The Morning Man

October 12, 1995|By Linell Smith | Linell Smith,SUN STAFF

FREELAND -- It's 5:30 a.m. In the soft, charcoal black of a country morning, crickets are chirping and a light breeze teases the oaks. Inside a brightly lit house, Terry Hunt is fixing breakfast for the first shift.

The coffee is perking as he lines up the bacon on a feed-an-army electric griddle. The neighbor's dog Kibbles whines at the screen door. Sounds of plumbing groan from above: Nancy Hunt is getting ready for her job at Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

Barefoot in white shorts and maroon polo shirt, Mr. Hunt stares trance-like at the coffee machine, a meditative moment before ,, the explosion of family. For the next 2 1/2 hours, he will orchestrate the arrival, feeding and departure of his wife and their children: 12-year-old Justin, 7-year-old Lauren and 6-year-old Kyle.

So begins the drama of weekday mornings -- a play in continuous rehearsal. In this northern Baltimore County household, Terry Hunt, 43, is director: a '90s dad, matching up socks and soccer schedules to help the family function smoothly.

The daily script usually includes repeated entreaties for Lauren to wake up and get going -- an enterprise that builds in suspense until the climactic 900-foot -- down the driveway to catch the school bus. Next, a comparatively tranquil interlude: The feeding of three horses, one steer, four dogs, four cats and one potbellied pig.

Then it's on to the real business of the morning: his. As owner of JLK Office Systems (a business named after the kids), Mr. Hunt spends much of his life on the road between Pennsylvania and Washington, recycling laser printer toner cartridges for such clients as Johns Hopkins University and Towson State University and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

* 5:40 a.m.: Time for Nancy Hunt to make a brief appearance before the 40-minute drive to GBMC. In she --es, dressed in a suit, beeper on belt, hair coiffed, makeup perfect, primed for her job as service co-ordinator for the gynecology-urology services in the general operating room. She grabs a cup of coffee and cobbles together lunch. Sometimes it's yogurt, but today she's in luck: Terry made crab soup over the weekend.

Mrs. Hunt, 38, spends her life organizing. By day, she makes sure everything is in order for surgery -- the supplies, the 'N staffing. By night, she presides over homework and baths, readies the children's outfits, plants their backpacks near the front hall, then cracks open the textbook for her logic course. On weekends, she's getting her BSN at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland.

"I'm not a sitter-downer," she explains. "When Kyle was a baby, I was working four part-time nursing jobs but Terry said, 'Nance, it's too much.' "

As she gulps her coffee, she's still double-checking the daily schedule: "Remember, the kids have drama today," she tells her husband as she heads out a front door decorated with Halloween lights. "And we've got to get Frankie a birthday gift."

* 6:15 a.m.: Next to appear is Justin, who must catch a 6:50 a.m. bus for his hour-long ride to Hereford Middle School. Justin, lean and handsome, hair combed back neatly and wetly, isn't much (( for talk before the sun comes up. But his appetite remains eloquent.

"Jus, want some scrambled eggs?"

Justin nods. As he waits, he consumes a bagel and some orange juice at the kitchen table, which is organized with mint-green Gloria Vanderbilt place mats. He looks longingly toward the stove. Last night he had soccer and jujitsu. The bacon smells alluring.

"I get the most bacon," he says.

"Yeah, Justin's a good eater," his father says, turning the bacon. "Kyle's a pancake man. Lauren likes sausage biscuits."

A house in the woods

Mr. Hunt cooks pancakes and then freezes them, a la Heloise. As he presides at the stove, he briefly recalls the days before he met Nancy, a time when he was more familiar with Baltimore nightclubs than the challenges of family cooking. He grew up in Dundalk, a streetwise neighborhood kid who always longed for the day when he could live in the woods.

After he married Nancy, who grew up in Parkville, they lived in Dundalk with his grandmother until they bought this eight-acre property, a half-mile from the Pennsylvania line. They paid it off in two years, rented a house in nearby Hereford, and spent the weekends clearing the place with their own chain saws. They moved into the custom-built cedar house just before Lauren was born.

Then they began to accumulate animals: Christmas, the thoroughbred; Sarah, the quarter horse and Cash, the Appaloosa; Ferdinand, the black Angus steer; Rudy the Vietnamese potbellied pig; Jack and Jefferson, the beagle brothers; Gabe and Kita, the labs. And cats: Electric, Fireball, Magenta and Coal, the chosen one who gets a can of tuna each night.

Now there's also a tractor -- a 1961 Farm All -- and a camper that they drive every year to Disney World. There's a goldfish pond and an above-ground swimming pool with a large deck that Terry built and that the family uses for entertaining.

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