On the bay off Deale, a fitting farewell to a gourmand of the sea

THIS JUST IN...

October 12, 1994|By DAN RODRICKS

Twenty-four boats carrying dozens of his friends gathered on the bay off Deale on Saturday afternoon to bid farewell to Thomas "Muskrat" Greene, one of the Chesapeake's most colorful characters and world-famous gourmand. Before the Guinness Book of World Records stopped listing gluttony records, Muskrat held one for the most oysters consumed at one sitting. In 1985, he polished off 288 oysters -- 6 pounds of delicious slime -- in one minute and 33 seconds at Middleton's in Annapolis. It is said he ate even more bivalves at other sittings at Happy Harbor, his favorite hangout in Deale, and at a bunch of publicity-hungry bars in the region. Muskrat traveled to London once for an escargot-eating contest, knocked back more than 2 pounds of snails in under three minutes and came home an international celebrity. At Dominique's in Washington, reports Bill Lambrecht in the current edition of New Bay Times, Muskrat ate 350 garlic-soaked snails. The man consumed mass quantities of just about everything and always drank plenty of liquids. He didn't like eels, however. "Had one in my freezer once, and when I checked on it, it had flipped over," he told Lambrecht. Muskrat, who died Sept. 30 at the age of 54, was cremated, his ashes scattered on the bay.

A cheap clip

Listen now, my fellow guys, I'm not trying to start trouble or anything -- not trying to give your wives any ideas necessarily -- but there's an opportunity this weekend for a cheap vasectomy, and I thought some of you might want to know about it. Last year, to help raise funds for Hampton Elementary School in Lutherville, Dr. Brad Lerner donated a vaz to a silent auction. It had an approximate value of $530, and went for only $160. This year, the doc has donated another vaz to another school auction, this one at Cromwell Valley Elementary School's Octoberfest. It's Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Bidding stops an hour before the fest ends. Those who might be too self-conscious to sign the bid sheet should consider going incognito. I heard there will be a bonus prize for the best disguise.

The kindness of strangers

The last time Dr. Marshall Levine was in Bridgeville, Del., he received a ticket for doing 27 in a 25-mph zone. So this time, on his way to Bethany Beach with his family, he drove toward Bridgeville ever so gingerly. But not because he was worried about a speed trap. He was worried about his car; something was wrong with it. How did Levine know? How else? The little red light on the --board was blinking.

It was about 7:30 on a Friday night. The attendant at the Bridgeville BP station was nice but couldn't help; a trained mechanic was needed, and there was none about. Car rental agencies were either closed or too far away. Now, the BP station was locking up for the night and the Levine family -- the doctor, his wife, Sarellen; their 11-year-old son, Doug; their 14-year-old daughter, Emily; and her friend, Rachel Leavey -- faced the prospect of a night in a car. Levine thought about calling his mother-in-law back in Baltimore. He walked down to the Teddy Bear Bed & Breakfast, with a thought about getting rooms for the night. He met the owners, Susan Straughen and John Nichols. Surrounded by "the most amazing collection of teddy bears I had ever seen," Levine explained his situation.

"What happened next," Levine says, "is one of those episodes which we think used to happen but never occurs today, or at least not in a town where they give tickets for traveling two miles over the speed limit." Susan Straughen offered to drive the family to Bethany Beach; all Marshall Levine had to do was pay for the gas. John Nichols said he'd call his favorite mechanic and arrange to have Levine's car repaired.

"I drove my car to Shark's Service Center," Levine says. "Sharkey muzzled his Rottweiler, which was guarding the station, opened the hood of my car, apologized that he might not be able to fix it the next day since he was already obligated to several scheduled customers, but agreed to bring the keys to the Teddy Bear after he finished his work." Good ole Sharkey.

Susan Straughen -- good ole Susan -- did as promised. An hour's drive later, the Levine family arrived at their place in Bethany Beach. "She assured us that this was not the first time she had driven stranded persons from Bridgeville to the seashore," Marshall Levine says. "Although she would have appreciated having our business for the night, she also knew that we would be happier at our intended destination. Then she asked us how we planned to return to Bridgeville and did we want her to pick us up on Sunday night. She had done that before, too!"

A relative drove the Levines from Bethany back to Bridgeville. Their car was waiting for them, its hydraulic system fully repaired by good ole Sharkey. "I told Susan Straughen how much my attitude toward her town had changed," a grateful Levine says. "I hope she has enough teddy bears to supply the many customers we are sending to Bridgeville."

Campaign endorsement

Did I hear Charlie Fenwick of Valley Motors touting Roger Hayden in a campaign commercial? Very nice. Business has been very good since Roger became Baltimore County executive, Fenwick says; keeping property taxes down means more people have more money to buy more cars. And Fenwick is a Mercedes-Benz-Audi-Porsche dealer. Makes you all warm and fuzzy, doesn't it?

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