One of the really neat things about column writing is the different people you meet — in person, over the phone, or through email. I have to admit that email is my favorite, since it’s hard to misquote someone, or spell their name wrong, when it’s right in front of you. Those people come through every time, and although I am, as you know, an expert in so many fields, and just like our president, “being, like, really smart,” they fill in a lot of gaps.
I’d like to mention some of those invaluable sources from 2019 that made column writing so much easier and provided information that I hope was helpful to other people as well as to me. I apologize if I’ve missed any.
A sincere New Year’s thank-you to our retired letter carrier, Linda Grossnickle, whom we really miss and who doesn’t miss delivering mail in the winter; county planner John Dimitriou and county transportation planner Dial Keju, who did their best to explain the “overarching” and “multimodal” Livable Frederick plan to a dense writer;
Peter Carmichael, author, historian and professor of Civil War studies at Gettysburg College, whose appearance at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in March offered some interesting insights into Civil War letter writers; James Langan, of Company G, 51st Pioneer Infantry, American Expeditionary Forces, who had his own insights in letters during World War I;
Imaginative rock landscaper “Harris” from Jefferson Pike; Katie Giganti, chairwoman of the Mount Airy Arts Alliance’s board, sponsor of the small and enjoyable Mount Airy Artsfest at Watkins Park; the young ladies from The News-Post’s All-County girls lacrosse teams, whose names I used to fill half a column; Matt Bowman, technology manager of the city of Frederick’s Geographic Information Systems; Jeff Stanford, creator of personalized poems at the opening of the Myersville Library in September;
Rebecca Culler, recycling program manager in the county’s Department of Solid Waste Management, and Stephanie Peters, Solid Waste Management’s assistant department head, who filled me in on all things recycling-related and arranged an eye-opening tour of the county’s landfill; Allen Bizzell, Fairfax County, Virginia, firefighter and Frederick resident, who demonstrated that even the smallest acts of kindness can make a big difference in people’s lives; Whittier walkers Stuart, Betty, Miss Sunshine from Wisconsin, and others, who make walking a lot more sociable.
Archaeologist and historian Elizabeth Anderson Comer, one of the lead advocates in identifying the remains from a slave cemetery at Catoctin Furnace; Richard Smith Jr., chemistry professor at McDaniel College in Westminster and chairman of the cemetery committee of the African American Heritage Society of Frederick County; Bowers Road neighbors Larry and Donna Oden, who have continued the tradition of tree planting; Frederick city arborist Tom Rippeon, who highlighted a unique tree identification system; and Frederick County Sheriff’s Office Deputy 1st Class Nathan Rector, who is dedicated to keeping drunken drivers off county roads.
I can’t leave out my in-home editor and favorite wife, Shirley, who has saved me more than once from major goofs that would have gotten me run out of the column-writing corps. Also, there’s the hard work, initiative and excellent reporting by The News-Post’s staff, whose work I shamelessly incorporate into some of the columns. Well, it does save me a lot of work.
What really helps is living in such a beautiful, dynamic, Goldilocks-size community — not too big and not too small — with a ton of educational, medical, cultural, historical, natural, sports and entertainment resources available. All that, plus an endless supply of interesting people, places and things to write about.
You realize how lucky we are when you run into people like the visitor from Fort Meade who was thrilled with his visit to Washington Monument State Park and the surrounding countryside on New Year’s Day. It’s the kind of scenic area we too often take for granted.
Or how about the young man I talked to in the dentist’s office who said he and his wife recently moved to Frederick because of its location and amenities, deciding that this was their “sweet spot” after so much searching? I like that one a lot. It really is a sweet spot.
After 36 years, I think we’re also settled in here — a sweet spot to enjoy life and to enjoy writing about.
Thankful Bill Pritchard, who has worked in community journalism for 40 years, including 10 years writing columns, writes from Frederick. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.