Toy Soldiers Dishonorably Discharged,

Says Owner Shirt Poking Fun At Schaefer Instigated Dismissal, He Says

December 24, 1990|By Paul Shread | Paul Shread,Staff writer

When Annapolis merchant Dick Sossi unveiled T-shirts bearing an unfavorable caricature of Gov. William Donald Schaefer earlier this month, he said the governor has a tendency to remember people who don't see eye to eye with him.

Schaefer apparently didn't wait long to test that theory.

On Dec. 13, three days after the silk-screened shirts appeared, toy soldiers Sossi had on display in the State House were returned to his Maryland Avenue store, the Ship and Soldier Shop.

"How better to disprove a T-shirt that says you're petty and vindictive than to be petty and vindictive?" Sossi asked.

Paul Schurick, a spokesman for the governor, said there was no vindictiveness in the timing of the return of the toy display. "I can honestly say the soldiers were no longer needed," Schurick said. "The display had changed. It's too bad some people have to have their fun this way."

The aide who returned the soldiers told Sossi that the display's run had ended. However, Sossi said, toy trains that were on display at the same time were allowed to stay. The trains were there Friday. Toy soldiers owned by other collectors had taken the place of Sossi's soldiers.

Sossi, who is chairman of the Queen Anne's County Republican Central Committee, unveiled the T-shirts at the state GOP convention in Annapolis in early December.

The T-shirt displays a caricature of Schaefer, with a crown that says "59.6 %" -- Schaefer's vote percentage in the Nov. 6 general election.

Underneath the picture is the warning: "As for the rest of you, I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE."

Sossi said the committee came up with the T-shirts as an idea for a humorous fund-raiser. So far, more than 100 have been sold, some to Democrats and friends of the governor, he said. The T-shirts can be purchased for $10 at Sossi's shop.

On Dec. 10, a story about the T-shirts appeared in the Annapolis Capital. Schurick called the T-shirts "childish" in the story.

When they were returned Dec. 13, two of the soldiers had broken arms, but Sossi said he didn't see anything sinister in that. "I think that was in the packing," he said.

Sossi's display began its run Dec. 3. A member of the governor's staff with whom Sossi had worked asked him to put some of his soldiers on display for the holiday season.

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