It came from out of the surf


February 28, 2007|By LAURA VOZZELLA

Jay Comi's Calvert Hall class ring tossed around in the St. Thomas surf for 30 years, then kicked around an island house for another decade ?enough time for Comi to churn through careers as a merchant mariner,an Ocean City boardwalk bar owner, a stockbroker, an Olive Garden manager, a gold-plater of religious artifacts and Emmys, and an identity theft consultant.

Ring and grad are back together again, 40 years after Comi took a dip in St. Thomas and came out of the water not feeling quite right.

"I remember walking out of the ocean, not getting 10 or 12 steps up the sandy beach, and realizing that something wasn?t right with my right hand and my school ring was gone," he said. 'I'd been in the water for an hour. I realized immediately that it was futile."

An island resident spotted the bit of gold while fishing in the surf in the late 1990s. His daughter, Natasha Smith, tried to track down the owner but had trouble because the island had limited Internet service at that time. So she tucked the ring away and forgot about it. Smith came across it recently and,with the help of better Web access,quickly tracked down Calvert Hall.

The school had no trouble matching the ring to Comi, even though some of the lettering had worn off, said spokesman Doug Heidrick. It still said 1966, and there was only one person from that class whose last name began with "Com."

The ring is back on Comi's right hand in Raleigh, N.C.,where he lives these days.

"It?s a little tighter than it used to be," he said. "I don?t think it would even come off in the surf today.

Friend, could you spare $205,000

As head of GOPAC, Michael Steele is supposed to be helping Republican campaigns around the country. But the former lieutenant governor knows that charity begins at home ? where his own Senate campaign debt needs retiring.

Steele e-mailed supporters yesterday asking for help paying $205,000 in outstanding campaign bills.

"You?ve always known me to call it as I see it, so I will get straight to the point," the message began. "Steele for Maryland Inc. has just over $205,000 in unpaid bills from my Senate campaign. As hard as it is to write this letter, you?re one of the few I can count on to help me raise the dollars I need to pay all of my Committee's bills."

It's not uncommon for winners and losers alike to finish campaigns in the red. (Steele's opponent, Ben Cardin, finished $60,000 in the black, said former campaign spokesman Oren Shur. But remember that last-minute $500,000 loan to Martin O'Malley?) It's just harder for the losers to settle their debts.

As he launched his bid to become lieutenant governor in 2002, Steele was still struggling to repay a $25,000 loan that had helped bankroll his unsuccessful run for state comptroller four years previously.

WBAL, Take 2 ? no, Take 3

TV cameras and reporters swarmed around Mayor Sheila Dixon shortly after the City Council voted the other night to ban smoking in Baltimore bars and restaurants. After a few minutes of small talk while the cameras got ready, Lowell Melser of WBAL shouted out: "Hey, Sheila, is this the end of the corner bar in Baltimore?"

Dixon started to answer the question, and then paused, The Sun's John Fritze reports.

"Is this ... wait a minute. 'Hey, Sheila?" she said. "Did you say that to Martin? Did you say that to Martin, "Hey, Martin'?"

Dixon spoke in a tone that maybe was jovial, but then again, maybe not.

"Ms. Dixon, I apologize, I should have called you "Ms. Dixon."" the reporter said.

"It's OK," Dixon said. But the rest of the press corps was less forgiving.

"It's Mayor Dixon," another TV reporter corrected.

"Mayor Dixon."

They have to find him first

Anyone who lives on Fairhaven Road in Tracys Landing should keep a lookout today for an unfamiliar van circling the block. It could be a bunch of crooks casing the neighborhood ? or the Publishers Clearinghouse Prize Patrol, waiting for Charles Corson to get home from work.

Corson got word Friday that he had won at least $1,000 in the sweepstakes and that he is one of 210 people nationwide in the running for the $10 million grand prize. That will be awarded on somebody?s doorstep today.

Corson is the only guy from the Baltimore area who?s in the running.But the 63-year-old divorced father of two said he will be going to work "just like any other day."

Corson works for the government, in one of those jobs that can?t be talked about. And he doesn?t expect any reporters to tag along.

"I really doubt it,because they can?t get onto Fort Meade,? he said. ?They can call me should the big $10 million be announced, and I'll come right home and we?ll have a party."

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