Street hustler lightens wallet of newcomer

This Just In ...

October 27, 1995|By DAN RODRICKS

So this guy named Peter wants to tell me this story, but I have no idea why he wants to tell me this story because it's just so embarrassing. (I mean, it would be like me telling about the time the plastic pen cap got stuck in my ear while I was on assignment in Rome last year.)

So maybe Peter wants to tell his story as a warning to others. (Which would be a good reason for me to tell the story of the pen cap getting stuck in my ear, except it's just too embarrassing to even mention.)

Anyway, this Peter is British, which might explain something. Not yet savvy to the customs of America, and having come from a kingdom where eating standing up is still considered crass, Peter might be a bit on the naive side -- know what I mean? -- when it comes to dealing with street hustlers in Baltimore. This particular hustler came to Peter's front door.

Now, imagine Peter telling this story in a British accent. Imagine one of those charming fellows from "Brideshead Revisited," dressed in a tweed jacket, sitting with his legs crossed for an afternoon spot at the Old Waverly. He giggles -- titters, actually -- as he tells this tale, perhaps amused at his own naivete.

"About 5 p.m., a young man came to my door and rang the bell. He was terribly nervous and distraught, but gave a rather convincing, very authentic and heart-rending story about his family of five small children. He was quite the raconteur. He said he was attempting to relocate them, find them a home.

"I offered to give him $5. He said, 'Well, $5 won't go very far.' So I gave him $10, and he was very grateful. He then left.

"About two hours later, he returned. He had a sealed envelope in his hands. He said, 'I really appreciated your kindness; you helped me through a very difficult time. I want to repay you.' He apologized and said there was a $20 bill sealed in the envelope, and could I give him $10 back in change.

"So that's what I did -- I gave him another $10 bill -- and he left. But when I opened the envelope, there was nothing inside."

At this, Peter started giggling again. Tittering, actually. Blithering, too.

A word of consolation (in American blues style): You ain't the first been had. You ain't the last been took.

A fund-razor for MS

Kelly and Mary Sheridan, who run a bar and restaurant on Eastern Avenue, love to ski. But looks like they'll need extra wool on the noggin when they hit the slopes this winter. If Kelly raises $10,000 for the Multiple Sclerosis Society by Halloween, the man of the house has to shave his head. If bar patrons hit the $20,000 mark, Mary shaves hers.

Hair sacrifice is part of Ugly Bartender month at Kelly's, one of the best neighborhood joints in Baltimore and one of the leading fund-raisers for MSS in the nation. (The bar raised $17,000 last year.) It's practically a given that Kelly will be "doing a Buhner" soon. The bar is well on the way to $10,000. "But our goal is $20,000 this year," Kelly crows, almost breathless at the prospect of a bald wife.

Nipper's doggie bag

It'll be a total kick when Nipper, the RCA dog from Russell Street, returns to the city next month. "His Master's Voice" was a Baltimore landmark for years, and I've been hearing nostalgic stories about the big fiberglass pooch all week.

"When we were kids -- there were six of us -- we lived in Lakeland, the city side of Landsdowne," says Lisa Mack, who grew up as Lisa Redford. "When it was time for us to visit my grandmother in Dundalk, we all got excited because that meant we'd drive right past the big dog on Russell Street. So for days we saved bread to feed the dog." At the time, in the early 1960s, the Redfords didn't know the dog's name. "We just called it Grandma Mimi's dog." Lisa, her three sisters and two brothers piled into their parents' station wagon. "When we reached the dog, my dad slowed down. All us kids would fight to get to the car windows to throw bread to the dog." No wonder, when he was sold to a collector in the 1970s, Nipper had so many pigeons in his stomach.

Drill skill

I hear the 750 students at Jacksonville Elementary were able to clear the building in 45 seconds during a fire drill. That's half the time required by the regs. High fives all around.

On a tear

Big rumble at Graffiti's in Timonium the other night. I understand off-duty cops from Poughkeepsie were involved, and that someone had an earlobe torn off. Ouch.

Goodbye, gentle friend

Farewell to Rosie, a shaggy black mix of collie and Lab who lived with us for 16 years. She died yesterday at Falls Road Animal Hospital, where she had been treated so long and so well. Rosie was homeless, ice-cold and wet when Ellen Hawks, the "Pausing With Pets" columnist of The Evening Sun, insisted I take her off the streets of Baltimore. We're forever grateful. Rosie was a good watchdog and groundhog hunter, an intrepid hiking companion and gentle friend to the end.

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