Updates on Chessie, Charley and the 'hogs

August 19, 1999

Odd and ends from a columnist's notebook:

Two weeks ago I wrote about Chessie Fox, the 25-year-old Hagerstown women who's suffering from Hodgkin's disease, a form of cancer that begins in the lymph nodes. After suffering through nearly four years of radiation and chemotherapy and a number of surgeries, she's still fighting the good fight.

And her parents, Bill and Carolyn Dawson, are still trying to raise money to help the mentally handicapped young woman fulfill one of her lifelong dreams - a trip to Disney World. A trust fund set up at Home Federal Savings Bank has brought in $500, but they've only sold 12 of the $25-a-couple tickets for a fund-raising dance planned Saturday, Sept. 4 at the Williamsport Fire Hall. For dance tickets, call the Dawsons at (301) 739-9343, or Greg Price at (301) 223-9076.

"If we don't sell at least 100 by August 28, the caterer said we'll have to just give everybody their money back," Carolyn Dawson said.


There is another fund-raiser set for this Sunday, August 22 when Charlie Rowe of Ernst Market brings his famous barbecued chicken to the Williamsport Red Men's pavilion. For $5, you get a serving of chicken, baked beans and a roll. The sale starts at 10 a.m. and concludes when the chicken is sold out.

If you can't make any of these events, or are on a diet that doesn't include such goodies, you can contribute to the Chessie Fox Trust Fund, at any branch of Home Federal Savings Bank, Account No. 081464076.

I cringed when I saw Charley Reese's column this past Saturday, ("Zionists repeat their lies") knowing it would stir up some readers who believe that it is irresponsible to publish his stuff.

Once again Reese bashed Zionists and the State of Israel. To some people, Reese is anti-Semitic, although he denies it. I believe it's possible to be anti-Israel without being an anti-Semite because I myself am prejudiced against the religion-based idiocy perpetrated for decades by a succession of governments and political groups in Ireland without being anti-Irish.

(Ireland's ongoing woes are known as "the troubles" because those involved either aren't smart to think up anything more descriptive, or, less likely, they're too honest to pretend that sectarian killing is something glorious.)

When the controversy over Reese's columns first arose, I submitted some of the allegedly objectionable material to our editorial page citizens advisory group. Some members disagreed with his point of view, but found no anti-Semitism there.

I do think he's off-base when he says that "The Zionists in America are the biggest enemy of freedom of speech and freedom of the press there is." Free speech fans have much more to fear from big corporations which intimidate reporters with banks of libel lawyers than from the Zionists. Nevertheless, I promise we'll keep our eye on Charley.

On a lighter note, people have asked me about my ongoing battle with groundhogs, which earlier this year chewed up the fuel lines and turn signal wires on my pick-up truck. We haven't seen them in the past three weeks. But country folks assure me that they're still there, hiding in their holes to escape the heat.

Perhaps coincidentally, someone at the County Sales Record Shop in Floyd, Va., sent me a flyer for a bunch of new bluegrass CDs, including one on the Rounder label produced by Mark Wilson entitled "Devil Eat the Groundhog." I can only guess at what the lyrics of the title song might be, and I'm not sure I want to spend $13 to find out.

Also this week, I had an interesting chat with Dennis Frye, the main mover of a plan to build a Civil War Museum in downtown Hagerstown. Frye said that the group envisions a facility in which visitors would use headphones to hear experts explain the exhibits they're seeing.

Nothing new there; art museums have offered that service for years. Frye's new wrinkle is that there'd be a number of different scripts, so that one day you could tour the facility and hear about the war from the perspective of a Union captain and next time from the point of view of a Sharpsburg civilian. I can't wait.

The near-hopeless prospects relayed to me in recent weeks about controlling the drug trade lightened up a bit when I read a report about a new vaccine in the July issue of Popular Science.

Invented by Cantab Pharmaceuticals in Cambridge, England, the drug works by producing antibodies that bind with cocaine and prevent it from reaching receptors in the addict's brain. Supposedly, addicts can't defeat the vaccine by increasing the amount of drugs they use, but there is a need for periodic booster shots.

Now I know that if we were to defeat cocaine, another drug (with a different, and an as-yet undiscovered antidote) would take its place. But perhaps the next drug would be harder to produce, and less addictive than crack cocaine, which is said to hook its users on the first try. I'm ready to hope for the best and worry about the rest later.

Bob Maginnis is editor of The Herald-Mail's Opinion page.

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