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Essays by Baltimore Residents or Essays involving Baltimore:

  Featured essay # 1:

                                        
THE PROFESSOR        

  As is my habit, I was nested in the courtyard with my after dinner coffee when a young neighbor wandered over. She remarked that she was earning a Master of Liberal Arts degree at Johns Hopkins University This is a fun type of degree where you take ten courses in History of Ideas, across a broad range of subjects. I told her that I had taken the same degree a number of years before. (In point of fact, the year was 1969!) My neighbor asked which professors I had. I stuttered and stammered. So many of the Evening School professors were emeritis that I doubted whether any were now living.
  "Well, there was Dr. William McClain," I said. "He was the most brilliant of all the teachers I have ever encountered. And I know he is dead."
  No one could wrest more feeling out of German literature than Dr. McClain. One's heart churned with longing as he re-created the internal tug of Thomas Mann's artist heroes, torn between the discipline of their craft and the inexplicable pull of the darker side. Or Hesse's Harry Hailer, lulled by the domestic smell of his polished furniture lodgings but lured to the nocturnal pleasure domes in search of his animal nature. Or--the biggest paradox of all-- the tortured chords of Tristan and Isolde.Liebestod. Love and death Did McClain himself feel such a tension, I wondered? The shy, unassuming man's eyes glittered as he related such tales, his countenance was vibrant.
  For the next quarter century I was a McClain watcher. I would spy him walking along St. Paul Street from his home in the Marylander to the shopping area three blocks south. I would see him boarding the bus for the Rotunda. So far as I knew, he had no car. When we passed on the street, he remembered my name. If I were with a companion, I would murmur, "There goes the most brilliant professor I have ever had."
  Eventually Dr. McClain moved to a house in Oakenshaw, the small community bound by University Parkway, Calvert St., Southway and Barclay St. My last glimpse of him was his waiting at a cold and crowded bus stop at 33rd and Greenmount near Christmas time perhaps three years ago.
  A couple of months after that, Dr. McClain's picture appeared on the front page of the Sunpapers. This is almost never good news. This marvelous mind--so mortal! The professor had arrived home one night from the ballet. He was mortally mugged as he stood on the porch of his Oakenshaw home.      -(Beladoro)

Featured essay # 2:     

        Crab Feast


  Maryland is well known for the Chesapeake Bay state and it's blue crabs. Eating Maryland crabs and catching them is a great experience. I, Robin use to catch crabs when, younger in Annapolis at my Aunt Betty's and Uncle Norman's house. They had a pier and I would put out about half a dozen lines with chicken backs and necks. You could tell if a crab was on the line, when it pulls out and gets taught as before it would just dangle. I would also catch doublers on the pilings. Doublers were a male and female crabs mating. The female crabs have aprons or bibs, as the males don't. To keep male crabs, they have to be five inches or larger. The best time to crab is when it's raining or overcast. This weather brings them to the surface. I would have a large wooden basket, that I would place crabs in as I caught them. I would dip them in the water from time to time to keep them alive. I remember this so well, because my Aunt Betty would be nice enough to cook them for me. During the cooking time my Uncle Norman would be out of the house, because he not only didn't like the smell of crabs, but is allergic to them. If you have not tried this Maryland delicacy, you really don't know what your missing. It's worth the visit. The season for crabs is usually the end of June through the end of September.
This article or essay is By: Robin Tate
 

Featured essay # 3:    

                        Theological Meanderings   


 
Let me start by going over some tools that Catholic and Protestant religions draw on.
1.There is the Bible- Old Testament with the scary God and New Testament with the kinder God who was always finding some way to upset the apple cart of the social order. "The first shall be last," that sort of thing. Some churches just take the word of the bible as it is--the more fundamentalist Christian religions. Other groups use the Bible but enter into a process of hermeneutics where they try to extract a meaning that is more than literal. In doing this, they try to figure out what the text meant at the time it was written, take note of societal differences, and try to factor out what it probably means in the light of today's society. These thinkers might see that our way of perceiving things has relation to where we stand in history; to our own culture, to where we live, to what groups we belong to, to what societal pressures we are subject to how we use language.
  If you go too far off in this direction of interpreting things against the backdrop of society, culture and language, however, you stand the risk of drifting into relativism--and you become irrelevant!
  Whereas some religions are very scripture-based--these tend to be more protestant religions--other religions, notably Catholics and perhaps Lutheran and Episcopalian protestants, also are big on
2.Tradition; 3. Reason, and 4.Experience.
  Tradition is how the teaching has come down through the ages, things in addition to biblical revelation.
  Reason is a very curious feature. It is used to some degree by all religions, in the way of meaning "common sense." They don't throw common sense to the wind. But "Reason" in its main theological sense goes back to Thomas Aquinas, who lived in the l200's and in his sense the word reason took on the meaning of "natural law." What is natural law? What are some of its ramifications?
  One ramification is that you can look around at what you see in nature, and with your God-given reason, might begin to infer-from what you can see --just a bit of what is behind the veil, what you can not see; but that man is capable of knowing "a bit" about God by viewing the things that God has created all around us.
  There are some other more controversial uses of natural law. Citing natural law, the catholic church through many years saw that the "natural" was the pairing up of a man and a women, object matrimony and procreation. The man ruled but the woman had to be taken care of. Even today some theologians use "natural law" as an indictment against something like gay couples, or gay couplings. Because the object of such unions could not be reproduction, gay sex was seen as AGAINST this natural law.
  There has been a lot of argument about "ensoulment," when a new life becomes a new life and has rights. Is it at the moment the sperm meets up with the egg to form the zygote? Is it in a couple of weeks when the zygote begins to differentiate its materials into different body parts? Is it when a baby can survive outside its mother's womb? Oddly enough, Thomas Aquinas, one of the big fathers of the Catholic Church today, might not have been against early term abortion. He believed that it took about 40 days for a male baby in uterus to get ensiled- whereas this did not happen to a female baby, in his view, until close to 90 days!
  Okay, that is reason, which often in this context means Thomastic natural law.
  Experience is another cornerstone for belief. Here we look, modern day, to the liberationist movement and the feminist movement. The liberationists, who started in Latin America, thought that the Church was being used to keep the poor in line, and these liberationists take up the cause of the poor, the oppressed, the underclass. They believe that these groups need preferential treatment, an extra boost, to help bring their experiences up to snuff where they will have a fair chance to compete for the goods and necessities of life with everyone else.
  The feminist theologians also base a claim on experience. They note that the experience of women, throughout church history, has been one of repression and second class citizenship. Some might claim that special considerations must now be made to give the women the power that they have been denied for centuries. The feminist experientialists also state categorically that, though women throughout the world might be very different, they have some common experiences as women which gives them a special voice. The most dramatic special experience women have is that they are the ones who conceive and carry the children. Their bodies are different and perhaps their values are sometimes different, in the direction of caretaker. They might even see things from a gentler perspective.
  How else does knowledge come down to religions besides the scripture (considered revelation), reason, tradition, and experience? The Catholic Church as the Majesterium, a whole teaching apparatus of Bishops and cardinals which head up to the Pope. And these popes write encyclicals. They write letters, and issue them.
  Around the industrial revolution of the late l800's, the Catholic church was beginning to get in a weakened state in various parts of the world. In addition there were all sorts of labor abuses. The pope wrote a very important encyclical called "Rarum Novarum."The aim of this missive was--without rattling the status quo too much, without incurring the wrath of big business, an appeal that the working man be paid a livable wage--for the reason--that it was very important that the working man be able to support his family. A later encyclical followed up on that one and also asked for just wages with slightly less emphasis on competition. But Labor should not strike and socialism is condemned.
  These encyclicals keep getting issued. Pope Paul VI was very worried about the new technology of birth control that had just come out--in the 60's, I think- and was more specific than you'd think a Pope would need to be about what his followers needed to be doing in bed. There was, however, in some of these sex encyclicals, some "liberalization" of thought. Sex was still only approved for married men and women--the object should be procreation. But what if one or both of the partners lost the ability to procreate? Menopause, whatever- did sex have to stop? The thinking was no because "companionship" between a married man and woman was also seen as a value, so this was also a permitted reason for marital sex.Reading some of these "sex" encyclicals almost makes you think that the Catholic Church had made birth control the cornerstone of its whole religious teaching!
  By the way, in l854 the Pope, studying through his tradition, came to the conclusion that Mary, the mother of God, should not have to be born with original sin. ,So he set forth the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. It did not necessarily mean that Mary, like Jesus, was born without sexual intercourse of her parents, but it did declare that she was not born with original sin. This holiday, feast day, of the Immaculate Conception was set at December 8, nine months before the day that had considered the actual day Mary was born, on September 8. But something seemed unfinished about the new feast day and it hung about for almost l00 years, when around the late l940's, the Bishops, Cardinals, Pope got thinking, well, if Mary was conceived without sin, shouldn't something a little special happen to her at the time of her death? The Pope (Pius XII) sent out a questionnaire to his Cardinals, Bishops, priests, and some plain ordinary Catholics, compiled the results of the questionnaire, and decided that almost everyone was in favor of a new feast day for Mary. So in l950 a new Mary holiday came out, August l5, the Feast of the Assumption, and it was proclaimed that Mary floated through the clouds into heaven, much as Jesus was supposed to have done on the holiday of the Ascension, 40 days after Easter.
  Meanwhile, the late 20th century had taken theologians of all stripes to places that they had never been taken to before: even newer reproductive technology. Cloning. Gene therapy. Transplants. The theologians were starting to get upset. These decisions were being made by doctors and in some cases by ethics committees on hospitals which included secular philosophers. Gene manipulation was a threat to the theologians but gradually some of them were able to see it as "gene therapy" if the procedure was performed to ameliorate the suffering or provide a cure for a specific individual. The theologians were much more chary of something that might manipulate genes in a way that could affect the whole species. Some were willing to take a look at human nature itself, for instance the role of genes in shaping personality. Healing was seen as a religious discipline, but some theologians questioned whether medical ethics could truly ever be Christian. One theologian concludes that medicine does not need the church to supply a foundation for its moral commitments--but rather to sustain the care of those in pain.
                                                      -Dorian Borsella

Featured essay # 4:    


       Charles Carroll of Carrollton


  Charles Carroll(1737-1832) at the time of his death was the oldest surviving member of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. He played an important role in the successful outcome of the Revolutionary War.
  Charles Carroll was born in Annapolis to a substantial family. His grandfather came here from England in 1688 as Lord Baltimore’s Attorney-General for the Province of Maryland. He owned about 60,000 acres of land and operated a banking business lending money at interest. Charles Carroll’s father was educated in France as was Charles Carroll. He had a Catholic education and as a Catholic was furious at the ban on the Catholic religion in Maryland. He later made sure that the new state of Maryland granted civil and religious freedom to Catholics. Charles Carroll’s father added to the wealth that he inherited from his father until he had one of the largest fortunes in the colonies. Charles Carroll’s father was known as Charles Carroll of Annapolis and it was to distinguish himself from his father that he became Charles Carroll of Carrollton taking the name from the name of his plantation in Frederick County.
  Charles Carroll was active in the Continental Congress where he served from 1776-1778. He became the wealthiest citizen in the U.S. and gave liberally to help feed, clothe, and arm the Americans during the Revolution. He helped defeat a plan to oust George Washington as Commander. Had this plan succeeded, the Revolutionary War probably would not have been won.
  Charles Carroll was a Federalist and represented Md. as senator in the first federal congress from 1789-1792. He ended his political career to manage his estate of 70-80 thousand acres. In common with the Federalist Party he opposed the War of 1812.
  He believed that slavery was wrong and against the principles of the new government. He was in favor of gradual freedom because it would be less damaging to the nations agricultural system and because he believed freed saves had to be trained for jobs and given land.
  He spent his last days in the home of his daughter on Lombard and Front. Sts. in Baltimore which is open to the public. He gave his son money to build a home which is located on the site of John Hopkins University, although there was nothing there at the time. It was not even part of Baltimore. His son spared no expense and the house is an example of federal architecture. The house is maintained and is open to the public. There are tours of the house for a fee of $5.00.   
                                                            -Jane Granitzki
 

    The Internet -Network of Networks 

   As the word itself suggests, Internet is basically a network of networks. In other words, it is the 'inter-connection' of hundreds if not thousands of computers.
  Though many people think of it as something mysterious, the entity is very similar to the telephone system, which we are all very familiar with. One telephone instrument can connect to another over long distances making use of many exchanges and switches. This facilitates communication, transfer of intelligence and exchange of ideas across the globe. The Internet can be considered as an enhancement of the same principle.
  Though I have compared the telephone system to the Internet, the similarity stops at the basic concept. As a mode of global communication, Internet offers endless possibilities with regard to the kind of intelligence that can be transferred from one computer to another. It is evident by looking at various Web sites, that multimedia presentations abound in highly impressive ways.
  It is up to everyone to take advantage of this technical marvel to enhance our knowledge and exchange views without any barriers.
 
Internet Philosophy...
 
There has been considerable number of debates with regard to the usage of this wonderful communication medium called the Internet. They cover topics from "almost sensible" to utter stupidity!
  Whether it is to with pornography, or e-mail spam, one has to use common sense and realize that it is entirely up to the individual traveler to filter out what he or she likes to see. When you have already accepted the ritual of throwing away junk mail that arrives at your mail box every day, how difficult can it be, to click-and-delete unwanted email?
  Mere availability of material that one may consider decadent is not a grave problem in itself. Just like books, magazines, movies, and TV channels, the Internet also serves the cause of every interest and curiosity of a fertile mind, albeit an infertile one!
                                                        -Vasan Chakravarthy

Featured essay # 6

                        The Real Baltimore?

           The Real Baltimore?

  Tale of Two Baltimores

 
Greenmount Ave., the longest street in Baltimore, runs north and south. Further north in Baltimore the name changes to York Rd. which goes through Northern Baltimore County and into Pennsylvania finally ending at York Hospital in York, Pa.
  The 4300 block of Greenmount Ave. divides the haves from the have nots. On the east side are the have nots. This neighborhood comprises aging row houses many in need of repair. Income is low, unemployment is high. There is drug dealing, shots heard in the night, schools where little learning takes place, and children who are not always nurtured since so much effort goes into just getting through the day. There are some community activists who work hard at improving the quality of life. Some good people live here.
  On the west side of Greenmount Ave. are the haves living in the community of Guilford. Wealthy people live in old, large homes with spacious gardens. Children living here go to private schools. On one corner are several acres of land where hundreds of tulip bulbs are planted every year. Each May sees a dazzling array of colors which people from all over the city can enjoy. However, few people come from the other side of Greenmount Ave. The welcome mat is hardly out for them and indeed they are feared by this wealthy enclave. This is reinforced by the barrier that has been placed at the entrance to Guilford. The ostensible reason is to prevent people from who are driving from taking a short cut through the community to reach other streets.
  The fear and distrust that exists between the two sides of Greenmount Ave. was epitomized in an incident that occcurred about three years ago. A retired doctor and his wife were stabbed to death in their large home. Initially the people of wealth thought someone from the other side of Greenmount Ave. had killed them and they made their views known. That is when the barrier was erected. It was soon learned that the couples grandson, who lived with them, had killed them. The people of Guilford as well as the people on the other side were relieved, but the damage had been done.
  This pattern of rich and poor living near each other, but separate from each other, is repeated all over Baltimore with the poor gaining on the rich as many people who can afford to do so leave the city. Baltimore has similarities to a Third World Country with many of the social ills. How long can this continue before the city is an enclave of the impoverished? Broken economically, morally and spiritually. Will the last person to leave turn out the light or will all of us find it within ourselves to light the light?
                                                           -Jane Granitzki

Featured essay # 7         

Bad Orb   

 

 

 


  On our way to Bad Orb this summer before leaving for Frankfurt and home, we hit the start of one of Europe's worst heat waves.
Neither our car nor any rooms were air conditioned, so upon arriving in Bad Orb we chose one of the really nice looking hotels across from the main park which was full of big, green, leafy trees and shade. Ernie wanted me to have good memories of Bad Orb, so he rented an apartment for us which consisted of a bedroom, bath, and sitting room with balcony and chaise lounges. He mentioned to the desk clerk that we were visiting Bad Orb because my family had come from there many years ago.The next day I mentioned my family name, Prasch, to a hotel clerk, and next thing we knew the manager of the hotel was telling us what an "Ehrename" it was, a very honorable and prestigious name, etc. She told us that she was attempting to reach the mayor of the town in order that we could be officially greeted. "Ehrename" means very old, ancient, or respected in German, and is not used lightly. It denotes people of honor who were probably among the nobility and who were persons of means.
  Meanwhile, we strolled through the town several times, really enjoying the beautiful flowers, crowds of people on the streets and in the stores, and listening to the many fountains. Ernie took many pictures, but John Klein, also, has snaps of the same sort of thing. Late that afternoon, about 6 pm or so, we walked up to the cemetery which was filled with Prasch graves. It was so hot and humid that walking was very tiring, and we didn't do as much as we would have ordinarily. One of the places we visited had a bench in the shade and we sat looking at glass enclosures of one of the wells which supply the town with water. The stone walls of the ancient town formed the back wall of houses and businesses. We guessed them as dating from medieval times.
  Upon returning to our hotel room, we were informed that the mayor of the town, the Burgermeister, wished to meet us at the town museum the following morning before we left for Frankfurt. Upon arrival, there was a photographer who spoke excellent English and who interviewed us. Herr Burgermeister spoke only German, but talked for some length to Ernie who, of course, understands and speaks fluent German.
  Bad Orb was once a salt town and huge structures were erected which looked somewhat like giant barns filled with innumerable twigs stacked to the ceiling and over which water was trickled. These sheds are an architectural feat in themselves, being very tall and long. Running in the middle of each shed was a walkway through which people can walk and observe the water falling over the twigs.
  The King of Bavaria cancelled the salt contract with Bad Orb after better salt mines were discovered near Salzburg, which left the people of Bad Orb in desperate straits. They were so impoverished that in the 1850's or so, the king took up a collection from the citizens of Bavaria in order to keep the populace from starving.
  The Bad Orb museum has a movie of what the town looked like during that era, and I can't begin to describe be the difference between then and now. Then, the buildings and people looked impoverished and unkempt; now, the town is immaculate and abloom with flowers everywhere. It was after the salt contract was cancelled that the citizens of Bad Orb decided to make their salty water a health spa, and have promoted it thus ever since. My relative, Jacob Prasch, came to America before the salt contract was cancelled.
  Herr Burgermeister told us that the Prasch name was one of the three oldest names in the town, dating before the plague in the 14th century. His family name was Metzger, I believe, and his family, also, was one of the three. I'm sorry, but I do not know the name of the third family, as my understanding of German isn't THAT good, although I could understand most of what Herr Metzger said.
  In all the excitement of being greeted by Herr Metzger and packing our luggage and the car, Ernie forgot his camera, so the only pictures I have are the ones the photographer sent me, which are black and white. Since I don't have the negatives, I'm not making copies; John Klein, also, has color pictures of the town and of the art works of Hans Prasch, a leading sculptor from Bad Orb.
  Next year or the year after, we are planning on taking three of our grandchildren to Europe, and Bad Orb is one of the places we will visit with them. It truly is one of the prettiest little towns we've ever been in, and we've been in a lot of beautiful Swiss and German villages. We emphasized this and told everyone how proud I was to be a descendent from Bad Orb. I picked up about 25 stickers from the tourist office and will take some to the family reunion in August of '95.
  Things I would visit in Bad Orb: stroll through the town and have espresso at a Konditorei (pastry shop); sit on a bench and admire the beautiful flower beds and fountains before the entrance to the park; stroll through the shady park and visit the salt sheds, and sit on a bench to perhaps watch a game of chess being played with giant chess pieces; admire the tile work within the glass-enclosed wells; note the age of the town walls; visit the museum and view the film about Bad Orb "Then and Now," noting the difference in the way the houses are now decorated; visit the well-kept cemetery where someone can always be found tending a family gravesite; visit the Catholic church which had burned at Xmas several years ago and which has since been rebuilt following the old style; walk along the stream which bisects the town and over which there are many pedestrian bridges with decorative wrought-iron railings; study the lines of Hans Prasch's sculptures, particularly the "Salt Worker" which, particularly, appealed to me; admire the industriousness of Bad Orb's 14,000 people for restoring and maintaining this town, making it one of the most attractive we have ever seen. Bad Orb made me welcome and proud to have been one of its descendants!
                                                   -Patricia Prasch Belden

 
Featured essay # 8      
 

 

 

 

        

1930's and 40's – Growing Up Poor in Baltimore

 

 
 

   Anyone who has read “Angela's Ashes” will be struck by the similarity of Ann Marie's story, even though a continent and ocean separates the stories by geography.
   Ann Marie's mother had her own shaky start in life:  She grew up in a Roman Catholic orphanage. She aged out of the orphanage, and took shelter in the home of a relative who had been either unwilling or unable to provide for her when she was a child. Early marriage seemed like a ticket out. Unbeknown to her, it was a ticket to hell. The husband, Ann Marie's father, was a seldom sober wife beater.

    The family was Irish-Catholic. Ann Marie and four siblings survived. Ann Marie could not count  the long list of potential brothers or sisters who either did not survive infancy or were spontaneously aborted due to physical abuse.
   Prohibition ended in this country on December 5, 1933.  Ann Marie remembered being sent to nearby bars, carrying a bucket of beer home to her father and his friends.  Many of her father's jobs were lost because of his drunkenness. A more frequent pattern, however, was his quitting his jobs once he had enough money to start a drinking spree. Largely, her father was an absentee parent, but he knew the day when the welfare check came. In those days, however, a prolonged stay in the home by a husband resulted in ineligibility for welfare. Thereby the State did its share in breaking up of families. In Annmarie's case, any absences by her father were a blessing.

  The battered old moving trucks always pulled up at 2 a.m.  With today's poor, this is still the case. Moves were frequent because rent was seldom paid. Annmarie's family, however, had little furniture to move. Beds consisted of springs covered with old coats. Blankets were also old coats. The children slept sideways which enabled them to sleep four to a bed.  The younger children were bed wetters.
   There were public baths in Baltimore. The Public Bath Movement is a story in itself.  In the middle of the 19th century, the movement sprung up in Europe, the idea being to make the poor more like their “betters.” The hope was that physical cleanliness would lead to moral cleanliness. By the First World War, the movement was fizzling out, its objectives unrealized. Nonetheless, some public baths remained.  A Baltimore banker named Levering headed Baltimore's Public Bath Commission for decades. (But we are getting away from Ann M arie's story!) The baths in Baltimore now catered to a rough clientèle of street people.  Children were discouraged from using them. To meet the needs of this population, some public schools opened their doors in Saturdays.  For five cents, one could get a sliver of soap, a towel and a shower.  Ann Marie and her family used the school baths, since they were often without electricity or even a bathtub.  Ann Marie's situation represents an extreme contrast with America's middle classes today where showers are a daily occurrence and people feel seriously deprived if their home only has one bathroom!

Thanksgiving is just as apt to be a mournful day as a happy one. In many inner city Baltimore homes  today, and yes, in the suburbs as well, a  mother or grandmother might weep at holiday times because a fondly remembered loved one as fallen victim to the violence of the streets. Not as likely during Ann Marie's childhood, but Thanksgivings seldom entailed a special dinner. Even on regular days, dinner was not guaranteed. Ann Marie remembered one Thanksgiving when she was determined to find a Thanksgiving dinner for herself and her sister. The two children trolled the streets of Hampden. One house on 34th Street had Thanksgiving decorations in the window. Ann Marie reasoned that the occupants would have had enough money to have a Thanksgiving feast.  She knocked on the door. “The Miracle on 34th Street” proved to be a miracle once more.  The family seated the girls at the table, where Ann Marie remembered having three helpings of everything followed by ice cream in the form of a turkey for dessert.

   One day, when Ann Marie was in elementary school, her father presented her with a basket. Its contents consisted of thread, needles and pins.  He instructed her to go into the bars in Waverly (possibly Stoler's; Sweeney's; the Green Door-- there was no shortage of them) to sell her wares. The expectation was that men would give her a few cents without dipping into her stock.  She also knocked on doors of Waverly homes. Some days she would even trudge over to Charles Street and past the Art Museum, where she would find herself in Wyman Park or Hampden. Here were more doors to knock on.  Once or twice she wandered northward toward the more affluent homes of Guilford and Roland Park, but she quickly learned to avoid those areas.  The wealthier the families, the more likely they were to rudely dismiss her. They made her feel like an alien from another planet, sullying their world, their consciousness. Annmarie's father kept vigilant watch of her earnings, snatching them up as soon as she made enough money for a bucket of beer or a half-pint of Seagram 7. Her mother sewed a small pocket inside of her jacket so that some of the earnings could be saved to put food on the table.  On just a few occasions, Ann Marie found herself with a dime, which she spent on the supreme luxury:  a movie at the Waverly Theater in the 3200 block Greenmount Avenue. Up until the day she died, Ann Marie remembered the names of these films because they were a rare guilty pleasure.

Meanwhile, the beat went on – her father beating her mother!  Her mother, a devout Catholic, preferred going to Church to going to Court.  But there was one last beating, the one that landed her mother in the hospital fighting for her life.  This time, Ann Marie's mother did go to Court. The child herself testified against her abusive bully of a father. With jail looming before him, the father packed up and left Baltimore, never to return.  Life got better.
     What, then, happened to Ann Marie?  She survived.  An outsider would describe her life as uneventful. She had an unwelcome visitor as a teenager-- polio. Treatments were painful.  She married, had two children, separated from her own alcoholic husband.  She worked to support herself. She obtained a hairdresser's license and spent many years cutting hair in Middle River. In later years she lived by herself in a home in Little Italy that needed many repairs. She obtained a contractor to do the work. He ripped her off. She went to Court and saw that there were many other victims of this contractor. The Court exacted a judgment against him.  He fled Baltimore to avoid paying reparations.
   Ann Marie generally shunned hospitals, especially since a failed cataract surgery at a prominent East Baltimore hospital left her legally blind in one eye.  The hospital had the nerve to bill her. Instead of seeking legal advice, she obediently paid the bill. As the year 2000 approached, she knew that diabetes was winning its battle.  Her legs were so painful that she could barely walk.  Post polio syndrome likely contributed to her leg pain. She forbid anyone's telling her children that she was sick, but a sister was nearby to give some comfort during her final days. Anyway, Ann Marie had no fear of death. She claimed to have had occasional glimpses of the “other side.”  There, all she saw was beauty.  Ann Marie departed this life on April 30, 2000, alone and on her own terms.  So many of her memories, both personal memories as well as memories of a way of life, died with her. The hope is that in telling her stories, some of the memories, at least, will have persisted.
                                                                  -JNG

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