Longtime owner of Ritchie Car Wash trading suds for surf in move to Hawaii


November 04, 2001|By Christina Bittner | Christina Bittner,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

AFTER 45 YEARS of service to the community, Thomas Fine has decided to sell the family business and head off with the family to enjoy the sandy beaches and palm trees of Hawaii. The business, Ritchie Car Wash, at 5908 Ritchie Highway, has served its customers well.

When Sparky Fine opened the carwash in August 1956, it was the first business of its kind in Anne Arundel County. Now the business is managed by the second generation.

Thomas Fine and son Baer work to ensure that the cars that come into the wash look just as they did when they came off the showroom floor.

Thomas Fine, who lives in Severna Park, grew up in Brooklyn Park and describes it as a "nice, quiet neighborhood; very stable.

"There's a lot of revitalization in the area now," he said. "There aren't a lot of young people. Most are retired or have been in the same job for 30 years."

County residents who commute to Baltimore might remember the 6-foot-tall gorilla that stood outside the carwash. Fine said that he and his brother saw the gorilla at a trade show and thought that it was a real eye-catcher. "We had it out for six years and then the county said that it was an illegal sign and that it had to be removed.

"The people in the community liked it. They even started a petition to keep it, but in the end it had to go. We kept it inside for a while until it got shabby, then disposed of it."

Fine is also known for the inspirational messages that he puts on the carwash's marquee. Commuters are reminded daily to look on the bright side of life and be thankful for all that they have.

"I'm a Christian, and I try to put things on that are in the Bible. I do get comments about it. People like it," Fine said.

For the past six months, there has been another message on the marquee: "Help Wanted."

"I can't find people to work," Fine said. "There may be a recession, but not for entry-level work. Look at the help-wanted signs that are everywhere. It's a steady job and they get a paycheck every Friday."

Fine said that he will miss Brooklyn Park, but his wife's health requires a different climate. So it's off to Hawaii.

"We spent time there and her health really improved. We said that we were going and our three sons said that they wanted to come, too," he said.

Fine has lived in Anne Arundel County all his life and says he would like to stay, "but my wife is more important."

"Maybe I'll open a carwash there, or maybe I'll retire and spend more time with my wife," he said.

Dressed to win

Children came from near and far to compete in the Halloween costume contest during Anne Arundel County Police DARE Day on Oct. 28.

After much deliberation, the judges announced their winners:

Listed from first to third place, the winners in each age group were: 0-3, Trevor Jewell, Kevin Jackson and Michael Downey; 4 to 6, John Quimentta, Patrick Bush and T.J. Lindsey; 7 to 9, Brian Collier, Katherine Cook and Sarah Green; 10 to 12, John Michael Murawski, Samantha Smith and Jane Ray; 13 to adult, Darla Theiss, the team of Darlene Brett and Helen Green, and Abby Fisher.

The grand prize went to John Michael Murawski for his spaghetti and meatball costume.

All winners received prizes.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.