15 Years of Memories
How We Got from There to Here
In the Beginning: Winter 1992-1993
Sandra Olivetti Martin: Co-founder; Editor and publisher
Tabloids ranged in rows over the dining room table to inspire our search. We needed the perfect box. Ideas were popping like corn, and we had no place to put them. Our tabloid collection was orderly; disorderly ideas raged through the house, ambushing us as we showered or slept. So we measured and compared newspapers, mostly alternative weeklies, from the Village Voice to Illinois Times to The Onion to the Bay Guardian.
Eleven inches by 14, we decided, was the perfect size. Not too long, not too wide. Not quite the Golden Rectangle, but close enough for journalism. Ruled into columns, that box would hold all the good ideas we could imagine and borrow: Real Astrology and News of the Weird; Dock of the Bay, Bay Life and Bay Reflections; crosswords and Creature Features; feature stories that made reading fun, like this sample from Vol. i, No. 1: April 22, 1993:
Plastic vampire teeth, uppers and lowers, chomp at the sand alongside a tampon shield. An exploded shotgun shell rests near an old shampoo bottle dandruff shampoo. Half a Butterfinger wrapper snuggles up to an empty Pepto Bismo bottle.
The Chesapeake knows your habits.
With a box to hold all we could cram into it including the ads that would pay for the paper and guide you to Chesapeake commerce I choose to start my story of this newspaper, which at that time didn’t even have a name and since has had three: New Bay Times, which grew into New Bay Times Weekly, which evolved at the millennium into Bay Weekly.
Because you have to start somewhere. Ask me at a different time, however, or ask Alex Knoll or Bill Lambrecht, who were also there, around that dining room table, and you’ll get a different story.
Because, once a path is taken, all signs point to it as the only logical path that could have been chosen.
So I could start this story, Bay Weekly’s story, back in 1972, when I first taught a class in magazine production. Or in 1978, when I wrote my first of hundreds of stories for Illinois Times.
Starting back there would make for a long story.
So I take you back to the dining room table in Fairhaven Cliffs, Maryland, in the southernmost reaches of Anne Arundel County. There, in the early 1990s, our small house is bursting with impatient creative energy.
Alex has a new master’s degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, on top of his undergraduate degree in rhetoric. He has finished an internship with The Nation, in Washington, D.C. Perhaps he’ll go prospecting for journalistic gold in Alaska.
I’ve resumed my career as a college writing teacher, but I still carry a torch for weekly papers and I’ve gotten in on the ground floor of desktop publishing.
Bill? You’d think he’d had enough journalism after 20 years of daily reporting, half of them in the Washington Bureau of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. But he has this plan to put his family to work at home. He wants us to make a newspaper. If you write well of Chesapeake Country, he believes, Chesapeake Country will read.
He’s started us thinking, and now ideas are stalking us.
So we pack them in a box and name it New Bay Times.
That was 15 years, 750 issues ago.
Read on for 35 other voices telling their tales of how we got from there to here.
April 22, 1993
Nathaniel Knoll: Jack-of-all-trades. Now lives in St. Louis after years in Bay Country, Chicago, San Francisco and Sonoma County with wife Liz and daughter Ada.
Twice I packed up and drove my life’s belongings east to Maryland to be a contributor to the newspaper then known as New Bay Times. In the spring of 1993, very close to the Earth Day date that will commemorate Bay Weekly’s 15th birthday, my brother Alex Knoll met me in St. Louis, where we loaded a 24-foot moving truck with the assistance of a young skateboarder who was to yell if anyone approached with thoughts of making off with the cargo that had just been hauled down three flights of stairs.
I drove with Alex to Champaign, Illinois, to load his Cosmic-Cone Cart, a Cushman converted into quite the mobile snow-cone vending vehicle. Alex flew out of Chicago, and I hit I-70 eastbound, wondering what duties would await me.
No sooner had I arrived than the inaugural issue was delivered to the parking lot of Tri-State Marine in Deale, where we had our first office. I remember thinking how professional the black-and-white copy looked and feeling proud that my family had created this newspaper with such a sense of the Bay way of life in its 32 pages.
I also remember looking at two pallets, each holding a few thousand papers, and flashing back to my younger years as paperboy. Oh man, was I going to have to fold all these papers? How and where were we going to deliver them all?
The rented cargo van Alex and I drove was loaded to capacity and no more than a few inches from the ground when we left Tri-State to distribute, from Annapolis Harbour Center to Solomon’s Island with many points in between, all those copies of New Bay Times.
Sonia Linebaugh: Photographer, illustrator, layout and paste-up queen, proofreader, assistant editor and still ocassional writer after 15 years.
In 1993, my neighbor and sometime collaborator Sandra Martin invited me to the office of New Bay Times to look over the emerging first issue of the newspaper her family was starting. I often say that I didn’t go home again for several years.
Sandra and I went out gleefully to record the words, pictures, feel, taste and smell of the world of the Chesapeake. One week we talked with Ms Mattie Johnson, who had gotten running water for the first time in her life. The next week I was listening to the equally fascinating Earl Hargrove, who lived three miles and millions of dollars away. My beat eventually included artists, politicians, kids, environmentalists, gardeners, watermen, neighbors, birds, mosquitoes and geese. Everything about the writing was personal and universal.
The stories had to be written and produced. In those days, Alex Knoll was the only one who knew much about using a Macintosh computer. He patiently and impatiently reminded us how to organize, format, send and receive information.
Each story was printed out and pasted, two pages at a time, onto large flats. Last-minute corrections were made with an X-Acto knife and a careful hand. The flats were driven to the printer’s shop in Waldorf.
I love writing about the people and the critters, but from the start the Bay has been my beloved subject. In Volume i, No. 5, I wrote:
Light filters up the sky pulling dawn behind it … The drone of an early boat drives across my mind to the sweet, sad co-o-o-coo of a mourning dove. The shush of the Bay lies beneath the morning twitters, trill, and chirps of the worm-hunters. A car crunches on gravel. Above all beneath all lies silence.
Bill Burton: Our big catch: the old man on the Bay
You might say I came aboard New Bay Times via the man who occupied the Oval Office in Washington at the time. Just retired from the Baltimore Sunpapers, I was surprised to get a phone call from George H.W. Bush, who invited me to take him fishing
I was unemployed for the first time since I left college and I liked no part of it. Days dragged by. Total boredom, seeing the only things I had to do was eat and sleep. “You can’t totally retire. You need some work, something to do,” the president told me as we fished. “It’ll keep you alive.”
As luck would have it, within a week I was aboard a boat out of Annapolis in which some outdoor writers were giving fishing trips to Janet Reno, when someone mentioned a new paper was coming out in Southern Maryland, New Bay Times, and might be interested in new writers.
I called. Sandra Martin was interested, we set a date, and I arrived on the dot. Why, I hadn’t been through a semi-formal interview for many, many years. A formal one, never.
We eyed each other suspiciously. Surely she was curious why the outdoor editor of the Sunpapers would want to write for what was then a semi-weekly. What it would take to hire me? Could I be kept in my place?
I was thinking. Is this another start-up publication, a few paychecks, then IOUs, then no one answering the phone? Would she decide what I would write, bar me from controversial issues or words not to the liking of advertisers? She didn’t know it at the time, but I would have worked for a pittance. I was going buggy doing nothing.
We circled like strange cats, gave ’n’ took, quickly discovered we shared the same views on news and journalism. I was asked to write for the next issue, promised I would, and not once since have my words been changed other than for clarity or spelling.
Close to 700 articles, there’s been no gripes or missed deadlines (other than when hospitalized) or trouble in writing and filling what few assignments there have been. If they’re as happy as I, look for Burton’s musings to continue 15 more years in Bay Weekly.
Pat Piper: Contributing writer and reflector
I’d left a job that spanned more than a decade and come home to Rose Haven to do absolutely nothing but sail on the water and work in the garden. A friend came over with a copy of New Bay Times and suggested I ought to write something. “Isn’t it supposed to be called Old Bay?” I said.
“It’s a play on words,” said my friend, “and people with an IQ higher than 86 can usually figure that out pretty quick.” So I sat down next to the shovel and started reading. There was a story about the railroad that used to operate from Chesapeake Beach and shut down during the Depression. There was Bill Burton talking about stripers and catch-and-release, and there was a column about the indigo bunting. I kept reading. The shovel was abandoned.
When I finished the pages, I mentioned how well done the paper was, despite the strange name. I worked on the tomatoes and commented on how I saw an indigo bunting on Friendship Road just that morning and …
“Are you okay?”
I looked up and saw my neighbor, Bentley Tyler. He looked concerned. I looked behind me and realized my friend, the paperboy, had left. Bentley must have figured I was talking to myself.
“I was just reading this new paper. Take a look.”
Bentley did just that. As I worked on the tomato stakes I heard him say, “Isn’t it supposed to be Old Bay?”
I stopped with the tomatoes and said to Bentley. “You are a genius.”
M.L. Faunce: Prize-winning contributing writer
Good thing I’ve kept an index of all my writing for Bay Weekly. Indeed, since my first piece appeared in these pages in the spring of 1995, that list is as much a window of my own life as it is of the people and places, pleasures and pluses of living in and around the Chesapeake.
The easiest was contributing to the Bay Reflections column. The words spilled out of me involuntarily, flooding the page for this space is about head and heart, subjects near and dear. Harder as a novice was news assignments, where I would go with sweaty hands, camera, tape recorder, pen and pad to interview a worthy Bay story, often with a fidgety dachshund in tow. There were never enough hands or ears to take it all in with deadline looming.
Aptly, once I covered wiener dog races, a Paws for a Cause fundraiser hosted by the Humane Society of Calvert County. First, the Homeless Pet Parade of pets looking for their “forever home” stole the show. Then the dachshunds, low riders all, came out of their boxes on cue. As checkered flags rose, the doxies raced not but mingled and milled about. My own dog, Rose, won an uncontested heat, only because a friend called her to the finish line. She wasn’t disqualified, and I wrote to tell about it.
Commenting on Bay Weekly’s (then New Bay Times) fifth anniversary, I wrote a birthday letter in Bay Reflections on the “Five, Full Fabulous years of Fine, Fair News Coverage.” At 15, consider that times three for the paper that brings you the best of the Bay each week since 1993.
Carol Glover: Intern, contributing writer and theater reviewer after teaching for 14 years in Prince George’s and Calvert counties and owning restaurants in L’Enfant Plaza and Upper Marlboro; now living in Sun City Center on Florida’s west coast.
I’d always wanted to write. Believing in education as the foundation of knowledge, I began attending writing workshops on the novel, mystery and romance writing. However, being an avid reader of New Bay Times, I came across an ad for aspiring writers. Intrigued, I phoned for an appointment and, as the spider said to the fly, Sandra said, Come in and see me, my dear.
Sandra Martin is the most persuasive person I know. During the interview, I realized what an attentive listener she is. Sandra can remember things I’ve said that I don’t even remember. So, being duly impressed, I said, Yes, when can I start?
My first day was a sunny October afternoon close to Halloween. Before I could take my jacket off, I was driving through the neighborhoods in Southern Anne Arundel County with a photographer. We’d pull up to an overly decorated house, he would take pictures, and I’d rack my brain trying to think of questions to ask the homeowner.
I don’t think any of what we did that day made the paper. But I loved every minute of it. I was hooked and spent some of the most wonderful days and evenings interviewing people and writing theater reviews.
I’m in Florida now, and I look at our local papers with a jaundiced eye. None of them measures up to New Bay Times.
Jim Gibbons: The paper’s first classified manager; Now a financial adviser at Ferris, Baker Watts, married to Danielle with two boys.
Tired of the many hours spent working on the turf of Bay Hills Golf Club, I decided to put my freshly minted education from Western Maryland College to work. Armed with a couple of by-lines from Anne Arundel Community College’s Campus Crier and Lacrosse magazine, I hit the phone book.
Knowing nothing of the mission of New Bay Times, I called anyway and was shocked to get hold of the editor, Sandra Martin, on my first call.
I was invited into the middle of quiet chaos: There was no waiting area; you opened the door and you were in. No screaming and yelling about deadlines nor phones ringing off the hook. Instead, computers, old papers, editing equipment and files everywhere.
Yes, Sandra let me write. But I had to sell advertising if I wanted to get paid for my work. How do you go from journalist to ad salesman in 30 minutes? Ask anyone who has encountered the kind but very persuasive Sandra Martin, and they will tell you to watch out: You might be delivering the paper next, which I also did.
How would I sell classified ads? My first bit in a long list of wise advice came from our focused coach and general manager Alex Knoll. He told me to get the phone numbers from other classified ads, cold call the sellers and if you reach them, introduce them to New Bay Times and our classified section. Be friendly and polite, and keep dialing phone numbers no matter what the outcome.
Getting the sale was much harder. Some people were not happy to hear that I wasn’t buying their boat, but was instead trying to get them to spend more money to try to sell it. Others kindly told me to buzz off.
Lunch (and often times dinner) was a much-anticipated spectacle. Usually starting with subtle hints from Betsy, who would make the sounds of a growling stomach, or the not-so-subtle hints from Sandra, who would be yelling from her office to Alex’s to see which restaurant advertiser we had credit with to order lunch. Much like an Italian family, we did not go hungry. We ate wings, dandelion salad, smoked free-range chicken, rockfish, burgers, Asian or Caribbean foods.
While Wednesdays were tough with the stress of getting the paper to press, they weren’t without some fun: Some sort of new, funky music on the CD player … Sonia’s quiet wit breaking the cloud of stress … Bill’s dry humor providing some needed pep in the evenings. One of the best de-stressors was having Max, the big-hearted yellow Lab, take me for an afternoon walk, not vice-versa.
With the help of the whole team at Bay Weekly, classifieds grew from one to four pages. Some of the relationships I had with advertisers grew along the way and followed me to my next career.
Don Kehne: Intern and contributing writer.
O’ Sweet Muse, hear my plea: Stab me with a quill, poison me with India ink, strangle me with a computer cable. Just kill me now.
Such were my thoughts every Monday night as Bay Weekly’s deadline loomed and I had yet to stitch my pile of scribblings into a story. How this always happened, I never knew. Even for a self-acknowledged procrastinator, I was astounded by how a week evaporated.
Every Tuesday morning, I was carefree. By Monday night, I was stranded on the shoals of writer’s despair with only a rickety paragraph on the computer screen. From around the office, the sound of other fingers can-canning across their keyboards deepened my despair. I would frown at my fingers and wonder why mine weren’t like that. Bums, that’s what mine were, good only for a remote control. Why didn’t they get a real job? Why were they even attached to me? In fact, why was I here?
The solution was easy: I had only to rise from my chair, walk out the door and drive away.
I imagined an irate Alex rushing after me with newspaper rolled up in his hand, shouting epithets as I peeled away in a swirling cloud of dust and Post-It notes. I’d hear him shout, You’ll never write in this town again! You you WORD BUM!!!
A high-speed getaway would follow. Without warning, a baby stroller would appear. Swerving to avoid it, I’d lose control of the car, crash headlong into a Bay Weekly billboard and impale myself on the ballpoint pen in my pocket before the car flipped over and exploded in a fireball. My last image of this world would be the car’s vanity license plate, torn off by the explosion and now lying within easy eyesight, reading FINIS.
But that never happened. Always, as the minute hand drew ever closer to deadline and my mood reached its lowest ebb, I would feel on my shoulder a familiar reassuring hand not a muse’s hand, but an editor’s. “Bring what you have into my office, and let’s see what we can do,” Sandra would say. Thus I averted disaster for another week, and life was good again.
Brianne Warner: Intern, Not Just for Kids editor, Bay Weekly’s first webmaster. Now editor of Link, a free daily published by The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Virginia.
I was a senior at Calvert’s Northern High when I spotted an ad in New Bay Times for a summer intern. I could do that! I thought, being a whole 17 years old. I called the number in the paper and spoke to Alex (“Mr. Knoll”). He said something that must have been vaguely encouraging, as I called back, again and again, until finally he told me to come on in.
Ah, lesson one.
In no time at all, I was typing in calendar items from a pile of fliers. I remember distinctly the panic in my chest when I had to call someone to oh dear! clarify a time or address or what the heck the Second Annual Event actually was. Sandra, in her gorgeous, raspy voice, would calmly coach me on reducing 50 lines into one, with an active verb and punchy nouns. Her hands would flutter above the keyboard. This calendar was lively! What could be more exciting than a workshop on bird calls!
My favorite task, which was really an indulgence, was walking Max, the lumbering, slumbering newsroom Labrador. We would wander the parking lot, and if I needed a bit of commiseration, he would sigh loudly. When I heard, years later, that he had passed on, my body sighed.
Mark Burns: Intern, calendar editor, reporter.
Sometimes you’re hired. Others, you’re shanghaied.
In the spring of 1998, an innocent conversation with a family friend turned to my budding interest in writing. I was at college discovering the fun of wordsmithery and just starting to kick around the idea of majoring in journalism. The friend, who wrote theater reviews for Bay Weekly (then New Bay Times), was delighted to hear this and implored me to meet Sandra. Have a talk. Get a sense of what to expect.
The meeting was vibrant and brisk. My head went all a whirl, and the trap door was sprung. Next I knew, I was an intern standing in the middle of Fort Meade, pen in hand, interviewing Shenanigans the Clown pre-costume as her hairless Peruvian Inca dog whipped curious children in the legs with its hyperactive tail (“King & Circus Even Better from the Other Side,” Vol. vi, No. 22: June 4, 1998). The clown reacted to the children’s cries of pain by yanking on the leash and scolding her pet in a gravelly voice between puffs on a cigarette.
Some months later, I was introduced to the political circus, assigned to cover Gov. Parris Glendening’s primary campaign on a quick dispatch from Deale (“On the Trail: Gov. G. Rides the Bus,” Vol. vi, No. 37: Sept. 17, 1998). Though I’d arrived to work expecting naught but lonely calendar duty, I soon found myself rummaging through my car’s backseat for a respectable shirt. I aired it out through the window as I drove, grabbed a quick razor kit from the pharmacy and shaved hastily over a sink in the food court bathroom at Annapolis Mall.
I’d barely unpapered the nicks when I caught up to the incumbent governor on Annapolis’ Main Street, and stuttered my questions at him as he close-talked me into parking meters, light poles and trash cans …
Ariel Martinez Brumbaugh: Junior reporter. Now a senior at Arcadia University in Philadelphia, graduating with her BA in Theatre and English and a concentration in writing.
At 12 years old I wrote my first official business letter to friend and neighbor Sandra Martin, editor of Bay Weekly. I began my newspaper career interested in photography. Of course I had no experience; I didn’t even have a camera, but I insisted that photographing for Bay Weekly was my only way in. Although I was driven, I also knew the limits of my experience. So I pleaded for a job, any job. I’d do anything: clean the office, take out the trash, make copies and do other chores, which hopefully included walking my best canine friend and Bay Weekly mascot a yellow Lab named Max.
As I sat in Sandra’s office at the first location of Bay Weekly, I learned some wonderful news. Not only did I not have to clean and sweep the floors I had found a job taking pictures and writing articles for the newspaper. I was an official journalist. For the next several years I wrote for the Not Just For Kids page, starting with the groundhog that lived next door to me in Kudzu Valley. I learned how to formulate questions, interview subjects and write articles and was proud to be the Annapolis area’s most-read 12-year-old journalist.
Kathy Flaherty: Advertising sales rep. Now married and with two boys, temporarily retired until Alex Knoll can lure her to returning to Bay Weekly.
The joy of hearing from Sandra from Bay Weekly quickly turned to panic when she asked me for a memory for the anniversary issue. What? Me write something? As sales rep for the paper so many years ago, I never was much of a writer save two short pieces about kayaking and running. Mostly because I tend to search for just that perfect thought or phrase, I never get off the ground. A stay-at-home mother of two boys for going on six years now, my prior professional life is a faint whisper. The sales skills, calls to make, the appointments to set all have been replaced, first by the Wiggles and now by the Washington Nationals.
What I do remember is not so much a specific story but the feel of the place.
The family atmosphere of Sandra and her two sons. The roasted chicken she’d bring for lunch for herself and her sons but shared with the rest of us. The lunchtime discussions. The take-out Wednesday lunches to ensure the paper got to the printer on time and the ice-cream treats when it did. The subtle wit. The antics. The brilliant writing. The silliness. The energy. And the fun of helping produce that local paper from that small office in Deale next to Tri-State Marine. Yes, the fun.
Gary Pendleton: Earth journalist; painter, illustrator, harmonicat and founding member of the folk band Rock Fish.
I am beginning my 10th year as a Bay Weekly contributor. What began as a humble inquiry on my part has become a long, productive relationship.
It was nearly a very short one.
When I think about the time I began writing for Bay Weekly, I also remember the drama that infused that time.
I was new to the area and newly self-employed (no income and no unemployment benefits). But we were making the mortgage, and I was a new member of the North Beach Town Council. A phone call came from New Bay Times editor Sandra Martin, in response to art samples and a proposal for a new feature that I had recently submitted. The call caught Karyn and me in the middle of a game of Scrabble, which meant I was losing.
New Bay Times was interested in publishing a series of stories that I would write and illustrate. The news was welcome and signaled a step in the right direction.
I had barely begun making regular contributions when Karyn and I ran into a bit of trouble in the form of a Dodge driven by a guy with .24 blood alcohol level. It was a cold, rainy Sunday, March 14, at approximately 7:30pm on Rt. 2 just north of Rt. 255. I can tell you that there is nothing like the moment when you look straight into the windshield of a car going 55mph.
A week later Karyn phoned the officer who had written an erroneous accident report. He thought it was a ghost calling; he didn’t think we would live. The accident was bad, but the physical and psychological injuries got better. We came home. With some help we planted our garden that spring and picked up where we almost left off. My contributions to Bay Weekly continued.
Since then we have made friends and lost some. Self-employment has worked out by cobbling together income from multiple sources. Life has been good. Every month I find something to write about and illustrate. But you never know what is coming at you.
Amy Mulligan: As an intern from University of Maryland, took a first-place prize for her sports feature “Sometimes the Best Games are Played for Love” (Vol. viii, No. 33: Aug. 17, 2000). Now assistant athletics media relations director at the University of Virginia.
As a 19-year-old athlete and aspiring writer, one of my favorite moments working as an intern for Bay Weekly in the summer of 2000 was putting together my first-ever feature story on pick-up basketball. The most memorable, however, happened one morning during the planning process of the article.
That particular morning, my family had to say goodbye to and put to sleep our 14-year-old Shetland sheepdog, Lassie Tinker Mulligan. Once arriving at work, I met with my editor, Sandra Martin, to discuss the details and outline of what my basketball article would involve.
I was just a few weeks into the job, so we didn’t know each other very well. But after asking me one or two questions about my lead, Sandra could tell something was wrong. Of course she is as observant as any excellent journalist should be, but in this case it might have had something to do with the tears streaming down my face.
Friend first, fellow dog-lover next and editor later, Sandra gave me a big hug and immediately made me feel better with her kind words. A few days later, she gave me an article that she had always liked about the joys of older dogs and how hard it can be to say goodbye. With my mind clearer, I was pleasantly distracted and able to put all my energy into writing.
Years later, that memory is the first one that comes to mind when thinking about my time at Bay Weekly and what it means to be a first-rate editor. Often, the story behind what’s going on with the writer is just as important as the one she is writing.
Matthew Pugh: Prize-winning contributing writer. Now a public relations executive, husband, father, musician and poet.
In July of 2000, editor Sandra Martin heard me mention that Damian Einstein from WRNR was celebrating 30 years in radio. Bingo, just like that, she assigned me the story with an August deadline. I was freaked out. This was my first cover feature for Bay Weekly. Me and my big mouth.
Damian was a tough interview, and I was spinning my wheels. Rather than shift gears, I dillydallied. But that didn’t make the story’s deadline vanish, and Sandra demanded to see a draft. I opted to pitch her fluff. Not a good idea.
She mauled my story, and none of the excuses I concocted could hide my lack of effort. I let us both down.
“I don’t want to hear that you can’t do this,” Sandra said looking over her glasses.
It was the kick in the pants I needed. Two weeks later, I returned to Sandra with a new story. Upon review, she smiled and gave me a hug I won’t ever forget.
“You’ve done it,” she said.
My Damien story ran (Vol. viii, No. 34: “Still Rocking after All These Years”), and the praises were many. What’s more, I later learned that I scooped The Washington Post, which was planning to write the same story.
Nancy Hoffmann: Contributing writer. A Naval Academy graduate who now lives on a horse farm and still works as a research attorney while studying in Johns Hopkins’ creative writing masters’ program.
Seven years ago, I worked as a research attorney in Annapolis, and every Thursday afternoon, I ate lunch at City Dock Café to await the Bay Weekly delivery. I eventually found the nerve to answer Sandra’s call for stories about Bay adventures. With Sandra’s patient guidance, I wrote my first story, which was about my horse, Misty, and our adventures trail riding in the Patapsco Valley State Park. (“Horsewoman,” Vol. ix No. 42, Oct. 18, 2001).
I was soon hooked and out on the beat to meet other Bay adventurers. My first interview was with Ned Hall, who owns a 70-acre tree farm in Anne Arundel County. (“Bay Life Living the Land: Ned Hall,” Vol. x, No. 11, 2002). I began the interview by asking Hall how he had acquired his land and he responded: “Let me start at the beginning of it in the late 1600s …”
I forced myself not to glance up at the clock on the wall and refused to think about how long it would take him to travel through 400 years of history. Over the next several hours Hall told me the fascinating story of the land in his care. So I learned to relax and enjoy the tales of all the Bay adventurers who began their stories with Let’s start at the beginning …
Dick Wilson: Proofreader and reviewer of books and, formerly, plays; world-traveling scuba diver; former air traffic controller
Back in 2001 when I agreed to be a Bay Weekly proofreader, I thought that perhaps I would hang around for just a while, using my razor-sharp eyes to ferret out and correct the occasional typos, misplaced commas, dangling modifiers and other atrocities that, I assumed, would rarely show up.
Now here I am, seven years on, and I’m still plugging away (when I’m not traveling) as proofreader. The writing mistakes we catch are endless in their variety; we must be alert for inconsistency in style, incorrect spelling, unintended double entendres, quotes that on the printed page have meanings that are the opposite of what the speaker intended and words that don’t mean what the writer thinks they mean. This isn’t a complete list.
Rarely, we miss something we should have noticed. I remember reading a piece in which a writer was describing a situation wherein someone, a married couple perhaps, was arguing about access to a piece of furniture. She declared vehemently, “I don’t want you to get into my drawers,” a statement that some readers might have considered off-color. At any rate, we altered the dialogue to a more acceptable turn of phrase. If we had allowed the original line, you may be sure we would’ve heard about it. One thing is certain: Someone, somewhere will notice any error and call it to our attention, sometimes forcefully.
What I enjoy is contributing in a small way to this respected professional news organization that takes great pains in maintaining high standards. I’m proud to be a small part of this newspaper, and I intend to stick around for a while.
Vicki Marsh: Former delivery driver, current contributing writer.
Retired and bored, I needed some stimulation in my life. A little mad money wouldn’t hurt, either. Looking through Bay Weekly’s classifieds, I found the job for me: delivering the paper locally, one day a week.
Who could ask for a better part-time job? Smiling faces greeted me at each of my 66 stops. Hands reached out for a copy, before I even opened a bundle. I felt like an ambassador for Southern Maryland.
My stop at the Galesville Post Office one spring day was the beginning of a new career. A woman carrying a small screened box that held honeybees helped launch my writing.
I told editor Sandra Martin about the honeybees via U.S. Mail. She sent me off to discover more and write about it. Me! Write!
My first article, Peering into the Secret Life of Bees, appeared on the front cover on August 4, 2005.
My delivery career ended that September, with knee replacement surgery. But my writing continues. Now enrolled in a fiction writing course at Ann Arundel Community College, I sit alongside one other senior, a retired minister. Does he have any good stories to tell? Hmmm …
Louis Llovio: Staff writer. Now a business reporter for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, husband to Petra, father to 16-year-old Duncan and 3-month-old Emma.
I racked my brain trying to come up with my best memory from my time at Bay Weekly.
I couldn’t come up with a single one.
The trouble is not that the times were bad. They weren’t. The problem is there were so many.
I spent 53 weeks at the paper in 2003 and 2004.
Sandra and Alex put me on as a freelancer for several months. Then on Monday, December 15, the day after the annual Christmas party, the staff writer before me quit his job.
I was at the Deale office working on a story with Sandra. By the end of the day they’d offered me the job.
You could say it was a marriage of convenience: I was out of work, they didn’t have anybody else, and there was less than 36 hours to go before the paper had to be put to bed.
What I’ve never told Sandra or Alex was that I was desperate for work after a year “making a living as a professional freelance writer.”
If you have to ask why that phrase is in quotes, you’ve never attempted to make a living as a writer. It ain’t for the faint of heart, let me tell you.
In my year at Bay Weekly, I hung out with bikers, covered a presidential election and got married to Petra, to whom I wasn’t even engaged when I started at Bay Weekly (that was one of my stories).
In between, Sandra yelled. A lot.
I think I did a halfway decent job during my time at the paper, and it was a great first step in my career.
But any success I’ve had since then is due to my time at Bay Weekly and Sandra’s tutelage. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel her kick me firmly in the backside and push me toward bigger and better things. I couldn’t be where I am today as a reporter without her.
So, after all is said and done, I guess I do have a best memory after all.
Lisa Edler Knoll: Director of sales and marketing.
Fifteen years ago, I was the national sales manager for a successful mid-sized company. It was family-owned with several family members involved in different capacities. Oftentimes, the family dynamics overpowered the business. Too much drama! I vowed never to work for another family business.
Twelve years ago this month, I met the man who would become my husband, Alex Knoll, co-founder and CEO of Bay Weekly. The image of marrying a younger version of Rupert Murdoch was very compelling.
Through circumstance and opportunity, I joined the Bay Weekly sales team seven years ago. I have the pleasure of working not only with my husband, but also with my mother-in-law, Sandra Martin. Through the years, I have witnessed plenty of drama, both in-house and out. There was the sales rep who smelled of cigarettes so strong that I confronted him and told him he smelled like an ashtray, only to find out that he was putting his butts in his pocket. The invasion of a seven-foot-long black snake in our West Street office. The sales rep who on her first day wore a hydraulic bra that would pump intermittently to enrich her cup size.
Hurricane Isabel is a favorite memory. Bay Weekly was working out of the Deale office across from Rockhold Creek. In preparation for the big storm and the rising waters, staff piled files and computers on top of desks and tables. Windows were secured and cracks were sealed. We weathered the storm well. No significant damage, but no electricity. Deadline looming, we relocated operations to our Annapolis home in Murray Hill, where we were blessed to have no damage and all services. Staff rallied and brought laptops and lunch, and we made the best of it. But we had to share quarters with not only our two young children (Ellie, 2, and Jack, 3), but also our carpenter, Mr. Gilly, who was renovating our first floor.
I have fond memories of the chaos and mess combined with the independent spirit and drive that inspired the team to keep its focus and determination to meet deadline. These qualities have helped Bay Weekly grow, in readers and in reputation.
While I broke my vow, I am blessed to live the American dream by being part of the family that can call Bay Weekly its own.
Erin Sakalas: Classifieds manager, web mistress
When I started with Bay Weekly, the office was located in the town of Deale. I was thrilled to be heading to quiet and to me rural Southern Anne Arundel County, minimal traffic, beautiful sunsets and the wildlife that this part of the county offered. In my first few years it was all this and more. Much more.
One of those lovely mornings, our general manager Alex Knoll was taking the trash out. All of this serenity was interrupted by a screeching wail from Alex. Betsy Kehne, our production manager, and I bolted to the back door to see the trash can on its side and Alex shaken.
He’d found an opossum in an empty trashcan he was pulling back after collection. We all waited for it to run from the toppled can, but, no, the opossum was playing possum. Betsy bravely moved the can closer to the woods out back, and eventually he returned to his home.
From that time on, any time I went near one of the trash cans, I did it with the knowledge that there might be more than just trash in there.
Frank Gouin: The Bay Gardener
Bay Weekly is widely read. In three years of writing The Bay Gardener column, I have had requests for additional information from California, Oregon, Washington and from many other states as well as from Australia, Cuba, Ireland and Scotland. Many of the articles I write about are suggested by readers who talk to me at various events, like the South County Concert Association, or who e-mail me titles that are of interest to them.
What I find amusing are some of the privileges that Sandra Martin takes with editing some of the articles. She has that special touch that adds pizzazz and makes for interesting reading. Some of her editorial changes make me laugh.
I try to write articles that are timely, but I do not always succeed because some titles seem to be more appealing to Sandra than others and they get published first. Also, since the space for The Bay Gardener is limited, I try to write articles that are focused, which limits variety in content.
I am very appreciative of the contributions Bay Weekly makes to the Francis R. Gouin Undergraduate Research Grant at the University of Maryland. Bay Weekly has been a major contributor to the grant’s fund and for that I am deeply grateful. Charge on, Bay Weekly.
Dawn Gray: Sales rep
I’m a small-town girl at heart. After leaving the Navy, I worked for a large corporation for over 25 years, but I felt like I never quite fit in. Tired of treading on the little guy, I started flipping through a copy of Bay Weekly. The paper happened to be hiring that day.
On my first day, I found out that everyone at the office has lunch together. We sit down like a big family, tell stories, laugh and discuss reality television. If I need to, I can bring children or my dog to work without any fuss. I’ve never had that before. I think it shows just how much we look out for the small guy. Or maybe we just like pets and good lunch conversation.
Ben Miller: Intern, prize-winning contributing writer in his encore career after retiring from the National Park Service.
Sometimes we foresee the future without realizing it.
“I’d like to have a relationship with a newspaper,” I said to my wife, Cathy. We were recently married and living in New York.
Less than a year later, we were living in Edgewater, and through an internship program at Anne Arundel Community College, I was working at Bay Weekly’s office in Deale.
My editor, Sandra Martin, promised that I’d learn the jobs of publishing a newspaper.
I did, from proofreading to writing the children’s calendar.
Martin promised more.
“You’ll have a story published,” she said.
This sounded good.
I’d been writing stories and articles for several years. Most disappeared into the void. Sometimes, I’d receive a pre-printed letter saying Not right for us at this time.
My first story assignment was the lifeguard tryouts for the Ocean City Beach Patrol, in Annapolis. I interviewed; Cathy photographed.
The article and Cathy’s photographs appeared in Bay Weekly the next week. What a thrill.
I’ve written more articles (effectively edited by Martin). Cathy’s photographs have been on Bay Weekly covers.
Cathy and I have met people and had experiences we would never have done if we weren’t on assignment and all in following our own interests and curiosity.
And no more rejection letters.
Alex Murray: Summer intern. Now a senior at Archbishop Spaulding High School; accepted for fall enrollment in University of Alabama’s College of Communications & Information Sciences and planning to major in broadcast journalism.
Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” played on the radio as a 16-year-old with a learner’s permit made the 45-minute trek to Deale. Against her better judgment, Sandra had allowed me to intern for two weeks with Bay Weekly, essentially transforming the Deale office into a baby-sitting service for the summer of 2006.
On day one, I worked on everything that could not harm the publication of the paper on Thursday. In other words, I attempted to learn the proper way to edit while sneaking an occasional peak at ESPN’s website. Due to superb editing ability, or lack thereof, I soon found myself working on the calendar and putting invoices together.
After a week, they could no longer handle a 16-year-old in the office, so they sent me out to cover the story of Phillip Merrill’s tragic disappearance. With little idea about what to do, I made my way to Sandy Point State Park to attend a presentation on side-scan sonar. The resulting story, entitled “Finding Drowned Bodies,” became my first feature.
With a story published and the internship drawing to a close, I prepared to return to lazy days at the pool and playing soccer. On what I thought would be my final Friday, however, I signed over the rest of my summer and remained working until school started in August.
Nearly two years later, preparing to leave for the University of Alabama to major in telecommunications, I look back on the blur that is the last 18 years. My time with Bay Weekly was short, but it played a critical role in the future path I’ve chosen. I guess it’s ‘crazy’ how things works out.
Margaret Tearman: Prize-winning Calvert County correspondent
I was a fledgling writer, on my second assignment for Bay Weekly, a story about Calvert County’s artist showcase. Invited to sit in on a planning session at the home of a volunteer coordinator, I was naively flattered that I was being accepted so soon into the local art scene.
As we were seated around the dining room table and the meeting began, the hostesses’ son, perhaps four or five years old, climbed up into my lap. I was a bit uncomfortable, on a couple of levels. He was a big boy, probably too big to sit on my lap, but nobody batted an eyelash. I had returned my attention to the meeting when the child looked up and gave me a devil of a smile. My lap suddenly felt very warm and wet. Smile gone, the child hopped off my lap.
Looking down, I saw the yellow stain on my white slacks. The child had deliberately urinated on me. Mortified, I caught his mother’s attention. He does that, she said, and gave me handful of paper towels. The meeting continued as if nothing happened.
Patting my pants with the paper towels, I plotted my exit while fervently hoping that being peed on wasn’t a regular part of writing for Bay Weekly.
Michelle Steel: Prize-winning contributing writer
Calvert County lured me eight years ago with cliff-lined Bay beaches, a treasure chest of fossils, a slower way of life and the camaraderie of close-knit communities. I was hooked the first time I read Bay Weekly.
I retired early from Montessori teaching, to pursue my true love: writing, and to pass along my stories to fellow readers. For writing and reading force us to stop and think of the impact we have on each other.
That’s what happened to me writing about Dale Thomas. Dale lives behind me, but I had never spoken with him up close and personal. During his interview, I had the privilege of touring his private paradise, Paran which translates into digging and searching and of meeting not only his fowl feathered friends but also the hidden half of Dale.
While digging and searching with Dale, I won his trust. To get my story, I had to pass his test: flying over Calvert’s cliffs and a ravine on a single wooden board, hanging from twin ropes attached to a tulip poplar. My mere-seconds ride on Dale’s hand-made swing barefoot and soaring, with a birds-eye view of the Bay was exhilarating. When I landed safely back on land, I was energized and reminded of the pleasure the simple things in life bring us.
Betsy Kehne: Began with Bay Weekly in 1994 as an intern. Now production manager living with her husband and cat.
When Bay Weekly editor Sandra Martin called me at home at 9:30 on a press night, the news couldn’t be good. I picked up the telephone and asked, “What’s wrong?”
“When you get into work tomorrow morning, go into the kitchen and look under the sink,” said editor Martin, who’d just left our second Deale office, across from Happy Harbor.
“What’s there?” I asked.
“Just look under the sink.”
“Okay,” I said.
“And you might want to bring a stick and a flashlight.”
Nighttime crawled by. A sweating, restless sleep left me anxious. What could it be? Empty cleaning supplies? A leak? A rat? A former employee? Sometimes bad smells emanate from under there.
Curiosity has killed many a cat, but I didn’t believe my editor wanted me dead. At daybreak, I put on my heaviest boots and headed to work, assuring myself that I was perfectly safe despite her cryptic instructions. I approached the beckoning kitchen cabinet. Armed with field hockey stick and flashlight, I eased open the door.
The trembling beam of light illuminated bottles, boxes and cleaners. But what was that? Winding through the Clorox handle, coiled around the Windex, draping over a vase, pipes and across a box of garbage bags, a long, translucent skin snaked into the deep recess where my flashlight could not penetrate.
I slammed the cabinet shut, checked my feet to make sure the skin’s former occupant wasn’t slithering up my pants, and opened the door again.
The snake was not there. Not under the sink or behind the refrigerator, not in desks, bookcases or boxes. I searched every inch of our two-story office. No snake. But I did find what appeared to be a pile of regurgitated fur.
The skin sounded like tissue paper as I pulled it. It stuck to anything it touched, so no one single smooth move would dislodge it. I leaned deep inside the cabinet up to my shoulders to retrieve all of the skin. I held the skin up next to me. It stopped just below my shoulder. I stand five foot five inches.
The pile of fur remained. Removing it would require a chisel and Clorox.
“That’s not in my job description,” I said.
Diana Beechener: Calendar editor, staff writer
Sugar. Honey. Cupcake. All are sweet treats I would be happy to slip into my grocery basket. None are my name. After a few months working at a Baltimore brokerage firm, however, I began to wonder. Perhaps I had mistakenly crossed my W-2 form with my shopping list, and Morgan Stanley actually had Cupcake Beechener listed in its employees file.
My escape came when I picked up a copy of Bay Weekly. Flipping to the classified section the ads are easy to read and inexpensive, call 410-626-9888 to get yours printed today I found my salvation: Bay Weekly needed a calendar writer.
Throughout the interviews, I was confounded. These people kept calling me Diana. So I accepted the job. After all, how hard could it be to write a calendar listing?
Pretty darn hard, as it turned out. The first 30 entries were easy, but once you hit the 50th yard sale, things begin to blend. I hadn’t realized people would be so demanding about free calendar listings. By phone and email, I heard Why wasn’t my picture used? Why didn’t you mention that we sell homemade baked beans? Why is my event listed on the wrong day?
This calendar writing was a serious business. As I tried to come up with witty ways to write about composting, I had a few longing thoughts about my old job: No one cared if Cupcake Beechener put a dangling modifier in the newsletter.
Any doubts I had about my job change vanished when I saw my name in print. As I pointed out my clever consonance construction in the museum entry to my dad, I was thrilled that I gave up my life as Cupcake Beechener for a slightly more taxing role as Diana, the calendar writer. Bay Weekly gave me my name back, in print. Besides, I’ve gotten much better at calendar writing. Well, they haven’t fired me yet.
Carrie Madren: Began as intern Carrie Steele in 2004, now senior staff writer covering every Bay Weekly beat from politics to sustainable living to art and married to Tyras.
In four years at Bay Weekly, I’ve ridden in a Smart Car with Del. Jon Cardin, ventured behind the scenes at the circus with Dr. Rick Hochman, squished around a phragmites-filled wetland with a biologist, chatted with Bay bard Tom Wisner in his studio, studied the 17-year cicada with an entomologist, tracked box turtles by radio telemetry with Jug Bay volunteers and motored down waterways with riverkeepers.
But it’s the many people I’ve met and the wisdom they’ve offered that I value most. The most memorable was Bay photographer Marion Warren. I attended a dinner in his honor when the Scenic Rivers Land Trust bestowed its annual award to him in the fall of 2004.
After the award presentation, Warren was warm and humble to this amateur reporter who wanted to photograph the master photographer with a piece of his fine work.
I raised my digital camera to take he’d say make Warren’s picture.
“No, stand over there and come in a little closer,” Warren said with a kind but raspy voice as he patiently motioned me into place.
In 2006, when he passed away and Bay Weekly ran an Appreciation, I realized what a true Bay treasure he was and is. I’ve covered his works thrice now, most recently writing on the documentary crafted by his successors Joanie Surette and Richard Olsenius.
Last fall, while sorting through some old photos, I came across a warped, thick, eight-by-10 print of one of Warren’s works a press photo sent to publicize one of his exhibits. Turning it over, I saw Warren’s scrawled handwriting, and I knew I had stumbled across a buried treasure.
Clara Gonzalez de Hall: Production assistant since 2006, living with her husband Kevin and daughters Maya and Alexis.
1. Most common food in the sales office: Fritos and Kool-Aid.
2. Our classifieds manager reads each week’s horoscope to a phone caller who also asks for counseling.
3. Common sights in editorial offices: Yellow lab under our editor’s desk, piles of pages waiting to be proofed, and flowers from hubby to our staff writer.
4. American Idol is a common conversation theme during lunch break. Politics and religion are not encouraged.
5. Hold on to your computers when it’s pets’ playtime. They could end up on the floor and wrapped around the dogs.
6. Make sure to bet on what kind of calamity awaits sales rep Dawn Gray on any given day.
7. Don’t be alarmed if you see a short lady in a long black coat coming out of the woods. It’s our dear editor with her dog.
8. Expect a phone call on Thursdays from Jack Sparrow. It’s delivery driver Steve Seymour.
9. What makes our production manager go? Hummus and Starbuck’s chai.
10. Not the greatest omen: Vultures sunning on our Bay Weekly sign.
Amy Kliegman: Sales rep after 25 years in construction management, 15 at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
I’ve spent the last week listening to stories told by people who have been part of the Bay Weekly family for many years. It’s been quite entertaining. I have only 17 days to pull a memory from, so I choose the way I got to Bay Weekly.
Mark, my significant other, is an avid Bay Weekly reader. I came into the dining room one morning to find the paper, on the table, open up to a page with an ad seeking a Calvert County sales rep. I had been talking about re-entering the traditional working world, after two-plus years of working from home. Hmmm, I thought, could this be intentional or is it just another thing left out for me to put away?
I sent a letter along with my resume. Within a few days I received a response. I met with Lisa, Sandra and Betsy and thoroughly enjoyed talking with each of them. What was it that made me decline the offer?
A few weeks later, on my way home from the job I did accept, I was thinking hard about Bay Weekly, the people I had met and how much I liked the paper itself. Why did I say no?
At home, I checked my phone for messages. On the caller ID was Bay Weekly and a wonderful message from Lisa. Coincidence? Someone once told me there are no coincidences, only connections. So here I am, part of the Bay Weekly family. Thank you, Mark, for leaving that paper out.
April 17, 2008: Still Crazy After All These Years
Bill Lambrecht: Co-founder, editorial advisor
Have you heard the one about the kayaking operation that morphed into a weekly newspaper?
Way back when, we actually considered setting up a Chesapeake Bay kayaking company.
Of course we were journalists and teachers with no great paddling skills, unless you count those harrowing Alaska and Canada treks that we barely survived.
Wisely though folks questioned our sanity we started this weekly newspaper. One of us back then borrowed a line from that schmaltzy baseball movie: If you build it, they will come.
We did, and you did.
This co-conspirator has sat pretty much on the sidelines for these 15 years, involved in other journalism and writing. But it’s been a pretty good vantage point from which to watch Bay Weekly, and Chesapeake Country, grow. A few observations:
We live in one of the most beautiful spots on earth, and Bay Weekly has worked hard to make suggestions on how best to enjoy our slice of the world and to keep it worth enjoying;
We began this paper believing that people along Chesapeake Bay live in a community of common interests. Our belief in that ideal hasn’t waned;
We have so many talented writers in our midst who have helped make Bay Weekly a popular fixture in our region;
Bill Burton can write rings around people one-fourth his age;
Politicians come and go and some don’t go quickly enough;
A weekly paper was a good bet. While dailies suffer from the Internet and changing reader habits, experts everywhere say that community weeklies like ours continue to thrive and grow in popularity;
Sandra, Alex, Lisa, Betsy the long-timers and all the rest of Bay Weekly’s hard-working family new and old deserve a big birthday hug for bringing you this weekly miracle without fail.
Thinking back, it would have been great paddling around in our kayaks all these years and helping others do the same. But the Bay Weekly ship is sailing pretty smoothly, and the best thing about it is having all our readers aboard.
2008: In Retrospect
J. Alex Knoll: Co-founder, CEO and man of many hats some of them ill-fitting.
Memories are funny things, like a warped fun-house mirror distorting the passage of time and our own place in it.
Fifteen years ago, the idea of Bay Weekly came to life. That first issue, born New Bay Times, was pieced together over long and late hours by a team kept awake and alert by the looming excitement, like family pacing outside a delivery room.
Today, looking back over those years is like a parent suddenly face to face with a teenager: The constant growth and evolution has skewed time, so that although we know that we, too, must have aged as many years, it just doesn’t seem possible.
So much has changed in my own life, and yet so little in the labor of love that sustains me. Week in and week out for 52 issues each year since June 2, 1994, when we doubled up from fortnightly to weekly and plus an extra, leap-issue in 2004 the team once again gives life to this idea of a newspaper.
The team, too, has changed, but the roles have not.
It’s only when I stop and look at a given issue, a given moment, that time settles and the faces from the past come into focus, anchoring me in a given place and time.
So many faces, so many people, so many memories. Some were with us for years, while others disappeared after a mere day; some grew to be like family, and others couldn’t part ways soon enough. Yet each, however brief or how long a tenure, touched this 15-year-old named Bay Weekly and shared in its life.
Thank you, all, and happy birthday.