Mystery neighbor brings moment of mirth to Apartment 424

THIS JUST IN . . .

September 02, 1994|By DAN RODRICKS

Erica Scotto has four children, and that goes for Mr. Scotto, too. They live in an apartment complex in Owings Mills. Antonio Scotto works full time in a restaurant. Erica works full time in her apartment, mom to "four rambunctious little boys." The boys are: Stefano, 7; Daniel, 5; Gianluca, 3 pushing 4; and Rossano, who's 2. "As you can imagine," Erica says. "I have my hands full."

Imagine this: Wednesday morning, outside her place, Erica encounters a woman looking for Apartment 424.

"That's my apartment," Erica says. "Can I help you?"

The woman says she's a licensing specialist from the Child Care Administration of the state Department of Human Resources. She's acting on a complaint that Erica Scotto has been running an "illegal day care center" in Apartment 424.

"Say what?"

You got it. One of Erica's neighbors -- the licensing specialist was not permitted to say which -- had complained that Apartment 424 was an unlicensed day care center.

"No, these are my kids," Erica says. "I'm not watching any others."

The licensing specialist believed her but did not leave without first giving Erica a form letter detailing Maryland day care regulations, fines for operating without certification and instructions for applying for licensure. What did Erica do? She laughed. What did Antonio do when he heard about this? He laughed a bigger laugh.

Had any of her neighbors complained about the Scotto boys making too much noise?

"No."

Is there any way someone could have construed she was taking care of other people's children?

"No," she says. "The boys definitely look like brothers; they all have the same color hair and eyes. I don't have other kids over here because, well, it's just too much."

How long have the Scottos lived in Apartment 424?

"Since March."

Well, maybe it's time Erica, Antonio and the boys had the neighbors over for a get-acquainted coffee. It's just an idea.

Woman in a hurry

So, at last count, about five dozen people think I'm an impatient twit because I had the audacity to gripe in this space -- that is to say, publicly -- about their annoying habit of backing into spaces in crowded garages and parking lots. But my impatience -- if that's what it is -- can't compare with that of a women spotted the other day on Walther Boulevard. The car in which she was riding approached the red light at Harford Road, and, as soon as the car stopped, the woman sprang out of the passenger door. She ran to the corner, pushed the pedestrian-walk button, then slid back into the car just as the

light turned green. Geesh! Chill, baby, chill!

Noises in the night

Jackhammers in the wee small hours of the morning? Sounds like a nightmare. But such a specter rose up from Beechwood Avenue in Catonsville Wednesday: Four guys in a public works crew tearing up the street. Lights flashing. Motors running. Jacks hammerin'. It was 1:30 in the bleepin' mornin'!

Lil Knipp got out of bed, slapped on a robe and went into the street.

"Got a leak," shouted the guy who looked like the supervisor.

"Is it serious?" Lil shouted back.

"No, just a small leak."

"Then why," Lil asked, "are you fixing it now?"

"Because this is when I work," the man said over the jackhammers. "I'm on the 11-to-7 shift."

"Are basements going to be flooded?" Lil asked.

"No."

"Will there be water in the morning?"

"Yes. Lady, if you have a problem with what we're doing, call 396-7800."

That was the number for the city's Department of Public Works, which maintains the water system for the metropolitan area. Lil called, got the dispatcher and asked why the crew was tearing up Beechwood Avenue at 1:30 in the morning.

"Because," said the voice on the phone, "I dispatched a job to repair a broken water main."

"But the water main isn't broken. It's just a leak."

"We won't do this if you don't want us to," the dispatcher said. "You can call the men off the job."

"So let me get this straight," says Lil. "I have to tell you that it's not a good idea to keep a whole neighborhood awake tearing up the street to repair a small leak that can wait til morning?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Then tell them to stop!"

And they did. Five minutes later, the men were gone. We're not making this up.

Make way, Bertha

Monday's item about "Eat Bertha's Mussels" produced a note from a reader named Rob, who claims to have seen another familiar Baltimore bumper sticker in his travels. "I travel a lot," he writes on a dingy Fort Lauderdale postcard. "I have seen Hammerjack's bumper stickers on an Army tank in Germany, a lumber truck in Alaska, on a Jeep on a freeway in L.A., on a lamppost at the very end of Key West and in a bar in San Juan." (You think that's something? Just last week, I saw Murry of

Murry's Steaks on the Jersey Turnpike.)

Cool Whip on the side

Here's something you don't want to miss: Maria's pizza and sub shop, 5101 Eastern Ave., is now offering "Free Jello With Every Order."

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