The Times and Tides of Ocean City, Maryland
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THE YEAR WAS … 1927
From The Baltimore Sun, Sunday, August 14, 1927:
“Joe’s” First Fish

"Joe" Kummer, age 7




Having caught what Ocean City fishermen say is the largest flounder taken from the Sinepuxent Bay in more than twenty years, Joseph Talbot Kummer, 7-year-old son of Frederic Arnold Kummer, nationally known novelist, and Mrs. Kummer, 2 St. Martin’s road, Guilford, is the proudest boy at the Eastern Shore resort.
Ever since he could toddle “Joe” has been after his father to take him fishing, but the paternal parent always deferred action because of his son’s youth. Last Monday “Joe” insisted on a fishing trip in the bay before the family returned to Baltimore. With his father, his brother, Fred, Jr., and several friends, “Joe” went to the inlet in one of Captain Bunting’s powerboats.
With the tide against it the party returned to Ocean City empty handed. “Joe” insisted luck was with him and the same journey was made the next day. A few minutes after one of the Bunting boys had baited “Joe’s” hook and it was cast over, “Joe” let out a yell. Something was on the end of his line. It was “Joe’s” first fish.
When the flounder was pulled over the side it was found to weigh exactly 10 pounds, a weight too great for “Joe” to handle. Landing at Ocean City, “Joe” insisted on having his picture taken with his first catch. He didn’t care for his other two fish, the successors of his triumph. Their total weight was nine pounds.
“Joe’s” party brought back 30 pounds of flounder with them. “Joe’s” progress down the boardwalk toward the Plimhimmon Hotel was a triumph for the youthful fisherman. He was stopped by everyone and congratulated. “Joe,” however, continued his stroll to a cottage next to the Plimhimmon, where he deposited the 10-pounder at the feet of the mother of a little girl with whom he has been playing daily.
Mr. Kummer said he must watch the results. There may be a plot hatching for a new novel, he explained.



Joe Kummer in the 1980s
Curator’s note: The photograph accompanying the above account shows that the fish was nearly as big as the fisherman! Joe’s father, Frederick Arnold Kummer, was born in 1873 in Catonsville, Maryland, at that time an enclave for wealthy Baltimore suburbanites. His father sent him to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, at which he earned a degree in civil engineering. A business setback in 1907 led him to abandon the engineering field for a career as a writer. Although mostly unknown today, Frederic was a prolific and highly popular author, publishing more than twenty works of fiction that often sold out quickly. Many were subsequently adapted into stage productions. He moved his family to the fashionable Guilford neighborhood of Baltimore in the 1920s after speculators and developers subdivided large parcels of land in Catonsville for the construction of new housing. Frederic passed away in 1943.
Joe Kummer earned a degree in chemical engineering from Johns Hopkins University in 1941. He served in the Merchant Marine during World War II, and then returned to Hopkins to complete his Ph. D in 1945. He began his career in scientific research at Mellon Institute in Pittsburgh, from where he moved on to Dow Chemical in Michigan before landing a position at the Scientific Research Laboratories of the Ford Motor Company. From 1960 to 1984 he conducted groundbreaking research in the areas of automotive emissions, solid-state materials, internal combustion and electrochemistry.
An article published in 2011 provides this biographical sketch: “Joe dressed modestly, and his material demands were minimal. It was quite a sight to see him shoehorning his 6’8’’ frame into a Ford Escort. He raised a family of three sons, two of them engineers, and the third in medical records. His daughter is a physician. Early engineering activities often entertained five grandchildren with fond memories. Two great-grandchildren did not have the time to know him. His wives Elizabeth and Phyllis preceded him in death. Joe Kummer died in retirement in Ypsilanti, Michigan, on June 27, 1997.” We wonder whether he ever shared this “fish story” with his grandchildren.


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