Currently viewing the tag: "Thanksgiving"

Across the Miles

by Valerie Nusbaum

With Thanksgiving and the holiday season upon us once again, I’m reminiscing about years past and feeling blessed to have such wonderful memories. I’m sure you are, too. These are just some of the highlights of my Thanksgivings with Randy.

For our first Thanksgiving together, I had the bright idea to host the meal at our house. No small feat since we didn’t yet have a dining room table and there were eight of us. We borrowed folding tables and extended them from our small dining room into the living room. Cousin Linda had given us a lovely non-stick roaster for a wedding gift, and we were anxious to try it out. I used my mom’s tried-and-true method for a juicy turkey and started the bird in the oven at 400 degrees at 11:00 p.m. on Wednesday. At midnight, I turned the oven temperature down to 200 degrees and planned to slow roast the turkey overnight. At 1:00 a.m., the bird was falling-off-the-bone done. You can imagine how the rest of the meal went.

We visited my brother and his family in Rutland, Vermont, in 1997.  Because of our work schedules, we drove to New York on Wednesday night. After getting up before dawn on Thursday and driving for hours, we needed a pit stop but couldn’t find anything open—not even a gas station. Finally, we saw some cars at a Friendly’s, so we rushed inside.  The young woman at the takeout window looked us over and informed us that the restaurant would be closing at noon. My watch showed 11:52 a.m. Randy said, “We’d like two Diet Cokes to go. Where is your restroom?” When she opened her mouth to protest, Randy looked her in the eye calmly said, “This is happening.” It did.

For many years, while our parents were with us, Randy and I hosted Thanksgiving dinner. We made it a point to include anyone we knew who didn’t have plans. Some years, there were five or six of us. Some years, there were twelve. We found Mary’s slippers in the fridge, inside a bag with fresh sausage. Bill made a loaf of homemade bread and left the paddle in the loaf. Pat enjoyed making a turkey picture by tracing her hand on paper.  Dale, Randy, and Bill fought over the oysters. Andrew got sick and gave it to the rest of us. The Johnsons came for dessert. There were pilgrim costumes and feathers, hand towels folded into turkeys, acorns made from kisses, and the list goes on.

In 2001, Randy and I were on vacation in Ocean City, Maryland, and we made Thanksgiving dinner reservations at The Bonfire. My mom had plans to dine with her next-door neighbor, so I knew she’d be taken care of; but when I spoke to Mom on Tuesday of that week, she told me that her plans had been canceled. I couldn’t leave Mom all alone (Randy’s parents were with his brother and the kids, so they were okay), so on Wednesday, we drove four hours back to Brunswick to pick up Mom and her luggage, then drove back to Ocean City that night. We changed our dinner reservation from two to three and had a lovely time sitting by the fireplace, watching football and feasting on five kinds of stuffing and various turkey parts. Afterward, we rode the train through the Festival of Lights and had hot chocolate with Santa. 

In 2008, we again visited my brother who had moved to Bozeman, Montana. Dinner was hosted by friends of theirs at their horse ranch, and we were all seated around a huge dining table. It was so gracious of them to include us. My sister-in-law was responsible for the pumpkin pies, which I found amusing since she rarely uses her kitchen. She gave it a go, though. Randy and I took some hostess gifts and treats for the kids. Our host, Chuck, asked us to go around the table and tell what dish our family always ate that wasn’t featured on their table. Silly me. I didn’t realize the correct answer was: “Why nothing.  Everything is here.” I mentioned that our families ate sauerkraut with a turkey dinner, probably going back to the Dutch/German settlers in our area. There was dead silence at the table.  Kind of reminded me of the time Randy had the gall to show my cousin, Craig, a photo of a trout he’d caught on another trip to Montana. That did not go over well, either.

Twice, we ate out at the Epic Buffet at Charles Town Races. We missed having leftovers.

For Thanksgiving 2021, we thought it would be brilliant to be vendors at the Holiday Fair in Ocean City. We got takeout dinners from Cracker Barrel. Not great and not even real turkey. With setup on Wednesday and working Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, it was an exhausting but enjoyable time. Michele Tester even came to visit!

Last year, we traveled to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for Thanksgiving and stayed at Hershey Farms. The breakfast buffet was included with our stay, so that made three buffets in two days. I kid you not. What does one do after eating all that food, you ask?  Well, we went to Green Dragon on Black Friday and stocked up on fresh fruits and vegetables. And Long Johns.

We’re doing the Ocean City Holiday Fair again this year and taking dinner with us, so I know the turkey will be real.

Whatever you do, wherever you go, Randy and I hope you have a happy, safe, and delicious Thanksgiving!

It’s Party Time!

by Valerie Nusbaum

Let me start off by wishing each and every one of you a happy fall season, or as my Aunt Faye would have said, “Happy Fall Y’all!”

I might as well wish everyone a happy Halloween, too. October 31 will roll around before we know it, followed by Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and all the other fall holidays. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m just not ready. Maybe the horribly hot summer had something to do with that. I’m definitely ready for cooler temperatures, but all the work that goes into all the holidays has me feeling exhausted just thinking about it. Instead, I’m thinking about past good times and relishing the fact that I don’t have to work any harder than I choose to this year.

Randy and I, and my parents before us, have always enjoyed a good Halloween party. I’m reminded of several parties we either threw or attended, where one thing led to another and things got out of hand.

There was a work party years ago when Randy and I both worked at a local bank. Roxann and Harry Welch and Randy and I got the bright idea to wear a joint costume. Randy suggested that we all go as a hand, with each one of us being a finger, and carrying the thumb along. We made the costume out of carpet padding, and that thing weighed a ton. We had to lie down and wriggle up into the fingers and then we had a terrible time getting upright.  Not to mention that we had to crowd into an elevator and no one had a hand free to push the buttons. We’d cut holes in the finger pads for our faces, and so we could breathe, but we wore plastic masks so that our co-workers wouldn’t recognize us.   Needless to say, we came out of the hand as soon as possible, which was a good thing because we had to run all over Frederick in the dark finding things for a scavenger hunt. Randy and Harry may or may not have done something illegal. That’s all I’m saying.

Once, my family rented a huge building and had a very large party.  At our parties, guests can wear anything they want, and they don’t have to come in costume at all if that’s not their thing. Randy and I spent all day doing elaborate decorations, even creating a maze for guests to walk through. It was pretty great. One person even suggested that we open it to the public and charge admission.  We didn’t do that. We did, however, do a murder mystery that year. Every guest had a part to play. It got a little crazy because, as we all know, people can’t follow directions or stick to a script.

Our friends, the Heffner-Joneses, throw a themed costume party almost every year. One year, the theme was Downton Abbey. It was fun dressing in 1920s attire that night. Another time, the theme was Harry Potter.  Randy went as Farmer Brown and I was a black and white cow because those were the costumes we had on hand. Mind you, Randy had to re-write one of the Potter novels to include those characters, but our hosts were so impressed by Randy’s invented story that he won first prize in whatever contest was being held. 

Last year, we were instructed to come dressed as our favorite country or rock and roll act. Naturally, we went as The Village People. Yes, I know there are only two of us and six Village People. Randy was the construction worker, and I was the cowboy. We carried small versions of the other four. Most of the guests didn’t get it, and Randy’s mustache wouldn’t stay on.

Another year, we hosted a party here and invited my cousins and elderly aunts. My mom was with us then, too. We had to call the paramedics for that one, and the party ended earlier than intended.

It’s always fun when hosting a Halloween party to come up with delicious-tasting but horribly gross or scary food. I’ve created werewolf fingers and bloody dipping sauce, a Jack o’lantern that threw up guacamole, tiny sandwiches shaped like bats and ghosts, and Jack o’lantern pepperoni pizzas.

There have been other Halloween/fall celebrations, such as the time we had a scarecrow-making contest. That one got combative pretty quickly, and the prize was only a box of candy. 

One year, at the Murphy’s house, Mr. Murphy dressed up as Pippi Longstocking and Aunt Gladys was a gorilla. This was notable because both of those folks were older then than I am now. They were good sports, but they did have a few problems playing charades while wearing their costumes.

My brother, our friends, and I used to go to our Grandmother Ella’s house in West Virginia to help her out with trick-or-treat since she had hundreds of kids come by each year. We’d dress up and decorate the yard and scare the kids, and our grandmother would have treats inside for us. She used to make homemade gingerbread with a warm lemon sauce to pour over it.  Delicious!

As I look back on all these good times, I’m especially grateful for good friends and a wonderful family, and also that I’ll probably be at home in my pajamas this year.

by Maxine Troxell

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

Grandma’s Thanksgiving Cake


   2 ½ cups sifted cake flour

   2 teaspoons baking soda

   2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

   1 teaspoon salt

2 cups sugar

                2 cups crushed vanilla wafers

   1 cup chopped pecans

   1 cup vegetable oil

   4 eggs

   1 can (15 oz.) pumpkin

½ cup caramel topping

1 cup pecan halves

Pumpkin candies, if desired


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

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

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

Frost with your favorite cream cheese or your favorite frosting.

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

by Ava Morlier, Culinary Arts Writer

I’m also thankful for Thanksgiving as a holiday. It’s a great way for beginners to learn from the masters, cooking-wise.

A variety of cooking techniques and flavors ensure everyone can contribute and enjoy a Thanksgiving feast to the fullest.

Today’s recipe is unlike the traditional dishes and side dishes of Thanksgiving and integrates a unique cooking technique: gougères.

Deluxe in nature, gougères are a great Thanksgiving accompaniment. Elements of gruyère and black pepper provide richness, while the puffy nature of the pâte à choux allows the gougères to be deliciously delicate and airy (not weighing down your stomach like most dinner rolls).

Additionally, the base of the gougères  (called pâte à choux) is easy to make and is utilized for many pastries (such as cream puffs and eclairs). It is the key element in ensuring that the gougères are soft but delicately crunchy.  Your in-laws will be impressed and begging for more! Enjoy your Thanksgiving deliciously, and have fun cooking up a storm!



1 c. water

1 stick butter

2 tbsp. sugar

1 c. flour

3 eggs, pre-cracked in separate bowls

¾ c. grated gruyère (can add more if preferred)

1 tsp. salt

½  tsp. black pepper


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat water on medium heat in the pot until warm. Add butter and cook until melted.

Once melted, add flour and mix well. It should form a clumpy paste. Cook 1-2 minutes in order to cook out the flour.

Move mixture to the bowl. Mix with a mixer in order to cool the mixture down for about 1-2 minutes.

Once cooled, add eggs one at a time. Mix well after each addition.

Add grated cheese, salt, and pepper to the mixture; mix until well incorporated. Intermittently scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Layer the sheet pan with parchment paper. Pipe or spoon 1-inch rounds onto the pan, 2 inches apart.

Put in the oven and let cook for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown and puffed.

Take out of the oven and put on the cooling rack. Cut open with a serrated knife while warm. Let cool and serve.

Tools Needed

Medium pot, (optional) cheese grater, solid and liquid measuring utensils, mixer and beaters, bowl, fork, piping bag or 2 spoons, small bowl, parchment paper, large sheet pan, serrated knife, cooling rack.

*With credit to Amy Finley’s Gougeres recipe on and Chef Liddick of CTC.

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 Teresa Kempisty

Photos by Teresa Kempisty

President John Dowling & Board Member Kathy Dowling drive in the Drive-By Greetings Parade on October 14, 2020, waving to over 36 seniors

Jim and Joan Leo are visited during the October 14th Drive-By Greetings Parade.

Helen Deluca waves to the participants in the October 14th Drive-By Greetings Parade.

Hi, there! Happy Thanksgiving to all! 

Even in these difficult COVID times, we can all find much to be thankful for. If you can’t find anything to be thankful for, try reaching out to a friend or neighbor in need. It always helps us when we help others. Please wear your masks and social distance, and keep your hands washed and away from your face when you are with others. 

I have observed something that troubles me about mask-wearing.  I have noticed that not all people are wearing masks over their nose and mouth. If your mask is to be protective of you and others, you must have both your nose and mouth covered. I know it’s a bother, and it causes glasses to fog up, but it is a simple bother if it keeps you and others well. 

Several of you have called the Thurmont Senior Center (TSC) regarding meeting with Ellie (Jenkins) Williams about Medicare prescription coverage during the open season, but the Department of Aging (now called Senior Services Division) is not meeting with anyone in person. They are taking appointments to talk on the phone or virtually. To make an appointment, call the Senior Services Division at 301-600-1234. 

Beginning back on October 8 (monthly now), we held our Fundraiser Night again at Roy Rogers in Thurmont (always on the second Thursday night of each month), from 5:00-8:00 p.m. However, it will now be drive-thru only. Please specify when you order that it’s for the Thurmont Senior Center fundraiser. The drive-thru stipulation is due to the restaurant only being able to have 50 percent capacity inside. Also, we are not having our bake sale at this time, but it will resume sometime in the future. Every bit helps, so thanks to all who participate and thanks to future participants. We receive a donation of 25 percent of the total sales between 5:00-8:00 p.m. on our Fundraiser Night at Roy Rogers, which for November is Thursday, November 12.

We had another successful Drive-By Greeting Parade (our fourth) to some town areas through Woodland Park and Jermae and up Rt. 77 and 550, to visit seniors in these areas who frequent the Thurmont Senior Center. Thanks to all who participated. The last parade for 2020 will be on Thursday, November 5, with a rain date of Friday, November 6. We will be driving to a few more residents in town areas, then out to Rocky Ridge, Keymar, and Woodsboro. The Thurmont Senior Center serves a very large area, and we miss everyone! Also, thanks again to the “Birthday Quakers” who are still bringing birthday treats to those seniors who are signed up with TSC, considering we are still closed and can’t have our monthly birthday parties. 

I will leave you with some Thanksgiving quotes to make you smile.

“The thing that I’m most thankful for right now is elastic waistbands.”—author unknown

“May your stuffing be tasty, may your turkey be plump, may your potatoes and gravy have nary a lump, may your yams be delicious, may your pies take the prize, and may your Thanksgiving dinner stay off your thighs.”—anonymous 

“What we’re really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets.  I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving?”—Erma Bombeck 

“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.”—John F. Kennedy

What Christmas Is All About

by Anita DiGregory

Does the time between Thanksgiving and January 2 seem like a blur? Are your holidays unforgettably beautiful but undeniably stressful? If so, you aren’t alone. According to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, 38 percent said they experienced greater levels of stress during the holidays. And, who wouldn’t? After all, retailers have been stressing us out since way back in July, with visions of Christmas trees, ornaments, and wrapping paper decking the (retail) halls. Soon after, Facebook chimed in with its countdowns to Christmas. Then, the countless pre-Thanksgiving holiday sales booklets distributed by every major retailer from A to W—that is Amazon to Walmart—were delivered (almost making one nostalgic for the good ole’ days of Black Friday). 

Charlie Brown: I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I’m supposed to feel. (A Charlie Brown Christmas)

It may be the hap…happiest season of all, but the holidays can also result in excessive stress for parents and children. Holiday programs, parties, and events overfill an already full calendar.  Parents feel the added pressure that goes along with finding the perfect gifts, traveling, visiting extended family, finding a lack of time and money, and providing the perfect holiday for everyone. This can all lead to conflict and distract from the true meaning of the season. 

Ellen Griswold: I don’t know what to say, but it’s Christmas, and we’re all in misery. (National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation)

And let’s not forget, ‘tis also the season for those flawless, photoshopped images to flood our social media and those picture-perfect Christmas cards to be delivered to our doors. This creates added pressure. According to a research study conducted on holiday stress, 41 percent of Americans surveyed, and 49 percent of the moms surveyed, acknowledged they stressed over creating the perfect holiday. So, how do we strive to reach above the Griswold’s Christmas Vacation without overstressing about providing the perfect Norman Rockwell Christmas? Here is some advice from the experts.

Take time for planning. Talk to your family about what is important to them to accomplish and what their favorite things are to do. Reflect and prioritize.  Whether it is drinking hot chocolate while watching a favorite holiday movie, cutting down the perfect tree, making Christmas cookies, or caroling with friends at the local nursing home, whatever it is, make a plan. Schedule the time to do those things together.

Enlist help from the kids. The holidays are family time. Getting the children to help with chores, decorating, and planning gives them a sense of pride, helps unify the family, and gives everyone more time to enjoy fun activities.

Be intentional. The holidays can be a time of overspending and overeating. Overindulging is proven to cause physical and emotional stress on individuals. 

In fact, a survey conducted by the Principal Financial Group found that 53 percent of those polled acknowledged that holiday spending stresses their finances.  Approximately, 11 percent added that it results in a “great deal of stress” on them financially. Talking with your spouse about spending limits and establishing a budget can be helpful.

Slow down.  With all the added demands of the holiday season, it can be difficult to take the time to reflect, relax, and enjoy. Research has shown that spending quality time with family is key to reducing stress. 

Narrator:  It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ‘till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more. (How the Grinch Stole Christmas)

Nurture an attitude of gratitude. Modeling gratitude for our children is vital. Research continues to show the positive health effects of counting and reflecting on our blessings. 

Remember others. The holiday season is the perfect time to teach our children the importance of thinking of and helping others.  Doing so helps them to learn compassion and empathy. Visit an elderly neighbor; go caroling at a local nursing home; send a Christmas card to someone who may not get another card. They can even donate toys to Toys for Tots or to another community aid organization. The possibilities are endless, but the results are priceless. 

Above all, strive to remember and celebrate the Reason for the season. May you and your family have a safe and blessed holiday season and New Year.

Linus Van Pelt: Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about. Lights, please.

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not:  for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’”

That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown. (A Charlie Brown Christmas)

Blair Garrett, Gracie Eyler, and Deb Abraham Spalding

“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come… I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise…”

These words are part of a Proclamation done at the City of Washington, the Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth by the President: Abraham Lincoln.

President Lincoln was not the first president to proclaim Thanksgiving, and he wasn’t the last. Today, although the pace of our daily business has changed with the ease of technology, it is important that the foundation of thanks be reminded and put into practice universally, for it is a basic part of humanity.

For 126 years, almost as long ago as President Lincoln’s Proclamation, members of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Creagerstown have provided a community Thanksgiving meal on Thanksgiving Day in their parish hall. This year, the room was full consistently, as family-after-family gathered to share the homemade meal throughout the day.

Courtney Topper, a twenty-one-year-old member of the Seiss family, one of the long-time member families deeply involved with this tradition, has helped since the age of four. She said, “I’d rather do this than anything on Thanksgiving Day.”

Thirty-seven volunteers served over five hundred dinners and over one hundred carry-out orders. Linda Seiss, Courtney’s grandmother, coordinated the event. She said, “It’s the giving and joy and love that make this event so great! Everybody came in so jolly and happy… and so thankful. It’s a wonderful thing!” Linda tried to name all of the volunteers because, “That’s important,” she said, “Phyllis Kolb is known for her sweet potatoes. Everyone is overwhelmed by them. Then there’s…let me see, Madeline Valentine, Glenna Wilhide, Dick Wilhide, Bill and Regina Dinterman, Sherry and Melanie Topper, Vicky Troxell and her daughters Kelsey and Payton, Nancy Heyser, Judy Zimmerman, Betty Seiss, Dot Lare, the Ferrell Family, the Thayer Family, and my husband Frankie Seiss. We can’t forget about him.”

Linda said she hopes that the Thanksgiving Dinner event, “makes it to 200 years of Thanksgivings someday.”

At the Ott House Pub in Emmitsburg, the Ott family, extended family, friends, and sometimes people right off the street, gather to enjoy a pot-luck Thanksgiving feast. This year, one hundred and four gathered for this tradition at the family’s restaurant.

Their tradition started when Bernard Ott, a painter by trade, and his wife, Evelyn, opened the Ott House in 1970 as a hobby and “something for their son, Pat, to get into,” said Chris (Ott) Wilson. They had nine children, Buddy (deceased), Pat (deceased), Dave, Susie, Chris, Cathy, Bobby, Rosie, and Ritchie. Today, four are still heavily involved in the day-to-day operation of the business. At the time, the family had grown too large for any one’s house to host Thanksgiving dinner, so the restaurant was the perfect alternative.

To this day, the Ott House Pub still operates with about half of the work force comprised of family members. Most Ott family and extended family members have worked at the pub at some point during their lives. It is truly a family-run business. The Otts, Susie, Bobby, Chris and Rosie, and the greater Ott House family and staff wish the community a happy holiday season and expressed, “Thanks for all of your support.”

This year, as always, after our Thanksgiving feasts were consumed and our family members filtered home, the chaos of Black Friday arrived. The season of thanks continues and becomes the season of giving as the holiday shopping frenzy builds.

Many families see the end of Thanksgiving as the beginning of Christmas, pushing moms and dads to flock to the stores in search of the perfect holiday gift for their children. The transition from November to December brings lights, candy canes, and plenty of holiday cheer, but what is it that spurs shoppers nationwide to begin checking off those holiday lists one by one?

The holiday deals cannot be denied, with stores around the world slashing prices to entice customers to spend their hard-earned cash in their stores. Parents often begin gathering ideas for gifts as early as summer, officially beginning the countdown until the holidays. The holiday crunch is finally here.

There are a few different types of holiday givers, with each finding different ways to make their shopping and gifting all come together for their families.

The extremely prepared are the early birds who have their holiday gifts purchased and wrapped months in advance, hiding them in a locked-away safe place, away from the eyes of the kids. Then, there are the extremely unprepared procrastinators, who are scrambling to grab the latest and greatest gifts fifteen minutes before the doors close for Christmas Eve.

But, the majority of givers fall somewhere in the middle, picking a weekend here and there to peck away at their shopping lists, grabbing the final items just in time for family get-togethers. Though disguised in the materialistic shopping game, the togetherness and camaraderie of being surrounded by the people you care about most is what excites people about this time of year.

Events like “Christmas in Thurmont” and “An Evening of Christmas Spirit” in Emmitsburg give people a reason to cook, celebrate, give thanks, and give to others. But…don’t forget to take a moment, take a breath, reflect upon history, remember loved ones who have passed, celebrate the moment, plan the best future, notice the little things, invite the big things, live life fully, and appreciate family and community. Be thankful. Be giving.

John and Fay Holdner, Angel and Mike Clabaugh, Randy Welty, Mary Elle Goff, Jaylyn Shaw, Jess Shaw, Bill Thurman, Alice Thurman, Larry Gladhill, and Brooke Gladhill sit together to enjoy the community Thanksgiving Day meal at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Creagerstown.

Linda Seiss is shown with fellow volunteer, Russell Long, in the kitchen at St. John’s Lutheran Church.

Family, extended family, and community members gather at the Ott House Pub and Restaurant for a Thanksgiving feast. A tradition since 1970.


“Importance of An Attitude of Gratitude”

by Anita DiGregory

 “Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” ~William Arthur Ward

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, the spirit of gratitude is typically celebrated in the month of November. However, increasing scientific studies are verifying the importance of fostering and demonstrating an attitude of gratitude year-round.  Science continues to confirm the myriad of benefits from gratitude, including, but not limited to: improved health, happier disposition, career boosts, better sleep, and longer life, as well as increased energy, spirituality, relaxation, self-esteem, and positive feelings, and decreased anxiety, depression, self-centeredness, and envy. Remarkably, scientists studying gratitude have witnessed the correlation between thankfulness and better marriages, stronger friendships, deeper relationships, better decision-making, productivity, and overall management. With so many positive effects, gratitude is a simple, yet powerful, characteristic we can strive to practice, emulate, and model, not only for ourselves but also for the benefit of our families, children, and communities.

“It has been said that life has treated me harshly; and sometimes I have complained in my heart because many pleasures of human experience have been withheld from me…if much has been denied me, much, very much, has been given me.” ~Helen Keller


Of course, life isn’t always easy, especially in today’s climate.  In fact, in today’s world, an attitude of gratitude can almost seem counterintuitive or even countercultural; however, here lies the powerful paradox. In a time when there is so much anger, discontent, judgement, and pain, this humble, seemingly inconsequential virtue becomes a powerhouse of healing.

In his article “3 Reasons You Should Adopt an Attitude of Gratitude,” Adam Toren states, “Adopting a gratitude practice takes you out of a problem and towards a solution. It removes you from complaining mode and into a best-outcomes mindset. That’s a skill you need in your life and in your business decision-making. Whole companies and industries have been created from seeing solutions where others only saw obstacles.”


“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


Focusing on gratitude is a life skill that benefits not just the person practicing the virtue but also that individual’s community. The proven benefits are so numerous that companies are providing gratitude workshops to their employees.


“I am happy because I’m grateful. I choose to be grateful. That gratitude allows me to be happy. ~Will Arnett


Gratitude is contagious. People who practice thankfulness tend to be positive individuals. As a result, others want to be around them.  Those who demonstrate gratitude tend to create an encouraging ripple effect, which can be felt by those around them. This is even more evident within families and among children.


“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” ~A.A. Milne


Fostering gratitude and instilling this virtue in our children is beneficial to all. Practicing thankfulness helps children develop a positive outlook. Teaching our kids to reflect on the day’s blessings helps them to appreciate more and to stop taking life’s gifts for granted. Practicing gratitude can also foster increased compassion and altruism. Teaching the art of gratitude can be quite simple and rewarding.


“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer.” ~Maya Angelou


Model thankfulness. Children are always watching. By mindfully exhibiting thankful behaviors day-to-day, we can teach our children the virtue of gratitude. Looking someone in the eye, smiling, and saying “thank you” are all ways to exemplify gratitude. Allowing our children to observe us leaving a positive review, completing a complimentary comment card, or even informing a local business manager of their employee’s helpful service empowers our kids to become grateful as well.

Count your blessings. Take some time, perhaps in the evening, to reflect on the day. Set aside in your mind those blessings, small and large, from the last 24 hours.  Help your children reflect on their day and center on three things for which they are thankful. Teaching our children how to take time each day to do this helps them to not only focus on the positives, but to also celebrate them.

Create a journal of blessings.  Journaling can help in the articulation of feelings. It also reinforces memories, emotions, and feelings of thankfulness. A gratitude journal does not require a huge time commitment. Studies have shown positive results from merely five minutes a day of journaling.  Journals can be handwritten or typed.  Even young children can participate by illustrating in a sketchpad their thoughts on the day’s blessings.

Form a habit. Practice makes perfect, so practice the attitude of gratitude. By making thankfulness a daily practice, it becomes an automatic behavior and part of who we are.

Have share time. Gratitude is contagious. When parents model gratitude, children will be positively influenced, learn how to be grateful, and mimic that behavior.  By setting a regular time each day, such as at dinner or before bed, for each family member to share their blessings, parents can help foster the spirit of gratitude, its importance, and its positive effects.


“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ~John F. Kennedy

by Valerie Nusbaum

This column is for the November issue, so it should be about Thanksgiving and/or being grateful for what we have. In truth, I’m writing this in early October and Thanksgiving is just a blip on my radar at this point.

I’m in the middle of getting things ready for Randy’s and my 24th wedding anniversary (October 15), and I’m hoping the weather will cooperate enough for us to get away for overnight or at least for a day trip. I’ve bought a couple of things for Randy and I got him a nice card, but remembering where I’ve put them is something else entirely, and I fear that the hunt will involve me cleaning up my studio.

Writing this column, I know Catoctin Colorfest is coming up and the town is busting loose, so I need to be aware that I can’t come and go as usual for the next few days.

I’m planning a Halloween get-together for my cousins and extended family, and we’re also preparing for trick or treat. Trick or treat would be a no-brainer for most people, but we have between 300-400 little goblins that descend upon us each year and that takes a lot of candy, not to mention that we try to do some yard decorating and that Randy wears a costume while he passes out treats and takes abuse from the little darlings.

It’s been a crazy week, and I haven’t had much time to get things done at home. Mom, Randy, and I have all had doctor’s appointments this week. I also made a pilgrimage to a new dentist because I will most likely need a root canal. The exterminator was here on Tuesday and the air conditioner repairman came on Wednesday. In between all of this, there was work, the yard guy was here, and I took Mom to Walmart. If the mailman is Randy’s nemesis, Walmart is mine.

Maybe that’s why I was thrown for a loop when I ordered a Southwest salad at the McDonald’s in Brunswick and was given a spoon for eating it. Seriously? The store was out of knives and forks. The kid at the cash register couldn’t think to tell me that when I ordered my salad? Needless to say, this didn’t end well and I can’t go back to that McDonald’s.

Sensing that I was gearing up for a meltdown, Randy thought he’d distract me with an episode of the Halloween Baking Championship on the Food Network. I love those shows. One of this season’s contestants is a young man with a lovely Carribbean accent. As we watched this guy bake, Randy looked over at me and said, “Well, that makes no sense at all.”

I asked what he meant, and he said that he’d been sure this particular contestant was from Jamaica. I still didn’t understand what he was getting at, so he explained. “The guy just said, ‘We don’t do dat in Ireland.’”

The guy actually said, “We don’t do that on our island.” And this is how we watch television at our house. One of us interprets for the other, and we take turns doing it.

Now, I wouldn’t want you to think that I’m not even contemplating Thanksgiving. I have given it some thought. In fact, I posed a question to my Facebook friends and asked them to tell me their preferred way to cook a turkey. More than one person responded that they prefer their turkey to be cooked by someone else. A few offered up smoking as a method of choice, but most people told me that they’ll do a turkey the traditional way by roasting it in the oven with something stuffed in the cavity. A lot of us do a covered roaster method to make broth for use in gravy and dressing.

I also asked people to name their favorite Thanksgiving side dish. A surprising number of people said sweet potatoes. I like sweet potatoes done many different ways, but my favorite way is mashed up in a casserole with a crunchy, sweet pecan topping. Randy prefers them on someone else’s plate, but he’ll eat them if I go to the trouble of making them. The sweet potato casserole I like best takes two days to make from scratch, or I can buy a very similar one for $3.49 at Aldi.  It fits perfectly in my fancy white casserole dish, and no one knows the difference.

We had a debate over the difference between dressing and stuffing. Dressing wins out at our house. I don’t stuff my turkey.  Randy and I like dressing with lots of celery and onions. If you’re in a pinch and can’t make your own, Mountain Gate has a delicious stuffing/dressing.

Also, I can’t stress enough that a fresh turkey tastes best.  For us, part of the tradition of Thanksgiving is standing in line on the Wednesday before the holiday at Hillside Turkey Farms to pick up our fresh bird. I have nothing against a frozen turkey. I’ve cooked my share of them, but once a year I like to go for broke.

No matter what your food preferences are or how frantic or unsettling your lives have been recently, I hope you’ll join me in taking a few minutes to realize that we all have things for which we are grateful. For me, it’s family, friends, and all of you who read my words each month.

Happy Thanksgiving!

P.S.  Thank you, Barb, for the delicious banana crème pie!


by Anita DiGregory

Thanks & Giving

Thanksgiving is nearly upon us.  I love Thanksgiving—the faith-based tradition, the family-time, the fun, the food, and the feasting.  Quietly nestled between the sugar overload of Halloween and the incessant over-commercialization of Christmas (I honestly think some retailers had Christmas decorations displayed in September this year!), Thanksgiving has remained a humble holiday, steeped in tradition and rich in meaning. Even in a time when patriotism has somehow become controversial, Thanksgiving continues to bring people together and unite them around tables across the country. Although the holiday only happens once a year, teaching, modeling, and reinforcing the ideas of “thanks” and “giving,” has scientifically been proven to help both adults and children to be happier and healthier.

Dr. Robert Emmons from the University of California has conducted numerous scientific studies on gratitude. The findings reported from experiencing and demonstrating gratitude included many psychological, physical, and social benefits. Researchers found that gratitude resulted in feelings of alertness and wakefulness and higher levels of joy, pleasure, optimism, and other positive emotions. Benefits also included improved immune systems and blood pressure and decreased aches and pains. Grateful individuals were more apt to exercise, practice healthy living, and experience healthier sleep patterns.  Thankful participants were less lonely, demonstrated better social interactions, and displayed more signs of being forgiving, outgoing, helpful, compassionate, and generous.

Instilling a strong sense of gratitude in our children is a necessary and powerful tool in equipping them to become happy, healthy adults. According to Halloween author Christine Carter, Ph.D., grateful children may grow into happier grown-ups. Carter, director of the Greater Good Parents program at the University of California at Berkeley, states, “Pioneering social scientists think that 40 percent of our happiness comes from intentional, chosen activities throughout the day. Thankfulness is not a fixed trait. It’s a skill that can be cultivated, like kicking a soccer ball or speaking French.” Therefore, consistently teaching and encouraging our children to be grateful is vital. Here are some ideas for helping children to grow in gratitude.


Lead by Example. Children are great imitators, and little eyes are always watching. As parents, we can send a powerful message to our children by modeling grateful behavior. By taking the time and effort to say thank you and being openly and enthusiastically thankful to others for opening a door, making a meal, or helping out, we demonstrate gratitude.


Put it in Writing.  Help your child write a thank you note to someone who has helped them, perhaps a teacher, coach, bus driver, or school crossing guard. Help them hand deliver their special note.


Make it Fun. Children learn more when their lessons are real and entertaining. Try doing an ongoing gratitude activity. Last year, during the month of November, I constructed a gratitude tree with my two youngest children. We designed the trunk out of construction paper and taped it to a prominent wall in our home. Each day, they wrote on colored, construction paper leaves one thing for which they were thankful. By Thanksgiving, we had a wonderful, colorful display of their gratitude for all to enjoy.


Make Gratitude a Habit. Help your children to be thankful each day. Help them design a gratitude journal, where they can draw or write about what they are thankful for that day. Incorporate giving thanks into nighttime prayers, when each child can think back on the day and list those things for which he or she is grateful.


Thankfulness goes hand-in-hand with giving. Thanksgiving.  By teaching our children to give of themselves—to give their time, talent, and treasure, one small act at a time—we empower them to make a difference in a world that could use a lot of work. With small acts of kindness, we can change not only ourselves for the better, but the world as well. Ralph Waldo Emerson stated, “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”  There is no better place or time then right here and right now to make a difference.

According to studies, kindness is actually contagious. David R. Hamilton, PhD., author of The Five Side Effects of Kindness, states, “When we’re kind, we inspire others to be kind, and studies show that it actually creates a ripple effect that spreads outwards to our friends’ friends’ friends—to 3-degrees of separation. Just as a pebble creates waves when it is dropped in a pond, so acts of kindness ripple outwards, touching others’ lives and inspiring kindness everywhere the wave goes.”

Additionally, scientific studies suggest that being kind is actually highly beneficial for us. A study conducted at Emory University found that when a person is kind to another, the giver’s pleasure and reward center of the brain is stimulated to that of the receiver.  This increase in pleasure is known as the “helper’s high.” Other studies have found that acts of kindness increase energy, happiness, lifespan, and serotonin, and also decrease pain, stress, anxiety, blood pressure, and depression in the giver.

Here are some things we can do with our children that may help nurture a spirit of kindness in them:  model kindness; smile; spend time with an elderly relative or neighbor; donate gently used toys, books, or clothes; visit a nursing home; help a friend in need.

According to Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD., author of The Myths of Happiness: What Should Make You Happy, But Doesn’t, What Shouldn’t Make You Happy, But Does, states that almost any type of act of kindness will boost happiness in the giver. Quoting one of her study’s findings, she adds, “when 9 to 11-year old kids were asked to do acts of kindness for several weeks, not only did they get happier over time, but they became more popular with their peers.”

As parents, we are greatly helping our children, ourselves, and the world by instilling in them a sense of gratitude and a genuine desire to be kind to others…true thanksgiving.

The volunteers in the Trinity United Church of Christ’s Kitchen were working on apple pies when we caught up with them the week after Thanksgiving. They were taking orders for their yummy soups, fruit pies, chicken pot pies, lemon cream pies, cakes, sandwiches, and many other menu items. They had just raised $11,365 in sales leading into Thankgiving. The proceeds of their efforts not only benefit Trinity UCC, but also other churches and individuals in need. The Thurmont Lions Club often joins them to host benefit breakfasts during the year. Call 301-271-2305 to place your orders.


Trinity United Church of Christ Kitchen volunteers are shown from left: (front row) Betty Grossnickle, Joann Miller, Nancy Dutterer, Margaret Clabaugh; (back row) Larry Clabaugh, Russ Delauter, Dick Shank, Shirley Long, and Tootie Lenhart. Volunteer Seigi Leonhardt was absent.

Christine Schoene Maccabee


As soon as I start feeling sorry for myself because of another problem I have to deal with, something comes in the mail that stops me in my tracks. Here is a quote from the American Indian Relief Council :

“The American Indians are not in good shape. Rusted-out cars and tiny, weather-beaten, time worn homes line the streets. Sometimes two and three families are forced to live in run-down dwellings they call ‘home’. There is a shortage of nutritious food and the brutal winter months and poor health care will threaten the lives of thousands of vulnerable Elders and young children. And, sadly, very little means to celebrate Thanksgiving on the reservation again this year.”

Many good-hearted people, with a little extra money, are sending aid to these Native American communities, which is a good thing. However, most of these poor communities are on reservations, formed due to the historical effort by white settlers to push whole Indian tribes off their ancestral lands and on to arid lands west of the Mississippi (read the book Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee) and no amount of money will ever be able to make up to them what we as immigrant invaders did.

Still, when white men came to American shores, they were unprepared for the hardships they faced in the wilderness. According to an Elder of one of the present day tribes…“our Ancestors watched the strange ones and could see they were without survival skills. The year was 1621. The pilgrims were not in good shape. They were living in dirt covered shelters. There was a shortage of food and half of them died during the brutal winter. They obviously needed help. My Indian Ancestors brought them food, and taught them how to hunt and farm the land. We shared our knowledge of wild plants and their uses to combat illness. Above all we taught them to preserve berries, teas and other foods to help them through the winters.”

Ultimately the first Thanksgiving feast occurred, but quickly things went downhill, as terrible wars were spawned by both sides. However, a great effort by some settlers was made to continue to learn from the Indians and preserve peace. William Penn, the founder of the state of Pennsylvania, made friends with the Leni-Lenape tribe (Delaware Indians) and signed a treaty of friendship with them that sadly only lasted twenty years. Later, in 1682, Benjamin West painted “The Peaceable Kingdom” in an effort to inspire greater feelings of hope for peace in the future. If you look closely at the painting (shown right), on the left hand side you will see the gathering of Indians and white men as they signed the treaty of friendship. The larger image of children fearlessly mingling with wild creatures is a visual interpretation inspired by the prophecy in Isaiah, which says that someday the lion will lie down with the lamb, which of course is purely symbolic of mankind’s desire for peace.

These days, peace in the world, and our nation, still seems like a distant dream, even an impossibility.

However, there is another battle being fought, which many people are not fully aware: the warfare we are waging against our planet Earth. I will not dwell on the many disturbing effects our materialistic lifestyles are having on the health of every ecosystem that exists, as that would take a book. However, much like William Penn, I want to learn from the natives. I want to know how to make herb teas from wild plants growing abundantly in my meadows up here in the Catoctins; I want to nurture and eat the wild edibles, and I want to preserve habitat for “all my relations.” I want to know how to preserve the wild berry and other foods to sustain myself and others through hard winters, living simply and in tune with nature. So far, I have learned a lot.

One of the biggest lessons I have learned, however, is gratitude, even when things are not going exactly as I wish. Sadly, not everything works out for everybody. It seems some people have charmed lives, while others are finding roadblocks at every turn. In my own little life, even with all its twists and turns, I find something to be grateful for every day. Life is humbling, that’s for sure. However, as I grow older, I am thankful for little blessings, and there are many. I also thank the Native Americans, who endured unimaginable hardships and yet survived with their interesting cultures and spirituality.

Perhaps as we give more of our time and resources, and reach out to others and the natural world with understanding and friendship, we can all thrive together, not just survive in cardboard shanties with polluted water. Meantime, some of us will continue to eat our humble pie (preferably pumpkin), one slice at a time, and give thanks through it all.

Christine is a member of Thurmont’s Green Team and a Master Habitat Naturalist. She would be happy to help you with habitat, particularly plant ID, on your own property and can be reached at

Buck Reed

The Supermarket Gourmet

November brings us Thanksgiving—either our most favorite or most feared holiday for cooking. I guess I shouldn’t be allowed to say that, as those who like to cook love this holiday, and those who do not make sure they are in a relationship with someone who does.

I could talk about roasting a turkey, but that’s been done to death, much like most turkeys are cooked in many homes. Seriously, Butterball has a hot line for those who feel that ruining a turkey every year is a tradition. This month, I would like to talk about adding a new dish to your holiday table, roasted vegetables. I know, I know, adding a new dish to your list of chores may seem like madness, but just hear me out. Roasting a vegetable can bring not only an innovative dish to your family (imagine Martha Stewart smiling down on you as you serve it), but it also might solve a couple of problems you might traditionally be dealing with. Just what are you going to serve those vegetarians or gluten free members of your brood? Imagine Cousin Moonbeam finally not lecturing you about the murdered feathered spirit on your plate, as they marvel over a delightful dish of roasted acorn squash with apple stuffing.

One of the first things you lose as you roast is the water in the vegetable, which intensifies the flavor of your dish. This technique also adds a deep caramelized flavor to your plate as well. Also, there is a variety of vegetables that easily lend themselves to this method.

Roasting winter squashes is easy. My favorites are acorn and butternut squash. Most people will tell you to cut the hard peel off the squash, cut it up, and roast away. But, of course, we all know these people would be wrong. Just cut the whole squash in half, remove the seeds (roasting these is good, too) and “guts,” brush the cut side with a bit of oil, and place skin side up on a sheet pan. Poke a few holes in the skin to allow the steam to vent and roast in a hot oven until tender. The best part is that this can be done a couple of days ahead, setup and ready to reheat after the turkey is roasted and resting.

Another idea is pumpkin. I know, we already have pumpkin spice lattes, beer, candles, bread, cookies, even pumpkin spice shampoo and conditioner—you name it and we can add pumpkin spice to it. So I am sure we can make room for a nice roasted pumpkin spice soup. Make sure you get a pie pumpkin, as any old Jack-o-lantern will not do. Roast the same way you would a squash, and make a soup you can serve as a first course. Imagine how fancy everyone will think you are.

Finally, my all-time favorite is roasted Brussel sprouts. You should be able to find them fresh this time of year, and they are easy to prepare. Just slice in half, toss with some olive oil, salt and pepper and roast until tender. This also works with broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus.

Keeping up with old traditions is all well and good, but starting a new tradition can be an exciting way to spice up the holiday. And with so many different vegetables available this time of year, maybe your tradition can be to try a different one every year.

Need a recipe or an idea for this Thanksgiving? Email me at

by Valerie Nusbaum

I can’t wrap my mind around the fact that the holidays are almost here. A few minutes ago, we were sweating and wishing for a break from the heat, and now we’re thinking about Thanksgiving dinner and what to buy Uncle Frank for Christmas. Still, with Thanksgiving approaching, I should acknowledge some things that I’m thankful for.

Randy and I do a little traveling in the fall. In recent years, we’ve done mostly day trips. Though, things don’t always go as smoothly as we’d like. One night, I glanced out the window and saw Randy’s truck pulling up out front. The door flew open, and I looked up to see a scowling, fuming man.

“When did we change our PIN for the ATM?” he fired off.

“We didn’t,” I replied.

My hubby had gone out to run some errands around town, one of which was to get us some cash for our trip to Pennsylvania the next day. He went on to explain that the ATM had spit out the card twice, with the message that he was using an incorrect PIN. He ranted that for the last twenty years, he had been using the same number and now that number wouldn’t work. I asked what number he’d used and he rattled off four digits ending in “9”.

“Well there’s the problem, dear. Our PIN ends in “3”. You just had a brain freeze. Happens all the time to me,” I laughed.

We argued for a while, with each of us sticking to our story; however, in truth, neither of us could say for certain what our PIN number really is. I went upstairs and searched through our old rolodex in the hope that years ago I had written it down. I couldn’t find it there or in the file cabinet. Then my brain turned on, and I looked at Randy and blurted out the correct number. Both of us had been wrong before. His face cleared up, and he agreed that I finally had the right number. We eventually got the mess straightened out.

I’m grateful that our memories aren’t totally gone, that we’re still able to get around, and that the ladies at our bank don’t judge us.

Perhaps we should just give up on using the ATM; on our next outing, we stopped by the bank for some cash. Randy was driving my car. He got a little too close to the building and scraped the tire. I bit my tongue and glared at him. He scowled back at me and proceeded to drop the ATM card out the window. He couldn’t get the car door open far enough to retrieve the card, and the swearing started. There was a car behind us, so we couldn’t back up. I got out, walked around my car, wedged myself between the car and the bank, and picked up the card. I called Randy a bad name, and I apologized to the person behind us. That person shook his head and did not look happy.

We got our money and then drove over to McDonald’s to get some drinks for the road. Randy ordered two senior Diet Cokes. When he pulled around to the window to pay, the young lady took his money and said, “You don’t look like a senior, but ok. Congratulations. You’re doing well.”

Randy spat out, “What the heck does that mean? Should I have said, ‘Why, yes, I’m upright, I’m mobile, and some days I can make water!’” I just looked out the window, hoping that our day would get better. After all, the young woman at McDonald’s hadn’t told me that I was doing well. Evidently, I do look like a senior citizen.

I’m grateful that we’re able to take these trips, that we have a little cash in the bank, and that some businesses give old people a discount.

I am also grateful for MapQuest and GPS, even though Randy often argues with them and tells them how wrong they are.

A nice lady (whose name I didn’t catch) visited us in our booth at Colorfest. She saw our names on our tent banner and wanted to know if we were “that” Randy and Valerie from The Catoctin Banner. I’m always hesitant to admit it until I find out if I’m in trouble, but this lady said she enjoyed reading about us. That same day, a nice gentleman named Russell visited us and told us that he, too, likes reading my column in The Banner.

As always, I’m grateful and amazed that anyone wants to read the things I write, and I’m grateful for my relationships with The Catoctin Banner, Catoctin Colorfest, and the Town of Thurmont.

I’m grateful that my mother and my in-laws are still with us, and I’m thankful for the years I had with my dad. I appreciate my friends—old and new—and I’m grateful for family near and far. Food on the table, clothes on my back, freedom to come and go, and so much more, are things I’m grateful for. Most of all, I’m grateful to have a partner who muddles through life with me. And, of course, I’m thankful for Bill Blakeslee.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you all have much for which to be grateful

by Bob Warden

Gobble, Gobble, Gobble

No, its not an article on Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving football games. I wanted to write something for the upcoming 2015 spring turkey season. I figured what better way then to visit with and write about a local Frederick County custom turkey call making company. I bet not many of you knew there was a company that makes and ships custom made turkey calls all over the United States (Idaho, California, Wyoming, and Ohio, to name a few) right here in Frederick County.

I sat down with Bruce Chaney and Dave Hohman of L.J.W. (Let Jakes Walk) Custom Calls at their Thurmont location for a couple of hours of turkey hunting stories and turkey call business stories.

The business was established after many years of hunting, a passion for turkey calling, turkey hunting, and a chance encounter with another call maker named Marlin D. Watkins from Ohio, who after hearing their plight, suggested they start their own custom turkey call business. So with his urging and guidance, L.J.W. was established in 1999. Since then, many others have helped with advice and guidance, such as call makers, Dale Rohm and Scott Basehore, and woodworker, Tom Geasey.

Dave and Bruce were both working full-time jobs at the time L.J.W. was started; but in 2003, Bruce retired from Verizon with over thirty-five years of service, and Dave retired in 2008 from Maryland Department of Natural Resources with almost thirty-two years of service. They both started hunting small game and developing a love for the outdoors at an early age: Bruce at twelve, and Dave at eleven. They have hunted turkeys in thirteen states, and this year hope to hunt them in Tennesse, Virginia, Maryland, South Dakota, New York, Maine, and possibly Ohio. Both give many hours of volunteer time to help promote turkey hunting to young (and older) hunters by doing seminars at National Wild Turkey Federation Jakes (6-16 years old) events at Remington Farms, Mayberry Game Protection Association, Woodmont Rod and Gun Club, and American Legion Youth Camp West Mar.

Bruce and Dave are sponsor members of NWTF and are active in the Monocacy Valley Chapter. Bruce was president of the chapter for three years, and served eleven years on the Maryland State Chapter Board of Directors. Dave was past treasurer of Monocacy Valley chapter and past treasurer of the Maryland State Chapter. As you can see, both have devoted a big part of their lives to the wild turkey and turkey hunting, and enjoy passing on their knowledge and expertise to other turkey hunters.Also, in the past three years, their calls have placed nationally in two different catagories: one-sided and double-sided short box calls in the hunting division. This means they placed in the top six call makers in the country in each division. Now that’s a BIG deal, folks! Pretty impresive credentials, to say the least…but back to the calls they make. The calls they make are double- and single-sided short box calls with a Neil Cost design. The bodies of the calls are made from poplar wood, and the bases and lids are Bubinga wood from Africa. Remember, these are custom made calls and each is cut, finished, and tuned by hand.They actually go out and collect the wood themselves for the bodies, have it milled down, then they dry it (which takes a very long time), before it can be made into a L.J.W custom turkey call.

Now, I really wanted to give you a few turkey hunting  tips before I run out of space for this article, so I asked Bruce and Dave for their advice. So, here it is in no perticular order: (1) Leave your turkey calls at home during pre-season scouting— DON’T educate the birds. If you must, use a crow call sparingly to locate birds after they come off the roost; (2) Beginners start with slate, box, or push pull calls (practice, practice, practice at home, and drive everyone in the house crazy); (3) Don’t over call; (4) Have patience. Know your area and the lay of the land; it will help you to know which way they may come and how far away they are; (5) Remember that you are asking a goobler to do something that is not natural. You are reversing nature. In nature, the hens go to the gobbler, and we, as hunters, are trying to get the gobbler to come to the hens; and (6) Most of all: Know Your Target! Be sure of your target and beyond it. During the spring season, you need to IDENTIFY your target. It has to be a bearded bird, so you need to see its beard!

If you are interested in contacting L.J.W., you may call Bruce Chaney at 301-606-2056 or Dave Hohman at 240-446-8129. They may also be emailed at

Remember, these are custom handmade calls and, as of right now, there is a one- to two-year wait. The average cost is $150. But, believe you me, they are well worth it and sound Grrrreat…(sorry, I couldn’t help myself; that’s from my Frosted Flakes eating days).

In closing, I wish you good luck in your turkey hunting, and please hunt safely and hunt ethically!


Pictured from left are Bruce Chaney and Dave Hohman.

Photo by Bob Warden

Christine Schoene Maccabee

“Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God.”

                                —Elizabeth Barrett Browning

“There they are!” I exclaimed when I saw the first purple blooms of the wild Canadian Aster in September. “There they are in all their late summer, early autumn glory!”

Fifteen years ago, I dug up a clump of them under a power line before they were blasted with herbicide, and now they grace one edge of my chicken coup with their brilliance. They never cease to take my breath away. The small clump I planted so many years ago has expanded year after year via its root system, and every year there are more gorgeous purple flowers, about the size of a quarter. Perhaps you have seen them, too, in some field or meadow or even someone’s yard. If so, you know how I feel.

The diversity of wild plants in our region—be they medicinal; edible food for birds, pollinators and other insects; or simply for beauty—is astounding. All summer long, I grow and collect wild herbs for drying and, as of November 18, they are all well dried and in various jars for the winter teas. It is quite the collection, and the teas we make are wonderful! Also, like so many other nature lovers, this autumn, I ran around my gardens before the first hard frost, cutting as many zinnias, late flowering roses, marigolds, and even some honey suckle. As I put them in various vases in the middle of my kitchen table, I felt satisfied that another autumn tradition of mine was fulfilled.

I will truly miss the smells and sight of flowers and greens and growing things outside, won’t you? Back we go to the browns and grays of winter. Sigh. Change stops for no one. Outside today, the temperature is in the lower 20’s, with a strong wind blowing, so I am inside writing.

However, along with the deep chill comes the happy thought of Thanksgiving dinner! I know that one of my main contributions on the table will be Ground Cherries. “Ground Cherries?” you ask. Yes, these are late season wild edibles, which I permit to grow all summer in my gardens, just about wherever they want. You may have seen them in their small Chinese lantern-like husks. They are just now ripening, each pea-size fruit bursting with flavorful vitamins. I call it a wild flavor, indescribable really. The gardens grew more than ever this year, so I have a bountiful harvest.

I know that I am just one of a tiny handful of people in Maryland who even know about Ground Cherries and, for that matter, all of the other wild offerings of food and herb. I would sure hate to think that I am the only one who is aware of them. I know for a fact that the Native Americans knew about every wild edible and medicinal in this pristine mountain valley I live in and surrounding areas. They didn’t just grow crops. They were true herbalists, wild edible connoisseurs! They depended on the wild plants, as well as the deer and other wild critters like turkeys and rabbits, to survive.

Then there are the old timers, a number of which are still alive and kicking here in Frederick County, who still hunt the wild asparagus and mushrooms, too, of course. So I guess you might say I am in good company, even though I am also in the minority, no doubt.

How many wonderful wild areas have I seen come and go in my lifetime? Far too many. Perhaps you have had the same experience…black raspberries, picked by the quarts full, cut down and turned into a parking lot; rare wild flowers along back roads mowed down without a thought; and an old growth mulberry tree fairly dripping in wonderful fruit cut down to make way for a new home. I remember that magnificent mulberry tree well, with mostly children and some adults climbing its sturdy branches, picking and playing and eating the wonderful fruit. Those were the days children actually went outside and played for hours on end, instead of sitting behind a computer screen playing war games.

Another tree that I love for its fruit and beautiful red foliage in the autumn is the Staghorn and or Smooth Sumac. It is a native that grows profusely here in Frederick County. You may have seen it along Route 15 this fall. Unfortunately, because its leaves are similar in appearance to the Ailantus or Tree of Heaven, the sumacs have been cut and hebicided quite a lot. However, it is a spunky tree, and will grow right back from the root stock! I rejoice when I see a nice grove of them, for I harvest their lovely fruits and dry them to create a fruity flavor in my herb teas. Yum. Some birds eat them to survive through the winter, too.

I hope you all have a bountiful and meaningful harvest of joy this Thanksgiving, and don’t forget “all our other relations” while you’re at it! Food, water, and shelter…we all need it.

by Valerie Nusbaum

The First Thanksgiving

It’s that time of year when we all start making plans for the holidays.   We have to decide who’s going to prepare and host Thanksgiving dinner, and what the menu will be. There’s usually a lot of stress and some squabbling involved, and sometimes even the guest list is an issue. This got me thinking about what the very first Thanksgiving celebration must have been like.  I shudder to imagine how much thought and preparation went into that dinner.


…traveling back to 1621

It was autumn in 1621.  The Pilgrims had arrived in Plimoth (Plymouth) the previous year on The Mayflower, and they had been busy making a new home for themselves.  There were seven newly-constructed houses and a meeting hall, along with several storage buildings for food. The harvest was in and it was bountiful. At least one-third of the settlers, a Puritan sect, had left England to seek freedom from religious persecution, so it was thought that a time of prayer and feasting was in order. Cable hadn’t been installed in the colony yet.  Comcast has always been slow.  If you can’t watch football on Thanksgiving, you might as well eat, right?

Captain Miles Standish called Governor William Bradford to suggest that members of the Wampanoag tribe be invited to join the feasting. The colonists understood that their survival was largely due to help received from the Wampanoags, and the tribe had the only football. If they couldn’t watch football, at least they could play. Of course, there’s that whole thing about what the English call “football,” but beggars can’t be choosers.

The women, led by Priscilla Alden, gathered to discuss the menu and plan the day’s activities. Since the Wampanoag tribe would be traveling from many miles away, lodging would need to be arranged.  The colonists had only managed to build seven houses in ten months, and there were at least ten people living in each house. So it was decided that after the tribe walked for two days from their village, they could build their own shelters. Did I mention that the natives had the only tools? None of the colonists had thought to bring a hammer from England, and the Home Depot was just too far away.

Mrs. Alden, who was a sultry redhead not unlike Peggy Stitely, was none too happy about being saddled with entertaining so many people. She had relatives already staying in her home—some of them in-laws—and she and John were newlyweds. When John had informed Priscilla that she would be doing Thanksgiving dinner for several hundred people, her reaction was much as yours or mine would be.

“Thou wants me to do what?” she exclaimed.  “Art thou crazy?  What is WRONG with thee?”

But, after promising her that he’d go to Jared, John managed to convince Priscilla that she was the right woman for the job.

The ladies decided that they would serve roasted ducks and geese, and they promptly dispatched a hunting party to the forest to shoot the fowl. Another party was dispatched to go to the Wampanoag village and beg them to bring along some venison, because the women all doubted that their husbands would do much more than drink ale and lie about the one that got away. It is doubtful that turkey was served at the first Thanksgiving, although at that time the term “turkey” referred to any kind of wild fowl or several of the husbands.

There wasn’t any flour for bread, so corn would be ground into samp, or porridge, for some carbs.  It would be fried and on a stick because that’s where that whole concept began. There would be seafood, cabbage, onions, more corn, and squash. Games would be played, and there would be singing, dancing, and prayers. It was expected that the feasting would go on for several days, or until fighting broke out, as is the case with most Thanksgiving celebrations. Someone would have to travel to Walmart to lay in a supply of Beano and Tums.

The Wampanoag tribe arrived several days later, led by Massasoit (Great Leader). They quickly set up their tents, and proudly presented the Pilgrims with several fresh deer carcasses. The Pilgrim women grumbled about having to cook more food. Priscilla, who sounded exactly like Joanna Lumley from Absolutely Fabulous, went so far as to ask Massasoit if he had remembered the charcoal. He smiled and nodded his head, because he thought all the English sounded like their mouths were full of marbles.

A lot of head nodding, smiling, and hand gestures were seen around the table that day. There was the traditional loosening of breeches and loincloths, which presented some problems for the game of touch football that followed the meal. Mrs. Alden and the other ladies particularly enjoyed watching a young warrior called Chippendale, but that’s a story for another day.

Interestingly, there was no Thanksgiving feast the following year.

Bill Blakeslee, who happens to be a very good cook, told me that he plans to invite nearly half of Thurmont to his home for dinner on Thanksgiving. If you haven’t gotten your invitation yet, be sure to remind Bill about it.

“Memories Afield”

by Bob Warden

In a few short weeks, we will all be sleeping off Thanksgiving dinner or watching football games with family and friends…and getting ready for opening day of deer firearms season! By getting ready, I don’t just mean getting our guns and gear together, I mean swapping stories from our many years of opening days.

Even though I hunt opening day of archery, I have always highly anticipated the Saturday after Thanksgiving in Maryland, and the Monday after Thanksgiving in Pennsylvania. I guess it’s a tradition we had as I was growing up. I grew up in the Baltimore suburbs, but my hunting adventures with my Dad (starting at age fifteen—wow, forty-one years ago) were always on a farm just outside of Emmitsburg. My first rabbit, first pheasant, and first deer, all came from that farm.

I also have memories at age fifteen of working at Clyde’s Sport Shop in Lansdowne, Maryland. On the Friday before the opener, crowds of people would get last minute supplies, ammo, licenses, etc. I heard stories of the previous year’s hunts, and as a kid, I tried to figure out which were the made up ones and which were the true ones. I still have trouble with that.

COLUMN-photo---Mineral-Bob-As we get older and have kids and grandkids, many of you know that our memories switch from “us” to “them.” I can still remember the first deer my son, Chris, shot on land not far from the Frederick watershed. It was a spike deer. Sitting in that tree stand and seeing him shoot, and the deer falling thirty yards away, is forever embedded in my memory bank, as I’m sure it is for him as well (even though it’s been many years)!

Some of you may remember that on opening day, if you got your deer early, you went down to the checking station to see the other deer being checked in. You know the questions: How many points? What did it weigh? What did you shoot it with? I sometimes wish we still had checking stations, as I’m sure many old timers do, too. It was like a reunion seeing friends with their deer, and seeing people you haven’t seen since the previous season.

Anyway, before I really put you to sleep like that Thanksgiving turkey (believe me I could, I have lots of stories and memories), let me leave you with some closing words and thoughts.

2COLUMN-photo---Mineral-BobAs you can tell, to me, memories afield are just as important as bagging our quarry. I hope you have many memories, and I hope  hearing a few of mine has helped you relive and revisit some of your special hunting or hunting-related memories. Maybe it brings a smile to your face, or maybe a tear to your eye like it does for me, because my Dad, my Uncle Frank, my Grandfather Warden, and all who instilled the hunting spirit in me are gone, but they have left the legacy to me to pass on.

So, to all you older hunters like me, and to all you young hunters, I wish you all good luck in the up-coming deer season!

But most of all: Hunt Safe, Hunt Ethically, and Make Memories!