Cream cheese icing takes the cake


February 28, 1997|By DAN RODRICKS

Here we are again, in pursuit of the Honest Man and the Honest Woman, and we begin this tale with cream cheese icing. Actually, we begin with Catherine Richardson's unhappiness with cream cheese icing. She doesn't like it. More correctly, she doesn't know from it. She hears cream cheese, she thinks of bagels -- not birthday cake.

So, when her brother Frank, 24 years old and a junior at Towson State, showed up with cream cheese icing for the party at their mother's house in Northwest Baltimore, Catherine turned him around and sent him back to the grocery store. (Personally, I told Frank yesterday, I think his family missed a delightful dessert experience. I happen to adore cream cheese icing -- on carrot cake, birthday cake, just about any cake. I told Frank to tell his sister to be a little more daring in the future.)

This happened a couple of Sunday afternoons ago. Frank and Catherine were hosts of a double birthday party for their sister Carmelitta and brother Raymond. The whole family was due at the home of their mother, Ann Richardson, on Powhatan Avenue.

There was much fussing going on. The cake still needed to be frosted. Catherine sent Frank back to the Walbrook Stop Shop Save store to exchange that odd-concept cream cheese icing for regular vanilla icing. It was getting late, the store was about to close. "All they had left was fudge," says Frank, a walk-on defensive tackle last fall for the TSU football team.

Like a nice, obedient little brother, he exchanged icings and went back to his mother's house.

On his way, he discovered something in the plastic grocery bag -- and it wasn't icing.

It was loot.

Two rolls of cash, one containing $797, the other $193.

That's $990, the way Mrs. Venturini taught me math.

That's sweet. That's round-trip airfare for two to St. Thomas (if you book six months in advance). That's a jumbo TV. That's a Base Pentiumpro with Intel Orion 440 FX Chipset, 32 MB RAM high-speed EDO and 1.44 MB floppy drive. That's icing on the cake, if you don't mind me saying so.

That's money for a car payment or college, if you're Frank Richardson, who's tied up with tuition loans and bills he tries to pay with a part-time job at a Towson restaurant.

That's money to make life a little easier, if you're Catherine Richardson, mother of two with another one due in two months, and out of work since November.

"But I knew that money wasn't ours to keep," says Catherine. "I used to be a cashier at Food King and I knew right away that they were cashier pickups from when their till gets too full. They were held together with rubber bands and they had slips of paper on them."

Turns out a cashier had mistakenly placed the fudge icing packages in a plastic shopping bag containing her cash receipts.

"It wasn't like Frank found it on the street," Catherine adds. "You know whose it is, so you have to take it back."

Big sister sent Frank back to Stop Shop Save again; this time she went with him. The store had just closed. The security guard came to the door.

"Get the manager," Catherine said. "I think he'll want to talk to me."

When Catherine Richardson did the right thing and presented the plastic shopping bag with the two rolls of cash, she heard sighs and cheers. Somewhere among the Stop Shop Save employees was one very relieved cashier.

"It almost brought tears to my eyes," says weekend manager Jackie Hazelton. "You just don't expect someone to do something like that, to bring something like that back."

Next Wednesday, Stop Shop Save president Henry T. Baines Sr. will throw a party at the Walbrook store to honor Catherine and Frank Richardson. If there's a cake, I hope it comes with cream cheese icing. It's really good, you guys. Honest.

Dead fish and bald eagles

About that water taxi dispute down at the Inner Harbor: I smell something bad, and it ain't dead fish. . . . Clarence Mitchell IV, the state delegate from West Baltimore, wants to abolish all special license tags. I assume that would include those don't-give-me-a-ticket-I'm-special tags issued to state senators and delegates, right? . . . Spotted (by a TJI reader and nature lover) soaring over the busy I-95 and I-695 interchange near Catonsville: a mature bald eagle. . . . Coming up Sunday afternoon: St. Leo's ravioli/spaghetti dinner in Little Italy. (At $7 for adults and $3.50 for kids, one of the best deals in town. All homemades.) . . . I know it's crazy -- it may never happen -- but, come mid-March when the circus hits town, I'd really love to have a candlelight dinner at Sotto Sopra with Ariana The Human Arrow. (That is, assuming she is what they say she is. Otherwise, it's a couple of beers at Pickles Pub.)

Contact Dan Rodricks by voice mail at 332-6166, by post at The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278, by e-mail at, or through the World Wide Web at http: //

Pub Date: 2/28/97

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