Friday, February 16, 2007

Admiral Gibby’s Seige…

Seems his long battle with the Giant Ground Hog might be at an end. The Admiral, as many of you know, lives at the first line of defense against the forces of nature that wander our way from the swamps and creeks surrounding the Point. Old Gibby is the first to encounter the dangerous varmints making their way in from the lowlands and one day a Giant Ground Hog showed up.

To hear the Admiral tell it, the Ground Hog proceeded to start undermining his entire house with holes big enough for New York subway cars to get through. Not only that but everything the Admiral planted, and he was well known for his abundant flower and vegetable gardens, seem to disappear over night.

Gibby put out the standard traps and the Giant Ground Hog made a mockery of them, casting them aside during nightfall. One morning the Admiral heard a real fuss in a trap only to discover he’d caught one of the cats in the neighborhood. After a few futile weeks he called in the Animal Control specialists and the Giant Ground Hog set out to show them how little they knew about trapping. Every day it seemed they would show up, find the discarded traps, and bring bigger ones. It got so we were worried the Admiral might go out some night and get caught in his own traps.

When the shotgun blasts started one night and in a matter of days it seemed like World War III was about to break out the Coltons Point Times decided it was time to get to the bottom of this situation. Long about sundown a reporter was sent to the Admiral’s homestead and sure enough, there stood Gibby staring out across his lawn with a shot gun in his hands waiting to spot the Giant Ground Hog before it could finish leveling his home. About ten feet directly behind the Admiral stood the wily old Ground Hog, up on his hind legs chewing an apple and watching to see what the old man was going to shoot next. For the longest time our reporter stood there watching the Giant Ground Hog watch Admiral Gibby. Finally he waddled off to the woods and not a shot was fired that night.

Rumor has it after several months of warfare either Gibby finally got the varmint or the varmint packed up and left for greener pastures. Then again, since the next occupants under the Admiral’s house were skunks, maybe the Giant Ground Hog decided to seek fresher air.

America – The Driven Society

Okay, it’s the middle of February and we’ve already seen the Golden Globe Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards, Directors Guild Awards and the Grammy Awards. In a couple of weeks we have the Academy Awards, to be followed by the Country Music Awards and Emmy Awards. Haven’t you had enough?

Don’t forget the NCAA Football Championship, the Super Bowl, and the upcoming NCAA Basketball March Madness Championship. Of course Reality TV offers us a virtual smorgasbord of competitions including America’s favorite American Idol, Nashville Star, the top chefs, models, designers, nannies, adinfnitum.

Let’s face it, America is obsessed with competition, with the strong beating up the weak, with a win at all costs and with an arrogance that we can be best at anything. Even our leisure time is spent watching an endless string of competitions on television, at games, kids soccer, cheerleaders, even when it comes to SAT scores. There are probably more heart attacks watching these competitions than at work.

The result, baseball’s home run champions are on steroids, tracks stars are on drugs, and now NASCAR champions are caught cheating with their cars. Do we ever stop trying to find a way to enhance performance illegally? Well, okay, maybe Viagra is a legal performance enhancement but most methods are not.

I often wonder are the millions of fanatics watching so they can cheer for the winners or ridicule the losers? Why do we get so worked up over sports, or entertainment? To find the answer I turned to the Pointer Philosopher & Psychiatrist Hillbilly Joe.

Me: What are your credentials Hillbilly?
Hillbilly: I dunno.
Me: Sounds good to me. At least you admit it.
Hillbilly: Not on purpose.
Me: So what, in your learned loftiness do you think of the obsession with competitiveness of American society?
Hillbilly: It’s a by product, sort of the folly of the capitalistic system.
Me: Really?
Hillbilly: The inevitable conclusion of greed driven performance and a waste based economy.
Me: My goodness, that’s pretty deep Hillbilly. I take it you have some doubts about capitalism.
Hillbilly: I have no doubt it’s doomed.
Me: So what, in your omnipotent opinion, is wrong with our society?
Hillbilly: Too many people stopped nursing too soon, were raised by surrogate parents, were instilled with false ideals and were taught to worship gold, not realizing it was fools gold.
Me: So where did we go wrong?
Hillbilly: When you drive off the cliff it’s a bit too late to worry about where you went wrong.
Me: This is pretty serious stuff Hillbilly.
Hillbilly: Interview is over. Got to go watch Ghost Whisperers.
Me: Any reason in particular?
Hillbilly: Love that “Love”. She’s well equipped to handle the dead.

Too Cold? The Weather Watchers Series

Down here on the Point we have a way of knowing when it is too cold. It’s when all the Point People Walkers stay in for the day. If a day goes by and you don’t see at least three of the following people walking around the Point then it is just too damn cold for people to be out. Our weather indictors are King Bob, the Ink Spot, Cheerleader Sue, Haughty Helen, Brash Bren and Dogman Joe.

Maybe they should have stayed home.
Weather indicators can be gleaned from their absence on the streets. Another way to tell when it is cold is when the roar of the lawn tractor fleet is gone. Duke Deere will pretty much be out in any kind of weather so when his Deere is silent watch out. Hillbilly Joe is never far behind. If Duke and Hillbilly are at work Mayor Bob or Dogman will always be out if it is humanly possible and if they go out on the tractors so will Admiral Gibby.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Histories Mysteries - A Light Hearted View of the Pilgrims Progress in Coltons Point

St. Clements Island Lighthouse & Pilgrims Rest Stop

Many of you may remember this classic work of literature by English author John Bunyan first published in 1678. He was in jail when he wrote it in 1675 for participating in religious services outside the auspices of the Church of England, the only allowable religion at the time. Well we decided to track the Pilgrims Progress here in Coltons Point as it was the first stop over of religious outcasts from England just 40 years before John Bunyan was imprisoned and were it not for the Calvert family back in England many of our ancestors might have been in jail with Bunyan.

In 1632 George Calvert, who had been King James I of England’s principal Secretary of State at a time when the conflict between Catholic Europe and Protestant England was most serious, was granted a charter to what is now the State of Maryland. After George’s death in 1633 his son Cecil inherited his charter and determining that his brother, Leonard Calvert was the family member most expendable, sent Lenny to lead the expedition to America and establish a settlement around religious freedom. November 23, 1633 about 150 pilgrims got in two ships, the Ark and the Dove, and set out on a treacherous four month winter journey to America.

On March 25, 1634 the ships landed at Clements Island a stones throw from Coltons Point and between 150 and 300 people got off the boat, went to the bathroom, and started negotiating with the Yaocomico natives on shore for a permanent settlement. March 25 is now known as Maryland Day, the day the Catholics came to America and the holiday is celebrated everywhere but right here where it happened. Maybe we could fix that.

So the natives finally agreed they could have St. Mary’s City downstream for a settlement, there was no reason to mess up the Island or the Point with a new development, a position that remains pretty much true today. Just two years later, in 1636 and in spite of the fact he didn’t really own it Lord Baltimore went and gave the Island and Point to Thomas Gerard with the grant showing the Island was 400 acres.

Today the Island has 40 acres. It has been 370 years (1636-2006) since the first measurement of the Island in 1636 and over that time 360 acres have disappeared into the waters. Nearly an acre a year for 370 years have vanished meaning in the year 2046 the island will be gone completely and join the legends of the sea such as Atlantis.

A comprehensive history of the Island and Point should be done and a lot of partial histories have been written and could form the basis for the definitive story. Until then I’m going to add my version of an incomprehensible history to the collection.

So Lord Baltimore gave this disappearing Island to Gerard and in 1669 the Blackistone family took it over and kept it for 162 years. After that other families, possibly a beer company and a tobacco company and who knows who else claimed ownership.

During the American Revolution the Island was headquarters for the British troops. Oops, wrong side. Thirty years later during the war of 1812 it again was occupied by the British troops.

In 1853 a lighthouse was built on Clements Island for $5,000, and it survived for over 100 years before it mysteriously burnt down in 1956.

I believe in 1865 John Wilkes Booth came to the Point after shooting President Lincoln, during the missing week after the assassination, where he was supposed to catch a British ship and flee to England. Maybe the weather was bad, or for some other reason he went back and crossed into Virginia on his way to a much larger port. There is one heck of a story here along with the question, what did the English have to do with Lincoln’s death.

By 1883 the original St. Clements Manor House, built in 1636, was a hotel and beer garden in Coltons Point and became so popular it attracted ferry boat loads of tourists from Baltimore and Washington. Three weekly steamers came down to Coltons Point for the dances that were held at the old Blackistone Hotel Pavilion.

The origin of the Coltons Point name is an unverified local legend as is so much of the history surrounding the Point. R. Johnson Colton, the first Pointer Postmaster, is said to have won the acreage in a poker game in the 1800s. John Colton, vice president of government affairs for the Maryland Forests Association and R. Johnson Colton's great-grandson said it's possible. "I come from a family of card players," he said. A generation later, his grandfather supposedly won a house in nearby Clements the same way.

In the meantime in 1919 the Island was sold to the US government – used for training and weapons testing during the 1940’s, and by the 1960’s the State of Maryland took control of it.

Back in the Point by 1933 Coltons Point was known as Kopel’s Point and the manor house/hotel was now the Kopel’s Point Hotel, a time few local townspeople seem willing to talk much about. Two hurricanes the next few years pretty much destroyed the hotel by the early 1950's and it was never rebuilt. King Bob and the Ink Spot might finally be willing to talk about this time in their family history that is shrouded in mystery.

Just across the Potomac from Coltons Point in Westmoreland County Virginia three rather important historical figures were born and raised, George Washington, James Madison and Robert E. Lee. We would do well to take a little credit for them.

In the 1960’s a group of childhood friends, some descendants of the original settlers, some might even have been the original settlers, formed The Optimist Club of the Seventh District and at the urging of Father John J. Madigan started the Blessing of the Fleet Festival. That brings us up to date.

Like I mentioned there have been a few decent articles written about various parts of the history of Clements Island and Coltons Point. None tells the whole story. We would like to appeal to the public to help fill in the missing gaps in our history. If you have boring details and family histories give them to the St. Mary’s Historical Society. If you have scandalous stories, myths, rumors or information provocative in nature give them to the Coltons Point Times. We only want the fun stuff.

Consider that Jamestown was first settled in 1607 but disappeared in time. Fact is none of the early settlements in the colonies including Jamestown, Williamsburg, Middle Plantation, St. Mary’s City, etc. survived so who knows, Coltons Point could claim a spot in history right up there with Williamsburg, Busch Gardens and all the other famous historical sites.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Road to Stardom with Billy Bush

Billy Bush, the ego starved host of Access Hollywood on NBC cannot resist the temptation to make himself a bigger celebrity than the celebrities he is supposed to showcase. But his latest escapade on TV has reached a new low in egomania, and it makes one wonder if NBC or the other networks carrying the show are a party to this nonsense.

Not content to just interview celebrities, Billy has decided that whatever Paris Hilton does he can do so he decided to become a recording star using the show to make himself what he isn’t, a record star. Now at least Paris had her own money to do this.

Billy used the show to get the best writers, producers, voice coaches and engineers to try and make him sound good. In the process he used all the resources of national television exposure to advance his personal career and didn’t pay a cent like every other artist in America must do.

Even a top producer, David Foster, was conned into the act and wound up looking like a stooge or patsy for helping someone with little talent to look good. Foster sold his soul for a few bucks and three nights of TV exposure. His integrity went down the toilet.

As for the Bush boy, his supercharged ego is beginning to drag co-host Nancy O’Dell down with him and we can only hope she can escape before her integrity is shot as well. Nancy is one of the few really good, objective hosts left on TV.

What in the world are the show producers thinking?

What About the Other History Months?

There was a letter the other day in the Enterprise about eliminating Black History month because it is a disruptive influence on all the students not Black and for a variety of other reasons. Perhaps the more proper thing to do would be to honor all the appropriate major ethnic groups in the American population and maybe the Native Americans since they seemed to have been exploited by everyone else.

Think about it. Some estimates are there were about 100 million Native Americans when the white man showed up 500 years ago. Since then they are the only ethnic group in America to have lost population, and not just lost it but seen it nearly wiped out. Now (2005 US Census estimates) there are just 2.3 million Native Americans left, a whopping loss of 97.7 million people lost to the progress of civilization. They deserve at least one History Month if not a whole year of attention.

Of the rest of the groups Black History month seems to be the only one receiving an entire month of study by our schools. In America Blacks make up 12.1% of the population compared to 74.6% White, 14.5% Hispanic, and 4.3% Asian. Thanks to the march of mankind the Native Americans, once the only people in America, are now down to less than 1% of the population and if it weren’t for their casinos they’d probably be extinct.

So the Native Americans deserve at least a month so they won’t be forgotten. The Whites, since there are six times as many as the Blacks, would also seem to warrant a History Month. There are more Hispanics than Blacks and the Hispanics have a few bones of their own to pick with America since they once owned all the land from Texas to California so maybe we should give them a History Month as well. There are 41.8 million Hispanics compared to 34.9 million Blacks but if we add the 10 million more illegal immigrants there are more like 51 million Hispanics here, 17.6% of the population.

That leaves us with the Asians, 12.4 million strong, and they now control the automobile and electronics industries worldwide so we better not upset them or we won’t have cell phones, HD TV or reliable cars. I say give them at least three weeks to a full History Month as well.

We would now have a Black History Month, White History Month, Hispanic History Month, Asian History Month, and Native American History Month. If we were truly fair we must look to the ancestry of all Americans for a full picture. As of 2000 the Census Bureau said there were 42.8 million Americans of German ancestry, 30.5 million Irish, 24.5 million English, 15.6 million Italian, and more than 4 million Polish, French, Scottish, Dutch, Norwegian, Scotch-Irish and Swedish.

That means we need 16 months to celebrate all the diverse ethnic groups with more population in America than the Native Americans. According to the national educational test results our kids aren’t learning much anyway so at least we could teach them a little about themselves. We could also extend school to year round so we don’t have kids hanging around in the summer, so teachers are working for time they are already paid, so there are more jobs available at McDonalds for senior citizens, and so high school football teams could start practicing earlier in the summer.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Diane Sawyer for Vice President!

There is a huge foreign policy problem in the White House that comes from decades of stagnation, inertia and plain old playground bullying. Look at the advisors that have the President's ear. There is Vice President Cheney and no other unless they were cronies of Cheney like Rumsfeld. Poor Condi Rice has been a mouthpiece for the ancients as long as she has been there which means she has no credibility when it comes to challenging the boys in the backroom.

Hey, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the gang have served the nation since Gerry Ford was President and most people don't even remember those days. We've had Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush 1, Clinton and Bush 2 since those days, eight full terms of presidents, and over 30 years since they were new faces in the nation's capitol. You can't really expect new ideas for correcting the problems of the world when the policy makers are from the geriatric set. The world they grew up in no longer exists. Perhaps it is time they no longer exist in control of policy that is outdated and unrealistic for the world of tomorrow.

In recent months ABC correspondent Diane Sawyer, Kentucky's gift to the media mess reporting on world affairs, has quietly and calmly secured interviews with people the Bush Administration refuses to talk to on some long forgotten principles. She has been to North Korea and Syria, met with and interviewed the leaders, learned more about them than the collective efforts of our 18 intelligence agencies, and outlined a path to peace which just might work.

Instead of thanking her for finding out exactly what the leaders of these nations are thinking, the White House continued their playground bully practices. The mouthpieces for the president blasted the countries for backing terrorism, not securing their borders, and all the other things the old boys could dredge up from the sabre rattling days of old when the world was black and white. Haven't they learned anything to date?

The Syrian President said it best when he said the USA can't even secure the border with Mexico, how can they expect other countries to secure borders with hostile nations. Remember Mr. Bush, between 13 and 20 million people have illegally slipped through our southern border. Heaven knows how many more came through the thousands of miles of Canadian border.

It is a new world calling for new ideas and new ambassadors to seek out the new solutions. The old boys have had their day in the sun, now it is time for fresh faces without the baggage of the old boys. Bush could still pull off a reversal and not end up the most unpopular president in history if he has the ability to lead rather than do what he is told.

We can start the long road to healing the world rather than threatening the world if Vice President Cheney would resign for health reasons. It is a perfectly legitimate excuse. He can’t even shoot straight. Bush could then appoint Diane Sawyer as the new Vice President and give her the authority to negotiate one on one with our adversaries, which she has already done. No one in the Administration has even met these people.

Sawyer is humble, cool and knowledgeable, something in short supply in our nation's capitol, in politics and in the news media. Most important she is open-minded and already has access to the very people the Administration cannot talk to for fear of looking weak I guess. Wake up Bush and demonstrate you are capable of original thought, of pioneering peace rather than retribution, of shedding the bonds that bind you to the worn out ideas of the past. Give our nation back to the people. Let common sense rule over the playground bullying we know does not work.

You tried trusting the intelligence agencies and look what it got. You trusted the military and look what that got. You trusted your advisors and look what that got. You’ve trusted everyone no one else trusts. Maybe it’s time you trust someone others do trust, someone like Diane Sawyer, the girl from Kentucky Bluegrass country.

The history books might read you had the first female VP in history. You tore down the barriers of hate between the Syrians and other Moslems and the USA. You eliminated the DMZ between the Koreas. I mean you might even be able to sell tickets to your future presidential library at some point in time. Think about it.