THIS department recently received an envelope bearing the...


August 20, 1994

THIS department recently received an envelope bearing the $1 Johns Hopkins commemorative stamp. The Postal Service issued it four years ago this summer to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the opening of Johns Hopkins Hospital. This beckons the question: How often has Baltimore and its famous residents been enshrined in postal history?

Not many, was the answer gleaned from "The Postal Guide to U.S. Stamps." Baltimore-born Frederick Douglass has a commemorative stamp, issued in 1965 as part of a "Prominent Americans" block. The Edgar Allan Poe three-cent stamp appeared in 1948. Milestones of the city's history such as the B&O Railroad (1952) and the Basilica of the Assumption (1979) are tucked among series honoring the nation's transportation history and architecture landmarks.

Over the years, several Baltimore luminaries have been conspicuously neglected. "The Sage of Baltimore" H.L. Mencken, way past the 10-years-since-death-requirement for commemoration, has yet to receive a stamp, though other famous journalists, such as Pulitzer and Murrow, have. Baltimore blues singer Billie Holiday, who died in 1959, will be honored in September in a Jazz and Blues musicians series.

Maybe that will start a trend. Deceased Baltimore luminaries, such as Ogden Nash and Thurgood Marshall, should be honored as well, but a bit quicker, please.

* * *

One of this department's agents told state Sen. American Joe Miedusiewski, currently a Democratic candidate for governor, that his 12-letter surname is a terrible burden for a newspaper to bear. It doesn't fit in a short headline. It is bound to confound those who never won a spelling bee.

Why not, it was suggested, change his name to Joe Medwick in honor of the great center fielder on the St Louis Cardinals' Gashouse Gang. Not so far-fetched, American Joe replied.

He recalled that when his father, Frank Miedusiewski, was playing ball in a pro league on the Eastern Shore, his moniker could not fit into the small space allotted on the score card. So he became known far and wide as "Frank Mied."

Now there's a name any newspaperman could learn to love. As in, "Governor Mied lashed out yesterday at Baltimore Sun editorials. . . ."

* * *

EVER WONDER how carefully credit card issuers check on people before offering them "pre-approved" cards with $3,500 maximums?

A colleague received such an offer. All he had to do was fill out a card with a little basic information, including his income -- but nothing else bearing on his financial condition.

It was mailed to the residence he left nearly 14 years ago.

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