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Cookies Anyone?

by Valerie Nusbaum

It has long been my dream to own and operate a bakery or baking business. Now, don’t get me wrong.  I love doing my paintings and writing this column and other things, but I’ve wanted to try making and selling food items for many years.  Randy shares this love of all things edible with me and, together, we’ve tried making it all. Cakes, pies, breads, candies, you name it. But my hubby focused on cookies. Not just delicious-tasting cookies. Oh, no. Mr. Nusbaum wanted to make delicious and beautifully decorated cookies.

I explained to Randy that decorated cookies are tedious and take a long time to do and that it’s very difficult to make a dozen or more cookies look nearly identical.  I know this because, in my much younger days, I was a cake decorator and had ventured into cookies long before it was trendy. My grandmother, Ella, was a superior baker, and she ran a home business doing cakes and pies in order to bring in extra money. When Ella’s hands became too riddled with arthritis for her to do the piping and decorating, she called on me to help. I learned from her when I was a teenager and became hooked on the process. I somehow managed to rope my mother into making frosting for me, and I began baking cakes on order.

Now, unfortunately, my own hands are arthritic and that meant a lot of the piping would be on Randy’s shoulders if we actually got into the cookie business. Randy felt sure he could handle it, largely because we’d watched the Food Network’s cookie-baking contests for several seasons, and Randy said it appeared that anyone with half a brain could do it. Sure. Don’t say I didn’t warn him. We both agreed that the judges in those competitions are a bit hard on the contestants.  Seriously, I’d probably cry over some of the criticisms. (You’re laughing, and you’re absolutely correct. I wouldn’t cry. I’d punch one of the judges and then Randy would have to bail me out again.)

So, a few years ago at Christmastime, I went out and got Randy some books on cookie decorating. I bought him a set of piping tips. I have a set, but Randy once got my favorite leaf tip caught in the garbage disposal, so I felt it was best that he have his own. I bought him disposable piping bags, a palette knife, some nail heads, cookie sheets (again, he’s not allowed to use mine), and some tools I had no idea what to do with. I suggested that in order to refine his decorating skills, Randy should use prepared cookie dough. Mostly, I didn’t want flour all over my kitchen, along with the powdered sugar from the royal icing mix. And I should point out, too, that I’m not allowed to use Randy’s hammer anymore.

We talked it over and decided that making snowman and snowflake shapes might be a good way to start.  Randy rolled out and baked his Pillsbury sugar cookies and mixed up a batch of royal icing, which he then tinted several colors. I showed him how to fill the piping bags and explained about piping and flooding.  Randy is careful and meticulous and did a good job, especially for his first time out.

Four hours later, we had five cookies finished. I felt that it might be a good time for a teaching moment, so I posed the question of how much we’d have to charge for those five cookies in order to be paid for our time, as well as all the icing we’d had to discard, along with what Randy had eaten. And I mentioned, too, that in a real business, we wouldn’t be using packaged cookie dough. We’d be buying all the ingredients and making our own dough. We mulled it over for a while and decided that maybe undecorated cookies would be a better business venture, along with several candies and some other baked goods that come from family recipes handed down through generations.  A food truck or a trailer, rather than a brick-and-mortar structure, would be my first choice, but I’d also be happy to start out working from our kitchen and selling at events and taking orders.

Right now, the cookie/candy business is still a dream, but with Christmas just around the corner, I’m feeling the urge to bake something and get out the decorating tools. However, I’m NOT feeling the urge to scrape icing off the ceiling again.

The holidays aren’t very exciting for us these days. We don’t have much family close by. My brother and his family are in Montana, our nephew is in Kansas with his family, and our niece and her family live in Spokane, Washington. We’re not feeling sorry for ourselves, though, because what we do have is the family we’ve chosen. That’s all of our good friends and the relatives who live nearby. We’re blessed and thankful for them. We’re also grateful for those of you who take the time to let us know that you enjoy my column and have kept us in your thoughts and prayers this year.

Thanks to Kyle and Shelby Anderson and to Alan Overly and his mother for taking the time to write.   I’m so glad you can find something to smile about in my words.

Also, thanks to Larry and Linda Fogle, Linda Fogle, Carol Robertson, Steve and Brooke Fulmer, Tammie and Bill Fulmer, Dolly Long, Peggy Stitely, Loberta and Harold Staley, and Barb Barbe for being good friends, especially when we needed some.

Happy Holidays to all of you from both of us!

by James Rada, Jr.

December 1922, 100 Years Ago


Handing a clerk a one dollar gold piece in payment for a cone of ice cream is not often done, but it did occur here in Thurmont recently. The child evidently did not know the value of the coin, and the clerk interviewed the proprietor to learn if the coin was money, and good, before accepting it. The purchaser was given the change and departed happy.

                                          – Catoctin Clarion, December 7, 1922

Ice Plant For Emmitsburg

There is a strong possibility that Emmitsburg will have a new industry here next year. Several out-of-town parties were in the neighborhood during the past week looking over the field with a view of establishing an ice manufacturing plant in this section. These people are experts in the ice business and have several plants in other parts of Maryland. The purpose of their visit was not in the nature of looking for investors but to see some of the leading citizens of the town as to the prospects and if such a plant was needed and would be a paying proposition.

                                          – Emmitsburg Chronicle, December 7, 1922

December 1947, 75 Years Ago

Thurmont Likes Foxville Road

Expressing appreciation to the Board of County Commissioners and the County Roads Board for completion of the highway from Foxville to Thurmont, which opened a new all-surfaced road to Hagerstown, Thurmont residents learned last week that the surfacing of a road from Garfield to Foxville has been approved for construction in 1948.

                                          – Frederick Post, December 15, 1947

Stuffing Turkeys With High Price Grain Is Making Little Profit For County’s Growers, They Claim

If all the turkeys raised in Frederick county this year were consumed within the confines of the county, each of us would have to eat more than a half of one.

Between 30 and 35 thousand turkeys will have been sent to market by the time you clean the last bone of your Christmas bird, the men who market the most of them estimate. About 95 percent of that total come from Frederick county’s growing turkey production center around Thurmont.   

                                          – Frederick Post, December 20, 1947

December 1972, 50 Years Ago

St. Joseph College Offers 200-Acre Campus For Lease

St. Joseph College formally announced plans today to offer its 200 acre campus for leasing following the graduation of the class of 1973. The announcement was made in an advertisement in the national edition of the Wall Street Journal.

                                          – Emmitsburg Chronicle, December 14, 1972

Wildlife Officer Ray Toms Honored

Wildlife Officer Ray Toms of Emmitsburg, was singled out for praise Friday evening by Shikar Safari International, a prominent hunter-conservationist organization. The occasion was the sixth annual banquet of the Potomac Valley Fly Fishermen, held at Walton’s Family Restaurant in Frederick.

Earlier this year Toms was selected by the Southeastern Association of Fish and Game Commissioners as Maryland’s outstanding wildlife officer for 1972. It was in recognition of this that Ed Boyd of St. Michaels, Md., traveled to Frederick last Friday evening to attend the local fly fisher’s banquet and there awarded a plaque and check to Ray on behalf of Shikar Safari.

                                          – Emmitsburg Chronicle, December 14, 1972

December 1997, 25 Years Ago

Local Cemeteries Damaged

Nearly 50 markers were tipped over or broken (at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church cemetery). In the same night, some 20 tombstones were damaged at the Elias Lutheran Church on E. Main St.

Early estimates marked the loss at a cost of well over $5,000.

                                          – The Emmitsburg Regional Dispatch, December 1997

Extended Elementary School Proposed to BOE

The Emmit Ridge subdivision will be a topic of discussion for the Emmitsburg town council at the January 5th town meeting. The subdivision is located in the northern section of town adjacent to Irishtown Road. The project was planned in three phases with the third phase providing an access road connecting to Irishtown Road. Currently, the only access to Emmit Ridge is through the neighboring Northgate subdivision entrance. According to the original plans, the developers cannot begin phase three until prior phases are complete and thirty-three homes are built. To date, just three homes have been completed in the first phase. In the meantime, the original plan time limits have expired. At its Dec. 1 town meeting the commissioners voted to reinstate the final plats for Emmits Ridge Subdivision for one year, but change the phasing to require Phases II and III to be developed simultaneously. They also called for the development of Irishtown Road immediately after the completion of Phase I.

The Emmitsburg Regional Dispatch, December 1997

Parking meters

Paid for the Emmitsburg Police

When the Emmitsburg Burgess and Board of Commissioners decided that the town needed a police force for public safety, they had to find a way to pay for it. They voted to install parking meters along Main Street in 1949.

“Naturally, there was a lot of opposition to the parking meters, but parking space was limited along Main Street and there were quite a few thriving businesses that needed the spaces for their customers,” Don Rodgers wrote in an article on “Some residents tended to use the spaces as their personal garage and seldom moved their vehicles.”

The town purchased 152 meters at $58.50 each to be installed along Main Street, from Frailey’s Store on West Main to the Community Pure Food Store on East Main. No meters were installed on North or South Seton Avenue, but parking was restricted to one side of the street. One-hour parking would be allowed on the square and two-hour parking would be allowed along Main Street.

After the vote, opposition to the meters quickly grew as petitions were circulated to try and force the commissioners to reverse their decision. In March 1949, 25 citizens met with the commissioners. Euphemia Rotering, the group leader, presented the commissioners a petition signed by 45 people, nearly half of which were business owners.

James Hays, president of the board of commissioners, told the group, “that even the lawmakers themselves were not in favor of the ‘timers,’ but it was the only immediate way to derive revenue to maintain a constabulary in the Town, and that unless there were some other means by which they (the Town) could pay the added expenses of police protection, the Town officials would proceed with the placing of the meters,” according to the Emmitsburg Chronicle.

The town’s assessable tax base at the time was around $800,000, and to pay for the expenses of a small police force would require the town to nearly double its tax rate.

The group threatened to get an injunction to stop the installation of the meters, but it never came to be.

The meters were purchased from Michael Art Bronze Company of Washington, D.C. Installation was started after notice was posted about the restricted parking and the public was given time to adjust to the changes.

Installation of the meters began at the end of March, although it was delayed a few days because of bad weather.

By mid-April, before the town even knew how much money the meters would earn, a police chief was hired. Four men applied, but H.C. Woodring of Waynesboro was hired. He had spent the previous seven years as a Waynesboro police officer. Prior to that, he had been the chief guard for the Landis Company, overseeing 10 to 20 guards during World War II. He had assisted the FBI on cases.

One of the jobs of the new two-man police force was to enforce the parking regulations created with the installation of the parking meters that were paying their salaries.

Costs and revenues from the meters were shared 50/50 between Michael Art Bronze Company and the town. This lasted for nine months. At the end of the trial period, the town decided to purchase the meters outright.

What to Get Your Favorite Cook for Christmas

by Buck Reed

It is a fairly common understanding that it is better to give than to receive. Given that knowledge, I shall dedicate this article to the presents my family of readers can give to me and make their hearts filled with the joy of giving. And, of course, if you are buying me one, you might as well buy two and give one to the cook in your life. Twice the giving is certainly going to double your joy.

First, when choosing a gift, it is best to know the person for whom you are buying. Are they an accomplished cook, or do they just show an interest in the culinary arts but are a bit overwhelmed with what they would like to learn? A cookbook is always a nice way to go but try pairing it with a cooking class. Perhaps, the two of you would like to take a class together. Bringing together gift-giver and receiver is a great idea for the holiday spirit.

If they are a bit more advanced, a DIY (do it yourself) kit might be the ticket. A quick search online can find a variety of kits available. Usually, they are geared toward a specific subject of culinary activities and usually include ingredients, instructions, and recipes, as well as any specialty equipment needed to master this undertaking. Some that I found included sushi making, churros, making raviolis, specialty pasta shapes, and even a Create a Dessert of the Month Club. With any luck, they might even include you in the testing of their delightful efforts.

Then, there are the gadgets. Personally, I am not a fan of filling one’s kitchen with an array of culinary devices, but there are exceptions. It may sound silly to most, but I am a big fan of having a single pan that is dedicated to cooking just eggs and nothing else. Giving them a pan with an explanation that this pan is to only be used in egg cookery will take them one step closer to the madness found in great cooks.

Then, there are the whimsical gear. Usually, this is something that is useful but silly and must be tailored to the receiver’s personality. I saw the coolest set of dinosaur taco holders that were not only practical for creating tacos but also serving them. Also, they would look great arranged in your China cabinet or on a shelf in your kitchen or dining room. Your taco lover will cherish them always.

Then, there is the specialty ingredients you can procure for your target. If they like spicy foods, a few bottles of hot sauce might be the ticket. Or, you can make it a special gift by creating some special spice blends for them. These are fairly easy and can help them with conquering the elusive flair needed to become a great cook. 

Cooking is a personal venture, and the better you know the cook in your life, the better your success will be when choosing a gift for them.

  by Ana Morlier, The Crazy Plant Lady

Navigating the Trials  & Tree-bulations of    Christmas Trees

Merry December, readers! Now that the season of excess leftovers (still sitting in one’s freezer, never to be finished) and forced-family reunions are over (for now), it’s time for the winter celebrations to begin! I see that eye roll! Yes, I am fully aware that Walmart and other stores have brought “Christmas joy” well before I have, even in terms of trees and plant gifts. Instead, you will learn all the dos and don’ts of maintaining a Christmas tree in this article. You’ll also (hopefully) learn how to keep your leafy companion alive longer than the shelf life of eggnog. Here is my guide to Christmas tree-keeping!

Choose Your Fighter—What Tree Is Right for Me?

Either way (potted or cut tree), unless you are purchasing a Norfolk pine or rosemary tree, you’re going to need quite a bit of space. Potted trees do indeed take up slightly less space but are quite heavy and will need to be planted into the ground whenever the season is over. Again, unless it is a Norfolk pine, Christmas trees cannot stay in a pot. Potted trees are also going to need significantly more attention (I know, shock of all shockers), whether examining for bugs, root rot, over- and underwatering and overgrowth of the pot. Whereas for a cut tree, you’ll mainly need to make sure the water levels are above the end of the stump. Perhaps for bugs if extremely noticeable.

Potted trees allow you to gift a tree back to the Earth, but make sure you have a nice big pot for it, then find room somewhere in your yard to plant it permanently.

If you already feel the guilty beads of sweat rolling down your climate-conscious self, have no fear! There are many ways to reuse cut trees: Use needles as a natural mulch; cut off boughs to protect perennial beds from cold and snow; use the trunk as a flowerpot or fence (if you’re feeling crafty); rent a chipper and make wood chip mulch; use branches to support growing plants. But do NOT burn the tree in house fires or in wood stoves. Use renewable pellets if you feel so inclined, but you cannot burn tree remnants, or else you’ll inflict damage upon your most sacred heat source. Certainly not recommended during the dead of winter.

Once you have decided what tree type will work best for you, it’s time for some field research (pun intended). Basically, walk up to the tree you want and test its needles. For a healthy pine, the needles will bend and not break, and will be dark green and shiny. Healthy fir needles will break sharply and also retain an emerald color and shine. If you want to doublecheck that your tree is healthy, reach inside the trunk, and slightly shake the tree or branch. Only a few needles should fall. In addition, fresh growth and sticky sap are also quite a good sign. Both indicate that the tree retains moisture well.

Buy One, Get One Tree…Buying Tips

The later you buy a tree, the more likely you’ll have a fresh, green tree for Christmas. Most advise buying a tree in the first or second week of December.

Netting is excellent in protecting your tree from harsh winds but wrapping it in an old blanket is even more effective in preserving the branches.

If you are grabbing a tree from a pre-cut lot, cut a small portion of the trunk off at home to ensure proper circulation. Cut ½ to 1 inch off the trunk, without angling.

When you first set down your tree, try to check it 3-4 times a day since the tree will drain water pretty quickly. Add fresh, cool water (tap water is fine). Try to keep the tree trunk in a larger water basin so it has enough room and more than enough water to soak in (a stand with room to hold a gallon of water minimum and an opening wide enough to contain the whole tree trunk).

How to Keep Your Tree Lookin’ Like a Fine Pine

Keep your sen-tree in a cool place, away from any heating vents, heaters, or furnaces. Not only will it be less of a fire hazard, but it will keep the tree healthier for longer. It is perfectly fine to situate a tree next to a window, as it remains cool from external temperatures.

If you have heated floors, stand the tree on a mat or other surface to avoid contact with the heated floor, preferably in an area without direct sunlight, or even in a darker location.

Give your leafy companion a day or two to adjust to the new environment before putting on ornaments.

You can never overwater your tree! Make sure it is watered well above the end of the trunk or else the tree will dry out quickly.

Don’t add sugary substances (such as the rumored 7-up). While it won’t directly kill the tree, mold and bacteria buildup certainly will. Any additives will not make your tree healthier. If anything, it breeds an environment for mold. So, keep it simple with cold water, and your tree will be just fine.

Potted Tree Care

Use long, large, containers to give the tree roots plenty of room, with ample drainage. If you notice leaves turning yellow or other problems, the tree may be indicating that it has outgrown its pot or watering is not sufficient.

To keep it fresh for Christmas day, it is advised to not place/pot the tree in your home until one week before Christmas.

Check for watering information on the label, but aim to keep the soil moderately moist, perhaps watering every other day.

Signs of a Suffering Tree

Feed me, Seymour! Some signs of a suffering tree are: excessive needle loss; lack of smell; dried, brittle branches; and quickly yellowing branches.

If you observe these, check the water level! It may also be pests (you can take care of these with pesticides. I like to use natural neem oil), excessive heat, or decay from being bought too early. Trimming problem areas can reduce some damage, and providing fresh, cool water can help.

May these suggestions lead to a healthier, happier plant, to a place where you have one less thing to worry about during the holiday rush. I and my many leafy friends would appreciate it if you took the time to stop, breathe, and admire your hard-working tree.

Take care of yourself, and your tree, and relish this time of kinship. Even during the busiest of times, don’t forget to stop and smell the pine.

by Maxine Troxell

No confection symbolizes the holidays quite like gingerbread in its many forms, from edible houses to candy-studded gingerbread men to spiced loaves of cake-like bread. These cookies make a great gift for friends and family.  

Gingerbread Boy Cookies


   1 cup of light brown sugar, packed

2 eggs

¾ cup of molasses

¼ tsp. salt

1 tbsp. of ginger

2 tsp. of cinnamon

   2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened

2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

5 ½ cups all-purpose flour

½ tsp. baking soda

1 ½ tsp. cloves

1 tsp. nutmeg


In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, baking soda, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside. 

With a mixer, cream the butter and sugars together until light in color and creamy. 

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between each one. 

Add molasses and vanilla extract and mix well. 

Gradually add the dry ingredients one cup at a time until all are combined and mixed well.

Divide dough into three equal parts. Roll each one out to ¼” or ¾” on a lightly floured mat and place them into the freezer for 10 minutes. The dough is easier to work with when cold. 

Using your favorite gingerbread boy cookie cutter, cut out and place on greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 6-8 minutes.

Frost cookies with royal icing. If you don’t feel comfortable decorating cookies, you can just sprinkle the cookies with powdered sugar.  Here is a link to a good royal icing recipe:   

BY Sandi Reed Burns, Realtor, Climb Properties Real Estate LLC

As a real estate agent, I hear a lot of people talking about mortgage interest rates increasing. High rates seem to be one of the biggest concerns right now for consumers. During COVID, we saw the houses sell, not only above their listed prices but also above the appraised value. The appraised value is the amount the bank will lend for the mortgage. If the home appraised for $350,000 but sold for $365,000, the buyer would need to bring the additional $15,000 of their own funds to settlement.

What agents are seeing now are lower home prices and higher interest rates for loans. The bottom line for buyers: Purchase prices are dropping, but the cost of the loan is higher.

The brighter side of this is that a consumer can purchase more home at a lower price. Even with higher interest rates, getting the house that fits a buyer’s needs is more important—the interest rate can be changed through refinance transactions a year or two down the road. It’s not all gloomy news for the sellers either, as there is still a low inventory and home pricing isn’t dramatically falling.

Nita Young from CLA Title, located in Frederick, said, “Consumers should be aware of how important an owner’s title policy is and how it protects them for as long as they own the home and that it’s transferable to their heirs. This one-time expense is a fraction of what it would cost to fight a claim at $400 an hour for an attorney.”

Ian Shimer from Embrace Home Loans said, “2022 has been a pivotal year for the real estate industry. Due to delays in materials, rise in home prices, and interest rates spiking, it has been a difficult time for most home buyers. Despite all the buzz, it is still a good time to buy. For eligible buyers in Frederick County, there are grant programs for borrowers that will allow you to take advantage of up to $10,000 in funds to put towards the cost of your new home, without ever needing to pay it back. Rates change every day, and with that comes the opportunity to refinance when they come down. Through homeownership, you not only have the ability to lower your payment in the future, but you have the ability to lower your term, tap into your equity, consolidate debt, and much more. I encourage buyers to DATE the rate and MARRY the house. It is a funny statement but true in the fact that you can always refinance to a lower interest rate, but your dream house will not always be there. Your personal agent is the expert by your side to help you find the perfect home, and your lender is the financial expert to ensure you are educated throughout the entire process, while guaranteeing you are in the best financial position possible as you make one of the biggest purchases in your lifetime.”

The most important thing that I can’t stress enough is to take the time to talk with real estate agents, lenders, title agents, and home inspectors. Yes, shop around for the best pricing and who you feel you’ll work best with.

Everything seems so rushed once you find a home you like, enter an offer, and it gets accepted. The clock starts ticking, then people often feel rushed and uncertain. I highly suggest speaking with the professionals before you find a home of choice and before you decide to list for sale.

by Ava Morlier, Culinary Arts Writer

Happy December! I’m sure you’re swamped with cookie and dessert recipes, so today’s article will give you information to munch on (rather than burdening you with another Christmas cookie recipe).

Ever wonder what happens to your cookie while it’s in the oven? Sure, you mix ingredients in the bowl and all that, but why those ingredients? How does your cookie become a cookie in the span of half an hour?

Well, it’s the ingredients in the cookie dough reacting to each other, and those reactions are initiated by the heat of the oven. Curious? Check out the timeline below to see how your cookie transforms from wet and malleable to dry and crisp!


A Delicious Timeline of How Your Cookies Transform in the Oven


A delicious timeline of how your cookies transform in the oven:

You’ve just whipped up a fresh batch of cookies. You’ve done everything right: You’ve creamed the unsoftened butter with the sugars, added in the rest of the wet ingredients, then finally added all the dry ingredients and mixed well. Why is there such an involved process to make the dough? Adding all the ingredients at once will lead to inconsistent texture; the sugar retains the moisture of the butter, allowing the cookies to develop air pockets throughout the dough. Not creaming the sugar with the butter directly will result in a cookie that will grow upwards rather than spread out.

Now you’re sliding the batch into the preheated oven (not preheating the oven will result in cookies that break apart) and waiting for the wet dough to transform. As the dough cooks, it takes on its full cookie glory!

920-The once semi-solid butter melts, causing the cookie to spread out (giving the cookie its novel round shape). Water is released from the butter and turns into steam within the cookie.

1360– Salmonella (once alive in the egg) dies off, making your cookies safe to eat.

1440– The proteins from the eggs unfold, connect with other proteins and refold, making the egg (and the shape of the cookie) less runny and more solid.

2120– The steam boils away and evaporates, causing the shape of the cookie to solidify and the surface of the cookie to become cracked and dry.

Additionally, air pockets are formed in the cookie (giving it airy flakiness) thanks to the reaction of acid and baking soda forming carbon dioxide gas-filled air pockets.

3100-The Maillard Reaction takes place: Proteins from the egg and sugar break down and relink together, forming structural proteins that give cookies their distinctive golden-brown color. This linking process also results in the development of flavor and aroma (that delicious smell that lets everyone know something good is baking in the oven!). The scent also signifies that your cookies are done! Taking them out as soon as that sweet smell hits your nose results in deliciously chewy (and not overcooked/tough) cookies!

3560-The sugars in the cookie break down, giving the cookie a sweet and nutty flavor (and a darker brown color).

After the mouthwatering scent of the cookies hits your nose, you take the cookies out and let them cool on a cooling rack (making sure to take them off the cookie sheet soon after they have been taken out of the oven; the hot pan may overcook or burn the bottoms of the cookies, as it has retained heat from the oven). And just like that, your cookies have been transformed!

Enjoy munching on this knowledge as you wait for your signature Christmas cookies to cook! Happy baking and Merry Christmas!

The cookies start out…

The cookies begin to spread…

The cookies dry out and solidify…

The finished cookies!

by Richard D. L. Fulton

Major George W. Webb

Gettysburg’s “Tuskegee Airman”

When George W. Webb, then-holding the rank of first lieutenant, reported for duty as the first black commander of a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp on the Gettysburg battlefield, the only red tails he would have encountered there would have been the species of hawks that flew overhead.

The irony of that was, as World War II broke out, “red tails” would come to assume a whole new meaning in his life.

First Lieutenant Webb secured his Army commission as the result of ROTC training he had received at Howard University, having graduated in 1926. In May 1939 he was assigned to be a member of the staff at the CCC camp in McMillan Woods on the Gettysburg Battlefield.

The CCC had established two camps on the Gettysburg Battlefield. The first camp was located in 1933 in Pitzer Woods (in the field behind where the General Longstreet monument stands today) and designated NP-1, and the second camp was located in McMillan Woods in 1934 on the western slope of Seminary Ridge, taking its access off West Confederate Avenue, and designated NP-2.

The CCC camp in Pitzer Woods was comprised of all-black recruits under the command of all white officers as NP-2 had been, except that during late 1939, two years after the Pitzer Woods camp had been abandoned, it was announced that the NP-2 was to become the first all-black (recruits and officers) in the country. At the time, the all-black staff assumed command, the McMillan Woods camp served as home to 198 CCC program “enrollees (designated as being the 135th Company).”

Lieutenant Webb assumed command of the NP-2 on November 12, 1939, when the camp was about to begin being led by an all-black command structure.  Although Webb was described as a “native Washingtonian.” Beginning with his assignment to the NP-2, he afterwards always regarded Gettysburg as his home (before being sent to Gettysburg, Webb had served as supervisor of the Industrial Home School of Blue Plains in Washington, D.C.).

Webb received an official send-off at the NP-2 on August 25, 1941, in the form of a “smoker and banquet.”  The Gettysburg Times noted that, under Webb’s command, the camp had a superior rating “as one of the most outstanding companies in the central district.”

On August 19, the lieutenant arrived at Chanute Field, Illinois, to commence with his training to serve as the adjutant officer of the 99th Pursuit Squadron (also known as the Red Tails, due to their having painted their airplane tails red.  The group was not referred to as the Tuskegee Airmen until it appeared in a book in 1955).  The Black Dispatch reported at that time that Webb was married and had three children (two girls and one boy).

During the second week of September 1941, he was dispatched to the Tuskegee (Alabama) Institute, where he officially assumed his assignment as adjutant of the 99th Pursuit Squadron at what would become Tuskegee Army Airfield.

By January 1942, Adjutant Lieutenant Webb had been appointed provost marshal at the Tuskegee flying school, becoming the first black provost marshal in the United States Army (although he continued in training for that position for six months at the Provost Marshal General School in Fort Custer, Michigan through August 13, 1943).  He was additionally appointed as fire marshal and transportation officer.

As an aside, in October 1942, the flying school opened its brand-new chapel, Webb’s youngest son was the first child baptized in the new facility.

By February 20, 1943, he had also assumed the command of the military police unit at the Tuskegee flying school and had been promoted to captain. In September 1943, Webb had been promoted to major, just days after having completed his provost marshal training in Fort Custer. His wife had also given birth to a third daughter.

The Tuskegee Army Air Field closed in 1947; 932 pilots had been successfully graduated from the program. Among these, 66 Tuskegee airmen died in combat.

Magnesium and Its  Health Benefits

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

Magnesium is a nutrient that helps the body stay healthy. Magnesium is important for many processes in the body. It helps regulate muscle and nerve function, blood sugar levels, blood pressure and aids in making protein, bone, and DNA. It is one of the most abundant minerals in the human body and used in over 300 different physiological processes.

What Foods Provide Magnesium?

  Magnesium is in many natural foods and is added to fortified foods. You can get the recommended daily amounts of magnesium by eating a variety of foods. These foods include legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, avocados, dark chocolate, bananas, milk, yogurt, and other milk products.

Am I Getting Enough Magnesium?

The diets of many people in the United States provide less than the recommended amounts of magnesium. Men older than 70 and teenage girls and boys are most likely to have low intakes of magnesium.

What Happens If You Do Not Get Enough Magnesium?

In the short term, getting too little magnesium does not produce obvious symptoms. When healthy people have low intakes, the kidneys help retain magnesium by limiting the amount lost in urine. Low magnesium intakes for long periods, however, can lead to a magnesium deficiency. In addition, some medical conditions and medications interfere with the body’s ability to absorb magnesium or increase the amount of magnesium that the body excretes. 

Very high doses of zinc supplements can also interfere with the body’s ability to absorb and regulate magnesium.

Some symptoms of magnesium deficiency include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and weakness. Extreme magnesium deficiency can cause numbness, tingling, muscle cramps, seizures, personality changes, and an abnormal heart rhythm.

People with gastrointestinal diseases (such as Crohn’s disease and celiac disease), type 2 diabetes, long-term alcoholism and older people are more likely to get too little magnesium.

What Are Some Effects of Magnesium On Health?

Research has shown that magnesium has positive effects on high blood pressure and heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and migraine headaches.

Magnesium that is naturally present in food and beverages is not harmful and does not need to be limited. In healthy people, the kidneys can get rid of any excess in the urine. However, magnesium in dietary supplements and medications should not be consumed in amounts above the upper limit, unless recommended by a healthcare provider.

High intakes of magnesium from dietary supplements and medications can cause diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramping. Extremely high intakes of magnesium can lead to irregular heartbeat and cardiac arrest.

Signs of Magnesium Deficiency

Following are some signs of magnesium deficiency. Always check with your health practitioner if you think you are having a health issue.

Poor Cognitive Processing

Are you having bouts of brain fog, poor concentration, or constant memory issues? The brain contains the highest concentration of mitochondria in the male body (females have a higher concentration in their ovaries). Mitochondria are heavily reliant on magnesium for energy production so a deficiency can hamper your brain performance significantly.

Headaches & Chronic Migraines

Sufferers of chronic migraines often have lower levels of magnesium in their bodies. Magnesium also plays the additional key role of regulating neurotransmitter production, which can also influence migraines.

Constipation & IBS

Proper magnesium intake softens stools by drawing water into the bowels, which supports healthy elimination. If stools become too hard, they move slower through the colon and become a problem. Additionally, magnesium plays a major role in regulating muscle contractions in the intestines. This is why a magnesium deficiency often results in constipation.


Magnesium is highly involved with energy production. As mentioned before, the mitochondria in your cells heavily rely on magnesium to produce energy. Your mitochondrial function primarily determines your energy levels. Additionally, magnesium supports the adrenal glands, which can play a part in energy production as well.


You can see improvement with insomnia because magnesium is involved in the production of GABA in the brain. GABA is a chemical that promotes relaxation. If you do not have enough magnesium to produce adequate amounts of GABA, your sleep may suffer.

Muscle Spasms & Cramping

Magnesium is important for proper nerve transmission and plays a vital role in muscle contraction. When magnesium is depleted, muscle contractions can become weak and uncoordinated, leading to involuntary spasms and painful cramps.

In addition, when magnesium stores are low in the body, the nervous system can become hyper-excitable (meaning easily overstimulated) which can increase muscle tension. Magnesium can play a role here by helping to elicit an overall calming effect on the mind and body while soothing and relaxing the muscles.

Heart Arrhythmia

The heart is a muscle that constantly contracts inside our bodies without needing to be consciously controlled. Just as with other muscles in the body, the heart relies heavily on magnesium for proper contractibility. This is thought to be due to its role in regulating calcium and potassium concentrations in the muscle tissue. This includes rapid heartbeats, slow heartbeats, and sudden changes in heart rhythm for no apparent reason.

Numbness and Tingling

If you often feel numbness or tingling sensations in your body, such as in the hands and feet, this is likely due to a change in nerve activity. Because of its role in healthy nerve transmission, magnesium deficiency may be partly playing a role. Some studies have shown that magnesium may be able to relieve or prevent numbness and tingling in the extremities.

Supporting Your Magnesium Levels

Follow these strategies to boost your magnesium levels.

Magnesium Rich Foods

There are great food sources that are easy to incorporate into your daily life. Pick a few high magnesium foods and incorporate them on a regular basis.

Epsom Salt Baths

Perhaps one of the most relaxing ways to get more magnesium into your body is by taking an Epsom salt bath. Epsom salts are actually a form of magnesium that can absorb into the body through the skin. 

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. Visit the website at

jEanne Angleberger,   

Shaklee Associate for a Healthier Life


As the year 2022 becomes history, I hope you have created a few healthy habits along the way. Making healthy changes can be hard but is certainly worth it!

The number one reason people resist change is because they focus on what they have to give up instead of what they have to gain. 

You may recall the very first health article yours truly submitted to the Banner for publication. I quote, “What is more important than taking care of your health and body?” 

Today, I repeat the same question. It is never too late to begin taking care of your health. If people choose not to follow healthy guidelines, I have two simple questions for them: Where are you going to live? Who will take care of you?

In closing, my health articles were written to help people improve their health and overall wellness. Also, to create awareness to share with their health provider.

Today, Health Jeanne bids “Farewell” to her Banner readers. Time passes quickly. It’s hard to believe my debut with “The Health Jeanne” was August 2008.

As I wish healthiness to all my readers, I want to extend my appreciation for all of the support and kind words you have shared with me over the years. Just saying you enjoy reading the articles meant so much to me. Thank you.

May your family and loved ones reap the benefits of healthy habits today and always.


Ten Things You Don’t Know About Randy

by Valerie Nusbaum

Over the years, I’ve told you a lot of things about my lovely husband. Some of them were actually true. In fact, I may have told you some of the following things before, and if I have, I do apologize for repeating myself. Getting older is my only excuse. It’s said that memory is the second thing to go, but I can’t remember the first. I could go on and on about Randy’s many quirks and eccentricities or his charming attributes, as it were, but I’ve whittled them down to just a manageable ten, so here goes:

1.  He watches The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills with me. I admit that the show is my guilty pleasure. It makes me feel so good about my own life and my mental state. Randy knows each housewife by name, and he discusses their meltdowns and cat fights (yes, I said it) with me. He even understood what I meant one day when I said, “That woman reminds me of Sutton.” I think Kyle is his favorite, but mainly because she co-starred in some of the Halloween movies.

2.   Randy is the breakfast chef at our house. He makes everything from hotel-style Belgian waffles to a bowl of cold cereal with bananas. He’s a master of hot tea and his omelets are to die for.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t also cook breakfast. French toast is my specialty. Randy is better at it, though, and he seems to enjoy doing it, as long as I stay out of the kitchen while he’s cooking. and I don’t say a word about the mess.

3.   He’s a fan of New Kids on the Block. I can’t explain it except to say that he has the music in him and he’s got the right stuff.

4.   Randy loves to dance, and he’s very flexible and light on his feet. You’re picturing that now, aren’t you? We took ballroom dance lessons a long time ago. It didn’t go well. Apparently, loving dancing and being able to move doesn’t constitute recognizing the beat and remembering steps. Just ask the usher at Cher’s farewell concert at Verizon Center. I’d told her that Randy would be up and dancing and that it might shock her. She watched him and was slightly horrified but couldn’t look away. However, Randy did make it on the Jumbotron while he was performing “YMCA” with the Village People during the opening act. He’s also done the “Locomotion” with Little Eva. He slow danced with a man named Sarge at a Barry Manilow concert, and, another time, one of The Temptations stopped the show to tell Randy to please sit down.  However, Randy did chicken out of going onstage with The Ronettes because he didn’t want to be their Baby.

5.   It should come as no surprise, then, to find out that Randy was voted “Most Musical” in his high school senior class. He not only sings and dances, but he also writes a lot of songs about our daily life. I can’t print any of the lyrics here, but some of them are pretty catchy tunes. Randy not only played the trumpet, but he also played the tuba in the high school marching band because he was the only one big enough to carry it.

6.   Mr. Nusbaum doesn’t like vegetables. He’ll eat them, but he doesn’t like them. Any kind of sauce, including cheese, helps, and he drowns his salads in dressing.  Otherwise, as he says, it’s “just a bowl of lettuce.”

7.   Randy puts gravy on macaroni and cheese, which, incidentally, is his favorite vegetable. I know that mac and cheese is not a vegetable, but I’ve given up arguing about it.

8.   My hubby has a collection of crazy socks. We’re talking hundreds of pairs here. He has socks for every occasion and holiday, as well as socks for every possible situation or event. If we go out for Mexican food, Randy wears either his taco socks or his piñata socks. He also has cactus socks and hot pepper socks. Of course, there are waffle socks for breakfast and burger socks for picnics. Musical instruments, sports memorabilia, superheroes, planes, trains, cars and trucks, animals, and every other kind of food and activity imaginable, are all part of Randy’s collection. Oh, and he also has a pair of boxer shorts with Steve’s face on them.  They were a birthday gift.

9.   Randy color-coordinates his outfit to whatever he’s planning to order for dinner if we go out to a restaurant. That way, if he spills his food, it won’t be so noticeable.

10. Randy gives everyone a nickname. No one is safe. Most of the names are harmless, and they came about because Randy didn’t know the person’s actual name.  Walky Man, Lilac Lady, etc., just things like that. However, if someone mistreats me or irritates Randy, all bets are off, and the names get more creative. So far, he’s never slipped up and used one of his nicknames in public or to someone’s face, but we both know that day will come. When that happens, I’ll do the same thing I do at Home Depot when Randy argues with the manager or tries to negotiate a better deal. I’ll pretend I don’t know him and walk away.

by James Rada, Jr.

November 1922, 100 Years Ago

Rev. Waltemyer Resigns

Rev. W. C. Waltemyer, who for the past seven years has been pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Thurmont, has handed his resignation to the Council of the church, the same to be effective January 1st, 1923. The members of the Council were reluctant to consider the resignation, as he is unusually well thought of in his congregation.

                                          – Catoctin Clarion, November 2, 1922

S.S. Parade in Frederick

Nearly 3,000 men, representing practically every district in the county, marched Sunday afternoon in the Sixth Annual Sunday School Parade in Frederick City, the biggest religious demonstration made up entirely of men, of this county’s history.

Perfect weather conditions helped swell the number of paraders and the crowds which lined the sidewalks for many squares. The parade was 40 minutes passing a given point.

                                          – Catoctin Clarion, November 26, 1922

November 1947, 75 Years Ago

Thurmont Lions Sponsor Trip

As the mother of 24 children, twelve of whom are still living, Mrs. Charles H. Clarke hasn’t had time to leave her home in Thurmont, during the past twenty years. In fact, she has never traveled out of her native State in all the 52 years of her life.

Next week, however, she will take a trip to California to have a chance to fulfill her “heart’s desire”—on a national radio program.

Mrs. Clarke is being sent by the Lions Club of Thurmont and other sponsoring organizations whose members think it’s about time that she see more of the world.

“I’m not going to worry about anything,” she says, “I’ve had so many troubles and worries with my many children over the years that the trip won’t upset me.”

                                          – Frederick News, November 22, 1947

Dr. Lyons Outlines TB Treatment For District Nurses

Dr. I. B. Lyon, Sabillasville, gave an illustrated talk on “The Latest Aspects of the Treatment of Tuberculosis,” at the meeting of the District No. 1, Maryland State Nurses Association last night at the Allegany Hospital Nurses Home.

Dr. Lyon listed three forms of treatment, the first he said is rest, which he said is still the best. The second is the use of streptomycin, one of the newest drugs. He explained that so far the extent of its use is not known, but said that in certain types of tuberculosis it has been very effective, especially in caseous types.

Plastic surgery was listed by the speaker as the third form of treatment. He said this includes surgical removal of the ribs and the use of oleothorax and pneumothorax, depending on whether oil or air in the pleural cavity is desired.

                                     – Cumberland News, November 26, 1947

November 1972, 50 Years Ago

Potomac Edison Warns Hunters

With the opening of hunting seasons in the area, The Potomac Edison Company has issued an appeal to hunters to “avoid using power line insulators for target practice.” Citing several recent cases of serious damage to lines and interruption of electric service to customers, a PE spokesman reminded sportsmen that “shooting into the air with a rifle is dangerous enough, but aiming at insulators is worse—it’s illegal.”

                                          – Emmitsburg Chronicle, November 2, 1972

Town Approves Annexation Of Emmit-Ridge; Plans To Buy More Ground

At their meeting Monday night, the Town Council formally adopted a resolution calling for the annexation of Emmit-Ridge on the Irishtown Road. The property, which is comprised of approximately 17 ½ acres, is the proposed site for 190 housing units. The property will become part of the town unless 20 percent of the town’s registered voters should request a referendum.

Mayor Sprankle informed the council that Charles Koontz was willing to sell the town nine acres of land which he owns below the present town reservoir on the Koontz property that would be of considerable help in taking care of the town’s water problems. The Council agreed to purchase the property.

                                          – Emmitsburg Chronicle, November 9, 1972

November 1997, 25 Years Ago

Town Mourns Death of Commissioner

The sudden death of David Luther Copenhaver has left a great sadness and a void in the community.

Mr. Copenhaver, 49, of East Main Street, died Tuesday, Oct. 28 at his residence. He was the husband of Velma Marie Reaver Copenhaver.

Funeral services were held Friday, Oct. 31, at Mount St. Mary’s College Chapel of the Immaculate Conception.

                                          – The Emmitsburg Regional Dispatch, November 1997

Extended Elementary School Proposed to BOE

Over 200 parents, grandparents, and caregivers attended the Oct. 23 town meeting to hear presentations and discussion about the future of students in Emmitsburg schools. The meeting was a follow-up to a previous meeting which carried the same theme: “Give us back out kids.” The purpose of these efforts is to reduce the flow of students out of the community and to reestablish a school in Emmitsburg for children from kindergarten to the eighth grade.

In his opening remarks Emmitsburg Mayor William Carr urged the townspeople and the attending members of the Frederick County Board of Education and the County Commissioners to “look to the future and work in partnership” in resolving concerns about the development and placement of elementary and middle schools in the Northern Frederick County region.

                                          – The Emmitsburg Regional Dispatch, November 1997

Sabillasville Caught up in Chinese Civil War

by James Rada, Jr.

Once Marion Firor left Thurmont on the express train on August 20, 1916, it took her more than a month to reach China, where she was to become a missionary teacher. She fell in love with the country and the people there, only to see it ripped apart by war.

She received word of her appointment at the Yochow School in Yochow, China, a city of about 40,000 people, on April 27 and began making preparations for her departure. She had to resign from her teaching position at Boonsboro High School where she taught English.

Her father was the reverend at St. John’s Reformed Church in Sabillasville. He held a farewell service for his daughter at the church on August 10.

She enjoyed her work at the school and loved the children, but tensions were brewing in the country. She wrote her family regularly, although it took the letters just as long to reach her family as it had taken Marion to reach China.

She wrote that many of the buildings in Yochow were made of gray brick and ranged from one to three stories tall. Although foreigners worked in the city, there was still some xenophobic sentiment among the people.

“Yochow was one of the last cities of China to admit foreigners, and they are still looked upon askance by some,” Marion wrote.

Still, she loved the Chinese people and admired their ability to endure. “Calamities that would crush foreigners seem never to faze them. It is nothing unusual for a merchant owning a stand to have his business totally destroyed several times by the frequent fires or looted by soldiers. Yet, he begins again at the bottom only to have his work once more undone,” she wrote.

In early April 1918, the Firors received a cable that read “Yochow in ashes—Missionaries safe—women gone from the city.”

Fighting had broken out in China among various factions. Her family was anxious over whether Marion had remained safe or not as they waited for further word from her and read news reports of the fighting.

The fighting moved away from Yochow, and Marion returned to the school and resumed teaching.

Then, in late June of 1920, word reached the Firors that soldiers had murdered Rev. W. A. Reimert in Yochow. This was someone Marion knew and worked with on occasion. The Firors once again grew anxious over the safety of their daughter.

They received a letter from Marion in early August that had been written a few days before her parents had heard of Rev. Reimert’s murder. She was in Chinkungahan and wrote of people fleeing the city on a sailboat flying the American flag.

“Chinese teachers’ houses had been looted; our girls who lived there and some of their friends had been stripped of all but their inner garment and searched for money, and Mr. Reimert had been shot and instantly killed,” Marion wrote.

Friends snuck people out of the city at night and many of them fled to the missionary school. International law allowed the school to protect women and children, but not men.

Food became scarce. Fires started in various areas of the city from the fighting. Soldiers occupied whatever homes they wanted and dug up the floors of homes looking for hidden valuables. Marion also wrote that Rev. Reimert had been shot trying to keep soldiers out of the school.

The school was only a temporary sanctuary, though. It soon became obvious that it would either burn or be raided, so the teachers, students, and refugees started to flee.

“So, we flung a few things in our trunks preparatory to leaving. But, mother, it was terrible to have people come and hang onto you and beg you to save their lives. In the same breath they begged us to stay and to go and take them,” Marion wrote.

She managed to escape from the city, but she realized in her haste to flee she had taken a lot of unnecessary items and left behind needed ones.

“You find you have parts of several dresses and no whole ones, no pencils or pins or any of the little things one needs, one washrag and towel which you have to keep washing every day, and all sorts of crazy things you don’t need and so few of those you do,” she wrote.

Things calmed down once again, school resumed, and things began to look normal. She said she tried to focus on the mundane and the classes she taught in biology, chemistry, bacteriology, and English.

In 1921, she made plans to return home by the fall. However, there were still intermittent troubles in her region of China. Soldiers entered a home of one of Marion’s day school pupils. The soldier started to carry off a table. “The mother objected too strenuously to suit them, so they put the table down and took the woman instead,” Marion wrote.

They were also stealing supplies from the school, but no one dared object.

In July, she sailed on the Empress of Asia to Vancouver, British Columbia. She arrived on August 9. It then took another week before she reached home.

Leaving China had been more treacherous than she expected, as the group encountered various groups of soldiers. She had also been robbed when a crook cut a hole in her suitcase and stole $90.

She had been home less than a month when she told her father’s congregation, “The country fairly seems to get into your blood. You hate to leave it. I have really been homesick for it since my return.”

The Science of Spicy Food

by Buck Reed

The definition of spicy we will be working with in this article will be “Food flavors provoking a burning sensation caused by chilies or other spicy foods or ingredients” or hot foods. First of all, if you do not appreciate spicy, hot foods, it is not a sign of weakness and it is not linked to ethnicity. If you were born in India and ate vindaloo and curries all your life, then you are probably very used to spicy foods. No one is really born with a propensity or tolerance for spicy food. So, if you are not used to them, there is hope you can learn to appreciate them if you start eating them more frequently.

Can spicy, hot foods destroy your palate or taste buds? That would be a hard “no.” Even a lifetime of eating spicy foods has no effect on your ability to taste and appreciate other foods; however, it can have other effects on your body, such as acid reflux, stomach aches, indigestion, and heartburn. Limiting your exposure to these spicy foods or taking over-the-counter medications to help combat these side effects might help you in your exploration of these foods.

Most American palates can relate to and appreciate the spicy flavors found in peppers. A peppers’ spiciness/heat is measured in Scoville Units, which was invented by a chemist named Wilbur Scoville. This scale measures the actual amount of capsaicin (active component of chili peppers) in each pepper and directly relates that to other peppers. A bell pepper has no capsaicin, so it clocks in at 0 SHU (Scoville Heat Units), and a Jalapeno has a measurement of 2500 to 8000 SHUs. The hottest pepper on record is the Carolina Reaper at 2.2 million SHUs. If you want to substitute one pepper for another but keep it at the same heat level, use a little math to adjust the amount of pepper you put into your dish.

The hotness in horseradish is caused by isothiocyanate, a compound that reacts to oxygen in the air or saliva. Most people feel that heat in their sinuses.

Mustard is spicy because of a compound called sinigrin. The spiciness of mustard comes from the enzymes that are formed when mustard oil mixes with liquid.

Not too long ago, you may remember the Cinnamon Challenge, where idiots would film themselves trying to swallow a spoonful of this seemingly comforting spice. If you ever watched it, you know not to do that unless of course you are, in fact, an idiot. Cinnamon has a compound called cinnamaldehyde. This compound has been known to cause skin irritation.

Relief for most of these compounds is simple. Capsaicin is soluble by milk and dairy products; so, when eating them, use these products to dilute them. On the other hand, isothiocyanate is water soluble and can be relieved by water. And, of course, all spicy food reactions can be alleviated by drinking beer. I have no scientific data for this claim, but I do have a lot of experience with it.

by Ana Morlier, The Crazy Plant Lady

Glorious Gourds

Happy November, everyone! Time for a month of thanks, warm foods, and delightful decorations. What better way to celebrate this festive month than with gourds? While you may only note them for their scant appearance on the dinner table, the gourd is a rather unappreciated vegetable. As detailed below, you can make hearty meals, embellishments, or bowls, amongst other purposes. Read on to find a new way to appreciate the gourd.


As the name implies, these types of gourds make lovely decorations. The most common ornamental gourd you’ll find is the winged gourd. They can be smooth, bumpy, multicolored, plain orange, or yellow. The varieties for this gourd are seemingly endless! Daisy gourds are another striking variety. When viewed from above, the gourds appear to have a flower pattern with colors of white, yellow, green, and orange.

Four different orange pumpkin isolated on white background. Vector autumn collection. Garden vegetables harvest. Halloween theme


All the gourds that accompany fall flavors! To make spaghetti squash, wash, cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, then bake with a bit of butter in the hole in the center. Once it’s cooked, run a fork along the length of the squash. The fibers are about the same size as spaghetti noodles and will break apart. Once separated, add a bit of salt and pepper. For a succulent squash soup, peel the skin with a vegetable peeler and microwave for 5-6 minutes so that it is easier to cut. Place in a crock pot or soup pot with two cups of chicken stock, chives, butter, garlic salt, pepper, and a dash of dill. Acorn squash can also be roasted for a savory treat.


To make use of these types of gourds, one must begin by drying out the gourds. Gourds certainly take quite a while to dry, but when they do, you can make your gourd into anything you want! In the past, gourds have been used as bowls, ladles, and canteens. You can also use your dried gourd to make flower pots, vases, or whatever you think of! The key is to draw a line to cut the circumference of your chosen object, as it provides a guide to cut along and prevents any uneven layers. The best types of gourds for this purpose include canteen, bushel basket, and bottle.

Instructions to dry: Wash the exterior, rinse until water runs clear, and let dry (outside, preferably away from cold and sun). Best places to dry your gourds are in the garage or the barn on an even, elevated surface for six weeks, minimum (you can dry in your house, but just know that they will smell as they dry out!).

Scrape any mold off with a butter knife or wipe it off with a rag. Rotate the gourd every one to two weeks to ensure air circulation.

Alternative method (illustrated in photo on left*): Tie a string to the stalk and hang to dry in a well-ventilated building, from tree branches, or fencing. Drill three holes in the bottom of your gourd (use a nail) and weave a string through these holes and hang, so the holes face the floor. Place a plate or newspaper below the gourd to catch any moisture from the holes. May you celebrate fall in a squash-tacular way! Whether you make a delicious meal, cool craft, or decoration, may it bring joy to you and your family. Happy November everyone and thank you for reading this column! Want to re-read any of my old articles? Visit for archived articles or to suggest topics for me to write about

by Maxine Troxell

Thanksgiving is coming up, so what can you serve for dessert other than traditional pumpkin pie? A number of years ago, I ran across this show-stopper cake recipe in Gold Metals’ State Fair recipe book.  I made it one year for the Thurmont & Emmitsburg Community Show, and it won Reserve Champion Cake. It takes a little effort, but it is well worth the time. 

Grandma’s Thanksgiving Cake


   2 ½ cups sifted cake flour

   2 teaspoons baking soda

   2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

   1 teaspoon salt

2 cups sugar

                2 cups crushed vanilla wafers

   1 cup chopped pecans

   1 cup vegetable oil

   4 eggs

   1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin

½ cup caramel topping

1 cup pecan halves

Pumpkin candies, if desired


Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour three round cake pans, 8 x 1½ inches. Mix cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt; set aside. Beat cookies, chopped pecans and butter in a large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed, scraping bowl frequently until crumbly. Divide among pans; press evenly on bottoms of pans.

Beat sugar, oil, eggs, and pumpkin in same bowl on medium speed 1 minute, scraping bowl constantly. Gradually add flour mixture into pumpkin mixture on medium speed for 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour over pecan mixture in pans; spread evenly.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to a wire rack. Cool completely.

Frost with your favorite cream cheese or your favorite frosting.

Spread caramel topping over top edge of cake, allowing some to drizzle down sides. Arrange pecan halves and candies on top of cake. If you are using cream cheese frosting, you will need to store cake in the refrigerator.

by Ava Morlier, Culinary Arts Writer

Happy November! Today’s dish is a deliciously sweet way to start your day (and a great way to satisfy all your hungry relatives waiting for the Thanksgiving feast to come together): Stuffed French Toast!

French toast itself, is relatively simple to make (and I’m sure many of you at home are pros at making it). But stuffed French toast is actually much easier to make than it sounds. It can be made two ways: by sandwiching a filling (such as cream cheese) between two pieces of bread or by cutting a pocket in the bread and stuffing it with filling (such as banana slices). The secret to a restaurant-quality French toast is the bread. Texas toast (not the garlic-flavored frozen stuff found in the freezer section of your local supermarket), a thick sliced toast (usually found in the fresh baked bread section), allows for the batter to be absorbed well and gives the French toast an overall delicious thickness.

One final tip for French toast: don’t soak it! This really depends on preference, but if you don’t like soggy toast, do not let the bread soak for long. Dip the bread in the batter, allow to soak for 5-10 seconds, flip and let soak another 5-10 seconds, then pop it on the pan to cook. May this French toast recipe bring warm deliciousness to you and your loved ones on these chilly November mornings!

Strawberry Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast



3 eggs, beaten

½  c. half and half or whole milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 tsp. brown sugar


1 c. cream cheese

1 c. strawberries, chopped

¾ c. powdered sugar

Bread & topping

10 slices Texas toast-cut bread

Powdered sugar or maple syrup

Crushed almonds (optional)

Thinly sliced strawberries (optional)

3 tbsp. oil or butter (for frying)

Tools Needed

Liquid and dry measuring utensils, 2 small bowls, spoon, mixer and beaters, large shallow dish (ex. a pie pan), knife, large non-stick skillet, plate.


In a small bowl, mix filling together with a beater. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the batter together. Once well incorporated, pour into the shallow dish.

Take two pieces of bread. Spread a thick layer of the filling and sandwich it between two pieces of bread.

Dip in the batter. Let each side soak for 5-10 seconds.

Heat a skillet on medium-high heat. Coat surface with butter or oil.

Place bread on the skillet and cook until the sides are golden brown, about one minute per side.

Set on a plate. Garnish with toppings and enjoy!

Other ideas:

Eclair French toast-Nutella is used for the filling; the final product is garnished with crushed almonds, whipped cream and chocolate syrup. 

Extra chocolate French toast – chocolate syrup can be added to the French toast batter.

Banana French toast:  For the filling, use mashed banana and powdered sugar. Garnish with fresh banana slices and drizzle with caramel syrup.

*With credit to User Trish’s The BEST Stuffed French Toast recipe on

Airman First Class Ballenger

From Rocky Ridge to Japan …and Beyond

by Richard D. L. Fulton

Life-long Rocky Ridge resident, Emily Ballenger (pictured right), during a short two-year span during which she lived in Texas, decided to seek out a career move, and subsequently signed on with the United States Air Force.

Ballenger is the daughter of John and Linda Ballenger, owners of Buck Forest Farm in Rocky Ridge, which now also serves as her home. Her father served aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Saratoga in the 1960s.  Her brother, John “Jay” Ballenger, served in the Army in Afghanistan.

Ballenger signed up for the air service in Dallas in 2003 and trained at the Lackland, Texas, Air Force boot camp in Bexar County, Texas, for a half dozen weeks before being assigned to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi. 

Ballenger spent eight weeks in Biloxi, six weeks training and two additional weeks awaiting an assignment. When the assignment came through, she found herself enroute to Misawa Air Base, located in the northern part of the island of Honshu in Japan, where she was attached to the 35th Communication Squadron which is a component of the 35th Mission Support Group, 35th Fighter Wing. 

The base is a joint service installation and houses three United States military services—Air Force, Navy, and Army—as well as the Japan Air Self-Defense Force.  Ballenger noted that there were also American Marines located there.

She served as an Air Force administrative assistant/information manager. Ballenger described the installation as a “fairly large base… nicely laid out,” which was “very quiet.” She said the base was being constantly upgraded throughout the time she was there.

She was able to spend some time touring, her main form of off-base entertainment, and even purchased a motorcycle there for simply getting around, touring the area. “I loved it in Japan,” she said, adding, “The culture there is amazing.” 

Ballenger said that particular area of Japan is primarily agricultural, which made her feel more “at home” (the Buck Forest Farm being some 140 acres in size).  The town of Misawa, she said, was about the size of Thurmont, noting, “It was so nice. It was like being at home.”

She served in Japan two years before being discharged and sent home. The only downside to her service in Japan was contracting “stress-related arthritis and fibromyalgia, which resulted in her having been diagnosed as being 50 percent disabled.

Ballenger was honorably discharged from the Air Force at Misawa Air Base in August 2006.

Following her return to the United States, Ballenger served as a photographer for the (now defunct) Emmitsburg Dispatch, photography being among her obsessions. She now runs her own photography business, Twilight Photography, primarily focusing on outdoor events and subjects. 

“My love of photographing nature and horses brought me to share my passion with others,” she said, adding, “I would have to describe my photography style as a bit of photojournalism mixed with fine art and a sprinkle of spontaneity.”

Her other obsession includes horses. Her home, Buck Forest Farm, served as a boarding facility for horses for many years. Presently, Ballenger also offers riding instructions, and currently has three horses of her own.

She said her experience in the Air Force has “taught me a lot about integrity and working hard.” As an administrative business professional, she learned skills related to initiating and managing a business.

For more on Ballenger’s Twilight Photography, visit  For riding lessons, contact Emily Ballenger at 301-473-1504.

Make Vegetables, Fruits,  and Herbs Your Partner in Health

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

I just love how delicious and nutritious fresh vegetables from the garden are. Some of my favorites are vine-ripened tomatoes, just-harvested peaches and corn, also fresh herbs and spices.

Growing your own edible plants—whether in a backyard garden or a few pots on your windowsill—can be fun, rewarding, and healthful. You can even share your garden’s bounty with friends and neighbors.

“Gardening has many health benefits. It allows you to get outside, get active, and sit less, which might help to reduce stress,” says Dr. Philip Smith, a life-long gardener who oversees obesity research at NIH. “Gardening can also help to improve your diet if you eat more fruits and vegetables. They have a more intense flavor when ripe and freshly picked.”

The benefits of fruits and vegetables are that they are full of fiber and essential vitamins and minerals. Research has shown that eating fruits and vegetables as part of an overall healthy diet can reduce your risk for long-term diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer. The fiber in fruits and vegetables can help relieve constipation and normalize your bowel movements.

Fruits and vegetables may also help reduce your calorie intake—especially if they are replacing high-calorie, processed foods—to help you control your weight. Adding herbs and spices to your food gives it rich and interesting flavors without adding calories.

Gardening and growing herbs and spices can enhance your mental health as well. Studies have found that being physically active in natural environments—or even simple exposure to nature—can improve mood, reduce anxiety, and enhance self-esteem.

“Growing your own vegetables and digging into the dirt can increase physical activity and give one a feeling of well-being and a sense of connection to the Earth,” Smith says.

Children can also benefit from growing and caring for edible plants. Studies have found that kids involved with gardening programs tend to make healthier food choices, eat more fruits and vegetables, and have improved social skills.

“Gardening can help little children learn about growing and caring for things. They may find that they enjoy eating the fruits and vegetables they have grown themselves. And they may like eating the foods they know are good for them,” Smith says. “Adults, too, find they appreciate the many delicious tastes of fruits and vegetables that come fresh from the garden.”

Cancer survivors who took up gardening in a small NIH-funded study tended to have increased physical activity and vegetable intake, along with improved strength and endurance.

Another recently launched NIH study is looking at whether American Indian families who engage in community gardening will boost their fruit and vegetable intake and reduce their body weight.

“The researchers are also looking at whether gardening can lower blood pressure, increase hand strength, and lead to better mental and physical health,” says NIH’s Dr. Charlotte Pratt, who oversees research on nutrition, physical activity, and heart health.

“Americans generally don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables; it’s one of the major drawbacks of our diets today,” Pratt said.

The federal Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults who eat about 2,000 calories daily should eat about two-and-a-half cups of vegetables and two cups of fruit a day. However, only a small percentage of adults and children meet both fruit and vegetable recommendations.

When you choose your vegetables, try to eat an assortment of colors and types every day. Broccoli, spinach, collard greens, kale, and other dark leafy greens are good choices. Also, choose red and orange vegetables, such as tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, or red/orange peppers. Other great choices are eggplant and summer/ winter squash. Many of these are easy to grow at home.

“These are all good sources of vitamins, in general, including vitamins A and C, and they tend to be good sources of fiber as well,” Pratt says. “Some vegetables can also provide minerals, like potassium, iron, and calcium.”

The many nutrients in fruits and vegetables are essential to good health. If you are taking medications, though, ask your doctor if there are certain fruits and vegetables you should avoid because some plant-based products can interfere with how certain medicines work. For instance, grapefruit can interact with certain drugs, including some cholesterol, blood pressure, and allergy prescription medications.

“For people who take medications to prevent blood clots, problems might arise from eating dark green vegetables, which are rich in vitamin K,” Pratt said. Vitamin K helps to promote blood clotting, but blood thinners have the opposite effect. Foods rich in vitamin K include kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, and some types of lettuce.

“Herbs and spices have long been used to flavor foods. And they’ve been used since ancient times for medicinal purposes as well,” said Dr. Craig Hopp, an expert in herbal products research at NIH.

When you grow herbs in your garden or in windowsill containers, you can easily add them to your meals and create a great taste. Plus, you can freeze or dry your herbs to have them all year round. You can also grow them all year round inside in colder climates.

If you think that you do not have space for a backyard garden, think again.

“Some vegetables like tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, potatoes, kale, and peppers don’t require much space,” stated Smith. These vegetables can easily be grown in pots or small gardens. “You can also try growing hanger tomatoes, which can be suspended from your deck or porch.”

Wherever you get your fresh fruit and vegetables, whether from your own back yard, a farmer’s market, or a store, make sure you and your family eat plenty of fruits and vegetables every day.

   Think it is too cold outside to get fruits and vegetables? If industrious, you can freeze or can a lot of them that you grow or purchase when in season. You can also purchase frozen vegetables and fruits from the frozen section at the store where you shop.

Take the colder months to plan a garden, whether it is a small plot in your backyard or in containers, and decide what you would like to start growing in the spring. Also, do not forget about the herbs and spices you can grow all year inside your home.  

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 in Frederick. Check out the website at

jEanne Angleberger,   

Shaklee Associate for a Healthier Life

Do you find yourself eating differently around your family and your friends? Our food choices can be influenced by the company we share at the table. Studies have shown that we tend to eat more when we are with friends and family than when we eat alone. In addition, the quantity of food we eat usually increases as the number of people eating with us grows.

People in our social networks can influence what food we eat, both healthy and unhealthy.

Socially, we may be encouraged to eat what everyone is eating, even if regularly we might now choose to eat that category of food. This can occur more often than not when a group is having a meal together at a restaurant.

Furthermore, whether right or wrong, people eating “healthy” foods tend to be more positive than those who don’t and tend to feel better overall. So, can my healthy eating influence others to begin making better food choices? The answer is yes. Have healthy food choices at your house and when friends or family come over, offer them to your guests. Put out nutritious items to snack on, like low-fat dairy products, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

Personally, I believe people want to be healthy. Being a positive influence on others provides an incentive. Therefore, it creates a desire to consider making healthy food choices.

The company we keep at the table can influence our food choices. Eating healthy is the best choice for us and can benefit us, both physically and mentally!

by Valerie Nusbaum

My mother passed away recently, and as lots of you know from your own experience with loss, this is a very difficult time. I hope you’ll indulge me as I share some thoughts and memories of happy times with Mom.

Autumn was my mom’s favorite time of year. She loved it when the nights got cooler, and the leaves turned vibrant, beautiful colors. She and I took at least one leaf-peeping ride through the mountains every year and each time she’d exclaim that that year was more colorful than the last. Now, I’ll think of Mom every year when the leaves change colors and will miss our outings.

Mom loved all the fall holidays, but she had a special fondness for Halloween, particularly in her later years. Since Randy and I live on a corner in a well-lit housing development with sidewalks, we tend to get trick-or-treaters in droves. Most of the kids aren’t from our neighborhood, and we rarely know any of them, but most years, we try to have candy and treats on hand for at least the first 300 or so.  Mom enjoyed coming here for trick-or-treat, and she always contributed candy to the pot. We started this tradition when she was around 70 years old. We kept it up through last year when she got too tired to sit at her post and had to quit before the candy ran out. Mom’s “post” was sitting in our living room in the middle of our big bay window.  I’d place a chair there for her so that she could see everything and everyone on the street and in our driveway. She was a good sport and dressed up in any costume I had for her. I’d decorate the window to match a given year’s theme, and Mom played along. 

One year, I made her an owl with a feathered mask and wings.  She was a spider woman once, and another time, a witch. Mom sat amid the spider webs and varmints, and she used a flashlight held under her chin to scare the kids. She cracked herself up. She especially loved looking at the little ones’ costumes, and year after year, she fussed about the big kids being too old. Mom could always be counted on to say, “Well, what’s that baby going to do with the candy? He doesn’t even have teeth yet.” Randy, bless him, sat on the steps beneath the bay window to pass out treats so that Mom could be right on top of things without getting cold.

Each Halloween, I tried to make a little party for us, and I always had themed snacks like Jack o’lantern pizza, bat sandwiches, and werewolf fingers dipped in “blood.” Every fall, without fail, I could look forward to a batch of Mom’s pumpkin muffins and a breakfast of pumpkin pancakes. My mother started that whole pumpkin spice thing. I’m going to miss those muffins and pancakes. My own will never taste as good.

One year, I threw a family party for Halloween. My cousins made the trip here from three states away, along with my two aunts from Jefferson County, West Virginia. Things were going along pretty well until Randy brought out his picture search game.  He’d printed a holiday drawing off the internet, but he unintentionally cut the bottom off the picture so no one was able to find several of the items in the search. It was getting pretty noisy, and then Mom couldn’t figure out the word search, and she insisted that the word haunted was nuthead. The next thing I knew, Mom was having a full-blown attach of vertigo, and we had to call the ambulance. You know it’s a good party when the paramedics show up.

There were other Halloween parties, too.  One year, Mom dressed as a fortune teller and read everyone’s palm while looking in her crystal ball. Since the crystal ball was actually a glass paperweight with a rose inside it, everyone’s life was going to be rosy.

Another year, Mom participated in trick-or-treat at her home in Brunswick. There weren’t too many kids, but Mom ran out of candy anyway—probably because my dad (who was still with us at the time) had eaten most of it. Mom made poor Randy go down to her basement and dig through the freezer for candy that she had frozen to avoid eating. One poor kid got a wrapped, frozen Santa in his bag.

For another Halloween treat, Randy and I took Mom to the Sea Witch Festival in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. It was a fun time for us, but Mom saw a whole lot of things that shocked her, and she didn’t want to go back there the following year.

My mother so loved going to the Halloween Spirit store in Charles Town. I could hear her all over the store, jumping up and down and laughing. The clerk heard it, too, and asked me if I needed to go check on my child. I explained that what she heard was my then 85-year-old mother. Mom was too little to activate the sensors just by stepping on them, so she had to jump on them in order to make the figures move and make noise. She was child-like in her delight of things, and I’ll miss that most of all. 

Happy Halloween to all of you!

Valerie’s mom, Wanda Zombro, and a mystery man at Halloween 2018.

by James Rada, Jr.

October 1922, 100 Years Ago

Mule Kicked Him

Last week Mr. George Stevens, of Creagerstown, got too close to the heels of one of his mules, and said mule “busted him one” on the point of the jaw. Mr. Stevens says he had stooped over for some reason or other and evidently touched the mule on the hind leg. He received an ugly cut on the chin, but otherwise escaped injury.

                                          – Catoctin Clarion, October 12, 1922

First Auto Races at Frederick

The six racing events last Saturday, under the auspices of the International Motor Contest Association, was the first auto racing held in Frederick and its popularity was evidenced by the large crowd present. Seven registered, professional, dirt track drivers were entered and some clever machine handling was seen. Cash prizes totaling $2,500 were given the winners.

                                          – Catoctin Clarion, October 26, 1922

October 1947, 75 Years Ago

Man is Charged with Attack on Hospital Nurse

Charles Lester Jones, 34, Hagerstown, said to have a lengthy criminal record, was in jail in Hagerstown Wednesday night under $2,000 bond on several assault charges as the result of a State Police investigation of an alleged assault on a nurse’s aid and the chief engineer at the new State chronic disease hospital at Camp Ritchie Tuesday night.

                                          – Frederick News, October 22, 1947

Minister Leaving Jefferson Charge

Rev. Edwin L. Werner, pastor of Jefferson-Feagaville charge of Evangelical and Reformed church, has tendered his resignation in order to become pastor of St. Andrew’s church at Philadelphia, Pa. The resignation was submitted at a meeting of the Consistory on Tuesday night.

Rev. Mr. Werner has held pastorates in Frederick County for a total of seven years, first coming to Sabillasville, and later two years at Jefferson.

                                     – Frederick News, October 27, 1947

October 1972, 50 Years Ago

Graceham Church To Celebrate 214th Anniversary Sunday; Dedicate Memorial

On Sunday, October 8, at 3 p.m., the Moravian Church of Graceham, Md., will be celebrating its 214th Anniversary and dedicating the Huebener Christian Education Memorial. Preceeding the service a brass quartet will play traditional American and German Chorale tunes.

The Congregation was organized in 1758 and through the years some structural changes have taken place; however, recently the Christian Education wing has been redecorated and certain parts restored. Among other things the restoration included the discovery of three fireplaces.

                                          – Emmitsburg Chronicle, October 5, 1972

William Sanders Knight Of The Year

William Sanders, Sr., was awarded the 15th annual Knight of the Year Award at the Brute Council 1860 Knights of Columbus “Knight of the Year” dinner-dance, held last Saturday evening at the VFW in Emmitsburg.

                                          – Emmitsburg Chronicle, October 12, 1972

October 1997, 25 Years Ago

Town To Meet With BOE, BOCC to Press for Middle School Return

A follow-up meeting regarding the erosion of Emmitsburg’s elementary school population and the possibilities of regaining its middle school will be held at the Emmitsburg Elementary School on Oct. 23, at 7:00 p.m. The meeting was scheduled as a result of this community’s request “to give us back our kids.”

                                          – The Emmitsburg Regional Dispatch, October 1997

Interfaith Housing Location Challenged

At the Town’s Public Workshop held September 16 at the VFW, residents of the Silo Hill neighborhood expressed overwhelming opposition to the development of an affordable housing community next to their subdivision.

The housing project is being planned by Interfaith Housing of Western Maryland, a nonprofit organization created by the religious community of Western Maryland. There are currently five Interfaith Housing projects located within Frederick County.

“As noble as the cause may be, take it somewhere else,” was the message given to Peter Dean, project manager, by many of the residents. “We’re not rejecting what you’re proposing,” one resident said, “but feel it is just the wrong location.” A decrease in their property value was the main concern of the residents.

                                          – The Emmitsburg Regional Dispatch, October 1997

the unsolved murder That Haunted Hagerstown

by James Rada, Jr.

It seems Betty Jane Kennedy of Hagerstown was doomed to lead a short life, but her death continued to haunt Hagerstown for years afterward.

When Betty Jane was just six years old in 1933, a car on West Washington Street hit her. She suffered cuts and a fractured skull. This accident was her fault, though. The police report noted Betty ran out in front of the car, which caused the accident.

She recovered from her injuries, only to suffer a worse fate later.

On April 4, 1946, Martin Benchoff, a farmer who lived near the Maryland-Pennsylvania State Line, found the body of a young woman laying face down and against a log at the bottom of an embankment next to the Waynesboro-Rouzerville Highway in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. The woman was also nude, except for a pink slip that was twisted around her body and up under her arms.

Benchoff said “he was attracted to the scene when he noticed a woman’s faded coat hanging from a tree,” reported to the Hagerstown Daily Mail. The coat had a store label for Leiter Brothers in it which gave police a clue to try to identify the woman. A brown leather purse found about a mile away and believed to be the woman’s had no identification in it.

The body was taken to Grove Funeral Home in Waynesboro.

The following day, Hagerstown Police, following up on a missing persons report, identified the dead woman as Betty Jane Kennedy, a 19-year-old Hagerstown waitress. She had been missing for five days after leaving home following an argument with her older sister.

The body was transported to Hagerstown so the family could arrange funeral services. In the meantime, an autopsy showed Betty Jane had been strangled and her neck was broken. Although she was nude, she had not been raped.

“There was some reason to believe that the victim had been alive when thrown onto the embankment, however,” the Daily Mail reported.

Washington County Sheriff John B. Huyett said Betty Jane appeared to have been dead 12 to 14 hours when she was found. This meant that she had been murdered during the evening of April 3.

Police in Maryland and Pennsylvania both investigated the case, because although Betty Jane had been found in Pennsylvania, it was barely over the state line. Police weren’t sure where she had been killed, among other questions.

Betty Jane was last seen alive around 11:30 p.m. the night before her body was found. She left a South Potomac Street restaurant in Hagerstown with a man no one knew. A waitress at the restaurant said he resembled Earl J. McFarland, an escaped killer and rapist from Washington, D.C., who was believed to be in the area.

Police quickly pulled in two men for questioning. One man, who was a taxi driver, who witnesses had seen with Betty Jane the last time she was seen alive. An associate who corroborated the man’s alibi said he was working, but the man’s boss said he wasn’t. Police also discovered the taxi driver had taken a pair of blood-stained pants and a jacket to the dry cleaner the day after Betty Jane’s death. Capt. William H. Peters of the Hagerstown Police said these two facts would require a lot of explanation on the taxi driver’s part.

A security soldier at Walter Reed who had been AWOL during the time of Betty Jane’s death underwent a lie detector test to prove he hadn’t been in the area.

By April 12, police had questioned 33 people and interviewed hundreds. “Captain Peters said several of the witnesses reversed or changed their stories yesterday when they learned of the possibility of the use of the ‘lie detector,’ and the fact that the alibis and stories are being changed ‘leads us to believe this man knows something about the case,’” the Daily Mail reported.

The cabbie said the blood on his jacket and pants was from the bloody nose of a drunk passenger. McFarland, who was never seriously considered a suspect, was captured in Tennessee and had not set foot in Maryland.

By April 15, police were trying to stay optimistic, but the investigation was going nowhere. They did not have a serious suspect, and a lot of unanswered questions remained. Where had Betty Jane spent her nights between the time she left home and the time she died? Where were the rest of her clothes? Where was she killed?

Two weeks after Betty Jane’s murder, the Washington County Sheriff offered a $400 reward for information leading to the murderer’s arrest and conviction. Of this amount, the sheriff offered $300 from his own pocket because the county commissioners could only offer $100 by law.

Around this time, a woman found a pair of shoes near where Betty Jane’s purse was found. Investigators believed the shoes were Betty Jane’s.

Police continued investigating but made no leads or arrests. The lead detective, Carl Hartman, retired in 1948. He said the case was still active, but with his retirement, it went very cold. Nearly 1,000 people had been interviewed or questioned among the seven investigative agencies in two states (FBI, Maryland State Police, Pennsylvania State Police, Hagerstown Police, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, and Waynesboro Police) with no strong suspects.

Not that there weren’t theories about what happened.

One theory said Betty Jane was killed in a hotel because she saw something she shouldn’t have. Her body was then lowered through a window to the ground, loaded into a car, and driven away. This theory got a boost when a red dress was discovered during the Potomac Hotel remodeling in 1951. It disappeared by the time the police arrived at the hotel to investigate if it was connected to the murder.

One man confessed to the killing before dying of natural causes, but it turned out he hadn’t been in the area at the time of the murder.

“Although Betty Jane wasn’t rich, exceptionally beautiful, or murdered in some unusual way, the case became one of the best publicized murders in this area during the 20th century, because of the vast scope of the investigation that followed,” the Daily Mail reported in 1976.

The murder remains unsolved today.

by Ana Morlier

Weird and Wonderful Plants

Happy Halloween month, readers! Are you mentally prepared for the trials and tribulations of Halloween? From accumulating costumes to satisfying the pop-culture preferences of the whole family to making Pinterest-ready treats, one’s patience and mental capacity are stretched rather thin. Decorations are an entirely separate matter, as everyone is decking out their lawns and houses with all manner of monsters and inflatables. Have no fear, as this month’s column will give you a unique set of decorations that will be sure to surpass your neighbor’s eerie interior design. These plants enhance the sensory fears of Halloween. With unusual silhouettes, deep, drab color palettes (black prince snapdragons), putrid smells (Voodoo Lily), and unusual textures (Frankenstein cactus), you’ll be sure to scare guests with an all-new, organic level of terror, aside from the usual petrification that spawns from examining the receipt at the Halloween store. Here are my favorite spooky plants!

Bat flower plant (pictured right) is native to Australia and Asia, so growing it in a separate container is advised to prevent overpopulation and invasion. The plant earns its name from the long, black petals of the blooming flower that looks like bat wings or ears, as the seed pods give the illusion of eyes and a jaw. It is also known as “tiger beard” due to the long bracteoles that protrude from the center of the flower. It is, indeed, a spooky plant and may even shock guests with its unusual silhouette. Surprisingly enough, this is a perennial, so it will haunt your enclave year after year! Grow in partial sun, in well-draining soil, and keep the soil moist throughout the day. You can expect blooms in late summer and fall. Keep in warmer parts of your house, as it thrives in temperatures 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also use fertilizer for orchids to enhance plant growth.

Voodoo lily (A. henryi), also known as the devil’s tongue lily, bears a creepy color palette (ranging from a deep crimson to a dark mauve) and profile. Be warned: it does emanate the unsettling smell of a rotting carcass to allure a different sort of pollinator. As bees and butterflies merely pollinate more colorful flowers, the voodoo lily adapts so that insects usually attracted to the smell of decomposing animals pollinate it. Its dark, lengthy spadix- or central stalk common in Lillies, both emanates the smell and warrants its name, as it looks like quite the wicked tongue. Grow in well-draining, sandy soil in partial to full shade. Grow in temperatures 60 degrees or higher. Like the bat flower, let the soil dry out between waterings, as too much watering can lead to root rot. Requires mild-to-high humidity which can be accomplished with a humidifier or by misting the leaves.

Black prince snapdragons aren’t exactly creepy plants, but the deep, blood-red blooms certainly add to any mysterious color scheme! Grow in well-draining soil. Let the soil dry out until your next watering (moisten but not soak soil), avoiding watering blooms. Grow in full sun to partial shade. Expect blooms in the fall.

Cotton ball cacti (also known as old man cactus) have the appearance of a fluffy ghost and can be made quite friendly with the addition of googly eyes. Grow in well-drained soil and water every 2-3 days. Requires more water in the summer.

The Frankenstein cactus bears both a creepy name and an unusual shape. Out of its thick green stem protrudes a fan-like alabaster crest, lined with pink and crimson borders. It is certainly “out of this world.” Grow in full sun to partial shade, in an area with medium to high humidity and airflow, watering only when soil is dry.

Hopefully, these plants will make a small dent in your list of decorating to-dos. Whether you go for an all-out spooky theme of voodoo lilies and bat flowers or a friendlier, pleasant theme of cotton ball cacti and black prince snapdragons, you’ll be sure to make a statement, perhaps as a mini shop of horrors, minus Audrey II’s “feed me Seymour” vocalizations (unless you’ve majorly neglected your plants!). May your Halloween be entertaining and enjoyable.

Credit to: Cayla Leonard from Happy Sprout, Amanda Welch of We are Huntsville, Cynthia Haynes from Iowa State University, World of Succulents, Epic Gardening, and Peg Aloi, Marie Iannotti, and Jamie McIntosh from The Spruce.