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Blair Garrett

Get your earmuffs ready, it’s cicada season!

Our septdecennial ground-dwelling friends are returning from their 17-year slumber, as they thunderously announce their arrival.

Cicadas are some of the most unique insects in the entire world, and the lore behind them is almost as strange as their life cycles.

For thousands of years, cicadas have been mistaken to be one of the signs of the biblical plague (locusts); but, aside from the temporary tinnitus, cicadas are mostly harmless.

Speaking of ringing in your ears, the buzzing sound of male cicadas can reach between 90 and 100 decibels, which is as loud as a lawn mower at a three-foot range, or a subway speeding through a station.

The brood of cicadas that inhabit our local area are Brood X, which is the largest in the entire country, spanning from New York to Georgia, and as far west as Illinois.

These red-eyed arthropods live over 99 percent of their lives as nymphs underground, feeding on roots of plants and trees until they make their return. Their lives above ground are short-lived at just four to six weeks, but they mate, lay eggs, and produce quite the spectacle during their rare appearances.

The reason why cicadas return all at once is a strategy called predator satiation, which is essentially strength in numbers. Around 1.5 million cicadas per acre will run wild in hotspot states like Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, and Indiana. With such an abundance of cicadas for predators to eat, they fill up and cannot eat the overwhelming number of insects being introduced to their environment, allowing the species to survive.

Even humans have joined in on the feast of the cicadas, with reports that they taste like anything from shrimp to asparagus. Humans have eaten them for centuries, and in modern times, have cooked them in a variety of dishes, including spicy popcorn cicadas, pizzas, and even cookies!

Beware of the cicadas with a white fuzz on their behind, though, as it’s a psychedelic fungus that disrupts their mating behaviors and makes their butts fall off. Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction!

They’re only here for another month or so, folks, so don’t miss our neighbors from down under this season, because they won’t return until 2038!

Courtesy Photo

A fully emerged Brood X cicada on concrete.

by Valerie Nusbaum

Why is it that when we go on vacation, even a short trip, we forget all the rules for healthy eating, throw caution to the wind, and eat as though we’re kids with overactive metabolisms? At least, that’s the way Randy and I behave when we’re away from home.  Maybe you don’t do that. Maybe you have more willpower and common sense.

We just celebrated Mother’s Day, and as part of my mom’s gift, Randy and I took her to Ocean City, Maryland, for a couple of days. Mom is now 89½ (or nearly), and she informed us that this would likely be her last trip to the seashore.  Mom said the exact same thing last time we took her, and we paid as much attention now as we did then.

Since I sell a lot of watercolor prints of Ocean City and all its landmarks, I thought this was a grand opportunity to scout some locations and take photos for future paintings. We had a working vacation of sorts.

We struck out on a Tuesday morning, picked up Miss Wanda (my mom), and went to Burger King for breakfast. Mom likes the little hash rounds and the croissant sandwich, and we had a coupon for two of those. Randy and I split a sandwich and an order of potatoes, and Mom ate a whole order all by herself. I was feeling sort of virtuous because the only other thing I’d had all morning was half of a granola bar, which I shared with Randy while we were getting ready to leave.

By the time we got to the beach, I was starving (which is my natural state most of the time), so I ate a couple of peanut butter crackers and had three barbecued corn chips when Mom cracked open her bag of snacks. Let it be said that I did NOT pack any snacks.  Only water bottles for me. Mom had an entire bag full of goodies, and I discovered that Randy had not only packed a few snacks for himself, but he’d also put together a few things for me. That’s where the crackers came from, and at that moment, I was too hungry to be upset with him.

With Covid restrictions still in place at that time, we’d planned to either order room service or pick up some takeout food and have our meals sitting on the balconies of our hotel suites. Randy and I got a separate suite for Mom so that she could watch what she wanted on television, and she wouldn’t have to share a bathroom with us. She had her own kitchen and living area, too, so she had lots of surfaces to clutter. Miss Wanda packs a LOT of stuff.

Anyway, it was nearly 4:00 p.m. and a perfect time for an early bird special, so Randy and I dragged our tired selves back down to the car and went in search of dinner.  We ended up with fried chicken, biscuits, red beans and rice, and then a pound of steamed jumbo shrimp from the café downstairs.  I made a grocery run to the local Walmart, too, and picked up some yogurt, salads, iced tea, and ice cream. We had ice cream for dessert after eating all that dinner, but I justified it by saying that I hadn’t really eaten lunch and only half a breakfast.

The next morning, Mom and I had yogurt for breakfast, while Randy had milk and corn flakes.  I’d also bought some mini-muffins and we ate half of those.

Mom stayed in her room while Randy and I went out for a few hours to take some photos and walk on the boardwalk. While he took some shots of the pier, I walked up to Fisher’s and bought two boxes of popcorn—one for Mom and one for Randy. I only sneaked one piece for myself. Randy offered me some more of his and, of course, I ate it. We cheated royally and had a slice of fresh, hot pizza because no one can resist that, right? Then we went back to the hotel for our healthy salad lunches. 

Mom ate at least half of her popcorn. There were a lot of Diet Cokes throughout our stay because those have no calories. At that point, what difference did it make?

My cousin and her husband had given Randy and me a gift card for Outback; but, since we’d been in quarantine, we hadn’t used it. So, it was steaks and coconut shrimp, loaded baked potatoes, and healthy steamed veggies for dinner. More ice cream. Did I mention that Randy had brought a package of Hostess cupcakes for me? He knows I love them, and the darned things had been calling to me all day. I ate one while he had more popcorn. Yes, I was feeling sick at that point.

A big breakfast of pancakes, eggs, sausage, and hash browns started off our trip home, followed by a double cheeseburger for lunch.  We dropped Mom off at home, and I refuse to tell you what other things we consumed that evening.  I blamed the over-eating on the salt air and the fact that we’d been housebound for so long. We went wild.

I had oatmeal for breakfast this morning. And the last of those mini-muffins. What?

by James Rada, Jr.

June 1921, 100 Years Ago

Receivers For Auto Co.

Something of a flurry was created in business circles in the county when it became known last Saturday afternoon that receivers had been appointed by the court to take charge of the assets and affairs of the People’s Garage Company of Emmitsburg.                                

                                          – Catoctin Clarion, June 23, 1921

Fingers Mashed

Early Monday morning, the little baby girl of Mr. and Mrs. Clyde Shaver accidentally got her right hand in the cloths wringer. Two fingers were injured very badly. At the time of the accident, both Dr. Birely and Dr. Kefauver were out of town and the father took the little child to Emmitsburg to have the wounds dressed.

                                          – Catoctin Clarion, June 23, 1921

June 1946, 75 Years Ago

Man Near Exhaustion Saved From Flood Water Sunday

Caught in rising flood waters on the Monocacy River Sunday afternoon on his farm between Creagerstown and Rocky Ridge, Frank Warner, retired Washington plumbing contractor, nearly lost his life, it was learned Tuesday.

He was rescued from a tree, to which he had clung for four hours, when a boat and motor were brought from Thurmont after his son made a frantic search of that section of the County for a boat.

                                          – The Frederick Post, June 5, 1946

President Spends Week-End In County Mountain Retreat

President Harry S. Truman spent the week-end in Frederick County on what was to be a secret jaunt. The secrecy was short lived however, as the Chief Executive was quickly trailed to the annual Alfalfa Club outing on the estate of Joseph H. Himes, near this city, and later to the late President Roosevelt’s wartime retreat, “Shangri-La,” on the Catoctin Recreational Area west of Thurmont.

                                          – The Frederick Post, June 24, 1946

June 1971, 50 Years Ago

Mount Goes Coed This Fall

Mount Saint Mary’s College, an all-male institution since its founding 163 years ago, will go coed on a non-resident basis next September, and on a resident basis in September 1972.

The move was announced after a meeting of the Mount’s Board of Trustees Tuesday.

The announcement by Mount Saint Mary’s College follows by two months the announcement that neighboring Saint Joseph College for women is to close in June 1973.

                                          – Emmitsburg Chronicle, June 4, 1971

Dr. J. Dillon Appointed First Lay President of Mt. St. Mary’s College

Dr. John J. Dillon, Jr. has been appointed President of Mount Saint Mary’s College, succeeding Rev. Msgr. Hugh J. Phillips, who has been named President Emeritus.

                                          – Emmitsburg Chronicle, June 4, 1971

June 1996, 25 Years Ago

New Streets and Transportation Committee Meets

Members of the newly formed streets and transportation committee met for the first time on April 11. Commissioners Rosario Benvengi convened the meeting and conducted the election of officers. Brian Brotherton was elected president; Jim Hoover, vice president; and Patrick M. Sullivan, Sr., secretary. Other members of the committee are Denise Warthen and Kenneth Howard. The committee will meet the third Wednesday of the month.

                          – The Emmitsburg Regional Dispatch, June 1996

Sweeney Sworn In As New Commissioner; Copenhaver Elected President of Town Council

As the first order of business at the May 6 town meeting, Clifford Sweeney was sworn in as the new commissioner. He defeated incumbent Christopher Weaver in the April election. David Copenhaver, “a veteran of Emmitsburg politics” according to Mayor Carr, was elected president of the council. Tom Gingell will continue as treasurer.

                          – The Emmitsburg Regional Dispatch, June 1996

T h e Y e a r i s…1 9 02

by James Rada, Jr.

Courtesy Photo of Gravemarker

The Story of the Barefoot Wanderer

Amanda Wisensale handed the lunch pail to her daughter, Ellen, and sent her off to deliver the lunch to William Wisensale. Amanda let her daughter know not to dawdle. Although Ellen was 14 years old, she had mental problems, so Amanda had to be specific with her.

Ellen took her responsibility seriously and set off to the limestone quarry along the Hanover Turnpike, where her father worked. It was June 1902, and Ellen walked barefoot from the family home near Hanover to the quarry along the dirt roads in the area.

William was hauling a load of limestone in a wagon when his daughter reached the quarry. Missing him, but knowing he would want his lunch, the girl followed where she thought the wagon had gone along the turnpike.

As the time grew later, Amanda realized her daughter hadn’t returned home. Assuming Ellen had gotten distracted and was playing, Amanda found one of her other children and sent him to the quarry to fetch his sister and make sure William had his lunch.

No one at the quarry had seen Ellen, and the boy hadn’t seen her on his way there. When William heard this, he stopped work for the day. He returned home to talk with his wife and then started searching for his daughter.

“He followed her to Littlestown, and from there, two miles out the Taneytown road, where all trace of her was lost. A number of people noticed her as she went through Westminster,” the Emmitsburg Chronicle reported.

Meanwhile, Ellen kept walking. “The road was rough and she was barefooted, and the sharp gravel cut her feet,” the Washington Post reported. “Still, she had set out to find her father, and she did not wish him to go hungry a minute longer than necessary; so, she trudged along, looking to the right and left, but seeing nothing of him.”

Ellen reached Westminster around 9:00 p.m. Joseph U. Smith saw the young girl walk past his office. He walked outside to see why the youngster was out so late. “She appeared bewildered and could not tell who she was or where she was going,” the Emmitsburg Chronicle reported.

He took her into his office and started gently questioning her. Smith noticed Ellen was carrying a basket full of food. He asked her why she hadn’t eaten it.

“This is papa’s dinner,” she answered.

He eventually learned she was from Hanover and what her father’s name was. Smith called Hanover and was connected with William Wisensale.

“How the child managed to get from the Taneytown road to the Littlestown turnpike is a mystery,” the Chronicle reported. “She trudged the whole distance without shoes, and the bottom of her feet were full of blisters.”

When William reached Westminster, 18 miles away from Littlestown, he thanked Smith profusely. He explained that his daughter had been “suffering mentally for several years,” the Chronicle reported.

Because of Ellen’s diminished capacity, she could never live on her own. She lived with her parents until they grew too old to care for her. She was admitted to the Adams County Home in 1917 and remained there for another 11 years.

She died there on October 20, 1928. The cause of her death was listed as dropsy, an old term for edema. This is a swelling of soft tissue because of water accumulation. Although any soft tissue could swell, it’s likely she died from congestive heart failure brought on by the edema.

Her funeral was held in one of her brothers’ homes in Hanover, and she was interred with her parents at Christ Church Cemetery near Littlestown.

by Ana Morlier, The Crazy Plant Lady

Fruiting Shade Trees

Happy June, everyone! I know that I will really start celebrating the month after this crazy school year ends. Crops are thriving. Vacations are beginning. However, one drawback to this awesome month is the beginning of the HEAT. To think that I hovered near any available heat source like a mayfly only a couple of months ago makes me laugh, then sweat. I will soon cling to fans and turn the house into an arctic tundra.

Being a gardener, we can only stay in cool areas for so long—the plants need tending to! One can definitely take preventative measures against the upcoming summer heat by drinking plenty of (cold) water, taking breaks, and wearing a hat. If you have a pool to cool off with, even better! However, not all of us are lucky enough to have the right conditions for a pool (we have too much wildlife eager to destroy the watery refuge). I present to you a solution that will yield produce and give you relief from the heat: shade trees! And, not just any shade trees: FRUITING shade trees! I was pretty surprised that fruit trees could check off both requirements, which made a great combination.

Apple trees are some of the best shade trees. Ap-peal-ing options include:

Early harvest apple (as the name suggests, some yield fruit as early as June! Even if it’s not early, you can enjoy the juicy, tart apple at the end of September at the latest).

Red Delicious Apple (a pretty famous apple variety—great for applesauce; harvest in fall).

Yellow Delicious Apple (IMPORTANT to cross with other tree varieties such as red delicious or red Jonathan; great for pies!).

These apple varieties grow pretty quickly—an added bonus.

Here are some other fruits that apri-caught my eye:

Apricot trees are surprisingly tolerant of cold. They are also self-fertile, but it’s a pretty good idea to plant another variety of apricot nearby (more produce).

The early golden apricot can produce fruit as early as July or August. The fruit is great for fresh eating, baking, canning, or drying.

The Moorpark Apricot is pretty much the same, except for the fact that the fruits ripen at different times. To make up for this fact, it has beautiful white-pink flowers that bloom in spring—a little late, I know, but I couldn’t leave out this fact!

Still not pear-y happy with apricots or apples? Pear-haps you should try pears!

Bartlett pear trees are rumored to be pretty easy to grow, producing fruit in late summer. They also have blooms in spring.

The Harvest Queen pear is even more pear-fect because it yields produce earlier than that of the Bartlett pears and is resistant to blight! Another variety of pear tree is needed in order for it to produce fruit.

I hope these shady (not sketchy) trees become the apple of your eye and provide you with a cool haven with lots of tasty produce!

*Credit to Arbor Day Foundation, Specialty Produce, Davey Tree Expert Company, North Carolina Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox, Shari’s Berries, Punopedia, Punstoppable, Best Puns.

My own Liberty apple tree (one of two). Even though it wasn’t mentioned in the article, I wanted to illustrate how fast a young sap could grow! In the fall, it was half the size and close to death. Liberty apple is one of the best disease-resistant varieties and is great for eating fresh and baking. Liberty ripens in mid-to-late September and stores well until January.

by denise valentine

Hello, everyone. It seems that with the restrictions now being lifted concerning the COVID pandemic, there may be more picnics and gatherings this summer, as people finally begin to venture out and try to get back to normal activities.

It’s all happening just in time for those wonderful pot-luck picnics. They are my favorite because I love to sample all the goodies that everyone brings. There is usually at least one recipe that I have never had. I have a particular interest in salads of all kinds. I was looking through some of my cookbooks to find a fruit salad of some kind to make.

I find some of the best recipes in my collection of “paperbacks” from churches and other organization-fundraiser cookbooks. The recipe I am sharing this month comes from the Peace and Plenty Cookbook by St. John’s Lutheran Church in Thurmont and was submitted by Jean Myers. I hope you enjoy it.

Lazy Day Salad


1 large can of crushed pineapple (do not drain)                       

1 large can of fruit cocktail, drained

2 small cans of mandarin oranges, drained

1 large pkg. of vanilla instant pudding            

1 (8 oz.) container of Cool Whip


Mix all ingredients together and chill.

by Buck Reed

Cooking With Mushrooms or Fungi

Good food that is not prepared well is not well served. Caviar, venison, and mushrooms are great examples of foods that more than prove this point. If you have ever been served the first two, then it is more than a good chance they were prepared and served properly. But I would wager that you have never had perfectly cooked mushrooms.

Mushrooms are classified as fungi, which means they are not exactly a vegetable, but they are not animal either. The largest organism in the history of the world is credited to a honey mushroom in Malheur National Forest in Oregon and has roots that spread over some 2,600 acres. It is thought to be 8,500 years old, and yes, they are edible.

First, forget the canned or jarred mushrooms. Nutritionally speaking, canned mushrooms are on par with fresh but are extremely high in sodium. Also, the canned variety are woefully lacking in flavor. Do yourself and your tastebuds a favor and stick with fresh mushrooms. They are a bit more work but well worth it.

Common button mushrooms are an excellent inexpensive choice; however, do not overlook the exotic varieties. These mushrooms are readily available and can add a punch of flavor to your dishes. Plus, with a few exceptions, they can all be prepared and cooked the same as the button mushrooms.

To prepare mushrooms for cooking, rinse them quickly but thoroughly under cold water. Make sure to dry them before cutting them into desired pieces. Most mushrooms will need to have their stems removed before cooking. Use the stems to flavor stocks or broths.

At this point, cooking the mushrooms can get tricky but is easily manageable. The goal is to get them well-browned before they release their liquid. We do not want them boiling in their own liquid; instead, we want them to become brown tidbits of earthy flavor that were steamed in their own liquid. Cook the mushrooms separately from the rest of the dish. Cook them in a hot pan with plenty of oil and do not overcrowd the pan. As they release their liquid, your mushrooms will soak up the oil in the pan. About halfway through, you may need to add more oil or, even better, butter to the pan as your mushrooms finish cooking. Finally—this is the most important part—do not stir your mushrooms once you put them in the hot pan. Let them sit and cook until they are well-browned on one side. If you watch them, you will see them get golden around the edges, or you can pick up an individual piece with a set of tongs and peek at it. If it is brown, you can start to stir; if not, put it back.

Once cooked, set the mushrooms aside and continue with the rest of your recipe. You can also cook the mushrooms a day or two ahead and store in a covered container in the refrigerator. It is no doubt a bit more work, but it will improve any dish that calls for mushrooms.

by Ava Morlier, Culinary Arts Program at CTC

Finally, it’s June! The temperatures have stabilized (heavy jackets and pants are a thing of the past), school has let out, and summer begins! But that’s not the only reason we’ve been waiting for June. It’s time to roll out the delicious summer dishes! Dinner tables are no longer weighed down by soups and stews laden with hearty vegetables; instead, light and airy summer dishes grace dinnertime with crisp vegetables and delicious handhelds.

This being a summer article, it would be expected that I write about the traditional types of handheld foods: burgers, pulled pork sandwiches, and the like. But the handheld I’m writing about today isn’t necessarily an all-American sandwich. Today, I’m writing about spanakopita!

Spanakopita is a Greek handheld that is essentially phyllo-dough stuffed with feta cheese and spinach. While it doesn’t seem to be something that pleases a crowd, it has great potential to outdo the average burger on the grill.

What makes it so great? Many things: it’s vegetarian friendly, it is easy to grab from any tray (due to the pastry shell), it can be served as a side dish or an appetizer, and it adds elegance to any cookout. Plus, you no longer need to depend on Greek restaurants to make this delicious food; you can easily buy cheap phyllo dough and harvest spinach from your garden.

Though this process is time-intensive, spanakopita brings elegance and culture to the table.  The technique is simple. The hardest thing is managing the paper-thin phyllo dough, which is fragile (but adds delicious crispiness to the dish). Don’t fret if you rip a sheet! Solutions are offered in the notes. I have ripped countless sheets accidentally when making this for the first time. To avoid ripping, make sure the phyllo dough is completely thawed out if frozen, and handle the layers very gently. It is also essential to cover unused sheets of phyllo dough with paper towels to ensure the thin sheets don’t dry out and become stiff.

Despite all that goes into making spanakopita, the payoff to this delicious handheld is worth it. Elegance, culture, and deliciousness are all wrapped in a sleek triangle of crisp, delicate layers of phyllo dough. Enjoy!



2 ½ tbsp. olive oil

1 lb. spinach, washed and drained

1 bunch scallions, chopped (use both white and green parts) (regular onions work also)

½ tbsp. parsley

½ tsp. salt and pepper

¼ lb. feta cheese, crumbled

½ c. (1 stick) lightly salted butter, melted

½ lb. phyllo dough sheets


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Start a medium pan on medium-low heat. Chop scallions and rinse spinach.

Once the pan is hot, oil the pan and add scallions. Cook 2-3 minutes, or until the scallions are soft. Take out of the pan and set aside.

Add spinach and cook until wilted, 2-3 minutes. Place on a bed of paper towels and squeeze out liquid. Let cool for 2-3 minutes.

In the bowl, combine scallions, feta, spinach, salt, pepper, and parsley and mix well. Place in fridge.

Melt butter.

On a clean workspace (this can include on a sheet pan or on a counter), unroll phyllo dough gently. Cut into 3×11-inch strips and stack. Cover whatever stacks that aren’t being used with a wet paper towel to ensure that it doesn’t dry out (the wet paper towels may need replacing as you work the phyllo dough).

Gently peel apart layers of phyllo.

Gently lay down a sheet of phyllo on the open work surface. Brush with butter.

Add another layer of phyllo dough on top of the first, so it covers the first sheet, and brush with butter.

Lay a final layer of phyllo dough on top of the first two sheets.

Get out spanakopita filling from the refrigerator. Spoon a small amount 1 inch away from the left edge of the pastry.

Fold the dough over the filling so that it creates a triangle. Brush the rest of the sheet with butter and continue folding so that the spanakopita resembles a triangle (Food Network likens the folding to that of folding a flag).

Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with a wet paper towel. Repeat until filling runs out.

Take off wet paper towels and brush with butter. Place in the oven and bake until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.

Let cool for 5 minutes and serve.

Tools Needed

Knife • cutting board • medium pan • plate w/ a bed of paper towels • medium bowl • 1 large sheet pan • parchment paper • wet paper towels • pastry brush • small bowl • spoon • spatula


It’s okay if the pastry sheet rips; you can still use both parts. Sandwich the broken layer between two unbroken layers to utilize the sheets.

The phyllo dough is incredibly fragile. If frozen, make sure the dough is completely defrosted before using.

Have too many unusable/ ripped phyllo sheets? Make crackers! Simply use the same layering technique mentioned above (layer, brush with butter, layer) except with smaller squares and more sheets. Season however you like (everything bagel seasoning is a popular flavor), both between layers and on top. Bake until golden brown.

*With credit to Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger of Food Network.

Symptoms & Risk Factors of Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer starts when cells in the prostate begin to grow out of control. The prostate gland is a small, walnut-shaped gland in men that produces the seminal fluid. The size of the prostate can change as a man ages. In younger men, it is about the size of a walnut, but it can be much larger in older men. Sometimes prostate cancer is referred to as a silent disease because in the earlier stages—sometimes lasting for years—the tumor in the prostate gland is not big enough to cause any pain or prostate cancer symptoms.


When a man does develop prostate cancer the early warning signs can be:

     A man can start having difficulty with normal urination, to include the feeling of a burning or painful sensation, having trouble starting and maintaining a steady stream of urine, weak urinary stream, experiencing dribbling or leaking of urine, more frequent need/urge to urinate, excessive urination at night, or urinary retention (not being able to urinate).

     He may have erectile dysfunction, painful ejaculation or a decrease in fluid when ejaculating.

     He may have blood in the urine or semen.

     A man may develop pressure or pain in the groin and rectum.

     He may also have pain or stiffness in the lower back, hips, pelvis, or thighs.

Prostate Cancer Risk Factors

Different cancers have different risk factors. Some risk factors, like smoking, can be changed; others, like a person’s age, cannot be changed.

However, having a risk factor, or even several, does not mean that a man will get the disease. Many people with one or more risk factors never get cancer, while others who get cancer may have had few or no known risk factors.

The following describes several factors that might affect a man’s risk of getting prostate cancer.

Age: Prostate cancer is rare in men younger than 40, but the chance of having prostate cancer rises rapidly after age 50. About 6 in 10 cases of prostate cancer are found in men older than 65.

Race/ethnicity: Men of African descent are an estimated 73 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer compared with white men. In addition, when it does develop in these men, they tend to be younger. Asian men who live in Asia have the lowest risk, but their risk increases if they adopt a “modern Western lifestyle.”

Family history: Prostate cancer seems to run in some families, which suggests that in some cases there may be an inherited or genetic factor. Still, most prostate cancers occur in men without a family history of it.

   Having a father or brother with prostate cancer more than doubles a man’s risk of developing this disease. (The risk is higher for men who have a brother with the disease than for those who have a father with it.) The risk is much higher for men with several affected relatives, particularly if their relatives were young when they got the cancer. 

Obesity or being overweight:    Certain studies have found that obese men have a greater risk for developing aggressive prostate cancers (but not slow-developing types). They are also more likely to have a difficult time recovering from surgery, and they have a greater risk of dying from prostate cancer.

Other dietary/lifestyle factors: A man is more likely to develop prostate cancer if he smokes or uses drugs and if he has poor dietary habits, especially eating a highly processed diet that includes refined or trans fats, lots of added sugar, and processed carbohydrates.

There also seems to be an association between a lack of vegetables in the diet (especially cruciferous veggies, like cauliflower and broccoli) and a higher risk of aggressive prostate cancer.

A lack of exercise and a sedentary lifestyle, along with low vitamin D levels, puts a man at higher risk. In addition, due to little sunlight exposure, men who live north of 40 degrees latitude (north of Philadelphia or Utah in the U.S.) have the highest risk for dying from prostate cancer of any men in the United States.

Excessive calcium intake, particularly from supplements, can put a man at higher risk, along with exposure to certain toxic chemicals.

In addition, tall height in a man, especially those who are tall and obese develop prostate cancer more commonly.

Reduce Chances of Getting Prostate Cancer

The following are ways to mitigate your chances of getting prostate cancer:

(1) Eat a Healthy Diet and Manage Your Weight. Many studies have evidence that lifestyle changes, especially diet modifications, can decrease the chances that you will develop prostate cancer, as well as reduce cancer recurrence and help slow the progression of cancer. A healthy, unprocessed food diet is also important for preventing obesity.

Avoid all trans-fatty acids (found in many fried foods, fast food, highly processed foods, and margarine).

Try to eat about 2.5 cups or more of veggies every day as part of an anti-inflammatory diet. Try to include a variety of veggies in your diet, especially leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables, which have recently been connected to cancer prevention.

Eat wild-caught fish, which provide omega-3 fatty acids.

Eat foods high in zinc and selenium, which support prostate health.

(2) Get enough exercise. Studies suggest that people who are more physically active have better protection against developing many types of cancer, as well as overall improvements in health and better protection against obesity. Getting daily exercise has numerous benefits, both for your mind and body. Exercise helps reduce inflammation, improve circulation, support the immune system, and can help you control your weight. It can also improve feelings of well-being and reduce stress, depression, or anxiety.

(3) Treat other health conditions and check your medications. Many of the same lifestyle habits that lead to conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, and depression can also increase your cancer risk. These are also associated with worsened sexual function, including contributing to erectile dysfunction. Work on overcoming health challenges through diet and lifestyle changes as much as possible. Recovery from serious diseases, including cancer, is easier if you’re metabolically healthy and not battling other health problems.

If you’re taking any medications, it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor about how they may contribute to negative side effects. For example, some medications, such as SSRIs (used to treat depression), beta-blockers (used for high blood pressure), and medications used for insomnia and anxiety, can affect your prostate. These may have a negative impact on sexual dysfunction because they can cause decreased libido, impairment in arousal, erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation, and delayed or absent orgasm.

(4) Do not supplement with calcium. Taking high doses of calcium may increase your risk, so talk to your doctor about whether calcium supplements are needed. It is suggested that you avoid taking more than 1,500 milligrams of calcium from supplements per day, although calcium from food sources (like leafy greens and fermented dairy) is unlikely to be a problem.

(5) Do not smoke and modify your drinking of alcohol. If you currently smoke, get help with quitting. Talk to your doctor about useful interventions, speak with a therapist, or start an online program that specializes in smoking cessation. Drink alcohol only in moderation and avoid use of recreational drugs.

(6) Get quality sleep and manage stress. Find ways to relax; connect with others and wind down. If your job is a major source of stress on a daily basis, consider what you can do to change your situation. Take up hobbies, stay active, and join groups in your community to connect with others. Studies have found that people with more social support tend to live longer, happier lives.

If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at

*Content Source:;

jEanne Angleberger

Shaklee Associate for a Healthier Life

Did you know the Dietary Guidelines for Americans is updated every five years? These guidelines are designed to help us stay healthier throughout our lifespan. And, it is a reminder that it’s never too late to eat healthfully!

The recommendations are from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. It provides information to help promote good health and prevent chronic disease.

There is now new guidance for infancy and early childhood. It is exciting to have some helpful guidelines during pregnancy, lactation, and the first 24 months of a newborn’s life.

The “Changing Needs of Older Adults” is another topic available for ages 60 and up. It highlights some of the unique nutritional needs we experience after age 60.

A new “85/15 rule” and “nutrient density” is aimed to get 85 percent of your calories from nutrient-dense foods and beverages and only 15 percent from unhealthy foods. These nutrient-dense foods are fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy, seafood, lean protein, eggs, nuts, and seeds. Nutrient-dense foods are rich in vitamins and minerals, with minimal added sugars, fats, and oils. Make the choice to eat grilled chicken instead of chicken nuggets or choose to eat oatmeal instead of an oatmeal cookie.

Nutrition is not a cookbook science. It is, and can be, designed for an individual’s health needs. You can digest these new guidelines at

It is one of the best references. Be sure to take a look and learn how you can stay healthier as you age.

by Teresa Kempisty

Hello to all my senior friends and volunteers. While the center remains closed at this time, the COVID numbers are moving in the right direction to be able to open in some way sooner than later. It may have to be a partial opening, with some restrictions. It will all depend on Frederick County Health Dept. Guidelines at that time. We are being cautious for the safety of our seniors and volunteers (most of whom are seniors), and we appreciate your patience and understanding. When we do open, we will announce it on our website, in The Catoctin Banner, on Thurmont’s Channel 99, Thurmont’s radio station, on our sign, and on our voicemail recording.

I hope to bring a smile to your face by admitting that I forgot to mention Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms and grandmas in the May issue! I can’t believe I did that. I am so sorry; my memory has seriously suffered since being closed for COVID. I hope you ladies had a wonderful day doing whatever you wanted to do. Now before I forget, I want to wish all the dads out there a Happy Father’s Day! Hope you have a wonderful day. I know my dad will want to go fishing and be with family…hmmmm, that’s exactly what I did for Mother’s Day, except we had to postpone it a few days until the weather was better. Enjoy whatever you do!

We are so thankful to the Community Foundation of Frederick County for receiving an Impact Grant to purchase three new lift chairs for our sitting area near the puzzle table. These will be able to be disinfected and are spaced appropriately. The two dark brown chairs are medium-sized chairs and the reddish-brown chair is a large size chair. See (above) the photo of the Birthday Quackers in the chairs.  We look forward to the day when you can use them. 

As far as we know, at this time, our Roy Rogers fundraiser is still drive-thru only, but guidelines are changing quickly, so check Channel 99 or call the center at 301-271-7911. The next fundraiser will be Thursday, June 10, from 5:00-8:00 p.m. Please mention the Thurmont Senior Center when you order.  Thank you.

Our Christmas Raffle will start in June this year and will be a little different than in past years. Instead of a quilt, Carol will have put together a “Thurmont Treasures Collection” of hand-crafted items made by Thurmont seniors for first prize. Second prize will be $100 and third prize will be $50. She will be selling them around town at different locations and at the center once we reopen. They are six for $5.00 or $1.00 each. You can also call 301-271-7911 if you want to purchase any, and we will make sure we get them to you.

It is unknown at this time if we will be having a Christmas party or not, but we will still draw the winners on the first Saturday in December which is December 4, 2021. 

Take care, everyone, and enjoy the warmer weather that June will bring.

Photo by Kim Clever

“Thank you, Community Foundation of Frederick County for the Impact Grant to update our common seating area.”

by Amy Whitney, Branch Administrator, Thurmont Regional Library/Emmitsburg Branch Library

June 1 marks the beginning of our annual Summer Reading Challenge for all ages, birth to adult. This year’s theme, “Rediscover the Magic,” encourages individuals and families to explore community destinations, earn points by reading for enjoyment, and complete fun activities. All activities can be accomplished digitally at home and at a safe social distance! Summer Challenge Community Destinations are places throughout Frederick County that are supporting our Summer Challenge Program. While the public may not be able to visit like in years past, points can still be logged after visiting the participating businesses in person or online.

Summer Challenge Partners are community members and local businesses who have teamed up with FCPL to enrich our Summer Challenge. Summer Challenge Partners present and host programs (either recorded at their location or virtually) and are Summer Challenge Destinations throughout the county. Visit our website to register at starting June 1 or stop by the drive-thru window for more information.

Due to the popularity of our Smart Start Kits for preschool children, we’ve added more options in response to demand. Frederick County Public Libraries (FCPL) partnered with Johns Hopkins Community Physicians to expand the library’s Smart Start Kits to include STEAM-based learning and Social Emotional games and tools to promote exploration, relationship skills, self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and responsible decision-making.

“Over the past year, we’ve heard from many of our customers that their youngest children need new screen-free activities, so we created these kits in response to that need,” said Deb Spurrier, Children’s Services Supervisor at Thurmont Regional Library. “Our current kits have had a constant waitlist, and thanks to the support of Johns Hopkins Community Physicians, we now have a broader selection of STEAM-focused tools that provide high-quality early educational experiences for young children.”

Smart Start Kits are tailor-made for pre-kindergarten through fifth grade and provide all necessary tools for an afternoon of activities. Examples of activities include Magnetic vs. Non-Magnetic, Makey-Makey technology, Computer Engineering, SmartArt and Fraction Fun.

In addition, the Thurmont Regional Library is set to have rotating StoryPaths all summer long on the Library Trail to encourage families to get out and move and learn together. Activity sheets and an art station tie the story to hands-on learning for kids. We hope you have a fun-filled summer, and we look forward to seeing you all very soon! Call us for all your information needs at 301-600-7200 or visit us online at

Courtesy Photo

Kids love learning with Smart Start Kits from the library.

by dave ammenheuser

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

Trains, planes, and automobiles.

Pigs, angels, and Longaberger baskets.

Civil War artifacts, presidential campaign buttons, and vintage radios.

My parents, both of whom died in the last four months of 2020, were not hoarders.

But they were certainly collectors.

Clearing their 50-year old Thurmont-area home has been sometimes entertaining, often informative, and frequently surprising.

As the executor of their estate, one of my most difficult tasks has been finding a future home for their belongings. Which items do I donate to charity? Which items should be sold on Facebook Marketplace? And what should be held back to be sold at a big yard sale over Memorial Day weekend?

Choosing which items fit into which category has consumed many hours over the past few months. Selling items online has been quite the learning experience. It has also provided the extra benefit of meeting friends, neighbors, and former Catoctin classmates whom I haven’t seen in decades.

Those reunions have been awesome.

But there have been some excruciating painful and disappointing moments, too.

I’ve learned that no-shows are a common occurrence when selling online. Person X tells you over social media that they desperately need the item you are selling. Person X then pleads with you to hold the cherished item until the next day.  Person X promises to meet you at a specific time. Then Person X doesn’t show up. It’s happened. Many times.

Those episodes don’t keep me awake at night. I did lose sleep when someone openly questioned me on social media why I was selling my late father’s Harley-Davidson leather vest. He criticized me, saying I was selling my father’s “beloved prized possessions” only for the money they would bring.

It was hurtful and couldn’t have been further from the truth. Since my brothers and I do not ride motorcycles, it was my decision that his leather vest should be worn by a biker as they ride their hogs around the region. To me, a piece of my father would still be worn by someone who would appreciate it. To me, it was better that the vest be worn by someone riding a Harley across our community’s roads than gathering dust in a closet for 25 years.

It’s the same reason I chose to distribute my mother’s beloved pig collection. My mother, who was raised on a Carroll County farm in the 1950s, had a passion for pigs. Her father raised them when she was a child. As an adult, she owned hundreds of them. Ceramic ones. Wooden ones. Stuffed animals. Piggy banks. Cookie jars. I sold dozens to neighbors and friends who knew my mother. I sold hundreds to a young collector near Detour. I’m saving many more to give to those who attend an upcoming Celebration of Life event for my parents.

I’ve sold Civil War muskets, Lionel trains, and vintage toys; vintage cars, gazing balls and Hallmark ornaments. It makes me happy to know that parts of my parents’ lives now reside in Emmitsburg and in Blue Ridge Summit, in Creagerstown and in Woodsboro, in Sabillasville, and all of the communities in between.

Yet, there’s so many more of my parents’ memories to share. So, if you knew my parents, John and Liz, please stop by our yard sale over the Saturday and Sunday of the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, May 29-30, at 12710 Creagerstown Road. Obviously, if you didn’t know them, you’re welcome to stop by, too!

John Ammenheuser’s Harley-Davidson motorcycle vest.

A small portion of Liz Ammenheuser’s pig collection.

Crossing the Country One Stop At A Time

By james rada, Jr.

In 2019, my family and I took our biggest vacation to date. We traveled more than 5,800 miles through 15 states, with 52 stops in 15 days. Yes, the driving was long and tiring, but the sites we saw were well worth it. This was the trip of a lifetime.

We had planned out the major stops we wanted to see along our trip west to Yellowstone, but the fun part was using travel sites on the internet while we were driving to find some quick stops along the way that would break up the long stretches on the road.

Since it would probably take too much space to hit all the stops we made, I’ll tell you about some of my favorites.

Indiana Dunes National Park

My wife picked this one out. I had never heard of it. It only became a national park earlier in 2019. It runs along the southern shore of Lake Michigan. I wasn’t too impressed at first, then I saw this large sand dune that had covered a large portion of a visitor parking lot. The ranger told us that the sand dunes are actually moving about four feet a year away from the lake.

We crossed over the dune to the lake. It was like being at the ocean. I couldn’t see the opposite shore and there were waves. The only difference was it wasn’t saltwater. It was freshwater.

Badlands National Park

This park wasn’t even on our radar. I’m not sure why, but when we saw signs on the interstate for it as we were driving along, we decided to check it out. I felt like the car must have launched into space and landed on a different planet. That is how different the terrain made me feel with all its canyons and outcroppings of rock. There was even a lightning storm while we were there to add to the extraterrestrial feel. I seem to remember a ranger saying that the park used to be the bottom of a prehistoric ocean.

Devil’s Tower

This was a fun, short stop in Wyoming. The striking thing about Devil’s Tower is that it just suddenly sticks up from the ground. The ground around it is flat, and then there is suddenly this flat-topped monolith of stone. My wife and I walked the trail around the base.

I found it interesting that people were allowed to climb it. Devil’s Tower is so huge, you can’t see those people unless you are close to the tower or looking at it with binoculars. We must have seen at least a dozen people on the sides. By the way, there is no trail to the top. You have to climb 867 feet up if you want to get up there.

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore is an American icon, located in South Dakota. It was smaller than I imagined but still very impressive. We walked the trail that allows you to get relatively close to the monument, at least close enough to see some of the drill holes and chisel marks.

I kept wanting to go on the other side of the monument to see if there was some hidden entrance to an underground city there, like in National Treasure II.

I was much more impressed with Mount Rushmore than I was with the Crazy Horse Monument. The monument still isn’t finished after 73 years. You also can’t get very close to it unless you pay a lot for a special tour. I did like the museum of Native American life there, though.

Yellowstone National Park

This was my favorite stop. I would have loved to have spent more time there. It is an immense park of 2.2 million acres. Buffalo walked next to our car. In one of the visitor center areas, rangers were out keeping people away from the elk that walked into the tourist area and laid down under a shady tree. I got to see Old Faithful erupt and another geyser that wasn’t as regular but was taller than Old Faithful. I hiked to the Grand Prismatic Springs, salt flats, and different waterfalls. It was an absolutely gorgeous park.

However, when I go back, I will stay at one of the resorts in the park. We stayed in a hotel in Cody, Wyoming, which looked close to the park. However, it was an hour drive from our hotel to the park’s border, and then another hour drive from the border to the park’s loop road! That was four hours of driving each day, and that meant less time that we got to spend in the park.

Rocky Mountain National Park

We made a short stop outside Rocky Mountain National Park to visit the hotel that was featured in the movie The Shining. As if that wasn’t spooky enough, the hotel has its own ghost stories that could make its own movie.

The impressive thing about this park was how high it is. We went to a visitor center and hiked up to a spot that was more than 12,500 feet above sea level. I had a bit of a scare here. I could not catch my breath. It wasn’t the hike. I’d been hiking parks all during the trip. The thin air at this elevation affected me. Yet, even after reaching the peak and resting for 15 minutes, I couldn’t catch my breath until we were back down in the parking lot.

The sites were nice, but after Yellowstone, it was a letdown. I was surprised to see lots of snow on the ground in the middle of July.

St. Louis Arch

On the way home, we stopped to see the St. Louis Arch. The underground visitors center was nice to walk through. However, the ride to the top of the arch was a curious mix of technologies since you have to rise in a diagonal direction.

After our visit to the top of the arch, we stumbled on a place called the City Museum. It was located in an old shoe factory. It is four stories tall and contains a mix of exhibits and fun things for kids to do, like a four-story-tall sliding board and various multi-level mazes. The only thing I didn’t like about it was the noise. You had to stand right next to someone to hear them talking.

Short Stops

Some of the short stops we made that I really enjoyed were Matchstick Marvels, Field of Dreams, Sioux Falls, and the Corn Palace. Matchstick Marvels was amazing. The sculptor uses hundreds of thousands matchsticks to create highly detailed models. The Corn Palace uses around 600,000 ears of corns to create murals, both inside and out of the building.

Field of Dreams is the actual baseball field that was built for the movie. It is out in the middle of nowhere and still attracts professional baseball players who come to play games on the field. The movie’s line, “If you build it, they will come” actually came true. I bought a baseball and played catch with my wife on the field.

Sioux Falls was a letdown, but that was because it was raining. We got to the falls and made a mad dash to the observation platform to get pictures. Then, we ran back to the car to try to dry off.

Other Stops

I’ve mentioned a few of the many places we stopped. Some I haven’t mentioned include the Wizard of Oz Museum, Effigy Mounds National Park, New River Gorge, Exhibition Coal Mine, Monticello, Mammoth Caves, and Kentucky Horse Park.

They were all nice, but Yellowstone set the bar high for me. I still enjoyed exploring these places, in particular Exhibition Mine, because I do a lot of writing about coal mining.

I loved this trip. We got to see so much. I would like to do a similar trip through the south and southwest at some point.

by James Rada, Jr.

May 1921, 100 Years Ago

Alleged Holdup Man Caught

Charged with being one of four men who held up the Republican Club in Baltimore City several weeks ago, Ernest Myers of Baltimore, was arrested two weeks ago at the home of his aunt, Mrs. J. L. Whisner, near Mt. St. Mary’s, this county, by Detectives Porter and Quirk of Baltimore, and Deputy Sheriff Roscoe Mackley of the Sheriff’s office, Frederick. The arrest was made on the day the man charged with burglary at Hanover was being chased through the mountains west of Thurmont, and when it became known that an arrest was made in this section, many persons thought it was the supposed burglar that was caught.                                     

                                          – Catoctin Clarion, May 12, 1921

Mosquitoes By The Millions

With the warm wave of Sunday and Monday last came a swarm of millions of mosquitoes in the vicinity. Sitting on porches meant to be in agony. The air was full of them during the evening hours and to walk through the grass or shake a bush mean about the same as disturbing a hornet’s nest. The cool weather Tuesday gave some relief.

                                          – Catoctin Clarion, May 26, 1921

May 1946, 75 Years Ago

Convention of Fireman Is Set

The annual convention of the Frederick County Volunteer Firemen’s Association will be held at Thurmont on August 1 and 2. This was decided at the quarterly session held on Thursday night at Independent Hall, this city, with 11 of 13 companies of the County Association represented.

The convention will coincide with the annual carnival of the Guardian Hose Company, of Thurmont, which is scheduled for July 29, 30, 31, and August 1, 2, and 3. Invitation to hold the County Association’s 1946 convention there this year was officially extended by D. Sayler Weybright, who is also president of the county group and who presided at last night’s meeting. Feature of the convention will be the parade on August 2.

                                          – The Frederick Post, May 3, 1946

Cadets Triumph In Field Meet

Frederick High School, with a total of 33 points including five first, Thursday won the first annual Boys and Girls Week, field and track meet, sponsored by the local Rotary and Jaycees clubs.

Only Thurmont High School was represented from outside the City. Marks set yesterday at Bjorlee Field will hold as records until next year, or until surpassed.

                                          – The Frederick Post, May 10, 1946

May 1971, 50 Years Ago

Bronze Star Medal Awarded Local Sailor

Thomas W. Humerick, Gunners Mate Second Class, United States Navy, son of Mr. and Mrs. John G. Humerick, West Main Street, Emmitsburg, was recently presented with the Bronze Star Medal “for meritorious service while serving in armed conflict against the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong Communist aggressors in the Republic of Vietnam from August 1969 to June 1970.”

“Petty Officer Humerick, while serving as a crew member on a river patrol boat participated in two hundred sixty combat patrols, engaging the enemy in eleven fire fights. Humerick, while acting as boat gunner on October 4, 1969 on a five boat patrol on a small canal off the Ong Doc River, maintained a heavy volume of fire which aided the patrol in clearing the canal when coming upon an intense enemy attack.”

                                          – Emmitsburg Chronicle, May 14, 1971

Wildflower Festival At Catoctin Mt. Park

At Catoctin Mountain Park, a recreation area of the National Park System near Thurmont, Md., final arrangements are being made for the season’s first great influx of visitors. The occasion is the 8th Annual Catoctin Mountain Spring Wildflower Festival, May 14, 15, and 16.

Park Superintendent Frank Mentzer reports, “recent April showers and warm May days are bringing the bloom out in profusion. We are bracing for an all-time high in Wildflower Weekend attendance.”

                                          – Emmitsburg Chronicle, May 14, 1971

May 1996, 25 Years Ago

Commissioners OK Water Plant Upgrade

Emmitsburg Commissioners voted to proceed with improvements to the town’s water supply system at a public workshop held April 29. The plan as proposed by the Smith Engineering Report calls for making use of ground water and existing supply wells, in conjunction with surface water from Rainbow Lake.

The Emmitsburg Regional Dispatch, May 1996

Citizens’ Petition Over Road Use Discussed

At the April town meeting, commissioners heard from a delegation of concerned citizens from Northgate who oppose a connecting road between their subdivision and the adjoining Emmit Ridge II subdivision under construction. Developers have been using Provincial Parkway and cutting through Northgate subdivision since they do not have an entrance yet to Emmit Ridge II.

The Northgate Homeowners Association went on record as opposing the connecting road when they presented a petition to the Planning and Zoning Committee in March. The foremost concern was for the safety of the children who have to cross the road to get to the playground. It was felt that the connecting road will adversely affect the quality of life, decrease property values, and destroy the uniqueness of Northgate with increased noise, traffic, and litter.

The Emmitsburg Regional Dispatch, May 1996

T h e O t h e r S h o e

by Valerie Nusbaum

It was my intention to write this column about our experiences with getting a COVID vaccine, but since that was, collectively, pretty much a non-event, I can sum it up with a few words. Easy peasy and no big deal. Seriously, my mom got her first and second doses in January and February, and her arm didn’t even get sore. Mom had very minimal side effects, and she’s 89 years old, as she keeps reminding us.

I got my first dose a week and a half ago and came away with an arm that was red, swollen, hot, and sore for about two days, but I had absolutely no more symptoms other than my usual litany of sniffles and aches and pains.

Randy, trouper that he is, got his first shot last week and had only a little soreness in his arm. The second doses may bring a different scenario for Randy and me, but so be it. We got our appointments easily, and none of us had any wait time at the vaccination sites. Shoot, I did my vaccine at my doctor’s office, and I was the only person there. I was even able to do my required 15-minute wait in my vehicle in the parking lot. Every single one of the healthcare workers who helped us did so pleasantly and efficiently. I continue to be impressed with the way the medical personnel is handling this viral situation.

So, the vaccinations have gone well. Our Easter was lovely and possibly the best one in quite a few years. Randy had a birthday, and it was a good one. He won $1.00 on a scratch-off ticket, and he caught a trout his first time out fishing with his new license. My business has been going well with a lot of five-star reviews coming in, and sales surpassing even last year. I did a quick and easy new acrylic painting last week and had orders for it just a few hours after the paint was dry. Mom has been having some good days and feeling more like her old self. Did I mention that she’s 89? Just ask her. She’ll tell you all about it. Randy and I have been getting good reports from our doctors, too, and I was finally able to get new glasses. Things have been on a smooth roll for us. Why, then, do I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop?

Admittedly, I’m superstitious. I get suspicious when things are seemingly too nice, and I expect the tides to turn. I’m almost afraid to allow myself to enjoy the good times because I know with certainty that the bad times are just around the corner again. Am I the only person who feels this way? I doubt it.

It freaks me out a little bit to think that we might be getting near the end of this pandemic nightmare and that we might just be able to start living our lives in a more normal fashion again. What will go wrong next, I wonder?

We got up on Easter Sunday morning, and our neighbor texted Randy asking if we had hidden eggs on his front lawn. It wasn’t us, and then we discovered that some bunny had hidden eggs for us, too, and also some other neighbors on our street. What a nice surprise! Ancient though we are, Randy and I got a kick out of gathering up our eggs, and we were tickled to find little surprises tucked inside. Many thanks to whoever was thoughtful and generous enough to do that for a bunch of cranky, old people. Randy and I also were surprised with a lovely Easter/spring centerpiece left on our front porch, but I know which bunny did that. Thank you, Barb!

Even our kitchen remodel project went well, and that was a major undertaking. Oh, I’m not saying that Randy didn’t curse a little, and I made a few messes, but we wound up with a whole lot more storage, new custom cabinetry, and some beautiful bench seating, not to mention one-of-a-kind hand-painted wood tiles and built-in shelves. I’m really starting to sweat over so much that’s gone right. The wrong is going to be phenomenal when it comes.

Last Christmas, Randy gave me a leather-bound journal, and I decided to use it to record daily entries of just three things that made me happy each day. Maybe, just maybe, that’s part of the reason things seem to be going better. Maybe, I’ve forced myself to focus more on the positives rather than the negatives. It’s true that some days, it’s easier than others to come up with three good things that happened.

One day, the best thing that happened was that I went to bed early. Looking back, I do see that I still got frustrated, felt unwell, and had worries. I got hurt and scared and terrible things did happen. Somehow, though, lately I’ve been able to really see how much good there is in our daily life.

I’m not Pollyanna, but I will continue to enjoy and celebrate every good thing that happens because I know bad things are coming. I just won’t spend as much time worrying about them, or maybe I will. I’m human, after all.

T h e Y e a r i s…1 9 2 8

by James Rada, Jr.

She Wa s the F i r s t L ine in Fire Defense

Photo Courtesy of

Alice Willard knew all about struggling to get by. The Foxville resident was a 30-year-old single mother of an 11-year-old son, living in a rural area. Even though she had family who could help watch her son, Atley, Alice still needed to earn a living to support the both of them.

In April 1928, she became the only female “lookout” in Maryland. C. Cyril Klein, the district forester for Western Maryland, appointed her the lookout for the Foxville fire tower. A lifelong resident of Foxville who lived in a house her father built the year she was born, Alice knew the area she was to watch over.

“She went on duty Wednesday [April 4] and for the next eight weeks, until about June 1, she will occupy a small room at the top of a 60-foot steel tower in the heart of the Catoctin mountains, about 12 hours a day, on the lookout for mountain fires,” the Frederick Post reported.

Her pay for this job was $60 a month (about $925 in today’s dollars). It was a low-paying job, even among common laborers at the time, but it helped pay her bills.

From the fire tower, Alice had a 12-mile view in every direction.

“At the first indication of fire or smoke, she will telephone to the nearest warden, who in turn will investigate the fire. If it is of a threatening nature, a force sufficient to combat the flames will be summoned and efforts will not be relaxed until the blaze is extinguished,” the Frederick Post reported.

She had experience with the job. She had substituted when her brother needed time off from the job years earlier.

“While she will be some distance from the nearest house, Mr. Klein said she is courageous and he added that she knows how to shoot,” the newspaper reported.

Not only was Alice the only female lookout in Maryland at the time, she was the first woman put in charge of a fire tower in the state. Women had done the work before, but only as a substitute or an assistant.

She said of her experience years later in a Frederick News Post article, “Indeed there were lots of fires! And no lightning ever set those fires. Men set fires! Tossing a cigarette or some other fool thing, that’s what done it. Many’s the fire that was set on purpose, too. Did you know that? I’ll tell you just why! They’d set fires to burn off a clearing in the woods. Then the huckleberries would grow up thick in the burned out places. Huckleberries were a big cash crop here in those days. Many a berry’s been picked and sold for three cents a quart. Every child on the mountain’s picked huckleberries at one time or other.”

In 1930, she was mentioned in an article talking about a rash of fires on Catoctin and South mountains. She had been the first lookout to identify some of them.

She was named an assistant fire warden in 1931.

In 1933, she had a near-fatal encounter with a copperhead that the Hagerstown Morning Herald said she handled with “remarkable coolness and bravery.” She was burning brush while on the job when the snake bit her above the ankle. “She cut open the wound and applied a tourniquet to stop the circulation of blood, then walked to a neighbor’s house, where she secured medical attention.”

She left her job with the State of Maryland in 1934.

The Frederick News noted in 1971 that Alice was still driving a tractor, chopping wood, farming, feeding livestock, keeping house, quilting, sewing clothes, baking, and canning at age 76.

She was also living alone. She had never married, and her son had died from cancer in 1962 at 45 years of age.

“She values her privacy, resents any encroachment upon her land or her rights, and is the personification of the attitudes and traditions of the mountain folk for over two centuries,” Ann Burnside Love wrote for the Frederick News.

Alice died in 1993, a week before her 98th birthday. She is buried in the Mt. Moriah Lutheran Church cemetery.

by Ana Morlier, The Crazy Plant Lady

Butterfly Bushes: What’s the Buzz About?

As I was researching the butterfly bush (rather excitedly), I came across a fact that stopped this article in its tracks. It turns out that the butterfly bush (Buddleia davidii) was imported from China. Because of this, there are no native species in the U.S. to keep its population and growth under control. In other words, it’s crazy invasive. It can be toxic to some organisms, and spreads aggressively, not allowing other plant life to grow. What incarnation? I don’t think any’bud’y saw that coming.  So, I turned my eyes toward beneficial plants that host butterflies!

As much as flowering plants can be beneficial to pollinators, most don’t “host” life, especially for butterflies. This means they don’t support the life cycle of butterflies (growth, reproduction, etc.).

I feel like the milkweed plant (asclepias) is a pretty common and well-known host plant. However, I never really knew that there were flowering varieties as beautiful as the ones listed below. Most milkweed plants are also (surprisingly) deer resistant! They are especially appealing to monarch butterflies. Other organisms, such as honey bees and hummingbirds, also flock to these plants.

Asclepias Tuberosa: Fiery orange flowers, any variety of sun. Tolerant of dry, drought-like conditions.

Asclepias Tuberosa (Clay form): Lighter orange flowers, full sun, crown-shaped flowers, any soil condition.

Asclepias Hello Yellow: Don’t you just love the name? Golden flowers, full sun.

Asclepias Incarnata Cinderella: Also known as Swamp Milkweed. Pink flowers, requires full sun, claimed to have a vanilla scent.

Asclepias Incarnata: Also known as Ice Ballet (how majestic!). Tiny, delicate white flowers. Any variety of sun. Fragrant.

Common herbs and vegetables can also host butterflies, including alfalfa, rue, parsley, fennel, dill, and sunflowers. (Known to attract painted lady and black swallowtail butterflies).

Hopefully, this article will encourage you to put the “petal” to the metal (as in your shovel), and start a new, beneficial home for butterflies!

*Credit to The Farmer’s Almanac, Butterfly Identification, Maryland Manual On-line, Finding Sea Turtles, Butterfly Lady, Punpedia.

Photo Courtesy of Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica

Cpl. Donald Kuhn From India to Burma: World War II

by Priscilla Rall

Last month, I wrote of how during World War II, Donald Kuhn traveled north in India, hearing jackals howling and starving children begging for food. When he finally got to the airbase at Tansucoa, he was assigned to Intelligence, an S-2, with tremendous responsibilities. He typed up every mission report as soon as the pilots were debriefed after each mission. Then, the reports went to the Communications staff that then put it in code to be sent to General Santameyer, General Chenault (of Flying Tigers fame), and four other top brass.

Every day, two planes went out to take reconnaissance photos of Burma. They had no guns for defense, just two cameras each. As soon as they returned, Kuhn had to process them, label them, and then file them for use in future missions. Another duty for Kuhn was to take a one-pound chunk of opium from the safe and cut it into small pieces that could fit in a vial to be placed in each pilot’s emergency belt, along with a small silk map of Burma, pills to purify water, and a special comb that had a hacksaw in the handle, supposedly to saw oneself out of a prison cell if captured!

Each emergency belt had a number, and it was Kuhn’s responsibility to keep records of each belt that he handed out before each mission and to record them when they were returned, and to put the opium back into the safe. What the opium was for he did not know, but one can only guess. At one base, he was actually responsible for the safety belts of every pilot in every airstrip in all of India.

Eventually, Kuhn was incorporated into the 459th Squadron, which was fitted with all P-38 twin-engine planes, although no one had been trained on these aircrafts. It was brimming with guns, and under its wings, they could hang two 100-pound bombs, put jelly bombs (napalm), or extra fuel tanks if the mission was particularly far away. The mission for the day would come down early in the morning and could include 10 or all 25 aircrafts. They were to bomb and strafe railroads, supply depots, and once all planes went out, to bomb the vital airstrip at Rangoon, Burma. When the planes returned (and not everyone did), Kuhn wrote up all of the ammo expended by each plane and gave that report to the higher-ups.

On Easter Sunday 1945, Kuhn vividly recalled that a single Japanese plane attacked his airfield (that had absolutely no defenses), and dropped a cluster of incendiary bombs, burning their barracks or “bashas.” Donald had just left the building and saw the approach of the enemy plane. A cautious man, he had already scoped out a nearby pipe that ran under a railway track. First, he grabbed his barracks bag, which was by the entrance, and grabbed a family photo off the wall, then he hopped into the pipe. Thankfully, no one was killed by the bombs, but many of the men were wounded by shrapnel. When it was safe to exit his place of succor, he noticed that a piece of shrapnel had pierced the photo he had of all of his sisters.

The airstrips were very primitive, just gravel and grass. They moved a lot, as they needed to be as close as possible to the fighting. Finally, the enemy was being pushed back east. The only troops were the American Merrill’s Marauders and some British and Indian troops. There were a number of air-warning units of several men each. They were secreted in the Chin Hills of northeast Burma. They reported all planes, friendly or not, to Kuhn’s airfield, then he had to write with a grease pencil on an acetate overlay of a map exactly where the enemy was, as well as how far the Allies had progressed. Earlier, he was responsible for marking all of the locations of German troops in North Africa, so he knew just where Rommel was, as well as the Allied troops. “The men would come in to see how we were doing, and at that point, not very well!”

At one point, the Japanese were closing in on Kuhn’s location, and all of the men were issued carbines for protection. Before that, they had no guns at all. But, the Japanese were stopped before they got to Kuhn’s location.

One of Donald’s most memorable experiences was when Lord Mountbatten, who was in charge of all the allied forces in Burma, visited his unit. He was there to give them a “pep talk,” when it seemed that the Japanese might be closing in on them and cutting the three airfields in the north off from the Allied forces in the south.

Cpl. Kuhn did ride on the famous Ledo-Burma Road, which he described as rocky with mountains and jungle all around. Once, Kuhn flew on a PT-19 Fairchild trainer plane, made right here in Hagerstown, Maryland. He laughed when he realized how many units he had been attached to. First the American Air Command #1, then the 5320 Air Defense Wing, then Headquarters 10th US Air Force, and finally, to the 459th “Twin Dragons” unit. This was dangerous business. Donald vividly recalled when two planes were lost on one mission. They never had any word on their status and were not captured. The entire unit rejoiced once when all 25 planes went out on a mission and all 25 returned! By the way, Air Commando Col. Phil Cochran, the inspiration for the comic strip “Terry and the Pirates” was in Kuhn’s 33rd Fighter Group, but in the European Theater. In all, 45 airmen were lost from the Hq. 33rd Fighter Group, the 58th, 59th, and the 60th Fighter Squadrons during the war in the CBI, or China, India, and Burma Campaign.

The war was winding down. The atom bomb was the final punch that knocked the Japanese down. Kuhn later learned that the 459th was to be in the “Forward Echelon” for the planned invasion of Japan. They were to be flown over China and back up the first invasion forces. Thankfully, that never was needed.

After the surrender was signed, Donald was finally able to return home. He took a Navy troop ship home, from Calcutta through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal. Then, they sailed through the Mediterranean, sailing by the famous Rock of Gibraltar into the Atlantic Ocean. He finally reached New York harbor in early November, and his ship pulled into a berth right next to the USS Missouri, where the surrender was signed! Then, off to Camp Kilmer and finally to Ft. Meade, where he was deactivated.

Finally home, he found that he began being troubled by a nervous condition of vertigo that made him feel like he was swirling around and could fly off into space at any moment. It was obviously a variation of PTSD; he worked it out, and a month or two later, it disappeared. He had a hard time deciding what he wanted to do. He first worked at a feed mill in Smithsburg and then on his brother-in-law’s farm. Finally, he landed a job in accounting at the Chewsville Co-op, where he worked for 34 years.

In 1950, he married Naomi Leatherman, and the couple moved into her parents’ home, where they had an egg and chicken business. One day they collected 800 eggs! The couple had two daughters and lived in the same home until he passed several years ago. Naomi still lives in the family home near Foxville.

Cpl. Donald Kuhn had a remarkable career in the U.S. Air Corps and was instrumental in the success of the 459th Fighter Squadron. Few of us even remember the CBI Theater, but now you know the rest of the story.

Ask Dr. Lo

L e t ’ s G e t Mo v i n g

P h y s i c a l A c t i v i t y a n d H e a l t h

by Dr. Thomas K. Lo, Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center

Some physical activity is better than none at all, so start slowly and build up from there.

   If you are a healthy adult, it is advised that you make aerobic and strengthening activities part of your regular routine. If you have a health problem such as heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes, ask your healthcare professional about the types and amounts of physical activity you can safely do.

Aim for at least an accumulation of 2.5 hours per week of moderate-intensity aerobic activity.

Walking fast, jogging, dancing, and other types of aerobic activities make your heart beat faster and may cause you to breathe harder. Try to be active for at least 10 minutes at a time without breaks. You can count each 10-minute segment of activity toward your physical activity goal. Aerobic activities can include biking, swimming, brisk walking, jogging, pickleball, racquetball, dancing, jump-roping, rebounder, or engaging in activities that will support you such as chair aerobics.

Try to do aerobic activities at a moderate intensity. Do the “talk test” to make sure you are exercising at a pace that you can maintain. You should be able to speak a few words in a row, but you should not be able to sing.

Aim to work in at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity most days. Add a brisk walk after lunch, dinner, or when your schedule permits as a way to boost the amount of aerobic activity in your life.

Do strengthening activities twice per week.

Try adding strength-training activities to your schedule. Squats, lunges, deadlifts, lat pull-downs, pull-ups, push-ups, triceps pull-downs, bicep curls, and standing calf-raises are a few examples.   Activities that make you push or pull against something will help you improve your strength and balance.

   Strength training helps you build and maintain bone and muscle. So, to help strengthen your whole body, work all the major muscle groups, including those in your legs, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms. Doing two to three sets for each muscle group twice per week is a great start. You can try different activities to find out which ones you enjoy most. Try lifting weights or working out with resistance bands. Isometric exercises also work.

The good news is that activities that build strength in your lower body may improve your balance. Try activities that work your ankles, feet, and lower legs.

Pilates and yoga may improve balance, muscle strength, and flexibility. You can also try tai chi or practice standing on one leg.

Take breaks from being still.

Recent studies suggest that long periods of inactivity may be linked to health problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Add motion to your day. Download an app to your phone, computer, or other device to remind yourself to take breaks. Routine tasks such as sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, raking leaves, mowing, and other yard/house work can also be part of your physical activity plan.

How Can I Start to be Active?

First, pick activities you enjoy. Create a list of the ones you would like to do, such as walking, aerobics, tennis, rowing, or taking a class at a fitness or community center. To increase your activity level, add an activity that sounds fun and try it out. You are more likely to stay active if you choose activities you enjoy. Start slowly and add a little at a time.

The idea of being active at least 2.5 hours per week may seem like too much at first. Start by moving for 10 minutes a day. Every few weeks, add 5 to 10 minutes until you are active at least 30 minutes most days.

Set a goal, add it to your calendar, and do it.

Setting goals and having a plan to realize them helps you stick with a physical activity routine.

Set specific short-term goals that you can track. For example, instead of saying, “I’m going to be more active this week,” set a goal of walking 30 minutes a day for 3 days this week.

Think of the days and times you could do the activity, such as first thing in the morning, during lunch breaks, after dinner, or on Saturday afternoon. Look at your calendar, phone, or computer to determine the days and times that work best and commit to those plans in writing. Also, set your phone to send reminders to help you stay on track. You can also confide in a close friend to help you stay accountable.

How Can I Overcome Physical Activity Roadblocks?

Starting a physical activity program and sticking with it is easier than you think. You can overcome these common roadblocks to physical activity and “just do it.” You will feel better in the end when you accomplish the goals you set for yourself.

If  work, family, and other demands are making it hard to be active, try the tips below for adding physical activity to your daily routine. Remember, every little bit counts.

•   Do 10 minutes of physical activity at a time. Spread bursts of activity throughout your day.

•   Add a 15-minute walk or activity that you will stick with during your lunch break or after dinner.

•   Make activity part of your daily routine. If you have time, walk a flight of stairs or, instead of driving, walk or bike with your child to school.

•   Take a break from sitting at the computer or TV. Stretch or go for a short walk. Perhaps do some jumping jacks or push-ups against the wall.

   If you are not motivated and find it hard to get moving and working out seems like a chore, then here are some ideas that might keep you moving:

•   Switch it up. Try a new activity, such as dancing, a racquet sport, or water aerobics, to find out what you enjoy most.

•   Make it social. Involve your family and friends. Physical activity is good for them, too. Plan fun physical activities that allow you to spend quality time together and stay on track.

o    Meet a friend for workouts or train together for a charity event.

o    Join a class or sports league, where people count on you to show up.

o    Find an activity you can enjoy with your children, like dancing to music, hiking, or playing sports such as basketball, tennis, or racquetball.

o    Seek support from someone who will inspire you to get moving and help you reach your goals. This could be a family member, coach or trainer.

o    Have a list of people close by that can help you out if need be. Perhaps they can watch the children, pick the children up from school, work out with you, or just continue to encourage you as you make progress.

If the weather is not ideal, you can reach your fitness goals in any weather by: (1) Wearing the right gear. A rain jacket, sun hat, and sunscreen, or winter clothes will protect you and help you stick to your plans; (2) Find a place to stay active indoors. Download an app to your phone or other device to be active at home, or take an indoor class when the weather is bad.

If cost is an issue, check out your local recreation (rec) or community center. These centers may cost less than other gyms, fitness centers, or health clubs. Find one that lets you pay only for the months or classes you want, instead of the whole year. Choose physical activities that do not require special gear or advanced skills. Check out the local Goodwill or Thrift Store to see if they have some of the equipment you may need. Racquetball racquets, baseball bats, golf clubs, etc. are usually easy to find at a secondhand store.

Prepare to break through your roadblocks. What are the top three things keeping you from being more active? Write them down and stop using them for an excuse. Find a solution. If you cannot join a gym, then start walking in your neighborhood. If you have very little time, then jump rope or do jumping jacks for five minutes a day. If you do not have anyone to watch your children, then be active with your children. You can take walks together or play games such as “catch” or basketball. Find a friend or family member you trust who is willing to watch your child while you exercise. Some people take turns watching each other’s children. Some exercise facilities have free day care.

If you are struggling with health issues, call the Advanced Chiropractic & Nutritional Healing Center at 240-651-1650 for a free consultation. Dr. Lo uses Nutritional Response Testing® to analyze the body to determine the underlying causes of ill or non-optimum health.

The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at

*Content Source: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

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.

by James Rada, Jr.

April 1921, 100 Years Ago

New Milk Dealer

Along with April 1st came new enterprises in many places. Mr. J. Hooker Lewis of Thurmont has embarked in the milk business and has been delivering milk since April 1st. It is reported that Mr. Lewis has purchased the C. W. Lidie property on Water Street and will, in course of time, conduct a business at that place. Mr. Lewis is selling milk at 8 cents per quart–two cents lower than other dealers in Thurmont.

                                          – Catoctin Clarion, April 7, 1921

Make A Find

While Mr. and Mrs. Walter Dorsey were walking around the lot in the rear of their home in this place, Mr. Dorsey found a knife. Looking around he found several more knives, several flashlights, and a gold watch. It is supposed these articles were stolen along with other goods and left there by the thief. The articles were all rusted and showed they had been there for some time.

                                          – Catoctin Clarion, April 7, 1921

April 1946, 75 Years Ago

Red Cross Fund “Over the Top” in Emmitsburg

Emmitsburg has gone over the top in the annual fundraising drive for the Red Cross, Mrs. John R. Kerr, chairman of the drive in the borough announced today.

Quota for the community was $800, while donations to date are $848.66, Mrs. Kerr added. In order to complete the drive, Mrs. Kerr asked that all persons who may have been missed in the house to house canvass or who wish to make additional contributions to make the gifts now so that a complete report may be made on the drive.

                                          – The Gettysburg Times, April 4, 1946

Mount Has Largest Freshman Class

The freshman class at Mt. St. Mary’s college numbers 120, the largest in the history of the Emmitsburg institution, John Roddy, Jr., registrar of the college, announced today.

A total of 225 students in all classes have been enrolled for the semester which began Monday, Roddy added. Of the students, the majority are recently returned World War II veterans, he added.

                                          – The Gettysburg Times, April 4, 1946

April 1971, 50 Years Ago

Charles Arthur Elder, Chronicle Elder, Succumbs Wednesday

Charles Arthur Elder died at 8:30 a.m., Wednesday, April 7, 1971, in the Annie M. Warner Hospital, Gettysburg, Pa. Mr. Elder, 57, had been in declining health for more than a year.

A prominent figure in Emmitsburg, Frederick County, and the State of Maryland, the area he served practically all his life. Mr. Elder became an institution in the community as Editor and Publisher of The Emmitsburg Chronicle, a militant and popular newspaper widely circulated in Frederick County under his leadership from September 1948 until his death.

                                          – Emmitsburg Chronicle, April 9, 1971

St. Joseph College Closing In 2 Years

St. Joseph College will close its doors at the end of the 1972-73 academic year, two years from this June.

Sister Margaret Dougherty, president of St. Joseph College, announced the closing of the Catholic women’s college at a hastily called meeting of the student body Monday at 11 a.m.

                                          – Emmitsburg Chronicle, April 23, 1971

April 1996, 25 Years Ago

By George! Emmitsburgian Rewrites History of Pearl Harbor

A story by Eric Gregory filed in the Honolulu Advertiser tells of how four historians have teamed up to correct at least 50 mistakes at the “Remembrance Exhibit” on the shore of the Arizona Memorial Visitors Center in Hawaii.

Thirty of the 34 porcelain panels that list deaths in Japan’s Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor contain misspelled names, wrong ranks, and incorrect duty stations.

                          – The Emmitsburg Regional Dispatch, April 1996

Recycling Brings Residents Lower Fees

According to town office bookkeeper Donna Thompson, Emmitsburgians will pay the lowest first quarter garbage collection rate ever. Because of recycling the tipping fee for the first-quarter was $7.81 per household compared to the expected fee that normally ranges from $11-$15.

                          – The Emmitsburg Regional Dispatch, April 1996

The Year is…1925

The Summer Blue Ridge Summit Burned

Blue Ridge Summit was not a heavily populated area in 1925. Only a few hundred people lived there year-round, but that summer the small community suffered three fires that caused a lot of damage to the town.

On June 16, the engine house of the Monterey Hotel caught fire and burned to the ground. The loss was put at $1,000 (roughly $13,500 in 2016 dollars).

Three days later, the Chambersburg, Greencastle and Waynesboro Trolley station caught on fire. Luckily, there weren’t any people there. Trolleys had been slowly falling into disuse as the popularity of cars grew. The Chambersburg, Greencastle and Waynesboro Trolley would end its service in 1928.

“The fire at Highfield Tuesday completely destroyed the confectionary store, pool room, and barber shop owned by John Flautt, adjoining the station,” the Hagerstown Morning Herald reported.

The fire department responded as quickly as it could and Rev. Charles Niles, rector of the Episcopal Church drove the fire truck. The problem was notifying enough people that help was needed to fight the fire. The Gettysburg Times called the alert system inadequate. “The old fire rings, huge iron circles with iron hammers, which were placed at various points on the mountain years ago, are now overgrown with weeds and brush and are practically useless for putting in fire calls,” the newspaper reported.

The blaze was out of control by the time the firemen arrived and they concentrated on keeping the fire from spreading to nearby homes and businesses.

The trolley station suffered $1,000 in damage, while Flautt had $2,500 in damage. It also caused some of the few businesses in the town to be closed for a time.

Both of these fires were reported as being suspicious in origin.

Then in the afternoon of July 13, the shout of fire went up in one of the oldest boarding houses on the mountain, according to The Gettysburg Times. The boarders quickly left except for Bertha Barr who was ill and couldn’t leave her bed.

The fire department responded as quickly as they could to the scene.

“Fighting their way through stifling smoke and flames to the third story, J. M. Detrow and Dr. H. C. Bridges, of Blue Ridge Summit, yesterday afternoon rescued Miss Bertha Barr, of Baltimore, from a fire which destroyed the boarding house owned by Mrs. Mae Truitt, for a time threatened the heart of the fashionable Blue Ridge Summit summer colony, and fought by a bucket brigade including girls summering at the resort,” The Gettysburg Times reported.

The entire building burned to the ground in half an hour. Sparks from the fire set a nearby vacation lodge on fire and threatened to catch other buildings on fire, but the Waynesboro Fire Department arrived on scene and helped the Blue Ridge Summit firefighters get the fire under control.

The boarding house had recently undergone a number of repairs and was valued at $18,000 (roughly $244,000 in 2016 dollars). The loss was only partially covered by insurance, and Truitt had a loss of $12,000. The fire was believed to have been caused by a defective flue in the chimney by the roof.

If there was a silver lining to all of the fires that summer, it is that enough money was raised to purchase a new siren for the Blue Ridge Summit Fire Department.

“It was bought after several destructive fires had threatened the entire mountain settlement because of an inadequate alarm system,” The Gettysburg Times reported.

The new electric alarm weighed 550 pounds and was installed on a steel tower in the plaza at Blue Ridge Summit in mid-August.

The Monterey Inn suffered a major fire in 1925, one of three large fires that summer in Blue Ridge Summit.

“Helping You Find Plants That Work”

by Ana Morlier , The Crazy Plant Lady

What feels like the last holiday, Easter, will soon be here. The last opportunity to attain candy (other than buying it yourself) is coming up. For gardeners, the chocolate Easter candy isn’t the only thing to look foreward to. Spring has sprung!

Even if you aren’t a green thumb, you too can join the excitement as everyone gears up for planting season. I’m not exactly “sowing” I’m a planting professional, but I did want to recommend an awesome and highly beneficial perennial to your garden.

Readers of The Banner, I present to you a candidate that resolves all your garden worries!

The Early Lowbush Blueberry — The All-Star Greenery

Here are a few highlights of the early lowbush blueberry:

It flowers from April through May, so not only can you catch sight of the blooms, but pollinators can get a head-start on assisting your garden;

Its (fruits) are edible;

It’s native to Maryland;

You’ll attract bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. In some cases, even the Maryland favorite, the Orioles, box turtles, chipmunks, and other animals, come to this bush;

It’s used for any soil condition.

I know that was a lot of excitement for what seems like a boring shrub, but when I saw that it fits this much criteria for my mediocre gardening skills, I got pretty excited. With the timing of the blooms so close to the current date, you’ll have your first view of spring beauty promptly! The flowers come in colors from white to pink, so they won’t be hard to miss. In the fall, the leaves turn a light crimson. 

Some things to watch out for:

Naturally, it actually thrives after forest fires because the factors of competition from other plants and shade from trees is eliminated. It is a good idea to expose it to as much sunlight as you have room for, and provide lots of space to grow;

As stated, this shrub attracts pollinators and animals alike, so if you want blueberries for yourself, you have to watch closely and take preventative measures. Be careful not to use any sort of pesticides or chemicals, as this can be hazardous to other beneficial species;

Prune away any dead or weakened leaves or branches;

While soil texture doesn’t matter, this is an acid-loving shrub. The Spruce recommends “A slow-release, soluble, ammonium nitrogen granular variety that is marketed for plants like rhododendrons or azaleas.”;

It produces rhizomes, which are roots that penetrate and spread out deep underground. This can provide competition for other plant life, so allot lots of space for the shrub.

If you are afraid of any harm from gardening, don’t worry (Bee happy)! Bees are perfectly friendly, as long as you leave them alone (which I find quite unbelievably adorable). If you “hive” a fear of bees, and one comes close to you, stand completely still. They won’t understand what the buzz is all about and will leave you alone. It’s usually wasps and yellow jackets that will bug you the most, and they come out more so when summer is in full swing.

The early lowbush blueberry is without thorns, spines, or prickles, so you don’t have to be too cautious when picking blueberries or just checking on the plant. When harvesting, be gentle with the young sap. Hand-picking is the easiest on the plant and, in my opinion, the most fun!

This plant is quite a delight—beautiful colors, tasty fruit, and ground cover. I hope you have a berry good planting season!

*Credit to Go Botany, University of Maryland Extension, The Spruce, Maryland Biodiversity Project, Punopedia, and the Honey Plants Calender.