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Features (People)

A look at who we are through what we do in snapshots of Chesapeake Country ­working people aged 17 to 89.

Summer officially ends with Labor Day, aptly the day America sets aside to celebrate the people who made and make the nation.
      The holiday began as part of working people’s campaign to claim the benefits of their labor. Much has changed since the determined, often life-and-death labor struggles of the late 19th century. Industries have flourished and fallen. We do different jobs, contributing to a far different give-and-take than New York City’s 1892 Labor Day paraders. 
      Again as summer ends and Labor Day approaches, Bay Weekly looks at who we are through what we do in this parade of random snapshots of Chesapeake Country working people aged 17 to 89. Here, too, we do lots of different jobs. What we all have in common is the pride we take in our work.
–Sandra Olivetti Martin
Morgan McLendon
17, Pasadena: Nordstrom Saleswoman and Annapolis High School senior
     My first job was as a bagger and cashier at the Giant in Pasadena. I was 14 at the time and really didn’t like anything about it.
     Now, I’m a salesperson in the Nordstrom TOPSHOP brand department and absolutely love it! I’ve always enjoyed fashion and find it rewarding to help others find clothing that works best for their size and shape. It never feels like actual work.
     My position with Nordstrom has been my favorite job, and I will continue to work part-time when I return to school in September. I’ll actually have two part-time jobs, since I’ll also be working in a dental office.
–interviewed by Debra Driscoll
Megan D’Apice
19, Odenton: Summer lifeguard
     This summer, I’ve been a lifeguard at the Hillsmere pool in Annapolis. Before that, I worked at the Crofton Village pool for three summers. What I like best about the job is playing with the little kids at the pool.
–interviewed by Jackie Graves
Hanah Izzi
25, Prince Frederick and Federalsburg: Ravens cheerleader and dolphin helper 
     My first real job was at a Hair ­Cuttery. I have my cosmetology license, and I still cut hair on the side. I’m also a licensed insurance producer at an Allstate company
     Plus I have two other jobs.
      I work for the Ravens part-time as a cheerleader. We have three-hour practices Tuesday and Thursday nights and appearances throughout the community we sign up for. For games, we’re there five hours beforehand and practice on the field for a few hours. We go around the stadium before the game starts and engage with the fans. Then we run out the tunnel before the players and are on the sidelines the entire time. It’s really hard work. We’re nonstop dancing almost three and a half hours. 
      I’ve danced since I was two years old, first at Julie Rogers Studio, then on the Calvert High dance team, and at Towson University I was on that dance team.
      But what I actually want to do is marine biology. I work at the National Aquarium in Baltimore with the dolphins. I volunteer Tuesday and Thursdays, when I have cheerleading practice in Baltimore. I do fish prep for dolphins and help the trainers throughout the day.
–interviewed by Sandra Olivetti Martin
Renée Bennett
27, Prince Frederick … El Paso … Fort Meade: Soon to be Six String Soldier
     I’m a musician, a singer and violinist. My first job was a gig, playing with my dad and my sister Hanah Izzi on piano.
     I’ve been freelancing in El Paso, where my husband is in the Army Band. A month ago, my husband I got hired by the Six String Soldiers, part of the United States Army Field Band at Fort Meade. So we’ll be playing and traveling together.
      I’ve been in a couple of country bands, in rock bands, but so far I really like playing classic rock with an orchestra best of all.
–interviewed by Sandra Olivetti Martin
Tony Lewis
28, Annapolis: Owner, Tony J Photography 
      If I could shoot every day, that would be a dream come true.
      My favorite part is working with people and connecting with people. I was a super shy kid; I stuttered a lot. I had a Fisher-Price camera and I remember running around the house saying, Say cheese! I realized the camera allowed me to be in places I ­wouldn’t be in or wouldn’t feel comfortable being in.
      When I was 17 I toured the country with a company that did government contracting. Every other day I went to a different part of the country and photographed employees. When I got back from that trip I thought, I’m going to be a photographer for the rest of my life. 
       People ask me what my favorite shot is. I haven’t taken it yet. The artist in me is always trying to do better. I don’t think I’ll ever have that moment … and I don’t want that moment.
–interviewed by Emily Shaughnessy
Jennifer Carr
31, Severna Park: Restoration Program Manager, South River Federation
     I’ve always been very passionate about international issues, especially international conservation. After graduating college I was waiting for a job in the environmental field to open up, and I worked for an AmeriCorps education nonprofit and for the International Refugee Committee in Baltimore. There are refugee families I picked up seven or eight years ago at the airport that I still keep in touch with today. I run clothing donations to Burmese refugee communities in Baltimore about 10 times a year.
     I started as a volunteer intern with the South River Federation. Now I manage the restoration program: everything from writing grants to coordinating with landowners to overseeing construction. Having grown up in Pennsylvania I’ve always been more drawn to the land side, but that’s a huge part of restoring the Bay: you cannot restore the Bay without addressing the stormwater coming off the land. 
–interviewed by Emily Shaughnessy
Lt. Scott Clark
34, Annapolis: USNA Conduct Officer
      My first job was at 13 or 14 as a swim instructor at our local pool in Simi Valley, California.
     After years of flight school in Pensacola, I went to San Diego, flying MH-60S Knight Hawks, then was deployed to Bahrain, Dubai, Jordan, Israel and Singapore. Now I’m back at the Naval Academy, working as a Conduct Officer, which boils down to being a disciplinarian. It’s difficult because I enjoy working with the midshipmen, and the ones I interact with on a daily basis are not there for happy reasons. It’s always a difficult conversation.
     My favorite job was as Company Officer, overseeing and advising the close to 150 midshipmen in each of 30 companies at the Academy, where I graduated in the class of 2009. I find it extremely rewarding to mentor, lead and teach the young Mids. It’s important for me to have them learn from the mistakes I made while in their position. Pay it forward, if you will.
–interviewed by Debra Driscoll
Sherry Kuiper
37, Edgewater: Public Relations Officer at Fort George G. Meade
      Working in public relations, I get to help tell the Fort Meade story every day through television, radio stations and newspapers.
     My first real job was working at McDonald’s. I worked at the McDonald’s Bill Elliott NASCAR Museum in Muncy, Pennsylvania. It was pretty cool because the car he wrecked in Talladega hanged in the restaurant. One of his other cars served as our drive-thru window
     My best job was working as a production assistant at Community Access Television in Erie, Pennsylvania. I interned there in college and was eventually hired. I got to do everything. I took care of the programming, made videos for political candidates and taught people how to shoot and edit video. It was my first job in my career. While I was sad to leave, it launched my 12-year career as a TV news producer.
–interviewed by Alka Bromiley
Marcus Hayes
38, Annapolis: Sound studio engineer and Uber driver 
     At 14, when we were living at Incirlik Air Force Base in southern Turkey, I had a clerical job with my step-mom. It made me understand what working at an office was like; it was cool. I learned how to be responsible at a young age, how waking up early to get to work was important and how to earn my own money.
      Then for almost 10 years, I was working in the optical business, and I liked that the most. I cut prescriptions and helped people choose frames, find the right look for them. I left to pursue my ambition, a career in the music industry.
      Now I do a hybrid of things. I am self-employed. My schedule is flexible, so I am an Uber driver. I help people get around. It’s not a 9-to-5 job; some people say it’s not a real job, but I treat it like one. I am also a sound studio engineer working on live performances. The genre is a mixture of soulful R&B and hip-hop, I like to call it soul hop, it’s the music I help to create.
–interviewed by Alka Bromiley
Bill Jiang
40, Gambrills, via China: Sushi chef
     Starting as a grocery clerk, I learned my art 14 years ago from a ­Japanese master who was my smoking buddy and a very demanding master. I have worked at the Fuji Lounge in Gambrills for the past five years. I like my job because it makes me feel like a surgeon: wearing gloves, holding the knife and preparing the fish very carefully. Chinese New Year is my favorite event when I prepare artistically themed creations for over 120 people, and they are so very appreciative.
–interviewed by Jane Elkin
Veronica Contreras
45, Annapolis: Owner, Vero’s Housekeeping
     I was born in Mexico and grew up in California. My first job, at the age of 13, was as a cashier at a taco stand in Canoga Park, California.
     Currently, I am the owner of Vero’s Cleaning. I started it around six years ago, as the major breadwinner in the family (I have three boys). It can be hard work sometimes, but I’m so lucky to have very nice clients who appreciate our effort. 
      My favorite job was as a cashier, no matter where. The most difficult part was standing all day. But I always enjoyed talking with the customers. It made the day go by quickly, too.
–interviewed by Debra Driscoll
Scheri Goff
47, Annapolis: Yoga teacher
      My first job was working with severely emotionally disturbed boys aged 10 to 14 in a group home setting. Most had no parents or little parental interaction. The majority were wards of the State of California, where I lived at the time. I believe that the resilient spirit of these young men taught me the meaning of compassion, love and pain. 
     It is not really accurate to call my life’s purpose a job. I love what I do as simply and fully as anyone who has found their path to show others how to live well. Through yoga, we can learn so much about ourselves and in turn share that peace with the world. 
      Best job? Being a mother, friend, wife, yoga teacher and lover of life, I feel I have been given a gift to make a difference in the world. I teach what my teachers have taught me, passing it down with personal experiences. Through positive thinking, healthy eating, proper exercise, proper breathing and plenty of rest, I believe we may all live fully and well. 
–interviewed by Alka Bromiley
Ray Alves
54, Mechanicsville: Cartographer, Calvert County Department of Planning
      I draw maps for Calvert County. Anything to do with planning and zoning. My most recent job, with lots of people working on it, was a redo of Calvert’s Critical Areas map.
     No, they aren’t as pretty as Captain John Smith’s maps. I like the old maps and style of the calligraphy. I always liked to draw, and everyplace I went, I did more and more. I used to draw maps by hand on a drafting table. Now I do them by computer.
     I’ve worked in mapping for three counties, St. Mary’s, Anne Arundel and Calvert. I like it when I can accomplish stuff and get things done for people. I like to see their faces when I’m done.
–interviewed by Sandra Olivetti Martin
Claire Cawood Parker
54, Annapolis: Maryland State Archery champion
      My first job was a counter clerk and cashier at a Burger King in Nashville, where I was born. I then attended the University of Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Johns Hopkins universities to become a mental health counselor. I worked in private practice in the Annapolis area, administering to children and adults. Over the years this profession turned out to be my favorite and most worthwhile occupation for the positive effect it had on the many patients I served.
      Retired, I’m now working part-time as the manager of the Archery and Firearms Department of Angler’s Sport Center as well as continuing as a Maryland State Archery champion. I’m an outdoorswoman, and I find working and interacting with like-minded people a great deal of fun.
–interviewed by Dennis Doyle
Celia Molofsky
North Beach: Owner of The Wheel  
     My first job was the Army. I enlisted right out of high school. I retired as a sergeant major. My biggest accomplishment was moving the National Guard from a traditional force to an active force after 9/11. 
     The Army was my best job. I believed in what we were doing, the philosophy of fight and defend.
     Now, I’m owner of The Wheel LLC in North Beach. We’re an art gallery with 45 artists, a trendy gift shop and a tavern with fine wines and Ship Oat spirits — plus selling sophisticated clothing for men and women.
–interviewed by Tracy Contrino
Dan Starsoneck
60, Newly arrived in Annapolis: Global fire detection manager
      When Dan meets new people and they ask about his life, he jokes that he spent 26 years in prison — prison security that is, as a technician installing security systems for Johnson Controls at such notorious penitentiaries as Rikers Island. After 40 years in the business, he was recently promoted to sales manager for the northeast North Atlantic division.
      His first and worst job was baling hay, “exhausting and nasty work,” he says.
–interviewed by Jane Elkin
Mitzi Bernard
60, Friendship: Director, Bay Community Support Services
     After high school I worked at the ABC Wildlife Preserve where Six Flags Amusement Park now sits. The land was broken up and enclosed in sections each representing a major continent. We would ride horseback to round up the animals from each continent: cows and buffalo for North America, wild boar and ostriches for another and so on. It was the coolest job because we rode horses.
     I made my career in not-for-profits, working mostly for people with disabilities as I have for over 25 years as director of Bay Community Support Services for disabled individuals. This is my best job ever because we make a real difference in people’s lives. I call this a giving-back-to-the-community kind of job. We provide residential support in agency group homes as well as privately owned homes, employment services, day community activity programs, life-skills training, transportation and more to over 250 clients with all levels of disabilities.
–interviewed by Mick Blackistone
Greg Bowen
63, Prince Frederick: Executive director, ­American Chestnut Land Trust
      Right out of college I was a farmer. I farmed for a couple of years on the family farm in Prince Frederick.
      At American Chestnut Land Trust, I get to help preserve lands and be a good steward to that land. I get to go out on the trails and work with hundreds of volunteers who love the land as well. We have a little farm, so we are raising food and donating that to those in need.
      One of the most exciting things we started this year is doing science in the watershed, trying to set baselines for all the critters — all the flora and fauna — and then monitor trends to see how they are impacted by development, climate change and by invasive species.
     This is my best job. The camaraderie, the kindness that you see every day and the commitment to the environment is just incredible. I’ve had good jobs, don’t get me wrong. I loved being a planner for Calvert County, and I got to see so many good things happen over that time. But now I get to focus on the land and land preservation. What a life!
–interviewed by Sandra Olivetti Martin
Bill Driscoll
Annapolis: Hotel manager
     My first job was with the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Parks and Recreation, where I was a recreation leader. At 16, I had a pretty cushy way to spend the summer and make money. My responsibility was distributing equipment for sporting events and games for kids. 
      A 48-year-old veteran of the hospitality industry, I graduated from Penn State University in 1968 with a degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management. I’m currently area general manager for the Westin and Sheraton BWI hotels. I’m the official GM of the Westin and also oversee the GM of the Sheraton. The responsibility for everything related to the profitability of both hotels is mine. My wife always has a large cocktail ready for me when I get home.
     My best job was vice president of development in the mid ’90s. I was able to use my hotel operations background when assessing new hotels for the company to buy. It was exciting growing the group one hotel at a time.
–interviewed by Debra Driscoll
Gale Gillespie
Severna Park: President, Anne Arundel Community Concert Association
     My first job was also my favorite job. Summers during college I worked keeping the books in my grandfather’s building material business in Norfolk. The office area conjoined the sales floor; there was constant interaction between the office staff and the customers. In those days Norfolk still had a small-town feel, and my grandfather knew all the customers by name. I very much enjoyed the friendly banter over those summers.
     My job as president of the concert association also lets me interact with many people and gives me the satisfaction of making this a better place to live. This is the start of our busiest time of year. We have sent out the mailings for our patrons to get their season tickets; shortly we will be processing them. We are also planning the hosting of our out-of-town artists and confirming the logistics with our venue, Severna Park High School.
     For our planning for the 2018-2019 season, I attended a showcase in Nashville where 24 artists auditioned. Now we need to sort through those and pick the four or five we want to make part of our season.
–interviewed by Bob Melamud
Linda Bouchat-Smith
Pasadena: Aquatic and land instructor
     Thanks to Miss James, my beloved kindergarten teacher, all I ever wanted to do was teach kindergarten. While in college, I worked my first job at EJ Korvettes in Glen Burnie.
     After college I found kindergarten jobs hard to come by. I taught second grade for four years. Finally, I found my dream job at Riviera Beach Elementary in Pasadena. There I spent 36 years teaching kindergarten and loved every minute of it.
     Water aerobics has always been my exercise of choice. After my retirement from the school system, I became certified through the Arthritis Foundation to teach both aquatic and land exercise classes. The classes I teach at Severna Park Community Center, Pasadena YMCA and Anne Arundel Community College promote flexibility and range of motion for persons struggling with arthritis and chronic pain. I also teach seniors how to do chair exercises through the Department of Aging. I’ve even had the privilege of teaching aquatics to my former kindergarten teacher, Miss James.
     I like to tell folks that by starting out with kindergarteners and working my way up to seniors, I’m trying to get to heaven. 
–interviewed by Diana Dinsick
Catherine Thames
89, Fairhaven: North Beach Bayside Historical Museum aide
      Right now I’m working part-time as an assistant at the North Beach Bayside Historical Museum. It is a great little gem.
     My first job was assistant playground director in Washington, D.C., during high school. I was also a Red Cross-certified swimming instructor at different D.C. community pools.
     Best or most interesting job? Well, teaching at Tracey’s Elementary for 12 years was a good one. But probably I would have to say being an elevator operator in the Longworth House Office Building, from 1964 to 1971. I got to know all the congressmen, and I could listen to their conversations about issues, the White House and so on. I would sit in the elevator, and when they heard the bell in their offices they had 20 minutes to get to the floor of the Capital to vote. When they were voting or in session I would go to the gallery and listen. When it was over I had to get back fast and have the elevator ready to take them back to Longworth. 
–interviewed by Mick Blackistone

Of Fenders and Gibsons, GE Smith and Eric Clapton

     American music grew up on American guitars.
     Mississippi Delta blues rose from the spirituals of African Americans but found a voice on National Resonator guitars built in California. Jazz and swing evolved from Big Bands on Gibson Archtops made in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The lonesome hillbilly folk we know as bluegrass was played on Martin guitars from Nazareth, Pennsylvania. When blues and jazz had a baby, they called it rock and roll and played it on Leo Fender’s Telecaster.
     In modern times, guitars that were once simply tools are hard-to-find classics. I’ve made it my business to find the coolest pieces I can for customers both in the States and abroad. 
 
Buying in Crisfield
     Back in the early 1990s, I got a phone call about a couple of old guitars down in Crisfield. About the guitars, all I knew was that one was a Fender and the other a Gibson. But I did know that the old fellow who had owned them had bought both in the ’50s.
     With an address and the old man’s name, I gassed up my van, headed across the Bay Bridge and down Route 50 on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
     Usually, my blood pressure drops as I cross over the Bay as the pastoral landscape and salty air are a potion to my soul. This day was different. I was on pins and needles with anticipation.
     No one was home, so I went into Crisfield to poke around. At a small shack with a hand-painted sign offering crabs and beer, I wolfed down an immense crab cake and washed it back with a sudsy Natty Boh. Then I asked around for the old fellow.
     It didn’t take long to learn he worked up the street as a mechanic. Luck was with me, for I found him, and we headed back to his house.
     When the old fellow pulled out a brown Fender case and a black Gibson case, it was hard to maintain my poker face. First, I opened the tight latches of the Gibson case to reveal a beautiful 1956 Gibson Les Paul Custom.
      1956 was a year of experimentation for Gibson. The pickups they used were a combination of the tried-and-true P-90 single coil and the Alnico magnet version of the same design. This guitar was in original condition, having never been altered in any way. And it had that smell that only an old Gibson has. It had a lovely patina, and, though it had the typical crazing lines in the finish, it was in splendid shape.
     The Fender had the so-called Thermometer case, named for the bulbous shape at the top and its curvaceous lines, covered in a brown fabric. A spider jumped out as I pulled the Broadcaster from its case. This guitar carried the signs of use.
      Fender, like many companies back then, named its instruments after popular themes. The Broadcaster was named for the radio and television icons of the day. That name got Fender in a pickle because the Fred Gretsch Company had trademarked Broadcaster for its line of drums. For a few months in 1951, the model was simply a Fender. Later that same year, it was re-named the Telecaster, a name in continuous use ever since.
     We agreed on a fair price.
 
Selling in New York
      Back at my shop, I restrung both guitars and called G.E. Smith, then music director and guitarist on NBC’s Saturday Night Live.
      He agreed without hesitation to buy the Broadcaster and said that I could see the show if I brought it up on Saturday.
      On Saturday afternoon, I boarded the train for New York City’s Penn Station.
      Arriving at Radio City Music Hall carrying a guitar case and wearing my Wayfarer sunglasses, I was mistaken for the evening’s musical guest, Eric Clapton (I was much slimmer in 1992). Clapton is one of my musical heroes.
      Hearing Eric Clapton and the SNL band play was magical. He played through G.E.’s old Fender Tweed Twin amplifier, and the tone was inspirational.
      At the cast party in the wee hours of the next morning, I timidly went up to Clapton as he sat in a booth with friends and that evening’s show host, Debra Winger. I mumbled something about him being an inspiration and yada yada, and he asked what was in the book I was holding. It was a photo album of all the guitars I had for sale.
      Eric Clapton slid over and told me to sit down so he could see for himself. Like the couple of guitar nerds that we are, we spoke for some time about guitars — plus fishing and shooting pool.
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Rick Hogue, the owner of Garrett Park Guitars in Annapolis, loves music, guitars, travel and good food too. He considers himself luck in finding a job wherein he can combine these passions. Check out his songs at reverbnation.com/rickhogue

Competitors in the Highland Games put brawn in their brag

You can wear a kilt, dance a jig or play a bagpipe to show the Celt in you. Or you can throw a tree, caber in Celtic parlance. You simply pick it up by the small end and run with it, then flip it end over end.
    You’ll see all those gradations and more this Saturday at the 39th Southern Maryland Celtic Festival and Highland Games.
    “There is too much to see in one day because with all the 23 event stations there is always something going on,” says organizer Mary Beth Dent. “Our goal is to entice folks to come again so they can see more.”
    Over athletic expressions of Celtic spirit, near-octogenarian Malcolm Doying rules. Doying’s enduring love for Celtic Highland Games has made him a fixture of Celtic communities near and far.
    “At almost 80 he is still training younger people coming up, encouraging them and helping perpetuate the traditions of the Highland Games and passing it down to the next generation,” Dent says.
    Tossing and throwing are key skills in the traditional heptathalon of feats of strength called Highland Games. The things you toss are weighty, and you must toss them all.
    “A caber weighs between 80 and 140 pounds,” Doying says.
    Stones used in Throwing the Stone, an early form of shot put, weigh only 16 to 22 pounds. The stone increases to 42 to 56 pounds with an overhead pole for brawny athletes Throwing the Weight — using only one hand.
    Tossing the Sheaf places the stone within a twine-stuffed bag weighing 16 pounds.
    “Competitors are Tossing the Sheaf close to 30 feet over the pole,” Doying says.
    Tossing the Hammer, Doying’s favorite sport, demands swinging a 16- to 22-pound hammer three times overhead before throwing.
    Throwing all these mighty weights, Doying traveled up and down the East Coast and all the way to Scotland.
    “The biggest and best competition was in Scotland,” said Doying. “The World’s Master’s Championship Competition for 40 and older was like the Olympics with a parade of guys from all over the world.”
    To fit into her husband’s competitive schedule, wife Patricia Shema adopted his passion. Shema started competing in her 50s, promoting a women’s class in the games. Between them, the couple has earned five world championships.
    “It’s so much fun,” Doying says.
    Want to step up?
    Start by watching the events to see how they’re done.
    “If you’re a reasonable athlete you can do it,” Doying says — next year with training.
    Forty-five athletes compete in three flights in the first games of the Mid-Atlantic season, said to be the best on the East Coast. One man is flying in from Germany. Fifteen athletes are women.


The 39th Southern Maryland Celtic Festival and Highland Games, Saturday, April 29, 10am-6pm. $20 admission includes heavyweight athletic events to testify to Celtic martial prowess and pride; music, dancing and instruction; living history to illuminate the culture, storytellers and genealogy seminars to strengthen cultural links — plus food and drink — all at Jefferson Patterson Park in St. Leonard: www.cssm.org.

Leo James knows better than most what’s swimming down there

In gauging the chances of a successful fishing season, I have learned to distrust the forecasting of state and conservation officials as fraught with politics and self-interest. Worse, my own guesses have proven wrong so often that I’ve learned to stop making them. There has been, however, one source I rely on year after year.
    I’ve come to think of this fellow with his thick mane of white hair as the Oracle of Mill Creek.
    Leo James has again and again captured the essence of the unfolding seasons more accurately than I thought possible. Living on the same Mill Creek waterfront property that his family has held over the last 100 years or so, this mostly retired waterman still rises at 3am this time of year to set nets for fresh bait. He fishes, tends to his marina and shares his knowledge of the Chesapeake with anyone who doesn’t irritate him. Luckily, I sometimes fit that qualification.
    “More rockfish than I’ve seen on the Bay in a lot of years,” was his first take this year. “The fish were so thick out there in February and March that they ran all of the alewife up into the creeks. Then more rock showed up this month, lots of big ones, too.”
    His prediction: “We’re going to have a good many fish for the trophy season this year, even better than last. And the regular season should be just as good.”
    Being on the waters of the Bay almost every day over the last 70 years has given James a prescience that eclipses the attempts of many highly educated scientists. The strenuous life he’s led has also left its mark on him. To say he’s fit is an understatement.
    The daily schedule as he moves about on the water and in his marina would put most of his age group (myself included) in the hospital.
    “But I can’t work into the night then be back on the water by 3am any more,” he confessed recently. “Guess my years are catching up with me.”
    In our conversation, he also reminisced to back in the day when 50- and 60-pound rockfish chasing fleeing alewife would slam into his bait nets.
    “They’d rock the whole boat. You almost couldn’t stand up some days. A rock tail two feet across would come up out of the water so it took your breath away. I remember one fish so big that it just tore through the whole net, never even slowed down. On one or two days, we had to quit setting. The fish just ran us right off the water.”
    Hyperbole? I’m not so sure. I’ve read and heard similar stories and caught glimpses of too many really big fish moving through Bay waters to discount any of the Oracle’s recollections.
    Part of the beauty and mystery of the Chesapeake is that you never really know what’s beneath. Of course, Leo James has a pretty good idea.

Scout lures wood ducks to Franklin Point State Park

Wood ducks are swamp-loving birds, so Shady Side, with its historical nickname The Great Swamp, ought to be the kind of place they’d like. All the more so Franklin Point State Park, 477 acres of wood and waterfront on the Shady Side Peninsula, where humans are welcome but not common.
    Wood ducks are welcome, too. To add curb appeal to the park, Boy Scout Reggie Scerbo, 18, of West River, has built and installed seven nesting boxes that satisfy the requirements of the picky and distinctive species.
    The medium-size dabblers have heads shaped like helmets and thick, upright tails. The males stand out like brilliantly colored harlequins. Less visible are the clawed toes that enable them to climb trees to nest in cavities. Lacking trees, they settle for nesting boxes built to just the right specifications.
    “The entrance hole had to face the water, regardless of compass direction,” Scerbo explained. “The height from the ground had to be about six feet, with an oval hole with a diameter of three by four inches. It is also important to put bedding inside the boxes, since wood ducks rely on the rotten wood that would be in a dead or dying tree. A predator guard is also important to keep out snakes, raccoons and other predators.”  
    Reproductive survival is low as the newly hatched ducklings are driven by instinct to flop out of the nest and follow their mother to the water. Nearly 90 percent of wood ducklings die within the first two weeks, mostly due to predation, according to the Chesapeake Bay Program. The vulnerable species was hunted nearly to extinction a century ago.
    Now humans are helping the species recover.
    Scerbo’s box is one of about 1,800 on Maryland public lands, from which some 8,000 chicks were anticipated in 2016.
    The Maryland Wood Duck Initiative recruits volunteers like Scerbo, offering training, site review and box location help as well as providing materials — cypress for the boxes and street sign poles for the supports.
    “Reggie figured out how to make it happen,” said West/Rhode Riverkeeper Jeff Holland. “He worked with experts from the Maryland Wood Duck Initiative to get technical support, cleared the location with the Maryland Park Service and got the help of the Scouts of Troop 249 of Edgewater in assembling and putting in the right place.”
    The ducks helped Scerbo earn the rank of Eagle Scout.
    “We expect a wonderful impact on resurgence of this species in our habitat,” Holland said.

Back then we had gardens; now we have Whole Foods

     Biggest problem in today’s society? I think electronics. Children watch too much TV. They have too many toys. They should be going outside, learning how to communicate, exercising.
    I grew up in Boston. We would play outside. Football, baseball, hiking. When you’re little, you don’t need video games. I just don’t think you need that. We had cartoons; watched them every once in a while. Not every day; just every once in a while.
    It’s too easy for children today. So when they’re older, they want everything. They expect everything. I think kids get greedy because they are given everything that they want from an early age. Back in the day, we’d fish, we’d get jobs cutting grass or working at the market. You have to work. You can’t expect your mother and father to take care of you. You agree, right?
    Kids have access to all of this information: the Internet, the iPhones, the iPads. You know what’s the best thing in the world? Libraries.
    Oh, and the music was so good back then! Dean Martin, Sinatra. You could understand everything! You can’t even hear a word with these rappers today. On Friday nights, there was a basketball game at the high school. We’d lie on our stomachs and look in through the window because we weren’t old enough to get in. And then there’d always be a big party afterward. That’s where I learned to dance, watching them.
    Back then we had gardens; now we have Whole Foods. We just used to call it nature! One time, my dad told his dad, “Pa, we’ve got green beans in cans now.” Pa said, “This will be the ruination of our country.” He was right. You know how much sodium is in canned foods? He was 89 and he knew that. They were so smart in everything they did, yet they didn’t have any college education.
    It’s such a fast pace in this life. We used to have such simple things to make us happy. We used to sit on the porch and wait for the ice cream truck once a week, you know the ones that play the music? Now that was fun.

Marshall Coffman’s martial ministry

     “You learn through both winning and losing,” says 70-year-old Marshall Coffman, who leads a double life.
    As the Reverend Dr. Coffman, he is associate pastor of the Christian Fellowship of Calvert County in Owings. As Sensei Coffman, he is head instructor of Budokan Judo Club at Northeast Community Center. Combining roles, he leads the Judo for Jesus ministry.
    This summer, Sensei Coffman earned the lofty rank of fifth-degree black belt.
    Gaining a first-degree black belt is a high honor coveted by many but achieved by only the most devoted. Rising to the fifth degree — a labor of 23-plus years for Coffman — demands not only technical ability but also sacrifice and devotion. Fewer than seven percent of Judo practitioners wear the red-and-black belt unique to this rank.
    As a 21-year-old U.S. Air Force communications technician, Coffman took advantage of his posting 30 miles from Tokyo to study judo with the renowned fifth-degree black belt Takehide Matsunaga. He learned while studying the ancient arts to teach others.
    From Japan to the Philippines to Colorado Springs to Andrews Airbase, he gained skill as he taught.
    In the Phillipines, he met his wife, Teresita Abellana Gadiana. They have two children, Felipe and Annette. The whole family has studied judo.
    By the time Coffman reached the Washington metropolitan area, he was a respected martial arts teacher.
     At 35, Coffman “felt the call” of a second, more demanding vocation: he devoted 12 years of night school to studying for the ministry. Studying while working at AT&T left no spare time.
    “Judo, I believed, was behind me,” he says. “God will sometimes ask you to give up something.”
    Coffman’s health also seemed lost. He suffered a heart attack, the crippling effects of Agent Orange in Vietnam, cancer and triple bypass surgery.
    As he recovered, he realized that poor physical health can damage a person’s spiritual health. In February 2004, he launched the Judo for Jesus Ministry at the Baptist Convention of Maryland and Delaware.
    That summer, the Judo for Jesus Ministry Team traveled nearly 3,000 miles, making gospel presentations in 21 churches with 375 new students professing their faith. The Judo for Jesus Ministry has since seen over 1,000 professions in faith.
    “Sometimes,” Coffman says, God gives what you gave back to you to use for His glory.”

Beckerman kicked his way from Crofton to Salt Lake to Brazil

The world’s sport takes the world’s stage next week when World Cup play begins in Brazil.
    Played every four years, the World Cup is the most-watched and admired sporting event on the planet. This year, Anne Arundel County has a favorite son in the play. Crofton-raised Kyle Beckerman, a 31-year-old defensive midfielder for the United States Men’s National Team and captain of Real Salt Lake, prepares to lace up his cleats and play for all the world to see.
    Bay Weekly checked in with ­Beckerman last November [www.bayweekly.com/node/19763], when he had just finished solid performances for the United States in the 2013 Gold Cup and the World Cup Qualification Tournament and was captaining a great Real Salt Lake Major League Soccer team. Since then, Beckerman’s Real Salt Lake reached the MLS Championship game in December. On May 22, Beckerman was named as a starter on coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s final 23-man roster to represent the United States in the World Cup.
    Crofton is swelling with pride for the Arundel High School alum.
    “Sure, Crofton may have Edward Snowden, but now we’ve got Kyle Beckerman to even it out. It’s so inspiring that he’s from my hometown,” says 18-year-old Patrick Russo, a life-long Crofton resident.
    “He is so awesome. I just ordered my little brother a Beckerman USA jersey as a graduation gift so he’ll be ‘repping Crofton all World Cup,” says Devin Garcia, local soccer fanatic.
    Despite hometown support, Beckerman and company will have a troublesome path to success, after being placed in what fans are calling the tournament’s Group of Death along with Ghana, Portugal and Germany. Only two of the four teams will move on to the next “knockout” stage.
    Portugal, ranked fourth in the world, claims the world’s greatest player in the 29-year old phenom, ­Cristiano ­Ronaldo, recently voted this year’s FIFA Footballer of the Year.
    Second-ranked Germany, the 2010 World Cup runner up, is arguably the most well-rounded and feared team in the world.
    Ghana, while ranked just 37th in the world, could hold more bad news for the Yanks. In the previous two World Cups, the United States’ fate was dictated both times in dramatic, controversial losses to Ghana. Will history repeat itself? Or will the third time be the charm for the Red, White and Blue?
    Doubters include even the American coach. In an interview with The New York Times, Klinsmann said that the U.S. “cannot win this World Cup.”
    “He’s wrong,” contests Russo. “That’s what everyone said about the 1980 USA hockey team. Then the Miracle On Ice happened.”
    As sure as Patrick Russo is, America’s World Cup destiny won’t be known until the games begin on Thursday, June 12. Then Crofton, Anne Arundel County and all of America will watch as Kyle Beckerman and the United States National Team face off on the world’s greatest, most prestigious stage, the 2014 Brazil World Cup.

In Their Own Words
I was a big athlete. I got recruited to play lacrosse at the Naval Academy. Then I flunked out of the Academy. I lost my leg. Now I can’t even drive anymore. But you have to accept those limitations. You have to continue to pursue whatever you are supposed to be doing. It’s often confusing as to what that is. Continue to figure out why you are here, you know? Helping people is important, too; that’s where you get your real satisfaction.

Does that sound wise? It takes a long time to get to the point where the crap that comes out of your mouth is wise. Hey, you’re a lucky man. You met maybe the only wise guy on Main Street.

But really, I’ve had a wonderful life, and it’s amazing to be able to say that. I’m 67. I’m in the fourth quarter, you know? Have you ever seen The Scent of a Woman? In that, Al Pacino says, “You’re lucky if four women love you in your life.” And four women have loved me, so I guess I really am lucky. I don’t think I will get a fifth. You know how hard it is to get a girlfriend with one leg? And I don’t even know if I’d want another.

Brady Bounds opened up the Bay to fly fishermen

Brady Bounds says he is semi-retired. By that he means he no longer books 250-plus charter days on the water during a relentless 12-month season. For his own enjoyment of life plus some past health issues, he’s cut that down the last few years. Still, he probably fishes more than 90 percent more than the rest of us.
    Bounds was one of the first guides to embrace light-tackle fishing on the Chesapeake some 50 years ago. It happened almost by accident.
    Loosely defined, light-tackle Bay angling is pursued with medium-power spinning or casting rods about seven feet long, lines from eight- to 20-pound breaking strength and almost any fly rod setup. This is equipment designed for freshwater fishing and, before Bounds, not often seen on the Chesapeake, where stout, six-foot boat rods and 30-pound test line were the norm.
    Bounds was a young man living in Leonardtown in St. Mary’s County when he and a friend planned to buy a boat to get in on those years’ great middle-Bay fishing for rock, blues and other brackish water game fish. They decided on a used Chesapeake Bay deadrise. When the time came to sign the papers, the friend backed out and Bounds had to go it alone.
    Miffed, he dedicated himself to demonstrating to his buddy just what he had missed. Bounds became a skilled Bay fisherman, then got his commercial license and earned money chartering the deadrise. Trolling, chumming and bottom fishing, he acquired quite a reputation for delivering a good day on the water.
    He was working on his equipment at the dock one afternoon when, all of a sudden, a fellow who had been admiring his boat and setup offered to buy it. It was at a price Brady just couldn’t refuse, despite the fact that up to that moment he’d had no thought of selling.
    A local marina signed the boatless Bounds on to captain charter boats, and he liked the work. Meanwhile, friends had discovered freshwater bass fishing and the tournaments then new to Maryland.
    Bounds often spent the morning running a Bay charter and the afternoon fishing sweetwater with his buddies for bucket-mouths. Finally he invested the money from the sale of his deadrise and bought a used bass boat of the new, shallow-draft, flush-deck design that was sweeping the largemouth bass fishing world.
    To be competitive in tournament bass fishing, Bounds soon found, he had to perfect his structure-fishing game. Structure fishing is a freshwater technique that targets open water and the unseen bottom contours such as sunken creek beds, lumps, drop-offs, submerged trees, brush and other fish-holding features. Structure fishing in lakes and impoundments was far more productive in terms of numbers and size of fish than fishing shoreline edges.
    It was difficult fishing in those days as there was no GPS technology. Bounds mastered the skill of triangulating shoreline features and keeping close notes on bottom readings from his fish finder. His techniques are now called Conceptual-Pattern Fishing
    He shared his tournament knowledge and promoted bass and striped bass angling by writing for local fishing journals. A popular author, he also hosted a fishing program on local cable TV for five seasons.
    Next he tried advertising light-tackle charters for striped bass in a Bay journal. Over a few months, he had no inquiries. Disappointed, he told the journal editor he might as well cancel.
    The editor suggested tweaking the ad. The next edition carried the same small ad but with one modification, a narrow red border emblazoned with the words fly fishermen welcome.
    Bounds’ phone began ringing off the hook. He knew little about fly fishing but was certain he could get fly anglers on fish and in position to catch them.
    Soon he was swamped with charters.
    The fly fishermen brought non-fly fishing friends who used Brady’s freshwater bass fishing tackle. Those anglers came back with other friends wanting the light-tackle, big-fish experience.
    Word spread, and the number of anglers and guides using this new equipment and approach multiplied exponentially for years thereafter.
    Fly- and light-tackle fishing had arrived on the Bay.