This week from our pages in his­tory

Cecil Whig - - OURCECIL - By JA­COB OWENS jowens@ce­cil­whig.com

ELK­TON — Each week, we take a look back in time to ex­am­ine what was on the minds of Ce­cil County read­ers. Ro­tat­ing through the Whig’s 176-year his­tory, we hope to not only pro­vide di­rect text from our archives, but also con­text as to why the is­sue was im­por­tant at the time.

Join us as we thumb through the pages of our his­tory. 50 years ago (Nov. 8, 1967) Teens have al­ways found a way to get them­selves into some mis­chief, but this head­line from 50 years ago def­i­nitely caught our at­ten­tion. Home­made bomb mis­fires at school A home­made bomb that mis­fired and a fire set in the school by stu­dents were re­ported by the ad­min­is­tra­tion of North East High School this week.

Prin­ci­pal Luby S. Weaver re­ported to John Far­rell, fire in­ves­ti­ga­tor of the State Fire Mar­shal’s Of­fice, that on Fri­day, Nov. 3, while re­turn­ing from lunch at 12:40 p.m. he saw smoke in one end of the build­ing.

Rush­ing to the end of the cor­ri­dor he ex­tin­guished a small fire that was em­a­nat­ing from a red tube on the floor.

Closer ex­am­i­na­tion by Far­rell and State Trooper 1/C J.B. Saun­ders re­vealed that the end blew out of the home­made de­vice and scat­tered pow­der across the floor. They also found a wick and burned cig­a­rette at the scene.

The mal­func­tion of the sup­posed bomb caused slight pow­der burns on the floor and wall of the cor­ri­dor.

Sam­ples of the pow­der have been for­warded by state po­lice to the FBI lab­o­ra­tory in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., for ex­am­i­na­tion.

On Tues­day af­ter­noon, Nov. 7, three fe­male stu­dents at the high school were ar­rested and charged with ma­li­cious de­struc­tion of prop­erty af­ter they ap­par- ently started a fire in one of the girls’ la­va­to­ries.

The fire was fu­eled by bath­room tis­sue and caused no dam­age other than the quan­tity of smoke gen­er­ated. The fire was ex­tin­guished by Weaver. Two of the girls ap­par­ently in­volved are ju­ve­niles and will be re­ferred to the ju­ve­nile ser­vices di­vi­sion. The third girl, Mary Beth Haskell, 18, near North East, was be­ing held in the Ce­cil County Jail in lieu of $500 bail.

To­day, a trip to the plan­e­tar­ium, a the­ater built pri­mar­ily for pre­sent­ing ed­u­ca­tional and en­ter­tain­ing shows about as­tron­omy and the night sky, would prob­a­bly be a spe­cial oc­ca­sion in a large city. Fifty years ago, how­ever, plan­e­tar­i­ums were in great de­mand with Amer­ica at the height of the “space race.” In Ce­cil County, Elk­ton High School once boasted one such the­ater.

The Plan­e­tar­ium: Now for all stu­dents

The plan­e­tar­ium at Elk­ton Se­nior High School, un­der the su­per­vi­sion and tute­lage of Alvyn I. Nac­man, is un­der­way into a de­vel­op­men­tal pro­gram dur­ing 1967-68 that will at­tempt to have every stu­dent in Ce­cil County schools ex­pe­ri­ence at least one class pe­riod in the au­di­to­rium.

Us­ing a pro­jec­tor slide which has com­puter planned holes in it, the plan­e­tar­ium can project on the screen above the night sky of any lo­ca­tion in the world.

The plan­e­tar­ium is made by Spitz Lab­o­ra­to­ries in nearby York­lyn, Del., a firm that was started by Ar­mand Spitz, who was orig­i­nally from Elk­ton.

Nac­man is at present teach­ing daily classes in ba­sic as­tron­omy to eleventh and twelfth graders. The stu­dents are given a taste of ge­og­ra­phy nav­i­ga­tion, and physics in their daily ses­sions.

In ad­di­tion to the reg­u­lar classes, stu­dents from other county high schools and grade school stu­dents have been com­ing to the plan­e­tar­ium for in­struc­tion.

Com­ment­ing on the im­por­tance of the plan­e­tar­ium cour­ses, Nac­man re­vealed the fact that in Rus­sia every high school has a plan­e­tar­ium and every grade school at least an ob­ser­va­tory. In the United States, he saysm there are only 1,000 high school units.

“How,” asks Nac­man, “can we meet the space age de­mands of ed­u­ca­tion if we don’t have the tools to teach our stu­dents?” 25 years ago (Nov. 2, 1992) For many peo­ple, an area code is much more than just a num­ber. It can be an iden­tity and rep­re­sent home for the peo­ple liv­ing there and those who have left. In Ce­cil County, there is per­haps no area code as widely known and used as 410 — and yet it’s only 25 years old.

410 area code goes into ef­fect for Ce­cil County

To­day is the first busi­ness day that more than 1.1 mil­lion Chesapeake & Po­tomac Co. cus­tomers and nearly 5,000 Arm­strong Tle­phone Co. cus­tomers will switch area codes, from 301 to 410.

Arm­strong, which serves part of Ce­cil County, and C&P are the state’s only tele­phone com­pa­nies.

Un­til now, all Mary­land phone num­bers have had a 301 area code. On Sun­day, the cus­tomers in the state’s east­ern coun­ties change to 410.

C&P has aired ra­dio ad­ver­tise­ments, dis­trib­uted brochures and mailed let­ters to cus­tomers in re­cent months to in­form them of the im­pend­ing change, said com­pany spokes­woman Jea­nine Smetana.

“Our sam­ple stud­ies show that peo­ple are ad­just­ing much bet­ter than we orig­i­nally thought,” said Smetana. “Tra­di­tion­ally, cus­tomers dial cor­rectly be­tween 20 and 25 per­cent of the time when there is an area code change. But, as of Thurs­day, about 70 per­cent of the calls are dial cor­rectly.”

On Sun­day, call­ers who failed to punch in for 10 be­fore di­al­ing in east­ern Mary- land num­ber re­ceived a mes­sage telling them to try their call again.

Cel­lu­lar phone own­ers in east­ern Mary­land must take their phones to lo­cal ser­vice cen­ters for re­pro­gram­ming, a 15-minute pro­ce­dure in which the phone’s com­puter chip “brain” is switched to the new area code, said Karen and Kur­lan­der, spokes­woman for Bell At­lantic Mo­bile Sys­tems.

Bell At­lantic and Cel­lu­lar One are the state’s two cel­lu­lar ser­vice providers.

Nearly 6,500 of Mary­land’s 35,000 Bell At­lantic cus­tomers have not re­pro­grammed their phones, Kur­lan­der said.

“We’ve been telling peo­ple in the af­fected ar­eas for a year now they won’t be able to use their phones if they don’t re­pro­gram, but I guess they’ll just have to find out the hard way,” Kur­lan­der said.

Cel­lu­lar cus­tomers who have not re­pro­gram their phones will be able to make calls af­ter Sun­day, but they won’t be able to re­ceive in­com­ing calls, said Wendy Dab­ney, of the Na­tion­wide Cel­lu­lar Ser­vice in Linthicum.

“There is al­ways a se­lect few who don’t pay at­ten­tion to changes,” Dab­ney said. “But they’ll be here next week when they re­al­ize it’s not a joke.”

“The mad rush won’t be un­til Mon­day morn­ing, when they can’t use their cel­lu­lar phones any­more,” said Brian Mur­fee, pres­i­dent of Telewire in Sal­is­bury.

The new 410 area code is needed be­cause phone com­pa­nies were run­ning out of avail­able num­bers, Smetana said. New de­vices in­clud­ing fax ma­chines, beep­ers, per­sonal com­puter modems and cel­lu­lar phones cre­ated the short­age.

“The 410 area code dou­bles our ca­pac­ity,” Smetana said. “We are look­ing at a min­i­mum of 15 years be­fore we have to change again.”

All East­ern Shore county will switch to the 410 area code plus Bal­ti­more, Anne Arun­del, Howard, Carroll, Har­ford coun­ties and the city of Bal­ti­more.

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