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Dennis E. Black

The weather forecast for Sunday, November 9, 2014, called for a splendid day for anyone wanting to venture out on an antiquing trip. My friend, Larry Hauver, asked me to consider going along with him that day to the first York Antique Bottle Show. I was reluctant to go, with so many things that needed to be done, but he talked me into it—as he usually does. I’m thankful that he did.

There were a fair number of dealers at the York show, with the usual assortment of collectibles being offered for sale, in addition to bottles.  About an hour into the show, I happened to be checking out the display of a bottle dealer (Tom Gordon) from Manchester, Maryland, when I noticed a potential buyer beside me, holding a small Bible that the dealer had for sale. During the conversation between the two, I heard the dealer explain that the Bible belonged to a Frederick County, Maryland, Civil War soldier. That piqued my interest.

After the potential buyer returned the Bible to the dealer’s display case and walked away, I picked up the book and noticed the following inscription on the inside cover:  M.L. Brown, Co D, 6th Regt Md. V.I.   Now I am really curious!  Company D, 6th Regiment, of the Maryland Volunteer Infantry consisted of a group of 112 young Frederick County men, including those from the Hauvers and Mechanicstown Districts (Foxville, Wolfsville, Sabillasville, and Thurmont), who fought in the Union Army during the Civil War. (Ref. History and Roster of Maryland Volunteers – War of 1861-1865.)  My great-grandfather Josiah Edward Wilhide (1844-1915) was a member of Company D.  In addition to being wounded in battle at Winchester, Virginia, he was captured and held as a prisoner at Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia.

While I examined the small 1863 Bible, the dealer further explained that his research confirmed the existence of a soldier in Company D named “M. L. Brown” from the Foxville area. He had acquired the book online, which had ended up in Indiana. Could this well-worn Bible, most likely carried by this soldier during the Civil War, have belonged to a relative of my brother-in-law, Ed Hatter?  Ed’s mother and John Brown (Brown’s Jewelry & Gift Shop in Thurmont) are both descendants of the Brown family from the Foxville area. I had to get home and further research this with Ed.

Some things simply can’t be explained. After further research that evening, Ed confirmed with much excitement that the Bible belonged to his great-grandfather, Martin Luther Brown (1836-1898), who had, in fact, served in Company D and was wounded in battle at Cold Harbor, Virginia. Two days after the York Antique Bottle Show, which coincidentally turned out to be Veterans Day, Ed was able to acquire the Bible. The incredible luck of standing in the right place at the right time at a small antique bottle show resulted in a local Civil War soldier’s Bible being returned to his family for safe-keeping—over one hundred years later. What are the odds?

Deb Spalding

As we enter the Holiday shopping season, it’s important to be prepared and, sometimes, cautious. Here at The Catoctin Banner newspaper, we encourage local shopping—with our valued advertisers, of course!

Statistics suggest that shopping locally helps support our local economy, since the money stays in our community. Another major plus is that it strengthens our community by providing jobs.

In support of shopping locally, we’d like to remind shoppers to “beware” should you decide to meander to a big city or play in cyberspace. It’s a nasty world out there, sometimes. Here are some examples of situations where you should be cautious. Don’t be a sucker!

Sucker Tip #1: Do not respond to unsolicited emails on the computer or unsolicited offers on the street, in the mall, or on your computer. While working on the computer, I opened an email that turned out to have a virus attached. I spent a lot of time and money removing it. Something might look appealing to click on and possibly purchase; however, be weary if you don’t know the site or the sender. In the aftermath, I am fed up but wiser. May my sentiments carry us all safely through shopping season.

Sucker Tip #2: Avoid filling out forms both online and in person. Did I tell you, I just won a wonderful vacation from those nice people “giving away” free vacations at an event I attended this past summer? NOT! If I fulfil my sucker destiny, I will spend a few thousand on a vacation to some place I had no plans to visit. I get something for free, but the end doesn’t justify the price.

Sucker Tip #3: Are the deals really worth the hassle? I waited in line on Black Friday last year and missed the deal. The last one was given to the lucky sucker five up in line from me. If you really want the prize, be sure to calculate your risk and reward ratios. It’s cold outside!

So, save yourself time, gas, and headaches and see what your neighbors are selling (this is only a partial list of local ideas for gifts; sorry to all who are not mentioned. Please check out the ads in this issue for more ideas.)

The Thurmont Lions Club is selling some great holiday gifts of mural designs created by Artist Yemi. Commemorative gift items include all six murals, signed prints, individual mural prints, ornaments of etched glass, and a full color giant book Thurmont – Murals and Memories.

Each year, the Catoctin Furnace Historical Society members decorate wreaths to your design with bows, pinecones, ornaments, icicles, and more, during the Traditional Village Christmas event on December 6, from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

Coffee gift baskets are available at Holy Grounds Café in Emmitsburg.

Browns’ Jewelry has beautiful fine jewelry, watches, and gifts in stock in Thurmont.

Schedule your appointment with Nails By Anne for a fresh holiday manicure or pedicure!

Hunters might like their trophy mounted by Quirauk Skull Works.

We have many auto repair professionals throughout The Catoctin Banner reading area. It may be time for a tune up, a shine, or some new tires.

Vigilant Hose Company members are selling Gun Calendars and Spring Fling Tickets. Get yours today!

White House Ornaments, honoring President Warren G. Harding, are being sold by the Catoctin Area Civitan Club.

Gateway Candyland Market will hold a candy making open house with a large selection of Christmas gifts and crafts, including an open door into At Home Primitives, where home décor is abundant.

Get your Shot Shell Christmas lights from the Frederick County 4-H Shooting Sport Club.

There are unlimited sources for gift certificates in our local area.  Patronizing local artists, authors, and photographers is a unique alternative for meaningful gifts.

Members of the Catoctin Area Civitan Club are offering 2014 White House ornaments that honor President Warren G. Harding. If you would like more information, please call 301-676-9752.

The ideas listed here are just a sampling of ideas to get you started. Remember, don’t be a sucker and enjoy the Holidays!

BUSINESS -Renovations -photo 3BUSINESS -Renovations -photo 1Georgine Rabenold

Renovations Salon and Day Spa got a makeover. The transformation began over Labor Day weekend 2014, and when the doors reopened that following Thursday, the salon had a fresh, updated new look. The Salon and Spa has been open for nine years.

“It was time for a new look. We want to keep the spa in style, just like our customers,” said owner Claire Bennett.

Renovations Salon and Day Spa offers a complete package of services, from facials to hair coloring to pedicures. In addition, they also offer special occasion services for weddings, homecoming, prom, or any big day in your life. They have a full staff of ten experienced stylists, nail technicians, and even a makeup artist!

Renovations participated in Thurmont Thinks Pink in October. Claire and her staff challenged customers to “think pink” by offering them the choice of a pink glitter nail for $5.00, to get a pink hair flair, or to make a small donation. All proceeds went to The Hurwitz Breast Cancer Fund at Frederick Memorial Hospital.

If you haven’t already, come see the new look at Renovations Salon and Day Spa, located at 120 Frederick Road in Thurmont. 

Lindsay Brandt

emma jean store nowA new general store has opened in Creagerstown. However, Emma Jean’s General Store isn’t your everyday store. Yes, it has the usual milk, bread, and eggs, but you may be surprised to learn that it is also an antique store.

Emma Jean Goldberg and her son, Chuck Johnson, had the same kind of store open in West Virginia, but when they had an opportunity to purchase the old building in Creagerstown, they felt it would be a perfect spot to open up a new store. “It’s an authentic 1800s store; it’s the nostalgia of old things, and we are trying to make it as authentic as possible,” describes Emma Jean.

The property was on the market several times; it went to auction, had no bidders, and then eventually went into foreclosure. That’s when a friend of Emma Jean and Chuck informed them about the 118-year-old building. So the pair packed up their West Virginia store and headed to Creagerstown.

While strolling through the store, the sense of history and the feeling of nostalgia are noticeable. The store’s shelving, the 24-foot store counter, and the grand staircase leading up to the antiques are all original to the turn-of-the-century building. The additional pieces of furniture that are now housed in the store come from many types of stores and include seed counters, nail bins, cheese cases, shirt display cases, and bread cases. There is also a selection of furniture from old hardware, mercantile, and general stores. They are hoping that the store will become a tourist attraction.

“I’ve always liked general stores. We take old store fixtures and use them in the house. They just have a look that we prefer. It’s solid furniture. We have a bunch of old ice boxes in the store. We just like the look,” Chuck said.

Some of the many antique items that are for sale include advertising antiques, industrial pieces, an old teller station, antique ice boxes, display cases, a revolving nail bin, displays, vintage mannequins, a workbench, old toys, signs, and milk bottles. Whether you are an avid collector or just like to look at old unique pieces, this store will appeal to anyone who appreciates antiques.

Emma Jean’s General Store is already helping to keep local antique historical items in the community. Emma Jean and Chuck purchased several items from the Cozy Restaurant auction that are now being used to enhance the history of the store. Some items acquired are a lamppost, an enormous Christmas wreath, and holiday angels.

“It’s different, almost like a tourist thing,” Chuck said. “We’ve been pleasantly surprised by people showing up. It was packed for Colorfest. We weren’t ready, but we had to let people know that we were here.”

Along with managing the store, both mother and son are working to get involved with local charities in the area. They hope to get the community into the holiday spirit by hosting Santa! Santa will be visiting the store December 13, 2014, starting at 4:30 p.m. The donations received will go to local charities.

In addition to hosting some community activities, they want to service the community. “In winter time, if people can’t get out, we’ll have things to keep people going,” stated Chuck. “If somebody calls at closed hours, and they say they need some milk or something, of course, come on up and we’ll meet you at the door! If we are here, we won’t turn you away. If we can accommodate the people, this is fun for us.”

Emma Jean’s General Store is located at 8636 Blacks Mill Road in Creagerstown (technically) Thurmont. Call 240-288-8778 for more information.

Store hours are Wednesday through Sunday, from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

lawyer farmLindsay Brandt

The season of giving kicked off early at Lawyer’s Farm and Moonlight Maze, located on Creagerstown Road in Thurmont. On Sunday, October 26, 2014, all admission proceeds for the farm were collected to benefit the American Brain Tumor Association in honor of Jan Lawyer, who passed away from brain cancer on December 15, 2013.

Jan was the mastermind behind the property, which includes a farm, maze, sculptures, teepee, and pumpkin cannons that he built himself. The corn maze was one of the first and largest in the state of Maryland.

“When my dad passed away, I had a really hard time dealing with it. But being surrounded by everything that my dad created, and being able to hold a fundraiser in memory of him really gives us the encouragement to get by and to keep working hard. There is a reason why we do it. It’s fulfilling.”

“He was always creative. He could do anything. That’s just how his mentality through life was—whatever he set his mind to, he could accomplish, and he did,” said Jan’s daughter, Taylor Huffman. “I wanted to keep my dad’s memory alive. I wanted to do something that would let people know that this place exists because of this man and his ideas, and his motivations to create a unique place to bring families. We lost a really good man to something as awful as brain cancer, and we aren’t going to give up; we are going to keep raising money for research.”

When Taylor and her husband, Brandon Huffman, set out to have a fundraiser, they set a goal of raising $5,000 for a donation. With an estimated 450 people in attendance that day, they ended up raising $11,350 to donate to the American Brain Tumor Association. About half in attendance came specifically for the fundraiser—friends, family, and locals—but the other fifty percent of business at the farm that day was regular farm customers.

“Everyone had a really good time,” Taylor stated. “A lot of people came up to me and said they were touched. Some people had stories to tell of friends and family who have been affected by brain cancer, so it was really good to gather and talk to everyone.” The Huffman’s hope is to continue fundraising every year.

“We set a high bar,” Taylor expressed, adding, “So we hope that we can keep going up and up.”

no im not willieLindsay Brandt

He may look, walk, talk, sing, and play the guitar like Willie Nelson, but Richard Isaac Renner is not Willie Nelson. Richard started singing when he was just five years old. He would run around his parents house, grab his mother’s broom, and create a makeshift guitar while singing along to the tunes of George Jones, Hank Williams Sr., and Lefty Frizzell.

“I didn’t know what they were singing since I was so young, so I made up words that suited me, that fit the music,” laughed Richard. “Mom would say, ‘I don’t know what those words are,’ and I would say, ‘Well, I know what they are!’”

When Richard was five years old, his parents took him to a carnival where a band from Hanover, Pennsylvania, was playing. During their intermission, the Hundred and One Ranch Boys announced that there would be an amateur singing contest. Richard’s parents didn’t say anything to him; his father just grabbed him and hoisted him onto the stage. When he was on the stage, his father said to him, “Sing that Patsy Cline song that you sing!” So Richard sang “7 Lonely Days” by Patsy Cline.

“I won a silver dollar! The audience loved it and I was just thinking, wow, it’s no big deal, I sing every day,” said Richard.

It’s safe to say Richard’s singing career started after that moment. As Richard grew older, he became involved with high school bands and marching bands, as well as playing the drums. At age ten, he was being sneaked into bars to play the drums for professional bands. “I’d been offered four professional jobs, but I was too young to accept them,” he said. So he kept on singing and playing. When he turned thirteen years old, he began to write down his lyrics. His original songs started being added to the band’s shows, and the audience would yell out, wanting to hear the drummer sing.

When Richard was in his late twenties, his band would often perform Waylon Jenning’s “Good Hearted Woman,” featuring Willie Nelson. His band mate would sing Waylon’s part, and Richard would sing Willie Nelson’s bit. As soon as Richard started to sing the first note, the crowd would start to applaud.

“I thought, what’s the problem? What am I doing?” recalls Richard. So during intermission, his band mate told him to go look in the mirror. Richard went to the bathroom, looked in the mirror and said, “I see me.” But then his band mate explained to him that the crowd doesn’t see “him.” To them, his face, his hair, and his voice are Willie Nelson. “But, I’m not Willie!” stated Richard.

Consequently, Richard Renner has been called Willy for thirty-five years, whether he’s on the road or at his home.

While dining at the Kountry Kitchen Restaurant in Thurmont, Richard laughed and said, “I’ve had ladies come in with their husbands and ask their husbands if it was okay for them to sit down with me for dinner. They would want me to sign an autograph. So I told them I could sign Willy Renner, but I can’t sign Willie Nelson, because I’m not.”

Throughout his career, Richard has played at private parties, pig roasts, motorcycle parties, pool parties, anniversaries, birthday parties, and in every club along Rt. 355. While performing at a party in 2006, Richard’s friend, Greg Nixon, pointed out that since everyone knows him as Willy, he should write a song about it. After some thought, Richard started to develop his song, “No, I’m not Willie.”

Richard’s wife took it all in stride, and, since she likes Willie Nelson, she helped him start to look the part. She would do his hair and pick out the shirts similar to what Willie would wear.

Richard has two sons and two daughters, and whenever he would start to ease off of the music scene, one daughter in particular would encourage him to keep going. “She would say to me, ‘Dad, you are depriving people and you don’t want to do that; you’re not that kind of guy. Get back out there, get your ‘you know what’ in gear, and let’s go!’”

“No, I’m Not Willie” has three verses in the song. Each verse has a different scenario of occasions when Richard was mistaken for Willie Nelson. Verse one is about when he and his wife were held up at a Pennsylvania store by a cashier who was not convinced that Willie Nelson was not standing in front of her until Richard pulled out his driver’s license to show her his name. Verse two recalls a situation at a fair where people would point and nudge one another to get a look at “Willie” walking through the crowd. The final verse tells about how, even in his hometown, people call him Willie Nelson.

“I don’t want to imitate him; it’s more of a tribute to him, and so I tell them that. But I give them this song, so they can understand,” said Richard.

“No, I’m Not Willie” will be available on December 6, 2014, during the Christmas in Thurmont event at the Kountry Kitchen on Water Street and the Thurmont Eye Care on East Main Street. After the event, the single will be available until December 20, 2014, at those two businesses.

Richard has decided to donate all proceeds from this project to the Thurmont Food Bank. The song is available for purchase for $5.00.

Richard will has a ten-song country-rock album due to come out in January 2015.

“The only thing that Willie Nelson does, that I would like to do, is get that sound in my guitar that Willie Nelson has. I just can’t get that Willie Nelson sound. The Willie Nelson sound is one in a world. Certain people in the world have sounds that you just can’t copy. If I could play the guitar like Willie and make that sound, I would be happy. I still wouldn’t imitate him; I want people to know that I am not a Willie Nelson impersonator. I just happen to be born his twin.”

You can reach Richard “Willy” Renner at 240-409-1414.

In closing, Richard voiced, “God Bless All!”

James Rada, Jr.

Erik Legg was named the 2014 Thurmont Volunteer of the Year in October 2014. He was chosen from among a group of six volunteers who had been nominated.

“Our community is very fortunate to have such individuals who give of their time freely,” said Colleen Gillen with the Lions Club.

Legg was nominated for his volunteer work throughout the community, particularly with Project Hope, an organization that helps find activities for young people to hopefully give them productive alternatives to drugs and alcohol.

“I lost my friend when I was twenty-one years old,” Legg said. “He died in my arms. That’s when I made the decision to help.”

Legg will have his name added to the Volunteer of the Year plaque that is displayed in the town office. He will receive a gift certificate for two to a local restaurant, and a $400 donation to Project Hope will be made in his name.

Other nominees for this year’s Volunteer of the Year Award were Beth Watson, Nancy Dutterer, Joann Miller, Regina Amery, and Rodman Myers.

“These are individuals with significant contributions to the Thurmont community and are well-rounded volunteers who generously give their time, energy, and skill,” said Joyce Anthony with the Thurmont Lions Club.

Also recognized at the ceremony in Community Park on October 25 was the 2014 Police Officer of the Year. Officer D. Armstrong was awarded this honor. He received a plaque, dinner for two at a local restaurant, and a $400 donation made to the charity of his choice, which was Boy Scout Troop 270.

The award ceremony was held as part of the Lions Club annual “Make A Difference” Day.

“This is a great opportunity for the Town of Thurmont to recognize the Volunteer of the Year and the Police Officer of the Year,” said Mayor John Kinnaird.

The Lions Club has been sponsoring the day since 2006. Each year, organizations and groups are encouraged to perform a service project during the day.

“Today is the day of volunteerism,” said J.R. Wantz with the Thurmont Lions Club. “Basically, it’s people helping people.”

A couple dozen people, including three members of the Thurmont Board of Commissioners and Police Chief Greg Eyler, attended the afternoon ceremony at the park. Even as the Lions were recognizing volunteers in the community, dozens of volunteers were busy in the park preparing it for the Halloween in the Park festivities that evening.

The Thurmont Lions Clubs had planned on dedicating a Lion drinking fountain at the Community Park and a Lion bench at the Trolley Trail Park, but production problems have delayed the project.

“They will be tangible evidence of what the Thurmont Lions Club gives the town,” Wantz said.

volunteer of the year Legg






Erik Legg awarded 2014 Volunteer of the Year.

volunteer of the year

Officer D. Armstrong awarded 2014 Police Officer of the Year.



Lindsay Brandt

The Emmitsburg Council of Churches went to Africa for two weeks in July 2014 to supply the local communities there with much needed entertainment, medical assistance, and learning opportunities.

Pastor Jon Greenstone was part of the nine-person team, dubbed “Team Kenya 2014,” who started their two-week journey by boarding a plane at Dulles Airport. After several flights, the team finally reached their mission site in the village of Kiminini, which is about fifteen miles from the larger city of Kitale, Kenya. Their trip was focused around four villages in the Kiminini and Khalwenge area.

The team was involved with two schools: Grade 9 at the Lenana Girls High School, and the Pathfinder Academy School. These African children don’t have the luxury of participating in craft sessions during their everyday life, so the team members took it upon themselves to bring a little artistic joy to the children.

Color photos were taken of every student and staff member and then printed and framed on-site for the Pathfinder Academy. The children were able to choose from a variety of colored bandanas; then they were given fabric markers to decorate them however they liked.

Gifts provided by the Emmittsburg Council of Churches included: 284 little dresses that were hand made by Carolyn Weaver, who created different patterns and designs for each dress; 20 quilts that were given to the orphans at Pathfinder; the high school girls of the Lenana were able to decorate their own tote bags; 33 soccer balls from One World Futbols were handed out to the community; and over 100 solar flashlights were given to the students and staff at Pathfinder.

It wasn’t just all fun and games, though. Medical supplies, doctors’ clinics, and informational sessions were held. There were three suitcases full of medications distributed to clinics held at Mitumbe slum, Pathfinder Academy, St. Joseph’s Girls High School, and Khalwenge village. A total of 618 patients were seen by Drs. Calvin Chatlos and Holly Hoffman, with Dr. Kathrin Muegge overseeing the blood sugar and malaria testing stations.

Over 180 pounds of medical supplies from Med Wish and several United States hospitals were delivered to Kiminini Health Center and Mitumbe Health Center.

Four hundred toothbrushes and 288 tubes of toothpaste were given out at Pathfinder Academy and the elementary school at Khalwenge village, along with information on dental hygiene.

Marie Hoffman, who was equipped with an auto-refractor—purchased by Dr. Drew Stoken in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, for this and future missions—performed over 300 eye exams. The 180 students who were determined to need prescription lenses will receive them within the next few months, once they are shipped or flown to Kenya.

“Helping Babies Breathe” training was provided at the four different health groups: Mbai, Makwangwa, Kiminini Health Center, and Muthangare. Pediatrician Holly Hoffman provided training to each village, and they were given kits that included an ambu bad, stethoscope, towels, bulb suction devices, hats, cord clamps, and blankets.

Packets of ten different varieties of non-GMO seeds were distributed to 450 families at Biointensive Agriculture workshops at four villages in Kiminini and Khalwenge.

Pastor Jon held worship twice a day with Pathfinder Academy students and was assisted by Merri Sayler, a Methodist Deacon at Trinity UMC of Emmitsburg, and Lisa Riffle of St. John’s Lutheran Church of Thurmont. Bible school was held for the students of Pathfinder Academy, Lenana Girls High School, and at Khalwenge villiage by Phyllis Kelly, Tracy Sebold, Betsy Miller, Lisa Riffle, and Merri Sayler.

Over 400 Bibles were distributed among the men, women, and children of Kiminini and Khalwenge.

The nine members of Team Kenya returned to the United States tired and exhausted, but with new friends and memories that will last a lifetime.

Allison Rostad

Imagine locking up your business at the end of the day—closing out the register, shutting off the lights, locking up until the next day. Now imagine that the next day you find your business had been broken into. It is now part of a crime scene.

According to the Thurmont Police Department, the Thurmont area recorded ten commercial burglaries between the months of August and October. For a small town of 4.1 square miles, that’s a lot.

On Thursday, November 6, 2014, the Thurmont Police Department invited business owners to join them at the Thurmont Library to discuss burglary prevention tips in hopes of curtailing future commercial burglaries.

Prevention tips were reviewed by Thurmont’s Police Chief, Greg Eyler. While these tips are not guaranteed to keep a burglary from happening, when utilized, they may help to maximize your protection against a burglary.

There were three big take-a-ways from the prevention discussion: (1)Work as a team with the police; (2) Be proactive; and (3) Always remain calm. Thurmont has a police department comprised of thirteen officers. These officers work split shifts in order to cover 24 hours of every day. A community of active allies who work to enhance the safety and quality of neighborhoods makes for a big help.

Working as a team with the police in your community can dramatically decrease the likelihood of crime in your area. Imagine the force of thirteen officers now aided to well over one thousand, due to the allies of the community. That’s a number sure to deter a possible burglary.

This expansion of allies simply requires that business owners take measures to more securely protect their businesses. Start by taking a look at your business’s physical layout, your employees, and your business’s overall security. Consider installing video surveillance, proper interior and exterior lighting, and a monitored alarm system. Make sure adequate locks are installed on all doors, and consider adding additional hardware that will improve the level of security of your current doors and locks.

Keep windows and counters clear to allow for law enforcement and civilian surveillance. Do not keep cash in register after closing. Monies should be taken straight to the bank or placed in a safe that is anchored to the floor. Always provide training for employees, so they are familiar with security procedures and know your expectations.

Although some of the mentioned security improvements are costly, consider the cost of each improvement you make against the potential savings through loss reduction. Crimes against businesses are usually crimes of opportunity. Failure to take good security precautions invites crime into a business.

Perhaps even after precautionary steps are taken to prevent a burglary, you still become victim, remain calm. Officers and their families will appreciate this more than you know. The last thing anyone would want out of a burglary is injury or the loss of life. No amount of money could replace the worth of an individual’s life. Understand that the way a crime is reported determines the way the police are dispatched to handle the situation. If someone has shoplifted from your business, simply report it as such. Don’t panic and describe matters worse than they are.

Crimes have different classifications. A robbery is handled differently than a shoplifting situation, because a robbery is classified to have some sort of violent or forceful action along with obtaining unauthorized control over property. Shoplifting from a business is to obtain unauthorized control over property but without force or violence. Although there is only a slight difference between the two, it is important to note that an officer dispatched to a robbery is likely to respond with more caution and concern towards the violent action.

Don’t forget, in the event of an emergency, please call 911.


think pink donationFor the month of October, the Town of Thurmont sponsored a “Think Pink” fundraising campaign, during which many businesses and residents contributed to the Patty Hurwitz Breast Cancer Fund at Frederick Memorial Hospital. “Think Pink” resulted in an impressive response. Through the cooperation of residents and businesses in Thurmont, the Town of Thurmont presented the Patty Hurwitz Fund at Frederick Memorial Hospital with a check for $5,287.10 at the town’s November 18, 2014, meeting.

Thurmont’s Chief Administrative Officer, Jim Humerick, stated, “To have this type of participation and support from businesses and residents for the first year of our program is phenomenal. This speaks volumes about our community.”

“Thanks to all the ‘Think Pink’ Business participants, the residents, and the Town of Thurmont. Thurmont rocks!” added Thurmont’s Main Street Manager, Vickie Grinder.

by James Rada, Jr.

How a Goldfish Stand Became the Center of the Free World One Afternoon During WWII

In the midst of WWII, all two of the world’s most-powerful leaders could talk about one Sunday afternoon in 1942 was goldfish.

About eighty percent of the goldfish sold in the United States came from farms in Frederick County, Maryland, in the early decades of the 20th century. Many of those goldfish farms were near Thurmont.

One of those goldfish farming operations was Hunting Creek Fisheries. Frederick Tresselt started the business in 1923. Tresselt was a graduate of Cornell and had worked at the state trout hatchery in Hackettstown, New Jersey.

“In driving around the county with a friend in 1922, Dad was amazed to see all the goldfish ponds in the area,” Ernest Tresselt once said in an interview.

Other Frederick County goldfish farmers included George English, Frank Rice, Earl Rice, Maurice Albaugh, M.H. Hoke, Ross Firor, Sam Eaton, David and Adam Zentz, Walter Rice, Joseph Weller, Richard Kefauver, and Martin Kefauver.

“Every farm that could had fish ponds,” Ernest Tresselt said. “It was a cash crop for them.”

On weekends, Frederick Tresselt ran a retail store next to the main north-south road through the county. According to Ernest, the store had a large pond with a Hunting Creek Fisheries sign in the middle of it. Above the name was a large fantail goldfish painted in bright orange. The area was nicely landscaped with water lilies, shrubs, and bamboo. It was an attractive location and an eye-catching sign, so eye-catching that one Sunday afternoon in 1942, three large black cars pulled off the road and stopped.

A military man stepped out of the car, and Frederick recognized him as General George Marshall, President Franklin Roosevelt’s chief of staff.

“Mr. Churchill and Mr. Roosevelt and I are interested in seeing your operation here,” Marshall said, according to Ernest.

Frederick agreed, and the drivers pulled the cars in closer to the fish house, the storage building with concrete pools and wire vats.

“President Roosevelt looked in the door, but he didn’t come in, since he was handicapped and couldn’t get out of the car,” Ernest Tresselt wrote in his autobiography.

However, Winston Churchill, the prime minister of Great Britain, got out of the car and walked into the fish house with Frederick. They began talking about Tresselt’s unique crop. Churchill showed an interest in the golden orfe, which were fifteen to eighteen inches long. Churchill said he had even bigger ones in his pond in England. Tresselt told the prime minister that he, too, had larger fish in his ponds on Hunting Creek Fisheries.

As the cars with Roosevelt and Churchill departed, a Secret Service agent told Frederick not to tell anyone about the visit.

“This made no sense to Dad because there were already at least a hundred local people out there taking it all in. But Dad didn’t tell anybody, not even us kids,” Ernest said. He found out at school the next day, when everyone but Ernest seemed to know about the visit of the two world leaders.

Ernest said that National Geographic Magazine looked into the story when they did an article about goldfish in the 1970s. The researchers could find nothing that definitely said the world leaders had stopped at the goldfish stand, but they did acknowledge Churchill had been in the United States at the time and visiting the Presidential retreat at Shangri-La, which was located in the Catoctin Mountains near Thurmont.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill are shown fishing at Shangri-La.

Photo Courtesy of the FDR Presidential Library and Museum

The Best Christmas Present Ever

by Valerie Nusbaum

I’ve given and received a lot of Christmas gifts over the years. I remember most of them fondly, and some have funny stories attached.  Choosing the best gift ever was posing a problem for me, so I asked some friends and family to share memories of their most special presents. I set out a few guidelines: no babies, puppies, engagement rings, or spouses. I wanted to hear the stories about those quirky, lovingly hand-made or thoughtfully purchased gifts—the ones that linger in our hearts even now. The following is what the people told me.

Randy’s best gift ever came when he was a little boy. He loved playing with big metal tractors and trucks, so he was thrilled on Christmas morning to get a wooden barn in which to park all of his equipment.  There was a big barn door on the end, large enough to “drive” his tractor into the bay; part of the roof actually came off so that he could see inside. The thing that made this gift so special was that Randy’s dad had spent countless hours in their garage designing and building the barn from scratch.

When I asked my mother to tell me about the best Christmas present she ever received, she decided that it had to be her baby carriage. As a little girl, she really wanted a carriage for her dolls, but money was tight during the Depression years.  Mom asked Santa for a carriage every year, and she was thrilled to get one when she was seven years old. To make it even more special, her beloved grandmother sewed a specially-sized quilt to fit the carriage. None of the other grandchildren received a quilt from Grandma that year, so Mom felt very special.  We still have the carriage and the quilt.

My in-laws spent a lot of time pondering my question, and they gave me a two-page answer. There was no mention of a present in their notes, save this, “The best gift is being able to celebrate the birth of Jesus.” My brother had a similar response. He said that the best gift is the giving and receiving of a little extra kindness each year.

Some of the responses were about toys received from Santa or from frazzled parents. Randy Derflinger loved his Deluxe Playmobile, and he shared pictures of it. Gwen Masser dearly wanted a set of Rock Em’ Sock Em’ Robots. Santa never delivered, but Gwen’s mom finally gave Gwen the set when she was sixteen. Kathy Escamilla chose her Pebbles Flintstone doll as her best gift. Her parents got it for her at Macy’s in New York City. We were all reminded that our dolls ended up bald from so much “love.” Brenda Reeves told me that her best gifts ever were an Etch-a-Sketch and a transistor radio. Terry Pryor got a shiny purple mini-bike one Christmas. The bike was broken, because “Santa” had tried it out on Christmas Eve and was too heavy for it!

Other friends shared stories of gifts received as teenagers. Connie House described a set of beautiful green antique bottles that she mysteriously received in the mail. No one knew where the gift had come from. It turned out that Connie’s dad had given her the bottles, and he explained that “sometimes the oldest child needs a little something special under the tree.”

Linda Towns said, “When I was in the fifth and sixth grade, I used the school’s flute in band. When I went to high school, I was terrified that I would have to give up the flute because we were quite poor. The elementary school allowed me to take their flute to high school, but only for seventh grade. I was panicked. I hoped for a flute for Christmas, even though I knew we couldn’t afford one. I opened my small gifts and there was no flute. I was heartbroken, but I tried not to show it. My dad left the room and came back with a flute case with a red bow on top!

Stephanie Nusbaum still uses the piano bench that her brother custom-built for her. Jeanell Willis remembered the fishing rod and reel that her stepfather gave her when she was fourteen. More importantly, Jeanell remembered how her stepfather taught her to fish and the hours spent on their boat. Gayle Maas still wears the Black Hills gold ring that her parents gave her the last year she was home.

There were more memories about gifts received as adults. Tempie Powell recalled her first Christmas as a single mom. Money was tight, but her kids were small and didn’t mind gifts from the dollar store. Tempie told me that upon returning from church on Christmas Eve, the family found an assortment of wrapped packages on their front porch. 

Eileen Markum described the care package she received from her mom the first year she was away from her family. Eileen was stationed in Greece and had been feeling so alone until the package arrived.

Terry Miller got a set of luggage from her future mother-in-law.  Terry remembers tearing the luggage apart to find the plane ticket that she was sure was inside. Linda Moss recalls being a young teacher, and receiving special gifts from her students, including a coonskin hat and a handmade pillow and blanket.  Loberta Staley received a special gift from her husband, Harold, but this is a family newspaper, and it’s best if I say no more.

What was the best Christmas present I ever received? There were so many: the  shiny, pink Easy Bake Oven that Kathy Wilson and I left plugged in and nearly burned down the house; the gold heart-shaped watch that my grandparents gave me the year I was five, because I had learned to tell time (even then I liked a challenge); my first Barbie doll (a gift from Aunt Faye), which was actually one of the first Barbies, because I was around the year they were invented; my drum set that I played for hours every day (the drums mysteriously disappeared, and my parents told me that Santa had taken them back); or  maybe it was the Chatty Cathy doll that I wanted so badly. I woke on Christmas morning to see Chatty Cathy sitting beside my bed, and I was rendered speechless. All I could do was point.

I was mulling over all these gifts the other night, when the phone rang. It was my brother calling. I had been very sick, and he called to check on me. We talked for a bit and he asked what I was doing.  I laughed and told him that I was curled up on the couch under my favorite blankie. He had given me the blanket some thirty years ago for Christmas, and even though it’s getting threadbare from washing, I still use it every day. Nothing has ever kept me as warm. That long-ago Christmas, my brother gave me a whole “Box of Warmth,” as he called it—fuzzy slippers, fleece pajamas, a warm robe, a heater, and the blanket. It was his first year out of high school, and he was working his way through college. I knew he could ill afford to give me so much.  He said that it was the least he could do after I had done so much for him, and he pointed out that I had given him an allowance each week all through high school. I’d bought the Members Only jacket that he wanted so badly, and the Capezio shoes.  I’d even gotten him the Miami Vice outfit that he wanted to wear to a school dance, and I had helped him with his college tuition. I was happy to do those things. He was my little brother and I enjoyed spoiling him, plus it gave our parents a break from all the expenses. Maybe it was because I was sick and scared that night, but all these memories came flooding back, and I huddled under the best Christmas present ever and cried my eyes out.

Here’s what I learned from this exercise. We cherish the gifts, but we cherish the memories more. The best gifts are given or made with love and are often the product of sacrifice.  They mean so much to us, because the people who gave them mean so much.

Merry Christmas, everyone.  I hope you get exactly what you want.

Mountain Talkby Chris O’Connor

Party Planning in Sabillasville

Thanksgiving reminds me of the gifts I’ve enjoyed, including thoughtful advice and support from others. I have an ever-expanding list of folks that I’ve neglected to adequately thank for their kindness and generosity of spirit over the years.

One neighbor on this list is Vickie Willard of Special Event Services in Sabillasville. She was a stranger who came to my rescue in the final stages of my daughter’s wedding planning a few years ago.

Planning a wedding reception was way outside my wheelhouse. I lacked a storied history of planning anything but kid’s birthday parties. But I had time, determination, horticultural knowledge, and a creative bent.

While planning for the wedding, the flowers were left on the back burner until a few days before the wedding. Perhaps I was mistakenly confident regarding the flowers. It doesn’t much matter why, except I had other fish to fry. The procrastination nearly caused me to meet with my personal Waterloo.

Enter, one of my soon-to-be heroes on the Mountain, Vickie Willard, floral designer extraordinaire.

I called her on the advice of friends and explained my predicament. She said there wasn’t enough time to obtain rare wedding flowers. I wondered aloud that if we provided the flowers would she consider working her magic. Thankfully, she consented.

Dad of the Bride (DOB) scooped up a variety of fresh flowers on his way home from work, while I gathered foliage and flowers from our yard that might satisfy the bride and groom’s color scheme. Then, I delivered them all to Miss Vickie. I was stunned by the beautiful bouquets she had displayed in her shop. We chatted about the bride’s hopes and desires for her bouquet, and I departed, confident that Vickie would come through.

Less than two days later, DOB picked up the beautiful bouquets and boutonnieres and delivered them to the venue, with time to spare. All was right with the world and the wedding took place without another worry.

Fast forward to Autumn 2014.

A trend in men’s boutonnieres is that a flower’s stem be encased in an empty rifle shell casing. Vickie says it’s the latest thing. She would know, since she’s been the owner of her event planning business in Sabillasville for over seven years. She’s also noticed that grooms are becoming increasingly involved in wedding planning.

Her own wedding to Paul Willard in 1976 resulted in her move from Waynesboro, Pennsylvania to become our long-time neighbor on the Mountain. Three children and six grandchildren later, she continues to follow a path of entrepreneurial spirit with great energy and enthusiasm. Anyone who over-thinks hosting Thanksgiving, throwing a dinner party, or any other celebratory occasion, can’t help but marvel at Vickie’s creativity, easy-going nature, sense of humor, and gift for logistics.

Vickie is humble about her business acumen and creative versatility in design. Her goal is to meet as many needs that her clients desire and to provide the best service she can to plan any event, be it prom, a party, or a full-scale wedding planning. Weddings are of special interest to her, an interest that grew during the thirteen years that she and her business partner, Pam Fox, ran the now defunct, A Touch of Country Store, in Sabillasville.

The event planning business developed gradually after A Touch of Country closed. Individuals began contacting Vickie to inquire if she’d design flowers and centerpieces for their respective events. After about a year, one event led to another, which evolved into the current incarnation of a thriving full-service event planning business.

Special Event Services is a “soup to nuts” operation, providing everything from invitations, to planning, and on-site supervision of the entire event. Or she may provide as little as what I needed, with the bouquets that Vickie designed and fashioned at the eleventh hour for my daughter’s wedding. She also provides an extensive variety of rental items for the church, party, or reception venue, including chair covers, linens, and backdrops for the head table.

Choosing a venue for any gathering is a top priority before considering hosting an event. Vickie points out that most popular venues book a year ahead of time. An unusual piece of advice Vickie offers is that although a wedding is inarguably an exciting and special day, it is just one day with many, many, more to follow, so there is no need to break the bank. She provides strategies, alternatives, and suggestions as to how to economize and still host a beautiful and memorable gathering for family and friends.

There’s something to be said about hiring an event planner like Vickie. She brings something more to the party. She, her daughters, and longtime friend, Pam Fox, are all about providing all aspects of accomplishing a successful event, whether it is making deliveries, floral design, decorating, or simply providing rental items to the client or venue.

Vickie especially enjoys wedding planning. She says it’s just plain fun. It’s about meeting strangers who stay in touch long after the event for which she’d originally been hired. Clients frequently share the joy of their firstborn child’s arrival and continue to share news of other milestones in their lives. The original relationship grows into something deeper over time.

Strangers are friends Miss Vickie has yet to meet.

For more information, contact Vickie Willard at 301-241-3041 or email

Christine Schoene Maccabee

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

                                —Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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