THIS IS SURRATTS FOUNDATION
E-NOTICE 2009-11 OF NOVEMBER 1, 2009
Here are some items that might be of
1. REDSKINS SURRATTS PROJECT TO BE
CELEBRATED. As we reported in a previous e-Notice, the
Washington Redskins' Fields for Tomorrow program, which renovates,
upgrades, and maintains football fields at high schools in
Washington, D.C. and Prince George's County, has adopted the
Surrattsville field as its latest project.
On November 3, at
1 p.m., the Hornets and the Redskins will hold an event, at the
School, to celebrate this new partnership. The event will be held
on the football field (or in the gym in case of inclement weather).
We're hoping that many of our readers will be able to turn out to
help show Surrattsville's appreciation for this very generous
gesture by the Redskins.
2. SEEKING INFO ON
INSPIRATIONAL FACULTY MEMBER. We received this great email
about yet another very inspiration Surratts faculty member from
Becky Hurd Clary (77): "Henry: I had a wonderful typing/shorthand
teacher, Ms. Gloria Allen, during my junior and senior years at
Surrattsville. She left school mid-year in �77 and never returned.
As an adult, I can only assume that she fell ill with cancer or
something like that and back then we didn�t advertise such private
issues to students. She was my inspiration in school and in my
career, and I�ve always wondered what happened to Ms. Allen. We had
a great time in her classes - she was the bomb! She made us work
so hard, with such impeccable accuracy in our work. We used to go
have pizza for class parties when we were especially well behaved.
Any updates or closure to this story would be greatly appreciated.
It�s amazing how one teacher can touch a less than stellar student
and make such a difference. I would love to thank her or her
children for the impact she made on my life. Sincerely, Becky"
If you have any info on Ms. Allen, please send Becky an email at
[Ed. Note: Thanks to all of you who have sent in memories of
inspiration Surratts teachers and staffers. Naturally, we'd love to
continue to receive items about that long history of inspirational
3. ... AND ANOTHER GREAT FACULTY
STORY. Former Surratts math teacher John Riedesel informed
us that John Gruber, Vice Principal at Surrattsville during the
1960s, died this past August. He had been living in Arizona in his
retirement. Earlier in his career, Mr. Gruber taught science at
Maryland Park Junior High. John also was kind enough to share this
great memory that he prepared for a writing class about how Mr.
Gruber figured in the kick-off of John's teaching career.
Gift from Heaven: "Riedesel, you�re the only one of my students who
doesn�t have a job yet. Go out and get a job!� Helen Garstens, my
Math Education advisor at the University of Maryland, was none too
happy with me in the spring of 1960. Of her dozen soon-to-graduate,
prospective high school math teachers, I was the only one with no
teaching position lined up.
I knew I wanted to teach in
Prince George�s County, but I wasn�t sure how to proceed. Even
though I was 22 years old, I�d never gone through the job
application process before. All my previous summer and part time
jobs had been secured through friends.
I did what seemed
logical: I called the Board of Education personnel office, explained
that I was a newly graduating certified teacher, and asked what
schools in the county needed math teachers. The person I spoke with
must have been na�ve as I was; she gave me the names of two schools
that were seeking math teachers. I thanked her and hung up. One
school was a junior high, and I didn�t want that; so I hopped in my
car and drove to the other one--Surrattsville High School in
�John Riedesel. What in the world are you
doing here?� The man who greeted me in such surprise as I entered
the building was John Gruber. He had been my eighth grade science
teacher in another school, and had since become Vice Principal at
Surrattsville. Our relationship in school had been a good one, but
we hadn�t seen one another for several years.
explained, �I�m graduating from Maryland U. this year in Math
Education and I�m looking for a job. I heard you had an opening
here.� Acting as if a gift had just dropped to him from Heaven, he
put his arm around my shoulder and said, �Let�s go talk to Mr.
We went into the office, where I met the Principal,
John Pryde. Five minutes later I had the job which launched a
career and calling that lasted 32 years. I think there may be some
truth to the saying, �It�s not what you know, it�s who you know.�
4. ANOTHER FACEBOOK RE-CONNECTION STORY. As
we've previously reported, the "Surrattsville Alumni" group on
Facebook (found at
is serving as a great re-connection facilitator for members of the
Surratts community. Here's the latest report we've received from
"Hi Henry: Regarding Facebook re-connections:
Becky Bowers Edwards and I (both 71) reconnected through Facebook
and realized we live two hours away from each other. So, on a
recent Saturday I drove one hour Southwest and she drove one hour
Northeast and we met in the middle, at an Applebee's restaurant, to
have lunch and go over old yearbooks, scrapbooks, and photo albums,
talk about the boys from high school, and catch up with each
other. I can now say that the Surrattsville Alumni car decal has
traveled as far South as Plant City, Florida. Can anyone out there
top that? Pat Becker Oles"
[Ed Note: We'd love to continue
to receive those Facebook re-connection stories (even if references
therein make certain boys from the Class of 71 nervous!). And we'd
also love to receive those alumni decal spotting/travel stories.
Plant City, FL is definitely the current distance winner on the
latter. Note that those alumni decals can be ordered through the
web site at
5. BOOMERANGS AVAILABLE.
The Foundation has a limited supply of yearbooks from 1991, 1999,
2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006. If you'd like one of these yearbooks
(which are available for $15 including shipping and handling),
please send me an email to
6. ... AND YEARBOOKS SOUGHT.
firstname.lastname@example.org, is looking for yearbooks from
1995,1996,199, and 1998. Please send her an email if you have any
ideas on how they might be located.
7. MORE MEMORIES
OF SOUTHERN MARYLAND. Here's another memory-provoking
edition of Shelby Lee Oppermann (79)'s regular column for the St.
Mary's County Times:
"Memories of Golden Beach.
Wonderful, golden, carefree memories flood my mind when I think of
Golden Beach in Charlotte Hall. Days of walking a maze of
tree-lined streets with very few houses, trying to find one of the
three beaches. It was so exciting to make that 45 minute drive with
my Father. I would put our hot dogs, buns, catsup, cans of coke,
and a can of pork and beans in the green metal cooler. Daddy would
bring out the also green two burner propane stove to check it. Then
place it and some folding nylon webbed chairs and the rusted little
three-legged round metal table with the big 70�s flower painted on
it in the 30 foot long green Plymouth Fury, and off we would go.
Sometimes we would make a stop in Waldorf at what Daddy called
�Hoochville�, and our only other stop would be at the funny shaped
red carry-out on the corner of Rt. 5 and Golden Beach Rd for little
extras, or the days we would just buy our hot dogs there. It�s on
the opposite corner from Fred�s Liquors. If anyone remembers the
name please let me know, I�ve wondered for years.
would make our turn, I would start to get excited. In Clinton,
where I grew up there is no water, unless you count the man-made
lake at Cosca Park, and that might not have been made yet at this
time, so this was a big-deal. After driving down all the twists and
turns on Golden Beach Road for what seemed like forever to a child
in the big green boat, all of a sudden you would come around a
slight bend and come over a rise. Just as we would hit the crest I
would gasp because all you see was water. Most of the time Daddy
would stop on the shoulder for me so I could just soak it all in. I
don�t know if he had to do this for my two older brothers, Bobby and
Billy and my Mother, years before. But, for me it was great. I get
that same feeling driving into Chesapeake Beach.
then find Dockser Drive and our little bit of heaven. My parents
bought the property in the mid 50�s, but never could afford to put a
house on it. By the time they could, other homes had gone up around
them, and it wouldn�t perk. So over the years, my brothers before
me, and then me put in a series of trails through the property.
Daddy didn�t do much of that, he just liked to get �camp� set up and
sit in his chair and read. He was the original laid-back man. I
would get a coke out of the cooler, noticing immediately that
Schlitz cans had magically appeared, and would set off on a great
I would take a different road each time and visit
with whomever happened to be in their yard or whatever dog was
wandering around. It was great fun figuring out new ways to get to
any of the beaches. I loved being alone and could entertain myself
at the beach for quite awhile looking at crabs that washed ashore
and poking at gooey jellyfish.
On the different streets there
were all sorts of fascinating things to find as well. One man told
me about a graveyard right off the main road, and I went to explore
there � that must have been the bad case of poison ivy time. I
found an abandoned house, that stayed abandoned for a couple of
years where the toilet flushed. How long is the statute of
limitations on trespassing. It wasn�t breaking and entering, the
door was open. After a bit I would come back to �camp� and Daddy
and I would eat our hot dogs and we would put our spoons right in
the hot can of beans on the stove. Daddy would have me search for
sassafras and we�d boil up a pot of sassafras tea as well. Nothing
I hope some of the kids growing up there in the last
twenty years have been able to experience the same wonderment I did.
I do like simple pleasures. Simple pleasures for simple minds.
After my Father died in 1980, my Mother sold the property. A
few years later, I started having children, and when they were
little took them by Dockser Drive and showed them the trace of our
family�s paths through the woods. They never met Daddy, or Pappy to
them, but I have tried to make his loving, gentle ways known to
them. Even with my sons, when we would hit the crest, I could feel
the catch in my heart and a little gasp would escape just for the
To each new day�s adventure, Shelby. Please
send comments to:
OFFICIAL 2009 ANNUAL CAMPAIGN OFF TO GREAT START. The
Foundation's 2009 Annual Campaign is off to a great start.
Remember: no gift is too small (or large) to help the Foundation,
and because the Foundation has no overhead 100% of every donation
goes toward the work of the Foundation. A donor form is reprinted
below, and is available for download on the Foundation's web site.
(This year's very generous early donors are listed below.)
And as previously reported, the Foundation now has a "button" on the
home page of the Foundation's web site (www.surrattsville.org)
that makes it easier for our very generous donors to contribute to
the Foundation using a credit card or paypal. (Of course, the
Foundation is still happy to accept donations in the form of mailed
paper checks!) A special request to our on-line donors: please
include your graduation year/faculty years/etc. in your on-line
9. MORE SURRATTS HISTORY.
Earlier this year, and throughout 2008, we published articles about
the history of Surratts, to honor its 100 years of existence.
Especially in light of the upcoming Robert Redford movie about Mary
Surratt, which should generate some additional interest in the
history of Clinton and its surroundings and institutions, we will
be publishing some additional historical articles.
following article is from the Surratt House archives, from an
unidentified paper, is dated September 1, 1971"
Occupies Vacant House: The two-story white frame house stands among
trees on Brandywine Road, less than a block from the center of
Clinton in southern Prince George's County. Just to the north is a
small business center, housing a newspaper office and a dry cleaning
store. Across the street is a gasoline station.
of a gravel drive curve around trees on a once spacious front lawn
and passes in front of the wide porch. To the east stands an old
brick springhouse, long disused. The rear of the property abuts a
fenced-in, asphalt-covered storage area for pipes and heavy
equipment. Trucks come and go during the day. To a passerby it
seems like just another old house caught up in the rapid development
of the county.
Part of U.S. History. But this house is
different. It is a part of American history. It is the Mary
Surratt house. A move is under way to make it a historic site. A
ceremony has been schedule there for 10 a.m., Sept. 24 by the
Committee for the Restoration of the Mary Surratt House, which is
hoping to raise money for that purpose. The structure is now
boarded and unoccupied.
Thomas S. Gwynn, Jr., of Clinton,
chairman of the committee and assistant supervisor of supporting
services for the county public school system, estimates the project
will cost between $50,000 and $100,000. He envisions the hall
furnished with pieces from the 1860s and displays of mementos from
that era. He sees the Surratt House as part of a tour starting with
Ford's Theater in the District where President Lincoln was shot by
John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865.
Burned to Death. Booth
was supposed to have stopped at the Surratt house for supplies while
attempting to escape. His life ended a short time later when
federal troops trapped him in a tobacco barn in nearby Virginia and
set it afire when he refused to surrender. Mary Eugenia Jenkins of
Jenkins Corner in Prince George's County married John Harrison
Surratt of Fairfax County in 1835, according to Gwynn's chronology.
The house, built in 1840, overlooked their 1200 acre corn and
tobacco farm. In 1850 they opened a country store in the house and
made one room a tavern. When her husband died in 1862, Mrs. Surratt
leased the tavern to a retired District policeman and moved here
with her two children to operate a rooming house.
Surratt Hanged. Booth happened to be one of her roomers, but Mrs.
Surratt later denied she knew him very well or took part in the plan
to assassinate Lincoln. Nevertheless, she died on the gallows
because of that association. On the night Lincoln was fatally shot
as he sat in the theater's presidential box, Mrs. Surratt was at
home. She was roused from bed by federal troops at 11:30 p.m. and
accused of being a co-conspirator in the shooting.
maintained that she was innocent, but was taken to the Old Capitol
Prison and then to the penitentiary where she was required to wear
the same garments in which she was arrested until hanged on July 7,
Conflicting Testimony: She had been linked to the
assassination by the tavern operator who claimed she had gone there
on the afternoon of April 14 and left guns, ammunition and supplies
for Booth. Mrs. Surratt admitted visiting the house that afternoon,
but said she went there to collect the rent from the tavern
operator. A military tribunal convicted her and passed the death
sentence. The government later halted military trials of civilians
as a result of the case.
Three weeks after the assassination,
the little community known as Surratts became Robeystown. In 1878
the community's name was changed to Clinton. That the community
respected Mrs. Surratt, however, was illustrated by the fact that
the residents refused to have the election district's name changed
from Surratts, which it remains today. Elementary, junior and
senior high schools, as well as some housing developments and
businesses, bear the Surratt name today.
The house was
donated to the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning
Commission in 1965 by B. K. Miller of Clinton. In 1968 the
commission purchased the land on which the house is located and has
submitted an application to have the house placed on the National
Register of Historic Sites. Earlier this month, the commission
allocated $10,000 for the restoration of the house. But, as Gwynn
said, it will cost much more and the campaign to raise funds is
[Ed Note: For you history buffs, I came across a
great fold-out pamphlet called "John Wilkes Booth: Escape of an
Assassin," that prominently features then-Surrattsville (with an
interesting main street painting), Mary Surratt and the Surratt
House, and that contains a great map and other information. The
pamphlet is part of a series called "Maryland Civil War Trails"
published by the State tourism folks and can be acquired at
by calling 1-888-248-4597.]
10. 2010 ALL
CLASSES/FACULTY/STAFF EVENTS. Please don't forget to mark
you calendars for the Foundation's third "All Classes/Faculty/Staff"
events to be held over the long weekend of Friday June 25 - Sunday
June 27, 2010. The schedule of events, which is similar to the
schedule of the events for the great 2000 and 2005 events, is as
-Friday June 25, 2010 - Golf Outing.
June 25, 2010, 7 P.M. - 11 P.M. - Surrattstock III.
June 26, 2010, 10 A.M - 4 P.M. - All Classes/Faculty/Staff Picnic
and School Open House.
-Saturday June 26, Evening - Saturday
evening will be set aside for Class-specific events.
June 27 - Sunday will be set aside for Class-specific picnics and
other informal gatherings.
11. JUNE 26 AND 27, 2010
CLASS-SPECIFIC EVENTS. Please note that many Classes are
planning Class-specific events for the evening of Saturday June 26,
2010, and some for Sunday June 27, 2010. Please check in with your
Class's "Official Reunion Contact" to make sure he or she has your
current contact information and to get an update on any plans your
Class has for the big reunion weekend. (ORC contact information,
which recently has been updated, can be found on the "Classes" page
on the web site at
12. SMALL WORLD DEPARTMENT.
We received this latest small world report from Pat McArthur (70):
"Henry: A coworker and I were chatting and she mentioned to me that
her dad grew up in Clinton, MD. I just happened to mention (lol)
that I went to Surrattsville and graduated from there in 1970. She
called her dad, and he is a Surrattsville grad as well! His name is
Gene Wray Simpkins (62). I don't live too far from where Gene
lives. He is in Ocean Springs, MS, and I am in Gautier, MS, which
are neighboring towns. I would like to meet up with him and his wife
(I think she is from here on the MS coast) and share stories of days
LONG gone by! All the best, Pat"
13. POSSIBLE 80/81
REUNION. The Classes of 80 and 81 are planning a possible
reunion for June 2010. They need a contact person for the Class of
80. Please contact Teresa Blandford Pepper at
email@example.com to provide
14. CLASS OF 89 PLANS REUNION.
The Class of 89 is planning a reunion. Please contact Debbie Owen
Pell at firstname.lastname@example.org for
information or if you have any contact information for 89 grads or
members of their families.
15. WEB SITE SEARCH
FUNCTION. Recently, a number of our readers have used the
Search function built into our web site (www.surrattsville.org)
by our great web master, Mike Gifford (84). The search function is
especially useful at finding otherwise obscure articles buried in
the archive of over 100 e-Notices on the web site. For example, if
you search for the word "conspirator," you find articles from 2001
and 2005 about Mary Surratt's role/non-role in the Lincoln
assassination. We thought this function might be helpful to those
of you who would like to find some reference you recall but didn't
know how to start that process.
16. HORNET COULD SERVE
IN CONGRESS. We just learned that Robert Broadus (90) is
running for Maryland's 4th Congressional District seat (the area
south from Fort Washington to Upper Marlboro and Bowie, and north
from Silver Spring to Rockville and Germantown). If Robert's bid is
successful, we believe he might be the first Hornet to serve in the
17. SURRATTS COOKBOOK. As
previously reported, Leslie St. Clair (70) and Diane "Cookie" Boyd
(71) are putting together a Cookbook of Hornets' Favorite Recipes.
They're hoping that a number of you will submit recipes, and they'll
break them down by category and have them bound and offer them for
sale at the 2010 All Classes/Faculty/Staff events. All proceeds
will go to the Foundation. If you have a recipe you'd like to
share, please send it to Leslie and Cookie at
18. FOUND RINGS STILL
LOOKING FOR OWNERS. Some of our long-time readers might
recall the three unrelated -- but completely fascinating -- stories
of folks who found Surratts class rings and went to the trouble to
track down the Foundation and sent them to us. (One was found on an
elementary school playground in Germany, one in the sand on a
Florida beach, and one in Southern Maryland.) More curious still,
all three of those rings were from the Class of 71. (We must've had
slippery fingers.) One is a man's ring with initials inside that
look like "DLD," and two are women's rings with initials inside that
look like "DMT" and "MTF". None of these rings has ever been
claimed. Please send an email to
if you have any ideas on their rightful owners.
COMBINED 60-65 EVENT. We received this update from Class of
62 ORCs Len Owens and Jerry Spence: "The Classes of 60-65 are
working on a Combined Classes 60-65 Reunion with events on Saturday
evening (dinner) June 26, 2010 and Sunday afternoon (picnic) June
27, 2010. Locations still to be determined. Please contact your
Official Reunion Contact (contact info is on the "Classes" page of
the web site at
www.surrattsville.org) for more information. Best Wishes, Len
I hope this e-Notice finds you well and having
enjoying a great Fall season!
All the best, Henry Smith (71)
JOHN GRUBER, Vice Principal
at Surrattsville during the 1960s, died this past August. He had
been living in Arizona in his retirement. Earlier in his career,
Mr. Gruber taught science at Maryland Park Junior High.
OTTIS T. YOUNG, JR. (48) died on the morning of July 4 in Canton,
N.C. from inoperable lung cancer. Ottis was an avid e-Notice reader
and correspondent, and is survived by his sister, Nancy Young Weiss
(54) and his brother, Robert Young (51).
CATHY LALLY FREITAS (73) died on October 11 after a 14 year
battle with breast cancer that had spread rapidly in the last six
weeks. News of Cathy's death was related to us by her sister, Linda
Lally Thomson (76).
MANY THANKS TO THESE DONORS
TO THE 2009 CAMPAIGN!
Steve Profilet (71)
Debbie Cox Marr (72)
Teri Pepper Dimsey (77), In
veneration of my classmates turning 50 this year
T. Summers Gwynn
III (64), In memory of BillGwynn (64)
Ann Weaver Pelle (71)
Donna Rae Sturtevant Smith (70)
Henry Smith (71)
Carroll Maclary (73), In Memory of Her Brother, James R. Carroll,
Vicky Simontacchi Young (57)
Linda Dorsey Blum (66)
Arvid Andresen (65)
Judy Gordon Mentlik (65), In Memory of Greg
White (65), David Shriver (65) and Laura Chovan (former faculty)
Ellen Talbert-Miller (61, former Faculty and Administration), In
memory of Lillian Holland
Dan Bayne (71)
Tom Travis (72)
Sally Travis (72)
Rick Tazelaar (73)
David Kraus (65)
Coach Lew Jenkins (former Faculty, 1967 - 1993)
Helen Bovbjerg Niedung (54)
Judy Miller (70)
J. Paul Rickett
Gloria Blandford Rickett (71)
Janet Goddard Sullivan
(54), In Memory of Mildred Wheatley (34)
Melissa Gilcrest (69)
Jeanine Carroll Maclary (73), In Memory of James R. Carroll, Jr.
Patricia Becker Oles (71)
Valerie Parker Allard (73), In Memory
of Cathy Lally Freitas (73)
Beverly Statler Thrift (69)