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What's Up Magazine

Shared Stories: Compelling photographs of local notables & the stories behind them

Oct 13, 2016 09:00AM ● By Cate Reynolds
By James Houck

Is a picture worth a thousand words? We think a photograph is worth that and much more. Photographs certainly conjure memories, but they also capture a fleeting moment and make it a forever visual that bridges and binds generations. And so, as we reflect on 20 years of making the magazine in your hands—chock full of photographs—we thought it would be neat to reach out to several locals, whose names you’ll likely recognize, and ask them to share a photograph from their own recent or distant past and the story behind it…and we got some good ones.

We also had fun digging through our own shoeboxes and albums for shots circa 1997—when What’s Up? Media was founded—of each staff member. One of us had just founded the company (hint: our Publisher), some of us were embarking on new careers, others just starting grade school…or college. The sidebar to this article shares a few photos of What’s Up? Media staff members and their stories behind each.

Enjoy and thank you for indulging us :)

Lucia St. Clair Robson

Historical Novelist


“The Nun-Inflicted Machete Scar”

Here are three questions people have asked me: 1. What’s the strangest meal you’ve eaten? 2. Where’s the most unusual place you’ve slept? 3. Where’d you get that scar on your arm?

The answers to those questions and this photo, taken in a Warao Indian village, have one location in common—the jungle along Venezuela’s Orinoco River.

1) In 1965, my friend Sister Mercedes and I visited a Catholic mission among the indigenous Warao Indians. The Capuchin nuns’ “convent” was located beside the Orinoco River, half a day’s journey by dugout from the delta. At dinner the first night, the entree was a large South American rodent akin to the guinea pig. (I’ve eaten turtle, snake, alligator, and iguana since then, but rodent tops the list).

2) Sister Mercedes could stay at the convent, but the nuns’ Order did not allow outsiders like me to sleep there. Fortunately, the Capuchin monks in the nearby monastery offered hospitality and I spent a few nights sleeping in a hammock in an unoccupied cell in a monastery in the Orinoco jungle.

3) In the mid-’60s I was a Peace Corps volunteer in a small town in eastern Venezuela. Sister Mercedes and four other medical missionary nuns from Pittsburgh ran the American oil company hospital outside of town. When the Capuchin nuns offered Sister Mercedes hospitality she asked me if I wanted to go along.

One of the monks, Father Vaquero (I’m not making up the name) had unearthed a pre-Columbian Indian grave, and he invited Sister Mercedes and I to help him dig. Sister Mercedes carried a very sharp machete, and when I jumped into the grave I hit my arm on the blade. It cut to the muscle and bled a lot. One of the nuns put a butterfly bandage on it for the long trip back to Caripito.

When we returned to “civilization,” a Peace Corps doctor offered to re-stitch the wound so there’d be no scar. I said, “Are you crazy?” I figured a nun-inflicted machete scar would provide bragging rights for the rest of my life.

So… Sister Mercedes took this photo and many others as we visited the Warao village near the convent and monastery. For some reason, the little girl took my hand and held on tightly. The basket is one the Warao women make. I still have it.

Gary Jobson

World-Class Sailor, Author


“Some Good Fortune”

The commuter train I am riding on with an older friend along the New Jersey shore is hot and stuffy. While I am talking, I flip through the pages of Sports Illustrated. My friend, Bill, looks at an advertisement and says, “You should be featured in that ad.” It was a Dewar’s Profile. This series of ads was very popular at the time. The ad was built around a portrait of someone in a unique setting with several attributes of that person like: last book read, favorite sport, or an inspiring mentor. The last line was always: Scotch? Dewar’s. I laughed off the suggestion. Bill persisted, “Really, you qualify and it would help your career.” It took five years, but I did end up in a Dewar’s Profile and boy did it help me in ways that I could never have imaged.

I thought about the prospect for a few days and called the only person I knew who was in advertising. She worked for Leo Burnett in Chicago. I called and sheepishly asked if she knew what agency produced the Dewar’s Profiles. To my surprise she said, “You are a perfect candidate, a colleague down the hall is the account executive. I will talk with him.” An hour later I was being interviewed. My credential of being the tactician on the successful America’s Cup defender, Courageous, and being watch captain on the winning boat, Tenacious, in the infamous Fastnet Race a few months earlier helped me get the gig. And, it paid well. Exactly one dollar.

Leo Burnett scheduled a crew to photograph me on a 12 Meter in Newport, Rhode Island. We spent a day taking pictures with me looking like Captain Courageous, but it all died when Ted Turner (my skipper) suddenly appeared in a national campaign for Dewar’s rival, Cutty Sark. Bummer!

Fast forward five years. I am in a meeting in Chicago with Leo Burnett working with their creative team on a promotion for the America’s Cup challenger, Heart of America. I was signed on to be a member of the crew. The account executive, Ted Bell, leaned back at one point and said, “You would be perfect for a Dewar’s Profile.” “Well, look in your files, there is already a picture,” I explained. Someone ran off and produced the portfolio of pictures within minutes. Bell told me I was on, but he had a different concept. A few weeks later, I was in a studio in the bowels of Chicago’s industrial district. Bell told me he had three concepts and went to work. Shot One was of me standing behind a varnished wheel. Shot Two had me sitting in a row boat. It felt kind of weird, because I am a sailor not an oarsman. After lunch, Bell explained that he had a special idea. A curtain was pulled back and there was an antique bath tub. I was ready to run for the hills. But then, I remembered that the pay was good...still one dollar.

I sat there for two hours with a tiny model boat on the edge of the tub. The photographer suggested all kinds of expressions. At the end of the long day I told Bell and his staff that I liked the Captain Courageous pose the best. He just laughed. One month later the advertisement debuted in the Sports Illustrated swim suit issue. Yep, there I was with a weird look in the bath tub. In the write up it said, “Last book written instead of last book read.” The ad ran in every major national magazine in the USA. Right at that time, ESPN was acquiring the television broadcast rights for the next America’s Cup. My Dewar’s Profile was on every subway stop in New York City. It might have provided some inspiration because, out of the blue, I received a call from Steve Bornstein, an executive at ESPN asking if I was interested in commentating for the upcoming America’s Cup in Australia. I left the Heart of America team for my new job at ESPN. Thirty-one years later, I am still producing shows for the network. Also my book, that was included in the Dewar’s Profile, sold many copies for several years. The ad ran, on and off, for another five years. When racing a sailboat you never know what might be over the horizon. For me, life might have been different if my friend, Bill, had never made his suggestion. I am grateful to this day.

Paul Reed Smith

Founder, PRS Guitars


The road from my garret workshop at 33 West Street in Annapolis to a state-of-the-art factory across the bridge in Stevensville was a tough but very enjoyable one. There were a lot of late night brainstorms and, in between doing repair jobs to help pay the bills, I was lucky if I finished one guitar a month. Once a guitar was finished, I’d hang out backstage at one of the local concert venues and peddle my guitars to the stars.

The picture you see here is special to me as this was taken at my workbench on the day I finished Carlos Santana’s first PRS guitar. It was the beginning of a career for me. It was the beginning of what would come to be PRS Guitars and although there would be years of testing, rethinking, and reinventing ahead, this guitar’s overall design with its bird inlays put me on a path, fueled us to build a small team of craftsmen, and take things to the next step. The goal then and now, interestingly enough, is nearly the same: create a finished product that you can’t keep your hands off of.

Robert C.Willey

Mayor of the Town of Easton


Back in the ’60s, it was like living in another time. People were not as mobile as they are today. That’s the way it was with several of my friends and myself. Some had recently completed college, some had just started new careers, one had just returned from the Army, and more than one was recently married or planning to do so very shortly. Softball was the recreation mainstay and we played at every opportunity. Pick-up games, here in Easton, and with teams from nearby towns were the norm. It didn’t matter how many innings, you played until dark or when everyone was tired.

When the Talbot County Softball League was formed, we jumped at the chance to compete with our team. We were able to acquire a sponsor who provided uniforms, including pants, unheard of at the time. In 1966, we won the league championship. Fifty years ago…it doesn’t seem that long ago. Some of the guys have passed on, some are still around Easton. But, one thing is for sure…in 1966 we were the champs!

Ellen Moyer

Chair of Annapolis’ Art in Public Places Commission, Former Annapolis Mayor


In a world where pictures, every minute of every day, are posted on Twitter or Facebook capturing moments in time, I discover I have very few photos of me. A picture tells a 1,000 words so I am usually the picture taker, except, of course, those taken by professional photographers capturing me and others at the social functions of the town or 10 years ago behind a podium or cutting a ribbon for a new venture.

Pictures of my driving trips across country feature my five children and a dog in National Parks. I have one of me on the rim of the Grand Canyon [hanging] in Chick and Ruth’s. Even last year’s 14,000-mile driving trip to Alaska doesn’t showcase me anywhere. Was I there?

So where are my pictures? I remembered one of me in my favorite house coat, about age four, standing on the porch of our house in Glen Burnie, before moving on a stormy Pearl Harbor Day, December 7th, to Towson. The memories of that time in my life...the Glen Burnie Carnival, the first Ferris wheel ride, seeing the movie The Wizard of Oz, and buying candy for the movie at a small pharmacy now owned by my son and his comic business, requests to the Principal at Glen Burnie Elementary School to let me come to school before the system said I could—yep, I actually did that with the teenage neighbor coming with me—are clear in my memory.

But where is that picture?

Then I thought of my high school yearbook picture. Photo a yuk, but plenty of stories to tell. I was editor of the school newspaper and all-star field hockey athlete and just had plenty of fun times, a hoot, with a diminishing group of friends I still keep in touch with by email and actual handwritten notes.

Outstanding memories and experiences that top my list are working on the Snake River Ranch in Jackson, Wyoming, with horse rides over the Tetons and through mountain pastures with flowers to your stirrups and sheep herders sharing coffee, but no picture. Same with horse treks through South Dakota Badlands and Washington State Mountains. Or as a counselor, nick-named Tad, at Girl Scout Camp Woodlands, the year the historic Tepee designed by Annapolis resident Charlie Lamb was opened and where I received my first proposal in a letter. And dating my high school sweetheart at USNA, a lacrosse Hall of Fame guy. I have his photos. Again, I was nowhere. Must have been my imagination.

And then, as luck would have it, cleaning out my storage bin last week, I found a photo of me. Except for my business card photo (excerpted from a crowd watching the March 17th parade two years ago), I actually had a photo in hand. It is the one attached. Just me. Some would label it as self-centered. Probably, it goes with being in public office.

And it is a thank you to all those people who helped me in a successful bid for Alderman of Eastport in the 1980s. Achieving public office is not a solitary function. This was the beginning of my venture in public elected service (public service has always been a part of my life) that ended in an elected capacity in 2009.

I do not ever remember setting a goal to be in public office. I never said I want to be President when I grow up. In fact what I wanted to be, if anyone asked, was a veterinarian. My room was filled with stuffed animals and over time, my home with rescued dogs and cats. In college, at the University of Maryland and Penn state University, I was a Liberal Arts Major; a graduate degree in Education at Goucher came later.

But here I was running for public office again after a narrow first effort defeat for the position by Brad Davidson. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” was a lesson I learned in sports and from Robert Bruce, the English warrior who learned this lesson from a spider.

Brad eventually resigned to head a city-state commission and I was appointed by a split council vote to his seat. Ruth Grey, a republican, broke ranks with John Hammond and was the deciding vote in my favor. So this picture was taken after an exhilarating election effort with people knocking on doors on my behalf and writing friends letters; a sense of community prevailed.

This might have been the election when I was opposed by Bob McWilliams. The Trumpy [shipyard] complex was proposed to be the new home for CBF now located in Bay Ridge. He opposed it and lost the election, a fact he never forgot as he continues to knock me in his columns almost 30 years later as if the campaign was still ongoing.

Anyway, election campaigns require focus, commitment, and, for me, were inspiring. The new ideas fostered by constituents and new friendships are exhilarating happenings; debates and conversations offer new opportunities to discover “who you are” and the values you hold dear. I was not a natural at political schmoozing. An only child, I learned to function quite naturally alone. Yet from five years old and ever after, I was always organizing my playmates to do things: acting out plays in my basement for proud parents to watch; creating dance routines for school talent shows where only our piano player, Brad Wines, had any talent; beginning a high school sorority with programs that reached out to others less fortunate; initiating efforts for the founding of Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts; and 100 other “let’s do it together” efforts nourishing new ideas into reality. So maybe public service was a natural path.

The path for women was then and now filled with hard knocks. It was and still is a man’s world and harder for women to be taken seriously. I learned to weather the world of hard knocks and the manufactured misinformation to fit another’s agenda...well, to tell the truth, the hypocrisy I experienced was not to my liking and I didn’t really weather it so well.

This photo, from an early election victory, shows some confidence and comfort. In saying thank you, I was beginning a 20-year road of elected public service that would lead to my election as the first woman Mayor in 300 years, selected twice by the citizens of Annapolis to be their CEO. According to the City Charter, unknown to the public, the Mayor in Annapolis is the CEO implementing policy set by the Council.

Little did I know when this picture was taken where the path would take me. Public service, government of, by and for the people, is a challenge, but it is a path, and, despite its frustrations, one that I enjoy. From my Girl Scout background as participant, leader, and trainer, it is the “of and by” currently somewhat out of fashion, that I value the most.

What’s Up? Media Staff Share Their Photos

“Hot off the presses, here I am holding the very first issue of What’s Up? Magazine!”
Veronica Tovey, Publisher & President


“This was taken at Central Middle School. I was 11 years old. #shorthairdontcare“
Ashley Raymond, Chief Operating Officer  


“I’m pretty sure this was my fourth grade school photo, at probably nine years old.”
August Schwartz, Art & Digital Media Director


“Photo was taken at a Valentine’s Day banquet in Hanover, Pennsylvania. Several foolish friends decided to drive there not knowing that coming home there were blizzard conditions and cars sliding all over the interstate. It was a five hour trip that should have been two.”
Frances Ayres, Bookkeeper


“I am with my very strong grandmother in the hills of Coalport, Pennsylvania.”
Debbie Carta, Account Executive


“I had just moved to Maryland from New York.”
Kathy Sauve, Account Executive


“With my brother Rob on the deck of my grandfather Roy Houck’s home, overlooking the South River. I loved that property—it truly was my happy place.”
James Houck, Editorial Director


“The years before braces and wearing hair bows to school.”
Keegan Connolly, Production Manager


“My love for animals developed at a young age and hasn’t changed.”
Arden Haley, Graphic Designer/Web Content Specialist


“My daughter Meghan and I at my best friend’s wedding.”
Dennie Mercer, Accounts Receivable


“Twenty years ago, I was turning eight and like a few other birthdays, it was celebrated at Chuck E Cheese. Since my birthday is January 21st, I always had to have indoor parties which either were a huge hit or turned out to be cancelled due to one too many blizzards.”
Stephanie Ayala, Account Executive


“I broke my arm three days before my 10th birthday. A couple of weeks later, my family and I went to Calais, France, where my beach time was limited to the sand; my cast unfortunately kept me out of the sea. Still, I couldn’t complain. I got to spend my days basking in sun, eating the most amazing food—as referenced in this photo!”
Becca Newell, Social & Style Editor


“This was taken in Laguna Niguel, California, on a visit to my brother’s house. My best GF, Mary, (the tall girl) lived in San Diego at the time and came up for a GNO!”
Lisa J. Gotto, Managing Editor  


“This is my senior graduation photo from 1997—Carver Center for the Arts and Technology.”
Matt D’Adamo, Graphic Designer


“This photo is of me working as a photographer for Olan Mills Portrait Studio.”
Rick Marsalek, Account Executive


“Fashionista since Day One.”
Becky Rodriguez, Receptionist  


“I was 10-years-old and at a party for my parents. My mom had picked out this dress with puffy short sleeves because apparently it was in style…#shemighthavetrickedme.”
Danielle Sabatini, Graphic Designer


Every year my family would take a trip to Wildwood, NJ. At three years old, spending a week at the beach was the highlight of my summer, minus the bowl cut… #thanksmom.
Nicole Gould, Entertainment Editor


“This is a photo from when I had just graduated from Grad school. I went to a wedding with my mom and dad up in Massachusetts. My dad is still the best dance partner I know!”
Lisa Peri, Account Executive


Share Your Photo!

If you enjoy our flashbacks, we hope you’ll share your own with us. We invite you to share your photo, circa 1997, and the story behind it (100 words or less) by sending scanned or digital photos and a typed response to:  Please include “1997 Photo” in the subject line. Your experiences may be culled together for an article to appear in a future issue!