June 18, 1994

THOUGH THE good folks at NationsBank retired the lighted "mn" sign atop the Maryland National Bank Building downtown at 10 Light St., the sign lives on in at least two other forms.

One is the greeting at Maryland National ATM machines around town, which includes an electronic depiction of the Art Deco bank building with the "mn" sign intact.

The other is a station identification used between commercials by WBFF, Channel 54 on your local TV dial. The ID features a shot of the Baltimore skyline -- the top of the bank building and the "mn" sign being the most prominent features in the foreground. A colleague tells us he saw the station ID at 1:30 a.m. recently while he watched "Tora! Tora! Tora!" on Channel 54.

As reported in a story last April in The Sun, NationsBank plans to spend up to $1 million to repair the copper shingles on the building's roof and apply 24-karat gold leaf to the roof's cap and its six ornamental ribs.

The letters from the "mn" sign are to be reassembled at the Baltimore Museum of Industry on Key Highway.

Meanwhile, if you want to see the sign in its former glory, an ATM machine or a late-night movie might be your best bet.

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ONE OF THE chores of a vice president is to go around the country chewing chicken, attending fund-raisers and uttering boilerplate rhetoric on behalf of the candidates of his party. Such was Al Gore's fate when he attended Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes' $150,000 fund-raiser at the Omni Hotel in downtown Baltimore recently.

Sometimes, however, the boilerplate inadvertently blows off a head of steam the vice presidential orator had not intended. According to the Associated Press account, here is one of the things Mr. Gore said about fellow Democrat Sarbanes:

"When the tough calls have to be made, they [fellow senators] know Paul Sarbanes has the toughness and the character to call the tough ones right down the middle."

Gallimaufry can imagine the senator's Republican opponents pondering those words and then thinking: "Yes, that's the trouble with Paul. Give him a tough decision and he'll come 'right down the middle.' "

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FOR 90 years until 1988, Holzapfel's Violin Shop was part of Baltimore. The shop, in the 200 block West Fayette Street, may be no more, but some of its machinery and instruments are preserved in a new exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. As a tribute to the Holzapfel legacy, the museum is sponsoring a series of classical music performances. Peabody Institute Professor Ray Sprenkle will chronicle the history of music for the violin on June 26. Other events are scheduled for August and September.

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