Screams of delight bring back a flood of memories


April 21, 2002|By Christina Bittner | Christina Bittner,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

THE WARM weather we enjoyed this past week gave me a chance to leave the windows in my home office open until bedtime. The sounds from outside were those of a typical spring evening: children playing ball and a symphony of chirping birds.

In the midst of this, I was reminded that I live within screaming distance of Ritchie Highway. They weren't terrifying screams that I heard, but the joyous screams of people on the rides at the Shaw Carnival at Southview Shopping Center.

I hadn't heard those sounds since the mid-1960s, when the Brooklyn Fireman's Carnival was held behind the Sears store at the Ritchie Highway Shopping Center.

Longtime Brooklyn Park resident and former volunteer fireman Bud Wojociewski remembers attending the carnivals back when they were held in the 5100 block of Ritchie Highway, where Ollie's now stands.

"It was right across from the firehouse," he said. "That was in the late 1940s. It was really big, the way the Glen Burnie Carnival is now.

"There was even a parade with police and firemen. Everyone would line up at the Arundel Arena and then make their way up Belle Grove Road and then up Ritchie Highway to the firehouse. People stood and watched it, and then the call came."

The very idea of stopping traffic on Ritchie Highway for a parade sounds unbelievable, but it happened.

"There weren't very many cars back then. You couldn't do anything like that now," Wojociewski said.

Soon the carnival moved to the Ritchie Highway Shopping Center. That's where I remember it being held. Eager children would take a short cut through the Woolworth or Sears stores to line up to buy 25-cent tickets to ride the Ferris wheel or roller coaster.

I can testify that it was crowded in the 1960s, just as Wojociewski remembers it in the 1940s. My mom and I once spent a carnival week standing in a hot ticket booth, working at a fast pace to sell ride tickets.

The proceeds from the carnivals were used to buy equipment for the Brooklyn Communities Firehouse.

"The clothes that we had to wear, the equipment -- the carnival paid for that," Wojociewski said.

For Wojociewski, his days as a volunteer firefighter and the work that the volunteers put into the carnival paid off. His son Richard is a lieutenant at the Glen Burnie fire station, and his sister met her husband at the carnival.

Wojociewski used to take his son "to the firehouse and he liked it. When Brooklyn Park didn't need more volunteers, he went to Orchard Beach and then to Odenton. He was awarded the Top Ten Award several times for being one of the top 10 volunteers who went out on fire calls. And all while he was living in Brooklyn Park," Wojociewski said.

Isn't it funny how a few screams can bring back so many memories?

Voice-over class set

The Chesapeake Center for Creative Arts will hold a class, "Getting Paid to Talk: Voice-overs as a Profession," from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. May 1.

The class will explore aspects of voice-over work in television, film and multimedia technologies. It will cover the basics, including how to make a demo tape and surpass the competition. Students will have an opportunity to record a short commercial for critique.

The class is open to anyone 16 or older, but is limited to 30 students. The cost is $25 for members of the center, $35 for nonmembers. The center is at 194 Hammonds Lane.

Information: 410-636-6597.

Spring revival slated

St. John United Methodist Church's Spring Revival will be held Wednesday through Friday at the church, 6019 Belle Grove Road.

Praise and worship will begin at 7 p.m., and the service will begin at 7:30 p.m.

The Rev. Errol D. Galliard Sr. of the Greater Harvest Baptist Church in Baltimore will speak.

Guest choirs will be Van Hammack and Company, and the Greater Harvest Baptist Church Choir.

Information: 410-636-2578.

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