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'Life of a Newspaper': Sandra Olivetti Martin at Captain Avery Museum’s Winter Series

Updated: Feb 16, 2023

Chesapeake regional book publisher Sandra Olivetti Martin recalled the early days of nearly 30-year-old Bay Weekly, sold by her family several years ago, and lauded the efforts of many — from celebrated columnists to the office dogs — in building a publication that knits together a community of interests from Severna Park to Solomons.

She spoke to a sold-out luncheon in Captain Avery Museum’s ongoing winter series, offering recollections and slides from the early days of Bay Weekly.

“For three decades, Bay Weekly helped make us a community. In its pages, we found out who our neighbors were—and who we were. We shared their experiences, and our own. We wrote stories that touched on our quality of life," Martin said.

On Wednesday, Feb.15, the museum, situated along the West River in Shady Side, MD. will feature Maryann Cusimano Love, of Catholic University, speaking on war in Ukraine and victims in a presentation offering luncheon-goers opportunity to “meet some neighbors from Ukraine.” Reservations can be made online.

On Feb. 22, author Kathy Bergren Smith, author of Deadly Gamble: The Wreck of Schooner Levin J Marvel is scheduled as luncheon speaker. In her newly published book, Smith, a maritime reporter and photojournalist, reports deeply what happened before, during and after Chesapeake Bay’s worst sailing disaster of the modern era.

Martin's latest enterprise, New Bay Books, published Deadly Gamble. In her museum presentation, she recalled the beginnings of Bay Weekly, when her family viewed the start-up as a means to forge a community in a Western shore region lacking both in geographic cohesion and public spaces.

She praised many who made Bay Weekly over the years — her son and general manager, Alex Knoll, artist Betsy Kehne (right), sales specialists, staff writers and occasional contributors, noted columnists Bill Burton and Dr. Frank Gouin, and the delivery persons (and dog) who got papers in readers' hands every Thursday (except a day late once after an ice storm).

“All together, the paper knitted us together in a community of knowing what was what, who was who, and where you went for just about everything. We had more to think about. More to talk to each other about. More sense of who we were.

"In a region lacking in public gathering places—no town squares or piazzas here, where people walk and talk along the same blocks—Bay Weekly became our coffee house as well as our cup of tea.”

Bay Weekly is published online now by Chesapeake Bay Media, also publisher of the highly regarded Chesapeake Bay Magazine.

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