Dock of the Bay

 Vol. 10, No. 48

November 27- December 4, 2002

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In This Week's Issue:

After the better part of a lifetime capturing images of Chesapeake Bay life, photographer Marion E. Warren is still at it full steam, despite a recent battle with cancer.
photos courtesy of Marion Warren
Bringing Back the Bay’s PhotographerAt an age when most folks are looking forward to kicking back and retiring, world-renowned Bay photographer and local legend Marion Warren has just gotten his second wind.

Getting there has meant leaping a hurdle. In the words of his daughter and collaborator Mame Warren, “Diagnosed with cancer in his larynx in late summer, Father underwent surgery, then quickly recovered not only his health and good humour, but also resumed his unstoppable momentum to produce breathtaking images of the Chesapeake Bay region.”

A visit to Marion Warren’s home these days is like a trip to Santa’s workshop. Photos line tables, chairs and display boards as friends and family busily help to organize a lifetime of Marion’s work and to get their favorite photos ready for public display around Annapolis over the holidays.

Meanwhile, the photographs themselves are also undergoing an amazing rejuvenation. Richard Olsenius, a local photographer and devoted Marion Warren fan, is digitally enhancing the Warren Archive on computer, sort of the photographic equivalent of taking old Beatles records and digitally remastering them on CD. The photograph is still a Marion Warren original, but the image is clearer and richer.

Sporting a brand new salt-and-pepper beard and an elfin grin, Warren said, “I feel like a kid again. Keeping busy does wonders for my health and keeps me focused on what really matters most: family, friends and photographs. And getting my pictures cleaned up and in proper order will keep me hopping for many more years to come.”

These days, the press releases are flying out of the Warren household faster than an outgoing tide pushed by a stiff northwesterly wind.
  • December 1 marks the opening of a retrospective exhibit of Warren’s work in Annapolis and the reissue of his classic book, Bringing Back the Bay: The Chesapeake in the Photographs of Marion E. Warren and the Voices of Its People. See the retrospective exhibit in both the Maryland State House and the Miller Senate Office Building, on Bladen Street, from 8am to 5pm Mondays through Fridays.

  • On December 8, Marion Warren and his co-author, daughter Mame Warren, sign books from 3 to 6pm at a reception in the dining room of the O’Callaghan Hotel, 174 West Street, Annapolis.

Marion and Mame Warren will sign copies of Bringing Back the Bay on many occasions in the Annapolis area during December.

  • December 5: 7pm at Hard Bean Coffee & BookSellers, 36 Market Space, Annapolis.
  • December 7: 7pm at Barnes & Noble, Bowie.
  • December 12: 6 to 8pm at Maria’s Picture Place, 45 Maryland Avenue, Annapolis
  • December 14: 3pm at Barnes & Noble, Annapolis.
  • December 15: 3 to 6pm at Marriott Waterfront Hotel, 80 Compromise Street, Annapolis.

Information or copies? Katherine Burke: 410/280-1414 • 800/536-1414 •

—Steve Carr

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Amish Quilts Going, Going, Gone — Until Next Year

In a drafty machine shed off a St. Marys County road where horse-drawn buggies share the lanes with automobiles, bidders competed November 23 to pay hundreds of dollars for the handiwork of local Amish artisans. But even the highest prices — rising above $1,000 for the finest work in the warmest bidding — give the women whose quilts dominate the annual auction only pennies per stitch.

The annual auction in this out-of-the-way shed off Route 236 supplements the mostly subsistence economy of the county’s community of Amish — who eschew electricity as well as automobiles and buttons as well as more modern technologies — by bringing them cash for crafts they make in their own homes and workshops. It satisfies the “English,” as non-Amish are called, by bringing them to the doorway of Amish life and letting them spend their modern-made dollars on old-order workmanship.

More than quilts are sold, but quilts are the order of the day. For the seven-hour auction, there’s always an eight-foot quilt suspended high, front and center, hoisted on ropes for all to see. Hand-crafted wooden toys and furniture, plus quilted pot holders, pillows and wall-hangings, come up for bid between quilts, but they’re no more than sideshows.

Quilts — blankets assembled like sandwiches in three layers — drive the competition. But quilts are more than blankets. Often, their tops are disciplined explosions of color and pattern, pieced from bits of fabric that may be no bigger than business cards. Always, the layers are sewn together in elaborate patterns of tiny stitches that are the quilting. In the finest work, as in all sold at this auction, the stitches are sewn by hand.

For Amish and buyers alike, the auction is a spectacle, with competition sparking impulse, raising prices and making a drama of persistence.

Fueling that competition is the auctioneer’s business.

At the 16th annual St. Marys County Amish quilt auction, bidders paid hundreds of dollars for handmade works of art.
photos by Sandra Martin
Before you can sneeze, the price on a pinwheel-pattern quilt has jumped from “six, give me six hundred dollars” to $1,250. And when English auctioneer Rodney Thompson whoops, “Sold!” the buyer thinks she’s got a bargain. “You caught ’em sleeping” he confides.

It’s a compelling spectacle from both sides. English bid and covet from folding chairs; Amish watch from the sidelines.

On a long bench, Magdalena Stoltefus, matriarch of the annual auction now in its 14th year, sits amidst a row of daughters and their babies. The dark colors, mostly black, of Amish dress make a foil against which the rainbow-hues of the quilts play.

Sunshine and Shadow, a checkerboard playing light colors against dark, has just sold for $700.

It is not a Stoltefus quilt, but most of those sold here today are, and she watches avidly — her face revealing no unbecoming emotion but her eyes intent on the action — as one after another of her creations brings her hundreds of dollars.

“I had seen it, but I hadn’t given thought to buying it,” says buyer Mary McGlinn, of the town of California. Quilts hang on display before they’re brought in for bidding. “I kept bidding on impulse. I just like it.” This is McGlinn’s third auction, the first where she’s made a major purchase. She’s made two today, Sunshine and Shadow and a Stoltefus spinning star.

Stoltefus, a master of her craft, works at it day in and day out. She also “helps” the annual auction, she says, which was begun by her sister as a fundraiser for medical expenses for the Amish community, which does not buy insurance. Now, fundraising quilts are made collectively, at quilting bees. Others are individual works, bringing income to their maker.

Stoltefus does not say why she quilts. But she helps bring this event together every year “because somebody’s got to do it.”


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Update: More Chapters in a Sea Turtle’s Tale

Hers is a story of tragedy, survival, patience, anticipation and, more recently, relief and pride. Quite a lot for a sea turtle.

Two weeks ago, you read here the middle chapters of the story of a rejuvenated loggerhead who was released to the ocean after months of medical care. This week, we add earlier and later chapters. Hereafter, you’ll be able to follow her story yourself through a satellite-tagging website.

The teenage loggerhead — who spent five months in the Baltimore Aquarium hospital pool after being critically injured by a boat propeller — is alive and well in the salty waters off the South Carolina coast. Because the satellite-tagged loggerhead’s every move can be traced, scientists have found that she has remained fairly stationary.

“It seems the turtle is happy with where we left her off,” said Jennifer Fiegl of the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

photo by Pat Venturino for the National Aquarium
The turtle was released in the waters after a daylong drive from Baltimore to South Carolina on November 14. Throughout the journey, the aquarium team kept her moist by spraying her with a water bottle. Once in the southern state, the team joined staff of the South Carolina aquarium, spending one last evening with the turtle for acclimation and testing.

The next day, two boats — filled with team members and the turtle — ventured off the coast to deep Atlantic waters. The team released the turtle near reefs, leaving her to fend for herself for the first time in months.

Does the team who worked so closely with the loggerhead miss her? According to Fiegl, aquarium employees attempt to remain detached from creatures brought in for medical treatment.

“It was great to be able to release her,” she said. “That’s really the goal.”

Looks, anyway, like team members might not have time to grieve their friend’s departure. Fiegl said that the aquarium is soon slated to receive some Kemps Ridley sea turtles with frostbite-like conditions.

Earlier chapters in the loggerhead’s story were filled in by a Bay Weekly reader. T.J. Jensen reports that she and her family were enjoying a July daytrip to Bower’s — not Bauer — Beach, Delaware, a small fishing village on a river inlet with sandy stretches, a fishing pier and headboats.

“We were sitting enjoying the view and children were swimming, when we saw a big turtle in the water,” said Jensen. It swam with its head above water, and the surprised beach party could see a gash. “As the turtle floated toward the pier, it looked so miserable and hurt, and we didn’t know what to do,” she recounted.

Jensen enlisted help to form a rescue party, who pushed the loggerhead up a boat ramp, where they spotted the big gash in its shell and an injured eye. The rescuers waited for Maryland Department of Natural Resources, wetting the turtle with water.

Jensen’s interest didn’t end with the turtle’s removal more than six hours later. From a television report, she learned it had been taken to the aquarium in Baltimore. She visited twice, but the turtle’s fate remained a mystery until, said Jensen, “in your newspaper, I found the answer.”

Want to track the turtle’s progress? Log on to

—Sarah Williams

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Calvert Recount Leaves Clark Up 16 Votes

“It was nerve wracking,” said a vote-counter who’d stepped outside the Calvert County Fairgrounds for a break from the stress. “We just want it over.” Even Republicans were sweating on November 25.

But it was Democrats who had the most to gain as Calvert Country recounted the 21,976 votes cast in the General Election for commissioner candidates Grace Mary Brady and Jerry Clark.

Democrat Brady — who edged out Clark in voting November 8 to join the Calvert County Board of Commissioners representing the southernmost Third District — called Calvert County’s first-ever recount after absentee ballots gave Clark a 36-vote margin of victory.

Election officers from across Maryland worked together in Calvert County’s first-ever ballot recount.
photo by Barbi Eversfield Shields
It was a call that could cost her $5,000 as well as win her the title of commissioner. So stakes were high when the recount started at 9am November 25 at the Calvert County Fairgrounds hall.

Waiting to be counted, the thousands of ballots rested in large blue storage tubs marked “Ballots” — each with a slot in its side — too heavy to be moved by the women who did most of the counting. At 20 tables, one counter, one caller and two watchers counted piles of ballots rising two feet high. At each table, one Republican and one Democrat watched, but the officials were election officers from all across the state.

Counters used reading guides to find the contested line on each ballot. Then they’d distinctly pronounce “Clark one” or “Brady one.”

Watching the count for Jerry Clark, Calvert lawyer Bob Gray paced the room, his face expressionless. As the ballots dwindled, Gray paced faster, his cell phone in hand.

Around Brady, family and friends hovered.

“I don’t care whether I win or lose. It’s the process that’s important,” said Brady a week ago, when she set the recount in motion.

But as the winning margin teeter-tottered within 10 points through most of the seven-hour count, everybody cared.

“This is Democracy at its finest,” said Doris Spencer, chair of the county’s Democratic Central Committee.

Watching as well were state Sen. Roy Dyson and Commissioner Barbara Stinnett, who’d polled more votes than either of today’s contenders but still lost her seat on the County Commission to Calvert’s peculiarity of electing three commissioners by district and two at large.

At 4:05pm, Calvert election supervisor Gail Hatfield read the final count: Grace Mary Brady had 10,980 and Jerry Clark 10,996. Clark had won the election by 16 votes.

“The 20 votes not picked up were due to voters who had used their own pens and not the ones provided at the polls,” Hatfield explained.

“I’m sad, but it was a hell of a horse race, a photo finish,” said Brady. “Still, the process was fair and just, and that makes it easier to live with.”

Equanimity was not Brady’s only reason for smiling. With the vote spread under one-tenth of a percent of the total vote, the county picks up the cost for the recount.

— Barbi Eversfield Shields

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Annapolis Skaters Rejoice over New Park

The Annapolis Skate Park is finally up and running near the boat-trailer park at Truxtun Park, off Primrose Road. There is a 10-foot fence around it, as skate foe Arthur Greenbaum requested (Letters to the Editor, Vol. X. No 36, Nov. 14) but no barbed wire. Still, the new facility should help reduce the root of Greenbaum’s complaint — wear and tear on city property.

City skateboard enthusiasts were granted clear blue skies for the park’s opening ceremony November 23. Dozens of young men with skateboards strapped to backpacks, do-it-yourself haircuts and parents in tow signed in at the registration desk. Mayor Ellen Moyer showed up 20 minutes late, but the skaters belied their rebellious reputations, waiting patiently while the mayor made her speech.

“I watch this stuff on television,” she said. “It looks pretty daunting to me.”

Skateboarders break in a ramp at the newly opened facility Truxtun Park.
photo by Brent Seabrook
However daunted the mayor might have been, the crowd was anything but. The skaters clung to the chainlink fence surrounding the park for another hour, watching local professionals break in the new ramps and rails — ramps and rails designed and built by professionals, but based on suggestions from local skaters.

“Hopefully now you won’t have to go down and skate at City Hall,” city consultant Steve Carr quipped.

The park’s existence is in fact a testament to the desire of city skaters to roll responsibly, with skaters helping fund the park’s construction and maintenance. When the jar that sat on the counter at Evolve was emptied, the small bills and change donated by the skate shop’s patrons added up to $3,400. Evolve owner Paul Coe presented Moyer with a giant check in that amount before she cut the ribbon on the new park.

Truxtun is the first public skate park in Annapolis and only the second inside Anne Arundel County. The park is open to skateboards and roller skates (inline and otherwise) only. Skaters must complete a registration form, have a liability waiver (signed by a parent if under 18) and wear safety equipment — including elbow pads, knee pads and a helmet.

A few skaters in their late teens and early 20s scoffed at such rules and regulations, tossing their cigarette butts and turning on their heels. But those who stayed packed the park, surfing 8,000 square feet of fresh, jet-black asphalt.

Information? Annapolis Recreation and Parks: 410/263-7958.

—Brent Seabrook

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Way Downstream

In Baltimore, they’ve finally taken their straw out of the Susquehanna River, the source of the Chesapeake Bay. Citing drought, Baltimore-area folks consumed 30 billion gallons of water from the Susquehanna until they turned off the pumps last week …

In Alaska, Viagra is being touted as a means to save endangered species — but not like you think. A new University of Alaska study concludes that the potency drug’s popularity in Asian countries has diminished the market for aphrodisiacs from Alaskan reindeer and rare seals …

Our Creature Feature is the end of the saga of the Puerto Rican polar bears — we hope. Last week, six of the bears seized from a rag-tag circus in sweltering conditions last year were flown courtesy of Federal Express to zoos in Michigan, Washington state and North Carolina.
You may recall that the first of the bears landed in Baltimore last spring. Said Debbie Leahy of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals: “We see them as ambassadors of hope for all those still forced to perform cheap tricks.”

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Copyright 2002
Bay Weekly