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Cooking for others gives volunteer an energy outlet

Danny Clopper

Danny Clopper

April 29, 2007|by PEPPER BALLARD

Volunteer cook Danny Clopper said he believes food makes people happy, which is why he enjoys serving his dishes at some Fort Frederick events.

For the past several years, Clopper and members of the Clear Spring Historical Society have been dressing in period clothes and tending the stoves at Fort Frederick's annual events.

The 54-year-old Clear Spring resident said his specialties are soups: chicken corn and country ham and bean. The recipes for both, he said, are trade secrets, but for the past seven years, Clopper has given one determined Market Fair participant an ingredient for each of her visits.

For those French & Indian War fort's events at which the historical society dishes up food, participants devour about 200 gallons of soup a day, he said.


"I'm just happy being with people. When you have food, people seem to be happy," Clopper said.

The retired correctional officer said he's been "blessed with a lot of friends." He holds an annual garage party every year to gather them together.

A hunter and a fisherman, Clopper said he often uses the meat from his excursions in recipes. He also roasts a lot of pigs.

He tells his friends, "If you don't want to cook one night, you get the food and I'll cook for you."

When he's not volunteering through the Clear Spring group, Clopper helps a friend build houses.

"It keeps me off the streets," he said with a laugh.

His German descent and farming background helped him get interested in cooking, he said.

"A cook never goes hungry," he said.

Clopper got involved with the Clear Spring Historical Society in 1995. He helped make improvements to Plum Grove, an historical building in the community.

When the group first began volunteering at the fort, they made breakfast on two electric griddles, but then the historical society paid for electrical upgrades at the carriage house, which they use to put together meals for the events.

The group gets proceeds from food sales. Clopper said The Market Fair is probably the club's biggest moneymaker.

Clopper retired after serving 25 years as a correctional officer in the Hagerstown prisons. Now, he said, he's content volunteering and helping out friends.

"I don't like sitting around. I can't sit around, I'm kind of fidgety," he said.

Clopper, who has a cheerful demeanor, said that when he worked as a correctional officer he had to be aware of the way he spoke and stood in order to keep the inmates in check.

Some philosophies he held on the job carry into his retired life.

"I treat life like a chess game," he said. "I try to anticipate what's down the road."


Name: Danny Clopper

Hometown: Clear Spring

Occupation: Retired correctional officer

What was your proudest moment?: "Getting married to my wife and having my children."

Whom do you most admire, and why?: His mother, Madeleine Clopper, who grew up during the Great Depression and his wife, Susan Clopper. Of his mother, he said, "She's a tough lady. She's tough now." Of his wife, he said, "If it wasn't for her, I'd be in a gutter right now."

What is the best piece of advice you ever received and who gave it to you?: The Golden Rule, which he said was probably written above the chalkboard in his first-grade classroom.

What is the next goal you would like to achieve?: "Other than live 'til I'm 100, I don't have any goals. I'm happy. I don't want for anything. All my goals have been met."

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