Though I was born in Washington, D.C., I grew up in Maryland to the extent that I ever grew up anywhere.  I liked the proximity to D.C. as I got older, but as I became aware that some areas of the country foster regional pride and had a sense of actual heritage, I felt Maryland had done me wrong because suburban Maryland is not one of those places. Even in grade school I knew Maryland history was a snooze–yeah, yeah, the Ark and the Dove and Lord Baltimore or Fauntleroy–it just didn’t resonate and certainly didn’t stick.

In my impressionable years Maryland got some bad press that it deserved that colored my feelings about it. I blame Spiro Agnew–he didn’t do his home state of Maryland any favors (well, actually he probably did) when he was Governor or Vice-President. I knew enough as an 8 year old to feel bad he was Maryland’s mover-and-shaker.  Then Arthur Bremer shot George Wallace in Laurel, not too far from where we lived, and that was unsettling on both counts–that crowds of Marylanders wanted to hear Wallace’s venom, and that somebody would shoot him. And then Agnew pleaded no contest to one charge in a slew of shady dealings which  forced him to resign as Vice-President under Nixon, the only Veep to do so. He wasn’t helping Maryland pride when he was in office either, but at any rate, none of this was stoking my Maryland pride. 

But most disturbing of all to me was the part certain creepy Marylanders had played in Lincoln’s assassination. I would flip through huge history books my father had in the den, black and white photos eerie and sad, and I felt guilty about those icky Surratts and Dr. Mudd helping out John Wilkes Booth. (Read Manhunt, by James L. Swanson for the whole story   ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1266851280&sr=1-1) I guess I was a weird kid who took things a little too personally. I really was almost entirely innocent of any wrongdoing in the Lincoln assassination and its aftermath, but I was familiar with guilt by association. I felt the same way in my grade school classrooms when the teacher came back into the room, knowing somebody had done something wrong, and accusingly asked who wrote that on the blackboard or who put that tack on her chair. I certainly hadn’t, but I felt guilty just the same, sure she would find me out even though I hadn’t done a thing. Don’t know if that was the Catholic schooling or just my psychological make up, but I’m over it now. Sit on the tack, for all I care.  

But seriously, finally Maryland has done something to make my heart swell with pride, something no other state in the U.S. has done. Apparently, Maryland is the only state with an official state dessert. Now that is something to be proud of.  It’s Smith Island Cake, and though I’ve never had it, I am pleased to see that chocolate icing is involved.    dessert.html    What a great state, a trendsetter, even.  I couldn’t be more proud. Maybe I am a true Marylander after all,  if not at heart then at least at stomach, because I never say no to dessert.