Archives for January 2017

Senior Nation: Pickleball (Yes, Pickleball) Takes off on the Mid-Shore

While there is a good chance that the vast majority of residents on the Mid-Shore have no idea what Pickleball is, let alone that it has become one of the country’s fastest-growing recreational sports games, it comes as very little surprise to the almost 100 active participants in the YMCA of the Chesapeake pickleball program throughout the year.

The wiffleball-based racket sport has been hugely popular with all ages but has had an explosion of popularity with the over 55 crowd, and for good reason. The court is small, the ball is easy to hit, and the action takes place indoors. And while the game that might sound rather benign in the abstract, when the Spy made a recent reconnaissance trip last week to watch Pickleball in real time, it is clear that this sport is no walk in the park.

To get a better sense of the game, and those who play it, the Spy spent a few minutes with one of the game organizers on the Mid-Shore, Nick Papson to get the lowdown on this extraordinary phenomenon.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information on Pickleball please go here

Washington College President Issues Statement on Immigration Ban

The following statement was issued by Sheila Bair, President of Washington College, in regard to President Trump’s recent executive order that calls for a temporary immigration ban on certain visitors to the United States:

“I would like to reassure every member of the Washington College community, whether you are from this country or any other, that you are welcome here. Washington College is a vibrant institution because it fosters intellectual inquiry and diversity of background and belief. More than 150 international students coming from almost 30 different countries form an integral part of the Washington College community. Our collective diversity is one of the greatest resources for a liberal arts education. As the Washington College community, we are diverse but share a commitment to key values. Two of these values are civility and moral courage, and I am proud to see these values on full display at the College.”  – Sheila Bair, President

Students who have questions or concerns about the executive order and how it might impact them or their families have been directed to the College’s Global Education office and Student Affairs. While we continue to review the order, it appears at this point that no Washington College students, faculty, or staff will be impacted.


Out and About (Sort of): Working Retirement by Howard Freedlander

Nearing my sixth anniversary in May as a true-blue retiree, I observe and marvel at how those who have left the grind of work to spend their time untethered to a desk and deadlines.

Well, I met a Talbot County resident who didn’t stop working when he retired at 52. Instead, he bought a business where he could use his hands while dealing with customers. He’s now 69 and again contemplating another retirement.

His story, while not unusual, still interests me. He left a 32-year career with a healthy pension, saw a business opportunity and grabbed it. Along the way, he tasted success, then ran into the Amazon phenomenon and had to adjust.

 Brad Fout and Ilene Morgan, founders of Midnight Madness

Brad Fout and Ilene Morgan, founders of Midnight Madness

This retiree turned small businessman is Brad Fout, owner of Calico Gallery in Le Hatchery in Easton. A friend suggested I spend time with him, and I’m glad I did. His story fascinated me. He was a young retiree who decided to trade a good job as a software engineer with a major corporation to ownership of a St. Michaels shop.

No right way defines retirement. It’s a time for creativity, personal growth and following your dreams, even as a senior citizen perhaps slowed by physical aches and pains.

Brad Fout, found a way to use his hands for framing and his brains and savvy to run a small business, beginning in 2001. He built a reputation for custom framing and a bustling toy business. All was going well until he ran full force into a recession in 2007-2009 and the Amazon juggernaut. Toys were easily and inexpensively available by e-commerce.

In 2015, Fout closed his shop in St. Michaels and moved his custom framing operation to Le Hatchery, closer to his customers in Easton and Oxford. He also discovered that retail businesses can no longer depend on “goodwill value” when it comes time to sell.

As I listened to this affable gentleman talk about his successful career with Western Electric (later Lucent Technologies), I was impressed by his willingness to take a chance by leaving the corporate world for the often difficult world of small business in a small town. He wanted to use his hands to be creative, and he did. His wife joined him in his post-retirement enterprise.

I also admired his “all in” approach as evidenced by serving three times as president of the St. Michaels Business Association and the catalyst behind the town’s Midnight Madness in early December.

In a Dec. 13, 2013 article in Forbes magazine entitled “Bored With Retirement? Then Un-Retire and Go Back to Work,” Carolyn Rosenblatt wrote, “Having purpose in our lives is a feature of being emotionally healthy whether we are retired or not…Likewise, we need structure, whether it comes from a job or from self-imposed volunteerism or other pursuits we enjoy.”

During the past six years, I’ve watched friends navigate their post-work years through volunteerism, travel, hobbies, reading, exercise, family, consulting and, inevitably, physical reconstruction of knees, hips and backs. They seem content after productive work lives. They have no regrets.
Brad Fout gave me an entirely new perspective. He retired young. He moved to Talbot County. He sought a way to use his hands and bought a business unrelated to anything he had accomplished in the corporate world. He gambled and succeeded. A recession and the impact of Amazon were unforeseen.

Though not alone in developing a second or “encore” career after an early retirement, Fout sought a work life outside his comfort zone. He’s had to adapt.

Retirement has many looks.

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.

Mary Ball Washington’s Place in History on February 9

Current events in Washington, D.C. and around the world have brought attention to women’s rights, but women’s roles in shaping and defining American history span centuries. Distinguished author and professor Martha Saxton is a leading scholar in the field of gender studies and women’s history, and she is the spring 2017 Patrick Henry Writing Fellow at Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience.


Martha Saxton

Her most recent work is on the life of Mary Ball Washington—the mother of founding father George Washington. To kick off her residency, Saxton will give a presentation on “The Widow Washington,” at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 9 in Hynson Lounge, Hodson Hall, on the College campus. Sponsored by the Starr Center and the Rose O’Neill Literary House, the lecture is free and open to the public.

Saxton’s upcoming book The Widow Washington is a biographical study of Mary Ball Washington. Minimally educated, Mary Ball left few records.Generations of George Washington’s historians have filled in around the sparse evidence that remains about her with increasingly unpleasant and frequently unfounded interpretations of her and her relationship with her son. Saxton’s book reevaluates this picture against the background of her life that spanned the dramatic changes of 18th-century Virginia. An orphan by the age of 12, Mary Ball went on to become a wife, mother, widow, planter, slave-owner, and devoted Anglican. Historians have tended to see George Washington as a self-made man, but Mary’s exacting temperament and reliance on her son in early widowhood to help her steer the family through precarious times strongly shaped his ideas about duty and his outsized sense of responsibility.

The genesis for The Widow Washington grew out of Saxton’s Being Good, Women’s Moral Values in Early America (2003), which had a section on 18th–century widows in the Chesapeake region. More broadly, the book is part of Saxton’s lifelong interest in locating the lives of women within their historical and social contexts so that their struggles with prevailing conventions can help restore to their memories meanings that have been lost. This was the goal of her earlier biographies— of the sex symbol, Jayne Mansfield (1976) and Louisa May Alcott (1977).

Martha Saxton retired in 2016, after teaching at Amherst College for 20 years in the History and Sexuality, Women’s and Gender Studies Departments. She has also taught at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia and for several years in the Inside/Out Program at the Hampshire County House of Corrections in Northampton. Saxton has garnered numerous awards and fellowships for her work as a scholar and a teacher and has published in the Women’s Review of Books, Journal of American History, and William and Mary Quarterly among other scholarly publications.

Based in an office at the Starr Center in the circa-1746 Custom House on the Chester River, Saxton will work on completing her book and teach a seminar in the Department of English. The course, “From Biography to Fiction: Transformation and Revision,” explores the relationship between biography and the imaginative process of writing fiction using the accounts of three well-known early American novelists: Catherine Maria Sedgwick, Louisa May Alcott, and Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Saxton will live in the restored Patrick Henry House, a 1730s-era house in Chestertown’s historic district. Washington College acquired the Patrick Henry Fellows’ Residence in January 2007 through a generous gift from the Barksdale-Dabney-Patrick Henry Family Foundation, which was established by the Nuttle family of Talbot County, direct descendants of the patriot Patrick Henry.

Launched by the Starr Center in 2008, the Patrick Henry Fellowship aims to encourage reflection on the links between American history and contemporary culture, and to foster the literary art of historical writing. It is co-sponsored by the Rose O’Neill Literary House, Washington College’s center for literature and the literary arts. The Patrick Henry Writing Fellowship’s funding is permanently endowed by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, with further support provided by the Starr Foundation, the Hodson Trust, and other donors.

Founded in 1782 under the patronage of George Washington, Washington College is a private, independent college of liberal arts and sciences located in colonial Chestertown on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The College’s C.V. Starr Center explores the complexities of the American experience through collaborative and creative approaches to understanding the past. For more information on the Center and the Patrick Henry Writing Fellowship, visit

Final Weekend to See “Jake’s Women” at Church Hill Theatre

Jake's Women 2

The cast of “Jake’s Women”

This weekend is the final opportunity to see Church Hill Theatre’s 2017 season opener: Jake’s Women by Neil Simon, which local reviewer Peter Heck commends for its strong cast and dramatic effects. Director Shelagh Grasso suggests that Jake’s Women, written after the breakup of the playwright’s third marriage, offers a “peek into the mind of Neil Simon.”  Whether or not it is truly autobiographical, Jake’s Women is a classic Simon comedy which offers “a combination of real-life characters and sharp dialogue that audiences know to expect from Simon.”

Jake, a writer with both mental health and relationship issues, is trying to save his marriage. In the course of the play, he consults with both the audience and “ghost” women from his past, including his mother, a much-loved deceased wife, and his daughter. When real and imaginary women collide, even Jake’s psychiatrist is confused.

The Church Hill Theatre production of Jake’s Women will run through February 5, with performances at 8 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 2 pm on Sundays.  CHT offers discounted rates for groups of ten or more.  Call the box office at 410-556-6003 or visit the website for details and reservations.

First Gilbert Byron Poetry Contest Winners Announced

The winners of the first Gilbert Byron Poetry Contest recently gathered at the Talbot County Free Library in Easton for an awards presentation.  The winners were selected from more than 90 entries from Talbot County 6th, 7th and 8th grade middle school students.

Poetry Contest

Photo: Pictured front row, L to R, are winners of the first Gilbert Byron Poetry Contest: Morgan Kimminau, 8th grader at Saints Peter and Paul (SSPP) – Honorable Mention; Gracie Mazzeo, 7th grader at SSPP – Honorable Mention; Anna Sanford, 8th grader at SSPP – Third Place; Alyssa Rayner, 6th grader at Chesapeake Christian School-Honorable Mention; Hannah Hock, 6th Grader at Chesapeake Christian School – Second Place; and Banchi Short, 6th Grader at Chesapeake Christian School – Third Place. Back row, pictured L to R, are Kelley Malone, Gilbert Byron Society member; Eugene Casey, 7th Grader at SSPP – Second Place; Nathan Lovell, 8th Grader at SSPP – First Place; SSPP Teacher Susan Galanek; Connor Herron, 7th Grader at Chesapeake Christian School – Honorable Mention; Katie Bryan, 6th Grader at Chesapeake Christian School – Honorable Mention; SSPP Teacher Karen McLaughlin; Erika Mae Brady, 6th Grader at Chesapeake Christian School – First Place. Absent from the photo were Lamont Evans, Jr., 7th Grader at Chesapeake Christian School – First Place; Colt Easterling, 7th Grader at SSPP – Third Place; Ethan Lister, 8th Grader at Chesapeake Christian School – Second Place; and Chase Magennis, 8th Grader at Chesapeake Christian School – Honorable Mention.

Gilbert Byron was a local author and poet. The poems celebrated the themes of Byron’s writing, including caring for the environment and celebrating the watermen’s lives (what he called the cowboys of Maryland).

In addition to their cash awards and honorable mentions, each winner was presented a certificate and a small cluster of the Lord’s oyster shells in honor of Byron’s nationally-acclaimed novel, “The Lord’s Oysters,” which preserves life on Maryland’s Easter Shore during the early years of the Twentieth Century. Jack Baker of the Gilbert Byron Society, which sponsored the Poetry Contest, stated, “May these ‘Lord’s Oysters’ capture those special times and places that remain in our thoughts and memories of the great Chesapeake and Delaware Bays.”

For information about Gilbert Byron and The Gilbert Byron Society, visit

Talbot County Economic Development Solicits Input on Updating Strategic Plan

Talbot County’s Department of Economic Development and Tourism wants to hear from you!

In an effort to update the County’s strategic plan for economic development, the department will hold listening sessions at select locations around the county to gather input from area business owners and elected officials.

The first listening session will be held in Easton on February 2 at 8 a.m. in the Wye Oak Room at the Talbot County Community Center. Business leaders are invited to attend and express their hopes and concerns about the economic future of Talbot County.

“This process gives members of our business community the opportunity to share their vision for the county and voice their concerns in a public forum,” says Talbot County Economic Development Coordinator Sam Shoge. “We invite our business owners to come out and tell us what they need.”

Tim Jones, chairman of the Talbot County Economic Development Commission, says developing a well thought out plan for business development is key to Talbot County’s future.

“This planning process will allow Talbot County to develop a plan to grow our business base while maintaining the county’s character that is so important to each of us,” he explains. “Through a focused approach to economic development, we will be able to provide our residents an opportunity not only to live, but also to work, in Talbot County.”

Community input is vital to the strategic planning process, says Talbot County Council President Jennifer Williams.

“Our dynamic economic development team is looking for help in prioritizing their efforts,” Williams says. “They are excited and ready to go to work, but want to make sure that the course they take reflects the wants and needs of our citizens. I urge businesses throughout the county, whether large or small, to come out and be heard and help us shape the best course possible for Talbot County.”

In addition to the Easton meeting on February 2, other meetings include Trappe on March 2 at the Trappe Volunteer Fire Company; Oxford on April 6 at the Oxford Community Center; and St. Michaels on May 4 at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s Van Lennup Auditorium.

For more information, contact the Talbot County Department of Economic Development and Tourism at (410) 770-8058.

Summer Positions Available at Church Hill Theatre

Church Hill Theatre is accepting applications for three paid staff positions for the 2017 Green Room Gang summer program. The theatre requires a Green Room Gang Sr. director and two interns to work with the directors.  Green Room Gang is a summer theatre workshop which consists of two camps. GRG Sr. is a five-week, full day program of theatre instruction for youths entering grades 6—12 that culminates in a fully staged musical for public performance. GRG Jr. is a four week, half day program for youths entering grades 1—5 which also concludes in a fully staged age-appropriate musical production.  Green Room Gang Jr.’s director for 2017 is Becca Van Aken. Both camps are in session Monday through Thursday.  GRG Sr. begins June 19 and ends with performances July 20, 21, 22 & 23; GRG Jr. starts June 26 and culminates with the production on the same dates as GRG Sr.

curtain call

Green Room Gangs Senior and Junior pose for curtain call at the close of 2016’s summer camp.

The GRG Sr. Director will lead the production from concept to performances.  They will be responsible for all aspects of the production including costumes, props, lighting and sound; however, the focus of this job is the instruction of the students and the casting, directing and rehearsing of the show.  Applicants should have extensive formal education and experience in all aspects of theatre, and should be able to work well with young people.  In addition, applicants will be interviewed for the position and would be expected to come prepared to discuss possible shows and their vision for the shows.

The interns will work closely with the Directors of both GRG Jr. and GRG Sr. and will assist in instructional, directing and production aspects of each of the programs. The two intern positions require a HS diploma as well as experience and higher education in theatre.  All applicants will be interviewed for the positions.

For more information and applications for any of these positions, please contact the CHT Executive Manager Nina Sharp at 410-556-6003.  The deadline for applications to be received by CHT is February 24, 2017.

Violin Concert at St. Mark’s Feb. 12

will curryNew York musician Will Curry will present a violin concert at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church on Sunday, Feb. 12, at 3 p.m.

The concert, which will feature classical favorites, is free and open to the public.

The program will feature music “to clear the head and calm the soul” by such composers as Mozart, Vivaldi, Telemann, Elgar and more. Curry will be accom-panied by Elizabeth Doran on the piano.

Curry has a diverse musical career in New York City as a violist, violinist, con-ductor and assistant conductor. He currently is violist and assistant conductor for the upcoming revival of the Broadway show, “Miss Saigon,” and held similar posi-tions with revivals of “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Les Miserables.”

Prior to his time in New York, Curry was an associate conductor of the Mirvish’s “Les Miserables” in Toronto and an assistant conductor and concertmaster for the touring production of “Le Miserables.” He recently made his Lincoln Center debut with the American Songbook in a concert featuring the music of Andrew Lippa.

Curry has released two albums, “Fill in the Words” and “The Time of Year for Mi-racles,” with actor-singer Patrick Gibb.

Trained in the Suzuki method at the School for Strings in New York, Curry has a teaching studio and is a teaching artist with Broadway Classroom.

The concert here is part of the St. Mark’s Sunday afternoon series which is funded in part by a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council, with revenues provided by the Maryland State Arts Council. A love offering will be received to help cover costs.

Delmarva Review: To Three Suburban Moms Too Frightened To Drive Their Girls To My Detroit Neighborhood

Did you miss our latest spectacle? And the outcome—urban renewal so bright it’s visible from satellites buzzing overhead? Look now, toward construction ticking like clockwork at every downtown corner, cranes hanging like kites at our choppy skyline. See the buildings still standing. The earthmovers shoveling remnants of those that tumbled to the pavement. See Woodward Avenue gutted like a silver trout as commuter trains aim from suburbs to city for the first time ever, while church choirs in every nook and crook of Motown proclaim Hallelujah to packed houses and God in His heaven!

Come this way. We won’t sting or pinch, won’t give you a second glance—these days most of us are wary as turtles, heads crammed in shells. Weary as sloths beneath the weight of everyone’s attention, the any moment now when it swings like a trapeze to the next calamity. So by the time you read this, we’ll already be forgotten.

I promise—my own neighbors barely shoot their guns anymore, and then only on holidays, only into the sky—which clearly had it coming! We’re grounded as century oaks. Check our brick foundations, how firmly they’re jammed into the dirt. We’ve stood through decades of hail and sleet and funnel clouds all. We’re so airtight our basements sometimes burst into flame, even as fire hydrants trickle 24/7.

Look how ivy climbs arm over fist across our roofs. How every spring the day lilies shove headfirst through our crusty soil. See how high our roses grow in summer, how the squirrels eat the pumpkins every Halloween and nobody begrudges them. How Christmas lights go on twinkling all through the long winter and into the thaw—it’s our civic duty and we take it damn seriously. And down the street in neon red, Jesus Saves! shines all year long from someone’s bedroom window.
So what if a little litter loiters at our crosswalks, the band flyers riding the wind, some crinkled Kit Kat wrappers because who doesn’t love those? The empty MD 20/20 bottle rolling like a puppy into a lonely pothole that’s only swallowed one VW Bus. That one time. We know of.

So breathe easy, my dears. These days nature mostly keeps to itself. And what doesn’t, we work around because we’re slippery that way. No one bothers when packs of unloved, spotty mutts come shuffling and snuffling at our garbage bins. And if you ignore the wild turkey lording over the golf course behind my house, she’ll leave you be.

Where I live, raccoons and possums only go about their errands at dusk. Disregard reports of fox, of gray wolves near the river, their midnight songs blending with sirens, so we only moan along in our deepest dreams.

It’s true—somewhere across the city, families of hawks circle the clouds, plummeting to Earth like glossy missiles to pick off unlucky bunnies or rats—quicksnap and it’s done. Feral cats squat like hobos in abandoned storefronts, pheasants disappear into grasslands where blocks of houses are right this moment sinking beneath the press of rain. But you’ll never see this. No one comes here anymore. Not like my good neighborhood.So pack your girls, point your car toward the incinerator, and drive.

Never mind the factory fire at our northern border, how it’s smoldered three days now—only watch your direction in the smoke plume! Look for landmarks—Praise Him Beauty Salon here, The Booby Trap over there, a hundred little pot shops all in a row, their ubiquitous green crosses sprung like saplings from naked ground. Hand-painted signs declaring Club Medz and House of Dank and Puff Detroit so we’re all kind of embarrassed. Shut your windows to avoid the contact high, and just keep driving.

Corner of 8 Mile and Woodward, pass Face-Tattoo-Guy looking rougher by the week. Beside the bridge, see Old-Lady-With-Snaggletooth who keeps an eye on Toothless-Guy. There’s Young-Guy spelled by Other-Young-Guy, their cluttered patch of landscape like a refugee camp. There’s Crazy-Guy who’ll point at you and laugh—just fair warning. Give him a buck, or not. Offer a nod. Or not.

It changes nothing. But come anyhow. I’m serving brownies from scratch, and chamomile tea with honey from city bees. You’re so close, your mouth waters.

Or not. Don’t fret, we’ll be fine either way. My daughter will shrug like teenagers do. Whatever, she’ll say. She’s used to it by now. And you’re nestled like shiny pennies in your houses, your green-as-a-dollar-bill lawns edged in perfect squares, cars snug as ponies in every garage. All of which makes me want to tell you something important, something about our stars and how they’re misaligned.

Or that a butterfly flap flap flapped its wings fifty-some years ago and the weather shifted, the storm rose between us—then faded from Technicolor to gray, to ghost.

But that doesn’t matter. We are here. Come if you like.

The Spy is pleased to reprint Ms. Bernstein-Machlay’s creative nonfiction from The Delmarva Review, Volume 9. The literary journal is published by the Eastern Shore Writers Association with support from private contributions and a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. For information, visit:

Laura Bernstein-Machlay is an instructor of literature and creative writing at The College for Creative Studies, in Detroit, Michigan. Her poems and creative nonfiction have appeared in numerous journals including Michigan Quarterly Review, New Madrid, Concho River Review, Oyez, Redivider, and upstreet. She has work forthcoming in The American Scholar, Soundings East, and Moon City Review.