, waiting for rain that never fell. Instead they wrapped themselves in a warm blues blanket 10 hours long. Shemekia Copeland spread hot frosting across Magic Slim’s dignified cake before Double Trouble took the stage.

As the Band was to Bob Dylan, so Double Trouble was to legendary Texas bluesman Stevie Ray Vaughan. Double Trouble joined Tab Benoit and Jimmy Thackery for an epic jam before they helped Kenny Wayne Shepherd raise Vaughan’s spirit from the grave. Fellow prodigy Shannon Kurfman joined Shepherd for a stunning duet.

Saturday’s weather was forgotten on Sunday, when the sun shone all day. Curtis Salgado whipped himself into a frenzy, and harmonica fans were thrilled by three masters of the instrument: Carey Bell, Rod Piazza and Kim Wilson. Bell joined Hubert Sumlin and Maria Maldaur for a varied set with the Bob Margolin Blues Revue, making something of a blues supergroup, before surrendering the stage to Jerry Lee Lewis and his rocking, rolling piano. Aging joints didn’t keep Lewis from lifting a foot to the keys when two hands proved insufficient.

“It was a great weekend,” festival coordinator Aniela Ciuffetelli said. “We are looking at a smaller event in August to raise more money.”

May’s festival raised more than $100,000 for four charities: the Mid-Atlantic Make-A-Wish Foundation, We Care and Friends, Special Olympics Maryland and the Johns Hopkins Craniofacial Center.

“We will be having a blues party where the checks are given to the charities,” Ciuffetelli said, “and a presentation made to the sponsors of the event.” She’s eyeing the end of June for the party.

The Bay Blues Festival wasn’t the weekend’s only successful fundraiser. Three thousand people and 800 pets showed up at Quiet Waters Park on Sunday, May 19, to Walk for the Animals, raising even more — $125,000 — for the Anne Arundel SPCA’s homeless animal shelter.

— Brent Seabrook

Galesville Remembers Its Legacy

With their 350th anniversary coming in October, the waterfront villagers of Galesville searched their attics, closets and garages — but more importantly their minds. They came up with steamboats, sailing clubs and the Galesville Hot Sox. With Quakers, pirates and lots of Smiths. With the ordinary side by side the extraordinary.

Which is just the combination that has made this village thrive for centuries.

Natives were here long before Lord Baltimore granted a Certificate of Survey in 1652, issuing 660 acres of land to the Brown and Clark families. Originally named Browntown (or Browton), it eventually became known as West River Landing and then The Landing. The name Galesville, after the Gale family whose Quaker ancestor had accompanied William Penn to the West River, is a newcomer, arriving only in 1924.

Each generation has had a story to tell, but only now have those stories found a writer.

“I volunteered in a moment of weakness,” said Jean Siegert Trott, the writer of a brand-new history of Galesville, The Legend … The Legacy.

“In the event that anyone buys this book,” writes the author “(and I sincerely hope someone will) all profit derived from such sale(s) is to be donated to the Galesville Heritage Society whose goal is to maintain and preserve our local heritage.”

Trott’s hopes came true June 2 in a booksigning at Galesville Memorial Hall. An hour and a half into the event, Trott had signed 125 copies of her 150-page illustrated history.

In it, all those book buyers will learn what many Galesvillians already know. That newly reopened Steamboat Landing was really that. We wonder whether Pirates Cove Inn preserves local lore in its name as well, and just how hot the Galesville Hot Sox, a ball team, really were.

Maryland’s first Quakers settled here, welcoming all comers, and their burial ground remains.

Jean Trott writes of all that, and of how deep-rooted families continue many of the same businesses begun by their forefathers. The continued sense of community survives as well in the village churches, schools and organizations.

Trott writes with the knowledge of one who has been there all her life. She lives in the home in which she was born in 1925. She and her husband Calvin raised their three children there also. Their son Christopher lives in his great grandfather’s home on Main Street in Galesville with his wife and two children. Son Stuart lives in Washington, D.C., and daughter Bonnie Morris lives nearby in Harwood.

They’ll be some of the thousands who gather when Galesville celebrates its 350th anniversary of Grant Day October 4 through 6 with parades, tours of churches and cemeteries, archaeological displays, bands and fireworks. By then, there’ll also be the Galesville Heritage Museum to celebrate — but that will be another story.

You can purchase (and we hope you will) The Legend … The Legacy through the Galesville Heritage Society: 410/867-2648.

— Pat Harder

ZzzzzzzzzzzzT: Mosquitoes Are Upon Us

You’re outside enjoying one of spring’s many moods in Chesapeake Country when, zzzzzzzzzzzzT: You’ve got unwelcome company. Female mosquitoes suck the blood of warm-blooded creatures to ensure new generations. So when we’re out strolling in the shade, cooling in the breeze or gaping at the moon, they’re out for us. Indeed, pretty much any favorite time or place of ours will suit a mosquito too. They’re well adapted, indeed programmed, to search out warm blood. Maryland enjoys 62 species of the world’s 3,500.

Nowadays, there’s one more reason to wish mosquitoes would buzz off. They’re carriers of West Nile virus. Birds are its hosts; mosquitoes transmit the virus, and potentially the disease, encephalitis, from them to us humans — and horses, too.

West Nile Virus — which, as its name suggests, originated faraway in a region of the Nile River — has haunted the Eastern Seaboard since the late 1999. From New York, it’s migrated into Maryland.

Last year “was a very active year,” according to Cyrus Lesser of Maryland Department of Agriculture. The virus was found in 454 dead birds, seven horses and six humans. Three of those people died.

“Most people’s body defenses will overcome and kill the virus,” Lesser explains. Danger is higher to people in poor health or with compromised immune systems. Studies from New York bear him out: For every one person who became ill, about 150 threw off the virus, which starts out feeling like a summer cold.

Those are the realities public health official balance when considering whether and when to send the big guns after mosquitoes. Those are spray guns loaded with the chemical permethrin, one of the least toxic weapons typically used to kill adult mosquitoes. Still, it’s a killer and fish are particularly susceptible — as are some humans.

Since the mid-1990s, Anne Arundel County’s approach has been to let communities decide on spraying. Community associations must request the nightime spraying, though mosquitoes are hunted countywide in less toxic ways.

West Nile could change that, but it won’t happen casually. “We’re not just blitzkrieging an area on a single scenario event,” says Anne Arundel County’s Gerry Zitnik. “If birds start falling out of the sky and — heaven forbid — we get a positive human case, then we’d be seriously considering it.”

Enough birds — three or four — fell last September in the north of the county that spraying was about to begin. Then, says Zitnik, “weather cooperated and a good hit of cold weather knocked the mosquitoes down.”

Now it’s starting all over again. So if you see dead birds — particularly crows, blue jays and such raptors as owls, vultures and hawks — report them: 866/866-crow •


Way Downstream …

In Virginia, divers were bringing up the 60-foot fishing boat, Sweet Loran, piece by piece from the main shipping channel to Hampton Roads. The aging wooden boat went down last week and a crew member is missing …

In Oklahoma, Tulsa-based Williams Co., which wants to re-open the controversial liquid natural gas facility in the Chesapeake Bay at Cove Point, was accused in the Sunday New York Times by a former executive of attempting to inflate gas prices in California during the energy crisis there. The company denies the charge, but its stock, already down 71 percent from its high, plunged further this week …

Our Creature Feature is a humdinger from Paris, where a French rapper was fined $9,100 for abusing his pet monkey on television. The rapper, Didier Morville, who calls himself Joey Starr, triggered a torrent of complaints after slapping his caged Barbary ape several times during a program in March.

Among those who campaigned for Morville’s punishment was former film star Brigitte Bardot, now an animal rights advocate. Morville, who was in trouble earlier for assaulting a flight attendant, was convicted of mistreating an animal and illegally possessing a protected species.

Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly