|Hon Baltimore: Hon Lexicon, Hon person, Neighborhoods|
I have a lot of familiarity with this aspect of many of the people
of Baltimore since I have lived in
Baltimore all of my life and I admit to occasionally using the word hon, a
verbal habit that is hard to change.
|Droodle Park||Druid (Hill) Park|
|Blair Road||Belair Road|
|Yoose all||you all|
Beyond speech, what are other known (known by other Baltimoreans) characteristics of a hon person? I have my own list:
Will eat crabs in summer with Old Bay Seasoning. Has gone crabbing at least once.
Will tell you his/her life story at “the drop of a hat”
Might live in a rowhouse in Hampden, Highlandtown, or Pigtown (Baltimore is a city of neighborhoods. More on this later)
Often will have plastic flamingos (known as Balimore Flamingos) on the front lawn.
Has heard of Jon Waters and usually has seen his movies.
1941 there were over l80,000 employees at Bethlehem Steel. By the 80's
this number had shrunk to 8000 as the city continued to lose "blue collar"
jobs at an enormous pace. Today "The Point" is a mere skeleton of its
former glory. ("The Point" is what workers call Bethlehem Steel-Sparrows
Point. "My husband works at the Point.")
At this annual festival, you can bask in the local color which includes
crabs of course, plastic flamingos for the yard (now there are purple
flamingos to represent the football team, the Ravens), beer, pony rides,
and flea and bargain markets.
The main drag is 700 to 900 block W. 36th St. Every neighborhood in those days has an informal restaurant whose diners represent that neighborhood in microcosm. One gets the current neighborhood news right there. The restaurant is the Ye-Eat on 36th near Roland Avenue. Inside, a small counter lines the left side of the wall, with narrow booths on the right. Further back are more booths, tables and chairs. The restaurant serves beer. Smoke fills the air. The smell of plain but good food also fills the air--and of course, coffee. Around noon on Saturday it is hard to get a seat.
Next door is an old fashioned bakery. Often a small group waits outside, despairing that the #10 bus headed downtown will ever turn that corner onto 36th Street. Eventually the bus arrives. A two-story five and dime store, Murphy's, gave a solid anchor to W. 36th. There were a few drug stores. A man named "Bunny Nevins" acted as an informal mayor and historian. An entrepreneur tried to open a small indoor shopping mall on the site of the old Ideal movie house. That plan didn't work out. Modest restaurants, small shops, a Good Will store, bars rounded out the shopping area; smaller grocery stores but no supermarkets. Falls road marks the end of W. 36th Street. On Falls, just off 36th, another pharmacy and a decent Enoch Pratt library, one of the oldest branches....
Crossing Falls Road , walking west where 36th Street ends, School Street
slopes down a hill, leading to Robert Poole School. In 1966 the school is
largely white. The voters are largely pro -"Your Home is your Castle"
Mahoney. A rookie teacher puzzles why so many of the 7th and 8th graders
are older than their grade. They've "failed" a grade. Some boys brag about
officers. Children toss slips on the teacher's desk, form
letters requesting attendance. The rookie teacher eventually figures out
that these must be completed and returned via the pupil to a probation
officer or social worker. (Yet, some of the kids are well-behaved and
eager to learn). Principle Margueritte Smith was a physical and actual
large presence in this school. The occupations of the children's parents:
milkman, postman, factory worker --and what's this! lawyer! Before and
after school the students crowd into a small restaurant at the corner of
Falls. Here, a
In 1971 the Baltimore City Dept. of Social Services decides that its
clients can best be served through a couple dozen local offices scattered
around the neighborhoods. Hampden gets its office, a spanking new building
on Falls Road. Looking inside, one spies the same decrepit BCDSS
furniture. The office opens and people come in. (Shortly after, BCDSS
decides on a new model: closing of the neighborhood centers and
consolidation into three large centers. ) The Hampden office closes. If
the people of Hampden need social services, they'd best get down to 36th
Street and wait for that pokey #10 bus to turn the corner!
Links to check out before visiting Baltimore: