TheTentacle.com readers know Eddie Fisher’s death hit me hard; he was two months and eight days older. At least he made to 82, as I did yesterday. I’ve said before to everyone around, more people in my life are underground than walking around on this earth.
Truly best friend English pointer Pushkin lives; he no longer bounds around as he did for my 70th birthday. We’re both old. He and I have taken acupuncture and daily swallow arthritis pills. He no longer jumps up on the bed; his favorite trick when he was a half-grown puppy.
Sitting on the side of the mattress, close to the oxygen mask worn every night and nap, I take his head in my hands, sometimes kissing his nose; over and over I say I love you; but he knows already. His eyes send me the same message every moment I glance in his direction. Converting man-years to dog-years, Pushkin is slightly older. If you want to count for yourself, his birthday was July 9, 1998.
Over the 20-plus years I wrote The Frederick News-Post column, my observations, conclusions and opinions antagonized individuals and groups; but I didn’t start that phase of my life seeking to win friends. My prime objective was to sell newspapers, and even my self-appointed enemies conceded the point – long ago.
Some of my enemies I definitely made myself. Any political boss must exercise his power very discretely, out of public view. Dr. James E. “Doc” McClellan didn’t like the columns, not a bit; words I wrote trumpeted his high control over officials, and sometimes on candidates who wanted to get elected to office.
Doc and I first clanged wills when he deployed the single-shot ballot to bar Galen Clagett from the Annapolis delegation. He elevated nice guy Royd Smith whose political career bubble popped quickly. I’ve never heard that when they pass in public places, Galen sticks out his tongue toward the retired veterinarian. If pushed to extreme, the former state delegate must admit the present state delegate has every right.
My columns continue to disparage John L. Thompson and Jennifer Dougherty for exactly the same crime: the ex-county commissioner and ex-Frederick mayor employed the authority that came with their elected offices to hurt people.
Mr. Thompson deeply “dissed” human beings by insisting on prolonging a hearing past midnight; despite more than a score of mothers with small children waiting to testify. He refused Commissioners David Gray, Jan Gardner and Terre Roderick’s suggestion they all come back another day, in an evening before boys and girls normally went to bed. The parents wanted a religious school, like Catholic St. John; they were members of the Islamic Society of Frederick. That was the year before the 9/11 atrocity that people use to justify their bigotry toward Muslims.
What prevented the county being hauled into court was I.S.F. president Khalil el-Shazly stepping forth and stopping the controversy, by buying land with all restrictions Lennie put on. A similar proposed mosque and school rhubarb cost Walkersville taxpayers in the too rich neighborhood of $5 million.
In the ensuing years Lennie Thompson insisted on the county doing what he said, not what he did; which had much to do with voters sending him home in the recent primary, collapsing his ambitions and pretensions.
Having lucked into City Hall’s power chair, for various reasons, Frederick ex- mayor Jennifer Dougherty simply can’t find her Irish luck again. Behind closed doors and locked against the media, the city’s first female chief executive has thrown scathing rocks in all directions, including mine. At no time I’ve heard she blames herself.
But when in Frederick’s cat-bird seat, she callously discarded more than several human beings, no matter how talented or qualified. Stuart Seale brought national recognition to The Weinberg Center for the Arts. In a tiff with former Weinberg chairman – present Frederick president pro tem Alderman Karen Young – and the center’s board of directors, Ms. Dougherty pushed Stuart into the middle of West Patrick Street. Not literally, of course; but various officials, along with Mr. Seale, were let go, dismissed, fired or forced to resign. Frequently brutally.
She gave taxpayers’ money away by the bucket when she peddled properties acquired by the Jim Grimes’ administration, at bargain prices. Washington real estate mogul Douglas Jamal snapped them up. She sought to prove what a bad businessman Jim was; did she hope to make disappear for herself and her followers the many commercial successes the former Lewistown gas pump jockey pulled off?
And finally, I hope certainly I can count state Sen. Alex Mooney among my antagonists. His first term in Annapolis his behavior earned, along with retiring delegate Joe Bartlett, my column’s label: Katzenjammer Kids. Later he became my “littlest fascist;” to which he responded “I don’t like when you call me that.” I answered: “Then, Alex, stopping behaving like a fascist.”
As far as I know, the state senator may still be pouting, unless it interferes with taking in oodles of money from out-of-state lobbyists and ideological fanatics that want to create in this part of Maryland a fascist state; Alex is no Hitler or Mussolini, but a momma’s boy capable of hurling a mighty fit if things don’t go his way.
In this summing up, I cannot possibly summon up all the faces or the names of Frederick people whose kindnesses and friendships helped me survive beyond Eddie Fisher’s age when he died following a hip operation that might have been called routine. At our years, no surgical procedure can be lightly kissed off as routine.
Still, I must salute former colleagues, George and Bettie Delaplaine and Marlene Young; along with Best Friend Pushkin, they have much to do with the calm demeanor of the face presented to the world.
Among all you, with exceptions noted, I step out into my 83rd year both prepared and confident. Thank you, everyone – dog, child and grown-up whom we meet daily on North Market Street.