Snow angels

Good things happen when snow piles up, and you proved it with tales of rescuers who saved the day with shovels, SUVs and, most of all, heart.

February 22, 2003|By Larry Bingham

A Knight in shining armor

The 3-foot mound of snow Sharon Riddle shoveled from her car on Monday was too tempting for her 11-year-son to resist.

Brent, a fifth-grader at Bollman Bridge Elementary School in Jessup, was digging in the mound when the dogs wrestling nearby - Brent's golden retriever and the neighbor's black Labrador - knocked him into the hole. Brent fell headfirst. His arms were pinned at his sides.

His mother had taken a break from shoveling when Brent's 9-year-old sister Lauren said, "Mom, is he supposed to be like that?"

Sharon looked out the window and saw her son's lifeless legs sticking out of the hole.

She tried to pull Brent out, but the snow had caved in. Lauren ran for their neighbor, Tony Knight, and together, Sharon and Tony succeeded in getting him out. But Brent was purple; it appeared he'd stopped breathing.

Sharon ran inside to call 911 and turned around just in time to see their angel, Tony, pumping her son's chest. Brent was conscious by the time paramedics arrived.

He came home to find two new games and an offer from his grandmother to see The Lord of the Rings for the fourth time. Otherwise, his life has returned to normal. Except for maybe one thing. He doesn't want to play in the snow anymore. Not this year, anyway.

Taking care here -- and there

Even before the first flakes fell, Jewish Family Services had a plan to get its caregivers to work. By Sunday evening, when the four-wheel-drive vehicles failed, they had an avalanche of problems.

Program coordinator Scott Siwicki knew that one group home of women with developmental disabilities, from mental retardation to psychiatric disorders, would be without care. There was no one to prepare meals, no one to dispense medications, no one to allay their growing fears. So Siwicki took Dean Smith up on his offer.

Dean, who manages one of the agency's homes, volunteered to walk a mile through the snow from the Dresden House, where he takes care of three men, to the Courtland Woods House, where he would do the same for three women.

Dean, 44, went back and forth, back and forth, for two days. By Wednesday, the other manager was no longer snowbound, and Dean returned to one job instead of two. Though Siwicki pointed out his good deeds, Dean did not think himself worthy of such fuss.

He cooked meals, dispensed medications, gave six people soothing advice. He said things would be OK.

Because of him, they were.

75 guests put Katie first

Two years ago, the Lloyd Street Synagogue set the date. One year ago, Katie Fink began to study. Six days ago, the biggest snowstorm in Baltimore's recorded history threatened to cancel a rite of passage 13 years in the making.

Katie's mother, Anne Fink, a financial adviser at Legg Mason, was the first to awake Sunday and see heavy flakes falling. Since it was Katie's big day, Anne let her daughter decide: Was her bat mitzvah on or off?

Forty-five people made it to the synagogue downtown despite 8 or 9 inches of snow on the ground - and more coming down. Angels had shoveled the sidewalk and salted the steps. One angel picked up the rabbi, another brought the cantor, others picked up Katie's grandparents and the voice coach and gave them rides.

The snow continued as the party inched back up the Jones Falls Expressway for a luncheon at the Brasserie restaurant in Pikesville, where even more angels appeared. In all, 75 guests thought Katie's important day important enough to brave the snowstorm.

Anne thinks her daughter learned a valuable lesson not in their plans. "Hopefully, Katie will remember how others went out of their way for her, and she will return the favor for the rest of her life."

The party didn't end until Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s state of emergency sent everyone home.

Neighborly at any address

There used to be a man on Seven Mile Lane in Pikesville who was considered the neighborhood saint. J.D. Lloyd was the guy who hooked up your cable, carried your new TV in from the car, shoveled so many sidewalks on the street that Flora Leister bought him a snow blower.

Then two weeks before the storm, J.D. moved away.

Baltimore, it seems, is blessed with guys like J.D. Dozens of readers told us about neighbors who didn't stop shoveling at the property line. That's how J.D. was, when he still lived on Seven Mile Lane.

He started doing for folks after marrying Kathy and moving into the house where she was raised. Many neighbors then were seniors. They tried to give him things, but J.D., who is 48 and owns an excavation business, always said, "No, thanks."

Monday night, snow covered Seven Mile Lane. It was dark outside when Janet Silverman heard a familiar noise and went to the window. "When I saw those lights come on from that snow blower, I could have cried," Janet said.

A guy like J.D. doesn't come around every day.

For a lucky few, he came back.

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