McKenzi Forrest, Rocky Ridge 4-H Reporter

Rocky Ridge Progressive 4-H Club is always extremely active, and March and April were no exception.

We had our annual Sandwich Sale fundraiser, where we made over 2,000 sandwiches. Even with so many sandwiches to make, our club showed awesome teamwork and really had a good time making them. Thank you to all of our continued supporters for making our fundraiser so successful.

Our Community Service projects consisted of making St. Patrick’s Day notes for all of the residents at St. Catherine’s in Emmitsburg, as well as collecting supplies for the Thurmont Grange. We had several club members challenge their knowledge by participating in a Skill-A-Thon; they did a great job and look forward to more opportunities to broaden their knowledge.  

Kudos to the Rocky Ridge Progressive 4-H for serving our community so well—keep up all the hard work! Also, good luck to everyone participating in the Will’s Fair at Howard County Fairgrounds in May.

The Rocky Ridge Progressive 4-H Club collects supplies for the Thurmont Grange.

The award-winning documentary Heroin’s Grip is scheduled to be shown at Catoctin High School, located at 14745 Sabillasville Road in Thurmont, at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. This free event is open to the public and is sponsored by The Town of Thurmont, The Thurmont Addiction Commission (TAC), and FUSE Teen Center.

 Heroin’s Grip tells the story about the heroin and opioid epidemic from the viewpoint of those on the front lines of this national crisis. The film features a Thurmont family and other Frederick County families whose lives have been affected and forever changed by addiction, and includes stories from those currently using, people in recovery, as well as perspectives from law enforcement, healthcare workers, judges, prosecutors, and others who deal with people in this crisis every day. Ultimately, the film gives hope for the user and for the families who’ve been affected.

The film is produced and directed by Emmitsburg resident, Conrad Weaver.  The first lesson Conrad Weaver learned about heroin, as he worked to produce his new film Heroin’s Grip, was that no one is immune. Addiction captures rich and poor alike.

As one reviewer writes, “This movie is so relevant to what families are experiencing across our country. Anyone with a child should see this film. How do we keep our kids from falling into addiction? Heroin’s Grip will put it into perspective for you.”

Maryland currently ranks as the sixth deadliest state for drug overdoses.  During 2018, there were 55 fatal opioid-related overdoses, and 279 non-fatal overdoses in Frederick County alone. Within the United States, there were over 72,000 opiod-related deaths in 2017.  This is an epidemic that spans across all ages, races, and economic groups. This film gives the viewer a view of the crisis from all perspectives. 

All ages are encouraged to attend. Donations of canned foods will be accepted for the local food bank.

For more information about Heroin’s Grip, visit Follow us online at

James Rada, Jr.

At the beginning of the school year, staff at Thurmont Middle School noticed that the boys’ bathrooms smelled fruity, which is not a smell most people associate with boys’ bathrooms.

That was when the staff realized that e-cigarettes and vaping had become a problem with middle-school students.

The Thurmont Middle School PTA and Thurmont Addiction Commission sponsored “Teens and Vaping: What Every Parent Needs to Know” at Catoctin High School on April 8. Stephanie Kimble, Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Program manager with the Frederick County Health Department, gave about three dozen parents and students an overview of vaping.

Vaping is the use of a small electronic device that aerosolizes nicotine, flavoring, and other chemicals that the user inhales. The devices are often called e-cigarettes or e-pens, but the most-popular device is a JUUL, which looks like a flash drive. A small JUUL pod is inserted into the JUUL, which has the equivalent nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. It also has a variety of other chemicals.

“Kids call it the iPhone of electronic cigarettes,” Kimble said.

The FDA does not regulate these devices, and they are often marketed to youths. For instance, you can purchase skins to decorate a JUUL, just as you can purchase skins for smartphones.

JUUL, because of its small size, presents a challenge for parents and educators in part because it is easy for teens to hide. Many students also falsely believe that JUULs don’t contain nicotine.

“JUUL does not sell a device that does not contain nicotine,” Kimble said.

Besides nicotine, Kimble said JUULs contain benzoic acid, glycerol, propylene glycol, natural oils, and extracts.

“Glycerol is found in foods,” Kimble said. “The stomach can digest it. The lungs can’t.”

Among the risks of vaping are: (1) Exposure to nicotine, which is addictive and can hinder brain development in youths, which continues until age 25; (2) Exposure to toxic substances; (3) Increased likelihood to smoke; (4) Injuries from malfunctioning vaping devices; (5) Poisoning from direct exposure to some of the chemicals used; (6) Exposure to heavy metals, such as nickel, tin, and lead that the aerosol picks up from the metal coils.

While tobacco usage among students has been trending downward for years, health officials worry that vaping usage will show an upward trend. Right now, the data for the devices, which have only been around since 2015, is still being collected.

If caught vaping, students can receive a citation, just as they would if caught with alcohol.

Kimble said parents need to learn what vaping devices look like and what the risks of vaping are. They should talk to their children about the risks and set a positive role model by not vaping themselves.

Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) announced the five teachers advancing as finalists for the 2019-2020 FCPS Teacher of the Year Award, the county’s most prestigious award for teachers. Every school in FCPS is asked to nominate at least one outstanding teacher every year to be selected as the county’s Teacher of the Year. This year, after several stages of review that included interviews and submitting essays and other materials, FCPS has narrowed the field to five outstanding finalists.

Local Catoctin High School’s Michael Franklin (pictured left) is one of the five finalists. Franklin teaches physical education and chairs the department at Catoctin High School. He also teaches Fitness for Life though the FCPS Virtual School, coaches baseball, coordinates the Special Olympics Polar Bear Plunge, and chairs the ROAR Club. He has earned numerous awards, including 2014 Maryland Outstanding PE Teacher, 2016 Hood College Charles E. Tressler Distinguished Teacher Award, and 2017 Fellowship of Christian Athletes Coach of the Year.

The other four finalists are Leslie Byrd, Linganore High; Lydia Kowalski, Tuscarora High; Matthew McVay, Monocacy Middle; and John Yoho, Brunswick High.

FCPS will announce the winner of the 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year award later this spring. View the list of 2019 nominees and their photos online at

Theresa Dardanell

Catoctin High School (CHS) hosted another successful Community Dinner on Thursday, April 4, 2019.  Everyone living in the Catoctin feeder district was invited to enjoy a free meal, sponsored by Olive Garden and organized by the Outreach Committee at CHS. The Olive Garden Restaurant provided spaghetti, breadsticks, and salad. Trinity United Methodist Church donated their delicious cakes for dessert. Donations of supplies and items for the raffle were given by Weis, Food Lion, Bollinger’s Restaurant, Mountain Gate, Kountry Kitchen, Gateway Market and Candyland, Renovations Spa and Salon, Sheetz, the Palms, Carleos, and Subway.  The CHS horticulture class made beautiful table centerpieces that were given away to lucky winners at the end of the night. Staff, along with National Honor Society students, served the meal.   Volunteers also provided fun activities for the children. Hula hoops, corn hole, target toss, and board games, along with coloring supplies and face painting, were set up in the cafeteria and on the patio outside.

Carole Elliott, one of the organizers of the event, said, “We had a great turnout! Many enjoyed the dinner, raffle, games, and desserts! It was one of many events that Catoctin holds to bring the community together!”

The Outreach committee also sponsors the CHS food pantry, blessings in a backpack, Thanksgiving baskets, Santa’s workshop, and Cinderella’s closet for prom. 

Donations for any of these worthwhile programs are always welcome. Contact Carole Elliott at CHS at 240-236-8081 to find out how you can help.

Volunteers setting up for the Community Dinner at Catoctin High School.

Catoctin High School (CHS) Senior Eliza Phillips was selected as this year’s recipient of the “Student Peace Award of Frederick County,” representing  Catoctin High School.

School Counselor, Dana Brashear, stated, “Eliza goes out of her way to make others feel welcome and secure with who they are. She is not afraid to stand up for others, or be her own person.”

“It’s very difficult for me to see people hurt others. When I see injustice, I feel as if I must do what I can to make things right,” expressed Eliza.

Each year, high schools in Frederick County are invited to choose one of their students to receive the “Student Peace Award of Frederick County.” The purpose of the award is to honor students who are helping to make our world a better place by promoting the values of peacemaking, conflict resolution, and respect for all people. This year, all eleven public high schools and two private high schools in Frederick County selected a student to receive the award.

The award comes with a $200 check for the student, and a $100 contribution to the charity of the student’s choice. Eliza chose Heartly House, which provides comprehensive services for victims and survivors of intimate partner abuse, rape/sexual assault, and child abuse.

Awards were formally presented at a Peace Conference and Awards Ceremony at Friends Meeting School in Ijamsville, Maryland, on March 30, 2019. Congratulations to Eliza for receiving this recognition from her school community.

Eliza Phillips, senior at Catoctin High School, is selected as this year’s recipient of the “Student Peace Award of Frederick County.

The Thurmont High School Alumni Association will hold its annual banquet on Saturday, June 1, 2019, at the new Thurmont Event Complex, located at 13716 Strafford Drive, just off of Lawyer’s Lane, from Route 550 South of Thurmont.

Social hour will begin at 5:00 p.m., with the meal served promptly at 6:00 p.m. The classes ending in 4 or 9 will receive special recognition. Several basket raffles and a 50/25/25 raffle will take place.

Six graduating seniors, related to Thurmont High School Alumni, will receive $1,000 scholarships. The cost for the evening is $23.00 per person, which should be mailed to Viola Noffsinger, 12510 Creagerstown Road, Thurmont, MD 21788 (before May 16).

All alumnus of Thurmont High School and Catoctin High School classes (1969-1972), and friends, are encouraged to attend.

Visit the alumni Facebook page: Thurmont High School Alumni Association. Questions, special reports, or other information may be sent to vmnoff@ or call 301-898-9898.

Blair Garrett

Catoctin High School (CHS) student-athletes play a huge role in the development and success of our school programs.

Several athletes in particular out-performed the rest, taking the next step with their education and athletic career in pursuing their respective sports at the collegiate level.

Nine students at CHS signed their letters of intent to commit to being a student-athlete after graduation this spring: Melanie Topper—Hood College Basketball, RJ Mellor—Messiah College Lacrosse, Cam Baumgardner—Kutztown University Track and Field, Raegan Smith—Salisbury University Softball, Hunter Grimes—Saint Vincent College Football/Lacrosse, Ashley Mayton—Shepherd University Softball, Derek Rivera—Hagerstown Community College Golf, Victoria Bryant—Stevenson University Volleyball, Caitlyn Naff—University of Pittsburgh at Bradford Volleyball.

These students spent all year working and competing with their teams to prove to colleges and universities that they are ready to move forward with their athletic and academic careers, and that is something that did not go unnoticed by coaches, friends, and fans. 

Less than 17 percent of all high school athletes pursue collegiate sports, so these select few who are able and willing to push forward are surely something special.

All nine athletes signed together and took pictures with their coaches, family, and friends at the high school’s annual signing day. The balance between studies and athletics can be difficult to manage, but each Catoctin High athlete has proven they can compete and succeed in both, and they will look to continue that trend over the coming years. Congratulations to the athletes and families, and keep making the Catoctin Area proud!

Pictured from left are: (sitting) Melanie Topper, RJ Mellor, Cam Baumgardner, Raegan Smith, Hunter Grimes, Ashley Mayton, Derek Rivera, Victoria Bryant, and Caitlyn Naff; (standing) Girl’s Basketball Coach Amy Entwistle, Boy’s Lacrosse Coach Neil Metzgar, Football Coach Doug Williams, Softball Coach Jessica Valentine, Golf Coach Tyler Auscherman, and Volleyball Coach Sherry Levering.

Saint Anthony Shrine and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Parishes

by Theresa Dardanell

A Pastorate—two churches with one pastor. Saint Anthony Shrine (SAS) in Emmitsburg and Our Lady of Mount Carmel (OLMC) in Thurmont began as independent parishes; the dedication of the church in Thurmont was held on June 5, 1859, and the dedication of the church in Emmitsburg was held on October 26, 1897.  However, in 1987, they joined together to become one pastorate, with Father Edward Hemler as the pastor. He was succeeded by Father Leo Tittler in 1992, Father James Hannon in 2001, and Father Colin Poston—the current pastor—in 2016. Each church maintains a historic cemetery; the cemetery at Saint Anthony Shrine includes the graves of several members of the family of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. 

Both parishes work together as one. The mass schedule gives parishioners the option to attend mass at either church. Mass is celebrated at SAS on Saturdays at 4:00 p.m. and Sundays at 9:00 a.m., and celebrated on Sundays at OLMC at 7:30 a.m. in the church and at 11:00 a.m. in the parish center. The Catholic Mass includes readings, prayers, a homily, a chance to share a greeting of peace, and communion. Music is an integral part of the service, with a choir or a cantor and organist leading the congregation in song. 

Members of both parishes share religious education, social outreach programs, and fundraisers.  Funds donated by parishioners are distributed to organizations, including the local food bank, the Seton Center, the Catoctin Pregnancy Center, the St. Vincent DePaul Society, and Catholic Charities.  Volunteers visit homebound parishioners. Once a month, members provide casseroles to the Frederick Rescue Mission. The parish youth have the opportunity to serve by participating in the Baltimore Work Camp, where they spend a week during the summer refurbishing homes for people in need, in and around the Baltimore area. This program, which is open to youth in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, is organized by Saint Anthony Shrine parish.

Religious education includes classes for children and adults.  Students in kindergarten through grade eight meet on Sunday mornings. Students in ninth grade participate in confirmation preparation. Vacation Bible School is open to any student in Kindergarten through fifth grade, and will be held this year in July. Middle school and high school students who are members of the youth ministry meet regularly for faith discussions, as well as social activities like paintball, bowling and ski trips. Adult Bible study is held on Thursday nights. RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) is a process for adults to prepare to be fully initiated into the Catholic faith. This process is open to adults who have not been baptized, who have been baptized in a non-catholic denomination and wish to become Catholic, or baptized Catholics who have not received Eucharist and/or Confirmation. 

Everyone in the community is welcome to attend the many fundraising events held at both churches. Food and fun are the ingredients of these activities. You can enjoy delicious food provided by the Knights of Columbus at the community breakfasts, the Shrove Tuesday meal, and the Lenten fish bakes. Don’t miss the Colorfest food stand or the Labor Day picnic at Our Lady of Mount Carmel church. Try your luck at Bingo or look for hidden treasures at the yard sales that are held at Saint Anthony Shrine at various times during the year. Look for information about upcoming events in The Catoctin Banner.

Father Colin said, “We are a very welcoming community in the Catholic tradition. People who come here seem to enjoy it and find a family here. Everybody is welcome to come here and be a part of our family and to grow in the Lord and experience the beauty of the Catholic Faith.” Deacon Joe Wolf added, “It is a community. It is where you can turn to in time of need and in time of joy. We try to share all of that with each other.”

Saint Anthony Shrine is located at 16150 St. Anthony Road in Emmitsburg; Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church is located at 103 North Church Street in Thurmont. The parish office is located at SAS, and their phone number is 301-447-2367. Their very informative website at provides additional information about the history of both parishes, the patron saints of each church, the sacraments, religious education, special events, and much more. 

Pictured from left are James (Rex) Davis; Father Collin Poston, holding Otto; Deacon Joe Wolf; Karen Davis; and Cindy Wivell in front of Saint Anthony Shrine in Emmitsburg.

                                                                                                                                Photos by Theresa Dardanell

By James Rada, Jr.

May 1919, 100 Years Ago

Smith Escapes From Jail

Ross Smith, one of the two Smith brothers who was arrested for stealing meat at Thurmont, and was sent to Frederick County jail because he could not furnish bail, escaped from prison Tuesday night. Another prisoner, Horace Johnson, a negro, escaped with Smith, and the two are still at large.

                                          – Catoctin Clarion, May 1, 1919

Must Attend School

No little commotion was caused last week among patrons of Catoctin Furnace and Blue Mountain public schools when 20 or more families were  summoned to appear before Justice Cadow of this place, on complaint made by school attendance officer, Franklin Harshman.

The reports sent to the School Board by Miss Edith Brown, teacher at Blue Mountain School, and by Mr. Howard Bussard and Miss Lillian Kelly, teachers at Catoctin, showed that many children enrolled were not attending school, one being present but 18 days during the school year to April 1st.

Under the law, every child is requested to make at least 100 days if its health permits.

It is well known that due to the Flu schools were closed last fall, but since January 1st there has been no epidemic of special reason for children staying away from school.

Some of the reasons given by parents for their children not being in school were, that the teacher told their child to go home and stay home, some had to help wash, some pasture cattle, some were sick or had sick brothers or sisters, some no clothes and several fathers had no excuse whatever.

                                          – Catoctin Clarion, May 1, 1919

May 1944, 75 Years Ago

Thurmont Firemen Will Purchase New Equipment

At a recent meeting of the Guardian Hose Company, approval was given by the members for the purchase of a booster tank that would carry a sufficient amount of water to put out a fire where there was not stream or plug to draw from.

Several months ago, when the firemen had to stand by, helplessly, and watch the home of Raymond Putman, near Creagerstown, burn to the ground because the water supply gave out at a critical point, they realized how handicapped they were and how badly they needed a tank that would carry more water, and immediately they began an investigation for a new pumper.

The pumper, which the firemen feel would meet their needs, would be mounted on a ton and a half truck, with a tank that would carry 500 gallons of water, together with two 250-foot lengths of 3/4 –inch highly tested hose, with two nozzles or guns.

                                          – Catoctin Enterprise, May 12, 1944

Thurmont Future Farmers Win Paper Drive Contest

The Thurmont Chapter of the Future Farmers of America won first prize in the scrap paper collection contest, sponsored by the Frederick County Salvage Committee, in which they participated. They will receive a cash award of $20, as announced by the chairman, Dr. David G. Everhart.

The chapter collected a total of 12,170 pounds during the month of April. Two weeks ago, a house to house collection was made by the boys at which time they gathered 5,070 pounds and previously they had brought in 7,100 pounds, which gave each member an average of over 500 pounds.

Emmitsburg school won second prize in the contest, collecting 9,555 pounds, and will be awarded $15. Other winners were Elm street school, Frederick, 7,075 pounds, and Johnsville, 3,615 pounds. They will receive prizes of $10 and $5, respectively.

                                          – Catoctin Enterprise, May 12, 1944

May 1969, 50 Years Ago

Firemen Spend Busy Week

Efforts of a group of men to prevent a forest fire led to the Vigilant Hose Co. being summoned to a field and brush conflagration Friday afternoon at 4:08.

Friday afternoon a committee of men visited the camp site preparatory to a group of boys being brought there for an outing. In order to avoid any spread of flames when a large campfire was ignited for the boys, the group of men determined to burn off the grass in the area where they planned to have the bonfire.

Chief McGlaughlin said the effort was proceeding well when a “a gust of wind came along and the fire scattered all over the place.”

The Emmitsburg firemen held the resulting field and brush fire to an area covering an acre.

The blaze was the second in two days for the firemen, who were called Thursday when a lawn mower burst into blaze at the property of Alice Balmer on DePaul St.

                                          – Emmitsburg Chronicle, May 2, 1969

Police Dept. Operates Smoothly; Hire New Officer

Emmitsburg’s Police Dept. is now operating at a full complement of two officers.

The Town Council appointed W. Henry Filler as officer last December 20. In recent months, he has been promoted to Chief of Police. Chief Filler is a Korean War veteran and was overseas 18 months. Following his discharge from the military, he served in the classified documents department at Ft. Detrick for several years. His most recent employment was a two-and-a-half year stretch of service with the Thurmont Police Dept.

Chief Filler resides at Mt. Manor Motel and plans to take a police review course sometime in the future.

The newest addition to the Police Dept. is Thomas F. Colliflower, Jr., 22, Frederick. Colliflower accepted employment on May 6.

                                          – Emmitsburg Chronicle, May 14, 1969

May 1994, 25 Years Ago

Emmitsburg Jumpers

The Emmitsburg Elementary School held Jump Rope for Heart on March 10. The children raised nearly $4,700 for the American Heart Association. Over 100 children, parents and faculty jumped rope for 180 minutes. Refreshements were provided by the Emmitsburg Jubilee. Fifteen children individually raised over $100 each, with Ying Li raising the most, $500.

                                          – The Frederick News, May 7, 1994

Group Seeks Cullen Probe

A citizens’ group has asked Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-6th, to launch a federal inquiry into Victor Cullen Academy, a reform school for boys that opened in September 1992.

Concerned Citizens, Inc. has fought having the school here since it was proposed in 1992, and at one point sued the state Department of Juvenile Services, attempting to close the facility.

The suit was rejected by a circuit court judge last year, and according to Dr. Bartlett’s press secretary, the latest assault by Concerned Citizens is also in trouble.

                                                – The Frederick Post, May 25, 1994

by Anita DiGregory

“Building Cathedrals”

On April 15, 2019, a massive fire destroyed much of the Notre Dame Cathedral. The devastating fire took nearly 15 hours to extinguish. Within that time, the roof and exquisite spire were destroyed, collapsing into the cathedral’s interior ceiling. When sections of this stone vaulting collapsed, the marble floor below was littered with burning roof.  Historic arches were damaged, and pews were destroyed. More than 400 firefighters fought to save the cathedral, while 100 more labored to save priceless relics and artifacts.  Stories of bravery, courage, and faith surfaced, detailing the heroes who worked tirelessly to save the cathedral and her treasures. In the end, the Blessed Sacrament was saved, as well as the two towers and most of the artifacts. Later, photos of the sunlight streaming through and illuminating the miraculous, surviving cross and altar appeared across social media outlets.

Perhaps one of the most captivating aspects of this tragic event was the reaction of not just the French people, but people young and old around the world.  Almost instantly, local crowds gathered in prayer and song.  Meanwhile, people around the world watched, waited, and prayed, shocked and saddened.

It seems obvious why such a tragedy would cause such great sadness for Catholics, who were mourning the loss of such a treasure of the Church: the sacred site of conversions, healing, prayer, and sacraments. But this tragedy reached across age, gender, and faiths, touching so many. One could surmise that the reason it has touched so many is because it means something deeply personal to each of us. Whether that reason was seeped in faith, memories, history, beauty, art, or something else, this devastation united us in thought, prayer, and reflection.

Personally, as I reflected on the tragic events, I was reminded of a short story I had read once. The Invisible Mother by Nicole Johnson details the story of a mom who was experiencing a bit of an existential crisis, as it seemed she had become invisible. It all started to make sense to her one day when her son referred to her as “nobody.”  A crossing guard had asked the youngster who was accompanying him; but instead of acknowledging his mom, he said, “Nobody.” 

This, she reasoned, was why no one ever listened to, acknowledged, or payed mind to her advice, comments, or commands…why no one ever offered to help…why she could be there serving, helping, managing, loving 24/7, but never really be seen.  She surmised she must indeed be invisible.

She continued to feel invisible until one night a girlfriend gifted her with a book on the Europe’s great cathedrals, and it was signed, “With admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.”

As a result, Johnson states: “I discovered what would become for me, four life-changing truths: (1.) No one can say who built the great cathedrals—we have no record of their names; (2.) These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished; (3.) They made great sacrifices and expected no credit; (4.) The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.”

Being a mom is hard, labor-intensive work. Whether you are a sleep-deprived new momma, a single mom trying to cover all the bases, a dedicated stay-at-home mom, an empty-nester trying to figure out where to go from here, a working mom struggling to do all you can at home and at work, a mom of littles or of not-so-littles or of both, a grieving mom, a step or foster momma, a grandmother, a mother caring for a sick child or a child with special needs, whatever the momma…this job is not for the faint of heart. The hours are long, and the work is intense. There will be newborn sleepless nights; there will be waiting up for a driving teenager sleepless nights; and there will be tossing and turning, praying, and worrying over your young adults sleepless nights.  There will be moments of sheer physical, spiritual, and emotional exhaustion, and moments of utter joy and elation. At times you are gonna feel sticky, smelly, exhausted, scared, anxious, embarrassed, unsure, and, yes, even invisible.  But be assured, you are not invisible. God sees all you do and so do others. Your work may be hard, but what you are doing is so very important. You are building a human. So, continue building in love; the reward is immeasurable. 

Johnson adds, “As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right—which is why we may feel invisible some days. But one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible mothers.”

“Love of a Mother” by Christina DiGregory.

by Valerie Nusbaum

The Nusbaums aren’t gamblers.  However, we do enjoy winning something every now and then, and as the saying goes: “You have to play to win.” That’s why whenever the jackpot reaches $500,000,000, we each buy a lottery ticket.  Neither Randy nor I have ever won anything in the Lotto, but there’s always next time. In fact, I don’t believe either of us has even had one number that matched the drawing, but hope springs eternal.

Once in a great while one of us will buy a scratch-off lottery ticket. We stick with the cheap $1.00 or $2.00 tickets. Those denominations have lower payouts; but, because we tend not to win anything—ever—our losses are smaller. I’d feel horrible if I invested $10.00 in a scratch-off and didn’t at least win back my investment.

Case in point: It was Randy’s birthday, and I wanted to stick a little something inside his birthday card, so I bought one $2.00 scratch-off ticket from the machine at the grocery store. I put the ticket inside the card, and he was tickled when he opened it. Never one to delay gratification, Randy (who refrains from eating leafy greens whenever he can because he knows that any of us could die at any time, and he doesn’t want his last meal to be a salad) grabbed a quarter and began scratching.  Scratching the ticket, I mean. The other scratching is a story for another time. When the smoke cleared, Randy held up his ticket and showed me that he’d won back my two dollars. He was happy. I was happy. I thought it was all over.

We were out running errands a few days later, and Randy decided to cash in his winning ticket. He trotted into the convenience store and came back out with two $1.00 tickets. He handed one to me and I tried to give it back, saying that he should scratch both since he bought them with his winnings and, besides, I’m never lucky. He wouldn’t hear of it, and he quickly scratched off his ticket and said a bad word. He hadn’t won anything.  I resignedly scratched off my own ticket and saw that I’d actually won $10.00. I was elated that we’d won something, but I still felt that Randy should keep the winnings.  He took the ticket back inside the store. I figured he’d come back out with the $10.00, but instead he came back with $8.00 and two more tickets. There is something to be said for quitting while one is ahead, but I’d forgotten to say that.  Neither ticket paid off, so we lost my initial two dollars and came out eight dollars ahead.

That was when Randy looked at me and said that we should give Bromstadt a call. For those of you who don’t know, David Bromstadt is a home designer. He has a show on the HGTV network called, My Lottery Dream Home. Each week, Mr. Bromstadt works with a person or family who has won a large lottery purse to find them the home of their dreams. The prize winnings range from half a million dollars to ten or fifteen million, but most weeks, David is working with a million dollar jackpot. Most of the winners give David a modest budget to work with, usually in the $200,000 to $400,000 range. A million dollars doesn’t buy what it used to. Randy and I are fascinated to see what qualifies as a “dream home” in those price ranges.  Granted, most of the lottery winners are regular people like us, so they’re not looking for garages for their collection of sports cars or for in-home bowling alleys, but my jaw still drops when they settle for sharing a bathroom with a spouse.

Randy was joking, of course, that our $8.00 would buy us a dream house. He just thinks it would be a great social experiment to have David Bromstadt come to Thurmont, wearing his red shoes and fur coats. I think David is pretty cute, but it would be funny to give him a list of our demands for a home if money were no object. We’d want to live in this area because we like it here. The house would need to be a rancher since we’re getting old and stairs will be an issue one day. Maybe we’d ask for a separate wing for my mother or a guest house, along with a workshop for Randy and a studio for me. The kitchen would have to have tons of storage, and I’m talking serious closet space all over. Privacy is important, but I’d want to be within five minutes of a grocery store and a McDonald’s—I love my Diet Cokes. And, unlike the couples on the TV show, we’d need separate bathrooms for everyone. That’s non-negotiable.  Also, Randy thinks we should buy the adjoining property so that Steve and Brooke can still live beside us.  I know what you’re thinking. If we want that to happen, we’re going to need to buy more tickets.

In the meantime, we’re pretty happy where we are, and we already have most of our list covered or can make do with what we have. I really should go out and buy a ticket, though, because my left palm has been itching up a storm.

by Christine Maccabee

Vitamin “N”

Spring is springing! All the dead looking trees and shrubs are budding and leafing, as are the multitude of wild plants. My specialty is habitat for wildlife, and so this is my time of year to be outside observing as much as possible. Today was no exception.

Thinking I would take a short walk down my lane and back, I became immersed in everything natural. I picked up some really nice dry kindling wood for my fire while listening to the excited calls of hawks, which are busy mating and/or hunting. Both of us are hunting in our own ways.

On the way back to my gardens, I checked on young saplings  of dogwood, hawthorne, and others growing in my field, which I am protecting from the nibbling habits of deer with chicken wire fences. Reaching the garden gate, I entered the inner sanctum of my gardens. I knew of one area where I needed to pull the wild ground cress before they go to seed and before the coming storm. Using the wild cress as an excuse to stay outside to get some more Vitamin “N”, I procrastinated going into the house to type this. Thanks, cress!

I knew my wild black raspberries were inundated with the cress, so after spending a little time in the gazebo with my garden cat, Golden Boy—who loves me and whom I love—I stretched and readied myself to weed the cress. I love its tiny white flowers, which are some of the first wild flowers to bloom in the spring; but, it matures quickly and spreads with equally tiny seeds that fly off  two- to four-inch stems like little bullets. So, it needs controlling, like many other problems in or out of the garden. Luckily, land cress is very shallow rooted and easy to pull.

I love the spicy flavor of cress leaves in salads or eating it straight; yet, today, I felt an urgency to pull it before it went to seed. In some ways, certain wild native plants can actually become invasives. I leave land cress and the violets and clovers in my lawn and pathways, but not in my vegetable and berry beds! Finding a short stool, I began pulling and made some discoveries. New raspberry shoots are growing and must be protected. I also found the rosette of a rare plant, the wild native mullein, which I love. I do allow certain wild plants to grow wherever I find them, especially endangered ones.

The wild native mullein has been loosing a foothold in our landscapes due to roadside mowing and gardeners weeding them out. They are in peril, but not in my sanctuary. It does take research to discover what wild natives look like in early spring, or by someone like me, who has been studying and saving wild plants for most of my life. I consider one of my highest callings to be  a plant savior and a caretaker of wild things. Not everyone can do this—or even cares to—but it is not just curiosity that gets me exploring, though that is a big factor. As anyone who reads about habitat loss and the crisis our pollinators and birds are experiencing, I also am very concerned, so that is a primary motivator.

I take my care-taking calling very seriously, and encourage others to grow wild native plants as well. It is not as hard as one might think. The key is to get outside and get curious. It is also important to get regular doses of Vitamin “N”, as Richard Louv puts it, to increase our own health as well as one’s appreciation of  and empathy for all living things.

I welcome this lush spring, and summer coming, as a cure for depression, for leaving behind the noise of machines, as well as the fast-paced life on the road and indoor activities behind a screen. Please do watch for my invitation in next month’s article for you to come to an event at my hideout in the Catoctin Mountains, as a chance to immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and smells of my Mystic Meadows. Or, be in touch with me if you want to come by at any time to get a dose of Vitamin “N”and learn more about native plants as you immerse yourself in the wonder and beauty of the natural world!

by James Rada, Jr.

The End of Rocky Ridge

Rocky Ridge disappeared in 1913. “So far as railroad matters are concerned, Rocky Ridge does not exist and hereafter that station will be known as Emmitsburg Junction,” the Catoctin Clarion reported.

The Western Maryland Railroad (WMRR) station had opened in Rocky Ridge in 1870, with Sheridan Biggs serving as the first freight agent and telegraph operator. He served in that position until 1907. Over the years, he had had to deal with confusion over passengers knowing that they needed to switch trains in Rocky Ridge in order to get to Emmitsburg on the Emmitsburg Railroad. They boarded a small train made up of an engine, baggage car, smoker/mail car, and parlor car.

Though only a few miles long, the railroad was well run. The Adams County News noted in 1916, “…there is to-day a short distance from Gettysburg a railroad planned, built and financed through the efforts of women, a road which was built some 40 years ago and which to-day untroubled by strikes and other unpleasantness, is paying steadily 4 per cent on the original investment.”

The Daughters of Charity owned 70 percent of the stock in the railroad, according to the Adams County News. This is not surprising since one of the stops on the line was at St. Joseph College. Students traveling to Mount St. Mary’s College also used the railroad traveling to and from school.

“It is probably the only road in existence where the possession of an ordinary ticket entitles one to parlor-car accommodations,” the Adams County News reported.

But something about the location confused passengers, despite the conductor often calling out, “Rocky Ridge, change for Emmitsburg.”

A.V.D. Watterson, Esq., a Pittsburgh attorney and president of the Mount St. Mary’s Alumni Association, lobbied to the Western Maryland Railroad for years to change the name of Rocky Ridge to Emmitsburg Junction to make it clearer that the station was a changing point for passengers.

In 1913, he wrote the directors of the WMRR again. This time, he noted in his letter, “Since a through line is now established from Pittsburgh to Baltimore, which will permit of persons going through to Emmitsburg with only one change of cars, it is important to your Company to make a change of this kind, and I, therefore, again call your attention to it.”

This time, the directors agreed with his reasoning and renamed Rocky Ridge Emmitsburg Junction on all of its documentation and schedules. However, the post office remained Rocky Ridge, so anything being mailed to Emmitsburg Junction had to be sent to Rocky Ridge.

The Clarion noted that the change might have come too late. Thurmont might soon become the transfer point for rail travelers if the Frederick and Hagerstown Railway continued to grow.

“It is hoped a trolley road will soon be built from Thurmont to Mt. St. Mary’s for the benefit and convenience of the hundreds of students attending college at that place, and also for the benefit of the many people residing between these two points,” the newspaper reported.

This did not happen, but with the growth of automobile travel, so few people were using the Emmitsburg Railroad by 1935 that it became freight only. It ceased operation in 1940.

Even then, not all the stations along the Western Maryland line were alerted to the change.

In 1959, Mrs. James Tucker and her daughter, both from Boston, traveled to New York City, where they purchased a ticket to Emmitsburg via Emmitsburg Junction. They boarded the train for the five-hour trip to St. Joseph College.

When the New Englanders arrived at Emmitsburg Junction, they found a worn out railway station but no railroad, not even a track,” the Gettysburg Times reported.

Luckily, they met Guy Baker, who was driving a mail and express truck. He offered to take the ladies to the college.

Emmitsburg Junction still continues to pop up on modern maps from time to time, although it should have ceased to exist along the railroad. A 1992 Frederick County trash map showed Emmitsburg Junction as north of MD 77, while Rocky Ridge was south of the highway. Even today, if you type Emmitsburg Junction into Mapquest, it will take you to Rocky Ridge.

Rocky Ridge WM Station.