Chesapeake Country
at Millennium's End

Looking back through our 1999 pages at a very big year

Our People - You Met All Sorts

Swing dancers

Our dancing reporter Donna Ayres - along with photographer Mark Burns - toured the thriving local swing dance scene introducing you to the dancers and the dances:

Chesapeake Country is speaking a new language: the language of swing. On a recent Wednesday, novice and experienced Lindy Hoppers gathered again to speak that language. As instructors Gay and Dave Shepardson called out the steps, students intently swiveled their bodies and kicked their legs



Hobbies along the Bay come in many forms, as writer Christopher Heagy proved in his profile of pigeon expert George Adriani.

I've been racing since the 1940s. The train would take the birds to Charlottesville or another stop down the line and the station master would let their birds go. The first boy that got a bird back would run around and check with the other guys. If no one else had a bird, he was the winner.


Unity Walkers

From Ocean City, seven stepped out on faith to walk 3,200 miles across the country for the sake of a National Unity Day. The Annapolis expedition led by Paul Callens was set in motion by the city's unified response to a Ku Klux Klan rally.

To look back and see 100 people following you is just stirring, said Callens as the march crossed the Ocean City bridge.

We followed their progress across the country. By Annapolis, the number was five. By West Virginia, three were still walking. In October, two of the original walkers - plus one new walker and a pair of helpers - arrived in San Francisco. They'd had to ride across the desert, but they made it and claimed victory.


Millennium managers

We did our best to add a note of sanity to the scaremongering accompanying the calendar change. In a feature-length interview in November, Maryland 2000 executive director Louise Hayman told us about MaryLandscapes, preservation efforts and programs that will endure long after the champagne fizz of New Year's Eve is gone.

We're focusing on everything that is going to happen during the year 2000 We invented it completely; no one has ever done anything like this before. There was no manual about how to do a millennial celebration.


Grandmothers Galore

In our "Living Treasures" feature in October, we introduced some of the women who have helped to shape our Chesapeake community.


New bosses

Interviewed by self-employed journaling teacher Rosalie Evans, a half dozen self-employed Chesapeake citizens shared their success stories and offered tips on independence. The new bosses: consultant Doug Coulson; Shiatsu therapist Leeann Irwin; animal communicator Janet Shepherd; counselor Norman Lowrey; novelist Carol Bennett; and, of course, Evans herself.

Writers, Performers, Artists

Native Daughter Parris Lane

The versatile singer told us about her roots:

I had two older sisters who sang, so basically I was around music. My next-door neighbor, Miss Annie Henry, was the minister of music at the Asbury United Methodist Church on West Street. When she would practice, I could hear the music coming through the walls.


John W. Taylor: Naturalist and Artist

Chesapeake Spring begins early - in January, according to the man who's written and illustrated the book on the subject. His Chesapeake Spring documents the season's progress with observations of over 200 animals, amphibians, reptiles, flowers and trees. Says Taylor:

One could hold with good cause that there are not four seasons at all in this part of the world, but only two, spring and fall. For one half of the year, the days become progressively longer; during the other half, the amount of daylight lessens. In Chesapeake latitudes, the first day of winter might well count as the first day of spring.


Visionary Art & Artists

We took you to the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore and introduced you to works that you might have thought pop up only in dreams. There was, for example, psychic Uri Geller's 1976 Cadillac adorned with 5,000 mentally bent forks and spoons. Then there's junk-sculptor Bob Kelbaugh, of Shady Side, who recycles throwaway metals and spare parts into masterpieces you can't forget.


Bay Country Theater

Writer Carol Glover chronicled the efforts of a dozen community theater troupes in the region. One of their directors, Bob Kauffman, chairman of Anne Arundel Community College's performing arts department, helped us understand what we see on the stage:

Theater is part of our cultural heritage. It shows us life as it is and as it should be. It shows us fantasy worlds and provides comic relief from everyday humdrum affairs. We can go to a serious show and say 'there but for the grace of God go I'.


Stage Aspirations

In a feature interview in June, casting agent Sharon Steele told us what it takes to become an actor - and what you don't need. Said she: There are plenty of actors with ego and attitude. I tell them to leave it at home.


Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts

The Annapolis institution is where talented people gather and in an NBT interview, executive director Linnell Bowen told us why:

There's magic at Maryland Hall, and I would love for others to experience that magic.

On the Water

Chesapeake Country is as much water as land. Europeans came here by boat, and from the beginning boats have given us a living and a way of life.

Not to mention adventure.

We began our year with a cold water cautionary tale of a pair of kayakers overtaken by fog on Chincoteague Bay. NBT co-founders Bill Lambrecht and Sandra Martin scraped by with only a scare. The same day, not seven miles away, a commercial fisherman died when his boat went down in 53-degree waters.

We celebrated Maryland's boating tradition this year with our Boat Ride series, boarding four of the Bay's distinctive vessels to tell you their stories under the banner "Boat Rides on the Bay."

With the coming of the U.S. Sail- and Powerboat Shows to Annapolis in October, we visited the city's only production boat builder, Performance Cruising of Eastport, to record how Gemini Catamarans rise from designer Tony Smith's molds.

Finally, in November, you heard in Captain Wade Murphy's own words how his boat and the Bay's oldest skipjack, the Rebecca T. Ruark, rose from the cold waters of the Choptank River after foundering on the second day of oyster season when ...

Seas turned rough, very rough. It was the biggest seas I've ever seen in my life on the Choptank River. She started diving her bow under. Sometimes there'd be water up on my forward deck up to my waist. My crew was scared to death

Chesapeake Country Life and Lore:

Chesapeake history is a book we can't stop reading.

A chapter that's getting more familiar each year is our region's African American history. For Black History Month this year, editor Sandra Martin took a look at the "Big and Baby Steps" taken by our cultural institutions in telling the story:

African American history has been the hidden treasure of Chesapeake Country. Slow to be mined, it's a treasure now being recovered in sparkling lodes and veins revealed for all the world to see


Love's the chapter that catches our attention every Valentine's Day. This year we considered sweet words - love letters, billets-doux and valentines, taking a special side trip to Surratt House in Clinton to see its extraordinary collection of valentines. This age-old, world-wide custom continues strong into the electronic age, we're happy to report:

Millennia later, the same old urges are urgent as ever. About the time the groundhog seeks his shadow, the birds start singing and the sap starts rising, Valentine's cards - and all the holiday's attendant parade - make their appearance.


The synchronicity of April Fool's and Maryland Day gave us a new take on another chapter of history. "State House Snatched!" we wrote on April 1, using the occasion - and Mark Burns' inimitable comic style - to revive the rivalry of Puritan and Cavalier and retell the story of how Annapolis replaced St. Mary's City as Maryland's capital.

~ Done in the Dark of Night;

~ Sen. Mike Miller, a Southern Marylander, Rejoices;

~ AA Co. Ex. Owens Sees Open Space Benefit;

~ "Finders, Keepers," says St. Mary's City.


Annapolis' family of statues experienced a baby boom this year, with the December arrival of the Kunta Kinte-Alex Haley Memorial. On Dec. 9, the day of the unveiling, NBT introduced not only the four newcomers but also the whole family:

It isn't a very large family. Unlike the District of Columbia and many other state capitals, Annapolis has not turned to statues to commemorate its shared triumphs, salve our losses or uplift the spirits of the living. Alex Haley and company account for as many as have joined the family in the past 75 years



Inspired by Marion Warren, Chesapeake Country's signature photographer, writer Christopher Heagy caught us as we were on the brink of the millennium in "A Day in the Life ~ Annapolis."

What were we doing this November day?

Savoring the sunrise; cleaning up the city's mess; checking parking meters; breakfasting on the fly; rebuilding Eastport; saving a boat, finding a friend; cooking fried fish and chicken at Zion United Methodist Church; stopping traffic; remembering the dead; working with feet; looking back in history; emptying Hechinger's shelves; waiting for shoppers at Johnson's on the Avenue; catching a game at Alumni Hall; serving beer; talking on the radio; finishing a song; figuring out how to get it all down.

Bay Creatures

Oysters are a favorite Chesapeake Country creature, and NBT's hot on the trail of their recovery. Each year, we track a new recovery strategy. In 1999, in "At Century's End, Last Harvest, New Hopes" we reported Standish Allen's work at the Virginia Marine Institute crossbreeding disease-resistant oysters to get a mollusk that will survive both of the Bay's deadly oyster plagues, dermo and MSX.

The single-mindedness that once went into harvesting oysters goes now to their planting. The wild oyster still survives in Chesapeake Bay - with a lot of help.

In what's being called the Mikulski project, $450,000 is on its way from the Department of Commerce to test CROSBreed oysters in five plots in the Maryland Bay.

At Rest & Play

We don't take nearly enough time to play (do you?), so we try to make up for it by writing lots of stories about the many good ways to spend time off in Chesapeake Country.

New Wave Restaurant

A Tsunami is more than a monster sea wave. In Annapolis, it's a new wave restaurant with oodles of sushi and trendy treats. Writer Heagy took you into the minds of the young entrepreneurs who risked plenty to open their dream establishment.


Our mild climate is fine for flowers - unless your soil is clay. Just in time for spring, writer-gardener Patricia Acton told us how she learned to garden in Chesapeake Country on one-third of an acre full of poison ivy and scraggly bushes with no names.


Women's Sports

In "How Dreams Come True," Kristin Hagert took us on the field and into the locker room of a college lacrosse team. It is not always a pretty sight. I've had my share of black eyes, fat lips and bloody fingers, she wrote.

And we rode with Anna Chaney on her four-day, 330-mile bicycle journey from Raleigh, N.C., to Washington, D.C., which helped raise $4.8 million for AIDS research. I think I did it because I thought I couldn't, Chaney said to writer Mary Catherine Ball.



In one of our favorite '99 stories, Christopher Heagy spent time with ballplayers who keep at it for the love of the game, not just the money and the fame. I've tried to walk away, said Baysox pitcher Terry Rosenkranz, who, pushing 30, is still chasing his dream. Baseball is like an addiction.

We love to help you celebrate your holidays.

On Earth Day, which is our birthday, NBT co-founder and general manager J. Alex Knoll took you "Inside New Bay Times" to tell you how we were born and what we strive to do each week. He wrote that the paper is a family business and dream of three journalists with writing in their blood ...

On Father's Day, we presented a revealing portrait of the relationship between First Lady Frances Glendening and her father, former Maryland General Assembly member George Raymond Hughes who, unlike her husband, was a Republican.

On the Fourth of July, we gave you, as usual, the region's best calendar of fireworks - plus a bonus: a behind-the-scenes trip into a fireworks factory. As Burns wrote: For you and me, it's 20 minutes of high-impact thrills and colored stardust. But people like Dennis Coster work all year long or we Marylanders would have nary a sparkler.

September wouldn't take place without the annual New Bay Times-Bill Burton Fishing Frenzy and this year's tournament with 70 entrants was something special. This year's whopper won Andy Charney, of Fairfax, Va., a day of fishing, food and fun at Harrison's Chesapeake Inn on Tilghman Island. Stay tuned for next year's event and all the wacky coverage that surrounds it. Said Burton: We're having too damn much fun to stop it now.

As the weather cooled, we chronicled the Thanksgiving-season generosity of Chesapeake Country volunteers like the Friends of Calvert Cliffs State Park, whose giving natures have kept open the 1,460-acre Mecca for fossil-hunters, and Mohan Grover, of Shady Side, who is known for the collection jars for worthy causes on the counter of his Renno's Food Market.


Finally came Christmas. We celebrate the season with three traditional issues. First, Local Bounty, our annual and very portable supplement, details all the things to do in Chesapeake Country - and a bit beyond - in this month of holiday celebrations.

Next came our 11th-Hour Guide to Shopping Solutions, in which the NBT family share their strategies for successful shopping for everyone from father-in-law to family dog.

What's Christmas without a story? To the delight of all, we ended the season with holiday legends shared by a dozen writers and readers, for, in the wise words of young writer Hagert -

Our shared stories fit together like puzzle pieces revealing who we are ...

| Issue 52 |

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

| Homepage |