THIS IS SURRATTS FOUNDATION E-NOTICE 2005-12 OF DECEMBER 3, 2005
Here are some items that might be of interest.
1. ALUMNI/STAFF DIRECTORY AND 2K5 PHOTO BOOK UPDATES. I'm happy to report that, thanks to the tireless and herculean efforts of our Directory Coordinator, Leslie St. Clair (70), the 2005 Edition of the Alumni/Staff Directory is heading toward completion. Similarly, thanks to similarly tireless and herculean efforts of our Photo Book Coordinator, Gill Thompson Harry (71), the Photo Book for the June 2005 events also is headed for the finish line. We'll keep you posted with developments in future e-Notices.
2. NEWS FROM THE SCHOOL. I received this email from Surratts PTSA President (and Surrattstock II performer!), Patricia Smith-Brim: "Hi Henry: A little news on SHS: the school website has been completely redesigned. Check it out at www.pgcps.org/~surratts. Also, here's a link to a front page article on our own music department under the direction of Mrs. Valerie C. Dent: http://www.gazette.net/stories/102705/largnew191326_31900.shtml. And to close it all out I've attached some photos from the 2005 Homecoming Parade. Patricia " (Those photos are now on the web site at www.surrattsville.org.)
3. MORE ON THE RE-NAMING CONTROVERSY. I received this email from Tom Shultz (71) (whose recent conjoinment was the subject of an item in last month's e-Notice): "Hi Henry: In light of this whole Surratts renaming issue -- in my opinion, another misguided attempt at revisionist history -- I meant to pass along reference to a book I read last summer when it came out. The extremely thorough history retelling the Lincoln assassination is entitled "American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies" by Michael W. Kauffman, published by Random House.
The author, who resides in Southern Maryland, apparently is considered by many the leading authority on the subject now, and even conducts bus tours to retrace Booth's escape route. What is unique about his book is the computer database method Mr. Kauffman created: "The event-based system I devised was far different from the statistical models used by most historians, and it may actually be unique in the way it applies technology to the study of historical developments. Most important, it works. It brought to the fore new relationships among the plotters, unnoticed patterns in Booth's behavior, and a fresh significance to events I once considered unimportant. All this has given me a clearer picture of the Booth conspiracy -- including events no writer had previously noticed. . . . I got a sense of how much work and money went into the plot. I noticed how carefully choreographed the scheme really was. But most surprising of all, I learned how Booth managed to organize and run a dangerous plot -- undetected -- in the face of unprecedented government paranoia."
I believe those as interested in this monumental event in American history as I am will find this a fascinating read. Tom"
4. ROLLER HOCKEY COMES TO WALDORF. I received this interesting news release from Nila Toribio Straka (68) about an upcoming series of events at the Capital Clubhouse facility operated by her and her husband Joe Straka (former faculty): "Major league Roller Hockey announced today that the DC Mad Dogs will play their 2005-06 MLRH Super League games at the Capital Clubhouse in Waldorf, MD. The Mad Dogs opened their 2005-06 season Saturday night, November 5 against the Carolina Knights. Super league teams from Boston to Atlanta will play a 14-game schedule from November through early March. This state- of-the-art, 90,000 square foot Ice and Sports facility in Waldorf, Maryland represents a huge upgrade for the Dogs who have suffered over the years with sub-standard home arenas. "In making the announcement, MLRH President Bill Raue said, "This is great news for the Dogs in that they now have a facility that will allow them to professionally present their games with a program that is committed to building the sport of roller hockey. They can probably accommodate 1,500 fans in that building and they have locker rooms that are worthy of the NHL". For information, contact email@example.com or call 703-535-5995 or 301-932-4348."
[Now there's a major league sport this Editor has never even heard of! Apparently, there's also a youth league connected with MLRH that might be of interest to some families in Southern MD.]
5. 2005 ANNUAL CAMPAIGN CONTINUES. The Foundation's informal annual campaign continues this month. As in the past, we expect to use the funds raised during the annual campaign to replenish the Foundation's scholarship funds and to be used for other Foundation projects. Please consider making a contribution to this most worthy of causes. (A donor form is reprinted below and is available on the web site at www.surrattsville.org.)
6. SOUTHERN MD MUSIC LEGEND DIES. Link Wray, a true Southern Maryland music legend who inspired many Surrattsville musicians (including a number of Surrattstock I and II performers), died recently. Greg Laxton (80), who maintains a web site dedicated to Link (www.WraysShack3Tracks.com), and several other Hornets, reported this news to me. Greg was interviewed for a 10-minute BBC "Up All Night" segment about Link's death. Dana Shifflett (70) reported that NPR also did a tribute to Link on "All Things Considered", and seems to remember going to school with Vernon Wray, Jr., perhaps Link's nephew. Neal Dawson (73) reminded me that Link is the featured cover photo of Mark Opsasnick's "Capitol Rock", a great book about the history of rock music in the D.C.. area that mentions Surrattsville and many Surratts musicians. Link is often mentioned along with Danny Gatton and Roy Buchanan as one of three extremely talented Southern MD guitarist to reach international prominence.
7. MORE SWEET MEMORIES FROM THE PAST. I encouraged John Curry (60) to share some additional memories of his days in Clinton, and he responded with the following cute stories: "Dear Henry: Here are some additional recollections from my past in Clinton, MD. You can pass them along if they are of interest. I liked the notes from former classmates concerning the proposed name change of Surrattsville School. My only comment is "Right on! John"
"The Good Old Days!
I have written some additional events from my life while living in Clinton, MD. While they do not directly relate to Surrattsville School they portray a simpler time. I lived there from 1952 until graduation from the New Surratts H.S. in 1960. I resided with the Romjue family because of Agnes Romjues kind heart. She and her family welcomed me into their lives. As I stated earlier in another list of personal recollections we must suffer through some good, bad examples in order to make better decisions later in life. Believe me when I say that I have an abundance of wonderful examples. Some of them are noted here.
The 53 Chevy
My high school sidekick drove a two-tone green 53 Chevy coupe. It was a nice clean car but its most redeeming quality was the air horns under the hood. These babies were bona fide truck air horns complete with an air compressor in the trunk. To say that they were loud is a gross understatement because they were abusive even to the occupants of the car. One day we were driving through DC traffic, which was an adventure even in my era. Sure enough some taxi driver pulls out from the curb in great haste cutting us off and we barely missed having an accident. Well, a challenge like that demands an immediate response so we pulled up behind the offending taxi and tooted the horn. Im sure that the taxi driver and anyone else in the vicinity thought that a freight train was bearing down on them. The taxi then took a turn for the worst and ended up on a small concrete platform normally reserved for people waiting for a bus. I know that the taxi had a fare because I saw him bouncing around in the back seat as they mounted the platform. There sat the taxi and its occupants watching a small two-tone green 53 Chevy coupe pass by. What a hoot!
Mothers Day Present
After church service one Mothers Day we captured a hog nosed snake that was sunning itself under the church hall. This reptile has the peculiar habit of playing opossum when cornered. If it cannot escape capture it turns over on its back and plays dead. There is a serious flaw in this action because if you turn it right side up it promptly turns over on its back again. Hey, if youre dead you cant do that! We played with this foot long snake for some time delighting in watching it try to convince us that it was in fact dead. Someone suggested that we give the snake to my friends mom, Agnes, because she liked animals. We placed the critter in a cardboard box and went home carrying our gift. We offered the present to Agnes who took one look at the box and said No thanks, you guys are trying to pull something on me. We responded that the gift was in a cardboard box because that was the only container we could get, which was the truth. She now had second thoughts, maybe a little guilty and opened the box. Well, there was our present all coiled up and laying peacefully on its back. Agnes screamed, tossed the box and its occupant across the room, leaving the room in great haste. We collected our present and the box, went outside to release the snake into its new environment. I am sure the snake wished that he were still back at church. Agnes never let us forget the snake episode and was very cautious of boys bearing gifts.
The Branch Drive-In Theater
We did not have much money so entertainment was where you found it. One attractive option was going to the movies but the problem still existed of finding transportation, admission costs and food. The Branch Drive-In Theater was a perfect opportunity. We would find a friend who could borrow the family car and several guys would pile in and head out for the show. On a number of occasions we would lay on the floor of a station wagon covered with a blanket or hide in the trunk of a car. Any of these methods would work but the theater staff eyed us when only one person was a paying customer. Another method of alternate theater admissions was needed. So under the cover of darkness the car was pulled over to the side of the road next to the theater and everyone except for the driver jumped out. We scurried across Branch Ave. and into the woods by the theater entrance to meet by the playground at the base of the screen. This was our predetermined meeting point after the driver entered and parked the car. Now at least we had a little community money left over for buying some treats. One particular evening someone suggested that we go over and investigate the watermelon patch that was supposed to be in the area. We would be able to select one or two melons for our enjoyment and it would not cost us anything. I said that I did not want any warm melons and was immediately dubbed a fraddy cat because the mission was almost more important than securing the melons. I continued to sit on the playground equipment watching the movie while my intrepid friends disappeared off into the woods searching for treasures. A short time later there were two very loud blasts coming from the general direction of the supposed melon patch. Several minutes later my friends came running out of the woods looking very shaken and quite out of breathe. Apparently the melon patch was common knowledge in that area and was a regular stop among young moviegoers. Someone took exception to this free enterprise and fired a couple of shotgun blasts to deter any further sampling of his crop. Say, if he wants his melons that bad, he can just keep them!
The New Mink Jacket
One Christmas season stands out in my mind not because of any religious celebration but from faulty logic on my part. We were setting up the family Christmas tree and during that time Gene came home with his girl friend who was wearing a present from her parents, a new mink jacket. She removed the jacket for all to see and admire. The jacket was then placed neatly on the back of a couch directly across from the undecorated tree. Our plan was to flock the tree and then add the remaining decorations. Flocking, for anyone unfamiliar with the process, was a sticky white substance that resembled snow when sprayed from an aerosol can. When dried on the branches of an evergreen tree it takes on a very pleasant appearance and adds to the other ornaments. I was to apply the flocking but the can was defective in some manner because no matter how furiously I shook it nothing came out of the nozzle. After pondering the situation for some time I decided on a simple solution, puncture the can. While everyone was enjoying some seasonal refreshments I went into the kitchen, retrieved an ice pick and returned to the still bare tree. I then held the aerosol can up in the air, pointed towards the tree and stabbed it with one clean swift motion. It was apparent that I did not understand the dynamics of an aerosol can and its contents under pressure. Flocking material did come out of the can even before I could extract the ice pick but it seemed to fly in all directions at once. One of these directions was the couch and of course the new mink jacket. As the pressure in the aerosol can diminished the pressure is the room elevated as everyone looked with horror at the mink jacket now speckled with white flocking. I think that this is a good example of lifes awkward moments! Gene was livid, his girl friend was in tears and the remaining critics were full of denouncements and acrimony. All this grief was now handed to me well after the fact. Where were they and all this good advice before I punctured the can? I stood there looking at a small disaster but a well-flocked tree. Im sure that I muttered some feeble apology but it did not sooth their anger and unseasonable hostility considering that it was after all, a Christmas tree! After several anguishing minutes I discovered that the dried flocking material could be harmlessly brushed away. Now our attention turned to removing the white stuff from the mink jacket and all seemed in order once again. One does learn from life experiences and I heartily recommend that no one ever puncture an aerosol can regardless of the contents and especially in the vicinity of a new mink jacket. Some time later, after all the excitement had subsided with the retelling of my folly, I reflected on my misadventure and thought Hey, who decided that I should help decorate the tree anyway?
The New Branch Avenue
Gene Romjue and I were out on some evening excursion in the family 1950 Plymouth Station wagon. We noticed that the New Branch Avenue looked complete and decided to give it a test drive. Gene, the driver, swerved between some barricades, turned off our headlights and we were now flying down the new highway watching all the traffic on old Branch Avenue as we whizzed by. It was great to have our own thruway until we reached an open area and I felt a little uneasy so I asked Gene to turn on the headlights. He grumbled a little but reluctantly turned them on. At that instant we saw what looked like a rope stretched across the road. As we rapidly approached this object we discovered that it was the top portion of a buried corrugated metal pipe stretched across the road curb to curb and the pavement ended there. No sooner had this information registered in our pea-sized brains than we ran off the pavement, struck the pipe and Im sure that the old Plymouth was now airborne. Our front bumped struck the gravel roadbed, we bounced around like the dummies that we were because this was before seatbelts, and a sheet of dirt and gravel engulfed the vehicle. After it stopped we both jumped out to discover that the Plymouth was covered with dirt and rock and the front bumper was bent up at a slight angle. We took a blanket from the back seat and cleaned off the dirt as best we could. We then drove home on Old Branch Avenue thankful that another self induced disaster had been averted.
Ernest the Neighbor
Gene and I were experimenting with firecrackers; actually they were cherry bombs and M-80s, which are firecrackers on steroids. It was great sport to drop them in buckets of water or launch large rocks from hollow tubes. Some time during our pyrotechnics work we saw our neighbors, Ernest and his wife, coming over to visit. Ernest was a stern old guy with big gray, bushy eyebrows who had one major fault; he would not let us ride his horses. As a matter of fact we were not even allowed in his pasture. We went up to the house and saw them sitting in our large country kitchen enjoying some refreshments. Ernest sat crossed legged with his back to the window and a cup of coffee resting on his knee. We decided to get even with Ernest for all slights, real and imagined. A very large firecracker was lit and rolled into the kitchen. No one saw or heard it as it rolled across the floor. Now, these things were not that loud outside when exploded in a bucket of water but in an enclosed location like the kitchen was another matter. After a very loud BANG we looked in the window to see three very surprised people, Ernest, his wife and Genes mom. Ernest still had the cup resting on his knee but the contents were all over the kitchen including the ceiling, walls, cabinets and of course the floor. The all time best sight was Ernest sitting there doing a slow burn with droplets of coffee on his bushy eyebrows. He then put the cup down, grabbed his wife by the arm and exited without saying a word. We sat on the porch and laughed so hard until Genes mom saw us and through a fit. I think that this episode with his mom could be called a conniption and believe me you dont want to every witness one. We had to wash the entire kitchen as a result but it was worth it to see Ernest wear his coffee. Gene and I could not look at each other without laughing while cleaning the kitchen. What a blast!"
[Editor's Note: Don't try these at home!]
I hope this e-Notice finds you well and enjoying crisp, invigorating weather!
Henry Smith (71), firstname.lastname@example.org
JOHN LLOYD GIBBONS (71), a great supporter of Class of 71 activities since his sophomore year, and a great supporter of the Foundation, died on October 18, 2005. His family has requested that donations be made to an animal rescue shelter of the donor's choice.
DOROTHY GLEISBERG, mother of Elizabeth Gleisberg May, died recently. Dorothy is remembered at a lovely web site at http://www.dorothygleisbergmemorial.com/index.html.
MANY THANKS TO THESE 2005 ANNUAL CAMPAIGN DONORS!
Steve Profilet (71)
Bill Harris (71)
Donna Rae Sturtevant Smith (70)
Henry Smith (71)
Teri Pepper Dimsey (77)
Pat Becker Oles (71)
Charles Perrygo (71), In Memory of Steve Kurtz (71)
Sandy Evans Lyon (66), For the Oral History Project
Norm Carmichael (65)
Linda Dorsey Blum (66)
Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. (60)
Nancy Oursler Maynard (65)
Janet Goddard Sullivan (54)
Ellen Talbert-Miller (61 and Faculty)
Margaret Harris (Faculty)
Patrick McMenamin (71)
Helen Bovbjerg Niedung (54)
Ginger Trapanotto (64)
Susan Stephenson Szymanski (66), In Memory of Ted Stephenson (69)
Coach Lew Jenkins (Faculty)
Anne Noyes (Faculty)
Mike Gifford (84)
Vicky (Simontacchi) Young (57)
Denise Hope (72)
Florence Blume Middleton (55)
Anonymous, In Memory of Col. F. R. O'Clair
Dan Bayne (71)
Michelle Wilson Block (68), In Memory of Danny Vaughan (68)
Richard Neilan (82), In Memory of Charlie Waddell
Vicky Simontacchi Young (57), In Memory of Carole Townsend Day (58)
Brenda Karnes (Faculty), In Memory of Col. Joe O'Clair, Parent Booster Extraordinaire
Charlie Stinger Cooper (52), For the Ron Mortimer Memorial Music Dept. Fund
Charles Sellner (52), For the Ron Mortimer Memorial Music Dept. Fund
Betty Ziegler Anderson (52), For the Ron Mortimer Memorial Music Dept. Fund
Malcolm Graham (52), For the Ron Mortimer Memorial Music Dept. Fund
Glen Pyles (52), For the Ron Mortimer Memorial Music Dept. Fund
Joan Seaman Wilson (52), For the Ron Mortimer Memorial Music Dept. Fund
Sam Wood (52), For the Ron Mortimer Memorial Music Dept. Fund
Darda Heal (52), For the Ron Mortimer Memorial Music Dept. Fund
Ann Russell Theunissen (52), For the Ron Mortimer Memorial Music Dept. Fund
Martha Weirich McNeill (52), For the Ron Mortimer Memorial Music Dept. Fund
June Burgess Readen (52), For the Ron Mortimer Memorial Music Dept. Fund
Janet England McFarland (52), For the Ron Mortimer Memorial Music Dept. Fund
Ellen Mowry Wright (52), For the Ron Mortimer Memorial Music Dept. Fund
James Ripple (52), For the Ron Mortimer Memorial Music Dept. Fund
Karl McKinney (52), For the Ron Mortimer Memorial Music Dept. Fund
Diana Hermann Wolff (52), For the Ron Mortimer Memorial Music Dept. Fund
Shirley Amman Eppard (52), For the Ron Mortimer Memorial Music Dept. Fund