Frank Emil Deickman Jr., 95, operator of Fells Point livery stable for a-rabs

March 07, 1998|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

For nearly 40 years, Frank Emil Deickman Jr. rose before dawn at his Northwood home and headed to his livery stable on Aliceanna Street in Fells Point, where he built and rented out carts and ponies to hucksters, a-rabs and junkers.

Mr. Deickman died Monday at his home of a stroke. He was 95.

He was the son of a German immigrant who settled in Fells Point and operated several produce stalls in the Northeast Market.

With little formal education, Mr. Deickman learned coopering at an early age. During World War II, he worked in Baltimore shipyards helping to set masts on Liberty ships.

"Times were tough and life was a struggle, but he always worked very hard," said his wife of 66 years, the former Mary Hannah DeVoe.

In 1943, Mr. Deickman purchased his stable, a brick building with a dark interior and 30 wooden stalls that was cooled by fans during Baltimore's humid summers.

Except for several additions to the building during the Civil War, and the introduction of electricity and telephone, the structure remained unchanged from its construction in 1833.

At its peak, the stable included 40 ponies and an equal number of wagons. He rented out both to hucksters and junkers for $4 a day, Mrs. Deickman said.

Included in the day's rent was a water bucket, six quarts of oats for each pony's midday meal and a lantern to tie on the back of the wagon to warn other vehicles. Mr. Deickman provided no whips and allowed none to be used on his ponies.

On his way to the stable each day, Mr. Deickman would stop at the now-razed Camden Street Market, at Camden and Charles streets, where he purchased the produce that he sold to the a-rabs.

He built the wagons from scratch, except for the wheels and shackles, which he purchased from the Amish in Pennsylvania.

"He did all of his own blacksmithing and would be down there hammering and bending the iron," Mrs. Deickman said.

She estimated that it took her husband several weeks to construct each wagon.

The distinctive wagons resembled Old West buckboards and were initially painted cherry red.

In later years, they were painted forest green and were lettered in gold or cream: "Frank Deickman. Fruits and Produce. 1608 Aliceanna St."

A loquacious man, Mr. Deickman enjoyed sitting in his stable office and recalling for passers-by the days when the streets of Baltimore were filled with a-rabs and horse-drawn wagons and carts.

Once a colorful and familiar sight on the streets and in the alleyways of the city, the a-rabs summoned buyers of their produce or seafood with their ancient street yells.

Roland L. Freeman, author of "The Arabbers of Baltimore," published in 1989, said yesterday that Mr. Deickman "was of a generation of stable bosses that was unique to our time. He ran a very tight ship and a very clean and orderly stable."

Mr. Freeman, a fourth generation a-rab, added, "He gave everyone the benefit of the doubt. If you were square with him, then he was square with you. If you were a good a-rabber, he'd give you a second shot."

Mr. Deickman retired from the business in 1979. H&S Bakery purchased the stable and demolished it.

After selling the business, he worked for a Belair Road vegetable vendor.

Mr. Deickman enjoyed baseball and entertaining his family and friends at crab feasts.

He was a member of the Blue Lodge, Oriental Lodge No. 158 and the Boumi Temple. He was a former member of the United Evangelical Church and the old North Avenue Methodist Church.

Services were Thursday.

A son, Frank David Deickman, was killed in a robbery in 1975.

Besides his wife, Mr. Deickman is survived by a daughter, Mary Katherine Adams of Delta, Pa.; three grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren.

Pub Date: 3/07/98

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