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DOCUMENTS


The Tentacle


March 11, 2014

Shad, Shad Roe, Shad Planking and St. Patrick

Harry M. Covert

Pleasant bonuses usually arrive when least expected. These joys aren't always of the financial kind, even though the latter can be more than appreciated. This story comes right in the middle of St. Patrick's celebrations, the time of year when everybody is Irish or would like to be.

 

A day trip up north Route 15 from Frederick began. In just a few miles the sign appeared, "Shad is here." Then a big white tent popped up and then another sign, "Shad Roe."

 

For a moment, the thought seemed to be a dream. A wrong turn going from Maryland to Wakefield, Virginia, where planning is well under way for the 66th annual Shad Planking. The latter famous for its political show where only Democrats, politicians and their minions (no women of course), political candidates and some trusted members of the Fourth Estate once gathered

 

A little history lesson, as written by the Ruritan’s:

 

"The planking dates to the 1930s near Smithfield, Virginia, beginning as a small gathering of friends to celebrate the James River running of shad – the oily, bony fish smoked for the occasion on wood planks over an open flame."

 

And, "In its early years, Democratic party bosses used shad planking as an opportunity to select the next governor. Harry F. Byrd, Sr., and the Byrd Organization dominated Virginia politics into the 1960s."

 

The Wakefield update is this: women were welcomed after Attorney General Mary Sue Terry, the Democrat candidate for governor, was the 1992 speaker. Before the 1960s, this was also the place where candidates for all local and state elected offices were chosen with the sanction and blessing of the Byrd Machine. Reports are well known that the food was shad and authorized drinking included Virginia Gentleman.

 

Back to the day trip on Route 15 North. The gathering in the Blarney Room Lounge of The Shamrock, Thurmont, included distinguished experienced and longtime Frederick County political veterans. Among diners was Maury Hassett, without a doubt one of the county's most respected Fourth Estate member and leader.

 

While dining on soft shell crab lunch I discovered that Mr. Hassett is 94 and heading in just a few months to 95. He is elegant, well-spoken, highly active and beloved as probably the best newspaperman ever in Frederick. I proudly salute him.

 

Conversation among the baker's dozen reached high echelons and covered the coming county council races and candidates. No fisticuffs resulted.

 

Talk became even more enthusiastic when another journalist, best-selling author, political activist and expert on things Iraqi-Iranian and Middle Eastern affairs joined the luncheon revelers.

 

Ken Timmerman, a new Frederick County resident, arrived. As a newcomer, I didn't realize he was a distinguished investigative reporter, a New York Times best-selling author and a true certified expert on world affairs. He didn't mention his achievements.

 

Listening to Ken, I realized immediately he was well-versed on state-wide Maryland affairs and was well acquainted with all of the personages currently running things in Annapolis, both in the House, Senate and governor's office

 

He had been paying close attention to the coming partisan November events. It was pleasant to learn that Ken was a bonafide candidate for Maryland lieutenant governor. He's a respected conservative and member of the Grand Old Party.

 

Mr. Timmerman was selected by gubernatorial hopeful Charles Lollar as his running mate in the GOP primary.

 

The bonuses continue. First, a superb lunch in the foothills of the Catoctin Mountains; second, meeting Mr. Maury Hassett, newspaperman extraordinaire; and third, listening to a candidate who has something important to say.

 

hmcovert@gmail.com

 



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