Ferrets, odoriferous attributes aside, are feted in Dickeyville

THIS JUST IN . . .

June 15, 1994|By DAN RODRICKS

Good news for ferrets and the people who love them: Those small, mildly stinky critters may now be bought and sold without a special permit in the city. Ferrets are no longer considered wild animals by the health department. The city had been the only metropolitan-area subdivision that restricted ownership of the increasingly popular pets, a domesticated variety of polecat. The Baltimore Ferret Club is quite excited by all this -- though I'll bet they're not too excited by my use of "mildly stinky." Members of the club have been celebrating. They staged a ferret street race in Dickeyville Sunday. Spunky, a 1-year-old hob (male), made it to the finish line ahead of 30 other competitors, according to Diane B. Rogers, president of the club. "By popular demand of my neighbors and the losing ferrets, this event will be repeated at our July 10 ice cream social," she says. "We're also having a float at the Dickeyville Fourth of July parade to celebrate the ferret freedom movement in Baltimore City. Stop by!" And, if you're marking your calendars for "red ferret days," check off Sept. 24. There's going to be a big weasel expo right here in Charm City. I know this all sounds a little weird, but apparently ferrets make fine pets. They're described as playful, cuddly and delightfully mischievous. And there's even a bit of Baltimore heritage at play here. H. L. Mencken once related in an essay how, in the sweltering summers of late 19th century Baltimore, the lethargic rivers of those days filled with sewage and, by August, "smelled like a billion polecats."

Carryout curse

Some friendly advice: Order anything you like from the extensive Greek-Italian menu at Pepe's, the popular carryout and pizza shop on Falls Road, but avoid the 6-6-6 combo. That is, chef salad, a bottle of soda and a medium-size bag of Utz plain chips. By coincidence, the total charge for this combination was exactly $6.66. The devil's number! Chills. It gave me chills. (But I was too hungry to do anything about it.)

I later mentioned this to a cashier at Giant, and she said that, whenever she rings up $6.66, customers freak and quickly add a candy bar or magazine to their purchase just to avoid the number.

Stadium posturing

Parris Glendening, Democratic candidate for governor, wants to explain why he supports public funding for a new sports arena for Abe Pollin but opposes a privately financed football stadium for Jack Kent Cooke. Glendening says there is no contradiction in the positions. If studies demonstrate a need -- a huge "if" in my book -- to replace the 22-year-old USAir Arena in Landover, a new one could be financed with public support and managed through the Maryland Stadium Authority, Glendening says. An arena for Pollin's Caps and Bullets has many uses; it could be active all but a few days each year. By contrast, a football stadium would be used only about 10 days each year, Glendening says. And the notion that a football stadium in Laurel won't cost the state much is wrong. "It could cost the state as much as $100 million in infrastructure, not to mention the environmental impact," Glendening says. Cooke moving his NFL franchise to Camden Yards, already primed for a new football stadium, makes a lot more sense. Short of that, Glendening says, he will not support a Cooke move to Maryland.

Glendening led with his chin on this issue last week. When you're on the cutting edge, sometimes you get cut. His opponents are sharpening their knives.

Democrat Mickey Steinberg said this: "Parris Glendening has become little more than a 'tool' of Washington Capitals owner Abe Pollin. Marylanders can ill afford to build a new stadium for the multimillionaire club owner. . . . Why are we even debating this? Our economic engines must be refired with economic growth in dynamic and sustainable sectors. Hockey arenas just don't qualify. What real benefits would come to the taxpayers of Maryland? Jobs for hot dog and peanut vendors? If Abe Pollin wants to play Washington against Maryland in this game, I say so long and good luck finding some other suckers to waste the public money."

Of course, Steinberg led the charge in the Maryland legislature to publicly finance Camden Yards. That's true, says his spokesman, Dan Walter, but those were the good old days, when the state had a budget surplus. The state can't afford to prop up millionaires who own franchises anymore. Steinberg wants to repeal the state bond authorization for public funding of a new football stadium at Camden Yards and seek a private investor.

Other candidates who oppose use of state funds for a new arena for Pollin are Republicans Bill Shepard and Ellen Sauerbrey, and Democrat Mary Boergers.

'Exstream Caution'

Sign placed along Baltimore-Washington Parkway: "Work Ahead. Use Exstream Caution." Must be the handiwork of the same people who brought us: "Speed limit strickly enforced" (same parkway, April), and "Park Closed Dawn Til Dust" (Waterfront park, Snow Hill).

Warm weather poetry

From a contributor who calls himself Johnnie Limerick:

There's a phrase most everyone knows,

In this town where Natty Boh flows,

When the weather turns warm,

It's considered good form,

To let out with, 'How 'bout dem Os!'

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