The familiar in Baltimore shorthand


January 27, 1992|By Jacques Kelly

Baltimoreans often lapse into verbal shorthand to describe familiar places and things. But to the uninitiated, this shorthand can be puzzling and confusing. Here are a few I've deciphered:

"The Point" -- Sparrows Point, of course. Workers at the mighty Bethlehem Steel Corp. plant say they are on the "Hot Side" or the "Cold Side," the "Ship Side" or the "Steel Side."

"The Gold Dust" -- The Lever Brothers plant on Holabird Avenue. Gold Dust was a popular soap powder 60 years ago.

"The Western" or "The Works" -- The Western Electric Co.'s plant at Point Breeze, Broening Highway. There were terms used by people who worked here. Workers reported to "Cable," "Wire," or "70," the apparatus building. All this ended after the court-ordered breakup of American Telephone & Telegraph Co., Western Electric's parent company.

"The Crown" -- Crown, Cork and Seal.

"The Copper Works" -- Revere and Amalgamated in Canton.

"The Sugar House" -- Domino (Amstar) sugar plant in Locust Point. The one with the great sign.

"The Mecca on Broadway" -- Johns Hopkins Hospital.

"The Power Tower" -- The Catholic Center, Cathedral and Mulberry streets.The epicenter of church bureaucracy. It's also called "Puzzle Palace" because of the hard-to-decipher documents issued here.

"The College" -- St. Ignatius Church, the Jesuit Fathers' historic church at Calvert and Madison streets. This term recalls Loyola College's tenure here, 1855-1920s.

"The Big Hotel" -- The Maryland Penitentiary on Forrest Street. The last stop for some.

"Two Guys" -- SS. Philip and James Church, 2800 N. Charles St. Remember Two Guys? It was the first large discount house to hit Baltimore.

"The Mash Market" -- Market Place, or the old Marsh Market, which Baltimoreans verbally chewed into "mash." The marsh refers to the soggy banks of Jones Falls. In the 19th century, this was a bustling area and the busiest market in the city. The Fish Market, a component of the old Mash Market, survived into the 1980s.

"The Morgue" -- Morgan & Millard, a Roland Park drugstore and soda fountain. It's now a popular restaurant that kept the old name. People often said they'd meet at The Morgue for a cherry Coke.

"Paul Jones" or "Four Roses" -- Those who worked at the Joseph Seagram's plant in Dundalk say they worked at "Paul Jones" or "Four Roses," the names of two popular whiskeys.

"The Foot" -- The foot of Broadway in Fells Point.

"Rich Bugs" -- The Wyman Park neighborhood, particularly Beech and Tudor Arms avenues. The term Rich Bugs began in Hampden and was applied by some of its residents to people who lived in the houses near what is today's Rotunda shopping center.

"The Bahamas" -- Cherry Hill. This name was coined by a cab dispatcher who once lived in the neighborhood. Why Bahamas for Cherry Hill? Both are on the water.

"The Him" and "The Her" -- This is also cab drivers' talk. The Him is a public housing high-rise on George Street; The Her, the high-rise on Myrtle Avenue.

The Hill -- Take your choice: Edmondson Village, Federal Hill or the Greek community in Highlandtown. All three sit on high ground.

Eppie's -- Epstein's department stores. Alas, now closed, but a Baltimore shopping tradition.

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