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by Randy Nusbaum

The year was 2020 as Christmas Eve was settling into the frost-covered Catoctin Mountains. The air was crisp, the Christmas lights glowing, the soft church bells echoing in the distance. The cool night air was filled with the warm aroma of pies, cakes, and Christmas Eve dinners. The hustle of the day was past, the excitement of the coming day starting to build. There was a comforting calmness wrapping its arms around the night. The jolly ‘ole elf stood on the corner, taking in the magic of the night.

St. Nick pondered that the year had been like no other. The routine of everyday life turned upside down. The peculiarity of shutdowns, closings, sheltering, social distancing, and covering our faces, offering up new challenges to folks’ traditional level of contentment. Questions looming, “Would our lives ever be the same?” As he often did, Nick wondered what possible gift he could bring this year to ease the burden.

As St. Nick strolled the quiet streets, he observed the last-minute preparations. Through the windows, he could see parents smiling as they placed gifts under the trees while the children slept. There was the occasional flutter of curtains in rooms where children pretended to sleep in an effort to catch a glimpse as he passed by.

Then it occurred to him, the gift had been arriving throughout the year. As folks adjusted their lives, they were spending more and more time in a place called home. Spending more time enjoying what they had, the things they worked so hard for throughout the year. Spending more time with their spouses, children, and families, something many had lost sight of in their busy lives. This gave Nick pause to smile before continuing on his Christmas journey.

From one Santa to another, this Christmas, take time to enjoy your homecoming. And in the immortal words of Tiny Tim: “God bless us, everyone.”

                                                ~Merry Christmas

by James Rada, Jr.

December 1920, 100 Years Ago

Pike Purchased

Yesterday, December 15th, if reports be correct, the last tollgate in the county closed the pike from Woodsboro to Frederick for the last time. After considerable talking and scheming to get rid of this gate, the State Roads Commission finally purchased the pike, 3.26 miles, for the sum of $40,000. The pike begins at Fifth and Market streets in Frederick and runs to the Monocacy bridge at or near Ceresville. The receipts received at this gate in the year 1919 are given as $11,375.99, and for the year 1920 to December 1st, $10,779.51.

                                          – Catoctin Clarion, December 16, 1920

Maj. Geo. T. Castle Dead

After an illness[s] of many months, Major George T. Castle, of Thurmont, died at the home of his sister, Mrs. W. W. Zimmerman, W. Main street, about six p.m. Thursday, November 25, 1920.

Major Castle was a veteran of the civil war and was in the service during the four years. He was a member of Company A, of Frederick. On November 26, 1862, he was promoted to the rank of captain, and was made a major August 16, 1865. He was Commander of Jason Damuth Post No. 80, G. A. R. of Thurmont, for the past five years, and was assistant inspector for the Department of Maryland at the time of his death. He was aged 79 years, 2 months and 7 days.

                                          – Catoctin Clarion, December 2, 1920

December 1945, 75 Years Ago

Emmitsburg High School Has Orchestra

The Emmitsburg high school orchestra, under the direction of Charles C. T. Stull, has been organized for 1945-46. There are beginners, juniors and seniors. The beginners’ orchestra will be started in the near future.

                                          – Gettysburg Times, December 18, 1945

Thurmont Soldier Smuggles German Dog Home Safely

A Thurmont soldier, Pfc. Ellis Rice, finally succeeded in smuggling home a young German female for the holidays, after various strategy needed to get her across the Atlantic and in a Blue Ridge bus where pups don’t usually find a welcome.

Pfc. Rice, a veteran of the 80th U. S. Infantry, said he found “Mickey” the day she was born in Bamberg, Germany. He rolled the dog into his overcoat to get her aboard the transport that brought him back to this country, sharing his food with her and enlisting the aid of other GI’s to keep her hidden during the crossing.

No one objected to the Dachshund on the troop train to Fort Meade, however, and after some delay in Baltimore, a Blue Ridge driver looked the other way to allow the soldier and his dog to ride home.

                                          – Hagerstown Morning Herald, December 27, 1945

December 1970, 50 Years Ago

Town To Enforce Peddlers’ Ordinance

The possibility of creating a nice ice skating area on Flat Run was discussed at the regular meeting of the Mayor and Commissioners held Monday evening in the Town Office, Chairman of the Board J. N. Flax presiding.

The discussion brought into consideration the sandbagging and backing up of water in Flat Run in East End. This section was recently dredged and cleaned and would provide several hundred feet of good skating area once freezing weather was here to stay.

                                          – Emmitsburg Chronicle, December 11, 1970

Slow-Moving Vehicles Must Be Marked

Commissioner of Motor Vehicles Ejner J. Johnson this week reminded owners of slow-moving vehicles that, effective January 1, 1971, their vehicles must be equipped with the uniform slow-moving vehicle symbol in order to operate legally upon the highways of Maryland.

Commissioner Johnson noted that the new law specifies that it is illegal to operate “any vehicle or combination of vehicles which is designed to be and is operated at a speed of 25 miles per hour or less, unless the rear-most vehicle displays a ‘slow-moving vehicle emblem’.”

The emblem is an equilateral triangle 14 inches in height with a red reflective border not less than one and three-quarters inches in width with a fluorescent orange center.

                                          – Emmitsburg Chronicle, December 11, 1970

December 1995, 25 Years Ago

Water Distribution Problems Limit Town’s Growth and Development

Continuing problems with the town’s water treatment facility and water distribution system force a moratorium on growth and development within the corporate limits of Emmitsburg. Resolution 95-16, adopted by the town commissioners at the November town meeting, halts expansion while necessary work is completed.

The quality of drinking water is lowered by the presence of rust in older iron distribution lines. Plans and funding are in place to replace 12,400 feet of water lines. As a temporary solution, residents of affected areas have been supplied with water filters until the new lines can be installed.

                          – The Emmitsburg Regional Dispatch, December 1995

Up-County To Get New Building

A ground-breaking ceremony for the new home of the Up-County Family Center (UCFC) was held November 20, 1995, at 303 W. Lincoln Avenue in Emmitsburg. The town of Emmitsburg will own the facility which will be leased by the Up-County Family Center and the counseling services of Associated Catholic Charities.

                          – The Emmitsburg Regional Dispatch, December 1995

by Valerie Nusbaum

Okay, my friends, I hate to call anyone out, but quite frankly, I’m tired of all the whining and complaining about being forced to stay home and spend time with family. Yes, this pandemic situation has gone on way too long, and, yes, we’re all tired of not being able to live our lives the way we’d like, but this is the way things are going to be for the foreseeable future. With that in mind, I’m taking it upon myself to offer some instruction and tips for surviving the holidays in quarantine mode. 

First, let’s discuss gifts and shopping. Most of your holiday shopping should be done online to avoid crowd situations. In order to ensure that your family’s gifts will arrive in time for Christmas morning, you should order them in April. What? You didn’t do that? Neither did I. My family is getting gifts from Dollar Tree. I recently found out that I’m getting a Halloween throw for Christmas from my mom. She ordered it in July, and it just arrived. I’m also getting a lovely green quilt that Mom ordered for her own bed, only to find out that it was too big and heavy for her to deal with. In return, I get to buy my mother a bedspread more to her liking. At least now I know what she wants.  Don’t you feel silly for complaining about YOUR situation?

Another great gift idea is to give the gift of sanitation. Who knew that toilet paper and hand wipes would be the gifts we’d be asking for? A nice basket filled with all sorts of soaps and cleaning products, paper towels, and PPE is sure to elicit smiles and sighs of pleasure.

This year, it might also be a nice idea to thank the essential workers in your life, and I’m including the folks at the grocery stores, the fast food drive-thrus, and the postal workers, as well as medical professionals, law enforcement, and firefighters. Say “thank you” to anyone who’s helped you get through this mess. I’ll gift as many as possible even if it’s just handing out individually wrapped and sanitized candy canes.

At this point, we should talk about holiday refreshments and libations. I would not recommend that you add liquor to your eggnog. A few years ago, we got into trouble with that. There is a very nice drink called a Kris Kringle, made by adding cranberry juice to Prosecco. It’s pretty and looks like sparkling grape juice, which is what you can tell the kids you’re drinking. Shop smartly, though, and have a bottle or two of the grape juice on hand. Kids aren’t as dumb as you think.

Since we’ve been eating like little piggies all spring and summer long, maybe we should rethink the huge holiday meals and the baking frenzy that we traditionally associate with this season. Let’s make a nice tossed salad, grill some fish or chicken, and eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Don’t worry. I’m only messing with you.  Eat all you want and enjoy it. We have the added bonus this year of not having to wear pants at home, so it won’t matter if they don’t fit.  The grocery stores have done a good job of keeping shelves stocked and keeping food available in these difficult circumstances. It was dicey at first, but things have improved.  You’ve probably racked up lots of grocery points, so grab a free turkey and a cheap ham and make soups and casseroles to get you through the winter months. Randy is trying his hand at baking, and he’s doing a lot more of the cooking around here. He’s getting better at it, and I’m enjoying a nice break from the kitchen.

Decorate your home with whatever you have on hand. Use fresh greens from your yard (or the neighbors’ yards if you’re stealthy) and fruit and nuts from the markets. You can do all sorts of arts and crafts with the kids. Last year, Randy made some Christmas trees out of green wired tomato cages. They were so silly that I laughed every time I saw them. 

Randy and I have been very busy filling orders this season since more people are shopping online.  We created a tree ornament in the shape of a face mask, and I’m working on a Dr. Fauci bobblehead doll. If you push the little button on the bottom, you’ll hear the good doctor’s voice rasping, “Wear your mask @#%$&**!”  If you can sew, you might make some masks for your friends and family.  I don’t sew well, but I’ve made dozens of them. Some of them are painful to wear, but beggars can’t be choosers.

I feel certain that Randy will don his Santa suit on Christmas Eve, as he does every year. This year, though, he will likely only wear the jacket, wig, beard and hat. Pants, as always, are optional.  He may or may not take his annual midnight walk through the neighborhood this year, but if he does, I hope he remembers to cover himself. No child wants to remember Santa that way.

I want to give a shout-out to Jen Shesman, who took the time to write some very nice things about my column, and I truly appreciate it. Thank you, Jen!

My family and I are wishing all of you a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season. I’m hoping we all get through it and can find some things to laugh about.

The Year is…1853

by James Rada, Jr.

Cholera Kills Dozens in Emmitsburg

In July 1853, Emmitsburg residents started getting sick and dying. According to James Helman’s History of Emmitsburg, the first victim was an African American, named Isaac Norris.

Helman wrote, “…he was taken early in the night in a stable and died there; black men attended him, not knowing the disease; whether the doctor did or not, I am not prepared to say. Suffice it to say, he died during the night and was buried in Dr. Patterson’s field.”

Five people died during the first week as officials tried to determine the cause. They realized it was cholera, an intestinal infection. The most common symptom is a lot of watery diarrhea that lasts for days. The diarrhea can lead to severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. These symptoms can result in sunken eyes, cold skin, a wrinkling of the hands and feet, and bluish skin.

The cause of cholera is often unsafe water or food that has been contaminated by the bacteria. Poor sanitation and insufficient clean drinking water often led to cholera outbreaks in the 1800s.

The Gettysburg Compiler reported that 45 people in town and the surrounding area died. Victims included Dr. A. Taney and his wife; Joseph Moritz; Mrs. Agnew, a resident in the Eagle hotel; Rev. Thomas McCaffery; George Mentzer; and Samuel Morrison, according to Helman.

Rev. Thomas McCaffrey was a professor at Mount St. Mary’s College. The Story of the Mountain notes “…when the cholera broke out, he went to visit some of his former parishioners and townsmen who were taken down. He caught the disorder and died at the College, a martyr of charity, the glory of the Mountain village. Strange to say, his death was the only one on this side of Tom’s Creek.”

Besides the dying, many people were left sick and in a weak condition.

Some people tried to downplay the severity of the problem. A resident wrote a letter to the Adams County Sentinel saying, “Emmitsburg and the country around are as healthy as they ever were, fully as healthy as any other place in the Union.” The writer also tried to find other explanations of why people were dying, noting that George Mentzer had a stroke and Agnes Brown died of dropsy.

As the outbreak stretched into August, it became obvious that Emmitsburg had a problem.

Those who weren’t sick tried their best to help those who were sick. The Emmitsburg Chronicle noted in a 1951 article that the Rev. G. W. Aughinbaugh of the Reformed Church “evinced no small degree of courage and self-sacrifice in ministering to the suffering during its entire course.”

The Lancaster Daily Intelligencer reported on August 23, “A physician recently returned from Emmitsburg states that during the prevalence of the Cholera at that place, of which nearly forty persons have perished, but which is now abating, the water of several wells was found to be deleteriously affected, and also that a number of lower animals, reptiles, etc, have been found dead.”

“It continued dry the entire summer and very hot until the middle of September, when a very severe thunderstorm passed this way, drenching the earth and washing the surface as it had not been for many months. After this rain, no new cases occurred,” Helman wrote.

Helman notes the problem was in the well water and that once the town started relying on mountain water, such problems were overcome.

In early September, the Adams County Sentinel reported, “There have been no cases of cholera here for two weeks. Our town is very healthy at present, and most all of those who had left have returned. There were about forty-five deaths in all—town and country—from the commencement of the disease till the decline.”

The Chronicle noted in 1911 that the cholera epidemic was “instrumental in reducing our population from 700 to 350.” It was a drop in population that the town didn’t recover from until the early 1880s, according to U.S. Census data.

Cholera Bacteria Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

by Priscilla Rall

Playing Ball in Germany

Seventy-Five Years Ago

Seventy-five years ago, where were you? My father, Captain J. E. Rall, was in post-war Germany, an army doctor stationed in Nuremburg amongst the ruins of a once-great city. I wasn’t even born yet. Thousands of thankful American soldiers didn’t have to fight any longer. The war was over, and the killing ended.

One of those happy soldiers was the late Ronald Charles Manning. He was born on July 27, 1915, in Pennsylvania and grew up in rural western Maryland. His family ran a small market in Clear Spring. Ron was a married man of 28 when he was drafted. With two young daughters and one on the way, he was not anxious for combat. But he put in his time, and now there was peace. Ron and a group of “high pointers” were marking time until they could return stateside. He had accumulated 87 points (for the Silver Stars, battles fought, and dependents). A high-ranking officer told the men they needed to be “in training.” That didn’t sit too well with the battle-hardened men. Ron told the officer he had two years of training (an understatement), and he didn’t need anymore. What they needed was a few baseball bats, balls, and gloves, and they would stay out of trouble. A few days later, much to his surprise, the sports gear arrived. So, 75 years ago, Ron and his men spent three months playing ball until they were finally sent home in December 1945.

When the troopship carrying Ron pulled into New York, no crowds or ceremonies marked his homecoming, only Lady Liberty welcomed him home and his beloved wife, Nancy, who had given birth to their third child, alone. She had raised their three young girls while staying with her parents, and they ran their small grocery store in Clear Spring. Now they were together again. Nancy never asked Ron about his time at war. Ron never told her of his experiences. Words always failed him, but he never forgot the horrors of war. He had the scarred and numb fingers from frostbite to remind him.

He had been in England when he heard of the Normandy invasion, but he “didn’t think much of it.” Soon, he realized that he would soon be there himself. He was with the Tank Corps 6th Armored Division, the “Super Sixth.” D-Day plus three found Ron landing at Utah Beach. He saw the remnants of the assault… “It was terrible.” The destruction from the massive bombing and shelling shocked him. There was still strong enemy resistance, and the objective of St. Lo wasn’t realized until mid-July. Ron and his division then fought the retreating Germans south to Brest. After the Germans at Brest finally surrendered, he vividly remembered seeing hundreds of German POWs, mainly old men.

Eventually, his division moved through France to Belgium. It was then that the German breakout known as the Battle of the Bulge began, threatening the entire Allied effort. Ron and his troops were clothed only in summer uniforms. When Gen. George Patton was informed of this problem, he said that they had no choice but to go to the aid of the besieged troops at Bastogne. Ron noted that “it wouldn’t have mattered if we were naked; Patton would have sent them anyway.” Wearing only summer pants, a thin Eisenhower jacket, and a trench coat not designed for combat, the troops fought bravely. When the winds and snow were too much, they would dig a trench and run a tank over it, providing shelter for three men, as well as a target for the enemy. More often than not, they simply slept in their sleeping bags in shallow foxholes and would wake up covered with newly fallen snow. They had no hot food, just C-rations, and even those became scarce as the fighting raged on. Once, when Ron was sent into Bastogne to get mail for his company, a shell burst, narrowly missing him—but he did get the mail for his unit.

Ron and his company were defending Hill 510. When asked what was on that hill, Ron replied, “Nothing.” But, in fact, it was a strategic spot that defended a vital crossroad just northeast of Bastogne. One night, Ron noticed some moving figures, vaguely silhouetted against a nearby row of cedars. Then he saw what he thought looked like enemy tanks slowly moving towards his position. Ron tried to contact his command post, but the communications were down, so he ran through the dark to alert the command. Racing back, he discovered the wires had been broken from the recent shelling. Quickly repairing them, he returned to his company and roused his men, even pounding on tanks to wake the drivers. His company, now aware of the German offensive, spent the next three days and nights defending Hill 510. They were successful. It was for this that Sgt. Manning earned a Silver Star Commendation.

Finally, the German offensive was defeated, but the war continued. Ron didn’t remember the names of all of the towns, rivers, and cities where he fought. It was simply one battle after another. As a platoon sergeant, he once discovered a German pillbox that had gone undetected. He led his men in a successful machine gun assault of the enemy position. On a later mission, his platoon returned one man short. Ron and another soldier (Johnny Cash’s uncle) set out to retrieve the missing man. After going a half-mile, Ron told Cash to wait there and to cover him as he continued the search. Ron finally found his man lying against a cedar tree, wounded in the head and moaning. Ron hoisted him on his shoulders and began to carry him to safety. He trudged through the snow, with enemy bullets ringing around him. Ron eventually had to lay the wounded man across his back and walk, bent over, towards his lines. The three men eventually got back to safety. For these two heroic actions, Ron earned another Silver Star (with Oak Leaf Clusters).

Ron Manning saw the destruction of Germany first-hand. He saw the smoldering remains of factories bombed by Allied planes. He described one small town, completely destroyed and flattened, with only a chicken wandering alone in the ruins. They didn’t even have the time to eat the poor chicken. He did remember one hot holiday meal. It was either Thanksgiving or Christmas. Memorable because there were “more feathers than turkey!”

After the war, he joined the American Legion, but found that he didn’t have much in common with the younger men. His awards proudly hung in the Manning’s home until his death, and the old photos have been kept safely in an album, now with his daughters.

The battle-scarred Veteran died on September 14, 2011. He peacefully slipped away, noticed only by his family and a few old friends. He was 96 and had lost his wife, as well as most of his contemporaries. Just one of the last of the “Greatest Generation,” who had answered his country’s call, fought in some of the war’s most fierce battles, to return home and work the rest of his life as a machinist. He loved sports and fishing, but most of all, his family. Ron Manning was one of the quiet heroes of World War II who ended his fighting days playing ball 75 years ago.

Courtesy Photos of Ronald Charles Manning

If you are a Veteran or know a Veteran who is willing to tell his or her story, contact the Frederick County Veterans History Project at

We hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and was able to spend time with their family.

It seemed really strange not to be able to celebrate our Veterans in a way that we are accustomed to, but hopefully, Veterans were recognized for their service to our country.

December will bring another quiet month to the Legion, as there will not be Breakfast with Santa or a Ham & Turkey Night events. It’s a shame because both have been successful events in the past.

Don’t forget to pay your dues. If you are interested in becoming a member, stop by the Legion (8 Park Lane in Thurmont), and pick up an application.

The Legion will also be closed on Thursday, December 24, and Friday, December 25, in observance of Christmas. Please enjoy this time with your family!

The kitchen remains open Wednesday through Friday, 5:00-8:00 p.m., while the Legion is open.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Submitted by Kevin Cogan, Commander Post No. 121


Seventy-nine years ago, on Sunday, December 7, 1941, the American Navy and Army base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was attacked by the Japanese. The attack came as a deliberate surprise that lead to a great loss of American Navy and Army lives. More than 2,000 Americans were killed, and more than 1,000 were injured. The events in Pearl Harbor that day led to the escalation of World War II. The day after the attack, the United States declared war on Japan and entered World War II. President Franklin Roosevelt said in a speech that the bombing of Pearl Harbor was “a date which will live in infamy.” Let us remember our Pearl Harbor Veterans on December 7 and pray for them and all our military.

Veterans and their families: Don’t miss out on the benefits you’ve earned and deserve. You can become an American Legion member as a Veteran, Auxiliary, or Son. Together, we can provide life-changing support to one another. If you are a Veteran or know of a Veteran needing assistance or support, call us at 301-447-2274.

I would like to thank all the volunteers who dedicate their time to our Post, as without them we would not be able to accomplish the things that we do.

Merry Christmas to all our brave soldiers; thank you for your commitment to our country’s freedom and integrity. People like you are the reason why we have a peaceful and happy holiday. We will always be thankful for your hard work and sacrifice for making our country a better place.

To all, have a blessed and Very Merry Christmas and Holiday Season! God bless the USA.

by Denise Valentine

Hello, everyone. I hope everyone is healthy. With recent reports that the pandemic is reaching crises levels again, more people are looking for projects to do at home.

I thought it would be fun to share a recipe that is interactive with the children or grandchildren. Everyone loves cookies. These Candy Cane Cookies are perfect for Christmas. Enjoy them yourself or make them for gift-giving.

I hope you and your family have a Merry Christmas.

Candy Cane Cookies

½ cup butter or margarine, softened
½ cup shortening
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 egg
1½ tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. red food color
½ cup crushed peppermint candy
½ cup granulated sugar

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix thoroughly butter, shortening, confections’ sugar, egg, and flavorings. Blend in flour and salt. Divide dough in half; blend food color into one half.

Shape 1 teaspoon dough from each half into 4-inch rope. For smooth, even ropes, roll them back and forth on lightly floured board. Place ropes side by side; press together lightly and twist. Complete cookies one at a time. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Curve top down to form handle of cane.

Bake about 9 minutes or until set and very light brown. Mix candy and granulated sugar. Immediately sprinkle cookies with candy mixture; remove from baking sheet and cool completely on wire rack.

by Maxine Troxell

Christmastime is almost here.  Time to start to think of all the holiday goodies you will be baking this year, from cookies to cakes and all kinds of spicy goodies. Growing up, my mom would make all kinds of cakes. My mom and all her sisters were great bakers. I always loved applesauce cake with all the spices, raisins, and nuts. I found the recipe below in a cookbook from Damascus in the late 1980s or early 1990s. I do not remember what organization it was in, but I did copy the recipe and have used it as entries in the Community Show. It has won a lot of blue ribbons. This cake is so easy to make because there are no eggs, and you just put all the ingredients, except the raisins and nuts, into a mixing bowl. I am a fan of fruitcake, so if you like candied fruit, you can add candied fruit to the raisin and nut mixture.  At Christmastime, I like to decorate it with candied cherries and nuts. If you use a Bundt pan to bake the cake, you can put the candied cherries and the walnuts in the grooves in the bottom of the pan.

Applesauce Cake

4 cups ( minus ¼ cup for raisins and nuts)  all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar  
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 cup butter (melted)
2 cups raisins
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons salt
4 teaspoons baking soda
4 cups applesauce
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Generously grease and flour 10-inch tube or Bundt cake pan.  Mix all ingredients except raisins and nuts. In a small bowl, combine raisins and nuts.  Add ¼ cup flour to raisins and nuts to coat.  Add the raisin and nut mixture to cake batter.  Using a spatula, fold raisin and nut mixture in until mixed through.  Bake in pre-heated oven for 1 to 1½ hours (until toothpick inserted comes out clean).  

Remove cake from oven and cool for 10 minutes.  Invert cake onto cooling rack.  When cake is cool, sift powdered sugar on top.  Keep cake in an airtight container.  To keep cake moist, you can wrap cake

in a cheesecloth soaked with cooking sherry.

by Buck Reed

 a chart

Stories from a Culinary Student

by Ava Morlier, Culinary Arts Program at CTC

Well, my culinary arts class has officially moved on to breakfast. From quick breads to bacon, our class has been covering the most important meal of the day quite thoroughly. This has resulted in many a dinner becoming breakfast as well; and, of course, the eggs are still inescapable!

Today, I want to highlight an easy breakfast dish that I have learned about: Biscuits & Gravy.

Let me start with the gravy. Before you pop that can of gravy from the store (which makes my culinary teacher cry), keep in mind that making gravy is ridiculously easy. Even I thought that the perfect, non-lumpy gravy was unattainable (as I usually thickened soups with flour, resulting in less than appetizing lumps). But then our breakfast unit enlightened me. A gravy is relatively easy and made up of three parts: fat (usually butter), flour, and milk. All variables can be changed (and seasonings such as garlic salt and pepper are a fantastic way to flavor gravy), but it really boils down to three steps: melting the butter, adding in the flour, and adding the milk once the flour and butter have combined.

Biscuits are also easy to make. The secret? One is buttermilk: the reaction of baking soda and buttermilk (consisting of one cup of milk with one tablespoon of an acid such as lemon juice) cause the biscuits to rise dramatically. Another secret is rolling: don’t use a rolling pin. Kneading lightly by hand and lightly smooshing the dough down is the secret to the perfect flaky layers of a biscuit. Finally, shape: though it may sound controversial, do not use a round biscuit cutter. It flattens the biscuit so that flaky layers are unattainable and rolling leftover dough back into a ball wastes dough and time. Instead, shape your dough in a rectangle and—here comes the controversial part—cut into squares! It saves both time and dough. For extra sheen and flavor, brush with butter or honey butter for the perfect biscuit. No Pillsbury dough boy needed here.

Country Gravy

3 tbsp. butter (Other fat sources can be used for flavor; this could include turkey fat or beef fat)

3 tbsp. flour (preferably white) 2
c. whole or 2% milk
½ tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. garlic salt (add based on preference)
Note: Sausage can be added to this recipe.

Warm saucepan on medium heat. Add butter, and allow to melt (but not completely melted). Add flour and whisk together.

Allow mixture to cook 2-3 minutes (doing so allows for the flour to cook out). Add milk and whisk until smooth (mixture should be thick). Add salt and pepper and serve!

(With credit to The Butcher’s Wife at

Tools Needed

-Small saucepan


Buttermilk Biscuits

2 c. all-purpose flour

2 tsp. Baking powder

½ tsp. Baking soda

½ tsp. Salt

¼ c. shortening (usually butter) (make sure shortening is cold and kept cold)

¾ c. buttermilk (milk w/ ¾ tbsp. lemon juice)

2 tbsp. butter, melted (optional, for brushing on) (honey can be added for honey butter)

*For garlic herb biscuits:

Add in 1 c. shredded cheddar, 1 ¼ tsp. Garlic powder, 1 ¼ tsp. Dried parsley flakes, and 1 ½ tsp. Onion powder

Preheat oven 450 degrees. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Cut in shortening and mix until shortening is pea-sized (a food processor can be used to accomplish this). Drizzle in buttermilk and stir with a fork. Turn onto a floured surface and knead lightly. Form the dough into a rectangle. Cut into squares, and line biscuits on the pan shoulder to shoulder. Brush with butter (if desired).

Put into the oven and allow to bake until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.

Take the pan out and allow to cool. Serve.

(With credit to the Taste of Home Cookbook)

Tools Needed

-Sheet pan

-Parchment paper

-Knife or crumb scraper



-Liquid/solid measuring tools

“Helping You Find Plants That Work”

by Ana Morlier    , The Crazy Plant Lady

Looking for another aspect of your life in which to interject the holiday spirit? Try the Christmas cactus! It’s actually a pretty low-maintenance plant. Other cacti in the Cactaceae family also have holiday names: the Easter cacti and the Thanksgiving (or crab) cacti. Because of our instantaneous consumer market, people are more likely to end up buying a Thanksgiving cacti or a hybrid of the Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti, which blooms much faster.

Holiday Cacti — How Can You Tell the Difference?

These cacti bloom according to the season. If it blooms in fall and perks up when you watch the Macy’s Day Parade, it is a Thanksgiving cactus. A Christmas cactus has rounded or scalloped “teeth” or edges with lots of ornaments on them (not true, but you could deck out your cactus with holiday garland and the like, if you want!). Thanksgiving cactus’ leaves are jagged. The Easter cactus has very rounded edges, which are centralized on the leaf.

Contain Your Excitement

While you may think you need to put such an exotic plant in a greenhouse, this cactus thrives indoors. They are great container plants; however, to maintain the nutrients of the soil, replanting every two years is necessary.

The perfect planter pot can honestly be anything (well, not Fido, for example), as long as the plant can receive sunlight and the soil can be well-drained. You can get a traditional pot, or maybe an unused bin or something funky—like a cookie tin—to make a statement. I almost bought a high heel as a planter, but a child’s galosh could hold more soil. When looking for a container, make sure there is enough volume for the cactus to expand as it grows (usually about 3-5 inches deep, with a width of 1-2 feet). If you want to save money on containers, thrift stores such as Goodwill come in handy.

The Dirt on the Christmas Cactus

Rocks and pebbles at the bottom of the container help drain the soil so there isn’t an excess of water. This can cause fungal problems for the root of the plant, leading to a slew of horrifying diseases. Believe me, when examining a bunch of gardening books, there are always a disease-troubleshooting section with everything from aphid attacks to powdery mildew. After that, I was way too overprotective of my plants, leading to the death of a zucchini plant. If you’re cheap like me, you can find small pebbles at the dollar store. Mulch also helps to drain soil, and you can find it for free at any playground (just kidding. Please do not use mulch from public property. While it causes so many splinters and cuts, it still provides some safety for children.). You can find mulch (and most likely stones) at local hardware, gardening, and feed stores.

Soil exclusively for succulents can also be found at home improvement stores. This specialty soil is sensitive to the shallow root structures of the plant. If you don’t want to fork over your paycheck for a few measly pounds of dirt, you can make your own (for dirt cheap! Pardon the pun) by mixing pebbles or pea gravel with potting soil.

Here Comes the Sun

Grow your cactus friend in indirect sunlight, in cooler temperatures (50-55 degrees is enough to coax out beautiful blooms). Make sure that your plant doesn’t get too little sunlight. It will still grow, but the leaves will become weak and the blooms not as apparent. I know that I mentioned earlier that it would be pretty easy to grow, but there are a lot of conditions to be met to ensure your little buddy keeps thriving. Hang the plant up to encourage more growth. It can make the room look more tropical, which is great in such a dreary winter season.

I Say Let It Grow!!

Now, you can rest on your laurels and wait for it to grow! In terms of watering, keep the soil moist. You can check this by sticking your finger into the dirt. Your plant will start to shrivel up and, well, you guessed it, die, when it is too dry. I recommend watering it once every two days, more or less, depending on the condition the soil is when you touch it. Remember, over-watering causes fungal problems, so don’t soak the soil to the bottom. As long as the upper layer of soil (about ¼ inch) is moist (NOT soaked), your plant should stay healthy. Cut off the dead leaves to encourage new growth.

It can take up to eight months for flowers to bloom, but colors come in purple, red, orange, white, pink, and yellow—red or pink is the most common.

The best part of this plant is that it’s the gift that keeps on giving (perfect for the Christmas season, eh?). A mere clipping will expand significantly.

As much work as it sounds like to keep this plant alive, it is well worth it in the end. While you can’t garden outside in such cold and dreary conditions, you can take the party inside and liven up your life!

Merry Christmas (Cactus)!

*Credit to Better Homes and Gardens, Encyclopedia Britannica, The Old Farmer’s Almanac, The Spruce, and Martha Stewart.

For kids and parents alike

The Ripple Effect

by Anita DiGregory

At the mountain of God, Horeb, Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter. Then the LORD said to him, “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by.” A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave. (1 Kings 19:9, 11-13)

This remains one of my absolute favorite passages from the Bible.  Imagine this guy, Elijah, hanging out in this cave waiting for God.  He’s probably a bit nervous, right?  The wind rips by so powerfully that it is destroying the rocks around him, but God is not in the wind. Then a violent earthquake shakes the very ground he stands on, but that’s not God. Next, a massive fire with all its heat and destruction erupts, but that is not God either.  It is all very noisy and confusing and even scary. It sounds almost like the year we’ve all had: 2020, the year of epidemic, violence, isolation, turbulence, earthquakes, hurricanes…and let’s not forget those murder hornets. Do you almost feel like a marathon runner, winded and exhausted as a result of the long, hard run, but pushing yourself because that finish line is oh so close?

Here we are about to embark on, traditionally, the busiest season of the year. But this year, many of the shows, parties, parades, and get-togethers have been altered. Even shopping is different due to the many protocols in place. 

The truth is, we have had very little control over most of what 2020 has presented to us; but, we do have control over what we can do for ourselves, our families, and even the world in these last few weeks of the year.

Have you ever visited a still body of water with your children? My children love throwing rocks into the water. They love the “plops” they make and the ripple of waves those little rocks send out far across the water. Those little rocks have the ability to create a reverberation clear across the pond, and what started as small little circles spreads out larger and larger…the bigger the rock, the bigger the “plop,” the bigger the ripple effect.

Addressing a crowd, Saint Pope John Paul II once remarked, “As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the world in which we live.” We have the ability to create a huge ripple effect…the ability to make a true and lasting difference, one family at a time. 

In these last weeks, when the outside world seems so loud and out of control, let’s strive for quiet simplicity. While the world seems full of anger and hate, let’s make it our mission to love well.  In this time of preparation and waiting, let’s make it a time of light and hope. In a year when the overwhelming theme has been “everything is different,” we can make a difference.

What can we do? We can draw our loved ones close. We can read them classic Christmas stories or watch our family-favorite movies in front of the fire. We can send Christmas cards to military members and first responders, thanking them for their dedication, service, and sacrifice. We can deliver care packages to isolated family members. Together, we can donate to community food banks and toy drives. We can pray, and sacrifice, and hope, and love. And those tiny ripples can make larger ones that can be farther reaching than we can even imagine.

So, in this year of pandemic, let’s remember what that famous doctor taught us. Let’s consider that last scene in the classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas. After stripping the poor Who’s of all their food, presents, toys, decorations, and musical instruments, the Grinch (played this year by the mean ole’ year 2020), anxiously awaiting the villagers’ sorrow, is instead dumbfounded by their joyful celebration.

“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling: how could it be so? It came without ribbons! It came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags! And he puzzled three hours, ‘till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!”

So, my dear friend, I wish you the merriest of Christmases, a blessed last few weeks of the year, and the best new year. And, if the loudness and confusion of the world start to rob you of your peace, remember in your quiet, peaceful, loving way, you CAN make a difference…and in that stillness listen carefully because God IS in the whisper.

by Christine Maccabee 

The Facts About   Christmas Cactus

I always wondered why my two “Christmas Cacti” plants bloomed way before Christmas. The mystery was cleared up when I went on Google and discovered that mine are of another species, commonly known as the Thanksgiving Cactus. They do indeed bloom before and during Thanksgiving. Perhaps, you have one, too.

There is a slight difference between the two species, just two of the six species in the genus Schlumbergera. Mine, the Thanksgiving or crab cacti, have small flattened serrated stem segments. These are not leaves, though many of us thought they were. These cacti are leafless, which is a common feature of all the genus Schlumbergera (okay, now let’s all repeat that name seven times, then you’ll never forget it, right?! )

Christmas Cati bloom around Christmas in the Northern hemisphere, but the blooms are just like the other species. Its stem segments are roundish, not flat. It is also a hybrid. How do I know all this? Well, I went to an expert, Melissa Petruzello (another name to memorize). She is the assistant editor on plants and environmental science for the Encyclopedia Britannica, so I am indebted to her and Britanicca for clearing up this mystery!

Christmas cacti mostly grow in the Brazilian rainforest on trees, shrubs, or shady places (just one of a million reasons we have to save the rainforest…hear that, Brazil?). Over many years, my habit has been to put my tropical house plants outside in the shade of an arbor that my father made before he died. That way, they get the benefit of rain and weather, which is their natural habitat. Of course, I water them during dry periods, but pretty much all my plants are independent and take next to no care once outside.

Of course, the ceremony of bringing my potted rainforest into the house for the winter is always a wonderful challenge as I work to find appropriate places for them all. Some need repotting, and this summer, my avacoda tree grew way over my head!

Yes, life with house plants is always interesting. The diversity is astounding. They are fun to care for during the winter, and they have the extra benefit of purifying my air, much like the rainforest is needed to purify and replenish Earth’s air—all the more reason to control the destruction of rainforests by beef, palm oil, lumber, and other consumeristic interests. I can pretty much live without all of that, and I definitely do not purchase foods with palm oil ingredients—just one small contribution on my part.

To end, I will say that you are very fortunate if you have one or two beautiful Shlumbergera in your home. I am always astounded by their colorful blooms, which add so much beauty to my world, to our world.

May your world, our world, Earth’s forests, continue to be so blessed for centuries to come.  

Christine’s Thanksgiving Cacti

Thanksgiving Cactus come in a range of colors, mostly pastels, including red, pink, peach, purple, orange, or white, and typically bloom at Thanksgiving.

Healthy Household Cleaning

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

Did you know that conventional, store-bought household cleaners could be toxic? Checking the labels is necessary. There are often warning signs of toxicity and instructions to call Poison Control if ingested or exposed to skin and eyes. You will find advice on how to avoid toxic cleaners and how to make non-toxic cleaning products in this article.

Types of Toxic Household Cleaners

Toxic chemicals in conventional household cleaners vary in their severity, from acute hazards such as skin or respiratory issues, chemical burns, or watery eyes to chronic hazards such as cancer, fertility issues, ADHD, compromised immune system, and more.

Some of the most dangerous toxins out there reside in our cleaning products, and many of us expose ourselves to these toxins on a daily basis. Researchers at the University of Washington tested a variety of popular household cleaning products, including air fresheners, all-purpose cleaners, soaps, laundry detergents, dish soap, dryer sheets, and fabric softeners, as well as personal care products, like shampoos, deodorants, and lotions. Most of the toxic chemicals found in these household products fell into these categories: carcinogens, which cause or promote cancer; and endocrine disruptors, which mimic human hormones and cause false signals within the body and lead to issues such as infertility, premature puberty, miscarriage, and menstrual issues, as well as neurotoxins, which affect brain activity and cause problems such as headaches and memory loss.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are also emitted from solids or liquids. VOCs are gasses and are found in many household products, from paints and varnishes to cleaning products and disinfectants. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that some of the risks associated with VOCs are eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches; loss of coordination and nausea; and damage to the liver, kidney, and central nervous system. According to the EPA, nearly half of all the products tested contained at least one of 24 carcinogenic air pollutants that have no safe exposure level.

Household Cleaners You May Want to Avoid

Air fresheners can trigger asthma and allergies. Fabric softeners and dryer sheets can cause asthma, allergies, or lung irritation, as can cleaning products with artificial fragrances. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has found one-third of the substances used in the fragrance industry to be toxic; yet, because the formulas used for these fragrances are trade secrets, companies are not required to disclose the ingredients used. Try to use antibacterial products only when necessary, as these products can encourage the development of drug-resistant superbugs. Corrosive drain cleaners, oven cleaners, and toilet bowl cleaners are the most acutely dangerous cleaning products on the market. The ingredients in these cleaners can cause severe burns on the skin and eyes or if ingested to the throat and esophagus. Bleach and ammonia produce fumes with high acute toxicity to the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs, and should not be used by people with asthma or lung issues. Used together, these products produce a toxic gas that can cause serious lung damage. Products that create suds (shampoo, liquid soap, bubble bath, laundry detergent) have ingredients such as 4-dioxane, DEA, TEA, sodium laurel sulfate, PEG compounds, etc. and are known carcinogens linked to organ toxicity.

Here Are Some Good Alternatives

In many cases, old-fashioned vinegar, baking soda, essential oils, and other inexpensive ingredients found in your pantry can clean just as well or better than conventional or natural store-bought cleaning products. You can make your own homemade cleaners, often for less than a dollar, using the natural ingredients you probably already have around your home.   

The following are a few recipes for household cleaners:

If you need an all-purpose cleaner, use two cups of water with two tablespoons of castile soap, or one cup of water with one cup of white distilled vinegar and half of a lemon juiced.

For a deep-cleaning bathroom cleaner, use one-and-two-thirds cup of baking soda, one-half cup of liquid castile soap, one-half cup of water, two tablespoons of white vinegar, and mix the ingredients until they have dissolved. Pour into a bottle and shake well before using.

To get out carpet stains, use two tablespoons of salt dissolved in one-half cup of white vinegar. Let the solution dry, and then vacuum.    For larger or darker stains, add two tablespoons of borax to the mixture and use the same way.

For glass and mirror cleaner, use one-half cup rubbing alcohol, one-third cup white distilled vinegar, and add to a spray bottle, filling the rest of the bottle with distilled water. For laundry stain and spot remover, mix one-and-one-half cups of water, one-fourth cup liquid castile soap, and one-fourth cup liquid vegetable glycerin; pour into a bottle and treat spots immediately. Let soak before tossing into the wash.

If you are not up to making your own cleaning products, here are some “clean” cleaning products you can purchase at the store: Green Works, Dr. Bronners Castile Soap, Ecos, Seventh Generation, Method, JR Watkins, Mrs. Meyer’s, and Common Good.

Here are a few things you can do in addition to what has been discussed in order to reduce toxicity in your home:

One of the best air filters that you can purchase is plants. Consider adding easy-to-maintain household plants into your home.

Consider using a vacuum that has a HEPA filter.

Regularly replace furnace and A/C unit filters.

Open windows to allow fresh airflow and promote the ventilation of toxic gases.

Use microfiber cloths or 100-percent cotton materials to dust and prevent the spread of additional dust to combat dust build-up.

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

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

jEanne Angleberger

The year 2020 will go down in history as a time of staying healthy and preventing COVID-19. Honestly, it made us pay closer attention to our health and body. Let’s always be aware of our health. It shouldn’t take a world-wide coronavirus to get our attention. We’ll recap this year’s healthy tips and move into 2021 with the hopes of a healthier nation.

Starting the New Year with a plan to improve your health is a great start. Specifically, what do you want? What are healthy and unhealthy habits?

 Boosting your immune system is essential. Shaklee has four different multivitamin and mineral formulas to help strengthen the immune system, in addition to their vitamin C formula.

A daily tasty and healthy breakfast fuels the body. Muffin-Pan Egg Bites is a grab-n’-go breakfast. The recipe is available upon request.

Shaklee Immunity Defend & Resist Complex can help stimulate the body’s natural resistance during seasonal changes when it needs extra defense.

Make America Healthy Again defines why Americans become unhealthy. Dr. Nicole Saphier spells out why Americans need to take better care of themselves.

Skin requires nourishment from the inside. Skin health is dependent on dietary choices.

Do traditions and values play a role in aging well? The 80’s and 90’s population believe they grew up in kinder times. Relationships were developed over time. Socializing is vitally important to your physical and mental health.

Staying properly hydrated keeps body temperature regulated, joints lubricated, and organs functioning. Certain fruits and vegetables can help you stay hydrated and energized.

Vitamin D3 plays a major role in protecting your health and immune function. Support your body with the nutritional needs year-round.

May 2021 begin with healthiness that follows you and your family throughout the new year.

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

Happenings in December at Thurmont Regional Library

The holidays will look much different this year. Families may not be able to join together to celebrate the joys of the season. Going over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house may have to be rescheduled for next year. Many are dreading the long, dark months ahead and wondering how to stay safe and pass the time while stuck indoors this winter.

Of course, the Library has lots of bright ideas! We have so many beautiful books on garden planning, home improvements, cookbooks, decorating, organizing, and physical fitness. But there also are a thousand other ways to stay active and engaged, all at no cost to you, when you visit the library website at and use your library card.

Take this opportunity to learn a new language by using Mango Languages. This online language-learning system teaches conversation skills for over 70 different languages, as well as English as a Second Language for speakers of 20 languages. 

Need to bone up on your skills? offers high-quality, engaging video tutorials taught by recognized industry experts. Choose from over 4,000 courses that include business and career skills, software and IT, job search tools, web design, social media and publishing tools, and photography.

Kanopy video streaming service is a collection of independent and foreign films, documentaries, educational films, must-see classics, and popular movies. It includes The Great Courses and selections from the Criterion Collection.  Kanopy works on all devices and supports apps for Roku, iOS and Android. Stream up to 10 videos every month. 

Looking for a career change or new job? Brainfuse JobNow provides live interview coaching, award-winning resume creation software, a writing lab, and helpful tips and tricks for landing the perfect career. Complete a career assessment, search for jobs, create a resume, and get expert feedback in JobNow’s writing lab. Live help is available from 2:00 to 11:00 p.m.

Libby by Overdrive offers both popular fiction and non-fiction ebooks and audiobooks and over 50 popular magazines. With your FCPL library card, check out up to 10 OverDrive titles and unlimited magazine titles for up to three weeks at a time.

Download the Flipster app and browse and check out magazines, all from within the app. Popular magazines are easy to read in your browser on your computer or mobile device. Monthly magazines stay in the app for seven days, and weekly magazines for two days. You may re-download the magazine at any time.

Of course, we continue to offer contactless curbside pickup service from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday. Just call the Library at 301-600-7200 to schedule an appointment or for any other information needs—we’re happy to help!

Happy Holidays from all of us at Thurmont Regional Library!

by Teresa Kempisty

Hello, to everyone. I miss you all so very much. I want you to know that I appreciate and miss each and every one of you. Many of you have asked, “Do you think we will ever be open again?” And the answer is a definite, “YES!” My guess would be not until spring, but it will be when Gov. Hogan allows senior centers to reopen. For your information, with the rise in COVID-19 cases, we have decided not to rent out the Thurmont Senior Center to any groups until we reopen. 

Unfortunately, we aren’t able to have our Christmas Party this year, but we want to wish everyone a safe and Merry Christmas.

As I am writing this, it is 75 degrees outside, so to be wishing you season’s greetings seems surreal.  Living in Maryland, as we all know, the weather can change rapidly, so who knows, maybe we will have a White Christmas after all!  I know some of you are thinking, Hush, Teresa, but I really do like the snow! 

If you can, please come through the drive-thru at Roy Rogers in Thurmont on Thursday, December 10, from 5:00-8:00 p.m. Mention the Thurmont Senior Center for our fundraiser night, and we will receive 25 percent of the total sales. Due to COVID-19 regulations, it is drive-thru only at this time, but it will always be the second Thursday of each month, same time and place.  Thank you.

A huge thank you goes out to all of our Veterans, to those presently serving, and to all their families for their service and sacrifices. Every one of you is a hero for selflessly serving to protect us and our country. We hope you had a Happy Veterans Day, and we hope to be able to have our Veteran’s Day open house next fall or in 2022. We were supposed to have the open house this fall, but couldn’t due to COVID.

Congratulations to Barbara Ritenour (second-prize winner) and Caythee Ruby (first-prize winner) of the free Halloween Basket Raffle. Carol Long put together the raffle using names of people on the sign-in sheets and volunteer sign-in sheets from 2020.  More free drawings will be coming.

Another big thank you goes out to Winterbrook Farms, who donated treats that we were able to distribute to seniors and our volunteers.

If you have a birthday coming up and you are registered with the Thurmont Senior Center, don’t be surprised when you get a call and visit from the “Birthday Quackers.”  

We had our last Drive-by Greetings Parade on November 5, and it was the longest one yet at 2 hours and 22 minutes. We are stopping for the winter. We really enjoyed seeing our senior friends in Rocky Ridge, Keymar, Woodsboro, and Thurmont. 

In closing, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year! 

Take care, and if you need to call the center, the phone number is 301-271-7911.

Photo by John Kempisty

Ron and Marie Free all dressed up for the Drive-by Greeting Parade on November 5, 2020.

by James Rada, Jr.

November 1920, 100 Years Ago

Paid $1.00 Fine

In a hurry, he left his car stand near the Square corner in Thurmont, and attended to some business. On returning he found a tag on the car stating something about $1.00 fine for parking in a restricted area. Mayor Rouzer’s name appeared on the card. Mr. P. N. Hammaker took his dollar to Mayor Rouzer and explained, but the mayor knew not what it all meant. The joke cost Hammaker $1.00, and he says he is glad the mayor kept the money. Somebody may find a tag on their car in the future.

                                          – Catoctin Clarion, November 4, 1920

Game Plenty

The hunting season opened a(t) daybreak yesterday morning with a bang, bang, in every direction. Rabbits seemed to be plentiful, and from what we saw, Pap, the dog, and the whole family were out after them. Thus far, we shot one, saw four others, some of which we shot at and some we didn’t. This one stands us in money $1.25, and about two hours’ time.

One hunter reports that after a rabbit had been shot at five times it stopped, fell over dead, apparently exhausted, and he got it.

                                          – Catoctin Clarion, November 11, 1920

November 1945, 75 Years Ago

Speculation is Rife Already Over Elections

Tuesday, November 6, is the last day on which new residents of Maryland can declare their intentions to become prospective voters in order to be eligible to cast ballots in next year’s election. With this date in mind, speculation has become rife as to prospective candidates.


          The name of Donald J. Gardner, Sabillasville, recently discharged from military service, has been mentioned as a Democratic possibility for House of Delegates and that of John Derr, Monrovia, still in the Coast Guard, has been spoken of as a possible Republican candidate for Register of Wills.

                                          – The Frederick Post, November 3, 1945

Severely Bitten By Dog

While rescuing a dog from a trap which someone had set on his land near Thurmont, Michael F. Wilhide was severely bitten in the right wrist by the dog. Mr. Wilhide found the animal, half-starved, in a large double spring trap which was large enough and strong enough to catch and hold a deer, he said. The setting of such a trap is an unlawful act, it was learned.

                                          – The Frederick Post, November 10, 1945

November 1970, 50 Years Ago

Local School Improvements Are Sought

In an effort to have conditions at the Emmitsburg Middle School up-graded to what was felt would be an acceptable level, the PTA of the Emmitsburg Middle School recently sent a letter of request to the Frederick County Board of Education, asking for four steps to be taken which would put the local school on a satisfactory comparison with those of other sections of the county.

                                          – Emmitsburg Chronicle, November 6, 1970

Town Offered New Water Supply; Council Studies Offer

Emmitsburg might possibly have accessible another source of fresh water supply under a plan submitted by Charnita, Inc., at the regular monthly meeting of the Mayor and Commissioners, held Monday evening in the Town Office, J. Norman Flax, chairman of the Board, presiding.

Bernard Syndor, representing Charnita, was present at the meeting and discussed the possibility of constructing a large fresh water lake in the Tract Road area, which the Town of Emmitsburg might possibly put to use during any water shortage it might experience. Mr. Syndor also discussed the erection of a sewerage treatment plant on Charnita’s ground and asked the Town’s capabilities as to handling additional sewerage. The Council is taking the matter under advisement.

                                          – Emmitsburg Chronicle, November 6, 1970

November 1995, 25 Years Ago

Town Remains Fiscally Healthy, Debt Reduced, Taxes Stable

An audit report of Emmitsburg’s 1994 budget was presented to the town council at their October meeting by the town’s accountant Ted Gregory, CPA, of Linton, Schaffer and Company, P.A. Gregory’s report focused on the overall management of Emmitsburg’s fiscal resources and included some remarks regarding areas of fiscal concern. Gregory said that comparison of expenditures with the budget showed the planning to be on target and the General Fund amount shows the town is fiscally healthy.

Commenting on the fiscal health, Mayor Carr said, “Debt was reduced by 3% and no further debt was acquired.” He said that “presently the town’s 1994-1995 budget is on target and the prospects of adhering closely to this budget are good.”

                          – The Emmitsburg Regional Dispatch, November 1995

Up-County To Get New Building

The Up-County Family Support Center is moving to a new building, which should be built and opened by the spring of 1996. The Center will continue to offer classes in adult basic education, computer literacy, employability, childbirth, formal and informal parenting, and will provide certain services in individuals’ homes. The services provided will continue to be free to those who are expecting children or have children through the age of three.

The new facility should enable the Center to provide better services for the community. It will have a child development area which will occupy one-fourth of the building, a computer facility, an educational classroom, and a commercial kitchen. There will be a space for toddlers, as well as a quiet area for those who need a rest. The larger-sized facility will enable the Center to open its doors to anyone at any time.

                          – The Emmitsburg Regional Dispatch, November 1995

by Valerie Nusbaum

It’s that time of year again, folks. I tend to get melancholy and sentimental in November and December. I feel sad for all the things and people I’ve lost. That’s why I force myself to remember and reflect upon all the good things I still have in my life, and to feel gratitude for the wonderful memories I’ve made with loved ones. Relax, friends. I promise this column won’t make you cry.

Randy and I have shared 26 Thanksgivings as a married couple, some more memorable than others.  I asked him this morning for some of his best Turkey Day stories, and he immediately launched into tales about when he was a kid. I stopped him in his tracks and explained that I needed stories of our shared Thanksgivings. I got a blank look from the man I cook a turkey for every single year.

So, here are some of MY Thanksgiving memories:

1994 — The year we were married (and just one month after our wedding), we hosted our first family Thanksgiving. Linda, Randy’s cousin, had given us a beautiful, big roasting pan as a wedding gift. We decided to use it to roast our turkey, and I thought I’d do it the way my mother and I had always done it, which is to start the turkey out on high heat and then turn down the oven and do a slow roast overnight. I put the turkey in the oven at 11:00 p.m. on Wednesday night. When I checked it ninety minutes later, the bird was falling off the bone done. I’m grateful that no one got salmonella that year.

1997 — We visited my brother and his family in Vermont. Randy and I drove to somewhere in New York on Wednesday and spent the night. We struck out for Rutland, Vermont, early Thursday morning.  I had to go to the bathroom an hour into the trip. We drove for miles and couldn’t find a fast-food restaurant or gas station that was open. I was ready to do something drastic, but we spotted a Friendly’s up ahead. The place was closing in 15 minutes. The hostess said they couldn’t seat or serve us, but they wouldn’t let me use the bathroom without buying something. I cried. Randy, bless his heart, asked for two to-go cups. I thought I was going to have to resort to using them in the car, but Randy was actually ordering drinks for us, and I crawled to the bathroom. I’m thankful that Friendly’s eventually lived up to the name. I saved those two cups just in case.

2002 — Randy and I were spending Thanksgiving week in Ocean City. Randy’s parents were in Florida, visiting their other son and grandkids, and my mom had plans to go out with a friend of hers. Thanksgiving Day that year fell on what would have been my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, but my dad had passed away three years earlier. Mom’s friend canceled their plans, and I was worried about Mom spending the holiday alone. So, Randy and I got in the car and drove all the way back to Brunswick on Wednesday night, picked up my mother and the turkey she’d cooked, and drove back to Ocean City. We all ate a buffet dinner at The Bonfire restaurant, complete with a fire in the fireplace and football on the television. Then we went out to see the Christmas light display at North Side Park. We had hot chocolate and rode the train. I’m grateful we were able to do that. It’s one of my nicest Thanksgiving memories.

2005 — We’ve always had an open-door policy for Thanksgiving dinner. If we hear of someone who doesn’t have a place to go, we invite him or her. Over the years, a lot of my mother’s friends and in-law relatives have dined with us. One dinner that sticks in my mind is the time that Pat Smith was here, and we forced all the dear old people to make hand turkeys. That’s nothing nasty. Just trace around your hand on a piece of white paper, and then embellish the drawing to make it look like a turkey. I’m glad they were all good sports, and I still have their drawings.

2008 — Randy and I went to Montana to visit my brother, who is living there now. We were invited to the home of family friends, where I inadvertently put my foot in my mouth when our host asked us all if there was anything missing from the dinner table. I blurted out that we always serve sauerkraut with a turkey dinner. I don’t know why I said it. I don’t know why we do it. I’m grateful that I didn’t do too much damage.

There was the year my mother-in-law put her slippers in the refrigerator, and the time my father-in-law baked a loaf of bread and left the paddle in the loaf when he baked it. I remember the Thanksgiving that we took everyone to Hickory Bridge Farm, and one or two years when we went to the Epic Buffet at Hollywood Casino in Charles Town. Randy was not thankful that we had no leftovers those years. On more than one occasion I remember making turkeys out of large hand towels to be used as napkins. Our cabin steward on a cruise to Bermuda had shown me how to make the towel animals. There were chocolate-covered dates made to look like acorns and any number of special dietary requests and substitutions for picky eaters, but I’m thankful and grateful for all of it. I miss those days.

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope your holiday is memorable.

The Year is…1899

A Spurned Love Affair Turns Deadly

by James Rada, Jr.

On April 22, 1899, 16-year-old Orpha Harshman of Wolfsville started off on a two-mile walk to her sister’s house. She took a shortcut across a field that would cut the journey in half.

Her stepbrother, Edward Morgan, 25, watched and followed. He caught up to her on a mountain ridge out of sight of any houses.

Although there were no witnesses to what happened next, the Emmitsburg Chronicle presented this version of events:

“As she arrived at the rocks, Morgan sprang out and called upon her to offer up her last prayer, as her time had come. He, at the same time, thrust a revolver in her face. She begged him to spare her life, but to no purpose. It is said that, finding her pleadings were fruitless, she summoned all her courage and attempted to strike the weapon from his hand, when he quickly placed it to her temple and fired, the bullet entering the right side of the head and passing out on the left. In attempting to ward off the weapon, the sleeve of her dress took fire from the powder and was burned off, as well as a portion of the dress over her bosom, under which her arm lay where she fell. Her arm was badly burned, and her bosom seared from the fire.

“Feeling satisfied he had killed her, Morgan then placed the revolver to his own head and attempted to send a bullet into his brain, but the leaden missile struck the right cheekbone, and glancing came out of his eye. He then fired a bullet into his left leg. Finding these two ineffectual, he placed the barrel of the revolver against his abdomen and emptied the two remaining chambers into his bowels and fell over by the side of his innocent victim.”

Peter Baer lived nearby. He heard the pistol shots and a scream. More shots, in quick succession, followed a few minutes later, but Baer paid them no mind, according to the Catoctin Clarion.

Charles Kline was driving his mother home in a buggy when he heard the shots. He drove toward the shots and found Morgan’s and Harshman’s bodies lying in pools of blood. The sight upset Kline so much that he didn’t recognize the bodies. He thought they were tramps.

Kline drove his buggy to Scott Martin’s house and told Martin to get a doctor. Kline then drove back to the bodies with some other people who were at Martin’s house.

They examined the bodies, and surprisingly, found them both alive. However, Harshman died a short time later. Morgan’s body was loaded onto a wagon and taken to his home. The doctor could do nothing, and Morgan died five hours later.

The story soon came out that Morgan had been obsessed with his stepsister (Morgan’s father married Harshman’s mother).

“The family had been living happily and contented until about six months ago, when Mrs. Morgan observed her husband’s son was paying what she considered too much attention to her daughter,” the Emmitsburg Chronicle reported. “The more she resisted, the stronger became his attachment for her.”

Morgan became so desperate that he asked Harshman to elope with him. She refused him and said if he didn’t leave her alone, she would leave home.

“Seeing she was determined in her purpose, he told her that unless she married him, she would never live to be the bride of another,” according to the Chronicle.

Instead, Morgan’s father told him he needed to move out. Morgan did, but he stayed in a building near his family home. He also spent a lot of time in Hagerstown getting drunk, and a week before the murder-suicide, he purchased the pistol he would use to kill Harshman and himself.

Both Harshman and Morgan were buried in separate cemeteries. Harshman was buried in the Grossnickle Dunkard Church cemetery and Morgan in the Wolfsville Reformed Church cemetery.

Even in death, Morgan still could not be near Harshman.

Mark Allen Lewis

A Life Well Spent

by Priscilla Rall

Mark Lewis was born in 1924 in the hamlet of Garfield, high up in the Catoctin Mountains. He died there, in a place he knew well—the home where he was born. When I consider Mark’s life, I realize it encompassed an entire century of our country’s history: from her agricultural roots to the Great Depression, from the horrors of World War II to the Cold War.

All that was rural America can be summed up in Mark Lewis’ life. He was born at home, not in a hospital, 1 of 10 children. The Lewis family scratched out a meager living in the rocky fields and orchards of Frederick County. He could not remember when he was not working on the farm. He went to a two-room school, Forest School, and then began working on a neighbor’s farm when he was just 13, plowing the fields with a team of horses, just as farmers had done for a hundred years.

The little store run by his father had all that the mountain people needed. Traveling hucksters provided a small income from eggs and butter. Mark’s mother, Annie, toiled long hours and, sadly, died too soon. She impressed on her children the need for an education. His hard-working father, Claude, was a pillar of the community.

These beginnings gave Mark all that he needed to face the uncertain years of the Great Depression. He joined the National Youth Administration at 16 years old. He worked at Fort Ritchie, where he saw the last of the cavalry regiments!

The world was changing.

As our country plunged into war, Mark joined up. Trained as a paratrooper, he rode a glider into Germany amidst savage enemy fire. He trudged through the snow to relieve the troops at Bastogne in the Battle of the Bulge. This mountain boy, with little education, became a combat engineer, detecting mines, blowing up enemy bridges, and then building pontoon bridges for the allies. He was wounded three times and was ready to be sent to invade Japan when the war was ended by the atomic bombs.

Mark came home to his family, and then began his own. He married his beloved Dorothy, who he met picking beans in a field at the home farm. Like other GIs returning home, he began a new life. And like many other combat Veterans—then as now—he suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome. However, with drive and ambition, he succeeded, working for many years as a construction project superintendent at such American institutions as the Library of Congress, Camp David, and Site R. But Mark never lost his love of the land. He never lost his pride in being an American.

With his love of history, he wrote and published many articles on local lore and of the people he knew so well. From his writings, others learned about the strength of the people who lived in the hills and hollows of the Catoctin Mountains. To talk to him was to open a history book, with footnotes provided by Dorothy. He shared his own story with the Veterans History Project in 2006. It is fitting that his own history now resides in the Library of Congress, where he had once worked.

Mark was a remarkable man—smart, hard-working, devoted to his community and his family. Just as he had fought in the fields of Europe as a young man, he bravely fought his illnesses during his last years, with Dorothy and their children by his side.

One would never mistake his voice for another, “Mark, here….” I would begin. “How’s my gal?” he would ask.  I will miss those phone calls. I will miss the visits I had with Mark and Dorothy. I will miss my friend, Mark Lewis, someone I consider a true American Hero.

Courtesy Photo of Mark Allen Lewis

Photo Courtesy of Ellen Smith

Forrest School opened its doors in the fall of 1882, serving children in the Garfield area, between Wolfsville and Foxville in Frederick County. Located at the intersection of Stottlemyer and Forrest School roads, the school closed its doors in the spring of 1939.

Thurmont American Legion Post 168

Happy Veterans Day!  Who/What is a Veteran?  Title 38 of the Code of Federal Regulations defines a Veteran as “a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service and who was discharged or released under conditions other than dishonorable.”

To show our appreciation to our Veterans, if you are a member at Thurmont American Legion, please stop by Post 168 on Wednesday, November 12, between noon-9:00 p.m., to receive a thank you for your service from the Auxiliary. Show your love to our Veterans by wearing a Poppy for the month of November, or all year round! Don’t have a Poppy to wear? We have a fix for that. To pick up your poppy to wear (for a donation to the Veterans), you can stop by Main Street Thurmont (11 Water Street), Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, from noon-4:00 p.m.; Marie’s Beauty Salon (21 Meadow Lane; call 301-271-4551 for hours); or the Thurmont American Legion (8 Park Lane), Monday through Sunday, from noon-11:00 p.m.).

Interested in becoming a Legion member? Thanks to the LEGION Act, we can now have more members: Stop by the Legion and ask for an application to join as a Legion member, Son of a Legion member (SAL), or an Auxiliary member.

The kitchen is open Wednesday through Friday, from 5:00-8:00 p.m. Call to place your order at 301-271-4411 for carryout, or you can eat in our dining area. Remember, you do not need to be a member to enjoy the awesome specials and regular menu items we offer, just follow us on Facebook: The American Legion Post 168. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family! Stay safe and healthy.

by Denise Valentine

Hello, everyone. As we look forward to the upcoming Holidays with cautious optimism, and begin to plan for family gatherings, I thought a dessert recipe would be an excellent choice for this month. I love pumpkin pie, and I love cheesecake, so this recipe for “Pumpkin Cheesecake” is the ultimate combination.

I just typed “recipe for pumpkin cheesecake” into my phone and got several responses. There were many variations, but this particular recipe was simple and had the highest rating, with 4.9 out of 5 stars. It originated from Natasha’s Kitchen. I hope you enjoy it, and Happy Thanksgiving! Please stay safe.

Pumpkin Cheesecake


1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs

6 tbsp. melted, unsalted butter

1 tbsp. sugar

½ tsp. cinnamon


3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese,

   room temperature

1 ½ cups packed brown sugar

15 ounce canned pumpkin pie mix

4 large eggs

¼ cup sour cream

2 tbsp. all-purpose flour

2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

¼ tsp. salt

1 tbsp. real vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, stir together the crust ingredients. Press crumbs into a 9-inch springform pan with 3-inch tall

walls using a large spoon, about half-inch up the sides. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature.

Step 1: In the bowl of your mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and brown sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy and without lumps (5 minutes), scraping down the bowl once to make sure you don’t have chunks of cream cheese.

Step 2: In a separate bowl, using a whisk, stir together pumpkin pie mix, eggs, sour cream, flour, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla extract. Mix until well combined. Add this mixture to the cheesecake filling and continue mixing on low speed just until well combined, scraping down the bowl as needed.

Step 3: Transfer filling into pre-baked crust and bake on the middle rack for 1 hour. Turn off heat, prop the oven door open slightly, and let cheesecake sit in the oven for another 45 minutes. Then remove from the oven and let cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

by Maxine Troxell

Fall is in full swing. It’s a great time to bake some of your favorite deserts.  Apple Dumplings are a favorite in the Thurmont area.  An apple dumpling is a pastry filled with apple, cinnamon, and occasionally raisins. Apples are peeled and cored, placed on a portion of dough, then filled with cinnamon and sugar. Then the dough is folded over the apples, and the dumplings are baked until tender.  The recipe below is from the 1974 Maryland Grange Cookbook.

Apple Dumplings

Never-Fail Pie Crust Recipe (or use your favorite pie dough recipe)

Mix together:

4 cups flour         1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt               1 tablespoon sugar

Add 1 ¾ cups Crisco and cut into flour mixture with a knife until the mixture resembles small pieces the size of peas. Using fingers is OK!

Mix together:

1 egg (beaten with a fork)

½ cup cold water       

1 tablespoon vinegar


Sprinkle liquid slowly over flour mixture while working dough together with your fingers just until the dough can be shaped into a ball—don’t over mix. Divide into 4 balls, which is enough to make 2 double crust pies. One of these balls should make 2 apple dumplings or more, if apples are small.

If you don’t want to use all the dough at one time, put in an air-tight container and store in refrigerator for several days.

Peel and core apples and wrap a whole apple with dough (I like to slice it into a few pieces rather than wrap the whole apple).  Put wrapped dumplings in a pan.

Pour syrup (recipe below) down over the dumplings in the pan. Should have the syrup about ¼-inch deep around the dumplings. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour.  When only 10 mins. are remaining to bake, drizzle some syrup over the dumplings and finish baking.  If you have no left over syrup, spoon some from the pan that’s around the dumplings.

Syrup: (enough for 8 dumplings)

½ cup light brown sugar            1 cup sugar                       

½ stick butter (not margarine)              1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons flour

Mix all ingredients together.  Add 1 cup water.  Cook for 1 minute.