The little things make Baltimore what(ever) it is

September 12, 1995|By MICHAEL OLESKER

Since today is primary election day -- Yes! You never heard about this over the past six months? You're not ducking reflexively from the drive-by political shootings over the airwaves? -- and since election days are times for taking stock, TC let's take stock of . . .

The Little Things That Make Baltimore What It Is (whatever that is), to wit:

1. Orioles' fans who sing the "O" so loudly during the national anthem that you can hardly hear the rest of the Bawlamerese line: ". . . say does dat store spangelt banner yet wabe . . ."

2. Big Hair contests at Cafe Hon.

3. The way you can ask anybody who's been around, Who was the all-time coolest disc jockey on the radio, and they automatically answer Fat Daddy if they don't answer Hot Rod.

4. The eerie 6 in the morning silence after freshly fallen snow on the streets of Bolton Hill.

5. The eerie 3 in the afternoon silence when Walter Amprey asks his educational gang on North Avenue, "OK, what's our excuse this time?"

6. People who still hold a grudge against the Mayflower moving van company.

7. Political candidates who dream up weird conspiracies to explain their election defeats. Such as Melvin Perkins and Monroe Cornish. And Ellen Sauerbrey.

8. People who still give directions by saying, "You go out to Carlin's Park, and . . ."

9. The main branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, where you walk in and feel as if you're entering a holy place of words and ideas.

10. The specialties of the house at Greg's Bagels, on Belvedere Avenue just below York Road, where you feel as if you're entering a holy place of bageldom.

11. Ferocious political debates over who has more charisma: Parris Glendening or Harry Hughes? Paul Sarbanes or Ben Cardin? Les Kinsolving or his ventriloquist?

12. The way people mention UCLA and you automatically know they're talking about Catonsville Community College (University of Catonsville, Left of Arbutus).

13. Gamblers Anonymous meetings where somebody's taking action on the likelihood of casino gambling coming to Maryland.

14. Hunky Sauerhoff on a hot streak, when he's signing up everybody for his Loyal Sons of Pigtown.

15. Mack Lewis, on a routine streak, when he gives the brutal sport of boxing his special dignity.

16. When somebody mentions Druid Hill Park, and you instinctively think of people washing their cars on weekend afternoons.

17. When somebody mentions Leakin Park, and you instinctively think of bodies discovered inside car trunks on weekend afternoons.

18. The Baltimore City Life Museums, which everybody passes as they exit the bottom of the Jones Falls Expressway and that the city, with its deft touch at public relations, has done almost nothing to promote.

19. The guy in Section 36 on Cal Ripken's big night at Camden Yards, talking on his portable telephone, who reached out in mid-conversation to catch a foul pop with one hand. Maybe it's a new service from AT&T: Ball Waiting.

20. Memories of Harry McGuirk's hair.

21. Marc Steiner's noontime talk show on WJHU (88.1 FM) radio. What a revolutionary idea: Discussing the day's controversial issues, but maintaining a sense of civility.

22. Those who still miss Mary Avara and the Maryland Censor Board. Without Mary safeguarding the community's morals, it's just not as much fun to sneak in and watch a sexy movie.

23. The pickup basketball games across from the old streetcar barn at Druid Hill Avenue, just below Fulton. This place is an argument against any nighttime curfews for kids, because the only law broken here is the law of gravity.

24. The Charles Theatre, where they still show movies that aren't geared to the lowest common denominator.

25. The way people hear the word "Sputnik" and automatically think of Lenny Moore. The way they spot John Unitas and automatically sing out the old Mary Sue Easter egg jingle. The way they attend Baltimore Stallion CFL games because it reminds them of Baltimore Colt games before the unimaginable happened.

26. People who never quite get around to voting on Election Day, but will somehow spend the next four years complaining, "How come we never elect anybody decent around here?"

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