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James Rada, Jr.

Freemasonry conjures up images of a secret society with hidden rituals and, thanks to the movie National Treasure, hidden treasure. Yet, the Masons are far from secret. They are men who work hard to find brotherhood, enlightenment, and truth.

When John Hagemann first came to Thurmont in 2006 and joined the Acacia Lodge No. 155 of the Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, another Mason pointed to a long row of 8×10 photographs hung on the wall of the Masons’ lodge social hall in Thurmont. They were the Worshipful Masters (lodge presidents) of the Acacia Lodge, and Hagemann recognized many of the last names as members of long-time Thurmont families.

“I was told that if I worked hard, one day my picture could be up there, and it is,” Hagemann said. He is the current Worshipful Master of the Acacia Lodge #155 in Thurmont.

The Masons came to Maryland in 1750, not in Baltimore, which was the largest population center at the time, but in Leonardtown. They weren’t established in what is now Frederick County until just before the Revolutionary War. Not much is known of the early lodges in the county. The largest lodge was called Hiram Lodge, and there was a lodge that served the army during the War of Independence. Those two lodges, along with other small lodges, combined to form the Columbia Lodge in 1815.

“The Masons met in a home at the corner of Market and Second Street,” said Kenneth Wyvill, Grand Master of the Maryland Masons. This combined lodge was enough to meet the needs of the county Masons for sixty-six years. “As population centers grew and shifted, Masons would decide to form new lodges,” said Wyvill.

The first lodge to break off from the Columbia Lodge in Frederick was Acacia Lodge No. 155 of Mechanicstown (now Thurmont). In all, six new lodges formed in Frederick County between 1871 and 1906.

Thirteen Masons in the area formed the lodge in Mechanicstown, with Robert Lyon as the first Worshipful Master (lodge president). The new lodge’s first meeting was held on May 22, 1871, in a room on the third floor of the John Rouzer apartment house, opposite the Lutheran Church on Church Street. Besides choosing officers, it was decided to name the lodge the Acacia Lodge.

Not all of the charter members of the Acacia Lodge came from the Columbia Lodge. Others came from lodges in Baltimore, Westminster, and Union Bridge.

Even before the Acacia Lodge received its charter and was officially recognized, it had begun to grow as two new members were added.

The Acacia Lodge was examined by other Maryland Masons in October 1871 to see if its membership was proficient enough to support their own lodge and on November 21, 1871, the Acacia Lodge was granted its charter. “They first rented the International Order of Odd Fellows hall to meet in,” Hagemann said.

The Acacia Lodge continued to grow between 1872 and 1876; however, for the next two years, many of the members found themselves working away from Mechanicstown. “Membership dwindled and the Maryland Grand Lodge actually took back our charter, but the members still continued to pay dues,” Hagemann said.

The charter was revoked in 1879, but the local Masons still paid dues and worked to establish stability to their lodge. They applied for restoration of their charter in 1887 and it was granted on December 19.

One of the things that the members decided would help their stability was to own their building rather than continue to rent space. Beginning in 1894, the Masons under Worshipful Master Leonard Waesche began looking into buying the Bussard Building (where the lodge is currently located at 12 E. Main Street) and adding a third floor to it. “The lodge bought the building in 1898 and added the third floor to it for our lodge hall,” Hagemann said.

The Masons also made repairs to the first and second floors of the building and began renting out the space. Over the years, the first two floors have been a livery, doctor’s office, post office, grocery store, drug store, beauty parlor, and more.

When the lodge celebrated its first fifty years at the Thurmont Town Hall on November 29, 1921, only three of the original members were still living: George Stocksdale, Leonard Waesche, and David Martin.

World War II saw a surge in attendance at lodge meetings, mainly because of servicemen stationed at nearby Camp Ritchie who came to the Acacia Lodge. The Acacia Lodge conferred Masonic degrees on servicemen on behalf of other lodges through the Masonic Service Association.

“At the end of World War II, we had 156 members, which is the largest we’ve ever been,” Hagemann said. Of that number, 84 were veterans.

In 1959, the U.S. Post Office moved out of the first floor of the lodge building and into a stand-alone building that the Masons had built. However, a new tenant was found to fill the vacant first floor of the lodge building.

The last tenant for the second floor of the lodge left in 1960. The space remained vacant until 1962, when it was decided to use the floor as the lodge’s social hall, and it continues to be used for that purpose today.

Though generally believed to be a Christian group, Masons include many faiths. Each lodge has a book of faith on its central altar. The Acacia Lodge uses a Bible, but other lodges can include a book of faith for the predominant religion of the lodge. “It doesn’t matter what religion you are, you just have to believe in a higher power,” Hagemann said

The Acacia Lodge in Thurmont currently has 77 members, although Hagemann notes that like many civic and volunteer organizations, the average age among members seems to be rising as fewer young people become involved with organizations. The Acacia Lodge is one of 102 Maryland lodges and 15,000 Masons.

Emmitsburg also has a lodge, Tyrian Lodge #205. Ernie Gelwicks is the Grand Master of this lodge at the present time, a Past Master, a Grand Inspector for the Grand Lodge of Maryland, Sir Knight in the Knights Templar, and Noble in the Scottish Rite Shriners. The Emmitsburg Lodge was formed and met above Annans Store, later moved and merged with Acacia in Thurmont before being re-charted in 1906, they met after that above the Vigilant Hose Fire Co., then met in Taneytown until buying their present location. Many prominent Emmitsburg Leaders and businessmen founded Tyrian Lodge in Emmitsburg.

The Masons are involved in many civic activities and participate in parades and building dedications. They can be identified in full regalia that includes tuxedos, top hats, and aprons. The local Masons dedicated the cornerstone of the Thurmont Library and have contributed money to many local efforts, such as purchasing a new flag pole for the town and paying for the memorial stone for servicemen in Memorial Park.

“We also have an annual $1,000 scholarship that we award to a senior in the Catoctin High district,” Hagemann said.

Hundreds of Maryland Masons will be participating in a parade in Baltimore in full regalia for the re-dedication of the Washington Monument on July 4. The Masons laid the cornerstone for the original monument in 1815, and re-laid the stone in 1915.

“We’ll be using the implements from the time period of 1915 to rededicate the cornerstone,” Wyvill said.

Young people who are interested in becoming a Mason may join as members DeMolay for young men or JOBS Daughters for young ladies. Women join the Order of the Eastern Star. Ernie Gelwicks added, “The Knights Templar is another branch which many Master Masons also join, as is the Scottish Rite Shriners, which are responsible for Shriners Hospital fame and support this worthy cause.” For more information in our area’s Masonic membership, please call John Hagemann at 301-271-2711 or Ernie Gelwicks at 301-447-2923.

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Members of Acacia Lodge #155 in Thurmont are shown dedicating the cornerstone of the Thurmont Regional Library.

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Thurmont Acacia Lodge No. 155 members and Maryland’s Grand Master, Kenneth Wyvill (third from right), are pictured with a scholarship recipient, Lydia Spalding, in June.

Deb Spalding

DSC_0036Alyssa Imes of Emmitsburg (pictured right) is a student of art. The dining room of her parent’s home resembles an art museum with displays and photos of her sculptures. A muse-ful elephant smiles at you proudly with his ceramics metallic body and wire trunk; a gumby giraffe made of screws and pipe seems ready to play; and a gracefully rusty sculpture resembles a ship’s sail. One of her recent pieces features steel rods supporting volumes of knowledge in the floating pages of books. Her favorite piece, showing the history of cast iron, allowed her to further her casting metal talents and to use heavy iron within the sculpture. Many of her sculptures are from “found” objects that Alyssa transforms into art that can be treasured anew. During high school, Alyssa is a 2014 graduate of Catoctin High School, she attended an A.P. art program at Thomas Johnson High School, where she was able to determine her artistic focus. In May, she completed her freshman year at Shepherd University, where she is studying art with a concentration in sculpture, of course. “In college, art is taught from a basic level at first because they want you to make work that is visually interesting. Then, as you increase in the years, you work on the concept of your work. They give students simple tasks at first like combining two elements of art and creating great things,” Alyssa said. “I like when they give just enough instruction to go off of, then you make it visually awesome.” She’s using materials such as iron, aluminum, and steel, and combining them with more fragile elements such as paper and natural wood. This is challenging and interesting. Recently, Alyssa took a trip with Shepherd students through Europe to study art history and see some of the classics. While winding her way through London, Germany, France, Italy, and Greece, she attended a contemporary art show, she rode in a gondola, and she watched glass blowers. Her favorite part of the trip was seeing Michelangelo’s sculpture of David in person, in Florence, Italy. “It’s incredible to see pieces of art that you’ve looked up to your whole life,” expressed Alyssa. When she finishes at Shepherd, Alyssa hopes to apply what she’s learned and artistically incorporate the knowledge within her sculptures with an architecture team, or she may work with a team of artists on bigger art projects. Her parents, Laura and Jeff Imes, have been Alyssa’s biggest influence. She said, “Art is not a wealth-oriented career, at first it can be hard to set off on a prosperous path. My parents have always encouraged my art and allowed me to go to school for it.” She added, “My teachers are next. They encouraged me to always do better in art and to go to school for it. They gave me the confidence to accept art as the path I want to take.” Alyssa is a true student of art, as she tells the story of how her sculptures came to be, she shares a deeper connection with each part of her sculptures because of what she learned creating it. The story is conveyed through each piece, with the combination and arrangement of the elements in the final look of each piece that gives it character.

Will there be enough water to survive? Thirsty Land is an exciting new documentary that tells the story of drought, its impact on agriculture, communities, and the global food supply.

Two Frederick production companies are collaborating to produce this film. Frederick County filmmaker, Conrad Weaver, is already well-known for his award-winning documentary The Great American Wheat Harvest. His work with farmers and harvesters has led him to turn the focus of his company, Conjostudios LLC, exclusively to agriculture, and now he’s focusing on the drought that’s strangling our landscape.

“Those of us living East of the Mississippi River very rarely think about the amount of water we use. That’s why this story needs to be told! The drought in the American West ultimately impacts all of us, and I want to make the audience think about it every time they take a drink of water, enjoy a shower, or water their lawn,” said Weaver.

Weaver recently collaborated with Archai Media in Frederick to provide production support for the documentary project. Sam Tressler with Archai Media has taken on the responsibilities of Director of Photography for the film that takes the team across the country from the Central Plains to the Central Valley of California.

“I’m excited to be involved in this important project,” said Tressler. “Working with Conrad and helping him capture the story has taken us to some of the most beautiful parts of this country. I’m really looking forward to helping to bring this film to the big screen.”

Weaver is excited to have Archai Media involved, “Tressler’s experience and expertise in shooting in High Resolution 4K is what really made it exciting for me to collaborate with Archai Media. It’s been fun so far to have him along and capturing the story; he’s making my job so much easier,” said Weaver.

Production on the project began in April and will continue throughout the summer and fall months. The film is scheduled for completion in spring 2016. Weaver plans on a Frederick premiere screening once the project is completed. To see the film’s trailer, visit www.thirstylandmovie.com.

For more interview requests and for more information on the making of the film, contact Conrad Weaver at 301-606-7794 or email conjostudios@gmail.com.

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Sam Tressler (left) and Conrad Weaver (right) look over the dry California landscape on a recent trip.

 

Department of Maryland Sons of AMVETS 1st Annual Picnic at North Point Home

by Jim Houck, Jr.

COLUMN-Jim-Houck--North-PoiSaturday, June 5, 2015, started out as a dreary, rainy day to have a picnic—especially the very first one—for the immediate residents of North Point Home in Hagerstown. The Department of Maryland Sons of AMVETS Veterans Affairs Voluntary Service (VAVS), led by representative Jim Payne and aided by National AMVETS appointed Deputy VAVS representatives Dick Fleagle and Jim Houck Jr., along with Ed Stely, our Department of Maryland Commander, and Bob Stouffer, our Department of Maryland Adjutant, had been planning the picnic for a long time and were hoping for a beautiful day to have it. The food was purchased and prepared, the drinks were chilling. Dr. Mudcat’s Medicine Show Karaoke and DJ, operated by Mike Mahoney, was being set up. Things were set to kick off at high noon, and Director of North Point Home Jennifer Drake, along with her staff and the residents, were anxiously awaiting the event. Suddenly the skies cleared and the sun appeared; it was clear that God had heard our silent prayers. The crew arrived and began to set up all the tents, tables, and chairs, as well as getting the grill ready and bringing out the ice chests, filled with soda pop and water. We could tell it was going to turn into a great day and a great picnic. Mike (Dr. Mudcat) got his medicine show going to start off the fun. The Department of Maryland AMVETS Auxiliary was represented by their President, Mary McKinnon. We had three Sons of AMVETS Squadrons, three AMVETS Auxiliary Units, and two AMVETS Veteran Post Members from Maryland represented at the picnic: Sons of AMVETS Squadrons— Squadron 7 from Thurmont, Squadron 9 from Middletown, and Squadron 10 from Hagerstown; AMVETS Auxiliary Units—Unit 7 from Thurmont, Unit 9 from Middletown, and Unit 10 from Hagerstown; AMVETS Veteran Post Members—AMVETS Post 7 from Thurmont and AMVETS Post 10 from Hagerstown. Jim Payne had certainly done his job well; everything was in place and everyone was enjoying themselves. The Catoctin Hollow Boys even made an appearance and sang a few songs. Donny McKinnon was in fine voice as he sang Sinatra and Satchmo (Louis Armstrong) and some other songs. Mike Mahoney sang a few songs while he attended the equipment. The music and festivities soon began to draw in the neighborhood children, and they were all invited to join in the festivities. The kids soon wanted to sing karaoke; several of them did, and they really enjoyed being in the spotlight. Bobby Stouffer had the hot dogs and burgers grilled, and it was time to eat. All food was taken inside and laid out, and what a layout it was! There was a fruit tray, a vegetable tray, a cheese tray, a meat tray, baked beans, potato salad, macaroni salad, slaw, rolls, and cookies. Everyone filled their plates and found a seat inside or outside. Everyone really seemed to enjoy all the delicious food. When everyone had satisfied their appetite, the festivities resumed outside. Commander Ed Stely and VAVS Representative Jim Payne presented an award to Brett Brown from Gladhill’s Furniture warehouse for allowing us to store our used furniture, which is donated by generous people from around the state of Maryland, to be used by the homeless Veterans, who are helped to become independent and lead fruitful lives on their own, to furnish their apartments. Commander Ed Stely also presented the plaque to Jim Nicholson, the general manager of Gladhill’s Furniture. Thank you Brett and Jim for all you have done to help our Veterans. The festivities began again after the presentation of the award and a bit of excitement was felt by all when Jim Payne came through the door with a large clothes basket filled with water balloons. We could tell by the way the kids eyes lit up that if you wanted to stay dry, hide. The kids had a ball with the water balloons that Jennifer Drake filled, and they commenced to throw them at all the guests, giving some a good soaking. Mary Mahoney and Sandi Burns joined in, trying to soak the kids and got pretty well soaked themselves. I think it was decided that the water balloons will not make an appearance at the next annual picnic. I took over 150 photos. If you would like to see them, go to Facebook: Department of Maryland Sons of AMVETS, and you will be able to view them. The 1st Annual Picnic at North Point Home was a huge success, and we will strive to make each one in the future equally as successful. We give thanks to Jennifer Drake and her staff, the residents of North Point Home, and all who participated from the AMVETS family, for their help and support to keep this great institution open for our homeless Veterans living on the streets of our great nation, and for helping to give them a so-deserving second chance at independent living. If you have furniture you no longer use or need, please consider giving it for this worthwhile cause. Contact Jim Payne at 240-446-7183 or Ed Stely at 301-524-9333 to make arrangements for a pick-up at your convenience. We also need items such as toilet paper, paper towels, wash cloths, bath towels, small kitchen appliances, plates, silverware—basically everything to start housekeeping from the start. Due to state laws, the only item we cannot accept is used mattresses. All those who participated in the 1st Annual Picnic at North Point Home should give themselves a big pat on the back for helping to make it a tremendously successful event. Thank you! God Bless the United States of America, God Bless the American Veterans, and God Bless You.

The Time of My Life

by Valerie Nusbaum

me…

A stitch in time saves nine.

—Francis Baily, 1797 (This simply means that repairing a rip or tear in a garment when it occurs, will save more stitches and time later when the hole has gotten bigger.)

Time and tide wait for no man.

—St. Marher, 1225 (Pretty much self-explanatory.)

Dear, it’s time for that old garden shed to be torn down and hauled away. Randy? Are you listening to me? Where are you hiding?

—Valerie Nusbaum, yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. (Again, this is self-explanatory, and I’m guessing that a lot of you can identify with it.)

Time is something that we never seem to have enough of. Older people fear it’s running out, while young people continue to unashamedly waste it. We have it on our hands and on our side and we kill it. Time marches on and it stands still. It is of the essence, and it is money.

One minute is sixty seconds of time, but this same minute can seem like a lifetime or be as fleeting as the blink of an eye. When I’m walking on the treadmill, the first minute always goes by quickly, but the remainder minutes drag on and on. If I’m reading a good book or spending time with friends, an hour —sixty entire minutes—can pass in a heartbeat. It really is true that time flies when I’m having fun, and, evidently, I do not think walking on the treadmill is fun.

Sixty seconds may not seem like much time, but it’s amazing how much stuff I can accomplish while my morning hot tea water is heating in the microwave. Conversely, if I jump up during a commercial break while I’m watching television, those few minutes are barely long enough to get to the bathroom and back.

We use time to set records, to measure accomplishments, and we use it as a deadline. We enjoy the good times and persevere through the bad ones.

Some of the greatest minds of all time have concentrated their efforts on time travels. Some would go back in time to change events, while others would journey to the future to see if the things we are doing in the present are right or wrong.

Would you go back in time if you could? I assume that in doing so, any changes we make or things we do differently would affect our present lives. I always say that if I could do it over again, I’d take a different route with my education and career choices. However, if I had done those things differently, I probably wouldn’t have met Randy, nor had some of the wonderful experiences I’ve had. I wouldn’t have the life I have today. If my mother could go back in time and change her life, I might not be sitting here at all. It’s a lot to consider. Time travel is very confusing to me, and it takes way too much time to think about it.

Boy George, Cyndi Lauper, Jim Croce, and Mick Jagger have all sung about time. Sorry. I don’t have any current references. I only listen to the oldies channels on XM radio. I’m sure that Taylor Swift or Kanye West have also written or sung songs about time. My point is that time is something we all share.

A lot of us are fond of saying that there aren’t enough hours in a day, but, in truth, we know that the twenty-four hours in each day is a constant and this will never change. We need to change our expectations and stop trying to cram too much into one day. How many of us say every year that we’re not ready for Christmas? Do we forget that Christmas rolls around on December 25 every single year? I’m going to make a real effort to lower my expectations about what I can accomplish in a given time frame. Please remind me that I wrote these words when I’m sitting up at 1:00 a.m. on Christmas morning wrapping gifts, and I’m crying because I can’t get it all finished.

On a happy note, our garden shed was torn down in a timely fashion. Even though it was a difficult job, there was very little cursing and swearing, because Brooke came over to help. Randy informed me that it took two entire days (48 hours or 2,880 minutes) to complete the job, but it was worth it. The yard is looking better, and we have space for a small vegetable garden, plus Randy didn’t find any snakes underneath the old building.

In closing, I’m sending a big “Thank You” to Linda Myers for sending me the photo of Boardwalk Elvis. It was great to see that he’s alive and well and, well, timeless.

Happy Independence Day to all! Have a great time!

Deb Spalding

DSC_0036Alyssa Imes of Emmitsburg (pictured right) is a student of art. The dining room of her parent’s home resembles an art museum with displays and photos of her sculptures. A muse-ful elephant smiles at you proudly with his ceramics metallic body and wire trunk; a gumby giraffe made of screws and pipe seems ready to play; and a gracefully rusty sculpture resembles a ship’s sail. One of her recent pieces features steel rods supporting volumes of knowledge in the floating pages of books. Her favorite piece, showing the history of cast iron, allowed her to further her casting metal talents and to use heavy iron within the sculpture. Many of her sculptures are from “found” objects that Alyssa transforms into art that can be treasured anew.

During high school, Alyssa is a 2014 graduate of Catoctin High School, she attended an A.P. art program at Thomas Johnson High School, where she was able to determine her artistic focus. In May, she completed her freshman year at Shepherd University, where she is studying art with a concentration in sculpture, of course.

“In college, art is taught from a basic level at first because they want you to make work that is visually interesting. Then, as you increase in the years, you work on the concept of your work. They give students simple tasks at first like combining two elements of art and creating great things,” Alyssa said. “I like when they give just enough instruction to go off of, then you make it visually awesome.”

She’s using materials such as iron, aluminum, and steel, and combining them with more fragile elements such as paper and natural wood. This is challenging and interesting.

Recently, Alyssa took a trip with Shepherd students through Europe to study art history and see some of the classics. While winding her way through London, Germany, France, Italy, and Greece, she attended a contemporary art show, she rode in a gondola, and she watched glass blowers. Her favorite part of the trip was seeing Michelangelo’s sculpture of David in person, in Florence, Italy. “It’s incredible to see pieces of art that you’ve looked up to your whole life,” expressed Alyssa.

When she finishes at Shepherd, Alyssa hopes to apply what she’s learned and artistically incorporate the knowledge within her sculptures with an architecture team, or she may work with a team of artists on bigger art projects.

Her parents, Laura and Jeff Imes, have been Alyssa’s biggest influence. She said, “Art is not a wealth-oriented career, at first it can be hard to set off on a prosperous path. My parents have always encouraged my art and allowed me to go to school for it.” She added, “My teachers are next. They encouraged me to always do better in art and to go to school for it. They gave me the confidence to accept art as the path I want to take.”

Alyssa is a true student of art, as she tells the story of how her sculptures came to be, she shares a deeper connection with each part of her sculptures because of what she learned creating it. The story is conveyed through each piece, with the combination and arrangement of the elements in the final look of each piece that gives it character.

Buck Reed, The Supermarket Gourmet

I was thinking about this month’s article when my three-year-old niece mentioned that July was her birthday; she informed me that she would be four this year. I like Gabrielle. I guess at that age it’s hard not to: she plays a good game of Uno, laughs at my magic tricks, and she is a pretty good eater. When I say pretty good eater, I mean she eats what is put in front of her. She keeps the fussing down to a minimum, and she can actually hold a conversation.

Teaching your kids how to cook is important. Why teach your kids how to cook? The easy answer is: So they can eat. A better answer would be that it is something that you can both take an interest in and even share with one another throughout your life.

The first place where a young person might get a good understanding of “results follow procedure” is in the kitchen. A practical application of math can be found there. For instance, it is one thing to go over multiplication problems in a classroom, yet it is quite different when you are doubling a batch of chocolate chip cookies.

The kitchen is also home to a whole new vocabulary for your little sprout. You would be surprised how quickly they can pick up terms like roll, pat, and vent, as well as the difference between macerate and marinate or bake and roast. Most likely, if they can relate to learning how to measure ingredients, follow steps in a recipe, and so on, they might find it easier to relate to other subjects.

Also, there are rules in cooking. Not only are there set rules for cooking and baking procedures, but there are safety rules as well. Learning and obeying these rules might give your child an edge in becoming a disciplined, well organized adult.

After you have spent some time preparing a meal with your youngster, take some time to sit down and eat with them. I know this sounds like a widespread idea, but The Supermarket Gourmet is sad to report that it is not. There are people out there who do not think sharing a meal with your loved one is a big deal.

In my last job of teaching, my boss actually made a rule that I was not allowed to sit down with my students and enjoy the meal we made together. I say there is a big difference between eating and dining. Eating can be done out of a can, standing over a sink; dining is a shared meal with good conversation and proper table manners. Thus, even if you don’t get to cook with your kids as much as you would like, at least take the time to eat with them.

When I say eat with them, that means turn off the television and put the cell phones down and relate to each other the old fashioned way: face to face.

How did I find out that Gabrielle’s birthday was in July? She told me over dinner.

Christine Schoenemann (Maccabee)

Oh the place that I’m from is the place that I won,

It’s the joy of my heart, it is my own.

It took many a year but I’m finally here,

With a hey and a hoe, to the field I go!

—Song of the Homesteader

German Homesteaders in the Catoctins

Most of us who have transplanted ourselves into this wonderful upper Frederick County soil are so busy with our present-time lives that we do not even consider the roots of how Thurmont even got here in the first place! I know I was guilty of this, until I viewed the marvelous DVD Almost Blue Mountain City by Christopher Haugh last month. As I witnessed the area’s fascinating history unfold before me, I was awestruck by the vintage photographs and drawings, but especially by the interviews of our area old-timers and historians.

My ancestry is 100 percent Germanic, settling in Baltimore and Wisconsin, so as I watched this DVD it became crystal clear why I was drawn here to put down roots and do my homesteading work and my music. Names like Weller and Apples, Harbaugh, Kelbaugh, and many others—so familiar to me now—took on new meaning as I viewed the documentary.

I was also inspired to see how initially only hardworking, creative Germans came to settle in this area. In fact, they were purposely brought here, as Germans were known for their ethics of hard work, creativity, and downright determination (which I can relate to, because I am as persistent and unrelenting as they were when it comes to my homesteading efforts and my music).

Since those even earlier years when the Native Americans were kicked off their land and forced into all sorts of difficult situations (we all know that sad history) other folks have immigrated to this fair land. They were equally as full of hope for freedom and independence from their own oppressive governments. They were of all nationalities: Irish, Scottish, French, British, Spanish, Scandinavian, and others even further away, coming from exotic places like China, Japan, Vietnam, India, Africa…and so many other countries, too innumerable to list.

I cannot even imagine what it must be like to be so displaced, whether it be by choice or slavery, persecution or war. Fortunately, I was able to come here to my mountain valley home by choice. The first thing I did when looking at this property as a potential homestead was to put a shovel into the field to see what the soil was like. My fervor for living in the country and growing crops was more deeply entrenched in my genes than I knew even then, as it is in the genes of many others.

The soil had to be rich, but even if it wasn’t, I knew tricks to make it better. Some of those ideas came to me through books, but mostly through family heritage. My Germanic ancestors were all of hardy peasant stock, and all were avid gardeners and lovers of nature and music, so you might say I came by my passions naturally.

Since that fateful day just twenty-six years ago, I have allowed trees to grow back on my 11.6 acres. Locust and ash, mulberry and cherry, pine, and so many others, including the wonderful dogwoods and red buds. They all came back without my help since the rootstock was simply waiting for someone like me to come along. I then integrated a few favorites, though not native—remember, I am not native either— such as the wonderful mimosa tree. I now have several large trees, which are now just starting to bloom, the bees and butterflies swarming to their sweet smelling flowers.

I never buy nectar from the store for the hummingbirds, as there are so many flowers here, especially the mimosa, which they love.

My intention when first moving here was to create integrative gardens, allowing mostly native trees and wild plants to grow, in between which I would have my beds of vegetables. The plan seems to be working out quite well, for all of us—the birds and the bees, the flowers and the trees, and all of the native plants simply growing and waiting to be known and appreciated…like most of us!

I believe there is a little bit of the homesteader urge in every gardener, no matter how large or small the property. The satisfaction of growing one’s own blueberries, tomatoes, green beans, and the like, and even canning produce goes deep into that ancient urge to survive and to thrive independent of—and frequently in conjunction with—others. (Remember the earlier days of bartering?)

Happily, in our very own town of Thurmont, there is a new program to make us a Sustainable Maryland Community. A Green Team will be encouraging the creation of a community garden, as well as encouraging people to buy local produce. This is one initiative among other projects that will benefit the environment. (Google Green Team Thurmont and join us!) This movement here and elsewhere around the country is increasingly becoming an ethical imperative. My personal belief is that the less traveling, the better, and that includes my food.

Now that I have established my own German roots here, I know for certain that these mountains, valleys, and plains are still filled with people with vision, much as they were centuries ago. I have been privileged to get to know many dedicated, creative, and caring people, heirs to the hard work of the talented German immigrants who first settled in this region. This gives me great hope. Years ago, in my twenties, and poor as a church mouse, I had a dream of homesteading, and now I am here. So, “with a hey and a hoe, to the field I go!”

by James Rada, Jr.

Thurmont Gets A New School

It used to be that if students in Thurmont were going to be late to school, they simply didn’t go because they would have been sent home anyway.

At the beginning of the 1877-1878 school year, Thurmont, which was still known as Mechanicstown at the time, had two schools. Both of them were one-room schools that could hold a maximum of 60 students each, “which is as many, if not more than can be comfortably seated in either room,” The Catoctin Clarion reported.

The Mechanicstown School District had around 200 students. Most of those students were sharp enough to tell you that seating limitations left 80 or more students without a place to attend school.

The catch was that it wasn’t always the same 80 students who were without a seat in the classroom. It was first come, first taught, with students who showed up late to a full school being told “that there is no room for them; the school room is over crowded and they must go home,” the newspaper reported.

With both the newspaper and the public demanding a solution, the Board of Education took action. Less than a month after The Catoctin Clarion took up the cause for a new school, the newspaper announced that Mechanicstown had its third school, another one-room school.

“Now all can be accommodated and the cause of education progresses in a more satisfactory manner,” the newspaper reported.

The new school also meant that 34-year-old Ephraim L. Boblitz had a new job. The young teacher had married his wife, Emma, in 1866, and they had recently had their first child, Caroline.

“We congratulate friend Ephraim in thus securing a school nearer home as it will save him the long walk, in all kinds of weather, which has been his for many years past, and also the scholars in getting such a good teaching,” the newspaper reported.

A few years later in 1880, the town got its first four-room school, which was built on East Main Street, according to The Frederick News. The students from the three one-room schools were all consolidated into this new school. Boblitz joined John Landers and Frederick White as teachers there.

Boblitz remained as a teacher in the school until he resigned in 1892 to become the superintendent of Frederick County Schools.

Meanwhile, Mechanicstown got its first high school that same year. William M. Martin was the high school’s first principal. At the time, it was a three-year high school, and the first commencement was held in 1895. There was only one graduate. The building later became the Maple Inn and was torn down to be replaced by Riffle’s Garage, which was also later torn down.

Boblitz served as the superintendent of schools until he died near the end of November 1906.

His funeral was held at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Thurmont, where he had been an elder on the church council. Rev. Isaac Motter, president of the Board of School Commissioners, called him a good and just man, “…there were many who rise up and call him blessed for the training that had been received under him,” The Frederick News reported.

He was survived by his wife and five children, Carrie, Frank, Hattie, Nellie, and Lucy. He is buried in Wellers Church Cemetery.

Deb Spalding

DSC_0468The name, The Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock (BOJC), sounds naughty today, but when the idea of forming the organization was discussed in the 1930s by a few men, Joseph W. Brooks, Jr., J. Hammond Brown, and Frank L. Bentz, who gathered for a weekend of fishing at the Catoctin Recreation Area above Thurmont, it was just the name of a bird. The jungle cock name solely refers to the neck feather of the Indian Jungle Fowl (now endangered), whose colorful feathers are sought by anglers for fly-tying. In the early days of the BOJC, members wore a single jungle cock feather in their hats to let others know they were part of the organization.

Those few men who gathered in the 1930s decided to create an organization whose purpose was to share angling with youth in order to carry forward the love of the sport. In 1940, the name “Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock,” was formally adopted during a meeting that was held at Camp Airy in Thurmont. The first annual camp fire was officially held there in the spring of 1941. The BOJC still meets annually, seventy-five years later, at Camp Airy. The organization hosted 430 participants this year.

BOJC’s 75th year president, Robert Abraham, Jr., opened the 75th Anniversary Celebration Dinner by reiterating the sentiment of the founders.

“The Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock is about youth, fly fishing, and conservation—to make sure it continues beyond our time,” said Abraham.

He was followed by Bosley Wright, executive vice president and sixty-three-year member of the BOJC, who recognized Gus Day for serving as the organization’s Treasurer from 1978 to 2013. Wright indicated that it now takes three people to do that job.

DSC_0454The invocation was given by John Adametz and dinner was served. Dinner was catered by Crooked Creek Grillers. Special guests were acknowledged and a presentation was given by Mike Brooks and Lefty Kreh. Kreh is a renowned fly fisherman and outdoors writer who worked with Mike Brooks to create a documentary about Brooks’ great uncle, Joe Brooks, Jr. In addition to being one of the founding fathers of the BOJC, Joe Brooks was a notorious angler who pioneered the sport in the 1960s and 1970s with appearances on ABC’s American Sportsman. BOJC guests were given a preview of the documentary about Brooks that Mike and Lefty have been working on. It’s titled The Father of Modern Fly Fishing, and tells about how Joe Brooks’ and his wife’s love story changed fishing forever. There is a memorial in honor of Joe Brooks along Route 77 in Catoctin Mountain Park. For more information about this documentary, please visit www.joebrooksdocumentary.com.

The BOJC is ceremonial; there is a creed, a prayer, and a poem. Attendance over the years allows young anglers to tie flies, build a fly rod, make a net, and fish. Participation culminates with a graduation of sorts called, “Fishing with the Masters” where seasoned, expert anglers take a boy fishing to where the big trout frolic.

Cole Shanholtz, a first-year participant in the BOJC, and his father, Brian Shanholtz, were beaming with pride, along with a few hundred other young fishermen at the 75th campfire of the Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock.

During the campfire, first-year participants received their BOJC patch.

Cole’s sponsor is his grandfather, Randy Gross of Keymar, Maryland. Randy sponsored two of his sons, Jason and Joe, in the early 1990s. Now he has nineteen grandchildren—eleven are boys that he plans to sponsor through the BOJC program.

Gross beamed from ear to ear as he talked about his grandson, Cole.

He said, “Today was his first time fishing, and he caught four trout—the maximum you can get—and had an awesome day.”

Cole said his favorite part was, “reeling them in.”

Gross said that he will continue to share the love of angling and the lessons of conservation with his grandsons, as he did with his sons. About the BOJC, he said, “It’s the greatest organization on earth!”

Each year, a plaque with the current year president’s name is added to the monument in front of the Thurmont Food Bank building along Hunting Creek.

For more information about the Brotherhood of the Jungle Cock, please visit www.bojcmd.wordpress.com/.

James Rada, Jr.

When Amanda Portner was a young girl, she would pretend to be a teacher, writing on a chalkboard and assigning classwork. Of course, she may be the only teacher to have ever been given a time-out by her mother.

“I kept trying to give my little sister detention, because she wouldn’t do the homework that I assigned her,” Portner said.

Portner, who is a literacy specialist at Thurmont Middle School, was named the Frederick County Public Schools 2015-2016 Teacher of the Year.

“I was absolutely floored when I found out,” Portner said. “They got me good.”

Portner thought that the school was going to have a celebration of the end of state testing in April. She was standing on the stage behind the curtain with others, expecting a pep rally to start, but when the principal came out and started speaking, Portner realized that she wasn’t talking about testing.

Then the curtains opened and Portner saw students applauding, as well as her friends, mother, husband, and sister. The pep rally was actually a gathering to announce Portner was teacher of the year.

Portner has been a teacher for nineteen years, all of them with Frederick County Public Schools. She began her career at Thomas Johnson Middle School as a theater arts teacher and eventually became a language arts teacher.

In 2005, she became a secondary literacy specialist at Walkersville High School. In 2008, she became a teacher specialist for secondary English/language arts in the Central Office. In 2012, she returned to the role of secondary literacy specialist at Thurmont Middle School.

Portner was delighted to teach at Thurmont Middle, because she also lived in the community until March of this year with her husband, Joe, and their dog, Peanut.

“I love the community,” Portner said. “I lived here for thirteen years, and I was excited to come here as a teacher.”

Since 2000, she has served as an FCPS curriculum writer and teacher trainer. She’s co-directed the Maryland Writing Project for Frederick since 2008, and, since 2014, she has also taught English for the FCPS Virtual School.

“I was meant to be a teacher,” Portner said. “Even as a child, I played school once I was old enough to have chalk.”

Portner said that she loves working with middle-school children. “There’s something magical about being in school with children that age and seeing them figure out their identities,” said Portner.

Since the announcement, those students have been giving Portner a lot of high-fives when they see her in the hall, offering her congratulations. Portner was chosen as teacher of the year from among sixty-four nominees.

“Amanda’s enthusiasm is contagious, and she is a master at inspiring others. Teachers flock to her professional development offerings, finding Amanda to be an expert in what she shares and full of ‘no nonsense’ examples and strategies that they can use in the classroom the next day. Teachers also appreciate her wonderfully warm sense of humor and presentation style,” said Principal Jennifer Powell.

The Board of Education of Frederick County honored Portner and the other nominees at the May 13, 2015, meeting.

The Maryland Board of Education honored Portner and all the state’s school district teacher of the year winners at a luncheon on May 19, 2015. The Maryland Teacher of the Year will be announced in October. The winner will represent the state in the National Teacher of the Year competition.

Portner

Amanda Portner (pictured), the literacy specialist at Thurmont Middle School, was named the Frederick County Public Schools 2015-2016 Teacher of the Year.

Photo by James Rada, Jr.

James Rada, Jr.

Hundreds of millions of years ago, dinosaurs walked the earth, and hundreds of millions of years before that, prehistoric clams filled a vast lake that covered all of Central Maryland and a mud flat that stretched from North Carolina to Connecticut. The lake, known as the Lockatong, sat in the middle of Pangaea, an immense, C-shaped supercontinent.

Then came the drastic climate change that dried the lake, leaving the clams, fish, and other creatures laying in mud where they died. Small land animals moved across the mud flats, seeking water and leaving behind their prints in the mud.

Today, a portion of the former lake is a lush, green farm owned by John and Linda Ballenger in Rocky Ridge. Although the lake is gone, a small stream runs through the property bordered by layers of shale that are slowly yielding their secrets.

Although the Ballengers call their property Buck Forest Farm, among geologists, archeologists, and research papers, the property is referred to as The Fulton Site.

In 1994, John Edwards with the Maryland Geological Survey told Linda Ballenger that there might be dinosaur tracks on her property. Linda examined the area Edwards identified, but didn’t do anything with the information for ten years. That’s when she read an article by Richard D. L. Fulton about an Emmitsburg quarry where fossils had been found. Linda contacted Fulton and told him that her farm might have dinosaur tracks.

Fulton came out to the farm and confirmed what Linda had been told. He then asked permission to begin studying the farm for other prehistoric fossils. Since 2004, his search has yielded thousands of reptile tracks, skin impressions and bones, millipede and insect tracts, plant fossils, and fossil freshwater shrimp and fish.

The site has also attracted attention from researchers in the United States and abroad. Most recently, a group of graduate students from the University of Nebraska toured the site on May 13. They picked at the shale with their hammers and studied the pieces through loupes to see what had been unseen for millions of years.

Jean Self-Trail, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, led the group, which was touring geological sites from North Carolina to Pennsylvania.

“This is part of a field course for these students to look at different types of geology,” said Self-Trail. “They usually go someplace like England or Spain, but, this year, we wanted to study the East Coast.”

In between digging at some of the sites, the students are engaged in various study exercises.

The visit to The Fulton Site was productive in that some additional fossils were unearthed. Robert Weems of the U.S. Geological Survey found fossils of tiny prehistoric shrimp called Cacostrian (or freshwater clam shrimp) that made faint half-moon impressions in the shale.

“We hit pay dirt both literally and figuratively,” Weems said, as he held up the find. Some researchers believe the clam shrimp found on the property to be a unique species.

Some of the other finds at the site include a nicely preserved imprint of a fish about four inches long. The fins, teeth, and scales can all be seen. Paul Olsen of Columbia University said that it represents the oldest dinosaur-age fish found to date east of the Mississippi River. The head of a second smaller fish appears to be jutting out of the head area of the four-inch fish, suggesting it may have been in the process of being eaten by the larger one.

The footprints of two types of reptiles, resembling dicynodonts—one a mouse-size species and the other a larger animal, about the size of a cat—have been found as well, along with the fossils of coelacanth scales.

Following the exploration of The Fulton Site, the group traveled up to the Fairfield Quarry in Fairfield, Pennsylvania, to view the dinosaur tracks that were found there decades ago.

“Today typifies the experience we have had doing research at this site for eight years. We can seem to get twenty Nebraska university students from 1,000 miles away to work on the site, but haven’t even been able to get but one Maryland university student from some 50 miles away to work on the site,” said Fulton, who is the lead lay-professional paleontologist.

Dino Bones 1

Photo by James Rada, Jr.

Wine, Cupcakes, and Art in Thurmont

James Rada, Jr.

It was a nice night for a stroll on the evening of May 8, 2015, and residents took advantage of the pleasant weather to come to downtown Thurmont for the Art & Wine Walk.

Ten downtown businesses shared their storefronts with local wineries, cupcake bakers, and artists for the evening. Visitors strolled along the streets and popped into the businesses to sample a locally made wine, snack on a gourmet cupcake, or speak with an artist. For instance, Gnarly Artly showed off his custom T-shirts at the Thurmont Bar & Grill, while Kathy Larson with Detour Winery offered samples to customers who stopped into Gateway Flowers.

“This is nice. It’s a nice event for the family,” said Dee Carr of Dearbought. She had come to the stroll to support an artist friend who was showing her work at the Creager House.

The participating stores included Brown’s Jewelers, ESP Dance Studio, Gateway Flowers, Heart & Hands, Hobbs Hardware, Mechanicstown Park, Thurmont Bar & Grill, Thurmont Historical Society, Thurmont Kountry Kitchen, Timeless Trends, Thurmont Main Street Center, and Twice Is Nice.

Each of these businesses had guests, such as Rebecca Pearl, who unveiled her latest painting “Springtime at Roddy Road Covered Bridge”; Fine European Catering; Pet Portraits by Nancy Houston, Linda Sandagger, Sharon Crider, Cindy and Russ Poole, who make up The East End Artists; Mountain Gate Restaurant; Gnarly Artly; artist Yemi; Catoctin Breeze Vineyard; Detour Winery; and Thurmont Lions Club. Professional cake makers, Michele Nolan and Joan Hurd, displayed their scrumptious cake flavors with cupcakes. Another addition this year, along with the cupcakes, were performances by ESP dancers in their studio. Great music genres were performed by Paul Zelenka in Mechanicstown Park, while Main Street businesses hosted the attractions.

Mel and Joanne Goble came downtown just to see what the stroll offered, and planned to try to visit all of the stores that were participating.

“It’s a lovely night, and we’re enjoying seeing everything that is here tonight,” Joanne said.

For more information on any of the participants, contact vgrinder@thurmontstaff.com.

Cupcake-Stroll-2

Kathy Larson with Detour Winery offered samples to customers who stop by Gateway Flowers during the Wine, Cupcakes, and Art Walk in Thurmont on the evening of May 8, 2015.

Photo by James Rada, Jr.

Catoctin Mountain Trains and Hobbies Closes After 25 years

James Rada, Jr.

Paul Johnson received his first train set when he was seven months old. The train was set up around the Christmas tree as part of a Christmas train garden that Johnson delighted in every Christmas.

“I looked forward to it every year and when I turned eight, my father showed me how to set it up and take care of it. From then on, it was my responsibility,” Johnson said.

As Johnson got older, he saved the money that he earned from cutting lawns in order to buy new pieces for the train layout. His interest died off when he entered his teens. Like most teenage boys, Johnson found girls and cars more interesting than trains.

“I got interested again in my mid-20s,” Johnson said. “I had visions of a big layout that I wanted to build.”

His interest in trains remained a hobby until he retired from the U.S. Park Police after twenty years. He then decided to open Catoctin Mountain Trains and Hobbies, at 1 East Main Street in Thurmont.

“There was no place in Frederick County that sold trains,” Johnson said.

In its early years, the store had something for everyone. Johnson sold cards, games, puzzles, and other things.

“More and more people wanted the trains, though, so eventually that became the only thing we sold,” said Johnson.

After five years, the store moved to 3 West Main Street. The new store specialized in O-gauge scale trains, although they had some HO- and N-scale trains. Johnson also developed relationships with three men in the area who could repair broken trains. With Johnson attending shows and selling trains and pieces through mail order, the store’s reputation began growing.

“We’ve had customers drive here from two or three hours away,” Johnson said.

Although the Catoctin Mountain Trains and Hobbies was a local business, most of its customers came from out of town.

After twenty-five years in business, Catoctin Mountain Trains and Hobbies closed its doors on March 31, 2015, so Johnson and his wife, Marcia, could retire and enjoy some traveling.

“I enjoyed my time with the store,” Johnson said. “I met a lot of good people.”

While Johnson sold plenty of trains over the years to people across the country, he doesn’t have a large layout in his own home and he never built the grand layout that he had dreamed of in his mid-20s.

“I am more into collecting,” Johnson said. “I have a collection of older trains. Most of them are from the 1940s and 1950s.”

His most-valuable car is a Lionel model of a 1950 Hudson that still has its original box. Johnson said it is worth $3,500.

Now that he is retired and traveling, Johnson may even take some trips on the railroad.

taking down the sign from Marcia Johnson

Pictured are Catoctin Mountain Trains and Hobbies owner Paul Johnson and his wife, Marcia, shown taking down the sign.

Courtesy Photo

Farewell to Cozy

This May 19, 2015, photo shows the rubble of the former Cozy Inn Hotel. The tree in the foreground was removed later in the day. The gazebo still stood several days later but was removed.

 

The community observed as the former landmark restaurant and cabins continued to disappear as the days went by.

DSC_0466

Photo by Deb Spalding

Pam’s Rusty Treasures to Open in Thurmont

Deb Spalding

IMG_20150508_142016_5271The day of June 6, 2015, will be the grand opening of Pam’s Rusty Treasures, next to the CVS in the Thurmont Plaza on North Church Street in Thurmont.

Owner Pam Garber had a similar store that she operated out of her house in Biglerville, Pennsylvania. She closed that shop when she moved back to Maryland (she’s originally from Emmitsburg).

Pam’s Rusty Treasures will carry primitives, candles, scents, and more. Pam operates the shop in memory of her husband, Rusty, who passed away from Melanoma ten years ago.

The grand opening will be held from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. on June 6. Normal hours of operation will be Saturdays, Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, from 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.; Sundays, from 12:00-2:00 p.m.; and closed on Tuesdays.

The store is located in Suite M at 224 N. Church Street in Thurmont. Call 240-772-6782 for more information.

Deb Spalding

Emmitsburg resident, Toni Marquette is a sarcoma cancer survivor. When in Baltimore going through radiation treatments  and surgery at UMMC, she and her husband Gary stayed at the Hope Lodge located across the street from the Ronald McDonald House. Toni observed children leaving the Ronald McDonald House going for their radiation or chemotherapy treatments without any blankets covering their bodies. As anyone knows, who has undergone treatments, you are always cold. A program called Project Linus is part of the American Cancer Society.  They ask for volunteers who can crochet, knit or quilt lap blankets for various hospitals throughout the Frederick and Howard County areas.

 When Toni completed her treatment at UMMC, she wanted to do something for the children at UMMC cancer center, John’s Hopkins and York Children’s Hospital. Toni contacted Marlene Kultz, the coordinator of Project Linus to inquire on how she could become part of this effort in crocheting blankets. She makes bright happy color blankets for premies, young children, and pre-adult/teenagers. The blankets are distributed to the cancer centers, and upon completion of treatments, the children are able to take the blanket home.

Toni has received many thank you notes from both the children, and personal thanks from the hospital for each beautiful blanket received. It is very fulfilling for her. Toni said the notes from the kids are so cute and heartwarming. “This is a commitment I’ve made to Project Linus to ‘pay it forward.’ I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.”

Toni has been crocheting blankets for Project Linus for eight years. She averages twelve blankets per year, depending on size, pattern, and stitch. In between Project Linus blankets, Toni crochets blankets for neighbors and family. Even when she and her husband, Gary, travel, she takes her project with her.

Toni said, “If you know anyone going through cancer, you have to understand that they aren’t just fighting for themselves, they are fighting for their family and loved ones. The caregivers and family members suffer right along with the person going through the journey.”

Toni said, “My grandmother gave to St. Jude’s Hospital all of her life. As a young person, I didn’t understand the meaning of her donations, but it was instilled in us children to give to St. Jude. As kids, we just thought St. Jude was a statue that my grandmother prayed to. We didn’t know the meaning of St. Jude until becoming adults. People are so busy with their lives that we don’t have time to sit back and think about cancer until it hits. When cancer hit my family, it was a ricocheting effect. Beginning with me, my cousin who is a breast cancer survivor, and her nephew, a testicular survivor. We supported each other by phone, messages through email, and on Facebook.”

The Project Linus coordinators have a list of the needs for blankets in the different areas. Jeane Evans, out of Columbia, Maryland, is Toni’s local coordinator. However, Frederick Memorial Hospital has several Project Linus volunteers as well.

Lori Frey is head of ACS in this area. She hosts Relay for Life Events and Radio-thons throughout Frederick county. Lori and her staff of helpers are always there to assist those going through cancer treatments, the caregivers, and family and friends in any way. Go to www.projectlinus.org or visit the American Cancer Society at www.cancer.org.

Project Linus I

Toni Marquette is shown working on a blanket for Project Linus.