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Articles by Sandra Olivetti Martin

Every love story has to start somewhere

Love is a quest we all have in common.
    But where to find it? Ah, that’s the question.
    Every story in Bay Weekly’s now 21-year-old annual Valentine’s Day perusal of life and literature’s great theme has touched on that question.
    Don’t look to this year’s pair of love stories to break the rule.
    The quest is the adventure of “Winking at Mr. Darcy,” pseudonymous writer Liz Bennet’s chronicle of her one-month trial of Match.com.
    Our second, “For Better through Worse,” is a story of love’s promise fulfilled. In it, writer Marilyn
Recknor chronicles the indomitable love of Mike Kinnahan for Debbie Gurley in their 16-year shared battle with her metastatic breast cancer. You’ll learn in passing, however, that they met at a support group for people newly divorced.
    For love to flower, disparate paths have got to cross. The intersection is often a point of shared interest — even obligation. The high school or college campus. The circle of friends. The church group. Best of all, a wedding.
    Nowadays, love’s intoxication pushes many seekers of love into the roulette of electronic matchmaking.
    Are the odds better? Who knows? Stories of matches made online are regular reading in the wedding pages of The Washington Post and New York Times. Early in this century, Bay Weekly’s Louis Llovio found Petra online, beginning a still-playing love story [www.bayweekly.com/old-site/year04/issuexii07/leadxii07.html].
    Those, of course, are only the successes. Our Liz Bennet is still looking for her Mr. Darcy.
    Maybe she needs to spend more time in bars.

Love over Cocktails
    Bars are where my story begins.
    Mother was a waitress in the Mark Twain Hotel in St. Louis when Dad made dropping by his routine. “Marry him,” her immigrant mother advised. “He’ll take good care of you.”
    They were married in a priest’s parlor and feted by Grandmother Olivetti with good Italian cooking and homemade wine. Their honeymoon was a car trip to New York, with a rider along to pay for gas. They’d found his ride-wanted note posted on a bus-station bulletin board. “This was 1941,” Mother explained. “And your father was like that.”
    For the next quarter-century, they made their lives and living in bars. When Dad served a couple of years in the Navy, Mother earned enough in the free-spending war economy to shuttle between St. Louis and Key West, where Dad spent an easy war as a shore patrolman. At the same time, she was supporting me and her mother- and grandmother-in-law. Some leverage from the GI Bill and a small inheritance helped them buy the Stymie Club in 1948 or ’49. Business was good, if marriage wasn’t.
    Divorced, they stayed business partners. At the Stymie or the other bars they and their crowd frequented, both met a succession of new partners, including a spouse or three.
    Some of those years we lived upstairs above the Stymie, a supper club and cocktail lounge, and I grew up with my eyes and ears open. Customers were regulars. The same small-businessmen who took a long drinking lunch every day stayed for afternoon cards and came back for dinner, with their family if they still had one. In the off-season, pro-football players doubled as bartenders, and the same winsome women with off-the-shoulder dresses and good perfume sat at the bar every night. The crowd was young — 20s to maybe 50 — and energy was high and hot and infectious, though I didn’t recognize the hormones at the time. I saw them all fall in and out of love, and I listened in on the women’s stories of intoxication, hope and broken hearts.
    Mother dated the handsome golf pro with Robert-Wagner hair but married the ex-Marine who had the looks and build of Burt Lancaster in From Here to Eternity.
    Dad had so many girlfriends he bought Christmas presents — one year it was alligator purses and shoes — in threes. But he fell hook, line and sinker for the hotel manicurist who happened in one night. “I saw him fall,” Mother said. “He was like a puppy dog.” That was not a description that would have otherwise suited my father. That marriage lasted. Mother’s didn’t.
    Mother’s great love, a short and stocky man she never married, had roots in those days. So did her third husband, “a clean old man” she accepted and took fierce care of after she’d given up hope of the kind of love that lights your fire.
    I never fell in love in our supper club and cocktail lounge. But my mother gave me my first wedding reception there. A month later, the Stymie Club closed.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com

Bay Weekly’s 17th annual Mid-Winter Movie Escape will see you through

A lot about February makes a person want to nestle with a good movie.
    The groundhog’s advice is good: Burrow deep, leaving temperamental winter to howl through its moods. In the era of Netflix, successor to Blockbuster, we enjoy our escapism in the comfort of home. Pisces stands between us and spring, and what can we expect from the winter water sign of the Zodiac but the full spectrum of wintry mix delivered in wet sheets of rain, bullets of hail, ice showers of sleet and feet of snow? Bring on the movies! Hence our 17th annual Mid-Winter Movie Escape.
    You won’t lose yourself entirely because this year’s movies are tagged to Dates to Remember. February 6, when the issue hits the streets, is the date the great game of Monopoly came into play in the year 1935. Hence three of this year’s movies — The ­Seventh Seal, Clue and Jumanji — feature great games, under the heading Do Not Pass Go.
    February 7 is opening day for the Olympics in Sochi, Russia. When your television is not tuned to the winter games, you can Go for Gold with three movies in the Olympic spirit: The Cutting Edge, Miracle and Cool Runnings.
    A popular day, February 6 was also wedding day for Beach Boy Brian Wilson. This year’s Good Vibrations category warms you up for Valentine’s Day with a heart-wringing trio of love stories: Casablanca, The Painted Veil and WALL•E.
    The little month of February has room for a couple more commemorations. We bow to black history month with three movies honoring the black experience: Carmen Jones, In the Heat of the Night and Love & Basketball.
    February is our month of presidents, too. The Buck Stops Here with three presidential movies: Dave, The American President and The Contender.
    Our final category remembers 2014 as the centennial of the beginning of World War I, the war to end all wars. The Great War has inspired great movies. Our three picks: Wings, The African Queen and Joyeux Noel.
    To guarantee you variety in taste as well as theme, the Mid-Winter Movie Escape is the work of no one person. Assisting movie critic Diana Beechener were film fans Dotty Doherty, J. Alex Knoll, Bob Melamud, Marilyn ­Recknor, Elisavietta Ritchie and Heidi Schmidt.
    As February is tough on fishing, Sporting Life columnist Dennis Doyle has joined in the fun, with recommendations for four fine fishing movies to watch when you can’t wet your own line: Captains Courageous, To Have and Have Not, The Old Man and the Sea and Salmon Fishing in Yemen.
    We’ve given you three weeks’ worth of movies to help you wait out winter. But as we all know, the groundhog promises six — not three — more weeks of winter. We hope we inspire you to do us one or two better in each category. Watchers all, writers and readers are waiting for you to help us fill out our winter nights. Send your picks to editor@bayweekly.com.
    For my Mid-Winter Movie Escape, I’ve set up a nest of pillows and blankets close enough to the fireplace to singe me, and likely the dog and cat, too. Left to my own devices, I’d not be going any place soon.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com

The only time zone big enough for Season’s Bounty in Chesapeake Country

Don’t you love it when you finally find a use for some of the stuff you learned in school?
    We liberal arts majors at St. Louis University, a Jesuit school, had to minor in philosophy, and most of those 18 hours of theoretic thinking buzzed right by me. Yet here I am, reveling in my recent illumination of a new way to understand time, that favorite subject of philosophers. For I’ve realized that I am a denizen of The Eternal Now.
    Think of The Eternal Now as a time zone that works like a really big purse: You can put everything you want into it, and there’s always room for more. The capacity of The Eternal Now expands endlessly, no matter what you’re doing or how much more you add to your program —until you look at the clock.
    Then panic ensues, for you may find your Now is finished before you ever got around to your original purpose. Avoid that sorry state simply by turning your back to clocks — or their backs to you.
    The Eternal Now is a good zone to live in as we enter the busiest weeks of the year. For no other time zone — even vacation time — is capable of stretching far, long and wide enough to accommodate all you want to do these days.
    On the busiest day of the busiest week, this Saturday, December 7, I’m cramming a dozen stops into the elastic expansiveness of my Eternal Now.
    I promise to begin the day at the gym because we’ve got to skip the Jingle Bell Runs, both in Solomons and Annapolis.
    From there it’s my winter citrus pickup from the Lothian Ruritans, just a few miles north of my house at Lothian Middle School. Afterward, I’ll have time to stop by the Bulldawg Holiday Bazaar at Southern High School and the London Towne Craft Show before I dash up to Annapolis for some holiday party preparation. Out of the salon, I’ll rush to Eastport Gallery’s Holiday Group Show and SoFo Holiday Festivities at the Village Green Shops at South Cherry Grove.
    Even in The Eternal Now, keeping up with December 7’s variety takes speed. So I’ll have to forego all the greens crafts I’d love to spend hours doing at American Chestnut Land Trust, Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, Jug Bay and Willow Oak Flower and Herb Farm.
    Next it’s speeding — but within the legal limit — down to North Beach for the town’s fabulous Christmas Parade. Alas, I’ll be watching — and just the last half — rather than parading this year, which means missing half the fun. But even half is very good.
    Then it’s over to the Christmas Open House at ­Artworks@7th, where both art and refreshments — created by artist Julia Musengo — are high quality. Next begins my annual open house tour of Calvert antique shops at Nice & Fleazy and Chesapeake Antiques.
    Heading south, I’ll visit my animal and human friends at the Calvert Animal Welfare League Holiday Open House before dashing into the Calvert Historical Society Open House at Linden for a spot of history. Then it’s into CalvART for a spell of shopping at the Small Works Holiday Show.
    You work up an appetite living in The Eternal Now, so it’s lucky for me Trinity United Methodist Church’s 49th annual oyster and ham dinner lasts all afternoon.
    Blissfully full, I’ll have to head back north — no Lusby Christmas tree lighting for me this year, alas, and no tea at Historic London Town. I’ve got a big dinner date in D.C. at 6:30. Still, I’ve got time to drop by Medart Gallery’s open house in Dunkirk to hear Bill Resnick while meeting artists Paul McGehee — A Virginia Bay lover who does wonderful paintings and drawings of familiar people and places — and Calvert County’s Robert Fiacco, who’ll be showing lots of new oils on canvas, including his specialty, naval aviation and lighthouses.
    Friendship is right on my way home, so I’ll get to poke my head into Friendship Antiques and Vintage Collectibles’ Open House. Of course I’ll dart across the street for a quick browse in one of my favorite neighborhood places, The Magnolia Shoppe.
    Sunday, December 8 is almost as full, so it’s a good thing The Eternal Now starts anew every morning, noon and night. Among other things, I’m looking forward on Sunday to making my first visit to Bayside History Museum’s new home to see what curator Grace Mary Brady tells me is its “vastly expanded collection.”
    Then comes a whole wonderful new week of holiday opportunities. You’ll fit it all in if you join me in The Eternal Now. Chart your timeless path long-range in Bay Weekly’s Season’s Bounty and a week at a time in 8 Days a Week.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com

Get a taste of the West and Rhode rivers while supporting their heath

“You couldn’t have picked a better time for a visit,” I told the friends coming our way this weekend. “This Saturday we’ll show you what Chesapeake Country is all about.”
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He and Tom Sawyer invite you on five weeks of adventures

The rumor of Mark Twain’s death has apparently been very greatly exaggerated. For the legendary American storyteller, born as Samuel Clemens in 1835 in Florida, Mo., is paying Annapolis a second visit — 109 years after his first and 106 years after his death on April 21, 1910.
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School-age artists wanted to paint, draw and win prizes

Horses hold a special place in both the American heart and American art.
    Though not native to our continent, horses resonated with the great painters of the early American West — George Catlin, Karl Wimer and Frederick Remington — as symbols of primal power. Look in many middle schoolers’ notebooks or any art gallery, and you’ll see the tradition continues.
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Roadside buffers trap pollution in their roots

It’s not too early for planting trees — especially when you’ve got the digging power of the Maryland State Highway Administration. They’re busy planting roadside buffers of 8,700 trees in Anne Arundel County. Deciduous and evergreen in mixed rows, those trees will improve the health of the Chesapeake watershed by capturing pollution-producing nitrogen and phosphorus in their root systems.
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Will Tubman be the first woman on U.S. currency?

Harriet Tubman’s portrait will be in our hands and wallets, if Congressman Chris Van Hollen and the Dorchester County Council get their way. Both have asked federal Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to make the Maryland-born abolitionist the woman promised to be featured on the next new $10 bill.
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Eventually, we get big things done

I love the fell swoop. If I paint a room, I want it finished before bedtime. If I find a shrub in the wrong place, I grab the shovel. Got a story idea? I want it now. Done in a day — a week here at Bay ­Weekly — is the hallmark of journalism.
    I wish that more things dried as quickly as paint. Or flowed as fast as words.
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The Perennial Diva Stephanie Cohen talks garden-planning

Bay Weekly    What can we do for living color to hurry winter away?

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