Currently viewing the category: "Columns"

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.

by Priscilla Rall

Donald Kuhn

From the Mountains of Appalachia to the Mountains of India and Burma

The late Donald Eugene Kuhn traveled with the Army Air Corps to places most of us merely dream of. Born in 1921 to Ernest Rexfore “Rex” and Goldie Wolf Kuhn, he was one of 10 children, growing up on a small farm on Brandenburg Hollow road near Wolfsville. Rex bought out his two sisters, buying the farm for $2,700 after his father died. When it was appraised, the banker told them to figure out how much it was worth before the Great Depression, and then halve that amount! The family had a sleigh and a buggy, but they were not used after Donald was born. Instead, his father drove a 1923 Chevy.

The Kuhn’s raised eight to ten hogs a year and had four to five milk cows. On the 38 tillable acres, the family grew corn, potatoes, wheat, and green beans. They had no tractors but used draft horses, “Kit” and “Bird.” The kids picked the beans for 15 cents a bushel. Donald remarked that he “looked to a quarter as a big piece of money.” After a hard day picking beans, the kids would race down to their favorite watering hole to cool off swimming. His mother was busy from morn to night, milking the cows, churning butter, and cooking for her large brood. When Donald was about 10, he was old enough to be given the chore of getting water from the nearby creek for the steam engine that ran the threshing machine needed for the wheat, which had been put up in shocks in the barn. The farm had no electricity until 1942.

It was not all work and no play. One of Donald’s fondest memories was after a big snow, the kids would go sledding. There were still a few chestnut trees not yet killed by the blight, and Donald remembered picking them to eat. He also helped split the chestnut logs to be used for split-rail fences. They still had to walk to the Forest School, a mile or so away, but his father would harness up one of the horses and hitch a log to her and drag a path for his children to the school.

The Depression hit the small farmers hard. Often, the Kuhns would take eggs and chickens to Goldie’s grandfather’s store in Wolfsville and barter for sugar and kerosene. All of the neighbors enjoyed sitting around listening to the radio, especially the Grand Ol’ Opry. At that time, there were “hucksters” like Ross Eyler, Raymond MacLean, and my husband’s great uncle, Victor Pryor, who would buy the produce and take it to the city to sell. When the children needed shoes, Rex would take a cured ham to Harry Myer’s grocery to sell for enough money to buy shoes for at least a few of the children. The Kuhns were fortunate not to lose their farm as some neighbors did.

The Roosevelt Administration began many programs to help the struggling Americans. A Civil Conservation Camp (CCC) was built where Camp David is now. The government bought much of the land, and those living there had no choice but to sell. Isaac Smith was one of those who lost his farm to eminent domain.

After seven years at the two-room Forest School in Garfield, Donald went on to Middletown High School. Goldie was insistent that all her children attend high school. Donald recalled that “It always grieved her” not to be able to go beyond seventh grade, as she had to stay home and care for her sick mother.

After graduating from high school, Donald attended Columbia Business School in Hagerstown. He then worked six-and-a-half days a week for a coal company, also in Hagerstown. He made $12.50 a week. Then, he received his draft notice, but decided to enlist in the Army Air Corps. After three days at Fort Meade, he traveled to St. Petersburg, Florida, spending a week taking tests. After qualifying for clerical school, he was sent to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, for 11 weeks. His next stop was to the Waycross Air Base and the 385th Bombardment Squadron, 311th Bombardment Group, where he served until July 1943.

Then, it was goodbye USA and hello Asia. Leaving San Francisco on the USAP Brazil, a troop carrier, he sailed first to Tanzania, then around the south of Australia. At Perth, they picked up another ship and a destroyer, arriving on September 10 in the Indian Ocean. Finally on land, the men took three different trains and two different riverboats across India to reach its northeastern tip. They did stop at the British Camp at Gaya, where the Americans could hear the jackals howling at night. Quite an unnerving experience for a farm boy from Appalachia! The conditions were very primitive in India, particularly since they were experiencing a terrible famine at this time. At each train station, hordes of children would swarm around the train, begging for food. Finally, the men arrived at their destination, and Donald’s real work began.

by Buck Reed

The Sauced Savage:

Food On The Go

Everyone has heard the term “The New Normal,” which is coined by scientists and doctors, as well as our political leaders. It is obvious that anyone who is not thinking about how their business will be operating or changing in the extremely near future, will not be in business in the very near future.

One big change in the food service industry is the expansion of food trucks, and Frederick County is keeping up. Of the 3 million food trucks currently operating in the United States, Frederick County has about 74. Given that most are under a year old, it is no surprise that The Sauced Savage is just over a year old.

Food trucks are notorious for having limited menus, which means they can concentrate on doing a few items very well. It means that an entrepreneur can put their passion into their work one meal at a time.

Jason Savage, the owner and operator of The Sauced Savage, had two things going for him. First, before he took on the truck, he worked for the county as a foreman for the Highway Operations. And, second, since his wife’s family has been operating a barbeque food truck for decades, you might say he married into the industry.

Mr. Savage bought his trailer about five years ago, and after modifying it, started working part-time in West Virginia. This put him in a very good position to move in on Frederick County about a year ago when the local government modified the rules on the food truck business. Making the jump to full-time meant leaving a steady paycheck, and although he had a few concerns, he pressed on.

Given that he opened just before the restrictions from the pandemic were in place, Savage has been able to roll with the waves. He even had it worked into his plan to shut down for one or two months if business slowed down, but that did not happen.

Today, he moves his trailer as needed to various spots around the county and works sporting events, festivals, and fundraisers, as well as traditional catering. With the ability to serve up to 4,000 meals a day, they can help with any function anyone might be planning.

Jason has actually been busy enough that he was able to take on some extra help; keeping it in the family, he hired his daughter, Riley Savage. With the warmer weather on the way, they plan on expanding their barbeque menu with pit beef and turkey. I, personally, like what they do with beef brisket with coleslaw, beans, and both traditional and spicy sauces.

For more information, you can follow The Sauced Savage on Facebook or visit their website at

To book an event, contact The Sauced Savage at 301-418-2642.

Studentby Ava Morlier, Culinary Arts Program at CTC

Happy April, everyone! What a great month: spring is coming, planting season is close, and Easter brings bunnies and joy to kids everywhere. Though Easter dinner is the meal reserved for rich and delicious foods that take great time and care to make, today’s recipe will provide a surprisingly easy and delicious breakfast for after-church service: Cinnamon rolls!

Before you argue that cinnamon rolls take lots of time, labor, and skill to make, I have to share my experience with cinnamon rolls. At first I thought it would be extremely hard and take forever to make. But what cut down on time was the way I made it: first, I made the dough the day before I was going to cook the cinnamon rolls. The next day, I rolled, made, and baked the cinnamon rolls. This drastically cut down on time and made the whole process a lot easier. I would suggest doing the same if you want to make these fresh for Easter breakfast: make the dough, filling, and icing the day before Easter. Roll out and make the cinnamon rolls before church (if you plan on going) and let the cinnamon rolls do the second rise while you are out. Once you get home, bake, let cool, add frosting, and enjoy! But, feel free to do the entire process the day before, thaw the cinnamon rolls for breakfast and add icing. It’ll be less fresh, but still delicious.

For all you people saying “I can’t bake with yeast because it’s too difficult!,” don’t worry. It’s actually a lot easier than it seems. The trouble really lies with the temperature of the liquid when added to the yeast and the rising of the dough. Generally, liquid added to yeast should be lukewarm (the liquid shouldn’t be freezing, but shouldn’t be hot either). A good temperature range is about 100-1100F. As for the rising dough, it’s important to be patient and let it rise. For this recipe, there is no need to punch it down or knead it extra. That will lead to over-kneading, which will make the dough dense and chewy. If you keep these things in mind, the yeast will do its job well in the cinnamon rolls.

Though it might be easier to simply buy cinnamon rolls at the store or pop a Pillsbury doughboy canister, I promise this recipe will be worth your trouble. The freshness of all the elements (the dough, filling, and icing) will make these cinnamon rolls the best you’ve ever tasted. No gross preservatives will hold back the delicious potential of these tasty pastries.

I hope this recipe will help you to have a happy and delicious Easter!

Cinnamon Rolls


¾ c. warm milk

2 ¼ tsp. Quick rise/active yeast

¼ c. granulated sugar

1 egg and 1 yolk (save the egg yolk for later)

¼ c. unsalted butter, melted (but not too hot so as not to cook the raw egg)

3 c. bread flour (I used all purpose flour; either type works)

¾ tsp. Salt

extra flour for rolling


2/3 c. brown sugar

1 ½ tbsp. ground cinnamon

¼ c. unsalted butter, softened


4 oz. cream cheese, softened

3 tbsp. Unsalted butter, softened

¾ c. powdered sugar

½ tsp. Vanilla extract


Warm the milk to 110 degrees and melt butter. Combine dry ingredients (except for the yeast) together (flour, sugar, salt). Once milk is done, add yeast and milk together. Mix around a bit and let sit for about 5 min. Once done, add warm butter (make sure butter is not above 100 degrees) and eggs to liquid mixture (save egg white for later). Add the entire mixture to the dough and mix with a bread hook on low speed until all ingredients are mixed. Mix again at medium speed until the dough cleans the bowl and forms a ball, about 8 minutes. Make sure the dough isn’t too sticky (add flour if so) or too dry (add more milk).

Let it rise: If cooking the same day, cover with a wet paper towel and let rise in a warm place for 1-1 ½ hrs. or until doubled in size. If making the next day, cover with a wet paper towel and place in the refrigerator until ready to use the next day.

Make the filling: Soften the butter (put butter in the microwave on defrost. The butter should move when pressed but should not be melted). Mix cinnamon with brown sugar, then add to butter, beating with a mixer. Stop to scrape down the bowl and beaters, then mix again until no butter chunks are left. Once done, put in the refrigerator.

Make the frosting: Soften cream cheese and butter. Beat both with powdered sugar and vanilla extract until fluffy. Refrigerate.

Once dough has risen, pour the dough out onto a well-floured surface. (I used a large sheet pan so that cleanup would be easier. A clean open counter works as well). Flour the top of the dough and the roller. Roll into a rectangle, with a thickness resembling pie crust.

Spread the filling evenly all over the dough, covering 3 sides (making sure to leave a 1-in. space at the top with the longest length).

Start to roll: Roll the dough, folding the longest side over. Roll tightly until you get to the 1-in. edge. Brush with egg whites and finish folding. This should make a long log-like shape.

With the knife/ bench scraper, cut into 1-in. segments. Grease pan(s) and space 2 in. apart. Let rise for about 30 minutes in a warm room.

Preheat oven to 350degrees. Once risen, cover the pan with aluminum foil and cook for 25-30 minutes. Remove foil and cook again until golden brown, about 5-10 minutes.

Once done, allow it to cool. Once completely cooled, add cream cheese and spread evenly. Serve and enjoy!

With credit to Ambitious Kitchen’s The Best Cinnamon Rolls You’ll Ever Eat recipe.

Tools Needed

Large bowl (big enough to hold the size of the initially mixed dough when doubled in size), mixer with bread hook (if you have neither, mixing by hand works just as well), dry measuring utensils, medium bowl, several (at least 4) microwave-proof bowls, medium bowl for filling, medium bowl for icing, mixer, beaters (should not be whisk-like so as not to incorporate air), roller, bench scraper or knife (for cutting cinnamon rolls), 1-2 pans, aluminum foil, spatula.

by Barb Cline,

Your Personal Travel Professional

Royal Caribbean & Celebrity Return to Cruising

ROYAL CARIBBEAN — Beginning in June 2021, departures will resume, as they introduce Adventure of the Seas® to her new homeport of Nassau, Bahamas. Offering weeklong getaways, vacationers can enjoy a day in Cozumel, Mexico, as well as an island-hopping sampler of popular Bahamian ports—including Grand Bahama Island, and two consecutive days at its very own private destination, Perfect Day at CocoCay. These exciting new itineraries will set sail June through August 2021, inviting fully vaccinated guests 18 years of age and older, as well as children under the age of 18 with proof of negative COVID-19 test results. As Royal Caribbean returns to sea, health and safety remains its top priority. They’ve partnered with expert medical and scientific minds to guide them in developing protocols to protect passengers and the ones they love. And they’re working with local health authorities in their homeport countries to ensure their guests meet current inbound travel requirements.

CELEBRITY — Celebrity Cruises announced its return cruising as the Celebrity Millennium will homeport in St. Maarten starting on June 5. Beginning March 25, guests can book the new seven-night itineraries departing through August. The ship will sail two different weeklong itineraries. One will call on Aruba, Curaçao, and Barbados and a second itinerary will call on Tortola, St. Lucia, and Barbados.


1. What costs are covered if a guest tests positive for SARS–CoV-2 during the cruise?

In the event that a guest tests positive during his/her cruise vacation, a full refund will be administered for the impacted guest, as well as those individuals within his/her immediate travel party. Additionally, guests that test positive for COVID-19 during the cruise or are deemed a close contact of someone who has, Royal Caribbean will cover onboard medical treatment, cost of any required land-based quarantine, and travel home for the affected guest and his/ her travel party.

2. What happens to the paid cruise fare if a guest tests positive for SARS–CoV-2 before the cruise and am unable to join?

A full refund will be processed for the individual who tested positive, as well as his her immediate travel party if a positive test result occurs within three weeks of the sail date.

3. How is air circulated and filtered on board? Is the air safe on board a cruise ship?

On Royal Caribbean ships, 100 percent fresh ocean air is continuously supplied from outside. In-take of air occurs on one side of the ship for cooling and ventilation; then the air is removed via exhaust on the opposite side of the ship. This continual in-take of fresh air replaced the air in any space, with a total air change up to 2 times an hour in staterooms, and about 15 changes an hour in large public spaces. Fan-coil units in your stateroom and public spaces provide an extra layer of protection, continuously scrubbing the air of pathogens, using a high -rate MERV 13 filter that captures aerosols 0.3 to 1 micron in size with 90 percent efficacy, fine enough to filter cold and flu germs and coronavirus. An independent study by the University of Nebraska Medical Center and onboard Oasis of the Seas confirmed that cross-contamination air between adjacent spaces is virtually impossible thanks to this powerful system .29.

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

Zinc is a nutrient found in cells throughout the body. It helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses. The body also needs zinc to make proteins and DNA, the genetic material in all cells. Zinc also helps wounds heal and is important for proper senses of taste and smell.

Vegetable-based zinc sources are not as bioavailable as animal-based sources, which means that the body does not absorb zinc from vegetarian sources as effectively. According to 2017 research, a person eating a vegetarian or vegan diet may need to consume 50 percent more zinc than people who regularly eat animal products.

How Much Zinc Do I Need?

The amount of zinc you need each day depends on your age. The recommended dose for adult men is 11 mg., and for adult women, 8 mg.

What Foods Provide Zinc?

Zinc is in a wide variety of foods. You can get the recommended amounts of zinc by eating a variety of foods, including the following: oysters (which are one of the best sources of zinc), red meat, poultry, seafood, and fortified breakfast cereals. Beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and dairy products also provide some zinc. If those foods are hard for you to add to your diet, you can also obtain zinc in supplement form.

Am I Getting Enough Zinc?

Most people in the United States get enough zinc from the foods they eat. However, certain groups of people may have trouble getting enough zinc. These groups include people who have had gastrointestinal surgery, such as weight loss surgery, or who have digestive disorders, such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. These conditions can decrease the amount of zinc that the body absorbs and increase the amount lost in the urine.

Vegetarians also fall into this group because they do not eat meat, which is a good source of zinc. In addition, the beans and grains they typically eat have compounds that keep zinc from being fully absorbed by the body. For this reason, vegetarians might need to eat as much as 50 percent more zinc than the recommended amounts. Also look into consuming soaked and sprouted grains, nuts, and seeds, as this makes zinc more bioavailable.

Infants over six months of age could have trouble getting enough zinc because breast milk does not have enough zinc for infants over six months. Infants over six months who do not take formula can be given foods that have zinc such as pureed meats.

Alcoholics can have trouble getting enough zinc because alcoholic beverages decrease the amount of zinc that the body absorbs and increase the amount lost in the urine. In addition, many alcoholics eat a limited amount and variety of food, so they may not get enough zinc.

People with sickle cell disease may also need more zinc.

What Happens If I Do Not Get Enough Zinc?

Zinc deficiency is rare in North America. It causes slow growth in infants and children, delayed sexual development in adolescents, and impotence in men. Zinc deficiency also causes hair loss, diarrhea, eye and skin sores, and loss of appetite. Weight loss, problems with wound healing, decreased ability to taste food, and lower alertness levels can also occur.

Many of these symptoms can also be signs of problems other than zinc deficiency.

Some Effects Of Zinc On Health

Zinc helps activate T-cells, which control and regulate your immune response and attack and destroy infected cells. Zinc plays a role in several bodily functions; let us review:

Growth: People require zinc for physical growth and development. Zinc deficiency can result in impaired growth in children and adolescents.

Immune system function: Our bodies use zinc to build immune system cells called T lymphocytes. Older people and children in developing countries who have low levels of zinc may have a higher risk of getting pneumonia and other infections. Some studies also suggest that zinc lozenges or syrup help speed recovery from the common cold and reduce its symptoms if taken within 24 hours of coming down with a cold.

Enzyme function: Zinc plays a pivotal role in triggering chemical reactions in the body. These include helping the body use folic acid and creating new proteins and DNA.

Eye health: Zinc deficiency can contribute to the development of eye conditions, including macular degeneration. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is an eye disease that gradually causes vision loss. Research suggests that zinc might help slow AMD progression. In the study, people at high risk of the disease who took dietary supplements containing zinc and dietary supplements containing only zinc had a lower risk of getting advanced AMD than those who did not take zinc dietary supplements. 

Wound healing: Zinc helps promote healthy skin and mucous membranes, which boosts wound healing.

Can Zinc Be Harmful?

Yes, zinc can be harmful if you get too much. Signs of too much zinc include nausea (nausea can also happen if you are taking zinc on an empty stomach), vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and headaches. When people take too much zinc for a long time, they sometimes have problems such as low copper levels, lower immunity, and low levels of HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol).

Are There Any Interactions With Zinc That I Should Know About?

Yes. Zinc dietary supplements can interact or interfere with medicines that you take, and in some cases, medicines can lower zinc levels in the body.

Zinc and Healthful Eating

People should get most of their nutrients from food. Foods contain vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and other substances that benefit health. In some cases, fortified foods and dietary supplements may provide nutrients that otherwise may be consumed in less-than-recommended amounts.

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

jEanne Angleberger

Shaklee Associate for a Healthier Life

Endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body. Endorphins act on the opiate receptors in our brains, reducing pain and boosting a feeling of well-being. What does it take to raise the endorphin level in the body?  My first thought is “helping someone in need!” Everyone experiences an unexpected need during their lives. How would you respond?

First, is recognition. What is happening with this person? What can I do to help? Next is considering how I can help. After all, what if it were me? Would someone come to my aid?

Making the decision to help someone benefits more than just the person you are helping out. When a person performs or carries out an act of kindness, the brain releases endorphins. This helps boost your psychological health. Your focus is providing support for someone in need, but it’s also rewarding your health.

We are often told to “treat ourselves” when we are feeling down, yet research suggests that to best boost our moods and to feel uplifted and happy, we should treat someone else, not ourselves. We are all part of a support network by recognizing and encouraging each other. One kind word can change someone’s entire day!

My paternal grandmother was progressive in her thinking during her time. She taught me to help people in need. We should look after others when we can.

I believe an unexpected kindness is the least costly and most underrated act we can do as human beings. No matter how small the act!

No one will leave the universe without having a need at some point in their lives. There is no shame in asking for help.

So, the next time someone in need catches your eye, how will you respond? It may be small to you, but to the recipient, it could be life-changing. Connection is vital.

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

by dave ammenheuser

Norman Feldser, my former scoutmaster of Thurmont Troop 270, and I reconnected this winter when his wife, Gloria, called to ask if the antique furniture my late parents had in their living room was available.

It was.

One of the silver linings of clearing my parents’ estate has been seeing friends, classmates, and neighbors whom I have not seen in several decades.

Quickly for those of you catching up: My parents, John and Elizabeth Ammenehuser, died in 2020. I recently left my long-time sports journalism career to return to Thurmont to take care of their estate, their house, and their beloved possessions.

Growing up in Thurmont in the 1970s, I had many mentors and friends who helped mold me into the person I became and prepared me for the career that I sought.

Norman was one of them.

Affectionately known then as “Alka” by his teenage troop members (Alka Seltzer, Norman Feldser, get it?), he had a major impact on my life.

I looked forward to the Thursday night Scout meetings, the monthly hiking trips, and the summer camps and jamborees. In 1976, as our country celebrated its 200th birthday, Norman and I and other Frederick County Scouts were on a bus traveling to Cimarron, New Mexico, for a rugged 14-day hike at the Philmont Scout Ranch. It was the best summer of my young life.

In 1977, he helped me attain the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout, just the third in Thurmont’s history at that time. I’m pleased to hear that he’s still involved in Scouting and has helped hundreds of others across the region achieve the same lofty rank.

And that antique furniture? It’s now in the home of Gloria’s daughter, Bonnie, a high school friend of mine. Norman and Bonnie carried it out of my parents’ home near Creagerstown. And Norman and I agreed to catch up soon to retell stories of our past.

But, he wasn’t the only recent reunion.

Jane Nicholson was the first familiar face to drop by. She and her husband bought some old metal milk cans that my parents had on their front porch.

“Do you recognize me?” she asked.

“Sorry, I don’t … it must be the mask covering your face,” I responded, trying not to embarrass either one of us.

Then she said, “Jane Hill!”

Ahh, Nicholson was her married name. Yes, it was Jane Hill from our Catoctin High Class of 1980. Her long hair should’ve been the giveaway. I sold her the cans for less than the market value. It’s not the cash that counts. It’s the memories and knowing the items are staying in the community.

Jackie Campbell, mother to my high-school classmate, John, bought an antique marble table. She reached out later, seeking a VCR to watch some of John’s old basketball and baseball tapes that had been stored on VHS tapes. It took me a while, but I found one in a closet (next to an 8-track player). It’s in her home now. Hopefully, those movies bring back the same warm memories that I have of our Cougar teams.

Another classmate, Jimmy Rickerd, reached out to ask about a portable heater that I had posted on Facebook Marketplace. “It would be perfect in my greenhouse,” he said in a text.

Jimmy and I have been friends on Facebook for many years. I’ve enjoyed reading about his musical career and his annual tomato harvest. We’d only seen each other a couple of times since graduation day in 1980.

Jimmy’s father, Austin, died in 2018. His father and my mother worked together for decades at Moore’s Business Forms.

So, when Jimmy inquired about the heater, of course, I immediately told him it was his. No charge. Just give me a few of those ‘maters when they are ready this spring.

That’s what friends do. No matter how long it’s been since we last saw one another. No matter the differences in our political beliefs. Or, that one guy decided to stay in his hometown while the other chose to move away.

It’s good to know you can always come home. And your friends are still there.

Bonnie Horn and Norman Feldser carry antique furniture from Dave Ammenheuser’s parents’ home earlier this winter.

Photo by Dave Ammenheuser

This Means War

by Valerie Nusbaum

I heard a shriek followed by maniacal laughter, and I knew what it meant. The squirrel was back.

Poor Randy has been fighting a losing battle with a very clever squirrel over a bird feeder filled with seed. The bird feeder was a birthday gift from my brother, and I confess that it sat in the box in the basement for nearly two years before I remembered to get it out and fill it. Well, Randy filled it, to be exact, and he hung it on the oak tree outside the kitchen window so that I could watch the birds while I do the dishes and cook his meals. My man is nothing if not thoughtful.

The only problem is that the birds never showed up. The bird feeder is made of clear acrylic in the shape of a tiny house, with a small slot and ledge for feeding. The birds either couldn’t find it or couldn’t figure out how to use it. The squirrel, however, had no problem finding it and emptying it multiple times.

“I’ll fix his wagon,” said Randy. He headed outside with some chicken wire, which he proceeded to drape around the plastic birdhouse. Still no birds. But we looked out the window, and the squirrel had invited a friend. One of them was reaching into the feeder while hanging onto the wire with one little paw, and he was tossing the birdseed to the other squirrel on the ground. Teamwork.

For a while, Randy refused to put any more birdseed in the feeder. Then he had another bright idea. I heard hammering and sawing and, of course, cursing, and then that weird laughter.

“This will drive him crazy,” Randy hissed. “I’d like to see him get to the birdseed now.”

My brilliant hubby had attached a wooden board to the top of a smooth four-foot pipe and then he’d attached the bird feeder to the board. Mind you, we still had no birds visiting the tiny birdhouse. The squirrel and his friend, however, spent several days sitting on the ground staring up at the pole and contraption. We know now that they were analyzing the situation and forming a plan of attack.

I got home from visiting my mom and walked into the kitchen, and as I put some things on the counter, I happened to glance out the window over the sink. There, big as life, was the squirrel. He was sitting proudly on top of the board at the top of the pole. He seemed to be looking in the window at me, and if I didn’t know better, I’d swear that he was raising a finger on one tiny paw. I shouldn’t have, but I called to Randy and had him look outside. “@#&*!!!##,” he muttered. “Chicken wire. Need. More. Wire.”

Now, I’m going to stop right here and defend Randy’s (and my) position. We aren’t being intentionally mean to the squirrels. I don’t want PETA or some animal rights activist giving me grief. The squirrels have their own food. We have two huge pin oak trees in our backyard, with enough acorns to feed a small army of little rodents. Heck, sometimes we even gather up piles of the nuts and set them out for the squirrels to find. We do their gathering for them, and they reward us by burying the darned things in my flower beds and washtubs so that I have to spend hours pulling out tiny oak trees every spring.

So….chicken wire was draped over and around the little birdhouse with an opening in the front for the non-existent birds to grab some food. And then, this morning, I heard it again.

“Look out your bathroom window,” Randy yelled up the stairs. I did look out, and there he was again, reaching down through the wire and helping himself to a handful of birdseed. He looked up, smiled, and saluted as Randy opened the kitchen window and cursed at him. I watched Stanley (that’s what I call the squirrel) wrap his arms around the pole and slide down it, fireman-style. I’m not making this up. I still don’t know how he got up there, but the squirrel scampered off to plot another raid on the bird feeder. Randy stalked down to the basement to figure out his next move. It’s been a long pandemic, folks. We all get our entertainment where we can, right?

Speaking of entertainment, I have to give special shout-outs to Michele Tester and Barb Barbe. Michele sent me a lovely email telling me several stories about the benefits of reaching out and writing notes. There was an especially touching story about Michele’s dad. Barb sent us such a nice card and even included a stamp for us to pay it forward. We will do that. Thank you both for your thoughtfulness and for taking the time to write. Even Randy has gotten in on the act and is sending tiny Valentine cards to neighbors and passing them out to the workers at the drive-thru windows. He’s getting some weird looks, but he’s used to that.

I’ll keep you posted on who wins the Battle of the Bird Feeder, but I think we all know how that’s going to go.

The least the darned squirrel could do is write a thank you note.

by James Rada, Jr.

March 1921, 100 Years Ago

Will Institute Lodge

To-night, March 31, a Rebekah Lodge, an organization growing out of the I. O. O. F., will be instituted in Thurmont. This organization is composed principally of ladies–wives, sisters and mothers of Odd Fellows. Girls over 18 years of age and not of Odd Fellow parentage are also admitted. Samaritan Rebekah Lodge of Frederick will come to Thurmont by special car to confer the degrees. The work will be given in Town Hall. The President and Secretary of the Rebekah Assembly of Baltimore will be present and perhaps several Grand Lodge officers of the I. O. O. F.

                                          – Catoctin Clarion, March 31, 1921

March 1946, 75 Years Ago

Break Ground For New Shoe Factory Today

Construction of a new $65,000 shoe plant in Emmitsburg is scheduled to start within the next few weeks, L. E. Beaudin, owner of the establishment, announced today.

The plant, which was brought to Emmitsburg through the efforts of the Emmitsburg Lions Club, will be the third Beaudin branch to be constructed, with other plants previously located at Hanover and Fairfield. The Emmitsburg branch will employ “between 225 and 250 people,” the Hanover manufacturer said.

                                          – Gettysburg Times, March 21, 1946

March 1971, 50 Years Ago

County Commissioners Okay School Addition Here

The Frederick County Commissioners revealed this week that the $4.5 million bonding authority they have requested for school construction in fiscal 1972 will be used to finance at least five school construction projects, including full funding of the Emmitsburg addition and renovation.

Funds for construction of this project were not included in the school superintendent’s construction request presented to the school board last week, and Dr. John L. Carnochan told the commissioners that funding of the Middletown Elementary School is considered a higher priority item than the Emmitsburg School in his opinion.

                                          – Emmitsburg Chronicle, March 12, 1971

March 1996, 25 Years Ago

Water Talks Between Mount Saint Mary’s and Emmitsburg

The supply and distribution of water in the town has been a nagging problem for the past several years. The limited number of available water taps has curtailed growth and development in some parts of the town.

In order to clarify the situation, the town council commissioned Smith Engineering Technologies to study the water problems and recommend plans of action. The study was based on estimated water demand over the next 20 years for both the town and Mount Saint Mary’s.

                          – The Emmitsburg Regional Dispatch, March 1996

My Exciting Trip of a Lifetime

By Maxine Troxell

This is a new feature that will continue with community contribution. Tell us your story about your most memorable vacation, your trip of a lifetime, and it may be featured in a future edition of The Catoctin Banner!

It’s December 2007, and I had just heard that Bob Barker, from The Price is Right show, was retiring in June. My friend, Karen Johnson, and I thought it would be great to see him before he retired. So, we started to plan our trip to Los Angeles, California.  We asked our friend, Donna Jones, if she would be interested in going along, and her answer was yes. We decided to send for tickets for the April 16 show. All three of us ordered tickets to be sure we got the tickets we needed. The tickets were sold in a lottery-style. Meanwhile, I booked the hotel for us, and Karen booked our flights. We also booked a couple of other tours of Los Angeles.

The tickets finally arrived three weeks before the show. To our surprise, the tickets were for Bob Barker’s Million Dollar Spectacular show, his last show ever. Wow, were we excited!

The day finally arrived for our flight, Thursday, April 12, 2007. The three of us were extremely excited to go. We arrived in LA around 4:00 p.m. We rented our vehicle, and we were soon on our way to the Farmers Daughter Hotel in Hollywood. The hotel was right across the street from the CBS Studio, where The Price is Right was staged. 

While in LA, we took the Grand LA Tour, where we toured through the Hollywood Bowl, Griffith Observatory, Sunset Strip, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Capitol Records, Rodeo Drive, the Farmers Market, and lots of other famous places.

We also took the Dearly Departed tour. On this tour, we got to see a lot of the stars’ homes (Lucy and Desi, George Burns, Jack Benny, Ozzie and Harriet, and a lot more). While on the tour, we saw Bob Barker walking his dog. We rode right past him, waving and smiling. He gave us a smirk back.

On Saturday night, around 10:00 p.m., people were already forming the line outside of the CBS Studio for our Monday The Price is Right show. Luckily, we found two girls from Pittsburg who needed tickets and shared our extras with them. In exchange, they said they would hold our positions in the line so that we could do other things before the Monday show. On Sunday, we went to Venice Beach, also known as Muscle Beach. There were lots of things to see and do there.

On Monday morning at 6:00 a.m., everyone who wanted to get into the show needed to be in line to get “order of arrival numbers.” Our numbers were 23, 24, and 25. We were instructed to return around 8:00 a.m. when they would start to process our tickets, take our social security numbers, and get our name tags (I still have mine).

They divided everyone in groups of 12. Each person in each group was interviewed by the producer. You needed to get excited, and it had to be natural for you to get picked as a contestant.

At 2:30 p.m., we finally entered the studio. What a thrill that was! We were seated in the third row, dead center (we are the ones pictured above in the yellow shirts). The studio is much smaller than it looked on television. Cameras were everywhere, and it was really noisy.

The producers wanted us to get really excited. Although my friends and I were not chosen as contestants, we had a great time. I’m sure that when Bob saw us in the audience, he must have said to himself, “Oh no! There are those three girls again.”  We can still watch the show on YouTube

This was really a fun trip of a lifetime!         

According to, “Bob Barker started out in entertainment in 1950 with his own radio show, The Bob Barker Show. In 1972, he joined the popular television game show The Price Is Right. By the time Barker retired as the show’s host in 2007, after nearly 35 years, The Price Is Right had become both the first hour-long game show and the longest-running daytime game show in history.”

Bob Barker celebrated his 97th birthday on December 12, 2020.

by Ana Morlier, The Crazy Plant Lady

Dear Gardening Gangster,

I have some succulents that I need advice on caring for. My house (during the winter) is warmed by a woodstove—a dry heat source. The leaves are falling off one of my succulents. The stem is still green, but the top is coming off. My other succulents still seem to be doing great and are growing new leaves. Any advice would be helpful.  ~Sincerely, Faith in the Succulents

Dear Faith in the Succulents,

Wow, it sounds like you’ve got a lot on your trowel! Luckily, there are many ways to get your succulent back to health. Just like any patient at the doctors, succulents have many symptoms that can arise from a single problem. Here are some signs and symptoms as well as their solutions!

Signs of Overwatering

Leaves falling off

Mushy leaves

Sitting water (at the bottom)

Yellow leaves

Shriveling, limp leaves

Puffy stem

Misshapen leaves

Solution: If you are overwatering your plant, stop watering it and let it sit until the topsoil layer is completely dry. Then water it once every two days or once a week. Another problem may be drainage. Integrate pebbles or rocks into the soil or drill in drainage holes. 

Signs of Underwatering

Extremely dry soil

Yellow leaves

Shriveled leaves

Solution: Water your plant as normal, every two to three days or once a week.

Other Problems

Extreme heat. For this, move your plant to party in a shady, cool location with partial sun. Humidity isn’t as much as a problem, as succulents originate from a very dry, arid climate. They will survive! If you are worried, look to my last article for easy humidifier solutions. A wet sponge is the easiest one to use. Sure, I’ve forgotten to re-wet it to a point where it is drier than succulent soil, but in a matter of minutes, it’s soaked again.

Lack of nutrients. The easiest option is just to repot it in new soil, but that isn’t any fun! When you make your own, you can save money to buy even more succulents! (Or, whatever else you want to use it for, of course.)

Coffee grounds: This will provide a tasty drink for you and nutrients for your plant. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t make everything—the house, plant, and my hand—smell amazing.

Garden “teas”: I hope you were able to enjoy drinking the fruits of your labor from my previous column about teas. It’s time to pay your plants back by giving them a tea of their own.

To make this garden tea, you must soak leaves (usually of weeds) in a bucket of water for a month. Common weeds can be used, but the most effective ones include comfrey, nettle and horsetail. Put rocks over the leaves so that they sink to the bottom and properly brew. WARNING! This does not smell pleasant—with comfrey being the worst offender to the nose. Make sure you put a lid or covering over it, so it doesn’t stink and so no critters start calling it home. You could also spray pungent essential oils (mint is one of the best ones to use) on the lid to attempt to cancel out the smell. As long as the water doesn’t freeze, the temperature of the tea does not matter (iced tea may be tasty for us, but it doesn’t bode well for plants).When you are done, strain out all the leaves and bugs (if any). Serve your planty friend the tea, diluted with water, and it will thank you, even if it can’t say anything! Make sure not to over-fertilize your succulent. With too much water, nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and other nutrients, the plant may suffer the same symptoms as listed above. Trying to keep your plant alive is definitely a balancing act. With succulents it can be a little easier, but problems still arise, which is completely normal

by Christine Maccabee 

Seed Savers

Most people who have been gardening for many years already have their favorite seeds in mind for planting this spring, be they hybrid or non-hybrid. It can be a bit bewildering when looking through the various seed catalogs, as there are so many varieties of seeds to choose from. However, I highly recommend buying some good heirloom/old-variety/non-hybrid seeds if you wish to be somewhat independent of catalogs in the future.

Seed-saving is not possible with hybrid seeds, as they do not carry the germ of the past, the genes of antiquity, and so will not germinate. Thankfully, the best seed catalogs do have heirloom seeds identified as such, so keep an eye out for them. In fact, some of the descriptions have short stories as to their origins, which I always find fascinating.
One such story is about “Mrs. Maxwell’s Big Italian tomato.” A friend from Italy gave her some seeds that they swore by. Mrs. Maxwell planted them, cultivated them, and shared them with other seed-savers. Eventually, the seeds made their way to a catalog company where the fruit is described as “the largest, earliest, and most crack-resistant.” My favorite tomato for 30 years now is the Brandywine Red, a Pennsylvania Amish heirloom, dating back to 1885, but this year I think I will try a Mrs. Maxwell as well!

There is a mysterious bean that I bought in Amish country years ago, called Mostoller’s Goose Bean. The story goes that Mr. Mostoller, a homesteader in the Appalachians shot a goose for dinner, and as he cleaned it, he found one beautiful seed in its craw. As he was a survivalist, like most settlers were, he planted the seed. It grew abundantly, and so he shared extra seed with friends and family. It is a wonderful soup and stew bean, and it also made its way to a seed catalog. I bought some in the 1990s and grew it for many years until I decided not to, and now I miss it. It is rare, and so I must find some seed savers online in order to plant it again.

As for peas, I can brag that I have not had to purchase pea seeds in 25 years. The seeds of Tall Telephone pea are a must for me to grow, eat, and save. They are a perfect space-saver—and back-saver as well—since they grow very tall, usually higher than five feet on stable fencing. Last year mine grew eight-feet-tall due to my rich soil and lots of rain. The yield is always great, and I don’t have to bend over to pick the pods.

Many settlers who came to the New World from Europe and elsewhere brought their seeds with them, fully aware that seeds were essential for survival. Think of the example of Johnny Appleseed sharing old variety apple trees with grateful settlers. Of course, Native Americans had their specialty seeds as well. I like to think that the bean, Mostoller, found in the craw of a goose was one the Natives grew! A Cherokee friend of mine told me her great-grandmother remembered pow wows in this high mountain valley I now inhabit. As I plant my heirloom seeds in the rich soil of my gardens here, I feel a deep connection with the Natives. They were the first inhabitants here and seed-savers as well!

Now is the time to look through seed catalogs and make your order. Why not try some different seeds this year by looking for seeds that will live on and on. Join the committed society of seed-savers. As you plant, eat, save, and share your heirloom/old variety seeds, know that you are participating in an ancient tradition, a heritage unlike any other.    

Some old variety/heirloom seeds of Christine’s, stored in jars and tins.

by Priscilla Rall

Oscar Sykes was born in 1916 in Catoctin Furnace to William and Carrie Ann Stackhouse Sykes. His father was a lumberman from Canada whose own father was killed by a falling tree while working as a lumberjack. Oscar was one of three sons and two daughters. William died in 1919 when Oscar was just three, and he is buried in Lewistown. From then on, Oscar was raised mostly by his sister, Ida. He was very fortunate to be raised by his sister, as one of his brothers was put in an orphanage when their father passed. His mother later married Harry Sweeney, and they lived in Catoctin Furnace. Ida married Howard M. Kemp, who was a blacksmith and had a great impact on Oscar’s life.

Oscar moved to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, a town then known for making wooden pipes for water systems. He was surprised to learn that Pennsylvania schools were not segregated like those in Maryland.

Moving once again, he lived in State College, Pennsylvania, with an aunt. Then, it was back to Catoctin Furnace, to live in a house across from the church.

Route 15 had not been widened at that time, and the boys swam in Locust Pond, located where the overpass walkway is now. The furnace was already in a state of disrepair, but the Dinky railroad was still in operation, and you could ride it up to Thurmont.

The trolley also went through Thurmont, and Oscar loved to hitch a ride on it to Braddock Heights to enjoy all the entertainment there. The main business in Catoctin Furnace at the time was making barrel staves from the thousands of dead chestnut trees covering Catoctin Mountain. Businesses also made telephone poles, crossties for the poles, and the wood screws that held the glass insulators on electric poles.

Oscar and his mother loved to ice skate on the upper and lower ponds there. They would place a log by the side of the pond and sit on it to lace up their skates and build a fire nearby to keep warm. Carrie was a gifted healer. She cared for pregnant women and delivered their babies. She would tap a pine tree and make a healing salve from the sap, just one of her many old-time recipes for medicine.

Oscar left school after eighth grade, and by age 13, he was working for Mr. Harding at his blacksmith shop in Mt. Pleasant, Maryland. The building is still there, at the end of the store.

An old buggy maker, Coleman Laddie, would sit by the fire and tell of his buggy shop in Frederick on All Saints Street. When Oscar mentioned he wanted a pincer to trim horses’ hooves, Mr. Laddie offered to show him how to make one. Eventually, Oscar made all of the tools he needed for blacksmithing and, most importantly, learned how to use an anvil correctly. Later, Oscar worked at Howard Kemp’s blacksmith shop in Frederick at the corner of South and Carroll Street.

Farmers brought their produce to Frederick, and it was especially busy when sweet corn was hauled in wagons, pulled by horses down East Street to the canneries. Many farmers took advantage of being in town to get their horses reshod or wooden wagon wheels repaired, so Oscar was especially busy at harvest time.

For wheels, they would buy the hubs and make the spokes and wooden wheels. Then they would have to place the metal rims on the wooden wheels, a complex process. On the weekends, Frederick was a bustling place, with cars and wagons parked along the main streets and benches up and down the sidewalks, filled with citizens sharing the latest news and gossip.

Then the Great Depression hit. There were no jobs to be had, and many people didn’t even have enough to eat. Hobos were a common sight. There was a CCC camp in Catoctin Furnace where Oscar’s Uncle Carl found work. Oscar did a lot of hunting, particularly in Canada, and would give the meat from rabbits, pheasants, deer, and even bear to his family and friends for food. Oscar remembered farmers who would come to his sister’s husband, Howard, crying as they had no money to pay him. Howard would take a dollar or two, and Oscar would later stop by to get another dollar as they tried to pay off their bill. Unemployed African Americans congregated on the corner of Patrick and Market streets, hoping that a farmer might need a hand for making hay or cutting corn.

Oscar fondly recalled that on nights with a full moon, he would join neighbors and shock corn for 20 cents a shock. Later, they would return to husk the dried corn. Oscar also worked on Guy and Will Water’s farms. He even shod horses at the Buckingham School. Oscar wasn’t afraid of hard work, but his fondest memories were of working with Tom Fox at his blacksmith shop on South Street, where he finished his journeyman’s training and became a full-fledged smithy.

In 1936, Oscar married Dorothy Brand from Brunswick. They had one son in 1944. He decided to join the Navy and, in March 1942, began work as a blacksmith at the David Taylor Model Basin in Carderock in Montgomery County. It was a top-secret facility for testing military vessels and equipment, so important that Marines guarded it. The complex consisted of a model shop, machine shop, blacksmith and welding shop, and a machine shop. Alongside the shops were two huge water basins, each approximately one-half-mile long. Oscar’s job was to test all of the metals to be used in ships and submarines. He tested the metals for compression and tensile strength. Along with an engineer, Oscar helped design what he called a “noise maker.”

This was at a time when Germans were using torpedoes that were attracted to the sounds made by a vessel’s engines. To create a kind of decoy, they made a metal device that created such noise that the enemy torpedoes honed in on it and exploded harmlessly behind the ship. Oscar also designed the point for a spear that was placed on lifeboats so that a shipwrecked sailor could use it to kill fish to eat, as well as a hook on the front of a lifeboat to hopefully use to be hauled to safety by a rescue boat. There was much more that Oscar felt he still did not have the authority to disclose.

He worked for 30 years at the David Taylor Model Basin as their top metallurgist, while also consulting at the National Bureau of Standards and at the Navy Yard. Pretty good for a boy who just finished eighth grade and was coached by a buggy-maker from the 1800s!

Although he enjoyed recalling the good times, there were plenty of bad times, which he preferred not to dwell upon. His most difficult memory was when he lost his beloved wife in 1954.

When the author interviewed Mr. Sykes for the Veterans History Project in 2007, Oscar was still driving everywhere, going out dancing in Martinsburg, and enjoying a healthy, full life, living with his doting grandson. He was extremely proud of his interview and went to all his friends to brag that his was the longest interview done to date. He even drove to see Mark Lewis, the friend who recommended that I talk to him.

It was heartbreaking to learn that he died of the flu just two weeks after his interview. Oscar Sykes exemplifies the American dream that anyone with determination can be anything through hard work.

Oscar and his wife, Dorothy, and son.

Oscar and his son.

The Year is…1879

A Pleasant Fall Ride Through Emmitsburg

by James Rada, Jr.

In early October 1879, Samuel Motter, publisher of the Emmitsburg Chronicle, took a ride around Emmitsburg with a friend.

“All the world knows that the drives, calculated to afford pleasure and delight, are very numerous around Emmitsburg, and the heart which is not alive to the beauty of the scenery and the unexampled loveliness everywhere around must be wanting in refined sensibilities,” Motter wrote in the newspaper.

It was a lovely day for a ride. Although it was October, it was 80 degrees out. He wrote, “You who used to sit by glowing stoves, at this time of year, with buttoned-up coats and with sensible forebodings of winter’s approach, think ye of us, riding in an open buggy, with straw hats, and the high temperature we have mentioned!”

They rode down the old “Dutch Lane” to Poplar Ridge Road. The road at the time was old, but it had been widened, leveled, and was kept in excellent condition. His only complaint was that the road had some steep hills. It started at Carlisle Street (North Seton Ave.) continuing from a broad alley. It went uphill to a ridge where the last of a stand of poplar trees stood. This last tree was “lonely and grand in its position, the last of the giant tribe which gave the name ‘Poplar Ridge’ to those heights, and which from its well-defined proportions, its symmetrical top and proud form, being visible over all the plain for miles to the southward, a lady of taste called ‘Stonewall Jackson.’”

Silver Run and the old brick schoolhouse could be seen from the ridge. Looking toward Emmitsburg, the first thing Motter saw was the old Elias Lutheran Church “with its whitened sepulchers glinting in the sun-light, where rest the remains of so much worth and goodness and such wealth of tender associations as cling to the memories of those who once gave direction and life and influence to the living forces of the neighborhood.”

To the right of the church, he saw another church, the Church of the Incarnation (Reformed) “with its golden cross at the top, about 100 feet high erected in the year 1868, on the lot once known as John Nickum’s.”

He also noted how the relatively new Presbyterian Church towered above its surroundings.

Finally, he wrote, “And there to the east and southward is St. Joseph’s Church (Roman Catholic) with its massive walls and solid spire. Here too the cemetery shows forth the white light reflected from the monuments that commemorate, much of the worth which gave active exercise to itself in the earlier as well as the latter history of Emmitsburg.”

As he moved south, he enjoyed the view, writing, “Beautifully the prospect opens, the autumnal hues everywhere meet the eye, here are the sumach shrubs, there a lone gum tree, yonder a clump of trees, farther off a whole grove appears, end erewhile the eyes rests upon the pile of ‘St. Joseph’s House,’ the groves among—ornamenting the plain, and whose metal roofs and radiant crosses dart forth scintillations of light athwart the valley.”

Off to the southwest, he could see Mount St. Mary’s College, although it was almost obscured among the autumn foliage. Motter described it as “the venerable old church perched upon the hillside and sending forth its reflected light to the far distant horizon.”

Motter and his friend crossed the Taneytown Road bridge over Flat Run. He noted that when the bridge was being built, that water level was so flat that not enough water could be drawn to mix mortar for the bridge. It had to be hauled from another location.

He also mentions a haunted house in Emmitsburg. It was the home of a man named Patrick Savage, who may have lived north of town, along the Gettysburg Road. Motter wrote that Savage was dead, but his “ghost had been said to appear there since his death, not seldom.”

All in all, it was a pleasant ride for Motter and his friend, and it gives readers a look at Emmitsburg as it was 141 years ago.

Picture of Emmitsburg Courtesy of

Things A Good Cook Should Be Able To Do: 2021 Edition

by Buck Reed

Time to face facts, and the fact is, the times, they are a-changin’. I get the fact that I am old, and we are not going back to what was once considered familiar. I remember sitting at the counter of a popular doughnut franchise and watching freshly made products being served every 30 minutes. Today, this same company now prepares them somewhere else, boxes them up, and ships them to their stores, refrigerated. And, now, these marketing geniuses are offering kits where you must decorate your own doughnut. Unless you are under age 10, do not fall for this. Also, do not make your own pizza or order anything deconstructed in a restaurant. You are paying them, so let them do it for you.

Let us start with the meal kits that are becoming more popular today. These kits are marketed as easy to prepare, time saving, and, most of all, foolproof. They are also expensive, so it is worth your time to learn what is in them as well as more about how the techniques work to put them together and prepare them. My thought is: you paid good money for this kit, and using it as a learning tool is more valuable to you than the actual meal they want you to use it for. Once you have the method down, you can save money by simply purchasing the ingredients yourself. Unless you are allergic to grocery stores, there really is no reason not to do this.

You should be able to read a recipe. But not just read it, understand it, and grasp how it works. The first time you look at a recipe and relate it to another dish you have already made, that is the “aha” moment every good cook does almost naturally. That is when you realize that all cooking is related to some other cooking.

Get coordinated in your kitchen. This means you must get comfortable in what you are doing. When you are preparing a meal, you want to accomplish it with purpose and awareness of how and why you are doing things. Managing your time and organizing your workload is the key to getting coordinated. If you master this, eventually you will want to make a sauté dish with a pan sauce or a stir fry.

To bring it all together, now is the time to learn to cook or expand your knowledge of cooking. No longer do you need to leave your house and spend big money to learn to cook in an overpriced cooking school. Imagine paying $50 to learn how to make an apple pie. Right now, if you desire, you can go online and have a popular dish served at an upscale steakhouse explained in precise detail so that you can produce it yourself. What a time to be alive and cooking.

Helpful Hints for Those With Kidney Stones

Kidney stones are hard, pebble-like pieces of material that form in one or both of your kidneys when high levels of certain minerals are in your urine.

Kidney stones vary in size and shape. They may be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a pea. Rarely, some kidney stones are as big as golf balls. Kidney stones may be smooth or jagged and are usually yellow or brown.

A small kidney stone may pass through your urinary tract on its own, causing little or no pain. A larger kidney stone may get stuck along the way. A kidney stone that gets stuck can block your flow of urine, causing severe pain or bleeding.

What Types of Kidney Stones Are There?

There are four main types of kidney stones. Calcium stones, including calcium oxalate stones and calcium phosphate stones, are the most common types of kidney stones. Calcium oxalate stones are more common than calcium phosphate stones. Calcium from food does not increase your chance of having calcium oxalate stones. Normally, extra calcium that is not used by your bones and muscles goes to your kidneys and is flushed out with urine. When this does not happen, the calcium stays in the kidneys and joins with other waste products to form a kidney stone.

Uric acid stones may form when your urine contains too much acid. Eating a lot of fish, shellfish, and meat—especially organ meat—may increase uric acid in urine.

Struvite stones may form after you have a UTI. They can develop suddenly and become large quickly.

Cystine stones result from a disorder called cystinuria that is passed down through families. Cystinuria causes the amino acid cystine to leak through your kidneys and into the urine.

Who Is Likely to Develop a Kidney stone?

Caucasian ethnicity and male gender are associated with higher rates of kidney stones. Men tend to develop kidney stones in their 40s through 70s; rates increase with age. Women are most likely to experience kidney stones in their 50s.

Kidney stones are on the rise; about 11 percent of men and 6 percent of women in the United States have kidney stones at least once during their lifetime. If you have a family history of kidney stones, you are more likely to develop them. You are also more likely to develop kidney stones again if you have had them once and if you do not drink enough liquids.

Symptoms & Causes

Symptoms of kidney stones can include sharp pains in your back, side, lower abdomen, or groin;  pink, red, or brown blood in your urine; a constant need to urinate; pain while urinating; the inability to urinate or can only urinate a small amount and cloudy or bad-smelling urine.

Your pain may last for a short or long time or may come and go in waves. Along with pain, you may have nausea, vomiting, fever, and chills.

However, many kidney stones are painless until they travel from the kidney, down the ureter, and into the bladder. Depending on the size of the stone, movement of the stone through the urinary tract can cause severe pain with sudden onset. People who have kidney stones often describe the pain as excruciating.

How Can I Prevent Kidney Stones?

In most cases, drinking enough liquids each day is the best way to help prevent most types of kidney stones. Drinking enough liquids keeps your urine diluted and helps flush away minerals that might form stones. Unless you have kidney problems, drinking half your body weight in ounces of water is a good idea. Remember, if you live, work, or exercise in hot weather, you may need more liquid to replace the fluid you lose through sweat.

Studies have shown that the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet can reduce the risk of kidney stones. Studies have also shown that being overweight increases your risk of kidney stones.

The type of kidney stone you have can affect food choices. Based on the type of kidney stone you had, you may be able to prevent kidney stones by making changes in how much sodium, animal protein, calcium, or oxalate is in the food you eat.

For example, if you have calcium oxalate stones, you will want to reduce very high oxalate foods, such as nuts and nut products, peanuts, rhubarb, spinach, and wheat bran.

Eating large amounts of animal protein may increase your chances of developing kidney stones due to uric acid buildup. Although you may need to limit how much animal protein you eat each day, you still need to make sure you get enough protein. Plant-based options are beans, dried peas, and lentils.

Even though calcium sounds like it would be the cause of calcium stones, it is not. In the right amounts, calcium can block other substances in the digestive tract that may cause stones. It may be best to get calcium from low-oxalate, plant-based foods.

Your chance of developing kidney stones increases when you eat more sodium. Sodium is in many canned, packaged, and fast foods. It is also in many condiments, seasonings, and meats. Here are some tips to reduce your sodium intake. Adults should aim to consume less than 2,300 milligrams a day. One teaspoon of table salt has 2,325 milligrams of sodium. If you have had calcium oxalate or calcium phosphate stones, you should follow this guideline.

Check the Nutrition Facts label found on many foods. Low in sodium is 5 percent or less, and high in sodium is 20 percent or more.

Consider writing down how much sodium you consume each day.

Cook from scratch. Processed and fast foods, canned soups and vegetables, and lunchmeats usually have high amounts of sodium.

Look for foods labeled no salt added, unsalted, and lightly salted.

Check labels for ingredients and hidden sodium, such as sodium bicarbonate (the chemical name for baking soda); baking powder, which contains sodium bicarbonate and other chemicals; disodium phosphate; monosodium glutamate or MSG; sodium alginate; sodium nitrate; or nitrite.

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 illness or non-optimum health. The office is located at 7310 Grove Road #107, Frederick, MD. Check out the website at

jEanne Angleberger

Today’s food shopping requires nutrition knowledge. So, let’s take a look at some nutrition facts before we food shop the next time.

This chart defines caloric value, fat, sodium, sugar, cholesterol, and fiber content. This criteria is based on FDA labeling and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

If the tag reads [one below], then it has this (per serving):

Low Calorie — 40 calories or less

Calorie Free — Less than 5 calories

Low Fat — 3 grams or less of fat

Fat Free — Less than 1/2 gram of fat

Low Saturated Fat — 1 gram or less saturated fat

Low Cholesterol — 20 mg. or less of cholesterol & 2 grams or less of saturated fat

Cholesterol Free — Less than 2 mg. of cholesterol & 2 grams or less of saturated fat

Low Sodium — 140 mg. or less sodium

Very low Sodium — 35 mg. or less of sodium

Sugar Free — Less than 1/2 gram of sugar

Good Source of Fiber — 2.5 grams or more of fiber

Lean — Less than 10 grams of total fat & (meat, poultry, seafood) less than 4 grams of saturated fat & less than 95 mg. cholesterol

Extra Lean — Less than 5 grams of total fat & (meat, poultry, seafood) less than 2 grams of saturated fat & less than 95 mg. cholesterol

Be sure to read the serving size. Eating two servings will double the calories and other ingredients. Save these nutrition facts in your phone for quick reference. Healthiness starts with the food you buy. So, make it real and nourishing!

Great Festivals Worth Putting on Your “Bucket List”

by Barb Cline, Your Personal Travel Professional

A festival is a place where people looking to have a great time can dance, listen to great music, celebrate, party, have fun, and relax. They happen all over the world for many different reasons. Some celebrate religion, some the new year, some art, some the harvest or the full moon whatever the reason, every month, somewhere in the world, you’ll find people descending on a location to celebrate and share a common experience.

Tulip Time Festival in Holland, Michigan 2021 — May 1-8, 2021 (Holland, Michigan)

Once a year, for more than 90 years, the city holds the Tulip Time Festival, which is all about beauty and color. The events that are held usually in spring bring hundreds of thousands of people, locals and tourists, who come to see the marvelous bloom of thousands of tulips in various places in the parks and the city. In addition, the visitors can enjoy the diverse culture and entertainment events, such as three different parades (Muziekparade, Kinderparade, Volksparade), diverse traditional Dutch food in Dutch marktplaats, handmade crafts and souvenirs, concerts, entertainments shows, and fireworks.

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta 2021—October 2-10, 2021 (Albuquerque, New Mexico)

For nine days in October, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta® creates an enchanted world of special-shaped balloon rodeos, twilight balloon glows, and vibrant balloon-filled skies. Brisk autumn mornings in the Rio Grande Valley create an otherworldly backdrop for the breathtaking majesty of its most popular event: Mass Ascension of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta®. Any local will tell you that October is the most beautiful time of the year in New Mexico, made so in large part by the much-anticipated sight of colorful balloons punctuating the skyline. During this season, the sky is bluer, the days are gentler, and the mornings crisper—almost as though the landscape has taken a deep sigh—and on the desert’s warm breath sails the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

Floriade 2022—April 28, 2022-October 23, 2022 (Almere, Netherlands)

It will be the 23rd AIPH world horticultural exhibition. Almere will be the stage for the Floriade Expo 2022 International Horticultural Expo for six months: the greenest day out. Once every 10 years, Floriade is the park to enjoy the scent and color of flowers, plants, vegetables, and fruit. The Expo offers 40 inspiring country presentations, a spectacular greenhouse complex, a cable car over the Floriade park, pavilions with sustainable innovations, and a vibrant arts and culture program. Floriade will be an extraordinary experience for young and old in 2022. Don’t miss it!

Passion Play—May 14, 2022-October 4, 2022 (Oberammergau, Germany)

Nearly 400 years ago, the history of the Passion Play began. The plague raged in many parts of Europe and did not spare Oberammergau either. In 1633, the Oberammergau villagers promised to perform the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ every tenth year, in so far as no one was to die of the plague anymore. The villagers were answered by God and, therefore, in 1634, the first Passion Play took place. The promise has been kept until today. The Passion Play had to be postponed for two years due to COVID-19. The 42nd Oberammergau Passion Play will now take place in 2022. Most people will combine this event with visiting Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Danube, or Rhine River cruises.

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

by dave ammenheuser


Everything has fallen apart around here without you!

A little boy’s one-sentence note, preserved in an envelope, dated June 27, 1974, addressed to his mother at Frederick Memorial Hospital, where she had been admitted for emergency surgery. 

Turn the clock ahead more than 46 years, and that little boy is now turning 59.

Sitting in my parents’ home near Creagerstown, I’m sorting through piles of documents. Reading through love letters that my parents sent to each other in 1959, when mom was in nursing school and dad was at Army reserve training. Thumbing through a great-grandmother’s Bible. Glancing through family holiday photos. Figuring out what to do with the 1,392 glass pigs my mom collected over her 79-year life.

Yet, it was this one-sentence note, in the yellowed envelope, with its 10-cent postage stamp, that caused the stream of tears on a Saturday afternoon in the middle of January 2021.

My mother, Elizabeth Irene Ammenheuser, is gone. She died on December 19, just a few days before Christmas and just three months after my father, John, died.

Muz was the nickname that I gave to my mother when I was a pre-teen. It was my quirky way of combining the words Mom and Liz together.

To Thurmontians, she was Liz. The friend. The bingo player. The volunteer. The friendly neighbor. The former Moore’s (now RR Donnelley) graveyard-shift worker. The nice lady who lived with the cranky guy with the vintage cars in the driveway along Creagerstown Road.

She was so much more. Few know that she gave up her desire to be a nurse to raise three young boys. For more than 40 years, she worked the midnight to 8:00 a.m. factory shift, so she could be home when those boys bounced off the school bus. She was there when they needed a ride to Little League games and Boy Scout meetings.  She attended the school plays and beamed with pride at my Eagle Scout ceremony and my college graduation.

My mom’s life was never about her. It was all about helping others and running a seemingly endless list of errands for my father.

She wasn’t a very good cook. She didn’t keep a tidy house. But that didn’t matter. She was the best mother.

She stopped driving several years ago when doctors deemed her dementia made her a hazard on the road to herself and others. She battled cancer in 2020, first in her breasts, then in her spine. She was recovering from spine surgery at Frederick Health Hospital on the day my father died at home. She then spent a month rehabilitating at Homewood. Because the COVID-19 pandemic limited her number of family visits at Homewood, mom moved to Newfoundland, Pennsylvania, in October to live with my brother, Bob, and his wife, Emily. They took wonderful care of her and were with her when she died.

Due to the pandemic, our family chose not to hold a public memorial service for her after she died. We are hoping to hold an event for her in May if the pandemic’s constraints on the community weaken.

So, this month, a final note to my mother. Yet this time, a tad more public.


Everything has fallen apart without you! But, I am the man I am today because of the life lessons you taught me. Our community was blessed to have you as a member. Love you.

Dave Ammenheuser visiting his mother, Elizabeth, in late 2020. She died a few weeks later.

Dave Ammenheuser’s 1974 note (and envelope) to his mother when she was in the hospital recovering from surgery.

A Handwritten Note

by Valerie Nusbaum

Raise your right hand if you still write notes or letters by hand. Raise your left hand if you send those messages through the mail.  I’m talking about the “real” mail, run by the U.S. Postal Service. The kind of mail where you lick an envelope to seal it and attach a stamp.  Stamps are those tiny square things with the pretty pictures on the non-sticky side. Oh, sorry, friends, all three of you can put your hands down now.

I estimate that’s about how many people actually still write letters these days. If you only communicate through email (which I understand is mostly for dinosaurs like me) or texts and IMs or DMs or whatever else is out there, this column probably won’t interest you. Keep reading, though, because there’s homework, and I know some of you love a challenge.

Now, please raise your right hand again if you know what the term “cursive writing” means.  Raise your left hand if you can do it. I excused myself from raising my hands. I do know and use cursive writing, but I couldn’t type with both hands in the air. Barb and Wanda, you can lower your hands now. Randy prints all his notes, but I can understand why he does it since his written signature is something that resembles a capital “R” and then a straight line.

For those of you who may not know, the term cursive (also sometimes referred to as “script”) is the type of penmanship where letters, or characters, are joined together in a style that flows. It was originally intended to make writing on paper easier and faster.  I’m assuming everyone knows what paper is. Printing, which is what most people do now, is also sometimes called “block lettering.”

I learned to write in the cursive style in second grade, but it’s my understanding that most schools don’t teach the art of penmanship any longer. Why bother when everyone types on a keypad? I understand the logic of that, but it still makes me sad to see another form of art dying out. My mother has lovely penmanship and so does my cousin, Pat. Mine isn’t really flowery and pretty like theirs, but it’s a style all my own. That’s the beauty of handwriting: it’s unique to each individual. In the olden days, kids, the FBI had a whole unit designated for the study and analysis of handwriting.

I also still send cards and an occasional note through the mail, or snail mail, as it’s called in some circles.

Yes, there’s something to be said for instant gratification, which is what comes from emailing or texting, but there’s also something to be said for the anticipation of going to the mailbox and hoping there’s something in there besides bills, advertisements, and donation requests. Anticipation is in short supply these days because most people want what they want right NOW. Because I enjoy receiving cards and letters, I make sure to send them as well. It doesn’t take a whole lot of time and it isn’t too expensive. And maybe, just maybe, I can brighten someone’s day a little.

Okay, you’ve all been very patient, so I won’t make you wait any longer for your assignment.  It’s simple. Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, as well as a myriad of other occasions. For such a short month, February is jam-packed with opportunities for sending mail. There’s Groundhog Day, Chinese New Year, President’s Day, the Super Bowl, Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday, and the Oscars, to name a few. I’d like to ask each of you to send a card (store-bought is fine, but handmade is even better) or a written or printed note (type it if you must) to someone who might appreciate the gesture. We all know someone who would enjoy getting a surprise, right? Don’t grumble that you don’t have time. We’re still in pandemic quarantine mode, and it was just last month that you same people were complaining that there was nothing to do for the holidays.  I see you didn’t spend that extra time sending Christmas cards, or maybe we just haven’t received them yet. Use paper and envelopes you have on hand. Use some of those cards we all get in the mail with donation requests. Just do it. Send someone a note through the mail. You’ll make yourself feel good, and I guarantee that, in most cases, you’ll make someone else smile, too. Granted, there will be one or two people who will receive their mail and say, “Who the heck is Steve and why is he writing to me?” But by far, most people will be pleased.

And, yes folks, I do remember that the USPS has a huge backlog of mail and packages that have yet to be delivered for Christmas.  If you’re worried that your mail won’t get to your recipient before Thanksgiving, then hand-deliver it. Better yet, stick it in someone’s door for them to find later on. I wouldn’t advise not signing your card or note and don’t use the “Guess Who” gag. These are tough times we’re in, and we’re all wary of anything out of the ordinary. 

Lastly, please let me know how your assignment turns out. I’d love to hear about it. Drop me a line and tell me.