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February 2016

Warm Weekend and Ye Olde Witches

Cold weekends are the worst. Especially for someone like me who is always itching to get out of the house and have an adventure. So when I checked the weather and found out it was going to be in the 40’s last weekend I scrambled over to my computer to see what Carlos and I could get into.

My search ended with Point Lookout, Maryland. No surprise there, since I just watch a PBS documentary about the Potomac River and it ended with the Potomac spilling into the Chesapeake Bay at the southernmost point of Maryland–Point Lookout.

So I had to go.

We also decided to stop at St. Mary’s City along the way because we have cruised by it a few times, both on our bikes and in our car, but we never had a chance to stop and see Maryland’s first colonial settlement and capital. And as you know,

History + Outdoors + Cruising = I’m There!

And then I said, “Hey, you know that rock that supposed to have a witch’s hand print on it is also in St. Mary’s County. Let’s go there, too!” And Carlos, always down for whatever, says, “Cool beans!”

That’s Carlos’ favorite saying.

And that is how we roll on a Saturday.

So we ended up winding our way over back roads to the small town of Leonardtown, Maryland in St. Mary’s County.

It is a historic town that has been around since the 1600’s and was a invaded by both the British in the war of 1812 and the Union Navy in the Civil War. And it is the location of the legend of Moll Dyer.

As the legend goes, Moll Dyer was a resident of Leonardtown. On a freezing cold winter night in the late 1600’s, Moll, accused of witchcraft, was chased from her home by the local residents.

Side-note: While writing this part on Moll Dyer, my phone rang and it was a call from Leonardtown, MD! It was a woman with a strange, flat-effect sounding tone to her voice. It was a wrong number….WEIRD!!

Days later, poor Moll was found dead on the ground, frozen and clinging to a large stone. When her body was removed, the townsfolk found that her frozen hand had left an imprint on the stone.

Legend also says that with Moll’s last breath she cursed the town…

And over the years the land around where her cabin stood would no longer grow crops.

And a white dog is said to cause car accidents on the road near where her cabin once stood.

And some have seen an apparition of a women in white near the location of her cabin.

And the stone.

The stone sat in a ravine by her cabin for 200 years till it was moved to sit next to the old jail, which is now the St. Mary’s Historical Society in Leonardtown.

20160206_141235

Info on the Old Leonardtown Jail

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The Moll Dyer Rock

OK, ok. I can say I was a bit disappointed. In my mind there was an actual hand print. Like a hand painting that you see in prehistoric caves.

But uh, no.

So I fiddled with the picture a bit.

Moll Rock

Is it clearer now?

I guess people in the 17th century had a better imagination than I do.

So after leaving Leonardtown, we headed straight to Historic St. Mary’s City. It was not staffed during the winter, but we were able to walk among the buildings, including the State House that was built in 1676, where you can sit in the stocks and pretend you are being punished for not keeping the Sabbath day holy.

20160206_145537

Then, while gazing at the colonial torture devices used to keep those bad colonials in line, another witch appeared.

Rebecca Fowler.

Oh, no, that definitely sounds like the name of someone accused of witchcraft back in the day.

Poor Becky.

Rebecca and her husband had been indentured servants in Calvert County, Maryland in the mid-1600’s and, after working off their indenturetude (if that is even a word, and spellcheck is telling me that it isn’t), they married and bought land of their own, called Fowler’s Delight (how sweet!).

But alas, some asshole accused her of witchcraft, and in the witchcraft-crazed-time of this period, the townsfolk believed him. I mean, he was sick, it had to be her fault!

So, poor Rebecca went on trial in the St. Mary’s State House and the jury found her guilty of being led by the “Divell (to practice) certaine evil & dyabolicall artes called witchcrafts”. And on October 3, 1685, she was sentenced to hang by the neck until she was dead.

Bummer.

Couldn’t they have just put her in the stocks for a couple of days?

All I know is that that fool had better been REALLY sick!

After leaving Moll and Rebecca behind, we did finally end up in Point Lookout, Maryland. It is a very nice state park and we plan on going back to camp and fish and take advantage of the beach. But funny enough, we didn’t take any pictures of the destination we planned to go to in the first place.

Bummer.

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I Love You

I love you
and if that’s not enough
I will steal the sky’s stars
to make a garland with them
and the empty sky
will not feel worse
as your beauty alone
will fill the universe

I love you
and if that’s not enough
I will empty the sea
and bring all the pearls
before you
and the sea will not cry
for being wronged
as a thousand waves, and mermaids
do not hold the charm
of one of your smiles

I love you
and if that’s not enough
I will lift volcanoes
and place their fire
in your hands, it’ll become ice
to soothe my blazing passion

I love you
and if that’s not enough
I will chain the clouds
and tame them for you
and rain them on you
when the summer
heat keeps you awake
And if that’s not enough
I will stop the planets’ flight
to cease the passing of time
and if that’s not enough
fuck it

(translated from Italian – Stefano Benni – Io ti amo)

Rags and Breaking Down Racial Barriers

I was talking to to my sister Debbie on the phone and I was telling her that my son Anderson is the stingiest person that I know when it comes to money. He works part time while going to college, and he makes pretty good money, but he refuses to spend it on anything at all.

Let me tell you; his shoes are a mess.

Like a holey, holy mess.

But it has gotten really bad. He was walking around outside in the 3 feet of blizzard snow with his holey, holy mess shoes. He was out in the woods behind our house looking for a flash drive…I didn’t even ask. He pulled his shoes off when he came back inside and not only did he have holes in his shoes, but he didn’t have any socks on! My head exploded.

All I know is that that cheap son of mine better buy some damn shoes!

I told Debbie this. And she said, “tell Anderson he doesn’t want to end up like Rags.”

Rags…

Rags…

Now why does that sound familiar?

And then the sister, the one who I have to spoon feed memories to, reminded me of a one-time local fixture in the Dayton area I had forgotten about–Rags

You see, Rags was a kind of mystery man. A homeless man on the streets of Dayton who dressed in what at one time might have been clothes and shoes made of ripped up rags wrapped around his feet. Even in winter. Even in the Blizzard of 1978. Oh, that was a Blizzard, I tell you.

This is Rags…

Rags

He was a recluse and a character. He seemed to prefer the streets and never stayed in homeless shelters. He was a fixture at the Dayton Library (oh, how I loved that library!) It wasn’t till after his death in 1980 that anyone in Dayton even knew his real name. But he left a lasting impression to the people he encountered the 10 years he lived on the streets of Dayton. And when he died, the citizens of Dayton gave him a proper funeral.

A proper funeral for Elias Joseph Barauskas, WWII Veteran, US Army. Born in 1919 in Waterbury, Connecticut to Lithuanian immigrants.

Elias Joseph Barauskas. Or did he prefer Rags. Anonymous.

What a life he lived. But what was he leaving behind?

Was it the war? Was he running from the law? Did he shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die?

When his brother was notified of his death, he said that Elias had left a hospital in Kentucky and they never heard from him again. Only a tiny clue, but a clue nonetheless.

But one thing I know, he is a hero. And even 36 years after his death he is still spoken of and remembered by all who encountered him.

Memorials to Rags on Find a Grave

And while researching Rags, my little trail of gems led me to another hero who walked the same streets of Dayton–Lucius Rice.

He was a barrier breaking police officer in the City of Dayton. Officer Rice was not the first black police officer in Dayton but he was one of the first, and the first to be promoted to detective. He joined the force in 1909 and in 1915 became one half of a black cop/white cop police team–the very first of its time. Think Danny Glover/Mel Gibson (wait, Mel Gibson pisses me off)…think Crockett and Tubbs…just not in Miami, but in Dayton. So think, no yachts, no fancy cars, no Easter-egg-colored outfits.

This is Lucius Rice.

rice

He was born in 1879; fourteen years after the Civil War’s end. He was born in South Carolina, but he and his family jetted out of there. They were like “too, hot”, “too many racists”, “Let’s go to Dayton; it’ll be better there.” Ha

So handsome Lucius joined the police force. Was the Tubbs to his Crockett. And was bad ass. And you know it had to be hard being a black man telling people what to do and what not to do. He was promoted to supervisor in the police department. More telling people what to do that probably didn’t want to hear it.

But he was fearless.

In 1926 he attempted to apprehend a suspect wanted by the police. A shootout started. Lucius was shot in the stomach. As he fell to the ground, he shot and killed the assailant.

Bad ass.

And he survived.

Then in 1939, he and his partner Crockett Yendes were in pursuit of a suspected murderer. Again a shootout ensued. Again Lucius was shot in the stomach.

Bad ass. Fearless Bad ass.

But this time Lucius died.

He left behind a wife and two kids.

He left behind a legacy.

He was a hero.

Lucius Rice Police Memorial

Elias and Lucius. Both had different paths in life that brought them to the streets of Dayton. Both were heroes. Both deserve to be remembered.

Elias and Lucius.

This is were Anderson’s holey, holy mess shoes led me today.

 

Update: I found out today that Lucius Rice’s wife Dora was also a ground breaker. She was the first black police woman in the City of Dayton. She served for 10 years, starting in 1929 and left the force for heath reasons only 10 months before her husband was killed. Their son Robert Rice went to college and became a teacher. He also served in the Army in WWII. Just like Rags.

All things are cyclical.  

 

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