Gas masks sales, inquiries skyrocketingBaltimore may be a...


January 22, 1991

Gas masks sales, inquiries skyrocketing

Baltimore may be a world away from the war in the Middle East, but some people around here aren't taking any chances.

"If I had a dollar for every call I've gotten about gas masks, I'd be rich," said Chris Ayers, a salesman at the Sunny's Surplus store in Glen Burnie.

The store quickly sold out of its stock of about 10 gas masks, ranging in price from $14 to $24, Ayers said, and he gets about 30 calls during his night shift from people looking for them.

"People really think they're going to get gassed," Ayers said, noting that some are so embarrassed to ask that they make their children call.

The store, like others in the area, has sold out of American flags and is doing strong business selling fatigues and desert combat boots, too.

With the outbreak of war, Bryant Alexander, the executive director of an organization called the Greater Baltimore Interfaith Television Ministries, has taken to selling "window prayers" at $2 apiece.

These are stickers bearing the image of the Stars and Stripes and the words, "May the good Lord bless and keep you. My

husband serves in the United States Armed Services."

Instead of "husband," other stickers say "wife," "son," "daughter," "buddy," and so on, explains Alexander. He adds that the "window prayers" are being sold on weekends outside Giant Food and K mart stores in northwest Baltimore.

The proceeds will go to the ministries group and also toward the purchase of toiletries that will be sent overseas to U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf, according to Alexander.


The electric candles left over from the holidays light small plaques with the names of local soldiers in the windows of Westminster City Hall. And the trees lining Main Street there are tied with yellow ribbons as an expression of hope that the soldiers will all come home.

Westminster Mayor W. Benjamin Brown decided to keep the candles burning last month after Christmas had passed. The windows are gradually filling with plaques, as Carroll County families submit the names of their soldiers serving in Saudi Arabia.

The yellow ribbons appeared last week, a few hours before the war started. They were tied there by TreeAction, a residents group trying to save trees that could be cut down in a state highway project to widen Main Street.

Rebecca Orenstein, who heads TreeAction, estimated that her group had tied ribbons on about 60 trees along Main Street, from Bond Street to Longwell Avenue. She wants to extend the project several blocks, she said, but "I'm having a hard time locating ribbon this morning."


For every cup of coffee or sandwich it sells, the Tremont Plaza Deli, in the 200 block of St. Paul Place, will donate 10 cents to

support families of forces serving in the Persian Gulf area. Richard Fessler, manager of the deli, said he hopes to raise at least $10,000 for the military families. The deli plans to hang a yellow ribbon in its window for every day the war lasts.


Thomas W. Waldron, Carl Schoettler, Patrick Ercolano and Jay Merwin contributed to this story.

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