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Helen Xia

On May 24th, the Catoctin Class of 2023 had their graduation ceremony at Emmitsburg’s Knott Arena. While it’s one of the most exciting times at Catoctin High School, it’s also one of the busiest–for good reason. Catoctin is known for its well-rehearsed procedures during this celebration, and this year is no exception. I was present during the two days of graduation practice, where the senior class and Catoctin band committed to running through the steps of graduation until they were “drilled into” everyone’s heads. (Each practice was about three hours!) From the timing of when to walk down the aisle to when to sit down after receiving diplomas, the seniors practiced precisely how the process would play out. You may remember my article last month about graduation’s incredible organization–well, this is where that coordination comes from!

Secretary Lacee Andrew (who was named the FCPS School-Based Secretary of the Year!) offered insight on the “behind the scenes” of the ceremony. “There are so many little details that go into planning graduation and the awards ceremony,” she stated. “Some of those things are looking at each student’s birth certificate to check the spelling of their name to ensure diplomas are printed correctly, creating a very large spreadsheet to capture all awards/honor societies, etc. The work of graduation starts months before the ceremony takes place.” Again, these oftentimes invisible efforts are what make the celebration run so smoothly. Thanks to the dedicated staff members’ contributions, the precious emotions at graduation can be the focal point of the event.

Speaking of emotions, there is much thought behind the speeches given at graduation to convey so many sentiments in so few words. One may think that, since the event itself remains constant year by year, the speeches can be recycled and reused–however, that is not the case. “Each graduating class is comprised of unique personalities, causing each graduation to be unique,” Catoctin Assistant Principal Mary Jacques expressed. “I always look forward to listening to the speeches and performances, which are different every year.”

Principal Jennifer Clements shed some light on her thought process when formulating her touching speeches: “My favorite line (I say this frequently and not just at graduation, but I definitely include it in every speech) is: Use your powers for good! I will admit my speeches every year are similar, yet I work hard to personalize [them] for the group that is graduating. This year, I took some inspiration from this class’ freshman yearbook. (I wanted to remember who they were as ninth graders to reflect on their growth over the last four years, and they have come a long way!)”

Despite the great amount of work behind each graduation, it’s “the happiest day of the year,” as described by Jacques. This sentiment was echoed by Clements, who explained, “Graduation is my favorite day of the year. I love that we get to celebrate the culmination of our students’ commitment and work for the past 13 years. I also love the positive energy and emotions that everyone (graduates, staff, families, and friends) are feeling – pride, joy, anxiety, and excitement.”

Within the ceremony, there are numerous noteworthy aspects. Personally, I enjoy listening to each class’ musical selections the most. During graduation practice, for instance, Seth Remsburg’s performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” on the baritone saxophone was phenomenal. Professor Russell Headley also sang “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver with his guitar, which received loud praises from the crowd. Last year, even, I remember taking special notice of the singers when I watched the Class of 2022’s graduation live online. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, I could never do that!” Thoughts like these only make me appreciate the students who show their talents to the audience at graduation more.

Of course, there are many more elements to the ceremony than the musical performances, so I asked others what stood out the most to them during graduation. Interestingly, I received three different answers from the three staff members I interviewed. “My favorite part of graduation is when, as a graduating class, the tassel on the mortarboard is moved,” Jacques replied. “It is an old tradition that visually imparts the end of the high school years and a new beginning.” Andrew said, “My favorite part of graduation is watching the excitement and the happiness in students’ eyes as they walk across the stage, knowing their hard work paid off.” Finally, Clements responded, “I have two favorite parts of graduation. The first is seeing all of the graduates lined up in the fieldhouse just before the ceremony. The excitement and pride is palpable. My most favorite part is the privilege I have (as the principal) to shake each of their hands as I give them their diploma.”

For those that are graduating, Andrew gave her best wishes: “You have made such a positive impact at Catoctin High School. I wish you the very best in this next chapter of your life!” Jacques, too, provided wise advice: “Be a good human. Work hard and be kind. If you can, travel the world. Meet new people and experience new cultures. It will make you appreciate what you have. Never forget where you came from and where your roots lie.” And, don’t forget Clements’ favorite saying: “Use your powers for good!”

At graduation practice, I felt proud of Catoctin’s seniors. I watched from the bleachers as my peers received envelopes of their hard-earned cords, final report cards, and certificates. According to Andrew, “117/192 graduates will be recognized for their achievements (4-year honor roll, honor level, honor society membership, top 5%, etc.)”; this is a time for recognition indeed.

It’s surreal to think that, after this graduating class, my class will be the oldest in Catoctin High School. Next year, instead of sitting to the side and watching students rehearse, I’ll be sitting on one of the chairs and walking across the makeshift stage. I don’t think I’m ready, but I guess I have to be.

Once again, congratulations, Catoctin’s Class of 2023! Go, cougars!

President Harding’s 1922 Visit to Gettysburg

Richard D. L. Fulton

Based in part on The Last to Fall: The 1922 March, Battles, & Deaths of U.S. Marines at Gettysburg by Richard D. L. Fulton and James Rada, Jr.

The year was 1922, four years after the end of the First World War, when more than 5,000 Marines, along with their artillery, tanks, and dive bombers, descended upon Gettysburg—following their week-long trek from Quantico, Virginia, to the historic Civil War battlefield of 1863—for their annual summer maneuvers.

The ensuing activities by the Marines at Gettysburg involved a good deal more than routine drills and mock battles as part of their training. Many of the “battles” held from July 1 through July 3, especially on the field of “Pickett’s Charge,” were open to the public, and on July 4, the Marines would reenact Pickett’s Charge as if the Union and Confederate forces had the military equipage that had generally been available to the Marines in the wake of World War I.

Why Gettysburg?  The Marines’ “invasion” of Gettysburg in 1922 traces its causation back to the 1918 Battle of Belleau Wood at the end of World War I as the result of the animosity that had developed between United States Army General John “Blackjack” Pershing, Commander of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in Europe during the war.

That animosity was more or less of Pershing’s own making. In need of more manpower to resist the German attempt to capture Paris, the general requested that the Marines, who were (and still are) a branch of the U.S. Navy, assist in bolstering the forces of the U.S. Army present. Thus, the Marines became part of the forces arrayed to join in the counterattack on the advancing Germans.

As preparations for the the counter-offensive took place, Pershing ordered that the media could not mention specific Army units in their reportage of the war, but that decree could have no effect on the Marines, who were merely “on loan” to the Army.

To make a long story short, this resulted in the media gravitating more to focusing on Marine participation, since individual units could be identified, giving news accounts a more personable appeal… so much so that when the attack on the Germans in Belleau Wood broke the German Line, the Marines would then receive the lion’s share of the credit up to, and including, the Marines being billed on the front pages of American newspapers as being the heroes of Belleau Wood, in spite of heavy Army participation.

This “got under Pershing’s skin,” and then to add insult to injury, the French renamed it “Marine Wood.”

At the conclusion of the war, Pershing spearheaded an effort to have the Marines disbanded, and as his congressional support gained momentum, the existence of the Marine Corps was in serious jeopardy.  Even President Woodrow Wilson supported the effort.

From the end of World War I, all the way up to the end of World War II, there were more than a dozen attempts to disband the Marine Corps, leading to Robert Coram writing, in Brute: The Life of Victor Krulak, U.S. Marine, “But when the Marines were not needed, there was an ongoing effort to abolish them or absorb them into the Army … It seemed that the hardest fighting the Marines ever did was fighting for the privilege of defending their country.”

To counter this assault on the Marines, Marine Major General John A. Lejeune and General Smedley D. Butler developed a plan to combine their corps summer maneuvers with public events to promote the corps and advance its popularity in the public eye over and above the popularity which it had achieved at the end of World War I.

This led them to the idea of holding their maneuvers on Civil War battlefields and combining those maneuvers with public reenactments of the various battles. Ultimately, there would be four of these annual events: the Wilderness in 1921; Gettysburg in 1922; New Market in 1923; and Antietam in 1924.  Ironically, Pershing had previously dubbed the Battle of Belleau Wood as the “Gettysburg” of World War I. 

Thus, over 5,500 Marines of the Fifth and Sixth Marine regiments set forth from their base at Quantico on June 19, thereby commencing on “the long march” which would take their column of troops, tanks, artillery, and supply vehicles through Bethesda, Gaithersburg, Ridgeville, Frederick, and Thurmont, camping for the night in each of those towns before commencing with the final leg of their trek through Emmitsburg to the Gettysburg battlefield (which they reached on June 26). 

The Gettysburg encampment, which was established on the Codori Farm, was dubbed Camp Harding, so named for President Warren Harding, who also happened to be pro-Marine, as opposed to his predecessor, President Wilson. The Gettysburg encampment was estimated to have been approximately 100 acres in size.

The Marines would have some very special observers for their July 1 battle reenactment, including President Harding and First Lady Florence Harding, along with White House staff members and numerous military figures, including General Pershing (who had been lobbying for four years to disband the Marine Corps).

Since Harding and his entourage intended to camp with the troops at Gettysburg, the Marines created a canvas compound that would come to be known as the “Canvas White House.”

Work on the canvas structure was initiated in Quantico when Marine engineers created and assembled the frame of the entire proposed presidential compound, which, upon its completion, was disassembled and shipped to Gettysburg by rail, and then transported by trucks to the battlefield where it was then reassembled on the Codori Farm, located along West Confederate Avenue, just north of the North Carolina Monument.

The compound consisted of 11 canvas and wood structures (encompassing a total of 16 rooms and 6 bathrooms), with walls and ceilings covered with plasterboard.

All the tentage was provided with wooden plank floors and all were fronted onto a plank walkway leading from one end of the compound to the other.

The canvas and wood complex consisted of a central 40-foot by 25-foot reception room. Attached to the southern face of the reception room was President and First Lady Harding’s personal quarters, followed by three tents for male guests, and one tent for female guests.

Attached to the northern face of the room was Presidential Secretary George Christian’s quarters, also then followed by three more tents for male guests and one more tent for female guests.

The completed Canvas White House compound was some 400-feet in length and 175-feet in width.

Lastly, the entire compound was lit with electricity provided by on-site generators, and water was provided by “many miles of pipeline” the Marines had installed to tie the encampment into the Gettysburg water supply, allowing the compound to have hot and cold running water in the compounds’ respective bathrooms.  Radio communications was set up by the Signal Corps. Six porcelain bathtubs arrived, strapped to the bellies of six Martin MBT twin-engine torpedo bombers.

The president and his entourage left the actual White House and arrived on the Cumberland Township battlefield on July 1 and entered West Confederate Avenue, unloading the vehicles at the Canvas White House where they were met with a 21-gun artillery salute, which was preceded by a half-hour artillery barrage, representing the commencement of the charge—the barrage reportedly having been heard as far away as Hanover. 

Then, after settling into the compound, the president and members of his entourage watched the ensuing battle from a no-longer existing observation tower that had stood in 1922 in Ziegler’s Grove, along with Colonel E.B. Cope, Superintendent of the Gettysburg National Battlefield Park and a Union Veteran of the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg.

Retiring to the compound after the battle, Harding and much of his entourage spent the night in the camp and left on July 2. The Canvas White House, however, continued to serve as quarters for other guests and dignitaries through July 4.

CANVAS WHITE HOUSE COMPOUND:  A — The Canvas White House Compound; B — President’s public reception room; C — President and First Lady Hardings’ quarters; D — Presidential Secretary George Christian’s quarters; E — Three tents on each side of the main tentage for male guests; F — One tent on each end of the compound for female guests.

Courtesy of the U.S. Marine Corps Historical Company, modified by R. Fulton

The not-yet finished Canvas White House as it appeared before July 1. 

President Warren Harding watches the maneuvers from atop the Ziegler Grove observation tower. 

by James Rada, Jr.


Police Join LEOPS Pension Program

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners recently voted to move the Thurmont Police Department to the Law Enforcement Officers Pension System. They have discussed the move for years, and it is considered a more appropriate program for the police officers. The advantage is that it offers an earlier retirement age and enhanced benefits over the State of Maryland Pension System. The cost to move the current officers to the program is $45,000 a year for 20 years.

Parking Allowed on Park Lane

Given the controversy that allowing no parking along Park Lane caused among residents in the neighborhood, the Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners decided to return to the previous signage along the street that allowed for some parking. This was also the recommendation of Thurmont Police Chief Greg Eyler. The parking restriction had been a pro-active action to avoid possible problems with getting emergency vehicles into the area. However, since such a problem never occurred and the solution created anger among some residents, it was decided to revert to what had been working and deal with any problems if they arise.

Sewer Improvements Approved

The Guyer Brothers will perform sewer replacements along North Church Street, from the center of town to the high school. The cost of the project is $4,396,887. Most of this will be paid for using American Rescue Plan funds. The remaining $954,317 will be paid for using unrestricted funds from the town budget.

Construction Trade Services will make sewer repairs and replacement throughout town along Apples Church Road, Eyler Road, Roddy Road, and Vista Drive. The cost of these repairs is $85,000 and will be paid for with unspent FY21 capital project savings.

Town Considering FY24 Budget

The Thurmont Mayor and Commissioners are considering the proposed budget for fiscal year 2024, which begins on July 1. The proposed $5,016,075 budget is $247,557 greater than the current budget. No increase in the tax rate is currently proposed.

The general fund includes $1,605,200 for public safety; $359,171 for parks and recreation; and $767,400 for streets. The enterprise funds are proposed to be $1,060,300 in the water fund; $1,752,800 in the wastewater fund; and $1,827,260 in the electric fund.


Creamery Road Pump Station Bid and Change Orders Approved

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved a bid of $4,391,422 from Conewago Enterprises to construct the Creamery Road Pump Station. The project, which was started in 2018, is funded through sewer fees, USDA loans, grants, and a town match.

The board also approved two engineering change orders: one for $267,059 and the second for $13,704.

Board Considering FY2024 Budget

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners has started considering the FY2024 town budget, which will take effect on July 1. The general fund is projected to increase 6 percent to $2,181,496.

The water fund is expected to decrease 8 percent this year to $680,801. The sewer fund is expected to increase by 7 percent to $1,018,155. A new stormwater management business fund is expected to be $15,000.

The property tax rate is proposed to remain at 34.64 cents per $100 of assessed value. A 4 percent COLA is also proposed for employee salaries.

Board Makes Budget Transfers

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved transfers to capital projects using $357,977 in excess revenues from the FY22 budget. Of this amount, $122,000 needs to be transferred to the FY2023 general fund. The remainder will go to streets ($75,000), streetlights ($72,000), pool ($5,300), Rainbow Lake ($37,850), grant matches ($24,327), and general projects ($21,500).

Parking Permit Options Added

The Emmitsburg Board of Commissioners approved changing the types of parking permits offered in town. The new permits will be $20 for one month, $57 for three months, $108 for 6 months, and $204 for 12 months.


 Mayor John Kinnaird

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day and had the opportunity to spend time with your family. The Thurmont Main Street Farmers Market is now open on Saturday mornings at the Community Park. I encourage everyone to visit the market and any other community events we are having. Watch for upcoming Concerts in the Park and others.

You may have heard that the board of commissioners (BOC) has voted to join in a multi-jurisdictional law suit against manufacturers of PFOAs and related chemical compounds. These chemicals are known as forever compounds because they resist breaking down naturally. They were used in many products, including fire-fighting foam, waterproof clothing and boots, non-stick cookware, and even items like pizza boxes. These chemicals have managed to get into our drinking water sources, and recent changes in allowable levels from the Environmental Protection Agency and Maryland Department of Environment will require that Thurmont and thousands of other communities across the USA take action to remove these chemical compounds from our water systems. We are currently working with our engineering firm to design the filtration systems needed to bring our levels down to a non-detectable level. This will require filtration units at each of our water treatment facilities. Not only will we need the filtration equipment, we will also need to build additions to our treatment facilities to house the filters and plumbing and electrical equipment to operate them. The initial costs will be high, but what is more troublesome is the unknown costs for the safe disposal and replacement of the filter elements or filtration materials. Looking ahead, the BOC has decided to participate in the legal action in an effort to help cover the associated costs. The cost for upgrading the systems will fall on the consumers, so any relief we can get in a settlement will help off-set the costs our residents will be paying. We are moving forward with the design, purchase, and installation of the required equipment. It is our hope that we get support from the MDE or EPA and a settlement from the legal action to help defray the costs. We do not expect to be made whole by a settlement but we hope that funds will be awarded to help defray the costs. While the design and installation process is moving forward, I want to reassure everyone that we are following the guidelines set forth by the EPA and MDE.

Work continues on Frederick Road leading up to milling and resurfacing later this summer. The Thurmont Water Department installed three new 8-inch gate valves at the Frederick Road and Thurmont Boulevard intersection. This will ensure that a planned commercial improvement on Thurmont Blvd. will not require cutting the new blacktop. They have also installed a new 8-inch gate valve on the Moser Road water main at Frederick Road. This new valve will allow the crew to isolate the water main if it needs to be shut down in an emergency. A private contractor has been working to upgrade the storm water collection basin on Frederick Road. These are all over 40 years of age and have been having issues. The new basins will help improve the flow of storm water off of the road surface. They are also upgrading the sidewalk and entrance to Community Park in advance of milling and repaving. These projects have caused some delays and slowed traffic, but in the end, the new road surface will be well worth the inconvenience. The Town has just put out an invitation to bid on the milling and blacktopping. The contract should be awarded within a month, and at that time we will have an approximate start date for the final phase of work.

The Town of Thurmont will also be starting a rebuild of North Church Street this fall. This project will include the complete rebuilding of the water and waste water infrastructure on the roadway. The infrastructure has been in place for many years and sections are failing. We will be removing existing terra-cotta pipe wastewater lines and wastewater laterals. We will also be removing an abandoned water pump installation beneath the Church Street and Emmitsburg Road intersection. This work will provide much-improved services for residents served by the lines we are replacing. During the work, one lane will be closed and flagmen will be onsite to keep traffic moving as smoothly as possible. Once our work is finished the state will blacktop the roadway.

As always, please wear sunscreen, hats, and long sleeves when outdoors. Make sure your kids, family, and friends are also protected for their safety. I can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 301-606-9458.


Mayor Don Briggs

Why should we protect our mountains, farms, and historic districts? Because it defines us. Recently, our daughter moved to Lexington, Kentucky. She had sold her horse farm in Virginia, spent a year traveling around the world, and then, surprisingly, extended her horse-related career in the horse capital of the world: the bluegrass state. In a recent visit, we drove by miles and miles of horse farms with new foals abounding; ate lunch at Keenland Racetrack; toured the Kentucky Horse Park, home of the Olympic equestrian team; and watched the world-renowned Rolex three-day competition event. Our daughter’s grandparents’ farm was named Houyhnhnm, a name taken from the Jonathan Swift novel, Gulliver’s Travels. Houyhnhnm (pronounced win-em) was a mythical country of superior intellect horses. Though our daughter will be traveling a lot in her new role in the horse world, it sure seems and feels like she lives in that special place, the Camelot of horse lovers, Houyhnhnm. We’ve got it special, too. Let’s protect our special setting that forms us. Something akin to the Irish bard’s description, Dinnshenchas, the embodiment of place and who we are.

I attended and gave the welcoming address at the 42nd National Firefighters Foundation Memorial Weekend held on the weekend of May 6-7. The commemoration was previously held annually the first weekend in October. As in previous years, thousands of guests visited Emmitsburg to honor those who gave their lives in fire service. The weather cooperated for a fitting tribute for those firefighters who were always there for us. Many people have asked what my message to our guests was, so here it is:

“Good evening. On behalf of the residents of Emmitsburg and Northern Frederick County, welcome.

Thank you for again sharing this solemn tradition with us, the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service weekend, as today we honor these firefighters. 

Every year as mayor, I am given the honor to welcome you. And every year I have to call upon wisdom far greater than mine.

It is written that success in life is measured by whether we use the gifts/talents that we are given. It is also written, as if to answer that challenge, ‘Be not afraid.’

For your contributions to your communities across the county, responding to that call in the middle of the night, always that challenge is there and begs an answer.

As it was for these firefighters we honor today, the answer they gave was yes, and the answer they expect from you and all of us is: Be not afraid.

They were a success. They used their talents well. Welcome. Our town is yours.”

After many hours of preparation by a faithful group of volunteers led by the Lions Club and most of our civic groups, including the Knights of Columbus and Masons, the Emmitsburg Community Heritage Day will be Saturday, June 24. Great community event in Myers Community Park: vendors, games, multiple food choices, parade, and fireworks. 

Parks are alive with activities. People are enjoying the new bleachers for baseball and softball games in both Memorial and Myers parks. New covered places with grills are being used. More walkers are out and about now that the town is more connected with the sidewalk improvements throughout the town and missing connections in the parks that were made in the last decade. Again, we are becoming a well-connected pedestrian and bike-friendly town that is less car dependent and offers a diversity of both active and passive recreational opportunities.

The community pool opens on Memorial Day Weekend and will be open on weekends, then daily after schools let out. Pool party dates are set, one for each of the summer months. Check with the town office or social media sites for dates and times.

The Farmers Market, located on South Seton Avenue, opens on Friday, June 23, from 2:00-8:00 p.m., and is going to be spectacular. It’s our best one yet: lots of vendors, children’s activities, and an ice cream truck to boot.

Come on summer. Emmitsburg is here and ready for all to enjoy.


Burgess Heath Barnes

On May 13, town elections were held for two council positions. Congratulations to Commissioner John Cutshall on his re-election and to former Burgess, Bill Rittelmeyer, on his election to serve as a council member. Thank you both for stepping up to serve our town.

At our May 9 town meeting, I informed the council that, unfortunately, our request for funding of $257,892.64 to be added into the county budget for a needed major electrical panel replacement at the water plant was not added. We discussed other ways to get it replaced. We will reconcile our records and see what is remaining from the ARPA funds we received as one option.

I also was informed that our request to have a grant issued under the Community Parks and Playgrounds to build a bathroom in the east side of the park was not approved. It appears, from what I can see, that out of the 70-plus projects that were awarded under this year’s governor’s budget, only one went to Frederick County.

On a bright note, we did receive the denial letter the day before the deadline for next year’s POS grant deadline, so we submitted the project under that, along with the request for funding the skate park. The meeting for that will be on June 6, along with the other municipality leaders in the county to determine the funding allocations; hopefully, we are successful.

Commissioner Dana Crum informed us that she has scheduled the company to paint the much-requested pickleball lines onto the tennis courts. That should happen in the next few weeks. The maintenance men have also removed the old playground equipment in one section of the park and the new equipment will be installed in July or August. I also gave an update on the town hall. A site plan has now officially been filed with the county and is going through the forestation and storm water management permitting process at this time. Once those are approved, the process will begin flowing through the permitting channel, hopefully, at a quick speed.

The FY2024 budget was presented to the council and several items were discussed and some changes made. At the June 13 town meeting, the budget will be voted upon during the first half of the meeting and the two new council members will be sworn in to continue the second half of the meeting.

 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 [email protected] or call 301-845-0213.

If you have any questions, concerns, complaints, or compliments, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] 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 and 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. John’s United Church of Christ, located at 8 N. 2nd Street, Woodsboro, MD 21798. The public is always invited to attend.

The Birth of the Interstate

Richard D. L. Fulton

Military convoys carrying troops and war supplies were not a rare sight in Frederick County and elsewhere during World War I but were certainly nothing like the vision that local residents would be witnessing in July of 1919.

The Catoctin Clarion announced on June 19, 1919, that the largest military convoy that had ever been assembled in the United States was about to be launched on a great experiment to determine how easily such a convoy could potentially travel from the East Coast to the West Coast, utilizing whatever route would be deemed the most expeditious.

“Plans were completed today (June 14) by the (Army) Motor Transport Corps for the first transcontinental trip of an army motor-truck train (convoy),” the newspaper reported, further noting “It will start from Washington (D.C.) July 7, and end at San Francisco from 47 to 60 days later.”

The Clarion reported that the convoy would consist of 35 assorted military trucks, two ambulances, six motorcycles, two tank-trucks, two kitchen trailers, two water-tank trucks, one engineer-shop truck, one office-work truck, one search-light truck, and five passenger cars. The Harrisburg Telegraph reported on July 2 that 209 officers and men would be aboard the convoy. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on July 9 that the number of men in the convoy was more than 250.

One of the main challenges of the trip, the newspaper noted, was to “preserve intact, the entire convoy train throughout the movement from start-to-finish,” and would not be allowed to depend on any “outside assistance” for any help, other than for supplying fuel, oil, and water. The convoy would follow the Lincoln Highway as much as possible, except only for detours.

On the first leg of its journey to the Pacific, the convoy would depart from Washington, D.C., strike across Maryland to Frederick County, then north to Gettysburg, and from there, proceed westward. 

The convoy left Washington, D.C. on July 7, having made good time reaching Frederick where the troops encamped on the first night, and then swung north on July 8 towards Emmitsburg.

The first major problematic issue occurred when the convoy reached the covered bridge that carried South Seton Avenue over Toms Creek in Emmitsburg on the morning of July 8, an event that proved so challenging that the encounter literally, ultimately, inspired the creation of the Interstate Highway System.

It was quickly discovered that only a few of the military vehicles could even cross the bridge due to the vehicles’ heights or weights. To complicate matters further, only a few vehicles were found to be capable of fording the creek, and the majority scattered in all directions to try and find an alternate route to bypass the old South Seton bridge.

Finally reuniting north of Gettysburg, the convoy immediately encountered another covered bridge over Middle Creek, which presented the same issues regarding the ability of the convoy to cross it.  However, in this instance, the vehicles were able to ford the creek at this location.

The two bridge delays resulted in the convoy—that had reached the Emmitsburg bridge around 7:00 a.m.—not reaching Gettysburg until 1:00 p.m.

The Gettysburg Times reported in their July 9 issue, that a Lieutenant Shockey (identified only as being one of the officers within the convoy) stated, “These old wooden bridges are a thing of the past and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to run over them and break them down to show how poorly they are constructed.”

Among the officers present—who were not the least bit humored by these two experiences—was Lieutenant Colonel Dwight D. Eisenhower, who remembered the misadventure, credited his experience at the South Seton bridge as having ultimately inspired his effort to create an interstate highway system.

On June 29, 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal Aid Highway Act into law, thereby effectively creating the Interstate Highway System (also known as the National Highway System).

As to the fate of the old 1919 convoy… the convoy arrived in San Francisco at the end of their 62-day trek. Along the way, 21 members of the convoy lost their lives. Only eight vehicles were lost.

On June 28, 2006, the Maryland State High Administration unveiled a historic placard at the site of the infamous 1919 crossing at Toms Creek, in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of the founding of the National/Interstate Highway System.

Preparations made by State Highway Administration for the 2006 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the Interstate Highway System. The event included a reconstruction of a covered bridge over Toms Creek.

Historic Marker located at the site of the former South Seton Covered Bridge.

Terry Pryor

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to advise others on what to do? I don’t know about you, but I excel at this. In my Live Like You Mean It Playshops™, I am expected to teach; however, the teacher in me often takes over in my day-to-day life and, sometimes, without being asked. Ooops.

Recently, I observed myself advising a friend on a subject that was challenging to me as well. When I realized that I could easily be advising myself, an epiphany occurred. I was “thunked” on the head with the awareness that I was not walking my talk.

Most of us have been guilty of the “all talk and no action” syndrome at one time or another. However, studies show that people pay more attention to what others do than what they say. This includes kids, big time!

As a child, one of my mother’s favorite admonitions was, “Don’t do as I do, do as I say.” The injustice of that infuriated me well into my early twenties. Then I realized that she wanted to instill in me a better framework for action and decision-making than she was able to carry out herself.

So, what holds us back from practicing what we preach or walking our talk? As I began to drill down into the real issue, I realized I was afraid. In reality, we are all afraid of something. The key is to recognize it and take action to overcome it.

My fear is the fear of being misjudged. But, as I explain to others, you can line up 20 people and get 20 different reactions to whatever it is you are asking. Relying on the approval of anyone other than yourself is a one-way ticket to feelings of rejection and judgment.

Making the decision to walk my talk was the first—and frankly—the most difficult step in overcoming my fear. Many of us do not pay attention to what we are thinking. Thoughts are habit forming and become habit-forming actions. Where your thoughts go, your experience follows. Your talk is where you walk.

Being mindful of what I am thinking, and consciously choosing whether to speak those thoughts, has caused me to never miss a good chance to shut up. The real power is in our actions, not our words.

Where are your thoughts taking you? Are you on a journey of joy, discovery, and self-love, or are you so intent on telling others what to do that you lose track of your own course. Make it a priority to decide to uncover your true beliefs and motives. It only takes a little courage to squeeze out the little fears one by one.

See you on the path!

Deb Abraham Spalding

Part 2: Consistency Is Key

As you may have read in last month’s edition, I wrote that I have found my path to healing with Dr. Lo’s Nutritional Response Testing at The Nutritional Healing Center in Frederick. 

When I wrote last month’s article, I had completed six visits with Dr. Lo and had learned that my health revival was simply learning to open my body’s energy pathways with proper nutrition.

Dr. Lo had declared, “You’re blocked!” at every appointment except that sixth appointment.

Leaving that appointment, I incorrectly felt that I had mastered the process since I was not blocked anymore. I thought I was healed! I had achieved the coveted “Unblocked” status! 

While that should have meant that I now knew how to eat properly, how to avoid things my body did not like, and how to avoid or minimize ingestion and exposure to toxins, in my brain, I was telling myself that I had “been there and done that!” Subconsciously, I thought I had achieved the outcome, so now I could go back to my old ways of eating.

And I did! I went right back to ingesting the stuff I knew I shouldn’t, including having some alcoholic beverages that are true poison to my body. I also assumed that the next step in the process at Dr. Lo’s office was chiropractic care. After all, chiropractic adjustments are important to keep our energy pathways open, right?

At my seventh appointment, much to my dismay, Dr. Lo said, “You’re blocked.” Then, he told me that I DID NOT NEED a chiropractic adjustment.

What? That surprised me. After all, I had been seeking chiropractic adjustments for my back pain for years. I just assumed I would start a chiropractic “section” of the program. Turns out, there isn’t a chiropractic “section” or progression.

Achieving the unblocked status wasn’t like the sun shining brightly after a rough storm, it was the sun peeping out for a millisecond during the rough storm. What a tease!

 And I soon learned that if I don’t need chiropractic (Dr. Lo asks my body, and it answers via Nutritional Response Testing), then I don’t get chiropractic. The root of my back pain is a spasm in my gut that is triggering nerves that trick me into thinking I need chiropractic adjustments.

Now, when you break it down, this whole health game is really simple, and I now see how to do it.

It’s simply DOING IT!

The path to healing is a constant process. I still see all those ads for “magic pills.” I still see the one-plan-fits-all exercise program or diet shake. The truth is: There is no magic, quick fix—consistency is key.

It really IS simple: eat the right foods, move your body, and avoid toxins.

Don’t forget these truths for overall health: (1) Dr. Lo showed me that there’s a nutritional component (eating foods my body doesn’t like) or an emotional component (fear, anxiety, anger, guilt…) that’s at the root of pain (in most cases); (2) My sciatic back pain that I’ve been tolerating and seeking chiropractic help for over the past 20 years is GONE (unless I eat the crap and poisons); (3) I’m now at 7 visits through my 12-visit program with Dr. Lo and my ailments like gut discomfort, joint aches, swollen ankles, and more—are gone… unless I eat the foods my body does not like!

Hallelujah! But I’m still working on it…and will continue to each and every day.

Dr. Lo is shown in his office where he meets with clients.

Deb Abraham Spalding

Thurmont’s Jeff Barber enjoys playing. After all, he owns Playground Specialists, Inc., a playground design and installation company in Thurmont. But did you know that he also enjoys playing golf? He enjoys golf so much that, in January, he bought the local Maple Run Golf Club.

Barber was a frequent customer at Maple Run when he learned from the former owners that they wanted to sell. He felt, “It would be a great project to fix it up.”

Maple Run provides 18 holes of golf (par 72) on a very challenging course where golfers of all skill levels will appreciate the beautiful mountain views as they travel the cart path through the course that meanders around two streams. Two-hundred-year-old stone fences remind the golfers of the agricultural roots of the two original farms upon which the course was built. 

“People wondered if I was going to develop the property after I bought it,” Barber said. In fact, his intentions were “quite the opposite.” Barber has reinvested and completed a “tremendous amount of work.” He feels that “people who haven’t played golf [at Maple Run] yet this year won’t even recognize the place.” 

Golfers will notice major changes, including a new picnic area, new siding on the club house, new signage, new picnic tables, new fencing, new parking areas, ten new golf carts, renovated greens, renovated tee boxes, two new bridges, every cart path repaved, a renovated snack bar (with a concessions drive-up window), a club house with new furnishings inside, and major cleanup completed all around.

Staff at the golf course include new superintendent Troy Brawner, Mark Hahn as the general manager, Erin Bauer in the snack bar, and Bob O’Donnell at registration, along with many high school students and other retired community members working part-time.

The club house now offers expanded beverage options, including beer, wine, liquor, shots, Black Rifle Coffee, cold coffees, energy drinks, soda, and the notorious Hot Dog Special on Tuesdays (free hot dog and a drink from the club house when playing a round of golf).

Food trucks will be onsite every weekend, and the beverage cart will be rolling around the course on busy days. 

The stone Moser Manor house will soon be visible from the outside, with picnic areas and an arbor around the house. The 1700’s bank barn that hole No. 3 plays around is being repaired. It is Barber’s intention to keep Maple Run’s history—from previous owner Jeff Ellis and the Moser families who originally built the course—alive. 

Barber said he feels the golf course is very important to the Town of Thurmont, “If we lose it, we’ll never have one again because they are so costly to build and require so much land.” He added, “It’s one of those things that I don’t want to see the Town of Thurmont lose.”

He assures us, “…as long as I’m alive and running it, I want it to remain as a golf course, and I want it to be a place where the town of Thurmont community can come out and enjoy the game of golf and some drinks and food trucks on the weekend!”

Maple Run Golf Club in Thurmont is located at 99 Golf Course Lane. For more information, visit and call 301-271-7870 for your tee time. 

Barber claims, “We’ve only scratched the surface on what we want to do with this golf course. Follow us on social media, or better yet, come out and play regularly. Everybody will actually see improvements every single time they come.”

Jeff Barber and Erin Bauer are shown in the snack bar.

MSM Club Baseball at Maple Run.

Pictured are Mark Hahn and Troy Brawner.

Many upgrades and renovations have been completed at Maple Run, including signage and cart paths.

Photos by Deb Abraham Spalding

The following are the statuses of new businesses and development coming to Emmitsburg from the town planner’s report:

Federal Stone (Creamery Road, east side of U.S. 15) — Awaiting the submission of an updated site plan and improvement plans. Payment and Performance bonds are also being reviewed.

Village Liquors & Plaza Inn (Silo Hill Parkway) — Owner has received conditional approval of the site plan and improvement plat and is now seeking to have stormwater management and soil conservation plans approved by the county.

Mount St. Mary’s Seton Shrine E Wing (South Seton Avenue) — Renovations to accommodate nursing student clinical rotations is awaiting a site plan.

The statuses of new businesses and development coming to Thurmont:


Hammaker Hills, Phase 1 (Woodland Ave.) — 19 permits issued.

Hammaker Hills, Phase 2 (Westview Drive) — Preliminary plat approved for 22 single-family lots in R-2 district. The improvement plan is conditionally approved.

Mechanicstown, LLC (Emmitsburg Road) — Preliminary plat approved for 31 single-family lots in R-2/ ARP district.

Mountain Brooke (Emmitsburg Road) — Preliminary plat approved for 11 single-family lots in R-2/ ARP district.

Oak Forest Townhouse Community (East Moser Road) — Concept plan submitted for a 36-unit townhouse community in R-5 district.

Simmer’s Subdivision (Apples Church Road) — Concept plan submitted for a 40-unit townhouse community in R-5 district.

Site Plans

Thurmont Business Park (Thurmont Blvd.) — Lot 1 to be developed for the relocation of Goodwill into a 17,850 square foot building – final site plan under review.


Floodplain Management Ordinance: Repeal of Chapter 27 of Town Code to be replaced with updated Maryland Department of Environment Model Floodplain Management Ordinance as required by Federal Emergency Management Agency and Maryland Department of Environment.

New Businesses

Weis Gas ‘N Go is now open at Weis Markets.

Studio 24 at 21 East Main Street will open in mid- to late-June.

10 Tavern will be open in mid-June at 10 East Main Street. 10 Taven is formally known as Thurmont Bar & Grill and has been totally renovated and has a full liquor license.

Early in 2022, the Vigilant Hose Company (VHC) formed a committee to replace its aging Aerial Unit, Tower 6, that has served this community faithfully for over 22 years. Shortly after forming the committee and receiving the approximate cost of the endeavor, President Tom Ward kicked off a fundraising campaign to help offset the estimated $1.6 million cost of the replacement Tower 6, due for delivery in October of 2023.

Today, VHC is proud to announce that when it accepts delivery of the new Tower 6, they will be able to push a button and transfer the funds necessary to fully cover the cost of its construction. “It goes without saying we are totally blown away with the outstanding and continued support of our little community, through donations and support for our many fundraising efforts.”  

President Ward, Chief Brotherton, and the entire VHC Board want to express their sincere appreciation for all the hard work the membership and its auxiliary partners endured in achieving this astonishing goal.

“We were hopeful we could supplement a large portion of the cost to minimize the financing of Tower 6; but in our wildest dreams, we never imagined reaching our entire goal before delivery. It speaks volumes of how close-knit this community is and how dedicated they are in support of their own.”

Transit Services of Frederick County is thrilled to announce the launch of the new Adopt-a-Stop program with representatives from Fort Detrick USAG. The men and women of Fort Detrick embody service to the Frederick community and are demonstrating that today as the very first Adopt-a-Stop participants here in Frederick County.

With the Military Road at Fort Detrick bus shelter adopted by Better Opportunities for Single Soldiers, or BOSS, at Fort Detrick, they are now a part of a statewide movement to sustain public transportation ridership, reduce pollution,  and keep our community beautiful for years to come!

This bus shelter adoption is just one example of how working together as a community will help keep Frederick’s bus stops safer and help make cleanliness a priority for all residents and visitors.

If your organization is interested in adopting a bus stop or shelter, visit or call 301-600-2065.

The Town of Thurmont authorized retaining the law firms of Baron & Budd and Poole Law Group for the purpose of investigating legal options and remedies available to it due to the presence of “aqueous film forming foam” or “AFFF” and/or other products containing perfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”) (including perfluorooctanoic acid (“PFOA” or “C8”), perfluorooctane sulfonate (“PFOS”), and other related compounds in the town’s water system. 

Such investigation may include the initiation of a complaint in the Multi-District Litigation (MDL), currently pending in Charleston, South Carolina, related to this chemical. 

Thurmont has and will continue to meet all federal and state guidelines for safe drinking water. It has and will continue to protect its citizens. This action is a prudent effort to proactively determine whether third parties have legal responsibility for the cost of treatment for its water system; the taxpayers and ratepayers should not bear this financial burden. The town will continue to exhaust all efforts to protect its citizens and exercise financial prudence in the process. 

For further information on PFAS, visit

Campaign Urges Residents to BE FAST

Frederick County Executive Jessica Fitzwater recently announced the launch of a county-wide project to raise awareness of stroke signs and the action to take. More than 300 stroke patients are treated at Frederick Health Hospital each year. This project has been a year-long collaboration between Frederick County Government agencies, including Division of Fire & Rescue Services, Frederick County Health Department, Diversity and Inclusion Office, Communications and Public Engagement, Senior Services Division, and Frederick Health Hospital.

“Stroke Smart Frederick has the potential to create lasting and meaningful change in our community,” County Executive Fitzwater said. “Strokes have an enormous impact on Frederick County. Through this collaboration, more people will know the signs and symptoms of someone having a stroke, will know they need to BE FAST, and the safer and healthier our community will be.”

This project launch can be found on the website using and includes information on the signs of a stroke and actions to take—call 911! A short video is available for people to view, along with a quiz to confirm that the key points have been learned. This resource expands access to information, allowing any community group to view and share it. Videos in Spanish will be added to the website soon. A PSA video has been created in English to relay the importance of this health issue from the local perspective. A Spanish version of the video is under development.

“For decades, stroke has consistently been one of the leading causes of death in Frederick County, as well as the leading cause of disability,” said Frederick County Health Officer Dr. Barbara Brookmyer. “We’re using local data and setting a goal, and I look forward to seeing our progress.”

“Frederick Health is honored to help make Frederick County the first Stroke Smart county in the nation,” said Heather Kirby, vice president of Integrated Care and Chief Population Health Officer at Frederick Health. “When it comes to a stroke, every second counts. That is why we’ve been working to expand our outreach efforts and partnerships to educate our community on the signs of a stroke. Frederick Health has an award-winning stroke care team and is here for you when it matters the most.”

“It’s an honor to be part of this public health collective impact initiative,” said Kathy Schey, director of the Frederick County Division of Aging and Independence (formerly known as the Senior Services Division).

The Lewistown Girl Scout Troops got together and planted flower gardens at Lewistown Elementary School on May 6. This allowed Scouts to complete a Journey and earn badges and to give back to their community. Most importantly, it helps support our ecosystem, giving pollinators a place to graze.

Pictured are Members of Daisy Troop 81224, Brownie Troop 81449, Junior Troop 37173, and Cadette Troop 37014.  All Troops currently meet at Lewistown Elementary School for their meetings.

Venturing Crew 270 spent a rainy Saturday, May 13, supporting our ecosystem at the Thurmont Conservation & Sportsman’s Club, weeding, landscaping, designing, and planting perennial flowering plants to help our environment. How? Flowering plants give our pollinators something to nibble on to keep our ecosystem in balance.

Without pollinators, humans and wildlife would not have much to eat. Pollinators are responsible for assisting over 80 percent of the world’s flowering plants to reproduce. 

Pictured are  Members of Venturing Crew 270: M.Place, M.Whetzel, and L.Resch.

Kayla, Alex, Tyrone, and Tristin load up a customer’s vehicle with Country Boy brand pre-purchased mulch.

BSA Scout Troops B/G would like to say “Thank You” to the Thurmont and Emmitsburg communities for their support in the second annual mulch sale. A special “Thank You” to Nikki Eyler for allowing the use of Eyler Stables for the pick-up point for mulch.

This fundraiser allows the Scouts to earn money to help pay for a week at summer camp. The Troops are traveling to Raven Knob Scout Reservation in Mount Airy, North Carolina for summer camp. 

Over 60 participants turned out for the Fort Ritchie Community Center’s Spring Bass Fishing Tournament. The tournament, which is sponsored by Cobblestone Hotel & Suites, is held on Lake Royer located on the former Fort Ritchie property in Cascade.

Bobby Swomley of Williamsport won the event with a 15-inch bass. There was a three-way tie for second place: Gary Thomas of Sharpsburg, Brehon Sweeny of Thurmont, and Kody Brown of Waynesboro; each caught a 13.5-inch bass. Owen Cozort of Hagerstown took top honors in the youth division with a 15-inch catch, and Pierce French of Boonsboro was second with a 14-inch Bass. 

Funds raised through the Bass Fishing Tournaments support the youth programs offered by the Community Center, such as Summer Camp, Kids Club, Sports Saturday, and special events like the annual community Halloween Party and Breakfast with Santa.

The Community Center is in Cascade, located on the former Fort Ritchie U.S. Army Post property. For more information on the Community Center or to sign up for the September 16 Bass Tournament, visit or call 301-241-5085.

Janet Sweeny, general manager of the Cobblestone Hotel & Suites in Waynesboro, PA, (left) pictured with Brehon Sweeny, Kody Brown, Gary Thomas, and Bobby Swomley at the Spring 2023 Bass Fishing Tournament.

Pierce French took second-place honors (left), and Owen Cozort (middle) was the winner in the youth division. Janet Sweeny (right) is general manager of the Cobblestone Hotel & Suites in Waynesboro, PA, which sponsors the tournament.

Lion Ruth Heaney

Every month is special for some reason, but June is important to all Lions Clubs. We celebrate Helen Keller and her challenge given to each Lion on June 30, 1925, when she spoke at the Lions International Convention in Cedar Point, Ohio. She challenged all Lions to be “…Knights of the Blind in this crusade against darkness.”

Helen Keller knew about “darkness.” She was born June 27, 1880, as a healthy child. At the age of 19 months, an unidentified child illness left Helen blind and deaf. At age six, Alexander Graham Bell referred Helen to the Perkins Institute for the Blind. Twenty-year-old Anne Sullivan was selected to be Helen Keller’s teacher and arrived at the Keller’s Alabama home on March 3, 1887.

To experience the trials of all those involved—the Keller family, Helen Keller, and Anne Sullivan—check out The Miracle Worker from your public library. The 1962 black-and-white film stars Patty Duke as Helen Keller and Anne Bancroft as Anne Sullivan. In one intense dining room scene, it is obvious that the child and the teacher each test their determination to maintain their own ground. Helen could neither see nor hear, so it was through physical interaction that Anne gets across the message that eating will be done with forks, not hands.  After seeing the movie, it is easy to understand why Anne Sullivan is called “The Miracle Worker.”

The Thurmont Lions Club is one of the “Knights of the Blind” by collecting eyeglasses, eyeglass cases, and usable hearing aids. These items are taken to Frederick and then given to those who need assistance with vision and hearing. The drop-off sites are the Thurmont Public Library, Mountain Gate Restaurant (in the inside entrance), Med 1 Pharmacy, Goodwill, and the Thurmont Senior Center.

We are fortunate for the many in Thurmont who donate eyeglasses and hearing aids, but the Lions Club also sponsors other programs to nurture leadership and caring, including the Leo Clubs at Thurmont  Middle School and Catoctin High School. In April, the Thurmont Lions hosted a benefit breakfast for Bentley Wetzel at Bell Hill Farm, and the Thurmont Kountry Kitchen donated a portion of their proceeds to Rex Davis.

If you want to help others and accept Helen Keller’s challenge, think about joining a Lions Club. Visit as the place to start if there are questions or if you want to take a look at the coming events. We meet at St. John Lutheran Church the second and fourth Wednesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. We look forward to seeing you!

A few months ago, Conrad Weaver of Emmitsburg debuted his film documentary, called PTSD-911, which spreads awareness about PTSD among first responders.

Conrad is currently on a coast-to-coast bicycle tour to raise money for awareness. The documentary will be shown at Mount St. Mary’s University on July 13.

Watch Conrad’s coast-to-coast progress on Facebook at PTSD-911 Movie or online at

On May 24, 2023, the day of this edition going to print, he was riding along Middle Fork Clearwater River in Idaho. 

Love your Thurmont community? Help to maintain the beauty of the Thurmont Trolley Trail by adopting one of the available garden plots. There are several garden plots available for you, your group, or business. Responsibilities include weeding, mulching, and maintaining the existing plants in your garden, so it looks its best year-round. Many plots have native plants, and new pollinator friendly plants can be added. You will have a sign with your name on it for the garden you adopt! For more information or questions contact the Thurmont Green Team at  [email protected]

The Frederick County 275th Planning Committee announced that they will have an official grand finale to include Frederick County’s first-ever synchronized drone show at their upcoming jubilee on June 10. Sky Elements, of Dallas, Texas, will illuminate the night’s sky over Utica District Park. The show will feature 150 drones, customized from 10 key categories: Agriculture, Business and Economy, Changing Communities, Education, Foundations (History), Government, Great Outdoors, Looking Forward (Today & Tomorrow), Tourism, and Transportation.

The drone show will begin at 9:20 p.m. and will run for approximately 15 minutes. The show viewing area will be located by the main stage. In the event of severe weather, only the drone portion of the event will be rescheduled to the following day, June 11, at the same time.

Frederick County’s 275th Anniversary Jubilee is being held June 10, from 3:00-10:00 p.m., at Utica District Park, rain or shine. The free event includes something for everyone—families, history enthusiasts, and anyone looking for a fun way to spend a Saturday. More information can be found at

Pictured from left are Ray Ediger, Essay Committee; Harold Staley, Essay Committee; Zoe Wetzel, essay winner; Loberta Staley, Essay Committee; Patty Golf, Essay Committee; and Frank Warner, Lewistown Ruritan President.

The Lewistown Ruritan Club sponsored an essay contest for the students at Catoctin High School and Thurmont Middle School on “The Importance of Volunteerism,” with the hopes that this subject would spark a renewed interest in volunteerism for the students in our community. Zoe Wetzel, a student at Thurmont Middle School, was awarded first prize of $100 during the dinner/meeting of the Lewistown Ruritan Club for her essay on “The Importance of Volunteerism.” In her essay, Zoe wrote that “volunteer groups strengthen the communities they belong to and that few services are more honorable than volunteerism.”

Joanna Genemanse from Catoctin High School was also awarded first prize for her essay on “The Importance of Volunteerism.” In her essay, Joanna stated that “Volunteering is not only beneficial for the community, but also adds to the volunteer’s quality of life and well-being.” Unfortunately, Genemanse was unable to attend the dinner/meeting.

The Lewistown Ruritan Club was proud to present these awards to two of our local students.

The Lewistown Ruritan, also known for their famous chicken BBQs, has served the Lewistown/Thurmont Community since 1960. The club members work to enhance the quality of life through community service and to make our community a better place in which to live and work.

A serial fiction story for your enjoyment

written by James Rada, Jr.

1: Recruitment

Seaman Brian Johnson hurried across the campus of Miami University to a meeting in Hall Auditorium. This was a change in his routine of learning to operate and repair radios for the U.S. Navy. Change could be a good thing. It meant something was happening.

He followed the group of other Navy seamen through the triple-arched entry into the stately brick building in front of them. It was primarily a music hall, but the Navy used it when they had large meetings of all the sailors attending radio school at the university.

He took a seat and waited patiently. Once the room was full, a lieutenant he didn’t recognize walked out on the stage. The room fell silent.

“I am Lt. Harcourt,” the lieutenant announced. “I need a show of hands of anyone in this room who can speak a foreign language. It doesn’t matter what language that may be.”

Hands went up. Not a large number of them, but more than a couple dozen out of the two hundred or so seamen in the auditorium. Brian hesitated a moment and then raised his hand.

“Everyone with their hands up, follow Ens. Greene.” Lt. Harcourt motioned to the tall officer standing off to the side of the stage.

About four dozen young men stood up and started shuffling to the ends of the rows and then up onto the stage, where they formed a line. The ensign led them behind the stage and out a back door. They entered another building, where they stood in a line as Ens. Greene pointed one after another into one of three classrooms.

Brian guessed each sailor was being interviewed about something to do with knowing another language, but each interview seemed to be going relatively quickly.

When Ens. Greene pointed Brian into a classroom, he entered and saw another lieutenant. He stepped in front of the man and saluted.

“At ease, sailor.” Brian relaxed, but remained standing. “What language other than English do you speak?”

“German, sir,” Brian replied.

“How well?”

“Very. My parents immigrated here after the Great War, sir.”

The lieutenant stared at him a few moments and then asked, “Would you like to try something different, sailor?”

“Different, sir?”

“Would you like to become a paratrooper?”

Brian’s eyes widened. “I’m in the Navy, sir. We don’t have paratroopers. We’re… swimmers.”

The lieutenant exhaled in what might have been a stifled chuckle. “Well, this is something different. It’s a special training course. Are you interested?”

Brian was right. This change did seem to be leading to something useful. “Yes, sir.”

“What’s your name?”

“Seaman Brian Johnson.”

“Go back to your room and pack your bag. Report back here in two hours. You’ll see a bus out front of the auditorium. Give the officer who will be there your name and get on the bus.”

Things were changing quickly. Brian wondered what was happening.

“Yes, sir. May I ask where I am going, sir?”

“All I can tell you right now is that you will be going on special assignment, and you will be in the states until your training is complete. You’re dismissed.”

Brian saluted. “Yes, sir.”

He spun around and walked back out into the hallway with a confused look on his face. There were about a dozen sailors still waiting to be interviewed. He wondered how many of them would be joining him on the bus in a couple hours.

Had any of them been told any more than he had?

He walked back to the dorm room he shared with another sailor named Jack Witherspoon. Brian hadn’t noticed Jack raise his hand that he spoke another language, so Brian guessed his roommate would be remaining behind to continue studying radios.

Miami University and many colleges and universities had lost a lot of their students when they started being drafted or joining the armed forces to fight in the war. Some of the schools were lucky enough to make up some of the lost tuition by helping train soldiers, sailors, and marines in some of the academic studies they might need.

Brian stuffed his seabag with his clothes and toiletries. He didn’t have much, so it didn’t take long.

He ran down to the cafeteria to grab three sandwiches and a pair of apples. He ate one of the sandwiches in his room, but he packed the other stuff. He wasn’t sure when he would have the chance to eat again, and he appreciated not having to eat Navy chow while he was there.

He sat down at the desk and wrote out a short note, carefully considering the words he used. Then he lifted the bottom of the left curtain on his window and draped it over the curtain rod.

He clipped his seabag shut, slung it over his shoulder, and headed out of the dorm.

As he exited the building, he stepped over the side and squatted down to tighten up the laces on his boots. He quickly scanned the area around him and then quickly shoved the note he had written underneath a flat stone next to the sidewalk.

He stood up, shouldered his bag, and then headed for the bus.

He wasn’t sure what good it would do, but he needed to keep his superiors informed.

A shore patrolman was standing at the bus when Brian arrived. He hesitated for a moment, but he knew no one knew about him. He approached the man.

“I was told to report here for a special assignment,” Brian said.

The patrolman nodded and pointed to the auditorium. “You’ll need to leave your bag in there.”

“What? This is all my gear.”

The shore patrolman shrugged. “Orders. No one but sailors in brown get on this bus and only them. No gear.”

Brian sighed. This was getting weird. He walked into the auditorium and saw seven other sailors milling around.

Lt. Harcourt walked over, so they snapped to attention and saluted.

“At ease, gentlemen. Before we leave for your special assignment, we have to get you ready.” He waved at three ensigns who walked over. “These men will help you. You will change into khaki uniforms and then pack everything, including your current uniforms in your seabags, which will be sent home.”

“Sir?” one seaman asked.

“Yes, sailor?”

“Does that include our wallets?”

“Are wallets part of everything?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Then what do you think?” The sailor blushed but said nothing. “These ensigns will help you get ready. I repeat, everything will go into your seabags. The only things getting on that bus are you and the clothing we give you. Now get ready.”

The ensigns each grabbed a group of sailors and headed off to a classroom. Brian walked with three other sailors into a classroom.

“Strip down and tell me your sizes,” the ensign said.

The sailors did so, and the ensign left the room. He returned with uniforms, underwear, socks, and shoes.

“These are khaki,” one sailor said.

“Yes, they are.”

“We’re Navy, not Army.”

“You’re not anything now.”

Brian saw what the ensign meant. There was no insignia on the uniform to identify the branch of the military.

What was going on?

His superiors would want to know about it, so he would need to find a way to contact them at some point, but for now, he had to discover what was happening.

He changed into the non-descript uniform, put his remaining clothes in his seabag, and then walked back out to where Lt. Harcourt was waiting. When all the sailors were changed, Harcourt led them onto the bus. Brian noticed curtains covered all the windows and blocked off the front of the bus from the passenger area. They wouldn’t be able to see where they were going.

As the bus drove, Harcourt stood in the aisle and spoke to them. “I know you have questions. They will eventually be answered, but not here and not now. This journey to your training camp will happen in stages and take most of a day. I won’t tell you not to talk amongst yourselves, but don’t voice your questions or speculation about this assignment. Also, I don’t know if any of you know each other, but from now on, you are strangers. Don’t exchange names or any personal information. None of that will matter where we’re going.”

The sailors looked at each other, but didn’t say anything. Brian wasn’t sure how long they drove because he no longer had a watch. When the bus finally stopped, the sailors exited and found themselves at a rail siding. A train waited for them, and they boarded it. They were assigned rooms and went in to go to sleep. A steward came by with a trolley cart and handed each of them a bagged meal. He also filled a cup with hot coffee for them.

Brian tried to watch where they were going through the window of his room, but the train didn’t slow for any station. He knew they were generally traveling east by the way the sun set, so he assumed they were moving across West Virginia and Pennsylvania, but he couldn’t be sure.

He also had no way to contact his superiors. He knew a number he could call, but with as strict as the Navy was being about this assignment, Brian doubted he would have the opportunity to use a telephone or send a telegram. He was going to have to play things by ear until he could get back in contact.

The train finally stopped about what seemed like a day at a small station that appeared to be in the middle of nowhere. The sign on the station read Lantz, but that meant nothing to him. He didn’t know what state he was in or even what rail line they had traveled.

The sailors were hustled from the train into the back of an Army truck with a canvas covering. Not surprisingly, when they were all in the back with Lt. Harcourt, he pulled the canvas down so they couldn’t tell where they were going. All Brian knew was that the road was bumpy.

“It won’t be long now,” was all Harcourt told them.

The truck stopped once, and Brian heard the driver speaking with someone. After a short time, it moved forward once more. When it stopped again, the driver turned the engine off.

Harcourt threw open the back canvas, turned to the men and said, “Welcome to the Office of Strategic Services. You are about to become America’s secret weapon in this war.