The $10,000 in U.S. savings bonds that Tom Karle discovered in a house he renovated in Northeast Baltimore are now in the possession of Robert Gorham, the young man for whom they were purchased in the 1990s. But an element of mystery lingers in the story.
As reported in this space on July 9, Karle, a city landlord, came across the bonds in a house he had purchased from the city of Baltimore at auction. The end-of-group rowhouse was a mess, requiring Karle and his workers to remove seven truckloads of trash from it as they began renovations.
Karle discovered the stack of 115 bonds in a box in the trash. How they got to the house at 2711 Bayonne Ave. is the mystery — as far as Karle and I can tell, the person who purchased the bonds never lived at that address.
Alerted by a friend in Baltimore to my column, Gorham, who lives in Pittsburgh, called about the bonds, and I put him in touch with Karle.
Later, in a telephone interview, Gorham said his mother purchased the bonds for him nearly 20 years ago, when he was a boy. But his mother, he says, lived in Ten Hills, on the far west side of the city. He has no idea how the bonds ended up on Bayonne Avenue.
According to Gorham, a 2001 graduate of Gilman School, his mother lost her house in a foreclosure auction about 10 years ago. Apparently a lot of property, including the savings bonds, was left in the house, he says; he doesn't know why. (I was unable to reach Gorham's mother at the telephone number he provided.)
Gorham says he left for Pittsburgh after high school to attend Carnegie Mellon University. But he didn't finish his degree there. He left the university but stayed in the city and picked up various jobs.
"Since leaving CMU," he says, "I've helped start a bar, have been a salesman and IT professional. I have started my own company, Twelve 5 Designs, in order to overcome my lack of a bachelor's degree with experience." He says he wants to return to the university and can use the money.
"This event," he says, referring to Karle's discovery and return of the bonds, "could further a lifelong dream and I could continue on my journey."
Award for Mandel
With Marvin Mandel, it's complicated. People always said he was an effective governor for Maryland through the 1970s, but there's the matter of his federal corruption trial. Of course, his mail fraud and racketeering convictions were later overturned by court decisions, and a Republican president commuted his sentence. His legacy is not golden; it's more like tarnished brass.
This just in: "The Nominating Committee of the Simon Sobeloff Society proudly announces that the recipient of the Sobeloff Award for 2013 shall be former Maryland Governor Marvin Mandel for outstanding contribution to the legal and Jewish communities."
Simon Sobeloff has been described as a legal giant. He was solicitor general of the United States, chief judge of the Maryland Court of Appeals and chief judge of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
While plenty of organizations and institutions, including the General Assembly, have honored Mandel over the years, this one might seem odd, given Sobeloff's stature and Mandel's legal troubles.
In a letter explaining the award, Brian Sadur, president of the Simon E. Sobeloff Law Society, acknowledged the 1977 conviction and the subsequent court decisions, but then provided a long list of Mandel's court-related accomplishments as governor and cited his consistent support of Jewish causes and Israel.
So it's complicated. The conviction was 36 years ago. Whatever stains the court decisions did not remove from Mandel's legacy have certainly faded with time. The man turned 93 in April, and he is still practicing law.
Consider the alternative
Roberto Ramirez, a handyman and employee of Germano's Trattoria in Little Italy, came into ducks about three years ago. They just showed up in his backyard on Eastern Avenue. Ramirez and his family fed the ducks. They named the ducks Guillermo, Rebecca, Sylvia and Microphone. They loved the ducks.
Everything was honky-dory until a city official showed up a few weeks ago and told Ramirez he could not keep pet ducks in the city.
What to do? Ramirez decided on relocation. He put the ducks in his truck, drove them to Dundalk and, with a tear in his eye, set them free somewhere along the waterfront.
But ducks fly, of course, and they had no intention of moving to Dundalk.
"By the time I bought gas and got home, they were already in my yard," Ramirez says.
On his second attempt to relocate the ducks, he drove them to Essex and released them in a waterfront park. They were back at his house within a few hours. Guillermo, Rebecca, Sylvia and Microphone didn't like Essex, either.
So Ramirez drove them to Pikesville — to a cemetery with a lake — and they have not returned to his house. He clipped their wings, Ramirez says, and while that sounds harsh, it beats arroz con pato.