Category Archives: American History

Maryland, My Maryland — thoughts on Maryland Day



The Maryland Flag proudly flying over my abode.

The Maryland Flag proudly flying over my abode.


The State of Maryland is 380 years old today.


On March 25, 1634 two small ships, The Ark and The Dove,  carrying 140 English settlers landed on St. Clement’s Island in the Potomac River. They’d left Cowes on the English Isle of Wight four months earlier with a charter from King Charles I to settle a new colony in North America (the third English colony in North America.)


English: Postage stamps and postal history of ...

English: Postage stamps and postal history of the United States|History of the United States government|American Revolution|Maryland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


It was a rough journey. Three days out of port they hit a severe storm and the two ships were separated. The Ark, the larger ship assumed the Dove was lost and …


continued its journey, following the European coast south to the Fortunate (now Canary) Islands. From the Canaries, the Ark sailed due west across the Atlantic, touching land at the island of Barbadoes in the West Indies on January 3, 1633/4. There, the ship’s weary travelers stayed three weeks replenishing provisions, and there the Dove reappeared, having weathered the Atlantic voyage alone. At other Caribbean isles they also landed, and then sailed north. They reached Virginia on February 27th, gathered more supplies, and navigated Chesapeake Bay north to the mouth of the Potomac by March 3rd. []


After negotiating with the Native American Conoy tribe the settlers finally landed on Blackistone Island (they renamed it St. Clement’s Island.)  Father Andrew White, a Jesuit priest, said Mass, and the group celebrated a day of thanksgiving. Leonard Calvert, younger brother of Lord Baltimore who had received the Charter from the King, and first governor of the colony erected a large cross.


English: View of Commemorative Cross from Blac...

English: View of Commemorative Cross from Blackistone Lighthouse, September 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia) [This cross is in roughly the same location as Calvert’s Cross, but it, obviously, isn’t the same one that was planted in 1643]

Two days later, on March 27, 1634 the sailed about six miles up the river and established their first permanent settlement on a buff overlooking the St. Mary’s River.  The location had been a Yaocomico village, but the Indians “were more than willing to turn their home over to the Englishmen.” [ “Maryland: At the Beginning”]  When half the Yaocomicos left the English took over their bark huts as temporary dwellings. A “pallizado” (fort) was constructed and the colonist sowed the fields the Indians had already cleared. The countryside and river proved bountiful with game and fish. Relations between the Yaocomicos and the settlers was amicable and fair.


the natives supplied the English with corn and fish and were ready to teach them how to make corn bread and hominy, show them what herbs and roots could be used for medicine and dyes and cooperate in other ways. The English, for their part, paid the Indians for their land and supplies and the leaders wrote of the natives with respect.  [Ibid]


St. Mary’s City became the capitol of the new colony, and the first Maryland legislative assembly took place the following winter (1634-35). A Court House and Jesuit Church were erected.

St. Mary's City became a National Historic Landmark in 1969. Since then Archeological Digs have uncovered 800 acres of the colonial town and major buildings, like the State House, have been rebuilt.

St. Mary’s City became a National Historic Landmark in 1969. Since then Archeological Digs have uncovered 800 acres of the colonial town and major buildings, like the State House, have been rebuilt.

Maryland Day was created in 1903 to commemorate the landing on St. Clement’s Island. It became a legal holiday in 1916 in the state.


More facts about Maryland:

  • Nickname: Old Line State
  • Flower: Black-eyed Susan
  • Tree: White Oak
  • Bird: Baltimore Oriole
  • Sport: Jousting
  • Fish: Rockfish
  • Dog: Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  • Boat: Skipjack
  • Population: 5,828,289 (as of 2011) [Info from]



Largest City: Baltimore

Downtown Baltimore City from the Harbor.

Downtown Baltimore City from the Harbor.


Capital: Annapolis — Maryland’s capital moved up the Chesapeake Bay in 1694.

Downtown Annapolis. The State House tower is center.

Downtown Annapolis. The State House tower is center.




[All images were taken by me, unless otherwise noted]



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Theodore Roosevelt 10.27.13 Thought of the Day

President of the United States Theodore Roosev...

President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing front. Deutsch: Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919), Präsident der Vereinigten Staaten von 1901 bis 1909, Friedensnobelpreisträger des Jahres 1906. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. was  born on this day in New York City, New York, USA in 1858. Today is the 155th Anniversary of his birth.
He was the second of four children born to Martha “Mittie” and Theodore “Thee” Roosevelt, Sr. The wealthy family lived in a fashionable brownstone in the Gramercy neighborhood of New York.
Young Teddy or “Teedie” was a sickly boy. He had severe asthma and had to sleep propped up on pillows. He was…
homeschooled due to his illnesses and asthma. This gave him the opportunity to nurse his passion for animal life, but by his teens, with the encouragement of his father, whom he revered, Theodore developed a rigorous physical routine that included weightlifting and boxing. []
He was always fascinated by animals. Once, when he was 7,  he saw a dead seal at the market. He managed to get the seal’s head and it became the founding exhibit in the “Roosevelt Museum of Natural History”, an institution the boy started with two of his cousins. He took to taxidermy and collected other specimens for the museum.
Teedie collected everything within his reach and range of vision, and begged friends and family to bring him any specimens they found. He even paid other children to collect specimens for him. Yet he generously shared his collection. In 1871, he donated several specimens to another fledgling museum — the American Museum of Natural History, which had been co-founded by his father. []
He was a good student especially in geography, history, biology, French and German. But he did not do as well in Latin, Greek and math.
Roosevelt entered Harvard in 1876. He studied natural history. His father died when Teddy was a sophomore. While the tragedy broke his heart, it also spurred him on to work harder than ever before, both physically and academically.
After graduating magna cum laude in 1880, he enrolled at Columbia Law School and got married to Alice Hathaway Lee of Massachusetts. []
He dropped out of Columbia the following year when he had the chance to run for the New York State Assembly. He won the election…
becoming the youngest to serve in that position. Not long after, Roosevelt was speeding through various public service positions, including captain of the National Guard and minority leader of the New York Assembly. [Ibid]
His meteoric  rise to fame came to a halt on Valentine’s Day 1884. Both Roosevelt’s wife and his beloved mother died on the same day in his house. His wife died of undiagnosed Bright’s disease (kidney failure), his mother or Typhoid Fever. Roosevelt escaped the city and headed west. He worked for two years as a cowboy and rancher in the Dakota Territory before returning to New York.
NYPD Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt in 1895

NYPD Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt in 1895 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1886 he ran for unsuccessfully for mayor of New York. He married again, this time to Edith Kermit Carow (a life long friend.)

Roosevelt soon resumed his career trajectory, first as a civil service commissioner, then as a New York City police commissioner and U.S. Navy assistant secretary under President William McKinley…in the Spanish-American War… He organized a volunteer cavalry known as the Rough Riders, which he led in a bold charge up San Juan Hill in the Battle of San Juan Heights, in 1898. A war hero, and nominated for the Congressional Medal of Honor, Roosevelt was elected governor of New York in 1898.. [Ibid]

He ran with President McKinley on the Republican ticket during the 1900 national elections. They won and McKinley began his second term in the White House. But then an anarchist shot McKinley on September 6, 1901  at the Pan-American Exposition. Although McKinley seemed to recover for a while he eventually died of his injuries and Theodore Roosevelt became the 26th, and youngest, President of the United States of America.

As President, Roosevelt held the ideal that the Government should be the great arbiter of the conflicting economic forces in the Nation, especially between capital and labor, guaranteeing justice to each and dispensing favors to none… Roosevelt emerged spectacularly as a “trust buster” by forcing the dissolution of a great railroad combination in the Northwest. Other antitrust suits under the Sherman Act followed….Roosevelt steered the United States more actively into world politics. He liked to quote a favorite proverb, “Speak softly and carry a big stick. . . . ” []

Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United St...

Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States of America. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Highlights of Teddy Roosevelt’s presidency include:

  • Completed the Panama Canal
  • Won the Nobel Peace Prize for mediating the Russo-Japanese War.
  • Established (or added to) National Forest and parks for public use.
  • Other conservation projects

He left the White House in 1909 when his friend and former Secretary of War William Howard Taft became President. Roosevelt went on Safari in Africa for two years. When he returned to the States he was unhappy with the job Taft was doing and he decided to run again for office. Since Taft had the Republican ticket, Roosevelt started his own party, the  Bull Moose Party.

While delivering a speech on the campaign trail, Roosevelt was shot in the chest in an assassination attempt by John Nepomuk Schrank. Shockingly, he continued his speech for 90 minutes before seeing a doctor, later chalking up the incident to the hazards of the business. Roosevelt lost to Woodrow Wilson in the 1912 election, in a rather close popular vote. []

Roosevelt retired from politics again. He traveled to South America. He wrote books (25). And when the US entered World War I he volunteered to head a “division for service in France” [Ibid] (Wilson declined.)

Roosevelt died in his sleep on January 6, 1919, at his Long Island estate, Sagamore Hill.

Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United St...

Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States of America. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dwight Eisenhower 10.16.13 Thought of the Day

Here’s another blog I was working on for Monday that I didn’t get finished in time to post. (Sorry Ike)…


Dwight D. Eisenhower, official portrait as Pre...

“What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” — Dwight Eisenhower

Dwight David Eisenhower was on October 14 in Denison, Texas, USA in 1890. Monday was the 113 anniversary of his birth.

He was the third of seven sons born to Ida and David Eisenhower. Times were tough and David, who went to college for engineering,  cleaned railway cars to support his growing family.The Eisenhowers moved to Abilene, Kansas when Dwight was a year and half.  Dwight enjoyed his childhood in Abilene and considered it his home town. He played both football and baseball for Abilene High School before he graduated in 1909.

He worked at his family’s Bell Springs Creamery and as a fireman. In 1911 He earned an …

appointment at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, where attendance was free of charge. Once again he was a star on the football field, until a series of knee injuries forced him to stop playing. In 1915, Eisenhower proudly graduated from West Point at the top of his class, and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. []

While he was stationed in Texas he met Mamie Doud. The two married six months later. During World War One Eisenhower was in charge of Camp Colt in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

By 1920, he was promoted to major, after having volunteered for the Tanks Corps, in the War Department’s first transcontinental motor convoy, the previous year. [Ibid]

In 1926 he graduated first in his class from Command and General Staff School in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. He worked as the chief military aid to General Douglas MacArthur before becoming chief of staff for the Third Army. By 1942 he was a Major General.

In his early Army career, he excelled in staff assignments, serving under Generals John J. Pershing, Douglas MacArthur, and Walter Krueger. After Pearl Harbor, General George C. Marshall called him to Washington for a war plans assignment. He commanded the Allied Forces landing in North Africa in November 1942; on D-Day, 1944, he was Supreme Commander of the troops invading France. []

General Eisenhower speaks with members of the ...

General Eisenhower speaks with members of the 101st Airborne Division on the evening of 5 June 1944 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After V-E day Ike was made military governor of the U.S. Occupied Zone. In 1947 He became president of Columbia University. In 1951 he left that post to become Supreme Allied Commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

In 1952 Eisenhower  ran for President of the United States on the Republican ticket. He won the election  with 442 electoral votes over  Adlai Stevenson’s meager 89 and became the 34th POTUS.

Dwight D. Eisenhower photo portrait.

Dwight D. Eisenhower photo portrait. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Highlights of his presidency include:

  • Reduced Cold War tension with the USSR
  • Orchestrated an armistice that halted the Korean War
  • Started America’s manned Space Exploration
  • Eisenhower Doctrine — a 1957 policy that extended the Truman Doctrine to the countries of the Middle East.  Eisenhower promised military or economic aid to any nation in the area that needed help in resisting communist aggression.
  • Worked toward ending segregation. Desegregated the Armed Forces.


  • First advisors sent into Vietnam.
  • U-2 Spy plane shot down over the Soviet Union
The Eisenhowers retired to a farm  in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in 1961.

Eisenhower died at Walter Reed Hospital in Washington, DC  on March 28, 1969, he was 78 years old.

Funeral services for Dwight David Eisenhower

Funeral services for Dwight David Eisenhower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Friday Fiction: Last Dance

Thanks to for this week’s writing prompt of “Dancing”. I came up with (yet another) HAPPY story for you all (not).  So, put your hoop skirts and fingerless gloves on and “enjoy” Last Dance…


Corn Field 2

Our last dance together was in the church hall of St. Peter and St. Paul’s. It was May 21st, 1861, and Jimmy Bedlow had taken Mary Alice McGee for a wife.

Gabriel wore his Army blues. There were a lot of dark blue uniforms in the congregation when Pastor Lumley pronounced Jimmy and Mary Alice man and wife. Most of the boys of certain age in our town had heeded Mr. Lincoln’s call.

Blue became my young man. It turned Gabe’s hazel eyes a shade more azure, and it made his black hair seem all the more adumbral.

Gabe wasn’t the first to volunteer. He didn’t run after the flag when the band wagon came down main street. He didn’t raise his hand when Captain Haterfield made his rousing recruitment speech at the town square. He’d been thoughtful about the decision. He pondered over what it might mean to his parents — to his Ma, especially. And to me.  But in the end he knew what he had to do and he signed on.

Gabe was a brave, smart young man. He would do alright in this war — which by all accounts would be brief — then he would return home a hero. He would retake his place in his daddy’s law firm and we would be married.

Things were planned out neatly — both by our parents and in our hearts.

Our happily ever after was a well scripted certainty in our young minds.

When the boys mustered at the train station for the ride south Gabe stole a few seconds alone with me for a farewell. I gave him a kiss on his cleanly shaved cheek and a promise that I would wait for him, and pray for him… and that yes, I would marry him when he returned.

I pressed the a 1/6 plate Ferrotype I’d had made specially for him into his hand. He opened the leather case and looked at the small tintype photograph inside. His eyes misted up then.  “My dear Evelina” he whispered in a rough voice that seemed too old for him, “I shall treasure this to my last dying breath.”

Then some one blew a whistle and he was called from my side. I watched him for as long as I could, following his form as he melded with the other men in blue coats and black slouch caps. But then he marched onto the train and I lost sight of him.

The town seemed strangely empty after the militia left. The war had left us with school boys and old men.

The red, white and blue bunting that danced so merrily in the breeze that spring day of the mustering hung stagnant and lifeless on the porches and bandstand. The colors seemed bleached in the hot summer sun.

We heard little from our boys at the front. The mail was painfully slow. The news — even the  intelligence brought to us from the St. Cloud Monitor — was stale before it reached us. So it was near a full week before we heard about the Battle of Bull Run.

That bloody battle took many of our brave boys. The list was hung on the court room door.

The patriotic bunting was replaced by black morning cloth.

But my prayers were answered and Gabe’s name did not appear on the list of  men who had been killed or wounded. He was safe and I quietly rejoiced.

As I did the next April when we heard about Shiloh…

And in June when the Monitor listed the casualties from Seven Pines…

But one day in September when we were making apple butter I felt an odd kind of numbness come over me that I could not explain. Perhaps I was over tired — we were all tired from trying to put up as much food as we could for what was to be another long winter — but it was more than that.

Then 5 days letter the church bell rang mid afternoon and called us to the square. A new piece of paper had been nailed to the court house door and we knew there had been another battle.

On September 17th, 1862 thirty-one of our young men had been among the 2,108 killed  and 9,549 wounded Union soldiers near the creek of Antietam, Maryland.

The numbness I felt days before returned. As I climbed the courthouse steps and joined the scrum of women near the list I knew I would find what I dreaded most. And there in the second column, under Minnesota, half way down was  his name “Gabriel Pulson”.

Faces turned to me as they saw the name and associated it with my own.

A buzzing rang through me as the numbness escalated to full-scale panic. I tried to swallow it down and be brave.  I   KNEW   GABE  WOULD   WANT   ME   TO   BE   BRAVE.  But the buzzing, the numbness, overtook me with a powerful wave of grief and like a child I fainted right there on the courthouse porch.

I had a dream while I lie there.

I was not myself… I was a bird… and I flew low over a cornfield that was a cornfield no more. It was in the process of being destroyed by a great angry army of men… and trampled upon …and shot through until bullets and ears of corn littered the ground.

The bullets were buzzing still. And men would dance from side to side. The lucky ones were able to avoid the deadly leaded bees, the unlucky ones felt the sting and soon fell.

One man two-stepped ungracefully in a circle and fell in front of my dream  self… the bird. Despite the stubble of beard and dirty face I recognized this soldier, and I grew angry that his last dance had been in a cornfield and with out me.

Death came soon for my beloved Gabriel, but he had a brief respite to whisper his prayers. And as he had promised he pulled out my tintype and looked upon me one last time. The glass was broken now and the leather scuffed from wear, but it made him smile in his last moment on this mortal plain. And I… the bird… the girl.. realized he didn’t die alone.

corn field 4

Benjamin Harrison 8.20.13 Thought of the Day

“I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth will starve in the process.” — Benjamin Harrison

Portrait of the 23rd U.S. president Benjamin H...

Portrait of the 23rd U.S. president Benjamin Harrison. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Benjamin Harrison was born on this day in North Bend, Ohio in 1833. Today is the 180th anniversary of his birth.

Benjamin was the second of eight children born to John and Elizabeth Harrison at their farm near Cincinnati, Ohio. He went to school in a one-room schoolhouse as a child. For college he attended Farmer’s College in Cincinnati. He went on to study law at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

He married Caroline Lavinia Scott on October 20, 1853. The moved to Indianapolis, Indiana the following year and he began to practice law. When the Civil War broke out he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 70th Indiana Infantry. Eventually he earned the rank of brigadier general.

Colonel Benjamin Harrison

Colonel Benjamin Harrison (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With  his strong political pedigree — which includes

  • a signer of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Harrison V  and
  • his grandfather, the ninth President of the United States, William Henry Harrison

he seemed destined to enter the political arena. He ran for Governor of Indiana in 1872 & 1876.

The Democrats defeated him for Governor of Indiana in 1876 by unfairly stigmatizing him as “Kid Gloves” Harrison. In the 1880’s he served in the United States Senate, where he championed Indians. homesteaders, and Civil War veterans. []

He was in the Senate from 1881 to 1887. In 1888 he ran against Grover Cleveland for US President. Harrison won all the Northern states except Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri.

English: This image is based off this image fr...

English: This image is based off this image from Wikipedia, which in turn is based off this image from the Commons. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cleveland took all the Southern states.  Cleveland actually had 100,000 more popular votes, but Harrison won the Electoral College 233 to 168.

U.S. President Benjamin Harrison.

U.S. President Benjamin Harrison. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Highlights of the Harrison Administration include:

  • The first Pan American Congress (1899)
  • The Dependent and Disability Pension Act
  • Naval expansion
  • The McKinley Tariff
  • The Sherman Antitrust Act

He was the first President to have his voice captured on a recording when Giuseppe Bettini used a wax phonograph cylinder to record this 36 second clip…

When Harrison entered office there was a significant treasury surplus. He chose to spend it on  internal improvements and on pensions to Civil War veterans, their wives and children.  Harrison, his Republican House and Senate were dubbed “the Billion-Dollar Congress”

English: Harrison portrayed as wasting the sur...

English: Harrison portrayed as wasting the surplus gained under Cleveland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Long before the end of the Harrison Administration, the Treasury surplus had evaporated, and prosperity seemed about to disappear as well. Congressional elections in 1890 went stingingly against the Republicans, and party leaders decided to abandon President Harrison although he had cooperated with Congress on party legislation. Nevertheless, his party renominated him in 1892, but he was defeated by Cleveland. []

Republicans in the West peeled off to join the Populist Party (whose candidate, James Weaver, ran on a platform that included an 8-hour work day, better pensions for veterans and free silver.)

To make matters worse for Harrison his beloved Caroline was loosing her long fought battle against tuberculosis. Harrison’s decision to stay at the ailing Caroline’s side — and not go on the campaign trail — probably didn’t help his campaign bid. Caroline died a mere two weeks before election day.  Cleveland won the election soundly.

Benjamin Harrison, former President of the Uni...

Benjamin Harrison, former President of the United States. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Harrison travelled the country after his defeat, enjoying his role as “dignified elder statesman” [Ibid]. In 1896  at age 62 he married Caroline’s former secretary (and niece) the 37-year-old widow Mrs. Mary Scott Lord Dimmick. It was a bit of a family scandal since his adult children, Russel and Mamie were both older than his new wife. Mary bore Harrison another child, Elizabeth in 1897.

He caught influenza in February of 1901. It worsened to pneumonia and he passed away in March, 1901.

English: US Postage stamp: Benjamin Harrison, ...

Barack Obama 8.4.13 Thought of the Day

“In the end, that’s what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope?” — Barack Obama


The official presidential portrait of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama. [Image courtesy:]

The official presidential portrait of the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama. [Image courtesy:]

Barack H. Obama was born on this day in 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. He is 52 years old today.


He is the only son of Barack Obama, Sr. and Ann Dunham. His mother, who grew up in Kansas, was attending the University of Hawaii when she met Obama, Sr, an exchange student from Kenya. When the baby was still an infant, Obama, Sr. moved to Harvard to pursue his Ph.D.. The couple divorced in 1964 and Obama, Sr. moved back to Kenya. Dunham  then married Lolo Soetoro, a student from Indonesia.


A year later, the family moved to Jakarta, Indonesia, where Barack’s half-sister, Maya Soetoro Ng, was born. Several incidents in Indonesia left Dunham afraid for her son’s safety and education so, at the age of 10, Barack was sent back to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents. His mother and sister later joined them. []


Obama grew very close to his maternal grandparents.


He was raised with help from his grandfather, who served in Patton’s army, and his grandmother, who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle management at a bank. []



Stanley Armour Dunham, Ann Dunham, Maya Soetor...

Stanley Armour Dunham, Ann Dunham, Maya Soetoro and Barack Obama, mid 1970s (l to r) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




He attended the prestigious Punahou Academy, graduating in 1979 with academic honors. He went on to study at Occidental College in Los Angeles before transferring to Columbia University in New York. He graduate in 1983 with a degree in political science.


After working in the business sector for two years, Obama moved to Chicago in 1985. There, he worked on the South Side as a community organizer for low-income residents in the Roseland and the Altgeld Gardens communities. []


He entered Harvard Law School in 1988 eventually becoming the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. He also met his former wife Michelle Robinson while his was at Harvard.  He graduated magna cum laude, in 1991 and went back to Chicago to “help lead a voter registration drive, teach constitutional law at the University of Chicago, and remain active in his community.” []


His work in the community lead him to public office. He was an Illinois State Senator from 1997-2004 and was an US Senator for that state from 2005-2008.


Barack Obama's 2009 presidential inauguration ...

Barack Obama’s 2009 presidential inauguration in Washington, DC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


He was elected President of the United States  on November 4, 2009, having won 365 electoral  votes and 52% of the popular vote. He was reelected on November 6, 2012, with 332 365 electoral  votes and 51% of the popular vote.


English: Cropped version of File:Official port...

English: Cropped version of File:Official portrait of Barack Obama.jpg. The image was cropped at a 3:4 portrait ratio, it was slightly sharpened and the contrast and colors were auto-adjusted in photoshop. This crop, in contrast to the original image, centers the image on Obama’s face and also removes the flag that takes away the focus from the portrait subject. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


July Creative Challenge, day 31: RELAX — St. Michaels

[I’m taking this challenge seriously. First I’m RELAXing a bit on this last day of the July Creative Challenges by recycling and revising an article I did for an online travel magazine that has sadly gone away. Since the article is all about RELAXing and having fun in St. Michaels I thought it fit the challenge pretty well… Here goes…]

Take a walk on the relaxing streets of St. Michaels.

Take a walk on the relaxing streets of St. Michaels.

St. Michaels is a place of history, water, crabs, but above all St. Michael’s is a place to relax.

Finding a home on the river…

The little sea fairing town was built around St. Michaels Episcopal Church which was established in 1677. It was a trading post for farmers and trappers. James Braddock, an English land agent purchased 20 acres in 1778. An early real estate developer, Braddock carved 58 plots out of the land and arranged them around a town green. Along with the houses he included churches, a market and schools. Since the town is on the water fishing and shipbuilding became natural industries. By 1812 a half-dozen firms were building schooners to sail the Chesapeake.
It became the “Town That Fooled the British” in the War of 1812. The English fleet was barreling its way up the Chesapeake Bay headed to Baltimore. St. Michaels, with its shipping industry was a clear target for destruction. But in the wee hours of August 10, 1813 as the fleet approached the town’s residents hoisted lanterns into ship’s rigging and high into the tree tops, and the British cannons overshot the town. Only one house took a direct hit. A cannonball crashed through the roof, frightening, but not harming the inhabitants as it rolled down the stairs. That house still stands on Mulberry Street, it is aptly named the “Cannonball House.”
Over the next 150 years St. Michaels became one of the major seafood processing centers on the Bay. By 1930 a single processing plant was shipping more than a million pounds of crab meat annually, and 12,000 gallons of oysters a week! But, by the mid 20th century the seemingly boundless harvest of seafood began quickly, to dry up and St. Michaels long history as the “seafood basket” of the Chesapeake was coming to an end.
With the establishment of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in 1965 the city turned full-time to tourism as a way of life. St. Michaels beautiful colonial and Victorian homes refashioned themselves as bed and breakfasts, feed stores and tack shops were converted to boutiques and restaurants, and skipjack captains turned from dredging crustaceans to hosting sunset cruises.

Interior of one of the boat barns at the Maritime Museum

Interior of one of the boat barns at the Maritime Museum

Lots to see and do around town…

The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum offers 12 buildings and sits on 18 acres at old Naval Point in St. Michaels Harbor.
The Hooper Strait Lighthouse is the iconic center piece of the museum.  Built in 1879 the hexagonal lighthouse guarded the wicked shoals near Deals Island. It was accessible only by rowboat then, and the keepers spent months alone on the water tending the 4th level Fresnel lense and keeping weather and vessel records at the “screw pile” lighthouse. But by 1954 the lighthouse was fully automated and the Coast Guard began dismantling the old style lighthouses.. The Hooper Straight house was on the list for demo! Luckily the fledgling Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum was able to purchase it for $1,000 and barge is North to St. Michaels. Today it sits safely on the tip of Naval Point, one of four screw pile designed lighthouses left on the Bay. Visitors can climb into the lighthouse and take a self paced tour of the interior, including the keeper’s quarters and the light, and get a birds eye view of the harbor from the catwalk.  The Museum offers a Lighthouse Overnight program for small groups of kids 8-12.
At the “Oystering on the Chesapeake” building visitors board the E.C. Collier and listen in as her long time crew brings in the harvest. Dozens of hands-on, kid friendly displays take you through the history and conflicts of the oystering industry and lets you see how Maryland’s favorite mollusk went from the Bay’s bottom to a restaurant’s table top.
At the museum’s boat yard you can watch as skipjacks and crab dredgers are restored to new life. If you are itching to get out on the water you can take a tour on the Mister Jim. If you want a more hands on approach, the Museum’s Apprentice For A Day program is a unique opportunity to help build traditional wooden skiffs. The museum is open daily year-round (except Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s day).


Canon at St. Mary’s Square

St. Mary’s Square lies just to the south of St. Michaels Harbor. See cannons, one of which defended the city in during the War of 1812, and the Mechanic’s Bell that ruled the shipbuilder’s day by ringing at 7am, noon and 5 pm. St. Mary’s Square Museum host historic exhibits centered on the town of St. Michaels. The Museum is open weekends from May to October, Guided walking tours are available at the corner of Chestnut street and St. Mary’s Square on Saturdays beginning at 10:30 am. The tours alternate between “Young Frederick Douglas in St. Michaels” and “Historic St. Michaels Waterfront”. Reservations are required for a docent tour, call 410-745-0530. A Self-Guided walking tour map is also available at the St. Mary’s Museum.

Get out on the water! Go down to St. Michaels’ dock or drive over to nearby Tilghman Island for some water action.  Get up close and personal with some wild life, including osprey and bald eagles, with Peake Paddle Tours. Tours range from freshwater streams, to tidal rivers, to salt marshes all over the Eastern Shore, and skill levels start at beginner. Chesapeake Lights offers a variety of Lighthouse tours on the Bay.  Captain Mike Richards sales the motorized M/V Sharps Island out of Tilghman Island. A 10 hour, 10 lighthouse tour is scheduled for July 24th. The skipjack Rebecca T. Ruark, a National Historic Landmark, also sales out of Tilghman’s.  Captain Wade Murphy, Jr. is a 5th generation Chesapeake Bay waterman, and along with a beautiful ride you’ll get a history and science lesson on the Bay. The beautiful canoe-sterned ketch the Lady Patty is berthed in front of the Bay Hundred Restaurant in Tilghman Island and sets sail three times a day for 2 hour cruises including a romantic Champagne Sunset Cruise at 6:30.  The Salina II, a vintage catboat hosts private sailing lessons and 2 hr cruises for six. You can also take a Wine or Beer Tasting cruise or even an Overnight Excursion on the Selina II which docks at St. Michaels.

Sailing on the Bay

Sailing on the Bay. We took a twi-light cruise on the Rebecca T. Ruark which I found both educational and relaxing. This shot if of another vessel as the sun set to the left.

Spending the night…

There are over 25 Bed and Breakfast establishments in the St. Michaels area, so there’s plenty of variety in cost, location and luxury.

Dr. Dodson’s House at 200 Cherry Street began life as a tavern and the town’s first post office in 1799. Fredrick Douglas visited the house after the Civil War to meet with his former master, Captain Thomas Auld. Much of the house still maintains a historic flavor with original fireplaces, woodwork and glass. The house, which is on the St. Mary’s Square Museum walking tour, remains one of the finest examples of Federal architecture in town. It was brought to new life as a Bed and Breakfast after a bit of modernization (read: Air Conditioning and WiFi). The full breakfast is an “Event” from the eggs benedict, to the fresh tomato tarts, to the banana pecan waffles. You won’t leave the table hungry.

For Victorian charm try the Cherry Street Inn. This 1880’s house built by a steamboat captain has been lovingly maintained. The Inn is an easy walk to the harbor, The Chesapeake Maritime Museum and the shops and eateries on Main Street (Talbot Street).

Five Gables Inn and Spa offers a number of packages for the ultimate escape to the Bay. The signature Spa and Sail package includes two nights at one of their charming Main Street locations, two massages at the on site Aveda Spa, crab dinner for two at the Crab Claw Restaurant, and a two-hour cruise on the Rebecca T. Ruark. Other packages range from a one night champagne and chocolate get away to a four night “Learn to Sail” program that includes three private sailing lessons followed by massages. Five Gables is in the heart of St. Michaels, it is nestled among the Main Street Antique shops and is an easy walk to the harbor and the Maritime Museum. The Five Gables offers 12 rooms and 8 suites and an extended continental breakfast.

The iconic Hooper Light House at St. Michaels.

The iconic Hooper Light House at St. Michaels.

  • re-enactments,
  • boat rides,
  • cannon firings,
  • a Talbot Street parade,
  • horse-drawn carriage rides,
  • an Art show
  • and more.

If you stay an extra day you can enjoy the 4 th Annual Watermen’s Appreciation Day and Crab Feast.


July Creative Challenge Day 4: PRIDE

Well, it’s the Fourth of July and here in America that elicits a lot of PRIDE in our Founding Fathers. So for today’s challenge I did a word collage based on the Declaration of Independence  and the original signers.

My Declaration word collage.

My Declaration word collage.

The Declaration is an amazing document and it is worth a trip to the National Archives in Washington DC to see it in person (along with the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the 1217 Magna Carta. I’d also strongly suggest a trip to Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA where the Declaration was debated and adopted.

Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

Like the Bible and the Constitution people read the Declaration in different ways, often to fit their specific needs. Indeed, when Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Livingston and Sherman put their heads together to come up with the document they had their disagreements, and before the Second Continental Congress finally adopted it copious compromises had to be accommodated. Alas, certain races and sexes had been edited out of the “all men” altogether (not that women were ever really in the mix to begin with.) Yet, despite it’s flaws and the flaws of the men who signed it, the Declaration remains one of the best treatises on the rights of individual man and of independent states ever written.

I encourage you to read it in its entirety. Here’s a full transcript of the Declaration. Or to listen to it HERE from NPR.

The Assembly Room inside Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed.

The Assembly Room inside Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was adopted.

For more information on the signers I suggest delving into the profiles posted on The Society of The Descendants of the Signers of the declaration of Independence.   Click HERE to read about John Penn from North Carolina (who I picked at random). John Penn was instrumental in organizing the North Carolina delegates to vote for Independence. He:

  • He served in the Continental Congress for six years
  • He signed the Declaration of Independence
  • He signed the Articles of Confederation
  • He signed the Halifax Resolves (the North Carolina Constitution)
  • He was virtual dictator of North Carolina at what arguably was the turning point of the American Revolution in 1781-1782 []
John Penn (Continental Congress)

John Penn (Continental Congress) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

James Montgomery Flagg 6.18.13 Thought of the Day

English: American artist James Montgomery Flag...

English: American artist James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I Want You for U.S. Army.”

James Montgomery Flagg was born in Pelham Manor, New York, USA in 1877. Today is the 136th anniversary of his birth.

He knew he wanted to be an artist at a young age. By 12 he sold his first illustration to St. Nicholas Magazine for $10. “By 14 he was a contributing artist for Life magazine, and the following year was on the staff of another magazine, Judge.”  [] Although he attended art school in New York, London and Paris he was dubious as to their benefit. He once said “Art cannot be taught. Artists are born that way…I wasted six years of my young life in art schools… You can’t breed an artist. You can only breed mediocrity.”  [] When he returned to the States he married Nellie McCormick, a St. Louis socialite 11 years his senior. The couple moved about the country eventually landing in New York City where Flagg established himself as a magazine illustrator.

English: Caricature of Rupert Hughes (1872-195...

English: Caricature of Rupert Hughes (1872-1956) by James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He worked with a dozen or so of the top publications in the country and produced an illustration a day (on average).

Flagg was not only a productive illustrator, he was also enormously versatile.. Flagg displayed his powers in opaque and transparent watercolor and oils. He worked in monochrome for halftone reproduction; with a full palette for color reproduction. He was equally skilled in charcoal and pencil. He was even a consummate sculptor. No medium was too difficult for him and except for pastel (which he disliked) he used them all with ease.” []

Flagg started to draw for Photoplay Magazine in 1903, producing illustrated portraits of movie stars.

When the US entered World War I he joined a group of fellow artist called the Division of Pictorial Publicity which designed patriotic posters. Among the 46 posters Flag created is his famous “I Want You for the US Army”. He posed as Uncle Sam himself (to save the trouble and expense of finding a model.)

English: Uncle Sam recruiting poster.

English: Uncle Sam recruiting poster. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He was a fan of Franklin D. Roosevelt and created political posters promoting the New Deal and Roosevelt’s presidential campaigns.  When the US entered WWII he revived Uncle Sam and made a series of Red Cross posters.

After the War he mounted an exhibition of his fine art at the Ferargil Gallery in New York City. But by the 1950’s magazines had moved to photography over illustration and he found his skills less in demand.

He was outspoken and he didn’t suffer fools. He had a high opinion of himself and once said “The difference between an artist and an illustrator is that the latter knows how to draw, eats three square meals a day and can pay for them.”

Along with his artwork he also wrote screenplays and acted on both the stage and set.

Flagg died on May 27th , 1960. He was 83 years old.

Click HERE to see a nice selection of his artwork.

Jas. Montgomery Flagg  (LOC)

Jas. Montgomery Flagg (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

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