Inaccuracies cited in mummy articleRichard O'Mara's May...


Inaccuracies cited in mummy article

Richard O'Mara's May 14 article, "Wrapped up in mummies," contained inaccuracies concerning mummies in the collection of Goucher College.

The article omitted mention of the fact that the partially unwrapped mummy of a woman on display in Gilman Hall at the Johns Hopkins University (known informally there as "Boris") and one of the mummies on view at the Walters Art Gallery are on loan from Goucher College. The Rev. John Franklin Goucher, the college's founder, received the mummies and other ancient Egyptian artifacts from an Egyptian museum.

In the article, Dr. Goucher appeared as frivolous and crass, when it was reported that he unwrapped the "Boris" mummy for the amusement of dinner guests in his home and punctured the body cavity in a futile search for jewels. This recounting is untrue.

Certainly acceptable museum conservation practice has changed in the past 100 years to preclude removing a mummy's wrappings. However, the only written account of the event, an article that appeared in the Aug. 16, 1895, issue of the Baltimore American, makes it clear that Dr. Goucher's intent was to conduct a scientific examination which, according to the standards of that era, he performed in a responsible manner. He unwrapped the mummy at the college, not at home, and there is no mention made of jewels.

His seriousness of purpose is further attested to by the fact that the only people present were two Baltimore American reporters, whom he had the foresight to invite in order to document the process. The reporters wrote an excellent description that scholars at Hopkins found helpful when they conducted their own non-invasive investigation at the medical school a few years ago.

Helen Glazer


The writer is Goucher's exhibitions director.

Common sense in drug suspect searches

A recent article appeared in The Sun regarding the alleged practice by a group of white Maryland State Police troopers assigned to the Special Traffic Interdiction Force of being somewhat over-zealous in stopping black motorists on I-95 drug searches.

The article went on to mention that troopers were using racial profiles in stopping potential drug couriers. Being a so-called ethnic minority, I find it difficult to fathom what the problem is.

Our cities, neighborhoods, children and society in general are being inundated and decimated by crime as a result of the "Thunder Road" antics of these drug traffickers. I see no other way to stop or at least slow them down.

Were I a state trooper assigned to that task force, and not even trained to stop a potential suspect by profile, I would very probably still "pull over" the same ones that are being targeted.

There are times when common sense must prevail. I see no great harm or racial problem with being stopped for a brief period by any police officer if my being stopped might save innocent lives. Being of the Gregory Kane school of thought, I don't believe everything has to be racially motivated.

Garland L. Crosby


Litterbugs ruin our fair city

I admit it. I walk my dog every day near the Montebello filtration plant facilities and I don't always pick up after him. However, since mid-February, I have begun to carry two plastic bags with me on my daily walks -- one blue bag for recyclables and one any-other-color-but-blue bag for all other trash.

It never ceases to amaze me how much carelessly discarded trash I am able to collect just walking along near Hillen Road on my way to and from the lake. I've picked up dozens of McDonald's wrappers, paper bags, cups, lids, straws, soda cans, potato chip bags, empty cigarette packs, liquor bottles, candy wrappers, Styrofoam plates, beer cans, juice bottles, napkins, Tastykake wrappers, lottery tickets and all kinds of junk. And this is but a small drop in the bucket considering all the litter that has been thrown around all over the city and state.

I wish there were a way to stop thoughtless people from using the earth as though it were their personal garbage can.

When I was a child, we used to have a song: "Please, please, don't be a litterbug, 'cause every litter bit hurts!"

Nancy Papa Doran


Governor enjoys wildlands benefits

Gov. Parris Glendening recently visited one of Maryland's newest wildlands, the Panther Branch Wildland in the Big Gunpowder Falls State Park.

During that brief visit he observed three different trout species in the clean, cold waters of the river, canoed downstream a short distance and hiked back upstream through the maturing riparian forest.

The area where he began hiking was biologically rich, containing numerous native species of herbs and shrubs beneath the multi-storied forest canopy. Much of the flora was still in bloom, including the fragrant wild pink azalea.

He listened to the songs of interior dwelling birds such as the Acadian flycatcher and the melodious wood thrush.

As he continued upstream, nearer to the edge of the mowed field by the road where the trip began, he noticed a change of the under-story species. Invasive, non-native plants such as multiflora rose and ground ivy crowded out the native plant communities.

The governor quickly learned first-hand about the importance of "wildlands" for preserving special pieces of our natural world from further fragmentation and invasion of opportunistic, alien species. In a biological world that is rapidly homogenizing, the significance of wildlands cannot be overstated.

Marylanders owe the governor, the Department of Natural Resources and legislators a debt of gratitude for their part in adding 22,790 acres of ecologically diverse areas across the state to the Wildlands System.

Ajax Eastman


The writer co-chairs the Maryland Wildlands Committee.

A visit to the city that's rude

I was, until recently, proud to tell anyone during my travels around the country that I was raised in Baltimore and graduated from Baltimore Polytechnic and Loyola College. I have been gone for 20 years, but return every four or five years to visit friends and family. The city has changed dramatically and I hardly recognize downtown or the Towson area.

Change is great, but there is no excuse for the unfriendly and discourteous behavior I witnessed from both young and old Baltimoreans.

I was shocked by the rude and lackadaisical attitude of many of your citizens while going to McDonald's for breakfast, shopping at the malls, dining on crabs, attending an Orioles game at Camden Yards, getting gas and traveling the expressways and thoroughfares around town.

People cut one another off, darted in and out of traffic with tempers flaring and middle fingers extended as a salute to one another as they ignored speed limits and zoomed past on the way to nowhere. No smiles, friendly greetings, or a simple "hello" or "thank you" after I rented a car and purchased gas.

Was everyone having a bad day or bad week? This was not the Baltimore I remember as a boy or college student. What has happened to the people of my boyhood home? I am glad I live in Texas where southern hospitality and respect for individuals still exists.

I certainly don't want my son going to college in a city where I felt like a stranger and my business was neither welcome nor appreciated.

Shape up, Baltimore. There are other places in which one can live and visit and spend our dollars. Keep this up and Baltimore will get a reputation that will take years to change.

George McLean

San Antonio

Great cat hunter deserves same fate

In response to Tom Horton's self-congratulatory account of his capture and subsequent destruction of 37 cats from Smith Island (June 9), I offer the following fervent wish:

May he one day meet up with a hungry lion or tiger when he is armed with only a bushel basket.

Lynn Buck


Forest health crisis needs salvage cutting

Your May 27 editorial on health conditions in the nation's forests betrays a surprising ignorance of this important subject. You managed to misstate not only the motives of the forest products industry but also the conclusions of most forest scientists who have studied this issue.

Contrary to the claims of your editorial and of extremists who oppose all harvesting on public land, there is, in fact, a forest health crisis that is widely recognized by scientists from the nation's major forestry schools and by professionals in the U.S. Forest Service.

National forests in the West suffer from overcrowded stands, drought, insect and disease infestation, and intense wildfires of the kind that destroyed millions of acres of Yellowstone National Park and scoured millions of additional acres throughout the Rocky Mountain West and Southwest.

As a result, Forest Service chief Jack Ward Thomas recently told Congress that "an active and aggressive (timber) salvage program" to remove dead and dying trees is essential. "To do otherwise," Dr. Thomas said, is to shy away from our responsibilities to care for the land and serve the people."

Unwittingly, our own success in preventing the spread of natural wildfires has upset nature's way of preventing the dangerous buildup of brush and malnourished trees that now fuel devastating wildfires -- fires of such intensity that soils are literally baked, wildlife habitat destroyed and lives and property threatened. The result, which you unaccountably ignore, has been the destruction of more than 2 million acres of federal forestland in just the past two years.

Your refusal to acknowledge this crisis, the advice of Dr. Thomas and the legislative solution offered by Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho does a disservice both to your readers and to the forest environment you claim to defend.

W. Henson Moore


The writer is president of the American Forest & Paper


Dearth of African Americans at Peabody does not reflect a lack of ability or interest

In his May 29 commentary, "They seize the culture as their own," Gwinn Owens hit the nail on the head -- almost.

As Mr. Owens notes, Asian students have come from families that prized what this culture has to offer in the way of training in the European classical tradition.

However, the reasons why Asian students seek this education -- and why our music schools have vigorously sought Asian students -- run the gamut.

On the other hand, there are pervasive historical reasons for the relative paucity of African-Americans at mainstream institutions like the Peabody Institute, including substantial financial and social roadblocks.

While Asians may have, in Mr. Owens' words, "warmly embraced the host culture and seized it as their own," what is truly surprising is the extent to which African Americans have attempted to act on the same inclination despite the horrors of slavery and continuing discrimination

Those who have triumphed have done so in the face of often outrageous treatment.

Even for the most upstanding, hard-working and accomplished African Americans, the refusal of many whites to take them seriously, coupled with the bombardment of negative images of blacks purveyed by the media, all conspire to keep African Americans "in their place." It is important to note that, in the mid-to-late 1980s, Peabody had the largest number of African-American students of any major U.S. conservatory -- both numerically and proportionately.

In one year, every principal player in the wind section of the Peabody Symphony was a person of color, and there were people of African descent in virtually every other section of the orchestra.

The paucity of black students in U.S. conservatories is not a reflection of lack of ability or musical interest. At least three of Peabody's African-American students from the late 1980s went on to win positions with major orchestras.

Nor can we forget artists such as Andre Watts, Nathan Carter and, more recently, Awadagin Pratt and Eric Conway -- African-American musicians who have made and continue to make significant contributions to our society.

A recent study by the National Association of Schools of Music showed that while there are not enough black students in the "pipeline" leading to major careers in the classical music world, the shortage is not for lack of a critical mass of talent and interest.

The deep reasons for this situation need to be scrutinized and addressed. It is not only that African Americans generally have to be "better than the best" even to have the privilege of getting into quality programs and remaining there, often in face of great financial pressures.

There also are powerful social pressures arrayed against them, whether consciously intended or not, by administrators, teachers and their student peers that make blacks' acceptance at schools like Peabody forever a tenuous and fragile proposition.

We all will have to work much harder and smarter if the dearth of African-American students at mainstream conservatories described by Mr. Owens is ever to be redressed. We might begin by recognizing that the survival of so many of those who have dared to challenge the system represents a tribute to the fundamental strength, character and humanity of people of African descent.

Eileen T. Cline


The writer, a university fellow in arts policy at Johns Hopkins University, was dean of the Peabody Institute Conservatory of Music from 1983 to 1993.

Responsible plans for the Port of Baltimore

Since I was sworn in as governor last year, two of the cornerstones of my administration have been economic development and the environment.

A positive economic-development climate and a healthy environment work hand-in-hand to improve the quality of life for everyone.

The Port of Baltimore serves as a perfect example that these two important areas can -- and do -- co-exist.

There is no question that the port is an integral part of Maryland's economy. Cargo moving across the port's piers impacts on the jobs of more than 62,000 Marylanders, including 18,000 directly. The port generates $1.1 billion in personal income and another $1.3 billion in business revenue, as well as $141 million in state and local taxes.

One of the major issues facing the port today is dredging. To maintain our shipping channels, every year Baltimore's port must find placement sites for more than 4 million cubic yards of material dredged from 126 miles of channels.

We must do everything possible to ensure the competitiveness of the Port of Baltimore. At the same time, we cannot lose sight of how our actions impact the health of the Chesapeake Bay. That's why our environmentally sound and fiscally responsible plan -- which has drawn wide support from Baltimore's port community -- does not include using the area of the Chesapeake Bay known as the Deep Trough as a placement site.

Personally, I consider it ill-conceived and wrong to even consider filling this prehistoric river bed of the Susquehanna River with dredged material.

We have developed an environmentally, economically and geographically balanced plan that will provide sufficient placement capacity well into the next century. This plan consists of expanding our existing placement sites at Hart-Miller Island and Pooles Island, developing CSX/Cox Creek and the Poplar Island restoration project and identifying additional areas for open water placement sites, as well as sites for a large upper bay containment area.

The Maryland Department of Transportation and Maryland Port Administration have worked with federal and state regulatory agencies, environmental and conservation groups, business organizations, local governments, community associations and private citizens to devise a comprehensive plan. We are moving aggressively to implement it.

The Board of Public Works recently approved a wetlands license modification that will provide an additional 30 million cubic yards of capacity at the port's primary containment facility on Hart-Miller Island by raising the north cell dike 16 feet.

We worked closely with Baltimore County officials on this project to mitigate the inconvenience to the residents of the southeast area of the county.

We have already begun developing Hart-Miller's south cell as a state park by creating a beach and primitive camping areas. A picnic pavilion, ranger station and an observation tower have been constructed, along with a boardwalk that enables visitors to observe the island's numerous species of wildlife and migratory birds.

We remain committed to developing all of Hart-Miller Island for recreational and environmental use once the placement operations cease.

Our plan also calls for the development of the fast-eroding Poplar Island as a lower bay dredged material placement site, the cost of which will be shared between the federal and state governments.

With construction scheduled to begin this fall, Phase One of this 1,100-acre project will create 640 acres of wildlife and aquatic habitat on an island that 100 years ago encompassed more than 1,000 acres but now consists of only five acres on four remnant islands south of Kent Island.

Your editorial of June 10 suggests Maryland needs a long-term answer to its dredging problem. We will have that answer before the summer is out.

This comprehensive, long-term plan protects the state's economic interest in the Port of Baltimore and helps ensure the livelihoods of tens of thousands of Marylanders.

At the same time, by developing alternatives to the Deep Trough, we are safeguarding the environmental health of the Chesapeake Bay for generations of Marylanders to come.

@Parris N. Glendening


Pub Date: 6/15/96

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