Soft Hearts in Black & Blue
Balls Tough Crowd
photo by Michael Majer Scott Gibson, left, from Harley Davidson of Annapolis with MDA Honorary Spokesman Mattie Stepanek.
A hundred-plus people gathered this past Friday at the third annual Black & Blue Ball to put a hurting on Muscular Dystrophy.
Not a slush fund for aging boxers suffering one punch too many, this fundraising party and charity auction gets its name from the indigo denim and black leather common to customers of the main sponsor, Harley Davidson of Annapolis.
"A lot of you are here for the open bar. A lot of you are here for the good food. A lot of you are here for the good stuff were auctioning," said Scott Gibson, of Harley Davidson of Annapolis.
"But were here tonight to fight a disease thats crippling so many people and that shouldnt be. Were close to a cure, and thats why were here," Gibson told the wide-ranging crowd made up of businessmen and women, mechanics, tradesmen, laborers -- even a few politicians.
No wild bunch, this group came well dressed and ready to have fun for a good cause. Many men wore blue jeans with a traditional pleated tuxedo shirt and black bow tie; tuxedo jackets complemented the ensemble for some. Some wore leather riding jackets, others leather pants or chaps. Several wore suits or sports jackets, and a few, like Harley Davidson of Annapolis owner Gary Gibson and former Anne Arundel County Executive John Gary, wore full tuxedos.
"Four years as county executive and I never got invited to anything," Gary said. "Now that Im in the private sector, I get invited to everything."
As at any ball, mens outfits were tame compared to womens, which displayed more glitter and more leather. Gowns, cocktail dresses and skirts filled out the formal end of the spectrum, but looking just as stylish were women clad in tight-fitting leather and denim, not quite formal, but certainly striking.
The evenings main event was a two-act number: a live and a silent auction of goods and services donated by local businesses. Smaller ticket items filled the tables of the silent auction, with bids written down for restaurant gift certificates, car detailings, sports tickets, a case of wine, film memorabilia, toys and more.
The live auction, which began after the buffet-style dinner of salad, roast beef, vegetables, bread and cheese, was handled by Express Auction Marketing Specialists, one of the largest auction companies in the state. These were professionals hawking some darned good stuff.
"We feel good about this," said ring-man Donnie Miller, whose role is spotting bidders for the auctioneer and ringing those bidders into outbidding one another. Keeping the momentum going is something Millers used to: he rode Disputed Testimony to a first-place finish at the 1983 Preakness Stakes.
"This is a competitive thing. We create a little excitement," Miller said.
Atop this list of auctioned items was a $1,600 Trek mountain bike, a steal at $650. A two-night stay at the Antrim 1844 Country Inn in Taneytown, Maryland, pulled in $575. A $440 series of ads in New Bay Times brought in $250. Paintings brought in several hundred dollars each. Also auctioned were golf packages, amusement park admission tickets, Wizards and Capitals tickets. Topping the list at $925 was a Daytona 500 getaway for two that included airfare, lodging and tickets to the worlds greatest stock car race. By the end of the evening the Black & Blue Ball had raised between $8,000 and $10,000.
Fun and games aside, people were here to fight.
Calling the crowd to battle was a poem written and read by the honorary Black & Blue Ball spokesman, Mattie J. Stepanek, above at right, an eight-year-old suffering from Muscular Dystrophy:
Black & Blue Ball
Best clothes up top, best manners by all means,
Limits are broken from the jeans to the genes,
Action-packed night filled with music and fun,
Celebrates now, everything, everyone,
Keeps hope alive for all Jerrys Kids,
And helps MDA with their research bids.
Never assume that your gift is too small,
Doing your share helps us one, helps us all.
Black & Blue fundraisers are a great way to give,
Lucky for Kids that youre helping us live.
Understanding our needs makes you heroes tonight,
Each person here is raising our might.
It was a tough crowd, but at least a few eyes misted at this years Black & Blue Ball.
In Democracy Lesson, Calvert
Citizens Debate Their Fate
Cars, vans and pick-up trucks sandwiched into every parking space at Calvert Middle School. Sheriffs deputies directed vehicles down Dares Beach Road to the high school to park-and-ride shuttles. Caught up in the fervor thats sweeping Chesapeake Country, Calvert countians showed up in mass last week to hear and comment about ways to keep their county -- well, if not quite country at least not fully suburban.
Summoned to a kind of emergency meeting, 600 residents packed gym seats, squeezed onto the bleachers and spilled into the hallway.
Opening the Calvert County Board of Commissioners controversial March 10 public hearing, Board President Linda Kelley reminded the overflow crowd of the commissioners mandate to control growth: Four of the five commissioners were elected last November on no-growth platforms.
Now, four months later, the countys professional planners were unveiling an extraordinary -- some say precipitious -- plan to curb growth. It would amend the countys zoning code by slashing the number of homes the county will allow by either 50 or 25 percent. It would reduce, by nearly equal amounts, the value many Calvert old-timers had banked in their land. It would cost millions of as yet unfound dollars.
Coexisting with farmlands, woods and waterscapes in Marylands smallest county are 24,000 households spread over 800 square miles. The most recent zoning, responding to the Countys General Development Plan of 1997, allowed 63,000 households before the county was, in planners jargon, "built out."
Now, the build-out number may be falling down. By just how much, citizens had assembled to help decide.
Reducing build-out by 25 percent, the first option, limits Calverts total number of households to 46,000 and preserves 40,000 acres of land. At 46,000 households, only two more high schools would have to be added to the existing three, though Route 4 would have to be widened in Prince Frederick with overpasses at the main town centers in Prince Frederick, Dunkirk and Huntingtown. The cost: $68 million, in large part to compensate large landowners for losing the development rights to a quarter of their land.
The second option, a 50 percent reduction, limits growth even more. With only 37,000 households, 48,000 acres would be preserved from development. The county would need only four high schools and no overpasses at town centers. The cost: $88 million.
Calvert citizens came to the debate with strong opinions. More than 80 of them, clutching written notes in response to the proposals mailed to each household, signed up to step up to the microphone.
In the flow of speakers, sentiment seemed about evenly divided. New residents, who moved to Calvert because of its rural character and good schools, clearly favored a halt to growth. But farmers -- whose land is their 401K plan -- builders and construction workers whose livelihoods depend on development wanted the options modified or turned down. Despite disagreements and crowding, debate was civil and attentive.
"Im impressed with the public," said Greg Bowen, a countian of many generations and deputy director of the countys Department of Planning and Zoning. "Even when they had different opinions, they were respectful. They were articulate and thoughtful about the issues."
Commissioner David Hale (R) was elected from northern Calvert on a no-growth platform. He professed himself "impressed by how many people came out and the number of people who agreed with the options presented. "Usually," he said, "just people who are opposed come out. People who agree usually stay at home. There were recommendations made, no complaining."
It was 11pm before the parking lot emptied.
Get in-depth explanation of each option and the method by which it was developed from the Department of Planning and Zoning: 410/535-2348 Reach the Calvert County Commissioners: 410/535-5594 Make comments by March 24 to: Planning Commission, 150 Main St., Prince Frederick, MD 20678.
Appreciation: Topsides Jane Wallace, 1964-99
"Take the highway, its my way "
Through the spirited voice of Jane Wallace, 34, listeners seemed to travel America on Route 66. Her sound, smile and soul will be missed in the Galesville community that she treated as family. From 1985 until her death March 12, Jane worked at The Topside Inn, a second home during 15 years of sincere service.
Jane waited tables and cooked, but bartending suited her best because she listened with compassionate interest and accepted others in as-is condition. She attracted a sphere of diverse friends with a certain love in common.
"She was the best friend anyone could have asked for, and she was everyones best friend," said fellow worker Terry McArdle.
While viewing photos at her memorial service, friend Steve Kirkner noted that "her arms were always wide open," describing images of her literally embracing the scene. "Such love of life!"
Jane found joy in the present and goodness in her surroundings. Her vitality resulted in an animated character with a range of personas: a knowledgeable pixie with her brown hair in a bun; silver, Celtic earrings dangling while she confirmed a superstition about broom bristles. A responsible rebel with her hair disheveled from a winters ride in the convertible, warning not to expect coffee to be hot after exposure to cold wind. A fully grown child when she squealed in unison with a toddler, delighted by the aquarium fish, unconscious of demeanor. These facets were consistent in the freedom of her spirit.
"All your life youve never seen woman taken by the wind " came through her lips, but her heart filled the lyrics. Her deep, slightly raspy voice went well with the songs of Fleetwood Mac. Among her favorites were "Rhiannon" and "Dreams" as well as the classic tunes "Crazy" and, of course, "Route 66."
Just last week, she dashed back to the bar, exclaiming, "Look what I got!" and waved a baseball cap with an emblem of this famous highway. It was among the gifts from customers whose lives were touched by the beautiful bartender who could be coerced from her station to the little stage where music is still a communal medium.
Jane began performing publicly on karaoke night at The Millersville Inn eight years ago, when friends prompted her to sing. Then she occasionally joined local musicians: Melanie and Rick, Jim Caruthers, The Topside Jammers. All say they will miss playing with Jane.
Among those who will miss her most is Elizabeth Laird, a great aunt referred to simply as "Auntie." Every year, Jane visited her in Scotland. These trips provided a bounty of stories Jane recounted with great affection.
One such visit occurred near the new year. The pair were getting off a bus when the driver bid them a Happy New Year in Gaelic.
"What?" Jane inquired. "Hug your knees?"
The laughing driver repeated the phrase and all the passengers repeated Janes misinterpretation.
Also surviving her are father, David Wallace, and stepmother, Joanne Wallace, of Glen Burnie. John Lohman lost the woman he thanks for "teaching me a lot about life, teaching me what love really was." Topside provided Jane a surrogate family: manager Karen Mitchell a sister and co-worker Richard Frankie a brother among others. Owners Morgan and Janet Wayson were regarded with parental respect.
"Its a real tribute to her personality that 150 people were at her funeral," said Morgan Wayson.
Born in Korea while her father was in the army, Jane spent a childhood traveling with an enlisted family and dealing with the deaths of her only sister and her mother. She graduated from Old Mill High School in 1982.
"Dreams unwind, loves a state of mind "
From a Chinese charm worn by friend Chuck Milburn, Jane adopted a mantra that means "Hope, Health and Happiness." May her memory send that message.
Jane Wallace died in a single car accident in the early morning hours on Muddy Creek Road. Let this tragic death remind us to take all roadways with care.
Sharon Fitzpatrick, of Annapolis, debuts in NBT with this tribute to her co-worker.
Loving Louie: Goldstein Recalled as Larger Than Life
Louie Goldstein at a Demo-cratic fundraiser shortly before his death.
The year was 1959. To build support for their presidential candidate, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the Kennedy clan looked to Maryland, Brother Bobby headed out Pennsylvania Avenue not to Baltimore or Annapolis but to Calvert County, to ask the help of Maryland Comptroller Louis Goldstein.
"My father wanted to buy Louies floorboards," Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend recalled, speaking of Robert F. Kennedy, and the antique wooden floor that appealed to him in the Goldstein home. Goldstein "assured my father that the state of Maryland would be supporting John Kennedy for president -- but the floor stayed."
Townsends story was one of many that flowed this week at a Democratic fund-raiser in Chesapeake Beach honoring the late comptroller, Louis Goldstein. An overflowing crowd of 500 at Rod n Reel paid $25 each to hear most of the states prominent Democrats pay tribute to Marylands most fabled politician of modern times. Goldstein, who was a fixture in Maryland politics for more than 60 years, died at his Prince Frederick home last July 3 at age 85, still in elected office.
A collection of photos and memorabilia assembled by Larry Titus, a Maryland state trooper and once Goldsteins driver, prepared the Democrats for what they were about to hear: There were photos of Goldstein and Harry S Truman, Jimmy Carter and, of course, John Kennedy.
There was a 1938 sample election ballot featuring Democrats Willard Tydings for the U.S. Senate, J. Millard Tawes for comptroller -- and Goldstein for the House of Delegates. (Goldstein won.) There was Goldsteins office clock still ticking and plenty of Goldsteins trademark plastic gold coins, emblazoned with his motto: "God bless you all real good."
Senate President Mike Miller reminded the audience that Goldsteins wife, Hazel, whom he outlived, was a defining force in the life of her husband from the breakfast table to the campaign trail. Years ago, when Miller was accompanying the Goldsteins to a campaign event, he returned to the automobile to assure Mrs. Goldstein that Louis would be along shortly.
"Son, dont lie to me," Miller recalled Goldsteins wife and law partner as saying. "Hell be in there as long as he has any more of those damn gold coins left."
U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer spoke of Marylanders attraction to Goldstein during his relentless forays around the state. "People didnt get out to be with him because he was powerful. Because he was a politician. They wanted to be with him because he was a good and decent human being," Hoyer said.
Looking at the table of Goldsteins family, Townsend reflected on the pain of losing a father. As everyone knows, her father, Robert Kennedy, was slain in Los Angeles in 1968, while campaigning for the Democratic nomination for president. She told the audience that Goldstein had left behind the enduring legacy of making not just Maryland better but also its people and its politicians.
Near the end of the evening, Goldsteins son, Philip observed, "Im sure dads looking down right now and smiling and blessing us all real good." And one more thing: If the Kennedys still want that wooden floor, he said, it might be for sale.
Virginians received a sobering admonition from the EPA last week. At a public hearing in Richmond, EPA officials said they planned to place Virginias part of the Chesapeake Bay and many other waterways on a "dirty-water list" requiring swifter clean-ups. Virginia officials complained, saying that the dirty-water designation would get in the way of their "voluntary" clean-up plans
In Pennsylvania, Gov. Tom Ridge says hes tired of fellow Republicans dropping the ball on environmental issues. In a New York Times op-ed, Ridge wrote this week that Republicans need to present alternatives rather than standing firm on the partys "bedrock principal of limited government"
In Maine, government action could put more pressure on a Chesapeake Bay fishery. Last week, Gov. Angus King signed legislation to drastically reduce Maines baby eel harvest. Conservationists had pushed for the limits, but eel fishermen, who are getting top dollar in Asian markets, had passionately opposed them
In California, the Biotic Baking Brigade has struck again. The environmental activists who have pied such notables as San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, Sierra Club director Carl Pope and Monsanto chief operating officer Robert Shapiro last week pelted Chevron CEO Kenneth Derr with pies as he arrived at a high school
Our Creature Feature comes to us from Vermont, where folks are trying to figure out whether to follow the peculiar wishes of a farmer who recently passed to that great pasture in the sky.
In his will, Howard Brand asked that his 1966 Cadillac be crushed when he died. But even weirder, he willed that all of his animals -- four horses and a mule -- "follow him to the grave." Animal-rights advocates say they dont mind seeing the Cadillac crushed but plan to challenge Brands plan for his creatures.