I have just returned from a two-week sojourn in Europe that began exploring family roots on Fehmarn island between mainland Germany and Denmark. The itinerary also included my first visit to Berlin, a city that has loomed so large in world history since the Second World War.
It’s hard for me to imagine what it was like for my maternal grandfather to leave his remote Fehmarn village at age 16 and immigrate to America. Were economic conditions so desperate that Joachim Biss felt it necessary to leave, or did a youthful sense of adventure and opportunity simply beckon him as it did so many? I wish I would have asked him those questions before he died nearly 60 years ago.
As I walked along its remnants, it was also difficult to grasp what life was really like for thousands of families separated by the wall that bifurcated the city of Berlin for nearly three decades. While the reunited German capital and nation have made great progress since the wall came down 30 years ago, many areas remain under reconstruction. It may take another decade or two for Berlin to catch up with other world class cities spared its traumatic past.
While we were in Austria its government changed over a weekend! A scandal involving his party resulted in the ouster of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and his lieutenants. And that same weekend all 28 nations of the European Union elected their representatives to the 751-member Parliament that governs the EU.
Major gains were realized by various nations’ “green parties” made up largely of young persons concerned about the future of the planet. A Swedish teenager started a movement, Fridays for Future, whereby growing numbers of students throughout Europe skip school on Fridays to protest and demand action on climate control measures.
International trips always broaden horizons and offer new perspectives. There’s a big world out there beyond our borders. And the growing number of UFO sightings reported of late by Navy pilots may suggest that “out there” is even bigger than we have imagined.
If you are like me, you have recently been captivated by the current champion (as of May 29) of “Jeopardy!” James Holzhauer, who has won 30 games and collected $2,323,971.
Holzhauer, a 34-year-old professional sports gambler has changed how the world plays “Jeopardy!”
While having a quick buzzer skills, and what seems like a photographic memory, Holzhauer dominates gameplay by carefully choosing which questions he’d like to answer.
Unlike traditional “Jeopardy!” players who start with the $200 clues and work their way up in values, Holzhauer chooses all of the highest clue values first. During Jeopardy! and Double Jeopardy!, he chooses all of the $1000 and $2000 clues and then systematically chooses other clues in search of the Daily Double.
His record-breaking, high daily totals are a direct result of this method. By successfully answering the higher value clues, he has more to wager when he find the Daily Doubles.
Holzhauer’s records for consecutive games won and highest winnings (regular-season play) are only beaten by Ken Jennings, who won $2,520,700 during a 74 consecutive game run in 2004.
It is amazing to watch him play, but one has to wonder, “How is he doing this? When will he be beaten? Can he beaten?”
The viewer either passionately follows “Jeopardy! James” or desperately wants to see him dethroned. Either way “Jeopardy!” is experiencing a jump in viewership.
When will his run on “Jeopardy!” end? Will he break Ken Jennings’ records? I guess we’ll all have to tune in to find out.
Mary Grace Keller
This is my final Reporter’s Notebook for the Gettysburg Times.
As word has spread of my leaving, I’ve been surprised by the number of people who’ve reached out. I received emails, hand-written cards, and verbal compliments these last three weeks. My co-workers even got a cake with my name on it.
I didn’t realize I had made such an impact on the community. From my perspective, I didn’t go above and beyond. I just did what I thought I was supposed to do.
The best compliment I have received is that my articles were accurate. Even when I made mistakes, people seemed to understand that my intent was true.
When asked what I’m going to miss about the Gettysburg Times, my reply is the people. Not just my wonderful colleagues, but the elected officials, municipal staff, principals, teachers, and all the people I visited monthly for public meetings. I interacted with them on a regular basis and began to think of them as my co-workers because my job would not be possible without them.
I sincerely appreciate those who reached out to say thank you. You’ve made Gettysburg feel like home.
“So long, and thanks for all the fish.”
T. W. Burger
So, I’m out on an assignment at Caledonia. The park is full of campers and people cooking out. Kids are running around and yelling. One of the people I interview is from near the area where I was born, and we both regale people with stories of where mallards walk on the backs of carp at Pymatuning Reservoir.
Afterward, I get out the camera and drive up on the mountain to take photos. It’s a lovely spring day. The birds that skedaddled south for the winter are back, and the woods are a chorus of song. Flowers bloom all over the place.
I spot a cluster of beautiful white blossoms clustered at the foot of a tree near the roadside. Rhododendrons? Camelias? Magnolia? My knowledge of flowers is pathetic, but they were pretty.
I stopped, grabbed the camera, and trudged to get closeups.
There, clustered randomly at the base of the evergreen tree was…. used toilet paper.
There’s a lesson here somewhere. Doggone if I can figure it out.
OK, I admit I get frustrated sometimes when I try to read something online only to slam into a paywall.
But my irritation lasts only a moment because I understand why paywalls exist, including the one non-subscribers run into on the Gettysburg Times website.
It takes money to run a newsgathering organization. It’s not unreasonable to ask to be paid for our product.
If you click on a plumber’s website (or that of any professional), you don’t expect him or her to come to your house and work for free.
And you wouldn’t dream of walking out of Kennie’s without paying for a physical copy of the paper.
Speaking of professionals, I can’t believe Mary Grace Keller is about to walk out of the newsroom for the last time as a Times reporter.
No more will her face suddenly appear atop the wall of my cubicle, like Kilroy or a meerkat. I’ll miss her cheerful energy, sharp-edged humor, and fine work.
I’m happy she found the next step in what I predict will be a formidable journalistic career, but I’m truly sad.
Ben and I are taking Gettysburg Times photographer Darryl Wheeler and his awesome friend to the Newseum in Washington D.C. today. Darryl does so much for others, which is why we wanted to take him. The Newseum is closing this year.
I think he will be blown away when he sees the exhibits at the museum, which is more than just newspapers. It showcases another light to history. Ben has not seen it either, so I’m excited to see his reactions as well. I went there back in 2014. But I’m sure some things have changed since then.
Speaking of newspaper history, I’m really proud of Mary Grace Keller who is on her way to the next step in her career. While she’ll be missed by many, she will continue to do amazing things at the Carroll County Times.
I’m so looking forward to June, lots of exciting things set to happen.
My girl Lily is coming home next week. She’s been in Texas a while. She was our very first red and white Harrier, earned her championship at a young age, took first in breed at Westminster a couple years ago and got to show at Madison Square Garden.
With any luck, we will be able to find her a husband when she is ready in July, meaning she could be a mama in September. Arranging the marriage, however, is giving me a serious headache. There are just so few Harriers, especially on the east coast.
The transport service picking up Lily in Texas to bring her home is making a detour through Alabama to fetch a couple of Beagles, two little girls, to bring up to me. (Yes, Georgia, they have vet checks and rabies shots, and I’ll be stopping in to get them tag as soon as I have paperwork on them.) They are being called Summer and Jeudy now, but I’m seriously thinking about changing those monikers. Summer is already an adult and will need to get married soon, too. Fortunately, there are a lot of Beagles showing on this coast, so arranging her marriage shouldn’t (hopefully) be as difficult as it’s proving for Lily.
We had another arranged marriage about six weeks ago, my poodle girl. She ‘hooked up’ with a fellow from Maryland, and the happy couple should be welcoming bundles of joy along about the middle of the month, not that papa poodle will care all that much. I’m super excited about this litter. We haven’t had a litter of poodles in about 15 years.
With a stroke of luck, perhaps the poodle pups will arrive on my wedding anniversary, which I happen to be working on again this year, unless I’m delivering babies.
Rounding out the month, I’ll turn a year older. Think I’ll just ignore that though.
I love Adams County, Pa. I grew up here and do not plan to leave — something hubby soon realized after meeting me.
We have great schools, generous businesses, thriving agriculture, rolling hills, community parks, oodles of history, good healthcare, plenty to see and do, and fair weather (mostly).
I am always impressed by the volunteers behind the scenes who make things happen. And it warms my heart to see so many individuals and industries give back to their communities.
We are a caring and friendly county and I’m proud to call this area home.
I keep thinking about two statistics I read this week in the pages of this newspaper.
The two numbers, both reported in an article on affordable housing by Vanessa Pellechio on Wednesday, were that more than 8,000 families in Adams County live below the U.S. poverty level of $25,750 per year, and that the average hourly wage for renters in our county is $10.30 per hour.
What this means is that, here in Adams County, a full-time worker earning $10.30 per hour at 40 hours per week, and who takes no vacation, will earn an annual salary of just $21,424.
I doubt there is anyone in the county who believes that a local resident who works full-time should end up over $4000 below the poverty level at the end of the year.
There are many regional non-profit agencies that address issues of poverty and work with those in need. But these agencies often struggle for financial support.
The magnitude of these statistics means more needs to be done to close the income inequity gap.
Fully addressing these issues must begin with our local legislators. I hope the Adams County Commissioners and our other local governing bodies will think seriously this year about poverty and implement policies that can make a difference.
Even a county as beautiful as Adams cannot be considered livable when working the average full-time job is not enough to get by.
A little over a week ago, I had the opportunity to interview a 96-year-old World War II veteran named Lawrence Bolin.
Going into the interview, I knew little about Bolin’s time in the war, but I did know he had a love for art. A friend of Bolin brought in an envelope of drawings by him, colorful sketches of WWII planes, weapons and ships. I was amazed at the skill Bolin possessed and excited to uncover the story behind his drawings.
Bolin and I talked in his living room for almost an hour, and I learned about the history of his love for art and some of the heinous things he saw during his time in the war. Bolin is sharp, and his memory is still in-tact; he recalled several moments from the war, many filled with gruesome details. I was both amazed and shocked at some of the things he recounted to me.
I left the interview with not only a great amount of respect for Bolin, but for all people who served in WWII. I was impressed and humbled by Bolin’s willingness to share about the traumatic time spent in the war, opening up about fearing for his life during his two-year time serving.
My great-grandfather also served in World War II, but he never talked to anyone in our family about it. He often retreated when facing periods of PTSD, a disorder that would not be formally acknowledged until 1980 in the United States. Bolin acknowledged that this was the pattern in the lives of many veterans of World War II; they never talk about what happened in the war.
For a long time, Bolin admitted, he did not talk about it either. It wasn’t until he saw an article in a magazine about a veteran speaking out about the war that he decided it was time for him to tell his story.
Bolin probably doesn’t know it, but interviewing him has been my favorite part of my internship at the Times so far. I am thankful for his service to our country, and I hope that his art will continue to reach younger generations with his story.