Personality Profile

Personality Profile

Taking a Trip Down Memory Lane with Marc Miller

By Bob Tagert Taking a Trip Down Memory Lane with Marc Miller As you are probably aware by now, this issue of the Old Town Crier marks the beginning of our 35th year. It seems like a long time ago that we printed our first issue, but sometimes you run into some people that makes it seem like it was yesterday. That is the case with Marc Miller. One afternoon last month we were at our usual spot for an early evening libation…the bar at Landini Brothers restaurant, and as we were engaged in casual conversation, a young man a few seats down from me asked, “Hey, didn’t you tend bar at the Fish Market restaurant a while ago?” I said that I did and was reintroduced to a customer from 35 years ago. “I thought you looked familiar,” he proclaimed. This is how I met Marc Miller and relived my past for a few moments. I met Marc a week or so later at the Fish Market to interview him for this article. As we both noted, the restaurant has changed a bit since those early days in Old Town. The Anchor Bar is now the only bar downstairs at the Fish Market. Back when I met Marc there were four bars on the lower floor and the restaurant consisted of three buildings extending all the way to Union Street. I worked the Sunquest Bar which is now a dining room on the first floor. Those were the days when the big schooner of beer was king and probably comprised 85 percent of alcohol sales back then. Although the schooner is still served at the Fish Market, most beers are of the pint sized and the back bar has way many more choices than 35 years ago. Naturally we…

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Personality Profile

The Stars Have Aligned for Alexandria’s Kevin Peck

By Lani Gering The Stars Have Aligned for Alexandria’s Kevin Peck Have you ever had everything come together for no apparent reason than kismet? If you have, you are very lucky. After many years of being in the business of film production with some professional acting thrown in, event planning and production, restaurant management, and all things food service related including bartending and catering, Kevin’s worlds collided at the first event he was pulling together at his latest gig as Restaurant and Catering Manager at Café 1823 on the campus of the Virginia Theological Seminary here in Alexandria. First of all, I had no idea that the campus had a restaurant and pub that “regular” people can frequent. Guess it really is a “best kept secret”. The day I conducted the interview for this column was the day before the event and Peck admitted that he was a bit on the nervous side. Said event was a reception and unveiling event for a TV Pilot Episode, Being Van Vlack, that Kevin has a role in as Maurice, the agent to the main character, Van Vlack who is a journalist who is drugged and goes off of the rails (think the guy from the movie Network) and lots of intrigue ensues. At the time this event was booked, Peck had no clue that the reception was for the unveiling of a production that he was in and that the people who booked it had ties to his old high school. The unveiling went off beautifully with the food, the venue and the company enjoying every aspect of it. Compliments abounded for Kevin and his team. Not every day your acting career combines with your catering career. I have known Kevin since the mid 90’s. We met at the now defunct Fleetwood’s…

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Personality Profile

Which Witch is Which?

Which Witch is Which? Witches were perceived as evil beings by early Christians in Europe, inspiring the iconic Halloween figure. Images of witches have appeared in various forms throughout history—from evil, wart-nosed women huddling over a cauldron of boiling liquid to hag-faced, cackling beings riding through the sky on brooms wearing pointy hats. In pop culture, the witch has been portrayed as a benevolent, nose-twitching suburban housewife; an awkward teenager learning to control her powers and a trio of charmed sisters battling the forces of evil. The real history of witches, however, is dark and, often for the witches, deadly. Early witches were people who practiced witchcraft, using magic spells and calling upon spirits for help or to bring about change. Most witches were thought to be pagans doing the “Devil’s” work. Many, however, were simply natural healers or so-called “wise women” whose choice of profession was misunderstood. It’s unclear exactly when witches came on the historical scene, but one of the earliest records of a witch is in the Bible in the book of 1 Samuel, thought be written between 931 B.C. and 721 B.C. It tells the story of when King Saul sought the Witch of Endor to summon the dead prophet Samuel’s spirit to help him defeat the Philistine army. The witch roused Samuel, who then prophesied the death of Saul and his sons. The next day, according to the Bible, Saul’s sons died in battle, and Saul committed suicide. Other Old Testament verses condemn witches, such as the oft-cited Exodus 22:18, which says, “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” Additional Biblical passages caution against divination, chanting or using witches to contact the dead. ‘Malleus Maleficarum’ Witch hysteria really took hold in Europe during the mid-1400s, when many accused witches confessed, often under torture, to…

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Personality Profile

The One and Only Tim Bauckman

By Bob Tagert The One and Only Tim Bauckman This is a story about a local guy who didn’t go west (except for his recent trip to Sturgis, South Dakota), but instead, stayed in Virginia and created the iconic Tim’s Rivershore and Crabhouse on the Potomac. I had not been back to this riverside escape until recently when we went to hear our friend, George Brown’s band…Gottaway. As we arrived at 2:30 on a crowded Saturday and hoped for a parking spot near the restaurant, here comes Tim directing and he found me a spot. That is the kind of guy he is, “Whatever it takes”. After 28 years and three more restaurants, Tim is losing his lease. The restaurant sits comfortably on the shore of the Potomac River with the waves gently washing the rocky beach and the VRE and Amtrak trains speeding down the tracks on the other side. He has to vacate the property by 5:00 pm on September 30th. We have one more month to enjoy this classic get-a-way. Tim grew up in the Woodbridge area not far from his current restaurant. He attended Woodbridge High School and was a couple of years ahead of Lori Welsh Brown, our Open Space writer – small world. While furthering his education, Tim took an engineering internship at Georgetown University building new dorms. Unfortunately, while climbing down a ladder, that he didn’t realize had a rung missing, he fell through it and ended up hanging upside down. This incident was probably exacerbated by the fact that he was checking out the topless co-eds sunbathing on the roof of an adjacent building, but nonetheless, the accident blew his knee out and he spent the rest of the year on crutches. During that year he just hung out at the restaurant…

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Personality Profile

John Todhunter-Man of Many, Many Talents!

By Bob Tagert John Todhunter-Man of Many, Many Talents! Over the years, most of the personalities we have written about were folks referred to us or people we met around town. John Todhunter does not fit that mold as we have known him and his wife Holli for many years. It was fun to find out just how diverse this guy is. “After I got my degree at UC of Santa Barbara I went to work as a research fellow at the Institute of Molecular Biology. From there, a few years later, I came to Washington and took a faculty position at Catholic University and was chair of the bio-chemistry program,” he tells me. While at the university he did consulting for pharmaceutical development as well as receiving an NIH grant. “You know, you can’t live on a professor’s salary,” he tells me with a grin. From there Todhunter was appointed by President Reagan taking a position at EPA and handled all of the programs in the US for toxics, chemicals and pesticides. This position required Senate confirmation which, by the way, went smoothly-something unusual these days. While at the EPA he built relationships with pharmaceutical companies that were developing drugs and other products. After three years, Todhunter left EPA and started his own company. When he was with EPA, and since he ran the whole pesticide programs, he had to go out and meet with agriculture groups all the time and also developed a relationship with the Department of Agriculture. “I got to know some of the folks in the Department of Ag and I admired them – they had tough jobs.” At this time Todhunter had been doing this chemical thing for so long, he had an epiphany… “Agriculture is the basis for civilization, I thought…I really need…

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Personality Profile

Uncle Sam Wants You!

By Kathy Weiser Uncle Sam Wants You! Although Uncle Sam (initials U.S.) is the most popular personification of the United States, many Americans have little or no concept of his origins. If pressed, the average American might point to the early 20th century and Sam’s frequent appearance on army recruitment posters. In reality, however, the figure of Uncle Sam dates back much further. Portraying the tradition of representative male icons in America, which can be traced well back into colonial times, the actual figure of Uncle Sam, dates from the War of 1812. At that point, most American icons had been geographically specific, centering most often on the New England area. However, the War of 1812 sparked a renewed interest in national identity which had faded since the American Revolution. The term Uncle Sam is said to have been derived from a man named Samuel Wilson, a meat packer from Troy, New York, who supplied rations for the soldiers during the War of 1812. Samuel Wilson, who served in the American Revolution at the age of 15, was born in Massachusetts. After the war, he settled in the town of Troy, New York, where he and his brother, Ebenezer, began the firm of E. & S. Wilson, a meat packing facility. Samuel was a man of great fairness, reliability, and honesty, who was devoted to his country. Well liked, local residents began to refer to him as “Uncle Sam.” During the War of 1812, the demand for meat supply for the troops was badly needed. Secretary of War, William Eustis, made a contract with Elbert Anderson, Jr. of New York City to supply and issue all rations necessary for the United States forces in New York and New Jersey for one year. Anderson ran an advertisement on October 6, 1813…

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Personality Profile

Split Personalities – Returning to the Bar Post Pandemic

By Bob Tagert Split Personalities – Returning to the Bar Post Pandemic This time last year we were knee deep in the COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurants were working at twenty-five percent capacity, the bars were shut down and retail shops were limited to a few customers at a time. Now, a year later, the restaurants are at near capacity, and the bars are alive again with customers bellying up to their favorite bar for an adult beverage and to renew friendships. As I returned to my favorite watering hole this week it became clear that this was not the same place I left a year ago. Sure, there were some of the old gang there, but some were missing and I wonder if they will ever return. Much has changed in the last 12 months. Some have moved away, some have reassessed their behavior while others have discovered different options. True that this was the first day that the bars were open for “normal” seating so maybe it was like the first day of school and everyone rushed to the playground in hopes of regaining what has been missing this past year. In my case, the bar was filled with folks that I had not seen in a while. I got one of the last two seats at the bar. As I began to renew acquaintances I realized there was also a number of new people eager to get the bartenders attention. The etiquette of this particular establishment had been ingrained in us all over the years. There was no raising the hand and waving for the attention of the bartender. They see you as soon as you walk in. These are lessons I learned long ago. The next evening when I returned to the same bar the place wasn’t two…

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Personality Profile

Michael Kuegler – He has the right touch!

By Bob Tagert Michael Kuegler – He has the right touch! For over 33 years we have written personality profiles about people we have met, read about or heard about. This is the first time I have gone into a situation that I was fearing and I had already tagged the person who was going to help me recover from knee surgery as the “deliverer of pain”. On March 16th, I had my much anticipated knee replacement and was ready for all of the rehab that was necessary. That was before I talked with my friend in Colorado who had the procedure a month before mine. From him, and all those who had been on this path before, I was in for incredible pain as the flexibility was restored to my knee. “No pain, no gain,” said one. “They are gonna kick your ass,” another explained. “It is going from 90 degrees to 120 degrees that it really hurts,” chimed in another. (I am currently at 90 degrees). As I was doing my rehab and staying at a friend’s house in Calvert County Maryland I chose Bayside Physical Therapy in Prince Frederick to get me back to walking again. On my surgeon’s recommendation, I chose this facility because I was told that she thought that the therapist was a former rugby player like myself. If you are going to be dealing with pain, choose a level playing field. On my first appointment I met Michael Kuegler, my physical therapist. Standing about six foot four and weighing about 245 fit pounds I asked him if he played second row (a rugby position). He replied, “No, I played lacrosse.” There went my sympathy card. I knew nothing about lacrosse and he knew nothing about rugby. Though we don’t have rugby in common,…

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Personality Profile

An Interview with Mother Nature

An Interview with Mother Nature New York Times foreign affairs columnist, Thomas L. Friedman, shares what the environment can teach us about thriving in an age of disruption in a conversation with James Manyika about his interview with Mother Nature. Thomas L. Friedman: Thinking about climate change, “good” or “bad” are not in my vocabulary because [it’s] here. And there’s nothing I can do about that. I want to try to think about how to manage it, to manage the unavoidable and avoid the unmanageable, for all of these things. As I thought about that, James, I said who do I go to? What do you want when you’re in the middle of a climate change? You want two things. Resilience—you’re going to take a blow, because stuff happens. And you want propulsion—you want to be able to move ahead in the world. You don’t want to be hiding under the chair, [until someone says], “James, come out, the climate change is over.” James Manyika: Right. You have to be on the move. Thomas L. Friedman: How do I get resilience and propulsion? Well, I sat back and thought about that. And I said, “Who can I interview on resilience and propulsion, besides McKinsey Global Institute?” And then I realized I knew this woman, she was 3.8 billion years old. Her name was Mother Nature. And she’d dealt with more climate changes than anybody. I called her up, and I made an appointment, and I went out to see her. I said, “Mother Nature, how do you produce resilience and propulsion when the climate changes?” She said, “Well, Tom, everything I do I actually do unconsciously. But these are my strategies.” First of all, she said, “I’m incredibly adaptive. In my world, it’s not the strongest that survive, not the smartest that survive. It’s the…

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Personality Profile

Sean McCaskey – Rocker, Dreamer, Whiskey Maker

By Bob Tagert Sean McCaskey – Rocker, Dreamer, Whiskey Maker If you have read the Old Town Crier in the past you have probably seen one of our articles featuring Rick Wasmund, founder of Copper Fox Distillery. This month we spotlight his business partner, Sean McCaskey. Sean is the Art Garfunkel to Rick’s Paul Simon, his Phil Everly to Rick’s Don Everly and Roger Maris to Rick’s Mickey Mantle. They compliment each other like smooth harmony and always hit it out of the park! In talking with McCaskey you begin to realize how laid back and thoughtful he really is. He speaks in measured tones and never gets overly excited…it is always that even, calculated, steady pace that brings his thoughts into clear view. Before he moved to Virginia, McCaskey worked with his uncles as a family crew of electricians working on power plants, the football stadium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and a couple of ethanol plants. He was also trying to carry on a long distance relation with Susan, his future wife, who he had met earlier in Austin, Texas. “Yeah, he begins, “she was travelling across country and went to school at the Hill School in Middleburg which was where my guitar player went to school.” At that time McCaskey had a band in Texas and he says, “yeah, I had a band, and basically, when I should have been in college I was playing music to those students.” Our band went down to a place called Hooteroll which was also the name of a Jerry Garcia album. We would just jam down, occasionally doing some original stuff, but mostly jammin.” McCaskey kept a band intact when he moved to the Commonwealth. The band was called Farhouse which was actually the name of the house he lived…

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