On weekdays, William A. Lewis takes a back seat to...

SUNDAY SNAPSHOTS

May 10, 1992|By Mary Corey | Mary Corey,Staff Writer

On weekdays, William A. Lewis takes a back seat to nobody

William A. Lewis never met a mode of transportation he didn't like.

Not the streetcar, the subway, the bus or the light rail -- all of which he has driven in the last 38 years.

He is one of the few Baltimore light-rail operators to have such experience in the driver's seat.

It comes in handy when he takes 1,800 people to and from Oriole Park in light-rail cars costing $1.6 million.

"At first it was scary," the 61-year-old West Baltimorean says about adapting to the new technology. "Now I feel safer than I do in my car. I don't have to worry about a Volkswagen cutting me off."

One of the most unusual requests Mr. Lewis has fielded was from a passenger who asked him to pick up milk and bread on the way home.

When he's not on the road or rails, he enjoys visiting the Baltimore Streetcar Museum. But he pleads no contest when his wife asks for the keys to the family's red Oldsmobile.

"I let her behind the wheel as much as possible," he says with a laugh. "After driving all week, I kind of hate to do it on the weekends." There are 30 steps to the grandstand seats at Pimlico Race Course and three hairpin turns to the clubhouse at Laurel.

Kelly James knows these things. She has to. She is blind.

But that doesn't stop the assistant to the director of group sales for the race courses from shepherding groups around the maze-like tracks or organizing parties for 500 people.

"I don't let anyone stop me," says Ms. James, 28, who lives in Halethorpe.

She became legally blind at the age of 13 due to a degenerative disease of her retinas. Through volunteer work for the National Retinitis Pigmentosa Foundation, she was able to convince Preakness organizers to make the foundation the beneficiary of this year's Triple Crown Ball.

Despite her professionalism, there are clients, she admits, who doubt her abilities.

"There's been skepticism," she says. "People sometimes double check what I tell them."

But Pimlico also has been the site of personal happiness. Two years ago, her husband proposed to her there in a fitting locale: the winner's circle.

Have someone to suggest? Write Mary Corey, Baltimore Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278, or call (410) 332-6156.

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