Fells Point bar owner still a softy for the Colts

This Just In...

January 12, 2000|By DAN RODRICKS

I HAVE LIVED long enough to hear Marie Antoinette Duda Galeano Finster Flury, owner of Duda's Bar in Fells Point and reputedly one of the most fervent Baltimore Colts fans ever, declare her wish that Indianapolis make it to the Super Bowl. I heard her say it yesterday. She was serious. If the Indianapolis Colts become American Football Conference champions and go to Atlanta for the big game, Antoinette -- that's what she goes by -- will be rooting for the blue-and-white.

"I could never boo a boy in a Colts uniform," she said. "These boys had nothing to do with what that foolish man did."

"That foolish man," of course, being Robert Irsay, the Colts owner who yanked the team out of Baltimore in 1984. He's dead as a doornail three years this month.

"All my prayers have been answered," Antoinette said. "Now that that foolish man finally has a good football team, he's not here to see it. When the team did make the playoffs, he was senile, he didn't know it. My prayers get answered. It may take a few years but, eventually, they all get answered."

Duda's once was home of a Colts Corral. The amiable Antoinette counted some players among her customers, and she became a close friend of former Colt Joe Ehrmann. So I take her statement about the the current Colts as a telling measure of how things have changed since the franchise left town. Those who aren't bitterly nostalgic have let go. The passage of time, the dead-and-gone of Irsay and the civic acceptance of the Ravens have served to assuage the old sting.

This weekend, as the Colts prepare for an AFC playoff game against the Tennessee Titans, Antoinette will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of her family's ownership of the bar, snug and happy at the corner of Thames and Bond. Her father, Walter, and mother, Pauline, bought the business in November 1949 and reopened it on the first day of 1950. The bar has been in the Duda family since.

Duda's was once a shot-and-a-beer joint that served factory workers and seamen from ships docked along the Fells Point waterfront. Sailors rented its 11 upstairs rooms. Over the years, Duda's became a handsome, comfortable, pub-like place that served good food prepared by Antoinette's husband, John. ("If you want fast food, look elsewhere," a recent sign informed.) She converted the upstairs to a big apartment several years ago.

From noon until midnight Saturday, Duda's will be open for a big party, with all proceeds going to the Living With Cancer Resource Program, a support service for patients and families at Johns Hopkins Hospital. "Our employees are taking no salary," Antoinette said, "and whatever we take in goes to Hopkins." Come Sunday, Antoinette will be rooting for the Colts. I heard her say so myself.

Global satellite golf

But is golf exercise? If men and women are forced at policy-point into golf carts, if they can't work up a sticky sweat by walking from tee to fairway to green 18 times on a hot summer day, can they be said to have engaged in a healthy, life-enhancing activity?

How can golf be "a good walk spoiled" if you take the walk out of it?

Or is walking all beside the point of the auld game, anyway?

These and other questions have been raised by the decision of the Baltimore Municipal Golf Corp. to require that golfers use golf carts at four of the city's five courses. Fees at Pine Ridge, Mount Pleasant, Clifton Park and Forest Park have been adjusted to include the cost of the rental of a golf cart equipped with a computer monitor and linked to Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites. All golfers must use carts, and they're not allowed to pull handcarts. (At the fifth city course, 12-hole Carroll Park, golfers can continue to walk or use handcarts.)

Lynnie Cook, the nonprofit corporation's executive director, is bullish on the GPS-linked golf carts. He says they're a critical element in addressing the No. 1 complaint among golfers -- slow play. The policy was instituted Jan. 1 to help golfers maintain a good pace at a time when the city courses are in increased demand. "The sport is so popular, with so many people trying to get on to learn to play," says Cook. "New golfers see Tiger Woods on TV taking his time, lining up a putt from 35 different angles, and that's what they do. ... The GPS is working. With it, we can monitor golfers and alert them to keep up their pace."

There's also a safety factor, Cooks says. With the GPS on-board computers, golfers can alert the clubhouse if they have a problem on the course.

"It's still a good value," Cook says, noting that, even with the cart rental included, weekday rates at Clifton Park and Forest Park are $16, and $18 at Pine Ridge and Mount Pleasant. Most golfers used the carts, Cooks says, and for them the flat fee will constitute a decrease in what they pay. About 30 percent of the city's clientele -- the walkers -- will end up paying more to golf.

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