Volume 5 Issue 47 1997

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).

Special this Week and Good All Year: New Bay Times’ Local Bounty— A Month of Holiday Celebrations; Winter’s Here—Swans Return to Chesapeake Country; From Heart to Table—Thanksgiving for One and All; Burton Sides with the Guys; Doc’s Sub: Rainmaker Dry; Jackal, Mad City All Wet

On Our Cover
By the third week of November, tundra swans return from the far north to Chesapeake Bay, where what’s winter to us is easy living for them. Here migratory adults and juvenile (with darker plumage) tundra swans share a meal of corn with a pair of larger mute swans. European imports, mute swans have gone native on Chesapeake Bay. Photo courtesy of Barbara and Gene Miller.

Special this Week and Good All Year:
New Bay Times’ Local Bounty— A Month-Plus of Holiday Celebrations

Dock of the Bay
Group, Gaggle or Gang, the Swans Return • From Heart to Table: The Season of Thanks and Giving Begins • Act Two: Annapolis Symphony’s Search for a Conductor Continues • plus, Way Downstream ... In St. Paul, retooling Stroh’s to brew “Earth Protector” … From Montana, Russia and Eastern Europe import “beluga” caviar … In New York, pigeon poisoner on the loose but tree thieves tricked … and this week’s Featured Creatures, Georgia gorillas drive Concerned Citizens ape.

Burton on the Bay | Chesapeake Outdoors | Editorial | Letters to the Editor | Bay Reflections

to the top

Group, Gaggle or Gang, the Swans Return
Tundra swans, a seasonal gift to Baywatchers, have begun arriving from Alaska's North Slope in Chesapeake Country. When the Arctic winter sets in up north, the swans leave their nesting places and fly some 4,000 miles to their half-year home on Chesapeake Bay. Taking only short rest stops in places like South Dakota, these apparently tireless white birds make the journey in about 5 to 10 days, less time than we could drive the distance by car.

Each fall, Marylanders along the Bay keeping watch for the swans’ arrival. Regular watchers from Deale — Bruce Bauer and Carolyn Stearns — reported their first swan sighting as early as October 9. A day later, Bill Harvey of DNR's Wildlife and Heritage Division says he saw his first swans in Dorchester County on the Eastern Shore. On November 12, a family group of several adults and a few juvenile swans (cygnets are grayish while adults are snowy white) landed on the Bay by Franklin Manor. Another group landed on the marsh pond at Fairhaven about the same time.

That’s as it should be, according to DNR’s colonial bird expert Larry Hindman, who notes that the 15-pound birds typically arrive in Chesapeake Country about the third week in November.

Though many local observers marked the arrival of early birds with the full moon, the larger flock may not reach the Bay for weeks. For those who have yet to see tundra swans (which used to be called Whistling Swans), stay alert: most will arrive in the next few weeks.

The annual mid-winter count, made here and throughout the country the first week in January ever since 1955, tells us a lot about this migratory population. DNR's Harvey says the winter swan population in Maryland has been stable at around 15,000 to 20,000 for the last 10 years. Actually, that's down from about 40,000 swans during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Loss of aquatic grasses in the Bay and the effects of hurricane Agnes in 1972 are the main reasons, says Harvey. Most of Maryland's loss has been North Carolina's gain. Rich grass beds, a large inland lake and a protected National Wildlife Refuge have produced a good alternative home for the swans.

Swans seem to adapt pretty readily to the opportunities in their neighborhoods. As many Bay dwellers have proved, families and flocks can be readily trained to frequent a feeding spot. But DNR recommends not feeding the swans that visit our area from late October or early November until about April each year.

"You don't want to make migratory waterfowl dependent on the food. Otherwise they may stay around too long for their own good," says Harvey. Left to their own devices, swans wintering on the Western shore feed in corn fields as well as on water grasses in creeks and on the Bay; some flocks on the Eastern Shore around Smith Island seem to feed exclusively on Bay grasses.

Overwintering tundras are not the only swans on the Bay. An increasingly common sight is the mute swan. Weighing about twice as much as tundras at about 30 pounds, mute swans can also be recognized by their orange bill. And, some say, by their aggressive behavior.

Mute swans, native to Europe and Asia, were uncommon in Maryland until five imports escaped from an Eastern Shore estate in the early 1960s, according to Harvey. Today mute swans number about 3,000. Like the geese in the charming movie, Fly Away Home, mute swans don't know to go anywhere, so they stay here, making “Maryland My Maryland” their theme song.

A third swan, the trumpeter, has been extinct in Maryland for over a hundred years. As you read in NBT (July 24-30), an ambitious scheme worthy of the mythological flyer Dedalus is underway to reintroduce them. The technique, borrowed from the movie Fly Away Home, trains the birds to accept an ultralight plane as their parent and follow it to the Honga River on the Eastern Shore, where there's lots of tasty grass to eat.

Someday, if the technique works, Marylanders may have three kinds of swans to identify. And each year when they fly away home, it will be to Bay country. For at least part of the year, anyway.

— M.L. Faunce

From Heart to Table
Throughout Chesapeake Country, the best Thanksgiving comes from the heart. Seeking the blessing of giving, businesses and restaurants, non-profits and schools, churches, civic groups and neighbors reach out. Dinners are served, food baskets delivered, and food drives conducted for those in need.

Three thousand people will eat Thanksgiving dinner from 4 to 9pm with Larry Griffin’s We Care & Friends at the Annapolis American Legion Nov. 24. Griffin, percussionist with the local reggae band Mama Jama, was himself once homeless and addicted. He turned himself around in 1988, and in ‘91, started “helping out with people.” Now Griffin is well on his way to becoming Annapolis’ version of Baltimore’s renowned table-setter Bea Gatty. “She’s a big inspiration for me,” Griffin says.

“I know how hard it is to be without things, and I think this is the sort of thing everybody should do,” said Griffin. “It’s called brotherhood and sisterhood.”

But don’t think Griffin does it alone. After managing it himself for the first few years, he now has abundant help, with about 80 turkeys and 150 volunteers. Billy Bagdasian of Adam’s The Place for Ribs donates 25 or 30 hams and beef roasts. Backfins Cafe of Annapolis donates turkeys and Fergie’s of Edgewater adds vegetable dishes. St. John’s College does most of the turkey cooking, with Jerry Osuna of Surfside 7 in Edgewater cooking 15 more turkeys and helping serve dinner. Bands, church choirs, clowns and magicians entertain.

“I wish we could do it everyday,” say Griffin. Information? 410/268-8289.

Another special dinner brings Thanksgiving to the needy of another culture. The Allen Apartments in Annapolis are home to immigrants from many Spanish-speaking countries, including Brazil, Columbia, El Salvador and Spain. Most, according to Ruth Jones of Allen Apartments, “need help with the transition to our culture.” The Nov. 20 Allen dinner at Unity by the Bay in Severna Park includes free transportation and the retelling of the Thanksgiving story in Spanish. Spanish speaking congregation members also recite prayers and sing songs in the language. In their fourth year, the guest list has risen from 25 to 80 guests. At the same time, St. Mary’s Church in Annapolis joins with Allen Apartments to deliver 150 turkey dinners to the surrounding neighborhood. Information? dinner: 410/761-5634; deliveries: 410/222-7355.

Lighthouses are beacons to two other dinners, both on Thanksgiving Day. The Solomons restaurant Lighthouse Inn and SMILE, a non-profit organization invite Calvert and St. Mary’s countians to a free Thanksgiving dinner from noon to 3:30pm. Farther up the Bay, Lighthouse Ministries and Deale Volunteer Fire Department sponsor both a dinner from noon to 4pm in the fire department and deliveries for shut-ins. They’ll be serving 150 to 200 people, says Rick Napier of Lighthouse Ministries. Invited to both dinners are people unable to afford a feast or are alone for the holiday. Information? Lighthouse Inn: 410/326-2444; Fire Department 410/867-0707.

Farther up the Bay, Camp Letts in Mayo opens its doors for Thanksgiving day dinner, with Grace Evangelical Presbyterian Church sponsoring both physical and spiritual nourishment starting at 1. Information : 410/956-2083.

Many others reach out by delivering food directly to those in need. One of the largest is the Basket Brigade, described as “part car-rally, part playing Santa Claus and all about the gift of possibility.” Anthony Robbins, motivator and author of Unlimited Power, created the project in 1991 to deliver Thanksgiving dinners; now thousands of members Basket Brigaders carry on in a multitude of cities nationwide. With student volunteers and $700 in food donations from St. John’s College, the Basket Brigade will deliver 60 baskets to families and 40 to senior citizens in Anne Arundel County. Each bears a note reading, “This comes to you from someone who cares about you. All we ask is that you take care of yourself well enough to be able to do this for someone else someday.” This is the Brigade’s first effort in the county, and they are accepting food and beverage donations from local restaurants and looking for volunteers. Information? 410/263-2130.

Another major basket drive comes from a network of 13 churches in Odenton, Severn and Gambrills, collectively known as Christian Assistance Program. Like the Robbins group, these volunteers gathers names from the Department of Social Services. The network delivers over 300 baskets, each with a 12-pound turkey all the trimmings, fresh fruits, vegetables and pie. Year round, they feed and clothe over 5,000. Information? 410/674-6383.

In Annapolis, Salvation Army is busy filling baskets for 100 people. Since their applications opened Sept. 29, 700 people have applied for help, so there’s lots more room for giving. Information? 410/263-4091.

Some of that’s being given by the congregation of Cedar Grove United Methodist Church in Deale, who’ll be filling baskets of food and goods for about 10 families. Information? 410/867-7417.

Down the Bay a bit, the North Beach Children’s Fund provides food, clothes, shoes, coats, boots and toys to children in North Beach, Chesapeake Beach and surrounding areas during Thanksgiving. Donations, says organizer Barbara Callis, are greatly appreciated. Information? 301/855-8748.

The Navy has the spirit, too. Three separate Naval Academy programs are dedicated to making sure no one, Midshipmen included, goes without a proper Thanksgiving dinner. First, the Annapolis Area Complex Chief Petty Officer Association collect food. Then, on Nov. 25, Middies, faculty and staff pool their resources, bringing decorated boxes of food (everything needed for a completed dinner) for local charities and Navy families to the “Giving from the Heart of the Brigade/Yard” service at the Main Chapel. Finally, for the sailors and Marines who can’t go home for the holidays, the Annapolis Navy Family Service Center coordinates distributions. Information? Food drive: 410/293-7171; Giving: 410/293-1105; Family Service Center: 410/293-2641.

Local schools are getting into the act as well. At Southern High School, Future Business Leaders of America and the Human Relations Committee are teaming up to help those students’ and their families who “are very much in need,” according to Myra Marshall. With the support of Superfresh, Giant, Safeway, Shopper’s Food Warehouse, Murray’s Steaks, and McDonald’s classes compete to bring in the most food. The winning class enjoys a continental breakfast The inclusion kids, those developmentally disabled or with serve handicaps, then get into the act by sorting all the food. Information? 410/867-7100 x 250.

As the holidays begin, there are plenty of ways and plenty of time to help out. Great Clips salons are helping the Salvation Army collect non-perishables until Dec. 15. The Northeast and Twin Beaches community centers in Calvert County are collecting as well. Information? 888/78clips; Beaches: 410/257-2554.

Overseeing many of the efforts are the Department of Social Services and the Medical Society Alliance, both of Anne Arundel County. Their Holiday Sharing program uses a computer system to match those in need with those who can help. Individuals can get names of families to help, while groups should give the names of those they helped, all ensuring that “duplication of efforts is avoided and more people are helped,” said Social Services’ Christine Poulsen. Information? 410/269-4462.

With so many opening their hearts and lending a hand, the season of giving and Thanksgiving begins.

— K.J. Kohler

Annapolis Symphony’s Search for a Conductor: Act Two
Sometimes it takes a long time to finally meet someone.

Forty-one years ago, On Sun., March 25, 1956, teen-age pianist David Effron played the first movement of a Mozart concerto with the Cincinnati Civic Orchestra, a community group, at Wilmington College. His appearance at this small Quaker school in southern Ohio was remarkable in that Effron had not begun piano lessons until four years earlier, at 13, an age considered old by pianists who begin by five or six. But Effron had grown up surrounded by music, in a home where both his parents were professional musicians and his father, then concertmaster of the highly rated Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, had taught him violin.

I had graduated from Wilmington College as a music major in June of 1954, almost two years earlier, thereby missing the performance. So Monday, Nov. 17, 1997, it was a privilege finally to meet David Effron as he began rehearsals for Annapolis Symphony Orchestra’s concerts Nov. 21 and 22. Now music director of the Eastman Philharmonia, Effron is the second of four candidates to lead the orchestra this season in hopes of winning the permanent post. He follows Steven Smith, the first candidate.

Effron was attracted to Annapolis by the good reputation of the orchestra here; he has known two of its former music directors, Peter Bey and Leon Fleischer. One of Effron’s goals would be reaching out to young people. “I feel very strongly,” says he, “about nationwide music education for young people, even of pre-school age, so that future generations will be able to say, like many of us do, that the presence of music in our lives is as important as three balanced meals a day.”

The program Effron has chosen should convince most any audience that music is just as good as dinner. He begins with a work written in our own time, "A Sudden Rainbow" by Joseph Schwantner, which — though challenging to play — is most listenable, full of exciting rhythms and colorful use of instruments, including a large percussion section. At one point, the strings lay a carpet of sound, only slightly dissonant, with bells, trumpets and oboes playing the melody.

Following the opening number, the orchestra goes back in time to the 19th century. Joining them as soloist in the magnificent Mendelssohn Violin Concerto is Alexander Kerr, the concertmaster of the Royal Concertgebouw in Holland, one of the finest orchestras in the world. It is such an honor to be invited to audition for concertmaster of this orchestra that in July of 1996, when he got that call, Kerr thought a friend was playing a practical joke.

Jane Schorsch, the executive director of the Annapolis Symphony, remembers well her first meeting with Kerr. About 15 years ago, she was playing violin with Mt. Vernon (Va.) Chamber Orchestra. At rehearsal one night, she saw that she would be sharing a stand with a kid about 10. Perplexed, she looked to the conductor: "Who's he?" She got a one-word answer: "Wait."

A few minutes into rehearsal, Schorsch realized she was sitting next to a kid with enormous talent. Later she told him that someday he would be great and asked him not to forget that they had played together. "Just remember that I sat on the outside,” she said. (Nearer the audience, it is the more highly rated chair). When Schorsch invite Kerr to play here in Annapolis, she recalled their earlier meeting. Yes, he laughed, he did remember that she sat on the outside.

For the last number, Effron has chosen Rachmaninoff's Symphony No. 2, a work which is audience-friendly and full of soaring, heartfelt melodies, including a gorgeous passage for clarinet that is one of the greatest for that instrument in all orchestral literature. One part of the last movement recreates for the listener the sound of Russian church bells, and the piece ends in majestic Czarist splendor.

Hear all this for yourself as David Effron conducts the Annapolis Symphony at 8pm on Friday and Saturday, November 21 and 22. At 7pm on Friday, Rachel Franklin interprets the upcoming concert for the audience. Tickets $20-27 in advance with considerable student discounts. All at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, Annapolis: 410/263-0907.

— Cellist Barbara Miller, of Fairhaven, writes on symphonic music for NBT.

Way Downstream …
In St. Paul, they're proving once more that environmentalists like their beer. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that enviro Leslie Davis is crusading to rescue the Stroh's brewery from demolition. Davis wants to recycle the building and brew his own bear — called Earth Protector …

In Washington, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife laboratory has discovered that buyers of expensive caviar may be getting gypped. Tests showed that eggs from Montana paddlefish — valued at under $5 an ounce — were shipped to Russia and Eastern Europe, where they were repackaged as beluga caviar and sold in the U.S. for $50 an ounce …

New York is home with someone with a bottle of poison and a bad attitude toward pigeons. So far, taking the advice of comedian Tom Lehr’s ‘50s’ satiric ditty “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park,” he or she has poisoned 200 pigeons in New York City with bread crumbs laced with carbofuran, a deadly pesticide. A spokesman for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals worried that the poisoner would not stop with pigeons. "Who knows what other animal they may dislike?" asked the spokesman, Peter Paris …

Also in New York, Christmas tree thieves could be in for an unpleasant surprise if they steal trees for their homes from alongside the Long Island Expressway. The state Transportation Department is coating the evergreens with something called "Ugly Mix," which gives off a sickening stench when heated …

Our Creature Feature comes from Georgia, not known as a haven for wild animals. Nonetheless, an effort has begun to establish a gorilla preserve near the town of Morgantown in the northern part of the state.

Steuart and Jane Dewar are trying to establish a 275-acre gorilla haven for care and research with as many as 10 retired zoo apes. The couple has obtained endorsements from primate experts who say that the gorillas could live their safely.

Locals don't buy it. A group calling itself the Concerned Citizens Against Gorillas gathered 1,200 signatures calling on the Fannin County Commission to block the preserve. Opponents worry that the gorillas would contaminate two trout streams running through the Dewars' property. They argue, too, that land-clearing to make way for the apes would destroy habitat in the area. Others admit nervous at the idea of huge monkeys running around the countryside. Stay tuned for the outcome.

to the top

News Without Nightmares: MPT's Gamble
People think that because we at New Bay Times are in the news business we must glue ourselves to the television news shows each evening.

Some here may do that, but others of us wouldn't think of risking bad dreams. Too often, television news consists of flashing lights and police ribbon. People get a sense from watching television news that violent crimes are the most important and common event in our world. No wonder people check the deadbolts and prime the Rottweilers before crawling under the covers scared to the bone. There's good news from Maryland Public Television for those of us looking for Maryland stories unaccompanied by chalk line drawings of bodies. This week, MPT began a new week-night program called Newsnight Maryland that will focus on happenings in our region.

Public television (daily papers, too) often are criticized for focusing on national and international events while leaving the world closer to home uncovered. That was the case under former MPT head Raymond Ho, who had a taste for grand programming. Newsnight Maryland fills a gap for people who want more news from their immediate world without the gore and sensationalism.

With former television journalists from Baltimore and Washington anchoring the show, it might also knit together the region in a more coherent way than the news offerings broadcast from stations in either city.

The challenge is stiff. At 7:00 on Channel 22, Newsnight Maryland is up against not only network news but also schlock programming. Unfortunately, many people enjoy frightful videos of police and dogs chasing down (alleged) criminals like posses in the Old South.

Now that we think about all of this, the wiser course might be for all us to get our news from weekly and daily papers. Nonetheless, we hope that Newsnight Maryland succeeds in part because it would be a signal to network programmers that people are not as bored as they think by thoughtful shows and serious public policy issues. We're glad, too, that Newsnight Maryland is re-broadcast at midnight.

That way, if our books turn dull, we can watch the news before bed and skip the nightmares.

to the top

For “Fiddler On The Roof”
Dear New Bay Times~Weekly:
We enjoyed another wonderful evening at the Chesapeake Music Hall. David Reynolds was superb as Teyve, and Carol Cohen was very convincing as his wife Goldi.

We always are amazed by the charisma of these actors and actresses at “The Hall.”

— Loretta and Doug Breen, Lothian

To Fish or Freeze
Dear New Bay Times~Weekly:
I’m confused. One week, you advise us to go fishing after eating Thanksgiving turkey rather than sleeping or watching football because the rockfish season has been extended until after that weekend. Then the next week, you tell us (in C.D. Dollar’s Boat Tips) to hurry up and get our boats ready for freezing weather or risk drastic consequences.

Which is it? Should I keep my boat out of the water to fish a little longer and risk freezing it (and me)? Or should I haul it, winterize now and be safe?

— Tom Friendly, Prince Frederick

(Editor’s Note: We suggest, Tom, that you head down to your boat immediately, start your motor and keep it running until the striped bass season ends on the evening of Nov. 30. Fish every day, catch one for us, and in return we’ll deliver you a big plate of turkey with all the trimmings.)

Saving For College
Dear New Bay Times~Weekly
As you may know, the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation this year creating the Maryland Higher Education Investment Program. The proposal was introduced by Gov. Parris Glendening and overwhelmingly supported by the legislature. This new program gives Marylanders an ideal mechanism to save for their child’s education by offering the higher returns of investing plus the safety of a savings account.

Our goal is to oversee a program where a qualified party can contribute a fixed amount of money that, with earned investments, will cover the cost of tuition and fees at public higher education institutions in Maryland. The three plans allow savings for public in-state institutions but can be used toward private in-state institutions, as well as public and private out-of-state institutions.

Each year, beginning in 1998, applications will be accepted. Our target date for the first Maryland enrollment period is early January; however the exact date has not been set because the overseeing board is still hiring staff, securing professional services and setting policies.

No one program will resolve everyone’s savings needs and, of course, none guarantee admission to a college or university. Our goal is to encourage people to save for college.

— Edwin S. Crawford, Baltimore

Editor’s Note: The writer is acting executive director of the board of the Maryland Higher Education Investment Program. For more information, call 410/767-2024.

to the top

Setting Thanksgiving’s Table
by K.J. Kohler

Year after year, as the holidays approach, we are bombarded with Christmas messages reminding us not to allow the commercialism of Christmas to corrupt the true spirit of the holiday.

After listening to the Rev. Bernice A. King, daughter of the assassinated civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., speak at Anne Arundel Community College last Thursday, it occurs to me that a similar corruption of spirit has happened to Thanksgiving.

Fondly called “Turkey Day,” by many, the day usually means a big feast, perhaps getting together with family members and watching parades and football. With a little bit of luck, there will be a moment to count a few blessings.

King’s impassioned speech on race relations, love and the Good Samaritan has me thinking. Even when we take time out to give thanks on the holidays, we may be missing something. I fear few take time to actually think about the historical Thanksgiving. After all, wasn’t the modern holiday created by Macy’s?

It occurs to me that Rev. King’s “Hard Questions, Heart Answers” speech, without ever mentioning the holiday, was a perfect meditation on the true meaning of the holiday. When the holiday originated, wasn’t the real cause for thanksgiving that two opposing races were able to settle differences and break bread together in peace?

Nearly everyone remembers the story of Native Americans coming together with Pilgrims in a spirit that transcended cultural boundaries to benefit one another. But somewhere along the line, that side of the story has diminished. We’re more comfortable staying the familiar. Meanwhile, and racial division and prejudice continue.

Rev. King says all those -isms are “still entrenched,” having “grown into a cancer on America’s soul.” She says nobody wants to take responsibility for slavery or Jim Crow laws. But in her view, “if you were benefited, then you are partly responsible.”

She sees lingering evidence of prejudice today even in the shopping mall, where her credit card is examined a little longer.

For all those years she spent eight years “angry at Daddy, the government, black people, white people and God.”

“It felt good for a while,” she says, but then she developed a stomach ache that wouldn’t go away.

Then she discovered “hate is to great a burden to bear.”

In the Biblical story of the Good Samaritan, she found her model for good race relations. The Samaritan knew nothing of the Jewish culture but was “driven by unconditional love” to think “I must help.”

Her own parable tells a story of a man who dies and is taken by an angel to one side of the universe, where a huge banquet table awaits. On it are delicacies: prime rib, baked potatoes and string beans in one section; fried chicken and black-eyed peas in another. In another are Chinese, Italian and Russian and a multitude of foods from other lands. For the vegetarians are laid out tofu, sprouts and portabella mushrooms. A dessert section holds apple and sweet potato pie, plus banana pudding.

But something’s wrong. People are motionless, with no joy on their faces.

On the other side of the universe, he finds an identical table. This gathering is exuberant and active.

Both settings, the angel explained, are ruled by one law: You must use the utensils provided by the management: 10-foot-long forks, knives and spoons.

Trying to feed themselves with those utensils, people of the first kingdom were starving. People in the second kingdom were using same utensils to reach across the table and feed each other.

That’s a parable worth thinking about as Thanksgiving draws near.

to the top

“Semper Fi!” An Old Bay Soldier Fumes

The difference between the almost-right word and the right word is really a large matter — it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.
- Mark Twain, Oct. 15, 1888.

Are you listening, Sara E. Lister? If so, read on:

What I have to say about Sara Lister couldn't be printed in any paper. I wouldn't even want to see it in print.

Thus spoke Capt. Ed O'Brien, skipper of the charterboat Semper Fidelis III, out of Rod 'n Reel Docks, in Chesapeake Beach, Nov.17, 1997.

Seeing she's now deservedly out of work, let's take up a collection to buy for poor Sara Lister a copy of a dictionary. If ever one needed to appreciate the words of Mark Twain in his letter to George Bainton 109 years ago, it's the former assistant Army Secretary for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, who resigned under fire last week.

She's the woman with no military experience who had the audacity, while in Baltimore last month, to describe the U.S. marines as "extremists." And, not in a complimentary way.

Then she added fat to the fire: "I think the army is much more connected to society than the Marines are. The Marines are extremists. Wherever you have extremists, you've got some risks of total disconnection with society. And that's a little dangerous."

As they say, “tell it to the Marines.” Lister didn't have to; everybody else did, though politically correct newspapers — the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post — were a little late in spreading the word. They were scooped by the conservative Washington Times, then talk radio — and then it couldn't be ignored.

I couldn't resist making a call to Ed O'Brien, who is living proof of the old saying "once a Marine, always a Marine." His last boat was Semper Fidelis II, he ends phone conversations with “semper fidelis,” a term State Comptroller Louis Goldstein — a World War II marine of the Pacific Theater — also uses liberally.

In case you don't know, semper fidelis is Latin for always faithful, the motto of the U.S. Marine Corps. Always faithful to God, county, the corps and above all, other marines. It's more than a motto, it's a way of life.

When Ed calmed down enough, he said:

"Her gripe is that the Marines still refuse to mix men and women in basic training, and it's part of the pressure to change it. Somehow the liberal resources in the Pentagon can't get it. I'm ticked off, really ticked off, it's an insult. I think of some of the fellows I served with."

Heroes of Another Time
I thought of a Marine sergeant in the next bed to mine at Aiea Heights Naval Hospital who cried much of the night as World War II was closing down — though we didn't know it at the time. He was told he was being shipped back stateside; his malaria ruled out rejoining his outfit for what we knew was a planned invasion of Japan.

The platoon leader sobbed because he knew his place was leading his unit when the going got tough — not as a Marine recruiter in the states.

I also thought of Gen. Merritt A. Edson, a Medal of Honor winner at Guadalcanal. Our paths crossed several times after the war, and I pretty much know what he would have said about the word "extreme." Ms. Lister please note:

These days, "extreme" is derogatory, you'd still be working if you instead used “extremely,” which means exceptionally, extraordinarily, exceedingly, and remarkably — all more associated with Marines, and has been the past 222 years.

Certainly, this not to say the same doesn't apply for other branches of the service. But in the Lister incident, the Marines were singled out - and could it be, as Ed suggests — because they have ignored all suggestions to mix the sexes in basic training?

If you know the answer, it's not a question.

Battles Royale
By coincidence, when Lister made her comments, I was reading a copy of Tarawa by Time/Life war correspondent Robert Sherrod, written in 1944. Back then, it was published as a paperback when paperbacks sold for 25 cents and could be mailed to servicemen for four cents. My worried mother, knowing that I was a Seabee attached to the Marines, sent me a copy in hopes it would make me aware of what war was like and be more careful. You know how mothers are.

That book told what it was like in the thick of things as the Second Marine Division suffered casualties of 762 killed, 169 missing and about 2,300 wounded in a three-day battle to gain less than a square mile of an island called Batio, at Tarawa. It was needed for an air base to protect Navy and Merchant Marine shipping and personnel as we began to regain the Pacific.

Unfortunately, some think war is like it is today when we fly over and bomb, send rockets and missiles, the enemy surrenders and things go back to normal. Too often, it doesn't work that way; it's still like Tarawa, the ground troops have to physically claim what the long range stuff blisters with explosives.

The Navy sent six million pounds of shells into that small island before the Marines landed, but the enemy hunkered down in deep bunkers where they stayed until the Marines came ashore and for many hours were pinned in a 20-foot wide exposed beachhead.

Many others didn't live to reach the beach.

Have Times Changed?
It’s no different today when it gets to the nitty-gritty. There are those who have disdain for the military and ask why fret about Sadaam Hussein, Iraq and UN inspections. Do these doves ever wonder what the chemical and biological weaponry developed in that volatile country is intended for?

They could learn too late. We feel too secure. History books don't tell us much about World War II, but had the Germans been a year earlier in their development of jet aircraft and guided missiles, World War II could have gone the other way.

The copy of Tarawa I was reading last week, I found at a yard sale in Vermont. My original copy was lost when the family farm's barn burned in New England. It had been autographed by Gen. Edson, whose First Raider Marine Battalion was credited with saving Guadalcanal before it fought again at Tarawa.

After the war, he became superintendent of the Vermont State Police when I was a young radio newsman, and a few times we chatted when I stopped by to get the latest scoop. He didn't talk much about the war, except for what makes a Marine.

His gist was that a Marine is a man who will wade towards a beach being raked by all types of fire, never turning back, as others fall all around him. He does it because he is faithful to the corps and his fellow Marines who depend on him. No questions asked.

At Tarawa, only one Marine aboard more than 1,000 on one troop ship didn't turn out to board landing craft. The others didn't hesitate. I'd call that, not extreme, "extraordinary.”

So whenever I call Ed, and he closes out with "Semper Fidelis," I know why — and sometimes I respond "Can Do” — the Seabees motto.

to the top

On a blustery Saturday afternoon, a collection of men from far corners of the nation met in Annapolis to share fellowship and friendship and learn little about our beloved Chesapeake Bay. Jim Rivers, a physician from Annapolis, organized the outing, and John Page Williams and I helped carry out the plan, loading an assortment of lawyers, politicians and commercial fishermen onto the Bay Foundation's vessel Lady D and headed out to Hacketts Bar. During the week, the bar is virtually devoid of traveling pleasure boaters, made scarce by the stinging wind and cold. They are replaced by the working oystermen, patent tongers almost exclusively, using hydraulic rakes attached to a boom and mast set-up to harvest oysters for market. Usually solitary but occasionally in pairs, these watermen hold over a decent lump of oysters, competing quickly and quietly for what healthy oysters remain.

The decline of the once mighty populations of oysters is well-documented. First struck down by over-harvesting to feed the seemingly insatiable appetites of an expanding nation, oysters were then hit with the double blow of disease and pollution. Today, oysters are at about one percent of their historic numbers, and there is little hope among fisheries managers that the stock can be rebuilt. Among plans to recoup some of the lost oysters are “gardening” oyster, rebuilding existing beds and creating sanctuaries.

A northwest wind pushed the stern of Lady D around as several of our group began hauling in our dredge (drugde if you work the water). A full bag was met with cheers as we considered what oyster provide as filters (one oyster can filter approximately 50 gallons of water a day), habitat (scores of animals live in or around oyster rocks), and food for other animals. But a good old boy from North Carolina nearly led to a friendly mutiny when told that he couldn't eat one of the succulent bivalves for the catch had to go back into the Bay.

Nearby, two swarms of terns and gulls worked bait being driven by the ebb tide and hungry rockfish against the bar. We turned our energy from learning about oysters to catching some rock. Outfitted with green feather jig creations courtesy of John Page, several of the group, mostly novice fishermen, had a ball catching and releasing 10- to 16-inch stripers.

With her small schools of nearby breaking fish, nature had supplied the way to illustrate the value of oysters. Simply, oyster bars mean fish — even if you'd rather eat an oyster than catch fish.

Fish Are Biting
If you can handle the at times bitter temperatures out on the water, chances are you'll do pretty well for rockfish. As the fishing season winds down, rockfishing is nearly the only game in town. A good many of the fish have moved south, with the Patuxent River area, Gas Docks, Cedar and Cove Point good bets for chummers. Trollers working the western channel edges from Breezy Point south are hooking up, the staples like bucktails effective as well as diving plugs like Mann +25.

On the Middle Grounds, Point No Point, and Point Lookout, anglers are enjoying behemoth rockfish, some over 30 pounds, plus some breaking fish. Some trout are still around, traveling with the schools of rockfish. Fishing from the Potomac down past the Virginia line to the Bay Bridge-Tunnel should continue until late December. Check regulations for season and limits in Virginia.

Upper Bay anglers aren't doing too bad either. Fish are still around the Bay Bridge pilings, and some fat rock are moving through the Narrows, jigging and drifting live baits. Hadn't heard a whole lot about Hacketts for keeper rock of late, but occasionally there’s some fun catch-and-release for the little ones. The Hill isn't done yet, and the Diamonds, Stone Rock, and the Gooses are good options.

To report your freshwater or saltwater fishing report, news of outdoor club/organization event, outing or function to Chesapeake Outdoors • Phone 410/757-0130, then press # 3 • Email at [email protected].
Please include detailed information including times, date, place, phone and contact.

to the top