N.Y. executive, author misses her Baltimore

May 12, 1994|By JACQUES KELLY

Stephanie Pierson has the kind of life many people covet.

She has a beautiful daughter, a wonderful husband and a view of the Hudson River from her Manhattan home. There's also a weekend house in Connecticut.

Her Chrysler Building office is larger than many New York apartments.

"But I can't stop loving Baltimore," she says. "I miss Baltimore. You can leave it, but you can never get it out of you."

In fact, this former Baltimorean comes back often to visit. She knows the difference between a crab cake bought at Lexington Market and one purchased at the Cross Street Market; and a New York crab cake and a Baltimore one.

"You know, I don't have the heart to tell the New York restaurants about crab," Ms. Pierson says. "It doesn't need any garlic. But they all seem to use it. I don't want a French crab cake."

But we're not really writing about Ms. Pierson because of her knowledge of crab cakes. There's another reason.

A few weeks ago, her first collection of witty and well-written anecdotes about her husband, Tom Connell, a Metropolitan Opera production stage manager, and her much loved daughter Phoebe made its debut. A dog named Ollie gets into these pages a lot, too. There's also a ton of bashing of decorating-entertainment maven Martha Stewart, but it's not mean spirited.

Her book is titled "Because I'm the Mother, That's Why," and there's a subtitle, "Mostly true confessions of modern motherhood."

Because of the book, she's being called the Erma Bombeck of citified baby boomers.

Ms. Pierson says her style is a little more neurotic and more urban than Bombeck's, as befits someone who writes for Metropolitan Home, McCall's and New York magazines in addition to her advertising work.

The author is the daughter of Baltimore printing executive Emanuel Pierson and Vivian Olsen Pierson, who taught at Morgan State University and was an official of the League of Women Voters and the Citizens Planning and Housing Association.

She was born in New Jersey while her father was in military service, but the family moved soon afterward to 2210 W. Rogers Ave. in Mount Washington. "I loved Pimlico. You could practically see the place from our house," Ms. Pierson says.

The neighborhood also had the right mix of religions.

"I am half-Jewish and half-Protestant. Mount Washington seemed like the right neighborhood for a child. When I got older, we moved to Bolton Hill and wound up at 253 W. Lafayette Ave. My parents were very active in the neighborhood," she says.

Stephanie Pierson started high school at Eastern but transferred to the Bryn Mawr School (class of 1963) before leaving Baltimore for Connecticut College.

"Howard and Lexington [streets] was the center of my life. Those four stores, Hutzler's, Hochschild-Kohn, Hecht's and Stewart's. They were living treasures. So was the old Miller Brothers' restaurant. I think everybody ate Boston cream pie. Does anybody eat that today?" she asks.

For her, a trip downtown always included a stop at Hutzler's Saratoga Street fountain shop, just across from the rug department and one floor down from the garage.

"That counter at Hutzler's was my Lutece," she says, making a comparison with the well-known New York restaurant.

Her love of the retail marketplace must have made an impression. She went into advertising and is today a senior vice president at the Ted Bates Agency. The ad you hear for Mars candy (M&Ms) or Campbell's soup may well have been her work.

And yet, Ms. Pierson remains a Baltimorean at heart.

"I find there is one thing Baltimoreans are sensitive about and that's Baltimore. You don't criticize a crab cake or the Oriole or the accent around them. You can't even say the harbor is too touristy," she says.

And if the world were entirely perfect, she says, she would give up Madison Avenue and head for an old house atop Federal Hill. Or maybe something in Homeland, around the corner from her exemplar.

"My role model and hero is Anne Tyler. The last time I was in Baltimore I made my friends drive me by her house just so I could see it," she says.

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