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Name Solomons pier after a true original -- “Pepper” Langley

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

Posted on May 30, 2000:

Senator Dyson The Harry Nice Bridge, the Governor Thomas Johnson Bridge, Robert Dean Stethem Memorial Park, Crain Highway, the Louis L. Goldstein Treasury Building. I could go on listing buildings, bridges and parks named after people who greatly affected the lives of our citizens for the better. It’s a wonderful time-honored tradition in which we recognize those who have enriched our lives.

I have an idea to name something special after a very special person. Wouldn’t it be just the right thing to do to name the beautiful Solomons Island pier after one of Southern Maryland’s most beloved watermen and citizens -- Pepper Langley.

Naming the beautiful Solomons pier after Pepper is the proper thing to do. Why proper? Pepper, who was born in 1915 in Solomons and has literally carved out a remarkable legacy for himself in one of the loveliest places in Maryland.

Nobody knows who you’re talking about when you mention James Leroy Langley -- his birth name. They only know him as Pepper.

Without Pepper, the Calvert Marine Museum and other points of interest in Solomons would be lesser places. Pepper made a special name for himself as a craftsman and his work can be seen throughout Solomons. His exquisitely detailed woodcarvings and model boats are on display throughout the island, many of them at the Calvert Marine Museum. Thousands of visitors have come away awed by this great man’s work.

Pepper has been in love with boats and the water since he was a little boy. While boating in Solomons nowadays is mostly recreational, in Pepper’s youth and adulthood, working on fishing vessels was a way of life. Pepper quickly learned what a skiff, a skipjack and a bugeye were. Now imagine those brainiacs on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire being asked what a bugeye is for the top prize. I doubt any of them would. But Pepper would know right away.

One of Pepper’s major contributions to the CMM was organizing the Solomons Island Model Boat Club. The club started out with six members, but has become so popular it has grown to 50.

Pepper is also an author of “I Remember,” a memoir of his life as a waterman.

Pepper’s career as a watermen is extensive. He worked at a series of ship yards including Solomons’ M.M. Davis & Son Ship Builders and the Annapolis Yacht Yard where he built U.S. Government submarine chasers designed for rescue work and torpedo bombing. In other words, his work in the shipyards helped saved more American servicemen’s lives than we’ll ever know.

After leaving the shipbuilding business, Pepper moved on to work a sign painter for the Navy’s Mine Warfare Center in Solomons. He later transferred to the Patuxent River Naval Air Station to work as an airplane model maker.

I was pleased to see that the Calvert Marine Museum, which I’ve said has benefitted so much from Pepper’s craftsmanship, honored him on January 23 this year with “Pepper Appreciation Day.”

Now it’s time for the state to give something to Pepper too for all of his valuable contributions to our country and state.

That’s why we should name the pier in Solomons after Pepper. It will be a lasting memorial to one of the island’s most endearing people.

In order to make this happen, the Calvert County Commissioners must approve the naming of the pier. I plan to write all five of the commissioners and ask them to do this as soon as possible. I will also ask for them to hold a special ceremony for all of Pepper’s friends and admirers to attend so that they can honor Pepper Langley -- a true original.

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

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