We headed north and over to the west side; a calmer scene. Vehicle traffic was scant; no one bothered a car with four gawking white men. We drove back to the Sun Building, at Calvert and Centre streets. I called New York.
"It's still early," I reported. "But we may not be having as hard a time as Washington. Nothing's going on downtown, nothing in the white residential districts. Don't hold the magazine for Baltimore."
Normally, the goal was some mention, any mention, of Baltimore. Now, with all this sudden power (the one such moment, it turned out, in 30 years of the Time tie-in), I was glad not to have to use it.
ames H. Bready
retired Evening Sun editorial writer
On Wednesday, April 10, 1968, my daughter, then 6, was scheduled for a tonsillectomy at Mercy Hospital downtown. Over the phone that morning, her doctor had assured me that it was business as usual there despite the rioting. So we made the trip from our Riderwood home.
From the windows of my daughter's hospital room, I could see fires from the riots dotting the landscape. I warned my groggy daughter that she would hear a lot of sirens in the night, but not to worry, she would be safe.
About 3 p.m., I reluctantly left the hospital to comply with the citywide 4 p.m. curfew. It was eerie to emerge from the hospital, midafternoon, onto silent, empty city streets. National Guardsmen wielding M-1 rifles were poised on every corner.
Irma C. Woodland
I was in private practice and handling the settlement on a Bolton Hill house on Lafayette Avenue for a bank on a day when fires were breaking out all around Bolton Hill. So, while we were sitting there doing the paperwork, you could see columns of smoke going up, and this couple that was buying the house kept getting more and more nervous, looking at these fires all around.
They asked us, "What in the world is going on?" I just tried to appear calm; I told them, "Oh, it's just the riots."
Thomas A. Ward
retired Circuit Court Judge
Driving to work in normal rush hour on an empty Jones Falls Expressway was my abnormal beginning to the third day of the riots. The road was closed to everyone except those with passes issued by the National Guard.
From Television Hill, the highest point in Baltimore, we of the Channel 13 staff had a panoramic and frightening view of some 300 fires - a city going up in smoke and anger. With some anxiety about my own safety, I joined one of the WJZ news crews going down for a closer look.
The smashed windows, the looting, the fires, the black banners from a thousand windows were pretty much what I expected from watching the coverage on television. But when we stopped on Pennsylvania Avenue in West Baltimore, I left the newsmen and wandered about - into the completely unexpected.
While I, a middle-aged white man clad in jacket and tie, walked self-consciously and fearfully along the street (and thankful for the National Guard presence), I encountered not one sign of hostility - not a push, not a word, not even an angry glance.
The atmosphere was an eerie combination of resignation and Roman holiday. I watched several burly men climbing through a smashed window of a liquor store, loading their loot into the trunk of a car. My presence didn't deter them; they seemed scarcely to notice me.
Up the street, yet another fire had broken out. The only visible firefighting equipment was busy with a burning building a block away, so the new flames were on their own. The bystanders watched passively amid smoke and confusion as if, despite this assertion of black power, they were still the powerless ones.
But fury, even when justified, is seldom rational. Vengeance was being directed against the physical symbols of white control, no matter if they were the local grocery store or coin laundry, or the apartment whose landlord wouldn't fix the leaky roof. A passing white person was not the enemy.
As we got safely back into the news wagon to return to the station, someone hurled a soda bottle against the side of the vehicle. That was the sum of the anti-white violence we endured that day.
former editorial director of Channel 13
There's this myth that still persists that black businesses weren't destroyed during the riots - that all you had to do was put a black ribbon in the window or on the door to identify your business as being black owned and the looters would leave you alone. But many of the black stores were destroyed anyway. It really put them out of business; they lost everything because they didn't have the capital to rebuild, nor the business acumen to borrow money from lenders.
owner, Crockett Realty Co.
Before the 3 p.m. Palm Sunday curfew, I drove to a fire near Johns Hopkins Hospital. Walking down an alley, I saw an old black woman sitting on her steps, weeping. "This didn't have to happen," she kept repeating.