By Ken Rossignol
THE CHESAPEAKE TODAY
SOLOMON’S ISLAND, MD. — The annual food, art and nautical-fest known as the Patuxent River Appreciation Days will survive the visit of thousands of tourists once again in October. Included with the many either displaying their crafts from boats to paintings and prints of boats is author Eugene Meyer.
Meyer must be one of the best known newspaper guys in the last hundred years in the D.C. area as he spent decades, lots of them, in the newsroom of The Washington Post until he took a ‘parachute out the door in 2004’.
As one of the old hands on the Post staff who could and did, cover everything from a zoning meeting to a Governor’s scandal and along the way from the Capitol to the 15th Street headquarters of the Post was able to write the news story of a major fire.
For a large segment of the readership of the Post, Meyer was well-known for his writings about islands of old and even newly restored islands as in his book, Chesapeake Country. Meyer would take a seat at watermen’s bar and pull together real insights into fishing, oystering and crabbing on the Chesapeake and give real insight and value to his readers. Trolling for tall tales, Meyer would also bring to the newspaper the news of real conflicts between the needs of those who desired the engorged suburban sprawl into the rural areas of the Chesapeake region in Virginia and Maryland and those who resisted.
The story of the little guy often was told and although Meyer didn’t get into political viewpoints, his articles accurately described the battlegrounds. As versatile a writer as the Post had on its team, he always had time for crime stories, which readers always devour.
Twenty-five years ago, Meyer published his hard-cover book Chesapeake Country and this year the book has been republished, updated and revised. That means that somebody found a way to make a great book even better.
For those who visit the PRAD Days on Oct. 10th from 1 to 3 pm, find this old guy sitting out at a table signing books for those of his fans who want have the real deal for their coffee table.
Visitors can converse with a guy who was on the news desk in D.C. while Watergate became the nation’s top story and even though he is as old as the hills, maintains the outer appearance of a middle-aged guy. But deep down inside, Meyer has the tough and canny ability of a tireless young writer to crank out prize-winning pieces that his readers at the Post knew that they could depend on to report a story straight and correct.
To get it straight: when Meyer started at the Post, Richard Nixon was in his first term elected in a conservative backlash at the hippies and anti-war atmosphere of the Viet Nam War; man had landed on the moon just one year earlier; Ben Bradlee had yet to marry Sally Quinn; Marvin Mandel had only been Governor for one year and lived with Bootsie in the Governor’s Mansion; Poplar Island was still under water; American Motors introduced the Gremlin; 3 members of the Weathermen died when a bomb they were cooking up and designed to kill American servicemen blew up; 14 soldiers were charged with the Mai Lai Massacre in Viet Nam; Paul McCartney announced the Beatles were breaking up; Bob Hope headlined an “Honor America Day” at the Washington Monument on July 4th; General Motors launched the Vega and Ford introduced the Pinto; Congress voted to allow Nixon to sell arms to Israel; and WMAL still had Harden and Weaver at work every morning.
Those days were a different world from today, but even then, Meyer found a way to write about the days and decades that preceded the times in which he and his readers lived through the seventies, eighties, nineties and on into the current century.
Stop by and visit with Gene Meyer on Oct. 10th and buy his book. It’s a great value and priceless in telling the real story of the Chesapeake region.
Grew up in the New York City suburbs, in a house of 25,000 used books, graduated from Columbia College, have worked for three newspapers, and authored two books. Much of my writing is closely tied to my love of history. I also seek to provide readers with a sense of place about where they live, work or travel. I like backroads and forgotten places, but I also find satisfaction in writing about dynamic change in cities and suburbs. My freelance writing – since I took a buyout from the Washington Post in January 2004 – has flowed naturally from these interests.
Birth Place: Manhattan, NY US
Accomplishments: Work cited in 2010 by the International Regional Magazine Association and in 2009 by National Association of Real Estate Editors and Society of Professional Journalists, DC Chapter.
Received Rockower Award for investigative journalism in 2008 for co-authored series on Jewish clergy sexual abuse.
Meyer’s “Hidden Maryland” column appearing in Maryland Life magazine won the Gold Award for best column from the International Regional Magazine Association in 2007. Washington Independent Writers awarded him its top prize for reported non-fiction in 2006. Meyer’s work was twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and has been cited for excellence by the American Bar Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild, and the National Association of Home Builders, among others. Received top Front Page awards from the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild for commentary in 1996 and for local news reporting for 1995 and 1999. Received several citations from Society of Professional Journalists, also from the International Regional Magazine Association for articles appearing in Chesapeake Bay Magazine. The Prince George’s County, Md. Historical Society bestowed St. George’s Day Award in 1999. James Thurber Journalist-in-Residence at Ohio State University in 1990-1991.
On a Postindustrial Potomac, an Old Plant Gives Way by Eugene L. Meyer
Polluting Potomac River power plant to shut down. Promises of things to come. …
How to Find a Second Home Bargain by Eugene L. Meyer
For boomers with disposable income, now may well be a good time to buy….
International Competition – July/Aug 2010 Md Life by Eugene L. Meyer
Read about Maryland Table Tennis Center in July-August 2010 issue of Maryland Life – where world champions teach the young to be the champions of tomorrow. …
Whatever Happened To… by Eugene L. Meyer
Hit-and-Run Victim Sarah Pedersen?…
A Burning Legacy by Eugene L. Meyer
My take on abolitionist John Brown, from the History Channel Club magazine and on-line….
DC Area Primps as Northrop Grumman Shops for New Home-NYTimes 2/24/10 by Eugene L. Meyer
The announcement last month that Northrop Grumman would move its headquarters to the Washington area after 72 years in Los Angeles has set off a feverish competition among local governments to land th…
Where Clackety-Clack is Lullaby of Choice – NYTimes 10/30/09 by Eugene L. Meyer
THE Station Inn here in western Pennsylvania is utterly lacking in amenities. There’s no air-conditioning, no television of any kind, no in-room phones. Nor is there a fitness center, a Jacuzzi, a sau…