Journalist may have been startled by snallygaster at city meeting - The snallygasters of Westminster’s Emerald Hill
The Westminster city council report by Kevin Dayhoff October 26, 2009 http://tinyurl.com/yhnjnb6
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Unforeseen drama erupted last Monday night, on October 26, 2009, just days before Halloween; as the bright light of a snallygaster suddenly shone upon Carroll County Times writer Bryan Schutt.
All the while, Mr. Schutt kept a steady and wary eye on the “witch” seated directly in front of him while he covered the meeting of the Westminster mayor and Common Council well into the dark of the night.
Outside, the winds howled, dogs barked and the moon winked from behind passing dark clouds as the august common council body deliberated passionately upon the various imperatives of the small principality in the shining white castle on Emerald Hill – Westminster City Hall.
In the background, calm and oblivious to the sudden appearance of the snallygaster, were Westminster volunteer fire department president Bill Brehm and Westminster director of public works Rev. Jeff Glass, who never skipped a beat as he waxed poetically and eloquently about the subtle nuances and ecstasies of the Westminster water meter replacement installation initiative...
One wondered if Dr. Zappardino’s capital ornamentation was constructed of velvet, taffeta, or the wool of a cottager’s hand. One could only wonder if she were acting-out on strict obedience to Elizabethan sensibilities or maybe the Westminster Common Council had recently reenacted, in closed session, the Westminster Sumptuary Laws which dictated the styles of hats for dignified women of class and stature.
If you will recall it was during the years between 1968 and 1974 in Westminster – err, strike that - 1568 and 1574 that “all Citizens wives in generall were constrayned to weare white knit Caps of woolen yarne, unlesse their husbands were good value in the Queenes booke, or could prove themselves Gentlemen by descent.”
The curiosity of the hat was only one of the many subplots and oblique soliloquies that played out in the audience as Rev. Glass reported that he was infused with the idea of receiving the wireless signals of the new water meters with their variable attenuators and adjustable phase-shifters and that as a result he saw an apparition of Ben Franklin himself as he found himself awash in a sea of paperwork.
But wait; was that really a drop of sweat appearing on Mr. Schutt’s brow or was he simply moved by the shared spirit of the moment or the contemplation of actually being able to use a semi-colon in his news article?
Perhaps we’ll never know.
Moments later, the councilmembers gratefully accepted the bidding of Rev. Glass so that Westminster water meter reader officials may be turned-on as they stalked city neighborhoods in search of a sign or a wireless signal or perhaps even a glimpse of Mr. Franklin himself.
Over the years, paranormal apparitions and unusual occurrences have come to be accepted as de rigueur at Westminster council meetings.
Sudden chilly air, unaccounted brief gusts of winds, the odd clapping of hands, folks cackling to themselves as they clanked weaving utensils and others lapsing into the speaking in tongues are nothing unusual at the bi-monthly meetings of Emerald Hill.
Many have attributed such occurrences to the appearance of snallygasters…
For those who are not aware of snallygasters; in Carroll County Maryland, the belief in witches and supernatural spirits were part of the northern European-German culture brought into this area by its settlers.
For example, the word "snallygaster" doesn't seem to be used as much in recent years, but it comes from a combination of two German words: “schnell geiste,” meaning “quick spirit.”
Not to be confused with the “außenseiters” or “aus landers,” which have recently visited upon the city with their sea gull daze, wanting us to quit our redneck ways…?
At this point, please join Elton John, Bernie Taupin and the Greek chorus as we sing the honky cat blues: “When I look back boy I must have been green, Bopping in the country, fishing in a stream, Looking for an answer trying to find a sign, Until I saw your city lights honey I was blind.
“They said get back honky cat, Better get back to the woods, Well I quit those days and my redneck ways, And oh the change is gonna do me good…
“And all the folks back home well, said I was a fool, They said oh, believe in the Lord is the golden rule…
“They said stay at home boy, you gotta tend the farm, Living in the city boy, is going to break your heart, But how can you stay, when your heart says no, How can you stop when your feet say go…”
Anyway, where were we? Oh - for those of us who grew up in Carroll County, the “Schnell Gieste” or snallygasters were often responsible for the shivers that resulted from a sudden drop in the temperature or gusts of wind that closed doors and scattered papers.
Anyone who has spent time in Westminster’s city hall is well aware of the unaccounted-for footsteps on the stairs, apparitions in the windows, the eerie creaking of woodwork, the moans of sheer delight, and the groans of the ancient historic structure that has bore witness to the vagaries of the American Civil War, deaths of children during the Spanish Influenza outbreak in 1918; and contemporary personal character assassinations that accompany small-town politics.
This brings to mind a curious remark by Mr. Schutt as he was leaving City Hall that evening. For some background, as you may be aware, the unofficial symbol of Halloween, the jack-o'-lantern, has its origins in the carving of a turnip. Not as tasty, by the way, if you are making pie.
Although several hundred years ago pumpkins were quite smaller than they are today, colonials used a pumpkin because it was more easily available than turnips.
The practice of carving a frightening face and placing fire inside the pumpkin was to frighten away banshees or “schnell geistes” from the spirit world.
Mr. Schutt was apparently unfazed by the appearance of Mr. Schell Geiste and labored-on with his work, without flinching…
Although unconfirmed reports indicate that as Mr. Schutt left the council meeting, he quietly inquired as to where might be the best place to buy a carving pumpkin in Carroll County.
Hmmm. Maybe after all – he believes. Ask him. Inquiring minds want to know…
Okay, okay – OKAY - - I’ll write a different account for the newspaper. But my gosh I love it on this side of the note pad. Meanwhile stay in the shallow end of the pool.
Kevin Dayhoff October 26, 2009
The bright light of a snallygaster suddenly shone upon Carroll County Times writer Bryan Schutt and he kept a steady eye on the “witch” seated directly in front of him while covering the meeting of the Westminster mayor and Common Council on Monday night, October 26, 2009.
In the background, oblivious to the sudden appearance of the snallygaster, is Westminster volunteer fire department president Bill Brehm and Westminster director of public works Rev. Jeff Glass. Photo by Kevin Dayhoff October 26, 2009 [20091026 CowMCC Mtg (3)b] Click here for a larger image: http://twitpic.com/n4dt9 or here: http://kevindayhoff.tumblr.com/post/224678669/journalist-may-have-been-startled-by-snallygaster
Westminster director of public works Rev. Jeff Glass never skipped a beat as he waxed poetically and eloquently about the subtle nuances and ecstasies of the Westminster water meter replacement installation initiative at the Monday, October 26, 2009 meeting of the Westminster MD meeting of the Common Council.
As Rev. Glass’ voice rose in praise of being stimulated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Carroll County Times writer Schutt stoically continued with his hypergraphic note taking and Dr. Pam Zappardino studied the room adorned with her capital ornamentation... Photo by Kevin Dayhoff October 26, 2009 [20091026 CowMCC Mtg 4 5 6] Click here for a larger image: http://twitpic.com/n4k7r or here: http://kevindayhoff.tumblr.com/post/224740261/westminster-director-of-public-works-rev-jeff
20091026 sdosmked The Journalist and the snallygaster
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