To help fight geographic illiteracy, a Maryland family has developed a puzzle-game with historical facts on the flip side of 108 pieces that form a map of the Baltimore-Washington corridor.
"I was just amazed at the number of people who grew up in this area and didn't know where things were that were close to them," said Jackie Sasser, who spearheaded the puzzle project financed by five family members who formed an investment group.
She said she talked with many people who did not know that the Camp David presidential retreat was northwest of Frederick at Catoctin Mountain Park, or where key Civil War battles were fought in the area.
The puzzle-game, called Mapfacts, was conceived by Sasser's brother-in-law, John Sasser of Baltimore.
Jackie Sasser spent hours digging through library books to unearth historical facts and trivia about Maryland, Northern Virignia and the District of Columbia. The fact on the back of each puzzle piece is the clue for locating its place on the map. The clues include:
James Monroe, president in 1820, found 200 million-year-old dinosaur footprints preserved in slate during the construction of his home, Oakhill, near Leesburg, Va.
The Ha Ha branch of Otter Point Creek in Harford County was named for a laughing ghost that supposedly haunted the area.
The Silver Spring-Takoma Traffic Coalition, the citizens group that waged the spirited but losing battle to persuade the Montgomery County Council to keep tight development controls in Silver Spring, doesn't think the war is over. The group is looking into a court challenge and has gotten some impressive help: pro bono representation from Arnold & Porter, a major D.C. law firm.
Judy Shapiro, a lawyer with the firm, said it is the firm's policy not to discuss its arrangements with clients, but she could confirm that it was representing the coalition. Why the interest? Well, Shapiro said, the coalition caught the firm's eye with an impressive packet of information on the case.
Shapiro, by the way, lives in Takoma Park.
Grapevine items were written by staff writer Jo-Ann Armao and The Associated Press.