Dock of the Bay

Volume VII Number 50
December 16-22, 1999

Give a Gift of Goodwill

I love the Christmas-tide, and yet
I notice this, each year I live;
I always like the gifts I get,
But how I love the gifts I give!

       -Carolyn Wells

Again the time is upon us to reach into our hearts as well as our pockets to give. There are many gifts we can give and many places that are begging to receive.

One such place is the Salvation Army of Annapolis. Every year since 1885, local members dressed in dark uniforms ring bells around kettles on corners and in storefronts. Always in good cheer, they seek songs, sometimes in exchange for carols. This year the Christmas Kettle campaign is hoping to raise $110,000. You will find the kettles placed all over the city of Annapolis and throughout Anne Arundel County.

The change you can spare will help support a variety of valuable community programs, including child care, summer camps and year-round emergency services.

"This is when we really raise the funds to last us through the summer and into next winter too," said one member. "We find that more people dig just a bit deeper during this time of year."

The Salvation Army is also accepting donations of canned food and dry staples for Christmas baskets. Canned vegetables and fruit, soup, pasta, macaroni and cheese, cereal and baby food are among the items most needed. Call Carolyn Burge at 410/263-4091 to find out more.

The Marine Republic of Eastport will again be delivering food and presents to 35 local families who can use a little extra help during the holiday season. Citizens and foreign nationals are invited to wrap presents at 7pm Thurs. Dec. 16 at First Baptist Church of Eastport, 208 Chesapeake Ave. Deliveries will be prepared at 9am Sat. Dec. 18 in the church parking lot. To give or help, call Doug Lamborne at 410/263-1606.

Also looking for food and other donations for their Christmas shoe boxes is Grace Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Edgewater. "We have so many to fill this year and we are in need of personal grooming items as well as small gifts to put into the boxes," said a spokesperson.

To be delivered in time for Christmas, boxes must be full by beginning of next week. Call 410/956-2083 to help.

North Beach Children's Fund also hopes to wrap up their packages by next week. They're still seeking toy donations to add to the coats, hats and gloves that will be given to the children. Organizers tell us that they hope to receive more than half of the total donations over this weekend.

Farther south in Prince Frederick, Project Echo is also hoping for last minute donations. Since 1993, Project Echo has sheltered the homeless, with as many as 25 people under their roof. "We would like to be able to give everyone something this year," says shelter director Lori Hony.

Hony isn't looking for just the usual holiday goodies. "Sure, the kids love the toys," she says. "But they need clothing and grooming items. Coats and socks are nice gifts, even chapsticks and slippers."

The house would run smoother, Hony adds, with a new vacuum and a new television. Nowadays, the only one in the house has to be turned on and off with scissors. Her ongoing wish list includes cleaning products, cereal, paper towels, shampoos, soap and such. "We certainly do appreciate any donation, not only this time of year but all year," Hony says.

Christmas Eve dinner at Project Echo will be served by St. John Vianney Church with John and Valerie Pappas carrying on a five-year tradition, a reading of Christmas story. On Christmas day, Bobby Dozier and Emmanuel Baptist Church will serve dinner at 6:30pm.

To make a food donation or to lend a hand for the dinner, call Lori Hony at 410/257-0003. Or mail your donation to P.O. Box 2764, Prince Frederick, MD 20678.

Many other churches and organizations are still in dire need of your generosity. Now is the time to share goodwill in hopes that peace will follow.

-Lori L. Sikorski

Giving : Calvert County's Clauses

San'ta Claus, San'ta Klaus­In folklore, a jolly, white-bearded, old man in a red suit, who lives at the North Pole, makes toys for children and distributes gifts at Christmas time; also called Saint Nicholas, Saint Nick.

-Webster's New Twentieth Century Dictionary, 1971 edition

Santa's description never seems to change. This time of year you will find many men in red suits passing out the candy canes and good cheer. Some will put on beards and tuck in a pillow or two. Others, like Gene Utterback of Huntingtown, only have to don the suit.

At 6'5", 412 pounds, this Santa has no need to glue on whiskers. He'll make you double-check your calendar even in the heat of the summer.

Bringing joy for the past five years to all ages, Utterback - with wife Wanda Conaway, his Mrs. Claus, and daughter Charlotte Utterback, an elf - make the holidays a family tradition.

"I can remember my father dressing up on Christmas Eve and ringing bells around the neighborhood," recalls Utterback, of the 30-year tradition he inherited. "People would come out and you could feel the spirit."

That Santa, Richard Utterback, passed away in 1991, just four days shy of Christmas. Three years later, Gene decided the spirit would continue. "Not just because it was something that my father had done for so many years," he says. "It is the feeling that you get and the joy that it brings to the children."

Joy is a gift Utterback does not take for granted. A three-time cancer survivor, he has not always been able to be jolly. After the last diagnosis in 1996, chemotherapy treatments left him so weak he decided to let the suit hang in the closet for the holidays.

In August 1997, doctors told him that he might not make it to Thanksgiving. If anyone could have used divine intervention and some Christmas magic then, Utterback could have.

"The Monday before Thanksgiving, my doctor called to tell me the cancer had gone into remission. I made a phone call to a lady in Eastport to make me a new Santa suit as quick as she could." The seamstress also made Wanda her Mrs. Claus suit and an elf outfit for Charlotte.

Dressed for the job, the family has caused many a second look.

"Once, while on our way to perform our Santa magic, we had to make a stop. Mrs. Claus ran in and I waited in the car, trying not to draw attention to myself in the suit. It didn't take long before children were at the car door telling me their wishes." After an hour and a half of doing 'Santa work,' the Clauses made it to their original destination.

But it isn't the suit that makes the man. At dinner recently, dressed as the tax accountant that he is, he found children eyeing him in wonder. "I get it all the time," he says.

Yes, you read it right; Utterback is a tax accountant. His business, Alliance Tax & Business Consultant Limited, has offices in both Annapolis and Severna Park. "Santa can't build toys all year round," Utterback chuckles.

In the Santa business, the Utterbacks follow three rules.

"Rule one is that no one sees us in partial costume. We have to be in complete suit when we are with the children. Second is that no one smokes while they are playing the part." This rule is mostly for Mrs. Claus, Santa teases. "Rule three is that we never turn any child away that wants to sit on Santa's lap."

This is the most important rule for Utterback. "No child should have to pay to see Santa. I won't allow it."

He complains that many places of business have hired him so they can charge for pictures. "We've already had to turn five down this year. If you come to see us and you want a picture, you can bring your own camera or we will provide a picture for the children for free."

The Utterbacks do their Santa work for love, never for loot.

This week Santa received his own holiday gift, learning that the cancer is still in total remission.

"With all that I have been through, I could choose to be bitter and miserable or I could grin and bear it. I choose to play whatever hand is dealt me in a happy and positive way," says Santa. "It sure makes life a lot better."

Santa Utterback pays a visit to Project Echo, sheltering the homeless in Prince Frederick, on Dec. 22: 410/535-5047.

-Lori L. Sikorski

In the Mix for a Musical Christmas

Stockings are hung by the chimney with care. Wrapped presents surround the pine tree. Christmas carols fill the air.

But you want something more this year. You wanna rock.

Whether you seek a revamped Christmas classic or a fresh new alternative tune to deck those halls, you needn't look far. Area musicians deliver a holiday mix of mellow instrumentals and rousing rock 'n' roll on their latest album, An Annapolis Christmas II.

"We're really blessed here in this town with the talent we have, musically and artistically," said executive producer Steve Alexander.

Locals Divine Static, with leader Eric Scott and background vocalist Tierney Allen, bring an up-tempo melody to folk rock with "Ain't No Merry Christmas."

Blue Miracle combines jazz with a go-go beat in their rendition of "Silent Night," featuring lively saxophone riffs. This local band isn't afraid to feel the music, and they'll have you bouncing to their beat.

The Remnants remind you it's Christmas time again, with their rocking "Happy Xmas."

High Tide Steel Drum Band leans toward heavy percussion with a Caribbean flavor.

Dec. 13, Ram's Head Tavern hosted the release of the album with live performances. Christmas wreaths and ribbons lined the walls, but many musicians donned Hawaiian shirts for the festivities.

Doug Segree, Dean Rosenthal and John Fahres lent their voices to the evening and to this year's album as well. Onlookers danced and imitated the musicians. Rosenthal climbed the stage to the chants of the audience.

The music sounds great on the recording, but Annapolis musicians really rock the house live, the audience agreed.

All proceeds from the sales of An Annapolis Christmas II and the release party benefit the pediatric wing of Anne Arundel Medical Center at Rebecca Clatanoff Pavilion.

"It means a lot for the community to support us because we're dedicated to taking care of your children," said Terry Maliszewski.

To purchase or learn more about An Annapolis Christmas II, go to www.

-Mary Catherine Ball

A Gift to Last: A Newton from the Johnnies

Tough as it is to pick good gifts for your own people, imagine doing it for a whole school. St. John's graduating class does it every year with flair. Notably and coincidentally, this year's class gift replaced their trademark Liberty Tree with an apple tree descended from the very apple that supposedly brained Sir Isaac Newton in the 17th century.

Other class gifts have been as vivid. Thanks to an endowment from the class of 1995, St. John's students are treated to a jazz concert every year's end. An earlier class commissioned an Eastport painter to create a portrait of former dean Eva Brann. A recent crop of graduates pledged copies of books used in classes to be stocked in the school library for needy students.

"The graduating class is small," notes St. John's vice president Jeff Bishop. "With 90 to 100 students, they don't have much money to work with. But with limited resources they're very imaginative."

Gift giving is a custom recently revived from early this century. "The bell on McDowell Hall, for example, is a gift from the class of 1907," says Joan Ruch, St. John's Director of Annual Giving. The gifts are usually centered on the St. John's curriculum.

"The nice thing is, students come up with things they think will benefit future generations of students," says Ruch.

A student had read in the Farmer's Almanac that the legendary apples were available from Woolsthorpe Manor, Newton's mother's estate and site of the apple tree under which Newton sat when an overripe apple beaned him, inspiring his theory of gravity. St. John's students read Newton's Principia Mathematica in their junior year. Senior class gift leader Kelly O'Malley phoned Woolsthorpe's curator.

"He was nice and very helpful. They loved the idea," she says. For only the cost of postage, "they sent the actual apple, a big red one. It was a little the worse for wear."

The Flower of Kent is an antique variety of cooking apple. Normally golden with an orange blush, this one was "multicolored, ranging from deep reds to greenish yellow," according to Greg Stiverson, director of Londontown Park, which will cultivate the seedlings.

"Londontown is the obvious choice, since they're also trying to propagate descendants of Johnny Appleseed trees," says O'Malley.

Three Johnny Appleseed trees already grow at Londontown, which also cultivates 17th and 18th century apple trees. "We're building a stock of historic varieties," Stiverson explains. "One is Pippin, the most common eating and cooking apple in colonial America, and also Queen Victoria's favorite."

St. John's class of '00 presented Stiverson with their Newton apple. "We ceremoniously whacked it apart," Stiverson recalls. "Much to our shock and chagrin, there were only 2 seeds in that great big apple. That puts pressure on us to get a sprout."

An apple seed takes three or four years to become a seedling. "We're hoping to plant it at our fifth reunion," says O'Malley.

Since apple trees bear fruit only after 10 or 12 years, "it'll be a while before we start testing theories of universal gravitation," she adds.

-Christy Grimes

Hundreds gathered at City Dock last Thursday for the Alex Haley memorial unveiling. Following Kunta Kinte, who he portrayed over 20 years ago in the miniseries Roots, actor John Amos arrived at City Dock by boat to deliver the keynote address. Unveiling the Alex Haley statue are, left to right: Sen. Paul Sarbanes, County Executive Janet Owens, Gov. Parris Glendening, Amos, William Haley and Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Foundation President Leonard Blackshear. photo by Christy Grimes

Way Downstream ...

In Chicago, the American Planning Association's national awards for Smart Growth planning are in and we won. Maryland is one of six states being recognized for "exceptional action" toward combating urban sprawl and protecting open spaces. Other winners are New Jersey, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Oregon and Washington state ...

In Seattle, it's surely only coincidence but Starbucks, whose shops were attacked by protesters this month at the World Trade Organization, has abandoned plans to develop a more environmentally friendly coffee cup, the Wall Street Journal reports ...

In New York, something was wrong with the fish being served at fancy restaurants. Last week, federal authorities filed charges against five fish dealers who caught 18,000 pounds of rockfish in polluted waters and then sold it illegally in Manhattan ...

In China, trackers have a daunting prey: Big Foot. That's right, the legendary shaggy beast, who stands eight feet tall, was spotted in the Shennongjia Nature Reserve this fall, USA Today reported last week ...

Our Creature Feature comes to us from Britain, and it concerns the animal we know best, the human. According to the Houston Chronicle, a woman named Samantha Munn "blew up like a giant balloon" after she accidentally impaled herself on a helium gas nozzle.

Doctors decided against puncturing her with needles, choosing instead to let her body slowly expel the nonpoisonous gas. To her, it wasn't funny: "I was thinking that if I died, they would have to put me in a giant coffin," she said, "and people wouldn't know whether to laugh or cry."

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Volume VII Number 50
December 16-22, 1999
New Bay Times

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