Remembering hot times, summers in this city

July 01, 2000|By JACQUES KELLY

The urge to watch the Tall Ships glide out of the harbor was just too much to resist, so I quietly exited the office and headed for the slopes of Federal Hill.

I was reminded of the summer evenings I spent there with my father, his mother and her sister, my great aunt. They firmly believed that even on the hottest nights in Baltimore, there was always a breeze atop Federal Hill. Who's to argue with your grandmother and your great aunt?

And was there any hotter sight than the streets of downtown Baltimore, as viewed (circa 1965) from a Carolina Trailways bus window, arriving back in town after four or five weeks at the ocean?

That said, I got to thinking about Baltimore summers and the way we Baltimoreans have savored them over the years. In this regard, my memory was helped along considerably by a letter from Ted Lingelbach, who had a little nostalgic list.

He recalls:

"Fishing for carp from the Potee Street Bridge before the span was opened to vehicles ...

"Catching the evening breeze while sitting on a set of white marble steps still toasty from the afternoon sun ... the welcome relief of a gentle, all-day rain from a storm moving up the coast ... big church carnivals and fresh air fund fairs ...

"A trip to the candy wholesaler at Gay and High streets to buy boxes of penny candy for the fresh air fair ... a big pot of homemade crab soup on the kitchen stove ... Maryland fried tomatoes for a Friday dinner ...

"Barnum and Bailey circus under the big top on the lot at Monument Street and Edison Highway ... beating the heat with a 25-cent double feature at the movie house whose advertising banner boasted, `20 degrees cooler inside' ... a trip out Loch Raven Boulevard to Taylor Avenue for ice cream from Knox's or Taylor's ...

"Hitting a few buckets of golf balls at the driving range on Taylor Avenue ... catching a couple innings of the Baltimore Elite Giants in the Negro League at Bugle Field on Erdman Avenue ... a 75-cent left-field bleacher seat for an Orioles vs. Yankees twin bill ... the operative in every neighborhood who sold illegal fireworks out of a rumpled paper bag prior to July 4th ...

"The 25-cent entertainment and fireworks show (legal) sponsored by the Greater Northeast Baltimore Association at Memorial Stadium each July 4th ... the smell of the brimstone from the toy sparkler wheel your mother bought you for the Fourth ... a ride out Orleans Street to Patterson Park Avenue where Gordon's sold steamed crabs for $1.25 a dozen ...

"Five cents for a Gosman's ginger ale, Birely's orange or a Popular Club cherry soda from the grocer's chilled water cooler with the Coca-Cola logo on it ... attending the 2 a.m. Mass on a Saturday night/Sunday morning at St. Vincent de Paul's Roman Catholic Church ... catching the Red Star bus at the old WB&A terminal on Howard Street for a ride across the Bay via the Sandy Point Ferry ..."

Ted Lingelbach should be awarded the best peach cake around or a chocolate snowball with ice cream or marshmallow on top for his fine list.

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