WHAT'S IN A NAME? 'FREE' VEHICLES -- AND GRIEF FROM MVA

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Attention, all you Robert Thomsons out there! One of you has just had his registration suspended.

The folks at the Motor Vehicle Administration don't know where you live, but they do know you are not my husband.

My Robert Thomson (circa 1951) recently received a notice to havean emissions inspection . . . not him, his 1978 Chevy. Except he doesn't own a Chevy, 1978 or otherwise.

But until Thursday, the computer in Glen Burnie thought he did.

You see, sometime last year the1951 Thomson noticed that the title and registration to his truck (a1989 Toyota) had his name misspelled. So his wife, me, a 1953 model,went up to Glen Burnie to get it straightened out.

A couple buttons pushed and Robert Thompson became Robert Thomson. But he also became Robert Thomson, 54, formerly of Rockville, owner of the aforementioned 1978 Chevy.

That error wasn't noticed until the 39-year-old Thomson began receiving notices about an emissions test for his Chevy.

So his wife, who became a Thomson in 1987, called Motor Vehicle and asked to have the emissions test notice canceled. A sympathetic state worker said the mistake would be corrected.

A month later camenotice No. 2. Another call. A different state worker first insisted that Robert Thomson (mine) lived in Rockville, then promised to fix the error.

Next came the letter threatening suspension of Robert Thomson's registration. Concerned that a Thomson somewhere would get pulled over and cited for driving with a suspended registration, the 1953-model Thomson sent a letter to the head of the emissions program.

Enter Betty Rabbitt, Motor Vehicle House of Corrections.

Working on a Saturday when the Glen Burnie offices are quiet, Betty Rabbittwas able to determine that two Robert Thomsons do exist, one to whomI am married and the other to whom I am not. Both, the computer toldher, lived in my house.

"So that's what I smell in the basement,"said Robert Thomson, '51.

"No, sweetheart, that's the litter box," he was told.

Rabbitt spent hours bloodlessly separating the lives of two men who have never met, but shared a 1978 Chevy. And, it seems, our pick-up truck as well.

You see, when the Motor Vehicle computer gave us the Chevy, it generously gave our Toyota truck to the '37-vintage Thomson.

Now, the two Robert Thomsons are their own men. Except the Thomson, not my husband, is still driving around with a suspended registration.

MVA could send him a letter, but it would come to my house. They could call him, but I'd pick up the phone.

So if your name is Robert Thomson, if you were born in 1937 and if you used to live in Rockville, go to the phone and call Betty Rabbitt, 787-7827.

And stop off and pick up a quart of milk on your way home, hon.

SOURCE: Candy Thomson

YEARBOOK REVEALS GLEN BURNIE'S HEART

If you think the soul of Glen Burnie is a used car lot, think again, hon.

The heart of the community isn't even the lime-green maze called the Motor Vehicle Administration -- at least not if you talk to old-timers.

Outsiders from far-away places like Baltimore may automatically picture the MVA when they hear the name Glen Burnie. But the natives know better.

In a 100-page yearbook titled "Glen Burnie -- A Pictorial History," not a single photo of the MVA was included. Nor were any snapshots of the muffler shops and fast-food restaurants lining Ritchie Highway.

Several photos of a car dealership, built in 1925 by Eddie Downs and Carson Riley, are sprinkled among the black-and-white pictures of old-fashioned ice cream parlors, diners and drug stores. But portraits of today's car dealers appear forgotten,along with the X-rated movie theater and adult bookstores that flourished before urban renewal.

The coffee-table yearbook, published in 1988 to celebrate Glen Burnie's centennial, contains a glossy photocollection of carnivals, churches, parks and lots of smiling faces.

The four members of Glen Burnie High School's first graduating class in 1926 beam from page 25. So do residents mingling at a 1987 community fair, featured on five pages. No litter is strewn on the banks of Sawmill Creek or Furnace Branch Creek -- not in the photographs atany rate.

This nicely packaged nostalgia sold so well three yearsago that the Glen Burnie Chamber of Commerce ordered a second edition.

But sales have dwindled since then, acknowledged Lisa Pitt, thechamber's new executive director. Stacks of both "Glen Burnie's marvelous pictorial history" and an accompanying volume on the centennialcelebration have been collecting dust at the chamber and Anne Arrundell County Historical Society.

"There's a reasonable amount available, to say the least," Pitt said. "A woman stopped by the other day to pick up one because she saw her mother in it. I'm hoping I can find another 100 mothers or so."

Pitt is pushing the two-volume set,on sale for $25, because she really believes it captures the heart and soul of Glen Burnie. When a business expressed interest in moving to the area, she said, she mailed the company president a copy of thepictorial history.

"I really felt like the centennial year was really Glen Burnie," she said. "Glen Burnie still is that small-town atmosphere in the middle of a high-growth area."

The coffee-table books may show a more tidy view of the community than people usually see. But then again, they may capture the spirit better than the MVA.

SOURCE: JoAnna Daemmrich

THE HEAVY BURDENS OF A BLACK WRESTLER

Until I met Southern wrestling coach Tyrone Neal at the start of the season two months ago, I had been wrestling in the shadows of a guy I'd only read about and seen pictures of.

During my two years as a wrestler for Montgomery College (Rockville Knights in 1980-1982), my coach -- Dick Shelley -- was constantly comparing me to Neal, a 1971 Southern High graduate.

In 1971, Neal became the first black wrestler in the Knights' history. Nine years later, I became the second -- although another guy, Largo's Eric Grant, later joined the team.

Tryingto live up to what Neal had accomplished was both a challenge and a burden.

There was the time when I suffered my first wrestling-related injury -- a sprained ankle -- and became disenchanted with the sport. Times when at the end of a long practice, or after a tough loss, I wanted to quit. Or the situations where teammates were engaging in racial jokes at my expense.

During those times, I often would say to myself, "If Tyrone could get through these situations, so can I.

"I felt obligated to prove myself as a black and as a wrestler, but to be honest, it was a tough and lonely road for me," said Neal, who was twice a junior college national champion and twice an Atlantic Coast Conference champion at the University of Maryland in 1973-1975. "Ihad no one to relate to, but I feel like I was a pace-setter."

I felt especially scrutinized because Tyrone and I wrestled in the same weight class -- 150 pounds -- and, of course, because we were both black. Sometimes, I even wore the same uniform and carried the same equipment bag that Neal had used.

Neal -- a two-time state champion atSouthern -- was a superb wrestler and a walking education in black history. He was in the freshman class that integrated Southern High in1967.

I may not have accomplished what Neal has, but in striving to reach the goals he attained for himself, I went further than I might have otherwise. I may not have been able to live up to his feats, but I believe I am living a better life because, in many cases, I tried to.

SOURCE: Lem Satterfield

SPORTS INFORMATION, AND NAVY'S LACK OFIT

Somebody had better alert the folks in the Naval Academy's sports information office that the academy just might end up with a national championship.

The academy's nationally ranked ice hockey team, which has secured a berth in the national tournament, has something of a recognition problem on the home front.

It seems the academy's sports information office doesn't "recognize" ice hockey as a sport. At least that's what they say when you call the office trying to get information about the team, which is considered a club team.

Perhaps they think ice hockey is part of the arts curriculum. Hockey does require some finesse after all.

Or maybe it's part of the mathor science departments. Players do have to worry about such things as angles and trajectories when taking shots.

Or maybe ice hockey has something to do with military preparedness training. The sport does involve some strategy, and it almost wouldn't be a hockey game if it didn't involve some fighting.

But it's definitely not a sport --at least not in Annapolis.

When the Midshipmen were scheduled to play host to one of the Soviet Union's top teams last month and a winter storm shut down almost everything, we thought the sports information office at least would know whether the Soviets' appearance was still on.

No one there could tell us that, but they could tell us they don't "recognize" the sport.

We had to talk to so many people to get a simple answer that it began to look like we would have to call the Kremlin directly to find out if the Russians were coming.

With a lot of help from the brigade and a little help from the academy's public affairs office, the Navy hockey team this season frequently has attracted capacity crowds to Dahlgren ice rink, and on more than one occasion it has outdrawn the men's varsity basketball team.

The academy store even sells hockey T-shirts -- and sells a lot of them.

So somebody out there recognizes the team.

And it's a good thing, because the Midshipmen are in the hunt for a national title.

SOURCE: Kathy Frazier

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