Volume 1 Issue 10 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).

Beyond Tackiness: Rebuilding North Beach Reflections
From National Press Corps to Annapolis Sports Store Diversions & Excursions
Bay Life Who's Here
Burton On The Bay Politalk
Dock of the Bay Time Line
Editorial Laughing Gourment
Letters To The Editor Kids In NB

to the top

Beyond Tackiness: Rebuilding North Beach
This former resort town, gambling center and biker hangout climbs toward respectability.
by Sandra Martin with Donna Reifsnider

“Beaches” says the sign on Rt. 4 as the green hills roll by, and long before you smell the saltwater, your heart leaps.

The beaches that beckon are North Beach and Chesapeake Beach, towns rich in Bayfront vistas and the swell of waves. For a century, they’ve been a silver screen on which human dreams, schemes, and neglect have been projected.

Their pasts are oft-told stories. But where are they now? Ask that question and the first thing you learn is that, for all they hold in common, Chesapeake Beach and North Beach go their separate ways. In this issue, New Bay Times tackles North Beach.

Dazzling but Derelict
Whatever way you approach it, North Beach has a million-dollar view. The sparkle of the Bay bedazzles you as you climb the last hill on Rt. 260. Imagination stretches as far away as those ships on the horizon sail.

Perhaps you arrive in North Beach from the south after descending the last hill on Rt. 261, where the masts of Herrington Harbour South sing sea stories in the wind. Bay glimpses tantalize until—just past the blooming wetlands—the Chesapeake opens wide. You’re here.

“Wow!”—you’re not the first to say. A century ago, ambitious developers created a saltwater playground with grand hotels, a mile- long boardwalk and a railway from Washington. It was said to be the getaway for politicians on very private business. North Chesapeake Beach, as North Beach was first known, was platted into lots 25 feet wide and advertised as the perfect place to build “a home at the seashore.” Later, North Beach cycled through hurricanes and disasters, honky-tonk times and wide-open gambling—with disrepair often besting development. Today, after equal measures of disrepute and dazzle, the beach towns are rebuilding. New development and new dreams beckon. But what does the future hold?

North Beach “is the epitome of a small town with trees and water where the houses aren’t all like each. It’s a walk-around town where you know your neighbors. You feel sad when somebody dies and happy at a birth or wedding,” says Nancy Regelin, city councilwoman, real estate agent, and aggressive restorer.

Stand in the commercial center of town, a block away from the splash and shimmer of the Bay, and see North Beach for yourself. Looking south down Chesapeake Avenue from under the twin flag poles of town hall, you see a tidy, even charming town.

Town Hall is modest but well kept: its bricks tuckpointed, its tiny peaked and pillared porch painted, its mungo pines and bayberries trim, its brick sidewalks weedless. Deceptively peaceful. Inside they’re wrestling over town fates.

Union Church stands simple and serene behind its white picket fence. A door further, bright lights, a flag and a wind sock remind shoppers that Calvert Art Supplies will be open tomorrow. Beyond, past the crowded darkened windows of Metropolitan Appliance, the “M” of Sherbert’s Mobil sign shines its familiar reassurance. Farther still St. Anthony’s Catholic Church is a presence though its unseen from this vantage.

Across the street, Tina’s By the Bay ceramic shop shows its wares in brightly cleaned windows. Next to it, the brick Chaney building has new awnings, new tenants, and a new “grand opening” banner for its new carpet store. Lights play with shadows at Bayside Florist, across Second Street. The twinkling lights of Widow’s Walk Antiques and Art Gallery and the almost-heard hilarity at Neptune’s signal the end of town.

North Beach seems an ideal American town. Then you look north.

On the west side of Chesapeake Avenue, decay starts slowly. Ex-Mayor Gus Hall’s cinderblock is spruce and white. But next door, at the yellow and green city-owned annex, weeds have died in the half-barrel planter.

Three of the four corners of Third and Chesapeake are derelict; the fourth is a parking lot. Franchi’s restaurant went out with a boom after a half century in business last year after a truck crashed into the dining room. Mother Brown’s Liquors closed, too, suffering the fate that earlier befell Pop Brown’s furniture store.

With the exception of Tan’s Motorcycles, Stone’s Apartments and Chesapeake Group Gallery, Chesapeake Avenue—North Beach’s main commercial artery—is dead or derelict down to Seventh.

That’s part of the “old stigma” that Donna Dornbusch, president of the North-Chesapeake Beach Business and Professional Association, is working to kill—the notion that in North Beach, things are headed down hill.

That’s the town in some people’s minds when they snootily ask citizen planner Betty Carlson-Jameson, “You live in North Beach?”

And that’s the North Beach that Dale Thomas, owner of Nice & Fleazy Antiques remembers from the seventies.

“This was the last ghost town on the Eastern seaboard,” Thomas recalls. “Everybody who came here was lost.”

Underground Changes
“People don’t see how much is happening in North Beach because it’s all underground,” contends Carlson-Jameson, who has lived here since 1979.

Mayor W. Alan “Buck” Gott uses the same description. Of the $9.5 million dollars invested in North Beach in recent years, “90 percent has gone underground,” he says.

“Infrastructure” is what you call the part of life you don’t think about—until your toilet or septic or storm sewer backs up. But it’s an element you’d better not shortchange if you want your community livable.

Rebuilding North Beach’s infrastructure has meant linking every one of the town’s 630 homes and 50 or so businesses with a new twin Beaches water purification plant, so that toilets flush and drains drain. And not into the Bay.

This task has meant meant digging two massive wells and erecting a 350,000-gallon water storage tank that doubles as the town’s new blue landmark. It has meant checking flooding with concrete culvert storm sewers leading to flap-gates at the Bay. “It used to be so bad that Chesapeake and Bay Avenues flooded,” Gott recalls.

It’s taken 10 years, and there’s still plenty of ditch to be dug and culvert to be laid before the storm sewer is finished. But finally North Beach has a solid—if mostly invisible—foundation.

Blueprint for Tomorrow
If you want your hometown to be healthy, planning is as important an investment as infrastructure. That’s the advice of Ruth Knack, executive editor for the American Planning Association’s Planning Magazine. (Knack shares her full recipe for healthy hometowns in this issue’s “Commentary,” on page 5).

A plan for a town is like a blueprint for a house: it’s a picture of a place you someday hope to live in. A plan “helps define the vision of a community,” observes North Beach planner Travis Clark.

Without a blueprint, you’ll get the house that Jack built. Without a plan, you get the old North Beach—a “where nothing’s plumb,” as Denise Devoe, co-owner of Angels in the Attic antiques and Westlawn Inn Bed and Breakfast, quipped at a recent town council meeting. “The whole town is a patchwork,” added John Lehan, until this week North Beach’s director of Public Works.

North Beach now has a plan. In fact, in the last decade, citizens have agreed on a passel of plans that set standards for every aspect of town life from infrastructure to the proper style for picket fences.

In the plans, the goal is “to promote controlled and attractive change to improve the waterfront and commercial areas of North Beach so that it serves the needs of the Town as well as the broader community by generating revenue, while remaining sensitive to the unique character of the Town.”

Let’s see how it works.

Walking Over the Water
North Beach’s allure always has been the Bay; the town snuggled up to it along 12 blocks of sandy beach until the devastating hurricane of 1933. Eyewitness Bernie Loveless, currator at the Chesapeake Railway Museum, recalls a ferocious wave swallowing Capt. Oscar’s restaurant at the end of the North Beach pier.

After that, with much of its sand sucked back into the Bay, the beach shrank considerably. Still, North Beach has what’s probably the Bay’s last free public beaches.

“Our beach can draw a lot of people. If we don’t capitalize on our Bay setting here, we’re fools.” observes Gott.

Now, in a signal that the promise is coming true, people can walk 550 feet right over the water with the welcome removal of the chainlink gate that for years barricaded the town’s pier. With new pilings, decking, and a boardwalk link to Bay Avenue, the refurbished pier bustles with activity—so much so that neighbors complain about noise late into the night. But that’s another story.

One day, that pier will let boats tie up at North Beach. Moorings and a lower deck are the pier’s planned next stages.

The beach even has public toilets: four portapotties are set up on the boardwalk entrance to the pier. It’s a practical trade of beauty for comfort now, but someday those toilets will shrink into the background of a waterfront park with a plaza, gazebo, and greenery. the icing on the cake would be a bathhouse.

Nearer in the future, is more boardwalk. Atlantic avenue already has its boardwalk, which serves double duty as a sidewalk for Bayfront houses and a promenade for strollers. That boardwalk is planned to stretch to the pier, then slowly extend southward to the town limits at First Street.

Still in the dream stage is a wetlands part at the town’s undeveloped north end. If all these plans come true, there’ll be a beach early century visitors would envy. But on Bayfront as city streets, today’s money is invested in infrastructure, as huge stones are tumbled against the old iron seawall as revetments to protect land and Bay from one another.

Business: Openings Overtake Closings
To flourish, North Beach needs business. During the recent recession, closings ran neck-and neck with new business; dilapidation rivalled restoration.

North Beach has no industry for an anchor, and thus, little industrial pollution. That’s great for the health of the Bay and its people. But the town lacks a broad economic base: antique stores don’t bring in the revenue that summer people, slot machines and bars brought in, each in its own eras. Today, the old honky-tonk town hasn’t a single bar—until Neptune’s dinner hour gives way to the drinking hours.

Losses continue: in recent memory, the town has lost its hardware store, its auto repair, its last liquor store, its coin laundry, all its pool tables and one of its oldest and most entertaining restaurants—Franchi’s. Another town distinction was lost when greenery artist Bill Lego succumbed to AIDS. More recent ventures—with dresses, pets, basketry and needle work, carousel repair and local theater and newspaper among them—are fading from memory. It even lost first its grade school, then its fire department and finally library. All have relocated to Chesapeake Beach.

But other businesses have taken root in town: a new florist, a travel agent, a lawyer, a stock broker, a video rental store, a beach toy store, a new newspaper. On Bay Avenue’s northern commercial stretch, investors and craftsmen are restoring an early 20th century American Main Street with a seaside flavor—and late 20th century tenants. The Ewald building has reopened, regaining its name after more than a decade’s vacancy. The old barber shop—purchased by Barbara and Don Thomas and restored by Michael Otto of Bay Moon South Homeworks— looks better than new. Nice & Fleazy isn’t so fleazy with its brand-new sidewalk of pavers laid in radiant arcs.

Housing is booming. Two grand scale condos reminiscent of old glory days dominate Bay Avenue. Town houses—unauspiciously named “Burnt Oaks”—abut the woods on Eighth Street. Restoration is spreading from the Bayfront. Everything that hasn’t already been restored—from quaint Victorians to quick-built shotgun cottages—probably will be.

“The days are over when you you could find handyman’s specials for $50,000 and below in the listings,” says Nancy Regelin. Housing prices climb from the mid-$60,000 for “a wonderful one-bedroom cottage with a 50-foot wide lot four blocks from the Bay.” The top out at about $180,000, for the highest price homes and condos.

Unmistakably, change is brewing.

“The city’s been untouched since the seventies,” observes Rick Roberts, an investor and planning commission member. “It’s my thinking and probably the commission’s, that change is inevitable. Development is going to come. We have to control its direction to protect the community.”

Some of North Beach’s progressive thinkers see the Beaches as the third point of a triangle anchored by Annapolis and Washington. That powerful, commutable geography is why Donna Dornbusch quit her city job to go into business here in 1986. Her One of a Kind Gallery, which has stuck it out through three locations and both towns. Now her faith may be rewarded. “The Beaches are revitalizing. Their streetscapes—sidewalks, signs, plantings—public beach area, boardwalks, and planned community centers—are wonderful attractions that encourage people to do business here,” she says.

Ron and Bobby Russo, full of ambitious plans, want change to come quicker to what she calls this “little diamond in the rough.”

The Russos restored a waterfront house for themselves, then launched a multi-million dollar project to revitalize more than a block of waterview property. Bobby converted the old High’s Dairy Store into Bay Country Store, which has a flavor as distinct as its gourmet coffees and exotic ice creams.

Where an old single-room-occupancy lowrise once stood, Ron erected the Baywalk Condominiums, a three-story residential and commercial building, aquamarine in color, which rivals the elegances of early Beach dreams. Two more buildings are planned.

Nonetheless, the Russos get discouraged. “It seems like Ron and I are the only ones pushing,” Bobby laments.

With town government blocking in the way, Ron readily adds: “Petty peeves as old as childhood and personality hang-ups get in the way of issue-oriented decisions,” he says.

“Walking Through Hell Barefoot”
Governing in North Beach in recent years has been “like walking through hell barefoot,” says Mayor Gott.

Indeed, politics in North Beach resemble Beirut. Part of the fractious environment had to do with the change from old to new, part with the nature of the players. “It’s all the time controversy, controversy, controversy. Nobody can agree. Everybody wants to do it their way—and most of them don’t want to do the work,” says Larry Plant, Bay Fest organizer and co-owner of Elvira’s antiques.

Some say that part of it had to do with the spunky, partisan and now-defunct Observer weekly newspaper, which dumped gasoline on every spark.

Whatever the cause, gridlock’s the near result.

“Lately there’s no compromise,” asserts Betty Jameson-Carlson, who’s headed the town’s planning commission during its toughest decisions. “We’re just butting heads more and more. Let’s not be so bureaucratic. If you want bureaucracy, go downtown. Why do we live here? We’re a small town, where people feel a sense of worth.”

People may not be able to agree on ways and means—even the whys and wheres—of North Beach’s rebuilding, but they’re vital and enthusiastic in their disagreements. Meetings last far into the night, and everybody’s got an opinion, on matters from “pooper scoops” to capital projects.

Opposition parties remain active, and citizens who disagree organize to build more muscle for separate action. North Beach Citizens Association, for example, has developed a full “14 Point Plan” to get the “BEST BANG FOR OUR TAX DOLLARS” and reduce the town’s $200,000 income shortfall.

If the town council won’t do it, we’ll do it ourselves, people are saying. For instance, Citizens Association got the town a Christmas tree. The North-Chesapeake Beach Business and Professional Association makes a better climate for business and consumers. The House and Garden Club “beautifies” with house tours and flower plantings. The North Beach Festival Association, a town offshoot, has given a new look at North Beach to hundreds of thousands of people in ten (counting this weekend’s) successful Bay Fests.

“There are meetings all over town. There’s a fever building with people wanting to get aboard with their own vision of North Beach,” says Nice & Fleazy’s Thomas, who chaired this year’s House and Garden Tour.

Look for political battles to persist. Gott, who intends to run for a third term, says that he will, too. “I’ve put too much work into North Beach. I want to see it through,” he says.

Rebuilding’s Rewards
Buck Gott’s not the only one sticking it out.

Maybe we’ve got the story of North Beach’s revival backward, suggests Del. George Owings, whose father was North Beach mayor from 1960 to 1962. Owings will preside over this year’s Bay Fest.

“The town is not coming back,” Owings contends. “The town never left. It’s you all who are coming back.”

Newcomers are adding vitality without losing character. Look, for example, at the new Westlawn Bed and Breakfast, cute as a bug’s knee and perhaps the first successful restoration of an old business in its own location.

Listen to the people. “I love the diversity,” says Karen Davis, who commutes to the American Association of Museums in Washington.

“After a week at the Westlawn Inn, we broke a contract on a house in Silver Spring,” says newcomer Jenifor Klindt. “We felt North Beach was a real town. The Bay’s been an equalizer here, drawing a mixture of ethnicities, professions, ages, classes. The town’s struggled and it is struggling to come back without changing its identity.”

For rebuilders old and new, there are rewards. Dale Thomas may have summed up the feeling of many North Beach residents when he said that when you says that while you build your town, you also create yourself.

“In all these 20 years, there’s never been a doubt in my mind that it was my appointed destiny to be in this special area,” says Thomas.

to the top

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.”

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

Where Bass Masters Play, They Long for the Bay

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—Home waters to 47-year-old Guido Hibdon are the great sprawling lakes and rivers near Gravois Mills, Mo.—waters he considers as only mill ponds compared with what he remembers of the Chesapeake Bay.

Guido fished the upper Chesapeake less than a dozen times one summer, but he saw it at its best. And its worst.

But he wants to come back for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that arches from Dundee Creek to the upper reaches of the Chester River. Many on the prestigious pro BASS tour share that wish, I found while covering the 23d annual BASS Masters Classic, the super bowl of the world of fishing, held this year in Alabama.

The classic was held out of Baltimore two years ago, with the fishing centered on the Susquehanna, Sassafras, Northeast, Dundee, Bush, Bohemia and Middle Rivers, Susquehanna Flats, and other lesser backwaters such as Worton Creek. Those who fished it fondly recall the diversity of the fishing.

They also remember their troubles reaching the fishing holes—especially those on the Eastern Shore. For some troubling moments, Guido thought his relatively flat-bottomed 18-foot Ranger bass boat was a submarine.

“We went up for some pre-practice fishing weeks before the classic, and my wife Stella and I decided to cross the Chesapeake to check some spots on the Eastern Shore. It was a nice day; the water wasn't too bad either.

“Then, we saw a dark cloud about half way across, then white caps, and then the storm hit. Suddenly, we had white water not only under us, but on both sides—and on top of us.

“We rode waves higher than I want to remember, and when we were at the top of the highest we would plop down to the lowest. Stella wanted out. I just held on and rode each wave one at a time. I was too busy to be scared.

“Then as suddenly as it started, the storm stopped, and the ride wasn’t too bad as we continued across the Bay. But I knew then we could be in for a tough classic.”

The Pro Bass Circuit
And the Baltimore stop was a tough one for Guido, the former trapper and fisherman who took up competitive fishing in his mid-30s and has since won about a half million dollars on the BASS tour, among them a classic win on Virginia’s James River in 1988 and two Angler of the Year awards. He finished 23d in Baltimore with 17 pounds 13 ounces, winning $3,000, which is a paltry sum for Guido.

He did much better, finishing eighth here with 33 pounds 7 ounces worth $4,000, at Logan Martin, a 15,263-acre reservoir with 275 miles of shoreline. It is about three times the size of Maryland’s largest freshwater impoundment, Deep Creek Lake in Garrett County.

David Fritts of Lexington, NC, won $50,000 for his first place finish of 48 pounds 6 ounces at Logan Martin.

No longer is $50,000 the big money on a BASS stop, but the classic has its unique amenities. It’s an expense-paid trip for the 41 qualifiers and their wives. All are guaranteed a minimum $3,000 payoff and they enjoy best in entertainment, lodging, food, and other goodies. Potential sponsors flock around the chosen elite, and the name recognition in just fishing it is incalculable.

Recent classic winners estimate their victory in the world championship of bass is worth about a million bucks in endorsements, sponsorships, public appearances and such. A classic win launched a prosperous TV career for Hank Parker, and near-wins got TV outdoor celebrities Bill Dance, Jimmy Houston and Roland Martin their starts.

Martin, once a Marylander who started on the upper Bay, Eastern Shore ponds and Loch Raven, figured he had a lock on the Baltimore event only to learn there are good days and bad days when fishing—and he got three bad days in row. In his home waters, he finished 37th with 10 pounds of bass.

Another angler who started his career fishing local and regional tournaments in the tributaries of the Chesapeake—especially the Northeast, Choptank and Susquehanna—is Randy Romig of Spring City, Pa., who also figured he could win the Chesapeake affair. Why not? Many of his records for regional tournaments on Bay waters still hold.

But the barnacles of the Chester River near Chestertown did him in. On the last day, he lost several large fish when barnacles cut his line. He finished second, three ounces shy of Oklahoman Ken Cook, who took 33 pounds 2 ounces. The difference between just one of these lost fish cost Romig $37,000 in prize money, plus the goodies that go with a classic win.

Romig, 43, suffered a heart attack that cost him one day at a major tournament last winter, yet he managed a 12th place finish despite the lost time. This Alabama classic was to be his big comeback.

Within an hour after we chatted about his hopes for the future, especially here, he was in an ambulance with severe chest pains. From his hospital bed he announced he would be fishing the next day’s opening of competition.

However, an incision where a catheter had been inserted in his lower abdomen to check his heart began hemorrhaging at 2am, two hours before the kickoff breakfast. A reccurrence on the lake could be disastrous, doctors warned.

He did fish the next two days, finishing 37th with 10 largemouths. Pro fishermen are athletes; health considerations be damned, the show must go on.

Longing for the Chesapeake
Like Guido, Romig wants another classic to the upper Chesapeake. New Spectre lines promise fewer barnacle cuts; in addition, like Guido, he prefers the diversity of angling in the Chesapeake complex, where one finds fish in various types and depths of habitat. If one technique or depth doesn’t work in one area, it could in another.

Also involved are tides that change the complexion of fishing. Some spots are good only on highs, others only on lows—and with each techniques must change. Because of the habitat and tidal diversities, there is always an area one can catch fish if at the right place at the right time. This isn’t so on many of the large inland impoundments on the BASS trail.

Rick Clunn of Montgomery, Tex., wants to return to the Chesapeake, too. “It’s diversified fishing is what makes bass’n challenging,” he told me. “Everyone has an equal chance; It’s up to each contestant to learn the patterns. I’d love to go back,” added Clunn, who has won an unprecedented four classics and nearly a million dollars, is the all star of the pros, yet finished 40th here—one day without a single fish. In Baltimore, after being in contention two days, his luck ran out, and he finished 20th. But he’s intrigued by our waters.

So is Woo Daves of Burrowsville, Va., who finished third in Baltimore—less than a pound from first place. Daves told me tidewater bass’n is more challenging, and he also attributes not winning on the Chesapeake to Chester River barnacles.

Another Chesapeake fan is Larry Nixon who finished only 35 in Baltimore. “The Chesapeake is hard to beat,” said Nixon. “You have it all up there.” The 42-year-old Bee Branch, Ark. angler won the classic in 1983, and is the sport’s biggest money winner—more than a million dollars worth.

The whiz kid on the tour is Kevin Van Dam of Kalamazoo, Mich., only 25, and on the tour less than 4 years, during which he has won more $250,000. Van Dam had some kind words for our Bay, but doesn’t want the classic there. “There is a lot of good fishing,” he explained, “But it’s too far between stops.”

BASS alone spends $1 million at a classic site, which generates $20 million in business for the host city. A return to the Chesapeake would be a big economic boost. In addition, the publicity waters get from 150 members of the press covering the event attracts anglers from everywhere. Bass are the big drawing cards these days.

Ray Scott, who founded BASS, doesn't rule the Chesapeake out for a repeat, but said he prefers to try different areas. It could be a stop on the regular tournament trail.

Also very popular among the pros here is the Potomac River near Washington, where many competitions leading to the classic are held annually. To promote the Potomac, Charles County’s Tourist Division has a busy booth at the fishing show accompanying the classic here. Bass’n is big business.

to the top

Dock Of The Bay

The Sinking of Max’s Navy

To his neighbors near Deale, Earle “Max” Walter was eccentric, no doubt about it. “Big Max for Governor” bumper stickers floated around his waterfront community. And one by one, Max brought home rickety wooden boats:

A 38-foot custom Baybuilt. A 36-foot Owens. And finally, inexplicably, an aging yacht over 50 feet in length. The aging vessel had no engines and, in the view of boatwise locals, slim hopes for restoration.

But Max Walter persisted and nailed a sign at the end of his 160-foot pier. “Big Max’s Navy,” it read.

Despite these goings-on, his Tracys Landing neighbors saw Max as a good man. He was a retired D.C. policeman in his 70s, a man so generous that he would invite total strangers to his pier to crab. Neighbors figured that if the boats got out of hand, there’s always the Department of Natural Resources and government agencies to step in. Isn’t that what we pay taxes for?

But things have indeed gotten out of hand with Max and his navy, which sits now at the bottom of Trott’s Branch off of Rockhold Creek. All told, four boats are down and another five runabouts lay scattered around Max’s property. Make that his former property.

As the summer of ‘93 slips away, a film of gasoline from one or more of the boats can be seen atop Fanny’s Gut, the heron-populated wash that backs into wetlands. And people thereabouts are wondering when DNR, another government agency or perhaps the new corporate owner will step in and do the right thing—drag the polluting boats away.

Neighbors report telling the DNR about Max as far back as a year ago, when the first boat went down. Pleas for help have gone to the highest levels of DNR, to the the Coast Guard and to state environmental officials.

Earlier this month, the Maryland Department of the Environment dispatched workers to deploy a temporary boom around two of the boats. They might as well have stayed home. The orange boom they attached is unsecured, so that at high tide it catches on the stern of one of the boats, permitting the scummy pollution to escape on the wings of wind and current.

Why not just raise the boats and solve the problem? The DNR’s Waterway Improvements Division says it is swamped, pardon the expression, when it comes to derelict boats. A spokesman said that DNR has one crew with a jurisdiction over 1,800 miles of shoreline along the Bay and all its rivers.

“There is simply not enough money to take care of all these problems,” said the DNR spokesman, John Verrico. “We do take care of them, but you can’t call today and expect us to be out tomorrow.”...

What about Max? Neighbors have trouble blaming him after a series of family illnesses and tragedies, including the death of a son, pushed him to the edge. On Feb. 22, his house was sold at foreclosure to Sears Consumer Financial Corp., records show. Another transaction is rumored to be pending, but deterioration of the property could be an obstacle.

Sears says it’s working with government agencies to get the boats removed. But the company has been unwilling so far to belly up to the bar and haul the boats away.

“They’re not our boats—we just inherited them,” said Lynn Sakri, who has handled the matter for Sears. “It’s really a mess.”

Meanwhile, people nearby are dreading storms, which could spread debris, not to mention pollution. Town Point Marina sits across from Max’s sunken navy; Herrington Harbour North is situated 100 yards to the northeast.

The Coast Guard has showed up a time or two to look things over. But as with the other government agencies, nothing of substance is getting done. All told, there are at least 10 derelict boats in Rockhold Creek.

“Some of the DNR officers have been helpful,” remarked one neighbor. “But it’s clear that nobody wants to spend the money to get the job done.”

Wheel of Thievery
When scoundrels snatched a 26-foot boat belonging to Pat Sajak—he of “Wheel of Fortune” television fame—their spree was just beginning. In the course of one week in August, they hot-wired nine boats along the Magothy, Severn and Patapsco rivers.

Sajak and his wife, Lesly, have a home in Severna Park.

All of the boats were run-abouts or half-cabin models between 21 and 29-feet. Later, Sajak’s Honolulu-registered boat, Pakalika , and the others were found beached or adrift. “We believe it’s the same group of individuals taking them out for joyrides,” said John Verrico, spokesman for the DNR, which is investigating.

No word yet on whether Vanna’s upset.

Whistleblower Brigged
Some of the worst toxic pollution on the planet comes from the military. Many of the old uranium plants and bomb factories are Superfund sites, being cleaned up by taxpayers. The Energy Department is spending $8 billion this year to get a handle on military’s waste problems.

But don’t try to tell the U.S. Navy to stop flinging its garbage overboard.

Sailor Aaron Ahearn tried it, and he was sentenced last week to 35 days in the brig. In February, Ahearn went AWOL from the USS Abraham Lincoln for 78 days, saying that his conscience no longer could abide throwing 200 bags of trash into the ocean every day.

Navy officials say their big ships put out as much garbage as a small town, but lack the local dump.

When Ahearn is released, he will be dismissed from the Navy and welcomed by environmental advocates. While he’s cooling his heels, he can take satisfaction in knowing that publicity about his case has prompted the Navy to speed up efforts to install on-board trash compactors in its fleet.

Way Downstream
In England, those stuffy Brits may be showing us a new variety of Flower Power. Researchers at Sheffield University are deploying flowers to suck heavy metals from soils in toxic waste dumps. They’re finding that certain cabbages and cresses do a fine job absorbing the sorts of metal concentrations that are especially harmful to children.

A warning: plants must be hearty before they’re replanted over contaminated soil. (How about not polluting in the first place?)...

All that paper from your desk filed each day in the trash is cluttering up the world. Recycling experts say that the United States is called the “Saudi Arabia of Scrap Office Paper” because we have as much office paper as the Persian Gulf has oil.

Trouble is, we’re exceeding by hundreds of thousands of tons each year what can be recycled. That means we’re exporting over a million tons annually, which is not good. Why? Because our trash, and particularly our plastic, often winds up blowing around in the valleys of poor people in foreign lands. One solution? Write, type and print on both sides of sheet before bidding it adios...

Out in Wyoming on the edge of Yellowstone National Park, developers have a plan for those ferocious grizzly bears—put them behind fences in a theme park. Stay tuned as conservationists fight to prevent the park from happening...

Sister Bay Update...We told you a few weeks ago that Santa Monica Bay had reopened for swimming after years of pollution. But now, a new study at UCLA found more than 160 toxic chemicals flowing into that Bay from storm drains. Sounds to us like you need a wetsuit if you want to take that dip...

This week’s Creature Feature comes to us from New Zealand, where a group of penguins has consented to an unusual bit of environmental research. It’s known already that these penguins have scalelike feathers, flippers for wings and webbed feet. Soon, we will know if our flightless friends are getting fat from global warming.

That’s right, researchers will weigh each penguin regularly to determine if they’re filling out on what seems to be a new abundance of bite-sized fish and plants. The recent productivity of these cool Southern waters suggests they are warming, more proof of the greenhouse effect—the build up of pollution gases in the upper atmosphere.

Sounds like a plot by the Joker, Batman’s nemesis and the fattest and most famous penguin of all.

to the top


Ten and Taking Care of Business

New Bay Times turns ten this week—issues, not years. So it seems the right time to talk with our readers about who we are and where we are going.

First, we want to thank all of you for your bountiful support. Every day, you write or call to offer ideas or simply to thank us for our new-style newspaper. We are listening.

You asked us to profile towns along the Bay, and in this edition we look at North Beach and its progressive people.

When you wanted outdoors expertise, we went out and got the master-columnist Bill Burton. For fishing tips, the well-known Capt. George Prenant of Deale tells you each issue where the lunkers roll. Same goes with your suggestions on powerboating, sailing, organic growing and many Bay pursuits.

In New Bay Times, you get the news that suits you, not the news that scares you.

We told you many months ago that we intended to make New Bay Times your guide for high-quality living along the Bay. Thanks to you, that is just what is happening.

New Bay Times is in hot demand from Solomons to Severna Park and beyond, forcing us happily to constantly print more papers. We are stunned at our many far-away requests for subscriptions. And as you can see from paging through this issue, an abundance of businesses have joined our parade.

Advertisers tell us that our family-oriented approach and the power of our ideas draws people to them. Some of them have praised our “green” outlook as the pathway to their success. We agree, and we want to take a moment to talk about the greening of business.

Listen to what Jane Bruss, a Minnesota business consultant, wrote in an op-ed piece this week: “Being ‘green’ is no longer a matter of aesthetics or political correctness. The environment is the ticket to economic survival, sustained profits and leadership.”

Hear what Stephan Schmidheiny, a Swiss industrialist, said last week: “The common denominator between the environment and development is efficiency—efficiency in using resources and creating wealth.”

We will keep talking to the smartest people around and telling you what they are saying and writing about the future.

For instance, this month's Atlantic Monthly spells out what we have been saying for months—that environmental health ultimately gets back to incentives and economics.

“To save the environment,” the authors write, “we will have to find a way to reward individuals for good behavior and punish them for bad. Exhorting them to self-sacrifice for the sake of humanity or the earth will not be enough.”

We are seeing some of those rewards as we watch “green” stocks outperforming portfolio partners. We see organic farming markets growing like gangbusters as this nation steps back from chemical-intensive farming.

All this has extra meaning for those who live and play along the Chesapeake Bay, a world-class environmental resource that makes us all wealthy in many ways.

Which gets us to one last point in this note about turning ten. The time has passed when we Baysiders have the luxury of quarreling with one another over environmental protection.

In his fine new book, Citistates: How Urban America Can Prosper in the Global Economy, well-known columnist Neal Peirce tells how cities, towns and regions must band together for their prosperity.

A point Peirce drives home is that in this era of a strapped federal government, we need to rely on ourselves and our strengths. To keep the Bay strong and healthy, we must protect her at every turn.

So keep reading, keep subscribing and keep advertising, and we will continue to bring you news and views geared for your wallet as well as your wisdom.

And we’ll look for every occasion we can to celebrate.

to the top

Letters To The Editor

Good Tidings by Mail

Dear New Bay Times,
Your paper is great. My boat is called Shrimp Girl (I didn’t name it), and it is slipped at Herrington Harbour North.

Although I am down in the area almost every weekend during summer, I don’t want to take a chance at missing a single issue, so please add me to your list of subscribers. A check is enclosed.

Good luck and keep up the good work.

Bob Milstead Gaithersburg, MD

Faraway Crabs

Dear New Bay Times,
Fabulous luck? Got on the train in London, and three changes later, here I am in the town of Cromer. Soon I head to Istanbul. They’re having their annual carnival and everything is quite jolly here. I bought a couple of books, and I’ll find those cookbooks for New Bay Times.

This coastal town is noted for their crabs. But they’re not as tasty as our crabs along the Chesapeake Bay.

—Lee Summerall, Cromer, England

to the top


Good Plans Make Good Places
By Ruth Eckdish Knack

There's no single recipe for a successful community. But there's also no shortage of ideas. According to Money magazine, which every year publishes a ranking of some 300 U.S. cities, the best places are those that have plenty of jobs, a low crime rate, and a clean environment. At the top of the list this year was

Rochester, Minnesota (and at the bottom, Rockford, Illinois). But rankings like this, or Rand McNally's Places Rated Almanac, give a lot of weight to factors that are easily quantified. The less tangible qualities that give us a true sense of place are often ignored.

In 15 years of observing cities and towns around the country (including several stints as a judge in the All-America Cities competition), I've observed the struggles of communities that are facing development pressures (a Wal-Mart threatening downtown businesses, for instance), or picking themselves up after years of decline. I've seen once-popular resorts like North Beach that were able to adapt gracefully to new trends in tourism--and others that allowed rampant development to desecrate the natural features that made them attractive in the first place.

Throughout, I've noticed a common thread in those places that could be considered "successful." They're places where citizens put aside differences and agreed on common goals. These are some of the standards I would apply to a successful community.

1. A common vision

A successful community knows where it's going. That means having a comprehensive plan in place to guide public and private development. Today, planning often start with a "visioning process" with a heavy dose of citizen participation. Doyle Hyett, a planning consultant in Alexandria, Virginia, describes visioning as "a way of defining a community's aspirations, values, and dreams." The plan comes later. "It's a statement of how the community intends to get where it wants to go," says Hyett. The plan itself must be realistic in its goals and objectives, and it should include plenty of maps and drawings.

2. Creative zoning

Zoning has gotten a bad rap in recent years from critics who say that it's responsible for sucking the life out of our towns and cities. That's because traditional zoning codes tended to narrowly prescribe what could be built where. But zoning that's based on a comprehensive plan still offers a framework for ordering a community, and today there are many options. Performance zoning considers the impacts of various uses rather than location. Neotraditional zoning codes encourage development that's reminiscent of small towns. Loudoun County, Virginia, has adopted such a code.

3. Respect for the environment.

A successful community protects its natural assets--its wetlands, for instance, or North Beach's public beach. Legal decisions in last few years have upheld state coastal regulations in California and North Carolina and elsewhere. Always, though, the caveat is that the laws must be fair to property owners. On the local level, communities should consider preserving open space by reserving a greenbelt around the town, establishing hiking and biking trails, or creating a land trust. Today's buzzword for growth that respects the environment is "sustainable development." We need more of it.

4. Housing for all

A successful community does not price out lower income levels by banning multifamily housing or imposing a one-acre minimum lot size in the mistaken belief that it will preserve the rural atmosphere. Increasingly, state statutes and the courts are requiring that developers provide--and local zoning allow for--a variety of housing types and sizes.

5. Balanced growth

A good comprehensive plan and zoning code encourage balanced growth by allocating sites for commercial growth and some measure of industrial development--the latter a sore point in many communities but valuable for the jobs it provides. But a successful community works hardest to retain the businesses it has, particularly those that serve local residents (what does it profit a town to gain an espresso bar when it loses its last hardware store?). Wherever possible, commercial development is focused on the town center, reinforcing the community's sense of place.

6. The public realm

A successful community considers civic needs in its plans: a library, parks, a theater. There are plenty of models for the civic realm; among them, the "green" in New England towns and the courthouse square in towns all over the U.S.

7. Infrastructure

A well-run community must have adequate sewage and water treatment facilities. It must offer groundwater protection and solid waste facilities--including a recycling program that goes beyond cans and bottles. The number one infrastructure issue in most communities is, of course, roads. Driving through southern New England this summer brought home to me the danger of allowing continuous strip development between towns. That's an issue that, ideally, would be addressed at the regional level.

8. Design standards

Community design standards (like those already in place in North Beach) are a hallmark of a successful community. So is vigilant control of signs and billboards, particularly on the arteries leading in and out of town. A good community knows what it wants to look like, and insists that new development fit in.

9. Commitment to children and elderly

A progressive community makes provisions in its zoning ordinance for day care facilities, and accessory apartments and "elder cottages" (both ways of ensuring affordable housing for the elderly). Also important today: to consider the needs of handicapped, as required by the Americans With Disabilities Act.

10. Sound finances

All this costs money, but a successful community is one that is willing to pay for services. The blow can be softened by a a capital improvement plan tied to the comprehensive plan, and by judicious imposition of impact fees on new projects.

11. A special place

Towns that have a unique character like those along the Chesapeake Bay are ahead of the game in creating a sense of place. They should do everything they can to preserve the qualities that make them special.

12. Growing smart.

"Growing smart" is the term APA's research director, William Klein has been using to describe this kind of sensible development. That's a good term because it makes it clear that communities have a choice in how they develop. It's up to you.

Ruth Knack is the executive editor of Planning magazine, published in Chicago by the American Planning Association.

to the top


Shoe and Sock Time’s Here

Summertime—the word moves on our hearts in many ways for many reasons. In June we have met our long-awaited break from school, embracing the warmth of the sun with the opportunities to plan and ponder that it brings us. In July we are comfortably stretching out. It may be because the long daylight hours give a backdrop of time to walk a little slower in. Time for floating on your back out in the Bay…for watching a buttermilk sky of clouds. Time to sit on the porch and lean your head back a bit…close your eyes and listen…

When August finally drops its heavy humid days on us, our minds are turning ever so slowly toward the end of summer. Little signs of change come with each week as August steps quickly by. The other day I picked my 15-year-old son up from his summer job at Herrington Harbour.

It was about 8pm. The sky was at dusk, and a breeze was blowing about. As we drove up from the cove in Herring Bay, I noticed leaves tiptoeing, scurrying sideways across the road. Behind us, the Bay was colored a wintery grey with a powerful lonely look coming up from the horizon. I felt at the same time the cool air of the evening fluffing the hair on my arms and face. And I knew with the next breath of air that summer was leaving us.

It was an exciting recognition! Change was in the air.

My thoughts drift back to my own childhood as I hear some of the families in our neighborhood of cottages talking about moving back to town for the winter. I know well the sadness of having to leave the Bay and all its free time. I can remember living my whole summers in my bathing suit and bare feet. With the end of August nearing, conversations about shoes were certain to come up. Time for shoes and socks.

One of my most vivid memories was the August donning of socks over my tanned and toughened feet. I guess it was because my feet carried summertime along with them. There were bee stings and cuts from shells and crabs and barnacles. I spent many nights gingerly soaking this toe or that heel in a bucket of hot water and Epsom salts, always trying to withstand the hottest possible water temperature. There were also shiny black bubbles of hot tar on the roads that stuck to my feet. Creosote too, from the pilings, from docking the boat at platforms and from climbing up duck blinds to dive from. For a kid by the end of summer, feet are real survivors— troopers and tough too!

Putting those white cotton socks on marked the beginning of a big change. I can remember how wonderful they felt against my bare earthen feet. The shoes always went on like they were made of wood, so confining and heavy. What a strange sensation to walk around in shoes.

It wasn’t long then and it won’t be long now before good-byes are said and the cars are packed, the cottages closed up and the road back to town traveled. That road will bring a different pace and a different world with it .

Soon the trepidation that stirs as the droning of school buses round your corner will pass. The changing cycle of comings and goings will begin again, for even children who live at the Bay full time leave it each day. To my delight, I now live year round on the beautiful shores of the Chesapeake Bay so I am at home when the humid air lifts and the sparkling diamonds appear on the water. I too will enjoy getting back to a more structured school day with my own children, but I cherish being able to stay all year at the Bay.

For all of you who are leaving, weekends are wonderful windows of time. Come back and play. From one tenderfoot to another,
Nancy Kelly

to the top

Diversion & Excursion

“Oh George,” The Fab Fishing Women Will Be Back
Even if the all-woman crew won’t bait their own hooks, Chesapeake charter captains find fish for them
by Farley Peters

My friend called the other day. The one who last year lectured me all the way to Cape May and back on the evils of fishing. Now, she’s organized a women’s fishing charter out of Deale with Captain Vince Austin. Without hesitation, I sign on. “Is this the same woman I was with at Cape May?” I ask.

Vigilante II was scheduled to cast off at 7am. At launch time, four of our six-woman charter were ready and waiting in a morning when overcast skies and moderate humidity promised relief from the dreadful heat. The other two in our party are hooked on a gluttonous, greasy breakfast at the dockside establishment. Now if we can just hook some fish!

Rumor had it that not much was running these days, with the Bay’s spring-fed freshwater stream still directing the choice blues to saltier haunts. Our captain and mate said the same. But if there were blues to be had, they’d find ‘em.

We all had to gather our sea legs that morning to brace against the Bay swells. Then, radar ready and radio blathering, we checked out some of the captain’s favorite holes. The ever-patient mate instructed our novices on casting. If nothing struck within 10 minutes, we were off to a new place.

The first few holes produced nary a nibble, so it was off to “the other side”—the Eastern Shore around Poplar Island.

I often see these shores from where I live but rarely get the close-up view I got that day. The CB reported bountiful spot nearby, and we joined an armada of boats. Positioned on the outer rim of this bevy of boats, we didn’t wait long before we—or should I say the fish—struck.

I got the first keeper of the bunch, and then the second and third, but mostly picked up the young’uns after that. These spot, named for the spot each sports, ranged from hand to foot size. One of our novice fisherwomen got so excited when she got a bite that she screeched and screamed and made such a racket that I’m surprised she didn’t scare the fish away.

“Oh, George!” she shrieked to the mate, and soon all fellows fishing nearby where echoing her cries.

The excitement was too much for two of our crew, who passed out from “not enough night” the evening before. Others braved the “basement” in search of the head, from which came cries of “how do I flush this thing?”

At other holes, fish were few. The rolling sea was taking its toll on some of this crew, who abandoned their poles and stretched out in the sun across the aft storage box or took a turn snoozing in the shade of the cabin table.

Back at our lucky hole with the rest of the fleet, we worked hard to add to our catch. We got mostly throwbacks but were praised by our captain for “good bait management” when we kept the worm, if not the fish. We also found that not all the action was underwater. Some fly-boys testing their sleek jets treated us to a spectacular air show.

By midday, when we had about a dozen and a half spot, reports of hardhead and croaker started to come in. As we crossed the Bay to the reported sighting, we brought out our picnic basket of homefried chicken, fresh picked cherries, cheese, soda and beer. We ate happily: most of us had some keepers and the weather had been glorious. The sun peered out from overcast skies and the rolling seas had calmed. We’d become something of a family in our Bay rig. The spirit of the sea had captured us. Now if we could just catch a few more fish!

During the afternoon at Western Shore holes, cries of “Oh, George!” diminished because the novice now felt like a veteran. We baited our own hooks, practiced “good bait management,” and caught a few more fish. Each of us had our keepers, and we all had tall tales to tell our friends. The mate cleaned the fish for feasting, and we all delighted in the bounty of the Bay. While our catch was small, our day was full.

My transformed friend now reports the excitement she felt with each nibble. She still doesn’t feel quite right about cutting up the bait, but heck, catching a fish isn’t like killing Bambi.

Before the day ended, we had one piece of business to conclude. We just couldn’t leave without signing up for another charter. We’ve booked on for a real Chesapeake experience—rockfish season.

See you in October, George!

to the top

Who's Here

In the Bay

The nasty smell that floated the Bay from beach to beach last week had its upside: Flurries of gulls and sentinel-stands of great white egrets came to feast on the fish killed by the red tide. Lowered oxygen in the dog days of summer was the cause, but the result was not so bad as it might have been. Crabs were mostly spared, according to crabber Scott Smith.

Unredeemed bad news is the Bay’s late-season bounty of sea nettles. “You could walk across the water on ‘em,” according to Smith’s helper Jim Yost, of Town Point. “You could fill a five gallon bucket with the ones we pull out of the pots. They’re so bad the crabs won’t go in the pots, and those that do smother.”

The best arrivals in the Bay have been mackerel, about 2 1/2 to 3/1/2 pound ones, up and down the Western Shore, except this long hot day, says Captain Prenant. Spot and croaker are biting at Holland Point bar, and bluefish on the Stone Rock and Sharps Island flats.

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

In the Kitchen
Kitchens are steamy and cooks overworked as they try to keep up with their gardens, which are filling their larders despite depredations of the drought. It’s tomato season, when meals proceed from tomatoes high wick (a frozen puree topped with curry mayonnaise), through tomato soup and tomato salad, to pasta with tomato sauce, followed by tomato chocolate cake. We wake up to tomato jelly on our toast.

If you don’t eat them now, you’ll have to can them—as we do all weekend.

Also on the stove from the garden: eggplant Parmesan, summer vegetable soup, beets with greens, beets in borscht, beet eggs, mixed greens with sesame dressing, sauteed many squash, Carol Hafford’s wonderful cold dishes—squash and carrots, carrots and green beans.

to the top


More Oyster Warnings

The state of Virginia, known for dithering when it comes to protecting marine species, surprised Bay watchers this week when it took steps toward banning oystering in its waters next year.

Virginia’s Marine Resources Commission agreed to take a vote soon on the ban, a clear signal of trouble on the oyster beds. A state oyster specialist observed that efforts are needed pronto to protect brood stock if oysters are to be re-populated.

Virginia will hold public hearings, certain to produce an outcry from watermen. While it’s unlikely Maryland would follow suit in such a ban, Virginia’s recognition of the problem is certain to prompt more urgency in Maryland’s broad-based planning begun this summer.

Bay oyster harvests have plummetted to less than 10 percent of the haul 10 years ago mainly because of diseases. And the massive fresh water flow from the Blizzard of ‘93 smothered many beds.

Challenge from the Chief
David A. Carroll, the new head of the Department of the Environment, minced no words about the task ahead for Marylanders when he was sworn in this week.

“We have a challenge ahead of us to translate to the public that they must take personal, direct responsibility for changes in lifestyle if, in fact, we will leave a legacy of clean air for future generations,” Carroll said.

Carroll, speaking to friends and officials, also admonished people to take “direct and personal responsibility for the Chesapeake Bay.”

The new environmental chief spoke bluntly of “a schizophrenic public” that talks about a clean environment but shirks responsibility.

Carroll has been the governor’s Chesapeake Bay coordinator for several years. He replaces Robert Perciasepe, who took a high-level job in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Taking Charge
David Carroll should be heartened at recent reports of people taking matters into their own hands. The Center for Marine Conservation reported this week that they had gathered three million pounds of trash last year along the nation’s beaches.

The organization apparently spent the last few months counting its haul, which included: 775,438 cigarette butts; 173,654 beverage cans; 9,717 diapers; 4,279 syringes; and 5,768 condoms.

This year’s beach clean-up—which now involves 33 countries—takes place on Sept. 18.

Locally, a 12 year-old girl’s efforts to clean up a polluted creek was one of the most encouraging stories in this week’s papers. As reported by Peter Hermann in the Baltimore Sun, Jessica Snowden grew tired of the polluted stream near her home in Crofton.

As part of her seventh-grade science project, she wrote a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But instead of disappearing into EPA’s great maw, Jessica’s letter got the ball rolling.

According to the report, the EPA called the governor, who called Anne Arundel County, who called Save Our Streams.

Next thing Jessica knew, a clean-up was set for Aug. 28, which will rid the unnamed creek of plastic bags, shaving cream canisters and trash that no kid, young or old, wants in their creek.

Un(pot)ted Plants
For some reason, cannabis keeps sprouting at Maryland state parks. And state helicopters buzzing overhead are spotting it.

The Department of Natural Resources announced recently that it had yanked out 419 marijuana plants at 10 parks around the state over the summer.

A DNR news release describing destruction of 35 plants at Sandy Point State Park a few weeks ago sounds like an operation from the Vietnam War era:

“Rangers were directed from the air as they entered the thickets and dense brush off Log Inn Road on the park grounds. Some of the plants were more than seven feet tall.”

State officials value even the scraggliest pot plant at $2,000. Hmmm. Could it be that some folks are nurturing the wild weed? Be advised if you’re one of those folks that it may not be worth the effort; the state intends to continue patrols all year.

Theft by Consulting
People sometimes wonder why the federal Superfund hasn’t cleaned up as many toxic sites as hoped. A chief reason may be that too many unscrupulous consultants have their mits in the kitty.

The Justice Department announced last week that Booz-Allen and Hamilton, Inc., a prominent consulting firm formerly located in Bethesda, had been charged with filing fraudulent claims for work performed under a Superfund contract.

Booz-Allen allegedly bamboozled taxpayers by submitting false employee time sheets to the tune of more than $14,000.

As part of the arrangment, the company was fined $1 million and assessed other costs, bringing total penalties to over $2.1 million.

to the top

Time Line

Time at The Beaches
by Donna Reifsnider

pre-1891: Countryside studded with small farms, manor houses

1891: Washington and Chesapeake Beach Railway draw up plans for a resort to rival Newport, Rhode Island

1894: Town of Chesapeake Beach chartered

1895: Washington and Chesapeake Beach Railway sold to Otto Mears and others, who scaled down original plans and tried to build their version of Monte Carlo. Maryland gaming laws, however, prohibited dog racing and gambling in the casino

1898: Chesapeake Railway Station built

June 9, 1900: Opening day for Chesapeake Beach. 5,000 arrive by train and boat. The resort featured a carousel, a mile-long boardwalk, roller coaster over the water, and dance pavilion. Dancing bears, a high-wire act and brass band greet visitors

1910: North Beach is chartered

1916: North Beach railway forms to install an electric trolley between amusing Chesapeake Beach and residential North Beach

1923: Jitney replaces trolley in North Beach: The carousel and Chesapeake Beach’s fabulous Belvedere Hotel, at 17th St., burns

1928-30: All Chesapeake Beach amusements moves to land and named Seaside park—with a brand-new large salt-water pool and ballroom

October 1929: Depression hits.

1930s: Franchi’s, North Beach’s longest lived restaurant, opens

August 1933: Worst hurricane in memory hits the Beaches, wiping out the mile-long pier and redesigning the North Beach beach

April 15 1935: Last passenger train leaves Chesapeake Beach, victim to the Depression and automobile

1942: World War II gas rationing halts the steamboat

1943-46: Chesapeake Beach Inc. buys Seaside park, dismantling roller coaster and pier

1945: Fire on Chesapeake Avenue burns Meade’s hardware and lumberyard in North Beach

1948: Slot machines legalized in Southern Maryland, bringing tremendous vitality to Beaches. Restaurants, casinos, arcades, dance and bingo halls flourish in North Beach; even post office and gas stations have slots

1950: Joe rose begins to fill in wetlands north of North Beach Park to begin cottages, hotel and marina complex compete with its own water and sewer system. Called Rose’s Folly, it later becomes Rose Haven.

1962: Hurricane Connie

1963-68: Gambling outlawed. As slots are phased out, business follows

1972: Chesapeake Beach Park closes, largely a result of integration

1974: The park’s second “Dentzel” carousel is sold to Watkins Regional Park in Largo.

1977: Ballroom burns

1980s: Last bars in North Beach close

1982: North Beach throws its first Bay Fest; town revitalization plan is drafted

1982-83: Chesapeake Station condos built on park site

1992: Restored North Beach pier reopens : Tractor trailer smashes into Franchi’s, closing the 50-year landmark restaurant

to the top

Laughing Gourment

Neptune’s: Close Encounters with Calamari

Back in the old days, my father owned a bar in St. Louis called The Midget. “We used to say we could hold a hundred people, ten at a time,” the old barkeep recalls. “It was always full.”

Maybe that’s why my mother pronounced Neptune’s just the right size. “You can make money in a place this small,” she explained. “And people can have a good time.”

Both happen at Neptune’s, which, at eight years old, is the survivor in North Beach’s long line of bars and restaurants.

At Neptune’s, fellowship is the word. In space this cozy—it seats 35 at the bar and seven tables, but can hold 50—you’re all in it together. Elbows, rumps and eyes touch at the bar, and moving between bar and tables takes a tango of arched and angled body parts. In Neptune’s complex dance, everybody you pass becomes your partner. People here talk to each other.

“Customers feel a part of it the way it’s set up. If the waitress is busy, they’ll help themselves,” says Bil Shockley, head chef and partner.

“Included” is how you feel at Neptune’s, where owners and staff remember what you like and exchange a word or story, even when business is fast—as it usually is after dark.

It’s not Franchi’s—closed last year due to a suitably dramatic catastrophe after a half century of amiable service to North Beach—where the staff conspired to make you part of the nightly floor show. And some longtimers miss Melody, the waitress who held the whole jumping place in the palm of her hand. But Neptune’s preserves the old vital connection that keeps owners on the premises and everybody an insider.

Like its town, Neptune’s blends many good old ways with good new ones. Its owner-restored brick building is ungilded, early 20th century American Main Street: nothing fancy but handsome in a homey kind of way. Wood, windows and their natural light, and a restaurant-bar’s essentials—glasses, bottles, and a quick kitchen in plain view—do Neptune’s decorating.

Customers, too, run the Beach town’s gamut. “We have farmers, firemen and upscale professionals,” says Bil. Locals like Neptune’s, where they’re now eating the squid they used to use for bait. “People are willing to try new things. If the food’s good, they’ll like it,” he explains.

Visitors like Neptune’s, too, and say it’s helping North Beach keep its place on the map. Bil tells of one gadabout who drives down every time he flies into Delaware. But he can top that story: “When my Dad was in Kuwait during Desert Storm, he met a guy from Alexandria who recommended a great little restaurant in North Beach.”

Guess who.
Bil is a chef befitting a restaurant with a worldly reputation; he was trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, a school with a reputation of its own. So he has worldly ideas. Not that he scorns local specialties: Chesapeake Bay seafood, according to its season, tops Neptune’s menu. Bil also will surprise you with, say, a club sandwich stacked with soft-shell crab and bacon.

Neptune’s menu represents national as well as local favorites. You couldn’t find a better hamburger anywhere than the one served here on an English muffin for $3.95. But also on Neptune’s menu are dishes not usually at home in North Beach. Like calamari, for example, which by its other name is squid, and mussels, which are Neptune’s best seller.

Bil cooks up about 16 25-pound boxes of nice, clean, cold-water-raised Maine mussels each week, in four styles: butter & garlic, marinara, Fra Diablo, and spicy garlic sauce. Whichever you choose, what you get for your $6.95 is a bowl of tender mussels so big that nobody but a sea-food starved Midwesterner is likely to finish it. Especially since you’ll have to dip your bread into liquor so savory as this.

That’s the other reason folks from near and far like Neptune’s: Bil builds flavor from the bottom up, giving attention to such basics as stocks stewed from many ingredients—fish bones, herbs, tomatoes and wine, for example. That old-fashioned cooking to please your eaters’ tastes and preserve your place in their memory is something we see so little of nowadays that it’s worth talking about in Kuwait. And worth a trip North Beach, where you’ll pay small-town prices for big-time food.

If that’s not good time enough, stay after the kitchen closes when Neptune’s becomes North Beach’s only bar and revives old traditions—like that of the teeming, happy Midget.

Neptune’s on First Street and Chesapeake Avenue in North Beach, is open seven days a week: kitchen from 11 to 11 (midnight on weekends), bar until 2am. Monday and Tuesday nights offer all-you-can-eat specials of mussels (Mon.) and pasta (Tues.) with salad and garlic bread. First Thursdays of each month the house introduces the month’s wine, shooter and compact disk.

to the top

Kids In NB

Beach Kids at Play There’s Plenty to Do—Till You’re 16
by Sonia Linebaugh

“What do kids have to do in North Beach?” Asked that question, Mayor Alan “Buck” Gott replies, “I’ll be the first to admit that we have problems. I don’t mind that the older kids hang out along the beach front. We only have trouble when too many kids arrive in cars from outside the community and the numbers get too large. Our playground has been torn up during new construction. We need a basketball court there and a small soccer field as well. The town is going through a tremendous transition and the kids are feeling it as well as the adults.”

But what do the kids do? Here and on the pages 16-17 you'll find a few answers:

Youth Club
Mike Emery watches with the intensity of a Joe Gibbs as 50 prospective football players go through their drills. These helmeted, padded, jerseyed 6, 7, and 8 year-olds will soon be ready to play their first scrimmages for the Beach Buckaneers of Chesapeake Beach and North Beach. Emery, the president of the Twin Beaches Youth Club, says, “This age group is the club feeder. It’s strictly a training ground. The coaches are on the field at all times, even during the games.”

Out on the field kids rush and hit, butting against coaches and dads holding padded forms. Down along the lines of little boys, moms with bottles squeeze a jet of water into each open mouth. “We have great parent participation,” brags Emery. “We never turn away a volunteer.” He points to a father still dressed for work in white shirt and tie, dress pants and shoes being butted by a series of energetic 35 to 70-pound boys.

Emery admits readily that he can’t do his job without his wife Cheryl, club secretary. He says, “She does all the paper work for well over 300 kids—checking birth certificates, immunization records, registration and payment records. The toughest thing she does is to make me regularly beg for money in front of a roomful of people.”

Cheryl agrees, “Coaches want to coach but they also want uniforms. I have to keep them in line. People don’t know all that it takes to get these kids out on the field. As wife of the president I also hear all the complaints. The compliments go to Mike.”

The 300-plus kids include 110 cheerleaders (including three Emery girls—whose three brothers have graduated from the football program); 80 pom-pom girls; 1 girl and about 180 boys aged 6-15 playing football. One of Emery’s beefs is that it stops there. The county won’t allow boys over 16 to play football, citing insurance problems. Emery retorts, “They take away their helmets, and give them a licence and nothing to do.”

Is the Youth Club worth their massive, all-for-love effort? Emery has the final say: “Three days a week and on Saturdays I know where the kids are—and they’re not on the street corners.”

Teen Club
When Andrea Neagle, almost 13, moved to North Beach earlier this year she was looking for a way to make friends. “I saw an ad for the Teen Club in the Community Center bulletin and went to a meeting because I had nothing to do. It was fun. Kids were talking about going places like Wildworld and Chad Green, the vice-president said, that we might go skating or something. One week later I was elected president.

“The best thing about the club is that we run things by ourselves. Mrs. King lets us pretty much alone. We have 8-9 regular kids, ages 12-15, at our meetings every other week but we like to meet more often when we have something planned. We’ll advertise ourselves at the Bay Fest and hope to get a few more members.

“We thought it might be a good idea to do something for the community but we haven’t agreed on what to do yet.

Jackie King, adult leader for the group says, “Some kids don’t want to be organized. They just want a place to hang out and listen to music. They want to be around some older or more mature person who doesn’t talk down to them or crowd them.

“I’ve worked all over the District with Parks and Recreation and I’ll take Beach kids any time. They still have that respect that a lot of kids are lacking these days. They gone at the club with enthusiasm, organizing themselves for shopping trips, movies, a trip to Wildworld. This fall we’ll probably go to the Smithsonian. Later we’ll work with the elderly and have a food drive for the needy. Kids need to mix responsibility in with their fun and games.”

“I felt the Bay needed cleaning up and no one else was doing it then,” explains Rowan Reynolds, age 9. Rowan signed up for a two-week summer session with Children Organized for Responsible Environmental Service (C.O.R.E.S.). “We walked on the beach and picked up trash. We collected sea glass to make into musical instruments: shaking, hitting, vibrating instruments.” They also made art works, sculptures and hand made paper.

Rowan made a word-picture which will be the centerpiece of the silent art auction at the North Beach Bay Fest. This art form, which he learned as an art student at Beauvoir School in D.C., uses the word to make the form. Rowan’s painting of the Bay uses the word Bay many times in a wave-like motion.

Dee Sher, director, speaks of the C.O.R.E.S. program with an intensity equal to Mike Emery’s scrutiny of his football players. She says, “If kids come to understand that they’re part of the earth and have a chance to explore that relationship, they become empowered to pass this knowledge on and to makes earth’s concerns an integrated and vital part of their lives. We hope to encourage them to become service and environmentally oriented, to pass on to parents and friends a new level of caring for the earth.

"This summer the kids made a video of their summer activities which will be shown in part on Jones Intercable. This fall they'll publicize the curbside recycling program set to start in the Beaches on November 1. They’ll produce another video with their own writing and acting. When they get enthusiastic about something, they get everyone enthusiastic.”

Kids are enthusiastic in Twin Beaches. Kids are bored in Twin Beaches. Seems that kids are not so very different from adults.

SIDEBAR: Let’s Talk Money

Twin Beaches Youth Club
It costs a kid from outside the Beaches $35 to join the club. Kids within the Beaches can join free, thanks to a donation by their town governments. It costs $200 to put a football player on the field. Cheerleaders and poms cost the club about $140 each.

Where does the money come from? Club president Mike Emery, a volunteer, says, “The kids are their own best supporters. Last year they sold over $11,000 in raffle tickets.” [Read about a super raffle-ticket seller in NOT JUST FOR KIDS, on page 16.] Half the money goes back to the kids in the form of orange Beach Buckaneer jackets, while the rest goes directly to club expenses.

The town governments contribute. Emery says, “The mayors are both great supporters, especially during election years when they can get out and shake hands with the 1,000 spectators our home games attract.”

Other monies come from private contributions, and businesses. Emery says, “Some businesses help us out with ice or hot dogs. Just a few go all out. Our best business support comes from Rod ‘n Reel, IGA, Roland’s, and Sneade’s. The biggest drain on our support is kids who fail to turn in their uniforms and equipment at the end of the season. We know that people don’t need this stuff cluttering up their closets. When we find it at the thrift shop we have to buy them back. Please, folks, save us a lot of money and bring the uniforms and equipment back—no questions asked."

Teen Club
It costs no money to join the Teen Club through the Calvert County Department of Parks and Recreation. Nor does the club receive any public funding. Jackie King, club instructor and an employee of the Dept. of Parks and Recreation, says, “The kids are learning not to expect a handout. They take the responsibility for raising funds entirely on their own. So far they’ve had a bake sale, a car wash and a dance—enough for their activities.”

The big news in C.O.R.E.S. funding is the award of a $5,000 Walmart grant at the end of this summer that will allow a program to publicize recycling to continue into the school year. The grant also allowed Dee Sher, program director for four years, to be paid for the first time. Sher says, “Next year we may have some money for staff but I’ll go back to volunteer status.”

The program has also been helped by private contributions, Chesapeake Bay Trust, Calvert Arts, North Beach House and Garden Tour, $39 registration fees from participants and funds paid by North Beach for five scholarships.

But money one year is no guarantee of money the next, Sher warns.