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Part 5: Taking Power

Story Written by James Rada, Jr.

“The Anger of Innocence” is a six-part original serial set in the Graceham area during 1973. Serialized fiction is something that older newspapers often did as an additional way to entertain their readers. We thought it was about time for serial to make a comeback. Let us know what you think.

The 12 women stood in the wooded clearing between Graceham and Thurmont. They all wore white cloaks with hoods that covered their heads. They talked quietly in small groups, paced, and looked at their wristwatches.

Finally, Anna Eichholtz stepped up to the small campfire burning in the center of the clearing. She slid the hood off her head.

“As I told you, Barbara isn’t coming, I will lead the coven tonight,” Anna said.

The other women stopped what they were doing and moved to stand in a circle around the fire.

“What gives you the right to lead?” Kate Montgomery asked.

Anna lifted her chin and stared at each of the other witches over the fire. “I removed Barbara, and she will not return. Now, as the most powerful among you, I claim the right to lead.”

The other women murmured. Some of them turned to walk away.

“How did you do it?” Kate asked. “You weren’t more powerful than Barbara. That is why she led this coven.”

Anna raised her hand. A small starling flew from the trees and landed in the middle of the fire. The flames ignited the bird’s feathers. It didn’t move or screech in pain. The witches gasped. The bird toppled over. It was a blackened husk.

“I brought the birds to Graceham, and they killed Barbara,” Anna said. “They will remain here to take care of anyone else who opposes me.”

The birds. Anna didn’t need to say more. Everyone knew of millions of grackles, crows, starlings, and cowbirds that had been living in Graceham for months. They were a nuisance that no one – not even this coven – had been able to drive away. Now Anna had proclaimed that she controlled them, and she did, although it wasn’t her alone.

Her niece, Sarah, might have the power, but Anna knew how to control that power and use it.

* * *

Sarah Adelsberger answered the knock at her front door. She opened it, and saw Mrs. Zentz standing there. Sarah stifled a scream. Her science teacher gave her a half grin.

“Well, that answers the question I had about whether you were involved in what happened to me,” Barbara Zentz said.

Sarah stepped back and hung her head. She expected to feel angry like she had when she had seen Mrs. Zentz for the past few months. Instead, she felt ashamed like she had after she had killed Christine Weber.

But Mrs. Zentz was alive. How could that be? Sarah had seen her disappear beneath thousands of birds Sarah sent to attack her science teacher.

“How?” Sarah asked.

“There’s so much you don’t know Sarah, and you need to know it,” Barbara Zentz said.

“I know everything I need to know! You want to kill me!” Sarah tried to stir up her old anger, but it just wasn’t there.

Sarah closed her eyes and tried to focus on needing protection. She called to the birds. They would come to protect her. They always came to her aid.

When she opened her eyes, Sarah saw only three birds had come, and they weren’t attacking Mrs. Zentz. They sat on the ground staring at Sarah. Where were the rest? Millions of birds were all over Graceham right now. You could hardly take a step without stirring up a flock and only three had answered Sarah’s call?

Sarah shook her head and said, “How did you stop them? How are you still alive? What are you?”

“May I come in? We need to talk.”

Sarah looked around for more birds. Seeing none, she stared at her teacher. Mrs. Zentz took her silence as assent and walked into the house.

“Are your parents home?” Mrs. Zentz asked.

“Not yet,” Sarah managed to say.

Mrs. Zentz nodded. “Good. This should be a private conversation. Do they know about what you can do?”

“No.”

Mrs. Zentz raised an eyebrow like she did in class when she suspected a student was lying to her. “Even your mother?”

“No. Only my aunt knows.”

Barbara walked into the living room and sat down on an armchair. Sarah stared at her. It had been three days since she had sent the birds to attack Mrs. Zentz. Sarah thought the teacher was dead, but she looked fine. She wasn’t even scratched, although thousands of birds had tried to claw and peck her to death.

“Are you a witch?” Sarah asked.

“Yes, as are you apparently.”         

“That’s what my aunt told me.”

“Your aunt? Anna Eichholtz? She told you you are a witch?”

When Sarah nodded, Barbara closed her eyes and held a hand out, palm up, toward Sarah.

“What are you doing?” Sarah asked.

Mrs. Zentz said nothing. Then she took a deep breath and opened her eyes.

“I can sense the power in you, but it’s all raw power.”

Raw power? Her aunt had never called it that. It didn’t sound good.

“You have enough power to control the flock that has been causing problems around here, but without the training, you couldn’t keep them here for all this time. You don’t have the focus to make the birds obey your will.”

“My aunt trained me,” Sarah blurted.

Mrs. Zentz pursed her lips. “Really? You tried to get the birds to attack me again at the front door, didn’t you?”

“No!” Mrs. Zentz arched an eyebrow. “Well, I tried, but it didn’t work,” Sarah corrected herself.

Barbara nodded her head slowly. “You’re being used by another person who has control, but not your power.”

Sarah shook her head. “No, it can’t be. Nobody else knows what I can do. No one was even there for what I did to you and Christine.”

“Christine? Christine Weber?” Sarah nodded. “What happened to her?” Barbara asked.

“It was like what happened to you. The birds surrounded her and she disappeared. All that was left was some blood and a piece of her book bag.”

Mrs. Zentz sighed. “Oh, Sarah, you’re being used, and you don’t even realize it. Your aunt is controlling your power. Your anger gave her a way in.”

“No, my aunt has been trying to help me. I told you she’s been training me.”

“Sarah, you think you have control of your power, but you haven’t shown the control needed to do what you think you have done. Your power is like the water in a fire hydrant and you’re the hydrant. The water will pour out of you, but it takes control – the fire hose connected to the hydrant – to direct and use all of that water. Your aunt is the fire hose.”

Sarah felt a knot in her stomach, she didn’t even realize was there, uncurl itself. “Then I didn’t kill Christine?”

Barbara shook her head. “No more than the hydrant puts out the fire. Your aunt must have used an anger you felt toward Christine to find a way into your emotions and power. That gave her control over your power. Witches sometimes control another’s power to help train them, but the trainee always knows what is happening so she feels how to control her power on her own.”

“But she’s my aunt.”

Her aunt couldn’t have used her. Aunt Anna was like an older sister. She had watched Sarah every afternoon after school since Sarah was in Thurmont Elementary School. They were so close. Sarah told her aunt her secrets, her hopes, her worries. She had told her about Christine bullying her.

“She’s also a witch with big ambitions but only moderate power,” Barbara said.

“But she hasn’t tried to control me. She has been helping me,” Sarah insisted.

Mrs. Zentz reached out and patted her arm. “I’m sorry, Sarah. Calling the birds showed a great deal of control and experience, and you don’t show that level of control. You called three birds to you, and they only sat at my feet.”

Sarah stared at her in silence and then broke into tears. “Why? Why would she do this to me? I’ve had nightmares ever since Christine died.”

Mrs. Zentz leaned over and hugged the young teen.

“It’s your power. The young had great power, but I have never seen as much raw power as you have in you. Your aunt can use that power to control our coven, and with that, she could do just about whatever she might want around here. She has tried to take control before.”

Sarah lifted her head. “What happened then?”

Barbara frowned. “Anna has only moderate power herself. I defeated her and took control of the coven when our last leader died.”

“Are you going to fight her again? Are you going to kill her?” Sarah might not like what her aunt had done to her, but she didn’t want her to die.

“I can’t defeat her when she is using your power to supplement her own. Even with the aid of the rest of the coven, I doubt it would be enough power. Even if I could, though, I wouldn’t kill Anna. It’s not my way, nor is the way of most witches. We practice a beneficial magic to heal and help others. I gain my power from the goodwill it creates. I work with nature. People want to see my spells succeed, which gives the spells more power than I have.”

“That doesn’t sound like the power my aunt talked about.”

“It isn’t. She fights against nature because she wants to control. If you swim with a river’s current, you will swim faster because the current helps you. That is what I do. Your aunt swims against the current, working harder and believing she will make the current go in the direction she wants.”

Sarah had tried swimming against the current on vacation at Ocean City. It could be hard work. She said as much to Mrs. Zentz.

The teacher nodded and stood up. “When you use the power the way your aunt does, you have control. You don’t have to share with anyone. However, if you share your power, whomever has control has her power multiplied. By leading the coven, I have control of the power of all the witches in the coven. Your aunt will seek to control the coven, because with their power and yours, she will be a match for any witch I know. She needs to be stopped.”

Blair Garrett

Capturing scenery is easy.

Today, anyone can pick up their cell phone and digitally capture a moment in time at the push of a button. Breathtaking mountaintops, nights out with friends, and everything in between lies at your fingertips. 

Capturing the emotion, vivid color, and beauty of a scene is a much more difficult task. Nobody does that better than Steve Burdette, 64, of Blue Ridge Summit, an artist and master of his craft, who effectively uses each brush stroke to convey feeling and meaning in every one of his paintings

Burdette’s artwork covers a variety of subjects, but he draws upon his inspiration of local scenery to build vivid recreations with a personal touch.

Burdette’s journey as an artist started just as he entered his teenage years, and has been going strong now for over 50 years. “I was 13 when I started my classes,” Burdette said. “The instructor said he didn’t take kids in his class. Then he looked at my work and [decided to] take me in.”

That leap into a class where a 13-year-old typically wouldn’t belong catapulted Burdette’s budding interests in art into a flourishing career; however, in order to get where he is today, he had to put in years of intense practice.

“That class turned into a 13-year apprenticeship,” Burdette said.

For years, Burdette would attend this oil painting class, learning the ins and outs of how to create oils and how to perfect a composition that he could be proud of. And even as the numbers of students in the class dwindled, Burdette’s commitment to his craft never waned.  

“It was every Tuesday night as long as I wanted to stay,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”

Despite being an oils-only class, the group did not hit the ground running with oil painting from the start.

“For the first two or three months, we just drew geometric shapes,” Burdette said. “By the end of that, there were only three of us left in the class.” Charles Jones, Burdette’s teacher and mentor, purposely made students learn to walk before they run, to weed out the students attending for fun from the students truly there to learn.

“Sure, I got bored with just drawing geometric shapes, oh my word,” Burdette recalled. “After that, it got interesting, and I loved it. I was so glad I stayed.”

The commitment to improving his work is something that has stuck with him through all avenues of drawing and painting, and the passion for perfection has made an appearance in every artwork since his early apprenticeship.  

There is a significant duality in Burdette’s painting styles, with his decades of defined and learned practices with oil painting, along with years of personal experimentation and trials with watercolors.

“I learned everything I know on watercolors from just doing my own stuff,” Burdette said. “I never took any classes or anything because oils and watercolors are completely different.”

Just as Burdette’s experiences learning how to perfect oil painting and watercolors are opposites, the two painting styles are just as converse. “With oils, you put your darker values on first because then you can work your lighter values on top,” he said. “With watercolors, it’s completely reversed.”

While Burdette did not initially build his foundation as an artist on watercolors, they have found a place on many of his canvases, and often are the method of choice on many of his commissions.

“When I got bored with oils, that’s when I picked up watercolors, which is an awesome medium,” he said. “I love it because it’s a challenge. If you mess it up, chances are, you’re going to have to throw it in the trash, because there’s almost no going back.”

The way colors can bleed poses a unique test, even for an artist of Burdette’s calibre. “You can go after a certain look, but it can have a mind of its own, which can be a neat effect but not always what you meant it to be.”

Today, Burdette sells drawings, oil paintings, watercolor paintings, pastels, acrylics, and more. Many of the commissions and sales he has made over the past 20 years have stemmed from drawing upon the rich fire history in Northern Frederick County. 

“About 18 years ago, I put out a few generic prints for fire departments, and that just exploded and went all across the country,” Burdette said. “It’s amazing, and sometimes it keeps me busier than I need to be.”

Burdette’s art for fire companies in particular has piggybacked off of his successes teaching art, owning his own studio, and many other experiences that formed the backbone for his talents over the course of his career. And though selling art is not so easy for everyone, Burdette firmly believes that it’s an industry worth not giving up on.

“Never stop, and don’t quit,” Burdette said. “The minute you quit, something great might happen.”

Come December, you can catch Burdette’s artwork at his open gallery viewing, where you can see and purchase his works. His open gallery will be held on December 14, 2019, at 15221 Wyndham Avenue in Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania.

Part 4: Vengeance

Story Written by James Rada, Jr.

“The Anger of Innocence” is a six-part original serial set in the Graceham area during 1973. Serialized fiction is something that older newspapers often did as an additional way to entertain their readers. We thought it was about time for serial to make a comeback. Let us know what you think.

Thirteen-year-old Sarah Adelsberger sat in silence beside her Aunt Anna as Anna drove her new corvette along Main Street in Thurmont. Sarah had always enjoyed driving in her aunt’s flashy cars, but not this morning.

The principal at Thurmont Middle School had suspended Sarah for three days for backtalking and being insubordinate to Mrs. Zentz, her science teacher. The principal told Sarah she needed to calm down and get her priorities straight. She also had to apologize to Mrs. Zentz when Sarah returned to school.

That would not happen, no matter how long they kept her out of school.

Aunt Anna had picked Sarah up from school because Sarah’s mother worked in Frederick and couldn’t leave early. Her parents would have plenty of time to yell at her this evening, and Sarah had no doubt she would be grounded, too.

“Do you want to talk about it?” Aunt Anna asked.

“So, if I’ve got this great power, why didn’t it protect me from getting suspended?” Sarah asked.

Her aunt had told her weeks ago that Sarah had some sort of power like a witch, but not a witch. Sarah wouldn’t have believed her except for the birds she had apparently summoned to attack Christine Weber. The birds had kept coming to Graceham even after the attack, and now the tiny town had millions of birds living in it.

“Maybe it will protect you,” Aunt Anna said.

Sarah stared out the side window at the houses whizzing by. “How? I’ve been suspended already.”

“But you aren’t in danger from it…at least not yet.”

Sarah turned to face her aunt. “So the power only protects me when I’m in danger?”

“Yes.”

“Who decides when I’m in danger? The power?”

“You do.”

“If I decided, then I wouldn’t have been suspended. Mrs. Zentz would be…”

“Would be what?”

Sarah shrugged. “Nothing.” Dead. She had been about to say, “Mrs. Zentz would be dead.” Sarah didn’t really feel that way, did she? She didn’t like Mrs. Zentz, but the teacher had done nothing so bad Sarah should want her dead. What was wrong with her to think that?

“The power is strong in our family,” Anna said. “Not everyone has it, but all those who have it are women.”

Sarah frowned. “Am I a witch?”

“Yes, I guess you could call us that, but we’re not quite witches in the way most women who practice witchcraft nowadays are.”

“Why?”

“So many of them don’t have the power. They are seeking it, but if they don’t have it, they won’t gain it. Our numbers have been growing because of the women’s liberation movement, but more of those women becoming witches are angry feminists rather than true witches.”

Sarah cocked her head to the side. “And we’re real witches.” It was a statement rather than a question.

“Yes, and if you choose, you can use your power to do good and protect yourself from those who have wronged you. Who has wronged you, Sarah? Who can you use your power against?” Anna asked.

“Does it always have to be against someone?”

Anna smiled. “Oh, yes, the only way to grow your power is to use it to dominate others.”

Sarah’s brow furrowed. That didn’t sound right.

“I’ve been dreaming about Mrs. Zentz since Christine disappeared,” Sarah said. “At first, we just argued. Now we fight in the dreams. I think she wants to kill me.”

“She’s your science teacher, isn’t she?”

Sarah nodded.

“And she’s the reason you’re suspended?”

Sarah nodded again.

“Then I think your dreams are showing you how your power can help.”

Sarah’s brow furrowed. “By getting in a fight with her?”

“Not literally showing you, but it’s showing you your power can help you like it did with Christine.”

Her aunt made the S-turn near the Moravian Church, which pushed Sarah against the door so that she was staring at the old church. She felt a wave of guilt.

“I don’t know how I did that,” Sarah said. “It scared me.”

“You thought about her. You focused on her so your power could focus on her. Then you got rid of the problem.”

Sarah’s parents grounded her for a week and gave her extra chores as punishment. They also agreed with the principal. Sarah had to apologize to Mrs. Zentz.

On the last night of her suspension, Sarah dreamed of Mrs. Zentz again. They fought, but this time, Sarah killed her. As Sarah choked Mrs. Zentz to death, Sarah felt happy, euphoric even. When she woke up, she still felt ecstatic. The feeling disappeared when her mother drove her to school, and Sarah had to apologize to Mrs. Zentz. Rather than shake the teacher’s hand, Sarah wanted to lunge at her and choke her. The feeling frightened her.

Sarah seethed throughout the day. It wasn’t right that she should have to apologize. She had already been punished.

When the school day ended, Sarah rode the school bus home. However, she didn’t get off at her stop. She continued on to Rocky Ridge, which is where Mrs. Zentz lived. Sarah had found her teacher’s address in the telephone book. Sarah walked to the side of the small rancher so that she couldn’t be seen from the driveway.

Think about her. Focus on her, Aunt Anna had said.

Mrs. Zentz got home around 4:15 p.m. Sarah watched her car turn onto the driveway. She tried to stare at Mrs. Zentz through the front window of her Volkswagen Beetle, but the sun reflected off of it.

Think. Watch. Focus.

Sarah watched the birds flying towards her from all directions – crows, blackbirds, cowbirds, starlings, grackles. They landed and moved in close together to form a wide band of feathers around Mrs. Zentz and her car.

The car door opened and Mrs. Zentz stepped out. She looked at the staring birds and then glanced around. Was she looking for more birds or someone to help her?

Unconcerned, Mrs. Zentz started to walk toward her front door. The birds parted before her, but they weren’t hopping away. They toppled over and slid out of the way without Mrs. Zentz even touching them.

More birds arrived and flew at the teacher, but they seemed to bounce off an unseen wall and fall to the ground. Another flock flew in and was rebuffed, but Sarah could see Mrs. Zentz was sweating. Whatever she was doing to keep the birds away was wearing her down.

Think. Watch. Focus.

More birds arrived and swirled around Mrs. Zentz. Then the birds flew up and joined the melee. Sarah couldn’t see the teacher any longer. Too many birds were moving too fast.

Then the birds scattered, and like Christine, Mrs. Zentz was nowhere to be seen.

Sarah came out from her hiding place and walked over to where Mrs. Zentz had been standing. She saw no blood or scraps of material, but she also saw no sign of Mrs. Zentz.

What she did see was a patch of dirt. The grass had been pulled up to expose the dirt. A set of seven symbols had been drawn in the dirt in a circle. Nothing like that had happened when the birds attacked Christine.

What did they mean? They weren’t letters. Sarah had never seen anything like them.

Something told her they were wrong. They shouldn’t be here. They hadn’t been here before Mrs. Zentz came home. Now that they were, all Sarah knew was that they shouldn’t be.

From 2009 to 2013, Joan Bittner Fry of Sabillasville composed three books of local interest. From The State Sanatorium at Sabillasville from 1908 in 2009 to Part 2 Plus in 2010 to Did You Know? in 2013, in which a wealth of information about local communities is collected. 

By gleaning photos from an extensive postcard collection, relaying stories from family and friends, and living in the area all her life, Fry offers extensive familiarity of her subjects.  

The first self-published book was dedicated to the late Clara Schumacher (1922-2019) of Thurmont, who was a patient at the sanatorium and who later became a nurse there. Clara was generous with her information and gave first-hand knowledge of The State Sanatorium, the first tuberculosis hospital in Maryland.

The second book was dedicated to the late elementary school teacher and dear friend, Naomi Waynant (1911-2012) of Sabillasville. This book continues with more information about the sanatorium and includes informational stories about local schools, businesses, churches, boarding houses and hotels, and famous and not-so-famous people and places.

The third book was dedicated to the memory of family member Bill Messner (1944-2003), a very special cousin. It contains information about historical places; i.e., Sharpsburg, Antietam, Mason-Dixon Line, C & O Canal, Camp/Fort Ritchie, The National Road (Route 40), and Western Maryland Railroad, as well as many other local places of interest.

A limited number of copies is again available for purchase. The cost is $20 each or $50 for the series of three. Copies are available from the author at jofry241@yahoo.com; E Plus Graphics and Promotions in the lobby of Jubilee Foods in Emmitsburg, where the books are being printed; or the Fort Ritchie Community Center in Cascade. 

Blair Garrett

Craftsmanship comes in many forms. One can specialize in a variety of fields, from cooking to painting to construction.

But right here in the Catoctin area lives one of the most talented craftsmen around.

Blacksmithing and metalworking extraordinaire, Robert Bittner, 27, of Sabillasville, has found his niche creating entirely unique custom cars and fueling his creative outlets with hand-crafted projects made from whatever scrap metal he can find.

After spending most of his childhood on a farm and thinking that was where his career was headed, Bittner found a new direction in quite an unusual way. “I started in high school,” Bittner said. “I didn’t want to take Spanish, so I had to take a career course. I went to CTC for welding, and I got really good at it. I went to nationals for skills USA, and I ranked really high in the nation and just kept going.”

As a kid, Bittner found drawing as a sufficient way to take ideas and create them into something physical, which may have been a precursor that lead him to where he is now.

Making it as an artist outside of a major metropolitan area is an increasingly difficult avenue for a career, therefore logically, Bittner chose something with a bit more stability, contracting with a roofing company.

Bittner worked the roofing job for a year, but quickly found out that wasn’t the path for him. He landed at a shop nearby, which changed everything for him. “After roofing, I got a job at Hauk Designs in Pennsylvania, building one-off custom jeeps,” Bittner said. “I always liked the custom side of everything, especially vehicles.”

Bittner and the team at Hauk Designs caught the eye of some reps from the History Channel with one of their vehicles at SEMA, the biggest invite-only car show in the world.

That launched the opportunity to showcase their metalworking talents to a larger audience in 2017 as they filmed the TV show Road Hauks. Each episode followed the design and fabrication process to build custom jeeps and vehicles from scratch into a photoshoot-worthy and fully operational pieces of machinery.

 The exposure for Bittner and company allowed them to take and build more cars for shows as far as Las Vegas, showing the world what they could do.

The exposure from the show even spun off into other lucrative projects. “A guy in Taiwan sent us $150,000 and said, ‘build me a jeep I can’t kill,’” Bittner said. “I built and designed a full exo-cage, fenders, bumpers, $15,000 worth of just axles.” Those are the projects an artist like Bittner thrives on. “If I could, I would do these all the time.”  

Today, Bittner has the means to take those ideas and put them into a tangible metal work of art, with an unbelievable amount of detail and uniqueness you can’t find anywhere else, and he plans on doing it just from the comfort of his home in Sabillasville under his new business Har-Valley Forge and Fab Works.

While he is commissioning personal art pieces for locals, like his popular hand-crafted metal roses, he still makes time to work on the things he loves most.

“My motorcycle I built from the ground up. It’s a Sportster that I completely customized top to bottom,” he said. Nearly the entire motorcycle is fully hand-built, aside from the Jack Daniels plate on the frame of the vehicle. There isn’t a piece exactly like it in the world.

Bittner has a promising road ahead of him, and with new projects and ideas coming to mind every day, it feels like it’s only a matter of time until we see his work on the big stage again.

Story Written by James Rada, Jr.

Part 3: Unfair Education

“The Anger of Innocence” is a six-part original serial set in the Graceham area during 1973. Serialized fiction is something that older newspapers often did as an additional way to entertain their readers. We thought it was about time for serial to make a comeback. Let us know what you think.

Sarah Adelsberger woke in the morning feeling tired rather than refreshed. She hadn’t dreamed about the birds covering Christine Weber and the teenager not being there when the birds flew off. She hadn’t even dreamed about bringing the bird with the broken neck back to life. She would have expected to have nightmares about those things because they had happened, but she had dreamed about something that hadn’t even happened.

In her nightmare, she had argued with Mrs. Zentz, her science teacher. She couldn’t remember what they argued about, only that they had been shouting back and forth. While Sarah believed Mrs. Zentz didn’t like her, the teacher had never treated Sarah as poorly as she had in the dream. The teacher made fun of Sarah’s questions and laughed at her answers. She called Sarah a “stupid, fat girl.” Sarah had also felt a lot angrier toward the teacher than she had ever felt in real life. Maybe it was because of the way the dream teacher acted, but Sarah had felt disconnected from her dream self. Although she was awake now, Sarah still seethed with anger.

She got herself ready in a fog. She dreaded going to school because she knew Christine wouldn’t be there. Christine was a popular student, and people would wonder where she was. No one except Sarah’s family would have cared if Sarah had gone missing.

At Thurmont Middle School, Sarah heard Marci Robertson say Christine was supposed to come over to her house after school, but Christine had never showed up. John Poole mentioned that Christine hadn’t seemed sick yesterday, and she was probably playing hooky.

Most kids wanted to talk about all the birds that were in the area. The thousands of blackbirds, grackles, cowbirds, and starlings had started arriving in the area yesterday, and only Sarah knew that she was the reason they had come. She didn’t know how she had called them or how to make them go away, but her aunt had explained to Sarah that she had power.

Sarah walked into her science class and felt angry at the sight of her teacher. Mrs. Zentz was a few years older than Sarah’s mother, but not as old as Mrs. Smith, Sarah’s English teacher, who looked like a dried apple. Mrs. Zentz’s straight, red hair had to be dyed, as bright as it was, and her dark, brown eyes felt like daggers when they narrowed in on you. When Mrs. Zentz smiled at Sarah, all Sarah could do was frown.

During the lesson, Sarah heard some other students murmuring. She turned around in her chair to ask what was happening, and she saw a line of blackbirds and starlings perched on the windowsill. They all faced into the classroom, and they were all staring at Mrs. Zentz.

The teacher tried to ignore them, but she kept casting glances over her shoulder toward the windows. Then she would stare at Sarah.

Sarah’s bad dreams continued, and they were wearing the young girl down. As the weeks progressed, she became sullen and depressed. She lost her appetite and started losing weight. Even the Christmas break didn’t improve her mood. She still dreamed of Mrs. Zentz, but now, they physically fought each other in Sarah’s dreams, punching, kicking, and pulling hair.

Sarah’s father wrote off her attitude as one of the unpleasant symptoms of puberty. Her mother didn’t seem as certain. She kept asking Sarah what was bothering her, but Sarah knew her mother wouldn’t understand. Only Aunt Anna knew what Sarah was going through. She gave Sarah exercises to do to control her power. Sarah did them and felt she was making progress. Then she would try to make the birds leave, but instead, more flew into Graceham.

The longer the birds stayed, the more problems they caused. Dead birds abounded. People hit them with their cars. Other birds starved because there wasn’t enough food for what was now estimated up to 10 million birds. Chirping and shrieking kept residents awake at night. The birds coated the ground with their droppings.

When Christine never returned to school, the playing hooky story changed to her running away from home. This only seemed to make her even more popular because students thought she ran away to chase her dream to be a singer in New York City.

When spring arrived, Sarah’s father often talked about the Frederick County Government’s efforts to drive the birds off. County employees tried loud noises and explosions to scare the birds away, but it didn’t work. Next, they tried thinning out the pine grove where many of the birds liked to perch, but that didn’t work either.

Sarah had come to accept the birds and didn’t mind them. If her aunt was right, they were here to help her. That thought brought her a small measure of peace of mind, before her nightmares drove it away each night.

Sarah watched the birds sitting on the windowsill outside of her science class every day. The number of birds had increased so that they were jammed wing to wing on the sill. They all still looked into the classroom, and they all still stared at Mrs. Zentz.

“The birds must want to know more about science,” Mrs. Zentz sometimes joked.

No one mentioned that hers was the only classroom where the birds gathered, and that they were only there during Sarah’s science class. Odd questions without answers no one wanted to ask.

Sarah still had no idea how to control the birds, which she didn’t mind so much now, seeing how she had forced the cowbird to break its neck against a wall in November.

“Sarah?”

Sarah’s head jerked around to face front. Mrs. Zentz had asked her a question.

“Pay attention,” the teacher said. “I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of birds these past few months.”

Although Mrs. Zentz still smiled, Sarah could tell having the birds only on her windowsill worried her. She had become short-tempered since last fall, although she still wasn’t as mean as dream Mrs. Zentz.

“I like watching the birds,” Sarah said.

“Well, you can watch them when you’re not in class. It’s not like they’re hard to find. Now please explain the process of photosynthesis to the class.”

Sarah’s anger surged. She wanted to scream and yell at the teacher. Instead, she controlled herself and said, “No.” The other students whispered, “Oooooo!”

Mrs. Zentz put her hands on her hips. “No?”

“That’s right.”

“And do you have a reason for that?”

“I don’t want to. I want to watch the birds.”

“Then perhaps you’d like to watch them while you’re in detention.”

Sarah shook her head and turned away from her teacher. “No, I’ll watch them now.”

The teacher walked over next to Sarah’s desk. “What has gotten into you, Sarah? You are being insubordinate.”

“And you’re being nasty and mean,” Sarah said without turning back.

Mrs. Zentz slapped her desk. “Enough! Take your books and go to the office. I will call down and tell them to expect you.”

Sarah stood up quickly, knocking over her desk chair. Mrs. Zentz jumped back, and Sarah smiled. She pulled her books out of her desk and stomped to the door to the class. She didn’t even bother to pick up her overturned chair.

As she left, the birds pecked hard at the windows. When one of the panes cracked, some students yelled in surprise. It lasted only a few seconds until Sarah was out of the door and walking down the hall.

Part 1: Taking Flight

“The Anger of Innocence” is a six-part original serial set in the Graceham area during 1973. Serialized fiction is something that older newspapers often did as an additional way to entertain their readers. We thought it was about time for serial to make a comeback. Let us know what you think.

Story Written by James Rada, Jr.

The blackbird fell out of the sky, diving so close to Christine Weber’s head that the blonde 13-year-old had to duck to keep the bird from tangling in her hair. She flapped her arms over her head trying to drive it off. When it didn’t land in her hair or claw at her, Christine straightened up and looked around.

The blackbird stood on the side of the road about six feet in front of her. It stared at her with unblinking dark eyes.

“Shoo!” Christine said, waving her hands toward the bird.

It didn’t fly away or even hop around. It might as well have been a statue.

She thought of swinging her book bag at the bird, but she didn’t want to anger it so that it would fly at her.

Christine walked around the blackbird giving it a wide berth. It turned to watch her as she walked.

She traveled the quarter mile between her home on Graceham Road and the bus stop twice a day during the school year. She’d seen plenty of birds during that time; crows, robins, cardinals, once even a hummingbird had zipped by her, but she had never seen a bird act as odd as this one. Occasionally, a bird would fly near her and even land on the street, but it always flew off if she got too close. She didn’t intimidate this bird at all.

She kept walking down the road. She couldn’t let a stupid bird delay her.

Christine thought about the homework she had to do tonight. Her teachers at Thurmont Middle School had no shortage of papers and projects to assign her, but she was an eighth grader. Next year, in the fall of 1974, she’d be a freshman at Catoctin High School, and she had to be ready. Tonight’s assignments would take at least an hour to do, and her mother would set her down at the kitchen table with a glass of Kool-Aid and expect her to get to work when she got home. She hoped she could finish quickly enough to have time to go over to Marci Robertson’s house and listen to the new Kool and the Gang, Bachman Turner Overdrive, and Jackson albums that Marci had gotten for her birthday. Christine especially enjoyed grooving to “Dancing Machine” by the Jackson Five.

She paused when she saw the pair of blackbirds standing on the side of the road staring at her. They stood there in the grass, not moving. Christine stopped and turned back. The bird that had dive-bombed her still stood on the edge of the road not doing anything but staring at her.

Odd.

When she turned around to start walking, a cowbird stood in front of her, so close she could have easily kicked it. She was tempted to do so, but it didn’t seem right. Like the other birds, this one didn’t hop around or peck at the ground. It just watched her. It wasn’t doing her any harm or even annoying her. It was just…weird.

She stepped around the bird and kept walking, although now she walked faster than she had been. She wanted to be inside her house. She wouldn’t have to see these odd birds there or feel their eyes upon her.

A half a dozen starlings landed on a power line that ran above the road. That was nothing unusual except that they also stared at her.

Christine shook her head. She had to be imagining this. One bird might stare at her but not every bird she saw.

She hurried down the road until she saw the flock of blackbirds, grackles, cowbirds, and starlings sitting on the road. There must have been hundreds of them. They formed a thick line, not only blocking the road, but stretching a yard or more to either side of the road.

Christine stopped. She couldn’t walk through the birds, although she might kick her way through them. She was beginning to doubt that though, as all these birds stood unmoving and staring at her. She wished for a car to drive up, so she could hitch a ride. At this point, she didn’t even care who was driving. Let the car drive right through this line of birds. They would either fly away or be flattened.

She hurried onto the field next to the road, planning to go around the line of birds, but they all turned in unison and hopped to stay in front of her. Christine ran in the other direction, thinking she could move faster than the birds and get around them. They took flight to move quickly to block her path.

Christine couldn’t be sure, but it seemed there were more birds now than before their short flight.

Then, even as she watched, a flock of birds flew in from the direction of Thurmont. They swirled around overhead and landed in a circle around the young girl. Thousands of birds formed a solid circle around her that was six-feet wide.

Christine turned looking for a way through the line. It was too broad for her to jump over. She swung her book bag at the birds. They didn’t move, and she knocked them over like bowling pins. The fallen birds flapped their wings until they could get their feet under them again.

Christine suddenly realized what made her so uneasy about the birds, in addition to their staring. The birds that had fallen over hadn’t made a sound, not when the book bag had toppled them and not when they had struggled to stand up. If Christine had been hit with a book bag, she would have yelled, and she was a lot bigger than a bird.

“Help!” she shouted, hoping someone in a nearby house would come out to help her.

Someone had to be nearby. She wasn’t so sure what anyone could do to help her. If the birds wouldn’t move for her, they wouldn’t move for anyone else. Christine would feel easier, though, if she wasn’t so badly outnumbered. Not that 5,000 birds to two people was much better than 5,000 birds against just her.

“Help! Somebody, help me!”

No one came, and no one was in sight. She was on her own.

Christine suddenly yelled and ran toward the outside of the line. She kicked at the birds and judging by the crunch she heard, she stepped on at least one of them. And still none of them made a sound.

She had only taken a few steps into the birds when they took flight and flew in a circle around her. Christine stood in the center of it all, afraid to try and push through the swirling wall of birds in front of her.

“Help!”

She doubted anyone could hear her. She could barely hear herself among the beating of wings. Christine looked up at the sky in time to see the swirling birds close the gap of sunlight.

***

Sarah Adelsberger stepped out from behind the blue spruce tree so she could see things better. The swirling flock of birds numbered at least 10,000, probably more. They spun in a tight circle as large as a house.

Even as she watched, the circle tightened and grew denser so that no flashes of daylight could be seen through the column. Then the birds shot off in all directions in a wild flurry.

Sarah walked across the field and crossed the street. She came to a stop where the column of birds had been. She saw a few spots of blood on the grass and a quarter-size piece of canvas from Christine’s book bag, but that was all.

Sarah picked up the piece of canvas and put it in her pocket. Then she looked into the sky at the birds, most of which were specks against the sky as they flew off.

Somehow, she knew they wouldn’t go too far. They had come for a purpose.

To be continued…

Old Glory

Poem by Francis Smith

Yes, Sir! I can see

Old Glory proudly perched

Upon her battered staff.

            And yes, at five a.m.;

            In the glorious light of dawn,

            Old Glory holds her own

            Above the sturdy ramparts

            Of old Baltimore’s

            Fort McHenry.

As you may know,

A famous old church tune

Kept surging in the soul

Of that wakened spirit

Of Francis Scott Key.

            As the patriotic hymn

            Kept Francis humming

            Its age-old tune,

            The dawn also broke

            In his fertile brain.

To his delight, his thoughts

Of war and peace

Burst into the solemn melody;

The words for the tune

And so was born

Our ‘Star Spangled Banner’

In “dawn’s early light.”   

Happiness

Poem by Amanda Sweeney

I know my soul,  my courage,  my life, I have tested myself to change out of the old soul,  I poisoned with tragic misery of not how I can explain from the torture I went through  with no passion,  now I seek and found my passion with my beast,  my beast helps keeps me controlled with the right soul I found with him, I begin to now find love with more than ever, the happiness finds me gratitudes I yet have not never seen all yet, but it will never end with my beast, to keep find the right and blessed eternity of great pleasures we keep in our souls make one of the soulmates we are meant to be, through pain, suffering, aches,  headaches of all kinds, love, sadness, happiness is the most of all to not complain, we just want to be the turtle doves, the angels that GOD keeps in his nature to live a full long life, to not complain at all!   

Focus

On Catoctin

Photo by Debbie Wivell

The photo shows the Roddy Road covered bridge, just north of Thurmont, off of US 15, where Roddy Creek Road meets Roddy Road at Owens Creek.

Debbie Wivell took this beautiful photo of the historic bridge on Saturday morning, June 1, 2019.

The Roddy Road Covered Bridge, built in 1856, is a small, one-lane Kingpost design wooden covered bridge. It crosses Owen’s Creek near Thurmont. It is 40 feet long, 16 feet wide, with a 12 foot-8 inch clearance.

The Roddy Road Covered Bridge is the smallest of the county’s covered bridges. There are two more covered bridges close by; the Loy’s Station Covered Bridge and the Utica Covered Bridge.

Explore the natural beauty of this park and bridge, go fishing, or relax with a picnic.

You are invited to a free showing of Before The Flood, a special film documenting extreme weather changes and how they are affecting all of us, especially the poorest people and innocent creatures worldwide. From rising sea levels to destruction of rainforests, Leonardo DiCaprio, as the Messenger of Peace on behalf of the of the United Nations, takes us on a tour around the world as he investigates with us the consequences of human activity and the spiritual necessity for us to protect “our only home,” as Pope Francis puts it.

The free showing will be held on Thursday, June 13, 2019, at 7:00 p.m. at Weller Methodist Church, located at 101 N. Altamont Avenue in Thurmont.  A second showing will be at Mystic Meadows Nature Preserve on Friday, June 21, 2019, at 7:00 p.m. (please RSVP for this second showing at 240-469-7899, or for any questions related to either showing).

The Emmitsburg Lions Club is once again sponsoring a Heritage Art Contest. The contest is open to school-aged children from the Emmitsburg School area in first through eighth grades. Homeschoolers are encouraged to participate as well.

All artwork should reflect the theme: “What Does My Community Look Like to Me?” Prizes are awarded to winners in each division.

For registration, visit www.Emmitsburgevents.com or email eburgheritagedays@gmail.com.

Poem by Francis Smith

Come to me
in the greening
     of the springtime

when all the world is born
     fresh and new.

          Come to me
              when flowers and trees,
              veggies and fruits,
              and seedlings of all sorts
              poke their heads
              and twine their roots —
              their colors burst anew.

So, come, watch with me,
     enjoy the scenes, and
     smile your biggest smile!

Come, rest your soul;
     it is so worth the while!

Last month, I wrote about how a local Emmitsburg collector owned two Armstrong rifles, which had been crafted in town. The same collector owns an Eyster clock, and the Maryland Room at the C. Burr Artz Library in Frederick owns a Hoover clock.

John Hoover is believed to be Emmitsburg’s first clockmaker. He lived from 1771-1832, so his working years would make him a contemporary of riflemaker John Armstrong and Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton.

The John Hoover clock in the C. Burr Artz Library is a tall clock in a wooden case. Hoover signed the face: John Hoover, Emmitsburgh, 20.

The numeral indicates that it was Hoover’s 20th clock.

“The case is very well constructed, and it is interesting to note that both this clock and the Eyster tall clock show a similar Pennsylvania Dutch influence in the design on the base,” Mary B. Nakhleh wrote in Emmitsburg: History and Society.

Little else is known about Hoover, regarding his clocks. Luckily, much more is known of Andrew Eyster (1800-1872). According to Nakhleh, a local story is that a clockmaker named Bachman, who came from Waynesboro, Pennsylvania, trained Andrew in clockmaker and silversmithing. However, she also theorizes that, given their ages, it is possible Andrew Eyster learned his trade from John Hoover. Besides clockmaking and silversmithing, Andrew also earned a living as a jeweler. The Eyster shop was on the south side of West Main Street. He was also active in local government, serving as a town commissioner, burgess, and magistrate.

When Andrew died in 1872, his sons, George Edgar Taylor Eyster (1847-1914) and Hall Webster Eyster (1851-1927), took over the business, having been apprenticed to his father. At least one clock still exists that is labelled “G.T. Eyster & Bro., Emmittsburg.” According to Nahkleh, it has a double dial and a calendar dial that indicates day and month.

George was a Civil War Veteran. He had enlisted in the Army in 1864, and then signed up for Cole’s Cavalry in 1864, according to his obituary in the Emmitsburg Chronicle. “

Mr. Eyster was one of the few men who could boast of having heard Abraham Lincoln deliver that immortal address at Gettysburg at the dedication of the National Cemetery,” the Chronicle reported.

Like his father, George was active in civic affairs, although in his case, it was serving with the Vigilant Hose Company for 20 years as its captain.

George advertised his business in a way left little doubt as to what he did. “George T. Eyster has hung out, at his store, a large gilt watch, that indicates the time at 8:20 or 5:40 o’clock as you please to read it. It goes by swinging.” “This sign is still in the possession of the Eyster family,” the Emmitsburg Chronicle reported in 1883.               

Although George was the Eyster name on the business, Hall seems to have had the talent. Andrew may have recognized this because he left all of his watch and clock making tools to Hall. Hall also held a patent for creating an improved clock movement frame. “The frame was designed so that the mainspring arbors could be removed without tilting or damaging the movement. The lower portions of the clock frame, both front and back plates, were constructed in three parts which were screwed together in such a way that the entire lower frame could be dismantled sectionally,” Nakhleh wrote.

A third son of Andrew Eyster was also a clockmaker. George’s older brother, John Thomas Eyster (1833-1921), is listed in Maryland Clockmakers as Andrew’s son and apprentice who worked as a silversmith, jeweler, and watchmaker.

Given the rich tradition of clockmaking in Emmitsburg, it’s a shame that more Eyster and Hoover timepieces haven’t survived.

(left, below) Hoover Clock in the Maryland Room at C. Burr Artz Library.

James Rada, Jr.

Watching Majo jump around, waiting for Tim Duhan to throw a lacrosse ball, it’s hard to imagine that the nineteen-month-old German shepherd-Belgian Malinois mix is a trained law enforcement officer. On the job, Majo is all business, as he tests the air for the scent of hidden narcotics.

“He’s 100 percent a puppy still, and he’s also ball crazy,” said Duhan, a corporal with the Thurmont Police.

Majo is trained as a narcotics dog and has been on the job since September 2018. He came from the Czech Republic, and the Thurmont Police purchased him from Castle’s K-9 Inc., a company in Pennsylvania that imports and trains police dogs.

The town had a budget of $10,000 to purchase and train Majo, but the bill came out to be $12,600. However, the Humane Society of Frederick County donated $1,600 and Woodsboro Bank donated $1,000 to make up the difference.

“Another couple of agencies wanted to make him (Majo) a dual-purpose dog, but we got him first,” Duhan said.

Some dogs can also be trained as a patrol dog, besides smelling for certain scents. This “bite work” is left to dogs with a temperament for it and a reputation for being tough like German shepherds or Doberman Pinschers.

“The town didn’t want a dog that would bite, though,” Duhan said. “They wanted a social dog, and Majo is very social.”

Majo also does his police work well. So far, he and Duhan have been called out for scans three times, and drugs were found every time.

This comes from Majo’s daily training. Duhan not only exercises him, he trains him through scanning scenarios.

“With a dog like this, he should be doing some sort of drug training every day,” explained Duhan.

Majo takes over the position of canine cop from Buddy, a black Labrador retriever who was medically retired in May. He was running and playing when he injured himself in an accident.

“I’m not sure what happened,” Duhan said. “I saw him running down the yard and turned away for a moment. When I turned back, he was doing a somersault and hit a tree.”

Duhan rushed over to Buddy and discovered that the dog couldn’t get his front legs to work. He rushed him to the veterinarian for care. It was discovered that Buddy had permanent nerve damage to one of his legs, and it had to be amputated.

“He still could have done the job, but the town was unable to get insurance for him,” Duhan said.

Buddy still lives with Duhan, his family, Majo, and Duhan’s large Pyrennes. The dogs get along well, except they fight over toys like children. Duhan will still let Buddy do drug scans because the retriever likes the activity.

“He watches me do it with Majo, so I also let him scan,” Duhan said. “Even after being retired, I could probably certify Buddy now.”

Corporal Tim Duhan stands with Majo, a trained narcotics dog with the Thurmont Police Department.

Photo by James Rada, Jr.

James Rada, Jr.

There was a time in Frederick County when workers needed to follow the work. Every year, a couple thousand workers would journey up the East Coast to work on farms and in factories in the county. They lived in migrant camps in Thurmont, Frederick, and Araby.

Galen Hahn was among them. He didn’t travel with them or work the jobs they did. He ministered to them in the 1960s.

Born and raised in Frederick County, Hahn is the son of John and Helen Hahn. He was confirmed and ordained into Christian ministry at Grace Reformed United Church of Christ in Frederick.

While in high school, Hahn spent a couple summers working with the pastors who served the migrant communities in the county. He initially served as a guide, getting a pastor who wasn’t local to the different places he needed to go, but he continued volunteering and serving the migrants. After he graduated college, Rev. Hahn returned to the county as the migrant pastor.

“It wasn’t just a meeting on Sunday,” Hahn said. “I had to go day to day, week to week. The bulk of the people I worked with were children and a few women.”

This is because the men, and most of the women, were in the county to work, and they worked seven days a week. In the Thurmont area, they worked in a canning factory owned by J. O’Neill Jenkins.

The migrant camp was a set of run-down barracks that were “falling apart,” according to Hahn. For these poor accommodations, the families paid $2.00 per person, per week. The camp, which was near the Weller Church cemetery, no longer exists.

Hahn has written a book about his time as a migrant pastor, called Finding My Field. It includes pictures, which he has since donated to the Maryland Room in the C. Burr Artz Library in Frederick.

The book is the story of the migrant ministry in Frederick County and the people who cared enough for the migrant farm workers to pursue justice for them.

“Toward the end of my life, I am enjoying the opportunity of revisiting some of my early days of involvement in ministry before ordained ministry became my life,” Hahn said. “I was early affected by race, poverty, justice, and ministry to children where these were issues. These issues stayed with me throughout my ordained ministry.”

Although he now is retired and living in North Carolina, Rev. Hahn previously served as pastor of the Mt. Pleasant Reformed United Church of Christ and the Sabillasville United Church of Christ. He has also served as a chaplain at Stauffer Funeral Home, Victor Cullen Center, and Victor Cullen Academy.

You can purchase his book online at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. Copies are also available to check out in county libraries.

Thurmont Migrant Camp

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Thurmont-Camp-1963.jpg

Before Migrants Arrived in 1963

Connie  Stapleton at the Thurmont Camp Garbage Area.

Thurmont Camp Barracks Family Room.

Photos Courtesy of the Maryland Room, Frederick County Public Libraries

Blair Garrett

Emmitsburg-based filmmaker Conrad Weaver’s new documentary, Heroin’s Grip has been making waves in a community affected by an addiction epidemic.

The documentary offers viewers hope, understanding, and empathy for those who have struggled with addiction or are currently dealing with the effects of opiates.

Weaver’s in-depth look at the critical issues of opioid addiction premiered locally this September, and the impact of the film is already catching the eye of filmmakers around the country. It all started by Weaver paying close attention to the people close to him and their personal issues with addiction.

“One of my friend’s kids got tangled into this mess, and hearing their stories and their struggles and seeing it on the news every day made me decide to jump into it and figure out how to tell this story,” Weaver said. “I couldn’t sit on the sidelines any longer and just turn my head away. I just had to get into it and get involved somehow.”

The response from the community has been tremendous for Weaver and his team, and it comes at a time when Frederick County and thousands of others need the message most.

“We had a screening [locally] a couple weeks ago and the feedback to that was just amazing,” Weaver said. “Immediately, I started getting calls from people around the country looking to screen the film.”

The reach of the film is perhaps what may drive awareness most, and that awareness is what Weaver is striving for. “We really hope to help people understand addiction, help them to have a little more empathy for those who are caught up in it, and I believe that is what that film is doing.”

While the documentary has been a local hit so far, soon the world may get to understand Weaver’s vision behind Heroin’s Grip. “My goal is for as many people to see it as possible,” Weaver said. “It really does change your perspective on this problem, and specifically what opioids do to the brain.”

Weaver plans to show his film locally again and hopes to have it broadcast in theaters nationwide. For Weaver, if Heroin’s Grip helps erase some of the stigma surrounding addiction or helps another to understand and support those in recovery, the documentary will have done its job.

The sense of satisfaction in filmmaking is not always about the money. Sometimes, a story needs to be told for the good of the people, and Weaver’s documentary is giving people just that. “This is my third feature documentary I’ve produced, and I love telling stories. Projects like this are near and dear to my heart.”

 

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was the great national project that failed to live up the dream. It never reached its ultimate destination, which was not Cumberland, Maryland (where it wound up), or the Ohio River (as the name implies). The early vision of the canal planners was something far grander and longer, and it’s just one of the secrets of the C&O Canal.

In his new book, Secrets of the C&O Canal: Little-Known Stories & Hidden History Along the Potomac River, award-winning writer James Rada, Jr. (pictured right) tells the stories of the canal, its people, politics, and connection to history.

If you’re wondering where the canal could have gone, one possibility was that it would have ended at Lake Erie to offer competition to the Erie Canal. You can discover and alternate starting point in the book.

Other “secrets” of the canal include: Discovering the connection between the C&O Canal and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy; Finding out how building the canal led to the creation of the U.S. Constitution;    Discovering how the Johnstown Flood helped kill the canal; Solving the mystery of two murders on the canal that never actually happened.

“I’ve been writing about the C&O Canal for eighteen years,” Rada said. “It was the subject of my first historical novel. I love it, and I keep coming back to it as a topic for stories.”

Rada considers “secrets” in this book as stories that aren’t widely known. When speaking to audiences about the topics of his other “Secrets” books, he has found that people whom he expected to know all of the stories in his book knew half of them.

“And those were people who you would expect to know all about the topic,” Rada said.

These are stories that Rada discovered looking through old newspapers and journals, and they cover a wide range of areas.

“These are stories that caught my attention in one way or another,” Rada said. “They aren’t the types of stories you find in history books about the county, but they are part of the area’s past.”

Secrets of the C&O Canal contains sixty-seven black and white photographs and illustrations that help bring the stories to life.

“I love writing about history,” Rada said. “I love finding interesting and unusual stories about people and places, and I haven’t come across an area that doesn’t have plenty of these stories.”

Secrets of the C&O Canal is the third in a series of books that Rada is writing about regional topics.

James Rada, Jr. is an award-winning writer, who Midwest Book Review called “a writer of considerable and deftly expressed storytelling talent.” Leatherneck Magazine called The Last to Fall “a superb book.” Rada has two dozen writing awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists, Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association, Maryland State Teachers Association, and Utah Ad Federation. He has been writing about history for nearly twenty years and still finds it fascinating and new.

“History is not boring. It’s full of love, adventure, comedy, and mysteries that still aren’t solved to this day. It’s those types of stories I like to write, and I believe I’ve pulled together a great collection of them for this book,” Rada said.

Rada is the author of twenty books, most history and historical fiction. His articles have been published in magazines like The History Channel Magazine, Boy’s Life, and Frederick Magazine. He also writes four local history columns for The Cumberland Times-News, The Gettysburg Times, The York Dispatch, and The Catoctin Banner.

Secrets of the C&O Canal: Little-Known Stories & Hidden History Along the Potomac River retails for $19.95 and is available at local booksellers. For more information about James Rada’s books, visit his website at jamesrada.com.

Catoctin Voices Evening of Poetry opens its 2018 series with guest poet, Jessica Flynn, on Friday, April 20, at 7:00 p.m. in the Collier’s Log House, located at 12607 Catoctin Furnace Road in Thurmont. Flynn, of Gardners, Pennsylvania, has written poetry for sixteen years and performed as a Spoken Word Artist for over four years. She represented the USA as an award-winning Poet of 2015 in the International Poetry Festival in Macedonia. Her YouTube channel, “The Hippie Housewife,” currently features fifty-nine videos on topics such as art, crafts, food, nature, family, animals, tattooing, dreadlocks, hula hooping, children, and more. She produces two videos per week. Her husband, Dustin Nispel, is also an award-winning published poet and Spoken Word Artist.

Catoctin Voices is open to the public and features a guest poet from the region every third Friday of the month, from 7:00-9:00 p.m., April through November. The venue is held in the village of Catoctin Furnace at the historic Collier’s Cabin, courtesy of the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society. Anyone who writes poetry or has a favorite poem by another author may share up to three pieces during the 45-minute open mic time. Students are most welcome! Open readings precede the featured poet and refreshments are always served. For more information, call 301-418-3375.

Jessica Flynn, featured guest poet at Catoctin Voices Evening of Poetry on April 20, 2018.

Calling all artists for the 2018 Spring in the Village/Art at the Furnace event in historic Catoctin Furnace in Thurmont.

During the past six years, more than 3,500 visitors have enjoyed the crafts, food, and traditional atmosphere of the historic village during this family-friendly event.

For more information, please visit www.catoctinfurnace.org or call 301-271-7574.

Anita DiGregory

Have you recently fallen in love?  Are you newly engaged and planning a wedding? Did you recently get married? If so, Mount Saint Mary’s graduate and author Stephanie Calis has some practical and spiritual advice for you. On February 11, in honor of St. Valentine’s Day and the observances of National Marriage Week (February 7-14) and World Marriage Day (February 11), the Seton Shrine hosted a “Chat with an Author,” featuring Calis and her book, Invited: The Ultimate Catholic Wedding Planner, which is up for its second printing and has been a #1 Amazon bestseller in Weddings.

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton was the first native-born U.S. saint.  Because Mother Seton was a young wife, mother, and resident of Emmitsburg, the Seton Shrine was thrilled to invite Calis to share her message with the community. The event, which was well received, was moderated by Shrine Programs Director Tony Dilulio and included a talk, a question and answer session with the audience, a book signing, and refreshments. The free event was the second in the series, with the next talk (featuring Good Enough is Good Enough: Confessions of an Imperfect Catholic Mom, author Colleen Duggan) scheduled for 3:00 p.m. on April 29, 2018.

Calis, a young wife and mother herself, was happy to meet with the community and share her wedding and marriage advice in a refreshingly humble and down-to-earth style.  Her passion is sharing with others the immense worth that they hold as a human person; that love is a verb; and that pure, sacrificial love is real.

With the tone of a big sister or a best friend, Calis invites her reader (much like a friend would over a cup of coffee) to see with fresh eyes the beauty and truth of the sacrament of marriage. In an honest and caring manner, Calis shares her insights in hopes to share that rules as established through the Catholic Church are in actuality freeing, resulting in pure, sacrificial love.

“My hope for the book is to present a message, which is accessible and inviting, where Faith is a path to freedom,” adds Calis. In an attempt to combine practical wedding planning advice with spiritual teaching and insights, Invited includes the Catholic Rite of Marriage; planning worksheets and checklists; sample invitations and programs; and reception planning sheets, interspersed with information on marriage prep programs, how to choose the perfect dress, budget aids, planning resources, and more.  Another unique element of the book is the “From the Groom” advice, which includes thoughts and insights written by her husband.

While a student at the Mount, Calis met her future husband, Andrew, a fellow student in her English class. In 2010, Calis graduated, got engaged, and worked in the field. The following year, she and Andrew married at the Grotto in Emmitsburg. Over the next year, she and her husband attended nine weddings for friends and family. Each time, Calis, who had just recently planned her own wedding, was asked for practical advice on topics from the liturgy to vendors to wedding planning. After realizing there were very few resources covering both the practical and spiritual aspects of wedding planning, Calis attempted to humbly fill that void. In 2012, she started a blog, Captive the Heart, to inspire and assist new brides-to-be. Soon after, the sisters from Pauline Books and Media approached her, asking her to write a book, incorporating her insights from the blog. Calis was thrilled to do so, and in 2016, Invited was released.

Those looking for helpful, friendly advice in wedding planning or marriage, can reference Calis’ book, Invited; her blog, Captive the Heart; or her current undertaking (as co-founder and editor) of the beautiful and inviting blog, Spoken Bride.

Author Stephanie Calis and Moderator Tony Dilulio respond to questions from the audience at Seton Shrine Chat with an Author event.

Photo by Anita DiGregory

by Larry Freshman

Well, the old kid has rested and my brain seems ok, so how about some more fanciful recollections of Thurmont back in the day. On the square corner was a large store operated by Jules and Rose, selling a large variety of goods, everything from liquor to clothes. Margaret Thompson had moved from across the street and next to Shappy’s took her place; Margaret sold lovely ladies’ clothing that were accented with style and grace. Some years later, Pat and Pat would take over the shop and rename it LuRay; And continued to sell beautiful clothing, the classic style of the day. Down the street was Roy Lookingbill’s Barber Shop with Billy and Roy Purcell; As a kid I had my hair buzzed there and I thought it really looked swell. Once in a while, I imagine I can still get a whiff of those fragrant aftershaves and hair tonics I recall; But what fascinated me most back then was the painting of Custer’s Last Stand on their wall. Next to the Barber Shop was my Uncle Guy Hobbs’ grocery store; I know he delivered groceries to our house every Thursday as a weekly chore. Down the street was the Stoner House, it’s grandeur and beauty so evident; However, in the name of progress it was torn down, but its magnificent wall paper now decorates the home of our President. Further down on the corner of Center Street, Creager’s Furniture Store could be found; With some of the most gorgeous home furnishings of anywhere around. I can still see Mr. Creager at his desk working on accounts, order forms and sale notices by the score; While daughters Clara Jean and Mary Ellen were assisting customers who were browsing through the store. Across from Creager’s was a large old building, I think several families lived at that sight; In my memory, it was called Mathews Apartments, I believe I am right. From the apartment building to the alley were some quaint little homes all in a row; Across the alley was the old Post Office where mail deliverers and letter carriers scurried to and fro. Above the Post Office, those very steep stairs you would have to climb; To be treated for your illness by Dr. Gray, one of our best physicians at the time. Up the street were two taverns whose business was quite brisk; Although some wives didn’t think kindly of hubby going to Keefer’s for a brew, so it was understood if you went it was at your own risk. In between those two taverns, dentist, Dr. Doll’s office was located; As a kid, a trip to the dentist meant that nasty drill, I guess that’s why those visits I hated. Outside Dr. Doll’s office, Reverend Krone sold vegetables, freshly picked from his garden earlier that day; Everybody was trusted so just leave your payment in the box on the table and be on your way. Behind the Shapiro’s store was a market where you could purchase meat of fowl, pig, or cow; It was Hunting Creek Market, owned and operated by Louis Powell. At the top of Church Street hill was a doctor’s office, Bireley was his name; And as a kid, every time I went there his treatment was the same. The remedy, get up on that table and pull-down your pants; With this big needle of penicillin, those germs won’t stand a chance. Across the street from Dr. Bireley were the Lutheran, Methodist and Catholic Churches all in a line; Oh! how lovely they were, when all were decorated at Christmas time. Further out on Church Street, Mountain Jerry’s Place you would find; The thought of this place brings smells of fried chicken, cigarettes, and beer to mind. As a kid the best thing about this place was the baseball player sign that read; In flashing letters, Mountain Jerry’s it’s a hit, what more needed to be said? Out the street, on the right was Royer’s Restaurant owned by Sam Louise; Royers was spacious inside, had plenty of parking and a staff that worked hard its customers to please. The terrific food and service made Royers busy night and day; I know, ‘cause I was the kid manning the dishwasher; The plates, glasses and silverware never seemed to go away. Traveling past Royers was Bollinger’s Restaurant and snack bar located on a hill nearby; With Momma B doing the cooking, everyone wanted to give that delicious food a try. Hot roast beef sandwiches, cole slaw and fries, my favorite back then and today; Located near Bollingers was a ball field where I believe the Bombers used to play. I hope as you read my remembrances of old Thurmont, you’ll recall your own fond memories of the peaceful places and kind people for which our small town is renowned. Well, it’s time for the kid to put his trusty pen away; And if the memory holds up, there might be more on another day.

There are two more excellent films to be shown in Thurmont this autumn, at both the Regional Library and the Main Street Center. The library itself, as everyone knows, is a great resource for our community, with multiple creative activities and books and movies to engage our minds, as well as internet access. The Main Street Center on Water Street is a marvel to enter, with art work by local artists, as well as the history of this area. We are blessed to have both of these wonderful features here in Thurmont, which is increasingly becoming a reservoir of culture, along with many local businesses.

This fall, we are fortunate to have two films sponsored by the Town’s Green Team and the Sierra Club, and everyone is welcome to attend, free of charge. The films, places, and times are as follows:

 

Before the Flood, a thought-provoking documentary with Leonardo Dicaprio, taking us on a tour around the world, showing us the ravages of pollution, corporate destruction of rainforests, and climate disruption. It also examines positive ways that we can help rectify the problems. A must see! Showing : Saturday, November 4 at 2:00 p.m., Thurmont Main Street Center, 11 Water Street.

 

Bag It, a playful, yet serious, examination depicting the current problems we are are having with plastics in our environment and our food. Excellent!

Showings: Thursday, November 16 at 6:00 p.m., Thurmont Regional Library; Friday, December 1 at 6:00 p.m., Thurmont Main Street Center, 11 Water Street.

Both of these films are good for adults, as well as middle school and high school students. There will be discussions following the film, along with healthy food to snack on. Hope to see you there! For more information, write Christine at songbirdschant@gmail.com.

Each year, the VFW Post 6658 Auxiliary sponsors a contest titled “The Patriot’s Pen,” which is open to students in grades sixth through eighth.

Students are required to do a typed essay of 300-400 words, based on the theme “America’s Gift to My Generation.” Monetary prizes are given to the winners on local, state, and national levels. Judging is based on knowledge of the theme, theme development, and clarity of ideas.

If interested, please contact Annette Wivell at 301-447-3475 for an entry form. Deadline for obtaining the form is October 1, 2017

Poet Tracy Seffers of Charles Town, West Virginia, will read from her latest work, Some Other Life, at the monthly poetry gathering, known as “Catoctin Voices,” on Friday, September 15, 2017, at 7:00 p.m. The event has moved to the historic Collier’s Cabin, located at 12607 Catoctin Furnace Road in Thurmont, home of The Catoctin Furnace Historical Society.

Publisher Finishing Line Press of Kentucky, describes Seffer’s work as bringing “…into view the deep ‘other life’ hidden underneath the commonplace. It is a celebration of the small and unseen lives that reveal deeper truth both divine and deeply human: the poetry sings an incarnational universe.”

  1. Claire Cantwell poet, columnist, and host of “Catoctin Voices” wrote this jacket review: “Tracy Seffers gives us her well-lived poems with an intensity and intimacy that both scores and soothes us, excites and rests, charges and stills. She invites us to float in her world of familiar themes and objects, but what is unfamiliar is her vision, awash in something. Shall I say wisdom? Perhaps it’s more akin to grace.”

The poems demonstrate “a musical ear and fine sensibilities that tap deeply into and from the Appalachian landscape and her own heritage,” writes Dr. Sylvia Baily Shurbutt, professor of English, Shepherd University, senior editor of Anthology of Appalachian Writers, and Director of NEH Voices from the Misty Mountains. “Her poems have an exquisite sense of structure and touch the reader with the quality of language and art. This is a book you will love.”

Tracy Seffers lives with her family on the banks of the Shenandoah River, under the shadow of the Blue Ridge. Her poetry has been featured in reading events throughout the Jefferson County WV Arts Council and in WV Writer’s podcasts; and published in regional literary journals such as the Bluestone Review, Backbone Mountain Review, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel Literary Journal, the Anthology of Appalachian Writers, and in online journals, including Still: The Journal and Assisi: an Online Journal of Arts and Letters.

“Catoctin Voices” is open to the public and features a guest poet from the region, in addition to open readings from anyone who writes poetry or has a favorite poem by another author to share. Approximately forty-five minutes of open reading time precedes the featured poet. Refreshments are always served. For more information, call 301-418-3375.

On July 21, 2017, beginning at 7:00 p.m., Mark Barton will share his poetry at The Creeger House, located at 11 N. Church Street in Thurmont.  Poets and lovers of poetry are welcome to share their original or favorite works during the open mic session. All ages are welcome and refreshments are provided.

Barton is a member of the Pennsylvania Poetry Society’s Keysner Chapter. He is grateful for the group’s poetic insights and for the structure it provides. Mark has also gained from his association with Mituro Music, a collaboration of close friends, who have intermittently cultivated their own compositions and lyrics since the 1970s.

Barton’s poetry has appeared in Encore (National Federation of State Poetry Societies) and Prize Poems (PPS); in Words with Wings (a Keysner Anthology); in Modern Haiku and in Grit, Gravity, and Grace (a compendium released by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia).

Mark Barton lives in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, near Harrisburg. A graduate of Dickinson College and the Pennsylvania State University, he is retired from a career in human services. He reads, writes, gardens, enjoys the natural world, and attempts the in-home study of other languages. Barton says he is sustained by his wife, Bonnie, his daughter, Chelsea, and by Bartlet, the family dog, and also by his friends. Please come enjoy the poetry of this gifted gentleman!

“Catoctin Voices” occurs every third Friday at historic Creeger House and showcases poets from the region. For more information, contact Lisa Cantwell at 301- 418-3375.

Four oil painting scenes of Catoctin Mountain View Farm by Andrea Myers Mannix, daughter of Rodman and the late Jean Myers, are currently on display at the Thurmont Regional Library, through September 10, 2017. The paintings are displayed near the Thurmont Center for Regional Agricultural History Room.

In April 1962, C. Rodman and M. Jean Ogle Myers purchased Catoctin Mountain View Farm on Smith Road in Thurmont from Harry and Marie Zentz. In 1967, an additional farm was purchased from William and Lola Zentz; and, in 1969, an additional farm was purchased from Claude and Martha Favorite. Catoctin Mountain View Farm consists of 425 acres, with its main crops consisting of corn, wheat, barley, soybeans, hay, and straw.  Until 2006, Holstein cows were milked, and now steers graze the land.

In early 2017, Andrea’s oil painting teacher, Kevin Cook (www.kevincook.com), held an exhibit of all his student’s work. The photo (above) is from the Artist’s Opening Reception, held on January 10, 2017, at New Paltz’s Elting Memorial Library. Andrea has raised her son and daughter in New Paltz, New York, and resides there for her job as an IBM Project Manager in Human Resources Corporate Business Applications. New Paltz is in the Hudson Valley area of New York State, with lots of mountains, orchards, and beautiful scenery— just like the Catoctin area!

Andrea Myers Mannix is pictured with her two children and her dad (from left): Denise Mannix, C. Rodman Myers, Andrea Myers Mannix, and Kevin Mannix.

Catoctin Mountain rose from a primordial lake to heights taller than Mount Everest. As time wore it away, many of its secrets were lost with its dwindling peaks. In the era of man, though, its history has been better preserved, although it still holds onto its secrets.

In his new book, Secrets of Catoctin Mountain: Little-Known Stories & Hidden History of Frederick & Loudoun Counties, James Rada, Jr. (Catoctin Banner contributor/editor) tells the stories of Catoctin Mountain, its people, and places.

Residents of Northern Frederick County treasure their association with the mountain, but it actually runs south from Thurmont until nearly reaching Leesburg, Virginia. The more than two dozen stories in the book take place all along Catoctin Mountain.

You can hunt for the snallygaster and dwayyo, legendary monsters that roam the mountain ridges.

Discover what it took to become a spy at the secret OSS training camp on the mountain.

Search for a forgotten gold mine in the foothills of Catoctin Mountain.

These are just a few of the stories included in Secrets of Catoctin Mountain, telling the tales of ordinary people living their lives under unusual conditions at times. Taken together, they paint a picture of the character of the people who live on and around Catoctin Mountain, whether they are from Maryland or Virginia.

“These are stories that caught my attention in one way or another,” Rada said. “They aren’t the types of stories you find in history books about the county, but they are part of the area’s past.”

Rada considers “secrets” in this book as stories that aren’t widely known. He gave as an example a presentation he recently did at the Garrett County Historical Society about his book Secrets of Garrett County. He told the audience about a half a dozen of the “secrets” from the book.

“Before each one, I would ask, ‘Who has heard of…’ and say the secret. I thought that I would be preaching to the choir, and the group would know even more about the stories I was telling than I did. Most of the group had only heard about two of them,” Rada explained. “They’re the type of stories I look for, interesting, but not well-known.”

Secrets of Catoctin Mountain contains sixty-four black and white photographs and illustrations that help bring the stories to life.

“I love writing about history,” Rada said. “I love finding interesting and unusual stories about people and places, and I haven’t come across an area that doesn’t have plenty of these stories.”

Secrets of Catoctin Mountain is the second in a new series of books that Rada is writing about regional topics. The first, Secrets of Garrett County, was released earlier this year.

James Rada, Jr. is an award-winning writer whom the Midwest Book Review called “a writer of considerable and deftly expressed storytelling talent.” Small Press Bookwatch said that Rada’s coal-mining book, Saving Shallmar: Christmas Spirit in a Coal Town, was “highly recommended.” He has two dozen writing awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists, Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association, Maryland State Teachers Association, and Utah Ad Federation.

Rada has been writing about history for nearly twenty years and still finds it fascinating and new.

“History is not boring. It’s full of love, adventure, comedy, and mysteries that still aren’t solved to this day. It’s those types of stories I like to write, and I believe I’ve pulled together a great collection of them for this book,” Rada said.

Rada is the author of twenty books, most history and historical fiction. His articles have been published in magazines like The History Channel Magazine, Boy’s Life, and Frederick Magazine. He also writes five local history columns for The Republican, the Cumberland Times-News, the Gettysburg Times, The York Dispatch, as well as The Catoctin Banner.

Secrets of Catoctin Mountain: Little-Known Stories & Hidden History of Frederick & Loudoun Counties retails for $19.95 and is available at the E Plus Graphics, Printing, & Promotions store in Emmitsburg, at online retailers, or on his website at

Poet and novelist, Mark Greathouse, will be the featured writer for “Catoctin Voices” Evening of Poetry at The Creeger House in Thurmont on April 21, 2017, at 7:00 p.m. Open mic precedes his presentation, so poets of all ages are invited to share up to three of their favorite or original poems.

This author and poet continues to express his passion for writing, as he seeks to share a revealing cross-section of his own life through poetry.  His soon-to-be-published Life Unfettered represents his own life catharsis, as he humbly presents his poetry to readers and shares the vulnerability that accompanies such personal offerings. Greathouse regularly offers his original poetry at monthly gatherings of the “Catoctin Voices” in Thurmont, and at First Friday Poetry in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Previously, he had poems published in the Gettysburg Poetry Society’s anthology, Almost Time Enough.

Greathouse created his first “serious” poem in 1957 at age fourteen. At the time, he saw it as an expression of the deep feelings he was having about evil and its repercussions. He has always enjoyed the arts—especially poetry—as an expression of his emotions, invariably cathartic. He sees poetry as an expression of personal vulnerability and thus views poetry as sharing pieces of his very soul.