Annapolis marks anniversary in style

September 27, 1994|By Phil Greenfield | Phil Greenfield,Special to The Sun

Any Sunday in early autumn is special in Annapolis -- especially when the temperature is 75 degrees -- but the past one was more special than most. For it was time to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Annapolis as the capital of Maryland.

Linnell Bowen and her planning committee put together a special tribute that my family -- and hundreds of families -- enjoyed immensely.

As the four of us ambled across the bridge from Eastport to Compromise Street, we saw youngsters "trundling their hoops" and "aiming their quoites" as they played children's games of the Colonial era. For once, someone actually found a needle in a haystack!

A lone bagpiper played for us as he passed. I still don't understand how that thing makes noise when he's breathing but not blowing.

While he was serenading us with "My Bonny Lassie" or whatever, the strains of "Baby You Can Drive My Car" were audible in the distance, courtesy of the Annapolis Vocal Corps. Hmm. Shall we say an interesting juxtaposition of musical styles?

Nearing the entertainment stage, we passed a 2-year-old dancing a pas de deux with her baby carriage and proceeded to strike up a conversation with George Washington, portrayed by the gentlemanly Hal Olsen of Arnold. (When I asked him where he was from, his first answer was, "Mount Vernon." Cute.)

Also cute was his waistcoat, which was the same one I wore all summer in "1776" at the Annapolis Dinner Theatre, may its soul rest in peace. You'd think the Father Of Our Country would have had one of his indentured servants sew on the button I'd lost in July! Come to think of it, nobody had ironed it either, but that didn't stop a guy from California from asking to have his picture taken with the general.

Marjorie Steen, one of the area's pre-eminent Colonial seamstresses, was on hand in costume to discuss matters of 18th-century hygiene with interested visitors.

A refreshing stop at the once controversial Frozen Yogurt Shop on Randall Street reminded me that the political issues of our own time can seem pretty stupid next to the ones they were arguing about here a couple hundred years ago. Discussions of gravely important matters of statecraft were once de rigueur in these parts. Time passes.

As I type this into my semi-trusty laptop, I'm recalling that Colonial typesetters had it rough. According to Susanna White of Annapolis, they had to set their letters one by one, upside down and backward. The "I printed this" sheets my children made in seconds took someone four hours to set. Good thing they weren't on deadline.

I watched Doug Yetter of Marmaduke's fame and his talented Broadway cohorts as I chatted with Robert Powell, who refers to himself as the "professor" of the 300th celebration. This engaging gentleman was passing out colored stickers at a near bionic rate as he expressed his admiration for what he was seeing and hearing. "There's so much talent in this town" he said, "It's just great to have an occasion like this to bring it out."

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