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As Long as We Remember...

September 24, 2008

The Taneytown Business Breakfast

Kevin E. Dayhoff

I recently had a chance to attend the Taneytown business breakfast. I jumped at the opportunity to take a wonderful break from the drama of national politics and the byzantine intrigue over projected shortfalls in the Maryland state budget.


Not to be overlooked has been my recent wearisome attempts to understand the latest in the ongoing theater on Wall Street, where it appears that really bad behavior is about to rewarded by the U.S. government – us. Is this a great country or what?


In 25 years of farming, I had the same ups and downs as every small business in America. I never once remember banks, Washington, or Annapolis doing anything but making my problems worse… Whatever.


In spite of the fact that I am not a morning person, I am a breakfast hound of the first order.


Nevertheless one event that can get me up bright and early, and even smile, is the Taneytown Business Breakfast. And so it was that recently, my wife – Miss Caroline – and I dragged ourselves out of bed at o’dark thirty and made our way to The Thunderhead Bowling Center to have breakfast with Maryland Sen. David Brinkley and 90 of our new best friends.


The English author, essayist, and biographer Samuel Johnson once said: “There are two types of knowledge. One is knowing a thing. The other is knowing where to find it.”


Well, where to “find it” is at these Taneytown breakfasts. If you have ever attended, you know you may find a few strangers in the room, but you never leave without having made new friends, connections, and having learned some new way to charge ahead into the day and make a difference in your community.


The Taneytown group is my kind of organization. No dues or club officers, with all the accompanying Robert’s Rules of Parliamentary Procedure, minutes and the ever-necessary treasurer’s report.


The only procedure is to come and eat breakfast with the everyday family and small town people who actually work for a living and care deeply about our country and community. I sat with liberals, conservatives, and citizens who had nothing to do with politics. We talked about family, the weather, and community and everyone got along just fine.


The breakfast is now in its 11th year. I didn’t discover this premier place to meet and break bread with business and community leaders from all over Frederick and Carroll County – and southern Pennsylvania – until shortly after my wife and I volunteered to help out with the “Artrain” traveling art museum that visited Taneytown in August 1999.


That was also when I met the one-woman whirlwind Nancy McCormick, Taneytown’s economic development director. Although I was sold on Taneytown many years ago, all Miss Caroline could do after we met Mrs. McCormick was say “Wow, can we bottle that or put it in a pill.”


Taneytown has a rich and storied history as a place to eat and conduct business. On January 19, 1923, former Westminster Mayor Joseph D. Brooks delivered an address at the Carroll County Society of Baltimore, in which he noted: “In many cases these towns (such as Taneytown) possessed hotels, which, in their day, were considered comfortable stopping places for “man and beast.”


Mayor Brooks remarked that among the more noted hotels in Taneytown was one kept by John Good, and another immediately opposite on Frederick Street, which had been erected in 1769. Many travelers from Virginia traveled through Taneytown going to Philadelphia “and when the Continental Congress met in York, Pa., George Washington, on his way from Mt. Vernon to attend its session, put up for a night at John Good's hotel.”


Another historic account recalls that on “June 30, 1791, President George Washington recorded his impression of Taneytown after an overnight stay at “A-dam Good Tavern” and had a dinner of “mush and milk.”


He noted in his diary: “I set off this morning a little after four o’clock in the prosecution of my journey towards Philadelphia— lodged in Tawnytown. Tawnytown is but a small place with only the street through which the road passes; the buildings are principally of wood.”


Today, in a routine choreographed by Norman Rockwell, the first item of business – besides eating a great breakfast – is to have the microphone passed around the room so everyone in attendance has an opportunity to present a short commercial for their business or promote an upcoming community event.


That morning, Miss Caroline and I learned everything from the up-to-the-minute developments in the upcoming “Taneyscape” street improvement project to the latest news from the Westminster Astronomical Society to the “Invasion of Pumpkin People.”


Senator Brinkley enlightened us on the latest in Maryland state happenings and an assessment on everything from an analysis of the state budget, to Bowling Brook current events, to what we may expect in the upcoming Maryland General Assembly, and how all of these dynamics will affect us little guys on Main Street.


Mrs. McCormick started the business breakfast in 1997 with four people. “Mush and milk” were not on the menu that morning; nevertheless, I ate more than those four people from 1997 and left with new friends and information I could use that day, this week and next year.


On the way home, I listened to the news about Maryland on the car radio. When I got home I watched several national news programs on TV.


I learned nothing – but did get a headache.


Perhaps more of our state and national leaders ought to come to the Taneytown Business Breakfast and see for themselves what has made America great.


Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster: E-mail him at:


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