MS. REBECCA SHEIR
Barbers and hairdressers date back a long, long time. In fact, archeologists have unearthed razors among the relics of the Bronze Age. So we're talking, like, what 3500 B.C. And in ancient Egypt were actually highly respected members of the community. The job we'll hear about next doesn't date back nearly as far, but unlike barbers this gig technically no longer exists, Unless of course you're in Annapolis, Md. Sabri Ben-Achour brings us the story.
SQUIRE FREDERICK TAYLOR
Oh, Yay, my lords, my ladies. I welcome WAMU to the fair city of Annapolis, Maryland.
MR. SABRI BEN-ACHOUR
His name is Squire Frederick.
Well, my real name is Fred Taylor. The name that I go under when I'm dressed in colonial attire like today is Squire Frederick and I'm the official town crier for the city of Annapolis, Maryland.
Before he became Squire Frederick, Fred Taylor worked for the Department of Defense for 40 years. He's now one of about 42 official town criers in the country.
Well, can you -- I guess really what, I mean, what is a town crier?
Well, in the old days, town criers gave the news of the day. In modern times -- in the 21st century, we do the same exact thing. We present the news of the day. Today though, it's kind of morphed into being a ceremonial position, representing the city at different events. Also ceremonially I've kind of opened the state legislature here in Annapolis.
Well, what kind of news? I'm just curious, like, what kind of news might they have announced back in the day?
It just so happens I do have a cry that I took from the Maryland Gazette back in 1776. Criers would begin with the words, Oh Yay, which simply means a French word saying hear me. Oh Yay, oh Yay, oh Yay, gracious citizens of Annapolis, I bring ye important news from Mr. James Murray, which may bring thee monetary rewards.
Harkin, strayed from Mr. Murray on the 24th of August, a dark grey mare about 7 years old, near 14 hands high, has a small switch tail with a hanging mane and has a number of dark colored spots, particularly on her rump and legs. Whoever will bring her home shall receive 20 shillings reward. God bless America.
So a missing horse announcement?
A missing horse announcement. They would give announcements of things that were lost, servants that had escaped, what was happening in New York in August of 1776 when the British are invading. So they gave the news of the day.
Basically before there was Twitter, before there was radio, there was this guy, yelling in the town square. That's how society got its info.
Town criers are all over the world. Here in the United States, I'm going to the North America Town Crier Championship next month in Anacortes, Washington. There's a crier in Deerfield, Massachusetts. There's a crier in Missouri.
Sometimes people think Squire Frederick is a pirate or the Quaker Oats guy or Colonel Sanders, but it doesn't bother him, neither does crying in the heat or crying in the cold. He's having fun.
What's your favorite part about this job?
My gracious, things like this, talking to people, you know, spreading the news, you know, throughout the country. People that I meet, people that I've cried for, new friendships that I've made from people from other countries. I wouldn't trade it for all the tea in China.
Well, thank you so much for crying for us. I really appreciate it.
Well, thank you for asking me to do this. It's been absolutely a pleasure.
We'll take another break now, but when we return, communication and miscommunication. We'll go inside a local project that's recording accents from across the globe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE 1
One of the ones you might not have heard of, let's see, probably that (word?) . We only have one, of course. So if you know (word?) out there, please send us a sample.
And we'll look back at a riot that ripped through one D.C. neighborhood.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE 2
He's drunk and he's got cohorts around him and they start to create a ruckus. (makes noise) You know, and the street starts to fill up with people.
That and more in just a minute on "Metro Connection," here on WAMU 88.5.
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