Between the Lines

BETWEEN THE LINES

February 02, 2004

In search of a grave?

A page on the Baltimore City Web site provides Internet surfers a list of frequently asked questions, including this curious query: How can I locate a loved one's grave site?

A link takes visitors to the Find A Grave Web site, where they can search for a person's grave by typing in his name, or by searching the site's entries for entire states. Maryland had 448 people listed. Most of the entries include names of cemeteries, personal snapshots and photos of gravestones.

Among them: Clarence H. Du Burns, Baltimore's first black mayor, who died Jan. 12 last year; Spiro T. Agnew, a former Maryland governor and U.S. vice president, who died Sep. 17, 1996; and D.C. sniper victim Pascal Charlot, who was killed in Northwest Washington on Oct. 3, 2002.

In small print at the bottom of each page, Find A Grave Inc., based in Salt Lake City, provides an interesting disclaimer: "As with any project of this scope, there will be inevitable inaccuracies. We are not responsible for any actions taken or emotions invoked as a result of the information found within our website."

- Doug Donovan

Like pulling teeth

In an only-in-Baltimore scene, the National Museum of Dentistry - most famous for housing a set of George Washington's ivory dentures - was proclaimed by an act of Congress as, well, the National Museum of Dentistry on South Greene Street.

Each politician at the event Thursday morning tried to reach for the stars, but barely rose above the level of early-morning coffee chatter. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes said the honor to the city was "another feather in our cap."

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings added this: "It will never be said we let any grass grow under our feet."

His congressional colleague, Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, trumped them all by introducing his dentist, Melvin Kushner, to the gathering. "Mel gave me my winning smile in politics," Cardin said.

- Jamie Stiehm

Mind like a steel trap

Some people have memories like elephants. Then there is Vince Bagli.

Bagli, the affable retired sportswriter, television sportscaster and familiar voice on Baltimore Colts and Orioles games, was well-known for his encyclopedic knowledge of sports and for his uncanny ability to retain even the thinnest slice of trivia.

Bagli, now 77 and residing in Finksburg, was contacted by telephone last week and asked whether he remembered Dave Pivec, a 1961 Patterson High School graduate who played football for Notre Dame and the Los Angeles Rams.

"Remember him ... are you kidding? ... Dave was one of the finest all-around athletes ever to come out of Baltimore," Bagli said, just warming up.

"Let's see, he lived at 447 N. Luzerne Ave. and scored 44 points in one game against Carver."

- Joe Nawrozki

Pageant runner-up

After competing to hold this year's Miss USA pageant, Baltimore walked away with the equivalent of the Miss Congeniality prize.

Baltimore looked good to organizers of the April 12 beauty contest, but the city narrowly lost out to Los Angeles last month, said Clarence T. Bishop, Mayor Martin O'Malley's chief of staff.

A team of city and state officials had been working for months to attract the pageant, an effort that included a phone conversation between O'Malley and Donald Trump, co-owner of the contest with NBC television.

The officials plan to make a run for next year's pageant. The city, state and private donors would have to cough up a "six-figure" rights fee to have the program, but it would be worth it for the national television exposure, Bishop said.

- Laura Vozzella

Questions of ethics

During a City Council discussion about a pending ethics law Thursday, the so-called "dean" of the council, Rochelle "Rikki" Spector, asked a question regarding conflicts of interest that confounded her colleagues.

"If I have a son or a daughter who has business before the council I'm supposed to recuse myself [from a vote]?" she asked indignantly.

"That's common sense," Councilman Robert W. Curran replied.

"What do you mean it's common sense?" Spector asked.

Later, Spector questioned why the ethics law prohibits the hiring of certain relatives, something many council members (not Spector) have done.

"I don't understand," she said. "Just because they're related means they're incompetent?"

- Doug Donovan

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