Whatever Happened To ... ?


July 19, 2008|By Frederick N. Rasmussen

Steve Bunker, an 11th-generation old salt whose roots in his native Maine date to the 1600s, dropped anchor in Fells Point in 1976.

"I had first visited Fells Point as a young seaman, and when I moved to Baltimore, it was like telling people you were moving to Newark, New Jersey. I mean, it wasn't exactly a garden spot back then," Bunker said with a laugh the other day from his home in Portland, Maine.

"I signed on as the city's maritime historian, and my $2 title was curator of Inner Harbor historic properties and exhibits," he said.

Bunker became involved in local affairs. He served as president of the Fells Point Community Organization and was active in the Society for the Preservation of Federal Hill and Fells Point.

He was a founder and president of the Friends of President Street Station and was a founder of the Waterfront Coalition.

"But now it's time for new leaders to step up, and it's good to know when your time is up," he said.

Along the way, Bunker, who with his Vandyke whiskers, Greek sailor's cap and single dangling gold earring, who was seldom seen without a parrot perched on his shoulder, became a genuine Fells Point character himself.

In the 1970s, he established the China Sea Marine Trading Co., which specializes in marine antiques, on South Broadway and then relocated it to a shop on Thames Street.

Bunker, 62, and his longtime companion, Sharon Bondroff, an ex-Baltimorean and writer, moved to Gray, Maine, in 1999, and relocated their shop to Portland.

"I miss the old neighborhood and the urban pioneers and craftsmen of those days. I miss my waterfront buddies and the camaraderie of the Wharf Rat and the Cat's Eye," he said. "A lot of those characters from the 1970s and 1980s are dead, you know. I guess it was too much Fells Point."

He added: "Did you know we have 36 nationalities living in Fells Point? Check it out."

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