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Schaefer visit has potential for modern fun

December 27, 2001

Schaefer visit has potential for modern fun



I'm in a good mood because I just learned that Washington County is about to receive a bountiful gift. No, Santa Claus isn't coming to town, but William Donald Schaefer is. To me, that's just as good, if not better.

Ah, for one more glimmer of the glory of the Schaefer Years. The striped swimming suit, the poison letter to the Hancock naysayer he tracked down, the Eastern Shore outhouse comment, the semi-automatic pointed at the reporter. I confess, I loved it all.

Schaefer, former mayor of Baltimore, former governor and current comptroller and Chief Thorn to Gov. Parris Glendening, will speak at a volunteer appreciation dinner to benefit the Parent-Child Center Thursday, Nov. 1, at 6:30 p.m. at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by calling Connie Richards at 301-791-1010.

Forget that this benefits one of the best and most important charities in the county - this will be Schaefer Unplugged. No high-ranking state politicians to worry about offending, no Baltimore media to perhaps cause him some restraint, not that he ever showed much anyway. This ought to be good.

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I still have a full drawer full of Schaefermobelia: Transcripts of his 40-mood-swings-per-hour press conferences, the button of Schaefer's domineering mug with the inscription "Big Brother is Watching," the photo of his State of the State address in which he wore the glasses with the fake eyeballs.

I remember the spy camera in the birdhouse designed to catch the person who was putting bubble bath into the fountain outside the governor's mansion. I remember his dog Willie.

(Reporters get bored sometimes. Once we in the State House press pool had a competition to see if anyone could get into print a reference to the Boiler Vessel Pressure Act of 1992 and the name of Willie the Dog in the same sentence. A reporter writing for UPI at the time actually did it. I think I could have found a way, too, but my enthusiasm for the project was dampened by the knowledge that if either of my editors at the time, Gloria George or Linda Duffield, found out about it they would have - with a clear conscience - had me shot).

I also remember that many nights while working late in the State House, Schaefer would be walking out with his entourage and no matter how hard the press had been on him that day, he always had a smile and a kind word.

Don't tell anyone though - he probably wouldn't want that to get out.

He's showing up a week too late though, and I say this because I've noticed an increasing number of local officials are turning up in the picture shoots for the Civil War movie "Gods and Generals." County Commissioners President Greg Snook will be a member of the hall of delegates, former Mayor Bob Bruchey will be in a scene in which he argues with Robert E. Lee that the Battle of Antietam should be fought in downtown Hagerstown, and so on.

Some local officials look Civil Warish, others do not. I saw a photo of some members of our Washington County delegation done up in their Civil War movie garb and the results, frankly, were a mixed bag.

I would like to be the first to say I "discovered" Del. Chris Shank who, when you put a woolly-mammoth-sized fake mustache on him, looks marvelously "period."

Del. John Donoghue is passable, but Sen. Don Munson - well, let's just say you won't see him playing George Custer any time soon. His look is more of a circa 1994 Budget and Tax Committee hearing room.

Schaefer, on the other hand, would have been perfect. Slap a pair of muttonchops on him and he's pure pre-telegraph. But if we can't see him in pictures, at least there's the comfort that we'll be able to see him in Hagerstown.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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