100 Years Ago
In the Howard County courthouse column:
"After the completion of the criminal docket, the civil docket was taken up and the first case on it was the one of Curtis vs. Thompson. This grew out of a dispute over a fence between respective properties. The original fence was an old worm fence and Mr. Curtis took a portion of the fence down. Then Mr. Thompson replaced that portion with a straight rail fence. Mr. Curtis claimed that Mr. Thompson trespassed on his property in doing so and entered suit against him.
After the evidence was in and the jury had listened to arguments for each side by Mr. Rogers and Messrs. Donovan and James Clark, they deliberated 10 minutes and returned a verdict in the favor of Mr. Thompson."
The amount of the award was not mentioned. This law suit brings to mind the line in poet Robert Frost's Mending Wall: "Good fences make good neighbors." For Curtis and Thompson, the operative word is the "good."
There's also an applicable Carl Sandburg quote that asks that while striving for Utopia, we also bow to human nature: "Love your neighbor as yourself, but don't take down the fence."
75 Years Ago
Monitor and Merrimack
"FOR SALE/TRADE - Good barn yard cow manure; 1 horse spring wagon; 1 100-pound ice refrigerator. Will sell or will trade for corn or pigs. George F. Flohr, Sykesville, Md. Phone Sykesville 41-F-5."
Perhaps Mr. Flohr recently got electricity on his farm, hence the sale or trade of his block ice refrigerator. The popular electric refrigerators then were those with the condensers on the top called the Monitor. They cost a pretty penny, between $200 and $300, though it must have been a huge relief not to have to worry about the constant need to procure ice to prevent food spoilage.
These Monitor refrigerators were named for the U.S.S. Monitor, as the condensers atop the frig looked like that ship's turret. The Monitor was the Union's Iron Clad naval vessel on duty during the Civil War.
The South's ironclad was the Merrimack. The battle of the Monitor and Merrimack (Virginia) took place near Hampton Roads, Virginia, 150 years ago, in the spring of 1862. Both ships were fitted with guns designed by Rear Adm. John Dahlgren, but the battle ended in a stand-off. Dahlgren Hall, a building used for athletics and special events on the United States Naval Academy yard, is named for Admiral Dahlgren.
The Monitor today is a National Historic Landmark, though the "land" mark is a misnomer, as it's not on land but under the sea off Cape Hatteras. It sunk during the Civil War during a vicious storm. A replica of the Monitor was built by Northrop Grumman and can be seen at the Mariner Museum in Newport News, Va.
50 Years Ago
"Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Jones and son, John and Franklin Childress all of Hillcrest enjoyed camping over the weekend at Cunningham Falls in Thurmont."
The falls is the highest cascading waterfall in the state. Also in Cunningham Falls State Park, which is in the Catoctin Mountains, there's hiking, fishing, boating and swimming. The rocks up to the falls are fun to climb, but wearing good tennis shoes is a must. But don't go there between May 17 and 19 as that's when the park will be closed because of the G8 summit being held in nearby at Camp David.
In addition to the surrounding stare parks, Thurmont hosts its popular Colorfest event in the fall. The town is home to the Cozy restaurant, which opened in 1929. The Cozy also offers Camp David Museum displaying memorabilia from the visits of United States presidents and foreign heads of state, many of whom dined at the Cozy while at Camp David for a conference or tete-a-tete with the prez.
The G8 summit should fatten the coffers of local businesses. And once again, the locals get a chance to catch a glimpse dignitaries. A few years ago, my niece, Tabitha, had that experience when working as a counselor in a summer camp next to Camp David. She was in the swimming pool with her group of kids, when she was called over to the edge of the pool and introduced to the president of the United States, who was paying a call on the camp while staying at Camp David. A photographer caught them shaking hands and it made the local paper. It probably could go on record as the wettest handshake any president ever got.