The neighbors - renters and owners, newcomers and old-timers - found common purpose amid the back-to-back whiteouts that dumped a record 45 inches of snow in five days. Relative strangers when the week began, many were on a first-name basis as it ended.
All over Baltimore, the two storms turned rowhouse streets like Curley into impassable canyons. With city crews overstretched, residents knew they were largely on their own.
On Curley Street, the cooperative spirit flagged at times. On the other hand, people's faith in city government was revived more than once. And as life edged back to normal, talk turned to cementing their newfound bonds over beers. Maybe, some said, it was time to start planning a big block party - for July.
Here's what the week was like on one Baltimore block:
The first step, he concluded, would be to build piles next to each car on one side of the narrow street, leaving enough room for cars to pull onto the street and back into the spot later. Cars on the opposite side would be dug out entirely.
But with 2 feet of snow on the road, Curley Street itself would have to be cleared for anyone to go anywhere. And no one expected to feel the soothing rumble of a city plow any time soon, if ever.
So shoveling would have to do it. But where to put all that snow? A group of men in the next block had pushed the bounds of creativity by prying off a manhole cover and stuffing snow down the hole. But it filled up in barely a minute.
Charlton didn't think that wise in any case. To him, the best spot was the corner of Curley and Fleet streets, where parking was illegal. So, some snow would go in piles beside cars, the rest on two mounds at the corner.
The shoveling brigade began its work Monday morning and grew, one by one, to more than a dozen helpers. The work paused only at lunchtime when Charlton's wife, Linda, brought out sausage and pork tenderloin subs smothered in melted mozzarella cheese. Snowdrifts provided a handy spot to stash cold beers.
The day before, Charlton had discussed snow removal plans with a couple of neighbors, including Lincoln Wooten, who bought on the block four months ago with his girlfriend. Wooten was among the first to hit the street Monday morning, pleased to be getting to know people he'd only waved to before.
Another neighbor, John Plona, 53, donned camouflage pants and a black headband. Many of his neighbors were strangers to him even though he's lived on the block since 1978. He blamed the frequent overtime shifts he works at Trigen Energy's steam plants.
But there has also been turnover on the street. Higher-income professionals have moved into this once solidly blue-collar area in recent years. More recently, Charlton said, some homeowners, pinched by the recession, have rented out their homes.
As the shovelers inched up Curley, Plona felt a growing sense of camaraderie, even if he did keep referring to Charlton as "Frank" instead of Ray. "It's a good thing," Plona said. "You get to meet your neighbors when you have a common threat."
He giddily shrugged off his wife Anna's concerns about his exertion: "My wife said, 'John, don't shovel too much. Healthy people are getting heart attacks.' I said, 'You don't have to worry. I ain't healthy.' "
The more progress the group made toward midblock, the farther each person had to walk to the corner with a snow-filled shovel.
A bartender on the block named Brendan Ryan came up with a solution: trash cans. Soon a division of labor took hold. While some shoveled snow, others hauled away snow-filled cans.
"It's a good idea until you get it here," said 42-year-old Shawn Fellin, struggling to dump a can on the slope of a mound now reaching 6 feet high.
Rob Fannon, on bucket detail with Fellin, told the others how his wife, Angie, has been battling cabin fever since giving birth to their son Jack three months ago. She'd been outside earlier, and now he jokingly suggested "tagging her out" to relieve him from snow duty. Maybe he could watch the baby.