Volume 1 Issue 09 1993

Previously inaccessible archives from 1993-1997 now coming on-line, with more each week! Note that this is working copy (uncorrected text, no photos, including covers).

The Sinking of the Levin J. Marvel 1800 Destinations
Safe Harbor: Calvert County Gives Peace a Chance Who's Here
Bay Life Politalk
Burton On The Bay Sky Facts
Dock of the Bay Laughing Gourment
Editorial Author Review
Commentary Sir William Excerpt

to the top

The Sinking of the Levin J. Marvel 1800

When Hurricane Connie roared up the Bay 38 years ago this month, Capt. John H. Meckling gambled with his passengers’ lives—and lost.
by Bruce Allan Bauer

When 23 passengers climbed aboard the Levin J. Marvel on Monday, August 12, 1955, they had no inkling of the deadly storm headed their way or of the inexperience of their captain.

If they had taken a close look at the 125-foot sailing vessel, they might have changed their minds. The 64 year-old ram schooner was designed to fit the narrow locks of the old Chesapeake and Delaware Canal.

This was no towering clipper but a slab-sided, deep-hulled vessel with three masts that looked stubby and ungraceful. Photographs show a marked uncertainty in the curve of the shearline, suggesting that the 24 foot-wide hull was no longer stiff enough to maintain the shape its builders had intended.

She was, according to one observer, badly hogged—sagging at both ends. And the ship had no engine. When wind failed to serve, a 20-foot yawl was launched to push on the stern.

But the paint was thick and bright. And the captain lured passengers with his many claims and hustling ways.

A year before, Meckling, an accountant in Indiana, had travelled to the Eastern Shore and bought the Marvel for $18,000. It would be revealed later that Meckling had no marine license or certification. Nor had he ever taken a course in navigation or seamanship.

What Meckling did have was some money and a romantic notion about sailing passengers around the charming and tranquil Chesapeake Bay. The Marvel had been employed in the “dude cruise” business for several years until the former owner saw that the ship was due for retirement.

But she still had 17 fancy staterooms with running water, capable of accommodating 43 passengers. In brochures, Meckling described himself as “a veteran of the Chesapeake” and trumpeted the vessel’s safety features.

He also portrayed the crew as experienced. In fact, the First Mate—and only mate—was 17. The rest of the crew consisted of a cook and a messboy. No one could say that Meckling was not a nervy fellow. His nerve was about to be tested like never before.

Signs of Danger
When Marvel and her passengers sailed on that fateful Monday, weather reports placed Hurricane Connie east of Florida near the Bahamas, moving northwest. However, the usual curving track took hurricanes by the middle-Atlantic states—not up the Chesapeake.

By noon on Tuesday, Marvel had arrived at Oxford, nestled along the Tred Avon River, after a run around the southern end of Tilghman Island. Broadcasts advised that Connie would threaten the Chesapeake in 24 to 48 hours. Nonetheless, Meckling pushed on the eight miles up the Choptank to Cambridge, apparently to accommodate desires of passengers—most of them from New York, New Jersey and Connecticut—to reach the bigger, less remote town.

Marvel spent Wednesday night in Cambridge, 38 nautical miles from Annapolis. The next morning, storm warning flags flew from Cambridge Yacht Club, something Meckling apparently did not understand.

He sailed down the Choptank, pausing to let passengers take a swim. Marvel entered the Bay at sundown to find the wind building ominously. Meckling felt the stronger winds in part because he was leaving the sheltered Choptank and exposing the tired old vessel to northeast winds on open water.

Meckling turned northwest for Annapolis, 25 miles away, driven by an ever-freshening wind, which by daylight, Friday, August 12, would blow at gale force—39-54 mph. Here was the hinge of fate, the fork in the road where Meckling blundered.

The Fury of Hurricane Connie
Realizing that he could not make Annapolis or even intermediate shelters in the South River or West River, Meckling determined to seek shelter in the lee of Poplar Island. But as he tried to maneuver behind Poplar, the yawl boat became useless when the engine quit because of a clogged waterpump.

It was just a few miles from Poplar Island back to the mouth of the Choptank, which would have been a quick run in the northeast gale. Even if he had not been able to get back in to the Choptank, Meckling could have anchored west of Tilghman Island, with good holding ground and shelter from the island.

Sometime after breakfast, all the sails came off—either blown away by a 50-knot gust, as some reports say, or, as Meckling later claimed, stripped deliberately to reduce the danger of capsizing. Still, in the northeast wind, there was a good chance he could have anchored safely near the Eastern Shore with miles of safe water downwind in which to drag the anchor—if it came to that.

Nonetheless, a headsail was raised, and Meckling headed the Marvel southwestward across the open Chesapeake. Off Herring Bay mid-morning, the headsail was removed and the anchor dropped in about 20 feet of water.

By 11am, waves of 20 to 25 feet were breaking over the bow. One swell lifted the Marvel so high that the anchor was broken out and could no longer hold. Control of the vessel was lost.

The Marvel wallowed around broadside to the sea, in grave danger of capsizing from the combined force of wind and wave. An auxiliary anchor was dropped and held. But the near-capsize and opening seams had torn the bulky galley right off the forecastle, leaving a large hole in the deck. Water poured in and the cook,

Elry Pinckney, retired from the Navy, abandoned serving hot lunch.

The fact that the main anchor had been torn out of the Bay bottom indicates that Meckling had not put out sufficient anchor line. A scope of seven or ten times the water depth is standard in bad conditions. When the anchor is properly set, the low-angle pull causes it to dig in further, and plunging and rearing of the bow can not break it out or lift it.

Pumps had been started by now and for a time, the situation did not look hopeless. But it was.

Disaster on the Bay
Even now, the passengers did not seem to realize that anything was seriously amiss. Some made small talk about how memorable this vacation would be.

At about 1:30pm, Meckling sent distress signals by radio. Hearing no response after repeated calls, he gave up the effort.

Passengers in lifejackets were being led out onto the deck at the stern and tied together with rope when a swell forced the ship’s bow under, and the next upward thrust of the bow tore the second anchor from its precarious grip in the clay bottom. At once, Marvel spun broadside to wind, waves and swell, rolled heavily once to starboard and to port, and then was quickly overwhelmed. She capsized soon after, never to rise again.

At 2:30pm, Marvel lay on her starboard side. Later, it was established that the winds at the time were 35 mph, gusting to 45—far short of hurricane force. Nevertheless, little Herring Bay, wide open to this long-blowing northeaster, must have been a wild scene of big swells and breaking waves.

Once the ship was lost, Meckling seemed to become a better captain. He disentangled himself from sails and aft rigging and directed passengers around him to hold hands and stay together. He was washed off the stern once but struggled back to help his passengers.

Later, at the inquiry, it was revealed that Meckling could not swim and that he was wearing a lifejacket only because a woman on board had admonished him to do so and then helped him put it on. Ironically, she would be among those who perished.

People were all around in the water. Nancy Madden, 34, an advertising writer, told reporters later that Meckling helped her hold on to the hulk and then included her in a circle of five clinging to each other. “The captain just prayed out loud,” she said.

She told how he had discovered a rickety duckblind about 500 yards offshore and pulled them up to safety.

The Marvel had gone down less than a mile off a heavily populated shore. Accounts of the precise location have differed over the years. But Ned Crandall, who lives nearby, places the wreck off of Franklin Manor, about one-fourth mile east of the end of the jetty that runs along Rockhold Creek out of Deale.

“She just split open like a watermelon,” is how Crandall tells the story.

About 5pm, the first survivor washed ashore near North Beach, a remarkable four miles south, and reported the sinking. Soon, bodies of victims were found floating up to the steel seawall in North Beach.

Billy McWilliams, a North Beach volunteer fireman and George (Buck) Kellam commandeered a 14-foot boat and made perilous runs into the surf to save six people, including Meckling.

Fourteen people drowned. The last body found, that of 13 year-old Hillard Nevin, the fourth of the Nevin family to perish, washed up at Broadwater Point, north of Herring Bay, three days later.

A Coast Guard Board of Inquiry opened a formal investigation 10 days later. Among those who testified was the shipyard manager at Booz Brothers Shipyard in Baltimore. “I think in fair weather, she would have been fine. But I wouldn’t have wanted to be out in the Bay in her in bad weather,” he said.

It was revealed then Coast Guard Captain Alfred W. Kabernagel nearly a year before the tragedy had sent Meckling a letter ordering him “to discontinue operation of the vessel...until it was submitted for inspection.”

Meckling appealed the order, apparently successfully. During three days of testimony, Meckling insisted that Marvel was entirely seaworthy. But Coast Guard officials presented rotted timbers that had washed ashore near North Beach the day after Marvel sank.

One passenger, John C. Ferguson Jr., whose father had perished, testified that water poured through open port holes which couldn’t be closed because wing-nuts were missing or frozen. He and other passengers had jammed blankets in the open holes in a futile effort to keep the water out.

An undated photo of the Marvel also shows a curiously distorted anchor hanging below the starboard hawsepipe. The stock, shank and arms all look so bent that one wonders if it would bite the bottom properly.

At the end of the inquiry, Meckling was charged with three violations. And a final report issued these findings:
•The sinking was directly caused by the unseaworthy condition of the vessel;
•A contributing cause was the Meckling’s poor judgment;
•The Marvel was inadequately manned.

As a result of the Marvel’s tragedy, the law was changed to give the Coast Guard more jurisdiction over vessels carrying paying passengers.

(Bruce Allan Bauer, of Mason’s Beach, is a retired Navy commander, a former destroyer captain and a master mariner in the Merchant Marines.)

to the top

Safe Harbor: Calvert County Gives Peace a Chance
by Sonia Linebaugh

Safe Harbor has always been a refuge. Built as a refuge from ignorance for the county’s black population in 1921, Prince Frederick’s Central School was the only modern high school for black students in all of Southern Maryland. Its Rosenwald Foundation funding gave it plumbing and electricity, and eager young students filled it even to the unpainted, windowless basement right up until the days of court-ordered desegregation in the 1960s.

Then for 25 years and more, the County schools filled it with things, unwanted but too good to throw away.

This summer Safe Harbor earns its new name by once more opening its doors to people in need of refuge. “Here abused women and their children can feel safe,” says case manager Lillian Marshall. Again unique, it is the only shelter in Southern Maryland specifically for abused women. (A shelter in St. Mary’s County has just been forced to close its doors.)

These doors open selectively, only for the all-female staff and for resident women and children. Unlike most “safe shelters,” this historic building makes no effort to hide its address, on Armory Drive, but an elaborate security system lets in only staff and residents. Sheriff’s deputies are only two minutes away.

Why Do They Put Up with It?
On the average, 46 persons seek help against domestic violence and sexual assault each month in Calvert County. Last year, 90 of those people needed shelter to escape violence. Those statistics are all too typical. A national domestic violence hotline received 10,000 calls for help a month, yet it has been disconnected.

Most people who live with abuse don’t seek help easily; helplessness is part of the syndrome. It’s not uncommon for abused women to be the daughters of abused mothers. Others have just made a bad choice of partner. As victims, all suffer losses of self-esteem that make any decision—let alone the decision to leave home—difficult. Economic dependence also keeps women prisoner. What’s more, these women usually want to make their marriages work. They believe they will work because many abusers are violent only occasionally; at other times, they may promise to change, to get counseling. Typically an abuser doesn’t.

To escape abuse, most people need help. That’s why programs like Calvert’s Abused Persons Program and refuges like Safe Harbor have sprung up across the nation in the last 20 years. They’re typically the brainchild of women—often counselors or survivors of abuse—who believe women can help one another break the cycle of domestic violence. Such programs rely on tougher laws and enforcement, mutual support, counseling, and training in interpersonal and employment skills.

Maryland’s Civil Protection Order law is one of those tougher laws. Instead of the old 30 days, protection orders now can last 200 days. More people are protected should their partners turn violent, and protection extends to children.

In shelters like Safe Harbor, women get a second chance. “Coming here, where a woman is safe from physical harm, gives her relief from chaos long enough to get a perspective on what her life could be like. She gets time to set goals for how she might become a chooser rather than a victim,” explains Lana Brown, Safe Harbor manager.

Sanctuary Has a High Price Tag
Getting the help to break the pattern of abuse takes money; Safe Harbor, like most domestic violence programs, is a dream realized by some very creative financing.

Six years ago, Patricia Pease, director of the Abused Persons Program for the Calvert County Health Department, dreamed the idea that became Safe Harbor. Then began the search for dollars. Armed with letters of support from the State’s Attorney, the Sheriff’s Office, State Police, hospitals and emergency rooms, she sought and secured the support of Calvert County commissioners Barbara Stinnet (who is no longer in that position) and Joyce Terhes. The commission unanimously okayed the project—if it could be funded.

The building itself attracted the first funding, $25,000 in individual and business contributions. Much of the support came from African-Americans who hoped to preserve the old school.

But much more was a needed to transform a 70-year-old building “pretty ragged around the edges.” Community activist Linda Kelly headed the prospecting task force. They struck gold in several places: a Community Development Block Grant to rehab the historic property and Maryland Department of Human Resources grants. The state health department, help for the homeless programs and the United Way also made start-up grants.

Calvert County leased Safe Harbor its building, then invested a second time to open its doors. “We’re a fiscally conservative county. But the need was so real that we made an unprecedented decision to vote this program the money to open up,” said County Commissioner Mary Krug.

No safe house has ever gotten out of the idea stage without volunteers who’ll do just about anything to open its doors. Safe Harbor’s stalwarts include Aileen Stamper, a retired Central High teacher, who has brought black community support. Huntingtown’s Liz Canter makes sure the pantry is stocked. Prince Frederick artist and gallery owner Nancy Collery makes her contribution through art, devoting half the price of a new line of decorative pins to Safe Harbor.

Even with so much help, funding ran out before the project was half complete. With the renovation of the original building, finished and furnished are four bedrooms, a small common sitting room, kitchen and dining hall, offices and training room, and laundry room, but no play space for children who will be taking over the halls and front entry way.

Open Doors; Warm Welcome
Safe Harbor’s sanctuary seekers began arriving in mid-July. Like most women who need long-term shelter, they generally have young children and few skills. As well as shelter, they need help getting into the job market and earning enough to support their children. Those are three hard nuts to crack in a county of 65,000, where rentals average $650 a month, two-thirds of a typical entry-level wage.

Safe Harbor tries to help with all those needs. As the first shelter in Maryland where guests can stay up to three months, it can give a good running head start. (Most shelters can offer only a four-to-six-week stay.) “The time is crucial.” says Pease. “For many it’s a time of transition. It’s a time to learn about job training, housing possibilities, child care options, setting goals, and managing timetables, all while continuing to deal with an abusive spouse.”

As well as safety, security and new skills, these women find they are not alone. “When the women meet and talk together, they hear more that is meaningful from one another than anything I could say. They say to one another, ‘That’s my life story’.” Lillian Marshall reports. “This empowers them.”

More Dreams
Everyday, the staff of Safe Harbor hope to make a bigger difference. They dream of Phase 2, which will add five more bedrooms to supplement overnight crisis beds and sleep sofas for people whose crises won’t wait.

If you listen, you can almost see the dreams come to life. There are the townhouses of Phase 3, behind the playground. In their snug security, women who choose to do so can begin new independent lives, with a supportive and affordable environment to help them make a go of it.

“This is one little way of trying to overcome violence. If we can overcome it in individuals, we can beat it in the world,” Lillian Marshall says. That’s Safe Harbor’s job.

Safe Harbor’s 24-hour helpline has both 301 and 410 numbers: 410/535-1121; 301/855-1075.

Choose your favorite pin from the Womanwear collection at Main Street Gallery (Prince Frederick: 410/535-3334). Half of the $10 you pay will be your contribution to Safe Harbor.

Side Bar Facts About Abuse
• Abused women come from every educational group, from those who haven’t finished highschool to PhDs.
• Abused women come from every socioeconomic group, from very poor to very rich.
• Abused women come from every race.
• Abused women are almost always fulltime homemakers.
• Yes, men are sometimes abused by their wives. In her 13 years of working with abused persons, Pat Pease has counseled two such men. “Usually,” says Pat, “men are more physically able to defend themselves and more economically able to get out of the situation.”
• Counseling and shelter against domestic violence are accessible to most women in Maryland. The state has 20 programs, typically one per county except on the Eastern Shore; 14 include shelters.
In Anne Arundel County, help comes from the YWCA Domestic Violence, Counseling and Shelter Program. Hotline: 410/222-7273.
• Wherever the program, there’s never enough help or money. Call to volunteer or contribute—in Calvert County, 301/855-1075;
in Anne Arundel County, 410/268-4393.

Photo IDs: Lillian Marshall, Case Manager has short blonde hair; Lana Brown, Shelter Manager has long blonde hair & Patricia Pease with short dark hair is Director of the Abused Persons Program.

to the top

Bay Life

From National Press Corps to Annapolis Sports Store
by Bill Lambrecht

After 11 years in the thick of world events, Ed Connors is happy putting helmets on kids’ heads

If Ed Connors had second thoughts about leaving big-time Washington journalism, they washed away during the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas.

“I thought he and Anita Hill deserved each other,” Connors said of Thomas and the woman who accused him of sexual harassment. “Those were disquieting, depressing hearings. For me, it was the straw that broke the camel's back.”

A few months later, Connors quit covering Congress and the Washington scene as a radio correspondent. A year ago this month, he opened the Play It Again Sports store in Annapolis.

His habits are different now. Three years ago, he was travelling with then-President George Bush as a White House correspondent for United Press International…jetting with the White House entourage to 24 states, the Caribbean and Canada…holing up with the president in Kennebunkport, Maine, as the world waited for the U.S. to respond to Saddam Hussein’s aggression.

Connors, 39, also reported for CBS and National Public Radio during his career. He was Washington correspondent for WMCA, sending three live feeds a day to New York.

It was a heady time under bright lights alongside the movers and shakers of our day, blazing into cities and countries with police escorts and Secret Service all around, ushered like a prince through masses of people to centers of action.

But to Connors, something wasn’t right. His departure from the ever-troubled UPI helped to sour him. Soon, rather than continuing freelancing or pressing the search for another full-time position, he decided he’d had enough.

Connors, a District of Columbia native, has sailed for many years and knew the Chesapeake Bay and Annapolis well. He keeps his 23-foot sloop in Galesville. About the time of the Thomas-Hill debacle, Connors was preparing to test for his 100-ton vessel commercial captain’s license. He wasn’t sure why. Then he lived in Spain for four months, pondering what to do.

Next came his decision to buy a franchise of the fast-growing, Minneapolis-based Play It Again Sports, a sports “department store” dealing in new and used equipment. It didn’t take long for Connors to realize that he had found something he was missing.

“The first time I helped a mother fit her kid with a hockey helmet, and saw how pleased they were leaving the store, I got more fulfillment than during 10 years on Capitol Hill,” Connors says.

Connors has some sharp assessments of the world he left behind. He is troubled by what he sees as coziness between the press and politicians. He is put off by the string of Washington dinners where supposed adversaries don tuxedos and gowns and drink together until all hours.

“If you stay there long enough, you get sucked into a web of cronyism,” he contends.

Connors insists that he did not become warped by the Washington goings-on. He points proudly to his collection of 19th century prints of the Capitol Building. “I was able to have my fun and get out before I got cynical about things,” he says.

Does he miss it? “Not in the least.”

But a decade covering Washington teaches you about fibs, yours included. “I do miss the fun, exciting things I did,” Connors quickly adds. “Let's face it. You’re right in the middle of history-making.”

But what Connors found makes up for what he lost. In his waning days in Washington, something nagged at him—something that has to do with watching the lives of others while his own sped by. In the end, the sense of needing to get on with his own life delivered Connors to a sports store near the Bay.

“I felt that all I was doing was spending time talking about what other people were doing and not doing anything with my own life,” Connors says. “I didn't think I was doing anything constructive. It felt like all I was doing was talking to air.”

Burton On The Bay

Hunting’s Fine — But Spare My Ducks

Talk about mixed emotions: even the fellow whose meddling mother-in-law drove his Cadillac over a cliff could appreciate my contradictory feelings over the decision of the Department of Natural Resources to hold a special early season shoot for so-called nuisance Canada geese.

I am an avid hunter of the big fowl with the white cheeks, make no mistake about that.

I can’t argue with the logic of the decision by wildlife biologists to thin the flocks of non-migratory birds whose populations are getting out of control—as are the problems they pose.

And it is obvious if something isn’t done. the day might well come when, through interbreeding, the majestic honker could become something akin to today’s not-so-wild mallard duck, the species that is the focal point of my dilemma.

Much as I like goose shooting, I prefer ducks when afield with my muzzle-loading shotgun and decoys. Only duck hunters can appreciate this. They know that ducks—though smaller—are faster, more elusive targets, more difficult to call within range, and on the table taste better.

What does that have to do with Maryland’s first-ever special early season for geese that don’t wing back to the tundra of the Far North each spring to nest? Consider three mallards, two drakes and a hen, who spend as much time on the east lawn of my Riviera Beach home as they do on the waters of Stoney Creek just below the wooded cliff 75 feet from my house.

They first visited in springtime four years ago lured by my profusion of bird feeders. Gradually it became a daily routine. To spare more expensive sunflower seeds for songbirds, I offered the waterfowl trio occasional feasts of cracked corn.

Early last year, daily feeding had become a ritual—so much so they marched to the side porch—where in reasonable weather I read and write—to quack for their meals. I was won over; no longer were they visitors. They were as much a part of the family as my white cat, Frieda.

Late last summer there was a botulism outbreak in a few creeks off the Patapso River, prompting DNR to initiate a campaign to rid the area of non-migratory mallards to halt the spread of that almost always fatal and highly contagious bacterial infection.

Biologically it was logical thinking. In summertime waterfowl surveys with U.S. and Canada Wildlife Services and Ducks Unlimited, I have witnessed thousands of dead and dying ducks afflicted with botulism that spread like wildfire across a remote slough. There are few more disturbing sights in the wildlife community.

DNR’s eradication program last year was designed to make no exceptions. Take no prisoners was the plan. My ducks were on the hit list with scores of others.

Highly concerned, I stepped up feeding and provided water in hopes they would spend less time on the creek where both botulism and DNR’s efforts threatened them. And I prayed. I knew I was acting contrary to sound wildlife management, but logic was not the point. These were MY ducks—and thankfully they survived.

The past two years I have also sweated out duck seasons. Again I fed and watered more to keep them “home” as much as possible. When they were not present, I cringed every time I heard shots from the blind at the mouth of the creek several hundred yards away, but MY ducks survived.

As our mutual friendship developed I grew progressively less interested in mallards as targets when duck hunting. Now, I allow any and all greenheads to pass unchallenged. They could be someone else’s ducks.

Call me chicken hearted—or duck hearted—if you like, but that’s the way it is.

Now comes a season, necessary as it is, that threatens some Canada geese that might be looked upon as pets of those who enjoy their presence at their homes or farms west of Chesapeake Bay. I appreciate the pet “owners’” concern, though as with overly domestic ducks, there are many other folks among the non-hunting public who favor the experimental shoot.

Those who have boats, live or otherwise frequent areas near the water are familiar with problems resulting from excessive mallard numbers.

Their droppings are messy, occasionally they take over a boat, pier or other nook to nest, and their noise can be disturbing. Consider that geese are several times larger: so are their droppings.

In addition, geese tend to me more aggressive when nesting and rearing their goslings. Once established, they believe in territorial rights. Get the point?

I have seen community ponds in New England no longer usable by swimmers because waters and shorelines are fouled by goose droppings. Youngsters are menaced by adult geese unwilling to share their domain. We have a good example of this at Broadford Lake, a community swimming, boating and fishing pond at Oakland in Western Maryland’s Garrett County, where resident honkers are firmly established and expanding.

There, you’d better not go barefooted—and watch where you sit. Nor, do you want to leave toddlers unattended. You are in the domain of the resident geese.

Increasingly along the coast from Virginia to Massachusetts, non-migratory Canada geese move into swimming pools, graze (and leave their droppings) on golf courses, consume crops, mess lawns, and in winter compete with truly migratory fowl for food and habitat.

Their coastal population is estimated at up to a quarter of a million, which poses still another problem. Their increasing numbers skew the count of wild Canada geese—a number badly needed to plan seasons and overall management. In Maryland, it is estimated there are 15,000 to 20,000 of these birds, most of them on the Western Shore. In Virginia, 37,000.

Several other states already have special seasons directed at nuisance geese, among them Pennsylvania. Virginia, like Maryland, plans one this year.

Why a special season? It is targeted at culling the resident flocks, which are not normally concentrated where and when truly wild birds congregate; also to insure that wild honkers aren’t shot in the process—and that’s a controversial issue among some hunters.

Because of poor nesting success and overshooting, Atlantic Flyway wild stocks have dipped precariously low. In Maryland this year, we will probably have a season of about 21 days, one bird a day bag limit. A decade ago, it was a 90-day season, three geese a day.

Some hunters oppose the plan, fearing it will cull migratory geese. Others oppose it because they consider a goose a goose; it matters not whether it was hatched in Pavungnetuk in the Arctic or Broadford Lake. The latter argument is flimsy.

A wild goose is a magnificent and wary bird. The non-migrant is as domesticated as a barnyard mallard. Which do we prefer? If you know the answer it’s not a question.

Special seasons are planned to insure hunting when migrant birds are not present. In states where wild geese arrive early and leave early, shoots are held late; in states like Maryland and Virginia, where migrants arrive late and stay late, seasons are held early. Records indicate no Western Shore wild geese arrive in Maryland prior to September16. Thus, no conflict.

All this brings up the question of the origin of resident geese. They are leftovers from the days when laws allowed the use of captive fowl to call in and otherwise attract wild honkers to shooting rigs. They were pinned and/or tethered to prevent their escaping or being shot when mistaken for wild birds. They were kept in barns or pens when not used for hunting.

No longer needed when federal laws banned their use, most were set free, but had long since lost their migratory inclinations. They stayed and formed the nucleus of what we now call nuisance geese.

But not everyone considers them a nuisance. As I like my three resident mallards, many enjoy their resident geese, which now become vulnerable to the gun west of the Chesapeake, where relatively little goose hunting has been carried out in the past.

I appreciate their concern, while also appreciating that of victims of nuisance goose woes, and the obligation of waterfowl managers. Thankfully the decision isn’t mine. Enough said...

to the top

Dock Of The Bay

•• ••— —
Morse code opened the electronic age; now the age has outrun the 150-year-old alphabet of dots and dashes.

This month, the Coast Guard abandoned its Morse code emergency distress system, a two-way communication channel introduced with the 20th century and continuously monitored since 1924. Other technologies—among them marine telephones—had antiquated the code’s legendary •••— — —•••.

Code inventor and namesake, Samuel Morse sent the first electronic message in 1844 on a line connecting Washington to Baltimore. It wouldn’t have worked if Morse had not first invented the telegraph. (What he said was “What hath God wrought!”)

No Safety Net

“Sea nettles didn’t bother me so much when I was young,” complains Florence of Silver Spring, a woman in her early sixties. “I still like to get in water as much as ever, but now I can’t bear to get stung. Who’s got a net—that doesn’t have holes in it?” she asked.

Beaches were ample and jellyfish nets in good repair when Florence was young. “I really grew up on the Bay. We were a big close knit family of immigrants from Central Europe and we went to the water nearly every Sunday. We started at Harold Harbor. Then one of my uncles discovered Beverly Beach, down another country road. ‘Ah, I have found the place for us,’ he said. Back in the ‘30s it was scrumptious: a super-clean private beach with a net kept in perfect repair. There were big bands that sounded very good, dancing, nickle slot machines, beer—but no rowdiness,” Florence reminisces.

For Chesapeake beaches, it’s been all downhill since then. First, they’re fewer. Breezy Point and Matoaka Beach Cabins (both in Calvert County) are an endangered species: privately owned beaches open to the public. Most have gone the way of Chesapeake Beach, which was overbuilt by the high-dollar condos a few years ago. For all Maryland’s extensive state park system, you can count the number of Bay swimming beaches on the fingers of one hand. North Beach’s free town beach is a wonderful anomaly.

Even if you find a Chesapeake beach, you’re likely to find that jellyfish are winning the war.

“When I was down at North Beach several years ago, their net was deteriorating. Now they don’t have one at all,” Florence laments.

Breezy Point has a net; Sandy Point State Park at the Bay Bridge doesn’t, despite plenty of jellies. Point Lookout State Park, at the end of St. Marys County, has its beach on the Potomac. Sad to say, jellies love the river as much as they do the Bay. Sadder, even nets—which they gave up as much as 15 years ago— don’t keep them out. “Nets don’t work. The jellyfish break up and get through. Plus it takes a lot of work to keep them up and clean,” reports park manager Keith Frere.

So what’s Florence to do?
Go north. Hart-Miller Island State Park, off Baltimore, and Elk Neck State Park, at the head of the Bay, don’t need nets because they don’t have jellyfish: their Bay’s not salty enough.

Unsubstantiated have been early reports that Chesapeake Biological Laboratories in Solomons, where sea nettles abound, had a scheme to wash jellyfish away with spray jets.

Family Billiards Returns
After a brief closing, Family Billiards in Deale is reopening. We’re with owner Richard Keefe in hoping it will stay that way. Family Billiards is a clean, well-run establishment with pinball, video games, miniature golf, ice cream and plenty to offer young people.

It used to be that parents told kids to stay away from pool halls. These days, a billiard parlor—the modern version of a pool hall—offers a healthy alternative to teen pursuits we’re seeing.

We’re referring here to a round of hooliganism that seems to have sprouted in Anne Arundel and Calvert counties. From large-scale fights to back-roads caravans of parties on wheels, a sometimes violent young crowd has been disrupting the peace along the Bay.

Perhaps these kids don’t like growing up in an era of limited opportunity. Maybe they’ve been watching too much violent television. Hopefully, what we’re seeing is only a blip on the summer radar screen.

In any case, a modern pool hall like Family Billiards offers something worthwhile. “It keeps kids off the streets,” observed Keefe, who is hoping for more business this time around.

Could it be that today’s aimless youth don’t know how to aim a cue as well as their fathers and big brothers and sisters?

Local Rhubarb
Calvert County Courthouse grew rhubarb, recently, when Natural Resources Police Corporal Jack Bailey tried to arrest Robert F. Abner, waterman and proprietor of Abner’s Seafood House in Chesapeake Beach.

The issue was “relatively minor,” even as DNR tells the story. Abner hadn’t gotten around to paying a $120 fine for failing to display his name and licence number on his pound net. When Corporal Jack Bailey saw Abner in the courthouse, he decided to collect.

Here’s how Bobbie Abner saw it: “At first I thought it was a joke. Then Bailey and another officer got one on each side of me, talking handcuffs and fingers prints, and said ‘I’m going to take you to court.’”

Abner objected—participants disagree on how strenuously—and soon the two were “rolling around on the courthouse floor,” according to DNR spokesman John Verrico.

When “about five” other officers jumped in, it became the kind of rhubarb “Red” Barber would have enjoyed reporting—if it happened on the baseball diamond.

By the time it ended, Bailey’s uniform was torn and badge broken. Another officer got a small cut.

Now Bobbie Abner’s got bigger trouble: new charges of battery, resisting arrest, and malicious destruction of state property. He still had to pay that $120 fine.

And he’s got a complaint: What with expanding regulations and the attitude some of the water police force has got, watermen are getting harassed and nitpicked just about to the limits of their endurance.

“I’m not admitting a thing,” says Bobbie Abner. But in his opinion, “this guy’s full of piss and vinegar. Some of them, they’ve got a badge, they’ve got the law behind them, and they seem to think they’re god.

“Maybe people ought to take a look at how police treat people,” Bobbie Abner says.

Way Downstream...

You may or may not have heard enough about Arkansas, what with the new administration in the White House. But if your taste is such, you can now buy something in a package called “the smell of the natural landscape of Arkansas.”

That’s right, entrepreneurs from the president’s neck of the woods are marketing a fragrance made by mixing cotton pods, mushrooms and black walnut shells. Skeptics in Washington wondered last week about ranking Arkansans in government turning out to hype the smell of their home state.

Who knows, maybe it kept them out of mischief. And besides, the Nature Conservancy gets $1 for every packet sold...

In Alaska, we’re seeing once more that oil-drilling and Native Alaskans don’t mix. Two years ago, natives known as the Caribou People defeated plans to drill in their land. Now, the Inupiat Eskimos are worried that Arco’s plan to drill in the Beaufort Sea will harm the bowhead whale, which has long been the center of Eskimo culture.

“We have been betrayed by our government and big oil once again,” Jeslie Kaleak, a native leader, charged last week.

For those who say New Bay Times has picked on China for its human rights abuses, we bring you good news from the world’s biggest country. The Chinese Ministry of Forestry has announced that it has chosen ten poor areas of the country to be turned into commercial orchards. They will plant orange, apple and walnut trees, among others...

In Vermont, something called the Together Foundation is offering toll-free information on environmental issues and sustainable development projects around the world. Call 800/ECOLINE.

Finally, this week’s Creature Feature comes to us from ballast in ships. But let’s hope it doesn’t come to us on the Chesapeake. We’re speaking here about the European green crab, which has taken root in San Francisco Bay after being transported there in a cargo ship a few years ago.

They are described in a recent Science Magazine as belligerent little crabs that will bite people if they get a chance. A researcher said they eat clams “like pistachio nuts,” and they reproduce at an alarming rate.

Maybe we can train them to snack on zebra mussels, those no-good little mollusks also transported to this country by foreign ships.

to the top


Something’s Rotten at DNR

Around the Chesapeake something smells rotten. Something stinks and it’s not from the Bay’s waters.

Repugnant allegations of racial and sexual discrimination within the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ enforcement branch—the Natural Resources Police Department—are surfacing.

Discrimination is only one source of this stench. Supposedly initial complaints were ignored and those filing them retaliated against by NRP officers.

Buried somewhere within these allegations is the source, and if we look closely, holding our noses, we may find one rotten hot-potato.

DNR has asked the Maryland State Police to investigate. The American Civil Liberties Union is also prodding to see whether a civil class action suit is warranted, at the behest of a number of complainants—possibly as many as two dozen.

The exact numbers are unknown. So are the accused, the complainants and even the allegations. Mum’s the word at DNR, NRP, the state police and the ACLU.

There is enough substance to this, however, that DNR secretary Torrey C. Brown informed NRP employees of the investigation in a memo acknowledging complaints of racial and sexual discrimination and the alleged “failure of officers to follow up on the complaints.”

Governor William Donald Schaeffer is paying attention, too. He wrote to at least one complainant that “your charges are very serious, and it is important to me that they receive immediate attention.”

After more than five weeks with no signal from investigators, we must wonder, what is immediate attention?

These are serious charges, and they deserve no less than immediate attention. If, as complainants allege and sources familiar with the investigation verify, officers and civilian employees were racially or sexually harassed or discriminated against, it is a crime.

But if, as the charges claim, complainants were ignored and punished by superiors for speaking up, it is more. It is an affront. An embarrassment.

Allegations of racism and sexism aren’t new to NRP. In 1985 a similar discrimination suit was filed in federal courts and settled with NRP agreeing to hire more blacks and women.

Since then, the number of black employees at NRP has risen from three to 28 and the number of women has increased from four to 20. In that time the Natural Resources Police Department has grown from 217 to 251. Despite the changes in hard numbers, blacks represent less than 12 percent of NRP officers while women represent less than 8 percent of the force. Throughout the state, 25 percent of the population is black and 50 percent women.

Perhaps a few more decades of this growth will eliminate harassment and discrimination. But should we have to ask blacks and women to endure such treatment until then?

Officials at all levels are quick to acknowledge the stench, and then pass off this hot-potato. In the end, someone will be left holding the potato with everyone else pointing their fingers accusingly.

Who will go further and rip this tuber up by the roots? What crud will we find clinging to them?

A closed investigation can shed only shadows on a dark and brooding problem. These complaints warrant more. Only open exposure can cleanse this rot.

to the top


Changing Our Times
by Sonia Linebaugh

“It would take 20 inches of snow to reduce the crime rate in the District in July,” said one District resident on a local television newscast last month. Yet in spite of soaring temperatures in June and July, a crime reduction experiment called “A Group for a Government” claims to have reduced Washington’s violent crime 24 percent from what had been expected for the period, June 7 through July 25, from the highs of the same period last year.

The experiment, organized jointly by Citizens for a Crime-Free D.C. and the Institute of Science, Technology and Public Policy at Maharishi International University of Fairfield, Iowa, involved at its height 4,000 people from 76 countries practicing an advanced form of Transcendental Meditation for five or six hours a day on five miles of foam in parking garages, exhibition halls, and field houses at 22 hotels and universities all around the Washington area.

“We’re not out in the streets persuading the criminal to cease and desist,” said John Hagelin, director of the experiment. Meditators simply continued to meditate, though for longer times and in larger groups than usual. The idea is that all humans are connected at the level of consciousness. The experiment was to prove that “calm begets calm,” that the collective calmness of a focused group of 4,000 could effect the collective calm of a city of 600,000.

Did the experiment work? Homicides were way up at the beginning of the experiment because of drug-related killings of 12 people, yet raw data gathered by Hagelin’s group shows a phenomenal drop in the overall violent crime rate. The final report of the independent scientific review board will not be in for several weeks. In addition to crime, other social indicators will be evaluated—things like hospital admissions, emergency calls to police and social service hot lines, auto fatalities and reported cases of child abuse.

But did the experiment work? The D.C. Police Department is loathe to reveal crime statistics for the week since the experiment ended. One source said, “Nothing unusual happened this week.” Officially the Department says, “Wait for the final report.”

For now, individual impressions must fill in the rest of the picture. A computer software engineer who does work at many Washington businesses reports smooth technological sailing. “I didn’t have a single service call during the last two weeks of July. I usually have as many as six or seven calls a week.”

One of the persons responsible for the experiment’s finances tells this anecdote: “I went to a certain hotel to pay the bill but was told that the manager couldn’t see me just now. When I protested that he’d be most happy to see me to claim a $10,000 check, the clerk still insisted that I wait. Soon the manager appeared, saying, “Sorry you had to wait. I was having my meditation checked. I had started TM a long time ago but dropped. Having your group here has made such a difference that I decided to start up again.”

Congressman Martin Hoke (R—Ohio) spoke at an assembly of the group of 4,000 at DAR’s Constitution Hall. He said, “Congress is profoundly curious about what you’re doing here. Deep in their hearts they all believe that we as a people could be able to do something to turn the the crime rate around.”

But the true test of the experiment will be the hard data of the scientific report. If the data holds up, I suggest that Congress sponsor a longer experiment. And why not expand the idea? Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly might invite other groups to come to Washington to try their hand at crime-busting. Let the Catholics have a two-month trial. Maybe the Baptists will have a go at it. Seventh Day Adventists. Light of Yoga practitioners. Hindus—there were 8,000 in the District just this past weekend. Moral Majority. Protestants. Two months for each group with a two-month control buffer between groups. Good business for the District—maybe very good business.

I’m with Congress. Deep in my heart I believe that we as a people should be able to create a positive, vital, crime-free way of life for all of us. The idealist in me hopes the experiment worked. The realist will follow up on the final scientific report.

Sonia Linebaugh of Fairhaven and New Bay Times was involved in the experiment.

to the top


Bluefish and Barbecue

Today is, besides my birthday, my ideal day on the Bay: humid, hazy and as hot as a Peruvian purple pepper. I’m trolling for bluefish someplace off Herring Bay, and there’s no certainty I’ll hook one.

Bluefish are scarce in the Middle Bay, and I’m already dreading a trip to the store to buy ribs for my birthday dinner. Worse, it will be an admission of fishing failure, not an easy task when you live in a neighborhood with the biggest fishing fibbers on the Bay.

Ribs and birthdays. Reminds me of the day six or seven years ago when I’m riding on Air Force II with then-Vice President George Bush. I’m sitting across from Bush during lunch not because I’m good company.

Bush is planning his presidential campaign, and he’s seeking out political reporters like me in hopes of spreading the message that he’s his own man, ready to break free from the Reagan administration.

I have no idea what Bush said that day or what I wrote. What I recall were the scrumptious-looking ribs that he and Barbara devoured as we talked. Again and again, the Veep called for more glasses of milk to wash that barbecue down.

Later, on the tarmac at Andrews Air Force Base, I spotted a Missouri congressman who had been along for the ride from Kansas City. “How ya’ doin’, Tom,” I asked. He was carrying a small paper bag, and for some reason he didn’t look happy.

As it turns out, it was Tom’s birthday, or maybe his wife’s. In Kansas City, he had picked up a slab or two from Gate’s Barbecue, one of the finest rib joints on the planet. Tom and his family would eat right tonight. That was the birthday plan.

But the congressman had made a slight miscalculation—offering a taste of ribs to Barbara and her hungry husband. “I guess now I’ll have to stop on the way home and pick up some chicken,” Tom said sheepishly.

It goes to show that birthday feasts don’t always turn out as planned. Maybe I should have asked Bush about his own notorious bluefish droughts up in Kennebunkport, Maine. I’ve been trolling for two hours now with nary a yank on either of my lines, and I’m tired of it. (Bush never ate the bluefish he finally caught; he gave them to secret service agents, who microwaved them.)

My fancier reels have lapsed into disrepair, and I’m fishing with two sturdy old Penn reels, one of which I bought for $15 at a flea market in Chesapeake Beach. With no action, the mind wanders to the day I lost a fine fishing rig in the middle of a bluefish frenzy.

It was three or four summers ago, when hooking two or three marauding blues at once was not a freak event. Amid the madness that day, I neglected to loosen the drag on one of the reels. We went over a school of breaking blues and suddenly, ZOOM...the pole shot straight out of the flimsy holder on the stern. It looked like a Cruise missile before it sank, never to be seen again.

Right about now, I’d trade a rod and reel for a birthday bluefish. Then again, maybe I’m not up to the tussle. I know what happens to the nerves when a big bluefish finally strikes after hours or days of nothing. First, you spill your beer. Then you trip over the dog. Finally, you reach the pole, where you have a 50-50 chance of losing your only fish of the day.

Worse can happen. Fishing near dusk for rockfish last fall, I got so flustered that I put a jig through my middle finger. This wasn’t the first time, and I know by now how to clip off the end of the hook and push it through.

This time, the extra-large hook was buried too deep for me to mess with—especially lefthanded in the dark. So I ended up in a busy emergency room, on a Saturday night, with a very large doctor who is not happy to see me. “We’ve got a special tool for this,” he says.

I hear him rummaging around in a closet He returns with a beat-up pair of pliers, apparently from a tool box. “Now you know what the fish feels like,” he says.

Well, I’ve eaten breakfastand my lunch. I’ve read the morning papers. I’ve scribbled this stuff down. And I’ve cussed my lying neighbor Rick, who told me yesterday that he saw “breaking blues all over the place” right where I’m fishing.

Guess I’ll pull out the cellular phone and tell my family I’m giving up. Admitting defeat. Heading to the supermarket.

What’s that, you say? Friends Doug and Sheila have arrived early from the Midwest? With a gift?

A big bottle of Gates’ barbecue sauce.

by Bill Lambrecht

to the top


From Toadfishing to Gourmet Dining, You Can Get It All at Tilghman Island Inn
by Sandra Martin

A rampaging west wind rips through Knapps Narrows—the entrance to Eastern Shore’s Tilghman Island peninsula—ahead of charcoal gray clouds. The temperature has plummeted 15 degrees in as many minutes, and those who can scurry to secure their boats before the first sheets of rain.

Crabbers, sailors, tourists and some fishing folks belly up to the bar at the Tilghman Island Inn, situated west of the bridge along the narrows, where the current flows fast even when the wind isn’t rampaging.

They’re listening on the VHF-radio to a distressed sailor who can’t free his anchor in the gale. Stay put, marine police tell him. You won’t find a better place to be just now.

Same goes for people at Tilghman Island Inn.

You probably couldn’t get anything you want at the Tilghman Island Inn, but what they have is plenty for me. What David McCallum and Jack Redmon have to offer ranges from toadfishing to gourmet dining. All about which I’m going to tell you.

But first you have to get there.
Tilghman Island seems an out-of-the-way place. By road, it is. You have to be looking for it, or just looking, to get there. You have to get out of the fast lane to find it.

Route 50’s the fast lane you get out of; when you’re about at Easton, turn west, on Rt. 33. Meander along past St. Michaels, which everybody knows about… Past long driveways that would take you, if you were invited, to stately Eastern Shore homes that make you wonder where all that money comes from… Past towns that aren’t much more than a general store… Past farm fields and working people’s homes. Now, past the trees, you can see water on both sides of the road. The bridge you’re approaching is probably pointing skyward; once the boats are through and its muscular motor has eased it back where bridges belong, you’ll drive right onto Tilghman Island.

From there, you can’t go far, and whatever road you follow will lead you to water—the Bay, the vast Choptank River, or the fast currents of Knapps Narrows. To get to Tilghman Island Inn, turn right when you see their sign and arrow. Turn right again just before you drop into the Bay. You’re there.

By water, Tilghman Island Inn is the “intersection of the world.” At least that’s what David says. He says all the curiosities you could want in a lifetime will cruise right up to his dock, sooner or later. “We don’t kiss and tell,” he says, but if it’s just stories you want, no names, listen:

“Many come on pricey yachts. This one cruised in the fall of ‘91, in a not-so-pricey houseboat. He was a big, strong, 250-pounder who’d grown up in Maine. He had his 20-ton license so he was able to skipper big boats like oil tankers. Now he was on the way to winter in the Bahamas, on the way to realizing his dream. But first he stayed here all winter, in the makeshift marina next door. He stayed nine months, and then one early spring day he was gone…

“But he paid his bill—unlike the older fellow on his way around the world in a beat-up 30-foot sailboat. This one always wanted to know what everything cost; this one disappeared on his bill.

“The couple who came in the 19-foot Sting Ray had plenty of money to spend. They took a room. They had a good dinner and a lot to drink, and they didn’t ask the price. Early the next morning, I woke up to bang, bang bang on the front door. It was the Coast Guard. They didn’t say, ‘hello, how are you?’ They just ran up to the couple’s room and banged—until the door was opened by a surprised man who’d been reported missing by his wife. His wife, of course, wasn’t the woman in the room with him…”

The bosses, Jack and David, have stories of their own. Jack sold DC real estate until he got sold on the Island’s friendly ways; now, as well as the charms of his newish but cosy Inn, he’ll sell you a house on his adopted Island. David spends his other life as a professor of environmental science at Columbia University’s School of Public Health. Each of his two careers, he says, is “recreation” for the other. That’s the shortened version.

Tilghman Island Inn isn’t the kind of place where long stories need to be made short. It’s the kind of place you go to forget about time, letting it stretch out past the long, red sunset over there on the Western Shore, where my cares happen to be…

On Tilghman Island Inn, I get out of the fast lane.

Well before sunset, I like to be out of the fast current of Knapps Narrows, snugly docked and on deck, in time for the marsh across the Narrows to fill up with herons. I’m not going anywhere fast. At Tilghman Island Inn, I’ve got world enough and time.

I’m sure not worried about where my dinner will come from. After dark, I’ll dine on quail stuffed with crabmeat or delicate little medallions of veal smothered in crayfish. Local crayfish, mind, pond-raised in Cambridge. The vegetables—maybe baby local green and white string beans—will be so good that I’ll eat them first. (David is particular about his food and chefs here have gone to school.) I’ll drink a good Robert Pecota wine from the Napa Valley and eat chocolate mousse. The Inn’s decidedly upscale restaurant is fit for the proprietors’ clipped, standard white French poodle and their cockatoo, Blanche de Boid. Still, I’m comfortable here, whether dressed up to Blanche’s style or down to boating style.

The more down-to-earth bar offers Anchor Steam on tap and a basket of hot sauces from the pepper store, Flamingo Flats in St. Michaels, for Bloody Marys. As many mechanics as yachters eat and drink here, where appetizers and lighter dishes that are off the same menu and just as good are served.

After dinner I’ll sit outside, rejoicing in how good my life is.

All night the waves will rock my cradle as I sleep in the cabin of my boat. (Other visitors prefer the Inn’s beds.) I’ll drowse through the pre-dawn stirrings of crabbers leaving the Narrows. I’ll wake to more herons fishing for their breakfast. The Inn’s coffee is made early. I’ll drink a cup as I plan my day: a swim in the Inn’s pool…A run or bicycle ride through the Island, where the old fishing village is the quaint background for vacation palaces built for the very rich… Fishing the Choptank… A run over to Oxford or Cambridge. Most of my mornings here are a big “may be” full of possibility.

August 14: A Toadally Awesome Event
This morning is different. Today, I’m after the toadfish who’s usually after me.

You know the toadfish: when you don’t want to catch one, you always can. I know fishermen who claim they’ve caught nothing else. In the fine old tradition of making hay when the sun shines, Tilghman Island Inn has turned the Bay’s toadfish plenty into opportunity. For this one day, the tables are turned. Today the biggest, ugliest, wartiest, widest mouthed, prickliest, most repulsive toadfish takes the prize.

I’ll start today with the Inn’s big fisherman’s breakfast; you know, the kind of breakfast you used to eat, before we all got health conscious—and still dream about.

All day long I’ll be in my boat bobbing off the bottom, letting my worm do the work. That’s what I like about angling: it gives me a purpose…but a not very demanding one. Angling, I’ve got world enough and time to soak up the sun and savor the sea air; to scan the shores; to swig a beer. Angling for toadfish is even better; today, the bigger and uglier the fish I catch, the better.

Should I tire of bobbing, I’ll take a change of scene and one of those customized Bloody Marys at the Inn’s outdoor bar, where I can swap long stories with the other toadfishers.

Win or lose, at Tilghman Island Inn I’ve got it made.

Want reservations or a brochure? Tilghman Island Inn: 800/866-2141

For more armchair diversions to prepare you for the real thing, keep reading New Bay Times. We’ll bring you plenty more on Tilghman Island…we promise.

to the top

Who's Here: 323 Words

In the Air and Garden

The cosmos blooming pinkly in the front garden may have attracted them. This is the first I’ve seen of goldfinches in my garden although the bird book says they’re common all year in our area. The bright yellow male birds have black cap and wings. Females and young are less showy. Once the finches found the cosmos they soon discovered the backyard feeder, moving in on the housefinches, cardinals and a single chickadee who are regulars.

I walk carefully when we visit my friend’s garden: its under seige by half a dozen ruby-throated hummingbirds. Though hardly bigger than bees, they’re as aggressive as jet fighters and about as territorial. Most of their non-feeding time is spent buzzing one another off. They’ll settle for moments of downtime—on the perch that encircles one feeder, a limb or a utility lines and branches. Boldly indifferent to people, they don’t care for cars, which send them zooming.

I’m zooming to the Wild Bird Store, to buy another feeder. With a perch.

In the Water

Friends who bottom-fished near Poplar Island with charter Captain Vince Austin, out of Deale Marina, report catching foot-long spot. Delicious, they say.

Captain George Prenant agrees. He’s been finding good spot and croaker fishing on the Western Shore from Holland Point to Franklin Manor in 25 to 30 feet of water. Also in the shallow water of Herring Bay, a few flounder are being caught. In evening off Holland Point, you might catch blues with small spoons with light weights. “But they’re hard to come by; you’ve got to work for them.”

“It’s all real hard work,” says the captain, “but they’ll come back. They follow cycles like everything else in nature. We’re in a downward cycle, but bait fish are everywhere and usually game fish follow.”

(Want an up-to-date fish report or to book a charter? Call Capt. Prenant at 301/261-9075.)

to the top


CBF Takes Bay to Congress

Taking the Bay’s case to the U.S. senate, Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William C. Baker urged lawmakers to add the Chesapeake Bay Restoration Act to an amended Clean Water Act, which is up for reauthorization.

“When you do that,” Baker said, “please consider formally designating the Chesapeake Bay as the ‘Nation’s Estuary,’ for that is what it truly is—a natural resource of singular importance to the nation.”

The restoration act, sponsored by Sen. Paul Sarbanes and embraced by Sen. Barbara Mikulski, calls for greater protection and restoration of wetlands, better management of the Bay’s tributaries and watersheds, and increased involvement of federal agencies.

A tributary is a stream or river feeding into a larger waterway, in this case the Chesapeake. A watershed is an area of high ground that drains into a stream, river or the Bay itself, carrying eroded soil, chemicals, pesticides and even sewage.

Another bill scheduled for review in the Senate, the Water Pollution and Control Prevention Act of 1993, seeks to clean the nation’s waterways with tougher laws and enforcement to keep toxins out of the water in the first place.

Baker’s argued for continued advances in cleaning and restoring the Chesapeake.

“For the first time ever,” Baker told senators, “the Gulf Coast catch of blue crabs has exceeded the Chesapeake. Overfished, overfertilized with nitrogen and phosphates, poisoned with toxins, stripped of much of its valuable habitat, the Bay can be described as ‘degraded,’ ‘abused’ and ‘polluted.’ But it is not dead. A decade of intense public and private effort to save the Bay has produced some signs of improvement and many signs of hope.”

Critical Areas Law Set for Ink
By the time you read this, Anne Arundel County will have a new and stronger critical areas law. County executive Robert R. Neall’s version would have put the county at the pinnacle of environmental management in Maryland. While not so lofty, the bill that passed isn’t bad. Stricter regulations will still govern building plans within 1,000 feet of the Bay or its tributaries.

Before the bill reached Neall for his signature, the County Council had tagged on several amendments. The only significant amendment left intact the existing 25-foot buffer zone between new construction and sloping watershed or nontidal wetlands. Neall had proposed a buffer zone of 50 feet.

Even so, the passage of Neall’s Critical Areas goes beyond state mandates. It should keep state environmental authorities happy and could even spur other counties to adopt similar policies rather than risk state confrontation.

Turn That Down
Anne Arundel countians hearing this above the blast of their “unreasonably loud” music, may soon have to pay the piper. That is, if a measure orchestrated by County Council Vice Chairman Carl G. “Dutch” Holland is voiced into law.

The bill, which mimics an existing Annapolis law, defines “unreasonably loud” as anything audible 50 feet away and violators would be liable to the tune of $50.

The council meets to answer questions and hear your say Monday, August 16 at 7:30pm Otherwise, keep your voice down.

Down the Drain
A recent $12,150 draft report, compiled to ease developmental red tape in Calvert County, recommends eliminating environmental review from the permit process. Under the proposal, the Calvert County Environmental Commission would no longer review the environmental impact of subdivision building plans.

The author of the report, David Blaha, of John E. Harms Jr. & Associates, said that these changes would speed building permit applications and save developers money.

David Brownlee, an environmental planner for the commission, questions the report’s logic. The commission only reviews subdivision plans of 20 or more lots, he said, “unless it’s in critical areas, or if 75 percent of the parcel is wetlands or deep slopes.”

After analyzing a building plan, the commission makes no decisions but recommends action to the planning and zoning commission, Brownlee said.

“The commission has environmental expertise well beyond planning and zoning,” he said. “If we cut them off we lose that input.”

Money to Burn
The state recently bought itself one more nine-to-five, when Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein announced Maryland’s $10 million surplus from fiscal year 1993—the cost of running the state eight hours given last year’s $12 billion budget.

Still, that’s the first time since 1990 that the state has turned a profit. Goldstein said the figure would have been larger still, had Keno, Maryland’s controversial new lottery game, generated the revenue originally anticipated.

Standards of Race and Sex
President Clinton has called on Lynn Ann Battaglia, Sen. Barbara Mikulski's chief of staff, to serve as one of Maryland’s U.S. attorneys. Clinton also nominated Prince Georges County State’s Attorney Alex Williams to the federal bench.

If confirmed, Battaglia will become the first woman to sit on the federal bench in Maryland and Williams only the second black. Ten judges preside over federal district court in Maryland.

Even with all the brouhaha over allegations of racism, sexism and ambivalence at Maryland’s Natural Resource Police Department (see this issue’s editorial on page 4), Gov. William Donald Schaeffer still seems intent on offering John Arnick a state job.

Arnick, once considered a shoo-in for a circuit court judgeship, withdrew his nomination when charged with racist and sexist comments. Arnick never admitted to the charges. Nor did he deny them, which would have cleared the way for an investigation.

to the top

Sky Facts

Saturn Facts

Saturn is a symbol of longevity and death, misery, sorrows, restrictions, denials and delays. From all that trouble comes wisdom born of experience, leadership and ambition.

The Greeks called this god Cronus, the “timekeeper” we recognize as the Old Year on New Year’s Eve. Ancient Italians, to perhaps counteract the gloomier aspects of Saturn, celebrated the festival of Saturn with feasting, revelry and licentiousness.

Saturn is often called the generational planet because it takes 25 years to traverse the entire zodiac, spending about two and a half years in each constellation. Saturn has been in Aquarius since March and will remain there until late 1995.

to the top

Laughing Gourment

Here’s a Book that Will Give You The Flavor of the Chesapeake
by Whitey Schmidt
Photographs by Marion E. Warren

Reading cookbooks is to a cook as I imagine reading scores might be to a musician: you know you’ve got a good one when the page sings.

The Flavor of the Chesapeake, neighbor Whitey Schmidt’s fourth book in celebration of our regional cuisine, is alluring to still more senses. Whitey’s collaborator in this cookbook, signature Bay photographer Marion E. Warren, shares his wonderful eyesight in 51 pictures that make you shake your head and say what a beautiful place this is!

You know how it is: you see something beautiful and you want to get close it to, sometimes so much that it hurts. No problem: this book leads you right to communion. Eating your way through Whitey’s five courses, you can get real close to the Chesapeake. And all the way through, region by region, you can see where your food comes from.

Whitey is ready for this time of year, when crabs are in every pot and on every table. With 15 recipes in the shell and out, crab is his star. Try any one of them, he says, “it will make you a hero.” Whitey gathers his recipes from the same places he markets his books: “towns all up one side of the Bay, down the other, and along all the rivers and creeks from the eastern shore of the Western Shore to the western shore of the Eastern Shore.”

Warren’s pictures—selected by Whitey from the photographer’s archives of thousands of photos—show crab pots, peeler crabs, crab shedding tanks, crab measuring and crab pickers. I especially like the professionals on page 72 set against the amateurs on page 70.

Here too are finfish, but I couldn’t bear to read those recipes: nobody in my family has brought me a single fish this whole year—not even a bluefish I could grill Pocomoke Sound style, with lime, garlic, olive oil, and ginger. Still, I could look at Warren’s pictures—like the teaming pound net on page 88—and remember.

Every one of Whitey’s side dishes will inflame your appetite and stick to your ribs: buttermilk corn bread, Holland Point hush puppies, Indian corn pudding. Looking away from the Bay, Warren shows us how to see people: I can’t take my eyes off his portrait of a farm market woman (page 42), Piscataway Indian (page 40) and scarecrow (page 44).

There’s room for chicken and meat in these generous 112 pages. I like the music of this Chesapeake chicken in the pot just as much as I like its French forbearer, and now I’ve no excuse not to stuff a ham southern Maryland style. But it’s Maryland fried chicken with gravy that’s making my mouth water—and Warren’s opposing photograph (page 62) that’s amazing me: “This Paul-Bunyan-size frying pan, more than 10 feet in diameter, is used to prepare hundreds of pounds of chicken at the annual Delmarva Chicken Festival.”

Oysters… they’re on my mind now that I can feel fall turning the season’s page. Whitey’s eight recipes will give me dreams tonight: scalloped oysters, Tilghman baked oysters, crusty country fried oysters. Oysters and their harvesters enchant Warren, too: he shows them again and again, lingering especially the hand-tongers (pages 6, 10 and 68).

What’s for dessert? Whitey must not have cleaned his plate when he was a boy, because, before this book, he never got to dessert. No wonder; with titles like The Crab Cookbook, he’d have had to offer you crab ice cream. Now that Whitey’s amphibious, he can put local water and land specialties side by side. The results include Mom’s Southern Blackberry Cobbler, Point Lookout Pumpkin Pie and a classic version of Lady Baltimore Cake—a seven-egg layer cake frosted with a rum cream rich with walnuts, raisins and candied cherries.

In his turn, Warren doesn’t seem to have much of a sweet tooth. There’s hardly a calorie in his pictures till you turn to page 106 where, set against Strawberry Shortcake, is a suitable ice cream social.

These two men have made the Bay their life work. In a half century, my fellow St. Louis native Marion Warren has captured more than a hundred thousand definitive images that will preserve and teach us to love the Chesapeake as well as any human urging can.

Whitey’s dedication chronicles a more populist conversion: a decade or so ago, his three-day-a-week job in a family DC business left him with enough time on his hands that he started hanging out in Chesapeake crab houses. He began to take his hobby seriously on the night five friends called to ask him where to eat crabs. “I wasn’t any writer and I didn’t do very well in school,” he says, but he started collecting data and imagining pages. His first book took him “five years, 275 crab houses, and 3000 crabs,” he says.

Always bumping into each other at fairs, shows and festivals, they got talking about collaboration. This book makes the idea happen.

If you want to know about crabs, ask Whitey. If you want Bay visions, ask Warren. Or buy their book: $13.95 at most crab houses, book or bait stores around the Bay, or from Whitey’s own little publishing company, Marian Hartnett Press; Box 51; Friendship, Maryland 20758.

to the top

Author Review

What Hearts
by Bruce Brooks

HarperCollins Children’s Books 1992

“How do you know so much about kids?” I asked Newberry Honors Award winner Bruce Brooks.

This is what he told me: “I like kids as characters. They’re very interesting people. I'm still very much connected to the person I was when I was 12, 15, 17. The things I had to deal with then are still vital and often unsolved issues in my life now. I still deal with friendships, responsibility, love relationships between older people and younger people. I can still identify with the uncertainties and mysteries of life opening up in front of me and the need to find some things out.

“I don’t sit and decide what kids would like to hear. I write about stories that interest me. I like my characters to show adults how much teenagers really do understand and how smart they really are. In my books my young characters often surprise adults with their intelligence and insight. I think this is true to life. I was the kind of kid I'm writing about. If I write well, others who were or are kids like me will be interested too.”

Bruce Brooks lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, with his wife and two children. What Hearts is his fifth book of fiction. His 1985 book Moves Make the Man also won a Newberry Honors Award. Look for his fifth nonfiction book, called Boys Will Be, this Fall.

Sir William Excerpt

For Stephanie, who may one day enjoy this...

Excerpt from The True Story of the Wonderful and Cantankerous Sir William by Sonia L. Linebaugh ©1993

One day as usual Sir William, Pippin and Hobbes waddled down the road behind Stephanie and Mom. When we got to the steep hill above the beach, Pippin and Hobbes ran yabbering excitedly down through the wild cucumber vines. William, as usual, tried to walk down the stairs. He hasn’t yet learned that geese can’t do this.

He thinks, you see, that Stephanie is a goose, too. If she goes down the hill, he goes down the hill. If she goes down the stairs, he’s determined to do it too. As usual, he starts falling on the top step because goose legs are just too short and don’t bend the right way for this activity. As usual, not wanting him to break a leg, Stephanie caught him on each step and helped him down. Once on the beach, all three geese raced to the Bay’s edge and pecked noisily in the sand while Stephanie and Mom organized their towels and shoes and got ready to push their huge black inner tubes into the water.

This was the first time we had brought the geese and the inner tubes together. We figured we would float around while they paddled and we’d all have a good time. Pippin and Hobbes cooperated, as usual. The regal Sir William tried to imitate Stephanie—as usual.

He flapped his way up onto Stephanie’s tube. Stephanie dumped him off into the water. Undeterred, he flapped up again. Thinking Stephanie is a goose, William doesn’t realize that his claws might hurt her. She knows it, however, and finally relinquished the tube to him.

We suspected what might happen, but William didn’t. He got up onto the top of the tube, which by now was lurching this way and that. In an effort to keep his balance, William dug in with his claws. Uh-h-oh-h.

Bam! The inner tube blew and William flew. Stephanie and Mom laughed until they cried.

The wonderful and cantankerous Sir William had had his way again.

to the top