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by Anita DiGregory

2018: Renewing, Reflecting, Resolving

It’s January, the start of a brand new year, full of exciting possibilities and new adventures. The beginning of 2018 promises a clean slate, a fresh start. Logically, it seems like the perfect time to reflect, make some changes, and set some new goals.

As it turns out, making New Year’s resolutions is not a new idea. In fact, people have been doing it for more than 4,000 years. The ancient Babylonians and the Romans made promises to their gods to amend their ways in the new year. The knights of the Middle Ages took vows to recommit themselves to their Code of Chivalry.  Throughout history, people of different faiths used this time to reflect, repent, and make resolutions.

Most recently a New Year’s resolution statistics research study conducted by Statistic Brain Research Institute (January 1, 2017) found that approximately 41 percent of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions. Although this time of the year lends itself to personal reflection, it is also the perfect time for family members to work together to discuss and set important resolutions.

According to child psychotherapist and parenting educator Katie Hurley, LCSW, “Teaching kids to establish and work toward goals has many benefits.” These include establishing a sense of responsibility; mastering time management; and gaining self-confidence, resilience, and perseverance. The author of The Happy Kid Handbook: How to Raise Joyful Children in a Stressful World, Hurley advises parents to assist their children in setting and attaining goals, rather than choosing goals for them or pushing them too hard.

Although Statistic Brain found that only 9.2 percent of those studied felt they had successfully achieved their resolution, working together as a family actually may help with accountability and overall success. It also has the added benefits of facilitating family time and increasing family communication. However, it is important for parents to model positive behavior by demonstrating their own commitment to working hard to reach their set goals.

While Hurley recommends setting realistic goals, she also suggests the resolutions should be just out of reach. She adds that by working to reach these goals, children are enabled, “to push themselves to meet a new challenge.” She also suggests helping them set a specific goal, rather than a general one. Additional research shows that setting resolutions tied to personal core values makes us more likely to achieve our goals. Therefore, our resolutions should reflect these key personal values. For example, a person who believes faith is vital will work harder to attain the resolution of spending more time in daily prayer. Additionally, choosing one specific resolution is more doable than trying to focus on several different goals.

Once a specific resolution is set, it should then be broken down into smaller, more manageable steps. This process of setting these attainable checkpoints along the way increases self-confidence and assists in the overall successful achievement of the goal. Once these smaller steps are established, a plan can be constructed and written down. Parents and children alike will benefit from planning and writing out the goal and the smaller checkpoints along the way. Journaling can be a helpful tool along this journey. Developing a concrete plan increases the likelihood of success. In fact, according to Statistic Brain, “people who explicitly make resolutions are ten times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t.”

Families who work together on personal and group resolutions will undoubtedly see many benefits. According to Hurley, “When families make goal-setting a family effort, they learn to support each other. This fosters a family environment based on cooperation instead of one grounded in competition. It also reinforces the fact that although all people are individuals with their own unique interests, we can all work together and provide support and help when needed.”

Whatever your resolution, try to: reflect on and encourage each other in times of disappointment, celebrate successes together, spend less time on social media and technology and more time together, don’t compare your life to those represented in other’s Facebook or Instagram posts, eat and pray together, smile more, hug tighter, say “I love you” more often because this year will be gone in the blink of an eye, and remember that this parenting thing is crazy hard so don’t be too hard on yourself. Do what you can and put it in God’s hands. You got this, Momma! Have a wonderful and blessed 2018.

Adventures from a Traveler’s Notebook

by Lisa C Cantwell

It’s the dead of winter.  The last thing you want to do is to leave the cozy warmth of home and venture out into the “bleak midwinter.” But on days when the sun gains some momentum, the wind stills, and the sky glows with an intense blue. “Maybe,” you think, “I could bundle up and go outside for a walk.”  Lucky you, for winter hiking abounds in our northernmost Blue Ridge Mountain region!  Nearby parks offer trails and roads just perfect for hiking, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing.  All that is needed for winter walks is a sturdy pair of hiking boots; temperature appropriate garments to layer and remove, if needed; insulated and waterproof socks and gloves; a light daypack for water and snacks; and a hiking staff for balance. Cross-country skis and snowshoes are not commonly rented, so plan to purchase this fun equipment in-store from an outfitter. They can be ordered; however, for adjustment purposes, it’s preferable to be fitted in the store. So, if you’re game to wonder the bare woods of January, here are a couple of destinations in our region that offer such pleasing vistas, you may just forget it’s a bit chilly outside!

Bear’s Den, Bluemont, VA

Perched high above the Shenandoah Valley, on a ridge where the Appalachian Trail (AT) earns the nickname, “The Rollercoaster,” is a historic lodge that serves as a hostel to hikers. Bear’s Den, as it is known, is about an hour drive from Thurmont and is near the Virginia quaint towns of Purcellville, Upperville, and Berryville. In addition to the AT, there are six trails that offer short hikes, no more than two thirds of a mile in length, with spectacular views.  My favorite trail is the overlook on the AT (pictured), that offers a sunset panoramic view of Winchester, VA, Front Royal, VA and Charlestown, WV.  The fascinating lodge was built in 1933 by a Washington doctor and his wife, who was an opera singer.  They traveled to Europe and designed their summer retreat to resemble a medieval castle, complete with a turret, tower, and a grand room. The lodge has rooms available for overnight stays this time of year, as AT through-hikers are rare until spring.  The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) owns Bear’s Den, while the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) manages it.  In addition to the lodge, a rustic cottage can be rented and there is a primitive campground for the more adventurous of winter wanderers. Of course, day-use only explorers can wander the grounds until the parking lot closes at 9:00 p.m.  A $3.00 fee is charged for parking lot.  Should you decide to stay overnight, linens and bedding are provided in the main lodge and a kitchen is available for your use.  Frozen pizzas, snacks, beverages, and pancake mix is stocked, should you choose not to bring groceries.  When we visited and sought a bacon and egg breakfast, we found several friendly cafes to choose from in nearby Berryville, VA.  The lodge has an extensive library, as hikers have left their favorite books behind for fellow off-the-beaten-trackers to relish. Consider an overnight reservation so you can put your feet up in the grand room after a few hours of hiking.  I read by the crackling fire in the stone hearth there, while my husband chatted with other guests.  Bear’s Den is an informal and welcoming place, but party animals beware, as strictly enforced “quiet time” begins at 9:00 p.m.  Keep in mind that this is a hostel and unless you specify a private room, another guest could climb into the overhead bunk.  There’s little privacy during the summer, as the lodge is often full of weary hikers. Lastly, Harper’s Ferry is a mere 20.5 miles away via the AT.  A shuttle is available to return to Bear’s Den, but that is a challenge best reserved for warmer weather, at least for this hiker. This beautiful spot is approximately 60 miles from Thurmont and is indeed, a trip worth taking!  For more information about day use and lodging rates, visit the website at bearsdencenter.org or call 540-554-8708.

Strawberry Hill Nature Preserve, Fairfield, PA

Perhaps you are acquainted with this lovely 600-acre park in nearby Adams County, Pennsylvania, that features ten miles of well-maintained hiking trails through a gently rolling, diverse ecosystem. School children and adults in the area have enjoyed the nature center and many programs offered by this non-profit preserve for over thirty years. But did you know that with seven trails to choose from, this is a wonderful place to cross-country ski?  I have a friend who swears that this is one of the best places to cross-country ski in the region. And, did you know there is a two-bedroom vacation cabin available for a two-night minimum stay? Private and cozy, it sleeps five and has all the amenities and appliances of home, to include a washer and dryer. Linens and towels are also provided, and the kitchen has pots and pans, plates, and silverware. If you decide to enjoy a weekend of cross-country skiing or hiking, there will be plenty of warmth for après ski in this 815-sq. ft. accommodation with electric heat and propane back up.  If a Yankee clipper blows in, don’t worry, there’s TV/DVD and WIFI to keep you entertained.  What’s truly wonderful about reserving the cabin is that the proceeds from the rental are used for environmental education at the preserve.  Activities will pick up in late February and early March when the annual Mt. Hope Maple Madness festival occurs, and pancakes are consumed smothered in maple syrup tapped from the preserve’s trees.  Until then, lace up your hiking boots or snap on cross-country skis and explore the winter wonderland of Strawberry Hill!  This is a trip worth taking so close to home!  There are no fees to visit the nature center or to hike trails. but donations are appreciated. A brochure with a detailed map of all trails can be downloaded and cabin reservations can be arranged on the website, strawberryhill.org. For additional information, call 717-642-5840.

 

A Fresh Start

by Valerie & Randy Nusbaum

Dear Readers:

I’m often asked why Randy never gets a chance to rebut the things I write about him in this column. You know that old saying, “Be careful what you wish for?” Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you. The opinions in this particular column are Randy’s and his alone. And, no, I didn’t twist his arm or threaten him to make him say nice things about me. Read on.

Okay, I know all of you turned to this page, expecting to see Valerie’s column, and rightly so. Valerie’s columns are something I look forward to every month as well. But this month, in an effort to help out during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I volunteered to write a column for Valerie. Well, actually she doesn’t know I’m writing it, so please don’t tell her. (Valerie’s Note: He offered. I was tired. I might have said yes.)

As most of you know, many of Valerie’s writings involve our adventures and a few of my mishaps or delusions of grandeur. I started out to write something in my defense. Upon further reflection, I’ve decided that Valerie is a saint for putting up with me. There is no defense. Almost all of what she describes is the truth; although, she occasionally tones some of it down to lessen the shock and horror of my most recent folly. I know of no one else who would be so gracious.  Perhaps, the column should be called “In Her Defense.” As in, “Your honor, you only need to read a few of my columns to understand why I did it.” (Valerie’s Note:  Nothing in this paragraph was coerced. Some of it is true.)

The holiday season is typically a time of reflection for many of us. Christmastime brings around the joy of the season. It’s a time to reconnect with loved ones and friends. New Year’s allows us to pause and remember the passing year—good and bad—whilst making plans and resolutions, as we look forward to the coming year. (Valerie’s Note: I have to caution Randy all the time not to try and use a British accent with these customers. They would not be amused.)

Personally, I like to spend this season catching up on movies. No, not new movies. Real movies that define our generation. I’m specifically talking about three movies that everyone has seen, and if you haven’t already seen them, you really should.  I’m sure you are all familiar with the list, but just in case, here they are in no particular order.

Jeremiah Johnson (1972), with Robert Redford. Seriously, if you haven’t seen it, I’m not really sure how you’ve survived this long. If you don’t watch this film at least once a year, I have no idea how you hone your basic survival skills. And what in the world do you talk about at parties?

The Replacements (2000), with Keanu Reeves. A must-see for comic relief and important life lessons.  Given all of the recent drama with the NFL, this movie is all the football you’ll ever need. It’s not just for the holiday season, and can and should be watched any time.

Point Break (1991), with Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze. No, not the recent remake. Why Hollywood ever thought remaking a classic was a good idea, I’ll never know…but don’t watch it. The original is a religious experience and should not be tampered with. This movie has it all, and really should be watched more than once a year to keep you on an even keel. (Valerie’s Note: Keanu Reeves used to be my “hall pass,” but given Randy’s weird fascination with his movies, I’m sure you can understand why I now find Keanu kind of icky.)

Now, if you were to ask Valerie (and please don’t), she would question why there is a need to watch the same movie over and over again.

I’ve tried to explain that I learn something different with every viewing. Consider the value of the important life lessons we can learn from each viewing.

Valerie’s not buying it, but don’t be fooled. Every time I throw out a timely movie quote (“Hey Johnny—get me two”), she knows exactly which film it comes from. (Valerie’s Note: I smile and nod a lot, and I stand a good chance of guessing correctly if I name one of his top three.)

Enjoy this time of reflection and reconnection. And, I promise, next month, Valerie will be back again with actual witty entertainment!  (Valerie’s Note: Randy’s pretty witty all by himself.)

“My dad had a saying about volunteering. He told me that there are three kinds of fools in the world: Fools, Darn (insert curse word) Fools, and Volunteers. I guess we all know where I landed. Dad had a good many sayings, all of which I’ll remember forever, and most of which I can’t print.”

“In my job, I work with a British customer. The Brits use terms like ‘whilst’ and ‘crikey’ and ‘brilliant’ often, and I am fascinated with their use of words.”

 

 

Thanks for reading,

Randy

by Christine Maccabee

Wild Cabins I Have Known

Sometimes a book comes along that speaks to us in very personal ways. Such a book was written by Gerard Kenney, whose discoveries of remote one-room cabins in the Canadian wilderness reflect my own need for peace and quiet. By canoe and by foot, he and a dear friend spent years adventuring together, contemporary explorers of flora and fauna and, yes, wild cabins.

All the cabins they stumbled upon were far off the beaten track, and each one was uniquely different from the other. Some were better furnished than others, with at least one cot, if they were lucky, and frequently a nice old tin wood stove. If they were lucky, the last people there left enough dry wood for them to take the chill off. Some were very well made, though not as aesthetically as a Tiny House, and others were slapped together quickly by someone many years before as temporary living quarters, while they fished and rested during their canoeing journeys.

Most of these cabins were so remote that they were mostly unused, so Gerard and his friend felt like they “owned” them, like the Philosophy Cabin, as they called it. They also felt like they “owned” the trickling brook, which they named Philosophy River. “Whose cabin is it?” someone once asked. “It’s ours,” they replied, “as are the pond, the forest, and the swamp.” They were like two kids on a playground where nobody goes.

While in my twenties, I had just such a remote wild cabin experience. I do not know the history of that tiny cabin, but surely someone had lived there at one time. It was pretty shabby and slightly tilted by the time I discovered it, but it served my purpose of needing to escape to a quiet place. It had no running water or electricity, of course, so occasionally I would use facilities at an old mill house nearby; otherwise, I roughed it. It was there that I wrote a song, which I still sing with my guitar now and then:

 

“In the morning of my youth I turned to you,

Sought the beauty of the deep and the friendly woods,

Sang your praises when I saw the sun that rose

Like a blessed lamp, sacred light upon the trees.”

Such experiences are indeed sacred, though sometimes lonely. Fortunately, I happened to have my two sweet dogs with me as companions. Of course, they loved the woods, too. Now, many years later, I live in a large house, where I raised three children, but I still long for the simplicity of a one-room cabin. Actually, I do have a nice little cottage, as I call it, just steps away from the house. Just the other day, I made a nice fire in the wood stove there. These days, I am not so eager to live there due to injuries I acquired over the years; but, every now and then, I heat up the place while I contemplate my life.

Prior to this little cottage, I had a yurt put up out back. “So what is a yurt?” you ask. A yurt is a round structure that is used by sheep and camel farmers in Mongolia, easily taken down and put back up, as they migrate in the summer and winter months. The concept is much like that of a tipi. Modeled after those ancient yurts, my yurt was a contemporary structure, sold by the Colorado Yurt Company, and brought here in pieces by an 18-wheeler—not very rustic, eh? However, it served its purpose for me as an escape from the “big house” and was beautiful inside. Outside, it did not look like much, but inside, it had antique furniture, a large yodel wood stove, a large bed, a sofa, a desk, tongue-and-groove wood floors, and many personal items. Sadly, five years ago, it was completely destroyed by a fire. Nothing lasts forever.

Memories last longer than things, and the memories I have of such one-room, wild “cabins” will last a lifetime. They served me well as part of my spiritual journey through life, and, like Gerard Kenney, they provided an escape to—not from—the wilderness, a chance to become better acquainted with myself and with nature.

I highly recommend Gerard Kenney’s book, Lake of the Old Uncles, especially if you are unable to have a wilderness experience yourself—he will take you there!

Galt Starts the Effort to Recognize Thomas Johnson

by James Rada, Jr.

Thomas Johnson was the first governor of Maryland, serving from March 21, 1777, to November 12, 1779. “John Adams said that Governor Thomas Johnson of Maryland was one out of four citizens of Maryland and Virginia without whom there would have been no revolution,” John Williamson Palmer wrote in Century Magazine.

Johnson was one of the forgotten Founding Fathers, which was a problem that Sterling Galt of Emmitsburg set out to correct in 1917.

Sterling Galt purchased the Emmitsburg Chronicle in 1906. He was the fourth owner of the twenty-seven-year-old newspaper. Back in those days, small newspapers had few employees. The owner was the publisher and the primary reporter. Galt was very active in the community and had shown that he had political aspirations with a failed run for the state senate in 1911.

In January 1917, he met with a group of similarly civic-minded men in the office of the school commissioner in Frederick. There, the group formed the Thomas Johnson Memorial Association and elected Galt its president and William Delaplaine the secretary. The group’s mission was to have a suitable memorial created for Maryland’s first governor and Frederick County resident, Thomas Johnson. The men planned to solicit donations of no more than a dime to fund the memorial.

Before the group could build up any steam, World War I started. A few fundraising drives were conducted, but people wanted to send money to support the troops, not build a memorial. Then, Galt died on December 28, 1922, and it seemed like his organization would die as well.

Then in 1926, life returned to the group. It reorganized and began holding meetings. Not only did they praise Johnson’s service as governor, but he had also been an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, a member of the Continental Congress, and the man who nominated George Washington as the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army.

“The people of Frederick County have long felt that some recognition of his invaluable services to the State and to the nation should be given, and some suitable memorial erected here in Frederick to his memorial.”

A bust of Thomas Johnson was sculpted in clay by Joseph Urner in 1926. However, since all funds were being publicly raised, it wasn’t until years later that it could be finally cast in bronze.

The bronze bust in Courthouse Park was finally unveiled in 1929. It sat on a granite base with a plaque that listed many of Johnson’s accomplishments. The speakers at the event included Judge T. Scott Offutt, president of the Maryland Society, Sons of the American Revolution, and Charles Francis Adams, U.S. Secretary of Navy and the great-grandson of John Adams.

Galt’s efforts in organizing the group that eventually made the memorial a reality were noted in the speeches.

Some of Offutt’s comments seem oddly prescient of today and what eventually happened to the memorial.

“We stand in a different world from the one he knew,” Offutt said. “Manners, morals, methods, and indeed the whole face of civilization have changed.”

He then went on to criticize a society that was letting itself drift into “paternal socialism” and losing the freedoms that Johnson’s generation had won for the country. “The press does our thinking for us, the state guards our morals, boards and commissions of one kind or another manage our affairs, and hordes of bureaucratic officials consume our substance and pester and bedevil us with ‘don’ts’ and ‘musts’ until we are afraid to call our lives our own…” Offutt said.

In 2015, the bust of Johnson was caught up in the controversy surrounding another Frederick County resident and Supreme Court justice who had a bronze bust in the park. Roger Brooke Taney is known for delivering the Dred Scott Supreme Court decision in 1857, which said that slaves could not be American citizens. Johnson became part of the controversy because he was a slaveowner and that outweighed the good he had done for the country.

On March 18, 2017, both the Scott and Johnson busts were removed from in front of the courthouse. They will be refurbished and placed on display in the Mt. Olivet Cemetery.

Photo of the bust of Thomas Johnson, courtesy of Waymarking.com.

by James Rada, Jr.

The Living History of Chuck Caldwell

Chuck Caldwell and his father, George, came to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on the last day of June 1938 for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. The town decorated with banners, bunting, and lights, and was so crowded that the Caldwells couldn’t find a room to stay in and spent their first night sleeping in a chicken coop. Chuck, who was fourteen years old, didn’t mind because he had made it to Gettysburg.

Chuck and his father visited the Veterans’ Camp, which had been constructed on the north end of Gettysburg College and some adjacent private property. Union Veteran tents were located on lettered streets, from Biglerville Road to Mummasburg Road. Confederate Veteran tents lined numbered streets, from Mummasburg Road to the Reading Railroad. Only about 2,000 Veterans had made it to the reunion, although tens of thousands more people were in town.

“It was a thrill to be able to see both armies together at one time,” Chuck said. “It was just too much. I would have walked from home to be there.”

When Chuck met a Veteran, he would get the man to sign his autograph book and write down his hometown and unit. Chuck also had his picture taken with the Veteran. Chuck later added some flourishes, such as a Union or Confederate flag. When he was finished, he had nearly fifty autographs in the book.

It’s a priceless piece of history that he still cherishes.

 

A Talent For Art

Chuck was born in Princeton, Illinois, in 1923. Because his father was a minister, the Caldwells moved from town to town each time he took a new job. Although both Chuck’s father and grandfather were clergymen, Chuck didn’t want to follow in their footsteps. That was obvious from a young age.

“I was a pew climber in church,” Chuck said. “I just wouldn’t sit still.”

With George preaching at the front of the church, it fell to Ellen Caldwell to keep her ears open to the sermon and her eyes on young Chuck, as he would crawl over, under, and across the pews, disturbing nearby churchgoers.

His mother finally stopped trying to make her son sit down. Instead, she gave Chuck paper and a pencil and let him draw, hoping to focus his attention elsewhere.

It worked. Chuck became so focused on creating something on the sheet of paper that the only part of him moving during the service was his hand. He still wasn’t listening to the sermons, but at least he wasn’t disturbing everyone around him.

Chuck won his first art competition at the 1940 Wayne County Ohio Hobby Exposition, with a diorama of the railyard scene in Gone With the Wind. The display featured four hundred different clay figures, in addition to the ones he had drawn into the background scenery. The piece was so popular that a local department store displayed it in their window to help attract customers.

 

Becoming a Marine

Chuck wasn’t large enough to play football, but he was a huge fan of the game, especially the University of Alabama team. Because of this, Alabama was his only choice for college when he graduated high school in 1941. He even became the freshman football team manager.

“I got picked on by the players because I was small. It was all right, though, because I was part of the team. I was part of the Great Crimson Tide.”

Chuck worked hard and long hours. Unfortunately, most of that time was spent with the football team. As Chuck grew skeptical about his chances of passing his classes, he decided that he needed a plan in case he wouldn’t be returning to the university after the Christmas break.

On December 1, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. All that was left for him to do was to pass his final physical. He arranged it so that he wouldn’t be inducted until after Christmas.

On Sunday, December 7, Chuck was actually studying when his roommate rushed into the room shouting that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. Chuck was stunned. He knew from his roommate’s tone that something was wrong, but he wasn’t quite sure what.

“Where’s Pearl Harbor?” Chuck asked.

They had to dig out an atlas to locate Pearl Harbor.

As the realization settled on Chuck that the Japanese had attacked the United States and that the two countries were now at war, Chuck’s first thought was that he now had an excuse to do poorly on his exams. Then as he realized what he was thinking, he felt shame.

Chuck left school on December 15, without even taking his finals. It didn’t matter now. He headed home on the train to tell his parents that he was going to be a Marine.

The physical at the end of December was quick and basic. The minimum requirement for Marines at the time was that they weigh at least 120 pounds and stand at least five feet six inches tall. Chuck became a Marine by one pound and half an inch.

He made it through five weeks of basic training at Parris Island, South Carolina, and shipped out to New Zealand, knowing that he was going to be fighting in the war.

“I wasn’t scared,” Chuck said. “I was going to take part in real history.”

 

WWII

Chuck’s early months in the Pacific involved a lot of sailing, from one island to another, but then on November 2, 1942, he landed on Guadalcanal to reinforce a group of Marines who had been fighting the entrenched Japanese for weeks.

He spent the next five months on the island, fighting occasionally, and dodging bombs from almost daily air raids. Japanese bombers would fly from ships surrounding the island to drop their bombs. The goal was to destroy the runway on Henderson Field, in the hopes of keeping the Marines on the ground.

The raids kept the Marines’ nerves on edge, especially at night when they couldn’t see the planes coming.

Some mornings, they would find odd footprints from people wearing tabis in camp. These were Japanese tennis-shoe-type boots that separated the big toe from the rest of the toes. Chuck realized that the footprints meant that the Japanese had come through their camp unseen.

“It made me think that somebody was not guarding our camp too well,” Chuck said. “That’s when I started sleeping on my back with my K-bar next to me.”

On November 14, Chuck was awakened by nearby explosions, just after midnight. The Japanese ships had turned their large guns on the island and were shelling it.

“Coconut trees were splintered and falling everywhere.”

As the shelling continued, Chuck realized that it was too heavy to stay in the foxhole. He needed to get to the air raid shelter.

He started counting how long it was between the time a gun fired and when the shell hit. The time between firing from the ship and hitting the island was consistent.

When one shell hit nearby, Chuck took off running. Apparently, one of the shells came in quicker than expected. A coconut tree exploded near Chuck, sending wood splinters into his right knee, left chest, and wrist.

Chuck yelled as he hit the ground and rolled. He saw blood, but he wasn’t feeling pain at the moment. He couldn’t rest out in the open. He got to his feet and hobbled on. He would eventually receive a Purple Heart for this wound.

Chuck eventually got off Guadalcanal, but he was transferred to the Second Division Marines and sent to Tarawa a little more than a year after he had arrived at Guadalcanal. Although the fight there was shorter, it was just as fierce as Guadalcanal.

The Marines met heavy resistance as they landed at Tarawa. They reached the beaches, but could barely hold that position. Later waves of Marines took heavy casualties even before they reached the shore. Ammunition ran low, and the Marines had to scavenge ammunition belts from the dead.

The water was chest deep as Chuck started wading ashore. He held his rifle above his head. The Japanese peppered the water with bullets.

“We lost three hundred men in 500 yards,” Chuck said.

Chuck tried to ignore the men suddenly floating face down in the water around him. He dove underwater and swam, hoping to escape the bullets splashing around him.

His job at Tarawa was to offload the ships that made it to the dock with supplies. He and the other Marines carrying supplies were popular targets for the Japanese, because they were out in the open and couldn’t fire back.

Near the end of three days of fighting and almost no sleep, Chuck collapsed. It turns out that he had contracted malaria, most likely on Guadalcanal.

He returned home for a thirty-day leave in 1944, but after another bout of malaria, he wound up extending his time. While recovering in a Navy hospital, he met Jackie Murphy, a WAVE (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) nurse, who would eventually marry him the following year.

 

Nuclear Bombs

After the war ended, Chuck earned his art degree and took a job in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, designing displays for the American Museum of Atomic Energy. He eventually transferred to a different department, doing technical drawings, which turned out to be very boring.

Anxious to escape his boredom, he volunteered to spend the summers of 1957 and 1958 in Nevada, setting up atomic bomb tests and collecting data after explosions. He saw dozens of bomb detonations.

Chuck was excited to see his first atomic bomb detonation. He expected an ear-shattering explosion.

“It wasn’t that noisy, but what happened afterwards is that this doughnut rolled out from the center and knocked you on your ass if you weren’t kneeling down,” recalled Chuck.

The doughnut was the concussive force of the explosion stirring up sand as it moved outward from ground zero.

 

On His Own

In 1968, with four children and a wife to support, Chuck decided to strike out on his own as an artist. He quickly found work, including selling miniatures to shops in Gettysburg. The Caldwells moved to Lake Dallas, Texas, in the early 1970s, where Chuck had the promise of steady work.

Things didn’t pan out quite as he had expected, and the Caldwells decided to move to Gettysburg in 1980. Chuck came first and got his small shop in the Old Gettysburg Village established. He had been visiting the town for most of his life and was excited to finally call it home.

Over the years, he has sculpted more than 15,000 miniature soldiers, musicians, and sports figures. This doesn’t even count the thousands of even smaller figures he crafted to fill the stadium models that he built.

Jackie died in 2007, after sixty-two years of marriage, and Chuck decided that it was time for him to retire. He still makes some miniatures from his home.

At age ninety-four, Chuck is still healthy and living on his own in Gettysburg. He still visits with friends and hosts holidays for his family, which has grown to include four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

“Our gun crew around the gun after firing all day.” — Chuck Caldwell

Sous-Vide, Sous-You

by Buck Reed

Ketchup was first put in a jar and sold commercially in 1830. This remarkable creation was followed by mayonnaise, marketed in 1907. Today, we mark the day that ketchup and mayonnaise will now be mixed together and actually sold in the same bottle. Imagine…no more haphazardly mixing these two condiments together or having to consult a recipe and carefully measuring these two ingredients before mixing them together yourself. What a time to be alive. If it is not at your local grocery store, then ask for it by its name: Mayochup.

Then, there is the newcomer technique of the day: sous-vide. This technique is part of the new molecular cooking wave that is sweeping the high-end, hoity-toity culinary world. But unlike most of the methods being used in this new world of cooking, sous-vide might actually find a comfortable place in your kitchen.

Sous-vide was developed in the 1970s, and was used to gently cook foie gras by sealing it in a plastic bag and heating it in temperature-controlled water. It was quickly adopted by the airlines to provide top-notch gourmet meals to first-class passengers. In the last two decades, it has been expanded to a go-to technique for high-end restaurants. Today, home sous-vide kits are being marketed to the novice cook. Maybe you got one for Christmas? But, if you didn’t, do not question how much your family loves you, but instead, question how much you display your love of cooking. Holiday guilt…my favorite tradition.

At first glance, it might look complicated, but it is actually simple and easily managed. The first thing that this will help you with is consistency. Whenever someone asks me times and temperatures for recipes in their home, I must guess since I do not know their oven. Sous-vide solves this problem since it is precise temperature control, with exact times it takes to get food cooked perfectly. There is even comfortable wiggle room in the time for when things are not going as planned.

As far as equipment, you will need a circulator, a food saver with bags, and a large pot. A circulator is a device that will heat your water to the proper temperature and maintain it during that cooking time. The good news is that if you do not already have a circulator, there are a multitude of people who will receive one as a gift, but will not have an interest and might donate it to Goodwill. I am thinking you should start looking in March, or after the April tax rush. You probably already have a food saver, which most people have banished to the bottom cabinet.

The best part about this method is that it is versatile. You can use it to prepare more expensive cuts of meats, as well as elevate the cheaper ones. It also works well with fruits and vegetables, and will help preserve the flavor of your food, as well as introduce new flavors to them.

Like anything new to the culinary world, this technique may not easily catch your interest, but with a little research and practice, it might become a handy trick in the magic show we call your kitchen.

Hypothyroidism

by Dr. Thomas K. Lo

Hypothyroidism, also called underactive thyroid disease, is a common disorder. With hypothyroidism, your thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone.

The thyroid, known as the master gland, is butterfly-shaped and sits in a notch just below your throat. The function of the thyroid gland is to take iodine, found in many foods, and convert it into thyroid hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Thyroid cells combine iodine and the amino acid tyrosine to make T3 and T4. T3 and T4 are released into the blood stream and transported throughout the body, where they control metabolism (conversion of oxygen and calories to energy). Every cell in the body depends upon thyroid hormones for regulation of their metabolism, brain development, breathing, heart and nervous system functions, blood cells production, muscle and bone strength, body temperature, menstrual cycle, weight gain and loss, cholesterol levels, and skin hydration.

It makes sense that thyroid imbalances can make your life seem entirely off-kilter. The most common form of thyroid imbalance is hypothyroidism. It occurs when your thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormone to support your daily activities.

Women often call my office because they are exhibiting thyroid symptoms. Thyroid-related issues can arise at any age and may not necessarily show up on routine lab tests. Subclinical hypothyroidism is a term used when someone is experiencing symptoms of hypothyroidism, but whose blood test results are sill in the “normal” range for thyroid hormone production.

The signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism vary widely, depending on the severity of the hormone deficiency. The more obvious signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism may include: severe fatigue, loss of energy, weight gain, difficulty losing weight, depression and depressed mood, joint and muscle pain, headaches, dry skin, brittle nails, brittle hair, itchy scalp, hair loss, irregular periods, PMS symptoms, calcium metabolism difficulties, cold intolerance and lower body temperature, constipation, sleeping more than average, diminished sex drive, puffiness in face and extremities, bruising/clotting problems, allergies that suddenly appear or get worse, persistent cold sores, boils or breakouts, tingling sensation in wrists and hands that mimics carpal tunnel syndrome, memory loss, fuzzy thinking, and difficulty following conversation or train of thought.

If you suffer from any of the above symptoms, seek a free consultation or attend one of the free classes offered at the Nutritional Healing Center. You may find the probable causes of hypothyroidism. For more information, or to register, please call 240-651-1650.

by Theresa Dardanell

St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church

Part of the Mission Statement of St. Joseph’s Church is “…following in the spirit of St. Vincent DePaul to assist those in need.”

When I met with Pastor Father Martin McGeough, Parish Secretary Elaine Ebaugh, and Facilities Manager Dennis Ebaugh, they all agreed that the parishioners fulfill that mission by their generosity.  Father Marty said, “There is a strong sense of community among the people. They like each other, they care about each other, they work for each other, and they work with each other.”

There are several ways that the members of the parish help the community. The St. Vincent DePaul/Our Lady of Grace Conference is an organization that serves the people of Emmitsburg, Thurmont, and Taneytown by providing support such as transportation, hospital visits, and home visits.

In November each year, they also collect coats, blankets, and other cold weather items for the homeless in the area.  Elaine Ebaugh said that members generously donate money for community and world needs during regular and special collections.  Recent collections included providing support for hurricane victims. At Christmas, parishioners donate toys and gift cards; at Easter and Thanksgiving, they donate grocery store gift cards. St. Joseph Church also partners with the Emmitsburg Council of Churches to donate to the Seton Center Outreach program, which coordinates distribution of these funds to people in need. The St. Joseph’s Church Sodality of the Blessed Virgin is a service and prayer group. During its annual craft fair in December and yard sale in June, money raised is used for church projects that are determined by the pastor.  Once a year, money is donated to the Seton Center and the Pregnancy Center. In past years, they have provided tuition assistance for students at Mother Seton School. In addition, members make and donate prayer shawls to people who are grieving or ill. The Legion of Mary is a group devoted to prayer and service. Members meet weekly to pray and recite the rosary. Two hours every week are spent visiting the sick in private homes and nursing homes. Volunteers distribute rosaries and miraculous medals. Members of this group also organize and support the Right To Life Chain in Emmitsburg every October.

Currently, the parish has 670 registered families, but the membership started out much smaller. The history of the church began in 1786, when mass was celebrated in the chapel of a private home. The original church was built in 1793, on land donated by the Hughes family. When the congregation grew too large for the building, it was torn down and the current church was built in 1842. Dennis Ebaugh said that the church recently underwent a total restoration, which included electrical, lighting, fire protection, exterior restoration, and bell tower repairs.  The pews, doors, floors, and stained glass windows were all refurbished.

Along with Father Marty, Elaine and Dennis Ebaugh, parish staff members are: Father Charles Krieg, associate pastor; Father Harry Arnone, C.M. chaplain to the Daughters of Charity at the Villa; Teresa Allnut, bookkeeper; Debbie Krietz, housekeeper/cook; Doria Wolfe, coordinator of religious education; Mary Myers, director of liturgy; Anthony Dilulio and Joseph Ritz, music directors.

Children of the parish participate in one of three religious education programs. Children in the parish who attend public school attend religious education classes on Sunday mornings. Students who attend Mother Seton School receive instruction at school. The Emmaus Catholic Homeschool Organization (ECHO), provides support to parents who homeschool their children.

Mass is celebrated Saturdays at 4:30 p.m., and Sundays at 8:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. On the first Sunday of every month, everyone is invited for coffee and donuts after the morning masses. Mass times during the week are: Monday at 7:30 p.m.; Tuesday through Saturday at 8:30 a.m. Everyone is welcome.

The church is located at 47 DePaul Street in Emmitsburg. Visit www.stjosephemmitsburg.org or call 301-447-2326.

Father Charles Krieg with altar servers, Thomas and Nicholas Lowe.

by Anita DiGregory

Memory-Making Moments

Last month, when we visited together, we talked about fostering an attitude of gratitude in our little ones.  This transitions beautifully into the mystical season of Christmas. But if your home is anything like mine, this season can get more than just a bit stressful. As lovely and magical as this time of the year is, it is always a challenge to get everything done in time: the cleaning, the baking, the purchasing, the decorating, the mailing, the visiting…just thinking about it all makes me think about hibernating for the winter. But before I go all “Bah…humbug,” I am trying something different this year, a new twist on an old family tradition. This year, we will be filling our Advent Calendar with opportunities for memory-making moments rather than candy and little trinkets. It is my hope that by focusing on Faith and family, we will slow down and center on the true reason for the season. Here are a few ideas for fun family time, along with a couple of memorable quotes from some of my family’s favorite Christmas characters.

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” —Buddy, Elf.

Invite friends over and go Christmas Caroling. Visit the local hospital or nursing home and go caroling there. Have a Christmas carols karaoke night.

“Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives.” Clarence, It’s A Wonderful Life. 

Make Christmas cards for family members and friends. Mail cards to Veterans. Hand-deliver thank you cards to community helpers, coaches, and teachers. Host a Christmas Movie Night and invite some friends over for hot cocoa and snacks.

“But what would happen if we all tried to be like Santa and learned to give as only he can give: of ourselves, our talents, our love and our hearts? Maybe we could all learn Santa’s beautiful lesson and maybe there would finally be peace on Earth and good will toward men.” —Narrator, Santa Claus is Coming to Town.

Donate gently used toys to a shelter or church thrift shop. As a family, buy some gifts to donate to families in need. Dress up like elves and deliver handmade cards or gifts to children at your local hospital.

“Eat, Papa, eat!” —Mrs. Claus, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.

Spread out all the cookbooks and pick favorite cookie recipes. Bake Christmas cookies together. Deliver some home-baked cookies to elderly neighbors. Build a gingerbread house. Make ice-cream sundaes.

“Oh, Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind.” —Kris Kringle, Miracle on 34th Street.

Cut out snowflakes and decorate a room with them. String popcorn and cranberry garland. Make paper chain garland. Make some handmade ornaments. Visit a miniature train display. Attend a holiday play or event.

“At one time most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.”  —Hero Boy, The Polar Express.

Visit a local tree farm and cut down your own Christmas tree.  Decorate the tree while listening to Christmas carols. Decorate the outside of your home together.  Help the kids decorate their rooms.  Drive around together looking at the lights and decorations. Attend a Christmas Light display.

“You see, children hold the spirit of Christmas within their hearts.” —Bernard, The Santa Clause.

Hold a Christmas movie night with hot cocoa, popcorn, and yummy snacks. Have a Christmas picnic by the tree. Make a bonfire and enjoy s’mores. Have a Christmas sleepover by the tree.

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” —Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Attend a live nativity. Put up the nativity set but wait until Christmas to add baby Jesus. Read The Christmas Story and act it out.  Hold a birthday party for baby Jesus and bake a cake. Make an Advent wreath and light the candles each night at dinner.

“And it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One!” —Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol.

by Lisa C. Cantwell

There were no reader questions this month, so I’d like to share three pieces that I either noticed in a home, inherited, or found in an antique market.

I hope you enjoyed learning about vintage items and antiques through this column. Due to decreasing submissions of reader’s questions, this is the last “Trinket or Treasure” article. Please look for a new column in January on fascinating travel destinations, some regional and some across the pond, but all within the realm of possibility.

The first item that caught my attention was a pretty, decorated metal box, perched on four legs by a hearth at a historic home where I was a guest, recently.

Its light weight and handles suggested that it was portable and could be moved about the room. I first thought it was a space heater. Further inspection revealed three shelves inside, giving away its purpose: this was a fireplace food warming oven. This tole-painted tin oven has aged well, as research dates it to the 1850s. The food could be placed directly on the shelves or in pans until ready to be plated. The strong cast iron legs and feet could withstand hot coals, but not a roaring fire. The little oven measures 26.5” high, 13” wide, and 10.5” deep. This example is in excellent condition, as evidenced by the preserved design. A similar oven sold on an auction website for $225 earlier this year. Look for similar treasures in historic homes—you may solve a mystery, too!

Just in time for the holidays, I inherited several hand-painted Christmas tree plates.

The identifying mark on the back of the plate read: “Blue Ridge, Southern Potteries, Inc., Hand Painted – Underglaze.”  I was surprised to learn that Southern Potteries was the largest producer of hand-painted china in the United States until the mid-20th century. The pottery establishment was begun in 1916 in Erwin, Tennessee, to establish commercial business for the Carolina, Clinchfield & Ohio railroad line. By 1920, the company incorporated and thousands of “Blue Ridge” themed patterns were produced to include flowers, landscapes, animals, and holiday motifs. By WWII, production of the china reached seventeen million pieces per year. There were eleven showrooms, from New York City to San Francisco. Even though the factory closed by 1957 due to bankruptcy, the pottery is still in demand. In fact, there is a club devoted to fans of the pottery, and every year during the town of Erwin’s apple festival, thousands converge to celebrate, trade, and buy everything “Blue Ridge”! The Christmas tree plate ranges in price from $18.95 to $62.00 on a popular online auction site. My plates are not for sale, but for celebrating. In fact, Christmas dinner this year will be served on the hand-painted surface of an American treasure!

Lastly, at an antique mall in Frederick County, I noticed a booth with shelves and shelves of vases with beautiful glazes. Being a southerner, the magnolia blossom vase with its burnished, teal, green glaze was of interest. It measured 7.5” tall and 8.5” high, and the stamp on its base read: “Stangl, USA, 3413.” Johann Martin Stangl, an artist and entrepreneur, began his career working in pottery in 1910.  After working for several well-known houses of pottery, to include Fulper and Haeger, he formed his own company in 1929. Vases, dinnerware, and bird figurines were the prominent products of Stangl’s venture. He died in 1972, and the line was bought by Pfaltzgraff Pottery. This vase was made in 1941 and is from the “Terra Rose” collection. It’s described by sellers as a rose, daisy, poppy, sunflower, cosmos, or magnolia blossom. Fairly common, but not always in the best of shape, this glazed pottery vase also comes in a blue color. I found it priced at $24.00 to $84.00 on internet antique sale sites.

Your Holiday Questions

by Valerie Nusbaum

The holidays are difficult enough without wondering why we’re doing the things we’re doing, right?  We all follow certain traditions and customs, but do we really know why? I got curious and started doing research, and I asked some other people to tell me what puzzles them about their holiday rituals. We pretty much all know why we exchange gifts and why we place candles in our windows, but we do lots of other things without thinking too much about it.  This is what I learned.

 

Why Does Santa Wear a Red Suit? 

According to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, it is widely thought that the Coca-Cola Company influenced the color of Santa’s suit. It is also thought by some that Clement Moore’s 1822 poem “The Night Before Christmas” inspired the jolly elf’s garb.  In truth, the original St. Nicholas (the Bishop of Myra in the 4th century) is said to have worn robes of red and white. Either way, black would be much more slimming and wouldn’t show the soot from all those chimneys.  I’m just saying.

 

What is Wassail?

Kathy Cage wrote that, “Wassail is a beverage made of fruit juices, ale, wine, spirits, and spices. The punch is traditionally served hot, with baked apples, nutmeats, or toast pieces floating on top.”  Sonya Moss concurred. Sonya said that she’d tried making it once and didn’t really like it, even though she’d used a generous amount of bourbon. My mother-in-law used to make her own alcohol-free version of wassail, and it was delicious.  I don’t remember anything floating on top, though.

 

Does Santa Pay the Elves?

The best answer I could find to this question is that Santa pays his elves with candy and cookies, and doesn’t even provide a dental plan. In this age of everyone sounding off about everything, I’m surprised that Santa hasn’t been severely chastised on social media and in the news. On the other hand, Santa doesn’t make any money either.

 

Why are Hanukkah Colors Blue and White?

Mental Floss tells us that the colors are taken from the Israeli flag. Blue also represents the stripes on the tallitot (traditional prayer shawls worn in the synagogue and at ceremonies). Blue conveys the sky, faith, and truth. White represents purity, light, and peace.  And silver? Bling, of course.

 

What’s the Difference Between Figgy Pudding and Plum Pudding?

There’s no difference at all, according to NPR.  They’re the same pudding.  Apparently “plum” is a pre-Victorian generic term, referring to any dried fruit, particularly raisins. In the old days, there were neither figs nor plums in the pudding. I’m told it’s delicious, but it seems like an awful lot of effort. Real ones, made from scratch, take five weeks to make.

 

Does Anyone Actually Eat Fruitcake?

My mother loves it. Randy’s mom baked and shipped several of them every year. So, I guess the answer is “yes.”

 

Why Do Some People Use a Star and Others Use an Angel as a Christmas Tree Topper?

Wickipedia writes that some people use a star as a representation of the Star of Bethlehem, while others use an angel to represent Gabriel sent to herald the birth of Jesus. And there is no truth to Randy’s story that Santa got irked at an angel and shoved a tree up there. No one knows why Bill Blakeslee uses a wine bottle.

 

Why Do We Eat Turkey for Thanksgiving?

Wild turkey may have been served at the first Thanksgiving feast in 1621. Turkey began to be widely used for the meal in the 1800s. The birds were large enough to serve a crowd. And, when I said “wild turkey,” I meant the kind we eat.  The other kind is something else entirely and can be served on any holiday.

 

Do People Really Roast Chestnuts On an Open Fire?

Lynne Gartrell wrote, “In all the old Christmas carols, movies, and literature, everyone roasts chestnuts on an open fire. I have never done that, or even tasted a roasted chestnut. Do people still do this? Are they good?”

Nancy King has a cousin with a chestnut tree, and her husband gathers chestnuts and roasts them.  He says they’re delicious. My in-laws used to have chestnut trees, too. They gathered the nuts, took them down to the shore and sold them at markets. Our sister-in-law, Karen Nusbaum, is originally from England, and she assured Lynne that chestnuts are good and are still roasted in the UK. Connie House added that chestnuts were roasted to keep poor people’s hands warm, as they couldn’t afford gloves or muffs. Putting warm chestnuts in their pockets, along with their hands, kept their hands from freezing. Chestnuts are also used in some Asian dishes.  Water chestnuts are delicious and crunchy and have nothing at all to do with this.

 

Why Do We Kiss Under the Mistletoe?

Chris Houck wants to know, “Why do we kiss under the mistletoe?”

Dating all the way back to the 1st century Druids, mistletoe has had romantic overtones because the plant is able to flower in the dead of winter. According to history, one Norse legend has it that Odin’s son, Baldur, was shot dead by Loki with an arrow fashioned from a mistletoe branch. When Baldur was miraculously resurrected, his mother, Frigg, named mistletoe a symbol of love and proceeded to kiss everyone who passed under it.

 

Why Do We Hang Stockings?

Legend has it that three sisters hung their stockings to dry over the fireplace. Knowing that the family was very poor, St. Nicholas tossed three bags of gold coins down their chimney, and the money landed in the stockings. Children everywhere now hang stockings on Christmas Eve, hoping that they’ll be so lucky.

 

Why Do We Decorate Christmas Trees?

This custom started in Germany.  Supposedly, Martin Luther was out one night and noticed the stars twinkling through some tree branches. He was so enamored of the sight that he cut down a small tree and decorated it with candles to enjoy in his home. The tradition of decorating Christmas trees spread to England and then all over the world.

 

What is a Yule Log?

Lighting a yule log in a home is thought to burn away bad luck and keep away the darkness. Any kind of wood will do. It has nothing to do with Yul Brynner.

 

What is Mince Pie?

Original mince pies contained rabbit, pigeon, partridge, hare, and pheasant, as well as dried fruit and spices. Modern mincemeat sometimes includes sausage, and usually liquor. The pies were baked in an oblong or square shape to resemble Jesus’s cradle. Eating the pie is supposed to bring good luck.

 

No matter what traditions you keep, Randy and I hope your holidays are wonderful! Happy celebrating to you all!

by Christine Maccabee

My Last Chicken

My last hen was a beautiful, little blue egg layer, an Auracana, originally from South America. I acquired her four years ago, along with two other larger hens of a different genetic heritage, whose large brown eggs I enjoyed until they both died, leaving me one last unhappy hen: Little Blue. As I always say, people need other people, and the same goes for chickens. Chickens need other chickens.

So began my long journey of finding an adequate new home for Little Blue, as I called her. It was not a particularly difficult decision to discontinue raising chickens, especially with a hard winter coming. My chicken coop is way down the hill in my main veggie garden; many a winter, I have had to push through deep snow, sleet, and rain to let the girls out. They always wanted to go out, no matter the weather, and were healthier for it, as was I. I also had to make sure frozen drinking water was emptied and replaced with warm water to hold them through the day. Then, before dark—and sometimes even in the dark—I had to slip and slide down the hill to close their hatchway door to keep them safe from predators. Now, that was roughing it! My chickens learned to rough it, too, with no electricity; cold oatmeal from yesterday’s breakfast; any greens I had on hand; and, sometimes, leftover spaghetti (without the sauce) made their day. Of course, I always had to refresh their feeder with sunflower seeds, corn, and other feed. The rewards for all our efforts were beautiful eggs and great manure for the gardens!

Those last three hens were not my only chickens by far. My history with chickens and roosters—and mallard ducks—is long and varied, with lots of drama, especially when the black snakes visited. Unfortunately, I cannot go into all of the stories I have concerning them, as that would take a Chicken ‘n Duck Tale book, and I figure such a book would bore other bird people since they, too, have their own stories to tell (note the word”story” in the word “history”). However, every story is unique, though similar in that we all have happy times and sad partings, be it through death or necessary changes.

Sending Little Blue off to a farm—run by a lady I will call “the chicken lady”—was no easy task, but it was one of those necessary changes. My Little Blue was more than a little blue here. In fact, she was extremely lonely after the death of her friend Big Red, with whom she felt safe. Then, after Red’s death, Little Blue became traumatized when a hawk swooped down twice, getting close enough to swipe off a portion of her lovely red comb. After that frightening encounter, she never went out of her coop again. I knew it was time for a big change.

And what a change it was, both happy and unhappy. At the chicken lady’s farm, Little Blue was greeted with some bullying from the top dogs (I mean chickens!). Although she rallied to show her tough side, I am told she is not coming out of her new coop to forage free range with the others. When I heard this, I became very sad for my traumatized chicken.

Yes, not all change is easy, so all I can do is hope that Little Blue gets stronger after trauma and works through her changes, as must we all as we go through difficult times. I suppose it is high time for me to get philosophical about it, according to the writer of the Ecclesiastes quote, for as the seasons turn and change, so must we all.

There are some things I can hold onto, however, and those are the love and the memories of my many birds over the years, and, of course, the great blue eggs! So thank you Little Blue, good luck, and I will miss you.

Note: Good News! The latest update is that my last chicken, Little Blue, is now learning the ropes and getting outside with the other chickens! 

by James Rada, Jr.

Celebrating Independence During the Country’s Centennial

When America celebrated its first one hundred years in 1876, Mechanicstown threw the country a grand party.

“The old saying that the people of Mechanicstown could never get up anything of a startling nature was beautifully knocked in the head last Tuesday—the 4th of July—by one of the largest demonstrations ever held in this place, and we doubt if its equal was ever seen in a town of twice the inhabitants,” the Catoctin Clarion proclaimed.

The event had been in the works for months and went off as planned, with the weather providing a beautiful day to celebrate.

Mechanicstown wasted no time in beginning its celebration with Charles Harman firing off a cannon at midnight on July 3, “which had the desired effect of awakening our citizens from their sound slumbers.” This was followed by a parade of the Mulligan Guards, under the command of Capt. William L. Lynn. They marched through town in the early hours of July 4. The Mulligan Guards were a militia group, which had started in New York but gained popularity after the musical comedies of Ed Harrigan. Different branches of the organization had sprung up across the country.

The parade continued until 4:00 a.m., when the churches in Mechanicstown began ringing their bells. The chiming ended only after dawn.

“After the firing of the first gun, all chances for sleep were banished and most of the people got up and commenced trimming their houses with evergreens and flags prepared the day before,” the newspaper reported.

Nearly every house and building in town was decorated with patriotic colors for the occasion.

The first train of the morning brought the Rouzerville Band to town, along with throngs of people who had boarded the Western Maryland Railroad train at each stop along the route. The Woodsboro Band arrived in town in its band wagon around 8:30 a.m. “which occasioned a general stampede down Main street to receive them. After dismounting, they played several lively aires, which was highly appreciated by the crowd and largely appreciated,” according to the Clarion.

With the inflow of spectators, the population of Mechanicstown swelled to around 3,000, which was five times more than the town’s total population. The newspaper even noted that although Emmitsburg was holding its own Independence Day celebration, a large crowd of Emmitsburg residents had chosen to attend the festivities in Mechanicstown instead.

The town’s grand parade then began forming. Parade Marshal Dr. J. J. Henshaw and aides “mounted on fiery chargers, with sashes and rosettes, then made their appearance and commenced forming the procession, which was found to be no easy job, as the crowd was so large and at times ungovernable,” the newspaper reported.

The International Order of Odd Fellows dressed in their full regalia was the first group in the parade. This fraternal organization of roughly two hundred members was headed by the Rouzerville Band and led by John H. Rouzer.

The next group was students and teachers from the various Sunday Schools in town. Each class carried a banner identifying their school. The group of two hundred students and teachers was headed by Col. J. R. Rouzer.

They were followed by the “Goddess of Liberty,” played by Kate Stokes, “beautifully dressed and seated on a richly adorned throne and drawn by two white horses, with four gallant escorts at her side, in the person of Marshall Gaugh, Joe Freeze, Anderson Polly and W. T. Weller,” according to the newspaper.

Next in the parade came a wagon filled with men playing the Founding Fathers of 1776. It was followed by two Veterans of the War of 1812 riding in a buggy.

The band wagons of the Woodsboro and Lewistown bands followed, filled with women dressed in straw hats and red and white sashes. Each woman represented one of the thirty-eight states in the country at the time.

The final group in the parade was buggies and carriages filled with patriotic citizens “who have in many instances given proof of their loyalty and strong attachment to the country so dearly bought by the blood of our forefathers,” the Catoctin Clarion reported.

The parade ended at a large grove, where a stand with a podium had been erected. For the rest of the morning, the crowd listened to speakers and music.

At noon, there was an hour intermission for lunch. Many people ate a picnic lunch at the grove. One local merchant made $200 that afternoon. He sold four barrels of lemonade, fifty gallons of ice creams, and a number of cakes.

When events resumed in the afternoon, spectators heard more music and talks. They were also entertained by different sketches: The Signing of the Declaration, The Cradle of Liberty, Centennial Visitors, Centennial Trunk, and a comedy sketch.

After a dinner break, the crowd formed up on the town square to enjoy a fireworks show.

“We predicted some time ago that this would be the crowning event in the history of our town and verily were our predictions realized,” the Clarion reported.