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Blair Garrett

Celebrations of milestones seem few and far between these days. As life hopefully returns back to normal in the coming months, there is plenty of reason to be optimistic.

Inspirations for an exciting and love-filled future are all around us, and you can look no further than the Stottlemyer family in Foxville, Maryland.

Otha (June) Stottlemyer and Isabel Stottlemyer are celebrating their 75th wedding anniversary on April 20, marking an achievement of which most couples can only dream.

June, 92, and Isabel, 90, have spent a tremendous share of their lives together. The two met through mutual friends at 18 and 16, and have been inseparable ever since.

They’ve been together through multiple international wars, the landing on the moon, and 14 United States Presidents. The United States was a vastly different place before the pair got married in 1946.

Before the Stottlemyers tied the knot, the world was without the internet, jukeboxes, mobile phones, and the Queen of England was a bachelorette and still a princess. The United States and Europe had just started recovering from the fallout of World War II, and the world’s first computer had just been built. Times were different and were rapidly changing.

The world was not the modern world we know now, and all of that time, growth, and development together has served to strengthen their marriage. 

The Stottlemyers’ love has stood the test of time, and 75 years is a truly rare feat. The lineage following the couple is an impressive one, making the Cheaper by the Dozen movie family look like underachievers.

June and Isabel had 5 children, 13 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren, and 17 great-great-grandchildren.

Spending nearly their entire lives in Foxville, the couple has kept their family close. In addition to navigating the highs and lows of marriage, the Stottlemyers were integral in raising and providing for their four generations of offspring. Nearly all of their family lived within walking distance, and they saw each other almost every day.

Needless to say, family is very important to them, from providing for them to loving and supporting them.

June retired from Moore’s Business Forms in 1990, and Isabel was a homemaker and a caregiver, having a close helping hand in the upbringing of their grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and more.

The Stottlemyers have unlocked the secret to a long and successful marriage, and they’ve managed to pass that on to their children. Their three daughters, Linda, Patsy, and Laura, have been married for a combined 147 years, showing that their parents’ love is no fluke.

The key for them seems to be a tight-knit family, as their 58 offspring only seem to have brought them closer.

Although parties are still on hold for the time being, a big community congratulations is in order for the Stottlemyers as they set their sights on the next milestone—100 years!

So, “Happy Anniversary” to June and Isabel, on this remarkable achievement of 75 years together! Here’s to 25 more.

Pictured are: (back row) Patsy Harne, Ronald Stottlemyer, Linda Stitely, Laura Wallace; (front row) Otha (June) Stottlemyer and Isabel Stottlemyer. Not pictured: son, John Stottlemyer.

Deb Abraham Spalding

The Thurmont Feed Store has closed.  This Catoctin Community legacy has come to an end.

The economy has made operating a small business more expensive to operate and that is forcing a higher price at the smaller shops in comparison to the national chains. This fact, paired with the owner’s desire to close, led to its end.

In its final days of business, Mary Royce, Joe Wormley, and  Jacob Carbaugh worked until the doors closed on Saturday, March 20, 2021, the business’ final day.

A group of local farmers organized the Thurmont Cooperative, Inc. in 1935 to meet the needs of the Catoctin area’s farmers and community. They came together to proudly provide agricultural feed, seed, supplies, and delivery in the Catoctin area.

Multi-generations of customers, employees, and farmers patronized, served, and volunteered at the Thurmont Co-op. For example, four generations of the Myers Family served on the Thurmont Cooperative’s Board of Directors since it was founded.  They were Henry Myers, Charles F. Myers, C. Rodman Myers, and Robert Myers. Rodman Myers remarked, “After the Great Depression in the early 1930s, it was an extraordinary accomplishment for area farmers to buy stock forming the Thurmont Cooperative, Inc. After being sold to Hoke Mills, Inc., a cash distribution was made to all Thurmont Cooperative stockholders.”

While families in the Catoctin area’s agriculture community have been a long-standing part of the co-op’s operation, the business served local residents for pet food, grass seed, fertilizer, bird seed, and other supplies. The Thurmont Co-op provided the Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show’s Grand Champion Pet Show winner with a gift certificate, and pet show exhibitors received bags of donated pet food.

In 2007, the Thurmont Cooperative’s board of directors held a stockholder’s meeting, where the board of directors recommended—and the stockholders voted in favor—to sell the Thurmont Cooperative to Hoke Mills, Inc. The Hoke Mills family had been working in the grain and animal feed business for many years with an Abbottstown, Pennsylvania, mill purchased in 1946 and a York, Pennsylvania, mill purchased in 1988. Hoke Mills had been a feed mix supplier to the co-op after a January 2006 fire that destroyed the Thurmont Cooperative’s milling facility.

When Hoke Mills opened the former Thurmont Cooperative as the Thurmont Feed Store, Ronald Hoke of Hoke Mills renovated the former store into a larger and more customer-friendly store with a showroom and a permanent office area. The product base was expanded to include many types of pet foods and new popular feed mixes.

Several long-time co-op employees stayed through the ownership transition including Mary Ann (Harbaugh) Sharer (who passed away in 2018), Joe Wormley, and Co-op Manager Jerry Lillich.  Then-manager Lillich said, “Not one day of service was interrupted in the transition.”

Former co-op/feed store managers included D.S. Weybright, Ralph Zimmerman, Dennis Trout, Eddie Horman, Kevin Donnelly, and Jerry Lillich.

Mary Ann Sharer and Joe Wormley each worked at the co-op/feed store for over 50 years. Sharer was loved by all as she worked as the cashier and managed the office. Wormley started working at the co-op as a young man. He felt it was a good change from the work he was doing at the nearby shoe factory. For several years, he ran the co-op’s bulk feed truck, delivering to farms. After the transition in ownership, he still delivered the product to customers, but the distance was shorter and on foot to the dock.

It was good work for Wormley. He liked it. He liked the customers and his co-workers. He fondly recalls his time spent with co-workers, John Ogle, Bill Smith, Clarence Harbaugh, Calvin Burrier, Sam Andrews, Bill Eyler, and Larry Smith, as well as farmers, Rodman Myers, Dallas McNair, and Mehrle Ramsburg Jr., and many, many other wonderful people.

Wormley  said, “It’s been an honor to serve some good people. I got to be friends with a lot of them.”

“We don’t really want to see it go. We really enjoy the customers. We are family,” Royce said the week before the store’s closing.

A legacy agriculture business, which was a big part of our community, is forever part of the Catoctin area’s history.   

Thurmont Feed Store employees pictured one week before closing: (from left) Mary Royce, Joe Wormley, and Jacob Carbaugh.

Cover Photo by Deb Abraham Spalding

Courtesy Photos

Thurmont Cooperative’s 1940 Board of Directors

Pictured from left are Charles F. Myers, Mehrle Ramsburg, Sr., Vernon Fisher, Ben Rosenstock—Attorney, Charlie Bollinger, Ernest Shriver, D. S. (Daniel Sayler) Weybright, Elizabeth Weddle—Secretary, Russell Fisher, John Baumgardner, Lloyd Wilhide, and Charlie Lewis.

Thurmont Cooperative’s 1978 Staff

Pictured: (Left, top to bottom) Mary Ann Sharrer, Ralph Zimmerman-Manager, David Harbaugh, and Clarence Harbaugh; (Right side, top to bottom) Judy Dewees, Ruth Ann Green, Bill Smith , Joe Wormley, and Calvin Burrier.

Thurmont Cooperative’s 1990 Co-op Board of Directors

Pictured from left are: (back row) Richard Calimer, Rodman Myers, Jeff Wivell, Joe Topper, Curtis Baughman, Henry Barton, Jerry Lillich—Manager; (front row) Paul Baumgardner, Joe Wivell, Mary Ann Sharer, Bobby Black, and Dennis Mathias.

Thurmont Cooperative’s 1971 Board of Directors

Pictured from left are: (bottom row) Dallas McNair, Alvie Weller, Harry Black, Robert Ogle, and Raymond Keilholtz; (top row) Ross Stull, Lester Bittner, Rodman Myers, Mehrle Ramsburg Jr., and Ralph Zimmerman (manager).

Blair Garrett

Mount St. Mary’s men’s basketball is escorted through Emmitsburg after their NEC Championship win against Wagner College.

Men’s Basketball

It’s been a remarkable turnaround for Mount St. Mary’s men’s basketball.

The Mount defeated Bryant University March 9 in a close game to grab its sixth Northeast Conference (NEC) Championship. The now-reigning NEC Champions have proven that this program has come a long way since major personnel changes were made back in 2018.

Two seasons ago when head coach Dan Engelstad took over a struggling program, there were a lot of questions for a young coach on how long things might take to get going.

Engelstad’s lineup was the youngest in the nation, entirely made up of underclassmen. That young coach grew with his young team, and now the Mount is a threatening squad for any Division I opponent, and they have continued to prove that throughout this season.

The Mount’s NEC title secured their bid to compete in the NCAA Tournament, where they battled Texas Southern University in a play-in game to compete against tournament No. 1 seed, University of Michigan.

With March Madness, crazy upsets, wild finishes, and unforeseeable dramatics are almost expected. To maintain consistency among the top teams in the country is no easy feat.

Mount St. Mary’s just missed out on the opportunity to take a run at the National Title, falling to Texas Southern in a razor-close finish, 52-60.

The game capped off an abridged, disjointed year where cancellations and postponed games became the norm. Battling through all of the quarantines and difficulties that poses for practices, the Mount still had a lot of positives to take away from this season. 

This was the Mount’s sixth appearance in the NCAA tournament, and the first under Engelstad.

Winning the NEC Championship alone makes this season a historic one for Mount St. Mary’s basketball, as they captured their sixth Championship.

Emmitsburg got to briefly celebrate with the Mount on the team’s way home from the NEC Championship game, escorted by Vigilant Hose Co. fire trucks and cheering fans. 

The season may have ended earlier than the team would have liked, but there’s plenty to look forward to for next season. The team has just one senior, giving Mount basketball fans high hopes for another NEC Championship run come next season.  

Women’s Basketball

This season for Mount St. Mary’s women’s basketball has been one for the ages.

Following the team’s stellar regular season was a dominant NEC tournament, where they defeated fourth seed Farleigh Dickson and second seed Wagner College for their fourth NEC Championship in team history.

The championship win over Wagner was particularly sweet, absolutely dismantling a team who had defeated them twice the week prior.

Mount St. Mary’s 70-38 victory over Wagner was the largest margin of victory in an NEC Championship game since 2013, proving that the Mount has put in the work over an arduous 2020-21 season.

The Mount’s balanced attack saw four different players break double-digit scoring, and the team’s suffocating defense held Wagner to just 12 points over the final two quarters. Aryna Taylor and Rebecca Lee led the charge, scoring 18 points each in the victory.

It doesn’t stop there for Mount St. Mary’s, though. This NEC Title is a special one, as it clinches the team’s first ticket to the NCAA Tournament in 26 years.

The team’s last run at a national title was back in 1995, when they took on Alabama, falling in the first round.

A win this postseason would have been a university first. The team faced stiff competition in an intrastate, best-of-the-best game against tournament No. 2 seed University of Maryland.

Mount St. Mary’s fell 45-98 in the first round, but it’s been a season to remember. The team has seized its opportunity for NEC glory in 2021, following last season’s NEC Semifinals cancellation due to COVID-19.

Both Mount squads enter next season as defending NEC Champs for the first time since 1995.

Jim Kennedy

Trustee, Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock, Maryland Chapter

In the coming months and years, the gateway to the mountains – the term from which Thurmont derives its name – along Maryland Route 77 will be changing, even if ever so slightly, in response to two opportunities that have recently arisen. These opportunities are the planned removal of the dam that forms Frank Bentz Pond on the western edge of Thurmont; and a planned comprehensive review and update of the recreation trail network in Catoctin Mountain National Park.

The Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock (BOJC), an 80-year-old organization focused on teaching young people about conservation through the sport of fly fishing, was born along the banks of Big Hunting Creek in 1938. BOJC has a vision for shaping these changes in such a way as to expose young people to fishing and conservation while also linking downtown Thurmont to the state and federal parks that comprise the watershed of Big Hunting Creek. The public is now invited to give input.

Not only is Big Hunting Creek a waterway integral to Thurmont’s history and present recreational opportunities, but it is also a place central to the evolution of the modern sport of fly fishing and central to the catch-and-release ethic that is integral to all sport fishing.

Flash back to the earliest days of Thurmont in the late 1700s. The original name of the community was Mechanicstown, which reflected this place where the mechanized devices related to the production of iron were manufactured and maintained.  The town’s industries were reliant on the production of charcoal in places like Foxville and other heavily-wooded communities. Charcoal produced in the woodlands was used to fire the iron furnace that is now showcased in the Catoctin Furnace area of Cunningham Falls State Park.

As the old-growth forests of the Catoctin Ridge were depleted, and in the aftermath of the War of 1812, ironworks in the United States were consolidated in the territories west of the Appalachian Front where both iron ore and coal were plentiful. Wheeling, West Virginia, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, grew, as places like Mechanicstown declined.

In late 1893, after a community debate, the name Mechanicstown was changed to Thurmont, meaning, ‘gateway to the mountains.’

This was in keeping with the times as a shift took attention away from the exploitation of timber and ore to the use of the mountain vistas and recreational opportunities. That is to say, the vision of Thurmont shifted towards conservation as a means of increasing economic activity.

In recent months, the decisions to remove the dam and plan for a better trail system will allow Thurmont to continue this natural progression of capitalizing on the enjoyment of the natural world to spark economic activity.

Though coincidental, the geography of these projects has the potential to allow for a relatively simple development that could help turn Thurmont into more of a fly fishing destination than it already is and could reinforce the rich history of fly fishing started here. Big Hunting Creek and the Blue Ridge in Maryland and Virginia were the locations from which the modern sport of fly fishing evolved. The State of Maryland Fisheries and the BOJC were the fundamental in developing the catch and release sport and the culture of fly fishing. BOJC even has a fly fishing creed.

Whether an angler is fishing for sailfish off the coast of Central America, bonefish in the Indian Ocean, or trout in Big Hunting Creek, the sport’s heritage is rooted in the Catskill Mountains of New York State, the limestone basin of South Central Pennsylvania, and the Catoctin and Blue Ridge Mountains of Maryland and Virginia.

Without getting into the weeds of fly fishing history, it suffices to say Big Hunting Creek and the Blue Ridge streams of Virginia were good places to fish, and, owing to their proximity to Washington, D.C., regularly fished by U.S. presidents.

But, most significantly to the sport of fly fishing, Thurmont, the Federal park at Catoctin, and the BOJC share a common thread dating to the 1930s and the establishment of Catoctin Mountain National Park. The same people who established the BOJC were involved with planning for the national and state parks. Moreover, BOJC founders, most notably Joe Brooks, were responsible for the expansion of fly fishing beyond the pursuit of trout in mountain streams to gamefish in all environs.

Brooks and his friend Frank Bentz, Sr., were also responsible for establishing a means of passing conservation ethics on to new generations through the sport of fly fishing, through the BOJC. Though Brooks had no children, Bentz’s son, Frank Jr., was a BOJC member for the duration of his life. Frank III is an officer in the Brotherhood and Frank Sr.’s great-grandchildren are members, along with well in excess of 500 other active Brotherhood members across the U.S. in chapters in Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, Ohio, and Michigan.

Though it was very much an honor for the pond to the west of Thurmont to be named in honor of Frank Bentz Sr., the fishing opportunity afforded at the pond is less than ideal. With the removal of the dam, however, there’s an opportunity to establish a youth-only, fly-fishing-only area. This would be an international first, which is only fitting. Big Hunting Creek itself, in the era of the establishment of Catoctin Mountain National Park, was among the first fly-only fish-for-fun (catch and release) streams in the country.

Prior to the 1930s, the sport of fishing presumed all fish, except those too small to eat, would be kept for eating. Beginning in the post-Civil War era of the late 1800s, population growth and the catch-and-keep ethic tended to result in the depletion of natural gamefish populations. A conservation movement arose. The movement achieved a high level of public attention under the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt.

With regard to fisheries management, there were differing schools of thought, with one component focusing on efforts to protect wild populations and another favoring supplemental stocking of hatchery-farmed fish. The latter won out and prevailed well into the 1900s and persisting today, but the latter did not vanish. Indeed, the protection and management of self-sustaining wild fisheries is an increasingly preferred option for fisheries managers and anglers alike.

When Catoctin Mountain National Park was in its formative stages as the Catoctin Recreational Demonstration Area in 1939, Big Hunting Creek was designated as a fly-fishing-only area. Fly fishing goes hand-in-hand with the catch-and-release ethic of wild fisheries management because fish that are hooked in the mouth will immediately spit an artificial fly if not hooked when they first strike. When bait is used, fish will generally swallow the morsel of bait containing a hook, typically resulting in fatal injuries. Thus, a fish caught on a fly can be released and reasonably expected to survive, grow, propagate the species, and even be caught again, providing multiple recreational opportunities. Modern research has established that fly-fishing catch-and-release is a solid management technique for maintaining a viable self-sustaining recreational fishery.

In the years prior to the 1939 establishment of the Catoctin Recreational Demonstration Area, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania had established a fly-only limited kill section along Spring Creek near Pennsylvania State University. The location was known as “Fisherman’s Paradise.” Fisherman’s Paradise had become a legendary fishing destination by 1939, and some of those enlisted to help plan for the new Catoctin Recreational Demonstration Area proposed making Big Hunting Creek a Maryland version of Fisherman’s Paradise.

Among the existing tributes to this period already along the banks of Big Hunting Creek is a monument to Joe Brooks. It is on Cunningham Falls State Park property, across Md. Route 77 from the National Park’s visitors’ center.

Owing to their proximity to Washington, D.C., the Catoctin Mountains had been a destination for U.S. presidents who enjoyed the sport of fly fishing, among them Grover Cleveland, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was under Roosevelt that the Catoctin Recreation Demonstration Area became a federal installation, and one of its installations, Camp Hi-Catoctin, became an informal presidential retreat. Hi-Catoctin would, under another avid fly angler, Dwight D. Eisenhower, become the official presidential retreat known as Camp David (after his grandson). Subsequently, Jimmy Carter also fly fished in Big Hunting Creek.

This rich history will continue to be coveted and shared through BOJC volunteers, students, and anglers in general for generations. With your input, we can create a plan that unites all who are interested in the changes forth-coming while ensuring that the plan has a functional user-appeal coupled with an environmentally careful implementation.

Catoctin Mountain Park Comprehensive Trail

  Plan Public Scoping Meeting Follow-up!

Thank you for those who joined the National Park Service (NPS) on March 10, 2021, for a public scoping meeting regarding the development of a Comprehensive Trail System Plan/Environmental Assessment for Catoctin Mountain Park.

The meeting featured a definition of scope and purpose of a project to provide comprehensive guidance for enhancing the Park’s trail system and visitor experience throughout the park in a manner that is sympathetic with the natural and cultural surroundings and balances resource protection with intended trail uses and long-term management.

The plan is explained in detail on the NPS planning website at

This is the internet location where your input can be submitted through April 10, 2021. Public participation is vital to the planning process. If you prefer to mail your comments, make sure they are postmarked by April 10, 2021, to receive consideration. Mail comments to: Superintendent, Attn: CATO Comprehensive Trail Plan, 6602 Foxville Road, Thurmont, MD 21788, or email

The final plan will provide park managers with a framework by which they can manage and maintain existing trails; close/realign existing trails when needed; add new trails and access points where appropriate; and, where feasible, create trails that are universally accessible to meet the Architectural Barriers Act Accessibility Standards.

Follow directions above to submit comment specifically about Catoctin Mountain National Park trail plan. Follow the directions that follow to submit comment specifically about a fly-fishing trail after the Frank Bentz Pond and dam are removed. Please email, and we will forward the comments to the State of Maryland, the Town of Thurmont, and the BOJC. Thanks so much for helping shape the Gateway to the Mountains trail system to make it user-friendly, environmentally friendly, and connectively smart.

The dam at Frank Bentz Pond

This article contains a portion of a collaborative project about the Zentz Farm written by Viola (Zentz) Noffsinger, Joan Fry, and Jane Jacobs

  It is the intent of the authors that this project be available for reference in the future at the Thurmont Regional Library and/or Thurmont Historical Society.

Mr. Albert Luther Zentz lived his entire life on the Zentz Farm located at the corner of Carroll Street and Apple’s Church Road in Thurmont. He was born there on March 3, 1914, the third son of W.L.H. ‘Herb’ Zentz (1869-1949) and Florence Daisy (Smith) Zentz (1872-1966). His parents had purchased the Carroll Street farm property in 1897 and moved there from the family homestead of Albert’s grandfather, Abraham S. Zentz (1828-1898) in a little village affectionately called Zentztown just a few miles north of town towards Emmitsburg.

The original dwelling on the property was a small one built of logs, but Herb built on and enlarged it into a comfortable, impressive two-story farm dwelling. In 1922, a big wrap-around porch was added to the front and side of the house. A lot of family time was spent on that porch. When Beulah Zentz’s flowers, planted in bins made of recycled tanks, bloomed every spring, it became a “landmark.” The large farmhouse would eventually be home to three generations of Zentzes who lived and worked together there for many years.

Herb added property from time-to-time and increased his holdings to cultivate “prime property” that was soon taken into the Town of Thurmont’s limits. He was an innovative and prosperous businessman and a great role model for Albert. He was also a very successful horse breeder and raised large draft horses which were highly prized animals in the days before tractors were commonplace. He is credited with raising at least 12 of them.

He built the bank barn along with multiple outbuildings on his land which still stand today.

Albert took over the family farm in 1934 at age 20, and in February 1936, he married “his great love,” Beulah (Spangler) Zentz. Together, they worked tirelessly to continue the successful farming operation, and build several other small enterprises. Albert and Beulah’s children were Doris, Viola, Mary Ellen, and Wendell. They learned about good work habits, the importance of caring for their property and one another, being good neighbors that look out for each other, and practicing their faith.

Albert and Beulah were industrious visionaries and entrepreneurs who continued the practice of buying parcels of surrounding property when it became available. They would make improvements to some of the lots before reselling, or just resell them if there was an immediate opportunity to accomplish the goal Albert had set to discourage the young people from leaving the area in pursuit of jobs. This foresight and diligence brought new businesses, housing, and jobs to the Thurmont community. The couple provided the land for the Thurmont Shoe Company, Claire Frock Company, Moore Business Forms, NVR Building Company and Homes, and Albert Court Condominiums.

They also supported their community with generous donations of time and money to local organizations. They provided jobs to young people and welcomed school classes to visit the farm to observe a working farm from the 1940s through the 1990s. They operated Sunrise Cafeteria Restaurant that was located in a building they built on the land that sits between the railroad tracks and today’s RR Donnelly.

Albert was happy with his life as a farmer. He was 89 years old, and had been happily married to Beulah for 67 years, when he died in 2003. Beulah lived on in her home for 82 years until late 2018 when she moved to an assisted-living facility in Frederick. She was “Thurmont’s oldest citizen” when she passed away on June 23, 2019, at the age of 103. The Zentz Farm was sold in December 2020.

There are eight buildings, some with unusual added features, on the Zentz Farm property. Most have hand-hewn logs showing, many with bark still attached. Four of them are multi-functional under one roof; several of them have lofts with nice stairways. One building has a homemade ‘skylight’ in the roof that brings light into an area with no windows; another, a small, heart-shaped porthole for light and ventilation.

If you look closely, you will also see that most buildings have a ‘strip of large nails’ close to the doorways just waiting for all the everyday accessories that need to be hung up like ropes, harnesses, chains, belts, hangers, aprons, coats, tools, etc. Following are some descriptions of farms and the Zentz Farm in particular.


A barn is an agricultural building used to house livestock, cattle, and horses, as well as equipment and fodder, and often grain. In addition, barns were used for equipment storage, as a covered workplace, and for activities such as threshing. On the Zentz Farm, there were two special resident horses, Maude and Jerrybell. Herb bred horses.

There were two barns. The upper barn had two haylofts. There was a hay fork on a runner on the top arch for unloading hay, a winnowing machine, and granary bins. Hobos, sometimes called tramps, often slept in the lofts. They would ride the trains, stop off at the railroad station, then do odd jobs or just ask for food.

Lower Barn/Stable, Corn Crib, Wagon Shed

On the Zentz Farm, the lower barn had calf pens and stanchions for eight animals. There was a pen for the bull and room for two horses. The middle area was a feeding entry for hay, grain, pumpkins, and other produce. A corn crib is a type of granary used to dry and store corn. Corn cribs were made with slats to provide ventilation for drying the corn. The corn crib on the Zentz Farm was located next to the barn where a wagon could be filled with corn and easily moved to stanchions for feeding the animals and where the corn could also be kept out of the weather. The wagon shed housed wagons and other farm implements.

Milk House

A milk house is a building for the cooling, handling, or bottling of milk. On the Zentz Farm, cows were milked by hand. The raw milk was carried from the barn to the milk house where it was strained and put into a 5-gallon milk can. The can was then placed in a tank of water to be cooled. This was an early means of refrigeration before electricity. On the Zentz Farm, they made regular milk, skim milk, butter, and buttermilk to use and sell. Any unused milk was fed to the hogs.

Spring House

A spring house is a small building, usually of a single room, constructed over a spring. While the original purpose of a springhouse was to keep the spring water clean by excluding fallen leaves, animals, etc., the Zentz’ was part of the summer kitchen building and was constructed of stone. It was used for refrigeration before the advent of ice delivery and, later, electric refrigeration. The water of the spring maintained a constant cool temperature inside the spring house throughout the year. Food that would otherwise spoil could be kept there, safe from animal depredations as well. Some spring houses had goldfish in their spring, a delight for young children to visit. The Zentz family acquired an icebox in the 1950s.

Hog Pen

The family hog pen was a small-scale system of pig farming found on family farms of the early 1900s. Family hog pens housed just a few hogs. Before refrigeration, some family farms depended on pigs as a primary source of meat and shortening (lard) for year-round food. On the Zentz Farm, the hog pen consisted of four areas. One area for the new mother sow with a “creep” for piglets to be moved away so the mother sow wouldn’t lie on them. These piglets could journey to the roadway beside the Zentz Farm where many visitors came. There could be 9-16 piglets in a litter. Pigs used for butchering could range from 200 to 600 pounds. There was a loft above the pig’s area for their dry feed and other necessary items like onions, ropes, chains, and special boards.

Summer Kitchen and Loft

In the early 1900s, it was common to have a small building that was detached from the house called a “summer kitchen.” Its main purpose was to keep the house cool during the hot summer months. They were used for cooking, bathing, and laundry. In a summer kitchen, there was usually a large cookstove with an oven and a large table for workspace and eating. Other uses of the summer kitchen were for canning and preserving garden produce as well as cleaning, repairing, and making curtains, weaving, and other hobbies. Summer kitchens often had a fireplace where water was heated for the weekly wash and could also be used at butchering time. The Zentz Farm summer kitchen was quite large. It was made of whitewashed stone.

As air conditioning and outdoor grills became popular and affordable, the need for the summer kitchen was lost.

Bath House

The bath house on the Zentz Farm was a small room attached to the summer kitchen. It was used for taking showers and washing clothes. There was no shower head but rather a piece of hose that carried only cold water that was a welcome relief after chores on hot summer days. 

Chicken Coop

A chicken coop or hen house is a small house where, typically, female chickens or other fowl are kept safe and secure. There are nest boxes found inside the hen houses for egg-laying, and perches on which the birds can sleep. Viola reports gathering eggs and finding her hand on a small possum in the nest. The Zentzes would raise 200 or more peeps at a time until they were the right size for frying or being taken to market.

A chicken coop usually has an indoor area where the chickens can sleep and nest, as well as a fenced-in outdoor area where chickens will feed and spend the majority of the day. This area is typically made from chicken wire. The coop should be cleaned every two weeks, and the straw shifted every day, similar to a litter box. At night, the coop should be locked with all the birds inside so that they are protected from predators. Both the inside and outdoor floors of a chicken coop are often strewn with a loose material such as straw or wood chips to deal with chicken droppings and to provide ventilation.

Little Chicken House

In this chicken house, there were brooders for peeps who stayed until butchering size or time to make room for more peeps. Cleaning the chicken houses was another job suited for the kids. Coops had to be cleaned regularly for the health of the peeps and chickens and for good egg production. Watering and feeding had to be done daily. 

Big Chicken House and Grinding Shed

The big chicken house on the Zentz Farm was used for housing mature chickens. It had a sleeping loft and a grinding shed which housed a large machine with belts with teeth to grind corn and grain for the farm animals.

Blacksmith Shop

The blacksmith shop was a very important area for making and storing tools. Horseshoes were made to fit the draft horses’ hooves by heating the iron until it could be bent to the right size. This was done on an anvil that was close to the hearth so the iron could be rushed to the heat or cooled in a bucket of cold water. There were many washers, wrenches, nails, hammers, and other tools in the blacksmith shop.


A smokehouse was used to preserve meat by smoking it. A fire was kept going with special wood; apple, hickory, etc. The smoke permeated the meat until the proper taste and preservation were achieved. This process took many days. Hams and bacon were expertly done in the smokehouse for bragging rights when tasted by the farmer’s family and friends.

Wood Shed

The Zentz Farm property had a mountain wood lot which produced an abundant supply of trees to be cut and used for heating, fencing, and building. After trees were cut, they were dragged to the farm and sawed either for fence posts, firewood, or lumber. Firewood was carried and stacked close to the kitchen and summer kitchen by the children. This was a never-ending job in cold weather when wood was used for heating and cooking.


Butchering usually took place near Thanksgiving with helpful neighbors (about 30). Four to six hogs were killed early in the morning, scalded, scraped, cut into the appropriate pieces, and cooled on long tables. Sausage was stuffed, pudding and scrapple were cooked, and lard was rendered. In the meantime, a butchering dinner was being provided in the farmhouse. Everyone who helped ate at the table—usually in three shifts.

Grape Arbor

The grape arbor was a necessity for grapes to make jelly, preserves, pies, and maybe even wine. The Zentz Farm had a blue grapevine (Concord) and a white grapevine.


The silo on the Zentz Farm connected to the barn and was usually filled with ensilage (fermented corn). The silo was later used to store leaves for bedding for the animals. The ensilage was blown into the top of the silo and doors were closed to keep it in. In order to get it out, you had to climb a ladder and crawl in through the door to throw it out. 


An outhouse is a small enclosed structure having one or two holes in a seat built over a pit that serves as an outdoor toilet. The outhouse on the Zentz Farm was visited by all family members several times a day until the town of Thurmont brought the sewer system under the railroad tracks and down along the street to the Zentz’ property. Usually, two or three outhouses would show up on the square of Thurmont on Halloween night.

The Zentz Family Activities

Some activities for the Zentz Family included participating in church groups, 4-H, and FFA, swimming in a creek two miles away, and sledding down the barn hill in winter.

Mr. Zentz often took children on hayrides and caroling rides at Christmas. Other activities were mowing the lawn, working in the garden, and walking to school. There was no television and only one radio.

Photos by James Rada, Jr.

Viola (Zentz) Noffsinger is shown in the hog pens of her former family farm in Thurmont.

The back of the Zentz Farmhouse.

The outhouse, which was used before the farm got indoor plumbing.

The old gate post that held three farm gates still stands across Apple’s Church Road from the farm.

The lower barn on the Zentz Farm included a corn crib, wagon shed, and stables.

To commemorate the bicentennial of Elizabeth Ann Seton’s death, the Sisters of Charity of New York have donated artifacts of their Elizabeth Ann Seton to the Seton Shrine in Emmitsburg.

Sr. Donna Dodge, president of the Sisters of Charity of New York, said in a press release about the donation, “These treasures have always had a great significance for us. It is with great joy that we send them on a new mission where more people can appreciate them and draw closer to Mother Seton.”

The artifacts were unveiled and blessed during an event at the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton in March. The items will be featured in a special exhibit this summer.

“Our mission, of course, is to promote the life and the legacy of Elizabeth Ann Seton as a source of inspiration and as a source of hope,” said Rob Judge, executive director of the shrine, in a press release. “These artifacts are a tremendous contribution to our ability to tell her story and cover the themes that were important to her in her life and make her relevant today as an example, as an intercessor and a friend from heaven.”

The artifacts include:

Hand-painted wedding porcelain miniatures of Elizabeth Ann Seton and husband, William Magee Seton;

A gold-filigree Seton family brooch worn by Seton on her wedding day;

Seton’s portable writing desk;

The christening gown Seton sewed for her daughter, Catherine;

Seton’s rosary and crucifix;

A tea chest with inlaid decoration that belonged to Seton’s father, Dr. Richard Bayley; and

Seton’s cap, shaw, and belt.

Judge said the artifacts will help tell Seton’s story and her struggles and help people relate to her. “The more she’s relatable, the more she becomes an example, an inspiration, and a friend in heaven for those who visit the shrine or participate in our print and online programs. Mother Seton endured many of the challenges we are enduring in 2021, and therefore provides hope for our nation and the world.”

The shrine’s basilica was dedicated in 1965, and Seton was canonized as America’s first native-born saint in 1975. Her remains were then transferred from the cemetery to the basilica. Pope John Paul II designated it a Minor Basilica in 1991.

The christening gown Seton sewed for her daughter, Catherine

Seton’s rosary and crucifix.

by James Rada, Jr.


Town Gets Partial Grant Funding for Infrastructure Projects

The Town of Emmitsburg received some help with its water and sewer infrastructure projects that will cost more than $5 million.

The water clarifier for the Crystal Fountain Road Water Plant will help treat and improve the raw water quality flowing into the plant. The project costs $1.4 million, but Sen. Hough helped the town get a $1 million grant from the state to pay the majority of costs. The town is responsible for the remaining $400,000. The project is expected to be complete in July 2022.

The Creamery Road Pump Station replacement will cost $3.7 million. The USDA provided the town with an $833,000 grant and $1,987,000 loan, leaving $807,000 for the town to fund. The project is expected to break ground at the end of the year.

The North Seton Avenue and DePaul Street waterline replacement is in the preliminary engineering stage, which will cost the town about $25,000.

Commissioners Make Budget Transfers

Emmitsburg’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget audit confirmed the town had a $180,174 excess in the general fund. In March, the Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners allocated the excess to FY21 general and capital projects. These included projects for stormwater management, town pool, ball fields, the dog park, and COVID-19-related expenses.

Town Recognizes Long-time Employees

The Town of Emmitsburg recently recognized several town employees for their many years of service. The following employees received certificates of appreciation for their service: Dan Fissel, Water/Sewer Superintendent (25 years); Chris Wantz, Public Works (20 years); Amy Naill, Parking/Code Enforcement (15 years); and Steve Fissel, Maintenance (15 years).

The Emmitsburg commissioners also issued a proclamation honoring Keith Suerdieck for his service on various town committees for the past 10 years.

Commission Appointments

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners appointed Glenn Blanchard to the town planning commission for a five-year term and Deborah Hobbs to the ethics commission. The commissioners also reappointed Carolyn and Martin Miller to the parks and recreation committee for two-year terms.

Pavilion Contracts Approved

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved the construction of two picnic pavilions in Community Park, one of which will be ADA-compliant. Green Sites in Elkridge won the project with a $40,507 bid that includes steel pavilions and connecting sidewalks. The pavilions are expected to be completed by mid-May. Program Open Space funds will pay for 75 percent of the project, and the town will pay the remaining 25 percent.

M.I. Tech Construction in Frederick won a contract to renovate the Community Park bandstand for $22,270. This project will not only renovate the bandstand, but will add LED lighting to the structure. Program Open Space funds will pay $11,250 of the project, with the town paying the rest.


Town Could Get $5.8 Million from Federal COVID Relief

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners were recently informed that the Town of Thurmont could receive around $5.8 million in federal funds from the $1.9 trillion COVID-relief bill that President Biden signed into law. Mayor John Kinnaird called it “an astounding sum of money” for the town. It can be used to offset the negative economic impact from COVID; pay essential workers premium pay; or cover revenue losses from water, sewer, or broadband infrastructure. The commissioners will be discussing what to do with the funds as the amounts and rules governing their use are made known.

Mowing Contract Approved

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved a new two-year contract with Mountain View Lawn Services in Rocky Ridge to mow and maintain 75 acres of town-owned property throughout Thurmont. The contract is for $73,859 each year, with a one-year extension if the commissioners want it. This represents a 2.9 percent increase over the current contract with Mountain View.

Road Paving Project Approved

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners accepted a bid to repave Apples Church Road from East Main Street to the railroad tracks, Mountain Road, and North Altamont Avenue from West Main Street to the railroad tracks. The work includes milling, curb replacements, asphalt resurfacing, striping, and some patching on Gateway Drive West. Pleasant’s Construction of Frederick won the contract with a bid of $190,367.

Stream Cleanup at Community Park

The Thurmont Parks and Recreation Commission is hosting a stream cleanup at Thurmont Community Park on April 10 at 1:00 p.m. Gloves and bags will be provided. Wear a face covering. For more information, contact Amie McDaniels at

Community Shred Event

The Thurmont Police Department and Woodsboro Bank are sponsoring a community residential shred event at the police station at 800 East Main Street in Thurmont. The event will be held on Apr. 24 from 8 a.m. to noon. You can shred up to five boxes of office paper, paper clips, staples, rubber bands, folders, and labels. Bring a non-perishable food item for each box. The food will go to the Thurmont Food Bank.


Mayor Don Briggs

Congratulations to Mount St. Mary’s University and its women’s and men’s basketball teams on winning bids to NCAA tournaments. They came after decisive wins in their respective NEC championship games. The women’s tournament field includes 31 teams and runs from March 21 through April 4. The tournament will be held in San Antonio, Texas. The men’s 67-team field tournaments will be held in Indianapolis, Indiana, from March 18 through April 5. GO MOUNT! Bring it on.

The American Rescue Plan, AKA the Covid Relief Bill, will include funds for the town. Our first priority is creating working opportunities through water and sewer infrastructure projects. In addition to scheduled underground line repair/ replacements, funds will be used for an $800,000 pump station and $400,000 to complement funds from the state for a water clarifier (water treatment filter). 

Vigilant Hose Spring Fling is on. But in a virtual form. If interested, hurry. Contact the fire company for details. Non-Emergency: 301-447-2728. E-mail: The fire company has gone out on several brush fires in March. As a reminder, we need rain.

The Maryland Historical Trust approved another town grant request for downtown façade restoration projects. Going back to 2013, this will be our ninth approval. Approvals are typically for $50,000 in matching funds. For the 2021 cycle, a matching grant of $50,000 is already lined up for disbursement among several private properties. Over the years, the town has received $405,000, resulting in over $1,000,000 in improvements to private properties. If you have an interest in the program for the 2022 grant cycle, please contact Town Planner Zach Gulden at 301-600-6309.

In the Catoctin Cougars football team’s first outing scrimmage with Middletown, the outcome was marred by the serious head injury Cougar lineman Colan Droneburg sustained. From updates, he is up and doing well. The family is overly thankful to the community for the outpouring of support for them and Colan. The Frederick High School game scheduled for March 5 was canceled because Frederick coaches and/or players had failed COVID-protocol testing. As of this writing, games against Thomas Johnson were scheduled for Friday, March 19, at 6:30 p.m., and a close-out game against Brunswick, Friday, March 26, also at 6:30 p.m.  

On the Mayor COVID update video series in February and March, guests included County Executive Jan Gardner, Frederick County Sustainability Department Manager Shannon Moore, and Green Builder Mark Lancaster.

From the County Executive’s Office, over 20 percent of county residents have been vaccinated (mid-March). At that point, total COVID-19 cases for the county were at 12,665 and deaths at 256. In the 21727-zip code, we have had 361 cases. While statewide demand for COVID-related hospital bed demand is declining, Frederick County is still at a second surge level. We are getting there.

With COVID, this Lenten season will be remembered as one where we have given a lot, but do not forget all you do for others, as that also is a part of the season. It has been a special Lent.

From Lib and I, we wish everyone a Happy Eastertide.


 Mayor John Kinnaird

With the arrival of spring, I invite everyone to visit the Thurmont Main Street Farmers Market at their new indoor location! The Farmers Market is open Saturday mornings from 9:00 a.m. until noon at the Thurmont Plaza Shopping Center at 224 North Church Street. Guests are required to wear a face mask and observe social-distancing guidelines. The vendors offer a wide range of produce and baked goods, including cakes, croissants, donuts, cupcakes, cookies, pies, local Red Angus Beef, eggs, handmade cornhole bags, mushrooms, herbs, dried peppers, potted flowers, goat milk soaps, and other goodies. Stop by and check out the selection; you will not be disappointed! After May 1, the Farmers Market will return to the Municipal Parking Lot on South Center Street.

Thurmont residents are encouraged to follow the Planning and Zoning Commission as they work to update the Thurmont Master Plan. This includes reviewing land use, comprehensive rezoning, updates to the Zoning Regulations, improving the Growth Map, and other items. The meetings are open to the public, and there will be public hearings and open houses to get community input. The Thurmont Planning and Zoning Commission meets on the fourth Thursday of each month at 7:00 p.m.

Thurmont Main Street will be sponsoring Main Street Sweeps on Saturday, June 5, from 9:00-11:00 a.m. Then, Thurmont Green Team, Thurmont Lions Club, YMCA Thurmont Teen Program, and other volunteers will be joining forces to help clean the downtown streets. The cleanup will start on East Main Street, from Thurmont Barber & Styling to the corner at PNC and South Center Street, then onto South Center around to Water Street and back up to the Mechanicstown Square Park. The Thurmont Lions Club will be supplying brooms for the Sweep! Contact Karen Schildt at or call her at 240-285-8076 if you would like to help.

I am sure many residents are aware of the issues we have been trying to address at the Recycling drop-off site on Moser Road next to the Regional Library. The recycling facility is located on Town of Thurmont property as a courtesy to Frederick County. The County reimburses the Town for the majority of the cost of dumping the recycling by funding one emptying per week. Any additional emptying is paid for by the Town of Thurmont. In recent months, it seems that almost every weekend people are dropping off recycling when the bin is full. Rather than take the recycling back when there is room in the roll-off, they are throwing it on the ground and making a big mess. The cardboard, paper, and other items blow all over the place, and our staff has to spend several hours on Monday mornings cleaning up the area. What’s worse, is they are dropping off many items that are not recyclable, including styrofoam, trash, construction debris, and plastic bags full of bags of cans-bottles-containers. These items are considered to be contaminants and are refused at the recycling facility. Any load with a noticeable amount of contaminants is refused and sent to the landfill, costing the County additional money. Last week the Town decided to start having the recycling roll-off dumped a second time each week in an effort to reduce the amount of recycling being tossed on the ground. We are funding this and have reached out to the County for financial support for the additional cost involved. We are also posting the property with “No Littering” signs; any items dropped off on the ground at the recycling bin will be considered littering, and those doing so will be fined. It is our hope that the second emptying per week and the No Littering signs will help resolve the situation. The Recycling Drop Off is a valuable asset to the Thurmont Community and the surrounding County residents; we want to do what we can to keep it here for everyone to use.

I hope everyone has a joyful Easter and a pleasant April. As always, I can be reached at or by phone at 301-606-9458.

Indoor Yard Sale at Lewistown Volunteer Fire Department

The Lewistown Volunteer Fire Department will host an Indoor Yard Sale on April 10, 2021, at the Lewistown Volunteer Fire Department, from 8:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. There will be lots of vendors, and food will be available in the kitchen, provided by the Fire Department volunteers. Social distancing rules apply and please wear masks. View the advertisement on page 22 for more information.

Lewistown UMC’s Slippery Pot Pie Take-Out

Get your advance orders in for your chicken or country ham slippery pot pie (by the quart) by Wednesday, April 7, 2021, for pickup on Saturday, April 17, at the Lewistown United Methodist Church in Thurmont, from noon to 6:00 p.m. View advertisement on page 24 for more order information.

Vigilant Hose Company’s Bingo is Back

The Vigilant Hose Company’s Bingo is back (both Wednesdays and Fridays). A limited crowd size will be enforced. Masks are required. Seating is first come, first served. View the advertisement on page 19 for bingo times.

Thurmont Lions Club Golf Tournament

Register online for the Thurmont Lions Club Golf Tournament on April 30, 2021, at the Maple Run Golf Course in Thurmont, with a shotgun start at 8:00 a.m. The cost is $60.00 per player and includes green fee and cart, Captain’s Choice, prizes, and more! The registration deadline in April 16, so sign up today! View the advertisement on page 8 for more details and registration information.

The First Baptist Church of Thurmont Holds 2nd Annual Spring Fling

The First Baptist Church of Thurmont is sponsoring the 2nd Annual Spring Fling community event on Saturday, May 1, from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. (rain or shine) at Thurmont Community Park. There will be games, a moon bounce, crafts, prizes, a puppet show, a Karate demonstration, plus live music and refreshments for all. Admission is free. For more information, go to the church website at View the advertisement on page 8 for more information.

BBQ Fundraiser at Tom’s Creek’s Promised Land

Enjoy roasted pig, pit beef, and smoked turkey BBQ sandwiches and meals during the Tom’s Creek United Methodist Church BBQ fundraiser on April 10, 2021, from 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Sandwiches are $8.00 while full meals complete with two sides and dessert are just $15.00. This event takes place at the church’s beautiful Promised Land located along Route 140 East of Emmitsburg at 10918 Taneytown Pike. For more information about this event and Tom’s Creek offerings, visit and see the ad on page 22.

Bingo — Every Friday Night

Come out to the Thurmont Event Complex every Friday night to play bingo! Doors will open at 5:00 p.m.; Bingo starts at 7:00 p.m. Bingo also features tip jars, food, and a jackpot up to $1,000! Proceeds benefit Thurmont Community Ambulance. View the advertisement on page 35 for more information.

Thurmont Lions Club’s 2021 Sandwich Sales

The Thurmont Lions Club is holding its popular sandwich sale at Bell Hill Farm on Rt. 15 in Thurmont on April 24, as well as dates in May, June, July, August, and September. Sale features pit beef, pork, ham, and turkey sandwiches. View the advertisement on page 11 for more information.

Call Now to Order Famous Easter Bake Sale Items

Trinity United Church of Christ in Thurmont hosts the Famous Easter Bake Sale with fruit and cream pies, cakes, soups, Country Ham sandwiches, chicken pies, and more! Call 301-271-2305 or 301-271-2655 by Monday, March 29 to order for pickup on Friday, April 2 or Saturday, April 3. View the advertisement on page 22 for more information.

2021 Wolfe Auctions Sales at The Eyler Stables

Wolfe Agricultural Auctions is holding a Horse Sale on April 2 and April 3 at The Eyler Stables in Thurmont, as well as a Livestock Sale on April 23 and a huge spring Landscape & Agriculture Farm Equipment Sale on April 24. View the advertisement on page 22 for times.

Emmitsburg Dance in the Park

Come out to the Dance in the Park with Sticktime on May 8, 2021, from 6:00-9:00 p.m., to help support Emmitsburg’s annual fireworks! The dance will be held at E. Eugene Myers Community Park (formerly Emmitsburg Community Park). Food and beverages will be available for purchase. BYOB. Tickets are $15.00. View the advertisement on page 17 for more details and for how to get your tickets today!

Indoors Farmers Market

Thurmont Main Street presents its new Indoors Farmers Market, every Saturday, from March 20 through May 1, from 9:00 a.m.-noon, at the Thurmont Plaza on Church Street. View the advertisement on page 52 for more information.

Dr. Flora’s Clinical Hypnosis Sessions

Dr. Ronald Flora will host weight loss and smoking sessation sessions on Monday, April 5, 2021, at the Sleep Inn in Emmitsburg. To sign up, call 703-979-2541. View the advertisement on page 19 for more information.

Thurmont’s To-Go BOGO Restaurant Week

Get ready to eat, eat, repeat during Thurmont’s To-Go BOGO week, April 16-24, 2021. Check out the advertisement on page 2 for participating restaurants.

Thurmont Community Ambulance Company’s Money & Coach Bingo

Enjoy a fun time of bingo at the Money & Coach Bag Bingo on April 25, 2021, at the Thurmont Event Complex. Doors open at 11:00 a.m., with games starting at 1:00 p.m. Bingo features 14 games of Coach bags and 12 games of $100, plus tip jars, half-time game, final game, door prizes, and more! Cash bar and food available for purchase. View the advertisement on page 22 for how to get your tickets today!

Fort Ritchie Bass Tournament

Get your tickets today for Fort Ritchie’s Bass Tournament at the Fort Ritchie Community Center in Cascade, sponsored by Cobblestone Hotel & Suites, on Saturday, May 1, 2021, from 7:00-11:30 a.m. Event features cash prizes for adults, door prizes, and raffles. Youth and adult divisions. View the advertisement on page 35 for ticket information.

Blair Garrett

The recession in the late 2000s affected businesses across the country.

The unemployment rate skyrocketed, and the vast majority of Americans lost any financial security they once had.

KLS Home Improvement in Rocky Ridge was born from that hardship, and they’ve been thriving ever since.

Father and son duo Jeff Sharrer and Kevin Sharrer have laid the foundation for quality home improvements over the past decade.

“We started out of necessity,” Kevin said. “We both got laid off in 2008, and we couldn’t find work. A lady I had been doing side work for suggested we go out on our own, and we did. We’ve been here ever since.”

The economy was in a turbulent place when the Sharrer family started their own business. There was a lot of uncertainty that came with such a huge risk.

“We were worried, but we were at the point where it didn’t really matter because we were going to lose everything if we didn’t make something happen,” Jeff said.

KLS has produced decks, home restorations, landscaping, and just about everything in between for Northern Frederick County and Pennsylvania residents for 11 years.

Jeff is a veteran of the trucking industry, and Kevin has worked in home improvement since high school.

“What’s kept us afloat all these years is being diversified in just about anything to do with home improvement,” Jeff said.

“It keeps it interesting because it’s not the same thing all the time,” Kevin said.

Many companies focus on one particular aspect of home improvement, whether it’s decks, doors, or landscaping. The KLS guys take pride in doing anything they can to give their customers the best experience possible.

“One thing we do that a lot of home improvement companies won’t touch is working on old houses,” Jeff said. “We’ve done some pretty nice restorations.”

From large jobs to small, KLS has built its name on coming up with solutions for the community’s home improvement problems, often taking on the jobs others can’t—or won’t.

“We get all the jobs that no one else wants, and to me, that’s the fun part,” Kevin said. “Just figuring stuff out.”

Since KLS got its start, the company has had its blend of new customers and returning customers. The returning customers stay for the quality work and great service, and many of the new customers stem from a familiar resource.

“We have a lot of repeat customers, as far back as when we first started,” Kevin said. “The Banner is all the advertising we do, and everything else is word of mouth.”

In addition to doing some local advertising, KLS is revamping its online presence with a brand-new website. They plan on offering customers an online portal to seamlessly pay invoices and to see first-hand some of the group’s proudest handiwork.

Jeff and Kevin have learned a lot over their carpentry careers, and the opportunity for new business is always available if you’re willing to push for it. The team has expanded into new avenues to keep jobs flowing in.

“One new thing we’re getting into is working with real estate agents and private sellers to restore or repair property to sell,” Jeff said. Connecting with real estate agents and homeowners can be a great two-way relationship.  

Spending a little money ahead of time can put people in a position to sell a fixed-up property for a lot more money and much quicker. It’s become an investment that has picked up a lot of traction in recent years.

“We took care of a family’s house after they moved out, so we emptied the house out, and it needed lots of repairs,” Kevin said. “Those folks wanted to get it fixed up, so they could get the most out of it.”

While many commercialized home-improvement companies have goals of expansion into new markets and large-scale development, KLS continues to serve its community in more ways than meets the eye.

Kevin is the president of the Frederick County Students Construction Trades Foundation, Inc. He works with high school students to construct a new house every two to three years. Building the houses gives students a real-world, hands-on learning experience, and the foundation sells the house to keep funding for the program flowing.

In fact, since KLS started, the Sharrers have brought on multiple CTC students to learn and work with them as employees of the business.

“I’ve hired about five people from the career center,” Kevin said. “They come here, and I train them up.”

Jeff does most of the office work, and Kevin handles most of the day-to-day labor on job sites. Another CTC graduate will be joining the team in the near future to fulfill a crucial role for KLS.

“I would like to get to where I have three guys in the field. A lead, a carpenter, and a laborer. That way, I can float out there if I need to,” Kevin said.

Despite the uncertainty 2020 brought, the train keeps rolling for KLS, and the Sharrers are looking forward to a much brighter 2021.

“We picked up last July, and we’ve been full throttle ever since,” Kevin said. “We’re booked out until the middle of May.”

One thing is for sure, if there’s a carpentry challenge out there the Sharrers haven’t seen or conquered, Kevin is up for the challenge.

“If we haven’t done it, I’ll do my best to figure out a way.”

KLS Home improvement has provided locals quality residential work over the past 11 years. Pictured left is Jeff Sharrer with his son, Kevin Sharrer.

Frederick County Government will develop a new north county regional park, located between Emmitsburg and Thurmont, on land purchased from Mount St. Mary’s University, County Executive Jan Gardner and Mount St. Mary’s President Dr. Timothy Trainor announced on February 25. The 152-acre property adjoins the campus, on the east side of U.S. 15, straddling Motters Station Road.

“We are excited to be moving forward with a regional park in the northern part of Frederick County,” Executive Gardner said. “County parks attracted over 3 million visitors last year, a 44 percent increase over the year before. The purchase of this land will help us to meet a growing demand for space to recreate and provide much needed park amenities in Northern Frederick County.”

“We are pleased to have offered the 152.7 acres for this regional park adjacent to the Mount St. Mary’s sports complex and are deeply appreciative of the county’s partnership in our shared commitment to expanding access to sports and recreational opportunities and fostering the growth of youth sports in Northern Frederick County,” Dr. Trainor said.

The parcel is currently zoned agricultural and features both forest and open land. A concept plan funded by the university shows the potential for multiple sports fields, walking trails, a dog park, and other features for active and passive recreation. There will be many opportunities for public input into the park’s design.

The Frederick County Division of Parks & Recreation will form a Master Plan Advisory Committee to develop plans for the future park. Members will include representatives from local recreation councils and sports leagues, civic associations, neighboring property owners, and others. The total purchase price for the land is $857,000, of which Program Open Space is providing $807,000; $50,000 will come from County recordation funding.

County Executive Gardner thanked Park and Recreation Division Director Jeremy Kortright and Deputy Director Bob Hicks for their hard work to make this acquisition a reality.

Map of new north county regional park, a 152-acre property that adjoins the Mount St. Mary’s Campus, on the east side of U.S. 15.

Jayden Myers

When looking at someone, they can seem “normal” based on their appearance.

When someone has a visible disability or injury, it is easier for an individual to notice and understand what’s wrong. However, when it comes to a disability or illness that lies beneath the surface, it’s harder for people to understand what the problem is since it isn’t immediately apparent to them. Although many people struggle with disabilities, there is one in particular that I live with on a day-to-day basis.

While growing up, I was diagnosed with multiple medical conditions. One I mainly struggle with is AMPS. AMPS is short for Amplified Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome.

According to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, it is also known as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), Diffuse Amplified Pain, Intermittent Amplified Pain, and Localized Amplified Pain. It is a rare condition that causes extreme pain in the body. It will never go away, but it can be treated.

AMPS causes the body to work differently when reacting to pain. When areas in the body experience a painful event, it sends signals through the spinal cord and to the brain. However, unlike normal nervous systems, there is a short circuit in the process. The signals now cause the body to constrict the blood vessels in the area.

According to CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia), “This constriction restricts blood flow and oxygen to muscles and bone and leads to an increase in waste products such as lactic acid. It is this lack of oxygen and acid build-up that causes pain.”

This new pain signal also goes across the abnormal short circuit in the spinal cord and causes a further decrease in blood flow, amplifying pain for affected individuals. The pain compounds through this continuous cycle, resulting in abnormally extreme pain.

The pain that I and many other people feel from this condition is 10 times worse than normal. While for many people, it’s a scale from 1-10, with AMPS it feels like a scale from 1-20.

Every day I’m in pain, some days worse than others, so I’m kind of used to it. I can tolerate a six on a pain scale. It would likely have to be worse than a 10 in order for me to cry. While everyone handles pain differently, living with AMPS has greatly changed my pain tolerance.

In relation to the pain, it can cause the slightest touches to be extremely painful. For example, getting hit by a soft frisbee wouldn’t be that painful for others. However, if a person with AMPS got hit with a frisbee, it could cause crippling pain. This also depends on how sensitive the area in the body is. The body can become so sensitive that even the slightest touches become unmanageable.

A few years back, I was in and out of the hospital from AMPS. Certain areas in my body were so sensitive, putting a sock on my foot hurt very badly. My legs would become extremely cold. I became immensely frustrated over time.

Nobody could tell me what was wrong, and there were so many possibilities for what was going on. When doctors asked what was wrong and I explained, I always felt like they thought I was lying or that I was crazy. I got mad at myself and the doctors because they couldn’t help me, and I wasn’t able to do anything to feel better.

I also got mad at my parents, and I was sick of everyone telling me they knew how I felt when they didn’t. I know they were just trying to help, though. I felt alone and that no one understood what I was going through.

I was eventually diagnosed and sent to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, where, at the time, I was on crutches. I made some friends and slowly started to realize I wasn’t alone. That was not the end of it, though.

After the program, I started having more issues again. When physical therapy wasn’t working, I was sent to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

I learned more about my AMPS and was put into an intense therapy program. It was extremely hard to get through, but I knew it was the only way I was going to get better.

I made some amazing friends during my stays, and I learned I wasn’t alone. When I left, I did have some issues, but I knew much better how to deal with the pain. Some days are still a fight with myself just to get things done, but I cope the best I can.

I try to help and talk to other people who have been diagnosed with AMPS. I want them to know that they aren’t alone. It is going to be a struggle, but they are going to be able to get through it.

There are many questions that people have about AMPS, especially for those who are learning about it. To clarify: yes, it is real. There is no cure, but there are treatments. Anyone can get it, and although it is more common in children, it doesn’t just affect children. It is not contagious.

Amplified Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome affects people in very different ways. This cannot be treated with pain medication. There is still a lot to learn about the condition, and more research is being done.

My experience with Amplified Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome is unique, as is each case of AMPS around the world. With better understanding and more empathy for those affected, we can take steps toward progress in combating the difficulties of living with it.

Board members and volunteers of the Thurmont Historical Society took part in the Weller Church cemetery cleanup in Thurmont, on Saturday, March 20, 2021.

Pictured from left are Pastor Bob Kells, Felicia Albert, Doug Propheter (Acting Vice President Thurmont Historical Society), Chris Gardiner (Volunteer, Thurmont Historical Society), Bob Miller, Christine Miller, Carol Long, Roy Clever, Kathy Child, and Ayden Child. THS volunteers not pictured: Carol Newman, Theresa Pryor and Julie Portner (President of Thurmont Historical Society).

The Catoctin Area Civitan Club donated 30 bookbags,  filled with a folder, pencils, and crayons to our local schools. The Thurmont Primary School, Emmitsburg Elementary School, and Lewistown Elementary School each received 10 bags to distribute to children in need.

Stacy Bokinsky (Lewistown Elementary School Counselor), Daniel Genemans (Lewistown Elementary School Student), Ginger Malone, Mary Dal-Favero and Ann Malone.

The Vigilant Hose Company’s 137th Annual Banquet—normally held in January of each year to recognize and present awards to department members for the previous year—was canceled this year due to COVID and the social distancing requirements. The officers of the department decided to recognize those individuals who would have been recognized at the January banquet. Awards were presented at the monthly department meeting in March.

Chief Chad Umbel selected and presented the 2020 Chief’s Award to the DFRS career staff who are currently working at Station 6.  Chief Umbel selected the DFRS staff in deep appreciation for their individual talents and concerned dedication so generously given to the success of the Vigilant Hose Company. These DFRS staff included: Scott Johnson, Brian Hames, Matt Hughes, Chad Owens, Mitch Krysiak, and Alex Carnathan.

President Tom Ward selected and presented the 2020 President’s Award to Scott Maly. President Ward’s submission for this award included the following: “To call this year’s President’s Award recipient a “go-getter” would be a major understatement. Joining the VHC in 1998, after relocating to the Emmitsburg community with family, he quickly became involved with the VHC family and never turned back. With the drastic change in how we were able to operate this past year, this member kept his commitment to his duties and elected office and never let the pandemic stop him. While still maintaining his active operational role as a firefighter, he became a go-to guy for countless fundraising operations. When our in-person fundraising efforts were halted (twice), he got busy figuring out ways to keep the much-needed flow of cash into our reserves while still participating in any event or sale he could. He can be found in the station several times a week, unclipping cash from ticket entries in what has become one of the most popular fundraising events anywhere around the area: the “6 of Hearts.” He is respected by all members across the organization. For his commitment and contributions to the VHC, I am pleased to present the 2020 Presidents Award to Scott Maly.”

Both Chief Umbel and President Ward selected and presented the Member of the Year Award for 2020 to Steven Hollinger. The submission for this award included the following: “As 2020 began, nobody thought of the immense changes our operations and fundraising efforts would see. What was set to be a standout year with growth in fundraising and the purchase of a new tower ladder, we quickly, along with everyone else in the fire service, realized that we would have to drastically change the way we operate. 2020’s member of the year is somebody who is seen mostly behind the scenes but has one of the greatest impacts on the Vigilant Hose Company. He could regularly be seen in his office tending to invoices, bills, and banking inquiries, or perhaps playing a game of solitaire. He spent a great deal of time figuring out an entire year’s worth of anticipated revenue losses to submit to the county treasurer’s office. Also maintaining communication with the county government and submitting invoices and requests for reimbursement every month.  His devotion to the Vigilant Hose Company makes him stand out, even without a pandemic, but his extra effort and behind-the-scenes work make him a true candidate for this well-deserved recognition. The 2020 Member of the Year is Steve ‘Little Man’ Hollinger.”

The Hall of Fame Award—which is the highest award for the Vigilant Hose Company—was presented to Guy A. “Gabe” Baker, III. His nomination included the following:  “This individual joined the fire department January 11, 1983, at the age of 19. He was presented with Life Membership at the January banquet in 2009. He was an active firefighter and first responder until just a few years ago. Early on in his years with the department, he held the offices of assistant secretary and assistant treasurer. This individual participates in just about every fundraising activity of the fire department and most Auxiliary events. He is a ‘regular’ in the kitchen for the Friday evening Bingos, assisting even when it is not his scheduled week. He has served as the co-chairman of the Annual Spring Fling and is again co-chairing the event this year, as it is being conducted virtually. He usually serves as the applicant for the Special One Day Licenses required by the Frederick County Liquor Board when serving alcohol at events. In addition, he has completed the Alcohol Awareness and Crowd Manager Training, all of which is required when having fundraising events where alcohol is served. This individual is often called upon to place orders at Jubilee to assure that the fire department and Auxiliary have all the necessary supplies needed to make their fundraisers successful. It is for these reasons that Gabe Baker was selected as the Hall of Fame inductee for 2020.”

The 2020 Training Award for the most formal training was presented to Elizabeth Beaton. Training for the most in-house training drills was presented to Josh Kehne.

The Ten Top Fire Responders for 2020: (from left) Matt Boyd (10th); Alex McKenna (9th); Josh Brotherton (8th); Charlie Rustigian (7th); Josh Kehne (5th); Cliff Shriner (4th); Frank Davis (2nd); and Jim Click (Top Responder). Not pictured: Matt LeGare (6th) and Dave Zentz (3rd).

Five Top EMS Responders for 2020: (from left) Frank Davis (Top Responder); Josh Brotherton (4th); Tom Ward (5th). Not pictured: Dave Zentz (2nd) and Patrick O’Hanlon (3rd).

Three Top Fire Police Responders for 2020: (from left) Sam Cool (Top Responder); Steve Orndorff (2nd); Lynn Orndorff (3rd).

President Tom Ward (left) presents Scott Maly with the 2020 President’s Award.

Individuals are presented with their Years of Service Awards: (from left) Josh Brotherton (10 years); Tom Ward (10 years); Mike Working (25 years—you get life membership into the department); Bill Boyd (30 years); Ed Little (30 years); Carl White (35 years); and Wayne Powell (40 years). Not pictured: Brandon Murdorff and Dave Zentz (both 5 years); Jennifer Stahley (10 years); John Damskey and Tom Vaughn (both 25 years); Monroe Hewitt (50 years).

President Tom Ward (right) presents Gabe Baker with the Hall of Fame Award.

Pictured are President Tom Ward; 2020 Member of the Year Recipient Steve Hollinger; and Chief Chad Umbel.

Blair Garrett

A close community has the power to do amazing things.

Communities find a way to lift people up in times of great struggle.

Colan Droneburg, a 17-year-old football player at Catoctin High School, took a seemingly innocuous hit to the head in a scrimmage on March 5.

Droneburg ran off the field dizzy and nauseous and fell unconscious on the sideline. Teammates surrounded him, and medical professionals rushed to his side. He was eventually flown via Maryland State Police helicopter to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma.

Droneburg was temporarily placed into a medically induced coma due to his brain injuries. “He had bleeding on both sides of the brain, but more so on the right,” Wade Droneburg, Colan’s brother said. “He’s doing physical therapy for his balance, neck, and strength.”

Droneburg has had to see neurologists for headaches, trouble with his vision, and amnesia, but with time and continued therapy, the family is optimistic that his condition will improve.    

Colan’s cousin, Diane Bowers, set up a GoFundMe page for Colan’s recovery and upcoming medical expenses, with a $15,000 goal. The community smashed that goal in record time, donating $5,000 in the first hour, and beating the goal in just over a day.

To date, the total donations are over $27,000, with nearly 500 unique donors. “Thurmont is so wonderful, along with all of Frederick County,” Bowers said. “If you look at the donors, there are students from every school. It’s been a heartfelt experience.”

The Droneburg family has felt the love from the community following such a tough year. “It’s been amazing just to know that these people who we know and don’t know were willing to help us in any way possible,” Wade said. “We as a family really do appreciate it more than they realize.”

Times like these galvanize a community, and so many people coming together to help a family in a difficult situation shows the character of the people in Northern Frederick County. Something like this is bigger than football, and everyone’s efforts to support the Droneburg family has made a huge difference.

Despite a tragic end to his senior football season and a lot of challenges ahead for recovery, Droneburg has been making strides every day. “It’s coming along, and he’s getting memories back,” Wade said.

Brain injuries can be tremendously unpredictable, and the effects can be permanent depending on the severity of the injury. Fortunately for Droneburg, he has a great support system behind him, and a whole team of football players cheering him on.

Droneburg will be the team’s greatest source of inspiration throughout the rest of the adjusted season. Colan will be fighting right alongside the Cougars over the coming months.

“He’s got an appointment at the end of March for another scan, and in April he goes for a neurological evaluation and more going forward,” Wade said. “It’s going to be a long road.”

Between Droneburg’s physical therapy and hospital bills, the family could use all the help they can get. To donate, visit their GoFundMe page online at:

Senior Colan Droneburg suits up for the Catoctin Cougars.

After a one-year hiatus due to COVID-19, Thurmont Little League was excited to kick off its 2021 spring season. As the weather began to warm up and all the snow and ice melted, players and coaches resumed practicing in early March. The response to baseball this year was extremely positive, even with the pandemic, as the league will be fielding 2 Intermediate Division teams, 4 Major Division teams, 5 Minor Division teams, 7 Instructional/Coach Pitch teams, and 7 T-ball teams.

The Major Division kicked off the year by participating in the 3rd Annual Brunswick Little League Garel L. Hauver Memorial Tournament. Its namesake, Mr. Hauver, had a passion for sports, but especially baseball. He wrote about sports in the Brunswick Citizen for over 40 years and was an active member of Brunswick Little League for over 30 years as a player and coach. The tournament took place the weekend of March 27-28 and featured 16 area little league squads. Thurmont was well represented by its four teams, and it was a great way for the players to get back into the swing (pun intended) of things.

The opening day ceremonies will kick off the start of game play for all of the other divisions and will take place on Saturday, April 10. Led by master of ceremonies Brian Mo, formerly of 99.9 WFRE, all players and coaches will receive on-field introductions. This will be followed up by a special performance of the National Anthem, and the throwing out of the first pitch by the Myers family from Thurmont Kountry Kitchen. Thurmont Little League spirit wear will be on sale in many different styles and sizes, along with the ever-popular discount cards for local restaurants. Great raffle baskets will be available with many valued at over $100 each, as well as a 50-50 cash drawing. Also, on hand for the day will be food from The Sauced Savage BBQ and ice cream from Antietam Dairy. Bring the family out for a fun-filled day celebrating 70 years of Thurmont Little League.

The Class of 2021 is nearing graduation. It is imperative that our communities embrace these students’ safe graduation celebrations by donating to the Catoctin High School Safe and Sane Committee.

Fundraising activities include raffles, restaurant nights, yard signs, cash donations, and the Vinny Healy Memorial Christian Outreach Fund Golf Tournament on April 17, 2021, starting at 8:00 a.m. Team sponsorship and registration information is available on Facebook. To register, make check payable to Vinny Healy MCOF and mail to Vince Healy, 6934 Elyers Valley Flint Road, Sabillasville, MD 21780. Call Vince Healy at 240-457-7850 for more information.

To send monetary donations, please mail to Catoctin High School, Attn: Safe and Sane 2021, 14745 Sabillasville Road, Thurmont, MD 21788.

Since 1995, Thurmont Masons have awarded scholarships worth over $100,000 to area students. Scholarships are available to all graduating high-school-level seniors from a Maryland State accredited public, private, and/or homeschool program who reside within the Catoctin High School district boundaries as per the Frederick County Public School district map.

The “Mary and Robert Remsberg Memorial Scholarship” is worth up to $5,000 (scholarship funds would be distributed at $1,000 per year, for up to four years of continued education with passing grades from an accredited college or university.)

The “Bernhard Cohen Memorial Scholarship” is worth $2,500.

Applications will be judged upon the following criteria in order of importance: (1) Participation and leadership roles in community and/or school activities; (2) Content of a personal resume; (3)             Academic record and/or special achievements; (4) Need for financial assistance; (5) Evaluation by school official and/or mentor; (6) Organization, appearance, and completeness of the application.

Scholarship application forms can be downloaded from the Acacia Lodge website:

Interested students must complete an application and return it via U.S. Mail to the following address: Acacia Lodge #155 –“Scholarships,” 56 Water Street, Thurmont, MD 21788. All applications must be postmarked on or before May 31, 2021.

The Emmitsburg High School Association is accepting scholarship applications. Four $1,000 scholarships will be awarded in May to deserving students. Any Catoctin High School senior or graduate who is enrolled in an institution of higher learning, including trade schools, is eligible if he/she resides in the Emmitsburg School District. This includes Emmitsburg 21727, Rocky Ridge 21778, and Taneytown 21787 (Taneytown boundary is determined by Bridgeport on Route 140). Applicants may apply each year as long as they are enrolled in an institution.

Selection is based on academics, being a full-time student, presenting two letters of recommendation, their community and school activities, and pursuing higher education (technical school, four-year college, or community college).

Applications may be obtained by calling Phyllis Kelly at 717-642-6963 or by email at All applications must be received by May 14, 2021. Applications are also available through the Catoctin High School Scholarship line and Counseling Department. 

It is time to recognize that special teacher who has made an impact on your child’s life and on your school community. Each year, the Thurmont Lions Club honors the teachers of the Catoctin High School and the feeder schools (Thurmont Primary, Thurmont Elementary, Thurmont Middle, Lewistown Elementary, Emmitsburg, Sabillasville, and Mother Seton). Anyone can nominate a teacher—parents, students, fellow teachers, and administrators. 

All nomination forms are due to Lion Gayle DiSalvo no later than Sunday, April 18, 2021. They can be emailed to or mailed to Lion Gayle DiSalvo, 142 E. Hammaker Street, Thurmont, MD  21788. Please include “2021 Teacher of the Year” on the subject line if emailing. Forms are available online at or by contacting Lion Gayle DiSalvo at

The Thurmont Lions Club 2021 Teacher of the Year will be selected from the eight finalists by a committee of community leaders and will be announced at the Thurmont Lions Club’s Education Night meeting on May 12, 2021. If you have any questions, please contact Lion Gayle DiSalvo at or 301-271-5355.

The Trade, Technical, Vocational Scholarship is offered through the Peg and Orley Bourland Educational Assistance Fund to help defray the year-round costs associated with tuition, fees, testing, tutoring, trade tools, supplies, etc. for students in trade, vocational, or technical fields in the Walkersville feeder school pattern area. Awards will not exceed $1,000 per year, and applications are due a minimum of 30 days prior to when funds are needed.

Pick up an application at the Walkersville High School, CTC, Walkersville Public Library, Walkersville Town Hall, online at, or call 301-845-0213.

A serial fiction romance story for your enjoyment

written by James Rada, Jr.

3: the dance

Caleb Sachs opened the rear door to the store and stepped onto the porch. He had been careful not to make any noise coming down the stairs from the second floor where he and his family lived above the family store in Emmitsburg. He was equally careful not to make a sound shutting the door.

He hurried around the brick building to Main Street and headed for the town square. Lanterns hung from ropes strung between buildings to light up the square. Tables filled with punch, cakes, cookies, and pies lined the edge of the square. A five-piece band was set up in one corner playing “The Rare Old Mountain Dew.” Some couples danced in the streets while the rest of the townspeople milled around off to the sides. More than 800 people lived in Emmitsburg, and Caleb guessed that at least 200 of them were at the dance.

He saw Peter Wilhide and Thomas Baker sitting at one of the tables eating pie. Caleb dodged between the dancers and made his way across the square. He cut himself a slice of pie and sat down next to his friends.

“I didn’t think your parents would let you come,” Thomas said.

Caleb grinned. “I told them I was going to bed, and then I snuck past them.”

“And they won’t check on you?”

“I stuffed a pillow under my blanket. It should work if they don’t look too close,” Caleb told them. His friends laughed. “So anything interesting happen yet?”

“Not yet, but people are still showing up,” Peter said. “I brought something to make things fun, though.” He opened his jacket and Caleb saw the top of a bottle of liquor sticking over the top of the inside pocket.

“Is that for us?” Caleb asked.

“Some of it, but most of it is going to end up in one of the punch bowls.”

Caleb ate pie and looked out over the crowd. The band sounded good. He guessed the crowd was split about half and half between teenagers and adults.

“Are you going to dance tonight?” Caleb asked his friends.

“It depends on who shows up,” Peter said.

“I really want to dance with Becky Everett, but she is only interested in Luke,” Thomas said. Luke Wilhide was Peter’s older brother.

“Well, if we get too bored, we can always grab a cake and sneak away with Peter’s bottle.”

Caleb looked across the square and saw two girls come in from the west. One was blonde and slim. The other had darker hair and a fuller figure than the blonde. Caleb didn’t know them, but they were around his age, and they were attractive.

He watched them walk over to a couple they obviously knew. The man was a couple of years older than Caleb, as was the woman he was with.

Caleb stared at the blonde. She looked familiar, but he knew he didn’t know her. He would have remembered her if he had seen her at school, unless she went to the Catholic school. She might also be visiting from out of town. That still didn’t explain why he felt he knew her.

As if feeling his stare on her, the girl looked up and Caleb saw her pale blue eyes even though she was across the square. She smiled at him, which caused him to grin like a fool. Then Peter elbowed him, causing him to look away. When he looked at her again, she was talking to the older man again.

“You guys may want to sit around eating, but I came to meet girls,” Caleb said. “I’m going to dance.”

He stood up and headed across Main Street to ask the girl with the pale-blue eyes to dance. He wasn’t even halfway there before another guy came up, spoke to her briefly, and then led her into the street to dance.

Caleb stopped, his shoulders sagged, and he walked back to sit with his friends again.

“So, this is what you call dancing?” Peter asked. “I call it sitting.”

“I was going to dance, but that guy beat me to it,” Caleb said, pointing to the couple.

Peter shrugged. “There are other girls standing around. Dance with one of them.”

“You dance with them. I wanted to dance with that girl. Who is she, anyway?”

“I don’t know.”

Thomas said, “That’s Margaret. She’s nice enough, but her sister is better looking and available.”

“What? Is she courting that guy?” Caleb asked.

“No, but I heard she’s going to be a sister.”

“Oh, she’s Catholic.” No wonder Thomas knew her. His family was Catholic. He probably saw Margaret in church.

Margaret. Caleb liked the sound of the name.

He watched her dance. She spun around and laughed. He knew where he had seen her!. She was his angel!

By the time Caleb realized the song had ended, someone else had already asked Margaret to dance. He watched her move, remembering how she had looked this morning. He stood up and moved to the edge of the dancing area. He would not miss another opportunity to dance with his angel.

As he watched her, he realized she was also watching him. Even as she turned around with her dance partner, she kept bringing her eyes back to stare at him.

The song ended, and Caleb barely waited for Margaret’s partner to leave before he approached her.

He stopped in front of her and felt his mouth go dry. She stared at him with those penetrating eyes.

“Would you like to dance?” he managed.


He reached out and took her hands as they moved into a quadrille. Caleb was glad he knew the dance well because he found himself having trouble concentrating.

“My name is Caleb,” he said.

“I’m Margaret.”

“I haven’t seen you around town.”

“I don’t come in all that often other than for church and school.”

“That’s a shame.”

“A shame I don’t come in or that I go to church?” She must have noticed the flustered look on his face because she added. “I’m just teasing you.”

Caleb smiled.

“Do you know you’re an angel?” he said.

Her eyes widened. “I don’t know if I’d say that.”

“I would. I saw you this morning dancing.”

Caleb felt her miss a beat. Then he saw color rise in her cheeks.

“Really?” she said. “I was just enjoying the beautiful morning. I didn’t know anyone saw me.”

Caleb nodded. “I know. That’s what made it so wonderful. You were expressing yourself. It was so free, open, natural. I saw you dancing and thought of all the wonderful things in life. It made me smile all the way to Gettysburg.”

Margaret stared directly into his eyes. “That’s very kind of you to say.”

Caleb was about to ask Margaret to sit with him at a table when he heard shouts. He looked over his shoulder and saw Peter and Thomas arguing with the older man Margaret had been speaking to earlier.

The man held Peter’s liquor bottle while Peter shouted at him and grabbed at the bottle. Caleb stopped dancing and sighed.

“You’ll have to excuse me. My friends are causing trouble.”

He hurried toward the three men.

“Give me my bottle,” Peter said.

“Guys, calm down. You’re ruining the dance,” Caleb said.

“This guy stole my bottle, Caleb,” Peter said.

“You were spiking the punch,” the man said.


“You could get someone drunk who didn’t know it.”

Caleb stood between them with his hands on Peter’s shoulders. “It’s all right, Peter. We wanted it for ourselves, anyway.”

“Well, no one’s getting this,” the man said.

He turned the bottle over and dumped the contents on the street.

“No!” Peter lunged at the man, grabbing at the bottle. The man stepped back and pushed Peter away.

Then suddenly Thomas was swinging at the man, and Caleb was caught in the middle.

“Wait! Stop!” he shouted.

Caleb turned to hold Thomas back and the man’s fist hit him from behind. Caleb stumbled and turned. He saw Thomas’s arm shoot past him as he punched the man. Then other men were grabbing the man, Peter, Thomas, and Caleb, pulling them apart.

Caleb shook the hand off him. “I’m fine.”

“You boys need to leave,” Jack Harrison said.

Caleb was fine with that. He would much rather spend time with Margaret. He looked around to see if he could find her in the crowd. He glimpsed her leaving the dance with her sister.

He realized he hadn’t gotten her last name.

by dave ammenheuser

Stories of What It’s Like Returning Home After 25 Years

“Welcome back, Dave, but you should know Thurmont’s not the same town you left behind many years ago.”

I have heard that phrase numerous times since my parents died in the final half of 2020, initiating my return to my hometown to settle their estate.

In 1982, when I left Thurmont to venture across the country in my pursuit of the highest levels of sports journalism, I left behind a community where its townspeople cared about one another; one where residents looked out for each other and were always there to lend a helping hand.

In February, Mike Miller, whom I haven’t seen since the 1970s when we were members of the Troop 270 Boy Scouts, didn’t hesitate to use his snowplow to clear the driveway of my parents’ home.

That’s what Thurmontians do.

Rick Wastler, my friend since we were toddlers, quickly volunteered to detail my father’s vintage Thunderbirds as we prepare to sell them this spring.

That’s what childhood friends do.

Russell Yates, my parents’ neighbor, doesn’t balk when I ask for a favor, whether it’s mowing the yard, helping me pull strange things out of the attic, or accompanying me on a trip to the Frederick County landfill.

That’s what neighbors do.

Chet Zentz returned my call immediately when I inquired about the status of my late parents’ car and home insurance policies. We were friends in high school when his father ran the insurance office.

That’s what old friends and good businessmen do.

Thurmont Mayor John A. Kinnaird stopped by the house this winter to pick up my mother’s walker. He later dropped it off at the Thurmont Senior Citizen Center.

That’s what your good mayor does.

Kinnaird and I had never met until he took time from his busy schedule to drop by and pick up the walker. I admire his devotion to the town and enjoy reading his posts and reviewing his photos on the Facebook group “You know you’re from Thurmont, Maryland, when …”

One of the group’s recent posts, about Vernon Myers and his generosity toward the Thurmont Little League, brought back an overflowing load of memories of the Thurmont that I grew up in.

Vernon’s Shell station. Ben’s Esso. Riffle’s garage. The Red Door. The Market Basket. Super Thrift. Hoke’s Furniture. Royer’s Restaurant. Claire Frock. Thurmont Bank. Stull Dougherty  Chevrolet. Brooks Department Store.

The names of many of the businesses in the area have changed. The camaraderie of most folks has not.

I did experience one notable exception. It occurred last summer and involved my father. As many of you may know, my father had a passion for cars, and he could have a stubborn streak. If he wanted something, he would find a way to get it—especially if it involved anything to do with the collection of his vintage cars.

Last summer, he was determined to add a vintage Corvette to his collection. Keep in mind, my father was 81 years old, was in and out of the hospital for weeks at a time because of serious health problems. There was no way he could drive a souped-up sports car that was more accustomed to racing on drag strips.

Despite my strongest advice, he bought it from a used car dealership in Thurmont. Legally, the car dealership did nothing wrong. They sold a car to a person who was willing to purchase it.

A local community bank approved a lien on my parents’ house for my father to buy the car. To this day, I am still unclear how the loan was approved, as it needed my mother’s signature (she was in the hospital, losing her battle against cancer, and during a time when no visitors were allowed during the pandemic).

My father was released from the hospital on August 30. The Corvette was delivered to his home in Creagerstown on September 1. It was the same day my father struggled to get into the car for the first time; the same day my father died, struggling to get out of the car for the first time.

Obviously, as a son, I was furious and heartbroken to learn not only of my father’s death but the circumstances around it. I quickly made angry calls to the community bank and the used car dealership. Nobody at either business was comforting or understanding.

I asked the car dealer how they could sell a car to such a weak and sick senior citizen. I was told that they don’t review medical records, and “No,” they would not take the car back, even though my father owned it for less than 24 hours.

I remain puzzled about how a community bank could approve a loan when my mother was unavailable to sign any legal documents.

Thus, with both parents gone, my family was saddled with a Corvette and a lien on the home.

The Corvette was sold (at a loss). The lien remains. The pain lingers. I gotta believe, in the Thurmont of our past, such a deal would not have occurred. Or, at minimum, the car could’ve been returned.

All neighbors looked after each other.

Book Club

by Valerie Nusbaum

I’m an avid reader. I’ve always loved books, and my appetite for the written word could only be described as voracious. My mother taught me basic reading well before I started first grade, and I adored getting lost in the stories of far-away lands and thrilling adventures. I’m that eccentric person who loves libraries, and I can happily spend hours in a bookstore making my selections. 

Do today’s kids even read books, I wonder? I remember that my seventh-grade English teacher called a parent/teacher conference with my folks because I did my book report on Mario Puzo’s The Godfather. While that book may have been a bit racy for a seventh-grader (remember this was back in the 1970s), I was fortunate to have parents who didn’t censor me and who encouraged me to broaden my horizons. We did have a talk about what was acceptable for public consumption, though.

It would seem, then, that I’d be someone who’d enjoy being part of a book club. That thinking is a bit flawed because I don’t tend to like the types of books that most clubs assign. My preference is a good mystery, one that I can’t put down until the last page when the killer is revealed. I love matching wits with the fictional detectives, and I’m excited to find out if I’m correct about the solution. Book club selections seem to me to be kind of high-brow, and a tad hoity-toity for the most part. It appears that some selections are chosen not so much for enjoyment as for impressing others with the members’ understanding of all the subtle nuances and representations, the hidden meanings, symbolism, and imagery. I read for fun and to escape from my problems.

I’ll read a biography if I’m interested in the subject or the subject’s career or contribution. A good trash wallow/beach read isn’t out of the question either. Just don’t give me a romance novel and expect me to get past page one’s ripped bodice or heaving bosom.

Given my decidedly low-brow taste in literature, I’ve stayed away from the organized book clubs, and consequently, have never had anyone with whom to discuss my book choices. I was thinking these thoughts one day when I looked across the room and saw Randy reading a book of his own. An idea hit me. We could form our own book club. I presented my proposition to him: We’d each read an agreed-upon mystery novel, and then we’d discuss said novel over his favorite meal. We decided that I would choose all of our books.  Randy enjoys mysteries, but I don’t want to read books about submarines, airplanes, or wars.

Our first book club selection was James Patterson’s Murder House. The book had been sitting on my “to be read” shelf for a couple of years, and I was happy to get it out and dust it off. It is well over 400 pages long, but Patterson writes short chapters and the spacing is wide, so he’s usually a quick read. Even so, it took me five or six days to finish the book since the bulk of my reading is done in the bathroom. I mentally noted some questions about the plot, and then I passed the book on to Randy for his turn at reading the material. 

Poor Randy was knee-deep in a kitchen remodel project, so he didn’t get around to reading the book right away. Nearly three weeks had passed when he handed Murder House back to me and said he was ready to meet and talk about the book, and that he’d like a pizza steak sub and fries to go with it. At that point, I couldn’t remember my questions or even the names of the main characters because I’d read a couple of other books after the Patterson novel.

Our book discussion went something like this:

Valerie: “I can’t remember the name of the half-brother of the main character, but I can’t figure out why the killer (can’t remember his name either) didn’t just go ahead and kill him instead of letting him hang around all those years.”

Randy: “His name started with an ‘A,’ and the killer’s name was Justin, I think.”

Valerie: “Okay, right, but if Aiden (that’s his name!) knew all along that Justin was the killer, and Justin knew he knew, then why didn’t Justin just kill him and get rid of the body?”

Randy: “Maybe Justin wanted Aiden around for a fall guy. But what about the severed finger? Why was it so well-preserved when the bodies were decomposed? That’s a LOT of fries.”

Valerie: “Pass the ketchup, please. I imagine Justin saved the finger as a trophy and kept it in formaldehyde or something.”

It went on like this for a while longer, and I think I can speak for Randy as well as myself when I say that we really don’t retain a lot of what we read. We knew going into this experiment that we tend to see things very differently and reading the same book only confirmed that.  Will our book club meet again?  Maybe. The subs were really good.

Speaking of mysteries, Randy received a lovely vintage Valentine from someone called Mildred Zerbe.   My guess is that poor Mildred hasn’t been with us for many years.  It was a lovely gesture and a fun thing for us, and we both appreciate your thoughtfulness.