Although streetcars no longer run out to Catonsville, they still run through our collective memory. Some old photographs hanging at the Junction Station Cafe on Edmondson Avenue recall that earlier era when suburban commuters did the politically correct thing and rode mass transit to theirdowntown jobs.
Most of today's commuters arrive at this 2-year-old restaurant/bar in private cars from their nearby homes in Catonsville and Ellicott City. Older neighborhood types predominate during the day, with the crowd growing a bit more diverse in late-night hours.
There is a settled suburban quality that comes through when you overhear groups exchanging shared memories of the local high schools they attended 20 years ago. Whoever said high school is the great common denominator for the American public must have done his field research in a place like this.
The tinge of nostalgia that comes through in such conversations also has a way of surfacing in the karaoke staged every Thursday night from 10 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. These sing-along sessions hosted by singer Annie Beccio encourage loungers to get up out of their seats, take the mike in hand, watch both song lyrics and their own video images projected on overhead screens, then sing over pre-recorded instrumental tracks.
Now, some of us wouldn't get up there in a million years, but others can't wait to jump up there and caress "Love Me Tender." Elvis lives, sort of, at a moment like that. Besides, these middle-aged Elvis wannabes don't look or sound any worse than the King did toward the end.
For completely live music, there are acoustic guitarists playing rock standards Friday and Saturday nights.
As for completely low bar prices, the night to keep in mind is Monday, when there is 50-cent draft beer from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. And for no prices at all, look ahead to Super Bowl Sunday on Jan. 26, when a free buffet will free up some pocket change for betting pools or bus fare.
Junction Station Cafe Where: 1705 Edmondson Ave., Catonsville.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.
L Menu: appetizers, soups, salads, pasta, seafood, sandwiches.
Credit cards: MC, V.
Call: (410) 747-6437.