Philip C. Dypsky Sr., 83, ran saloon and motel, built and flew airplanes

April 11, 1997|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Philip C. Dypsky Sr., the eccentric owner of a Southeast Baltimore saloon that was a monument to the Gay Nineties, died of respiratory failure Monday at Mariner Healthcare of Overlea. He was 83.

Dypsky's Turn of the Century Museum Saloon, which was in business from 1979 to 1988, was gallery for Baltimore memorabilia and a lively watering hole for American Can Co. workers, local politicos and neighborhood residents.

The saloon occupied parts of two buildings that Mr. Dypsky owned at Linwood and O'Donnell streets. The barroom was decorated with an old-fashioned carved oak bar, painted lamp globes, a giant mirror from a defunct ballet studio, stools and stained-glass windows. Two old-fashioned ceiling fans dispersed the smoke from cigars and cigarettes, and a lamp post planted at the end of the bar helped illuminate the scene.

A short man who dressed casually and who wore an imperfect toupee, Mr. Dypsky also sold used clothing and furniture from the bar, where he would swap tall tales with customers.

"I wanted the Gay Nineties effect," he told the Evening Sun in 1982. "I'm gonna make a landmark outta the place before I kick the bucket."

He had a simple explanation for collecting a warehouse of what bTC some would describe as junk.

"See, this is a historical area down here. I grew up in Canton. It's like a Fells Point thing. I wanna keep it historical. That's why I have this idea for a museum. I want something for a legacy. I wanna leave a legacy behind me," he said.

Mr. Dypsky, who sold the saloon because of declining health, operated the establishment erratically and required customers to call ahead before heading there for a drink. If he felt so disposed, he opened up, and if he didn't, the saloon remained dark and shuttered.

In 1958, he opened the Motel Ebb Tide on U.S. 50 near Ocean City, with his former wife, Evelyn Cropper, whose father had been mayor of Ocean City.

He never tired of telling visitors that Jimmy Durante, who was appearing at the Shoreham Hotel in Washington, played piano in his motel bar in 1965. The business closed in the late 1980s.

Mr. Dypsky was born and raised on Dillon Street in Canton, the oldest of 12 children.

When he was 12, he built a rowboat and went into business, rowing among the ships in the harbor, operating his waterborne newspaper route and also selling wine and tobacco to crews.

He was also interested in aviation and built a glider with an 18-foot wing when he was 13. A year later, he built an even larger one that he named the "Highlandtown Hawk."

In his late teens, he built an airplane that was powered by a motorcycle engine. And with it he gained local fame, a few feet of newsreel film and 27 days in the hospital.

Christened the "Canton Eagle," he had the plane towed to a farm off Washington Boulevard to fly it. Local newspapers sent reporters, and the Fox newsreel cameraman showed up to record the event.

"I still hadn't ever flown a powered aircraft. But who can tell a teen-ager anything," Mr. Dypsky told the Sun Magazine in 1972. "I revved her up and took off. I guess I got the plane up to an altitude of about 500 feet."

When he tried to land, the plane collapsed into a "hopeless heap, and she couldn't be rebuilt," said Mr. Dypsky, who spent nearly a month recovering from the lacerations he suffered.

That exploit gained the attention of engineers at the old Glenn L. Martin Co. in Middle River and they offered him a job as a mechanic's helper. While working, he attended college at night and eventually became an industrial engineer.

"He really had a unique mind," state Del. Cornell N. Dypski, a brother, said yesterday. "He really was very mechanical. In the 1930s, he built a speedboat which he named the Pride of East Baltimore."

After leaving Martin in the late 1940s, Mr. Dypsky worked for the city Department of Public Works and later the Maryland Highway Administration. He retired in the 1970s.

"He was irrepressible and a real character," said Cornell Dypski, a Baltimore Democrat.

A Mass of Christian burial was offered yesterday.

In addition to his brother, Mr. Dypsky is survived by three sons, Clifford Dypsky, Philip Dypsky Jr. and David Dypsky, all of Ocean City; two other brothers, Lawrence Dypsky and Ray Dypsky, both of Baltimore; a sister, Theresa Posko of Pasadena; and seven grandchildren.

Pub Date: 4/11/97

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