Friday, August 20, 2010

Camera, adventurer combine to make a local super hero

Posted: Wednesday, August 18, 2010 8:11 pm

By Jane Howard Lee

I need to find a Superman cape and give it to Bert Marshal.

Baytown Bert seems to be making a difference around his dear city, and I want to thank him for that. And I think he’d look good in a super hero cape. I doubt he’d wear tights with it though but that’s OK. Tights wouldn’t be practical to wear on his wanderings.

Bert, who maintains several websites dedicated primarily to Baytown’s sights and history, is fond of wandering around solo with a camera in hand. He calls himself a lone wolf, but I don’t think he is quite that. He’s got lots of friends and admirers, and on his blogs he talks a lot about going off on adventures with a couple of friends, their kids and, well, enough folks to make it more like a wolf pack than a lone wolf.

Bert loves photography, photojournalism, geocaching and wandering. His wanderings sometimes lead him to see things that not too many people see.

His ability to really look at and really see things makes him more likely to notice problems and unpleasant things. Bert, being Bert, isn’t one to just say, “Well, darn, that was an unpleasant thing to see.”

No, Bert, being Bert, spreads the word and works on getting the unpleasantness removed. He has learned how best to spread the word and how to get a reaction from spreading the word and how to politely approach officials and usually follows the philosophy of getting more bees with honey.

Here are a couple of examples.

Bert has been sending me some photos and information about some problem areas in Baytown. They are areas that he wandered around or through on his wanderings or places that someone told him about, perhaps mentioning problems there and Bert made it a point to wander that way. Bert probably hoped that I would write something about these problems spots and maybe get something done about them and I would have, I swear, but Bert tends to get the job done before I can find time to get on it.

One of the most recent locations to earn Bert’s attention is a spot on Wismer Road.

Bert sent me some e-mails that were copies of missives he sent to appropriate city officials. He sent photos, information, documentation and, having these well-read blogs on his websites and by sending copies of the e-mails to people whose names were then listed on the e-mails as having received copies, let it be known to whoever was interested that they (the city officials) were not the only ones aware of the problem. Of course, that means people knew their reactions would be observed.

City officials jumped in and investigated though I am sure they would have done so even if they hadn’t had that overwhelming sense of being watched.

They said the nasty site looked a lot worse than it was ... no chemicals, no leaky stuff, no health hazards other than a mosquito-breeding murky ugly, somewhat trashy bit of land and water.

A beaver dam created part of the problem, they said, and that was quickly removed and the beavers urged to relocate. The water flowed again.

Well, that nasty, nasty looking spot out on Wismer Road has now been cleaned up. Bert sent round an e-mail applauding the city’s quick action to accomplish that and posted before and after photos.

He applauds the city, but I’ve got to throw in some clapping for Bert.

Friend Bert also has tackled what appeared to be some very poor drainage at the Baytown Bark Park and a situation in Pelly Park on Main Street where a rusty, dilapidated pump jack poses a hazard (once fenced to keep kids out, that fence is down and just made for more metal for someone to trip on or get hurt on) and is an eyesore to say the least.

With Bert on the case, that situation is bound to change.

So thanks to Bert, who is a great community watch dog, and I think he should add that term to that list he uses to describe himself (I had to look up philomath, Bert) on his web pages and blogs.

Good job, Bert, from your fellow philomath friend.

You can visit Baytown Bert’s websites at, and at

 Jane Howard Lee is a reporter at the Baytown Sun.

* Giant Superman compliments of Barbara Pugh (friend of BB and uber-trickster)

1 comment:

Natalie said...

Enjoyed reading about you in Jane's column. LOVE the Superman pics!!

I am old school

 I remember 78 RPM records. We had an "ice box" and at my grandfather house in Dundee, Michigan you could get a bottle of...