A Cavalcade of Dock of the Bay

In Dock of the Bay, you read the news as it was meant to be written: with drama, value and punch. Here in review, some of our favorite subjects... Dock of the Bay

Volume VII Number 52
December 30, 1999 - January 5, 2000

People in Our Neighborhood.

We're fascinated by the diversity of the people who create our Chesapeake community. You meet many of them - and see the odd assortment of hats they wear - in Dock of the Bay.

Neighbor Thomas Harris of Fishing Creek Farms on the South River is our nation's man on the money. As newly appointed deputy director of the U.S. Bureau of Engraving, he oversees the making of gazillions of dollars in U. S. currency and postage stamps. That job, reporter Don Kehne told us ...

Requires a rare conjunction of skills: a printer's eye, a businessman's savvy, a leader's wisdom - and Abe Lincoln's honesty.


Captain Kenneth 'Action' Jackson turned 80 on April Fool's Day, but he doesn't want no rocking chair to get him. He's worked a charter boat out of Deale part or full time for 64 years, and he's not quitting yet. He spent the last season of the 20th century as mate aboard Loosen Up because, he says, There ain't nothin' like fishin'.


Chesapeake Country's own Redskinette, Cynthia DeFrancesco. Here, in the words of writer Mike Salmon, is how the squad's oldest rookie made the team:

She spent the last year in the gym running, riding and kick-boxing to get in shape. She went to a three-day Redskinette camp to learn routines and work on her skills. This time when the tryouts came, she was ready.


Writer, editor and sailor Kimbra Cutlip of Galesville - and her first book Sailor's Night Before Christmas, a holiday tale for Chesapeake Country, written for her first child, Sienna:

Twar the night a'fore Christmas on Fisherman's Bay

And the wind she war calm, like she had been all day.

The sails they war stowed an' the sea war like glass,

But the red sky that morn' told me it wouldn't last


Calvert County's Santa Claus: At 6'5", 412 pounds, Gene Utterback, of Huntingtown, has no need to glue on whiskers. He'll make you double-check your calendar even in the heat of the summer, wrote Lori Sikorski.


AA County's Women Heroes. We do our best to applaud people of achievement, as we did when M.L. Faunce covered the Fannie Lou Hamer Reception, honoring six women for keeping her ideals of civil and women's rights: Alderwoman Ellen O. Moyer and Edith M. Knight, from Annapolis; Marge Huggins, from Glen Burnie; Jean Pitt, from Lothian; Lavertta Tilghman Harden and Glenda Gathers from Severn.


Marion Warren's Friends and Neighbors. When the portrait show of Bay Country's eminent photographer opened in September at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, Annapolis was abuzz waiting to see whose pictures would be on display. There was plenty to see - 110 photos, all told, and not just political leaders.

Said Warren: A young man came in to put in a new garbage disposal, and I asked him to sit for a portrait. I have portraits of my paperboy and the postman.

Challenges, Victories, Defeats

In 1999, much-contested Franklin Point, one of the largest undeveloped Bayfront tracts in the region, became public property when the state gave would-be developer Dominic Antonelli a check for $5.8 million. The lump payment ended $900 a day in interest charges. Anne Arundel County must repay Maryland its 50-percent share of the deal.


Another land-use war broke our in the Deale-Shady Side region, this one over the re-emergence of long-dormant plans to build a Safeway shopping center the size of 11 football fields at the intersection of Routes 256 and 258.


Meanwhile, citizen Small Area Planning Committees, appointed by Anne Arundel County Executive Janet Owens, convened to figure out how the county's general plan should be carried out throughout Southern Anne Arundel over the next 25 years. Development, of course, is the biggest issue they'll consider.


On another environmental front, we lost one this year with the apparent demise of ComPRO. The gardener's great friend, concocted by Maryland Environmental Service from Washington and Baltimore sewage sludge composted with wood chips, went the way of the dodo when Montgomery Countians complained that the processing plant, situated in their back yard, stank.

Continuing the waste-to-garden legacy of the 1970s, ComPRO is survived by Leafgro, an organic earth enricher made from leaves composted with grass clippings, wrote reporter Mary Catherine Ball.

Nothing Upstages Mother Nature:

No, the biggest woofer of the year wasn't Max, the 105-pound newspaper Lab. It was Hurricane Floyd, who threatened us for days and then finally blew on by, dumping a few buckets full of rain in its wake. Floyd was a flop, Sam Ginder wrote. But not too puny to foil Baltimore Gas and Electric, whose shortcomings left many Baysiders in the dark for days.


It's clearly big doings when the Conowingo Dam opens, spilling thousands of tons of driftwood and junk into Chesapeake Bay and onto Chesapeake beaches. What's happening? Same thing just about every year - unless Del. Dick D'Amato succeeds in stanching the flow in the General Assembly this year. For, as we reported last year (and do almost annually), the dumping is a rite of early spring brought on by rising waters in the Susquehanna River.


Drying Times. Even the old-timers couldn't remember being this rain-deprived. We did our best to offer hints, like using "graywater" - the lightly used leftovers from laundry and dish-washing - to water gardens. We told you how to run your washing machine's hose into buckets, but we let you choose whether to water the azaleas or the hydrangeas.


Caught in the web. Few Baysiders can remember a more spidery late summer, when the concentric circles of webs stretched out on Bay buildings and trees. Bet you didn't know that Maryland is home to more than 600 species of spiders. You learned that if you read Kim Cammarata, who wrote in these pages: Stroll down a wooded path, especially in the early morning, and before long you'll feel the silky strands of a spider's web clinging to your eyelashes, your face, your hair.

Big Doings

What's happening? Curiosity - yours and ours - is the quality that keeps newspapers in business. So we couldn't sleep at night - literally - until we could explain the giant floodlights shining brightly on Chesapeake Bay over Tilghman Island way. One answer, reported by new intern Donna Ayres last January:

Men at work round the clock on Maryland's biggest public work project, rebuilding Poplar Island with Baltimore harbor dredge spoils. By the way, those lights are still shining.


Lighthouses are Chesapeake Country institutions, so it was a big deal when Calvert Marine Museum added the tapering tower known as Cove Point to its keeping this year. This rounds the museum's collection to a nice round two and a quarter, the others being Drum Point Light and a few chunks of Cedar Point Light, reporter Mark Burns noted.

You learn more about those lighthouses in the months ahead: We promise.

Custom and Mores

We leapt into the cold waters of January to report on the strange custom of polar plunging.

My body was shutting down, my limbs no longer obeying the commands shouted from my mind: Lift left leg, move forward; lift right leg, move forward wrote plunger and NBT general manager Alex Knoll, one of 1,000 cold-blooded men and women who braved the January Bay to help the Maryland State Police raise money for the Special Olympics.

In preparation for this year's 25th running of the Roedown Races, horsewoman Aloysia Hamalainen tipped unhorsey readers on the etiquette of an event that combines a day at races with many picnics on the grass:

There are sometimes spills, run-outs and other racing accidents that hopefully will be minor. This is where restraint is important even if it means your rival wins. "Too bad" and a shake of the head works well ...


We learned a bit about the ushers who minister to the congregations of African American churches from contributing editor Carol Glover, who tracked an exhibition at the Smithsonian's Anacostia Museum back to real people in Calvert County:

Ushers are very important people, explained Calvert County's Adelle Harris. They are the first person seen when you open the door.


When time came to wonder how to get tickets to see Colonial Player's ever-popular A Christmas Carol, we observed an early-bird victory through reporter Christy Grimes' sleepy eyes. You can't linger if you hope to get tickets to Colonial Player's annual gift to the community, we learned:

Folks started lining up East Street from the theater doors late Friday night, and by 7am Saturday the line wrapped around a sector of State Circle and down Maryland Avenue almost as far as Prince George Street ...

At Christmas, Grimes also examined the gift-giving custom of St. John's college seniors under the title "Ideal Gifts: A Newton Apple 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. This year's class - which like all others read Sir Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica in their junior year - replaced their trademark Liberty Tree with an apple tree descended from the very apple that supposedly brained Newton in the 17th century.

Off-Beat and Just-Plain Strange

Mark Burns' story "Falling for Work" told a story of human foibles.

"I break my toe every year, and it's always the same one," says Bill Leaman, 30. "But fingers don't count in this business; you have too many extra." For six years, he's plummeted from buildings, crashed through windows and swashbuckled for fun and extra money at Adventure World. Today he's striving for a spot in the Batman Thrill Spectacular...

In "Breakdown: The Real Action is Between the Boat Shows," Christy Grimes captured the angst and odd-doings when the U.S. Sailboat Show gives way to the U.S. Powerboat Show in Annapolis, a time when a wrong move can damage one of the floating pleasure palaces.

After interviewing tipsy gawkers, she quoted an Eastportorican as saying: Taking a boat out of here is like being a lounge act in a really bad club.


Way, Way Downstream. Each week at the end of Dock of the Bay, we bring you a collection of humor- and green-tinted offerings gleaned from reading newspapers from around the world. None was weirder than the fate of a British woman, Samantha Munn, who "blew up like a giant balloon" after landing on a helium balloon needle.

Doctors decided against puncturing her to let out the gas, choosing instead to let her deflate naturally. We admired her humor amid trying circumstances. Said Samantha:

I was thinking that if I died, they would have to put me in a giant coffin, and people wouldn't know whether to laugh or cry.

So Many Farewells

Historian David Holly had sailed the seven seas, but his feet were planted deep in Chesapeake mud, recalled his friend Donald Shomette. The author of Chesapeake Steamboats: Vanished Fleets led three lives before he left our Chesapeake Shores in February. He was university professor, de facto commander of the Republic of Korea Navy and Chesapeake Bay's most knowledgeable source on steamboats.

David Holly died at 83 on Feb. 12.

Barkeep and sit-in singer Jane Wallace had many jobs in her 15 years at The Topside Inn, in Galesville, but, wrote eulogist Sharon Fitzpatrick ...

Bartending suited her best because she listened with compassionate interest and accepted other people in as-is condition.

Jane Wallace died at 34 on March 12.


In German, gutman means good man. James E. Gutman more than lived up to his name during his eight decades on earth. He was a persuasive voice in the early battles to restore the Chesapeake and he sat on a host of panels and committees, giving selflessly of his time.

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

James Gutman died at 81 on June 16.


With the death of Annapolis' jazz legend Charlie Byrd, from cancer, we'll have less music in our lives. At his passing, we reprised Byrd's own words, from our 1993 interview. Here he reflects on his early musical days:

I was 18, and I thought I was the best. I could always improvise, and I knew from the beginning that music was it for me. There weren't too many people I couldn't beat.

Charlie Byrd died at 76 on Dec. 2.


We mourned more than humans. Liberty, the 400-year-old tulip popular tree and fixture on the campus of St. John's College in Annapolis, was a victim of Hurricane Floyd. Hundreds turned out to pay their respects to a natural wonder that provided cover when the Sons of Liberty gathered over two centuries ago to spur the American Revolution.

Mortally wounded, Liberty was chopped down on October 25.


| Issue 52 |

Volume VII Number 52
December 30, 1999 - January 5, 2000
New Bay Times

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