Making the Years Look Good
Sam Bacon apologized to a video crew for not being a better subject for their film—“Nobody my age looks good”—but to the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, he is just perfect. A graduate of the class of 1924, Bacon is believed to be the university’s oldest living alumnus.
“He was wonderful,” says Gail Yeiser ’75, ’82, who brought with her plenty of Maryland paraphernalia as gifts.
Mr. Sam, as he’s called by everyone, recalls being one of 700 students—“of which 70 were women”—on campus. He liked to watch football games and practiced with the cross country team, “but I didn’t get to compete … I worked for my cousin in Baltimore on Fridays and Saturdays, and they had the meets on Fridays and Saturdays. And he was paying me three times the normal rate to help me.”
The team still included Bacon, however, in a team photo now hanging in Bacon’s home, where he lives alone with the help of a daily housekeeper.
Bacon was raised on a dairy farm in Baltimore County and says that he wanted to go to college “to get off the farm,” and away from 11- to 13-hour days. He still spent most of his professional career working around those who make their living in agriculture, starting with his first job with the Maryland Agricultural Experimental Station. In 1928, he began working as a soil scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which took him out to Tennessee.
He was there until 1963, when he became a key chain salesman, retiring in 1985. Bacon still walks often and says of his longevity, “I never had much sickness and I didn’t know what drugs were.”
In remarks for his birthday celebration, Bacon wrote, “Living to be 105 is not an honor, nor is it a dishonor. I was so fortunate to have such a long healthy life … I feel fine now and may have several more years, which I would like as long as I am not a drudge on someone else. God bless all of you and God bless America.” —MAB
Digging Up Maryland History
Six days out of 10, you’ll find Joy Beasley, M.A.A. ’01, with sun block on, crouched in a 5-by-5-ft. pit sweeping away layers of dirt or scanning a swath of land for signs of long-ago inhabitants.
But her digs aren’t exactly like those in sand-swept movie scenes. Beasley does her work in greener pastures an hour outside Washington, D.C.
“When people think archaeology, they generally think of Egypt,” says Beasley, cultural resources program manager at Monocacy National Battlefield. “They don’t usually think of Frederick, Md.”
Beasley is one of only 145 graduates of the university’s Master’s of Applied Anthropology program, which trains students for careers outside of academia. She’d earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, but came to Maryland to get back into historical archaeology after several years conducting digs for the New Mexico highway administration and gas company clients.
Today, she oversees all preservation projects at Monocacy, where Union troops held off Confederate efforts to capture D.C. in 1864. She helps interpretive staff decide how to share the land’s story and talks to community groups about the site’s cultural value. There are maps to design, presentations to be made and even trips to Antietam to assist staff there in digging up historical clues.
“The thing about archaeology is, it may or may not go where you want,” she says. “We’re just always trying to raise awareness.”
Beasley hopes the rivets, milk crocks and building footprints she unearths increase interest in Monocacy. The 1,600-acre battlefield didn’t open to the public until 1991, and many locals and tourists still pass it by for trips to Antietam or Gettysburg. In addition to highlighting the park’s Civil War role, Beasley wants visitors to come for the beautiful vistas and antebellum history.
In evaluating Monocacy’s Best Farm—a plantation with 90 slaves and a notoriously cruel owner in the early 1800s—Beasley won the 2005 John Cotter Award for Excellence in National Park Service Archaeology. Her latest focus is on the Thomas Farm, site of a thriving 18th century tavern as well as the scene of some of the fiercest fighting during the Battle of Monocacy. —KM
Journey Through Vietnam
Explore Vietnam—from the historical sites of Hanoi to the ancient imperial capital of Hue, from the farm communities of Da Nang to the cosmopolitan city of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).
Machu Pichu to the Galapagos
Whether to see the penguins of the Galapagos Islands or the Lost City of the Incas, venture to a part of South America where ancient sites, beautiful scenery and animal life abound.
Costa Rica’s Natural Heritage
Tour the natural wonders of Costa Rica. Spot native species on a guided jungle walk. Visit one of the last remaining pre-mountain rain forests. Take in the vast white-sand beaches of Costa Rica’s coastline.
Relax on the isles of Crete and Santorini. Marvel at the monuments in Athens. Explore the art and architecture of the ancient Minoan and Greek civilizations.
For more details on the Maryland Alumni Association’s Travel 2006
program, contact Stephanie Tadlock at 301.405.7870, 800.336.8627 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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