IT'S BEEN 177 years since that long night of Sept. 13-14, 1814, when British ships hurled more than 1,500 rockets, bombs and shells at defenders of Fort McHenry. It was that repulse of the British naval attack that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the "Star-Spangled Banner."
Today, the Fort is having difficulty standing firm. Its battery walls are threatened by erosion and its historic buildings are in desperate need of repair. That's why the fund-raising efforts of the Patriots of Fort McHenry are so necessary.
The Patriots are sponsoring an original musical drama, "O'er the Ramparts," at the Fort on Saturday evening, Sept. 14, exactly 177 years after the bombardment. Admiral Arthur Brooks, generals Sam Smith, John Stricker and Robert Rose, Col. Arthur Brooks, Mary Pickersgill (who created the battle flag) and Key are among the historical names that will come to life.
F. Scott Black, well-known Baltimore director, and Richard Byrd, Patriots member and actor/director, have done a fabulous job with this production. Bring a folding chair or blanket and maybe even a picnic basket. Call 625-2202 to reserve tickets, which are $10. Tickets to this outdoor performance can also be purchased at the gate. All proceeds go to the restoration, preservation and enhancement of the Fort.
LUCK OF THE DRAW: Pam Shriver is one of Baltimore's best, not only on the tennis courts, but in her devotion to our community. Little did she know when she signed Martina TC Navratilova and Jennifer Capriati to play in her annual Cystic Fibrosis exhibition here on Nov. 26 that there was a chance Navratilova and Capriati would be playing for the U.S. Open championship.
If, and it's a big if, Navratilova beats Steffi Graf today and 'N Capriati beats Monica Seles today, they will play for the championship tomorrow. But, regardless of what happens, we're still lucky to get two of the top players in the U.S. Open here in November.
SEEN ON THE SCENE: Andrew Young, former Atlanta mayor, and Bryant Gumbel, host of NBC's "Today" show, will be in town next Thursday for the third annual "Strategies for Success," being held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. This conference, sponsored by the Maryland Small Business Development Financing Authority, is being held to encourage minority entrepreneurship in Maryland. Young is the breakfast speaker, while Gumbel will hold forth at lunch. If you'd like to attend, call Curt Matthews or Curtis Kane at 333-4270.
WHAT'S HAPPENING? Twenty years with the same woman sounds like the name of a country western song, but it's also the reason that U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski is having a party on Sunday, Sept. 8, at Lemko House, 603 South Ann St. She's invited all her original gang of campaign workers to a reception from 3 to 5 p.m. Some of the originals who've said yes to the invite are Perry Sfikas, Bea Gaddy, Mary Pat Clarke, Bob Embry, Sandy and Bob Hillman, Sen. Paul Sarbanes and his wife Christine, and Gloria Aull (with all her women from East Baltimore who make things happen in that community). I bet there will be lots of old war stories circulating!
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: When the Sept. 14 issue of Billboard magazine hits the stands, WPOC radio's Sheila Silverstein will be saluted as the country music station's Promotion Director of the Year. She's flying to San Francisco next week to accept the award at the National Association of Broadcasters Convention.
BIRTHDAYS: WCBM radio's Roberta Gale, Tuesday; retired pitcher Doyle Alexander, Wednesday; City Councilwoman Rikki Spector, today; Channel 2's Yolanda Graham, today; WITH radio's Burke Moras, today; president of the Orioles Larry Lucchino, Saturday.