TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
FUTURE EDITORS, REPORTERS:
If mention is ever made again of Dolan's Bar, please know that the Dolan family .. Joe Dolan's son, Brian and his daughter, Margaret Sherwood ... say an anecdote that appeared in my column on Dec. 1, 1999 was false. Specifically, the story about Joe Dolan attending his wife's funeral disguised as a woman. That, they say is pure myth. The Dolans ask that we not repeat this in the future. They did not want me to publish a correction or apology in my column.
I DISTINCTLY HEARD my son say, "Timoanyum." Nine years old and he's already speaking Baltimorese. He didn't get it from me. He didn't get it from his mother. We're not from around here. We pronounce Timonium with four syllables.
The kid got "Timoanyum" on his own -- or maybe from a TV commercial for a car dealer.
However he came by it -- with that unique, Patapsco Drainage Basin "O" -- he's on the road to speaking Baltimorese.
Memo to the college professors: It's not a dying language, hon.
"Instead," writes Gordon Beard, Baltimore-born connoisseur and champion of the native tongue, "as more and more citizens move from the city to surrounding counties, the peculiar dialect can even be said to be spreading."
Beard, a native of "Bawlamer" (in the state of Merlin), published "Basic Baltimorese" in 1979 and a second edition in 1990. "I had 25,000 books printed on each of the first two editions," says Beard, a retired Associated Press sportswriter. "The first was sold out and I'm about out of No. 2, minus a couple thousand that were lost in a basement flood."
Beard's third edition, illustrated by the talented cartoonist Mike Ricigliano, just came out.
Funny thing about Baltimorese: People seem to be unconscious of it, conscious of it, sensitive about it and proud of it -- all at the same time. To some, it's anachronistic, a vanishing part of life in an increasingly homogenized, increasingly suburban culture. To others, it's nostalgic music to the ears -- a reminder of a parent or grandparent who loved "lemon moran pie," and ate fresh tomatoes from "Annarunnel County" over the "zink." Most people who grew up around here are carriers of Baltimorese -- especially that Patapsco "O" -- no matter how accent-neutral they think they've become.
I moved here 23 years ago (having left all my "r's" back in New England), and my first assignment for The Evening Sun took me to Highlandtown, which I heard as "Hollandtown." I covered a St. Patrick's Day dance of the Emerald Isle Club, which I heard as "Emerald Owl Club." Until someone pointed it out to me, I thought Bo Brooks Crab House was on "Blair Road."
Baltimore is still a feast for anyone who enjoys comparing dialects. Beard's "Basic Baltimorese III" is a starter's kit for visitors and a refresher course for Baltimoreans who think they've lost the knack. It's small, floppy, fun and $3.95, available at local book "stewers" (including one in "Timoanyum").
Good signs in Patterson Park
I drove around Patterson Park recently, early in the morning, and couldn't find a cup of coffee. (OK, gourmet coffee. I've become a coffee snob.) I ended up at a fine place -- Harry's Bakery ("Herman's First Bakery," it says on the sign), at 2400 Fleet St., and purchased a delicious breakfast nosh. But I was looking for your trendy, upscale, overpriced, European-style coffee. Patterson Park could use a place that sells such coffee.
New people -- let's call them yuppies, and mean it in a nice way -- have moved into rowhouses around the East Baltimore park over the past few years. They'd go for a Daily Grind or a Coffee Mill.
Now, it looks like they might get one, and that could be symbolic of the neighborhood's upward trend.
Today, in front of what used to be Block's Pharmacy, at Baltimore Street and Linwood Avenue, U.S. Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Paul Sarbanes will announce a $1 million federal grant to the Patterson Park Community Development Corp. The PPCDC does important work. It has been buying vacant or rental rowhouses in the area, fixing them up and selling them at affordable prices in an effort to stabilize the neighborhood.
It's been working -- slowly, block by block, from the park northward. The federal grant will go a long way toward helping the PPCDC continue buying and renovating property, making homeowners out of renters and re-establishing the neighborhood's middle-class taxpayer base.
In addition to acquiring rowhouses, the PPCDC will buy Block's Pharmacy, closed since May 1998. The plan is to turn Block's into offices -- with a coffee shop on the first floor. I'll have a double espresso.
Doing business, Dolan-style