Family's christening gown worn more than 30 times


MOST FAMILIES have photographs they consider special mementos. Descendants of the Gardner family have another important item framed and preserved behind glass. The keepsake is a christening gown that has been worn more than 30 times.

The soft cotton dress, with lace trim around the neckline, was originally worn by Anna Wissmann in 1911. The last person to wear the gown was Nicole Kelly, the great-granddaughter of Wissmann, in 1993.

After more than eight decades of sharing the dress, it has been officially retired and is framed along with the original christening certificate and photos of Wissmann and Kelly.

"It was really getting fragile," said Charlotte Reed, a Gardner descendant.

Although the family has recorded 32 people who wore the gown, family member Shirley Heggenauer says it was worn by even more. "The gown was also loaned out to cousins," she said.

Many family members live in the Glen Burnie area. Each fall, about 100 of them gather for the Gardner reunion. Because of illness in the family, this year's reunion was scaled down to a luncheon at the Sunset restaurant.

"It's just one big, loving family," Heggenauer said.

Visitors from Egypt

For the past month, a group of teachers from Egypt has paid weekly visits to Glen Burnie High and Marley Middle schools.

Sponsored by the Ministry of Education in Egypt, 35 of that country's English teachers have been spending a semester in the United States, taking professional development classes at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Along with their education studies, said Paul Taylor, academic director of the Egyptian/English Teacher Program, classroom time in Maryland schools was scheduled to allow a close look at American education in action.

"They observe classes and the methodology of our schools," he said.

Of particular interest, because the Egyptians teach English as a foreign language in their country, are the English classes for speakers of other languages, Taylor said. The teachers also monitored a wide range of classes, including math, science and art, in various grades and levels.

Al Steen, social studies department chair at Marley Middle School, said the teachers found some obvious differences between American and Egyptian schools.

"It was culture shock for them," he said. "They were surprised that our students cold speak so freely to their teachers. And they were shocked to see so many different types of kids in the school. Only the top students attend school in Egypt."

About five teachers at a time visited the schools each week as part of the program. The Egyptian teachers are living in a Glen Burnie apartment complex during their stay.

Scouting Italian food

Boy Scout Troop 474 will offer a taste of Italy at its annual spaghetti dinner from 4 p.m to 7 p.m. Sunday at Harundale Presbyterian Church. Tickets are $5 for those 13 and older, $3.75 for children ages 5 to 12 and free for children 4 and younger.

For tickets, call Angie Lettau at 410-768-2097.

At a recent Court of Honor, several Scouts advanced in rank: Jeffrey England, Tenderfoot; Scott Loving and Brian Absetz, First Class; Jacob Harmon, Eric Sieling and Mike Celey, Star; and Bobby Haight, Life.

Halloween happenings

Masked marauders of all ages are invited to attend the Church of the Crucifixion's Halloween dance from 8 p.m. to midnight Saturday.

Tickets are $6 for adults and include beer, wine and soda, with music provided by a disc jockey. Children ages 5 to 12 are $3. Anyone younger than 18 most be accompanied by a parent. Costumes are preferred but optional.

The church is at 100 Scott Ave. For tickets, call Pat Ditzel at 410-761-2113.

The North County library will hold a Halloween celebration from 9: 30 a.m. to 10: 30 a.m. Oct. 27 for children ages 2 and 3. Costumes are encouraged.

Children ages 3 to 6 are invited to a Halloween story time at 7 p.m. Oct. 28.

Information: 410-222-6270.

Mariner Health of Glen Burnie will sponsor a free Halloween party from 6: 30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 29 for children ages 4 to 10. Residents will hand out candy to trick-or-treaters. Also planned are a magic show and face painting.

Pre-registration is appreciated. Call 410-766-3460, Ext. 244.

For families seeking a safe and fun Halloween alternative, Abundant Life Church will hold a Fall Fun Festival from 6: 30 p.m. to 8: 30 p.m. Oct. 31. The event will include games, activities and a costume contest, and each child will receive a bag of candy.

A $2 donation is requested. The festival is open to children ages 3 through grade 6. Abundant Life is at 7305 E. Furnace Branch Road. Call 410-761-9075.

Spirit of Las Vegas

On a recent trip to Las Vegas with my sisters, I held little expectation of hitting a jackpot. But I was a minority in a city where dreams don't often mesh with reality.

The last leg of our flight to Vegas turned into one big party. The couple seated near us simulated pulling the slot machine lever while describing how they would spend their winnings. In the shuttle bus from the airport, a group of women debated which tables offered the best odds and which casinos provided the best comps to high rollers.

At the hotel check-in desk, an elderly man asked whether his room had a safe, "so I can store all my loot."

But one need only walk inside these opulent casinos to discover who is walking away a winner. Evidently, that was a discovery many visitors made during their weekend. On the plane ride home, the atmosphere was quiet.

Eventually, spirits were renewed as several passengers began discussing strategies for the next trip to Vegas. Hope springs eternal.

Pub Date: 10/20/99

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