If the world is a stage, Baltimore is full of comic bit-players


April 04, 1994|By DAN RODRICKS

A fine fellow who works for a big Baltimore company -- big enough to have a skybox at Oriole Park -- looks forward to people-gazing at Camden Yards. "It's great. Last season a guy sitting near me was booing really loud about some play on the field. And the guy in front of him, in a shirt and tie, turns around and tells him to please be quiet because he was trying to have a conversation on his cellular phone."

From the hon front

Mayor Schmoke, Hon Man and Mrs. Hon Man met for a few minutes at City Hall the other day, and the encounter was pleasant, if uneventful. The parties discussed Hon Man's dogged efforts to keep "hon" part of the greeting to visitors and commuters on the welcome sign on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, the good feelings it created for some, the complaints it provoked from others. There was acknowledgment that the amusement some derived from Hon Man's ongoing prank has been diminished by the hubbub that ensued over the legislative efforts to make "hon" part of an official greeting to Baltimore. So there it sits. I wouldn't look for any major news on the hon front for the time being. Will Hon Man retire? Go public? He wouldn't say. He did say he was surprised that the expression he championed had been considered demeaning and offensive by some people, particularly black Baltimoreans and some women. "I meant nothing by it but a way to make people smile," he said.

But Hon Man should know he made a lot of people smile for a while. "I was going to St. Joseph's Hospital to see a relative and was extremely down," said a letter from a person named Smith in Severna Park. "And then I saw the sign and it made my day, and I thought, gee, things really aren't that bad." And Kathy Plank, formerly of Baltimore, now of Annapolis, saw the Hon placard attached to the welcome sign one particularly stressful day when she was driving up the parkway, on her way to Hopkins Hospital. Her 16-month-old daughter was having open-heart surgery. "Just tell Hon Man thanks for making me feel at home," Kathy says. Done.

Whaddaya tryin' to do?

Royal Parker. In Baltimore, the name is synonymous with upholstery protection. He's the man whose familiar baritone was heard for years on local television saying, "Hey, you kids, get your feet off that furniture! Whaddaya tryin' to do, ruin it?" And there was the Pied-Piper-Pest-Control-For-The-BestControl spot, of course. And, before all that, years and years of local TV work, from kiddie shows to bowling shows to the lottery drawing and a talk show. We're talking local legend here.

Well, are you ready? That big, lovable mensch called the other day to say it's true what we've been hearing -- he's going to run for the House of Delegates in the 42nd District, challenging several incumbents. He hasn't filed his papers yet, but Parker's people -- he'll actually be running under his real name, Royal Pollokoff -- are organizing a fund-raiser for later this month. We even hear that Parker-Pollokoff has come up with a campaign jingle, a nice touch given Royal's broadcasting background, and a campaign slogan that goes, "Hey, you incumbents, get out of that House of Delegates! Whaddaya tryin' to do, ruin it?"

Have we got a show for you

Floyd B. "Doc" Turner worked 23 years in the sheriff's department of Wicomico County, the last eight of those years in the court system. He saw a lot of trials in that time, and he used to take a few notes during lulls in the action. Those notes turned into a collection of poems based on his Circuit Court observations. Doc calls it "simple good ole boy, Eastern Shore poetry" and "the silly ramblings of an old man with nothing better to do with his time." Here are a select few.

The Civil Ones

We sit in court, our eyelids sag,

Civil cases are such a drag.

Lawyers talk too long a spiel,

To get their clients a better deal.

The judge is bored as much as we,

That we all can plainly see.

Give us crime that stirs the blood,

Not civil cases that sling the mud.

At Law

Lawyers are loquacious, I'm sure you will agree/ Their terms fill the courtroom, up to your knee.

They bat words around like balls in a park/ And when they are all thru, I'm still in the dark.

When they say, "I won't belabor the facts"/ Get prepared for a play with at least ten acts.

"Now just briefly, your honor,"

when a lawyer says that/ You may as well surrender and reach for your hat.

The display of folders and books on the table/ I assume make attorneys appear more able.

Lawyers to me are a mysterious lot/ But our system requires them, like it or not.

Looking In

In court I suppose there's always been

Spectators who come to view

Procedures and all arguments

On crime and people who sue.

You can see all this on TV sets,

In our dens or family room.

But a real live show, with folks you know

Watch evidence seal their doom.

So if your TV is on the blink,

And you have nothing else to do,

Come on down to the courthouse,

Have we got a show for you.

This Just In appears each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. If you have an item for the column, write to The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278, or call (410) 332-6166.

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