Ex-Oriole makes girl's all-star team


November 01, 1996|By DAN RODRICKS

Here are the three key elements to this story: A 10-year-old girl, a Labrador retriever puppy on the auction block and a former Oriole with a major league soft spot in his heart. The 10-year-old girl, one Libby Sheain of North Baltimore, finds herself becoming smitten with this puppy, fresh from Belquest Kennels, during the buildup to the auction at Saturday night's Ducks Unlimited banquet in Ruxton. She holds it, she pets it. "The pup starts to look like a growth on her" is how Libby's father, Charles "Buzz" Sheain, put it. The auction commences. Two guys in the back of the room start bidding. The bidding gets to $400 when former Oriole Joe Orsulak raises his hand and strikes the winning bid -- $500. Orsulak, who still lives in Maryland while employed by the Florida Marlins, accepts the puppy, then walks over to Libby Sheain, places it in her lap and says, "It's yours, sweetheart." Libby starts to cry. So does just about everyone else. Good ole Joe. We always liked that guy.

Flowery farewell

Say farewell today to Fred C. Bauer florist. The North Baltimore landmark closes forever after a century of operation on Gittings Avenue, between Charles Streetand Bellona Avenue. It was founded in 1897 by Fred C. Bauer and remained in the family throughout its history. It produced, among many other things, fine floral decorations for Worthington Valley society weddings and bouquets for generations of Bachelors Cotillon and Assembly debutantes. The business' slogan was, "Nothing could be finer than lovely, fresh flowers from Bauer."

Fred C. Bauer's 90-year-old granddaughter, Thelma, decided this summer to close the 3-acre operation; it has been up for sale for a month. "The winter was especially rough on the greenhouses," says Fred Sisson, who learned the business from his Aunt Thelma and other Bauer kin. (The Bauers are descended from five generations of German florists from Traben-Trabach on the Moselle River.) "The wind or the heavy snow would blow that glass out and, by golly, it seemed like I spent the winter picking up glass. And for my aunt, the only greenhouse is a glass greenhouse. She's one of the old Germans; you know how they are."

Halloween omelets?

Observed (by a loyal TJI contributor) in a Giant checkout line yesterday morning: A group of six or seven kids, looking to be between 15 and 17, buying eggs -- about eight dozen eggs! Question: Is omelet-making the new craze, or did the fact that it was Halloween morning have something to do with it?

Recommended (by filmmaker Steve Yeager): "Big Night" at the Charles, followed by the biggest, most sensuous Italian meal you can find.

Follow-up campaigning

Monday in Towson, just before lunch, Rep. Bob Ehrlich campaigned with his dad at the Bykota Senior Center. Ehrlich gave a talk, then answered questions. Connie DeJuliis, Ehrlich's Democratic opponent in Tuesday's election, walked in while the congressman spoke, then sat quietly in the audience and greeted seniors, one by one, when Ehrlich finished his rap. DeJuliis has been doing this for a while now. "Weird," Ehrlich says of the tactic. "She just stares at me." Says DeJuliis: "Very effective." She claims she finds many voters who don't like Ehrlich's message but won't say so to his face.

A cup of wisdom

Joey Amalfitano, our cultural correspondent and official food taster, saved up his money and frequent-flier mileage for a vacation in Jamaica with his favorite girlfriend, Maxine. Joey came back last week a changed man.

"The trip has totally corrupted me to the pleasures of the soul," he says. "I can still hear the rain on the tin roof at the local restaurant on Buff Bay. The jerk chicken, fresh mango and Grace hot sauce linger on my taste buds. The rum made on the island turned me into a pirate one night.

"But by far, the highlight was the trip to the top of Blue Mountain, where the best coffee in the world is grown -- and that includes Kona and Columbian. A fellow named Maurice and his wife, Leonie, were our guides, while the Toyota Camry was in the very capable hands of a driver named Winston, who took us toward the top, 5,000 feet up.

"Going up the mountain, the sun was still out and we gawked at stunning waterfalls, crossed swinging bridges, stopped at a military camp, yet saw some of the most gut-wrenching poverty I have ever seen, Vietnam included.

"There, at the peak in the gathering mist of a rainstorm, I felt for a fleeting second I had encountered Colonel Kurtz in the person of James Dennis, 75, a stone Rasta man who has grown coffee his entire life. He sat in a smoky shed, eyes blazing with the wisdom of the ages and maybe a little ganja, while his workers roasted beans over a fire, cut wood and dried freshly picked beans on bamboo racks. Mr. Dennis has three acres, does everything by )) hand, and his coffee is the cheapest on the island -- $8 a pound, after bargaining.

"I asked him of his life in these glorious mountains -- missing all those tourist dollars at the resorts in the lowlands. 'I mean,' he said, 'what more can you want to do than make the best coffee that comes out of the earth?' I bought five pounds and left Mr. Dennis, feeling I had been in the company of someone unspoiled, who had all the answers."

Pub Date: 11/01/96

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