It's not easy being Izzy Wolfe. In fact, it takes a whole day.
Asflag merchant, barber, veterans events coordinator, dance hall dandy, raconteur and mayor of Boucher Avenue in Eastport, Izzy Wolfe pursues a schedule that could tire a man half his age.
Imagine -- a friend of Izzy's has lately implored him to give it a rest, spend more time with her, ease back on the community events, the veterans' activities.
"I cannot do that," he said."I'm Izzy Wolfe."
Irving Isidore Wolfe, to be precise -- a proudman who wears many hats, some by official or semiofficial proclamation, some by reputation alone. He readily accepts the mantle of "localcharacter," having honed his image with years of community activity,particularly in veterans affairs, and a long line of good-natured bull.
"You see there's never a dull moment with me because I'm involved with so many things," said Izzy, hanging up the phone in the one-chair barbershop in his home after a conversation that began this way:
"I have a very nice pole, 20 feet high. It sells for $140. You can have it for $116. This is a discount flag business. . . . I have everything here. I have the largest selection of flags on the Eastern Seaboard."
All right, perhaps a little entrepreneur's hyperbole there. Suffice it to say that Izzy -- proprietor of Red Carpet Flags --has thousands of flags and hundreds of flagpoles for sale. The stuffis piled everywhere in his Boucher Avenue home -- in the living room, in the kitchen, downstairs in the barbershop and especially in the back room, where steel shelves are stacked to the ceiling with boxes of flags. Adding to the disarray throughout the house are scatteringsof magazines, souvenir flag pins, souvenir mugs and a rack of sport jackets in the living room. Izzy has worn many hats in his day, but Housekeeper of the Year has not been among them.
Since January 1990, by informal proclamation of Annapolis Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins, Izzyhas held the position of mayor of Boucher Avenue. The "appointment" made all sorts of sense to Hopkins, seeing as how Izzy had already been known as the may or of Green Street in Eastport, where he lived and ran a barbershop for 40 years, closing up and moving to Boucher Avenue in 1987. And Izzy's brother, Leon, who runs a barbershop on Fourth Street, was already mayor of Eastport.
"Leon just has too much territory," Hopkins said.
"I'm just trying to help (Izzy)."
As mayor of Boucher Avenue, Izzy is required to do virtually nothing.
"It's an honorary position, period. All I do is make sure the street is straight and clean," said Izzy, apparently unaware of the irony inthis statement. "I pick up trash cans if trash cans are lying in thestreet. If anything is necessary, I assist. And if they don't want to talk to me, I don't talk to them."
This is hard to believe, as Izzy has been known to talk to anyone at any time.
"He loves to talk," said Howard Dignen, a Naval Academy barber who learned his craft under Izzy's tutelage in the 1930s. "One time he asked (a customer), 'How do you want your hair cut?' The guy said, 'In silence.' "
"He's a very outgoing individual -- he's a good salesman" said Maryland Comptroller Louis L. Goldstein, who has had his air cut by Izzy for more than 20 years, since Izzy had the barbershop/flag store/souvenir stand on Green Street.
"One thing about Izzy," said Goldstein, "hecould tell you everything that was going on in Annapolis in politics. I used to use him as a sounding board. A barber is a great listening post."
Izzy is also known to dance with just about anyone at anytime. Understand this: Izzy would rather not discuss his age, but a 1987 newspaper clipping had him 79 years old. And he's still hoofing it up around town. In fact, Izzy recently mixed it up with some teen-agers at a rock 'n' roll street fest and later worked the dance contests at a "Senior Prom" for elderly people in Annapolis.
Izzy takesgreat pride in his dancing.
"Don't forget to put that dancing down," he instructed a reporter. "Since I was a child I never took lessons, but I always loved to dance."
He was a child in Galesville, ashis father moved the family from Baltimore when Izzy was a baby. Thefamily, which eventually grew to 10 children, moved to Annapolis in the 1920s.
"What was he like as a kid?" said Izzy's brother, Leon,answering a question about Izzy with another question. "He was a fighter, a boxer. They called him 'Kid Wolfe.' He had a hell of a pair of hands on him."
Of course, Leon had to fight, too. It came with being Jewish in Annapolis in the 1920s, when "they had a bunch of anti-Semites here," Leon said.
Izzy began his barbering career at 14 in Joseph Carino's shop on West Street.
"My father said I had to learn a trade," Izzy said. He worked a few years for Carino, who, Izzy said, pronounced him "too dumb to be a barber."
The young Izzy setabout proving he could do the trade by volunteering his services in hospitals. He later opened his own shop on Prince George and Randall streets in downtown Annapolis, a combination barbershop and locker club where servicemen on leave could change into civilian clothes and then back into uniform.
Izzy served in the Army during World War IIand retains a demonstrative patriotism and concern for veterans.
He has for 30 years served as chairman of the Council of Veterans Organizations in Annapolis, pitching in to coordinate events.
He headed the committee that established the veterans memorial on the traffic circle near City Dock in Annapolis.
And he supplies the flags for veterans parades, free of charge.