Muskrat-skinning halted for prayer
At Dorchester County's 46th annual National Outdoor Show on Saturday night, word of the ground war in the Persian Gulf arrived during a talent competition -- log-sawing, duck-calling, muskrat-skinning -- inside a grade-school gymnasium in Golden Hill.
Emcee Thomas A. Flowers interrupted the proceedings at 10 p.m. to announce the news and asked people to stand for a prayer for the troops, which he delivered extemporaneously.
While he spoke, a piano player on stage played a soft, slow-tempo version of "America the Beautiful."
All the proceedings were being videotaped with the goal of sending a tape to each Dorchester County resident serving in the war zone.
SWAP 'EM! TRADE 'EM!
Operation Desert Storm trading cards have been available for about a week and sales are "pretty good," according to a spokesman at Jay's Sports Connection, one of the larger memorabilia shops in the area.
Jay's has sold about 700 packs of the cards, which depict military equipment and the war's major figures, such as President Bush, Defense Secretary Richard Cheney and Gen. Colin Powell. (No Saddam Hussein or Peter Arnett cards, however.)
Manufactured by Topps, the baseball card company, the Desert Storm series includes 88 cards and 22 stickers of military insignia. Each pack sells for 75 cents and comes with eight cards and a sticker.
"They've been selling pretty good," says Pete Phillips, assistant manager at Jay's. "Some kids are buying them, but most of our sales are to adult males who want them because they think they'll be valuable some day. It's like an investment to them."
And what's Phillips' opinion of the Desert Storm cards?
"I don't like them," he says. "Topps isn't donating any of the proceeds to charity. I think they should do that. But we're doing it ourselves. Every pack we sell, we're donating several cents to Disabled American Veterans."
No Greater Love, a Washington-based organization that provides humanitarian aid to soldiers and their families, has presented 3,000 "Brave Heart memo magnets" to Evelyn Pentzien, wife of Roger Pentzien, captain of the USS Comfort.
The magnets are to be distributed to crew members aboard the Comfort and the USS Mercy, two medical ships in the Persian Gulf, allowing them to hang letters and photos from home on the walls of the ships.
The Comfort is based in Baltimore.
"We came up with the magnet idea because a lot of the personnel on the ships were saying they were having trouble putting up letters and pictures from home," says Carmella Laspada, chairwoman of No Greater Love, a non-profit organization founded during the Vietnam War.
WAR ON THE ROCKS
Griffin's, a popular tavern and eatery off the City Dock in Annapolis, has posted the following information under the title "Operation Griffin's -- The Land War":
Humvee utility brew: Budweiser
Scud buster: Sam Adams Patriot
Mexico sends troops: Two Burritos
Germany's non-lethal aid: Becks Dark
M1A1 Tank of Fun: Watney's Pints
TOW Anti-celibacy missile: Oysters
Warthog: "Tank Busters" Buffalo Wings
* A support group for women with family members and loved ones serving in the war meets each Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Fallon Federal YWCA Child Care Center, 200 W. Lombard St. The sessions are free and conducted by social worker Lee Williams. For more information, call 685-1460, extension 252 or 253.
* The Central Maryland chapter of the American Red Cross has expanded its free support counseling for military families. Group sessions are available each Monday at 6:30 p.m. and each Thursday at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. at Red Cross headquarters, 4700 Mount Hope Drive, in the Seton Business Park in northwest Baltimore.
Additional sessions can be arranged as needed for military family members who call 764-4627.
The support groups welcome adults and children ages 6 years and older. The children are encouraged to express their feelings through the use of arts and crafts and play activities.
The two-hour sessions will take place on a regular basis and be conducted by professional counselors and caseworkers. Each group is limited to 15 participants, but no limit has been placed on the number of groups that can be formed.
The Central Maryland Red Cross usually receives fewer than 20 requests a week from concerned family members seeking information on loved ones in the military. Since Jan. 16, the day the war started, that weekly figure has tripled.
Patrick Ercolano, John Fairhall and Jon Morgan contributed to this report.
If you know of an interesting story about how the war is affecting life on the home front, please call 332-6478.