November 04, 1991

IN BETWEEN the doubting Thomas and the doubted one, there has been a pea patch of others. The New Century Cyclopedia of Names lists 33, including such Marylanders as B.& O. Thomas and Ph.D. Thomas (respectively, Philip, the railroad's first president, and Martha Carey, the first woman to earn a doctorate summa cum laude at a European university). Also on the honor roll are the Printer (Isaiah, of Worcester, Mass.), the Poet (Dylan) and the Politician (Norman, who ran for the presidency six times). Among other Thomases, let us not overlook Lewis, with his 25 honorary degrees, and Bob with his 24 Hollywood books -- either count is probably out of date. Let us go out of our way to mention the one Tommy Thomas, from Baltimore's Orioles.

No earlier Clarence Thomas seems to have seen his name up there in lights.

But for Clarence, this might have been the year of John Charles Thomas, born 100 years ago and trained at the Peabody Conservatory of Music for his career as concert and opera baritone. Some newspaper humorist once saluted him as old Three-First-Names.

Which Thomas will be known to fame longest? No doubting that the choice for someone to clock them will be Seth.

* * *

THERE WAS A time when a political mandate meant that a candidate took a program to the voters, and the voters gave overwhelming approval. It meant the leaders were leading, and the voters were showing their consent for the proposals of the leaders.

Apparently, that time is gone.

After congressional redistricting gave him residence in a district where he might not win, Maryland Rep. Tom McMillen said he wouldn't necessarily run in that district. Instead, he said, he would travel around the state and listen to the concerns of the voters. Here's the program this leader offered:

"I think I'm going to try to go to the people and seek a mandate for something."

What a nifty slogan this would make. "A mandate for something." No one would ever accuse Candidate McMillen of abandoning his campaign promises.

* * *

VDNKh in Moscow is a huge park of Stalinist statues and buildings exhibiting the Soviet Union's economic achievements. Rudimentary computers are on view there along with spacecraft, airplanes and cars. Particularly on weekends it is packed.

The collapse of communism has changed even VDNKh. Recently, a late-model Ford Lincoln was auctioned off there for ,, one million rubles. At the black market rate of 39 rubles to a dollar that comes to just over $25,600. The way the value of the ruble is descending, American cars may soon be cheaper in Moscow than they are here.

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