Trail of nostalgia starts with a mystery and ends with a grin


January 30, 1995|By DAN RODRICKS

Somebody calls me up and wants to know why the Jones Falls Expressway smells like vinegar, right near Cold Spring Lane. They expect me to do the legwork -- make that, the nose job -- in hunting down the source of this aroma. But I don't mind because I already know the answer. I stuck my schnozzle into this question years ago. Fleischmann's Vinegar was the answer then; it's the answer now.

But, questions from curious readers keep coming in the mail, over the phone, via fax. The queries have piled high in the back of my truck. Today I'm cleaning out the truck.

A good man in D.C.

"Hey Dan," somebody on the phone wants to know, "whatever happened to Jack Bowden?"

For two decades a respected no-baloney reporter of the Baltimore scene for WMAR-TV, Channel 2, Bowden has been covering Maryland news for WJLA-TV, Channel 7 for the last four years. He was the only D.C.-based reporter to cover the elevation of Archbishop William H. Keeler to cardinal at the Vatican in November. These days, you likely will see Bowden on Channel 7's evening newscasts, probably covering the state legislature and sometimes performing backup anchor roles. You'll probably also recognize him -- if you haven't already -- as a TV reporter in a scene from "Forrest Gump." Bowden, made up with 1970s-style sideburns, does a report in front of the White House to set up the scene where Gump (Tom Hanks) meets Richard Nixon (Richard Nixon). "Tell you the truth I didn't think I'd make it into the film," Bowden says. "But the scene is definitely in there, and I get a lot of comment on it. People recognize me from the movie when I go on assignments. It's been fun."

Suds over the years

Joseph Kasprzak of Baltimore asks: "Where were the old breweries of American, Free State and Arrow beers located? A friend called to ask. I named the American at Gay and Washington, but the other two stumped me. Can you help?"

No. But Turkey Joe Trabert can. He's an expert on suds -- by consumption and by scholarship. He keeps a copy of William J. Kelley's "Brewing in Maryland" on his night stand. "The American Brewery still stands on Gay Street, the 1700 block," Turkey says. "Arrow was brewed at Hanover and Conway, where the ballpark is now. It was the first beer legally produced after repeal [of Prohibition], April 7, 1933. The beer was later brewed in Cumberland by the Queen City Co. . . . Free State -- I never drank that beer -- was brewed in the block bounded by Hillen, Ensor, Monument and Forrest, where the gas company is. You look at it and you see that it might have been a brewery, about a block from the penitentiary. Free State was brewed from April 1933 til May 1950. But I never drank it."

Sources of sweetness

"Dear Dan," writes Vivienne Stearns-Elliot, "I bought a bag of Domino Sugar recently at Giant and, out of curiosity, checked the manufacturing label to see where it was produced. I expected it to say Baltimore, but instead it was from somewhere in New York. What does that Domino plant in the Inner Harbor do? (I feel like I'm writing Dear Abby)."

Don't be so self-conscious, Viv. It's a good, hometown-sensitive question. According to Ed Saul, administrative service manager for Domino, the address placed on the package is that of the company's national headquarters in Brooklyn, N.Y. Domino has a plant there, as well as in New Orleans and, of course, Baltimore. To figure out where your bag of sweet stuff came from, check the number below the address on the bag. Each manufacturing plant has its own code. If the first number is 4, that means it's from Baltimore.

Alive and well in Virginia

"Dear Dan," writes Joe Naujokas of Owings Mills, "Whatever happened to Mike McCarthy of WMIX 106.5 FM? I wouldn't expect the station to give a straight answer. Did he quit? Was he fired? Where is he now? We enjoyed his radio show very much and we miss him."

"I'm flattered to hear that," said McCarthy when contacted in Richmond, Va. He works there as a morning deejay for another FM station with the "Mix" format, WMXB-FM. Basically, McCarthy is doing the same work he did in Baltimore, playing the hits of the '70s, '80s and '90s from 5:30 a.m. till 9 a.m. weekdays, and, when possible, splashing the airwaves with his personality. His contract with WMIX ended in August. "And we just decided to part company," McCarthy says. He started the Richmond job the same month he left Baltimore.

Getting it straight

"Danny boy," says a reader. "You spelled Meshach Meshack and you called him a '19th century colonist.' Come on, man."

OK. The man acclaimed as Maryland's greatest hunter was Meshach Browning. I shouldn't have called him a colonist in Friday's column. A more accurate term might be "settler," since he did most of his traipsing through the Garrett County wilderness in the early 1800s. His book, "Forty-Four Years In the Life of a Hunter," is rich with Browning stories "roughly written down by himself" and well worth reading. There's a new limited edition of it available for $25 through Appalachian Background Inc., Oakland, Md.

Get a load of this

Sign at All-State Building Supply Co., Seminary Avenue, Lutherville: "Farwood For Sale!"

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.