Cherry Hill's family affair Reunions: Former Cherry Hill residents will return for a dance tomorrow, one of several local events that bring families and communities back together.

September 26, 1997|By Marilyn McCraven | Marilyn McCraven,SUN STAFF

Growing up in Cherry Hill in the 1950s and 1960s, Anthony Winder thought he was one of the luckiest children in the world.

He recalls long summer days roller-skating outdoors, swimming in the local pool and crabbing on the south bank of the Patapsco. It was the perfect setting to foster lifetime friendships.

"It was more like a big, extended family than a community," said Winder. "Your neighbors were like your parents; they had the authority to correct you, if you did wrong."

Hundreds of former Cherry Hill residents will reminisce about those days tomorrow night at a reunion dance sponsored by Winder's family at the 5th Regiment Armory.

Large community reunions, with family reunions, have increased popularity in Baltimore in recent years.

Typically, aging baby boomers eager to reconnect with old friends sponsor the reunion dances, featuring music from the 1960s.

One of the most popular such events is the annual reunion dance sponsored by the Poets Athletic Club, a private, all-male club made up mostly of Dunbar High School alumni.

6,000 usually attend

That event, which will be held at the 5th Regiment Armory on Nov. 15, annually draws about 6,000 people with ties to East Baltimore, said club business manager Ernest Saulsbury.

Though the Poets may draw the biggest crowd, many people credit Cherry Hill for sparking the reunion fervor a generation ago.

It was then that longtime resident Carl "Soup" Campbell and friends began holding reunions in Cherry Hill.

Several thousand people attended the last Campbell-sponsored reunion, which was at the 5th Regiment Armory in 1993, Campbell said.

Campbell said he stopped sponsoring the reunions because the cost had become prohibitive, and he couldn't find people willing to help him with start-up costs.

"It was a popular event," said Campbell of his business venture. "We always made money."

Campbell said he feels left out of this year's reunion and won't attend.

Campbell and his next-door neighbor, 6th District Councilman Melvin L. Stukes, complain that the reunion's organizers did not get current Cherry Hill residents involved.

"You've got people who lived here 25 years ago, who now live in Harford County or Howard County, coming back and using the Cherry Hill name," said Stukes.

Invitation declined

"They should let us get in on the ground floor and have some type of participation," said Campbell.

Winder said his family invited Campbell to help sponsor the reunion last year, and he declined. So, they didn't approach him this year, Winder said.

"Next year, we will involve community people," said Winder, 48. "We're new at this, so you can expect us to make some mistakes."

One neighborhood stalwart who endorses the reunion is

longtime activist Shephard H. Burge. "It's a nice idea. You'll see people there you haven't seen in a long time," Burge said.

Last year, the Winders' first reunion, also held at the 5th Regiment Armory, was a financial disaster, said Winder, an administrative aide with the University of Maryland, Baltimore who lives in Irvington.

Organizers raffled off a new Chevrolet Cavalier to attract people, thinking they would draw 5,000 or more, but instead they drew about 1,000.

This year, they plan a more modest raffle: a big-screen television. Tickets are $15 per person for the event, which will last from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.

To help draw a crowd, they've bought radio advertisement spots and plastered the city with posters advertising the event.

Raised in Cherry Hill

For weeks, Winder has spent his lunch hour distributing fliers downtown.

Winder and his six siblings grew up in Cherry Hill Homes, the city's largest public housing project, at a time when that southern Baltimore community was fairly isolated from the rest of the city.

"Back then, it was almost like living in the country," said Winder. "Nobody locked their doors."

But their family moved to West Baltimore 30 years ago. Now ages 44 to 55, the Winder children all hold jobs and all but two live in the suburbs.

Their mother, Harriette Winder, lives in Irvington, and their father, William "Daddy Bill" Winder, who coached several winning Cherry Hill baseball teams, resides in Randallstown.

"Our goal with this reunion is to bring together people who haven't seen each other in years," said Anthony Winder.

Pub Date: 9/26/97

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.