Cumberland Times-News

July 5, 2010

Guess who’s 60? Beetle!

Jan Alderton, Managing Editor
Cumberland Times-News

— A Deep Creek Lake house recently sold for $3.5 million — a record for the Western Maryland resort spot.

According to the Baltimore Sun, the 14,000-square-foot house in a neighborhood known as the Reserve at Holy Cross was purchased by a Pittsburgh area couple looking for a vacation home. Betsy Spiker with Long & Foster Real Estate handled the transaction. She said the previous high price for a home at the lake was $2.7 million.

The newly-purchased home has four bedrooms with three full bathrooms and two half-bathrooms on the main and upper levels. The contract includes a deal for the builder to finish the 3,100-square-foot basement, adding a bedroom, sauna and elevator. The structure was built in 2007....

Maryland drivers rank 20th in the nation for their driving knowledge, according to the results of a GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test.

State drivers had an average score of 78.2 percent (70 percent or higher is a passing score); 19.2 percent of Maryland respondents failed the test.

The sixth annual survey polled 5,202 licensed Americans from 50 states and the District of Columbia, testing driver knowledge by administering 20 questions taken from state Department of Motor Vehicles exams. Kansas drivers had the top ranking with an 82.3 percent average score. New York ranked last, at 70 percent....

The Social Security Administration has issued its annual list of popular baby names. The most popular for 2009 are, in order:

Girls — Isabella, Emma, Olivia, Sophia, Ava, Emily, Madison, Abigail, Chloe and Mia.

Boys — Jacob, Ethan, Michael, Alexander, William, Joshua, Daniel, Jayden, Noah and Anthony....

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the first TV airing of the Andy Griffith Show. Sheriff Andy Taylor, Opie, Aunt Bee, Barney and a cast of other loveable characters have been part of America’s psyche ever since the town of Mayberry, N.C. , was debuted on sets in 1960.

The year 1960 also marked the debut of several other popular shows, among them The Flintstones and My Three Sons. The year also featured the presidential debates between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon.

Shows that ended their run in 1960 included Howdy Doody, The Steve Allen Show, I Love Lucy and the Gillette Cavalcade of Sports....

Another milestone of note is the 60th anniversary of the comic strip Beetle Bailey that appears in the Times-News seven days a week.

“When I think back to where it all began, it amazes me that millions of people are still reading Beetle every day — 60 years later,” said Mort Walker, the strip’s creator. “Life with Beetle has been good to me and I am still having loads of fun with him. Somehow over time, I have managed to accumulate a tremendous archive of around 50,000 unused gags that should keep Beetle’s buddies in the Army and everyone else laughing well into the next century.”

We hope that is so, Mort!....

The state of Maryland has about 80 traffic roundabouts, but only two in Allegany County (both in front of the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center on Willowbrook Road) and none in Garrett County. But more appear to be on the way.

A recent article in USA Today notes that many states are embracing roundabouts because they are safer, quieter, more environmentally friendly and cheaper to build than intersections with signs or signals.

David Buck, a spokesman for the Maryland State Highway Administration, said the state plans to add 15 more roundabouts in the future.

As for the roundabouts here, we’ve heard few complaints as motorists seem to have adapted quickly to using the circular traffic pattern....

The two Interstate 70 rest stops on South Mountain reopened a week or so ago.

 That should make a substantial number of weary travelers happy. In 2007, the last full year the rest stops were in operation before being rebuilt, two million travelers stopped at the two facilities....

Seen on the Internet — Restaurant humor:

• “Ham and cheese — $2.50. Cheese and ham — $2.90,” on a menu.

• “Parking for drive-through customers only,” a sign at a McDonald’s in California.

• “Our whipped butter is made with margarine,” on a menu.

• Hot drinks to take out or sit in,” a sign on a cafe.

• “Now hiring/Two french dips/For two dollars,” a sign at an Arby’s in Washington state.

Jan Alderton is managing editor of the Cumberland Times-News. His email address is