For all good men and women to rescue the...

THIS IS THE TIME

March 16, 1996

THIS IS THE TIME for all good men and women to rescue the Flower Mart and bring it back to Mount Vernon Square, where it belongs. Since the Women's Civic League, which in the past several years has been an increasingly erratic steward of this Baltimore tradition, has seen fit to cancel the event, the city Parks and Recreation Department, Peabody Institute and the School for the Arts should unite to host it.

The Flower Mart we have in mind does not have to be an elaborate event. But it should celebrate the arrival of spring with flowers, music and the traditional lemon-peppermint sticks.

There is so much gloominess in Baltimore City these days that we need this celebration, particularly after one of the roughest FTC winters in history. The Peabody and the School for the Arts are the natural new hosts for this event, which dates back to 1911.

Both are Mount Vernon institutions, both can use a new way to raise funds and increase their profile. As for the parks department, it could use the Flower Mart to publicize its spring and summer programs.

For several years, it has been apparent that the Women's Civic League, with its aging and declining suburbanized membership, is no longer the right organization to sponsor the city Flower Mart. Let's cheer the ladies and let them retire in grace.

NEW REPORTS of children killed by air bags in car crashes should not disparage the role of these devices in saving lives. The findings underscore the importance of properly wearing seat belts, even in vehicles with automatic air bags.

Most of the youngsters who died by injuries from high-speed deployment of the inflated air bags were not wearing seat belts or were using them improperly.

Since 1987, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported, 15 children died from air bag injuries in crashes. But more than 1,500 lives have been saved by the bags, the agency noted. With 50 million cars on the road equipped with air bags, they are no longer a novel option. Indeed, they will be required by law for 1998 models. Meantime, government and industry are pushing efforts to improve their safety and publicize proper use by the public; car manufacturers hope to have a position-sensoring "smart bag" ready in five years. Most important is still the decades-old admonition to "buckle up."

DURING public television's "Out of Ireland" the other evening, an ancient insult came up: the people, on an island in a sea full of fish, starved to death. As so often in history, the story should be that simple.

Mainly, the fish were on the other side of the Atlantic. To get to the Grand Banks, as English and French fishermen did, required boats of some size. For big ships, big timbers. But the forests of Ireland were clear-cut centuries ago, for hearth fires (see, alas, today's Haiti). The Irish then burned peat.

England had authorities, who reserved whole forests for special use big hulls and masts, castle and cathedral vaulting. Ireland, instead of central government and civil law, had liberty, fighting (up the clan!), one-crop farming, gruesome crop failure and, eventually, emigration.

Pub. date 3/16/96

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