THIS IS SURRATTS FOUNDATION E-NOTICE 2011-7 OF JULY 1, 2011
Here are some items that might be of interest:
1. 2011 ANNUAL CAMPAIGN KICKS-OFF EARLY. As we reported in the last e-Notice, in the hope of having the Foundation's most successful annual campaign to date, the Foundation Board decided to commence this year's campaign in June, rather than the traditional September.
We're hoping that many of you who might have been inspired to contribute in the past, but have not done so, might consider making a contribution to this year's campaign.
Just imagine: we would have an absolutely off-the-charts campaign if each of our e-Notice readers would go to the web site at www.surrattsville.org and make a credit card or PayPal donation of just $5! (Just look for the "Donate" button at the bottom right of the home page.) And of course contributions are welcome by mail, and a donor form is pasted below.
Remember: the Foundation has no overhead, so every contribution dollar goes directly to supporting the great kids at Surratts. And no contribution is too small (or too large) to make a difference.
(Of course, the Foundation does not share any information about its donors -- or its e-Notice subscribers -- with anyone for any purpose, nor does the Foundation do any solicitations of any kind other than these e-Notice announcements about these annual campaigns.)
Many thanks to those very generous early donors listed below, and thanks to all of our readers for considering participating in this year's very special annual campaign!
2. FOUNDATION FACEBOOK PRESENCE CONTINUES TO GROW. The Foundation's Facebook Group – called "Surrattsville Alumni" – continues to grow, and now has over 1220 members. This is a great, and free, way for folks to stay in touch. Similarly, the Class-specific Facebook Groups – that have names like "Surrattsville 1969," "Surrattsville 1971," "Surrattsville 1973," and the like continue to grow.
Please consider joining the Surrattsville Alumni Group, and your own Class-specific Group, to get the latest news on alumni events.
3. MORE HIGH SPEED MEMORIES. In response to our stories about the days of drag racing in Southern MD, we received this email from Jack Knight (57): "Hi Henry: I thought I would share some memories with Leroy Stirewalt about Aquasco Speedway. I started working there in 1961 as a flagman on the starting line. Then they progressed to the "Christmas Tree" in about 1964. I worked there until September 69 and loved every minute of it. I was lucky enough to meet a lot of the top racers in the sport. Gary Zeiders (59) was another Surrattsville alumnus to work with us as the announcer. Gary did an excellent job with his outgoing personality. David Yoacum (59), another alumnus, worked with us also. David helped us on the starting line and wherever needed. It was a sad day for all of us when Aquasco ceased to exist, but we still have fond memories. Jack"
[Ed Note: Having been a big car enthusiast – I imagine other Hornets back in the “high speed” days were regular subscribers to Car Craft and Hot Rod magazines -- I have a number of mid-20th century high-speed memories, none more vivid than a great trip to Budd's Creek Drag-a-Way with my good friend and classmate Jimi Smith (71) (no relation) to see his Dad, Tom "Smoker" Smith (the then world record holder for fuel injected funny cars, if I remember correctly), race. The biggest thrill of that day was being permitted to assist Jimi in packing "Smoker's" parachute before the start of one race! (I imagine Jimi, and his sister Marian Smith Denton (70) and his brother Mike Smith (70), have lots of auto-related memories from that era)!]
4. FORMER FACULTY MEMBER FEATURED IN WEB ARTICLE. We received this email from Bob Crickenberger (70): "Hey Henry: Check out this online article entitled "Building on History: Couple Live in Replica of President Tyler's Home:" http://www.nvdaily.com/lifestyle/2010/01/building-on-history-couple-live-in-replication-of-president-tylers-house.php . I'm thinking that this is Mr. Demming from shop class at Surrattsville. My Best to All, Bob"
ACHIEVEMENT AWARD WINNER PERFORMANCES
FEATURED ON FACEBOOK.
We received this email from Nan
Huff (71): "Henry: I went to Facebook and saw this entry
regarding 2011 Achievement Award recipient John Previti: "Tom
Mitchell, Ben Redwine and John Previti Live Jazz @ 49 West
Coffee House, Annapolis, MD,"
6. ALL ACHIEVEMENT AWARD RECIPIENTS TO DATE LISTED BELOW. As we do from time to time, we've listed below the complete list of all of the Foundation's absolutely extraordinary Achievement Award recipients to date. Photos and bios of these stellar members of the Surrattsville community are found on the web site at www.surrattsville.org. It's never too early to be thinking about nominees for the next year's Achievement Awards, so please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to make a nomination.
7. POEM BRINGS BACK MANY CLINTON MEMORIES. The Class of 54 sent us this beautiful and evocative poem that was written by Myra Rigor Selvadurai (54) for their Golden Reunion in 2004. It likely will bring back lots of Clinton area memories for many of our readers (and totally confuse our younger readers with some of the more "historical" references):
"The Class of 54 --
The days, the months, the years go by
8. CLASS OF 71 HOLDS SECOND "40" YEAR REUNION. Thanks to Darlene Monaco (71), the Class of 71 held its second, "real" 40 year reunion on Saturday evening June 25, 2011. (This supplemented the Class's "official" 40 year reunion held last June at Ft. Belvoir.) This very casual event, hosted by Darlene at her house near Annapolis, was a smashing success. Class of 71 members are encouraged to join the Surrattsville 1971 Facebook group to receive information about future 71-specific events.
9. SEEKING 64 BOOMERANG. Nancy Young (54) is looking for a copy of a 1954 Boomerang. Please contact Nancy at email@example.com if you have any information that might be helpful.
10. 61 BOOMERANG STILL UP FOR "AUCTION". Susan Loweth Melton (63) kindly donated her "gently used" 61 Boomerang to the Foundation as a fund-raising object. Unlike our new bulk copies of yearbooks from certain years (see below), because this Boomerang is a truly priceless treasure from an older year – the first in the "New School" building – we are auctioning it off to the highest bidder. Please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to put in a bid on this extraordinary piece of SHS history.
[Ed Note: Susan is hoping that her donation might inspire others to donate to the Foundation their under-used freshman/sophomore/junior yearbooks for similar fund raisers.]
11. CLASS OF 69 TURNS 60 EVENT A GREAT SUCCESS. Vince Antonioli (69) recently hosted a Class of 69 Turns 60 yard party at his farm in Aquasco. Members of the Class of 69 and surrounding Classes had a lovely afternoon, marked by beautiful weather and great company. Class of 69 members are encouraged to join the Surrattsville 1969 Facebook Group to receive information about future Class events.
12. JUNE 25 SURRATTSVILLE-BLUE CRABS AND CLASS OF 76 EVENTS. We received this great report on the Surrattsville-Blue Crabs event and the Class of 76 Reunion from Evan Vutsinas (76): "The amazing Class of 76 celebrated its 35th Reunion June 24 and 25. The weekend got an early start when some of the guys got together to enjoy watching the Washington Nationals defeat the Seattle Mariners 1 - 0 on Thursday 6/23. On Friday evening at least 32 proud 76 alums gathered with friends and family at Yanny's Restaurant on Allentown Road for an awesome seafood buffet and even better fellowship. As usual, our classmates opened and closed the place down; folks just didn't want to let it all end – no problem! At noon on Friday many of these same classmates were joined by additional 76 grads at Running Hare Vineyard in Prince Frederick, MD for a private tour and tasting of the award winning wines produced on the beautifully secluded 300 acres. If one was to just appear in this picturesque valley, the architecture and landscape could easily fool the traveler into believing he/she had been dropped into Tuscany. Many new friendships were created amongst "old" classmates, especially while toasting classmates not present and no longer with us. After reluctantly returning to "civilization" to freshen-up, the Class of 76 again made its presence and spirit known at the All SHS Classes invited Southern Maryland Blue Crabs baseball game. Nearly 100 SHS alumni dating back to the Class of 54 were in attendance to enjoy the food, atmosphere and fellowship. Though the home team Blue Crabs lost 3 - 2, the awesome fireworks exploding in the night sky left everyone looking forward to next years' Class of 76 event -- because the Class of 76 doesn't need an excuse to get together! Evan"
13. ALL CLASSES/FACULTY/STAFF DIRECTORIES AVAILABLE. Thanks to the herculean work of Pat Becker Oles (71), the Foundation's 2000 Alumni/Faculty/Staff Directory has been updated for 2010, and now includes fascinating "what I'm up to" paragraphs from those who submitted directory information. If you would like a copy of the Directory, send a $20 check payable to the Foundation to: Henry Smith, One W. Pennsylvania Avenue, Suite 950, Towson, MD 21204.
14. "SURRATTSVILLE ALUMNI" WINDOW STICKERS AVAILABLE. Pat Becker Oles (71) also kindly handles the Foundation's "Surrattsville Alumni" window stickers project. Pat notes that the stickers are not the "static cling type," that stick to the inside of a window. Instead, they are the "stick to the outside type," that can stick on a window or bumper, and use "repositional adhesive" (meaning no sticky residue). Information about purchasing the stickers can be found on the web site at surrattsville.org.
15. CLASS OF 2001 PLANS REUNION. The Class of 2001 held its ten year reunion on Saturday June 4, and it was a great success. The Class also has a Facebook page called “The Official c/o 2001 Reunion Page,” which contains photos and other Class-specific information.
16. 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 email@example.com.
17. CLASS OF 97 PLANS REUNION. The Class of 97 is busy planning its 15 year reunion for mid-summer 2012. The Class has a web page at http://shs1997reunion.blogspot.com/2011/05/shs-class-of-1997-2012-15yr-reunion.html. Please contact Monica Crown at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like information on the event or if you have any contact info for members of the Class of 97 or their families.
18. SEEKING LOST HORNET. Jackie Kaiser MacBryde (71) is trying to locate Barbara Chambers (71). Please email Jackie at mailto:email@example.com if you have any information that might be helpful.
19. A GREAT DAY OF GOLF FOR A GREAT CAUSE. Speaking of Achievement Award recipients, we've learned that the Christmas in April Prince George’s County Chapter, whose Executive Director is Mary Kucharski (76), is holding its 22nd Annual Christmas in April Prince George’s County – Susan Denison Mona Golf Tournament on Monday, September 26, 2011 at the Andrews Air Force Base golf course (as made famous by the recent Obama-Boehner golf summit!). Great player, and sponsor, opportunities are still available. Contact Christmas in April at 301-868-0937, firstname.lastname@example.org, or christmasinaprilpg.org for more information.
20. MORE MARY SURRATT INFO. We received this Mary Surratt-related email from Dana Shifflett (70): "Henry: This is a bit fuzzy, but as I recall Mary Surratt's maiden name was Jenkins and her family once owned what is now Capitol Hill. At the time, it was called Jenkins Hill, and the federal government bought it directly from them. I haven't seen "The Conspirator yet. It showed briefly at a theater in Wichita but not at all here in Newton, and I didn't have the chance to get down there to see it. Dana"
[Ed. Note: The renewed interest in the Mary Surratt story is likely to kindle some interest in the Jenkins family story, as well. And perhaps the renewed interest in the overall story will be kept alive by the upcoming Steven Spielberg "Lincoln" movie.]
And we received this great email from one of our youngest-at-heart readers, Billie Barr Winstead (37):
"Hello Henry! My daughter, Jackie Gwynn Ball (60) and I had the opportunity to see "The Conspirator" and I feel compelled to comment since it brought back memories of the Surratt Stage Door's presentation of "The Story of Mary Surratt" in November of 1960. The former Judge Ernie Loveless, Jr. played the part of Reverdy Johnson. We were a small theater group and the script called for 36 men and only two women. Our director, Jean Moorhead (then an English teacher at Surrattsville) had the inspiration to involve some of the more prominent citizens of Clinton, thus assuring an even larger audience. Some of those recruited, in spite of their lack of knowledge of theater, were B.K. Miller, Ernest A .Loveless, Sr., Frank Small, Jr., T. Alan Penn, Fred Garner, John Wagnon, Cy Wildes and Milton Harris. The premise of the play is that Mary is not guilty and that she was wrongly tried by a military tribunal instead of a jury of her peers. Billie"
[Ed Note: If we only had some 8 mm sound film of that truly historic performance!]
21. MUSINGS FROM YOUR EDITOR ON THE MOST UNUSUALLY-NAMED SCHOOL IN AMERICA. "The Conspirator" and related press inspired me to re-visit a number of scholarly books about the Lincoln assassination and its planning and aftermath, and to read for the first time some recent scholarly works on the subject, including several great ones on Mary Surratt and/or the conspiracy specifically.
As a result, I have two non-expert, editorial observations that might interest some of our readers. First, it now seems fairly irrefutable that Mary Surratt – often characterized throughout history as a "victim" -- was involved not just in the planning of the failed Lincoln kidnapping, but probably in the planning of the Lincoln murder as well. (However, it seems just as irrefutable that Mary was deprived of anything even approaching an American version of a fair trial.)
Second, and perhaps of more "local interest" to our readers, the historical information confirms that our beloved Surrattsville truly has what must be the most unusual name of all American high schools. Here's the short version of that story based on the available scholarship to date.
In 1854, John Harrison Surratt, Sr. was named postmaster of the post office at the location of the Surratt Tavern. In keeping with then federal policy, the town for which he served as postmaster took his name, and became "Surrattsville." By all accounts – none ever challenged in the scholarly literature – John, Sr. was a bum: a notorious slave owner, drunkard and debtor who treated his wife and three children poorly. When John, Sr. died in 1862, his son John Harrison Surratt, Jr. was appointed replacement postmaster, and therefore the name of the town didn't have to change.
John Harrison Surratt, Jr. arguably was more of a bum than his old man, because, in addition to being a slave owner (no evidence of drinking, borrowing or mistreatment of family members in the historical record, however), he bragged openly and for years about being a traitor, serving as a Confederate courier and spy, and participating in the failed Lincoln kidnapping. There's also a suggestion in the historical record that he had at least some early planning involvement with the Lincoln murder. (He was out of the country at the time of the murder and for approximately the previous month.)
Of course, these are not the types of model citizens that we all wish our towns (and, derivatively, our high schools) to be named after. However, I'm guessing that many American towns carry the names of town founders and others who have less-than-unblemished life stories.
Continuing this unusual story, in 1863, the federal government got word of John, Jr.'s disloyal activities, and replaced him as postmaster with Andrew J. Robey. You guessed it: our hometown was re-named "Robeystown." In 1878, the practice of naming towns after their postmasters apparently had ended, so the town was re-named once again, this time as "Clinton." I haven't come across anything in the literature suggesting that there was any intervening name between "Surrattsville" and "Robeystown." (And, curiously, I haven't come across any explanation of where the third and final name came from.)
A grade school was built in Surrattsville/Robeystown/Clinton "sometime soon after the conclusion of the Civil War," on the spot where the future (Old) Surrattsville High School, the Surrattsville Junior High School, and now Grace Brethren School would sit (at the intersection of Brandywine and Surratts Roads). The local citizenry apparently named the school, and they chose "The Surrattsville School" (even though it apparently was built after the town was re-named "Robeystown," although it was at the Surratts Road intersection. In 1906, that school "got promoted" to the second high school in Prince George's County, retaining the "Surrattsville" name.
If the original Surrattsville School had been built between 1854 and 1863, when the town was officially called "Surrattsville," the story wouldn't be so unusual, but it would still be interesting. That is, the simple story would be: "That was the name of the town when the predecessor to the current high school was built, and of course schools often are named after the towns they are in, and the school name has come down through the ages without change even though the town name has changed twice."
However, it appears from the scholarship that the locals purposely named the new school after the old town, which is why we're not talking about "Robeystown High" or "Clinton High" today.
It would be very interesting to discover some scholarship on why they did this. Was it to "honor" Mary Surratt because of the then widely-held belief that she was innocent/railroaded/victimized/"murdered by military tribunal"/etc., or was it some racist longing for the days of slaves and cotton with a dollop of "The South Will Rise Again" thrown-in for spice? Perhaps this would be an excellent senior honors research project for a student at Surrattsville!
Of course, this resurgence of interest in our school name history could reinvigorate the "let's change the name of the school!" cry that was heard briefly from at least one quarter several years ago (and reported in an e-Notice). However, as a former secondary school social studies teacher, I think changing the School's name -- because of its very unique, and arguably blemished, heritage -- would not only create a loss of "valuable branding" (and extremely unique branding at that) enjoyed by the entire Surrattsville High School community, but also sacrifice a treasure trove of "teachable moments" presented by our school's very unusual name and other history.
Put another way, it's not like the School was named "John Wilkes Booth High School" sometime after the Lincoln murder, and that wrong has somehow persisted for a century and a half. Instead, the unique – and history-rich – school name is the result of a series of fascinating historical accidents that provide a contemporary and continuing opportunity to revisit, and therefore not forget, the lessons of the Civil War and the almost unthinkable evil of the slavery system that caused it.
The communities that host high schools with names like "Southwestern" and "P.S. 196" certainly can't claim any of that! Henry
[Naturally, we'd love to hear our readers' thoughts on this intriguing issue. In fact, my "teachable moment" comment above has already proven true in a great reader comment we received from Duke Coleman (53). Duke was kind enough to send a paper on the Mary Surratt subject his sister recently found in a dusty box and that Duke had prepared in 10th or 11th grade at Surrattsville – wow, kids back in those days could write beautifully! Duke sent a note observing that the paper, which reflected the Mary-was-railroaded-view that was prevalent in the mid-20th century, was "unquestionably the result of the influence of at least a couple of teachers back in the day." Duke added that, like many (but likely not all) of us following the current scholarly research on Mary, "my sentiments at the time regarding the culpability of Mary Surratt were about 170 degrees apart from today; the ten degrees shy of diametric to coincide with only 90% certainty today of her complicity." And who says American history is not an "alive" and dynamic subject that should be a centerpiece of an American education – especially at schools within a stone's throw of major historical sites!]
Best wishes for an enjoyable holiday weekend! Henry Smith (71)
MANY THANKS TO THESE EARLY DONORS TO THE 2011 CAMPAIGN!
Becker Oles (71)
Surrattsville Foundation Achievement Award Recipients
2000 - Maryland Senate President Thomas V.
Mike Miller, Jr. (60)