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Out and About (Sort of): Sheriff Gamble Voices Common Sense by Howard Freedlander

I listened with great interest to the Talbot Spy interview last week with Talbot County Sheriff Joe Gamble. He provided no-nonsense insight into police training and culture.

The timing of the interview coincided with recent acts of deadline violence aimed at policemen in Dallas, TX and Baton Rouge, LA. These actions have happened against a backdrop of alleged police brutality targeting primarily African-Americans. All of us have read and heard about the poisonous environment of distrust between some communities and local police forces.

In an extensive interview, Sheriff Gamble focused almost entirely on law enforcement training and mentality. He came across as an experienced police officer and leader who cares deeply about his officers, and how they relate to the public. He also seeks to establish and solidify his department’s relations with the community.

The sheriff spoke honestly and at length about the use of deadly force. He explained its necessity if a police officer or citizen faces a mortal threat. He said that police officers are trained to fire at center mass, not at arms or legs. He addressed the 21-foot rule, whereby police officers situate themselves 21 feet from a threatening incident.

Some may question the wisdom to fire to kill, not injure. I think the luxury of firing at an arm or leg belongs to a sniper who has the time and vantage point to do so. A police officer facing a person rushing or threatening him allows no time for firing at an extremity.

Sheriff Gamble addressed the role played by those with mental health problems. He said a large number of shootings by police involve victims with mental issues. This is bothersome and probably inevitable.

I used to work with a woman whose daughter suffered from bipolar disease. Some years ago, after airport police at a major airport killed a man acting strangely and disruptively, I recall that my work associate immediately identified the victim as one who suffered from bipolar disease. How did she know simply by reading a newspaper account of the incident? As it turns out, she was right. She also was angry that police are not more enlightened and better trained about confronting those afflicted with mental disease.

This friend’s daughter has bipolar disease. She’s attempted suicide twice. She’s coping quite well due to medication.

Sheriff Gamble spoke about “suicide by cop.” I never heard that description. Simply, some folks, several troubled by mental health problems, place themselves in situations to be killed by police, who feel justified in using deadly force.

Like many citizens, I deeply respect our law enforcement community. Police officers face difficult, demanding and sometimes deadly circumstances. They must kill, or be killed. In current times, they face tremendous antagonism bred by distrust and disgust, often in African-American communities. Black residents feel persecuted and disrespected. They expect cruelty instead of fairness when they interact with police officers, mostly in urban areas.

Listening to Sheriff Gamble, who spent most of his career in the Maryland State Police, I came away thinking that he and his officers would exercise restraint when necessary– and aggressive action, also when necessary. I was impressed by his responsiveness to the community, taking phone calls from citizens unhappy about a deputy’s behavior and then investigating fairly and fully. He understands that community support is vital to any police agency.

Though the Talbot Spy interview was longer than usual, it was a must-listen occasion. It enabled a local police leader to explain what some may not know about law enforcement training and culture. The mission to provide a stable law and order environment in Talbot County, encompassing not only the police but also the state’s attorney and the judicial system, is fraught with severe danger and second-guessing.

The opioid epidemic is worsening security conditions. And the distrust, particularly in African-American communities throughout the country, seriously undermines relations between the police and concerned citizenry.

Sheriff Gamble is a seasoned professional attuned to appropriate police action and community concerns. We’re fortunate in Talbot County to have him in our service.

Columnist Howard Freedlander retired in 2011 as Deputy State Treasurer of the State of Maryland.  Previously, he was the executive officer of the Maryland National Guard. He  also served as community editor for Chesapeake Publishing, lastly at the Queen Anne’s Record-Observer.  In retirement, Howard serves on the boards of several non-profits on the Eastern Shore, Annapolis and Philadelphia.


On Vacation by Jamie Kirkpatrick

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Down in the War Room, the situation is getting tense. Months of intense planning have come down to just a few days now. The General and her senior staff officers all know their jobs; they have planned and practiced and drilled for this moment. They are quietly confident, but still, they know that war is hell and that something could go unexpectedly, dreadfully wrong at the last moment, so they go over the plans again: battle lines, strategic planning, supplies and logistics, personnel. Operations will commence in three days at precisely zero-six-hundred hours. We are going to the beach.

Rehoboth, to be precise. In the Book of Genesis, Issac, son of Abraham, needed water for his flock so he commanded his servants to dig two wells. But when the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with them about the location of these wells, Issac had a third well dug. Everyone seemed satisfied, so Issac called the place Rehoboth saying, “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.”

It may not be quite so biblical these days, but to us, Rehoboth, Delaware is still a place of rest and refreshment. We have rented the same house for several years now and for the first two weeks of August, it is our very own Camelot by the sea. It’s a well-used place with a slightly musty odor, comfortable furniture, five bedrooms, three bathrooms, two refrigerators, and best of all, an airy wrap-around porch, perfect for morning coffee or evening cocktails. It’s also just a short bike ride to the center of town for supplies or to the beach for a day of toes-in-the-sand.

For the past three years, our army has consisted of as many as four generations of soldiers, a battalion of aunts, uncles, cousins, and in-laws, plus numerous camp-flowers, sidekicks, and friends. The number may vary from day-to-day, but there are always enough of us to put up a good fight. We each have our own assigned duties: cooking, grilling, KP in the mess hall; delivery of copious quantities of operational supplies to the beach; lunch runs, ice runs, beer runs, and more ice runs for R&R.

The rhythm of our time at the beach hardly ever varies. Because our army really does march on its stomach, most of the planning revolves around food. Croissants from Lingos in the morning, steak-and-cheese sandwiches from Louis’ at lunch, and for dinner a rotating feast that includes (of course) crabs one night, ribs another, burgers and dogs yet another, fresh corn and tomatoes every night, mac and cheese or pizza for the kids, and always plenty of wine and beer for the adult troops.

Like any army, we pray for good weather. One rainy day is acceptable every once in a while, two in a row gets dicey, three for more is a recipe for disaster (thankfully, not usually on the menu). In case of rain, there are a few options (Funland, the book store, board games, the rope hammock on the porch), but nothing can ever take the place of another sunny day on the beach, a circle of chairs in the sand, and the grandkids with their pails and shovels or better yet, quietly napping under the umbrella.

By the end of our two weeks, we’re exhausted. I know that must seem strange, but I think it’s the beach’s way of saying, “Time’s up; retreat; see you next year.” After all, if vacations lasted forever, there would be no vacations.

Muse on that!

Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer with homes in Chestertown and Bethesda. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. “A Place to Stand,” a book of his photographs, was published by the Chester River Press in 2015. He is currently working on a collection of stories called “Musing Right Along.”

Angels Come in Different Sizes and Colors by George Merrill

I’ve been in a funk, lately. The state of our troubled nation and the world’s turmoil were getting to me. It was either lighten up or drive myself crazy. I went on line looking for hope or some vision of kindness to lighten my troubled spirit. I hit the jackpot. I found a site called “Kindness Blog.”

“Kindness Blog’s team,” the site stated, “ share media featuring kindness in all its varied forms. From the simplest acts of charity to grand life-changing gestures of kindness.”

For starters there were forty-five heartwarming stories, each accompanied by a photographic image. I read about half of the stories. There had to be thousands more. There is indeed goodness out there and plenty of it. With all the madness going on in my world, I had forgotten that it’s there.

As I read, I felt lighter.

The blog’s stories are inspirational vignettes rather than morality tales. I find the stories hopeful and more authentic for that reason. No one is trying to prove anything. The contributors are simply sharing an ancient truth in a modern world where it’s still a hard sell: it is better to give than to receive. In the giving there’s a lot of getting, but that’s not the prime motivator as I saw it. It seemed to me as if a feeling of gratitude was the driving force to their actions. As it is with all grateful people, they wanted to share their own sense of being blessed with others. Gratitude inspires generosity, a desire to give back.

One woman in London, the blog reported, writes anonymous letters. She leaves them for strangers to find. The letters are a gentle reminder to the stranger of their essential goodness and that it’s OK to have faults and not be perfect. She writes that how in sharing our vulnerabilities we learn to love on another. She leaves no name or address. It’s enough for her that the letters are found. She’s sent one hundred fifty letters to date.

One writer, Gina Ryder, discovered ways to feed her soul. She says, “The general hopelessness about relationships and life I previously felt was like a sickness in my soul. Daily random acts of kindness are a remedy.”

Another woman sparked a beautiful chain reaction of good will; she picked up the next person’s tab at a McDonald’s drive through. Some 250 cars followed suit.

An African-American minister, Shun Abram, confronted a KKK protester calmly, strongly, and peacefully.

In Pakistan, Muslims form a human chain to protect Christians during a mass.

One image showed a small child in a white KKK robe with the characteristic cone shaped hat. She stands directly in front of a policeman in riot gear. She is placing her hand on one officer’s shield the way curious children idly poke at things they’ve never seen before. Even in the midst of our ugly world affairs, there are moments of pure innocence and tenderness. I found that image particularly moving as I could see both the KKK child and the riot police were not” bad.” Both were victims enmeshed in a larger systemic trap, like moths in a spider web.

The stories of generosity of spirit and tenderness go on and on.

A few who acted with kindness were well heeled. One man committed himself to give a thousand dollars for the rest of his life to those able to make changes for the better in the world. He’s spent millions over several years. Most, however, seem like ordinary folk who felt moved to tell the world that they have discovered something life-giving in performing acts of kindness.

While writing this essay, I saw this on Facebook. An African-American woman wrote it:

“I noticed a State Trooper on the side of the road with his trunk up. I never saw him, just the car. I pulled up to the car and cracked my window, hands clearly visible. I saw a white trooper come from the side of the car. I said good morning and asked if he was okay and needed help. He smiled and replied no ma’am that he was cleaning his windows. He showed the bottle and towels to me and I told him he had the good stuff. He chuckled and asked if I minded if he cleaned mine too. Then an elderly white couple stopped by and asked if they could have theirs done also. He cleaned theirs, too. The lady offered to pay him and he said no, just say a prayer for me…so we did. Right along Rt. 46 in the wee hours of the morning parked beside the road for EVERYONE to see, we all linked hands and had prayer. White hands, black hands, officer hands, young hands, and old hands…gave glory like never before. Couldn’t ask for a better way to start my day.”

If I was skeptical about the existence of angels before, I’m a believer now.

Been touched by an angel recently? Tell us about it!

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist.  A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

It’s Broke, Fix It by Al Sikes

The headlines from the latest polls: Trump unqualified; Clinton untrustworthy. Translated: the major political Parties are broken. The Republican and Democrat parties are now so tightly controlled by their political bases that they have ceased to serve affiliated realists, much less independents, and the results are tearing at America’s social and political fabric.

Broke is broke. When a business no longer works, it either goes out of business or the model is significantly changed. In 1930 the corporate elite list, the Dow Industrials, added Eastman Kodak. It was dropped in 2004 and went into bankruptcy in 2011. Kodak is not alone; today’s Dow companies look nothing like those in its earlier days even though the companies, when added to the Dow, were wealthy and strong. The newest major political party is the Republican one and it was formed in 1856.

Political parties and their leaders are inventively self-protective. They have locked up national presidential debates. For a third party’s candidate to make the stage he/she must poll 15%. States are their co-conspirators. State election laws require huge volumes of signatures, for example, in order for a new Party to qualify for the ballot.

Almost the only time we hear of a new Party possibility is in the run-up to a Presidential election and then, because it would take an enormous amount of money to launch a new Party presidential bid, we only hear about potential candidates that are wealthy, a celebrity, or both. The name this cycle was Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire and former Mayor of New York City. He declined. He was elected Mayor as a Republican, even though they constitute just over ten percent of eligible voters in New York.  Better the long odds of being elected Mayor as a Republican than trying to start a national third party as the campaign countdown begins.

If the political process is to be opened up it will require leadership, a clear and compelling message, and time. The time to start building a new Party is now, not in 2019.

In the Republican Party there are a lot of disaffected leaders; many are problem solving Governors. Interestingly, they are where poll after poll report the majority of voters stand. The question is whether there are any center-right entrepreneurs. Are there any Lincoln’s, whose election in 1860 catapulted the new Republican party over the Whig one? Lincoln had previously been a Whig.

I offer three areas of reform from which a clear and compelling message could be shaped. In each case, the incumbent parties are conflicted and cannot be expected to bring true reform.

The tax code is an embarrassment; but, those constituencies that enjoy its favor are strong. The tax advantaged line up with the established Parties and they make deals to service their interest groups.

Elementary and secondary education, where a child’s opportunity often begins, has become monopolized by bureaucrats and unions. Many public schools now teach children whose parents cannot afford to send them to a private school. In city after city the only path to schools that are competitively strong is private or choosing to home school. Choice in public education is a critical need.

Finally, our nation needs healing leaders, yet polarization is thick and the bases of the two dominant Parties demonize the other. The bases are the problem; their litmus tests have become absolute. When all compromise is fought, politics inevitably becomes divisive.

When the Whigs became hopelessly conflicted over the issue of slavery the abolitionists created the Republican Party and Lincoln took it to the White House. The conflict today is between the hard edged ideologues (on the left and right) and the realists. There is a constituency for a new Party and today’s social media tools would make its formation much less complex and costly than a generation ago.

I will now narrow my comments to the Republican Party, but much the same could be said of the Democrats. Today, right of center voters are alienated by the hard right. The hard right is where today’s political power is concentrated and it sees government as the enemy unless it can be used to block social change. The realists in the party, who want to reform government, are called moderates (not a term of endearment).

It is time for new leadership in public affairs. It is time for political entrepreneurship. It is time to break up the duopoly.  One thing that can be guaranteed, the leader who repairs the nation’s political fabric will be a historic figure.

Al Sikes is the former Chair of the Federal Communications Commission under George H.W. Bush. Al recently published Culture Leads Leaders Follow published by Koehler Books. 

Od-Ed: The Case for Donald Trump by Steve Carns

Many people will vote for Donald Trump because of his positions on border control, immigration, Islamic extremism, the economy, etc.

Some people will vote for him because he isn’t Mrs. Bill Clinton. Here’s an example: $1,590,000,000,000 vs. $1.550,000,000,000. What’s the difference?

$1.59 trillion is the amount of money the government collected in fiscal year 2015 from personal income taxes…a record high. This is 46% of the total revenue generated with an additional 32% coming from payroll taxes (social security and medicare) and 13% coming from corporate taxes.

Mrs. Clinton vows to follow in Barack Obama’s footsteps. During his eight years of stewardship, Obama will double the national debt increasing it by $10 trillion dollars; more than all of the 43 presidents before him—combined!

So, assuming she does as she says, Hillary would add another $10 trillion bringing the national debt, after her eight years were over, to $30 trillion. It could go even higher if she follows through on her plan to have the taxpayers pay for college tuition (a $100 billion/year price tag).

The average interest rate in U.S. history is 5.18% (not the staggering 21.5% of Jimmy Carter or the artificial 0.7% of Barack Obama).

So, the interest on a national debt of $30 trillion at 5.18% costs $1.55 trillion per year. That leaves us with:

$1,590,000,000,000 = individual tax receipts.
$1,550,000,000,000 = interest on the debt.

What’s the bottom line? If we paid $1.55 trillion for the interest on the debt in the 2017 federal budget, we would only have enough money leftover to pay for Social Security and the military…that’s it. We’d be out of money. Nothing for Medicare, health, food, agriculture, transportation, housing, education, etc., etc.

Or, we could pay for all budgeted items and go further into debt by borrowing another$1,875,000,000,000…in one year alone. This is the burden that an Obama/Clinton debt policy places upon us.

And, this is why some people will vote for Donald Trump—Hillary Clinton’s approach is simply unaffordable.

This is also why Donald Trump pledged “disciplined budget management and elimination of waste, fraud and abuse” and underscored that point by selecting fiscal conservative Governor Mike Pence to be his running mate.

Steve Carns has lived on the Eastern Shore for the last twenty years. After a career in business, he has served on many local nonprofit organizations, including the YMCA of the Chesapeake and the Academy Art Museum.

Out and About (Sort of): Not just Food at Easton Farmers’ Market by Howard Freedlander

A Saturday morning visit to the Avalon Foundation’s Farmers’ Market on North Harrison Street in Easton is a great delight. And, for this longtime resident, the fresh fruit, vegetables and produce are secondary to the community feeling permeating the outdoor market.

Conversation among friends and acquaintances is the commodity I most savor. It’s a superb community gathering place. That provides sustenance and satisfaction for the soul.

No aisles bordered by high shelves and voluminous choices. No traffic jam created by shopping carts pushed by impatient shoppers. No sophisticated marketing.

I’m not suggesting that my viewpoint reflects the attitudes of other, far more serious and intentional buyers than I. My desire for conversation may very well prove distracting to those who yearn for the local food, with visions of sumptuous meals filled with purchases made at the Easton Farmers’ Market. I simply follow my wife around holding the bag (or bags), so to speak.

I’ve also noticed that dogs and people mingle easily. Just the past Saturday, I brought Sandy, a Labrador Retriever that we’ve owned for nearly three months, with us for our buying expedition. She draws immediate attention, mainly because she is just so darn lovable.
Chatter is always easy and comfortable when Sandy is by my side. She loves the attention. Her presence is an immediate conversation-starter.

I experienced my first farmers’ market in the early 1990s when my oldest daughter was attending the University of Montana in Missoula, MT. I was amazed by the expanse of e Missoula’s farmers market. I’ve since sampled farmers’ markets in Eugene, OR, Annapolis, MD and Rehoboth, DE. While each differs somewhat from the other, reflecting the culture and culinary tastes of the region, the constant link is the willingness on the part of shoppers to buy and talk in an unrushed manner.

Pundits (not me, but the truly professional ones) often talk about the political, economic and social polarization of our country. I suspect that’s true, if only by the repetition of this observation. Based on my scant research, farmers’ markets bridge the divide.

The Easton Farmers’ Market, drawing vendors from Millington, Hurlock, Stevensville, Centreville, Easton, Bivalve, Chestertown and Preston, is a magnet for people seeking local food and good conversation. The atmosphere is friendly, down-to-earth and relaxingly commercial. Open-air markets often are friendlier than a sanitized super market.

One other thing about the Easton Farmers’ Market interest me. As I drive the Talbot County roads in July, I am always fascinated by the growing corn and soybean crops. I enjoy the fact we live in an agricultural area where farmers flourish or suffer based on the productivity of their corn, soybeans and wheat and the dramatic effect of sufficient rain—and economic conditions in our country and parts of the world.

The Easton Farmers’ Market reflects our farming community. This is not a farmers’ market located at DuPont Circle in urbanized Washington, DC.

Farmers’ markets are not new. They preceded small and large grocery stores. It seems that in recent years that farmers’ markets have become more popular, as consumers seek fresher, healthier and seasonal foods. The producer and the buyer actually get to meet and know each other. Also, the money stays in the community longer than money that goes to larger corporations.

I started off by disclosing that my enjoyment of the Easton Farmers’ Market is related more to the evident community feeling that underlies this open-air food market than it is to the fresh food abundantly available at the numerous stalls. The concept seems simple.

Local producers of fruits, vegetables and produce come to one spot, set up a stall, display their goods and offer friendly transactions. The mood is relaxed and conversational (at least for those of us interested more in talking than buying).

I don’t mind holding the bag. It’s worth it.

Shore Writers: Tasha Robinson on Being Victorious

While the Spy has made it a habit to feature novelists, poets, historians, and essayists as part of our “Shore Writers” series, Tasha Robinson comes from a different end of that spectrum.  The Talbot County native came to writing later in life than most, and used her life experience to write a self-help book to help uplift and motivate members of her community and beyond with the simple message to never let go of your dreams despite life’s obstacles.

Tasha speaks with authority on the subject.  Having experienced many childhood traumas, running with the wrong crowd in high school, and dead end vision of her future, Robinson fought the urge to give up and proceeded to earn a bachelor and masters degree in education and a rewarding career in geriatrics on the Mid-Shore.  It was this push to aim high that allowed her to also recover from a stroke at the age of thirty-eight years old.

In her Spy interview, Tasha talks about some of those life experiences and what motivated her her to write her first book on the subject, From Victim to Victory… I am Victorious.

This video is approximately four minutes in length  Tasha will be giving a book reading at the St. Michaels branch of the Talbot County Free Library on July 28th at 6pm. 

The Pain of Violence by George Merrill

The epidemic of violence increases. Daily accounts of shooting deaths are commonplace.

I’d bet that person’s feeling they have a score to settle perpetrate almost all shootings and other violent deaths. An eye for an eye – the ancient ‘law of the claw’ – is alive and well today. Retaliation is the anodyne for the aggrieved. From July seventh through the tenth this year there were eighty-seven shooting deaths in America. There seems little passion for ending it.

Sixteen years ago I read an essay in The Georgia Review by a woman named Valerie Nelson-Grant. At the time I was profoundly moved by her story, so much so that I tucked her essay away and thought that someday I’d return to it. My instinct was prophetic. Now is the right time.

Her essay is an intimate look at those who have lost love ones to violence. I believe what she’s learned can help us begin to recover an extraordinary side of our human nature, perhaps of our divine nature, that our violent world continually obscures. Even if we are not strong enough to love our enemies, there’s budding evidence that we can forgive them.

Nelson-Grant is a grief counselor in Boulder, Colorado. She and a colleague facilitated a monthly group for those whose loved ones had been victims of a murder.

The essayist writes that one of her clients, named Carla, lost her mother to a murder. Carla told the group that the murderer was tried and convicted of murder in the first degree. He went to prison. I do not understand the legal circumstances, but for some reason a few years later, he was granted a retrial. Despite the murderer’s own testimony, corroborating DNA and fingerprints on the weapon, the state moved for a plea bargain. A retrial, if Carla could endure it, would put her through all the gory details again. A plea bargain would also mean that the killer would be out in ten years. While in prison he found her number and on two occasions he called her. She has nightmares.

Nelson-Grant has lived in the shadow that the pain of violence casts. There is always more than one player in human acts of violence: the perpetrator, the victim, the victim’s loved ones and the morally corrosive effects on society itself. Acts of violence are like the shrapnel following an explosion; every one around, and especially those closest, are scarred if not destroyed.

Caring has a price. It requires strength. Nelson-Grant writes, “Working with homicide grief is not like gardening, where your muscles grow strong . . . and thick callouses grow . . . instead the skin gets peeled back to raw every time.” Caring requires great strength. She knows she cannot carry the pain her clients bring to her and that she can only listen and care. Still, she says, she and her colleague often feel helpless.

Victims crave justice. Nelson-Grant likens the craving to a chemical deficiency in the body. The craving is visceral. Justice should be a matter of course. It’s not always offered and the price, economically and emotionally, can make justice inaccessible. More injustice. What then?

Forgiveness is complicated and often romanticized. Forgiving is not overcoming the injury, or dissociating oneself from the hurt, rationalizing the whole matter away or being lofty and wanting to be regarded as benevolent. It’s a gritty choice one makes to survive and to keep one’s dignity and integrity. Getting there is like wrestling with an angel and a devil at the same time.

Carla makes a critical decision. She understands that temperamentally she is not a fighter, that she is more like her mother who was “tender-hearted, a gracious old lady.” To fight the killer in a protracted court battle would be to keep her emotionally tied to the killer. In that way she would compromise her identity as her mother’s daughter, the woman who is gentle and kind. Another trial would not be expressing the love of her mother, but be about the punishment of the murderer. She chose the love of her mother.

As I read this account, I see how Carla had been denied the hope for justice. She came to terms with the fact that justice, as we know it, was not possible for her. She embraced her loss but in so doing, preserved her soul. Soul searching can be agonizing and demands all the strength anyone can muster. It’s a search that doesn’t suffer fools gladly and it’s filled with ambiguities. It requires strength. The search for one’s soul, however, always gives life and never takes it.

Forgiveness is most always the path less taken, but it is a more excellent way.

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist.  A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

Snapshots to Selfies: Images and Memories of Chesapeake Summers with CBMM’s Kate Livie

What started as a simple request by the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum for members to submit personal photos and memories from the last 50 summers spent on the Bay for CBMM’s 50th anniversary celebration last year turned into a flood of images from all over the world. Over 250 photos came in; so many that the Museum’s education director Kate Livie and art director Marie Thomas decided that the photos themselves had the makings of an online exhibition.

In her interview with the Spy, Kate talks about the Snapshots to Selfies: 50 Years of Chesapeake Summers project and shares just a tiny example of the remarkable images submitted from all over the world.  The exhibition can be seen here.

This video is approximately three minutes in length.  It is followed by additional photographs and memories. 

True North by Jamie Kirkpatrick

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This time next week, I’ll be in Canada. I know it’s only a bridge away (at least from Buffalo where I cross the border), but believe me, it’s a world apart. When friends ask, “Where in Canada?” I respond, “Go to Toronto, turn left and drive due north for four hours.” That’s about as precise as I can get.

My destination is a place called Long House, but you won’t find it on any map. It’s an old family camp located deep in the woods on a blue body of water the locals (paltry few in number) know as Dotty Lake. Literally at the end of the road (which by the time I get there is two tracks in the grass), there is the main lodge—Long House—where we (more on “we” later) gather to consume highly caloric meals prepared by the camp cook or to sit in front the fireplace on cool evenings, reading, playing cards, or just talking late into the night. We are silently watched by generations of winter hunters grinning out of faded black and white photographs, as well as bythe glass eyes of their creepy taxidermy trophies. Next to the main lodge, there is a second,smaller log cabin that houses a sagging ping-pong table, site of ferociously competitive matches with victories and defeats that grow more memorable with each passing year. When it’s finally time for bed, we each adjourn to one of the eight small, sparsely furnished cabins strung out along the lake front. There is a common bath house, and that’s it. “Rustic” is one way to describe Long House; so, too, is “unchanged,” that is, if you don’t count the electricity that was added only a few years ago.

There isn’t much to do at Long House. No nearby tennis courts or golf courses; the fishing in the lake isn’t great; cell phones don’t work up there. There is, however, an old pontoon barge tied up at the dock: on gentle evenings we fire up the finicky outboard and cruise around the lake (three miles long, a mile wide) at cocktail time, telling the same stories year after year after year.

There are several canoes and a couple of sun fish for sailing; swimming per se might best described as “refreshing.” But the birch trees along the shore rattle in the afternoon breeze, a pair of loons call to each other out in the lake at dusk, and the stars at night are bright as diamonds. If we’re really lucky, we can watch the pulsating lights of the aurora borealis dance across the northern sky.

It’s an odd band of brothers and, more recently, a few stalwart sisters who venture into the wild for a week at Long House every summer. Everyone except me is from Buffalo. (I was granted honorary membership into that august fraternity a long time ago when Peter, my prep school roommate and the leader of our little group, vouched for me.) Steve is our perennially luckless fisherman with a legendary tackle box; Mark, our indefatigable triathlete, arrives in camp with enough gear strapped to his car to stock a sporting goods store. Pim and Joey provide just enough distaff commentary to keep the male conversations reasonably honest, while Carleton skippers the barge overdressed in his habitual blue button-down shirt and khakis. Then there is “Second Peter,” an enthusiastic biker/paddler who will be bringing his new spouse to camp for the first time this year, brave on both ends. (My wife made the trek for a couple of years, but much to my regret and the other boys’ as well, she will be toasted this year in absentia due to duties at work.)

There was a time when I lashed my beautiful cedar and canvas canoe to the top of my car, stowed the dog and my duffle bag in the back, and made the fifteen hour trek up to Long House, singing “O Canada!” as I crossed the Peace Bridge. Now I fly to Buffalo and drive a few hours north with Pete. It’s the stuff of an old friendship, one that goes back more than fifty years to a time when we were boys and the world was our oyster. We’re no longer boys and there were never any oysters in Dotty Lake, but the quirky world up there is still ours and I cherish it.

Jamie Kirkpatrick

Jamie Kirkpatrick is a writer and photographer with homes in Chestertown and Bethesda. His work has appeared in the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. “A Place to Stand,” a book of his photographs, was published by the Chester River Press in 2015. He is currently working on a collection of stories called “Musing Right Along.”