February 2010        

In This Issue

WHAT'S HAPPENING?  NO CHILD LEFT INSIDE: Environmental Education at AFF TRASH FREE BY 2013!
Trash Free Potomac River Watershed Initiative
HARD BARGAIN FARM THE ARTS AT HARD BARGAIN FARM OUR BOARD MEMBERS AND STAFF

 

The Alice Ferguson Foundation was established in 1954 as a non–profit organization chartered in the state of Maryland. AFF's mission is "to provide experiences that encourage connections between people, the natural environment, farming, and the cultural heritage of the Potomac River Watershed, leading to personal environmental responsibility."

Please support environmental education in our beautiful region by becoming a member of the Alice Ferguson Foundation, and enjoy the many special events and benefits year 'round. Details

 

 

Calendar of Events

 

Board of Directors
  • Michael Herman, President
  • Nancy Gasparovic, Vice President
  • Nan Kargahi, Secretary
  • Harold Phelps, Treasurer
  • Judith Allen–Leventhal, Director
  • Abraham Haspel, Director
  • Peggy DeStefanis, Director
  • Dan Jackson, Director
  • Steve Kim, Director
  • Linda Lampkin, Director
  • Marion Mulholland, Director
  • Shirley Nicolai, Director
  • Betsy Reid, Director
  • Nancy Weiman, Director
Executive Director
  • Tracy Bowen
Staff
  • Matt Alcide, Development Associate
  • Chelsea Borchini, Naturalist
  • Libby Campbell, Deputy Director
  • Sara Campbell, Naturalist
  • Lane Elson, Farm Associate
  • Katrina Fauss, BTW Educator
  • Tom Frezza, BTW Educator
  • Beth Gillan, BTW:YPP Intern
  • Laura A. Gillespie, Web Designer/Editor, BTW
  • Ginny Harris Crake, TFPWI Manager
  • Christa Haverly, Outreach Coordinator
  • Wendy Lind, Office Administrator
  • Deanna Lutz, Financial Administrator
  • Corrie Maxwell, BTW Educator
  • Tawna Mertz, Consultant, TKM Marketing, Inc.
  • Karen Jensen Miles, Program Director
  • Emory Miller, Naturalist
  • Helen Nelson, CPA, Accountant
  • Chris Ordiway, Naturalist
  • Carol Park, Database Specialist
  • Jason Pope, BTW Educator
  • Sharon Rabie, Naturalist
  • Linda Ries, BTW Educator
  • Rhonda Scott, Program Coordinator, BTW
  • Doris Sharp, Arts & Publications Coordinator
  • Tammy Shupard, Naturalist
  • Jodie Abbott Standish, Web Designer
  • Bill Townsend, Naturalist
  • Jeanne Troy, Program Director, BTW
  • Anna Wadhams, BTW Educator
  • Eileen Watts, Program Director/ Farm Manager
  • Becky Williams, Naturalist
  • Brenda Wright, Naturalist
  • Jonathan Wright, Maintenance Associate
  • David Yarmchuk, Naturalist

 

 

 

 

An Easy Way to Make Donations!

The Alice Ferguson Foundation has been approved once again for participation in the United Way of the National Capital Area (UWNCA) and the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC). Our United Way code is #8083 and our CFC code is #62564.

Please consider us!

 

 

 

 

Wareham Lodge.  Photo by Libby Campbell

Talk about time travel::this edition of our newsletter has bits from the past (Fergie's role in solving a WWII mystery), the present (three quotes from recent happy visitors to Hard Bargain Farm) and the future (the upcoming 22nd Potomac River Cleanup and a visit to the state:of:the:art recyling facility in Prince George's County.) And to tie this all together is an article about AFF's parnership with the Maryland Heritage Society to explore and preserve the legacy of the Fergusons at Hard Bargain Farm for future generations. Good reading for a cold winter day.


TRASH FREE BY 2013!
Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative

A Page From Ginny's India Trip Diary : Part I
By Ginny Harris Crake, TFPWI Manager

Ginny Harris, Manager of the Trash Free Potomac Watershed Initiative, traveled with founding members of the Rivers of the World Foundation (ROW) Subijoy Dutta and Richard Lahn to New Delhi and Agra, India, for ten days in January. Their journey was to inspire students to participate in Yamuna River Cleanups in spring 2010, as well as educate them through scheduled workshops on water quality issues that are plaguing their river.

Ginny in local newspaper

India.  Photo by Ginny Harris

Lecture Hall.  Photo by Ginny Harris.

Our first workshop took place in Agra, India. At this time and location, India was experiencing unseasonable cold weather and many of the schools were closed. Luckily, the man on the ground in Agra, Brij Khandelwa, pulled together a group of students at St. Peters Catholic Missionary School. Subijoy Dutta, his son Sumit, Ram Koduri, Richard Lahn and I formed the team talking to these students.

The morning of the workshop, we did not know how many students were attending or their age group. We also didn't know if there was going to be a projector for our power point slide show. I brought with me supplies for thirty students for the activities "Who Polluted the Yamuna" and "Crumpled Paper Watershed." I also brought trash bags and gloves for our planned "river walk" to pick up trash along the Yamuna. These supplies (whatever was left) were going to stay in India for their Cleanup in the spring. I had our Trash Timeline papers to do after we collected trash. I was ready—or so I thought.

The workshop started at 10:30 a.m. and we arrived 10:45 a.m.—late. As we walked into a very large auditorium we heard applause from 200 ninth graders. I wasn't ready for this. All my plans would not work with such a large group. Now I had to lecture rather than interact.

I did my best to make Trash Timeline an exciting, interactive activity. My first question to the group was "Do you see trash?" It might sound like a silly question but trash has become as normal as the cows and cars in the streets so that it is difficult to see it as a problem. Only a few students raised their hands. My second question was "Is trash natural?" They all agreed that it was not. Then I asked them to guess how long it took for an aluminum can, orange peel, plastic bag and Styrofoam to biodegrade. They were pretty shocked at the length of time it took for these items to biodegrade. Ending my program, I encouraged everyone to make the changes needed for a cleaner community. I explained that they are in control of their waste production and the next time they are offered a plastic bag to refuse it. I also asked them to stop littering stating that such small actions could grow into a larger social movement within their country.

Our team continued the conversation by discussing what watersheds are and why they are important in addressing water quality issues. Subijoy enlightened them on all the current projects the Rivers of the World Foundation is undertaking right in their community. The final speech was our call to action. We asked all of the students to be leaders and join ROW and AFF at the 3rd Annual Yamuna River Cleanup on March 22. Our effectiveness will be measured by the number of participants at the Cleanup!

At the end of the lecture we were able to interact with the students. They asked thoughtful questions that showed their concern about this issue. The toughest question asked was: "What do we do about the poor people who live near the river and don't care about its condition because they are worried about their next meal?" My thoughts were that the poor are an important group and need to be engaged in this process.

Part II of Ginny's travels will appear in the April newsletter.

 

22nd Potomac River Watershed Cleanup
April 10, 2010, 9a.m.:noon

By Matt Alcide

Young volunteer at the Cleanup
The 22nd Potomac River Watershed Cleanup will take place on April 10, 2010 with an anticipated 14,000 volunteers working on 500 sites in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia—all part of the Potomac River Watershed. Locations include parks, street corners, parking lots, and other "inland" sites, where the trash is removed before it enters the waterways, as well as the shorelines of the Potomac River and its tributaries. The largest regional event of its kind, the Cleanup provides a transforming experience that engages citizens and community leaders and generates momentum for change.

Signing up as a site leader can be done on our website www.fergusonfoundation.org, and cleanup sites will be available for volunteers. Sponsors have a unique opportunity to show their support for cleaner waters and lands in the communities where we live, work and play. Cleanup sponsors are showcased in Alice Ferguson Foundation publications, at many public events, and in media coverage. For more information or to sponsor the Cleanup, please contact me at [email protected] or (202) 518:7415.

Thank you for your commitment with helping us to achieve a "Trash Free Potomac by 2013!"

 


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NO CHILD LEFT INSIDE: Environmental Education at the Alice Ferguson Foundation

A Trip to Hard Bargain Farm

Kid's Quote: "Are we going to go outside again? With you? I am in love with school! I don't know why."
3rd grader in Helda Morad's class at Cesar Chavez Elementary School when I arrived for an outdoor lesson.
:: Christa Haverly

Below you find a description of a chaperone's experiences at Hard Bargain Farm, which we received via staff member Sharon Rabie. These kinds of feedback make the intangibles in our work with students real and give us the support to carry on with enthusiasm.

A Treasure for us to Share

Sharon Rabie, Hard Bargain Farm Naturalist
Last Spring I chaperoned my son's fifth grade class on an overnight trip to Hard Bargain Farm, in Accokeek. I came away lamenting the fact that my 8:year:old daughter didn't get to share in the experience of such an amazing place. The trip is a fifth grader's last hurrah before heading out to middle school and my daughter would have to wait four more years to get that chance.

In September, I signed my kids up to participate in the TWLA and KIND youth clubs offered by the Humane Society of Charles County. I never imagined that we would end up sharing one of the most memorable weekends of our lives working and playing with a group of amazing fun:loving folks on that very beautiful riverside farm.

Located on the shore of the Potomac River, Hard Bargain Farm is an educational environmental center that is a part of the Alice Ferguson Foundation, which also encompasses woodlands, wetlands and waterways. Visitors are treated to walks and outdoor experiences guided by naturalist educators. The Foundation's goal is to elevate environmental awareness by generating awe and excitement about the natural world around us. I, personally, left Hard Bargain Farm with a renewed sense of responsibility towards my environment.

The kids had the choice of making a day:trip on November 7 to the farm or staying overnight until the following afternoon. Many chose the day:trip option. I elected to stay on as a chaperone in the girl's bunkroom and talked my husband into chaperoning for the boy's bunkroom. His first response was, "You know I'm not a camper…" I assured him that this was not outdoor camping and that the accommodations were quite comfortable.

The afternoon was crisp and sunny and the autumn colors were at their optimal best glow. We pulled up to Wareham Lodge and unloaded our bags and gathered around on rustic benches to meet our guide for the weekend, Sharon Rabie. Sharon is Mother Nature personified, rosy cheeks, ready smile, beautiful long hair, very knowledgeable and a true guardian and lover of the natural world around her. We were very fortunate to have spent so much time with her.

After orientation, we headed out on a most incredible walk. Maybe it was all of the enthusiastic kids, maybe it was all of the enthusiastic adults, maybe it was the beautiful varied landscapes that we visited, maybe it was Sharon's presentation of those landscapes. The day passed like a really good special on the Nature channel. Crawfish, fishlings, and big fat tadpoles were netted and examined in specimen pans, lengths of bittersweet and wild grapevines were collected for wreath making that evening. Islands of trash and debris were observed blighting and choking the riverbanks. A rendition of an Indian sweat lodge was observed. How delicious a snack of cereal and M&Ms becomes after a long walk in the fresh air! How welcomed is the soft hay in the bed of a trailer as you hitch a ride back uphill to the lodge. We were a family by then, bonding because we had shared something akin to the spiritual.

Back at the lodge, we gathered outside on the picnic tables to make table turkeys out of pinecones, googly eyes and construction paper. Without skipping a beat, we headed off to the barnyard. A whole other world instantly opened for many of the kids and adults in the group, including my husband. This was the first time that he got a chance to experience ‘Old MacDonald's Farm'up front and personal. He raced past some of the kids to the nearest nest in the chicken coop to look for eggs and communed for awhile with the Tom Turkey. Farm chores became a reality to all of us. Every animal had to eat and drink and each left messes behind. As the evening light dimmed, we headed back to the lodge with huge appetites that were not disappointed. We feasted on huge pots of homemade chili, trays of fresh veggies, hot dogs that the kids roasted on sticks over an open fire pit, and for desert, that old:time campfire favorite, s'mores. After supper clean:up, on a wooded path, with flashlights in hand, we were off to the tiny log cabin that sits on a rise above the lodge. Once inside, we all cozied down around the warmth of a crackling fire and made and decorated wreaths with the vines that had been collected that day. After our wreaths were finished we took them back to the lodge and the day:trippers departed. Pajamas, game time, hot chocolate and popcorn rounded out the evening, As a chaperone, I can honestly say that after lights out that night, I never heard a peep out of any of the kids.

Morning broke on another gorgeous day. After a breakfast of cereal, toast, fresh yogurt, bananas and strawberries, we were off and lugging the slop bucket down to the barnyard. It was an adventure for us, but I could get used to it as a life style. I cast an envious look over at the barnyard kitty that lounged in a sunspot on the milk shed floor. By this time, we sort of had a sense of belonging to the place. Without electronic games, TV, MP3 players, or even books, the kids were behaving as naturally as kids should, rolling down the long hills with wild abandon, doing balancing acts on logs, racing each other from here to there, and talking. There were roses in everyone's cheeks and laughter was the music that punctuated the day as we pulled ourselves up the steep hill, towards the big white farm house.

Alice Ferguson and her husband Henry purchased Hard Bargain, approximately 130 acres, as a summer and weekend retreat form their bustling life in Washington D.C. Later, they purchased other parcels of land, almost 500 acres which presently comprise the Moyaone Reserve with the intentions of conserving the pristine landscapes of the Southern Maryland shoreline. Henry was a geologist and Alice was a painter, writer, amateur archaeologist, philanthropist, a hostess, and above all, an environmental conservationist. She compiled some stories about their life on Hard Bargain in 1940. The book, "Adventures in Southern Maryland", had a forward written by Henry. In it Henry states that even back then, ‘..their old environment [was] only a pleasant memory." Henry set up the Alice Ferguson Foundation in hopes that the beautiful acreage on the shores of the Potomac would remain protected and be used to educate generations to come on the value of conservation and environmental stewardship…it seems to be working.

The Ferguson house and gardens sit high up on a knoll overlooking the farms fields and marshland all the way to the river shore. Beyond that one can see the Virginia shore and Mt. Vernon and, on a clear day, all the way to the Washington Monument. It is simply breath taking! Hints of Alice's tastes as an artist can still be seen…a cobalt blue tiled hippo, a stone head with pointed ears that probably depicts the little mischievous sprite, Puck. It was with much reverence and appreciation that I stood at the final resting places of both Alice and Henry which are located to the left of the front garden, under the trees, overlooking the panoramic vista of the river.

One more roll down the hill and we found ourselves back at the little cabin to sweep and gather any thing that was left there from the night before. Everyone was treated to fresh apples which, of course, after morning chores and a brisk walk, tasted like the first apples ever grown on earth! So sweet, tart, juicy and crunchy! It was mid:afternoon by the time we returned to the lodge. With heavy hearts, we gathered our belongings and said our goodbyes. As parents trickled in to pick up their kids and sleeping bags were loaded into cars, phone numbers and hugs were exchanged. How lucky were we to have had such an opportunity? How wonderful it is to know that Hard Bargain Farm is just around the corner so to speak for us to enjoy? I'll be back I thought to myself.

I would like to thank the Humane Society of Charles County, especially Miss Stacy, Miss Karen and Miss Nancy, all of the people behind the Alice Ferguson Foundation, especially Sharon Rabie and her daughter, Amber, and all of the great parents and kids who participated in this event. It was a very good thing indeed.

Loretta Sachel

 

A Different Day—A Different Kid
By Brenda Wright, Naturalist

Cow milking.  Photo by Doris Sharp
Sometimes a teacher of a school group gives us a heads up and points out a student noting "this one is going to be challenge." Recently, we had a group from a school in Charles County visiting the Farm. On the first day of this visit one student was exactly that—a challenge. He struggled to focus and stay on task. On the second day, however, this student did a complete turnaround during the cow milking class. He was very cooperative and wanted to help out with all aspects of this class. He just loved it.

This is not the first time I have witnessed that when teaching the cow milking class. There is something about the connection between animals and kids that just works.

I am always grateful that we are able to provide these kinds of opportunities and experiences for the children.


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HARD BARGAIN FARM

Farm Update
by Eileen Watts, Farm Manager

Barn animals in the snow.  Photo by Derek Sharp

Cattle in the field.  Photo by Doris Sharp

Because the weather was more pleasant than normal well into December, the cattle were grazing contentedly where they have never grazed before, but then 16:17 inches of snow covered all. Since that time we have been feeding hay, but soon the rotational grazing will resume. The native (or mostly so) fescue is the predominant grass right now. It grows well in this area, resists deer and goose predation during spring and summer, and is, quite frankly, a very tough grass. It persists well. After a good freeze or two, the sugars in the leaves develop, and the grass becomes very palatable to the cattle. It is an excellent grass for late year grazing.

The barnyard has a new dairy cow, Annie, who is learning to take over Marmalade's duties some day. She is four years old and has a sweet personality, which is what I can say for every Jersey I have known. The barnyard is also waiting for kid goats to be born in the coming spring. Very soon we will be looking for eggs secretly laid in out of the way places by either the banty hen or our one raucous goose. They don't care if it is still cold—spring can't be too far off!

 

Restoring a Living Shoreline at Piscataway Park
by Karen Jensen Miles, Program Director

Shoreline Restoration.  Photo by Karen Miles

Shoreline Restoration.  Photo by Karen Miles

Shoreline Restoration.  Photo by Karen Miles

It is the beginning of construction and I can already imagine what the finished shoreline will look like! Trucks hauling sand and large dark:colored stones have begun to ply the farm road heading toward what we call the South Coast (the portion of shoreline along the boardwalk across Accokeek Creek). Mats have been placed on the ground for storage of materials and in the area where the trucks turn around and gravel and crushed rock have been put on the road where there are low spots.

The excavator that places the rocks is fitted with a special GPS unit that is tied into the drawings of the project and helps the operator place the stones exactly in the right place. It is a marriage of fairly low tech with state:of:the:art technology. Speaking of high tech, NOAA's National Geodetic Survey has assigned a team of scientists to survey the existing conditions along this portion of the shoreline. They will be using the most precise GPS instruments available. They can pinpoint a spot on Earth within a couple of millimeters. Their results will be compared with measurements to be taken at the completion of the project and for monitoring purposes in the future.

For those who are interested I have attached a project factsheet to the sign at the north end of the boardwalk; you also can find it on our website. A series of photos will be placed on the AFF website so you can follow the progress of this exciting project.


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WHAT'S HAPPENING? 

Visit to Prince George's County Materials Recovery Facility
By Jeanne Troy, BTW Program Director

Prince George's County Materials Recovery Facility.  Photo by Anna Wadhams
Did you know the average person generates around seven pounds of garbage per day? On January 12th, a group of Prince George's County Public Schools Environmental Science teachers and AFF's Bridging the Watershed team braved the cold to explore the Prince George's County Materials Recovery Facility, the first stopping point for much of the Potomac Watershed residents'recycled items.

After showing off their very own women's dress made entirely of waste materials and featured on Project Runway, Desmond Gladden of Prince George's County Environmental Planning Department and Mitchell Naimark, representative of Waste Management, gave us a tour of the facilities and patiently answered our endless questions. The operations are in a vast building with multiple conveyer belts that pass through sorting screens. Workers feverishly pull extraneous items off the line, bouncing them off backboards fashioned of large cardboard boxes. The scene looks like Lucy and Ethel in the chocolate factory episode of I Love Lucy.

The MRF's recent transition to single:stream recycling has meant that residents no longer need to sort their recycling into paper, plastic, glass, and metal; all materials can be put in the same bin and will be sorted at the facility. Indeed, even plastic grocery bags and Ziploc bags can be recycled if they are stuffed into one primary bag. Both Mr. Gladden and Mr. Naimark stressed that all materials should be rinsed by residents to prevent food contamination, and residents should avoid putting Styrofoam in recycling bins because it will be discarded.

To encourage the success of such an impressive recycling effort, residents are urged to promote and consume recycled products whenever possible so this ecologically:friendly industry will continue to thrive. While the participating teachers lamented the fact that Prince George's County schools do not have recycling capabilities, they were delighted to be able to share their newfound knowledge of the county's recycling program with their students. Many of these students will participate in BTW field studies this spring, including the Talkin'Trash module, which focuses on litter.

Prince George's County Materials Recovery Facility.  Photo by Anna Wadhams

 

Maryland Historical Society and AFF Allied to Preserve Maryland's History in Southern Prince George's County
By Betsy Reid, Arts Committee Chair

The Farmhouse, ca. early Thirties.  AFF Archives

The balustrade in snowy garden.  Photo by Doris Sharp

The Maryland Historical Society and Alice Ferguson Foundation have joined together to encourage public awareness of the contributions of Alice and Henry Ferguson to the artistic and cultural heritage of Prince George's County and support for the preservation of the collections and gardens at Hard Bargain Farm.

In December, members of the Alice Ferguson Arts Committee and Foundation staff met with representatives of the Maryland Historical Society to discuss the Ferguson history, collections, and gardens. Participants toured the house and gardens and discussed the historical significance of Hard Bargain as an important example of a 20th century working farm and country estate, as well as the importance of Alice Ferguson's creative contribution as part of women artists and garden designers from the region.

Attending from the Maryland Historical Society were Society President John Petro and his colleagues Historian Susan Pearl, Museum Curator Lynn Roberts, and Board Member Elizabeth Doughtery. Representatives from the Alice Ferguson Foundation included Arts Committee Chair Betsy Reid, Corcoran Museum Curator Emerita Linda Simmons, Board Member Marion Mulholland, and Arts Committee members Mary Lee Phelps, and Josephine Withers along with AFF Deputy Director Libby Campbell, and staff Doris Sharp and Karen Miles.

Plans for several events in 2010 are underway. The Maryland Historical Society is working with AFF to plan a Spring event to feature the works of Alice Ferguson and Lenore Thomas Strauss as part of Women's History Month. Additionally, the Maryland Historical Society is compiling a visual history of Prince George's County in a coffee table book to be published in 2010. Mr. George Denny is working with Karen Miles and Doris Sharp at the Foundation to explore archival material that can bring light to the rich history of the area.

The preservation of the artistic and cultural heritage of the Alice Ferguson Foundation is funded through small grants and voluntary contributions. If you wish to support preservation of the historical collections or gardens with your volunteer time or financial contribution, please contact Betsy Reid, Chair of Arts Committee, at [email protected] for more information on how you can help.


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THE PERFORMING ARTS AT HARD BARGAIN FARM

THEATRE IN THE WOODS::THE HARD BARGAIN PLAYERS

Stage.  Photo by Doris Sharp
The Hard Bargain Players are ready for the 2010 season and it starts even earlier this year! Following is the schedule and please note that one show—‘night Mother by Marsha Norman—takes place indoors at the Black Box Theater in Indian Head. All subsequent shows will be performed at the amphitheatre at Hard Bargain Farm.

Bash: latter:day plays "a gaggle of saints", by Neil LaBute
Directed by Craig Hower
January 15th or 16th
Maryland Community Theatre Festival Association
Round House Theatre
8641 Colesville Road
Downtown Silver Spring, Maryland

‘night Mother, by Marsha Norman
Directed by Dave Costa
March 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 & 27
Black Box Theater
Indian Head, Maryland

The Diviners, by Jim Leonard Jr.
Directed by Sean Michael Fraser
June 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, & 26
Theatre in the Woods
Bryan Point Road
Accokeek, Maryland

Equus, by Peter Shaffer
Directed by David M. Thomas
August 13, 14, 20, 21, 27 & 28
Theatre in the Woods
Bryan Point Road
Accokeek, Maryland

Frozen, by Bryony Lavery
Directed by Jodie Mueller
October 1, 2, 8, 9, 15 & 16
Theatre in the Woods
Bryan Point Road
Accokeek, Maryland

The Players are taking submissions of plays now for the 2011 season. They would like to include at least one family play and one that is related to our environment. Submissions can be sent to David Thomas at [email protected].

For more information check out the Players'website www.hbplayers.org and you also can follow them on Twitter.

 


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OUR BOARD MEMBERS AND STAFF

Fergie and the USGS Military Geology Unit During World War II
By Karen Jensen Miles

Henry Ferguson, Fergie, out West.  AFF archives
Fergie out West. AFF archives.
When I was a little girl, my father, Roy Jensen, used to tell me stories about the people we knew. One of them was about Henry G. Ferguson, or "Fergie," as we all knew him. I have never been able to corroborate it until recently, when I came upon an article on just this subject!

In late 1944, the Japanese launched fire balloons, or incendiary bombs, intended to terrorize US citizens along the Pacific coast. The balloons were 32 feet in diameter with an antipersonnel bomb, two incendiary devices and bags of sand used for ballast attached to them. Americans were noticing that something very odd was occurring in their midst. People saw balloons, heard explosions and small unexplained fires had been set. More and more fragments were found and, eventually, an Army fighter forced one of the balloons to the ground intact, where it could be examined.

It was believed that the balloons couldn't have come from as far away as Japan; that they must be coming from beaches along the American coastline or launched from submarines. Other theories abounded. Authorities wanted to determine the actual source. A few of the sandbags were sent to the Military Geology Unit of the US Geological Survey for assessment. Six months after Pearl Harbor, a team of geologists had been formed since the USGS people wanted to get involved in the war effort.

Here is where "Fergie" comes into the picture. As an expert in beach sands of the world, he conducted microscopic and chemical examinations of the sand from the sandbags. The sand couldn't have come from North American beaches or from the mid:Pacific islands. It had to have come from Japan. He, and maybe others, determined the specific beaches where the sand was mined. Fortunately, by this time the balloon offensive was almost over.

A balloon bomb killed five children and an adult chaperone in Oregon when they were dragging it out of the woods. They were the only known victims of these bombs. Japanese propaganda broadcasts stated that great fires had ensued as a result of these attacks and that as many as 10,000 people had been killed.

"Fergie" was quite an accomplished geologist and he was revered by USGS personnel for his knowledge and foresight. The Henry Gardiner Ferguson Fellowship in Geology at Yale University still funds scholarships for outstanding graduate students in his name. He is remembered fondly by those, like my father, that knew him and his legacy continues into the future.

 



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