You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Old Mill Senior High School’ tag.

Not too long ago I decided to do some miscellaneous Facebook surfing by lurking on a group that has been set up for alumni of my old high school. Part of the reason was to keep my mind off my continuing job hunt and the latest political news. (I remember that was the night when new White House communications direction Anthony Scaramucci went off the profanity-laden deep end. Scaramucci was fired soon after that incident—after he had spent only 10 days working at his new job.)

While I was lurking on that high school alumni group on Facebook and scrolling through old posts that one recent night, I learned that my former music teacher, Tim Landers, had died last year of complications stemming from a liver transplant. He was either 63 or 64 (I was only able to figure out his age because he wrote this Facebook post on October 14, 2013 where he said that he was 61 so I did the math and, no, I don’t know the date of his birthday so I have no idea if he managed to celebrate his latest birthday before his death or not). In the comments section someone posted a video of a song that he wrote and sang about Ocean City, Maryland. I watched the video and I kind of liked the laid-back vibe of the song. It’s the quintessential summer song that’s perfect to listen to if you’re on a beach anywhere in the world. Here’s the video below, titled “It’s a Shore Thing.”

If you like “It’s a Shore Thing,” you can download it for 99 cents from CDBaby, Amazon, Google Play, or iTunes.

I also found another video he did as part of a trio known as The Landers and Heinz Project. It was a live performance of another song he wrote as he and his partners were playing on a local radio station in Ocean City. The song is called “Scotch and Soda” and it is just as laid-back as the other song. (Tim Landers is the guy in the glasses and mustache playing his guitar and singing.)

If you like “Scotch and Soda,”  you can download it for 99 cents from CDBaby or iTunes.

Anyone who has been reading this blog on a regular basis would know that I don’t have too many fond memories of my old high school. In fact, last summer I went back to my old school for the first time in many years just so I could photograph my hand giving the middle finger to that school. I was on my way to the latest Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School event in Baltimore (link is NSFW) when I did this. Yes, I took advantage of the longer days so I could check out my old school quickly before driving on to Baltimore.

While I was mostly miserable in the five years I attended that huge school complex known as the Old Mill Educational Complex (one year in Old Mill Middle School-North and four years in Old Mill Senior High), there were a few teachers there who provided a few bright spots in what was otherwise a miserable existence. Like I wrote in last year’s post where I included that picture of my hand giving the finger:

Why was this school so bad? While there were plenty of teachers at the school complex who were dedicated at their jobs, it was the attitude of the administration that considered athletics more important than academics.

Among those teachers who were dedicated at their jobs was Tim Landers, who taught music (mainly guitar). I took four semesters of guitar class with him until I had exhausted all of the guitar classes that my high school offered. The one thing I never realized about him until after I learned about his death and I started reading his Facebook postings is that he was only 9 or 10 years older than me. (I know it sounds kind of strange but it wasn’t that unusual to have a teacher who was close in age to the students he/she taught in my high school. When I was a senior I had an English teacher who had only received her teaching degree the year before and she was just five years older than me.) Mr. Landers bore a slight resemblance to Mr. Van Driessen from the Beavis and Butt-Head cartoon series, more in terms of temperament than his looks. (He didn’t have a beard and he wore his long hair in the feathered style that was very popular back in the 1970s.) Here’s a photo of him I scanned from my sophomore high school yearbook.

Looking at his personal Facebook page, I found that he was a spiritual person like Mr. Van Driessen with the big difference being that he expressed himself as a devout Christian while Mr. Van Driessen was more into New Age spirituality. But he definitely shared Mr. Van Driessen’s hippie vibe in terms of his outlook on life and the funky clothes he wore to school. The main difference was that Mr. Landers was far less of a pushover than Mr. Van Driessen. He was the kind of person who was willing to help you unless you crossed him. If you did anything to push his buttons, he would not hesitate to send you to the principal’s office or to even fail you for not doing the required coursework.

Here’s one example of Mr. Landers not being a stereotypical pushover hippie. I remember it was the end of the semester when we not only took our final exams but we also were given an evaluation form where we could write about what we liked or didn’t liked about the class. Unlike the final exams, we were not required to write our names. The idea was that we could freely give our opinions without repercussions.

So we turned in our exams and the evaluation forms then returned to our seats while waiting for the bell that would signal the end of the class. Mr. Landers happened to glance through some of the exams and evaluations at his desk until he came upon an evaluation form where, according to Mr. Landers, someone had written “Mr. Landers can do something to himself.” (Given the fact that I saw that Mr. Landers was visibly angry at the time, I suspected that the wording was stronger than what he indicated—somewhere along the lines of “Mr. Landers can go fuck himself.”) By that point it was almost the end of the class but Mr. Landers was determined to get to the bottom of who wrote that evaluation form. He said that he would read what we wrote on the evaluation forms out loud and if he came upon something that one of us recognized that he/she wrote, that person was to go up to the class and pick up that form then bring it back to his/her seat. Mr. Landers came upon my form (where I basically wrote that I wished he hadn’t done so many classical guitar songs because I prefer rock guitar) so I picked mine up. It wasn’t until Mr. Landers came to the last of the evaluation forms that a boy in the class confessed that it was he who wrote that nasty message on the evaluation form.

At that point the bell rang, we returned our evaluation forms to the teacher’s desk before we headed to the next class, and Mr. Landers escorted that boy to the principal’s office. (I’ve long since forgotten who the boy was or even what he looked like—other than he was a white kid with dark hair—mainly because I wasn’t friends with him.)

Fortunately I got along pretty well with Mr. Landers and I enjoyed his classes. I think he had a high opinion of me as a student. I managed to get him to sign my yearbook only once, which was during my sophomore year (the same yearbook where I posted that photo of him).  His signed it “Kim, Take care of yourself and be good. I’m sure you will. Love, Tim Landers.”

I remember that Mr. Landers’ real ambition was to be a rock musician and he only got into teaching to pay the bills. He turned out to be one of the many talented musicians who never quite made it to the big time and it was not due to a lack of trying. He would spend evenings, weekends, and school breaks writing new music and recording demos that he would try to shop around to various agents and record companies. (I remember the times when he would occasionally play one of his demo songs in class.) I remember that he was a big Beatles fan and he used to drop tidbits about the band and their music because he was such a fan. In fact I remember one of the first songs he taught the class in Guitar I was “Let It Be.”

I loved his wacky sense of humor and his vast knowledge of famous guitarists like Jimi Hendrix. I still remember the time when it was the last class before Thanksgiving break and he played Arlo Guthrie’s classic “Alice’s Restaurant” song and we laughed at some of the humor. (It was the first time I had ever heard that song. Up until that time the only Arlo Guthrie song I knew was “The City of New Orleans” and that was because it was a hit on the radio and my father had purchased that song on a 45 r.p.m. record.) He also introduced us to the original soundtrack to the Broadway show Grease as he brought the album to class one day and he played it for us. (This was about a year before the movie version came out with John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.)

I still remember the year when Frank Zappa came out with his disco parody hit “Dancin’ Fool,” which was played quite a bit at the major rock stations in my area. Mr. Landers brought in a couple of Zappa records where he not only showed us what a gifted guitar player Zappa was but he introduced us to an another disco parody that Zappa did just a few years before “Dancin’ Fool,” which was called “Disco Boy.” The lyrics to that one was even more hilarious than the “Dancin’ Fool” lyrics.

Despite the fact that he loved The Beatles and other rock bands of the 1960’s, he was a traditional music teacher in many ways. He was adamant that we learned how to read music, which was a skill that many of his favorite 1960s bands, including his beloved Beatles, didn’t have. Thanks to him, I learned the mnemonic method of music reading where I learned the lines of EGBDF as Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge while the spaces between the lines spelled out the word FACE.

He was also adamant that we learned how to do chord building, which I quickly learned was not my strongest suit. Chord building involved learning the music notes that make up a certain chord and it involved a lot of memorization (which we later had to regurgitate on the final exam). The only reason why I still know that a D chord is made up of the notes D, F#, and A is because I made up my own mnemonic sentence that went “Dick Fucks Sharp Asses.” (I didn’t dare share that secret with Mr. Landers.)

During the time that I was taking those guitar lessons from Mr. Landers, Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” was frequently played on the local rock radio station for many years after it was first released back in 1971 and it would go on to become one of the biggest rock hits of the 1970s. Many people were turned on by Jimmy Page’s exquisite guitar playing throughout that song. Naturally many of Mr. Landers’ guitar students, myself included, wanted to learn how to play that song. Mr. Landers was frequently inundated with numerous requests that he teach us this song. Some kids wanted to go from a relatively easy song like “Let It Be” straight into “Stairway to Heaven” while they were in the first few weeks of Guitar I.

Eventually Mr. Landers relented sometime around Guitar III or Guitar IV and he handed out mimeographed copies of “Stairway to Heaven.” That was when we got a dose of reality about how complex that song really is as we struggled with the various chord formations. From that time on the students in the advanced guitar classes stopped wanting to learn how to play “Stairway to Heaven,” while I’m sure that the students in Guitar I were probably still begging Mr. Landers to teach them how to play that song while they were learning how to play their first chords.

There was only one time I felt Mr. Landers was wrong about something. It was when punk rock became a huge such deal in the UK that the US media started doing stories about this new phenomenon. I was intrigued by the music so I purchased The Sex Pistols’ debut album. I found that record to be a revelation in that it was so unlike the heavy metal and disco music that was prevalent on the radio at that time. A few weeks after I purchased Never Mind the Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols, Mr. Landers openly disdained punk rock in class and he felt that all of the punk bands consisted of untalented musicians who were destined to not last very long. A few other students piped up talking about how they disliked punk rock as well. I disagreed with Mr. Landers’ low opinion of punk but I kept my mouth shut because he was one of those people whom you could never provide a contrary opinion once he made up his mind strongly about something because he never attempted to listen to the other side. (In addition, I was having a hard enough time constantly trying to avoid being someone’s bully target and I didn’t want other kids to pick on me because I owned a Sex Pistols album. I pretty much listened to my punk rock records on the down low until college when finally I met other punk rock fans and I felt comfortable enough to admit that I liked punk as well.)

Okay, Mr. Landers was right about The Sex Pistols being a short-lived phenomenon because they disbanded soon after they hit the big time but he was wrong about punk rock’s longevity because there were other punk bands (such as The Clash) who had longer careers and who released albums that are now considered rock classics right alongside albums like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. What’s more, The Sex Pistols, The Clash, and other punk bands have been inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which definitely proves how wrong Mr. Landers was about his assessment of punk rock.

Mr. Landers also formed the school’s official folk rock group known only as the Old Mill Folk Rock Band. (Yeah, I know it sounds original. LOL!) The group performed at school assemblies. Each year they would go into a local recording studio to make an EP record, which consisted of four songs (which were all covers of the big hits of that era). Once the record was printed, the members would sell copies of that record among the student body. I wanted to join that band as a guitarist but competition was intense. (I had a few friends who were in that band.) While I was an okay guitarist, there were other students who were far more talented than me and I was too intimidated to every try out.

I didn’t know much about his personal life aside from a few times that he mentioned that he had a wife when I took my first guitar class with him. By the time I took my second or third guitar class he briefly mentioned that he was separated from his wife a couple of times. Then he briefly mentioned that he was divorced once or twice by the time I took my last guitar class with him. (He never mentioned why he got a divorce nor did he ever say anything nasty about his ex-wife during any of classes I took with him. He also never mentioned having any children from that marriage.) When I saw his Facebook page for the first time and he listed his marital status as “single,” I thought that my memories were wrong. But then I read an interview he gave with a local newspaper (which I’ll get to in the next two paragraphs) and he briefly mentioned “my wife at that time.” I guess he must’ve gotten married sometime in his early 20’s and it only lasted just a few years until the two of them decided to go their separate ways. It’s very likely that, by the time he created his own Facebook page, he probably felt that he had been divorced for so many years that he might as well list his marital status as “single.”

I looked on his personal Facebook page and searched his name on Google after I learned about his death and I found that he later transferred to a different high school as a music teacher before leaving the teaching field entirely in order to work as a full-time musician and songwriter. (Of course all this happened years after I graduated from high school and moved out of Glen Burnie.) He had a professional Facebook page focusing on his music career but it hadn’t been updated since 2013. At one point he had his own website, which basically had a short biography and dates of upcoming performances, which I was able to access thanks to the Internet Archive. (The last update was done after his death, which announced that he was deceased.) He even wrote a Christian musical called Walk With God, whose official website can only now be accessed through the Internet Archive.

I saw on his personal Facebook page that he had adopted a Golden Retriever puppy just a couple of years before his death. He frequently posted pictures of that dog and it was obvious that he loved his dog. I only hope that this dog found a new loving forever home after his owner died.

Recently I came across this extensive interview Mr. Landers did with a local Ocean City publication called The Coconut Times in 2014 where I was not only able to catch up on whatever became of him after I left school but I even learned about his early life before he became my music teacher. This interview is so extensive that it’s divided into Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. It’s really quite a fascinating read that I would highly recommend to anyone regardless of whether you actually knew him personally (like I did) or not. I learned that he grew up in Baltimore (in the same neighborhood where the since-demolished Memorial Stadium was located) in a very large extended family that included numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins. Many of his relatives were singers and musicians and he even had a cousin who was a singer whose main rival was Patsy Cline. He landed his first job at 12 helping out in a local music store where he met professional musicians who played with the big acts like Buddy Holly.

Mr. Landers totally opened up about his life in that interview, including admitting that he was diagnosed with Hepatitis C in the 1990’s due to a tainted blood transfusion he received in the early 1970’s. (Which probably explains why he underwent a liver transplant in the first place.) He also mentioned that, when he was 21, his father took him to a bar so he could have his first legal alcoholic beverage while engaging in some father and son talk. His father would suddenly die of a heart attack just nine months later. (Reading that interview and seeing his old Facebook posts, it seems like longevity wasn’t exactly a family trait. Not only did his father pass away at 45, he had a brother who died in a car accident at 52, and a cousin who also died an untimely death as a result of being exposed to Agent Orange while serving in the Vietnam War. And that’s not to mention Mr. Landers’ own death while he was in his early 60’s.)

Amid the bad times there were plenty of good memories as well. He mentioned in the interview that he had recently ate lunch with a member of Pink Floyd whom he did not identify. (I can safely say that it wasn’t with Syd Barrett or Rick Wright since they were both dead by 2014, when the interview took place.) He also mentioned meeting many famous musicians, such as the band Danny and the Juniors, who is best known for the big 1950’s hit “At the Hop.”

As I read that extensive interview, I realized that Mr. Landers lived a very interesting and fascinating life and I found myself wishing he had written a book or even started a blog about his memories. That 2014 interview is about as close as we’ll ever get to an autobiography and I’m glad that it exists. (You can read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.)

As I look over that three-part interview and those Facebook posts, I have to admit that the saddest thing about his death is that it seemed like Mr. Landers was at a point in his life where he was basically content with the things that was going on in his life over the last two or three years before he died. He had a thriving music career despite never becoming a major recording artist who sells millions of copies of his music. He was spending his summers in Ocean City where he was doing gigs at various bars and nightclubs throughout the Delmarva region. The rest of the year he was in Nashville where he was recording music and meeting people in the music industry. He had even contributed a song to this independent movie called Patapsco Valley that, as far as I can tell, only exists as a location camera test on Vimeo. (That is his song, “The River,” playing in the background of that video.) He had a dog whom he seemed to have loved very much. He achieved a point in his life where he was basically happy and content then he dies while he was in his early 60s. Yet there are a lot of loathsome people who are still alive and kicking and many of them are older than he was when he died. (I don’t want to elaborate on this any further or else this post will veer into something that would be as inappropriate as President Trump’s recent notorious speech at the Boy Scout Jamboree.)

I had pretty much cut myself off from most of the people I knew back in high school mainly because I wanted to protect myself from reliving any painful memories. (I went to my five-year reunion and that was enough for me.) I have to admit that Mr. Landers is one of the few people from my old high school I wished I had a chance to re-connect with before he died. I would’ve loved to have visited him in Ocean City (where, in his remaining years, he had spent his summers while living in Nashville the rest of the year) and I definitely would’ve brought my guitar with me so we could’ve done a jam session or two. Ironically I used to go to Ocean City with my then-husband, his sister, her son, and an invited guest (some years it was a friend of my nephew’s while other years it was a friend of my sister-in-law’s) for a week-long family vacation every year until 2011 (just a few months before my husband left me). If I had known that Tim Landers was there, I definitely would’ve made the time to look him up in the phone book so I could contact him about possibly visiting him with my guitar in hand. Oh well. It’s my loss and I have to deal with it.

I still have those mimeographed ditto sheets of guitar chords and song lyrics that Mr. Landers handed out in class stashed away in folders. They have survived various moves over the years. Writing this post has inspired me to pull out those old ditto sheets, take a look at them, pull out my guitar, and start playing it using those old sheets from years ago.

R.I.P. Mr. Landers.

This Throwback Thursday post is more grim than usual but it’s something that happened in my past while I was growing up in Glen Burnie, Maryland between the ages of 5 and 19 (when I transferred to the University of Maryland at College Park after spending my freshman year at Anne Arundel Community College).

Okay, I’ll admit that I wasn’t happy growing up in that town mainly because I went through school being called “retarded” or “retard.” I had a bully swipe my yearbook in middle school about a day or two before school let out for the year (and when we were both scheduled to transfer to the high school the following September) and write some hateful stuff where she admitted that she loved to bully me. I finally turned tables on her a couple of years ago by putting that original yearbook signature along with her name (or the name that she went by at the time) and her yearbook photograph online so now anyone who does a Google search on her name will see that post turn up. And it’s a well-known fact that once you put something online, it will never fully go away so her name, her photograph, and her little hateful prank is enshrined online for all time just like her signature is unfortunately enshrined in my yearbook for all time (she wrote it in ink so I can’t erase it and even using White-Out won’t make it fully go away as if it had never been written in the first place).

Last summer I revisited my old high school for the first time in many years (when the school was closed for the year) and I took a photo of my hand giving the finger to that school.

If all that weren’t enough, my teenage years even included a murder that didn’t affect me directly but it still shocked me because I was a classmate of a girl who was the older sister of one of the murder victims. At the time that murder received extensive publicity in the local media. As I was doing a Google search on this case last week, I saw that this story had spread to other cities as well because I saw stories about it published in newspapers in Utica, New York, New Castle, Pennsylvania, and Boca Raton, Florida.

Eventually that murder receded in my mind as I grew up and left Glen Burnie. There was one time when I was reminded of this case as an adult when I was working at one of my old jobs several years ago. I was speaking with a co-worker one day and he admitted that he had lived in Glen Burnie at one point in the late 1970’s so we started talking about our common experiences with that town and he mentioned that case.

That case receded back into my mind again until last week. I joined a Facebook group called I remember Harundale when there was a mall and it’s basically a nostalgia group primarily focused on the now-demolished Harundale Mall (it was replaced by a shopping center, which I finally took pictures of last year) but the group frequently talk about other places in Glen Burnie as well.

Last week a guy made a post there about those long-ago murders that involved my former high school classmate’s younger sister. At first I wasn’t sure why he would want to dredge up something like that until I did a Google search under the murderer’s name and I found that this year is the 40th anniversary of those murders. I half-expected to see a Wikipedia page on this but—surprise!—there is no such page. I found a couple of old Washington Post articles along with an online archived collection of Baltimore Sun photos from that time so I’m going to recount the story of those murders right here.

Long before future child beauty queen-turned-murder victim JonBenét Ramsey was even born, a shocking murder took place in my hometown of Glen Burnie that was just as senseless as Ramsey’s murder would be years later.

The Old Mill Senior High School classmate I mentioned a few paragraphs ago was in the same grade as me and we even shared a couple of classes together. Her family went to the same Roman Catholic Church as my family but I didn’t see her often mainly because I was taken to the 9 a.m. mass every Sunday and I believe that her family may have sometimes gone to the 9 a.m. mass while going to mass at other times on other Sundays. While she seemed nice and she had never teased or bullied me, we weren’t close friends mainly because she lived with her family in a different neighborhood located two miles from the neighborhood where I grew up.

This classmate had a younger sister named Ann Brzeszkiewicz, who was eight at the time. Ann used to frequently play with two sisters who lived in the same neighborhood—eight-year-old Theresa Hogan and 10-year-old Deborah Hogan. The three girls frequently played in the nearby woods, which wasn’t unusual because many kids used to frequently play in those woods. In fact it was said that one could see a lot of forts made from found materials that the kids built in those woods.

As recounted in this 1977 Washington Post story, on Sunday, October 9, 1977 the three girls, along with another 10-year-old girl, had attempted to go to the woods that afternoon but they found that the trails were too soaked from a recent rainstorm. The four of them went to the Brzeszkiewicz home where they played some more. The 10-year-old girl left at 6 p.m. leaving behind Ann Brzeszkiewicz and the Hogan sisters. An hour later the three young girls decided to leave Ann’s home to go back to the woods.  A neighbor last saw them at 7 p.m. as they headed towards the woods. But then they failed to return home. The Hogan parents called the Brzeszkiewicz home around 8:30 p.m. to see if their daughters were still there only to find that none of the girls were present. The Brzeszkiewicz father got in his car and drove to all of the girls’ usual play areas and shined a flashlight around while calling out their names—to no avail.

The parents soon called the police, who conducted an all-night massive search of the area. On Monday morning they made a very grisly discovery in the woods—all three girls were found stabbed to death while lying face down in a shallow muddy stream. Two of the girls were stabbed more than 30 times while the third girl was stabbed a dozen times in the back.

To say that those murders were a shock to the town was an understatement. The police made an effort to search for the murderer. My parents began to irrationally fear that I would be killed next (my parents were extremely strict and overprotective of me when I was growing up—they were helicopter parents long before that became a hip trendy yuppie thing) and they were telling me not to go into this wooded shortcut I used to take when walking to the high school mainly because it shaved five minutes off my walk. (Never mind the fact that the murders took place two miles away from where I lived.) I secretly took that shortcut anyway because I was mentally in a dark place regarding the kids in school calling me “retarded” and having parents who were so strict that I used to secretly envy the kids whose parents used to give them very little attention and supervision. At the time I felt that the person would do me a big favor if he would kill me just like he killed those girls.

I never faced the killer myself (this blog would not even exist if I had). A few days after the bodies were found the police arrested a 16-year-old boy named Stuart L. Kreiner, who lived in the same neighborhood as the three girls. He was turned in by his own father, who discovered the evidence that his son was involved with the crime. Stuart Kreiner had also attended my high school the year before the murders. I never knew him mainly because he was in a grade ahead of me, which meant that he was a sophomore while I was a freshmen. On top of it, my high school had around 4,000 students at the time and he wasn’t a jock or involved in any activities nor was he the most popular guy on campus so it was easy for me to overlook him. I recently searched through my freshman yearbook looking for his photograph only to find that he was listed in a text-only list featuring “Sophomores Not Pictured.” (Apparently he was absent on Picture Day and made no effort to submit his photo to the yearbook at a later date.)

After the school year ended he transferred to Martin Spaulding High School, which was—and still is—the main Catholic high school in Glen Burnie. He had just started attending classes in his new school a month before the murders.

Stuart Kreiner’s arrest shocked many people who knew him because he didn’t look like a stereotypical murderer as depicted in the movies. He was a clean-cut quiet boy who shunned drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes. He had never gotten into any kind of trouble with the police prior to the murders. He sung in a choir at the local Presbyterian church. He was involved in Little League a few years earlier but that was about it for extracurricular activities. According to accounts written at the time, he was so upright about adhering to his family’s strict and rigid rules that he became an outcast among his peers. The other kids used to call him “sissy,” “straight arrow,” and “weird.” The teasing he received was one of the reasons why he switched schools. (It was also said that his parents wanted him to receive a more Christian-centered education.) His ostracism by his peers was the reason why he used to frequently play with kids five or six years younger than him. One of his unidentified younger playmates told The Washington Post that Stuart told him/her that “the big kids played too rough.”

Why Stuart Kreiner murdered those girls remains a mystery to this day. The police found no evidence of the girls being tortured. Nor did they find any evidence that they were raped or sexually assaulted. There was no evidence that he planned those murders days or weeks before. It was like one day he was playing with those girls in the woods when, out of the blue, his mind snapped and he stabbed them to death. Or maybe he wasn’t even playing with those girls but, rather, playing with himself. I found this post on Facebook that had an interesting theory as to why he killed those girls.

I hadn’t been selling houses very long when this had taken place and the parents had left the area, leaving their vacant homes on the market. My office was near Hospital Dr. on Crain Hwy across the street from a 7/11. Many mornings I found I was getting coffee the same time a couple of detectives of AA Cty [Anne Arundel County Police] were. Having shown those homes I gave the story a lot of thought. There had been much in the newspaper about how strict the parents were and their strong ties to church – almost too strict it sounded to me. I developed a theory and related it to my new acquaintances. Their eyebrows shot up and they said we cannot confirm that but you have no idea how close you are to ‘what’ it is suspected happened. The young man was in a tent where he thought he had privacy. What is a young male just feeling his hormones not supposed to do? So thinking he had his privacy he had at it all by himself until 3 little girls wondered along and probably had no idea on what activity they stumbled. Being afraid of his father the lad thought his dad would ‘kill’ him…so he silenced anyone who would tell. ~~If my theory was correct – then dad should have been in jail right along side of his son. But the hypothisis as to “why” was never in the newspaper, only the question along with the facts about dad being very strict and active in church.

I still remember seeing newspaper photographs of the funeral for those three girls and seeing my classmate seated among the mourners. The three girls were buried together at Glen Haven Memorial Park in Glen Burnie. My classmate was out of school the week of the funeral and she may have taken the following week off as well but I don’t remember for sure. I remember she returned to school for a month or so then she stopped coming and I never saw her again. I later learned from the other students that the Brzeszkiewicz family decided to move away from Glen Burnie soon after the funeral. The Hogan family remained in Glen Burnie as they kept a close eye on the case in their effort to achieve justice for their daughters.

Stuart Kreiner was charged with murder. In October, 1978 (one year after the murders), he avoided trial when he pleaded guilty as part of a controversial plea-bargain where, instead of going to jail, he would be sent to Patuxent, the state facility offering a wide range of psychological treatment for prisoners deemed capable of rehabilitation. The doctors there were given leeway in determining when Kreiner would be deemed rehabilitated enough for release back into society.

There was outcry over this at the time as people feared that he could be released back on the streets after staying at Patuxent a year or two despite murdering three girls. It turned out that he was sentenced to life at Patuxent and he would not have been eligible for parole until 1990 at the earliest. Despite that, the case prompted a change in the state law so there hasn’t been a similar type of plea-bargain for murder since.

The murders soon receded from my mind as I focused on graduating from high school and getting the hell out of Glen Burnie as soon as possible. My life became better once I transferred to the University of Maryland at College Park and I was able to meet people who never knew me as a child so they weren’t prone to calling me “retarded.” I also lived away from home so I wasn’t under my parents’ constant supervision and I had to quickly learn how to take care of myself because mom and dad weren’t going to do it for me.

It was during my college years that I learned about Stuart Kreiner’s ultimate fate. In July, 1982, nearly five years after the murders, Kreiner was found dead at Patuxent. He had hung himself with a bedsheet that was attached to the bars of his prison cell. He was 20 years old.

The reason why he committed suicide was just as mysterious as the reason why he killed those girls five years earlier. He left behind a note for his family but the contents of that note were never publicly disclosed.  Two years earlier Kriener was transferred to the prison area with the least security as a reward for good behavior. According to prison officials, Kreiner had shown no signs of depression, even as he attended mandatory group counseling sessions. Kreiner had never attempted suicide before just like he had never gotten into any trouble with the law before he murdered those girls. It was like his mind abruptly snapped the night he committed suicide just like it was as if his mind abruptly snapped the night he committed murder.

Kreiner’s suicide closed the chapter on what was the most brutal and bizarre crime that happened in Glen Burnie at the time. As the years went on, those murders receded in the background to be replaced in the public consciousness by other murders like the O.J. Simpson murder trial or JonBenét Ramsey’s murder or the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

I’ve always been surprised that the mainstream media hadn’t done one of those updates on this story unlike those umpteen updates they’ve done about JonBenét’s murder. I guess it’s because, unlike JonBenét, none of those three girls were ever child beauty pageant contestants and there’s the fact that JonBenét’s murder remains unsolved to this day. But there is still a lot of mystery surrounding the deaths of those three girls and the suicide of their murderer (regarding the motives involved) that documentary filmmakers could explore.

Nor has anyone done one of those Lifetime movie dramatizations (or even used it as the basis for one of the episodes of the many Law & Order series that NBC keeps on proliferating) where actors would play the roles of Stuart Kreiner, the three girls, and assorted neighbors and relatives as they reenact the murder, the funeral, the plea-bargain, and Kreiner’s last years at Patuxent. With so many questions about this case, I’d thought that some Hollywood producer would’ve glommed on that story and some TV network would’ve aired it in pursuit of high ratings.

I saw posts on that same Facebook group where people are talking about doing some kind of a candlelight vigil this October to commemorate the 40th anniversary. I don’t know if that will actually happen or not. After all, it’s been many years since it happened and the people involved have either grown older, moved away, or simply died. There are people now living in that neighborhood who simply weren’t there when the murders took place and don’t know anyone who were involved in that case.

On my way to another session of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School in Baltimore, I decided to check out my old school. At the time I attended the official name was the Old Mill Educational Complex but on this more recent visit I saw a sign that indicated that the official name has since been modified to the Old Mill Schools.

photo1

Once upon a time in the late 20th century someone at the Anne Arundel County Public School System had this idea of building this large complex that would have three schools in one. Two of them would be smaller middle schools, known as Old Mill Middle School North and Old Mill Middle School South, and each student would be assigned to one of the middle schools based on where he or she lived. The middle schools ran from grades 6-8. Once a student finished time in one of the middle schools, he/she would then go on to the larger high school that’s the largest school in this complex, Old Mill Senior High School.

This complex is totally sprawled out, which this panoramic shot shows below. I remember in my time around 4,000 students attended the high school part and I graduated in a class of 500 students.

photo2

At the time this behemoth complex was built, I was attending seventh grade at Corcoran Junior High School, which was a school I was miserable at because of the bullies. Had this complex not been built, I would’ve spent grades 8 and 9 at Corcoran then transferred over to Glen Burnie High School for grades 10-12.

But since the complex was built I was sent over there where I spent five miserable years—one year at Old Mill Middle School North for the 8th grade and four years at Old Mill Senior High School for grades 9-12. Those years were so bad that I wanted to drop out and study for my GED instead buy my parents pressured me to stay. Those kids at that entire complex were so brazen that I documented one such example last year where this bully swiped my middle school yearbook and wrote this autographed where she confessed to being my bully and she liked it. I’ve not only posted her confession but also her name and school photo last year. (I’ve received zero blowback from what I did.)

Why was this school so bad? While there were plenty of teachers at the school complex who were dedicated at their jobs, it was the attitude of the administration that considered athletics more important than academics. They would constantly hype the latest exploits of the school football or basketball team over the PA system during morning homeroom. I remember when a guy who was a grade ahead of me in high school was accepted at Cornell University and the teachers and administrators were shocked that this kid was accepted by an Ivy League school. He also wasn’t an athlete so he was accepted to Cornell based on his grades instead of his prowess on the playing field, which further shocked that school. That was how low that administration’s expectations were on students’ academic achievements because the administration were so focused on sports.

I remember one year during my time there when the parents at the PTSA in that school were so appalled by the high school’s overemphasis on sports that they met with the principal to address their concerns. Nothing came of that meeting because that school continued to emphasize sports.

It’s telling that my years were so bad that my best high school memory was Graduation Day because I knew I never had to attend that school again. In the years since I went to that school I’ve heard that the high school had added an International Baccalaureate school that’s available only to certain students. But, based on online reviews I’ve read that were posted by parents of more recent students here, the word is that while the International Baccalaureate school program is excellent, for average students who aren’t able to get into the IB program, they are still paid less attention by the administration (especially if they aren’t athletes).

While other high schools in the county were known as “open campus” where students were allowed to leave campus for lunch then return, Old Mill resisted this and all students were required to remain on campus for lunch. In fact we weren’t allowed to leave campus for any reason unless we were among the lucky few students who had an off-campus internship. (The students who were on the business track study were the only ones who qualified for this.) As a concession the school provided a smoking area outside of the cafeteria for smoking students to enjoy a cigarette break. Thanks to finding this “No Smoking” sign, I now know that the smoking area is a thing of the past.

photo3

The next photo shows the main entrance to the complex. Basically you enter through the doors where there are three additional sets of doors—one for each school. I only used those doors when I went on field trips. I used to enter through the back because the back entrances were closer to my neighborhood than the front, which would’ve added an extra 10-15 minutes of walking time. (Yes, I walked to school because my home was located within the 1-mile limit so the school system didn’t have to provide bus service.)

photo4

Here is my salute that shows how fond I am of my five years at the Old Mill Schools.

photo5

As you can guess, I shot these photos during the school’s summer break because there were very few people around. (There is a skeleton staff that works in the offices but they get off at 4 p.m.) During the school year I probably would’ve gotten some unwanted attention, especially if someone saw me shooting that last photo. I shot some video as well for a potential future project that’s currently a vague thing in my mind right now so I don’t know if anything will come of it. I just wanted some video footage in case I decided to do an art project based on my high school memories. I didn’t stay long because it was hot that day and I was on my way to Dr. Sketchy’s Baltimore, which I’ll write about in my next post. (Link is definitely NSFW.)

I attended the Planned Parenthood fundraiser in Baltimore on June 17, 2011 when I briefly met the MC, Misty Barfly, at that event. I sought her out during one of her breaks because she mentioned onstage that she came from nearby Glen Burnie and I lived there myself from the time I was 5 until I left home to attend my sophomore year at the University of Maryland at College Park when I was 19. After I graduated from College Park, I moved back to Glen Burnie and I lived there for 10 months until I left home for good when I got married.

When I told Misty Barfly that I also came from Glen Burnie, she referred to it as a "hellhole" and I agreed with her sentiment. I grew up in the sourthernmost part of town (which bordered on Severn) and there was no bus service. If you wanted to go somewhere (like to a store or a library), you had to get in a car and drive at least 5 miles. It really sucked as a child because there was really no place within walking distance. It didn’t help that there were no playgrounds available until I was well into the upper grades in elementary school and even then you had to walk at least 15 minutes to get to the nearest one. My mother, who grew up in Baltimore City, said that she loved the idea of living in a place with no bus service (the nearest bus stop was 3 miles away) because she just didn’t want to deal with the kind of people she encountered in Baltimore and my neither of my parents didn’t really consider the impact living in a neighborhood with few recreation resources and no public transportation would have on kids like me. For many years our neighborhood had problems with vandalism (kids would place firecrackers in mailboxes or soap up a neighbor’s windows) because they had nothing else to do for entertainment. I saw kids who turned to drugs and alcohol because they had nothing better to do since everything was at least 3 miles away.

On top of that Glen Burnie was a town that was (and still is) full of shopping malls, shopping centers, and car dealerships. (In fact, Glen Burnie has been called "The Car Dealership Capital of Maryland" because there are so many car dealerships of all kinds—including an Oldmobile dealer that also sold a few Rolls Royces.)

And then there was my school days. I had problems with kids threatening to beat me up and calling me "mentally retarded" for reasons that even I cannot fathom. I grew up in a majority white area and I’m white myself. I’m living proof that if white kids can’t find minorities to harrass and beat up, they’ll get creative and turn to other white kids who are somehow "inferior" for whatever reason.

The high school I attended—Old Mill Senior High School—really sucked for me because that school placed a really high priority on its athletes at the expense of everything thing else—including academics. The principal used to get on the PA system and announce with pride whenever the football or basketball team did well but didn’t feel the same sort of pride for the latest accomplishments of—let’s say—the Chess Club. I still have memories of how the school administration reacted with shock when a guy who was a year ahead of me was accepted to Cornell University because Old Mill basically had pretty low expectations for us kids, with the exception of sports. (Ironically, no Old Mill star athelete have ever made it to the NBA or the NFL. Heck, I don’t even know of any Old Mill athletes who made it to the Olympics or World Cup Soccer either.)

Of course, some of the kids continued to peg me with the "mentally retarded" reputation that I never deserved. (I was NEVER in Special Education and I am a college graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism.) In fact, the main reason I was dateless was because most of the boys didn’t want to be seen dating a "mentally retarded" girl like me. I didn’t attend my junior or senior proms because no boy wanted to date me for that reason.

(In case you were wondering, my parents didn’t seem care that I was dateless in high school. My mother, who married my father at 19 and had me at 21, strongly discouraged me from dating because she was afraid that I would marry soon after high school graduation like she did. In addition, she came close to eloping with a previous boyfriend when she was 16 but decided against it at the last minute and she was afraid that I would do the same if I even dated any guys. Heck, they didn’t even care that I had few friends at all. I still have memories of the numerous times my mother would tell me that having lots of nice things is better than having lots of friends—even though the Roman Catholic faith she raised me in would preach that excessive materialism is wrong and sinful. I was pretty confused growing up with two conflicting sets of ideas and morals—one espoused by my parents and the other espoused by the Roman Catholic Church they raised me in.)

This "mentally retarded" reputation even followed me to my freshman year at Anne Arundel Community College when many of my fellow Old Mill graduates—especially the ones who were the cheerleaders—talked to me in a way like I was still inferior. Ironically, I made new friends from people who never attended Old Mill and my first boyfriend also never set foot in my high school. One of the reasons why I ended up transferring to College Park a year early was because I really couldn’t stand it anymore with the disrespect I felt from the former Old Mill jocks and cheerleaders. It was only after I attended the University of Maryland that I finally started to thrive socially since very few of the students there knew me from my days at Old Mill.

The only high school reunion I ever attended was my five-year and I really didn’t enjoy it very much. I saw people there who used to be rude to me and they pretty much ignored me. Sure it was nice meeting up with the few people I was friends with but we didn’t get a chance to exchange addresses or phone numbers so we never contacted each other. I’ve skipped all of my other high school reunions since.

I have pretty much severed all of my ties to my former schoolmates from Old Mill. I have a Facebook page but it’s under my married name, which makes it more difficult for a former high school enemy to find me. I also have not sought out any old schoolmates via Facebook or any other social media.

A few days ago, when I was checking out the Boardwalk in Ocean City, I had an unwanted encounter from my past. I came to the Boardwalk after a major rainstorm and it was drizzling while I walked around. On top of that, I needed to get back to my condo in time for dinner. I decided to head for a soda machine to buy myself a Diet Pepsi before I returned to my car and made the 100+ block drive to the condo that was located in the northermost part of Ocean City.

So some woman suddenly approached me and asked me if I was this certain person and she used my former name. I looked at her and I didn’t recognize her at all. She had red hair and the only classmate I remembered who had red hair was this girl who I never want to hear from again. It’s possible that she may have dyed her hair red. In any case, I didn’t recognize her face. She was accompanied by a guy who looked like he was in his late teens and I assumed that he was either her son or nephew.

I was in a quandry because I was afraid that this woman was either 1) she was one of the former cheerleaders who used to harass me and call me "mentally retarded" or 2) the red headed classmate whom I don’t want to hear from again. I was also in a hurry to get back to the condo since my husband and sister-in-law were going to serve dinner and they were waiting for me to arrive.

I decided to make things easy on myself and I basically said "No." The woman apologized and said "You look like someone I went to school with." With that, her and the teenaged boy walked away.

I know some of you will think that I was foolish to pass up a chance to reconnect with someone from my past. But I really didn’t want to risk it. If she had been one of the cheerleaders who called me "mentally retarded", I had visions of her talking to me about the good times she had when she used to diss me and taunt me. I really didn’t want that.

I was also afraid that she may be the red headed classmate whom I don’t want to hear from again. Why? Well, here’s a story about that girl, whom I’ll refer to only by her first initial—"D". D was a girl in the same year as I was and I saw her around in the hallway. I never shared any classes with her other than Homeroom. In fact, I only got to know D because she was a friend of a friend of mine. I happened to sit at the same cafeteria table during my senior year with my friends and D sat there too.

D and I started to talk and she seemed like a really nice girl. One day, she asked me for my phone number and I gave it to her. I didn’t think anything of it. I thought she was a nice girl to talk to. When I got home from school, she called me that night. She started to talk about the same things we talked about during lunch and she started to make this one-sided conversation without letting me get a word in edgewise. The conversation lasted about 15 minutes and I thought that she was just testing out the number I gave her.

The next day I sat next to her and things went on as usual. That night she called me again and she started to talk about the same things we talked about during lunch and she started to make this one-sided conversation without letting me get a word in edgewise. From time to time D would say that she only called to see how I was doing then she didn’t let me answer her question because she kept on yakking.

From then on she would call me every single night, including weekends. Those phone calls were always all about her and her latest dramas regarding her family and the various boys she dated. She repeated everything she spoke about during lunch and she rarely let me get a word in edgewise.

She called on the only phone we had in the house. This was in the days before cell phones, answering machines, and Caller ID. Back then when the phone rang, you usually had to pick it up no matter what because you didn’t want to miss any calls that were important. Also, each family had one phone. I didn’t know any kid who had his/her own separate phone line. If someone was calling on a regular basis, the kid’s parents would know.

My parents knew that D was calling me excessively. In fact, I told them that she was a nuisance. Yet they made me take every single call that she made.They told me that I had to learn how to be considerate for others.

On the rare occasions when I was bold enough to be assertive and tell D that I was too busy to talk to her (especially if I was in the middle of doing homework), my parents would chide me for being rude. They also took me to task if I asked her to stop calling me so much or if I asked her to please keep the phone call short or to even tell her that she had already told me about it at lunch. It seemed like they took her side and they didn’t care about why I didn’t like her calling me every single day.

She became more and more like The Friend From Hell as the school year went on. When her birthday rolled around, she told me to mark the date of her birthday in my datebook. At first I thought she was planning a party and she was going to invite me to it. But then she told me that she wanted me to give her a birthday present. That’s right, she demanded a birthday present from me. Never mind the fact that she never asked me when my birthday was nor did she get me a birthday present. Yet she wanted me to give her a birthday present and she would even call me on the phone to remind me to give her a present.

It turned out that I had purchased a record that I was disappointed in so I gave that record to her as her birthday gift. It not only shut her up but I got rid of an unwanted album. To this day, D is the only friend who ever demanded a birthday present from me.

What was even galling was this one incident that convinced me that she was no real friend. I had received a notice that I was getting two awards at the special Senior Awards Ceremony. That night D called and I immediately blurted out that I was getting two awards this Saturday. D responded "Well that’s nice. Good-bye." Then she hung up.

I was really hurt because I listened patiently all those times she poured her guts out about the guys she wanted to marry yet she brushed me off when I wanted to share an achievement with her. I even told my parents about this because I wanted them to know what kind of girl she really was.

Even after high school graduation, she continued to call me all through the summer every single day. My parents still made me take those calls even though they KNEW about how she acted towards me regarding the Senior Awards Ceremony. There were times when I thought that they seemed to care more about her than about me.

The phone calls began to taper off when I started my freshman year at Anne Arundel Community College. I began a serious relationship with my first boyfriend. I told her about him and she stopped calling me for a while. I guess she didn’t like hearing about how happy I was that I had a boyfriend. Which sucks when I think back about all those times I listened to her when she talked incessantly about some guy she liked or the latest guy she was in a relationship with yet she wasn’t willing to do the same for me.

She would call every now and then so it wasn’t so bad. But then the daily phone calls started up again in late spring after I had mentioned that my boyfriend had dumped me so she began to resume calling me every single night. She was now talking about this great guy she had met, they were dating really seriously, and he had asked her to marry him. I became really annoyed about her calling me every single night and relaying the details of her relationship.

D and her guy got married quickly after she told me that she was pregnant then she began to devote her daily phone calls to telling me details about being blissfully married and how she couldn’t wait to become a mother. At that point, I stopped caring for D as a friend because she seemed to care about only herself and I felt that she was using me as a sounding board instead of a person with feelings.

I also began to make preparations to transferring to the University of Maryland. That summer I worked the night shift as a telephone interviewer. When D found out, she simply shifted her daily phone calls from the evenings to the afternoons. My grandmother, who lived with my family, insisted that I take her calls, just like my parents did.

Before I left for College Park in the fall, I told D that I didn’t have a new phone number available to give to her, which was the truth. She told me to give her a call when I got the new number but I never did. I was able to finally escape from D’s frequent phone calls for good.

The following spring, D called my parents and left a message for me, which they gave to me when I was home for spring break. The message said that D had given birth to a baby girl and she left her phone number. When I returned to school, the first thing I did was to trash that message. I haven’t heard from D since and I never want to hear from her again.

Now you understand why I lied to that woman on the Boardwalk.

Previous Entries

Categories