Restoration effort provides a glimpse into the past

Old Catonsville Column

Old Catonsville

  • Mary Robbins, a senior at Mount de Sales Academy, did more than break a 14-year-old school record with her discus throw in the May 14 conference championship. Gene Williams, the athletic director at the school, had promised to shave his mustache off when a record was broken.
Mary Robbins, a senior at Mount de Sales Academy, did more than… (Photo by Barbara Bates,…)
May 25, 2011|By

Visitors to the Catonsville Room in the lower level of the Catonsville Library can now check out an original piece of artwork dating back to before the start of the Civil War that the Friends of the Catonsville Library had restored.

On display is a large, framed original chromo-lithograph by E. Sachse and Co. entitled "Panoramic View of the Scenery on the Patapsco River for 7 miles above and below Ellicott Mills, circa 1859".

The image is particularly interesting because it was made before the disastrous floods of 1866 and 1868 that destroyed most of the buildings south of Frederick Road on the Baltimore County side as well as the B&O's Patterson Viaduct.

In one corner of the image is the area known as Daniels, at that time called Alberton. In the bottom center are the Ilchester and Thistle areas.

The Friends are in the process of digitizing 93 one-of-a-kind historical items from the group's archives. The digitization of the oversized, framed or deteriorating items will be scanned by a professional company and stored on a hard drive for future reproduction.

"The goal is to keep community history alive," said Catonsville Room Director Lisa Vicari.

Visitors are welcome to enjoy a glimpse of Catonsville's heritage by stopping by the Catonsville Room on Thursdays, 2-5 p.m., and the first Wednesday of the month, 7-9 p.m.

Family tie to shuttle launch

Paul Altoz, a former Heritage neighborhood resident, traveled to Florida last week to watch the launch of the space shuttle Endeavour.

The event had special significance to him as his second cousin is astronaut Mark Kelly, whom many may recognize as the husband of Arizona shooting victim and U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Gifford.

Paul, now an architect living in Arlington, Va., who recently wed Stephanie Cox, said he sat next to Mark's parents during the launch.

He said they were anxious, but seemed to relax a little after the critical first eight minutes went by without a problem.

Paul's parents, Frank and Marian Altoz, made the trip to Florida April 29 for the first scheduled lift off and came home disappointed after a last-minute electrical problem forced a postponement.

Frank Altoz's sister is Mark Kelly's grandmother.

Close shave after record toss

Mary Robbins did more than finish third in the discus throw during the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland Track and Field Championships at Calvert Hall College High School May 14.

By throwing the discus 104 feet and 11.5 inches, the Mount de Sales Academy senior compelled the school's longtime athletic director to finally come clean — clean-faced that is.

Gene Williams, the athletic director at the all-girls Catholic high school on Academy Road for nine years, had told students for years that "whenever someone breaks the school record, I'll shave my mustache."

The mustache that has been on his face for 30 years, except for two brief time periods, came off last week.

"People don't recognize me," said Williams, a Summit Park neighborhood resident.

Robbins credited her work in practice every day with assistant coach Monica Owensby for helping her break the mark of 103 feet set by Jen Blair in 1996.

Owensby teaches the girls to "tap into their inner beast," said Mary, who will attend Towson University in the fall and plans to major in occupational therapy.

She said she got herself psyched to throw by standing in a huddle and chanting, "Mustache. Mustache"

She said she was surprised at the outcome.

"I didn't think I made it past 100 feet, but when I found out I body slammed my friend Deb Parks," said Robbins, who will work as a lifeguard this summer at Rollingwood Pool.

Conditioning session for teen athletes

Loyola University Maryland senior Allie Mohler is starting a teen boot camp this summer for girls entering or returning to high school sports.

The eight-week session begins Tuesday, June 21, and ends Sunday, Aug. 14.

Classes are three times a week — Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9-10 a.m., and Sundays, 6 p.m.

Cost is $150 to be paid at the first session.

"We will meet at a variety of locations in Catonsville and set Westchester Elementary as our meeting point for the first few sessions," said Mohler, who started fitness instruction three years ago and also teaches Pilates classes at Bloomsbury Community Center.

"We'll be doing a variety of strength and conditioning exercises," she said on the sessions, which will include a warm-up, abdominal work, drills for cardiovascular and strength training, and cool down stretches.

To sign up, email or go to

PTA service honored

Jen Parker was awarded a County Resolution by Councilman Tom Quirk for her service to the Hillcrest Elementary PTA.

"I wish we could bottle up the energy and enthusiasm of Jen, she is an amazing volunteer," Quirk said.

Parker also received card and flowers from grateful parents as well as a gift certificate for a day at the spa.

Twin thrilling

Kathy Kruger is used to seeing double, especially after the birth of her new grandchildren, twins Sam and Grace.

Their mom, Megan Kruger, is also a twin.

Kathy, who now lives in Ellicott City, grew up in Catonsville with five sisters, including a set of twins.

Those twins, Peggy (Dell) and Anne (McLaughlin), were young teenagers the summer that Kathy's twins, Megan and Sarah, were born.

"They spent that summer walking over to my house almost every day to help me with the babies and play with my older son, Jimmy. I was such a grateful young mom," Kathy said. "Now 36 years later, they are still helping out by offering to feed and hold my Megan's twins."

Megan, a sixth-grade science teacher at Patuxent Middle School in Savage, graduated from Catonsville High in 1992. There were 11 sets of twins in her class!

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