ODELL'S night club, at 21 East North Ave., is now much in the news, its life and times adding to the already story-rich history of the first block of East North Avenue.
As that block is best recalled, depending on the year you choose to remember it and the generation you are part of, it would look something like this (moving east from Charles):
1 East: The Little Tavern.
2 East: Sherwood Building (Equitable Trust Co. and Home Life Insurance Co.).
3 East: Bob's North Inn Tavern.
5 East: Bickford's.
6 East: The Sports Center, an ice rink that opened in 1932 and closed in 1956. The rink was best known not only as a center for teen-age ice skating -- Saturday afternoon was the best session, and the best way to get there was on the No. 13 streetcar -- but as the place where the high school ice hockey teams played. When the Sports Center was closed in 1956 to make way for a parking lot, the high schools were left with no rink.
7 East: The Aurora Theater. The theater opened in 1910, but it wasn't until 1958 that it began a first-run policy. In 1964 the theater's name was changed to the Seven East. It is now a church.
11 East: This address is best known as the home of Center Stage, which moved here from its 45 West Preston St. home in 1965. But early on Jan. 9, 1974, the theater was destroyed by fire. The show playing was "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" At 3 p.m. the day after the fire, Center State officials and Mayor Schaefer announced the show would go on -- at the Baltimore Museum of Art. The following week the production was moved to the College of Notre Dame, where the 1974 season was completed. 11 East is now a vacant lot.
(Benny Goodman's Beef and Beer, next door to Center Stage at the time of the theater fire, played a part in it. Two men who claimed they'd been thrown out of the restaurant apparently took revenge -- but police said they torched the wrong establishment.)
Prior to Center Stage's moving to the spot, 11 East was the site of one of five Oriole cafeterias. (Others were at 22 Light St., 306 North Howard St., 17 East Baltimore St. and 5100 and 7011 York Road.) "Easting at the Oriole" was a Baltimore tradition -- especially on Sunday afternoons, when every Oriole in town was filled to overflowing.
The Oriole cafeterias will be remembered fondly; the menu was lengthy (typically, five appetizers, eight entrees, 11 fresh vegetables, six desserts). Dining was relaxed. John Dunnock, of the Dunnock family that owned the Oriole cafeterias, closed them because, he said, "People got to be happy with nothing but hamburgers and French fries -- and the faster they would eat, the happier they were. That wasn't the Oriole cafeteria style."
19 East: Cy Bloom's Celebrity Lounge.
19-21 East (where Odell's is today): King's Billiards and the Vegas Casino Tavern.
29 East: Doeberiner's was the bakery that appealed to Baltimore's carriage trade. It said something about the refined taste of the hostess who preferred to serve only Doeberiner's cakes, pies, cookies and confections.
33 East: Cadillac Bar and Lounge and, earlier, the Standard restaurant, owned and operated by the Wasserkrug family.
37 East: Walker-Hasslinger's, one of the city's oldest names in seafood dining.
Among the many rich and varied stories Baltimoreans of all ages have to tell about the first block of East North Avenue, include, now, those about Odell's.