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IMG_8191James Rada, Jr.

“Let’s play ball!”

The cry rang out on baseball fields across northern Frederick County on Saturday, April 18, 2015, as the Thurmont and Emmitsburg areas celebrated opening day and held their first games of the season.

Crowds flocked to the fields to cheer on the youngsters who were playing baseball for the first time.

Brooklyn Kehne, age seven, made her Little League debut playing on the Emmitsburg Angels. She has an older brother who played baseball, also, but opening day was her time to show what she could do. “I’m really excited to play,” she said. “I like playing.”

Down in Thurmont, Ja-Khia Smith, age eight, waited anxiously in line for the team to march onto the field, amid the applause of hundreds of spectators. “It’s fun,” she said. “I get to hit the ball a lot, and my coach helps me if I need it.”

The special guest to throw out the first pitch in Thurmont was Dr. Richard Love, who threw the pitch to Gage Eyler, the grandson of Love’s former teammate, Thurmont Police Chief Greg Eyler.

“It was pretty neat,” Love said. “Although I felt like we should have been switched, since I used to catch for him (Greg Eyler).”

Love had started playing Little League in Thurmont in 1965 for the Orioles, and had been a sponsor of teams for thirty years. He and Eyler had played together for seven years.

Sean Mazaleski, age twelve, plays with the Emmitsburg Red Sox. He showed up at the fields early, as he prepared to start his sixth year of playing baseball. “I really enjoy it, and I don’t mind the practices because I get better every time,” he said.

Once the Opening Day Welcome was finished at each location, the crowds separated to fill the bleachers at the different fields and to enjoy America’s favorite pastime, with perfect weather, tasty snacks, and lots of ball hitting, throwing, running, catching, and cheering.


Photo by Grace Eyler

Dr. Love, Greg Eyler and his grandson after opening pitch


Dr. Richard Love (shown left), Greg Eyler (far right), and his grandson, Gage Eyler, are pictured after the opening pitch was thrown by Dr. Love.



Thurmont Little League Diamondbacks

Diamond Backs

Pictured from left are: (back row) Assistant Craig Schwartbeck, Dylan Jessee, Ron Sanbower; (middle row) Madison Snurr, Levi Misnet, Hunter Sanbower, David Robey, Joshua Owens; (front row) Noah Schwartz??, Nicholas O’Conell, Jayden Worthington, Justice Glover, Damion Owens, Josh Wivell.

DiamondBack_Batter Up

Dylan Jessee at bat on Opening Day game on April 18, 2015.







Thurmont Little League Red Sox

Red Sox Little League

Pictures are: (players) Evan Morris, Aaden Gallion, Jordyn Bridgett, Michael Moran, Addison Tingler, Parker Davis, Gage Eyler, Leland Bare, Logan Shoobridge, Owen Scheetz; (Team Mom) Karen Morris; (Coaches) Phil Morris, Matt Gallion, Mark Tingler, and Ayrik Moran.

IMG_1847-1A Unique Life Experience

Michele Cuseo

Most people who live in Emmitsburg know or have heard of Mrs. Williams, as she has lived here for 101 years. I know her because I went to high school with her son, Richard, who is also a personal friend. Born in 1914, she is not just unique due to her advanced age but also because of her race. She is an African American who has lived through times of major change in America, as well as in Emmitsburg.

Born Elizabeth Kathleen Richardson, Mrs. Williams’ earliest memories involve living on Old Frederick Road with her family. Her father (William Richardson) worked at Mount St. Mary’s College as an all-around handy man doing a variety of work. Her mother (Marie Butler Richardson) had five children: Joseph, Francis, Billy, Marie, and Elizabeth Kathleen. The boys all died during the flu epidemic of 1918. 

Her family always had a garden, chickens, and an occasional hog that was butchered by her Uncle Bob. She remembers that they had a natural spring and a smoke house. For holidays, her cousins would visit and they would eat together, play cards, and sing songs. She recalls that her Uncle Joe played the violin and her Uncle Charlie could sing. She also remembers visiting her grandfather Butler (her mother’s father) on a farm on Irishtown Road to see some piglets. Other than this memory of her grandfather, she does not know much about her grandparents’ history. And, having no opportunity for education at that time, her past relatives would not have been able to write any stories to pass on. Any history would have had to be passed down through verbal stories. 

Starting around the late teens or early 1920s, Kathleen and her sister Marie would walk to school in Emmitsburg, attending St. Euphemia (Catholic school started in 1889, managed by the Sisters of Charity) from first through eighth grades. There was a group of other children who walked together with them through two large fields and over fences in all kinds of weather. It was quite a long way to get to school, probably about one mile or more. Once at school, the two Richardson sisters and the other African-American children were segregated from the Caucasian children into a separate room for instruction. Mrs. Williams remembers the nuns who taught them: Sister Cecelia and Sister Beata. She said that Sister Beata hated when someone used the word “ain’t.”  Sister would say, “Don’t talk like those ‘Darkies’ down south!”  Mrs. Williams said they did learn the basics (reading, writing, and arithmetic) from the nuns.  There was no public school for blacks and they were not allowed at the public (white-only) schools.   She says that her parents never had the opportunity to go to school and wanted their children to have an education. Therefore, going to school at St. Euphemia was their only opportunity for an education. However, after eighth grade, there was no high school for blacks to attend unless they went to Baltimore, Maryland. Traveling to Baltimore wasn’t logistically possible for the family. 

Mrs. Williams stated that she can’t remember exactly how she met her husband, Martin Williams, who was from Gettysburg. Most likely, they met because her parents knew his parents. She said that Martin was a good man. Mr. Williams served in the army for a time and also worked at the Mount. She also remembers that blacks experienced different treatment in Pennsylvania than they did in Maryland (Martin grew up in Pennsylvania and Kathleen in Maryland). In Pennsylvania, blacks were allowed to go to the theatre (sit wherever they liked) as well as other public places. This was not allowed in the state of Maryland at that point in time (seeming to reflect the lingering struggle between North and South from past Civil War conflict). 

Martin and Kathleen had seven children together: Lois, Mary, Joan, Pat, Marty, Marie, and Richard. Mr. Williams died at the young age of fifty, and it was a very difficult time for Mrs. Williams having young children to raise on her own.

Mrs. Williams did get the opportunity to buy a house in town at some point after her husband died. A man named Bernie Boyle offered to sell her the house. The house had previously been owned by Mrs. Williams’ relatives, Aunt Rose and Uncle Brown. Mrs. Williams had a good amount of money to put down on the house, but she had some trouble getting a loan from the bank to cover the rest. Mr. Boyle intervened to help by telling the bank that he would go to the Thurmont Bank if they would not cooperate.  They did cooperate and Mrs. Williams was able to purchase the home where she still lives today. Mrs. Williams worked a majority of her adult life for the nuns and was known for her great cooking ability that she states she learned from her mother. Chicken pot pie was her favorite dish.

It would be an understatement to say that the Catholic Church has been a big part of Mrs. Williams’ life. She attended church at St. Anthony’s near the Grotto in earlier days, where blacks were required to stay in the back of the church. Mrs. Williams remembers some misbehaving boys who used to play in the back of the church. She also remembers when things changed at the church. She distinctly remembers a priest named Father Riley who approached her and said that she could sit wherever she wanted to and no longer had to stay in the back of the church.

In the past, when a loved one died, they had a special place for blacks to be buried that was—as Mrs. Williams described—at the bottom of the hill (in the graveyard on the way to the Grotto). When Mr. Williams died in 1960, he was the first African American to be buried at the top of the hill, alongside the previous white-only burial area.   

Marie Williams, Mrs. Williams’ youngest daughter (named in honor of her grandmother and aunt), said that education was very important to their family. She stated that her mother did a great job raising her seven children. They all went to Catholic school, with some continuing on to college, and all of them working at great jobs. There are now ten wonderful grandchildren. 

Mrs. Williams acknowledged that the person she admired most in her lifetime was her mother. She was a wonderful mother and wonderful person. Mrs. Williams stated that she doesn’t know why she has lived so long, but that longevity does run in her family, with many members living until almost 100 years old. These days, she enjoys crossword puzzles, watching jeopardy, and is well attended by her daughter Marie, who works as a nurse. 

I thanked Mrs. Williams for sharing her memories with me and embraced her hand. She embraced back with a firm grip! As I was leaving her home, I glanced over to see that she had already started working on her crossword puzzles.


Photo of Mrs. Williams’ mother and father, Marie Butler Richardson and William Richardson.


Photo of Mr. Williams as a young man.

The Thurmont business community put its best foot forward for the 11th Annual Thurmont Business Expo, held on April 2, 2015. However, this was the Expo that almost didn’t happen. Thurmont Main Street, the usual organizers of the event, had decided not to hold the Expo this year and canceled it.

Heather Dewees and Rob Renner decided that the event provided too much value to Thurmont businesses and its residents and to cancel it would be a loss.

“I felt like if we lost it, it wasn’t ever coming back,” Dewees said.

The Expo allows residents to come out and discover many of the 260 businesses that are in the town. Business owners can meet potential customers and show off their goods and services.

Dewees and Renner approached the Thurmont Special Events Committee to provide things like liability insurance and to handle money from vendors. Dewees and Renner lowered the cost of sponsorship and didn’t charge extra to businesses that wanted to sell products.

“It involves a lot of coordination, but it was fun,” said Renner.

However, just when things came together and the Expo was ready to go, a late snowstorm closed schools on March 20, which meant that the Expo had to be postponed.

Nearly four dozen of the town’s businesses participated in the Expo, which was rescheduled for a Thursday evening.

“We lost a few vendors because we rescheduled, but this was the only other night available,” Dewees said.

Hundreds of people turned out for the event at Catoctin High School.

John Nickerson is a familiar face at the Expo, with his original Gnarly Artly t-shirts. “Most of my business is done on the internet, so this gives me the chance to meet a lot of people,” Nickerson said.

Stacie Zelenka, owner of Pondscapes, agreed. “We’re a home-based business, so this gives us the opportunity to have a storefront for an evening and meet customers.”

She said the Expo has proven its worth to her because she always gets referrals from it. She also gets the opportunity to meet customers who say that they didn’t know her business existed, so the Expo exposes her business to new customers.

Heather Lawyer with Gateway Automotive said that Gateway doesn’t really advertise so the Expo allows Gateway Automotive to put itself out in front of the community.

“It’s also nice to have customers stop by and talk to us and say, ‘Thank you,’” said Lawyer.

A nice new feature of this year’s Expo was that each visitor was given a vendor map that also included addresses, phone numbers, and websites for each Expo vendor.

Proceeds from the Thurmont Business Expo are donated to the Thurmont Food Bank.

Candy and Heather Lawyer

Candy and Heather Lawyer of Gateway Automotive behind their booth at the Thurmont Business Expo.


Niki Eyler, owner of The Eyler Stables Flea Market in Thurmont, at the Thurmont Business Expo.


Folks from the Thurmont Veterinary Clinic are shown at their booth.


Thurmont’s Mayor, John Kinnaird poses next to a drawing of himself done by John Nickerson of Gnarly Artly.



Doris Roman and Antonio C. from the Thurmont Senior Center are shown behind their booth at the Thurmont Business Expo.

Photos by Grace Eyler

In the late 1700s and early 1800s, the covered wagon could be seen on the dusty and muddy roads of Frederick County, Maryland. The covered wagon was a home on wheels that was pulled by a team of horses, mules, or oxen to take a family to a new home in America.

According to, “The origins of the distinctive horse-drawn freight wagon known as the Conestoga wagon can be traced to the Conestoga River region of Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County in the mid- to late-18th century. Conestoga wagons, with their distinctive curved floors and canvas covers arched over wooden hoops, became a common sight over the next century, as they carried farm products to cities and other goods from cities to rural communities, particularly in Pennsylvania and the nearby states of Maryland, Ohio, and Virginia, but also elsewhere in the United States and in Canada.”

Joe Eyler of Thurmont has indicated that these early wagons have ties to the Thurmont area and the Eyler family of the Eyler Horse Auction.

On May 29, 30, and 31, 2015, a wagon train will travel from Thurmont to Harney, Maryland. By the time it reaches Harney, the wagon train is expected to contain twenty or more wagons and forty outriders (riders on horseback). Grab your cameras as it travels through covered bridges, fords the stream at Four Points Bridge, and sets up camp Saturday night at Eric Glass’ house on Tom’s Creek Road.

On this ride, the official Maryland State wagon, owned by James and Cynthia Sayler of Keysville, Maryland, will be traveling home to Harney. This wagon has traveled thousands of miles, as it has traveled from Texas. The wagon was found in a barn in Harney.

On Sunday morning at 9:00 a.m., a Cowboy Church Service will be held before the wagons leave for Harney. The wagons are anticipated to arrive at the Harney Fire Company grounds around 12:30 p.m. for lunch and then break up for home.

Entertainment will be held during the gathering of the wagons on Friday evening at Eyler Road in Thurmont. Marshmallows, hot dogs, and ham and bean soup, compliments of Jubilee Foods in Emmitsburg, will be available at check-in.

On Saturday, Jubilee will provide fried chicken for the wagon train and outriders. Entertainment will be provided by Ralph Gann and any person with a string instrument.

This is the very first ride of its kind in the area. History is being made in Thurmont and Frederick County. The Thurmont Heritage Group is proud to sponsor this event, and all monies made by a free offering from the wagon train will go towards scholarships for equine college students who apply.

Call Joe Eyler at 301-271-2023 for more information.



Joan Bittner Fry

In 1964, my family and I bought and later moved into a house in Sabillasville, where the late Tom and Annie Harbaugh had lived. I still live there. My mother helped pack up the Harbaugh’s household goods for public sale at the Blue Ridge Summit fire hall, but the family didn’t want to sell Annie’s diaries. When asked if she would accept them, my mother agreed that she would. At that time, I had no idea that I would move into the house and end up with the diaries.

Following are excerpts from Annie’s diaries. As you can see, there are many references to whitewash, which was a low-cost type of paint. A general recipe for whitewash is hydrated lime, water, and salt. I have no idea what proportions Annie and her friends used, but they sure whitewashed a lot. It is claimed that whitewash disinfects, repels insects, and preserves by sealing surfaces. 

Also added is a photo (top right) that I took of my cellar, showing the whitewashed wall that was done many years ago. If Annie had known that whitewash would last so long, perhaps she wouldn’t have done it so often. Maybe it was a social thing back then.


May 9. I whitewashed the hen house this morning. Fannie Brown and the little boy, Margaret and Glenn’s wife all took dinner with me today. Mr. Sheffer died at 2 p.m. today.  Buried Saturday at 2 p.m. in Fairfield.



April 23. This was a cloudy morning but it cleared away at 9 a.m. Mr. Fogle whitewashed the hog pen and made garden in the afternoon. Mr. Cal Stem had a light stroke this morning.



April 26. This was another lovely day. We cleaned the yard and walk at the back of the house. I mowed the inside lawn this afternoon. Mr. Wierman mowed the outside lawn this evening. Lizzie started to whitewash the fence this afternoon.

May 2. This is a cool rainy morning, temp 44 degrees at 6:30. I enameled the refrigerator today. I received the living room curtains today. They certainly look nice. Mabel sent me two crepe myrtle bushes this morning. One red and one lavender.

May 15. Lizzie and I whitewashed the fence all of the day. It was a beautiful day and not so hot.

May 16. This was another lovely day to finish the fence and the buildings.



April 1. This was a cold day, 38 degrees at 6:30. Maud Working and I cleaned the summer house today.

May 1. This was a warm day. Maud whitewashed the fence all of the day.  Temperature 82 at 2 p.m.

May 6. This is a grand cool morning to clean house. Maud and I cleaned the living room today. We scrubbed down the front porch in the afternoon.

May 7. This was a hot day, 82 at 3 p.m. Maud finished whitewashing and we cleaned the two back porches. I received 25 of my little chicks this morning.

May 17. I went to Sunday school this morning. It was so hot in the church I wished I had not gone. Alvin (Anderson) had fire in the furnace.

December 10. This is a cloudy rainy day. King Edward abdicated the throne today.

DocAllison Rostad

Just as the sun began to set on Saturday, April 18, 2015, members and friends of the Graceham Volunteer Fire Company gathered to hold their annual banquet in recognition of the Company’s service in calendar year 2014.

A greeting was given by emcee, Brian Boller, who was president of the Company in 2014. Director/Chief of Volunteer Fire Rescue Services Chip Jewell led an invocation prior to guests and members being invited to partake in dinner, catered by Mountain Gate Family Restaurant.Guests such as Mr. and Mrs. John Roth of the State Fireman’s Association and Chief of Thurmont Police Department Greg Eyler and his wife attended the banquet in support of the Company’s service over the past year. Boller introduced these guests and handed the stage over to Chief Jim Kilby and Captain Scott Willard.

Kilby first recognized the entire Company for their outstanding work, as they were able to respond to all but 17 calls of their 260 total calls for the 2014 calendar year. The top five responders in the Company were recognized with framed awards: Hilary Blake, Matthew Mckeel, Matthew Moser, Kelly Willard, and Mike Beard.

The Company’s officers were also awarded for their response to calls over the past year: James Boyle, Jim Kilby, and Scott Willard.

Louis Powell Jr. was asked to the stage, where guests were introduced to the new operational officers of 2015: Chief Jim Kilby, Assistant Chief Louis Powell Jr., and Captain Scott Willard. All three officers were given a new, donated shield for their helmets. Following the presentation of the shields, Kilby turned the microphone back over to Boller, in conclusion of the Chief awards.

Boller presented the administrative awards, bypassing the standard top 10 LOSAP awards, as he explained to guests that being a small company means, “Everyone pretty much pitches in, and if you’re considered active out here, you get access to the hall, and we give free shirts out as certain awards [throughout the year].” Boller started the awards off with the Presidents’ Award. A member who has achieved ten years of active status within a company may become a “life-time member.”

Eddie Woods, Jr. was presented the President’s Award for his “on and off” active membership over the past twenty-seven years.

Boller explained that Woods would fall short of active status defined by the bylaws, but his dedication to drive from Riverdale, Maryland, and Hagerstown over the years to respond to calls for the Company was a feat in itself.

Scott Willard was also presented a President’s Award for his dedication to the Company, in addition to being both Kilby’s and Boller’s right-hand-man over the years.

Boller said proudly of Willard, “It’s the unseen little things that we recognize him for.”

Louis Powell Jr. was presented Life Membership, as he was the only member in 2014 to reach ten years of active status.

Just prior to the conclusion of the banquet, Boller asked that Chip Jewell say a few words to the night’s final award recipient, Kenneth “Doc” Simmers, Sr.  Simmers was awarded with a surprise party in March for being recognized by the Frederick County Fire and Rescue Association for achieving over fifty years of active volunteer fire service, from 1964 to 2015.

Boller had Simmers stand for a round of applause, and awarded him with a bronze fireman trophy and a customized Graceham Volunteer Fire Company jacket.

Boller summarized Simmers and his fifty years of service and dedication by saying, “Once it’s in your blood, it’s just kind of there!”

Wrapping up the banquet, Mr. John Roth of the State Fireman’s Association performed the Installation of the Officers ceremony.


Administrative Officers: Scott Willard, President; Louis Powell Jr., Vice President; Kelly Willard, Secretary; Hilary Blake, Asst. Secretary; Sterling Seiss, Treasurer; and Jim Kilby, Asst. Treasurer.

Board of Directors: Kenneth “Doc” Simmers, Sr., Brian Boller, Sterling Seiss, George “Junebug” Morningstar, Eugene Grimes, and Eddie Woods, Jr.

Operational Officers: Chief Jim Kilby, Assistant Chief Louis Powell Jr., and Captain Scott Willard.


New operational officers, Chief Jim Kilby, Assistant Chief Louis Powell Jr., and Captain Scott Willard were given a new, donated shield for their helmets.


During the Graceham Volunteer Fire Company’s Awards Banquet, Kenneth “Doc” Simmers, Sr. (center) was awarded a bronze fireman trophy and a customized Graceham Volunteer Fire Company jacket for being recognized by the Frederick County Fire and Rescue Association for achieving over fifty years of active volunteer fire service.


In March, Kenneth “Doc” Simmers, Sr. was thrown a surprise party for his achievments over fifty years of active volunteer fire service and his recognition by the Frederick County Fire and Rescue Association.

Rev. Heath Wilson was appointed to serve at Tom’s Creek United Methodist Church (UMC) in Emmitsburg less than a year ago.  His personal journey reflects that of many in today’s materialistic society. Before he was called to ministry, he was raised in a small village in upstate New York, named Phoenix. He attended Elmira College in Elmira, New York, where he earned degrees in political science and economics. He moved to Vermont with his soon-to-be wife, where he worked for a Fortune 500 problem-solving company, followed by working with the Vermont Department of Education.  He and his wife bought a house in Middlesex, Vermont, and have one son. 

“I know the world tells us more fun, or bigger toys, more money, better homes, more beautiful bodies, or more free time are the answers to fulfillment. Life was great, but I felt I was being called to something with more purpose,” said Heath. 

He and his wife came to faith, accepted Christ, and felt they were being called into ministry. He accepted a position as a student pastor in Prince Frederick, Maryland, while both he and his wife attended Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. 

“We both graduated with Master of Divinity Degrees, and I was appointed Lead Pastor at Tom’s Creek UMC starting July 1, 2014.  Here, I am experiencing my life’s journey and inviting others to join the congregation to share and experience their own journeys.”

Tom’s Creek is the church that has property and signage along Route #140, on the way from Emmitsburg to Taneytown. The church building is actually located a little further over by taking a “journey” on Simmons Road or Tom’s Creek Church Road.

“We have people attending from four counties, over a quarter of the people attend from Pennsylvania, and we have some people who travel more than thirty minutes to get to worship every Sunday!” said Heath.

Why do people journey so far to come to their church that is surrounded by cow fields, barns, and mountain views?

“When they arrive, they find a church that welcomes them, a church that greets them, a church that accepts them no matter where they are on their journey! There are churches you can go to that have every program you could want, there are churches that you go to where they put on a ‘good show,’ there are churches you can go to where you can just blend into the woodwork, but that is not who is drawn to Tom’s Creek.”

Tom’s Creek parishioners are liberals and conservatives, horse riders and motorcycle riders, those that are well off and those struggling from paycheck to paycheck, life-long Christians and new believers, and even some who are trying to figure out what exactly they believe.

“While serving at Tom’s Creek, I have been awed by the way those who are part of our faith community welcome people who come through our church doors. Somehow, people find our church and feel embraced when they walk through the doors, knowing that we will not judge but come along side,” Heath said.

It is inspiring to notice how much of his spirit is dedicated to this church. Ironically, he has some personal journeys intertwined, including running the Frederick half marathon on May 3, to raise awareness for Latino ministries and start to reach out to the many Latinos in the area.

At Tom’s Creek during the summer, they hold open air outdoor worship services on Sunday evenings, starting July 12, at 6:00 p.m. at the Promised Land property (off of Rt. 140).

Heath noted, “While we are a smaller church, we have a big heart for wanting to connect with you on your life journey. If you are hungering for a connection with people who also have a hunger to be connected to something bigger than ourselves, if you want to explore what God has to offer you and the calling God has for your life, if you want to be fed on Christ’s love and wisdom, we are here, waiting for you to find us on your life’s journey. Come journey with us!”

 “This is a church where we share life together. This is a church where we pray for one another and our needs.  This is a church that wants to help you as we help one another on our journey. So, I wrote this article as a public service announcement for all of you that do not know that we exist, since we are not on Main Street, not next to a major highway, and are a smaller church that you could easily miss on your journey.  While we are a smaller church we have a big heart for wanting to connect with you on your life journey.  If you are hungering for a connection with people who also have a hunger to be connected to something bigger than ourselves, if you want to explore what God has to offer you and the calling God has for your life, if you want to be fed on Christ’s love and wisdom, we are here, waiting for you to find us on your life’s journey.  I am called into ministry for all those who are looking for a bigger purpose in life, who want to truly live for something worthy of the days we are given. I believe until you are connected to the true Giver of Life, you are going to be searching and continuing to feel unfulfilled. Yet, it is not easy to begin that journey, since there has been so much bad press about organized religion and churches that people don’t think the answers lie there. I know many who say churches are filled with hypocrites and it is true! We all fall short but, together, we can attempt to be greater than our individual weaknesses and together help one another to come closer to the Godly reflection we were intended for. That is something worth living for and the type of church community we are aspiring to be at Tom’s Creek.”

Rev. Wilson knows that people have had bad experiences with churches and organized religion, but he also knows that a true church family can help sustain us on our life journey. 

“I have struggled with my faith and I want to be a pastor that can meet people where they are, listen to their story, and help give them Christ-like wisdom from what I have learned on my journey and from my training. I also am open to learning from them and what they have learned along their journeys,” said Heath.

For more information, please contact Rev. Heath Wilson at 410-758-7707 or email


Rev. Heath Wilson of Toms Creek United Methodist Church in Emmitsburg is pictured leading the children in prayer.

You Asked For It

by Valerie Nusbaum

Spring is finally here! During our long, hard winter, I must have heard the phrase, “I can’t wait until spring” at least a thousand times.  As my old friend Jay would have said, “Well, here it is—spring….”  You asked for it my friends, so don’t come crying to me when you’re sick of doing yard work or when the robins and doves use your clean car as their personal bathrooms. When your allergies kick in and your back is killing you, I don’t want to hear about it.

This is a beautiful time of year.  I’ll give you that. The blooming trees and sprouting bulbs are gorgeous; their bright colors are a pleasant change from all of the white stuff we have seen. It’s comforting to know that our trees will soon be filled with leaves again—the neighbors won’t be able to look in our windows and see all the weird stuff we’re doing.

It’s not that I don’t recognize the beauty and appreciate the spring season, but, I confess, I’m one of the few people who actually likes winter.  As a menopausal woman, it’s so nice to not be hot. Granted, I don’t like freezing or having dry, itchy skin, but I do enjoy picking up a glass that isn’t sweating. When January rolls around, and the Christmas stuff is cleaned up and put away, I find it relaxing to watch the snow fall. There’s a certain peacefulness and serenity. That is, until the phone rings and my in-laws’ pipes have frozen or my mother’s oil line won’t work.

Spring always makes me tired. The aforementioned yard work is never-ending, at least until fall rolls around again. And don’t get me started on the home-improvement projects.

Randy and I are redecorating our guest room. I did my part early on in the project by going to Home Depot, picking out the paint, buying it, and bringing it home. Randy did almost all of the painting, but I helped him out a bit by painting the closet doors and two wall racks. I also went along with my hubby to pick out the new floor covering, and I offered him a cold drink while he ripped up the old carpet and disposed of it. He’s been busy installing the new floor, and we’ve both been looking for furniture options. I’m exhausted. This project has been in the planning stages for several years, but you know how it goes. Something else always comes up.

We’ve promised my mother that we’ll help remodel her kitchen; and, just the other day, I offered to help my mother-in-law clean out her attic. We’ll have to do those projects before summer gets here, because neither house is as tundra-like as ours and I don’t like to sweat.  There’s so much to do. It must be spring.

Randy doesn’t plant a vegetable garden any more, but I usually start some tomato plants from seeds, and we tend to those all spring and summer. Those darned things are so temperamental. It would be easier to go out and buy a couple of plants, but my objective here isn’t to have fresh tomatoes. It’s to keep my father’s legacy alive. Dad painstakingly bred and grafted those original tomato plants years ago, and I’ve kept them going ever since he passed away.

These days, most of the flowers at our home are perennials. I figured out that it was too much work to replant all the flower beds year after year. We’ll probably add in some impatiens since they’re pretty and not much work. Randy and I are gradually paring down our trees and shrubs, too. I’m all about making life easier. 

At least half of my spring cleaning is finished. I’ve been washing windows and curtains, wiping down walls and ceilings, cleaning light fixtures, and scouring all the nooks and crannies. We don’t have much carpet in our house, but the rugs and upholstery are getting cleaned, and the blankets and bedspreads will be changed. Turning and flipping mattresses is a job for Randy, and he reaches all the high stuff for me. The poor man never knows what he’ll find torn up when he comes home from work. Drawers and closets are being sorted and reorganized, and I’m finding stuff that I never knew we had. Things are being donated and given away left and right. Randy will do the outsides of the windows, and we’ll wash down the siding on the house and the porches and doors together. We’ve been cleaning out the basement, too. No wonder I’m so tired!

I think I’ll make some lemonade, sit on the porch, and watch the yard sales down the street. Yes, it surely is spring.

Buck Reed

The Supermarket Gourmet

On May 2, 2015, the 141st Kentucky Derby will be held in Louisville, Kentucky. As this is one of our most-celebrated Southern racing traditions, you should try and make an effort to get there—if not this year, then maybe sometime in the future. But even if you can’t make it to the actual Derby, then catch the spirit with a party. Actually, a case could be made for saying that the Kentucky Derby is a long weekend party interrupted by a two-minute race.

So what do you need for a party of this magnitude? Guests are a good place to start. Send out invitations early, and inform your guests of the dress code either formal or casual. Or, if you want authenticity, assign them either as riff-raff or dressed to the nines. And, of course, the ladies should be encouraged to show off their festive spring hats. Set the mood with some music. Download a few of the Derby traditional songs, such as “My Old Kentucky Home,” intermingled with some cool Bluegrass and Jazz, and you are pretty much set. Don’t be afraid to play it loud.

Plan a few games to help keep the mood festive up to the race. Short of actual gambling, you can have your guests pick horses to win, place, and show, and whoever comes the closest can take home a bottle of bourbon or champagne or a Derby pie. You can do the same game, but eliminate the handicapping element by having everyone draw his or her picks from a hat. You can also have the ladies enter a hat contest.

The beverage of choice for the Derby is most assuredly the Mint Julep. Pitchers of sweet tea and lemonade should also be made available. And, naturally, a champagne toast just before or right after the race is always fitting.

And then there is the food. Having a wide variety of food is always a good idea. Brunch and lunch menu items are always welcome, just concentrate on menu items you prepare ahead of time. Ham and biscuits are always a good start, and taste great served with a jam mixed with mustard on the side. Kentucky Hot Browns, open-face sandwiches with turkey, bacon, and a sliced tomato, topped with Mornay sauce, is a great tradition as well. Pickled shrimp or sliced beef tenderloin sandwiches are a good standby as well. Some black-eyed peas and Cole slaw are two side dishes that can almost transport you to Louisville. As many distinguished chefs are invited to create dishes strictly for the Kentucky Derby, traditional food for the party can be that there really is no tradition. So do not be afraid to branch out a bit and stretch your culinary muscles.

For dessert, there is Derby Pie, which is nothing more then pecan pie baked with chocolate chips and bourbon. I say “nothing more” like this dessert is no big deal, but the evil genius that came up with this dessert should be in The Confection Hall of Fame.

With so much tradition and pageantry associated with the Run for the Roses it should come as no surprise that you easily capture some for your own party.

Need a recipe or have an idea for an article? Email me at

This article includes excerpts from Karen Gardner’s article in a 1991 Frederick Post titled The History Behind the Doughboy and Joan Bittner Fry’s research in her compilation of local history titled, Did You Know? published in 2013.

A doughboy is the popular name for a World War I foot soldier. A statue commemorating the doughboy and called the Doughboy is located on West Main Street in Emmitsburg. One can’t help but feel pride and sorrow when noticing a statue that commemorates sacrifices in war. Emmitsburg’s Doughboy was created by E. M. Viquesney, a French sculptor who lived in Spencer, Indiana, to honor Veterans and casualties of World War I.  Visquesney was, perhaps, the most popular Doughboy designer. It is interesting to know that not only are there other Doughboy statues around the nation, but that Emmitsburg’s Doughboy statue has an identical twin.

In her book, Did You Know?, Joan Bittner Fry said, “…supposedly, there are seven Doughboys in Maryland. They are made of copper, bronze, granite, or marble. Emmitsburg’s Doughboy statue’s twin is located in Crisfield, Maryland. Other Doughboys in Maryland are located in Funkstown, Elkton, and Williamsport. After research, Joan could only account for five.

In her article, The History Behind the Doughboy that was published in the Frederick Post in 1991, Karen Gardner references the late T. Perry Wesley of Spencer, Indiana who set out to remind people of the importance of these doughboy statues and located 110 of them around the nation but also indicated that he believed that several hundred actually exist.

Joseph Boys, who published an article about the Emmitsburg Doughboy statue in 1981, said, ‘There’s one in practically every small town.’ The statue stands on the lawn of the Emmit House, once a hotel that frequently hosted Maryland governors, but is now an apartment house. It was erected in 1927. The Emmitsburg monument was in its heyday before World War II. Since then, other monuments at the town’s American Legion have gotten considerably more attention, Mr. Boyle said.

Emmitsburg’s Doughboy is walking between tree stumps, left boot firmly on the ground, right toe touching the ground, and the rest of the boot upraised in a marching pose. The right arm is raised, holding a hand grenade, and the left hand clutches a rifle with bayonet pointed horizontally.

Other doughboy statues are missing the tree stumps, and often have the right foot in the air, held aloft by a bar.

For more information, Joan Bittner Fry’s books of local and regional history are available by calling her at 301-241-3295 or emailing

An Honor Roll at the Emmitsburg Doughboy, * indicates killed in action:

Adelsberter, Joseph Dwen, Althoff, C. Raymond, Alvey, James McSherry, Annan, Louis L., Annan, Samuel McNair, *Bentzel, Arthur H., Barrick, Moffis, Baumgardner, Raymond, Baumgardner, Clarence, Beatty, Albert, Bishop, James Lloyd, Bowling, J. William, Brown, D. Irwin, Brown, Ward, Butler, Charles E., Byard, James A., Byard, Sidney C., Byers, Harry Bryan, Cadle, W. R., Click, Earl Norman, Cool, John, Coombs, C.C., Coyle, Edward J., Damuth, Lester, L., Coyle, Edward J., Damuth, Lester L.,  Dodd, Rev. Francis J., Duffy, William H., Eckenrode, Henry B., Jr., Eichelberger, Charles D., *Elder, Francis X., Eyler, Cleo M., Eyler, Roy, Felix, Joseph Webb, Ferguson, Russell David, Fitez, Robert Glenn, Florence, George, Florence, Vincent, Fox, Leslie, Frailey, Clarence G., Frailey, Thomas J., Frailey, William A., Galt, Sterling, Jr., Gelwicks, Albert, *Gelwicks, Charles, F., Gelwicks, Lillian, Gelwicks, Roy, Gelwicks, William R., Gillelan, Charles D., Gillelan, Rhoda H., Glacken, Joseph J., Glonneger, John R., Gruber, Charles, Hahn, Charles A., *Hahn , Martin Luther, Harbaugh, Charles E., Harbaugh, Charles L., Hartdagen, LeRoy, Harting, John Mark, Hays, James T., Hobbs, John, Hoke, Clarence, Houser, Jacob W., Kelley, Luther, Kerrigan, J. Ware, Kerrigan, Robert V., Knight, Harry, Kreitz, Allen A., Kreitz, John C., Kreitz, Joseph W., Kugler, Martin L., Kump, Charles Wm., Liday, Edgar R., Malloy Arthur, Marshall, Thomas, Martin, Maurice C., McCullough, Richard, McNair, Charles A., Miller, William, Moser, Allen E., Moser, Maurice H., Moser, Roy Jacob, Myers, Clarence, O’Donoghue, D. Allen, O’Donoghue, John A., O’Donoghue, Sidney E., Ohler, Charles F. Ohler, Glenn E., *Ohler, Vernon Ross, Ott, George L., Pittinger, Harvey, *Reifsnider, Robert B., Rauth, Carl M., Rauth, John W., Rosensteel, Allen C., Rosensteel, John H., Rowe, Charles J., *Rowe, Francis Edward, Ryder, Gerald N., *Schley, Reading J., Sanders, J. Basil, Saylor, Roy W., Schildt, Elvin R., Sebold, Felix B., Saffer, J. Albert, Sellers, Charles E., Sellers, Robert R., Seltzer, Earnest T., Seltzer, James E., Sharrer, Charles L., Sherff, William C., Shuff, Joseph, Staker, Arthur, Sterbinsky, William, Stinson, O.H., Stokes, Arthur M., Stokes, Charles K., Stokes, George H., Stone, David E., Stoner, Louis H., Topper, Benjamin M., Topper, Francis S., Topper, Joseph M., Troxell, Charles, Turner, Joseph M., Valentine, Harry E., Valentine, Robert, Wagerman, George, Walter, John W., Warthen, Henry W., Weant, Frank W., Wetzel, John S.


Emmitsburg Doughboy Statue Postcard


Elkton, MD Doughboy Statue Postcard


Funkstown, MD Doughboy Statue

Army Chaplain, Family Man, Pastor, and Artist

by Chris O’Connor

Col. Bill Hammann of Blue Ridge Summit retired in 1999 after two and a half decades in the U.S. Army, where he served as a chaplain, rising through the ranks, ministering to the spiritual needs of American patriots and their families.

His service to our nation spanned the Cold War years, continuing throughout Desert Storm and Desert Shield.  He was stationed in Germany just prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall—something he thought would never happen during his lifetime.

He was stationed at bases from Korea to Germany, as well as stateside posts, including Ft. Hood in Texas, Ft. Sill in Oklahoma, Ft. Knox in Kentucky, and the Presidio in California. 

After retirement, he returned to Pennsylvania, because he has family in Carlisle. 

Now he is in what he jokingly calls his “second retirement,” after serving as pastor at Hawley’s Memorial Presbyterian Church in Blue Ridge Summit. The decision to retire didn’t come easily, for he grew to love his congregation over a span of ten years. His family was the main driver of his difficult choice. He and his wife Lucy have a blended brood of six children and ten grandchildren, with whom they want to spend more time.

Though some might question if Bill isn’t already entrenched in a third career, for he has grown quite accomplished in the centuries-old German form of artistic expression called scherenschnitte or “scissors cutting,” brought to our shores by German immigrants who settled mostly in colonial Pennsylvania.

Sherenschnitte—in its simplest form—is most easily described as silhouettes or stencil-like patterns cut from paper. The colonists used them as a means to decorate their homes for things such as shelf liners, doilies, birth and wedding announcements, or other embellishments to enhance the home environment. The colonial style designs were more simplistic by virtue of the available tools of that time. Many sherenschnitte designs, such as heart-shaped ones, predated our modern valentines, with space left in the center for messages penned in calligraphy.

Its modern incarnation is elaborate, intricately detailed works of art depicting a limitless variety of subjects, where the artist is only limited by his or her imagination.

Bill decided to learn the art form following his retirement from the Army in 1999 at the urging of his brother, who had acquired some pieces by other artists. Bill acquired some books and dove right in. 

While many might consider patience the requisite to create such intricate pieces, Bill saw it differently and, in fact, found it relaxing and therapeutic. He had lingering back pain resulting from a Jeep rollover accident that occurred while he was still in the Army, and the pain often left him sleepless. Working on his earliest pieces were painstaking in more ways than one, helping distract him from the discomfort of his injury.

Bill is concerned that scherenschnitte is becoming a lost art. He is proud that some members of his family are continuing in the tradition. He has also held classes at Renfrew and a group at his church.

Anyone with an interest in the art form should start with simple designs and scissors, or Bill’s cutting tool of choice, an X-Acto knife. His best advice is to have an ample supply of sharp blades available.  As soon as the blade begins to pull the paper while cutting, change the blade. 

Besides the paper used for the design and knife blades, supplies are largely minimal.   

Early on, Bill used old catalogs as cutting mats. While it was a creative way to protect the tabletop, it was arguably a false economy since extra layer of catalog pages further dulled the knife blades, not to mention the wee bits of catalog paper that had to be cleaned up.

Chasing infinitesimal bits of catalog pages was something akin to herding cats, sweeping down from a pillow with a hole in it while a ceiling fan’s going, or like raking dry autumn leaves in shifting winds.

Bill is not chasing bits of old catalogs these days. He uses a so-called “self-healing” mat as a base for his paper cutting. The paper rests on its stable surface and protects both the tabletop and also lengthens the life of the cutting blade.

To enable Bill to make the extremely miniscule cuts on his most-detailed designs, he acquired an architectural lamp, a high-powered magnifying glass with a light that clamps on the side of his table and brightly illuminates his work surface.

Another technique he has recently chosen to implement in his work is “pin-pricking,” where pins of varying gauges are used to augment dimension and texture of the original design.

Having seen an extensive array of Bill Hammann’s exquisite art work, learned about his early service in gang ministry, about his striving to help dropouts before he joined the Army, his service to our military for over two decades, all followed by his  jumping back into civilian life and striving to enhance folks spiritual life yet more…I’m left wondering, “Who does all that?”

That would be Col. Bill Hammann: U.S. Army (Ret.), parent, pastor, patriot…and artist, here on the Mountain.

That would be Col. Bill Hammann: U.S. Army (Ret.), parent, pastor, patriot…and artist, here on the Mountain.

Col. Bill Hammann can be reached via email at


Bill Hammann is shown working on a silhouette scherenschnitte art piece.

Photo by Chris O’Connor



Pictured is one of Bill Harmmann’s detailed and intricate pieces of scherenschnitte art work.

Photo by Bill Hammann



A Son Becomes a Veteran


A Father Becomes A Son

by Jim Houck, Jr.

Richard Lee Fleagle (Rick) was born to Dick and Joyce Fleagle on March 3, 1960. Rick graduated from Catoctin High School in 1978. He liked to have fun and was considered a little on the wild side, while in school and out. In 1980, he enlisted in the U.S. military.

Rick went to Lackland Air Force Base for training. He had to sign up for at least 6 years in order to be trained in E.O.D. (explosive ordinance disposal) and that was what he did. Rick was sent to Charleston, South Carolina for six years and then to England for four years. He was almost assigned to “Desert Storm” but he had signed up to be an instructor and once he had done that, they didn’t want to reassign him to a hot zone because instructors are hard to get, a lot is invested in them.

Rick had aced every test that was given him. One day his C.O. told him to get his gear together because he was going to be shipped out to Operation Desert Storm. So, he went home and prepared to leave. In the meantime, a man that was on vacation who was originally supposed to go to Desert Storm returned and was sent instead of Rick. Rick got to stay put when he returned from home. When his tour in England ended, Rick was sent back to the U.S. to Indian Head, Maryland. There he stayed for nine years. He instructed E.O.D. and he loved it. Rick was sent to Kendall Air Force Base in Panama, Florida for his last two years of service because the Indian Head Base was closed down. He really liked it at Kendall when he got there. Rick did have to go to Granada when they went in to rescue the kids there. He said it was the first time and, he hoped, the last time that he was being shot at. It was the only time in his entire military career he was ever shot at.

Rick retired after twenty two years in the Air Force and went to work at a car dealership making brake shoes. It was a job he didn’t like because of working in asbestos. He was happy when he got a call from Huntsville, Alabama asking him if he would be interested in a job as instructor in E.O.D. He said he would, but wondered if they wanted to interview him. They said that normally they would, but they talked with his formal superiors who held him in very high regards. If he would like the job, he was to just show up.

Rick showed up and they put him on the books. He bought a 16 acre piece of land up there and moved his family to Alabama. Rick just loved the job and the area, but the military soon closed that base down also. He had a choice of getting out the contract or taking a job in Florida, so he moved back to Florida. Rick didn’t sell his home in Alabama when he went to the job in Florida. He bought a three bedroom trailer down there and hoped he would eventually get another job and move back to to his home in Alabama. He was working at Eglin Air Force Base in the panhandle of Florida close to Pensacola. Rick stayed at that location for three or four years and when the job ended he went back to Huntsville. His wife told him she thought he had served enough time with the military and suggested he stay at home while she worked because she had a good job. She had just gone full time, so with the salary she made and his pension, they could live comfortably. She suggested he take a break and he did. He has been ever since. Rick does take on some odd jobs now and then just for something to do.

I would now like to tell you a little bit about Rick’s father, a man that is very proud of his son.

VETERANS-column---Dick-FleaRichard W. Fleagle (Dick) was five days old when Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese, and Dick jokingly says he saw the planes go over but he couldn’t talk yet to warn anyone. On December 2, 1941 George Albert and Amelia Fleagle had a bouncing baby boy at their home and they named him Richard Warren. Dick’s parents raised him in Thurmont and sent him and his two sisters, Shirley and Georgette, to the Thurmont school system where he played sports, participated in a lot of school plays, and sang in the school glee club. He remembers one play when he played a monkey and dressed in a monkey suit. He would sit on people’s laps and jump around and he could be silly because no one knew who he was. Dick said he started getting interested in girls when he was a junior in high school and chased a variety of them. He took one of them to the prom and stayed out all night with her. He said he won a door prize at the prom and when he opened the  package it was a large bottle of hair tonic. Dick thought it was to slick his hair down, but when he used it, his hair fell out and he was bald by age twenty-two. So, now we know the rest of that story.

Dick graduated from Thurmont High School in 1959 and he also got married in 1959 to Miss Joyce Humerick. They just celebrated being married for fifty-five years. Dick was working for Biser’s Painting at the time and Joyce was pregnant. When she told Dick it was time to go to hospital, he called his boss and told him he might not be to work in the morning. His boss said they were calling for snow that night and to be careful. They got to the hospital and around ten o’clock, looked out the window around eleven o’clock and there were about four inches of snow on the ground, and it was still coming down. The nurses told Dick they couldn’t believe he was so calm because Joyce was in there getting ready to have a baby. He told them he knew that and he was just tickled to death. The nurse asked if he was nervous or anything, and Dick asked her if he needed to be nervous. When  she said no, not really, Dick said well then leave me alone then.

Finally, at two twenty two in the morning, baby Richard L. arrived. The nurse said Joyce would be out of it for the rest of the night and the baby was fine and everything was fine so he had better try to make it home. Dick made it home and the next morning he went to work in about eight inches of snow. Back then, if you could make it to work, you went to work. When Dick got to the paint shop, his boss asked him how everything went and he told his boss it went well and he explained everything to him. His boss said they needed to go to Frederick to make sure the paint crew got home before the blizzard became any worse.

They had problems going to Frederick because the main road was closed, so they tried to take the back road and had to be towed out of a ditch by a farmer. When they got to Frederick, they had to spend the night at his boss’s Aunt’s house. Dick ended up being stranded in Frederick while Joyce was at the Gettysburg Hospital with Rick.

Dick called Joyce and explained to her what happened and she was understanding. Dick was able to get to Gettysburg the next day.

Their daughter Susie came along in January 1962 with less excitement. Dick and Joyce have six grandchildren and eleven great grandchildren, and they just love them to pieces. Dick was with Bisers Painting full-time for three years and then went to work at Thurmont Shoe Factory full-time and Bisers part-time for three years. Dick went to work for Lehiegh Corp. in Woodsboro when he left Thurmont Shoe Co. and stayed for forty-three years until he retired.

Dick spent a lot of time traveling  to visit with his son. He and Joyce went to visit him while he was in England and numerous times while he was stationed at various bases, especially while he was in Alabama and Florida. Dick is just bursting with pride for his son, Rick, and because of Rick, he is able to be a member at various veteran organizations. Dick loves belonging to, and helping in all aspects of the Sons of AMVETS. He is especially proud that he was asked to belong to AMVETS Post 7 Honor Guard. Dick is Chaplain for the Department of Maryland Sons of AMVETS, 1st Vice Commander of Sons of AMVETS Squadron 7 Thurmont, Chaplain for Sons of the American Legion Squadron 121 Emmitsburg, and Men’s Auxiliary VFW Post 6658 Emmitsburg.

God Bless the United States of America, God Bless Our Veterans, and God Bless You.

Nala-2A Survivor, A Best Friend, A Blessing

by Michele Tester

One lucky dog. That’s what would come to your mind if you saw Nala with her owner, Pam Ryan of Thurmont. The heartfelt connection and the happiness emanating between animal and human is unmistakable. But to say that Nala was the only lucky one in this story would be a definite understatement. The truth be told, Nala saved Pam just as much as Pam saved Nala.

Pam adopted Nala, a Rottweiler Mix, from an animal shelter seven years ago; Nala was five years old. She was one of the favorites at the shelter, but she had been there several months and they couldn’t seem to find her a home. Pam was told that black dogs seem to be more overlooked, along with the fact that Nala was five years old. People want to adopt puppies or younger dogs and, unfortunately, some unfair stereotypes have been associated with the Rottweiler breed. Pam arrived at the shelter that day and saw that Nala was featured as the “doggie of the day.” On that particular day, the staff had Nala out front in the lobby area—so people would see her immediately when they walked in—trying to find her a home. Pam stopped and petted Nala on the way in, and then went into the back to look at all the dogs. 

“I came back out front and then read her story,” Pam said. “It was so very heartbreaking reading about what had happened to her.”

The person who had brought Nala in and dumped her at the shelter had duct taped her mouth closed and beat her very badly. She still had the residue from the duct tape around her mouth. Her previous owner had pulled the duct tape off, taking all her whiskers with it.

“She looked so sad, and I felt her spirit had been broken,” said Pam. Pam found out later that Nala’s previous owner had also fractured her ribs from the beatings.

“I looked at her and began to pet her again, and then she licked my hand…that’s all it took. I adopted her that day,” said Pam.

The staff was so happy that Nala had found a forever home, as she was a wonderful dog who had been badly treated.

Nala had a difficult time at first, acclimating into her new home. She would hang her head as she walked, and when Pam would take her for a ride in her car, she wouldn’t want to get back out of the car when she returned home. Pam believed it was because she was afraid of getting dumped somewhere again. She cowered at everything. If water dripped on the floor from her water bowl, and Pam went to wipe it up, Nala would immediately lay down on the floor and cower, terrified she did something wrong.

Yet, even under the dire circumstances from where she came, Nala’s spirit could not entirely be broken. With Pam’s love, guidance, praise, and unending patience, Nala is today a loving, gentle, secure, and happy dog. You might find her out front with Pam, lounging in the grass, taking in her neighborhood and greeting the neighbors as they walk by, or you may see her walking in her favorite park, Thurmont Community Park. She is obedient and loyal to a fault. When you see Pam, you see Nala. Does she still suffer from certain insecurities resulting from her early dreadful years? Yes. But she knows that she is well cared for and that she is genuinely and truly loved.

Pam expressed that she has had many dogs over the years, but Nala is one of the most loving and giving dogs she has ever had. Pam feels so blessed to have seen Nala that day at the shelter, and is forever grateful that she adopted her. She has been a huge part of Pam’s life.

 “I feel that I not only saved her life, but she saved mine. A few months after I adopted Nala, I lost my very best friend—my mom. I feel that Nala and I were meant to be together, and the timing of her coming into my life couldn’t be more profound, like a guardian angel. I gave her the love she deserved, and her love and companionship helped me get through a very sad time. Nala is truly a very special dog.”

If you’re looking for a “new best friend,” consider adopting an animal from a shelter. There is no better feeling than rescuing an animal and giving them the love and life they deserve. You may think you’re saving them, when you may be surprised what they bring to your life.

christine-macabeeGardening for Wildlife

Christine Schoene Maccabee

On just one occasion, I had the pleasure of witnessing the profound beauty of hundreds of Monarch butterflies on their migratory path to Mexico. It was the first September of my new life here in the Catoctins, and my unmowed fields were bursting with flowering goldenrod. The goldenrod, being as it is a critical late season source of nectar and pollen for butterflies and bees, served as a magnet to hundreds—perhaps thousands—of Monarchs that year in my field. It was a sight to stir the heart, orange-winged beauties flitting gracefully from flower to flower, the entire meadow in motion. It was a living body of pulsating color.

For two days, the butterflies stayed and fed. I remember looking out every morning to see them, but by the third morning, they were gone. The valley seemed strangely empty, too still, and I felt a loss, a sadness, though I was satisfied that they were well fed, fueled up, so to speak, for their long journey south. Since then, I have not seen so many at one time, though every summer lone individuals come and go, some feeding and leaving eggs on my milkweed leaves. I have read since then that Monarchs are mostly loners, only congregating at certain ideal places to feed and perhaps mate. Still, I worry.

By now, everyone knows or should know about the problem with extreme habitat loss for the Monarch butterfly. Children are learning about it in school, and I have seen innumerable articles about it in newspapers and magazines. National Wildlife Federation magazine’s April issue covered both the problems of and the solutions to the imperiled Monarch Migration. Most damaging have been  invasive logging in Mexico, where Monarch’s winter over, and the massive conversion of precious grasslands into monocultures of corn and soybeans in the heartland of our country. Then there is  the overuse of herbicides, which are used widely by farmers  to kill off native plants that all butterflies, and bees,  require for food and/or egg laying.

As we all know, information is critical to solving problems. Now that we understand how and why our natural areas are becoming devastated, we can all begin to do something to remedy the situation. Anyone who has even the slightest amount of yard space can begin gardening for wildlife this spring. Gardening is one way to get the kids out of the house, and our hands in the dirt. After all, humans are part of the wild world, too! It is very rejuvenating, and I believe it is a basic need, even for those who say they don’t have a green thumb.

When I think of all the homeowners in this area who would much prefer not to mow their lawns every weekend, to them I say  “Plant wildflowers!” Backyard, and even front yard gardeners, are our heroes of today. Trees are great, and important, too; however, food for our bees and butterflies, even moths, is critical if we are to have a healthy planet. I have seen the loss of large moth populations in our county due to pesticide use, and I am greatly saddened to no longer see any more large, magnificent ones such as Cecropias or Lunas. If you happen to see one, please let me know.

When I first moved here to my eleven-plus acres in the Catoctins, I already had a vast interest in all things wild, particularly native plants. So, when a large garden area was plowed up, there was no mulching or pulling of weeds that first year. Instead, I let things come back and began to investigate, and discriminate. Much to my surprise, the 200-year-old hay field was full of seeds, simply waiting for someone to recognize them. I now have areas of wild aster (four varieties), milkweed in many places (critical habitat for the Monarch), clovers of many varieties (which the bees thrive on), jewel weed, teasel, wine berries galore, several varieties of goldenrod (which is not the dreaded pollen producer that some have wrongly accused), St. John’s Wort, violets, and so on. I also have many wild edibles and medicinals, which I use for teas and for eating. None of these are store bought, but simply waiting for my discerning eye to discover.

So I say, “Get curious!” and get a good identification book. Children are naturally curious, so dig up some yard and begin to examine what’s there. However, many people do not have the time or interest for this approach, so another way to grow native plants is to buy them at one of the many nurseries, which are now selling more and more native plants. I have seen many yards transformed into what I call an oasis of goodness, with flowers and vegetables, integrated in practical, even artistic ways.

Here’s a small list of native plants good for pollinators: coneflowers, bee balm or wild Bergamot, goldenrod, Joe-Pye weed, butterfly weed (orange flowers), red or white clovers, sunflowers, wild evening primrose, lilies, wild phlox, dandelions, and many others, including certain shrubs and trees.

I always say, if there is only one thing I do in my lifetime for the Good, it will be to grow and preserve habitat for wildlife on my eleven-plus acres. You can do the same no matter how much or how little land you have! Every little bit helps. All the information you need is out there; so, this spring, have a wild adventure and explore the potential in your soil.

For more information on how to get a wildflower garden going or to identify plants for you, call Christine at 301-271-2307 or write her at