& Company


An Anthology—Stories Off Baltimore Streets

by B. Cates, A. Clewell, Ch. Dyer, D. Hallmarque,
H. Heyn, G. Hollyday, M. Matheny, R. Moskowitz, K. Nelson,
M-D Stremba, Wm. Timpanaro, N. Wagner, and A. Zoller Wagner

An Introduction

Just when I'm in my deepest darkness over being held hostage to a Baltimore rowhouse, there I am—on a bit of a break from my fetters—walking about the town, and I see on a faded wall the dim colors and lines of an old advertisement. Already of a mind that the new Baltimore is, in the final analysis, not much of an improvement over the old, these traces from the early 20th century and the late 19th bewitch me into conjuring up long-gone stories that prove those lost eras to have indeed been golden, some of their gleam still here and softening modernity's hard edges. Old useless street-car tracks bursting up out of the asphalt accomplish the same effect. Wasn't yesteryear's rush-hour more civil and humane?

Archeologists can number the layers of civilization on sites where are situated, say, Baghdad, and Beirut, and Bukhara. When they dig below Baltimore's asphalt, they count thirteen: the deepest, a paradisial spot once inhabited by satyrs, nymphs, brewers and talking housecats; the next layer coming up through the series of civilizations—aboriginal settlements and their cultural artifacts; and in layers nearest to the top (10, 11, 12), they uncover a trouser bottom from the costume Poe was wearing when found bruised, beaten and near death on a pavement of cobblestones; shreds of a handkerchief Betsy Patterson once wiped her pretty nose with curbside; an empty bottle whole since the day Mencken capped his own home brew inside it and swigged from it outside; and Doc Wolodymyr's stethoscope. Who'd deny those diggings yield stories from more golden times?

Contributors to this anthology (listed in the next section) have also scratched below the surface and come back with true stories, not all of them gleaming, not all of them soft. We've gathered them below under appropriate Baltimore district headings. If you choose to read them in order, you will travel not only back in time, less or more, but on a route starting—On The Waterfront—and proceeding to—Downtown, Uptown, East Baltimore, York Road, ending at—Northern Parkway East to West. At four stations on your route is the riveting Saga Of Guy. Press on, dear reader.

Matthew-Daniel Stremba
25 September 2006

old hand-painted advertisement for flour
W. Lanvale, 100 block, a corner on an alley: an old hand-painted advertisement endures, promoting a brand of flour no longer sold at Myers Groceries and Provisions, an establishment no longer existing.

Twelve Eminent Marylanders

Should you prefer avoiding the trip along the whole route, reading only what a particular writer has contributed, just click on the title at the end of his/her bio and you'll save yourself the time needed to scroll down looking for it.

Barbara CATES is an ardent fan of Baltimore City as a place to live and see local friends regularly, but not for its monuments of history. Don't ask her where's City Hall. Her assignments overseas have kept her out of the neighborhood at various times, totaling almost a dozen years, but she's back now relishing all the things she can walk to, loving seeing by chance all her friends. Barbara's story, ''Meeting In The Night,'' is in the UPTOWN section.

Anne CLEWELL and her husband Bill have been reconfiguring their lives since Bill's retirement from the University of Baltimore. I first made acquaintance with Anne at Memorial Episcopal, where, among many roles, she serves as liturgical guitarist and active supporter of Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary School and the Samaritan Community. Anne makes her living as a freelance graphic designer. The story here— ''Moving Stuff '' in the YORK RD. section—captures a thought-provoking moment of watching and reflecting at the city home into which they recently relocated from the suburbs. Their next step is moving even further into the city.

Charleye DYER and her husband, Jim Doyle, long-time residents of Dickeyville, have been practicing mobility instructors for longer than they care for you to know. For us ordinary folk, that means their students have been children with various levels of visual impairment all the way to those we call ''blind.'' She tells me the shorthand designation for their occupation—O&M (i.e. orientation and mobility, the main goals of instructing blind students)—has easily lent itself to bumper-sticker levity. ''O&M instructors do it in the street''; ''O&M instructors are one step above the gutter''; ''CANE & ABLE.'' Charleye's ''Robbing A Bank,'' is in the NORTHERN PKWY section.

Donald HALLMARQUE, for all his romantic entanglements, lived his short life pretty much in his mother's house. Not a stranger to literature, his mother, a former junior-high English teacher, sometimes called her son's genre hack poetry, sometimes named it convectionist—''something he cooked up in some strange oven. Lord, the way my son obsessed over iambic pentameter, you'd think in fifty years he'd have come up with something that fairly reflected the tradition. Look at this poem you will include in your streets thing. He reworked it for months, years, and still it doesn't scan right. About as much a poet as he was an actor. Poor boy. Yes, the poem's autobiographical. Oy, that woman in it.''

If you're up for iambs, you'll find ''Playing To The Right Lights,'' in the UPTOWN section.

Herman M. HEYN has been doing public telescoping mostly in Baltimore's Harborplace, where he's a card-carrying street performer. On occasion you can find him with his telescope in Fells Point. In years past you might have seen him at St. Paul and 31st Streets or at the back door of the Rotunda.

As to the recent bad press for the nine-planet doctrine, Herman says that in his scientific heart he's always quietly considered Pluto to be the largest asteroid. ''In the last analysis,'' he says, ''it's all semantics,'' pointing out that one of Jupiter's moons, Ganymead, with a diameter of 5,262 km, is bigger than the planet Mercury whose diameter is only 4,878.

Herman's story, ''Having A Look : Can You See Uranus?'' is in the DOWNTOWN section.

Guy HOLLYDAY is one indefatigable gentleman. You'd never know he was retired. Current work he's been carrying forward these recent years is monitoring city sewer overflows. His Baltimore Sanitary Sewer Oversight Coalition received scant attention from the Department of Public Works till he transformed it from practically a one-man operation to a coalition of watershed associations. He says: ''The persons at the DPW are learning that the watershed associations have clout.'' Other things about Guy you'll learn from four installments below, located between other sections, in a series called THE SAGA OF GUY.

Mary MATHENY came to Baltimore from Kentucky, of all places, over ten years ago and, within a fairly short time, made the city her own. Even on Derby Day. Long professionally involved in urban issues and in the counter-sprawl campaign (eight years in urban planning in Louisville; four here in metro-regional-equity issues), she now keeps an eye and ear on which ways society drifts, challenges accepted wisdom, writes, travels, and volunteers at (an abbreviated list follows) Eutaw-Marshburn Elementary School, Memorial Episcopal parish, and with BRIDGE, and also several local community associations. Mary's story, ''Toughing It Out At Lunch,'' is in the DOWNTOWN section.

Bob MOSKOWITZ is a legend in many places including the Baltimore City Schools, often getting wistful mention from former students reminiscing in local media like WYPR's Steiner Show. What is less generally known is Bob's annual retreats to small-town Ireland where he patronizes the pubs and retires to his chambers to write. Like most Irishmen, he's a poet but with a strong preference for the conventions of meter and rhyme. His story here (forgive us, Bob) has many marks of what, these days, is called prose poetry. Bob's ''Tending The Bar People,'' is in the section named ON THE WATERFRONT.

Karen NELSON is a retired pediatrician long involved in progressive causes. I first made acquaintance with Karen at Brown Memorial Presbyterian where she has been actively participating in many programs. I still recall her strong-arm approach to recruiting blood donors. These days the major beneficiaries of her energies are nine grandchildren. Lucky kids. She reports a charming story, ''Putting Our Driveway On The Map,'' which is in the NORTHERN PKWY section.

Matthew-Daniel STREMBA's story, ''Busing The Ladies Home,'' is in the UPTOWN section.

Bill TIMPANARO, a Washington-area businessman and southern-Maryland family man, has strong downtown Baltimore ties. He tells me his father owned several infamous Baltimore bars. One was the "Hollywood Bar," which used to be on Howard Street, and the "408" on the Block. That was the era of blues bands and live music accompanying the exotic dancers. He remembers his liberal father getting into trouble with the local authorities for serving black entertainers in his bar. "My Dad refused to NOT serve Red Foxx."

His father was a downtown legend. "Do you know," he asks, "that on weekends there was a great collection of talent that would perform in the bars on what we call the Block? A picture I still have is one of my Dad riding the Clydesdale horses during a Saint Patrick's day parade." Bill recalls several years ago silk-screening an exhibit at the State House in Annapolis when William Donald Schaefer was governor. The Guv came in and asked him if Charlie Timpanaro was any relation. "When I told him that Charlie was my father, he told me he used to run numbers for my Dad when he was a kid down at the Hollywood Bar."

Bill's story, ''Getting A Bite To Eat With The FBI & A Priest,'' is in the DOWNTOWN section.

Nancy WAGNER is director of a major suburban child care center, where one of her goals is connecting children with nature, a long-time interest. Research for a graduate degree was in young children's outdoor play. Earlier in her career, she commuted for some years from her home in Catonsville to work with children in East Baltimore. Her story below, ''Wondering Where The Children End Up,'' reflects one of her many rich ''citykidscape'' experiences on that job. You'll find that in the EAST BALTIMORE section.

Art ZOLLER WAGNER is a master of many trades. When I first came to know him, he was about to leave the ministry and pursue painting nudes full-time. Art's art eventually reached beyond the unclad female form to a variety of themes, to new media, and these days—digital design. He is the webmaster of this site. His stories here are moments from what seems more and more a distant past. ''Kissing French'' is in the UPTOWN section; and in the YORK RD. section: ''Braking With A Bad Idea.''

United Railways & Electric Co. streetcar, circa 1926, Baltimore
Those are Baltimoreans, circa 1926, waiting to hop on a streetcar operated by United Railways & Electric Co. which entity commissioned this and other drawings. While some buildings in the background still stand, others are gone, the tracks of course paved over, and the commuters and their stories long buried. The Saga of Guy below begins not quite as long ago as 1926, but within five-ten years of it.

1st Installment

In responding to the call for Baltimore-street stories, Guy said: "When my older daughter, Jennie, was in school, she wrote her life story using the houses she had lived in as an organizing principle. Well, here goes for roads and me." The installment below has all the charm of pages out of Mencken's Happy Days—i.e. growing up in an altogether different world, which once was Baltimore. MDS

Spooking Drivers & Stripping Apple Trees
by Guy Hollyday

Taplow Road in the Homeland neighborhood of Baltimore is the first street I remember. Our house at 119 Taplow Road was built about 1928, the same year I was born. It was one of the first and largest stone houses, with a fence around it to keep our beloved cocker spaniel, Freckles, out of the street. I don't remember much about playing on Taplow besides running on the sidewalk racing a car downhill. I also remember dashing away from some other kids up the alley and into Taplow Road just as a car was coming and bumping off the side window. When the driver stopped and asked me if I was OK, I was too scared to reply.

Next door was gentle old Judge Gorter, who used to cane around and make kindly sounds when he saw us kids—very different from another neighbor, Miss Hughes the nurse, who used to call over to our house and tell us to stick our heads back inside and close the window! The judge's son and grandson, Jimmy, whom I went to school and college with, were no-nonsense types.

It was fascinating watching the nearby houses being built. The basement of one was dug out using mules with scoops and swingletrees. Unforgettable.

Those years I attended the illustrious Calvert School. There's an expression, ''Everything you say before the 'but' is bullsh__,'' so I won't say ''Calvert probably was a fine institution but not for me.'' I'll just remember Miss Boone tossing that piece of chalk up and down while I struggled to get straight the four directions of the compass with respect to the map of America; that dreaded board with the red and gold stars that determined who was the brightest and dumbest of all and that determined whether you passed on to the next class or had to be tutored; gentle Mr. Huey tossing a piece of chalk in a kindly, lazy arc to bring my attention back to the classroom from the athletic field, etc.

Speaking of which, I suspect that even at that time there was under the street on the other side of the field the stream that today flows from Charles Street and beyond down to Stony Run. I remember much more, of course: the assemblies attended by parents, the athletic events including calisthenics, the people who sold apples at the driveway by the front entrance—one of the few brushes I had with the reality of the Depression.

During the Depression, money being tight, my family rented out our house and moved to Roland Park into a house on Kenwood Road, renting it for a year at a rate lower than what we received for the family house.

Kenwood Road was where, at age five, I sassed a local tough and got belted with a rock in the ear, and where my older sister, Weesie, and my younger sister, Dede, and I stripped a neighbor's apple tree of all its apples. Don't know why. We just did things like that.

The next street I lived on was Cowpens Avenue, sort of an extension to the north of Loch Raven Boulevard. Back in the late thirties, it was very poorly maintained, and we called it Featherbed Lane. It took a left turn at the entrance to the LaMotte's Angus beef cattle farm. David LaMotte (who just died recently) and Johnny McKenzie and I used to make clouds there to spook approaching drivers by throwing up sand from the farm entrance-road. Great pastime on a hot summer's night.

Our entrance was a few hundred yards further north, flanked by the quarry/swamp on one side and the pond father made on the other. That's where we had our mallards, and a wood duck that fell in love with one of the mallard hens. Near the swamp was an outcropping of limestone where I used to love to sit in the summer in awe of the sea of lightning bugs in early July. That was before DDT, I guess, which meant we also were inundated with Japanese beetles. (The "Japs" were the enemy in those days; guess that's why we blamed them for the beetles. 'Course, the ducks I raised, like Pansy and her twenty-two ducklings, they loved 'em.) But I wish I hadn't tried to shake the beetles out of that tree by the stream. There was a hornet's nest in it, and I can still remember the circular swelling that covered my whole abdomen before long.

The name of the farm was "Five Springs." Father loved to dig in the water, uncover springs, etc. Me, I liked to dam 'em up. Built a big dam down by Featherbed Lane, and the county inspector made me destroy it, saying it might wash out the road in a storm. Just couldn't understand that. Where was I supposed to take a dip?

Grandpa and Grandma Fisher lived at 1301 Park Avenue, corner of Park and Lanvale. We used to go to 1301 for Sunday lunch; me in my Scots-tartan shorts, all dressed up like the rest of them. We'd play "Uncle Josh and the Bicycle" and "Uncle Josh and the Chinese Laundry" on the big, wooden, wind-up Victrola and sit quietly waiting for dinner to come up from the cool cellar on the dumb-waiter.

Soup was the first course, then roast beef and hot veggies, a salad, and home-made ice cream with wafers—a true Boodenbrooksian repast. We stuffed ourselves. Well, I'll speak for myself: I stuffed. At the landing at the top of the stairs to the second floor was a poster showing the Kaiser with his foot on Belgium's neck. (The Fishers/McLanes were Anglophiles.) One of the best features of the house was the air heat. There was a big furnace in the cellar—the fire would be "banked" at night, and all through the house were heat ducts, which led to grates in the floor, where hot air would come bursting forth.

the Fisher home, 1301 Park Avenue, Baltimore, MD
Still standing today, 1301 Park Avenue, the grand city home of the Fisher family, Guy's maternal grandparents. Several doors up Park in the 1300 block, same side, a house F. Scott Fitzgerald rented in the 1930s. Guy may have been gorging himself on ice cream at 1301 when Fitzgerald was suffering the famous breakdown he described for all his readers in ''Crack-Up.''

I don't remember any discussion of family. Over time I learned that Grandmother Fisher (nee McLane) had been born and raised in California; that her grandfather had been Secretary of the Treasury and Secretary of State under Andrew Jackson; that she had several brothers and sisters; and there might even have been mention of the fact that her father was a founder of Wells Fargo and a bank president in Baltimore. What I never heard discussed was her brother who was Mayor of Baltimore at the time of the Baltimore Fire, and allegedly committed suicide shortly thereafter.

One of my unforgettable experiences at 1301 was looking out of the third-floor window one night and seeing a fire-department car come down Park Avenue and careen into a vehicle that lumbered into the intersection from the west on Lanvale Street. Apparently I was spending the night there, and when I heard a siren, I jumped out of bed, of course, and ran to the window. I saw the big black auto begin to enter the intersection, saw the fire chief in his red auto come rushing along . . . I screamed, but I guess they didn't hear me. One person was killed.

Another memory was of someone coming to the front door and asking for food. I felt threatened and was suspicious. Dede, being more kindly than I, went and got food for him. In the summertime I remember cooking apples with Austin Taliaferro. We'd get them from a tree nearby, build a little fire, and get a tin can and water. Don't remember what we used as a grate.

1301 Park is in a neighborhood now called Bolton Hill. From childhood on, I've become more and more familiar with the streets and the people there, even marrying, finally, a lovely lady who lived for years on Lanvale, Pam Fleming. Many of our friends still live there. And that's quite natural because my life began there. Not far from Grandpa and Grandma Fisher's was the Women's Hospital, now a part of the Maryland Institute, the 1300 block of Lafayette Avenue. There I was born, which must have been very convenient for my grandparents: their daughter giving birth to me just down the street and a block over.

[© copyright 2006, Guy Hollyday]

NOTE: If you want to skip the rest in order to go on reading the Saga of Guy, click here to jump to the next installment. MDS


The port of Baltimore works with 40 miles of waterfront. The two stories in this section transpire, as all good stories do, in a space that's just a wee bit of that total: old Fells Point, and then the spiffy Inner Harbor. MDS

Tending The Bar People
by Bob Moskowitz

In the mid-seventies I tended bar at John Steven (no ''s'') on the corner of Thames (it rhymes with James) and Ann streets. Thames Street, at the foot of Broadway in Fells Point, runs east and west along the Middle Branch of the Patapsco River. Gentrification was on the way; and by the mid-nineties (after I had retired from bartending and teaching), Brown's Wharf, Henderson's Wharf, the rag factory, the sail maker's loft, and some of the small bars had been replaced by condos, restaurants, offices, shops, and new bars catering to the young and upwardly-mobile who had ''discovered'' Fells Point.

I worked Saturday and Sunday from 10 to 5. Saturday was usually a slow day until about 2pm, and I had time to stand in the doorway with my coffee and cigarette. There was a magic to Thames Street: in the distance ships and seagulls, on the street a few ''a-rab'' wagons belling down the street, the owner singing his wares, the wagon swaying on the rectangular cement blocks (incorrectly called ''cobblestones,'' which are round or angular). The blocks had been ballast from ships and were offloaded as the ships took on cargo. Railroad tracks run down the center of Thames Street, and sometimes a small engine pulled several hoppers loaded with material for the cement factory (now closed) on Wolfe Street.

For five years I watched the seasons pass the door. The best days for me were, and remain, the foggy days that muted voices, the sound of passing cars, and the whistles of the tugboats. Add to the fog a fine mist and you have what is called in Ireland ''a soft day.'' I lived in Little Italy then and often walked to work, and on a ''soft day'' when I reached the bar the front of my rain jacket was wet and the back dry.

By two o'clock the regulars would start coming in: older residents of Fells Point who brought stories of the bar (it has been a bar for over 85 years) when it was Zeppi's Five Points Tavern (mail would still arrive using that name). Women from the neighborhood came in with gallon jugs to be filled with beer; Mr. Olie, ''the mayor'' of Fells Point, close to ninety and toothless, walked slowly from his store-front home across Ann Street to eat an uncooked hotdog and drink a small beer; Stash, who cleaned up in the morning and did odd jobs to get drinking money, until he went on the wagon, came to tell me stories about the ''old days,'' which if they weren't true should have been. Always present were those survivors of Martick's who drifted down to Fells Point after Martick's closed for a year while Morris Martick was learning to cook in France. They had grown a little older since I tended bar there, but they were still good company and defined for me the term ''bar people.''

But the dockworkers and tugboat crews were my favorites. They drank steadily, played pool all day, and teased each other mercilessly as only close friends can. They were a rough and tumble lot, but they had good bar manners. I never had to break up a fight or put any of them out. Gradually, they accepted me: ''Bob, you ever have any trouble, tell us and we'll see that the trouble doesn't walk around very long.'' Sometimes I drank with them after my shift and on a few nights I ended up long after closing time in the Cat's Eye with them.

Go down to Fells point today and you will find two or three tugs moored there. At one time there were six or seven working tugs. The crews would sit in the bars until a tugboat's whistle sounded a series of short and long blasts, each tug having it own signal, and the crew members of that tug would finish their drinks, pay their tabs and leave. I used to think of the biblical passage: ''They who go down to the sea in ships...''; and yes, I often recited John Masefield's ''Sea Fever, '' but never in the bar.

I live on Baltimore Street and Broadway now, a 10 minute walk to Thames Street, and I make the walk often. Actually I drive more often than I walk. I drift around but always end up in John Steven (no ''s'') drinking coffee and talking to Chuck, the owner. The tugboat crews and the dock workers I knew are retired or dead. There are few familiar faces. But there are still soft days and the seasons pass by the open door. And on nights when I have my bedroom windows open, I sometimes hear the whistle from a tug signaling to its crew, and I see the old faces walking into the night on Thames Street. It's a lonely sound but strangely comforting.

[© copyright 2006, Bob Moskowitz]

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Having A Look : Can You See Uranus?
by Herman M. Heyn
Baltimore's Street Corner Astronomer

Operating as Baltimore's Street Corner Astronomer going on 18 years, I've been offering the public looks through my 8" astronomical telescope at the Moon, bright planets, and pretty stars in return for ''hat'' contributions.

The most often asked question I get is ''How much did that telescope cost?'', followed by ''Can you see the flag on the Moon?'' Respective answers are ''$1,300 in 1981 and $2,500 today'' and ''No, not even the Hubble can see the flag on the Moon. Next time, if they take a flag 1-mile on each side and lay it flat, we'd see it from the streets of Baltimore.''

Another frequently asked question is, ''Can you see Uranus (pronounced your-anus)?'' My stock answer is, ''Your's first!''

One night I was showing Saturn and its ring, and a gentleman looker was so impressed that he began recruiting other passersby to ''hav-a-look'' (my trade mark). Within seconds, someone shouted at him, ''Can you see Uranus?'' Not knowing it happens all the time, he took it very personally, raised his fists, and was ready to fight! I had to quickly pull him away, explain the situation to him, and tell him that while I appreciated his enthusiasm, he'd better leave the recruiting to me.

[© copyright 2006, Herman M. Heyn]

industrial & merchantile area of the port with street cart, mid 1920s, Baltimore
This streetcar company drawing, reflecting Baltimore street conditions in the mid-1920s, is a few blocks east of where Herman would be doing public telescoping, and a good walk west of Moskowitz's Fells Point haunts. Back then, the area was certainly industrial and heavily mercantile. What we know as the Inner Harbor was then very much part of the port—goods coming in—goods going out—and passenger service, too! Tourists were an unknown species.


The writers of both stories in this section disclose strong feelings that arose then and again now in the retelling. A chief pleasure of reading is experiencing vicariously what you yourself may never have occasion to do. And, incidental as the street may seem in these stories, it did play a role in each writer's recall. MDS

Getting A Bite To Eat With
the FBI And A Priest

by Bill Timpanaro

One night many years ago I was installing a camera for the F.B.I. photo labs at Paca and Pratt Streets. This was no ordinary camera. It must've weighed some 6 tons. Back then there was this new process—thermal photography—developed by a Virginia firm. Because of my closeness with the inventors I knew the complete process from taking the photos with night vision cameras to developing the film, to duplicating what we had to an anodized alum plate.

By the time we had the camera and the film processor hooked up, it was after 2 o'clock AM. One of the agents, a fellow named Abrams, suggested we go out for a bite to eat. At that time of night, early morning, we decided to walk over Lombard street to an all-nighter, the Ambassador Grill.

The place was packed with every sort of late-night creature you could every want to meet—hookers, political types, cops, drunks, trolls, and only the Lord knows what else got deposited there that night.

On the walk back to the labs—at that time Lombard was a two way street—for some reason I was walking out in front while the other two—the agent and an FBI lab technician—were walking behind me a few feet, and I could talk to them just by turning my head or walking backwards and spinning around as you do on a short walk. When we got to the alley just before the fire department, out of the dark several guys surprised us—an ambush right in front of the fire station.

They kicked me in my side knocking me to the ground. Two of them attempted to get my wallet not realizing that Abrams was a pretty strong person. He managed to kick one of them in the upper body and head. I remember his shouting to the thugs as they scattered: ''Halt! FBI!'' The Lab Technician, at Abram's instructions, had taken off across the street to get help. I was able to get a head lock on the guy that Abrams had knocked down and hold him till the agent was able to put him in retainers.

By the time the police arrived, I had several ribs broken and obviously needed medical attention. The cop's first question to me was ''What did you do to provoke the situation?''

Not a good evening. The policeman's question finally provoked Abrams to identify himself as FBI, something he hadn't seemed to want to do. Was it because of any high secrecy involved in the new photo-lab installation? Not sure.

Once back at the FBI photo labs I considered whom I might call asking the favor of coming into Baltimore to pick me up. I dialed Father Jacopin.

Armand Jacopin, a professor of history and art with a degree in divinity, was a Melkite priest at the Saint Paul Center at 12th and Varnum Street N.E. Washington. The Melkites are an Eastern Catholic Church, the Patriarchate of Antioch in communion with the Church of Rome, and at that time in my life I was considering priesthood in their community, and Father Jacopin had been assisting me in preparatory studies and other necessary steps.

Most Melkite Priests had to earn a living outside their ministry because the community was not yet strong enough to support them with a full salary. So I stayed in my trade while I studied under Father Jacopin at the St Paul Center, who, ordained just in 1963, was at the time my best and closest friend.

Calling Father Jacopin at 3 or 4 in the morning was like calling any good friend. When he arrived (and I can see him now as clearly as if it happened this morning ) he asked me if I was hungry and suggested that we go down the street to the Ambassador grill for a light breakfast. Not having the heart not to treat this Saint to something to eat so early in the morning I suggested we go somewhere else, anywhere else—and we did. We wound up a little further on Lombard street at the Holiday Inn.

Father Jacopin was the head of the Saint Paul Center and was truly a man that, I am certain, had he not died on the operating table during heart surgery, he would be today Bishop of the Melkites here in the United States. For many reasons I chose not to pursue priestly ministry, but continue in the camera-printing trade, and even visit Baltimore from time to time, but avoid her streets in the dead of night.

[© copyright 2006, William Timpanaro]

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Toughing It Out At Lunch
by Mary Matheny

I had seen her before. Her face—intense, strikingly boned and almost beautiful—was impossible to forget and, like the faces of many people living on the street, impossible to read for age. She was probably younger than she looked, but she didn't look old.

I was walking down . . . was it Redwood Street? . . . in downtown Baltimore on a sunny day when she approached me. For the first of several times that I had seen her, today she had two young children with her, boy and girl, perhaps 5-7 years old. Everything about my response to her this time would be driven by my preoccupation with those children.

She asked me for money. She said she and her children were homeless and she needed the money to buy them something to eat; they were hungry. Would I give her enough to buy them lunch?

I looked at the children. They stood motionless, eyes downcast. I looked back at the woman. What I felt, to my surprise, was rage. How dare she subject these children to this scene? (Were they even her children, or had she borrowed them for props?) What is it like for a young child to be cast in this role—and if she is their mother, to be cast in it by their mother? Is she strung out? Who is looking after the children when she is too high, or low, to care for them? What are their lives like? What are their futures? What are they feeling right this minute?

I do not reflexively recoil from homeless people asking me for money. For years I had volunteered for another city's Coalition for the Homeless, had interacted both intentionally and by chance with people homeless and desperate, had talked on several occasions with national advocate Mitch Snyder about his own take on responding to ''panhandling'' . . . Yet here I was, suddenly wanting to strangle this woman.

''No,'' I replied, ''I will not give you money; but I will buy you and the children lunch, and have lunch with you, at that restaurant across the street. Whaddaya say?'' I was surprised again: She agreed.

The restaurant was something like a ''Roy Rogers''—an inauspicious, cafeteria-style place, filled with customers. I invited my three guests to go ahead of me down the serving lane, picking out whatever they would like for lunch. I followed behind them. A server motioned urgently to me.

''You don't want to do this. I see them around all the time. She's trouble. They're not people you should be paying for.''

''My choice of lunch guests is not your concern, thank you.''

I paid for the lunches, and the four of us sat down to eat at a table by the window. The woman and children wolfed down their fried chicken. I introduced myself and made a few attempts at innocuous conversation, particularly with the children. No response. The children squirmed uneasily under the lights of my attention.

While the children were eating and whispering to each other, I handed their mother a pocket-sized leaflet—a directory of shelters and agencies in the City, a supply of which I habitually carried with me and offered to homeless people I met.

''Here are some places that might be able to help you. Why don't you hold onto this?'' The woman glanced at the leaflet, shrugged, and put it in her pocket.

When we had finished lunch, we walked back outside. The woman uttered a ''thank-you,'' I a ''you're welcome.'' I smiled at the children, gave each a quick shoulder-squeeze and ''Bye-bye,'' and was about to start back down the sidewalk when I suddenly turned to the woman again. I leaned close to her and spoke softly (my tone unmenacing, but serious) so that only she, and not the children, would hear me.

''Take a good look at my face,'' I heard myself say to her. ''Remember me, and don't ever come up to me, with the children, asking me for money again. Got it?''

''Got it.''

And she never did.

[© copyright 2006, Mary Matheny]

Lexington St., Baltimore, Maryland, 1926
This is not, of course, what Lexington Street looked like when Mary Matheny was engaging with a homeless woman and children. 1926, gone eighty years already, its vehicles and modes of transport rusted into oblivion, paved over: hundreds of stories beneath several layers awaiting discovery, retelling.

2nd Installment

After the stories in his first installment, Guy leaves Baltimore for studies at Princeton, NJ, Edinburgh, Scotland and, in the Eisenhower era, for military service in Germany. On his return he gets a city job. MDS

Being A Bachelor In Baltimore
Through The Fifties

by Guy Hollyday

I returned to Baltimore and became a housing inspector with the Baltimore City Health Department. This was shortly after the institution of the "bathtub law," which required that every "dwelling unit" have a tub or shower, a wash basin, and hot running water. I was given the assignment to enforce this in some twenty blocks around the city. Great experience.

I remember Argyle Avenue, where I was bitten by a dog and where I slithered into a crawl space to see if the place had been properly cemented up—it hadn't. There was a nice old man in the neighborhood who had only stumps for arms and drove a wagon drawn by a pony. He made deliveries; don't remember whether it was ice or not, and thinking back, I don't know how he drove the wagon or did his work.

Then there were the Polish and Czech sections, and Greek sections, where I had streets. Never forget "the Old Skipper," as he called himself, opposite the junkyard on Aliceanna Street. Empty liquor bottles all around his chair. Only place I can remember getting bitten by fleas. Don't remember what happened to the Old Skipper and his dwelling unit. Of much of this, of course, I have color photos, including one looking down on a watermelon wagon from a second-story window.

1950's Baltimore street A-rab selling melons from a horse cart; Guy Hollyday
Guy Hollyday was just doing his job and, by blessed chance, having a camera, he captured a birds-eye view of a very typical 1950s Baltimore street scenario: anonymous A-rabs and their melons.

I was living on Deepdene Road at the time with Jeanette Janvier. Her husband, before his death, had been my chemistry teacher at Gilman. (I don't remember having caused his death, but my original approach to chemistry problems certainly were a trial for him.) Her niece, Jenny, has been a dear friend here in Hampden at Learning, Inc. Well, I was boarding there with an admirable fellow, FBI agent Bill Wightman. I remember the winter when Jeanette was away and the two of us held down the fort—one of those heavy, heavy snows, and all night long across the street on the Dome property (site now of the Roland Park Country School) we could hear tree branches cracking and then hitting the snowy ground with a muffled sound. The next morning we looked out the back window, and Jeanette's lovely, white birches were bent down to the ground. To our regret, they never recovered.

After a few moves in the city, Norm Farrell, a young man from Pennsylvania, and I took up residence just off Greenmount Avenue. Shortly thereafter I went to live with the Coxes on Northfield Place just south of Cold Spring Lane. By this time I was studying German at the Hopkins. Dick Cox had been a dean and a professor in the Physics Department at the university. His wife, Shelby, who went by her maiden name of Shackelford, was an outstanding painter. What I remember, besides her lovely paintings, were the parties they had, replete with professors from the Hopkins. When they went away to Cape Cod in the summer, they allowed me to throw a party, which I did for the acting crowd I associated with.

A particular image from that time still staying with me is a partial eclipse of the sun and the crescent shadows on the wall from the rosebush leaves.

It was there, in November 1963, Betty, soon to become my wife, came racing her VW into the driveway to announce the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

[© copyright 2006, Guy Hollyday]

NOTE: If you want to skip the rest in order to go on reading the Saga of Guy, click here to jump to the next installment. MDS


Here, finally, we get several pieces on the guy-gal theme, each with its own kind of romantic charge, one of which is in verse. And one story of a couple already married crossing into the space of another person's anxious courage. MDS

Busing The Ladies Home
by Matthew-Daniel Stremba

What's a divorced man to do? To meet women I'd braved trendy bars in Baltimore, Annapolis, and points in between. I'd taken non-credit classes in mime and theater arts; dropped in on that 1970s cultural phenomenon—Friday Singles at your local Unitarian church; even gone to real church worship on Sundays.

Real churches didn't come through for me on this issue: lovely ladies there were never really available. So, when a Presbyterian pastor invited me to a party at the parsonage, I didn't go with any hope of spotting a future date. Besides, the Bolton Hill district, venue for the party, was all established households—couples, the rule. In fact, it was the minister's wife celebrating her 40th. Church people from two congregations across the street from each other would be at the buffet.

It was the promise of a good buffet that led to my accepting his invitation. There was that hunger too. No, not for a second did I think I would return home from this event with any new women's names scribbled in my book.

But there she was—helping herself to seconds—and so I moved in on the buffet—a natural move, given my original motive in coming. Not to go for thirds and fourths would be crazy.

"Who are you?" I asked, displaying my best social skills and dipping a spatula into the pasta. She was Barbara, and I thought she said Barbara Case, so for my mistake she spelled out "C-a-t-e-s." I don't think I'd ever heard the surname before, though, since, I find Baltimore's phone directory listing all manner of Cateses, not one of whom appears to be related to this Barbara.

I also found out she was a baptized member of "the Protestant Episcopal Church" [Protestant! Oh, boy], had spent considerable time in Taize [Te-what?], and taken her bachelor's degree from Princeton [o, Lord, have mercy!], with a major in Russian [aieeeee!!!], and was now teaching math to unruly boys at Archbishop Curley High [unruly, eh? how about stupid-ass juveniles!]. Though I didn't much care for the slacks she wore, I liked her looks a lot, fancied her voice, and we even shared something of an interest in George Kennan. Was she available? No, she wasn't.

No, I didn't ask that point-blank. It was information that developed quite naturally. Anyhow, she might not be available, I noted, but she certainly was not yet married—so when the evening began winding down, I circulated among the women guests and offered to bus to front doors those who had walked from their homes in the neighborhood. I pointed out how it was now dark, it was Baltimore City, and—a passenger list quickly developed.

With that paper instrument in hand I made the same offer to the Princeton graduate wearing the pants I didn't like. And she accepted.

In those days I had a 1970 VW bus. In the dark the ladies couldn't make out the sheet metal patching the rusted-out lower body, fixed there with sheet-metal screws and roofing cement, which in a February season was not soft and easily picked up by passing trousers or a long skirt or a London Fog raincoat.

Once the ladies were on board, I asked for addresses: Lanvale, Park, Mt Royal, Lafayette. The long-haired Protestant Princetonian was making her home that year of 1982 in an apartment on Lafayette Avenue. I arranged to drop off all the ladies at their respective destinations—Barbara, last, giving her thereby an opportunity to say something that was best said with no one else around. She said: "Thanks. Good night."

Well, okay, I hadn't come that evening expecting to meet anyone, let alone someone who'd invite me up for coffee, or whatnot. "Sure. Glad to do it. My pleasure."

She was out of the vehicle faster than you could say Rite Two, and I leaned over to the open door and called out: "Say, do you bicycle at all?"

"I do."

"What about we get together one day for a bike ride?"

"Why not," she said, and went up the steps, unlocked the door of 123 Lafayette, and disappeared. All I had was her address. The first step. A thousand more steps would be necessary before . . . . But this is no manual, no need to enumerate them here.

I reached over and yanked the van door shut, let go the clutch, drifted to Mt. Royal, turned left—and headed on back home to Rexmere Road, where my cats would sense the difference in my soul.

o     O     o

Meeting In The Night
by Barbara F. Cates

We were sailing across the Howard Street Bridge going south, my husband and I, anticipating the right turn to home, looking forward to a nightcap and bed. The two spans of the bridge are painted in bright primary colors now, but then it was some single drab, graffiti-smeared hue that made the woman we glimpsed standing between two of the vertical girders look like she must be in trouble.

Any person standing alone on a bridge that comes off an urban thoroughfare lined with grimy storefronts, greasy restaurants, and a motel of questionable repute would raise an alarm. Here it's night, it's a woman with a solemn face, and the bridge's dim lights and bad color combine to make it into four alarms.

Matthew confirms that I saw what he saw. We're past her already as we fret about the right thing to do. Is she suicidal? Crazy? Stranded? She didn't look like she belonged there, and none of the scenarios we could think of was good. We agree to hurry in a circuit through Bolton Hill round back to that dicey thoroughfare—North Avenue—then make a right onto Howard traversing the bridge south again.

Once on the bridge we stay in the right lane, our blinkers on, going slow. I scan the pavement for the woman, while Matthew keeps his eyes glued to the rearview mirror, anxious about the car on his back, its driver flicking high beams, honking, then tearing out around into the passing lane, his roar filled with disgust.

Is she still there? I wonder. What should I say?

''There she is.'' I roll my window down, and Matthew stops the car.

''Are you in need of help?'' I ask her. I've got no experience in crisis counseling. At least she doesn't look crazy. The bridge railing, thankfully, is solid—you can't see the drop or the spot below where any suicidal jumper would land. She'd have to do considerable climbing to get over it.

My husband leans over to complete the image of couple solidarity. We try to look reassuring.

''This dog,'' she says, pointing to an animal lying on the sidewalk by one of those graffiti-violated girders. ''This dog—I hit it with my car.'' She points to a car parked in the northbound lane nearer to North Avenue—its blinkers going steady. ''I feel terrible.''

''How can we help?''

''I tried to call Animal Control. I think the poor thing will have to be put to sleep. I tried to feed it some McDonald's hamburger I had in the car,'' there was a wrapper lying on the pavement by the dog—''but it just sniffed it and lay its head back down. It's been some time since I called. I don't know what to do. I can't abandon the dog. I'm responsible for his injury. Do you know a vet that would be open at this hour? I'll assume the cost.''

''Maybe then we could get some water, and some towels. Our house is right around the corner,'' I said. I looked at Matthew. ''What do you think, should we call our vet?''

Just then a van pulled over and backed up to our car—now two vehicles parked in the bridge's southbound lane, but our teensy Rabbit is still the barrier car to any crazy zooming from North Avenue.

The van unloads two, another couple—younger, but—thank God—American wholesome. The guy sizes up the situation and boldly stoops near the wounded dog. The dog, frightened at this sudden male advance lifts head and shoulders and snarls. Uh-oh.

The guy calms him down. The dog, stronger now, takes a nibble of the hamburger. Maybe he'll make it after all.

This young guy exudes competence. They're good friends with folks who run a veterinary clinic, they say. They'll get the dog the medical attention he needs and see to his getting a good home. They themselves have several dogs. Maybe he'll fit in. They exchange phone numbers with the woman, who insists on footing the bill.

They get a box out of the van. Vans, like purses, seem always to be stocked with a ready inventory of necessary stuff. Somehow they manage to scoop up the dog—no blood, and he's able to move his legs—and get him into the van. We wave—they take off. Phew. We marvel with our new friend at this hope of a happy ending, then watch her cross to her car. Another wave, and once again we started for home.

The Howard Street Bridge looks brighter these days as it frames the Bolton Hill skyline, but it is still no place for a woman alone at night. Still, the little community of good Samaritans that formed that night around an injured dog has forever transformed the way I see that bridge.

POSTSCRIPT: The author crosses North Howard daily on her walk to and from the train station. Her train rolls under that bridge going and coming.

[© copyright 2006, Barbara F. Cates]

Howard St. Bridge from North Ave., Baltimore 1939
A very early view of the Howard Street Bridge (taken from North Avenue). The bridge was built as part of the Howard Street extension project in the late 1930s.

o     O     o

WEST 29th ST.
Playing To The Right Lights
by Donald Hallmarque

  • "Death, that hath ta'en her hence to make me wail,
  • Ties up my tongue and will not let me speak."

Lord Capulet, Romeo & Juliet

  • First time he laid his eyes on her was in
  • yon God-forsaken Essex, Maryland.
  • He was to be Capulet—"What noise
  • is this? Give me my long sword, ho!"—just for
  • an Essex summer outside Baltimore.
  • Ladies-in-waiting serving Capulet
  • in one scene, Montague the next—
  • a veritable gang of girls he hard-
  • ly glimpsed. Would Essex audiences be al-
  • so blind to such a neat economy
  • of dramatis personae serving two
  • masters? "My sword, I say! Old Montague
  • is come." The speeches failed to stick, and so
  • the chore of mem'rization shut his eyes
  • to faces good-for-kissing sported by
  • those nameless players. Then one day when sprawled
  • in shade with Shakespeare, tightly wrestling the
  • Bard off his iambs—"to behold this night
  • Such comfort as do lusty young men feel
  • Among fresh female buds"—this Capulet
  • did spy, just o'er the edge of that damn'd script,
  • a girl, one of the tragedy's minor-role
  • no names (it was her legs he spied, actual-
  • ly, lovely legs reaching out neat white shorts).
  • She walked right through his shade, nay, en-
  • tered, exited, and entered yet again,
  • four, five, six times (her thighs almost audi-
  • bly brushing 'gainst each other)—got an eye
  • for him, maybe?—"e'en such delight /Among
  • fresh female buds shall you this night . . ."
  • By dress rehearsal, he and she were ma-
  • king date plans. And by the time he boldly went
  • about mangling his Capulet for pay-
  • ing audiences, he'd been to her small place
  • o'er Twenty-Ninth Street 'cross from Wyman Park,
  • a late sun filt'ring through the bay spotting
  • their easy lunch. First time he laid a gree-
  • dy hand on her was not exactly then,
  • nor in the hall before, just off the street,
  • nor on the stairs when hiking close behind
  • her heat touched his face, her climbing thighs
  • touching each other. Only when the dim-
  • mers dimmed—the wattage right, the summer twi-
  • light through the bay—began their carpet play.
  • Only after the klieg lights went dark out
  • in Essex , Maryland came the awful
  • ructions on Twenty-Ninth repeatedly
  • putting him out on the street with his tooth-
  • brush but without a key, all privileges
  • cancelled, leaving him only to coast by
  • to glimpse that second-story bay, the grand
  • passion of romance only a tad re-
  • moved from the grim stalking of losers.
  • "All things that we ordained festival
  • Turn from their office to black funeral."
  • A quarter-century afterwards, whene'er
  • he finds himself along West Twenty-Ninth,
  • he wonders whether 'twas so sweet then because
  • of all the pain and all the makings-up again,
  • or—was it just the gel-filters that year.

[© copyright 2006, Hallmarque Estate]

o     O     o

Kissing French
by Art Zoller Wagner

A woman I was interested in was driving me home, up Charles Street. It was rush hour, so when she reached my apartment at 34th Street, I was my usual "responsible" self and began to get out of the car quickly. Who wants to defy all those commuters?

"Wait!" she protested, as though it should have been obvious that she'd want a kiss.

Ooouuuiiii.... My first French kiss.

None of the other halted drivers honked.

[© copyright 2006, Art Zoller Wagner]


The term, East Baltimore, covers a broad swath of neighborhoods. Some of the other districts we've separated out for this anthology—you could make a case—might rightly belong under this rubric. The single story in this section is quite an experience closing with the power of a confession. MDS

Wondering Where The Children End Up
by Nancy Wagner

I've led youth programs for Episcopal Community Services—first at the Caroline Center, adjacent to the Institute of Notre Dame—and then further east in the basement of Trinity AME Church in Collington Square. At Caroline Center, the focus was on elementary age children. In Collington Square the primary focus was on middle school youth and their families.

All too often children at both locations would simply stop showing up. The children came voluntarily, when they came, to The Caroline Academy and The Club at Collington Square, so when they stopped coming, my guess was that they had moved, had new family duties that reduced their after school options, or that they felt they'd outgrown the supervision of adults. Because, in both settings, we encouraged close relationships with the children, when a child disappeared from our circle, we mourned each loss and the fact that we didn't know what had happened to the child.

One particular favorite of the staff at Caroline Center was a boy named William. William started appearing at our door in 1997 when he was a first grader. He had an outgoing personality and loved every activity we planned. He was the "little man" of his family—a role he gained since he was the only male living in his home. William attended Caroline Academy after school pretty continuously for several years. When he was in fourth grade his absences became noticeable, and then more frequent, and by the end of that school year we didn't see William anymore.

In the bleak mid-winter of 2004 I drove home from Collington Square one night later than usual and, of course, hit a detour. I was usually quite comfortable on the narrow streets of the war zone that is East Baltimore but this evening I drove farther and farther away from familiar territory. The streetscape turned quite desolate as boarded-up houses increased and signs of life diminished. I became scared because I was not only lost but in a part of East Baltimore where I didn't know anyone.

I ended up going down an alley where teenage "thugs" were playing basketball with an improvised hoop. In my imagination the teens were not only thugs but were annoyed that my car would interrupt their game. As I pulled down the street the youths stopped their game to allow me to pass slowly. We looked at each other's faces with a mix of hesitation and tolerance of the situation. And soon I was stunned.

One of the faces looking back at me was William! I rolled down my window and he reached in and gave me a hug, addressing me by name. He told me that he was in middle school (he wore the uniform of a city public school) and was "hooping it" with his cousins that lived on that street. William told me how to get back to Orleans Street and I went on my way.

I think I smiled the whole way home and gave thanks for the friendship I had formed so long ago and far away. I also chastised myself for my biases that reared their ugly heads that night—prejudices I think I usually am able to fight more successfully against. To this day I don't know what street I found William on—if I did, I might try to go back!

[© copyright 2006, Nancy Jean Wagner]

a Baltimore streetcar on a rainy evening, 1926
Baltimore—an 80-year-old image that, even with its rain and hint of anxiety about getting home, is not as gloomy and ominous as Nancy Wagner's years-years-later experience of getting lost. The trolley took no detours.

3rd Installment

As part of his German studies, Guy spends a year away from Baltimore, in Vienna. Once he wins his doctorate, he is off to do professor things in Worcester, Massachusetts, then Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Back in Baltimore for another teaching post, he and his wife raise a family. One of Guy's many lecture hall assignments was ''a delightful evening-school course at Roland Park Country School on Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks.''

Crossing Bridges, Playing Bridge
by Guy Hollyday

When I returned to Baltimore, we chose to live opposite the Bryn Mawr School—our address: 110 Melrose Avenue. Melrose extends far east of Charles St, but to the west it went just a few houses before coming to the wooden bridge over the old Ma and Pa Railroad right of way. (The railroad had been disbanded in the 1950s.)

Next door was a vacant lot until a young architect built a handsome, modern house there. I still marvel that despite the rigid building code in the area, known as the Orchards, once the land of the Douglas Gordon estate, the local improvement association allowed him to build that modern house.

Not long after that someone wanted to build on another street in the neighborhood. The code required all houses to have slate roofs. The owner showed plans for his palatial mansion, for which, he said, he could not afford a slate roof. I was on the neighborhood association at the time, and with the others, I finally agreed we make an exception. One day after the house had been built, the builder, Stewart, whom I knew—we got to talking. Stew said, "You know, we put about ten thousand dollars in concrete into the cellar of that house." (So much for the owner not being able to afford a slate roof!)

It seems that Stoney Run, which comes above ground from a culvert at Melrose Avenue on the Bryn Mawr School grounds, just down the street from that house, must run underground where the house is located. (We'll hear more of Stoney Run presently.)

The next house to the west of us after the architect's home belonged to Kak Vanhogendorp, a widow with whom we played bridge. Her husband had been closely related to Dutch royalty. And in the house after that was a man I both admired and loved: the Reverend George Merrill, who had counseled me for more than a year while I was at the Hopkins. His son used to play the bagpipes, to the distress of the neighbors. In the other direction on Melrose Avenue was my school friend Charlie Buchanan, who died of a brain tumor not so many years later.

When I left my first marriage, I went to live in the Blackstone, a large apartment building at the corner of Charles and 33rd streets. In those days the Orioles were still playing in Memorial Stadium, and were winning. It was exciting to hear the roar of the crowd during the game, and the noisy automotive cavalcade coming across 33rd street afterwards. In a way, I had come full circle, since the Hopkins was right across the street. I bought an American "oriental rug" and settled in, staying one or two years and never getting to know anyone.

[© copyright 2006, Guy Hollyday]

NOTE: If you want to skip the rest in order to go on reading the Saga of Guy, click here to jump to the last installment. MDS

Baltimore streetcar at North Ave. and N. Calvert St., 1926
The streetcar company's drawing shows a lively North Avenue just a few paces east of North Calvert Street. School day over; almost a Frank Capra kind of America. What were the real stories there?


That York Road comes down into the city as far as it does before the thoroughfare turns into Greenmount Avenue is a trace of all that having once been county territory. Even Waverly, at the end of the 19th century, was still a suburb. The two quite different stories in this section take place well within the present city limits. MDS

Braking With A Bad Idea
by Art Zoller Wagner

On my way home from a summer job as an auto mechanic, I came upon two women in an old car. They said their brakes weren't working at all. I could see that a brake line had broken, so I told them that they really should take it to a shop immediately.

There was a garage right up the street, so I drove there, met them in a car they couldn't stop! I tried to stop them by standing in front of the car and pushing against it. A very bad idea. I was about to be crushed between the car and the garage when a mechanic ran out and helped me stop it.

The women gave me a basket of strawberries.

[© copyright 2006, Art Zoller Wagner]

o     O     o

Moving Stuff
by Anne Clewell

I think I'm witnessing my first eviction. Here I sit working in my new studio and my eyes catch movement across the street. The rhythm and rhyme in our new neighborhood is unknown to me. Every day there are interesting things to learn about change and presumption and differences and alikeness.

I cannot believe what was left behind. This looks like good stuff.

My heart is racing with excitement like when, at some neighborhood festival, you spy the flea-market section and hurry over to explore other folks' cast-offs knowing there is buried treasure just waiting for you to give it a second, third or umpteenth chance.

The house across the street has been in the process of being emptied for about a month. The family that seemed to live there hauled away at least three large U-Haul truckfulls of living. And today there's a work crew just hauling the remainder to the street. And it's a tremendous amount. Mattresses, headboards, stroller, clothes, toys, exercise equipment, tables, chairs, lamps, anonymous big, black bags and boxes.

I guess they could only take so much with them. I guess they could only "handle" so much. Having moved recently I can understand.

If this is what they left, I wonder what they took? One day I saw a woman come from the back of the house carrying a diaper bag and a bundle clutched like a football in her arms. I said to myself: "Self, well, I guess they're finished...I'd move the baby last too." That was before the second and third U-Haul. The last thing I took from our house when we moved was the cat! I figured he symbolized "the end". I cleaned that house from top to bottom, leaving hardly a dust-bunny for the new owners (the garage and storage areas were someone else's domain...).

Ah, folks are descending on the piles. It's just like a neighborhood festival, only different. How do they know where the boundaries are? How do they know where owned stuff starts and abandoned stuff begins?

I'm sobered by this voyeurism experience. I stand convicted, yet again, that I consume more than I need, acquire more than I need, desire more than I need and, then, have to move more than I need. (Don't tell Bill or the Boys since my birthday and Christmas aaaaaare coming up...)

How do I go about curbing the desire to acquire, consume stuff? When do I have ALL that I need and then recognize and appreciate that it is ENOUGH? Where does the process of divesting myself of stuff begin? How can I sustain it? I recognize it is a daily exercise. Excuse the analogy please but maybe it's like AA—one day at a time.

Wow, that's a really nice looking headboard over there. I would pay money for that———be still my heart. Peace be with and in all of us.

[© copyright 2006, Anne Clewell]


These two delightful stories take us near to the northern edge of the city. Makes you wonder, though: would there be stories on the other side or do you absolutely have to pitch your tent in the city to have any experiences worth storying about? MDS

Robbing The Bank
by Charleye Dyer

Setting: Northeast corner at the intersection of Mc Lean Boulevard and Northern Parkway; spring in the 1980's.

Cast: O&M instructor and cane traveler.

Background: Student was learning to cross traffic-light controlled intersections safely and independently. This intersection was complex, and the student was having difficulty discerning the beginning parallel traffic to begin his crossing. Many light sequences passed. The instructor was standing to the student's side so as not to interfere. A bank was across the street.

Police car approaches and stops. Officer gets out.

Police: How long has he been standing here?

Instructor: Many light sequences, why?

Police: The bank was just robbed and he fits the description of the bank robber.

Instructor: This is my student who attends Northern High School. Truly, he is blind and is learning how to cross streets.

The officer speeds away.

Student: What was that all about?

Instructor: The police think you fit the description of a bank robber.

Student (laughing): How could someone who is blind rob a bank?

Instructor: Good question. Now let's get across this street and back to school.

[© copyright 2006, Charleye Dyer]

o     O     o

Putting Our Driveway On The Map
by Karen Nelson

This old house in Mt. Washington has been watching various family members come and go and come again, moving in, moving out, large deposits of stuff accumulating. Enlarging a room seemed a solution to the clutter. The apt candidate, we decided, was a long and narrow chamber paralleling the driveway running along the east side of our house, once the backward continuation of a wraparound porch. Our plan was to widen it by extending it closer to the driveway. Wouldn't that address the problem? In hopes this could be done, we consulted Steve Culhane.

Steve, a heavily tattooed and mustachioed young contractor who has done some work for two of our daughters, listened to us and told us it was feasible from the construction standpoint, but we needed to look into the building codes. I determined that there were no special restrictions for our portion of Mt. Washington, and Steve determined that according to City codes, we could not build closer than 10 feet from the property line.

Now rumor had it that the functioning layout of yards in Mt. Washington does not correspond well to the actual property boundaries as they would be determined by a survey. We have never had a survey—everything seems to go along fine without one. We have the legal description, which defines our property as beginning at so many feet from the intersection at the far end of our quarter-mile block. So Steve measured it out with one of those little "wheel-on-a-stick" devices and found that we had plenty of room for the expansion, because the yards and driveways are all skewed a few feet to the west from the actual property lines. Of course, I will continue to mow the portion of the Holbrooks' lawn, our neighbors to the east of us, which is on our side of their driveway, and on the other side, the Hsiaos will continue to tend the strip of garden on the portion of our yard that is on their side of our driveway. But our construction will be legal.

Karen Nelson's driveway, Baltimore, Maryland
There's the new addition jutting out toward the drive. At the far end of this driveway, i.e. looking south, is an alley, running parallel with the east-west street on which the Nelson house is situated. That back alley is about to come into play in this story. Take a good look, then proceed.

Now we come to the street part.

Our block runs between Greenspring Avenue and Pimlico Road, a quarter-mile long, as I mentioned. Our house is the fourth down from Pimlico Road. The mouth of our back alley is at Greenspring, the paved portion ending behind our house, the alley continuing as two dirt tracks, which dead-end behind the house of our neighbor toward Pimlico Road. Now the grandfather attached to this neighbor's family, Neil Curran, is a retired organic farmer. In the back halves of the large back yards of his daughter and of the two neighbors across the alley from her, just at the end of the dirt tracks, he has created a truck farm. All of which means that the back alley's only public entrance and exit is the opening onto Greenspring. The only other possible exit from the alley, it happens, is our driveway near the Pimlico Road end.

the back alley, topic of Karen Nelson's story, looking east, Baltimore
You're now in the back alley at its end between Neil's fields, looking east toward the paved portion that exits out on Greenspring.

There is a regular traffic of people using our driveway for that purpose. It has been invaluable on occasions of heavy snow trapping people's cars on the unplowed alley at our end of the block. Recently, a tree limb fell across the mouth of the alley at Greenspring. Our driveway saved the day. It is also used by cyclists, dog walkers, and skateboarders as a regular part of their route. And then there are the people planning to shortcut through the alley to avoid the stop sign at the corner, only to find themselves in the midst of Grandfather Curran's cabbage patch, perhaps facing a deer.

the alley in Karen Nelson's story, looking west, Baltimore
Now you're looking west towards Neil's fields, the alley's end.

Now when Steve Culhane researched the City property records, he said that four out of five clearly showed that our driveway is, indeed our driveway, on our property. Further, there is evidence in the concrete where the drive ends at the alley that a garage once stood there. But the fifth property record showed our driveway as being a street called Ken Oak-Pimlico. Maybe we will put up a street sign.

Isn't Baltimore great?

[© copyright 2006, Karen Nelson]

4th Installment

Below we get a verbal picture of Guy's most recent life on and off Baltimore's streets. His first paragraph grips you in medias res and pulls you on toward an end, and you just want it to go on and not stop. MDS

Rearranging Life,
Relocating Residences,
Renovating Kitchens

by Guy Hollyday

So then I bought a dozen red roses at Bonaparte's on North Avenue and moved into 240 West Lanvale St. with Pam Fleming. On one side were the Zaharises, and on the other—Mary Congden and her sister. (Mary used to sit up front in Memorial Episcopal Church and let out big AWWWs at some of the things Barney said from the pulpit.)

Next to the Congdens were the Crimses—Joe, a professor at the social work school at the U of M, and Kathy, who made lovely stained glass, and the kids. Many years earlier, Pam's parents had rented an apartment down the street from 240, the corner house diagonally across from the villa at Bolton Street. Neighbors we knew then, Debbie and Ralph Phinney, still live on the other side of that block of Lanvale Street; Louise Miller, in the next. I was already familiar with the neighborhood, my maternal grandparents, as I already pointed out, having lived at 1301 Park Avenue, which is the corner of Park and Lanvale.

From West Lanvale, Pam and I moved to 719 Field St in Stone Hill. We've been here twenty-four years. Field Street really was a field, known as the Cowfield, and to this day it's a sward of grass lined by trees. Cows used to be brought over from the other side of Chestnut Avenue where there was a pond, and must have been a barn. I suppose they belonged to the mill owner, whose house was up on the hill. It was turned into a home for unwed mothers around the beginning of the twentieth century. There was a graveyard in the Cowfield; sometimes referred to as the Indian graveyard. Mac McDonald, who was born on Field Street says when cellars were dug for houses there in the nineteen twenties, he saw remains of coffins. To my knowledge no such thing was found recently when the basements of the houses known as Stone Hill Walk were dug. I guess the graveyard must have been up at the north end.

We have been singularly fortunate with neighbors here. When we first moved in, the person living in the other half of our duplex used to dash up and down the stairs bellowing obscenities at 2 AM. Fortunately, he soon left and was followed by Carolyn Drexler, a quiet, friendly person whom we seldom heard. Now Jeff and Paula are there, and although they have a young child, I scarcely hear a thing. Of course, this could be explained in part by my failing auditory abilities.

Across from us was Howdy Knipp, who was followed by Ellen Finkelstein, who rented the house to various persons when she went to live in New York. Most of all I remember my little friend, Laura and Ethan's son Sebastian "Hi Guy!" Shames. And now, after a year or two of negotiation, Kevin and Monica have bought it.

Catercorner from us were, at first, three young ladies, including my cousin Jeannie Fisher. Then came Meg and Randy. And finally Theo Pinnette bought the place. Theo is artist, consultant, and another manager person. And now Jerry, who teaches at the Maryland Institute and recently became her husband, lives there too.

After Vernon Marston died, and his sister, Marguerite, moved away, John Starling and his wife, Kyoungshim, bought the Field Street house closest to Keswick Road alley and began transforming it, as so many persons have done with their houses. We were among the first to transform our kitchen, taking out the drop ceiling, putting in a knotty pine wall on the side next to our neighbor, exposing stone walls and brick chimney, and installing skylights. Jake Rivera made radical changes to his place, tearing down ceilings and adding a bathroom on the second floor. (We have now also added a bathroom upstairs.) Theo and Jerry, who suffered a fire, made many changes to their house.

These, of course, are internal changes. Catercorner from us, Charlie Kennedy has added a two-story addition; John Starling, a one-story addition; and Jeff and Paula plan to add an addition in their spacious yard. The biggest real-estate news in Stone Hill, however, is Mark, who bought "the Big House" down on Pacific Street. What a great job of reconstruction he is doing, taking off the twentieth-century back kitchen, putting copper on the roof, and repairing all that needs it. He learned that the house was insured in the year 1812, which makes it decades older than the other houses here, except 700 Puritan St., which is believed to date back to the eighteenth century.

On the other side of Field St. are three new blocks of four townhouses each. How and whether they will be integrated into Stone Hill and their adjacent houses on Keswick Road remains to be seen.

All these changes visible within and also from without on the street actually fit in quite well with the dynamic history of the district. Keswick Road was not always Keswick. It was Cedar Avenue until sometime in the twentieth century. And it used to end near the Stieff Silver plant and curve around and cross over into Druid Hill Park. Thus, the correct name for the bridge over the JFX next to Stieff Silver is the Cedar Avenue Bridge. Now, Keswick Road is lined with basswood trees.

And in that context it's nice to see the stories of all our personal changes—every rearrangement, you would hope, making things brighter, stabilizing what's on hand for succeeding years while expanding horizons.

[© copyright 2006, Guy Hollyday]

An Epilogue

Now that you've read these Baltimore street stories, I'll wager you're remembering yours, your beloved's, your friends'. Let us know what you've got, and if such responses reach a neat critical mass, we'll put together another anthology sometime early next year.

If you've really enjoyed stories here, let us know that too, and we'll be sure to pass on your remarks to the writer.

Last, should you have any ideas for other topics that would prompt nifty contributions toward an anthology here, let's hear from you. This streets thing came to mind only when I first read Bill Timpanaro's recollections about getting mugged along with an FBI agent back in the 1970s. Similarly, the ice-box anthology, when a friend e-mailed me a crisp childhood memory.

What layers of civilization have you reached?

an old advertisement for Old Natty Boh,  painted on a wall on Charles St.
Old Natty Boh, once covered over, then uncovered/recovered, only to be re-covered soon till the next millennium, or till the next storyteller. North Charles between Preston and Biddle.

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