So let me take this space to tell you briefly about my Annapolis, Maryland. Its famous, picturesque habor is displayed on a large lithograph that hangs on one of the walls in my house. Annapolis and the Chesapeake Bay are my most favorite places on earth; have been since the 1970s when I first visited Maryland’s historic capital. I lived and worked in Washington, D.C. at the time, which is only an hour’s drive from the little colonial
seaport that is home to the United States Naval Academy. It has its main street, like all small towns. The one is Annapolis is called Fleet Street. It is narrow and climbs a steep hill line with the usual shops and sights.
There are a good number of restaurants. As you can imagine, they all feature fresh fish and blue crab specialties usually plucked the same day from the almost curbside Chesapeake Bay. Oysters are not to be forgotten either….hamburgers are. There are a collection of eclectic coffee shops and book stores, along with spaces filled with gift shops, hardware and boat supplies, homemade ice cream and handmade jewelry.
Most everyone, both native and visitor, eventually hangs around, at least for a while, at the city dock. “Quaint” and “charming” come to mind when I think of Annapolis. It’s a good feeling being there. Goods things happen there. Bad things don’t.
City Dock is a narrow slit made of concrete walls that cuts in from the inner harbor and slowly narrows to an abrupt end just short of a brick walkway and the landmark general marketplace. If you’ve come by boat and are a little lucky, you can find an empty slip to park your tug, but good luck on a summer weekend.
Annapolis is a boater’s town, make no mistake about it, from the slave ships that arrived regularly up until the the Civil War, to today’s luxorious so-called raghaulers and stinkpotters that compete for their 30-to-40 feet of bay water and dock spaces that line the shorelines of hundreds of meandering tributaries and inlets. The annual fall boat show in October is so massive it’s divided into two weekends, one for powerboats and one for sail. When we lived in Washington the sailboat show was a major date that my wife and I held open each year, making sure we had it locked in with our employers as a vacation day as early as January.
The Maryland State House, where the State’s legislature meets, was built in the 1700s. It’s white dome pokes up from the treetops, well above most everything else in sight. When I covered news events, I sat outside the State House one bitter cold winter morning waiting for newly re-elected governor Marvin Mandel to make his inaugural speech. He was inside being sworn in, which, as I remember it, took about three days—or at least it seemed that long because I was the coldest I’d ever been. At one point I picked up the recently poured cup of coffee that had been sitting on the table with my recording equipment and when it got to my lips I discovered the coffee was rock-solid frozen…just like I was.
I was to have much more exciting days in Annapolis a few years later when we owned a small sailboat. That’s when I fell in love with the Chesapeake Bay, its beauty and incredible pirate-infested history. It defies change and development, much of its panorama appearing as it must have hundreds of years ago.
There is a certain romance and exhilerating euphoria when one is on a sailboat motoring its way out of crowded Annapolis harbor until there is enough room to turn off the engine and raise the sail. The boat begins silently slicing through the water and one’s childhood imagination takes over as you embark on a day’s sailing, heading off to Maryland’s famed Eastern Shore in search of buried treasure once left there by none other than Blackbeard himself.
And now, I suppose it is difficult to exit Route 50 as you follow the signs to Annapolis, no longer sensing this same kind of excitement and fantasy in mind. No, that is all lost for now, and perhaps forever, thanks to the sad times in which we live. Times when the intentional mass murdering of innocent people is becoming far far far too familiar an occurrence. Our beautiful country has become petty and politically divided, Its infrastructure is decaying before our very eyes and the wonderment of anticipating the life it once promised for most of us–especially the respect for life–has all but vanished. It is difficult to set sail for the adventures to come…I sense more troubled waters ahead for all of us.