Who was the Charles behind Charles Street?

BOOKS & AUTHORS

March 31, 1991|By James H. Bready

So far, Carleton Jones has lived on 10 streets in or near NTC Baltimore, starting with Charles. If he gives it a page and a half in "Streetwise Baltimore: the Stories Behind Baltimore Street Names" (Bonus Books; paperback, $14.95), that has to do with urban prominence, not with the second-floor-back revels at 904 N. Charles in the faraway '50s, when Carleton Jones, Hal Gardner, Pete Kumpa and two other unmarried Sun reporters lived there.

Neither does he claim ties to David Jones, the early-1700s settler whose name is writ in our Falls.

This is, rather, the fourth so far of the local history books by Mr. Jones, who writes the Sun Magazine's "Back Tracks" column. "Maryland, A Picture History" (1976), "Baltimore, A Picture History" (1982, by Francis F. Beirne and Mr. Jones) and "Lost Baltimore Landmarks: A Portfolio of Vanished Buildings" (1982) are the works of a specialist not only in words but also in architecture and images.

This time, he draws upon the Sun Magazine's 1948-'54 series, "The Man in the Street," mostly by William Stump, and other sources; he accounts for the Hutton of Hutton Street, the Barre, the Vesta, the Cator, the Gay. A 35-page introduction, a separate Neighborhoods section and many old photos are livened by engaging commentary.

Every major city seems likely to be the subject of such a book. Baltimore's is well done.

As for Mr. Jones, he is under contract to redo 1814 and the British military visit. Since the North Point-Fort McHenry books by Neil H. Swanson and Walter Lord, scholars have made significant advances, which Mr. Jones will incorporate. There is also the puzzle of Gen. Sam Smith's personality. Why, in the city

he saved, was there never a downtown Smith Street?

*

Story the First: In which John Barth, author and sailor, outlives the self-absorbed '70s and the money-major '80s, and offers the new decade a novel in the manner of his early successes, in the active imagination '60s; in which his vivid storytelling is brought to bear on Scheherazade and Sindbad the Sailor, in long-ago Baghdad; in which "The Last Voyage of Somebody the Sailor" earns acclaim, popularity, honors.

Story the Second: In which Professor Emeritus Barth says two-thirds of a goodbye to the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, fades into the sunset (Pacific Ocean) and sunrise (Chesapeake Bay), and works on his next novel. Last May, turning 60, he retired, except for Graduate Fiction-Writing Workshop (Tuesdays in Gilman Hall's bell tower). He teaches first semester; this celebrity course (12 students, tops) is being led by Grace Paley (in future springs: Edna O'Brien, Robert Stone). Following a "Somebody" publicity tour, his longest ever, Jack and Shelly Barth vacationed in Hawaii; they have homes in North Baltimore and Chestertown.

Story in the making: In which John Barth stands beside the office shelf holding the 1,001 published works of his students; King Shahryar himself had no prouder smile.

*

Ross J. Kelbaugh's absorption with 19th century photography, attested to by four books in the past four years, now centers on 1861-'65. His latest, "Introduction to Civil War Photography" (Thomas Publications, Box 3031, Gettysburg, Pa. 17325; paperback, $5.95 plus $2.50 shipping), is a guidebook for anyone lured by the wet-plate photos, ambrotypes and stereographs still found in flea markets.

A history teacher at Catonsville High School, Mr. Kelbaugh first listed all pre-1900 Maryland commercial photographers. During the Civil War, about 3,000 town and field studios did business; last year, he recorded those in Maryland and vicinity. Earlier in 1991, his "Directory of Civil War Photographers, Vol. II: Pennsylvania and New Jersey" (Historic Graphics, 7023 Deerfield Road, Baltimore 21208; paperback, $14.95) bagged 1,156 more. Now he means to list all other states' and territories' Civil War photographers.

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