Dock of the Bay

Volume VII Number 34
August 26 - September 1, 1999

  • On West Street, Lothar Wilhelm Klingler Stonewalls Annapolis
  • Tiger Swallowtail and Joe Pye Weeds
  • MaryLandscapes: Blooming Our Way to Y2K
  • Appreciation: Chesapeake Bay Admiral James E. Gutman, 1918-1999
  • Way Downstream ...

  • On West Street, Lothar Wilhelm Klingler Stonewalls Annapolis

    photo by Mary Catherine Ball "I spread the stone out so I can look each one in the face," says stonemason Lothar Klingler. "I look to see what goes where."

    A man stands in the middle of the West Street Circle in Annapolis. His body is drenched in August sweat, his white shirt turned black with dirt stains. A gallon of lukewarm lemonade sits in the hot sun beside him. Lothar Wilhelm Klingler looks around and smiles. He's smiling at the work his hands have done.

    Stone by stone, Klingler is building the stone wall that gives the finishing touch to the city's newest circle. Though still unnamed, the elliptical roundabout replaces the traffic light at the confluence of West Street, Spa Road and Taylor Avenue and is the first step of a massive cosmetic renewal targeting inner West Street. Klingler's stonework duplicates the older wall surrounding Annapolis National Cemetery.

    "You cannot learn stonemasonry. You have it or you don't. It's like a puzzle. You look at the stone and say that could fit. If you can't do that, get another job or don't do puzzles," Klingler says.

    Klingler, who learned the art of stonemasonry in his native Germany at the age of 16, is good at his job. His movements never slow even as he speaks. Moving toward the outer edge of his work area, Klingler considers, then chooses, an oblong stone.

    "I spread the stone out so I can look each one in the face," Klingler explains. "I look to see what goes where."

    Klingler's eyes never focus on the quarried stone he holds. Yet he chips away at it incessantly. His eyes shift. He reaches for the cement mixture in the wheelbarrow, a dry mix that helps prevent dripping down the stonework. After placing the cement on the stone, Klingler slips it in place. A perfect fit.

    Good eyesight is helpful too, Klingler agrees. That and willingness to work.

    photos by Mary Catherine Ball Stone by stone, Klingler pieces together the puzzle that puts the finishing facade on the new circle on West Street in Annapolis.

    Such is the advice from this stonemason, a man who for three months has traveled the road to Annapolis from Silver Spring daily. Klingler tirelessly works for six full days, spending only half of his Sunday at rest. Klingler feels that his good reputation is built on his strong work ethic.

    "Most people nowadays like to start work at nine and go home at three," Klingler says.

    But not him. Not for one day since his arrival in the United States has Klingler taken a day off work. Except for vacations, which are not far removed from work. Klingler ventures to Peru, the Egyptian pyramids and the Greek Acropolis, a collection of "beautiful works" - all in stone.

    Klingler's work isn't half bad either. You may have seen him at work while traveling down the Baltimore Washington Parkway. Most of the stonework on the bridges were completed courtesy of Klingler. One of his memorable works was restoring the Cecil County Railroad Bridge, making something lifeless alive.

    Klingler feels alive as a stonemason. Although his life did not begin in masonry. For a short while, he held a desk job. Klingler passed the days in an architect's office until spring fever caused him to rethink his future. He walked outside and never looked back.

    That is how Klingler arrived here in Annapolis. But his venture to America is a different story. While working in Germany for an American Army contractor, Klingler was told he could make a mint in the United States. In 1963, Klingler, then 27, left his homeland, crossing the Atlantic Ocean, headed for success.

    He first stopped in Canada and then slowly made his way to America in 1964. He still remembers falling in love with the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. The promise of culture and opportunity had Klingler on cloud nine.

    After years of working in America and across the state of Maryland, Klingler's work paid off. He has gained authority in his line of work. A close friend and contractor made the bid on the West Street Circle job. He knew Klingler was the man to do it.

    Over the past months, while steadily working, Klingler has witnessed an Annapolis that is foreign to him. This new Annapolis is "bursting out of its seams." With people in a rush to hit the water, Klingler seems awestruck by the fast pace of life and business.

    "This area is not what it used to be. We used to do business with a handshake. Now there are 18 contracts with little writing. I'm too old for that," Klingler says.

    This is the very reason Klingler looks forward to building a house on Lake Hickory. The North Carolina property lays waiting. But a move will not slow Klingler. Retirement is a word that does not sit well with L.W. Klingler. He plans to practice his craft until his dying day.

    Born and raised in Limburg, Klingler experienced the tragedy of World War II firsthand. Lothar's father Fritz Klingler, a military lawyer, lost his life while he sat at his desk in an unemployment service. Neither he nor the others in the building saw the bomb that claimed their lives.

    But Klingler and his family saw the devastation that remained. Dead bodies were thrown on the streetcar that usually carried people across town. Bodies were hauled en masse to the cemetery. That's an image Klingler never will forget.

    "Whenever somebody gets killed today, they bring in a psychiatrist for the kids. There was none of that for us. It was war," Klingler says.

    Klingler's mother Ellie still lives in the old country. This year she will celebrate her 90th birthday, without her son.

    "I called her to say I would be late visiting Germany this year. I have work to finish here that must be done. She understands that," Klingler says.

    "I eat fast. I work fast. That is how I live."

    -Mary Catherine Ball

    In Season:
    Tiger Swallowtail and Joe Pye Weed

    by Gary Pendleton

    Who was Joe Pye? The legend is that he was a Native American healer who, according to Timothy Coffey in his book The History and Folklore of North American Wildflowers, used the plant that now bears his name to cure typhoid and other diseases.

    Another common name for the plant is Queen of the Meadow. Indeed, this large plant with its great dome-shaped multi-flowered crowns has a regal aspect. The small pinkish-purple flowers produce nectar that is consumed by a variety of butterflies, notably the yellow and black tiger swallowtail. You'll find it growing along roadsides and in poorly drained sunny areas.

    I have Joe Pye weed growing in the yard along with cardinal flower and swamp milkweed, all wetland plants. They are planted in a shallow spot that was dug out to naturally collect rain water diverted from a nearby downspout by a flexible pipe. Plastic edging was purchased for more efficient water containment, and it stands by in the garage, ready to be installed.

    This year of drought should encourage gardeners to think creatively about water use and conservation because water issues are likely to continue to affect all aspects of our lives.

    You can get more information about native plants and find nurseries that sell them by logging onto the Maryland Native Plant website: Or simply type "Maryland native plants" on your search engine.

    MaryLandscapes: Blooming Our Way to Y2K

    Waiting for the new millennium, you can fret or you can get dirty and wet.

    If you're taking part in Maryland 2000 programs, among them planting and visiting gardens, surely you'll be too busy to pay attention to the fearmongers carrying on about the unknown.

    Maryland's Celebrate 2000 Commission is spending $100,000 to fund 29 gardens of native Maryland plants for all of us to enjoy well into the millennium. Local gardens selected in competition include:

    "The MaryLandscapes garden will allow the developmentally and physically disabled to both participate in and simply enjoy the experience of a sensory garden" said Kate Rollason, executive director of the association.

    Corporate donations also have been received for the wheelchair friendly garden; volunteers and other sponsors are being sought. To learn more about The Arc Sensory Garden project, call 410/990-1902.

    Other gardens around Maryland will be planted near recreational areas, visitors' centers, schools and public locations. Each will rely on native trees and plants while minimizing the use of water, fertilizers and pesticides. The gardens will be planted by November 2000 and maintained for at least 10 years.

    The gardens "will serve as living reminders of the importance of protecting our environment, and are an enjoyable way all citizens can help protect the Chesapeake Bay, " said Maryland 2000 Chairman William Donald Schaeffer.

    Maryland 2000 was created "to help Marylanders enter the millennium with a better understanding of its history, a renewed sense of pride in the state and strong confidence."

    -M.L. Faunce

    Chesapeake Bay Admiral James E. Gutman, 1918-1999

    Gutman means "good man" in German, and Jim certainly was that.

    Like me, Jim came to the edge of the Bay in 1971. Left a piece of property on the Bay by a relative, he built a home in Severna Park and made himself an expert on water issues.

    He was a citizen voice in the very earliest deliberations on problems the Bay was facing. He was chairman of the Maryland Water Quality Advisory Commission from 1980-95 and a member of many other Bay advisory groups, including the Citizens Program for the Chesapeake Bay Steering Committee, the Coastal Zone Management Program, Patuxent River Commission and West Chesapeake Basin Water Quality Management Public Advisory.

    Always a voice for good environment, he was not always a voice in concert with Bay managers or prevailing politics.

    Jim was quiet, his voice rarely betraying the edge of frustration he must have often felt. He belabored points when what he was hearing was not in the best interest of Chesapeake Bay. In this his mission, he was indefatigable, persistent as the proverbial dog worrying a bone.

    The Bay, which has no voice of her own, is well served by such stewards who act on her behalf, not on behalf of a personal agenda or focused on some "win-win" negotiation in which both human parties come away with something and the Bay ecosystem invariably comes away with less.

    I share the frustration both Jim and his family must have felt as Parkinson's robbed his mobility and acuity. My father followed the same painful route for almost 16 years from the first symptoms until complications of the disease took his life. Jim's excellent mind must have known quite clearly that this robber was inexorably taking quality of life from him.

    I shared his pain and pride when Gov. Parris Glendening made him Admiral of the Chesapeake four years ago. I know he wished his strength and acumen would hold out so he could see the Bay improve as a result of his long efforts.

    Jim should have been a part of the Political Dialogue Across Generations that the Chesapeake Bay Program is planning to hold at Washington College, perhaps this autumn. His voice, his memories would have given an invaluable perspective. We were not fast enough to have salvaged this wisdom as part of the Bay's history. He died June 16.

    Without people like him, the momentum will wane and we will lose the battle for the Bay.

    -Kent Mountford

    Way Downstream ...

    In California, they're apparently trying to trick high school students into eating prunes. The California Prune Board, which helps to find markets for over 200,000 tons of prunes grown in the state each year, is persuading schools to offer barbecue sauce with prunes, hot dogs made with prunes and even "pruneburgers" made from hamburger and prune puree ...

    In South Carolina, scientists are trying to understand the potential effects of a booming new population of green porcelain crabs that have made their way north from Africa and South America. Researchers say there's no evidence yet that the green crabs threaten Atlantic blue crabs or oysters ...

    Arizona offers yet another tale of an invasion of foreign species. In the Sonoran Desert, which also stretches into California and Mexico, foreign species of grasses now cover 55 million acres. The grasses were brought in from Africa and India for livestock grazing. Now they're robbing native desert plans of nutrients and creating fire hazards when they dry ...

    In Mexico, they're fighting drought by seeding clouds with salt. Researchers say that using salt instead of silver iodide helps wring extra water from clouds, which typically release only 30 percent of their moisture in a thunderstorm ...

    Our Creature Feature comes from Peoa, Utah, where a fellow named Randy Barton organized a most unusual fund-raiser for parks called the Cow Ballet.

    You can imagine that more than a few people were sufficiently intrigued to buy a ticket. And sure enough, what they saw were cows clad in "nothing but tutus," as last Sunday's Salt Lake Tribune described it.

    Alas, the bovine ballet wasn't all that some had hoped: The cows didn't dance but, as Barton observed, the tutu-clad cows were "kind of an artistic vision."

    "It Could've Been Me"

    I could have written that Dock of the Bay story.

    If that's what you're thinking, NBT is looking for you.

    Especially if you're alert to what's happening in your village, town or region. We're seeking alert eyes and easy, dispassionate voices in all the communities where New Bay Times is distributed. From Pasadena and Severna Park to Solomons. From Bowie and Crofton to Chesapeake Beach. From Arnold to Riva. From Mayo to Crownsville.

    If you're published, great. You'll have a head start on turning events and undercurrents into factual, timely, intimate and appealing stories.

    If you're aspiring, just as good. Here at New Bay Times, we call ourself a teaching newspaper. Our editors are not only seasoned, prize-winning journalists but also experienced college professors. If you dream of writing and are not afraid of either jumping right in or doing hard work, New Bay Times is the place to test your dreams. Our interns and contributors have gone on to big things.

    We offer excellent editing, the ears and eyes of 40,000 readers and small honoraria.

    Experienced or aspiring, introduce yourself to Editor Sandra Martin at New Bay Times, P.O. Box 358, Deale, MD 20751 · fax 410/867-0307 · email Calls are welcome after you've written, on Mondays, Thursdays or Fridays.

    | Issue 34 |

    Volume VII Number 34
    August 26 - September 1, 1999
    New Bay Times

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