Never Try to Talk to a Politician

11 Nov

Last week, Fr. M asked if The Squire and I would be willing to meet with the local county councilman and another gentleman to discuss the possibility of there having been a Revolutionary era fort at the far end of Joppatowne. No problem. We didn’t think there had been, but we were willing to ride out to the site with them and take a look.  Joppatowne had been pretty much deserted by 1770, but what the heck.

We were met at the church at 1:30 today by Mike, the councilman, Barbara, another county executive, and the original gentleman (hereafter known as OG), whose man I never did catch. OG said that a fleet of about 300 British ships sailed up the Chesapeake, and were met by a barrage of cannon fire from a fort at Foster’s Point. Under normal circumstances, the military allowed one cannon per so many soldiers, so the amount of firepower suggested a lot more men in the fort than there actually were. The British, being pretty smart, turned around and sailed away.

I had never heard of this battle, such as it was, but I do know that two men, Heathcoat Pickett and John Paul, were arrested and convicted of “giving comfort” to the enemy by selling flour from their gristmill to the British, so this makes sense. Why else would the British be here, but looking for a fight? Paul managed to escape, and lived out the Revolution in a cave, being provided food by his family. Pickett was hanged the next morning.

The cannon had been borrowed from, and returned to, Havre de Grace.

So, while I was on the phone trying to track down the church records (which would have also been the civil records) from that time period – on microfilm in Annapolis – the two folks from the county government, OG, and The Squire had settled themselves in the office, and got to talking Harford county politics. We do not live in Harford County, but it was really interesting listening to them. One point that Mike brought up was this business of non-permeable land. Right now, if a contractor wants to put up a building, a certain portion of the land must be in grass and trees. We have two empty shopping centres up the road, and his attitude is “do what you wish, but don’t make it any worse”. Repave the broken parking lot, put a new building on the old footprint, and we’re no worse off than we were, and we haven’t destroyed any more open land.  Dear Heaven, the man makes sense!

One thing the OG said that really caught my attention was a remark about people who sit on the county council, show up month after month, and never say or do anything. “If you are on the council, you should have a project. Pick out something you want to do, and present a report every month. Don’t just show up.” Sounds like a good motto for a vestry meeting.

After an hour of listening to the three of them discuss the future of Joppatowne, The Squire and I finally broke up the meeting and came home. When we left, they were still on the parking lot, planning a wonderful future for our little burg.

And we never did get to see the fort.

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