Let's see, what was I doing in early 1971, when Dick and Dixie Goertemiller decided that their fellow cruisers needed a guide to the Bay? What was I doing when they were hatching their plan to publish a monthly magazine that would help and inspire boaters to explore the Chesapeake?
Well, let's see, I was only a few years out of high school, hair down to my shoulders, delivering sofas and china closets and such for a mom-and-pop furniture store in Fairfax, Va., and . . . ah, yes, I too was hatching a plan. My girlfriend (and eventual wife) and I were saving our nickels and dimes, planning to spend a month in Europe with two Eurail passes, two backpacks, a pup tent and as much cash as we could save by the following summer, that of 1972. That turned out to be less than $500 between us, but that was a lot of money in 1972. I know that because we pulled it off, each of us cashing a $20 travelers check every third day.
I know that too because, according to a classified ad in the August 1972 issue of Chesapeake Bay Magazine”which I'd not heard of at the time”you could buy a 26-foot Pearson sloop, excellent condition, inboard power, many extras, for $7,900. I know that because according to a quarter-page real estate ad in the same issue, you could by a three-bedroom Cape Cod right on the Miles River for $55,000. Or 130 acres with a mile of waterfront on the Little Choptank River for $150,000. Weekend accommodations for two at Tidewater Inn in Easton, Md., including a Friday buffet dinner and a Sunday brunch, was $48.
I know these things because I am literally surrounded at the moment by Chesapeake Bay Magazine history. This, you may have noticed, is our 40th anniversary issue, and the first order of business in putting together our anniversary retrospective [page 36] was opening the archives, spending some quality time with four decades worth of back issues. The conference room became the anniversary-issue situation room, its perimeter lined with annual stacks, year after year after year. My office has become an ancillary archive as well. On the table to my right are issues from 1971 and 1972; on the floor to my left, a stack of 1976 issues, with January on the top, showing a portrait of Tench Tilghman, "Maryland's Revolutionary Hero." Behind me, on the floor at the foot of the bookshelf, are four more stacks”samplings from each decade, the '70s, '80s, '90s and '00s”telling me about Chesapeake Appreciation Days (November 1974), cruising to Rock Hall and the Honga River (August 1988), memories of the steamboat era (October 1994), a visit to Reedville, Va. (June 2003).
I didn't just stroll down memory lane; I rented a room there. And it has not only fun and educational, but far more emotionally resonant and uplifting than I imagined it would be. I've gone back in time, and I see more clearly than ever that we are, after all these years, after all these enormous changes in the world around us, exactly what we were at the beginning. We are the magazine that helps and inspires people to explore the Chesapeake Bay. Period. And what more could we want to be than precisely that?