The flags are flying at half mast in Hollywood Beach today and our tiny Eastern Shore hamlet is mourning the news that our friend, neighbor and unofficial Mayor succumbed to cancer. In a close-knit, family-oriented community such as Hollywood Beach, such a loss is deeply felt.
A longtime fixture, John Ryan was part of the fabric of the community. He offered service, making sure our waterfront park always looked its best, meticulously trimming around the kids swing set and our pirate fort. Whenever an improvement project needed helpers he was the first to volunteer. At our patriotic celebrations he led the ceremonial team.
He particularly enjoyed holding court at the monthly Saturday night potlucks run by his wife Jackie and the Ladies Auxiliary. At the start of the evening he lounged out on the community’s Clubhouse deck, gazing at sailboats passing on the river while the ladies set up tables and prepared the buffet inside. As neighbors gathered, he waved the guys over to the beer cooler for a cold one while the wives took their steaming covered dishes inside and the kids kicked off their flipflops to romp on the sandy beach.
When it was finally time to eat, John rang the bell to officially kick off the dinner and neighbors surged inside, vying for a bite of favorite down home dishes like Jackie’s pickled cucumbers and Mary Keeley’s chicken and dumplings. The noise level built as serving dishes emptied and eventually folks spilled back out onto the deck to savor sunset over the river.
For the more than forty years that John and Jackie lived in Hollywood Beach there has always been a potluck. Next season, I’m sad that there will be an empty chair at the table.
Hollywood Beach Memorial Day Taps Ceremony
2012 John Ryan on Right
Old Fashioned Chicken & Dumplings
Courtesy of Mary Keeley
1 large fowl
3 medium potatoes
1 medium onion, sliced
4 stalks celery, diced
11/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 sprig parsley, chopped fine
4 c flour
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp baking powder
Place fowl in a pot and cover with water.
Add salt & pepper
Stew, covered until meat is tender (about 2 hrs).
Remove from pot.
Add the vegetables.
Cook until tender (about 20-30 min).
Remove meat from bones and return to pot after vegetables
Bring to a boil and add dumplings.
Stir well and cook 12 -25 minutes longer.
Remove from stove and serve.
Mix flour, butter, baking powder, salt, milk, and egg.
Knead into a firm mixture.
Dust with flour and roll out on a board (as thin as you like).
Cut into 1 1/2 square