Getting it all right: From buffalo nickel to F. Scott's aspirin

Jacques Kelly

August 29, 1991|By Jacques Kelly

Hampden, Camden, Druid Hill, Westview, Virginia Dare and F. Scott Fitzgerald. People want the truth.

Here's a short list of corrections, additions and explanations related to 1991 columns:

* A reader brought to light a first-class Hampden artifact I'd overlooked in an Aug. 19 column devoted to the carvings and symbols found on local buildings. The old Bank of Hampden, later Sandler's department store, at the northeast corner of 36th Street and Roland Avenue, has a fine limestone facade.

Along the front roof line is a well-rendered reproduction of an old buffalo nickel, the coin that was in circulation when this building opened in the 1920s. The left side has the buffalo; the right, the Indian's head. What an apt symbol for Baltimore, The Nickel City. I shouldn't have overlooked this excellent piece of architectural artwork. And how well I remember the spectacular fire in nTC February 1958 that burned out the store, but left the stone walls unharmed.

* An alert local tour guide called to question an assertion in a column about Camden Station that ran June 24. She questioned the height of its tower in relation to other Baltimore structures. She long had been taught that the Shot Tower was the tallest man-made structure in Baltimore in the mid-19th century. She is correct. Old guide books say the height is 246 feet; Camden Station's elaborate, three-tiered cupola was 185 feet tall until it was removed.

* A friend of streetcars in Baltimore called about a July 8 column and said he didn't want to be "picky," but he thought he would inform me the old Park Terminal, Fulton Avenue facing Druid Hill Park, is city property. It's used by the Department of Public Works. It has not been associated with public transportation for more than 30 years.

* Marianne Alpigini, of Dundalk, wrote about Howard Street's old Virginia Dare Restaurant in response to a column that appeared Feb. 19. She said, "I was surprised you didn't mention the red velvet rope you were asked to wait behind" before the hostess took you to a table.

Indeed, I did not mention (or recall) this rope. But many readers remembered it, as well as the good food and service at this departed, but delightful gathering spot.

* Alan J. Fink, general manager of the Westview Mall, wrote after a July 11 column about Baltimore's informal land

marks. Among other things, the column mentioned the big neon "W" that for so long marked the entrance to the Catonsville-area shopping plaza.

Alas, the big W recently was taken down as part of the mall'thorough renovation. The old W is to be replaced by a "sleek new pylon." Fink also reports, "I am desperately trying to come up with a new site for the venerable old 'W.' Do you have any ideas?" He's found a safe place to store this 1950s artifact temporarily, but welcomes suggestions . . .

* Finally, a reader wanted to know how I got the idea that novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald bought aspirin at the Greenway Pharmacy, which until its recent move around the corner, was at Charles Street and Greenway.

I took some license in the June 10 column. Fitzgerald lived for a while in the mid-1930s at the old Cambridge Arms Apartments, now Johns Hopkins University's Wolman Hall, a building that was much renovated this summer.

In the 1980s, an address book that Fitzgerald kept came up for public auction at the Harris Auction Gallery on Howard Street. The local addresses by a famous novelist made interesting reading.

As I recall, the Greenway Pharmacy was among those in the book. Just as interesting were his (or his secretary's) listing of Fiske's, the Baltimore caterer then on Park Avenue in Bolton Hill, and Schwaab's, a terrific soda fountain at 33rd Street and Greenmount Avenue.

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