Making good on 'last chance,' kayaker retraces 1954 voyage


Alan Corney, the 64-year-old Baltimore kid in the yellow kayak, reached the Inner Harbor on Monday after a four-day journey from Trenton, N.J. Some of the trip was stormy, but most of it was satisfying -- primarily because Corney beat the clock. It turns out this man is pacemaker-dependent and expects surgery next year to fix an aortic valve that already has been replaced twice. He didn't mention this when I spoke to him Sunday morning, after a storm blew Corney's 16-foot kayak ashore near the Sassafras River on the upper bay. But, indeed, Corney nTC believed this was his last chance to repeat a trip he made 41 years ago -- in the other direction. This time, he paddled downstream -- from the Delaware River, through the C&D; Canal, into the bay, to Fairlee Creek on the Eastern Shore, to Pooles Island, to Baltimore. In 1954, Corney left his Baltimore hometown and went upstream -- to Trenton by canoe -- and proposed to the New Jersey woman who became his wife. Alan and Judy Corney will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary next week. "The biggest change I noticed along my route was the loss of our industrial base," he says. "I noticed a lot of empty plants and docks. Filling in the gap now are marinas and tourists. . . . People along the way were so friendly and helpful to me. I'm writing a lot of thank-yous." And counting a few blessings.

Stop watching 'Jaws'

From the April 12 minutes of the Anne Arundel County Planning Advisory Board:

"Mr. [Thomas] Rhoades [director of information management services, Board of Education] explained that parents are fearful and adamant about having their children change schools. He gave examples offered from parents such as if children change school there will be psychiatric bills, and school buses going over the Severn River expose children to the danger of sharks." Now hold on, moms and dads. Sharks will never jump out of the Severn and into school buses -- mostly because there are no sharks in the Severn. It's probably not salty enough for them. So says Jim Uphoff, Department of Natural Resources biologist. So there. Everyone relax. OK?

Sing a song of sunset

Today's sunset memory comes from Driscoll Williams, Hamilton:

"I was working in Ocean City during the summer of '69, a dishwasher in Phillips. We worked 11 hours a day, seven days a week. I worked with poor Eastern Shore blacks and French kids on a summer visit to the U.S. The French kids smoked fat cigarettes and exhaled a strange blue smoke. . . . We worked until 8 o'clock, when we took a break. We got a pitcher of cola and sat on a storage porch that looked toward the bay. Almost every night we were treated to a sunset the color of a blood orange snowball. We seemed to be drawn to it. Not much was said. Blue smoke, someone singing a slow and soulful song. When the sun finally sank into the bay, we went back to the frantic action in the back room at Phillips."

Auto motive doubts

Remember last week's story about Dave Kennedy, the guy who had to buy his own Chevy at auction because the city towed it away from his daughter's apartment in Hampden? (Recap: The car was a 1978 Malibu with new brakes and tires; Kennedy bought it for his daughter, but she never used it. The registration expired in December. The car was cited for violating the city housing code in April, towed away in May, auctioned in June.)

Kennedy was miffed that the owner of the apartments, who apparently got a violation notice from the city, never told him the car would be towed. And no one from the city contacted him until after the car was in the abandoned-vehicle yard. In short, Kennedy never knew his car was causing trouble (though expired tags can get you a heap of it). He says he can prove the landlady received the violation notice and never warned him or his daughter about the car.

If that's the case, then what the landlady did was, as The Beav used to say, crummy. Kennedy should send her a bill. (How's that for Marxist-Wapner thinking?) I suggest charging her the difference between what Kennedy paid originally for the car ($300) and what he paid at auction ($125) plus the towing and storage fees ($338). So we're talking $163 for the absentee landlady's dereliction. (I know. She wasn't obligated to tell Kennedy or his daughter anything, but it would have been nice.)

Some readers think this kind of thinking is flawed. A couple of city landlords, who knew nothing about the condition of the car, dismissed it as "junker" and called Kennedy a "dumper." Asked Doc and Janice Keil: "What makes people think they can accumulate junk cars or boats or other eyesores and dump them in the neighborhoods that people live in and then think they have no further responsibility? What makes this guy think the landlord even knew who the dumper was? What makes this guy think anybody owes him even an apology, much less any money, when the situation was created by him and had an inevitable end? Dan, you fall for some shabby stories." Yeah, but at least I publish the shabby rebuttals.

Bass' outfits out front

So far, Marty Bass of WJZ-TV is the leading vote-getter in our best-dressed news dude survey. The polls close a week from today. So, mail your vote pronto to This Just In, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278. Heard a good one? Call TJI on 332-6166.

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