Legacy Day Honors African American Teachers

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As school reunions go, the fourth annual Legacy Day in Chestertown breaks the mold.  This reunion will have a parade and block party in downtown Chestertown, and no one will care where you went to high school.  Everyone is welcome.

Legacy Day always attracts a large and diverse crowd and this year’s celebration should be the largest yet.  The parade will start down High Street at 5:00 on August 19, and from 6:00 to 10:00, the nine-member band “Soulfied Village” will make music while old friends and new, locals and come-heres, mix, mingle and dance in the street next to Fountain Park.

Every Kent County Historical Society Legacy Day highlights the county’s past.  In 2014, the first Legacy Day celebrated Chestertown’s Uptown Club, a stop on vaudeville’s Chitlin Circuit that featured stars as bright as Etta James, James Brown, BB King, Fats Domino, Little Richard, Otis Redding, Ray Charles and Patti Labelle.

The stars this year are the African American teachers who taught pride and excellence along with academics before county schools were integrated in 1967.  Now in their 70s and 80s, nearly 30 teachers, or, in the case of those who are no longer living, their relatives or friends, will ride in the parade in classic cars and, appropriately, on a school bus.

The Grand Marshall of the parade, waving from a 1937 Buick Roadmaster convertible, will be Garnet High social studies teacher Lauretta Freeman.

“The teachers were surprised when I called,” said Airlee Johnson, chair of the Legacy Day Committee.  Physical education teacher Gloristeen Powell Pinckett exclaimed, “Thank you for remembering us old gals!” and Mildred Upshur said, “Oh my gosh!  You all had the brightest minds.  I’ve always wanted to know what happened to you.”

For many, Legacy Day will be a reunion worth the drive from as far off as Georgia.  For others—too young to remember the pre-Brown v. Board of Education days or who attended all-white schools—it will be a chance to share stories and party.

Bill Leary, a white member of the Historical Society Board and a member of the Legacy Day Committee, says he attended segregated schools in Washington’s Virginia suburbs when he was a boy.

“I love Legacy Day because it is a genuinely interracial celebration of African American culture in Kent County,” Leary said.  “It is also great fun, as hundreds of people gather in downtown Chestertown to listen or dance to great music, eat good food and catch up with old friends.”

In addition to the block party and parade, Legacy Day will sponsor a Genealogy Workshop at 10:00 am on Saturday at Chestertown’s Public Library.  There will be a reception for the teachers on Friday.

Johnson says most teachers coming to Legacy Day taught at Garnet High, but some taught at elementary schools for African American children scattered throughout the county.  “Before I went to Garnet, I went to Worton Point,” Johnson said.  “It was a one-room school for grades one to four.  There was a table for each grade, a big stove and no indoor plumbing.”

A graduate of Garnet, Kent County Commission President William Pickrum will ride in the Legacy Day parade, but when he was a child he and his brothers walked 2½ miles to the three-room Coleman School from their home at YMCA Camp Tockwogh in Still Pond Neck.

Johnson says every African American school had the same goals.  “The expectation in our schools was that we would all excel,” she said.  “In a way, our schools were like exclusive private schools.  The teachers were preparing us to go out into the integrated world.”

My Father’s Dog

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Gus – Black Lab/Golden Retriever Mix – If found, please call 410-778-1536 or443-480-3377 –  Missing since May 31, 2017 

In 2010 my parents bought a puppy and I was angry. I was freshly graduated from Wheaton College and had been volunteering at an animal shelter in Massachusetts for the duration of my time there. I didn’t even want to meet the puppy, having seen over the years so many adoptable shelter dogs passed over. This puppy was a black lab and golden retriever mix, and he became the immediate companion of my brother Ben, who was in middle school at the time. Being ten years younger than me, and eight years younger than our sister Marva, Ben was in need of a friend at home. He named the puppy Gus.

It was a few weeks before I met Gus, and upon meeting him I tried to remind myself that it wasn’t his fault that he wasn’t a shelter dog. I patted him on the head and held onto my convictions. Maybe my parents would get a shelter dog the next go-round. Even I had to admit that he was a perfect dog: sweet, handsome and incredibly gentle. Ben loved his new dog. Predictably, Gus became the perfect addition to our family.

Over the years Gus grew to a substantial ninety pounds. He wasn’t overweight, and farm life agreed with him. He loved to spend his days roaming all over the farm; swimming in the creek, napping underneath the apple tree, chasing squirrels all over the place to his heart’s delight. My parents live in Quaker Neck, on the small thirty-acre farm which my grandparents purchased in 1964.  Essentially, it is dog heaven. Spending so much time on a farm has its downsides though, as Gus contracted a tick-borne disease known as “Ehrlichiosis”. We took him to the vet because he was so lethargic and were told that he would always be this way. He was up to date on his flea and tick medication, but sometimes that’s just no match for an Eastern Shore summer.

Whether as a result of his disease or whether he was just an intuitive creature in the first place, Gus began to spend all of his time with my father. My father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2006 and has since retired from his career as a marina manager in Rock Hall. As Dad’s symptoms progressed, Gus was there. He wanted to be everywhere Dad was: if he heard Dad’s truck, he came running. If he heard the boat start, he came running and jumped on board. If you visited us and saw Dad driving around the farm in his golf cart, you can bet that Gus would be sitting in the passenger seat. His devotion to my father was complete.

It brought me great comfort to know that if Dad fell, or had some kind of accident, Gus would be there and might be able to let someone else know. I grew up as many little girls do, idolizing their fathers and thinking, “Dad can do anything. Dad can fix anything. Dad is Superman! Dad can never get hurt.” As an adult, it has been very hard to witness the evidence to the contrary. I’m sure that I’m wrong, but to me it feels like no one has ever loved her father as much as I love mine. And now his dog, our dog, is missing.

Gus wandered out of the house sometime in the morning of Wednesday, May 31st and we haven’t been able to find him since. The “missing dog” posters have gone into every mailbox in Quaker Neck, Pomona, Cliffs City, and Broad Neck as well as others. The local media have graciously published small pieces about him. A $500 reward has been offered for his return. “Dogs Finding Dogs” have come out to the farm and sniffed around for him. The surrounding animal shelters and vets have been alerted. Thousands of people have shared our posts on social media. He has been listed on every “lost dog” group that we can find. My parents have even sought a consultation with a psychic recommended by a friend in order to help get him back. The neighbors have all been going above and beyond to help, combing their own properties, helping print and distribute fliers. A police report has been filed and the sheriff’s office has been doing what they can to help locate him. Dad has been driving around in his boat calling his name, hoping that Gus would hear the boat and try to come home.

At this point, it’s been over a month. If he is dead, I can’t help but think that we would have found him by now.  Gus is wonderfully social and loves everyone, making us believe he would be with people. If you are reading this and you picked him up, please bring him home. Perhaps you thought that you were picking up a sweet stray. Perhaps you thought that my parents weren’t good dog owners for letting him wander. Perhaps you wanted a dog for your own family. Whatever the reason, please do the right thing and bring him home to us.  We don’t just miss him; we need him.

Anyone with information about Gus or his whereabouts should contact the Kent County Sheriff’s Office at 410-778-2279, local animal control or my parents at 443-480-3377/410-778-1536. Gus is an unaltered, ninety-pound Black Lab and Golden Retriever mix. He is sorely missed. Please help us.

Tess Hogans, Chestertown

New Minister Joins Chestertown Unitarians

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Reverend Susan Carlson Browning

The Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalists of the Chester River, 914 Gateway Dr., Chestertown, is pleased to announce the selection of the as its new half-time minister.  Rev. Browning has been serving the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Easton congregation for the past four years as a half-time minister and will expand her ministry to Chestertown.

Rev. Browning came into the Unitarian Universalist ministry after a long career with Verizon. As young parents, she and her husband Bill had found Unitarian Universalism when looking for a faith home in which to raise their children.  As Rev. Browning relates,

I discovered Unitarian Universalism when my husband and I were in search for religious education for our family. Our children were young and being a part of a community that regularly opened conversations on ethics and morals seemed important. Making time for a spiritual life mattered especially because we felt so busy in our lives – a chance to slow down and even at times to pause. As we made connections and built relationships I got involved in church leadership, focusing on membership and social justice and eventually sensed this work of leading and building connections was my call to ministry.

Her long history of involvement in the lay leadership and religious education at the UU Church of Arlington, Virginia, prepared her for taking a new direction in her life, i.e., becoming a Unitarian Universalist minister.  Rev. Browning graduated with a Master of Divinity degree from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. and was ordained in 2013. She also holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of New Hampshire and a Master of Business Administration degree from Boston College.

Rev. Browning commenced her ministry in Chestertown on July 1stand will be giving her first sermon at UUCR on September 17th. She will be preaching on the first and third Sundays of most months and will hold regular pastoral hours at UUCR.

Rev. Browning and her husband Bill have three adult children. Regarding her new ministry with UUCR, Sue said, “I look forward to getting to know the congregation and the Chestertown community. For me, living out my faith is grounded in building and sustaining relationships and figuring out what can be done together.”

Silent Auction for SIDS

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Kay Smith of /Chestertown is hosting a silent auction at 3:30, Saturday, July 8, at Spa Angels, 308 Park Row in Chestertown. The auction is raising funds to help start a foundation in the name of Jamisen Grace Schultz, a 9-month-old girl who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome early in June. She was the daughter of  Jeremy and Kelly Schultz of Rock Hall.

 

Smith said in a message to the Spy, “The mission of the foundation is to get Owlets to working parents. Owlets is a sock that infants wear. It links to your smartphone, and you can check the status of your child (heart rate, oxygen level and temperature).”  To learn more about Owlets socks, see the company website.

Jamisen Grace

 

“All of the proceeds will go into making this foundation happen,” Smith wrote.

The auction will feature gift certificates from many local businesses, a number of donated items and tasty treats. Spa Angels will also offer 15-minute facials for $15. To donate items to the auction, call Smith at 410-924-2351.

Smith added on a Facebook Page for the auction, “Jamisen Grace was a beautiful, full of life little angel who did not get to finish her mission here on earth but will forever watch over her family.”

For more information, visit the Jamiesen Grace Silent Auction Facebook page. 

In Memoriam: Lois “Honey” Wood

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Lois Wood as Grand Marshal of the 2013 Rock Hall Fourth of July parade (photo by Steve Atkinson)

Lois R. “Honey” Crouch Wood of Rock Hall, died on Tuesday, June 27, at her home. A much-beloved member of her community, she was 92.

Born March 26, 1925 in Piney Neck to Charles and Amy (Ashley) Crouch, she attended Piney Neck and Rock Hall High Schools. After high school, she graduated from University of Maryland. Honey spent her younger years with her family and friends in Piney Neck on the waterfronts, boats and at her grandparents’ businesses, Crouch’s Store and C.H. Ashley & Son Oyster and Crab House.

On June 20, 1948, she married Cordray Wood of Eastern Neck Island, after their mothers, unbeknownst to them, arranged an encounter at Durding’s Store. He predeceased her in October of 1996.

Honey enjoyed being an educator for 31 years in the Kent County Public School System. She taught at Millington High School, Chestertown High School, Rock Hall High School and Rock Hall Middle School, as well as in the GED program in Rock Hall.

She was also a photographer and writer for the Kent County Educator publication. Honey operated an antique shop on Bayside Avenue and Wood Commercial Refrigeration and Air Conditioning with her husband. She painted names and hail ports on family and friends’ commercial and pleasure boats. Honey was also a realtor with Hogans Agency for 33 years and Gunther McClary for 2 years. She received several real estate awards and was a member of the Bay Area Realtors.

She was Grand Marshal of the Rock Hall 4th of July Parade in 2013. She served on the boards of the Rock Hall Museum, Rock Hall Yacht Club, and Kent County Library. She enjoyed ancestry, playing Poker and Pitch with her Rock Hall card club for over 60 years, working, talking about Rock Hall, animals, the water, crabbing, fishing, fish fries, crab feasts, skeet shooting, handworks, trips, cooking, family, friends, parties, and dancing. She won several skeet shooting tournaments at Rock Hall Yacht Club.

She is survived by her daughter, Robin Wood Kurowski and husband Ed, granddaughter, Laura Kurowski Nadel and husband Joe, and great granddaughters, Alexia and Lyla Nadel and many other family members and friends.

A memorial service will be held on Sunday, July 9, 2017 at 1:00 pm at the Rock Hall Yacht Club.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Rock Hall Marine Restoration & Heritage Center, P.O. Box 12, Rock Hall, MD 21661 for boat building and restoration projects or the Kent County Waterman’s Association 6645 Rock Hall Road, Rock Hall, MD 21661 for scholarship and oyster restoration projects.

Chesapeake Charities Names Event Committee for 2nd Annual Gala

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Chesapeake Charities will host its second annual awards luncheon, “A Celebration of Charity” on Thursday, November 16, 2017, at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club in Stevensville.

The Event Committee, led by Audrey Scott, includes Salena Barrett, Kathy Deoudes, Jodie Gray, Carllene Hurd, Jami Kirkwood, Paula Warner, Diana Waterman and Deidre Wilson.

“Last year’s event honored Governor Larry Hogan for the courageous leadership he displayed while battling cancer,” said Scott, “and the event committee is now planning another wonderful tribute to our community heroes.”

A Celebration of Charity 2017 Event Committee, Top L-R: Linda Kohler, Chesapeake Charities Executive Director, Salena Barrett, Diana Waterman, Carllene Hurd, Meg Gallagher. Bottom L-R: Jami Kirkwood, Audrey Scott, Event Committee Chair, Deidre Wilson. Missing from photo: Jodie Gray, Kathy Deoudes.

At the luncheon, the first Governor Larry Hogan Scholarship will be awarded to a student pursuing a degree in medical research. Awards for Philanthropist, Nonprofit and Volunteer of the Year will also be given. Nominations for these awards are now open and the forms can be found on the Chesapeake Charities website at http://chesapeakecharities.org/connect/forms-applications/ or request a form at info@chesapeakecharities.org.

Sponsorships for the awards luncheon are available and tickets to the event will go on sale in September at $100 each. For more information, send an email to info@chesapeakecharities.org.

Chesapeake Charities serves nonprofits in Anne Arundel, Calvert, Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties.

As a community foundation, Chesapeake Charities supports a wide range of charitable causes including arts, education, health and human services, animal welfare, and the environment. All of its 85 component funds have a common cause – a passion for making a difference in their communities. They have invested more than $9 million in the Chesapeake Bay region since 2005.

For more information, contact Chesapeake Charities at (410) 643-4020 or info@chesapeakecharities.org, or visit www.chesapeakecharities.org. Chesapeake Charities is accredited by the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations.

Fireworks! — A Spy Guide

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What’s the Fourth of July without fireworks? There’s nothing like a good fireworks show to capture the spirit of the holiday weekend – and if you’re one of those who enjoy the pyrotechnic art, there are plenty of opportunities to see the colorful lights and hear the “swish, boom and crackle” that for many of us are at the heart of Independence Day weekend. Here are some of the local displays for you to check out.

The shows are all scheduled to begin at dusk — usually about half an hour after sunset, which is around 8:30 this time of year. (Cloud conditions, etc. will affect the exact time, but if you’re there before 9 p.m. you won’t miss anything.)

Sunday, July 2 – Great Oak Landing.

Monday, July 3 – Rock Hall harbor – this is one of the most popular local fireworks shows, with music in addition to the bombs and rockets. The show can be enjoyed from all around Rock Hall harbor, especially along the waterfront near Waterman’s.

Tuesday, July 4 – Chestertown. The town’s display has been scaled back this year because of construction of the Washington College boathouse on the site where the pyrotechnics are usually set off. But it should be readily visible from Wilmer Park and other sites along the waterfront.

If you want to go a little farther afield, Centreville and Cheapeake City both have displays on July 2. Centreville’s show is across from Queen Anne’s High School, while Chesapeake City’s will be over the C&D Canal. Kent Island will also have a display July 4, at Kent Narrows.

All the shows begin at dusk, usually a bit after 9 p.m. – but it’s a good idea to arrive early to get a prime viewing spot (and parking within walking distance). Whatever your destination, drive safely – and enjoy the show!

Digging In: Dixon Valve Expands Its Footprint

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One of the most promising economic development projects to come to Kent County took a step forward Tuesday as Dixon Valve and Coupling broke ground for its new distribution center on the north side of Chestertown, on land that includes the plot previously owned by WalMart. KRM, the real estate division of Dixon Valve, put the project together and will oversee its development.

Dick Goodall, CEO of Dixon Valve, describes the new business complex the company is building in Chestertown before the groundbreaking ceremony for the company’s new warehouse.

Dixon’s CEO Dick Goodall opened the proceedings by recognizing those who made the project possible, beginning with the company’s employees who helped build business to the point where the expansion is needed. He also recognized government officials on the state, county and local levels who assisted with the permitting for the project and who smoothed annexation of the 80-acre property off Scheeler Road on which the warehouse and a surrounding  business campus are to be sited. Construction will be performed by local contractors, including Bramble and DMS, he said. Groundbreaking on the apartment complex is tentatively scheduled in the next few months, Goodall said.

Goodall also gave a brief history of Dixon’s 40-year tenure in Chestertown, noting that the company came to town with 15 employees – a number that has grown to some 340, most of them hired from the local community. He showed a copy of the company’s first catalog, some 20 pages long — it has since grown to more than 90 pages. The company’s payroll is more than $30 million, he said – and if the new business campus proves a success, Goodall said, he hopes to double its contribution to the county’s economy.

Dixon Valve was co-founded by Goodall’s grandfather in 1916. The company moved to Chestertown after a deal for a site near Philadelphia fell through, Goodall said.

In addition to the Dixon distribution center, plans for the property include an apartment complex, which Goodall said would be a necessary attraction to new employees considering a move to the community. Also in the plans, a little farther down the road, are a new headquarters building for the company, a large health club, and spaces for retail and offices. KRM will build the necessary infrastructure for the Chestertown Business Campus, including water and sewer lines and roads, which will then be turned over to the town of Chestertown.

After Goodall’s comments, he and several senior staffers at the company took to the shovels for the ceremonial groundbreaking. There were also drinks and refreshments including pastries and fresh fruit for attendees.

Among those in attendance were state Senator Steve Hershey, Chestertown Councilwoman Linda Kuiper, Town Manager Bill Ingersoll, and Economic Development Coordinator Kay MacIntosh, Kent County Economic Development Coordinator Jamie Williams, Jim Luff, chairman of the county Economic Development Commission and Loretta Lodge, executive director of the Kent County Chamber of Commerce.

MacIntosh said the presence of a business park with new development will be a strong asset for the town in marketing itself to potential new businesses considering moving here.

AAM and THS Sponsors Lecture on Maryland’s Black Soldiers During the Civil War

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On Tuesday June 27 at 6 p.m., the Academy Art Museum and the Talbot Historical Society will host a lecture, “Forgotten Warriors: Maryland’s Black Soldiers During the Civil War,” by noted Maryland historian Daniel Carroll Toomey.

During the Civil War 186,000 Black men served in the Union Army. The small state of Maryland, divided in its loyalties, contributed six regiments or about 9,000 men to the Union war effort. An additional regiment was organized in Norfolk, Virginia, but composed mostly of men from the lower Chesapeake Bay region and those who served in the United States Navy. Approximately half of these men were free when they entered the service, the other half slaves who gained their freedom as a condition of enlistment.

Segregated into regiments known as United States Colored Troops and commanded by White officers, these Marylanders of Color forged combat records equal to any units formed after the Emaciation Proclamations took effect. Of the 16 Black soldiers who were awarded the Medal of Honor during the Civil War, seven were Marylanders. Toomey will explain the evolution of these men from slave to soldier and recount their many accomplishments both as soldiers on the battlefield and veterans after the war.

Daniel Carroll Toomey is a graduate of the University of Maryland and the author or co-author of over a dozen books including “The Civil War in Maryland” and “Baltimore During the Civil War.” He has lectured for a number of historical organizations and colleges including the Smithsonian Institution and Johns Hopkins University.

The lecture is free and open to the public. For additional information and to register, visit academyartmuseum.org.