Letters to the Editor 12/31

December 29, 2000

Letters to the Editor 12/31

Historical society says 'thanks' for help with candelight tour

To the editor:

On behalf of the Washington County Historical Society and the Washington County Historical Trust, I would like to extend my deepest appreciation and gratitude to the many organizations and individuals who made "Keedysville by Candlelight" an overwhelmingly successful event.

I am still receiving many personal calls and written notes from friends who participated, praising the work of all who were involved in creating a feeling of warmth and unity amongst strangers for a very worthy cause, "the importance of preserving and sharing our county's historic treasures."

The day was absolutely flawless! Our Washington County Commissioners and many government officials as well as the mayors of Keedysville, Boonsboro, and Sharpsburg donated so much in the way of capital equipment and manpower to ensure the comfort and safety of 1000 visitors and 150 volunteers. For that, I am deeply grateful. Even the need for another County Commuter bus to replace one that had broken down was a smooth and transparent transition by the County Commuter dispatch team.


Special thank you's and praise truly belong to all of the residents of Keedysville for cooperating and welcoming 1000 visitors from as far as Utah and Massachusetts. Their homes and churches were reminiscent of "those keepsake Christmas cards, holiday movies, and cookie-tin landscapes you remember from your childhood".....and we all were enchanted when snow fell just long enough to put that special touch on such a memorial day.

Nancy Baer, chair

Washington County Historical Society

Christmas Candlelight Tour Committee

Recalling the Class of 2000, and mom

By Richard Pretorius

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- "When he steps back, I see that he is crying," writes Mitch Albom, author of the phenomenal best seller "Tuesdays with Morrie."

The occasion was Albom's 1979 graduation from Brandeis University as he has just given his favorite professor, Morrie Schwartz, an initialed briefcase.

Readers of the book and viewers of the TV movie know that Albom returns years later to his professor's side as he is dying of "Lou Gehrig's" disease.

The book is a five-hankie tale about the contributions of teachers and about making a difference in the lives of others.

Unlike Morrie, I was not going to let the students see me cry, even from a distance. I was going to save the five hankies for home.

Thus, I purposely did not read the card attached to the surprise gift as we met as a University of Maryland journalism class for the last time.

These nine students had been my mind's constant companions as I traveled the country this fall writing about people beyond the Beltway for The Baltimore Sun. Some joined me for part of the journey, reporting what college students were thinking for the newspaper and the Sunspot Website.

We were, in the best sense of a student-teacher relationship, a team. Now, it was time to let them go.

I am fairly new at the sometimes frustrating, always challenging, most certainly rewarding mystery called teaching. But I imagine after three classes at the University of Maryland, I know what the pros know: The students often teach the instructors the most valuable lessons.

As our final gathering was coming to a close, I opened the bag and saw that the students had the perfect touch - a gift certificate to a nearby bookstore.

Of course, journalism teachers and books go together like Ray Lewis and quarterback sacks.

But this gift, this year, was right in ways the students never could have imagined.

After we said our goodbyes, I wiped away a tear or two outside the bookstore. I knew that this gift was meant to share with the person who had taught me most.

My mother, a retired English teacher, is 81 now. Despite numerous trips from her home in Winchester, Va., to Johns Hopkins' world-renowned eye clinic, her vision is failing.

Giving her a good mystery novel has always been like giving the latest playground wizard a basketball: Leave 'em alone with their favorite thing, and they are content for hours.

Now my mother fears that her eyes will give out before her heart does. She does not know that I spotted the book in her house detailing what to do if you go blind.

She does not fully realize how often the lessons she has taught me have guided my life.

She certainly does not understand that what I teach the students today about compassion and helping each other comes in large part from her.

Like many of those who work in the world of words, I share my feelings best on paper - either mine or someone else's.

I called to tell my mother about the students' wonderful gesture and then asked what titles she needed for her book club. As long as she can, she will be a valued voice in a mostly middle-age women's book club. They will not be deprived of her thoughts on the book of the moment.

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