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An American Roadhouse

Deb Abraham Spalding

Some names have been changed to protect the innocent!

Cactus Flats has a reputation, and it is legendary! Rumor has it, the white house with the cute green cactus out front, located along Route #806 (Hansonville Road), south of Thurmont, started as a roadhouse and is now a unique community gathering place.

Make no doubt about it, history is here. If the walls could talk, you’d hear stories of skunks and critters, visitors and locals, the famous babies, a horse in the dining room, famous visitors, secrets and legends, and news. But the walls don’t talk, so we’ll take the memories shared from the business’s regulars who are family and love this place.

This past winter, a friend invited me “in” to his “place” [Cactus Flats] to meet his “people.” Oh my! My prior impression gleaned during a peanut-hulls-on-the-floor 1990s visit at the Cactus Flats “saloon” were shot to bits as I entered the family-friendly bar/restaurant—not a peanut in sight—and was welcomed with open arms into the Cactus Flats family of regulars (or irregulars—as in most families).

These wonderful people aren’t soggy drunks stopping in at a local watering hole. They’re members of a community (some drink alcohol and some don’t) who choose to gather at Cactus Flats like family.

“We’re here all the time. It’s kind of like our dinner table where the family comes together to share their day,” said regulars, JP and Ann.

“It is family,” added Regular Steve. “Just the other day, Harvey loaned a microwave to Brenda. Last year, JP and JG fixed Brenda’s bridge when a tree fell on it. A few weeks ago, we all went on a fishing trip. You meet your best friends here!”

Regular JG said, “We look forward to Thursdays at 3:00 when they open.” Regular Julie added, “We all look forward to it because we miss our friends.”

 One day, Regular Julie pointed out some out-of-town regulars who showed up. “We adopt people. When they’re in town, they’re one of the family.” Chris from Boston and Mike from Jersey were joined by Tex from Texas who grinned as he said, “I’m a newbie.” 

Owner, Donna Palmer, her dedicated right-hand co-worker Molly Hayes, and the rest of the “Cactus Catz” staff are gracious hostesses who calmly, happily, and affectionately prepare the place for the family to gather. They cook the meals and even serve them while joking and bantering along the way.

If you’ve never been to Cactus Flats, or it’s been a while, stop in!

Take a peek at Cactus Flat’s colorful history…

Miss Alice Miller — The Roma Café Legend!

With her hard-earned money, Miss Alice (Grandmother Miller to some) bought land known as the “Maryland Camp” around 1929. On it, she built the small “house” that is at the core of the now – Cactus Flats – and three cabins. According to the Maryland State Department of Health, she was officially operating a “Tourist Camp.” She named her business the Roma Café and was firmly established by 1932. Being a legend and all (wink), she was said to have been asked to move her business location out of Frederick.

Just imagine. In her time, the Route #15 highway wasn’t there, so Route #806 went right by the house. There were gas pumps out front and a chicken house with a cellar (isn’t that unique) out back.

In the original house, when you entered the front door (that is still visible and currently has steps leading to it but isn’t used regularly) there were three rooms on the right and a small bar on the left and a set of steps straight ahead that led upstairs. A bathroom for the ladies was straight back and the men had to use an outhouse out back next to the chicken house. The now-enclosed porch was open then. There was a pot-belly stove inside on the back wall.

Upstairs there were four bedrooms and an attic with a chimney sticking out of the roof above. The bedrooms and cabins outside were rented by the hour or night by local dandies and the ladies.

Legend suggests that Miss Alice hid money all over the place and then forgot about it. “That old lady was worth millions of dollars,” Regular ST shared tidbits that he had heard. “Back in the day she didn’t need money, but she knew where the money was. Nobody else did. She had money hidden everywhere and never dropped a penny.”

When Miss Alice was older and couldn’t go up the steps anymore, she lived right there in the room near the bar. She was almost 100 years old when she died.

Miss Alice is said to have been a very stern woman, but ST has been visiting the roadhouse since the 1970s when he rode over on his bicycle. He has lots of love for, and memories of, Miss Alice. “Miss Alice would tell everybody, ‘Get your beer. You know where it’s at!’” It’s even said that when Miss Alice was asleep in her recliner, customers would put their money for a beer in a cigar box. It was a self-serve honor system.

Regular Todd also rode his bicycle to the roadhouse as a youngster to collect cans for recycling. He and Regular Harvey described the old Model A Ford that sat outside with trees growing through it. It was a landmark.

Some locals recall buying a six-pack, going to their local gathering spot then returning to Miss Alice for more beer. One day, upon return, Miss Alice said, “I don’t sell that!” Confused, the locals claimed she had just sold them a six-pack earlier, she said, “Well, I don’t anymore!”

Grandsons Inherit The Roma Café

Miss Alice operated the Roma Café until 1981. When she passed away, she left the business to her two grandsons Glenn and Dave Rippeon (they are both deceased now).

Dave Rippeon and his wife ran things starting in 1981 for just about two years and attempted to sell the business to a guy named Danny.

Danny’s Eatin’ and Drinkin’ Place

Danny Wyatt took over running the business for a very brief time with the intent to purchase it. It didn’t work out. Danny changed its name to Danny’s Eatin’ and Drinkin’ Place. According to Wayne Wiles, Danny didn’t serve food. He had vending machines and drink coolers for customers to get their own food and drink. When Danny moved on, the Rippeons transferred the business to Wayne Wiles in 1983.

Wayne Wiles – The Country Western Movie Star!

Wayne Wiles was born on a farm near Cactus Flats. He pointed forward to the west as he said, “I was born over there about three miles,” and then he pointed back over his shoulder to the East, “and now I live over there about three miles.” Between those two points of time, Wayne’s done a lot of living.

He is one of seven Wiles brothers who “each had a sister, one sister,” he said with an arm jab (you get it don’t you). Wayne said he told his mother, “Thank you for having me,” when he was born in 1941. He was his brother Bob’s one-year birthday present. They were both born on May 9.

Wayne “ran away” from the family farm when he was 21 years old so he could “see the world and get paid to work.” Hollywood was calling his name!

He went to California and called Roy Rogers Enterprises. That was fruitless, so he went to Phoenix where, ironically (working on a farm again), he worked the “tater” fields to make money to live. He pitched cantaloupe then pitched watermelon. He still made his calls to be in the movies.

Wayne was good at riding horses and was eventually hired as an extra in several movies including Claude Akin’s Distant Trumpet with Troy Donohue, Arizona Raiders, Hallelujah Trail, and The Great Sioux Massacre. He said, “You know how that turned out [The Great Sioux Massacre]. Audi Murphy was in it. In the original movie, you can pick me out sitting on a wagon. In the remakes, you’ll see me walking around, my hair hanging.”

Around 1966, Westerns were going out of favor, so Wayne returned to Maryland. He farmed for five years and felt he was drinking so much that he needed to get his liquor wholesale. So, in 1983, he figured he’d “get paid to drink” and bought the Roma Café from the Rippeon grandsons who had inherited the place from its first owner, THE legendary “Miss Alice Miller.”

Wayne gave the business a new name, Cactus Flats! He chose the name from his movie days when he was riding horses on the set. He was told to ride up the cactus hill. Wayne said, “It’s flat here so I named it Cactus Flats.” He installed the big cactus that sits out front.

Wayne added an additional dining room (that started as a storage room for 1,000 cases of Budweiser he had purchased on sale through the distributor) and a big horseshoe-shaped bar. Wayne also “put the [notorious] peanuts on the floor.”

Interestingly, over the course of owning the business, Wayne stopped drinking alcohol in 1998. He was 100% sober when he sold the business to Kenny Clevenger in 2000.

Although Cactus had seen its share of some real-life brawls, like Wayne, the business’s remarkable past was changing. With a big chuckle, Wayne assured me that he, “can’t share the highlights of his ownership for public consumption.”

Kenny Clevenger purchased it from Wayne in 2000.

Wayne sold the business in 2000 to Kenny Clevenger. During his five years of ownership, Clevenger hired Todd Adkins and Larry Workman to build the bar that is now in place. It replaced Wayne’s horseshoe bar. Kenny also closed in the porch and hired Jay Callahan to do some artwork on the bar. Though much of the art has rubbed away, there are still some cactuses and stars visible.

Donna Palmer – The Cactus Community’s Hostess!

Donna Palmer purchased Cactus Flats from Kenny Clevenger in 2005. She added a new roof and new paint. She took the peanuts away when a situation arose that made the choice inevitable. Donna kept changes to a minimum to respect the legacy, “It’s getting harder to find this kind of place anywhere. Why would I change it?”

It’s obvious that Donna is in business for her family of customers. Donna and the Cactus Catz are the hosts who provide quiet and comfortable support through life in this place. “A lot of people say they feel comfortable because we’re so friendly,” Donna said. “The community just keeps coming back.”

Molly Hayes has worked with Donna for fourteen years. In addition to helping in every way, Molly enjoys decorating for parties and works to prepare a grand Halloween (her favorite) shindig every year. One year, one of the famous babies (a Halloween decoration) was kidnapped! While this caused a commotion, the baby was quietly returned soon after.

These days, Cactus Flat’s colorful history is still fresh in the regulars’ minds as time has expanded to new generations. As they tell their stories, they point out where things used to be by making hand gestures “over there” where Miss Alice’s bed was, and there where the pot belly stove was, and there on the back porch where so-in-so was pushed out the door.

Like Regular Harvey said, “There are always tales about a place like this. The legend changes and grows.”

Through the hands and dedication of Dave Rippeon and his wife, Wayne Wiles, Kenny Clevenger, and now Donna Palmer, Miss Alice’s legacy has transformed subtly, over time. “It may not have stayed the same name, but the legendary business that Miss Alice started has continued for almost 100 years now,” Donna explained. “I wish I would have had the chance to meet her because she was a true entrepreneur before her time.” Today, “It’s like it gives you a hug. We all just want to be accepted.”

Stop by Soon!

Stop by soon to have dinner with your family or make some forever new friends and become part of the Cactus family! Cactus Flats is located at 10026 Hansonville Road, on the right as you travel Route #15 South from Thurmont/Lewistown/Mountaindale to Frederick. It is open Thursdays and Fridays 3:00 to 10:00 p.m., Saturdays 12:00 to 10:00 p.m., and Sundays 12:00 to 8:00 p.m. Like them on Facebook to be informed about live entertainment and updates.

Current owner, Donna Palmer (in background), with former owner, Wayne Wiles, who is wearing one of many logo shirts.

The legendary Miss Alice is shown seated in front of the pot belly stove with one of her brothers in the Roma Café.

Photos by Deb Abraham Spalding unless otherwise indicated

Former owner Wayne Wiles shares his western movie photos.

(right) The original Roma Café consisted of the house, three cabins, a chicken house, a barn, a shed, and garden.

The famous Model A Ford was a landmark for many years, as the trees grew around it.

Some of the “Cactus Catz” staff members are pictured.

James Rada, Jr.


Town Votes to Annex Simmers Property

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted recently to annex nearly 17 acres of the Simmers property into the town. Part of the property was already in the town and the rest of the property had been included in the town’s master plan for annexation and R-5 zoning since 2010.

Cross & Company of Frederick is working with the owner, Patricia Simmers, to develop the property. Daniel Cross wants to build a 150-townhome community, assisted-living facility, and a day care center.

The annexation sparked some heated debate, but the town reviewed some of the concerns raised such as school overcrowding, traffic, and services. All of these things are not projected to be an issue. In addition, the town will collect at least $2.2 million in impact fees after the property is developed.

The commissioners’ approval for annexation will allow the project to move forward, but a long review process remains.

Senior Center Parking Lot to Expand

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to have the Remsburg Family Partnership of Middletown expand the Thurmont Senior Center parking lot. The lot will increase by 1,500 sq. ft. and add nine additional spaces. The cost of the project will be $7,498.

Colorfest Services Approved

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners approved the various services needed for the annual Colorfest Festival. The cost of these services is paid for with vendor fees for their Colorfest booths.

Security: May Security of Frederick will provide 26 security guards, 2 supervisors, and 2 relief guards for the festival for a cost of $19,080. They were the only bidder.

Bus service: Rills Bus Service of Westminster will provide nine buses and two wheelchair-accessible buses on Saturday and seven buses and two wheelchair-accessible buses on Sunday for a cost of $22,000. They were the only bidder.

Sanitation: Key Sanitation of Dickerson will provide 114 porta-potties and 16 handicapped-accessible porta-potties for $19,500. They were not the low bid, but their sanitation bid was tied with their trash service bid, for which they were the sole bidder. Because of this, the commissioners decided to go with Key for sanitation.

Trash service: Key Sanitation will use the same employees who will maintain the porta-potties to collect trash during the festival. The cost is $3,150.

Colorfest Fees Will Not Increase This Year

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners will not increase vendor fees this year, primarily because of the late notice it would create for vendors. However, they are expected to increase the craft vendor fees from $50 to $60 next year.

Stormwater Basins to be Replaced

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners voted to replace 15 stormwater basins along Frederick Road. The Remsburg Family Partnership will perform the work for $70,875. The town will use Highway User Funds to pay for the work.


Changes to Deal With Tall Grass

Although it is not a major problem, the Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved an ordinance that allows the town to mow tall grass at the property owner’s expense and makes it chargeable as a lien against the property. Most recently, the town hung 127 door hangers on property doors where the grass was taller than eight inches. Of this number, only three property owners did not comply. Of these, two were abandoned properties and one was a property that had multiple complaints against it.

Currently, the town has to follow a lengthy process that can take months before the town gets an order of abatement. This shortens the process and increases the fine from $75 to $100 a day. The changes will cut the process down to a couple weeks.

Change Order Approved

The first change order has come from the Silo Hill basin retrofit project change order request in the amount of $42,555. It is primarily from things required by the Frederick County Soil Conservation District. It was necessary to continue the project and meet MS-4 requirements.

Town Seeking Federal Assistance from USDA Rural Development

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners authorized Mayor Don Briggs and the town manager to file an application for federal assistance with the USDA Rural Development. The application will be through the department’s Community Facility Disaster Grant Program to purchase and install streetlights, with an estimated total dollar value of $234,089. USDA would provide $128,700, and the county would need to provide $105,389.

Town Approved Stormwater Management Fee

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved an ordinance to implement a new stormwater management fee based on the recommendations and study results of the Environmental Finance Center of the University of Maryland. The fee will be based on the amount of impervious surface in the town. The fee is $20 per Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU), which is 2,932 square feet of impervious surface on a recorded lot.

Emmitsburg Gets a Sister City

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners issued a proclamation declaring Lutsk, Ukraine, a sister city to the Town of Emmitsburg. Lutsk is in northwestern Ukraine and has a population of more than 213,000. The goal of the relationship is that it will establish a more culturally integrated society and foster the opportunity for both communities to share ideas.

Mount St. Mary’s University has also expressed interest in partnering with Lutsk universities, such as Lesya Ukraine Volyn National University, Lutsk National Technology University, and Lutsk University Institute of Human Development.

Resignations and Appointments

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners accepted the resignation of Terri Ray as an alternate on the Planning Commission for consideration. They also appointed Brian McKenney as an alternate to the Board of Appeals to serve a term from September 12, 2022, to September 12, 2025.


 Mayor John Kinnaird

Where did summer go? We are now looking forward to all the fun of fall. There are plenty of events to enjoy and places to visit during the fall season.

Let’s start with Colorfest on October 8-9. There will be plenty of crafts to see at the Community Park, GHC Carnival Grounds, the American Legion, and lots of other locations all over Thurmont. As always, there will be lots of great food available all over the Colorfest area. I will be enjoying tasty sausage gravy at the Thurmont Lions Club stand on Frederick Road. Be sure to visit Thurmont on the days leading up to Colorfest to take advantage of the many yard sales all over town. Please be careful while driving on Colorfest weekend; there will be street closures on Water Street, South Center Street, Park Lane, and Frederick Road. Be sure to observe the “no parking signs” and pay attention to our traffic control officers. If you are planning to sell crafts or food, get your permit from the Town Office before Colorfest. This year, yard sales can be held without a permit on Saturday and Sunday. Above all, visit local non-profits during Colorfest and help support our many organizations, churches, Scouts, school groups, and others. Many of these groups depend on Colorfest for a large part of their annual fundraising efforts. Remember that other communities will be holding events on Colorfest weekend: Rocky Ridge, Sabillasville, Graceham, Creagerstown, and others may have great events to visit and enjoy.

The state and federal parks always have programs on the weekends, and you should check them out. The cooler weather will also bring beautiful fall colors on Catoctin Mountain and on our rolling countryside. A nice slow drive on Park Central or Catoctin Hollow Road is a great way to enjoy all the amazing colors of fall. Our covered bridges also make for great afternoon drives and offer amazing scenery and beautiful picnic areas.

If you are looking for delicious fresh fruit, fall decorations, delicious jelly and jam, or fresh baked goodies, stop at any of our local orchards. Catoctin Mountain Orchard is on Rt. 15 (north of Thurmont), Pryor’s Orchard is on Pryor Road (off of Rt. 77, west of Thurmont), and Mountain View Orchard (on Rt. 550, north of Thurmont, close to Sabillasville). All three orchards raise their own fruit and are always fresh picked!

For great Halloween fun, join us at the Community Park, 19 Frederick Road, on October 29 at 7:30 p.m., for our Movie in the Park. This year, we are showing It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, followed by the main event, Hotel Transylvania! Bring chairs, blankets, or sit in your car just like at a drive-in. The Thurmont Lions Club will be serving free popcorn and hot chocolate.

Trick-or-treat in Thurmont will be held from 6:00-7:30 p.m. on Monday, October 31. Turn on your porch light if you are handing out treats to the ghouls and goblins. Drive carefully on Halloween and help make it a safe night for our children.

For family fun on the weekends through Halloween, check out the activities, entertainment, and great food at Magnolia Meadow Farms at 13001 Creagerstown Road. The amazing corn maze, Moonlit Maze kids games, gem mining, pedal cars, and other games and adventures are waiting for you to arrive and enjoy.

We are holding several events for the Gateway to the Cure Cancer research fundraiser. The Gateway to the Cure 5K Run will be held on Saturday, October 16, at the Eyler Road Park. Check-in starts at 7:30 a.m., and the walk/run kicks off at 8:30 a.m. You can register by phone through October 13 by calling 301-271-7313 & pressing 0. We also have pink light bulbs, T-shirts, sweatshirts, and other items for sale at the Town Office, Main Street Center, and several businesses in town.

Call me at 301-606-9458 or email me at with any questions, comments, or suggestions.


Mayor Don Briggs

Community, what is it?

Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom for more than 70 years, passed away on September 8, 2022. She became Queen at 25 years of age and shared most of her 96 years with us. Sadness, yes, in her passing, for the continuity of dignity and ease she brought to respect for the law, history, and traditions. On one of her visits to our country, she and Prince Phillip attended the Maryland – North Carolina football game at College Park on October 19, 1957, dubbed the “Queen’s Game.” It was a beautiful day, stands were packed, everybody was dressed up. Women with corsages, men in coats and ties. In attendance were my season ticket-holder father; my mother; my brother; president of the student government, whose responsibility it was to explain the game to the Australian ambassador; and me, sitting across the field with my CYO football coach. Coach and I had come after playing a CYO football game on the Ellipse behind the White House that morning. What a game. An upset 21-7 victory over a team coached by former Maryland coach Jim Tatum. A legendary game, a part of Maryland history.

On Sunday, September 11, I participated in the 9/11 commemoration at the Emmitsburg NETC campus chapel with students, instructors, and staff. The service began promptly at 8:46 a.m., the moment in time when the first plane of the attacks that day hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Eriks Gabliks, superintendent of National Fire Academy presided. A prayer was led by Rev. Timothy May. The tolling of the bell, three sets of five, 5-5-5, to commemorate the firefighters and first responders making their last call. After the service, everyone was invited to go up and light a candle. We all did.   

Community, what is it? With the town amidst its annual election cycle, this time for four candidates vying for two municipal commissioner seat openings, it’s as good a time as any to think about its meaning. What are the ideals, what are the expectations, what are the realities? I mention the “Queen’s Game” and the observance at FEMA Chapel for 9/11 because continuity and history are needed in the “Being” of a community.

To the topic of community, I started off my summer reading Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, an exposé of the exploitation of immigrants who came here following a dream, but only to be sucked under by the meat packing conglomerates in Chicago in the late nineteenth-early twentieth century. Hence, the expression, “you don’t want to know how the sausage is made.” I finished the summer by reading Lorraine Hansberry’s play, A Raisin in the Sun. Again, the setting is Chicago. This time in the 1950’s. The role of nuclear family. Again, people separated from the dream.

Lutsk, Ukraine, our sister city, what is keeping those 200,000 people together? Barbaric times for them. Let’s stay committed to share our community with them.

What is a footprint for our community? As good a reference as any is from the Bible. Take the Book of Deuteronomy, it has more than met the test of time for its wisdom. We seek a community to live and raise our families, “A land flowing with milk and honey.” Choose wise, understanding people to lead and heed (cf 1:13), and “not be partial in judgments; the small and the great alike” (1:17). To possess that land as a community, like here, is a blessing that comes with commandments, statutes, and ordinances adhered to (4:14, 6:1, 7:1, 10:13, 11:1, 11:32, 12:1), and a curse if not adhered. 

To me, Emmitsburg is idyllic, very close to a land flowing with milk and honey. A community formed by centuries of generations developing statutes and ordinances to live under and rely on to live in peace and harmony. Where foundations are formed for seamless assimilations of generations that follow. Today, the town operates under a statute that has codes that have changed from time to time to maintain continuity. They are a work in progress. To keep to those blessings, a unity must be formed by acceptable commandments, statutes, and ordinances. From this book of the Bible, a community will not exist without laws, as over time, some laws develop flaws. Let’s do something about it and really take a close look at them. We need people to step forward.

To Dan Fissel, the town water and sewer facilities superintendent who is retiring after 28 years of service, “Thank you.” Have a wonderful retirement—you earned it.


Burgess Heath Barnes

It’s now fall, and the smell of pumpkin spice is in the air wherever you go it seems. I hope everyone had a great summer. To me, it seemed to go by way too fast. It was a busy summer for the town of Woodsboro, with projects and things in the works for the town.

At the September 13th town meeting, we discussed the progress of the demolition of the property that the town purchased at 605 S. Main St. The overhead power lines have now been removed, and the demolition will begin soon, as we were waiting for Potomac Edison to remove them. Before the building is demolished, we are allowing the Frederick County Fire Department to use the building for drills. This will be a good training activity for them also, and the town was happy to offer this up to them.

We also had some concerns from townspeople brought up at the meeting. The town code written in 1974 does not allow chickens or livestock in town limits. With the town not having a code enforcer until a few months ago, many things went under the radar. Since the code enforcer has started, chickens have become an issue. A few town residents plan to appeal to change the town code to planning and zoning and then ultimately the town council. If this takes place, it will be shared to the public for a public hearing before any action is taken. As of right now, there has not been any formal petition made to have the code changed, but I will keep the town up to date if things go forward on this.

Town Clerk Mary Rice and I made a proposal to the council about the possibility of replacing the water meter-reading system. We are still working on gathering final numbers for the cost, but this is a project that we must have done soon, as the system we currently are using has become obsolete and outdated. The challenge with this is that each home will have to have a piece in their water meter replaced; this could take a while, as the crew would need to enter each person’s home to replace the reader. One of the great things about this is that it will allow electronic readings to be tied to electronic payment processing that allows residents to pay their water bills via debit or credit cards, which has been asked a lot lately. We plan to present final numbers to the council at the October meeting for a vote. Thankfully, this project would fall under the approval to be used with ARPA funds that the town received.

Do not forget to mark your calendars for October 15 and 16, as Woodsboro Days will once again be a two-day festival instead of just the one day as it has been for the last several decades. We have lined up three bands for the festival on Sunday the 16th at the stage in the park, along with several vendors and food trucks that will be set up there also. On day one, Saturday October 15, there will be yard sales in town with a large sale at the Woodsboro Lutheran Church with food and bake sales. In addition, the Woodsboro Historical Society will have their 5K run at 9:00 a.m. Last year’s music festival in the park was well-attended and successful, and we are looking forward to this year’s event. If you are a vendor or food truck interested in attending, please reach out to me.

Trick-or-treating in town will be October 31, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. If you plan to participate, please turn on your porch light. Please also be careful that night driving around town, as children will be out and about.

As always, I encourage everyone to support Glade Valley Community Services (GVCS) if you have clothes or food donations, as they are always in need of items for members of the community. For more information, please contact GVCS by email at or call 301-845-0213.

If you have any questions, concerns, complaints, or compliments, please feel free to reach out to me at or by phone at 301-401-7164.

Woodsboro Town meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. In addition, Planning & Zoning meetings are at 6:00 p.m. on the first Monday of the month as needed. If you have an item for the agenda, it needs to be submitted 14 days before the P&Z meeting. The current location for meetings is the St. Johns United Church of Christ, located at 8 N. 2nd Street Woodsboro, MD 21798. The public is always invited to attend.

On Monday, October 17, the Thurmont and Emmitsburg Lions Clubs are hosting a Candidates Forum for candidates running for Frederick County Council in District 5 and At-large, as well as candidates for County Executive. The County Council candidates include District 5—Mason Carter (R) and Julianna Lufkin (D); At-large—Tony Chmelik (R), Phil Dacey (R), Renee Knapp (D), Brad Young (D). County Executive candidates are Jessica Fitzwater (D) and Michael Hough (R).

The Lions Club holds these candidate forums as a service to our community so that residents of Northern Frederick County can hear directly from candidates about issues that concern them and so that they may be better informed voters.

The forum will be held at the Thurmont Middle School Cafeteria, located at 408 E. Main Street in Thurmont. The entrance and parking are off Summit Avenue. It will begin at 7:00 p.m. on Monday October 17 and end around 9:15 p.m.

The first part of the evening will be a forum just for County Council candidates and the last part of the evening will be for County Executive candidates.

BY Terry Pryor

Writer, Poet, Life Coach, and Student of the Mind

Note: This is the eighth month of action described in a series of motivational articles. Take some time each month to complete these action items, and you’ll see a “New You” emerge. Enjoy!

Power Action #8: It’s A Love Song, Baby!

As a teenager, I remember my mother saying, “You’d better change your tune, young lady!” I knew what she meant; she meant I was displeasing her in some way, and I had better get a new attitude—fast! Expressions like this are often handed down through generations. I would guess that my mother had heard it as a child from her parents.

I want to propose a very pleasant, and perhaps new, thought about how to “change your tune.” This practice helps tremendously in creating a loving and compassionate version of ourselves. It boosts our self-image and brings lightheartedness to our days.

Here’s what you do. Take the words of a love song like “A Groovy Kind of Love” by the Mindbenders, and wherever the word “you” is used in the song, substitute the word “me” in its place. Or use the Beatles song, “And I Love Her,” and replace “her” with “me.” I began this love song exercise after hearing about it at a motivational seminar many years ago. Ever since then, I giggle every time I sing a love song to me. It just feels so good! I love to sing love songs to myself. It’s also become a challenging game to find new love songs to substitute the “you” with “me.”

Why should you sing love songs to yourself? Well, first of all, why not? We absolutely must love ourselves. Until we do, how the heck can we expect anyone else to? Besides, we are magnificent in all our glory and individuality. We are wonderful beyond compare. One of my most favorite love songs to me is “You Are The Sunshine of My Life.” Wherever there’s a “you,” I replace it with “I,” and I cannot tell you how high I get wailing away this song on my morning walks.

This is not about ego or puffing up our image to others. It’s about a healthy relationship with that magnificent being that is you. That one-of-a-kind, made-to-perfection, can’t-get-enough-of-you, you. I can tell you this for certain, kids love this game. What a wonderful thing to teach them. It’s infectious. So, sing, baby! You will be surprised, and pleasantly so, at how your feelings about yourself change for the better. Find that perfect love song to sing to you, and sing it every day!

And the Winner Is YOU!

Here’s an amazing reason to sing your praises loud and clear. Let’s go back to the beginning—yours. You were a winner from the get-go. Think about this, an average ejaculation contains 40 to 150 million sperm, out of which only a few hundred will even come close to the egg. While it’s technically true that sperm can last for five days, most sperm will only last about two hours if they do not have fertile-quality conditions. Conceivably (pun intended), sperm will struggle to swim up to the uterus, use all their reserves, and not make it in time.

The egg typically lives only about 12 hours, so it cannot wait for long. Can you begin to see how extraordinarily miraculous you are? Right from the beginning, you were a winner, a gift of the most precious kind, representing the strongest swimmer, the most fertile egg, the one with the most health and vitality. Tenacity was your game. Isn’t it time for you to begin treating yourself with the highest and utmost respect? You are a magnificent miracle. You were no accident.

There is a tremendous power within you, and there is going to come a time—a precious, golden “Aha!” moment—when the knowledge of this power truly hits home. When it does (and I wish I could be there), I guarantee that you will never be the same. That epiphany, that knowing beyond all you’ve ever known, is when you begin taking responsibility for the outcome of your existence—in all areas.

This, my friend, whether you know it or not, is what you have been waiting for all of your life. This is the happiness that abides within you. This is why you are here, to create the life you desire with all the abundance, prosperity, joy, and delicious delight that you deserve. There are some who simply cannot handle this power. Those who feel the need to blame others for their misfortunes probably have not even read this far, so I know I am now talking only to those of you who are ready for this knowledge. I am talking to the magnificent you—the you who plants seeds of positive thought, then waters and nurtures those seeds until they bloom in splendid glory.

There is no block to your happiness, except in your own thoughts. That goes for memories, too. Each time we recall an incident, we give it power. For some, recalling their entire lives and how many things have made them unhappy is what they are consistently thinking about. Remember, your subconscious gives back to you what you plant. Choose to plant happiness. Choose to plant health. Choose to plant wealth. Choose to move beyond where you are now!

Keep the Faith, Baby!

In The Principles of Psychology by William James, published in 1890, he devotes his longest chapter, “The Consciousness of Self,” to Faith. He felt that the greatest discovery of the 19th century was the power of the subconscious mind touched by Faith. Faith is an absolute and necessary component to the process of seeing the outcome and living as if it were already your reality. Faith is that deepest of all knowing—you know because you know. No one, no thing, no experience can move you from your rock of Faith once you have acquired it. It is the most powerful of all the tools to success in any area of your life.

The Grand Slam in tennis, the four most prestigious tournaments in a year: the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open. Winning all four in a calendar year is called the Grand Slam. Until Faith becomes a Grand Slam, know you may have a tennis match going on in your head until you get comfortable with this new habit. At first, it’s going to seem as if you are trying to fool yourself. Those thoughts are the monkeys of doubt coming in to distract you. Tell them to move on.

Blair Garrett

It’s an exciting time to be a beer drinker in Thurmont.

Craft beer aficionado and local restaurant owner Josh Bollinger has taken his home-brew talents to the restaurant scene.

Bollinger’s newest project, Uncle Dirty’s Brew Works, is ready to start rotating beers into his longtime successful venture, Bollinger’s Restaurant.

“I started home brewing about two years ago,” Bollinger said. “We’ve had craft beers in the restaurant for about five years now, and I’ve seen all these small-scale places open up and just felt like that’s what I wanted to do.”

With the integration of craft beer into his already established restaurant, Bollinger is planning on filling a much-needed absence of great local beer to Thurmont. 

“The home brew was fun, and I made some really good beers,” Bollinger said. “I just wanted to take it to the next level and be Thurmont’s first microbrewery.”

Bollinger’s food is well-known in the area for its expert craftsmanship, and his beers are no different. He’s bringing something a little different to the table than your typical microbrewery, and that’s sure to be a big draw for new business.

“One thing that separates us is a lot of breweries will have food trucks pull up with one item, but here, you’ll be able to get a variety of food that pairs well with our beer,” Bollinger said.

“Beer and barbecue go together. I might even try to do pairings or specials, where I’ll make a dish to go with a particular beer.”

Bollinger and his team are running a small-batch operation, with a true focus on high-quality beer. When you make beer in small, controllable quantities, it’s much easier to come up with something of quality that really lights up your taste buds.

With the changing of the seasons, heavier, darker beers are sure to replace your typical light summer beers.

“Our first beer on tap is called ‘I’m Not Going To Get Rich Off This I Promise,’ and it’s a pale ale,” Bollinger said. “It’ll be our first beer on tap, and it might be our only beer on tap for the next week or two.”

The team has nearly a dozen working recipes, and a few that are primed and ready for the colder seasons. “We have one that’s got a higher ABV (alcohol by volume),” he said. “It’s a wheat wine, brewed with apple fritter donuts, dried apples, brown sugar, and some other deliciousness. Now I’m brewing a pumpkin coffee porter, and it should be done right around Halloween.”

For now, he plans to slowly add his newer beers in, but a big release is on the horizon for 2023. 

“We start our 16th year here in April, so that’s what I’m thinking for a full-blown grand opening,” he said. “It’s very exciting, and we just have to stick to the process and make really good beer. From now until April, that’ll give me the opportunity to refine all of my recipes.”

Bollinger currently has a crowler machine, so if you find one of Uncle Dirty’s Brew Works beers that really hits the spot, you can take home your very own 32-ounce can for a later date.

While getting everything running and operational is important, Bollinger’s focus is on making the best product he possibly can.

“There are a lot of bigger breweries out there that don’t make that good of a beer, but they sell a lot of it,” he said. “I want to sell a small amount of really, really good beer.”

For now, everything is business as usual for the Bollinger team, but be sure to keep your eyes peeled for Uncle Dirty’s Brew Works beers hitting Thurmont soon.


Brian Lare (left) and Josh Bollinger (right) hard at work on some of their newest beers.

Photo by Blair Garrett

The following lists the status of new businesses and development coming to Emmitsburg:

Emmit Ridge 2 — The property is for sale.

Federal Stone — The forest and site plans have been approved. The next step is to submit an improvement plat with the town. Construction is being pushed back due to high construction cost caused by inflation.

Frailey Farm — The property is under contract. The proposed developer will schedule a public workshop with the mayor and board of commissioners to discuss the project.

Mason Dixon Logistics Park (Trout Property) — The concept plan has been submitted to staff for a commercial/industrial park. Potential zoning text and/or map amendment applications are expected in the near future.

MDOT/SHA Park & Ride — MDOT/SHA restarted design work on July 1. It is expected that 30 percent of the project will be complete by the end of 2022.

Ripleigh’s Creamery — The owners are working on obtaining a Frederick County building permit.

Rutter’s — The project is under active construction. It is expected to be completed in October or November of this year.

Village Liquors & Plaza Inn — Property owner has informed the town he is now phasing the project – Phase 1: first-story convenience area; and Phase 2: second- and third-story hotel. They are currently waiting on Frederick County improvement plan approval.

Warthen’s Court 5-unit townhomes — A sketch plan has been submitted.

The following lists the status of new businesses and development coming to Thurmont:

Hobb’s Division — Consists of two approved building lots in the Mixed-Use Village 1. They are listed for sale.

Hammaker Hills, Phase 1 — Consists of 37 single-family dwelling lots in the R-2 zoning district. One lot was pre-existing and built. Water, sewer, and stormwater management installation is almost complete. Final plats should be recorded soon.

Hammaker Hills, Phase 2 — Received preliminary plat approval for 22 single-family dwelling lots.

Mechanicstown, LLC — Received preliminary plat approval for 31 single-family dwelling lots.

Mountain Brooke — Received preliminary plat approval for 11 single-family dwelling lots.

Weis Gas & Go (2 Thurmont Blvd.) — Weis Markets did a partial site redevelopment for converting existing underutilized overflow parking area to a Gas & Go fuel station that will have three pumps and one manned kiosk.

Thurmont Business Park — Lot 1 to be developed for the relocation of Goodwill into a 17,850-square-foot building.

Criswell Automotive (105/107 Frederick Road) — Relocating the existing accessory structure and paving of the parcels for automotive sales and storage.

The Dirty Dawg DIY Dog Wash & Pet Supplies (224 North Church Street in the Thurmont Plaza) — Opened on August 13.

Frederick Health, the largest healthcare provider in Frederick County, is pleased to announce that it was recently awarded accreditation for the next three years by the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (AAAHC). This is an important milestone in the continuing growth and success of Frederick Health as an organization.

Pursuing accreditation demonstrates Frederick Health’s commitment to providing the highest levels of quality care to patients, and the same high-level of quality in its business practices. Achieving AAAHC accreditation is proof that the Frederick Surgical Center has met the rigorous standards of a nationally recognized third party.

“Frederick Health is proud to have received a three-year accreditation from AAAHC. These efforts are just another way of Frederick Health providing award-winning care to the entire community,” said Dr. Mihir Jani, chief of staff, Frederick Health.

Having earned AAAHC accreditation, Frederick Health embodies the “1095 Strong” philosophy. This idea is a commitment to ongoing improvement and quality each day of operation. During the three-year or 1,095-day accreditation term, AAAHC accredited organizations continue to develop and foster the kind of everyday habits that enable leaders in the industry to provide the utmost in health care delivery and patient safety.

“This accreditation reflects the consistent professionalism of every member of our expert team.” continued Dr. Jani.

Frederick Health is proud to have met the challenge of accreditation and intends to consistently uphold the principles of quality improvement in patient care. This success is all thanks to amazing work of team members and providers.

Richard D. L. Fulton

On August 1, Mayor Don Briggs presented a proclamation to Sister Anne M. Higgins, honoring her as the Town of Emmitsburg Poet Laureate at the town Board of Commissioners’ meeting.

Briggs stated that Higgins was selected by himself (as mayor) and commissioners to the position, which will run from August 2022 to August 2024.

He further stated that the sister has published nine books of poetry, and that more than 100 of her poems have been published in journals and magazines, including The Writer’s Almanac.

Books that she had published included At the Year’s Elbow (Mellen Poetry Press, 2000), Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky (Plain View Press, 2007), Pick It Up and Read (Finishing Line Press, 2008), How the Hand Behaves (Finishing Line Press, 2009), Digging for God (Wipf & Stock/Resource Publications, 2010), Vexed Questions (Aldrich Press, 2013), Reconnaissance (Texture Press, 2014), Life List (Finishing Line Press, 2016), and Not Only/But Also (Duck Lake Press, 2019). 

Additionally, she has given readings at the Curious Iguana Bookstore in Frederick, the Joaquin Miller Cabin, and the Café Muse in Washington, D.C., among other venues on the East Coast.

Briggs stated that Higgins has been “passionate about inspiring the Town of Emmitsburg and public to engage in poetry.”

Upon being presented the proclamation by the mayor, Higgins read one of her poems, Cherry Tomatoes, to the mayor and board (and public). 

Higgins, originally from West Chester, Pennsylvania, is a member of the Daughters of Charity for some 44 years and a graduate of Emmitsburg’s Saint Joseph’s College, the Johns Hopkins University, and the Washington Theological Union.

Additionally, she continues to teach English at Mount Saint Mary’s University (MSMU), which she has been doing for more than 40 years. Before being hired by MSMU in 1999, she taught English at the Weekend College, Notre Dame University of Maryland, from January 1997 until December 1998; and at Howard Community College, from September 1998 until June 1999.

Her hobbies are gardening and bird watching.

Briggs stated that one of the reasons the town elected to acknowledge such contributions as represented by those of Sr. Anne M. Higgins is because “the Town of Emmitsburg wishes to encourage reflection upon the richness and diversity of the people, locations, and traditions (of the town).” Mayor Briggs noted that on August 5, 2019, the town Board of Commissioners established a two-year, honorary position of Poet Laureate of Emmitsburg in the spirit of “encouraging the reading, writing, sharing, and celebration of poetry.”

Emmitsburg Mayor Don Briggs presents a proclamation to Sister Anne M. Higgins, honoring her as the Town of Emmitsburg Poet Laureate during an August town meeting.

Photo Courtesy of Town of Emmitsburg

Terry Pryor

It isn’t easy preparing for the life of a Royal. It’s downright cumbersome when you are a rather large frog who sits by the side of a busy highway, waiting for kisses. And how many kisses does it take to transform a frog into a Prince? We are still waiting to find out, it seems.

Kissimmee (pictured right) is his name, and for three-plus years, he has been a focal point for commuters and travelers on U.S. Highway 15, just south of Thurmont. No matter the rain, snow, sunshine, or any weather in-between, nothing has deterred him from his purpose: to be a Prince!

Kissimmee’s previous line of work was in a playground, where children climbed on his back, chased each other around his big old gold and green plastic body, and would-be princesses posed for pictures smooching his big lips. It was an okay gig, but Kissimmee knew he was born for greater things.

One day (or once upon a time), Jeff and Reggie Barber, father and son and owners of Playground Specialists Inc. (a family business in Thurmont that serves Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, and West Virginia), were out assessing a new playground site. Guess who lived there?

Reggie, the elder Barber, a self-proclaimed Purveyor of Nonsense, took it upon himself to adopt Kissimmee and share him with the world that traveled down route 15. The placement of Kissimmee changes daily, as Reggie pulls him up and down the side road next to the highway. It’s a game played by who knows how many to guess where he will show up next.

“There’s no rhyme or reason to where I put him,” Reggie explained. “It’s all about having fun.”

For the most part, smiles are unseen, but in those speeding trucks, cars, and motorcycles barreling down the highway to their destinations, you can bet that smiles often last for miles.

Reggie has received cards, letters, and notes—sometimes stuck on our Prince-to-be—all proclaiming their love for him. And, yes, there are also those who stop to plant a nice big kiss on our stalwart amphibian. One commuter, recently retired, sent a note commenting on how much he enjoyed wondering where Kissimmee would be moved each day and how much fun seeing him made his commute a pleasure over the years.

People have also stopped to “decorate” Kissimmee. For some reason (perhaps his color), St. Patrick’s Day is a biggie. Reggie is never sure who might show up or when, but people of all ages have stopped to let their kids (and inner kids) out to play.

Before Kissimmee came to live by the side of the road, a purple dinosaur could be seen counting cars, or whatever dinosaurs do. According to Reggie, “He kept traveling. Once, he returned, but then took off again.”

No one has yet tried to make off with Kissimmee. His size is a deterrent; and, just in case you get any ideas, his best friend is a Wizard, so be careful of lightning bolts.

I’m not sure about the Prince thing. They have always been overrated to me. I also would not want that last kiss, whatever number it is, to be the reason we never see Kissimmee again sitting somewhere by the side of the road, watching the world go by.

Deb Abraham Spalding

Jacob’s Church on Harbaugh Valley Road in Fairfield, Pennsylvania, near Sabillasville, celebrated its 200th Anniversary on September 17 and 18, 2022. The two-day event was unique, with old time dress, music, folks telling about the history of Jacob’s Church, food, fellowship, and historic displays of the church.

Jacob’s Church’s Pastor Richard Daughtridge and wife, Robin, have been serving the church for 15 years, serving previously at Ringgold for 12 years.

Pastor Richard said, “It’s been a great little church. The people here are just mountain people who love each other and love to get together. It’s a beautiful place.”

“We have a wonderful congregation! We have a wonderful pastor and his wife. We really love them,” proclaimed a lady in a dress and bonnet dubbed the “madame” by her peers named Carolyn Brookens.

Pastor Richard and parishioners dressed the part for the occasion. Pastor Richard took a wagon ride, courtesy of Wolfe Auctions and Kathy Ruby, on a circuit ride to St. John’s in Sabillasville to create authenticity. Pastor Carl Fulmor from St. John’s held a service there and returned to Jacob’s Church with Pastor Richard for the homecoming. 

Pastor Richard said, “We’ve (the congregation) put a lot of work into it. The parishioners are excited to be part of the celebration.”

Bluegrass players at the church gather and play together and did so for this occasion. The beautiful band stage on the grounds was built from three trees on the property several years prior. The trees were milled at Ray Coblentz’s sawmill. Pastor Richard explained, “All of our men (parishioners) shaved the lumber with a draw knife. Ben Miller led the construction.”

The church, its pews, and the social hall (a former schoolhouse) are all original from 200 years ago, and still used frequently to this day.

Originally, the church was started by Apples Church by Jacob Harbaugh. Jacob Harbaugh was the elder who was in charge of the charge 200 years ago.

Pastor Richard built the old, rugged cross that adorns the pulpit in his barn and actually laid on the cross to determine the placement of its nails. “We’ve always used this old cross as a centerpiece for all sermons.”

The church’s stained-glass window was crafted by Herb and Pam Campbell (deceased).

During the anniversary service, Pastor Richard wore a colonial wig. Many in the congregation wore settlers’ clothing. When taking the offering, the deacons used bags on long sticks to receive the offering and ticklers with a feather on a string to wake people up if they fell asleep during the sermon.

According to Pastor Richard, Jacob’s Church has done well and remained strong for 200 years. Before COVID, the church was packed with around 100 parishioners all the time. They still host approximately 70 people, combined with some in the church in person, some listening on the radio (107.2) in the parking lot in their cars, and some online on Facebook live. 

The history of Jacob’s Church by Joan Bittner Fry will be featured in the November edition of The Catoctin Banner.

Jacob’s Church members, dressed in period attire, made homemade bread, churned butter, cooked soup in a campfire kettle, and served up meals. Pictured from left: (seated front row) Barb McKendrick, Carolyn Brookens, and Christy Worthington; (standing) Aubrey Harbaugh, Ellen Hildabrand, Jean Morrison, Mary Martin, Kathy Gunder, Judy Barton, Helen Troxell, Charlotte Donnelly, and Caythee Ruby.

This horse-drawn carriage (provided by Wolfe Auctions) was used to transport Pr. Richard to St. John’s, where he joined in the service.

The Jacob’s Church 200th Anniversary congregation gathers out front for the celebration. Jacob’s Church was part of the group of churches known as the Emmitsburg Charge. In recognition, Pastor Carl Fulmor from St. John’s Church in Sabillasville joined the presentation.

Photos by Deb Abraham Spalding


A special birthday celebration was held at Gettysburg’s Transitions Healthcare on September 5, 2022, for resident Gloria Bauerline who turned 99 on Labor Day. The former Emmitsburg resident has been an Auxiliary member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6658 for over 70 years, serving in many different capacities, including chaplain and president. She is the last surviving charter member of the post.

Gloria worked in the Mount St. Mary’s finance office for over 30 years. She is a member of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Emmitsburg and was active in their Sodality.

Twenty-nine family members and friends attended her party: Denny and Carol Martin, Robin, Jordan and Collin Dowling, Cory and Kaylee Martin, Gene Martin, Bruce Martin, Robert Henke and Kathy Staub, Mike Joy, Don and Bernadette Joy, Dan and Cindy Trout, Sandra Raines, Pam and Morgan Gigous, Julie Joy, Kevin and Teresa Short, Jean Joy Sanders, Joel Sanders, Tim and Debbie Valentine, Joan Tracey, Marlene Holt, and Debbie Hobbs.

Happy Birthday, Gloria!

James Rada, Jr.

When Joyce Bruchey was a senior at Emmitsburg High School in 1962, the principal came into her class and asked her and another student to substitute teach in the first-grade class. It was an experience that changed her life.

“I had wanted to do something with agriculture, but at that point, I changed what I wanted to do,” Bruchey said.

She became a teacher, and the first school where she was hired was Emmitsburg. However, she was trained in secondary education but hired as a third-grade teacher at the age of 22. She went on to teach in various schools in the county for 39 years. She now serves as the historian for the Emmitsburg High School Alumni Association.

Pointing to the library’s community room, Bruchey said, “It’s been over 70 years since I first sat in that [first grade] room as a student.”

On September 17, one hundred years and two days after the Emmitsburg School first opened, dozens of people gathered at the current Emmitsburg Community Center to celebrate the building’s history.

Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner and Emmitsburg Mayor Don Briggs cut the ribbon for the newest historic wayside marker in town, which recognizes the history of the school. Inside the Emmitsburg Library, visitors viewed a new exhibit about the history of the building and other historic artifacts and pictures Bruchey had brought for the event. They also enjoyed refreshments in the community room as they reminisced about school.               

Librarian Penny Stockton created the display hanging on the library wall. She hadn’t realized the building was 100 years old until she was creating a similar display about the history of the Emmitsburg Library.

“This building is important to the people here,” Stockton said. “Look at how they fought to keep the school.”

Many of the attendees were former students at the school, and they spent a lot of time talking about their time in the building as students and teachers, pointing out where classrooms used to be and recalling students and teachers they knew.

The building was originally constructed as the Emmitsburg School in 1922 and housed grades 1-11. The elementary classes were on the first floor, and the high school classes were on the second floor and basement. The only bathroom in the building was also in the basement.

Grade 12 was added to the school in 1949 as part of changes the state made to the education system. A new wing was built that held the cafeteria, gymnasium, and locker rooms between 1950 and 1952.

However, due to a decreasing enrollment, the county-built Catoctin High School in Thurmont in 1969 and combined the student bodies of Emmitsburg and Thurmont into the school.

 The last graduating class from Emmitsburg High School was in 1968. Catoctin High opened in the middle of the following school year, and the students were moved to the new school.

The building was adapted as a community center for Emmitsburg and now houses a variety of organizations, including the Emmitsburg town office, the Emmitsburg Library, the Frederick County Department of Parks and Recreation, the Emmitsburg Senior Center, the Frederick County Health Department, the YMCA Head Start, the Catoctin Community Agency School, the Catoctin-Ettes, the Silver Fancy Garden Club, and the Catoctin Youth Association Basketball.

“Without a doubt, this building has served as the heart of the community for 100 years,” Gardner said during her remarks at the celebration.

Photos by James Rada, Jr.

(above) Community members and officials gather for the ribbon cutting of Emmitsburg’s newest wayside marker that depicts the building’s former use as a school.

(below) Memorabilia of the former Emmitsburg High School are shown.

What do horses with asthma and a national science fair in Washington, D.C., have in common? Answer: Emma and Sarah Simmons, eighth-grade twin sisters from Mother Seton School in Emmitsburg. These 13-year-olds of Carroll Valley, Pennsylvania, were recently selected as two of the Top 300 Broadcom Masters in the 2022 STEM competition held in Washington, D.C. Their win at the Top 300 Broadcom Masters competition locates them in the top 2 percent of middle schoolers in the country and makes them eligible to participate in the Top 30 Broadcom Masters this autumn.

The engineering project that caught the attention of judges in the nation’s capital was titled, “A Portable Bronchodilator Delivery System for Equine Inflammatory Respiratory Diseases.” Emma and Sarah, daughters of Dr. A. Jeffrey Simmons and Dr. Lisa S. McLeod-Simmons, began their project last autumn when they were in seventh grade at Mother Seton School. They explained that the purpose of their biomedical invention is to develop a portable bronchodilator delivery system that allows a horseback rider to administer pharmaceutical therapies to a horse suffering from a sudden onset of severe Equine Asthma Syndrome or other respiratory diseases without having to dismount or return to the stable.

“We ride horses,” Emma said, “and one of the horses we ride has asthma. Sometimes when we rode, we could see the horse struggling to breathe.”

 Sarah continued, “Then we would have to dismount and take the horse back to the barn for him to cool down and for his owner to give him medicine. Seeing this made us think about what would happen if we were farther away from the stable and not near the asthma medicine.”

 “So, Sarah and I began thinking about how to solve the problem,” said Emma, who is interested in a career in equine veterinary medicine and research. “How could we make riding a horse that had a respiratory disease, but was otherwise healthy, safer for the horse and for the rider?”

 “And what we engineered was the portable bronchodilator delivery system,” noted Sarah, who is planning to study either biomedical or aerospace engineering. “The unit is small and portable and can easily deliver emergency medicine whenever needed without the rider having to dismount. It’s a manual system, so it doesn’t require electricity like a mask inhaler or a muscular injection. And, it can be used in any weather.”

Emma and Sarah won their school STEM fair’s top seventh-grade project and the school’s best overall award last fall for this project. They then advanced to the Frederick County STEM fair early this spring, where they won top honors in the biomedical engineering category, as well as several other county science fair awards.

Their project was then nominated to participate in the national level Top 300 Broadcom Masters STEM competition. There were nearly 2,000 entries in this competition from the top 10 percent of middle school students in the country. On September 7, 2022, Broadcom Masters announced that a panel of judges, comprised of engineers, scientists, and educators from around the United States, had selected Emma and Sarah Simmons as two of their Top 300 young engineers and scientists across the country.

“We were so excited when our mother told us we had placed in the Broadcom Masters,” Sarah commented.” It’s an amazing feeling to work so hard on a project and then to have that work recognized. Emma and I thank the Frederick County STEM fair and Broadcom Masters for giving us this opportunity.” Emma added, “And we are so grateful to our parents; our teachers, Mrs. Kuykendall and Mrs. Beard; and our church family at Trinity UMC in Emmitsburg, who have always been so supportive. We really are blessed.”

Sarah Simmons (left) and Emma Simmons (on the horse) demonstrate their Portable Bronchodilator Delivery System used to administer asthma medicine to horses.

Two men from Thurmont received a special Mason award this summer.  They both received the 50-year pin as a Mason. 

Randy Valentine of Thurmont and a member of Tyrian Lodge #205 in Emmitsburg received his 50-year award during the lodge’s annual Strawberry Night.

Randy became a Master Mason on January 22, 1970.

Ernie Farkas of Thurmont and a member of Acacia Lodge #155 in Thurmont received his 50-year pin from Marvin L. Mill, Most Worshipful Grand Master of Maryland, during Acacia Lodge’s Annual Strawberry Night.

Ernie became a Master Mason on April 11, 1972.

For additional information regarding Masons in Thurmont, visit

Two men from Thurmont received a special Mason award this summer.  They both received the 50-year pin as a Mason. 

Randy Valentine of Thurmont and a member of Tyrian Lodge #205 in Emmitsburg received his 50-year award during the lodge’s annual Strawberry Night.

Randy became a Master Mason on January 22, 1970.

Ernie Farkas of Thurmont and a member of Acacia Lodge #155 in Thurmont received his 50-year pin from Marvin L. Mill, Most Worshipful Grand Master of Maryland, during Acacia Lodge’s Annual Strawberry Night.

Ernie became a Master Mason on April 11, 1972.

For additional information regarding Masons in Thurmont, visit

Pictured from left are Marvin L. Mill, Most Worshipful Grand Master of Maryland, Ernie Farkas, Rick Boyle, and Tommy Morris.


Pictured from left are Dave Mohler, Randy Valentine, and Rick Boyle.

Courtesy Photos

The Knights of Columbus Grand Knight, Pat Joy (left), honored our Vincentians with a plaque of the names of all the pastors, assistant pastors, and assisting priests who served at St. Joseph’s from 1852 to 2022.

Pictured from left are Pat Joy, Grand Knight; Rev. Eugene F. Sheridan; Rev. William M. Allegretto, C.M. Pastor; and Rev. Harry F. Arnone, C.M., Vincentian Community Superior Chaplain to the Daughters of Charity. Courtesy Photo

Richard D. L. Fulton

Mount Saint Mary’s University (MSMU) staff held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on September 9 to launch the newly expanded and renovated Knott Academic Center.

According to Donna Klinger, executive director of MSMU’s Communications Office of University Marketing & Communications, the $9.1 million project, in the making since the summer of 2019, “resulted in multiple collaborative learning spaces, new classrooms, technological upgrades, improved faculty offices, new flooring and lighting, the student-run Saxbys’ café and more.”

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Robert Brennan, vice-president for University Advancement, welcomed attendees, and introduced President Timothy Trainor, who thanked faculty, students, staff, donors, trustees, and alumni leaders for coming to celebrate the fruition of the project.

In his remarks, Klinger reported, Trainor emphasized the collaborations that the improved building encourages, noting, “These collaborative learning spaces are where, what I like to call intellectual collisions. – happen during informal interactions between students, and between students and faculty.”

“Meaningful mentoring also occurs, helping students on their path to leading lives of significance in service to God and others,” the university president said, adding that the center’s completion was a “successful milestone in the university’s commitment to improve the learning and living environment for students, faculty and staff.”

Trainor also mentioned other recent and future projects, including the new Frederick Health Emmitsburg healthcare center on campus, and the upcoming Coad Science Building expansion and renovation project, which will begin in Spring 2023.

The president also acknowledged the donors who helped make the improved Knott Academic Center possible, including the Bolte Family Foundation (named in honor of Richard J. Bolte, Sr. in 2011), whose foundational donation funded improvements to the business school facilities, as well as Raphael, Class of 1992, and Charlene Della Ratta, whom Trainor said, “gave generously in support of the College of Liberal Arts spaces,” Dr. John F. Donovan for supporting the Seminar Room, and Robert, Class of 1975, and MBA 1986, and Susan Bream both of whom funded the Robert & Susan Bream Academic Commons. 

Trainor also thanked contributing staff members and contractors for their hard work and dedication.  A state grant and other gifts also supported the project.

Klinger stated that Frank Bolte, Class of 1987, representing himself and his six brothers, all of whom are alumni, and Bream “gave brief, but impactful reflections on the role the Mount has played in their lives.” Closing remarks were delivered by Dr. Barbara Marinak, dean of the School of Education, who praised the Knott Academic Center as a “space that redefines collaboration and engagement in higher education.”

Msgr. McLean Cummings, director of spiritual formation at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, gave a blessing for the Knott Academic Center. Trainor, Bream, Della Ratta, Bolte and Provost Boyd Creasman, Ph.D., came forward together to cut the ceremonial ribbon as the crowd clapped and cheered.

The ceremony concluded, with student- and faculty-led tours of the facility, with stops at the John F. Donovan, Ph.D. Seminar Room; a typical classroom with enhanced technological capabilities; Palmieri Center for Entrepreneurship; Saxbys’ student-run café; Honors Program suite; and Robert & Susan Bream Academic Commons.

Maryann Marotta of Marotta/Main Architects designed the 12,500 square-foot addition and the renovations to the original 49,074 square-foot building, and Morgan-Keller Construction served as the general contractor.  Morgan-Keller President and CEO Bradley Guyton is an alumnus, earning both a Bachelor of Science in business and finance and an M.B.A. from the university, Klinger reported.

One of the recently completed assets to the Knott Academic Center included a Saxbys’ sponsored café, which is being managed by Mount students and staff, as part of Saxby’s

“Experiential Learning Platform (E.L.P.),” through which, the company states, “… young people are proving that they have what it takes to mold the business movement of the future. We call these our entrepreneurial proving grounds,” the company stated.

Ribbon-cutting (from left): Boyd Creasman, Frank Bolte, Tim Trainor, Raphael Della Ratta, and Robert Bream.

Catoctin’s FFA wrapped up a busy summer schedule. In June, Catoctin FFA members attended the 94th Maryland State FFA Convention at the Frederick Fairgrounds, with 160 members across the state. This year’s theme was Pursuing your Passion!  

The Ag Sales Team earned a trip to the National FFA Convention in the fall by placing first in the state competition. This team researched different types of herbicides and fungicides and then sold products. Team members included Kendall Abruzzese (1st ind.), Cheyenne Van Echo (3rd ind.), Carly Ridenour (5th ind.), and Alyssa Costa (6th ind.)

Shane Milbourne, Kiandra Strickhouser, and Kolton Whetzel are members of the Ag Marketing Team. This team made a marketing plan for Red Dust Farms. The team placed first in the competition and will compete at the national level in October. 

The Ag Issues Team placed first in the state. Team members, Ella Burrier, Sheridan Chaney, Caroline Clark, Owen Cook, Abby Moreland, and Trinity Spidle researched lab cultured meats and created a presentation to inform the viewer about the subject. They will travel to the National Convention in the fall for competition.  

Dairy handler, Dallas Hassel, had to show dairy cows. She was judged on how well she showed the different animals and placed seventh in the state.

The FFA Knowledge Team placed second. Students took a written exam on FFA history and worked together to complete a team activity. Team members include Ella Burrier, Rianna Chaney (7th ind.), Sheridan Chaney, and Caroline Clark (4th ind.).

Trinity Spidle wrote a speech and answered questions about it to place third in the Jr. Prepared Speaking Competition.

Senior Extemporaneous Speaker, Kendall Aburzzese, won first in the state when she picked a topic out of a hat and had 30 minutes to write a four- to six-minute speech about the topic.

Annalise Aburzzese memorized the FFA Creed, presented it, and answered questions about the creed and her FFA experiences. Annalise was fourth in the state. Annalise was also named the 2022 Maryland State FFA Outstanding Greenhand (best first-year member in the state). 

Rianna and Sheridan Chaney earned bronze placings on their state proficiency application. Rianna’s application was for her beef project, and Sheridan’s application was about agriculture education. 

Twins Rianna and Sheridan Chaney were both awarded (separate awards) the “Domino’s Pizza LLC Scholarship” and the “LaCrosse Footwear Inc. Scholarship.” Upon graduation, Sheridan and Rianna will be attending Oklahoma State University for communications and public relations. Rianna and Sheridan Chaney and Cheyenne Van Echo each received the Griffith Scholarship Awards. Cheyenne will be attending the University of Maryland College Park majoring in animal science.

Kendall Abruzzese, Rianna Chaney, Sheridan Chaney, Kiandra Strickhouser, Cheyenne Van Echo, and Kolton Whetzel earned their State FFA degree. This is the highest degree our state can bestow to its members. Abby Kinnaird and Sierra Weatherly were recognized for being American FFA Degree candidates.   

Kendall Aburzzese was elected as the 2022-2023 MD State FFA president. She will spend the year with her team, leading and serving Maryland FFA.

On August 3, the Catoctin FFA Livestock Judging Team placed first at the state competition at the Carroll County Fair. FFA members had to complete a written exam, complete a team activity, judge eight classes of livestock animals, and give reasons. Team members were Ellie Baker (1st ind.), Peyton Davis (2nd ind.), Colt Sanders (4th ind.) and Luke Iferd (5th ind.).

The Catoctin FFA Livestock Judging Team placed first at the state competition at the Carroll County Fair: Ellie Baker (1st ind.), Peyton Davis (2nd ind.), Colt Sanders (4th ind.), and Luke Iferd (5th ind.).

Ryan Tokar, Thurmont Little League

The days are getting shorter, and the evening air has started to gain a slight chill. Soon, the mountains around the Thurmont Little League (TLL) complex will be full of colorful leaves. It’s hard to believe that another fall ball season has already reached its mid-way point. On any given night this fall, you can see countless teams in game play, practicing, or utilizing the batting cages. There is always a flurry of activity going on at TLL.

The newly elected board of directors has been hard at work as well. During recent meetings, they have been working to update and amend the TLL bylaws in order to make sure everything is current, regarding game rules and regulations. This will help to ensure the best possible experience for all our players, coaches, and fans. Speaking of the game experience, as many know, our two main fields were recently renovated, with drainage added and other improvements made to the infield. Unfortunately, the weather has not been kind the past two years since this work was completed. The league has decided to shut down Nicholson and Leisner Fields beginning October 1 so that additional work can begin on getting them back in the pristine condition we have all come to expect. Hopefully, once the spring season comes, they will be ready for the players to take the field once again on Opening Day.

As always, in addition to baseball, the league has ongoing events and fun activities planned throughout the season. Next up, is the 2nd Annual Trunk or Treat, which will be held on Sunday, October 23, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Last year, this event was held for the first time, and it proved to be extremely popular, with over 30 local businesses and vendors participating. Lines of TLL players and other local youths paraded through the parking lot in their costumes and filled up their bags. The TLL concession stand handed out hot chocolate, cider, and other goodies. Prizes were also awarded to the winners in several categories. We are looking to make this year’s event even bigger. If you are interested in setting up again as a vendor, please reach out to the league today. For more information, please follow the league on Facebook or visit

Richard D. L. Fulton

Mount Saint Mary’s University (MSMU) announced on September 6 that Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Head Coach Todd Bowles had earned a bachelor’s degree from the Mount.

According to Donna Klinger, executive director of MSMU’s Communications Office of University Marketing & Communications, Coach Bowles earned his bachelor’s degree 37 years after he left college to pursue a professional football career, further noting that Bowles had completed the requirements for a Bachelor of Science degree in youth and community development.

Bowles began his “untraditional adult educational journey” in the summer of 2020, prior to the Buccaneers’ eventual Super Bowl championship season at the suggestion of Anthony Agnone, his longtime agent and 1975 Mount St. Mary’s alumni. Agnone recommended that he reach out to the Mount about completing his degree through the university’s Center for Accelerated and Adult Education which is highly experienced in adult learning and academic programming in nontraditional settings.

Working with Associate Provost David McCarthy, Bowles designed an interdisciplinary degree in youth and community development that will serve him well, especially in his community work, Klinger stated.

Bowles stated, “Completing my degree was something I had always wanted to do over the years because it was something I had promised my mother when I went to play in the NFL, and I wanted to follow through on that promise.”

He further said, “Over the years, as I became a father, it became something I wanted to do in order to set a proper example for my sons as they continue on their educational paths. I have also worked pretty extensively with children through my various community projects, and I felt it was important to show them they can achieve whatever they set their mind to.”

Director and Associate Professor of Human Services Dr. Timothy Wolfe stated, “Todd’s success in football, both on the field as a player and on the sidelines as a coach, is not at all surprising… given his work ethic and attention to detail. These same traits were evident in his assignments.”

“I am extremely appreciative of the faculty and the administration at Mount St. Mary’s for helping me navigate through what seemed like a daunting task when I started this journey,” said Bowles. “When I had questions or needed some guidance along the way, I always felt supported, and that played a large role in my ability to successfully complete the program.”  

Associate Provost McCarthy, professor for the required course Ethics and the Human Good, shared that in addition to completing assignments about the teachings of Plato and Aristotle, Bowles developed and presented his philosophy of coaching as well as strategies, struggles, and barriers in developing a team and individuals for the good—in both football and human sense. 

“We would laugh often about how well his years of coaching have brought him to the same place as classics in moral philosophy,” McCarthy said.

Bowles plans to attend the university’s commencement exercises in May 2023.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach Todd Bowles.

Michael Betteridge, WTHU

More and more these days, the opportunity for our football players to letter in more than one sport is decreasing. There are other interests drawing our athlete’s talents, including focused travel teams, other sports, extracurricular activities, and academic opportunities. Some may fear injury to kids on the football field—not just the bumps and bruises of regular athletics, but life-changing injuries from concussions, knee injuries, and permanent joint damage. There is an incorrect perception that football is more “dangerous” than other sports.

Indeed, the recent life-threatening incident on the field during a football game at St. John’s Catholic Prep in Buckeystown is about as scary as it gets. A Winters Mill junior football player’s heart stopped (cardiac arrest) in the middle of a game and had to be defibrillated (a procedure that electrically shocks the heart back to life) on the field and again on the way to the hospital. And everyone at Catoctin surely remembers the head injury to Cougar Colan Droneburg, who was put in an induced coma for several days with a brain injury at Shock Trauma in Baltimore, the result of a severe concussion during a scrimmage in the spring season of 2021. These two incidents would scare any athlete or parent.

We have the same concerns in my family. My grandson, a sophomore at Fairfield Area District School in Pennsylvania, is an excellent all-around athlete who was heavily recruited to play football. He is the starting fullback on the Knights, a position that takes a lot of guts and even more pounding. He is an even better baseball player who plays on the travel team during the football season! His family allows him to play two sports, simultaneously. Someday soon, they could potentially be faced with the dilemma of protecting possible college scholarships for the lefty pitcher or Knights fullback and be forced to choose one sport over the other. The risk of injury will be the dominant factor. 

Over the past decade, smaller schools are more impacted and find it difficult to fill their rosters as parents err on the side of caution. Fairfield had to forfeit their game on September 9 against Hamburg with only 14 players dressed out of a meager 19-player roster, due to injury. Catoctin, the smallest school in the 1A in Maryland (1A schools are the smallest in Maryland), has a very small roster by Frederick County standards with 29 athletes. Brunswick, Frederick County’s other 1A school, has 27. By contrast, Linganore and Oakdale, 3A schools, have rosters of 51 and 50, respectively, almost twice as many as Catoctin. Catoctin’s next-door neighbor, Walkersville, a 2A school, has 44 on their roster. Since it takes 22 players to field a team, offense and defense, you can see the challenge. Many players must play both ways on the smaller teams, increasing the risk of fatigue and injury. Families must weigh all the factors carefully in making sports participation decisions.

One of the most impressive advances in high school football safety has been USA Football’s “Heads Up Tackling” techniques that have been taught to coaches from college all the way down to the youth level. As a varsity youth football coach several years ago, I was required to attend these classes and maintain certification in order to coach at the youth level. The program teaches proper tackling techniques and avoidance of helmet-to-helmet contact in practice and on the field. Practice times and procedures have been modified significantly over the past several years to limit injury and maximize safety.  Changes in helmet technology, hydration, conditioning, and coordination with trained medical professionals who examine and treat athletes have improved drastically.  Rule changes on the field regarding blindside blocking and hits have made an enormous difference. Local and state concussion legislation, along with a minimum return to practice requirements for concussions at the local level, have made a difference as well. The biggest change in youth sports has been the understanding by coaching staff that injuries must be reported and treated. The days of “shake it off” and “get back in there” are over. Coaches now are trained to put the player’s health and well-being first.

Ironically, the most dangerous sport during practice, when it comes to concussions, is cheerleading! This, according to a study by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), results from poor practice methods and the reluctance to view cheerleading as a sport; therefore, injuries never get reported. Cheerleading has changed drastically over the past 30 years, from simple movements and chants to coordinated gymnastic feats that used to be seen only at events in a gymnasium on padded mats. Now they perform triple forward and backward somersaults with aerial walkovers and a round-out to a standing position on concrete and hardwood floors. It makes me dizzy watching it.

According to the CDC, high school sports injuries have been cut in half over the past decade, and football is safer than ever.  The risk of injury is small when weighed against the benefits of learning teamwork, perseverance, discipline, and work ethics. These benefits have an immeasurable positive impact for young athletes, especially when we’re all getting heavier and lazier as technology makes us work and exercise less. We see it everywhere; athletics builds self-esteem, conditioning, and good lifestyle choices. As one of my favorite Catoctin coaches, Mike Franklin, puts it, “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change!”

by Valerie Nusbaum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy Halloween to all of you!

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