Cheers to bar owner for being responsible


November 18, 1996|By DAN RODRICKS

THE IMPACT of her actions might not amount to much, but you can't knock Linda Clark for trying a fresh approach to an old problem. Convinced that eight college students had used fake IDs to get into her bar in North Baltimore, Clark got their names from police, grabbed the Loyola College student directory, found the home telephone numbers of the parents of each student and called them -- in the wee small hours of Friday morning.

"I didn't want to alarm them," Clark says, "so the first thing I said was, 'Everything is fine and your [son or daughter] is probably home in bed by now.' But I told them: We're not absentee owners of this bar [the Swollow At The Hollow]. We check IDs, and these kids probably used fake IDs to get in the bar. All of the parents said they were aware [of the fake IDs] but said, 'All the kids have them. What can you do about it?' That doesn't help us here."

Several Baltimore police officers came into the Swollow shortly after 11 p.m. Thursday. They were accompanied by a Liquor Board inspector. When they asked eight young people in the bar for identification, all produced driver's licenses showing them to be under the legal drinking age of 21. And they all denied they had been asked for IDs at the door.

That's what infuriated Clark, who arrived from her nearby home a few minutes after the "raid." She trusts her doorman and believes the Loyola students had to have used fake IDs to gain entry. It wouldn't be the first time such a thing happened in a bar in this state. Since Maryland and many other states raised the drinking age to 21 in the 1980s, fake IDs have exploded on college campuses.

At the Swollow, Clark keeps the Loyola student directory in her office. She obtained the names of all kids cited for underage drinking from police and decided to make some mommy and daddy calls. "I was up [between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m.] and I wanted them to be, too," she says. Clark called homes in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and even Nevada. Some parents seemed concerned, some only marginally so. Some apologized for what had happened. Some said they'd call their kids right away. Good.

Maybe what Clark did won't make a difference. But you have to appreciate the effort. In the big, disconnected global village of modern life, someone can still get a wake-up call from the little corner bar.

The politics of Exxon

Overheard at Garry's Grill, a Severna Park restaurant, from a table of four guys apparently planning a meeting of Anne Arundel Republicans. . . .

Man reading USA Today: "So, who are you getting for the Elephant Club?"

Man in golf sweater: "I'm getting a guy from the Exxon Valdez to speak."

USA Today guy: "And how is that political? I don't wanna come and see slides of little baby seals. This has got to be political."

Golf sweater: "Oh, it'll be political all right. I mean, forcing Exxon to spend $37,000 to clean up each duck. Who do you think is responsible for that? This guy will name names."

World traveler

Bumper sticker spotted on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway: "New York, Tokyo, Paris, Odenton." It reminded us of the time on a MARC train when a conductor announced: "Next stop Halethorpe, gateway to Arbutus."

Expensive way to wash car

This is the kind of thing that happens in any city neighborhood where parking is at a premium and an overzealous cop meets a citizen who doesn't know when to keep his mouth shut.

To his credit, John Dietz allows that he probably never would have received a $52 traffic citation if he had just kept quiet when

that Southeastern District bicycle cop started writing him up. But maybe Dietz is too hard on himself. Maybe the cop should have backed off.

Anyway, this is the story, according to Dietz:

His wife -- that would be Mrs. Dietz -- pulled her car into the alley behind the family's house in Highlandtown. "I've lived here since 1975," John Dietz says. "And I grew up five houses down. We've been pulling into the alley to wash our cars or change the oil all that time. My wife had just got out of the car and went in the house. The car wasn't going to be there long. I just wanted to wash it quick."

But the problem, according to the officer who suddenly appeared and started writing a ticket, was that the Dietzes' car should not have been stopped in the alley. And at the very least, its flashers should have been on.

"You left the car unattended," the officer said.

"But I was in visual contact with it!" Dietz answered, as if that meant anything to the officer.

Dietz protested that all he wanted to do was wash his car. "I hollered at the cop," he admits. "I was loud. All my neighbors came out."

And soon a $20 ticket became a $52 ticket.

"It's costing me $52 to wash my car in Highlandtown," Dietz says.

Actually, Mr. Dietz, if you don't mind me saying, that $52 is what it costs to wash your car in an alley, give a Baltimore police officer some lip for (according to you) 40 minutes and have four others provide backup. But that's just me, Mr. D. We'll see what the judge says in District Court next month. In the meantime, as Rodney King once said, "Can't we all just get along?"

Split personality

New T-shirt (spotted by Ron Kostin in Ocean City): "I Root For Two Teams -- the Ravens and the one that plays against the Colts."

Pub Date: 11/18/96

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