BALTIMOREANS, here's a trivia question for ya: What company's phone number began Belmont-5? I'll give you a hint (Like you need it, right?): The full phone number was Belmont-5-Oh-Six-Oh-Oh.
I know you got it. You can't remember your godchild's birthday, you can't remember what day of the month is bulk-trash pickup day, you can't remember where you left your dentures. But you can remember the phone number for Hampden Moving and Storage.
Why? Because you were all children once, little sponges. You all grew up here in the Patapsco Drainage Basin, and you had that number drilled into the deep recesses of the brain by repeated exposure to a jingle in a commercial.
The advertising included a Dennis the Menace-type cartoon kid who kept saying, "Mommy, Call Hampden." (That was back in the day when Hampden Moving & Storage also cleaned your momma's drapes and carpets. The little kid in the commercial spilled something and wailed, "Mommy, Call Hampden.")
Anyway, Hampden is still in the moving business, and the people who run that company concluded that there is no new and better way to advertise.
"So they want to bring the kid back," says Bob Leffler of the Leffler Agency, which took the Hampden account six months ago.
We will soon be hearing and seeing a revival of the Hampden kid in radio advertising, in print and in the flesh - or at least in some kind of mascot costume. Just goes to show: The best things in life have been done before.
By the way, if you look up Hampden Moving and Storage in the Yellow Pages, the number appears as 410-944-6100. But Belmont-5-0600 still works, too.
No flagging spirits here
Those faded and tattered American flags that had been hanging from the Providence Road overpass of the Beltway since 9/11 - the subject of a TJI item a few weeks ago - have been replaced. Two new, crisp ones were installed a few days after Pam Fisher, a Girl Scout leader in Randallstown, reported the flags' sad condition in this space. Thanks to the fine American who made the effort to make it right.
Fiery film facts
What my people are telling me: that Joaquin Phoenix, who played the evil Commodus in Gladiator - and starred opposite Mel Gibson in Signs - has been in Baltimore training to be a firefighter, which is the role he plays in a Disney film being produced here. Is that hot news or what? Ha. Imagine this young Oscar-nominated actor out Pulaski Highway, hon, learning the tricks of les pompiers at the academy. That's what my people are telling me, and my people don't get this Hollywood-on-the-Patapsco stuff wrong too much.
The film is called Ladder 49, and Phoenix plays a firefighter who examines his life and career when he gets trapped in a burning building. The drama is written by Lewis Colick and directed by Jay Russell - he directed Tuck Everlasting in Maryland two years ago - and my people are telling me John Travolta is supposed to play a fire captain in this film. Too bad Gerard's isn't still open; I'd take him dancing beneath the glitter ball. Ha. I just dated myself big-time.
Ravens in the chips
The Ravens didn't make the playoffs, of course. So here's TJI reader Kurt Kroncke with this winter's Vicarious Playoff Thrill For Baltimore Football Fans. Take it away, Kroncke:
"Have you seen the Lay's potato chip ads running during the playoff games? One has a group of fellas [four on a couch] watching a game, very careful not to touch each other, until the end when someone scores a touchdown and they all start hugging and other acceptable guy stuff. The shot of the game they cut to very definitely shows the Ravens' end zone. You can even make out the last few letters of `Baltimore.'"
Our little piece of the playoffs. Thanks, Kroncke.
Maybe it's the British accent with which he speaks (and writes), but I'm always glad to hear from TJI reader Tim Marshallsay. This time he offers an addendum to a recent news story: "The single greatest relief resulting from the end of the Domino strike - unless you're one of the strikers - is not having to see those banners reading, `Domino's Sugar Unfair to It's Employee's.'"
Tasting Ehrlich's town
Our cultural correspondent Joey Amalfitano reports: "I had lunch in Arbutus, `Gateway to Halethorpe' and Bob Ehrlich's hometown. It was delightful - a juicy fried oyster sandwich at Leon's Triple L, the restaurant that got on the map with the election of one of its longtime customers, Governor Today. The sandwich was perfect - lightly encrusted oysters, steamy at the bite, served on white bread and with cocktail sauce. Plus the barmaid, Dee, called me almost every name in the book of friendly Baltimore-style service: `hon,' `darlin' and `love.' It don't get much better than that."