Tales of love and laughter and a thief you may catch red-handed


February 11, 1994|By DAN RODRICKS

This just in: A postcard from friends visiting St. Martin island, the West Indies. "Hello, everyone. Beautiful, friendly island. 82 degrees right now. Good food everywhere. Lovely breeze. Water crystal clear." Nice of them to send the postcard. I'll be using it to start a fire this weekend.

Laugh's on them

I know these two crazy kids, Viv Ganter Ritz and Marty Ritz. Nice people, fun couple. Health professionals, married, one kid. They moved to Maryland last year, settled in Easton. They moved here from Hawaii. They heard Maryland had mild winters. I spoke with them the other day. They were both laughing, maniacally.

Getting a good home

David Schuman put down the paint brush a long time ago, maybe 45 years ago. After studies at the Maryland Institute, he went into wholesale furniture instead of portraiture. "But about two years ago," Schuman said the other day, "I started painting again." And as he worked the brush he found he had not lost his hTC touch. Friends were impressed and encouraging. Working from photographs, Schuman painted convincing portraits of Baltimore philanthropist Zanvyl Krieger and pianist Andre Watts. Then he embarked on a portrait of Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton. Using a news photograph taken on the night of the 1992 election, Schuman created a 24-inch-by-30-inch work that depicts both the victorious candidate and his wife.

Mrs. Clinton first saw the painting at City Hall during her visit to Baltimore last year and was sufficiently impressed that Schuman decided to make the portrait a gift to the First Family. "But I wanted to hand-deliver it," Schuman said, and that meant finding a means of entree. Schuman's efforts paid off last week when he, his wife and children were invited to the White House for a personal meeting with Mrs. Clinton.

"It was a low key meeting that lasted about 45 minutes," a surprised and excited Schuman said. "Mrs. Clinton said she loved the painting and that her aides had said they were surprised at its quality. It will hang in the Clintons' personal quarters. I told Mrs. Clinton, 'I'm confident it will have a good home.' "

More signs of Hons

Along the Jones Falls Expressway, not far from the Pepsi sign, you'll see an amusing billboard declaring, "Welcome to Bawlmer, HON." Our hero, Hon Man -- he of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway "hon" signs -- is not responsible for this one. This one has commercial, as well as civic, appeal. It was put there by Mark Downs, the office furniture company in Cockeysville. The billboard was Mark Downs CEO Steve Rosen's idea. You see, "hon" is not only the familiar Balwmeresque term of affection; it's also the name of a major office furniture manufacturer. HON Inc. is based in Iowa, and Mark Downs has been distributing HON's products for a few years. So, ever since Mark Downs introduced the line, Rosen has been wanting to say, Welcome to Bawlmer, HON!" Get it?

Don't ask me

People have spent so much time together at home this winter -- more than we ever imagined possible -- one fears for a lack of romance by Valentine's Day. (I mean, by now, we're sick of each other, right?)

Ah, but take heart. Peer through the snowy gauze of winter and you can see warm signs of love, if not spring. Consider what happened the other day in Westminster when two people, apparently having run out of things to do and inexplicably inspired, decided to put the kids in the car and get married.

As a handful of men and women hacked and chopped at the domes of ice on their cars in front of the just-closed Carroll County Courthouse Wednesday, a station wagon with Pennsylvania tags pulled up. Inside were a man in his 40s, a woman of similar age, and several children.

The man rolled down the sleet-covered, driver-side window and asked one of the women if she worked in the courthouse.

"No," she answered, "but what do you need, directions?"

"What are the standards for getting married in Maryland?" asked the man.

"I don't know," the woman answered. "I got married in Massachusetts."

The driver pulled up to the next car and asked its owner, a local architect, the same question.

"I don't know," the architect said, leaning back into his ice scraping. "I got married in Texas."

Memory tricks

I keep hearing this voice. The voice of an old man, (or maybe Dana Carvey imitating an old man). I keep hearing him. He's cranky and smug: "What's all this whining about winter? Why, when I was a lad, we'd get 2 feet of snow overnight, wake up, shovel the walks, the driveways, the sidewalks, the streets, then hitch up the horses and do our chores. Then we'd go to school. We walked five miles through snow and ice. They never closed school when I was a lad. Our fingers would freeze and fall off, but we'd just sew them back on and go about our business. We'd sleep with pigs and sheep to keep warm. The snow and ice would cover our windows and we wouldn't see sun 'til April. No one ever complained. We ate lard. If there wasn't enough lard, we ate wool."

Give back the gloves

Will the strange woman who took my red gloves from Long John's Pub last Friday night please return them? Dial 332-6166. No questions asked.

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