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After Work, The Anne Arundel Community College Orchestra Comes Out to Play
by Barbara Miller
The sounds of an orchestra warming up assaults the senses: The high, shrill notes of Vicky Meyers piccolo, the low, gruff voice of Art Gudwin's bassoon, the rumble of a string bass as Kathy Coulombe drills a particularly devilish passage, the open strings of a violin as Betsy Dashiells checks her tuning, the nasal tone of Pat Bennett's oboe as it cuts through the cacophony.
Once a week these five and more than a dozen others put aside their "real-life" roles to play in the Anne Arundel Community College Orchestra. Students, business people and professionals, they share a common passion: They love to play music.
"I love how this orchestra brings so many ages, careers, talent levels and personalities together," says principal cellist Cathy Hess, a professor of mathematics at Anne Arundel Community College.
Most of these musicians wear other guises by day. Like Hess, some are, or have been, teachers of music, engineering or mathematics. Art Gudwin is a doctor. Rich Albert, a lawyer, plays viola. Jenna Eichen, a violinist, is studying for a degree in Criminal Justice at the community college. Violinist Eileen Eaton is a full-time mom. Several are high school students, while others have played their instrument for over 50 years.
On Thursday evenings they emerge from their other lives. They arrive ready to play under the baton of Terry Greenawalt, the coordinator of the community college's music department, now rehearsing them for their upcoming concert on December 14.
"I know that were not the Peabody Orchestra the Baltimore areas top music school, says Greenawalt. But I like to motivate the orchestra to be as fine-tuned an instrument as possible."
Art Gudwin, chief of vascular surgery at North Arundel Hospital, is a doctor who plays bassoon instead of golf. His is a long-standing preference. In 1960, as a second-year medical student at Tufts University in Boston, he heard Igor Stravinsky's Octet for Winds on his car radio. Then and there, he says, "I decided that I had always wanted to play bassoon. Driving directly to the music store next to Symphony Hall, he rented a bassoon.
Gudwin figured he could teach himself to play since he had played clarinet from fourth grade through high school and had gotten pretty good. But a bassoon has a number of basic differences from a clarinet, as Gudwin quickly saw. He would need a teacher.
He studied for a year with David Carroll, now a bassoonist with the New York Philharmonic but then a music student his teens teaching out of his dormitory room at the New England Conservatory.
Now first bassoonist with the Anne Arundel Community College orchestra, Gudwin continues to take lessons in his instrument He also plays in a quintet called "Gone with the Winds," which meets regularly at his house. Last month, in addition, he played in the pit orchestra for colleges production of Music Man. All this, of course, is above and beyond his work as a doctor. When he goes to rehearse on Thursday nights, he brings a cell phone and beeper as well as his bassoon.
More typically, Beth Cole began the study of her instrument when she was a child. "I was inspired to take up cello after listening to Leonard Rose practice in our living room while I lay under the coffee table," she recalls.
Coles father, dean of Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. and , hosted the world-famous cellist who had come to the school to give a performance. For reasons which are still unclear to Cole, there was no place for him to warm up for his concert, so he was invited by her father to use their home.
After finding a cello teacher who lived only a few blocks away, Cole played all through high school and college. Today, though, her real-life job is as an archaeologist with the Maryland Historical Trust
"I chose not to pursue music as a career," she says, "because I find it more rewarding as a recreation and fulfilling pastime." Now she finds her pleasure in the Anne Arundel Community College Orchestra and in family ensembles that include her nieces and nephews.
Deaf-Interpreter Violinist Biondo
Violinist Brigitte Biondo is another moonlighting musician with the community college orchestra; by day, she works in Baltimore as an interpreter for the deaf. A student of the violin since she was 10, she played both violin and viola throughout high school and college, where she minored in music. But she majored in communications, and in the course of her studies learned sign language. For her master's in communications, she went to Gallaudet College.
There, she brags with understandable pride, "I taught two deaf students violin."
One, despite very little hearing, learned to hold the instrument correctly and play duets with his teacher, playing open strings while Biondo played little melodies. The other student, with 30 percent hearing in her good ear, especially for notes in the higher frequencies, learned well enough to play little melodies.
Biondo, who heads up the second violin section, joined the orchestra this fall.
Put Together on a Bow String
Violist Charlotte Dunham and violinist Barbara Cowan, on the other hand, were part of the original string ensemble of 11 players formed in 1976. Founded and led by Peggy Peach, the head of the college music section, they practiced on Sunday afternoons. Peach was a violinist who had a long association with both Anne Arundel Community College and the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra. She was the first full-time tenured professor of music at the community college.
Missing on Thursday nights this fall is another long-time member, Nancy Buckman, a clarinetist, who is home recuperating from a broken leg. Buckman, who looks forward to rejoining in January the orchestra shes played with since 1977 when wind players joined the original string ensemble. She led the orchestra as its president during a critical passage.
First, the growing orchestra needed money. By turning to the colleges Student Association, Buckman increased the financial resources of the young orchestra seven-fold.
Then, tired of close and borrowed quarters, they sought a place to rehearse. Late State Sen. John Cade, of where, became their benefactor, winning state and the county for the community colleges fine arts center that now bears his name. Since when they have rehearsed in the large, brightly lit, well-ventilated Cade Building for the Fine Arts.
An early roster of the orchestra includes two others who still come regularly on Thursday nights. Violinist Lee Showalter is self-employed in desktop publishing. Cellist Kurt Keydel is a professor of engineering and physics at Montgomery College in Rockville.
Motivated by Music
A more recent member, violinist Connie Neale is in real life an archivist with the Maryland State Archives. She had played piano most of her life; then, 10 years ago, she began violin lessons
It is not easy to start a stringed instrument as an adult. It takes a certain fierce determination, even with a musical background on another instrument. Neale, who explains "This is something I've always wanted to do, has succeeded. Shes a five-year violinist with the orchestra.
Lee Greenbaum understands this drive. A retired navy diver and aviator, he now works as a medical physiologist. Twelve years ago he started studying cello and now, with great pleasure, joins the cello section on Thursday nights.
The desire to play music echoes throughout the group. "I'm absolutely enjoying my time with this orchestra," says flutist Maria Maroulis, who works as a mechanical engineer while studying for her master's in that field. Joyce Thayer, who played oboe and English horn professionally for many years, now plays with the community orchestra. Says she: "I'm now retired and having fun."
Vicky Meyer plays flute and piccolo. A captain in the Navy Nurse Corps Reserve, Meyer teaches nursing part-time and has an environmental health company. She plays for relaxation. "When recalled to active duty in Bethesda during Desert Storm," she recollects, "I managed to get to a few rehearsals to play piccolo parts. I feel like I'm missing something when I'm not playing."
Other players are students at the orchestras sponsoring Anne Arundel Community College. For violinist Jennifer Eden, a business and law student at the college, "Playing in the orchestra can be compared to my brushing my teeth, it is a must, she says. Besides being fun, she observes, "playing together trains my ear and allows me the opportunity to watch someone's masterpiece turn into music."
Jenna Eichen has played the violin for 14 years, enjoying every note."
"I play with the orchestra because music relaxes me after a long week or day at school," explains Eichen, who plans to graduate from the college this winter with an A.A. degree in Criminal Justice.
Clarinetist Carol Thompson, a music major at the college, works at the music store and plans to join the United States Army Band in January. "Music is my life," she says. Fellow music student Tom Stewart plays trombone with the orchestra because, as he says, "I love the classics."
Kathy Coulombe, a senior at Southern High School in Harwood and one of the younger members of this orchestra, has played the string bass for four years. In that short time, she has already compiled an impressive resume, including high school, all-county, all-state and Peabody Conservatory experience. Like Thompson, her enthusiasm for orchestra is unmistakable: "I love music and I love to play with other people. This is a great experience," says the high schooler.
Out of this World
"Gone with the Winds," the woodwind quintet that practices every week at vascular surgeon Art Gudwin's house, spun off from the college orchestra. Most of its players are current or former orchestra members. One was the late Larry Herath, a NASA scientist who played clarinet, with both. His wife, Vera Herath, recalls music as something he truly loved. He loved every bit of the practicing and the rehearsing. It was a release. It was an expression."
One night at rehearsal with Gone with the Winds, Gudwin shot a photo of Herath. At the funeral, mourning the death of his fellow musician, he had presented the framed photo to Herath's family. That photo is now en route to Saturn.
Herath's position at NASA had involved him in the development of the Cassini spacecraft that is now traveling to Saturn. Herath's friends and colleagues at the Goddard Space Flight Center honored him by computer-scanning Gudwin photo onto a small metal plate that was affixed inside the spacecraft.
The Cassini was launched on October 15, 1997. Its expected to reach Saturn, the sixth planet from the Sun, in seven years.
Hear for Yourself
Hear for yourself as the orchestra launches its new season Sun. Dec. 14, at 4pm. With a program of Russian masterpieces, Conductor Greenawalt is presenting music that, true to his intent, is challenging and exciting for the musicians, but extremely audience-friendly. To begin the concert, Kabalevsky's "Colas Breugnon," with its strong drive and pulsating, contemporary rhythms, should infect the audience with cheerful energy.
Borodin's exquisitely haunting melody in "From the Steppes of Central Asia" is likely to sound familiar to some listeners, as is Gliere's boisterous and ever popular "Russian Sailor's Dance." Highlighting the program is Gliere's lovely Concerto for Harp and Orchestra, with Sonja Inglefield as guest harp soloist.
Tickets are the best deal in town, at $5 for general admission, $3 for seniors and $2 for college students and staff: 410/315-7019.
Barbara Miller, who covers classical music for NBT, can be found on Thursday evening in the cello section of the Anne Arundel Community College Orchestra.
Annapolis Swearing: New Mayor Parties, Peers Ahead
With a smile on his face and his eye on the clock, the new mayor of Annapolis, Dean L. Johnson, invited his city to celebrate today and get down to business tomorrow.
Why this man was smiling was clear: It was his party, rich with pomp, circumstance and song. For this one day he was everyones darling, and everyone from his mother to his primary opponent to former Gov. Marvin Mandel was on hand to witness his ascendancy.
He was blessed by minister, rabbi and priest. He was serenaded by the United States Naval Academy Band, Annapolis Chorale and the Mount Moriah A.M. E. Gospel Choir. And, for this one day, he was able to dictate terms to the entire city council as, one by one, he swore seven of the citys eight aldermen into office.
Johnson, 54, a Republican, defeated Democrat Dennis Callahan last month in Callahans bid to return to the mayors office for a second time.
Time was on Johnsons mind during his swearing-in. It popped up in reference after reference, starting with his story of the short (Thank you) and long (Thank you very much) Thanksgiving speeches with which he warmed up his audience that chilly first day of December.
As if the new mayor were preoccupied with Dickens A Christmas Carol, his glorious time present shared the stage with time past and time future.
Our recollections of the past serve as the basis of the celebration of today. But our responsibility for our future serves as the motivation for tomorrow, he said.
As Johnson peered midway through his term in office to the year 2000, you could almost hear the harvesting strokes of Father Time. And you sure couldnt miss his urgency when he looked pointedly at his watch, then told his fire and police chiefs they didnt need to start working immediately. Tomorrow morning will be just fine, he said.
Improved public safety was one of a long list of ideas and thoughts Johnson described in a preview of Annapolis city government in the 21st century.
Toward each goal, he offered a first step.
He called public safety, the most fundamental function of any local government. He called for accreditation of fire and police departments as a long and complex process of ensuring we meet extremely high standards in professionalism, performance, training and service delivery.
His other goals for good government:
- Connecting citizens to their government by setting up a Neighborhood Roundtable, grassroots meetings where the mayor and city council would listen and learn.
- Preserving and Protecting our neighborhoods by uniting city and county in a Capital City Regional Planning Commission to devise comprehensive land-use and transportation plans that consider traffic, parking and transportation.
- Improving the delivery of municipal services by challenging each employee to ask whether the job can be done better, faster, less expensively.
- Becoming a more customer-oriented government with real customer service where one telephone call will speed you on your way to an answer.
- Making it easier for people to do business with government with a top-to-bottom review of our City Code.
- Guaranteeing our children the best preparation for productive and fulfilling roles in society by personally and regularly attending school board meetings.
- Increasing economic development by creating good-paying jobs right here at home for the youngsters growing up in those neighborhoods today.
- Improving the public housing environment by appointing a new, highly accountable executive director of the Annapolis Housing Authority.
Applause from the packed auditorium at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts punctuated Johnsons list. But none of its items was better received than the last: humor.
I have sat through City Council meetings where a quip or a joke might have been the medicine we all needed to cure terminal seriousness, Johnson said. I call on my colleagues to work hard, but lets have some fun doing it.
Then, keeping his first promises, Mayor Johnson greeted well-wishers at City Hall until 5; danced at Loews Annapolis Hotel until the cows came home; and moved full speed ahead into his new office on the next day.
Firewood: Will Yours Stack Up This Winter?
As the old saying goes, you can judge a man by his woodpile.
Add women to that truism, and let it be known that Judgment Day is nigh.
Cold weather hasn't exactly sneaked up on us, but it's here and, like it or not, will remain for four months or more. Are you primed to feed your fireplace or your wood stove?
Many people may not be prepared, judging by reports from people who sell firewood and by an utterly unscientific inspection of woodpiles along Rt. 2.
It might have something to do with people having wood left over from last year's milder-than-usual winter. It might have to do with the tricky warm-then-cold weather this fall. Then again, December may have just sneaked up on a lot of busy people.
"It's hard to figure out," said Brian Morehead, of Shady Side, who has been in the firewood business for 16 years.
By this time last year, Morehead had delivered 60 cords of oak or mixed hardwood. This year, sales are off considerably.
Morehead divides his customers into two groups: people who heat their homes with wood and who like to have three or four cords on hand; and people who heat for pleasure.
"They just buy one cord. They like the way it looks in the fireplace at night or all day on Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year's," he said.
Whether you buy a truckload, a cord or a convenience-store bundle, you need to know what youre getting. And it's a buyer beware market. Normally, you want hardwoods like oak, hickory, walnut or locust because hardwoods burn hotter and longer than soft woods, such as poplar.
Secondly, you want to make sure that the wood is seasoned, or dried, so that it catches, burns evenly and burns hot without emitting moisture. Ideally, wood burned now was split last spring or even before.
How can you tell when wood is dry and seasoned? If it looks dark, smells wet and feels quite heavy, chances are that it's green and that it may sizzle and steam when you try to burn it. Another test is to look at the ends where it has been split. Do small, protruding piece feel supple? Or and this is what your want do they break off like toothpicks?
And what, by the way, is a cord? The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines a standard cord as a stack of wood that measures four feet high by eight feet wide by four feet long. That multiplies out to 128 cubic feet.
Morehead sells oak and mixed hardwood, most of which he has trucked in from Pennsylvania. Prices of sellers vary but usually range from $110 to $160, depending on the type and quality. And whether you want it stacked. In past years, some firewood dealers have run out of their most seasoned wood by the end of the December.
Many people swear by oak because they like the way it smells and burns. Most of the oak we see is red oak, but some wood aficionados believe that white oak, the Maryland state tree, is the best of the oaks for firewood.
Ash ranks near the top of many lists, although we in southern Maryland don't see that much of it. Hickory is prized by people who like its smell, BTU's (British thermal units) and its value in smoking everything from Thanksgiving turkeys to Chesapeake bluefish. (Remember that cedar throws sparks and old Christmas trees have been known to cause fireplace fires.)
Richard Ronay, a lawyer in Deale, is fond of locust, a stalwart of southern Maryland forests. And Ronay knows his wood: he's a skilled cabinet-maker and the owner of a mostly restored wood sailboat. In his office are two prized lengths of Douglas fir, each 14 feet long, that one day will be a desk or a conference table.
Locust holds a fire overnight better than anything I burn. When you wake up in the morning, you've still got a good bed of coals," he said.
Ronay didn't say what kind of coals Douglas fir leaves behind.
Farmers Grin and Bear It as New Stamp Pays for Ursine Damage
Did you hear about the bear who got licked by a human? He was on a stamp.
Thats as close as most Marylanders will get to the states largest mammal, which grows as weighty as 500 pounds. But Maryland Department of Natural Resources is betting that bears are endearing enough to attract buyers to their new black bear conservation and merchandising program. Stamps and paraphernalia bearing Ursus americanus image are now being sold to raise funds to reimburse farmers whose land have been marred by the resurgent mammals.
Like the more familiar duck stamps, Marylands new black bear stamps carry a dual conservation and commemorative theme. Unlike the duck stamps, however, these stamps dont let you shoot a bear.
One unarmed bear lover, however, will get a chance to get up close and personal with the bulky beasts. Sometime in March 1988, the winner of a promotional drawing will spend a night in a cabin at New Germany State Park, so as to be fresh for bear research in the morning. Then the lucky winner will help biologists check on a female black bear and tag her cubs.
Some farmers might it were otherwise, but bears remain off limits to hunters. Thats because Marylands bears were nearly exterminated by hunting and loss of habitat in the early 20th century. By 1953, bear hunting ended. With black bears protected from gunfire, their numbers grew. Hunting is still prohibited, and black bears travel freely from Pennsylvania, through Western Maryland and into Virginia.
Pennsylvania deliberately reintroduced black bears, and they flourished in open spaces migrating to wetlands that, according to DNRs Mary Stubbs create a really good bear habitat.
As bears thrived, farmers have found their corn fields ravaged and their bee hives pilfered by the black mammals. Causing about $21,000 worth of damage a year, black bears are getting reputations as nuisances. In order to help compensate farmers for their losses, the Maryland State Legislature last year authorized the sale of black bear stamps.
As well as stamps, bear fanciers can buy black bear decals, stamps, Lucite stamp paperweights, and a matted stamp print complete with Maryland black bear history.
The purchaser of any black bear product is automatically entered in the drawing to become a bear researcher for a day. You may also enter by submitting your name, address, and phone number to DNR Wildlife & Heritage Division; Black Bear Conservation Promotion; 580 Taylor Ave. E-1; Annapolis, MD 21401. Entries must be received by Dec. 31.
Purchase Maryland black bear gift items at regional DNR service centers in Annapolis, Bel Air, Centerville, Cumberland, Prince Frederick and Salisbury. Or call 800/TREES-MD.
In Virginia, the treadmill testing program scheduled to begin this week has been postponed. We're left to decide whether there wasn't enough equipment available, as officials say, or whether lame-duck Gov. George Allen is again delaying environmental regulations
In Wisconsin, people are profiting from that cranberry sauce snuggled up to your turkey. The state also is paying a price. The Chicago Tribune reported this week that land devoted to cranberry bogs in Wisconsin the nation's leading producer has increased by 25 percent in five years to more than 15,000 acres. The U.S. EPA has four cases against growers allegedly for expanding into sensitive areas
Texas horticulturists from Texas A&M have figured out what to do with all of that junk mail that is arriving at homes these days: They're recycling stuff from post offices in Dallas and Fort Worth into compost
In London, scientists have identified a genetic disorder that makes people smell like rotting fish, a British research team reported in this month's issue of Nature Genetics, a scientific journal. The scientists said that the defect cripples the body's ability to counteract a smelly enzyme produced by bacteria in the gut
Our Creature Feature this week comes to us from Chile, and it's not for the faint of heart. Two-foot-long "mutant" rats are stalking suburbs and attacking barnyard animals in adjacent farms, reports Reuters. The rats also are making hikes along the Mapocho River an adventure because they burrow into river banks and threaten passers-by.
Where did these whopper rodents come from? An environmental group, the Ecological Council of Maipu, says the rats have become gigantic from eating the droppings of hormone-fattened farm animals.
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Smart, Sane Holidays on the Bay
By Dec. 1, we'd seen enough: stressed moms in two-hour lines buying Beanie Babies; stressed dads fretting more I-95 traffic that dampened the Thanksgiving weekend; stressed kids expecting piles of holiday loot.
Let's everybody exhale and think things over. Christmas and Chanukah never were meant to threaten health, wealth and sanity. So this year, don't let it happen. It's not too late to get a grip, to make a plan so that on Dec. 26 (a Monday), you don't wake up exhausted and broke.
Make an announcement at dinner. Say: "We're going to have a fabulous time this year, but we'll be doing things a bit differently." Here's how:
- Simplify. By all means, visit the grandparents. But don't dash about and wear yourself to a frazzle. "Move" Christmas Day, if you must, to accommodate everyone. Relax and maybe even plan a family trip to a quiet place.
- Save. Don't wear the ridges off of your charge cards and spend the last ticks of the 20th century under a heap of debt. This time around, get on the phone and tell some relatives: "We're giving big love and small gifts this year." They'll be happy you called.
- Bestow smart presents. Whenever possible, look for Maryland crafts, antiques and products offered by locally owned small businesses rather than glitzy stuff sewed and glued in Asian and Caribbean sweatshops.
- Think healthy. While you're taking it easy on yourself, think about the health of your family and friends. Why not give a massage or an acupuncture session or a manicure or even a health club membership? Or an herb pot or a book on stretching?
- Think outdoors. We along the Chesapeake are blessed with moderate weather so that hiking, canoeing and birdwatching are almost always possible during the holidays. Then gather for hot chocolate and mulled wine.
- Think alternatives. There's plenty to do to enrich the lives of people around you starting this weekend (Dec. 6-7) all along the Bay. In Annapolis, you can tour the Statehouse by candlelight; in Calvert County you can enjoy Holidays on the Farm and craft demonstrations (410/586-8503); in Easton you can celebrate Scottish Yuletide at the Avalon Theatre. (For NBT's 20-page Holiday Guide, call us at 410/867-0304. Well send you a copy for the cost of postage: $1. Or stop in and pick one up for free.)
- Shoo the Blues. If holiday burdens get you down, say: "GAG (Go Away Grinch). I've got things under control this year."
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At Least Its Not Soylent Green
Dear New Bay Times~Weekly:
Please accept my congratulation for your editorial mention (Nov. 13-19) of chicken manure being fed to fatten beef cattle.
I had read about this in the September issue of U.S. News & World Report and was shocked that no notice was forthcoming from horrified beef eaters. Other than your mention (crediting the magazine Preventive Medicine) the general public is still unaware of this disgusting situation.
You are to be commended for your recognition of a serious problem area.
Keep up the good work.
Paul Lanham, Huntingtown
A Modest Proposal to Reconnect Military and Civilians
Dear New Bay Times~Weekly:
D.C. Bournes letter to the editor (Nov. 26-Dec. 3) raised a legitimate issue. Remarking on Bill Burtons reaction to Army Personnel Chief Sara Listers comments about the marines, Bourne noted the danger of disconnect between the military and the rest of society.
True, there is a widening gap between our people in uniform and civilians, and today young people are indifferent toward the military and even veterans. Most of our new congress, the people who make our laws, have had no military experience.
The Germans yes, those former goose-stepping automatons have given us a clue to resolving this problem. They are rebuilding the Reichstag in Berlin, and the big dome on top, similar to our capitol dome, will now be transparent, letting in light and showing the German people and the world that the government of the new Germany is open and free for inspection by all.
I have a modest proposal: put a transparent dome over the courtyard of the Pentagon and put our World War II Memorial inside. Lincoln, you remember, insisted that our Capitol dome be completed regardless of the raging Civil War: It would be a symbol of our reborn nation. The dome on the Pentagon and the memorial inside would honor one of the most just wars in history and be symbolic of a new and better relationship between our armed forces and the public.
It would still be our central military headquarters, but it would change from a fortress to a shining World War II memorial and education center. Many of the millions of tourists who flock to Washington each year would visit the Pentagon and the World War II Memorial. Hostility toward the military would decrease, the social isolation of the professional military establishment would be diminished, and military illiteracy would be reduced.
The Army Corps of Engineers built the Pentagon; now they could do the necessary remodeling to make it both military headquarters and a memorial.
Tom Gill, North Beach
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Uncle Bob Remembers the Good Old Days
by Bob Holum
Uncle Bob, tell us about the Good Old Days.
Well, lads, Christmas then, as now, was mighty special, but it took forever to get here! Everything seemed farther apart, then, except for chore time, bed time and time to go to school.
In the Good Old Days, being poor meant doing without red meat at least once a day. (Which may be why there are so many poor people today. All the rich died young of heart attack and stroke!) Being rich meant never having to wear hand-me-downs. Popcorn was cooked in a pot on the stove, computers were big as gymnasiums and about as bright as hamsters.
Wood for the stove was never bought; it was found, like most of the fun in those days, for free. Lipstick came in one color red and when your mom put it on, it meant you were going to Town. Grandmas and babies' bottoms smelled like talcum powder. Old was when the heels on womens shoes got thick and clunky, and when men's rumps faded away to nothing inside the baggy folds of their trousers (track suits were still worn by track teams).
Television shows came in a range of colors black to white which made it possible to fall in love with Annette Funicello (if you were a boy) and to want to BE Annette Funicello (if otherwise.) Hoola Hoops came spinning off television, which suddenly turned all kids into customers. The best kid shows were still on the radio. TV police were all named Frank, and nobody got hurt, let alone killed, on their shows. The most violent thing on the air was the sound effect of a ricochet. Matt Dillon had still only been heard, never seen, but he was definitely a grownup. Disneyland was in California, where neighbors sometimes moved, and were never heard from again.
A real good electronic Christmas present was a portable radio with transistors, one that could pull in "The Coasters" late at night, from towns with exotic call signs like "K-O-M-A! In Oklahoma City." "Chips" were a fattening edible substance and needed no special expertise to install. A high tech pocket calculator was a mechanical pencil.
There were only two catalogs, which came once a year, not everyday. That was the only place, besides your brothers' bedroom, where you ever, under any circumstances, saw anyone in their underwear (which, as we all know, is exactly how God meant it to be). People who made things or grew things were all Democrats. People who sold things or owned things were Republicans. (Or so we thought.) The only thing the donkey-folk couldn't grow or make was one of their own in the White House!"
Wow. That sounds really tough, Uncle Bob. How did you all survive?
Gee, how did we? Well, we always went to church, only ate cereal for breakfast if it came in a round box, and changed our socks once a week whether they needed it or not.
In short, we were tough. Kind of like the kids of today. Smart and tough. Like you.
Bob Holum, whose previous contributions to New Bay Times have been poems, reflects from Back Creek in Annapolis.
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New Rockfish Bonanza on the Horizon?
In much of the Chesapeake, it stopped almost abruptly. It was as if someone turned off the spigot. The 1997 rockfishing was over.
Gone, but not forgotten.
Officially, the season for rock ended Sunday night, but few anglers were around to bid a fond adieu because catching slowed two weeks earlier for many though in a few upper Bay spots, anglers casting bucktails found as darkness approached that some keeper rockfish suddenly got hungry.
Some of these stripers went five to eight pounds: what a way to end the season. A fitting way, I might add. Much of the season for much of the Bay for many of our popular fishes was gangbusters.
As 1997 winds down, it's appropriate we review its fishing and the implications for 1998, for within five months we'll once again be angling on the Chesapeake.
Think this year was good, wait until next year. Weve got something to look forward to.
For beginners, how about a dramatic reduction in the length limit for rockfish? Once it was called the spring trophy season, but in the past couple years it could more appropriately be referred to as the big fish season as the length minimum was dropped in stages from 36 inches to 32 inches.
A 36-inch post-spawning season striper is indeed a trophy about 20 to 24 pounds, probably 11 or 12 years of age and usually a female. Something to brag about.
Last year, the legal minimum had dipped to 32 inches, still a nice fish, but certainly not a trophy. We're getting into fish nine to 10 years old weighing 11 to 13 pounds.
There are suggestions that in '98, the minimum could be dropped another four inches to 28 inches. Rock that size would be eight or nine years of age and weigh eight to 12 pounds, which is about half the weight necessary when the first trophy season was held following the moratorium. There are two ways to look at this:
Huge Fish By Any Measure
The original trophy season had a certain aura about it. To catch and keep, one had to reel in a truly magnificent rock. And the angler was allowed only one per season. That made the spring trophy season, which incidentally was also shorter and more geographically restricted, something special. Very special.
A side benefit: It afforded additional protection to large rock, the most important mainstay of the fishery at the time but to a lesser degree today because overall populations have increased dramatically and obviously continue to do so. Now, it's pretty much conceded the rock fishery along the coast is officially recovered.
The flip side: Continued recovery means huge fish will play a less important role on the spawning grounds because there are many more of lesser size in the Bay's rockfish factory. They can make up in production for the bigger fish taken in the Chesapeake and elsewhere along the coast.
Of not insignificant consideration is the increased opportunity to catch and keep fish in the spring season. When the legal minimum was 36 inches, many fishermen went the entire season without catching a keeper though they did have the excitement of reeling in and then releasing fish that didn't measure.
Originally, the demand for lowering the length limit was primarily from charterboat skippers, who complained their parties wanted something they could take home. In much of the Bay, bluefish weren't available in May; thus parties were paying several hundred dollars to go fishing and not getting much to take home.
Charter skippers, like rock of a decade before, were becoming an endangered species. The May season, though not long, played an important role in their annual income. Also, there were many recreational fishermen who began to think of the take-home benefits of a shorter minimum.
The Department of Natural Resources, which has the ultimate obligation to conserve stocks while offering the maximum opportunity for catching (and keeping), was quite obliging and liberalized areas, season lengths and minimum sizes. Now we're down to serious consideration of a 28-inch minimum, which we're told will have no appreciable impact on continued recovery of the species.
Could Shorter Mean More?
There is also the contention that reducing the length to 28 inches could in the long run be a conservation measure. A rockfish of 28 to 32 inches following the spawning ritual could be more vulnerable to the stress of the fight and subsequent handling by fishermen.
So, if fisherman are allowed to keep a fish in the 28- to 32-inch class, its chances of survival will be better than if it were released for another in the quest for the magic 32-incher.
At this point, the 28-inch minimum is only in the consideration stage, though at a recent seminar at the Mason-Dixon Outdoor Writers Association annual meeting at Tilghman Island, DNR's Pete Jensen conceded there could be a lower size limit next spring.
If that wasn't surprise enough, Rich Novotny, executive director of Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association, suggested rockfish along the coast could be recovered. So what's the surprise in that?
Rock Recovery Not Disputed
If you recall, about this time last year as DNR was reviewing its options for '97, there was strong sentiment from charter and most recreational fishermen for longer seasons and more fish to catch in those seasons. Other recreational fishermen expressed concern that though the species had already been declared recovered it wasn't.
Many were frightened we would wipe out by overfishing what had been gained by the moratorium of five years. Some were more than frightened. They were angry.
Spokesman after spokesman from Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen's Association chapters across the state denounced DNR for even suggesting a more liberal approach. They talked of fewer available fish the previous year and suggested we could be on the road to another moratorium. Among them was Novotny, top dog in Maryland's biggest recreational fishing group. Things started to get nasty.
After the hearings and deliberations within the department, DNR opted for more fish and fishing time. The angling later turned out to be excellent despite a year of drought, Pfiesteria woes, and a bad, wet and cold spring.
But at Tilghman, Novotny had a few observations unexpected in light of his thinking of a year earlier. Like: "I'm starting to believe there is a recovered species. And: We're seeing a recovered fishery now." His comments were welcomed by those who want Maryland to get its fair share of the fishery.
For '98, DNR would like more fish available for us under the quota system, but a divided Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted for status quo coastwide. States to the north don't want us to have more fish for fear they'll get fewer though in our Bay we turn out about 80 percent of coastal stocks, and we have our own Bay population.
They fail to realize that they're fishing on migratory stock, their minimum length limits are longer and they must wait longer for sufficient fish large in size for their fishery. It takes time for the fish of the recovered fishery to grow. There are more than enough around, but they must grow bigger.
The selfish reasoning is this: If we can't have them now, you can't either."
So, it's status quo for total poundage for Maryland, which leaves maneuvering room for innovations such as a 28-inch spring minimum. And Maryland has been told it can come back and request reconsideration in regards to its Bay fishery at a later time.
As 1997 winds down, we can look to another great year. Smaller fish that will be legal next year are everywhere and were until the last couple weeks of the season when waters cooled and many rock went into hiding as waters cooled.
Truly, 1998 can be a Happy New Year.
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It was the second half of an outdoor double header, and Kevin and I found ourselves tucked among the marsh grass and tall woody plants along a tributary of the Wye River. I was reflecting on the day that started on a farm pond in northern Kent County, where we were targeting snow geese.
In previous hunts, we had met with stunning success on some days and been left confounded on others, scratching our heads at the extremes. We came to the conclusion, in part, that the new flocks of birds had yet to figure out our rigs, whereas the birds that had been around were more wary.
It was, to the best of our thinking, a matter of intercepting the new arrivals. Setting up our spread, the vibes were good, as thousands of birds noisily greeted the new day over on the next field. Kevin's father joined us, and we all agreed, unless the shooting was really slow, we'd try only for the mature birds.
The wind was way up, out of the northwest, and almost a liability. A good while after sunrise, several hundred birds got off a field on the other side of a treeline looking to feed or drink. We were hoping to entice the geese to the water and it worked, as several dozen broke off from the main pack and swung over us. The strong wind held the birds high aloft, giving them the opportunity to get a good look at the decoys.
Then five dropped quickly over our stand-up blind, and we took advantage. Two of the fallen birds were banded, one a leg band the other a neck band, a rare thing for snows. Our call into the U.S. Fish and Wildlife to report the numbers on the tags will help wildfowl biologists track migration patterns and contribute to sound management practices.
Our morning was over, and we did quite nicely, but our day afield was not. In a effort to take advantage of a full day off, we headed to a tributary off the Wye River after lunch to try to shoot a few ducks. A group of eight ruddy ducks came close enough to shoot, but we took a pass. We agreed to take only black ducks and mallards, which I had seen in decent numbers on an earlier scouting trip.
Of course if a pintail or wigeon came into range, our parameters would change. It was some time before another bunch came, but they were five black ducks, so the wait was worth it. They looked hard at our spread of cork decoys, their wings cupped to hold in the air currents. Then they soared just barely out of range, and as if tipped off by an informant, beat wings up creek to protected waters. Foiled again.
Reality is that, from what I've heard, some waterfowlers have had hit or miss success, but the weather isn't right yet for consistent and quality duck hunting. It looked as if our afternoon might end up without a bird, but then a drake mallard came busting around the corner. Several reports from shotguns could be heard upcreek, so he was looking for some refuge. Bad choice. Kevin was ready for him, and with a single shot, it was over. So was our day.
Taking some birds to enjoy over the winter holidays was a splendid bonus. But then any time spent in Chesapeake country is as good as it gets.
Jan. 2-4Chesapeake Sportfishing Show, starts Fri. at 6pm, Sat. and Sun. at 10am @ the National Guard Armory and Broadneck Sports Complex, Annapolis. $5 w/under 14 free: 410/841-6974
Jan. 15-18Bass Expo, Saltwater Fishing and Fly Fishing Show. Seminars, hundreds of dealers, vendors, and boats @ Maryland State Fairgrounds, Timonium: 410/838-8687.
To make 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.
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