Marylanders step gingerly toward normalcy DEEP FREEZE '94 Staff writers Kris Antonelli, Phyllis Brill, Robert Erlandson, Peter Hermann and Robert Hilson Jr. contributed to this article.

January 23, 1994

A little like bears emerging from hibernation, Baltimoreans plagued with cabin-fever ventured out of their ice-bound homes into yesterday's bright sunlight.

The going was still slippery in many places, but even though not literally so, it seemed like for the first time since last Saturday, it wasn't snowing, "snaining" or icing.

So, they shoveled, they salted, they chipped, they chopped at the glaze covering their walks, driveways and cars.

Once mobile, they braved still-treacherous icy patches, water main breaks and traffic tie-ups to do -- not counting some school activities and other events that were postponed or even canceled -- pretty much what they do every wintry Saturday.

They washed cars.

They shopped.

They cruised malls, dreaming of warmer days.

Valerie Redding resorted to -- what else? -- an ice pick as she tried to break the grip of the snow and ice that held her car hostage in Barre Circle in southwest Baltimore.

"I haven't driven my car since Sunday, and I haven't been out the house since Tuesday," said Ms. Redding, a student at the downtown campus of the University of Maryland.

Her Nissan, purchased in November, look battle-worn. It had snow piled up to its windows, thanks to a city snow-removal truck that began plowing side streets shortly after noon yesterday.

"If I ever get my car out, I think I'll just go for a ride in the park and think about the spring, think about tulips," Ms. Redding said.

Salt. Pass the salt

At the Hechinger store on Pulaski Highway, melt-down gear was on display near the front door -- four kinds of snow shovels, door mats, carpet runners in two sizes, windshield washer fluid, starter logs for the fireplace, flashlights and batteries, portable heaters and even reflector sticks ("They mark your driveway in the snow," said the manager).

The only thing missing was rock salt.

But the store clerks were recommending a certain brand of fertilizer in its place. They said the nitrogen in it helps melt ice.

(As the ice melts, though, the fertilizer also pollutes the Chesapeake Bay. State environmental officials last week appealed to residents not to use fertilizer for snow removal.)

Jennings Dennison, of Middle River, had only two things in his cart, a 25-pound bag of Scott's Super Turf Builder and 40 pounds of mulch.

"How much is the fertilizer?" he was asked.

"I don't care," he said. "I got to do something. My front walk's covered with ice."

"What about the mulch?"

"I'll put that on top," he said. "It'll give them something to walk on."

Bahamas to the rescue

Patience, salt-starved homeowners. Help is on its way from the Bahamas.

A barge loaded with 26,000 tons of ice-melting salt was $l expected to arrive at Rukert Terminals in the 2100 block of S. Clinton St. at 6 a.m.

today, a spokeswoman from Morton International said.

The salt, donated to the area from the Morton company, is to supply the Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania region.

"On the East Coast, the salt supply has basically been depleted," said Sheila Geltzer, spokeswoman for Morton. "The easiest thing to do was to ship it here from the Bahamas."

Wash it away

In northwest Baltimore, a steady stream of salt-encrusted cars and trucks pulled into Sparkle Car Wash on Reisterstown Road for a face-lift. Owner Alan Bernstein said business was up 50 percent over normal yesterday, but it was the first day he had opened in seven days.

"They just can't stand it anymore," Mr. Bernstein said of his customers. "They are so disgusted with the way their cars look."

Of course, melting snow and salt spray on the roads will dirty cars up again in no time.

But, Mr. Bernstein said, "It's more psychological than anything else."

Chores piled up

At Mars supermarket in Perry Hall, John Burke was checking out with three gallons of milk, four loaves of bread, a couple pounds of lunch meat and five kids in tow. While he and his wife had made it to work all week, despite the ice, he said his three children and their two cousins were probably suffering from cabin fever, so they were running errands as a group yesterday morning.

"Oh, we've been out to the recycling center and the library and now we'll all go home and have lunch."

Mr. Mom's day out

David Czarski, a self-described "Mr. Mom" from Hamilton who cares for his two preschool boys while wife Chris works as an office clerk during the day, said, "I had to get out, bad."

He had run out of things to do indoors with kids at home.

"One day we pitched a tent in the basement, and they went camping down there," he said of kids.

He was giving his sons a ride on the train at White Marsh Mall. It was Jane Rupprecht's first day out of the house since last Sunday. Her car is stuck at the bottom of her icy driveway in Wiltondale. She came to White Marsh Mall with Harriet Parks, her sister-in-law, and Sue Leland, her niece, both of Riderwood.

They lingered over lunch, bought sweaters at Macy's and planned to buy groceries on the way home.

And then . . . leaks?

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