Electronics Museum crackles with history of the technology NORTH LAUREL/SAVAGE

NEIGHBORS

February 19, 1993|By LOURDES SULLIVAN

Chez Sullivan survived Valentine's Day!

Those are words more appropriate to the St. Valentine's Day Massacre than to the doings of a mere Savage household, but here's what happened.

Between one thing and another, we didn't get a chance to celebrate Christmas with my in-laws until this weekend. Yes, we are six weeks late. So naturally, the weekend I plan to go buy or at least shop for bamboo for my beloved is the weekend it snows like the dickens.

Friday night we wound up snow-blind in a Pizza Hut outside of Frederick, fortifying ourselves for the long trip back to Savage, before starting out again on Saturday toward Pennsylvania. Amazing how the nerve-wrenching, teeth-gnashing roadways of Friday night became silken ribbons of asphalt Saturday morning.

What a difference a night, and a road crew, makes.

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The historical Electronics Museum has recently moved to larger quarters at 1745 West Nursery Road near the Baltimore-Washington International Airport Marriot hotel.

The museum collects, preserves and displays devices that advanced electronics technology. It displays everything from vacuum tubes to pulse-Doppler radar. The larger 8,000-square-foot area allows director Betsy Hall and assistant director Jeffrey Buchheit to construct more displays.

According to Ms. Hall, volunteers, many of whom either worked with or designed the equipment, donate their time to restore the apparatus. So, there is not only a working telegraph station, where visitors can send each other messages, but also Edison cylinder record players that will play 1920s music.

There is an Enigma coding machine, of World War II fame, and also the purely mechanical versions used in the field. Visitors can scramble and try to unscramble messages sent through these machines.

Outside there is an SCR 270 ground radar installation. One just like it saw the Japanese planes approaching Pearl Harbor in 1943, but radar was so new that the operator's warning was ignored.

The founder of the collection and museum is Robert Dwight. One day while attending a Family Day open house at Westinghouse, Mr. Dwight overheard another employee proudly pointing to a piece of World War II radar displayed and telling his family that he had worked on it. The employee had not been able to tell his family at the time because the radar had been classified secret.

Mr. Dwight then began to salvage old electronic equipment for its historical value. The museum now collects equipment from all of the major electronics manufacturers, as well as from the defense agencies. In some cases the museum has the only surviving examples of hardware known.

"It's nice when the Smithsonian calls you," Ms. Hall said. "They send people our way."

The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the first Saturday of the month. Other hours are available by appointment, and tours can be arranged.

Call (410) 765-2345 for more information.

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The Freestate Happy Wanderers, a local Volksmarch club based in Laurel, just returned from a four-day bus trip through the South. The 46 Volksmarchers walked along prescribed scenic routes outside of Atlanta, along a restored historic part of Pensacola, Fla., and along the beach in Alabama.

Volksmarching, which means "people walking," is an international, noncompetitive sport that honors individual achievement. Local clubs sponsor 10K or 6.2-mile walks of varying difficulty.

Admission to the walks is free, but those paying a small registration fee receive a commemorative award. Members of the American Volkssport Association can earn individual achievement awards based on the number of events completed or the distance traveled.

The Laurel club currently sponsors a year-round Volksmarch through Laurel. The starting point is the Comfort Suites hotel in Laurel just off Route 1. There is a gray box with a sign-up book and route map at the registration desk. Last year, 807 people completed this walk.

The Happy Wanderers will sponsor an event March 20 and 21 at Downs Park in Pasadena, Md. All participants must register, although there is no charge to walk the route. But there is a charge of $1.50 for those who want International Volkssport Verband event or distance credit, or $4 ($5 after March 12) for both the I.V.V credit and the commemorative award. The commemorative award for the Pasadena trail is an enamel pin depicting an oriole.

For more information about the walks or the Freestate Happy Wanderers, call Linda and Bill at (410) 437-2164 or Sandy at (301) 725-0918, or write to Freestate Happy Wanderers, P.O. Box 495, Laurel Md. 20725-0495.

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The Bollman Bridge's Parent Teacher Association is sponsoring a family roller-skating party at the Supreme Sports Club from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. tomorrow. Admission is $1 per person with a maximum of $5 per family. Skate rental at $1.75 per person will be available, or bring your own.

For more information or to get tickets, call Pam Paper at (301) 776-7753 or Karen Berger at (301) 776-4371.

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