Between The Lines

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Brice Phillips’ life was celebrated this week.

Sure, many grieved this week at his passing on July 1, but most I know took this as an opportunity to reflect and marvel over the dynasty he and his wife, Shirley, created and the manner in which they did it. At the age of 90, there was nothing tragic about his passing, and it was nice to see so many celebrating and remembering his life in their own ways throughout the week.

As was echoed numerous times during tributes, Mr. Phillips was an unassuming man who was as friendly as they come, no matter who you were. My last conversation with him was back in 1999 when he and his wife hosted a fundraiser for Atlantic General Hospital at their bayfront home on Mallard Island. He offered me, a young reporter and photographer who knew few in a room full of prominent business owners, politicians and other dignitaries, something to eat and then showed me a table out of the way that was home to some delicious crab cakes. He then went about meeting and greeting and all the while was as relaxed and gracious as they come.

Many remember him similar ways. Perhaps Judge Dale Cathell said it best when it said in his eulogy, ““We will not soon see another man like Brice Phillips in the world.”

Watching the monthly revenue figures from Maryland’s two “slotsinos” is interesting for a couple reasons, but mostly because it’s unusual to be able to see these sorts of private business numbers.

Although there’s nothing to compare it to, since it just opened the first of the year, it was surprising that June revenue figures for the Casino at Ocean Downs did not spike more than they did. According to the state, the local casino grossed just under $3.8 million in June, a slight increase from May’s $3.7 million. April recorded $3.5 million, while March brought in $3.25 million.

This is only a modest increase, making many wonder whether the seasonal uptick of visitors is truly having an impact. One gambler, a familiar face at the casino on weekends, said he has not seen a significant difference in the crowds from the winter months to the summer. He said even in February the casino was busy on the weekends with routine waits at the popular games, such as the virtual roulette and blackjack tables. He did say the individual slots terminals do seem to have more seats filled this time of year, but that it’s not a huge difference from the winter months.

Admittedly, that’s one person’s perspective, and July will tell the true story as far as whether the numbers will drastically increase from season to season and whether tourists are flocking there in droves as expected. However, at this point, June’s numbers do not indicate that.

As a resident in a resort area, I understand visitors often lose track of common sense in the name of having a good time. That’s part of being on vacation and getting some rest and relaxation.

However, a story was relayed to me last weekend that still has me scratching my head.

There was a group of men hanging on the beach, having a cookout and enjoying some cold refreshments on the federal side of Assateague last Friday. Nearby were some friends of mine who didn’t think anything of the guys until they began getting increasingly rowdy as the afternoon waned on. Apparently, at some point, two men in the group decided to give some of the horses walking along the beach some beer, making a little bowl of sorts in the sand.

While the horse was drinking it, another man jumped on its back, causing the horse to buck him off quickly. What happened next was ridiculous, as more men in the group converged and began punching and kicking the horse until it got away. They were only reportedly able to land a couple blows, but that’s not the point.

Unfortunately, none of this was caught on camera and no authorities were around, but the guys did get some verbal hate from some of their neighbors on the beach. Threats to call park rangers were enough that they eventually wandered off the beach, leaving behind a burning bonfire, cigarette butts and dozens of Budweiser cans.


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