This speech was given in the park in front of the school about 1949 This fellow was a card carrying communist. He was supported by a number of Dundalk and Highland town people.
I knew several people who thought he would save the country by the fact that he was a communist. He would end hostility between the United States and Russia. He claimed he would would run for President and be elected by the end of the 1960's. The following are many of his words, though I don't remember all he said so what is written below is not his exact words but but close and very much the flavor of what he said.
Beside every shinning river, along highways, across vast plains and meadows a forest of trees will stand proud and tall. Lit in the glory of crisp clean sunlight shining through pristine oxygen rich air will sooth the eye of the traveler. Majestic conifers, oak, birch and all the other trees of the forest to provide cover and sustenance to a myriad of wildlife, birds and buzzing insects. A place where things may live in natural safety was intended. Free from death by gun, bulldozer and the staccato rattle of chain saws.
A garden of Eden you say? Yes my friends! That is what our nation will be in the eyes of all mankind. Free from the need to manufacture, Free from the need to devastate our forests and lands for metals and fuels, Free from the pillaging industrialists greed and need to pollute.
We will be the first nation on earth that will have no need to import raw materials. Impossible will say pillaging conservatives of the opposition party, nay sayers of the negative republican and Democratic party that has held our nation in the dark past for so many years.
Let me tell you it is possible and not only is it possible but a sure thing that some western country will follow this path if we prove to weak to take this step into the future.
That was the gist of the thing and now days I wonder how in the heck anyone could have been taken in by anything so silly.
This guy was well educated and was an excellent speaker and he had attracted a lot of listeners. He spoke for nearly an hour according to some, but I left in the middle, being a kid I was not all that interested in what he was saying. I remember thinking it sure sounded nice. But then I was fifteen or sixteen years old.
About a week later my mother was asked to sign a ban the bomb partition that a neighbor lady was passing around. She claimed it was promoted by her church. My mother refused to sign as she did not believe that was the thing to do considering what was going on the world.
A couple days later it came out in the Baltimore News post that it was the Communist Party that was passing those papers around. My mother was mad as a wet setting hen as was her way of describing her anger. She called the FBI and the next day they were at our house. My mother told them her story.
The FBI agents very gently questioned me about anything I might know and of course I told them everything I knew and some I probably didn't.
The woman who passed the paper around was the wife of a man my father worked with and who was also a union organizer. His brother was arrested a few months later for being involved in a plot to Sabatoge Bethlehem Steel Co.
Dundalk people were very patriotic and they were mad as they could be when the word got around. What had happened and that communists had been speaking right there in Dundalk really angered many. What was unbelievable to many, was that some local people were involved. I remember hearing, that there could be a lynching right here in Dundalk if that fellow with all that Lot of of mouth, came back
Of Mooncursers and other spun yarns
Sunday, December 31, 2006
This speech was given in the park in front of the school about 1949 This fellow was a card carrying communist. He was supported by a number of Dundalk and Highland town people.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
For all you folks out there that have found themselves married to a sailboat I have to feel sorry for you and at the same time feel a certain amount of envy for the joy she must certainly bring to you. The hours spent in hard but pleasurable labor keeping her in a state of repair and polish are without a doubt worth it. Now there's a labor of love known mostly to sailboat sailors, kayakers, and canoe paddlers and everybody else that has a thing they care for. Unless maybe it's a rock. These kinds of people by way of their disdain for motors and most things technical plus their love of misery and beauty that nears that of falling in love, do somehow find happiness. By sailing or peddling or paddling in a cold rain with a strong sharp wind trying to cut into face, fingers and slipping up your sleeves to create a shiver that drives you to a quiet anchorage or maybe a tent on shore. It's to me the sip of hot coffee, warm food and the smell of fresh salt air that adds to the delight of a radio broadcast of a warm and breezy tomorrow.
After a cold and challenging day, a day to appreciate the eighty degree day when there is a light breeze a warm sun over cool waters. A day when the tiller or paddle seems to rest in and and just go along with the water, silent and soothing. This day that will be tomorrow. Hmm, seems I like anchoring and drinking coffee more than sailing. Maybe I like house boats?
On the Blog, Sailboats Fair and Fine, we talk and write of boat stuff. I'll show some pictures, at times a video. I hope I can be of help to some who may need a little help with boats of all kinds. With over sixty years of playing with boats both big and small I ought to be of at least some help to any who feel they need it.. If not, I'm sure I can send you to someone that can help you.
If you care a whit about sailboats or messing around in the Bahamas, Chesapeake bay, Florida keys, Inland waterway or even building boats Join me by clicking the, Sailboats fair and fine, URL on the left side of this blog.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Thinking back I have been remembering a few happenings that I thought I had forgotten. I think there kind of neat and I hope you will too.
In, I believe the year was 1939 and I think it may have been summer or a really warm day in the spring or fall. Otts Mc Clelland came running to our back door and pounded on it yelling “Fred, Fred.”
. We had just pulled up in the driveway in our newly bought used 1937 Chevrolet. Dad hearing the ruckus and thinking something terrible had happened, ran around to the back of the house. “What's the matter Otts whats the wrong.”
“Oh nothing” he said. We just heard on the radio that the German Zeppelin will fly over Dundalk It left Washington and is headed this way.
We had been shopping so we all set our packages down on the ground and Mrs,. Mc Clelland came and joined the crowd. Otts and Fred stood talking about the coming of the Zeppelin. They thought the name of it was the Graff Zeppelin. I didn't know what they were talking about( didn't know what a Zeppelin was) but I was soon to learn. Kimmels mountain though having had it's top removed was till fairly high in front of the house and blocked some of the horizon. We herd it before we saw it. It was loud with it's three or four engines unlike airplanes of the time that seldom had more than two engines. The engines got louder, then we saw the front end of it coming over the edge of our roof with the rest of it hidden by our house. It was flying very low. We often saw big airplanes flying low taking off and landing at Logan's filed, coming over the house often, but they were small. This thing was huge overpoweringly big. It took up a giant section of the sky. There was a kind of threatening beauty about and at the same time an over powering ugliness. It was a passenger vessel supposedly but there was a military look about it. She was like a thing from another world. The square windows and shape of her fins the huge black crosses on her. I think her main purpose was to intimidate. She could have been beautiful just as easy. There was nothing about her that reminded a person of the streamlined look that was popular in every product we were used to using at the time. I would like to call it a her as is proper for any kind of a ship which is what Hindenburg was supposed to be. Her is not the correct term it was strictly masculine if any gender him, conquerer, warrior the destroyer would have been more apt. My sister cried out of fear and maybe hopelessness. Bombs dropping out of her would have been no surprise. The more of it that was viable the bigger it got and the flowerer he seemed to be. It was so low that it seemed it invaded the safety and privacy of our home. There was arrogance in flying that low as if to dare someone to shoot at it. All of a sudden there was an outburst of cursing from my father and followed by Otts curse words I had not heard before. I was accustomed to the usual hell, or damn. My father shook his fist at the thing. My mother said “Fred don't,” they can see you from that thing. I hope to hell they do he shouted. Otts said “I'd go get my gun but buy the time I get it they'll be gone.” He had to shout to be heard. I hope someone shoots it down. My father shouted back , you can bet they are taking pictures of Bethlehem steel and every other factory along the East coast.
When we heard that the Hindenburg had exploded my father's only reply was good they didn't get the pictures back to Germany and all they got for there money was to make Americans mad. We don't intimidate that easy. They brought their attempt at fright to the wrong country. I for one are ready to go to war any time President Roosevelt says sick'em boys. My father as long as he lived never acknowledged that the Hindenburg was a passenger plane. The most he ever said was, there may have been a few passengers on board but they weren't smart enough to know they were being used. I feel sorry for them but good ridence. The whole thing was a military show of force to let us know we weren't free of danger from the German Air force.
If we had attacked Germany right then when England wanted to, the war would have been over in two years, saving millions of lives. Pacifism causes and looses wars. We were only six months from loosing the war. They almost had the bomb. Had we attacked in 1939 they would not have even gotten a start on the bomb.
Of Mooncursers and other spun yarns, is a book like few others or maybe none other. I didn't write this book for you . I didn't write it to be marketable, not to sell and not to set on a bookstore shelf.
I didn't write it for my children, friends or relatives. I wrote it for, and too myself. For a long time it never occurred to me that anyone else would care about it. Like a dog on a hill barking just for the joy of being alive, I wrote, and wrote and continue to write. Like this blog which I write and send out from my computer for any or none to see I wrote a book to myself.
No matter what you or I like there is in someplace another who will enjoy as we do, our thoughts. If we build a boat , a car or a house, somewhere there is another who will like the product of our labor, I am sure. There is not one person on earth that is unlike every other person sharing this planet.
Why then, should I have thoughts, experiences, the joys of an exciting life to be enjoyed only in my own mind. Surely out there somewhere is a kindred spirit that will get the same kick as I from what I have thought and done. It could be you... Doug
Monday, December 25, 2006
"Mooncursers" takes place near "Baltimore Maryland," during the early part of WWII. A story of two boys, each battling his own devils. Both are strengthened through adventure and the overcoming of self imposed guilt. They decipher a cryptic note and right an old wrong. All this in order to give new meaning to the life of an elderly lady living in an old Baltimore slum and to return to her what is rightfully hers. This is a story of boys who find young manhood and lifelong confidence through adversity. Between these covers are other short stories for old boys and young men. Some will delight, drawing a chuckle and others to inspire thought. A few will leave an introspective question or two to ponder. One story is pure piffle. See if you recognise which one.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
In 1949 I went to the draft board in (I believe it was the Dunlear building) and told a bald face lie. I was fifteen years old and I told them I was seventeen. The next year I quite school and went to Bethlehem Steel co. and then told another one, saying I was eighteen. They wanted to see my birth certificate. In the best southern hillbilly accent I could muster out of my combination Georgia and Baltimore eze"I told them I was from so far back in the hills there was no record of when I was born. There weren't no doctor and there sure weren't no postman to bring it even if they know'd I was born. I said, “ there ain't gonna be no certificate never. But I got my draft card and you can't get one of them less ya'll is eighteen. I got the job. I don't think I fooled anybody because the guys in the mill knew right away I was too young to be in there.
Some job it was I worked in the 42 inch cold strip in the washers where they cleaned the rolls of sheet metal before heat treating it in the ovens. You worked in caustic fumes for eight hours a day, on a swing shift. There was a month lay of and afterward I was sent to the 56 inch rolling mill and galvanize department. There was so much acid in the air all the old timers had black teeth. What a place for a kid to be.
As a young teenager I had worked for two weeks over two summers at Fisher Body so I knew the ropes there a little. They would pretend they believed you were eighteen for two weeks and let you work. That was just before the model year change when the lines were running faster. All of us kids in the galvanize and the washers would leave early on the graveyard shift and pay someone to do our job and punch us out. Then we all went to Fisher body and worked all day. I was moved back to the washers at Sparrows Point one night where I couldn't catch any sleep. I had only had about 15 hours sleep the whole week so I fell asleep on the job. My job that night was to test the tanks and keep the caustic and soap levels correct. The tanks got out of balance and about a thousand tons of of, paper thin, steel stuck together and had to be rewashed. Why they didn't fire me I wonder to this day..
During those years I hung around the Stansbury shopping center with a bunch of other boys. Some worked there in the grocery store. Mr. Eiler that owned the Eiler Plymouth dealer ship usually found some work for all of us, anything from digging ditches to taring the roof. All of us boys had dropped out of school. Not for the reasons kids drop out today but because you could get a job that required a high school diploma just by saying you had one. Factories were so busy they would hire any one at any age and with any degree of education and they were pretty good jobs.
The late 40's and fifties were the blue bus years. We who lived in the eastern part of Dundalk rode the blue bus and those in Stroad the Red Rocket to work So you could ask someone how they got to work and kind of new where they lived.
All of us boys worked part time at Eilers pumping gas. He had a glass enclosed island for the pumps and stayed open 24 hours a day. We gassed up the Dundalk Cabs and the cab's maybe. You filled them and then rocked the cabs back and forth to let the air out of the tank so they would fill all the way to the top. Each driver was required to pass on a cab to the next shift driver with a full tank.cabs and I think something like Bartons
We sold white lightning to any and all that wanted to buy it. I don't remember for
All those folks except us kids have passed on so I don't think I am embarrassing any one.
All us boys by 1950 or 51 had nice automobiles and and all the really neat places to go were in Baltimore. We used to go to Baltimore street though it wasn't neat, or cool, but the Burlesque was fun it wasn't just strippers it was Vaudeville as well IT was cheap. And a trip to Harley's about one in the morning was wonderful. We never took the girls there, and if we didn't have to work the next day we would sit in the ally and talk till 3 am.
It is surprising to me that all of us kids that were running the streets and portrayed as hoodlums stayed pretty much out of trouble. My mother worked at O' Donnels Bakery. A little white headed Lady who was another who knew everyone, would chew some of the boys out until they squirmed. Those boys always said, “Yes mam, Mzzz. Pollard no mam. Mzzz Pollard.” One fellow told me, “My God, Doug, your mother's mean.” She liked all of us boys.
Some better than me I think.
We boys were doing what all gangs of boys do. We were falling in love with girls from all over the county. It has always amazed me how boys will go twenty miles or a thousand to find a girl, with a beautiful and sweet girl living right across the street that they are prone to ignore.
By 1955 we were all about gone from Dundalk The town was changing. Many people moved away as their homes brought good prices and People from Baltimore moved into the suburbs. A lot of people by then who had come from Virginia the Carolina's and all over the south began going home. Many were middle aged when they came to Dundalk during the War and they went home with good retirement checks in their pockets.
Boy the 1950's were a time to remember for us who lived them everyone made plenty of money and was almost never out of work. Except when they got huffy with the company, and went on strike.
As any who have read all this can see, I am an old man still thinking of my self as a kid in 1950.
Child hood is when you define yourself. Your failings are so horrible you can never live them down in your own mind. But it's also when you find out what you respect in others. I have often thought that casual friends are people you like and lifelong friends are the ones you would also trust with your life.
To fail is regrettable and forgettable. To fail a friend is regrettable.
This is the end of this portion of blogging here. I would like to say that there were many in Dundalk that I didn't talk about, they were my closest friends in many cases. To talk about them would be even more about myself and this has turned into much more about me than was intendid. I have gone back and added in a little note on an event in 1939 that was left out. It's really cool to be able to publish and go back in and add something.
After Christmas I will try to start a story to live on these pages. I don't know what about for sure, but knowing me, it will be fiction, it will be about Dundalk people and it will be about messing around on the Chesapeake bay from Dundalk and an occasional adventure in Baltimore. It will be about, young to older teenage Boys. I concider the teen years the big years of ones life. A persons whole life is built on top of them. Later years are great too, but life becomes more about the lives of children, great grand children and wives . It's about duty to country and mankind. About where we come from and what we'll leave behind and how we will be judged.
A saying by a good online friend of mine( though he may deny he knows me) is: One wise man once said, "If you seek to gain your life by being selfish you loose it but if you loose it by sharing it you gain it." This a quote from Chief Redelk of Many Nations.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
While I'm at it here is what I think about Irac. If we don't win there and the middle east builds an arsenal of A- bombs we will have to, God forbid, use our weapons on them to save ourselves. As one who has lived through four wars I can guarantee we will do it if we have to. If we don't we will all be carrying our prayer rugs with us and facing Mecca every day. It is either win now or win later the question is how many are we going to have kill to win? A few now or many later.
Every family had money at the end of the war. People had worked long hours all through the war and there was nothing to spend the money on. You couldn't but appliances, cars or hardly anything else. Butter was rationed , gasoline , coal, chocolate and nylon hose.
When the boys got home they married the girls they had been writing to for four years. Their parents had money in the bank to help them build a house. The GI bill loaned them cheap money so Dundalk kept growing at the same war time pace. There was no feared depression at the end of the war.
A lot of those fellows went to college on the GI bill a thing they never dreamed they would be able to do.
Not long after the war I was canoing. I had bought and old canoe and was using it. All us boys were in the boy scouts. We could buy army surplus gear for almost nothing it was everywhere. We had all the first class camping gear anyone could want. I paid $2.00 for a one man inflatable life raft. We all had one and we all rafted down the Potapsico in Patapsico state forest. We were kids that grew up with tools, house building and fathers that worked on their own cars. We knew how to fix things, build our own bikes and rebuild a canoe. My best friend and I recked in a cable car we built to run between two trees. We built boats, duck boats as we called them and we built canvas covered kayaks. Girls had begun to come into our lives at about age twelve in a minor way. At age thirteen we were going to dances at the school and YMCA. We who had older sisters were lucky, they taught us to dance. At age thirteen there is nothing better than being one of the few boys that could dance.
While in the seventh grade a young lady that I was sweet on said Doug, ( and I can't remember the girls name) will you take my friend to the senior prom. Her boy friend has come down with measles and she already has her prom dress and she won't be able to go. I first said no. But on going home my sisters talked me into going. I didn't have a suit but my older brother loaned me one of his. My father instructed me on how to treat a lady at a dance. My job was entirely to show her a good time. A task that I took to heart. I was about four inches shorter than her but we were both good sports. We danced and both had a good time. It turned out that I danced with many of the senior girls and they all got a kick out of dancing with me. The whole affair was one of the highlights of my life. But the real high light was the goodnight kiss she gave me.
In the late 1940's there were a few characters around Dundalk that stick in my mind. One was named Roy. He was a captain on an old yacht that never left the dock. It was kept in Turners Station at the old ferry dock there. Roy was a big fellow that looked a little like the cartoon charecter Wimpy. Roy wore a full captains uniform in dark blue with all the appropriate gold braid and his world war two metals. He also wore a captains hat. I never saw him dressed different. He drove a 1941 Crossly Automobile. It looked a little like a small version of a VW beetle. It was tiny. It was also a bright green convertible. It had a little two cylinder air cooled engine that sounded like a lawn mower. He always had his girlfriend with him who was drop dead gorgeous. Roy never had a battery that was any good and her being the good sport she was would get out and push. Roy would set in the car and wave her on. Roy always had an old boat to play with and some times went with him at my own peril. He had a lot to do with my messing with boats all my life. Every body in Dundalk knew Roy and he knew them. Roy I think liked me because I could fix anything.
Another older friend of mine was about forty years old when I was still in my early teens. Sam I think was Native American. He was tall and robust in figure with some belly. He had an old Navy boat that he was rebuilding and he lived aboard it at Corinthian Yacht club next to Owens Yacht company. Sam was the most strinking looking fellow I ever saw. He had jet black hair with a jar head haircut. His handlebar mustache was three inches long on each side and coal black. Sam's skin was dark but colored strongly with red. I don't know were he got his cloths but I suspect he had them made. He often wore a blue and white striped Jersey type shirt with stripes three inches wide going around him and around his arms. He wore a red bandanna on his head and a red sash about six inches wide around his waste. Dark blue pants torn off below the knee. Sam wore canvas strapped sandals. In the winter the shirt was covered by a blue P coat. Sam walked everywhere around Dundalk but road the street car into Baltimore every night. Every one recognized him though he was to odd to have but a few friends. At the age of about twenty I saw him on Baltimore street with two really good looking gals one on each arm.
The name of his boat was the Three Wise Men, and he carved the three figures and mounted them under the bow sprit.. They were blue, red and gold leaf.
Then there was Blimp. Seems like most I new were over weight. Blimp as we called him was named Norman. He always had a truck that he delivered groceries to the mostly elderly ladies around town with. Norman though older hung around with us teenagers when we in our mid teens. The first I remember of him was that he had a car that had been wrecked. He took all four of the doors off and all the seats and upholstery out. Then he sat on a milk crate to drive it. You might see him anywhere in Baltimore. It's a wonder the police didn't stop him. I guess they figured it was his business and he wasn't hurting any one. We kids pitched in and bailed him out of jail in Glenburnie Md. where they arrested for driving that car. He was charged with driving without a windshield I guess it was alright that there were no doors.
I guess back then to be known all over Dundalk you needed to be big and over weight and wear funny cloths?
In 1940 I started to school and hated it. I went to School at Dundalk Elementary School on Playfield Street. George Schlutaburg was Principal and my first Grade teacher was Mrs Merritt I'm not sure But I would think she was one of the Merritt Family that farmed the land along Merritt Boulevard. Mrs. Tinley taught me in the second and third grade. I had a Mrs Riley in the fourth and again a second time in the fourth. Mrs Tinley taught her class and the second grade with the help of a substitute teacher. She sent me home in the fourth grade for breaking wind and blaming it on the girl setting across the isle from me. Actually I think I must have been sweet on the girl. She was so cute I can't imagine I wasn't. When the class looked around to see who did it I pointed to that girl and all eyes fell on her. She was embarrassed and she cried. Big tears that streamed down her cheeks and I felt sorry for her. God only knows why but I did it again and this time the teacher was standing behind me. She said I was naughty and I said don't call me that I'm bad. Why in the world would a boy say that.
Mrs Couch taught me the fifth and sixth grades and she was my favorite, She was tough and fair and she liked boys and especially if they were a little honery. The boys all liked her as well..
There was a Mr. Bozley that had lost a leg in WWI he used a cane and everyone was afraid of him but his students . None of the rest of us could figure it out. If you ran in the hall he would hook you around the neck with the cane. Oddly it didn't hurt I guess he let the cane slide through his hand so that it didn't jerk you up short.
Old Mr Foust was the Janitor and what a job that was The building was heated with steam heat and the furnaces were hand fired with coal. He had to shovel the coal in and the ashes out. He collected the trash and burned what he could and carried out the rest. He kept the whole building clean and I think there was 32 class rooms. I think there was an older lady that cleaned the windows and there was a jillion of them. When th war started we had air raid drills where we all sat on the floor. The principal who was German and spoke broken English would tell us stories about WW!. He spared us the gory details so it was pretty interesting for us boys and girls alike.
In the winter of early1942 they fenced off the now flat top of Kemmels mountain and stored Army trucks and tanks there. The place was fascinating as a flat sandy plateau where they flew model airplanes and we boys hated to see that go, but the adults did to. Many people in town walked up there on Sundays to watch the models fly.
For us boys the place was even more exciting filled up with tanks, jeeps and trucks. We would go up there and talk to the army guards that patrolled the place. And later we talked to the German prisoners that were repairing fences and doing other jobs around the motor pool. Many were in there mid teens and were very likable. It was hard to remember they had been trying to kill our older brothers and fathers.
We knew the Germans were locking up the Jewish people in Europe. We thought that was a terrible thing for the Jews but we just assumed that was what was done when you had enemies in your country during a war. Nobody was surprised. I don't think anyone new they were gassing the people. We kids played Army. We had wooden guns and odds and ends of military uniforms. Metal toys were hard to come by but kids could get metal BB rifles all through the war. I guess the Government thought it was a good thing for kids to learn how to shoot.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
In Colgate Creek at St, Helena was a sailing ship’s graveyard. The rotted hulls are now under the Shipping terminal. Mr Pollard and his oldest son Charlie who was now old enough to work as a young teenager, went out onto those ships and removed planks and beams from them and carried them a shore in a row boat. The two of them loaded timbers and tongue and grove siding onto a push wagon and then hauled them by hand two miles to the building site. Huge beams were removed from under the decks to be used as framing for the house. Fred, a little later bought a car and often put a circle saw onto the back axle of the family model A Ford and he sawed them into usable sizes. No house was ever built out of better materials. The ships had been built of heart Georgia pine, cypress and oak. All the nails had to be removed and then straightened to be used again. The sheathing for the house was four inch wide tongue and groove cypress. The wood had paint on it one eighth of an inch thick. Before the lumber could be used the paint had to be scraped out of the tongue and groves. Mr Pollard made a metal scraper, nailed it to the frame of the house and pulled the wood through it to remove the hardened paint.
The family moved in the house with only sub floors and enough sheet rock walls installed for privacy. The house had four rooms a pot bellied stove and an outhouse. Living in saw dust was a way of life for them..
There was a shallow hand driven well.
This was the year I was born, 1934 the first of about 3 very bad winters. By the end of that year I had come down with Asthma and must have been a real worry for my parents. I saw the old Doctor Toland Whose office was in Edgemere. when I was about thirty years old and he said he remembered trudging up our road to see me with a couple of foot of snow on the ground. I thanked him, and he asked me if I was worth it. I told him, I, arguably, was. He chuckled and said “I’m glad I did it then”.
Charlie worked hard during his teenage years. And became an accomplished carpenter capable of doing fine finishing work as well as pure mule labor. He was very smart and carried excellent grades in school. They added two more rooms and a bathroom onto the house and Charlie began making cement blocks for basement walls. Dad bought two wooden block molds from Sears& Roebuck. My brother spent the summer mixing concrete with a hoe in a mortar box and pouring it into the molds he let them set a while and took the blocks out and stacked them to cure. It had to be back breaking work because while the blocks were hardening in the molds he went under the house to dig the basement with Ruby's brother, Talmage. They dug with pick and shovel and brought the dirt out in a wheelbarrow. My father worked evenings and weekends as well, but he was now working four days a week at his job. Somehow Fred managed to raise a garden every year and the summer diet was speckled butter beans on rice with Green fried tomatoes and all the corn on the cob you could eat. There was pork chops and chicken some meals but steak dinners was few and far between.
Fred liked to pick berries and across the Robinwood road in front of the house and on up across Otto Walters field was Kimmel's Mountain though it defiantly was not a mountain. At most it was 200 hundred feet high The whole family often went onto would go up the hill to pick berries. It was an all day trip and we were all expected to pick blackberries. Later in the after noon Ruby would take a bucket of berries, her boys and girls and head home. Fred usually stayed as long as he could see. By the time he got home there was a big summer dinner cooked and a blackberry cake. These three layer yellow cakes had the blackberries stirred in before baking. Some of the juice would migrate through the cake turning it purple and then the family ate it with milk on it like a pudding. As a matter of fact Ruby called them a blackberry pudding sometimes.
On Pollard's little acre were fruit trees, apples, pears, peaches and cherries. Good sized beds of blackberries and strawberries. were harvested A long arbor of sweet yellow grapes were turned into wine some years and sometimes mixed with a neighbors purple ones for a really good red wine.
When the hill was cut away and the trees gone off the top there was nothing to hold water and stop it from running off when it rained. The neighbors wells began drying up all over the area.
Otts Mc McClellan the Pollard's next door neighbor was building a house at the same time. Otts's father George was getting up in years and had little use for his old chain drive Ford Stake body truck. Otts and Fred more or less took turns working on it to keep it running. There was money coming in now from them having worked a longer week. With a truck they could buy used building materials in Baltimore and haul them to the houses. They could also afford new materials like finish flooring hand rails for stairways and appliances. At some point a gas stove and refrigerator showed up at the houses.
It finally happened the shallow well dried up, so Mr Pollard built a derrick at the back of the house Charlie climbed on top of it and began driving a pipe into the ground with a maul and then pulling it out with a block and tackle. Fred beat the dirt out of it with a hammer. They took turns at driving and hauling untill the well was sixty feet deep. One of the neighbors standing alongside the rig yelled up and asked in typical Balimereze “Hey Fred what’ll yous do if yous strikes a rock?” Without hesitation Fred replied, “I’ll move over six feet and start over.”
I have no doubt that he would have done just that.
Recently when I considered driving a well I was informed that you cannot drive a well more than 25 ft. I just looked at the man and smiled.
Fred and Ruby had water about five more years . Their well must have been in an underground stream. The county put city water in and the well was still working but there was no telling for how long. We all in the neighborhood, hated the new city water. Some called it man made water. Well when a man makes water we all know what he is doing.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
This is the story of one family that came to Dundalk in 1932 To me it seems inconceivable that they would undertake building a home with Mr. Pollard only having two days a week of work at his regular job. He was able to pay the rent for the house they lived in by doing carpentry work on the houses in the group of houses where they lived on Parnell ave.. They were not the only ones that built homes around Dundalk under these circumstances. There are many families that could tell the same story. I guess if you have five days a week off from work you might as well build a house especially if you can find free materials and your willing to learn how.
Fred took his family to Baltimore fromWaycross Ga. where he went to work for Bethlehem Steel Co. at Sparrows Point. He was a machinist and he worked at maintaining rail cars and steam locomotives for the steel co. They lived in a company house close to blast furnaces and railroad tracks running in every direction. Soot settled onto and into every thing they owned cloths soon took on a rusty look. There was constant noise day and night.
The company paid off in chits that had to be spent in the company store or cashed in at the company bank for less than face value. The rent was deducted from his pay. They could hardly wait to get away from there and in less than a year he landed a very good job with Western Electric in Baltimore.
They rented a house in a little Italian immigrant neighbor hood on the edge of Baltimore named St. Helena. The rent was cheap and they were able to save a little money. The depression struck and Fred lived in fear of loosing his job. With a little savings and by cashing in an insurance policy, they bought an acre of land near the little town of Dudalk across the streetcar tracks on Robinwood Rd. Dad was one of the lucky ones he was able to work one or two days a week during the worst of it.
There was a grocery store near that was owned by a Jewish couple by the name of Karsh
Dundalk aside for a moment: I got a chimney on the wood stove in my boat shed yesterday. So when there is six inches of snow on the ground I will be snug and warm as I skive shavings off of one boat part or another. Come spring I hope to be able to go for a sail in my 20 ft canoe yawl, Kate II on the bay. I started building her over a year ago and she now looks like a boat. If there is anything better than the smell of fresh cut boat frames and the scrap wood burning in a stove, its the smell of salt air blowing off a Chesapeake salt marsh. Heaven's Ta Betsy living is sweet.
Now; Back to Dundalk.
Sometime in the late 30's they moved the parade to Liberty Parkway and the parade became a huge production. People came from Baltimore to come to the event. It was a big thing and a lot of it was because of how the people felt about their country back then . They were patriotic, the stars and stripes were truly sacred. A flag burning?
Now that would have been something to see. A guy dumb enough to do that would have found himself bounced all the way to Eastern avenue.
After the parade there was a big time to be had. There was marching competition on the school grounds by bands from all over the state. All day long there were double header baseball games, tennis tournaments and jump rope contests. Fire works and hot dog stands all over the place. We all wanted firecrackers but it was hard to decide on them above ice cream. Hendlers must have had a dozen Pink ice cream trucks in Dundalk each with its cherubs setting on it's corners.
Seems like everyone joined into the festivities. Three legged races by married couples, sisters and brothers girlfriends and boyfriends. There were fifty yard dashes and mile runs around the 1/8 mile clay track that was on the school grounds. At about age eight I won a bronze metal for the fifty yard dash. Must have meant a lot to me, sixty four years later I still have it. Lost about everything else from back then but hung onto that metal.
A big wood pavilion was set up and a band played dance music all afternoon and evening until midnight and on some years way beyond. People danced their legs off.
There were always stunt planes over the grounds and we all stood looking up ooh, and awing. One year there was to be a parachutist jump from a plane. He jumped with fan fare and grand announcements and fell straight to the ground. He hit the ground flat, with a sickening bounce. He hit right in the middle of hundreds of people who rushed their children away..
Now here is the odd thing about this happening, our next door neighbor was telling me about it years later when I was still a kid. Since then I have been told it never happened. So, now days, I'm not so sure I didn't picture it happening when I was told about it and all these years later, that is what I remember. Up until about twenty years ago I would have argued all day long that it happened. If any one knows, let me know.
One year the boys scouts had their jamboree there on the grounds. There was the usual bond fire only this year the logs were piled thirty feet high. There were hundreds of boys scouts and maybe two thousand spectators and we all joined into a sing along We sang patriotic songs and some sentimental old favorites. My mother pointed out that the fire light was reflecting off of many tear filled eyes across the fire light.
The fire works started and that was the last event of the evening except for the dancing and that went on till way late at night.
The summer of 1942 the forth was mixed with sadness and a huge patriotism. Our older brothers had gone into the service. Some were in training and many were on their way across oceans. High school kids were chomping at the bit to join up and parents knew it. No person there that year wasn't sure that we weren't standing in the next years battle ground. People were scared but they were also made as hell and spoiling for a fight.
Our German neighbors were afraid to attend. Some were certain that they would be thrown into concentration camps.
Unlike today and the last few wars when we are fighting people we who were not our traditional enemies there was a lot of old hatred for Germany and it wasn't that old. We fought Prussian troops in 1776. World war one had only been over twenty years. We hated the Germans. Baltimore was full of Amputees, blind and gassed veterans. They set on every street corner with their hats out for money. I don't know about others but my parents seldom passed one with out leaving at least some money. My father cursed the Germans every time and I'm sure the feelings were the same in Germany. Oddly he did not blame the German immigrants that we knew and was very good friends with some and considered them highly honorable people.
One good friend, a German either signed over his property to my father or he wanted to. My father was to hold it until after the war. Either way it was drastic That's how sure he was that he would be sent to a concentration camp and his property confiscated. Considering what happened to the Japanese it could have happened.
Friday, December 15, 2006
This is a somewhat strange tale in that I can't say that I truly remember it. I'm not sure I don't either. It may have been told to me or I may truly remember it. It's a odd thing what happens to memory over long periods of time. The 4th of July,I remember. The parachutist as they were called then, I can't say for sure but I'll tell it anyway.
Every year we went to the 4th of July parades. In the earliest years the parade was on Shipping Place in front of all the stores. Crowds of people gathered along the sidewalks and on the park across the street. There was no post office there, only winding sidewalks grass and a few trees. The parade started on Dundalk avenue came across to right in front of the Strand theater and down Shipping place it turned onto Dunmanway and stopped there. It wasn't very long march but the parade lasted a long time. There were the usual firetrucks, marching bands and of course the army and Navy drill teams. There was no air force as such, it was part of the Army. The Marine core was represented by the navy.
Two teenage marching bands represented Dundalk The Saint James Band and the American Legion Band. They were also drill teams that competed in competitions around the state. A big part of the parade were the World War One veterans. Believe it or not they received the most applause from the crowd. All day long your ears rang from the explosions of fire crackers. People were not shy about spanking other peoples kids. If a kid got careless with his firecrackers and threw one among small children a father among the bunch was likely to run out of the crowd grab him and give him a good spanking. Got one of them myself one time. In spite of what everyone says I don't remember any person I was acquainted with growing up that had blown any fingers off. There were a lot of bruises and powder burns but they healed in a day or two.
We'll go on tomorrow with some more forth of July. I have to put a smoke stack on the shed I am building a boat in.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
In 1939 many in the neighbor hood had gathered on th Mc Clelland front porch there on Robinwood Road. There was a conversation going on about whether there would be layoffs or not in local industry. One young couple were really concerned. He had recently gone to work at Owens Yacht co. down at the end of Stansbury road . Being a new employee he would be among the first to go if there was a layoff.
“What you doing down there Roy,” my father asked
“Well I run a wood shaper most of the time. But sometimes I drill holes in plywood. You stack up about 10 sheets of plywood and then you take this fixture they supply and you put it on top. It's got holes every inch in both directions and them holes have steel bushings in'em. You take an electric drill and you drill holes all over them sheets of wood. They make the boat ceilings out of them.”
“Well if they lay you off let me know we have a wood shop over at the Western Electric. They might take you on there, seems like business is picking up there.”
“That won't happen Mr. Harman injected. The hole countries going right back into another depression. Yep it's going to be even worse this time. Roosevelt ain't going to be so lucky this time.” he said hand on knee his head shaking side to side. “Gonna be bad.”
“I think this is not so....”Mr. Derr said.
"Otto!" Mrs Derr said, "You don't talk so much,” she said, wide eyed.
“Ya Paula I tell.” War is comingk, war in Europe and we will be in it.” There will be no.. how you say layoff. Every factory will work seven days every week all night and all day..”
“ Otto you mean that crazy little paper hanger Hitler, in Germany, no that won't happen the German people remember the first war. They won't go to war against the world,”my father said with conviction.
"Yaa I think they do. But not just Germany, but Russia,Italy, Spain, Argentina and Japan. They will take Europe and England fast that will only leave America andTurkey to fight the axis power. It could be bad for America. They would invade the east coast and the west coast and we would be fighting on two fronts. The American people have many guns and maybe they could slow things down until an Army is raised. I think many will die.
“ Fred, I tell you tonight, turn on your radio to Berlin Radio and listen to Adolf Hitler's speech, tomorrow you tell me there will be no war.”
“Otto I won't know what he is saying what good will it do to listen,” my father replied.
“You don't have to understand you will know,”Otto said, as him an Paula arose to leave.
Before sundown my father went out and checked the antenna that was strung from the top of the house out fifty feet to a pole on the old now unused out house That night we all sat down in the living room and my father turned on that big floor model Air king radio he had recently bought from Sears Roebuck. After it warmed up my father turned the knob to short wave and began slowly to turn the tuning dial to the station. There was a lot of squeaking and squawking and finally a vice came in in German, then French and then English Radio Berlin. There was music in a moment the radio jumped into action with yelling and shouting Sig Hiel was screamed by thousands over an over in a chanting mindless rhythm. Hitler spoke loud and fast, shouting in a frenzied, maniacal series of near screams. At every pause in his speech was applause and wild screaming and shouts of Hiel Hitler. Music was played and thousands joined in singing. Then thousands more came in with triumphal shouts. At every pause there was thunderous applause and screaming. We didn't understand a word but even I at my age knew. My father got up turned off the radio. His face was white and he was visibly shaken.
"My God Ruby, Otto is right, we are going to have to fight them Germans and it will be worse than world War one. We will have to fight them! Many tuned into that speech and from that moment on in the minds of Dundalkers we were at war with Germany even though no shots were fired for a couple more year's.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
I thought I'd take a little step to the side and go to the future here. I'm not getting away from the intent of this Blog but I've written this as something extra because I can't stand not to. Here's a blog about a small town in America a small working class community, a beautiful little town with narrow streets and wide side walks, made for walking.. Homes close together all in walking distance to stores Churches, schools and parks. Sounds different already doesn't it. Well the truth is it was designed that way back in 1919 nearly one hundred years before this idea has begun to be modern. Houses are quaint and tucked back along the streets partially hidden by trees that shade house, sidewalks and streets a like. Sounds like a community of the future where America gets back to being a community for people, not designed around automobiles. Dundalk is truly the city of the future.
In my blog about Dundalk farms I write about a time after the depression. If You think things looked bleak for Dundalk now, just look back to 1932. It's surprising how much steel mill workers and foundry men and todays well educated society of executives were and are after the same thing. The goals are the same, the means of getting there a little different.
Dundalk has fallen on hard times and disfavor because much of local industry has been lost. WOW! What a bunch of baloney that is. Here we are in the age of the computer, when people can work at home out of an office a thousand miles away from their jobs. What difference does it make that the steel mills aren't what they were that General Motors is gone. Steel jobs were dangerous and Fisher body was mind numbing drudgery and the only thing they supplied was a pay check. There wasn't an ounce of satisfaction in any of it. I know because I did both, that's the kind of work that ran me away from Baltimore. In the mid 19030's your grandfather had two days a week of work if he was lucky and there was no job for your mother. Today you can both work, granted you aren't getting rich but your living. It will get better.
The only thing I know of that Dundalk needs is a Hela Port or a reasonably fast rail system or a high speed ferry boat to get people downtown and the airport so that these modern men and women can get to the airport in 30 minutes. What a wonderful way to get to work. These executive types can live in apartments or houses with small yards and little or no maintenance.They are buying rundown old shacks in town and spending a fortune to fix them up Dundalk is a hundred times better place to live. For Saturdays or Sundays there are tennis courts on the school grounds ball diamonds soccer fields and football. The park has a band pavilion there are ice cream stores. People congregate on Shipping Place to set on the walls to talk. Hot dog and sandwich vender's peddle food from bright stainless steel push carts. This future paradise is not in the future but is here and now and it is not some greatly admired European city It is Dundalk. If you live in Dundalk take a walk around an look. I think you will see I'm right. It's a little rundown but it's mostly cosmetic, a little paint and plaster and your up and running.. You people are setting on some of the most high priced property in Maryland. You just haven't been discovered yet. Make a lot of noise folks it's coming and it'll come faster if you make a racket about it.
Crazy harry wasn't crazy was he. Nope. Crazy wondered around town and could be found anywhere in the city. Now and then he would wind up in night clubs bars and restaurants around Dundalk. He was an amiable fellow with a knack for the theatrical and an impossible talent with a pair of scissors. He was a comedic showman in the best Vaudeville style.
The first time I ever saw him was at my home. In my growing up years and as a young adult I caught his act at a lot of Baltimore establishments. We had a house full of company from Georgia, aunts, uncles and my grandparents as well as friends..
My Brother Charlie had gone to Dundalk for some reason and stopped byNight Club and Harry was performing on stage. He finished up his act and my brother asked him to come with him to our house that we had a crowd there that would be a good audience and when finished he would drive him to the Hollywood Inn. Harry walked everywhere or road the streetcar in which case he always performed while riding. People threw money at him. It was always believed, by almost everyone, that he had a bundle of money socked away someplace.
Harry came in sat down and began telling jokes and said he'd like a drink. My mother went through the usual list of things to drink. Ain't ya got no liquor he wanted to know? Mom remembered the fruit cake. She had some that my father had soaked with rum. Crazy, stuffed the cake in his mouth and swallowed it making us all fear he would choke to death. He told more jokes and mimicked perfectly anybody that said anything Then he went around the room and roasted everybody. We all found it amazing how he hit the character of each person in the room. He didn't know any of us. Then it started, a sound cam out of him a little like a mouth organ crossed with bagpipes. Started off low and got louder WER-EEE-EROL-WER-EEE-EROL-WER-EEE-EROL-----I DON'T WEAR NO UNDERWEAR AND I DON'T WEAR NO WOMENS DRAWERS----WER-EEE-EROL-WER-EEE-EROL--- AROUND AND AROUND AND A WAGON WHEEL, WER-EEE-ERO-WER-EEE-EROL
Slowly he reached down in his carpet bag and pulled out a pair of scissors and paper. He held the paper behind his head cutting out the profiles of every on in the room some of them were folded several times and were three profiles. The whole time he was doing his singsong, song. He stopped his song and said Now I'll sing you a real song and cut loose with WER-EEE-EROL and we laughed going through that song a couple of times he then broke out with a beautiful rendition in true Irish tenor style of Danny Boy.
He finished, with tears in his eyes stood up and bowed, In the time fashion of this show we threw money at him. He picked up the coins and put them in his coat pocket. We all clapped and cheered. He started for the door and my mother offered food and he refused. Just as he started out the door he reached in his pock pulled out some coins and said pennies with , I don't take pennies. He tossed them on the carpet and went on out, my brother behind him
After he was gone I scrambled to get the pennies, to my surprise they were corks out of bottle caps. Every one got one last laugh, it was on me. My brother returned home and told us that Harry had questioned him about every person that would be there. So there was the answer to Harry having such an uncanny insight into the personalityof each person. It seems no less amazing that he could draw conclusions about our personalities from such a brief discussion about the people. That required a great amount of insight into people to do that. Crazy Harry wasn't crazy was'e.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Six or eight neighbors sat on the front porch of our home one summer evening as often happened on warm evenings and this story was told by A German couple in the neighborhood.
Having recently arrived In Baltimore and spending the night at her Brothers house they walked a couple of blocks to Patterson Park.
It was Saturday and a lot of people were in the park, many were laying on blankets sunning them selves. A few were playing with dogs or kids. Most were just walking. These were the same things you might see anywhere in Europe, but there was a small differnece some how. These people seemed more at ease, maybe less formal. Otto thought about the park in his home town and the many hours he spent there as a child. He had pleasant memories of the puppet shows, organ grinders and jugglers. Parks in Germany were somewhat like amusement parks. hildren did not go there alone to play they were always supervised by adults. There was a deep seated fear that they would be stolen by Gypsies and taken to the black forest or some where beyond. Otto new of no one, this had happened to. These tales must have been past down from a time when the country was wild and untamed, when wondering tribes crossed the land and raided small villages. In Europe a park is a place that you get dressed to go to. These American children were poorly dressed and they played rough. He told Paula as wild as they are they may have been well dressed when they left home this morning. She laughed, They walked to the north side of the park were there was a base ball game going on. The couple climbed into the bleachers and watched. Otto could not figure out what was going on. A curious game he thought. Sometimes the man in the middle threw the ball and the other man swung at it and some times he didn't. Some times the people yelled and sometimes they didn't. One man squatting down caught the ball when the other man didn't hit it. Then he would do a funny thing, he'd lift up the padding he had on his belly and putting his hand under it he'd point three fingers at the ground, sometimes two, some times only one. What ever it meant he must have gotten it wrong sometimes because the one throwing the ball shook his head no and sometimes yes, then he'd throw. When all the players changed places all the men in the stands stood up and clapped. There was one man out there every one hated he was dressed like an undertaker. He didn't do much of anything except watch the one man throw the ball. Sometimes he let out an awful grunt. The guy swinging at the ball didn't like it, he got his face right in the undertakers face and he cursed and hollered. The ball was thrown and the black suited fellow said "baa" the man with the stick walked over and stood on a pillow. One of the players came up to Otto and said "hey buddy you want to play base ball we're short a man!" Otto told him he could play soccer but he'd never played base ball. The fellow told him that didn't matter they were short a man and any way he could play right field and he wouldn't have to do nothing nohow. Paula said "go ahead Otto play, if nothing else you can always kick the ball." Otto shrugged his shoulders and said "OK." The guy was right the ball didn't come to him and he was glad. Otto got up to bat and the man in the middle threw the ball right at him, he jumped back, it curved and went across the plate. The next throw the same thing happened. The crowed booed. Otto could not believe anybody could throw a ball like that, curving as it did. You just can't throw a ball in a circle, but this guy could. Otto had a sudden new respect for baseball. The guy that ask him to play yelled something to the guy in black, then walked over and told Otto to stay in there and swing. "He won't hit you" he said, "swing and swing hard." Otto stepped up to the plate, the ball came at him so fast he could hardly see it, he swung as hard as he could he heard a loud crack and the ball went somewhere, he didn't know where. He didn't have any idea what to do next. Somebody yelled "run." He ran to the bag he saw everybody else run to. Somebody was hollering "go to second, go to second run to second base." The only base he saw was one on the other side of the pitcher. Otto ran as hard as he could go, right straight across the middle of the diamond. Every one was yelling at him, he didn't know what to do. A guy ran up to him and yelled in his face. "go to second you dumb ..." Nobody's talks like that to me, he thought. Otto came up with a right square under the mans chin jacking him up off his feet. Otto caught a glimpse of Someone coming at him. He turned bring his guard up to late. He was hit right on the nose blood flew, Otto went down like a pile of bricks. He got up shaking his head to clear his vision, he saw people fighting every where. They were running down out of the stands onto the ball field fighting all the way. Suddenly Otto remembered Paula alone in the stands. He ran for the stands. Then he saw Paula standing off to the side waving at him. He ran to her, "are you all right he asked."
"Oh I'm fine" she said, "you don't look so good though." As they hurried along they heard the wail of a police siren and then another and another. The police were coming straight at them. Otto turned his face away from them pretending to talk to Paula so they couldn't see his battered face. The officers went right on by. As they hurried out of the park Paula asked "what did that man say to you that made you so mad?" "He called me a dumb Pollock," he mumbled through swollen lips. Paula laughed so hard she had to sit down on the curb. She had tears running down her cheeks. Otto looked around people were watching. He was standing there with blood on his face and she was crying. He took her by the arm helping her up he said “lets get back to your brothers before we get ourselves arrested. Her brother took them out to dinner. They had a fine German meal, the restaurant was a beautiful place. This restaurant was obviously very popular with Americans and Germans alike and all were well dressed. The whole place was like a museum with many antique relics of Germany's past. There were beautiful alabaster statues on display in every corner and alcove. On the walls were paintings of the country side in Germany and Austria. They brought back memories to all three of them. Hausners was a beautiful place to eat and the food was good. Paula looked longingly at a lovely little picture of a street in an old Austrian village, a bakery on the corner reminded her of her families bake shop at home. She wondered if she would ever be rid of her home sickness. She missed her mother, the friends she grew up with and most of all she missed Germany, the look of it, the feel, and the smell of it. She had seen no countryside here that looked like it. She wondered, why? In her young life had the changes come about that had destroyed a comfortable way of life and forced them to leave. For a moment she hated the allies that had defeated Germany in world war one. It was their fault, they had compelled Germany to adopt a strong Military government to regain the lands and manufacturing markets stolen from it. Stolen at the armistice ,they were the spoils of war. She worried about the safety of her family in a second war. "The next day was Sunday and we went for a ride with my brother and we found the plot of land we would later buy. It was on Robin wood road on the left side backing up to a hill Kimmels mountain. It was planted in fruit trees, mostly apple and it reminded me of my home land," Paula said. Everyone stood up and clapped. Otto and Paula sat smiling and looking very pleased.
Saturday, December 9, 2006
Dad parked the old 1929 Ford sedan on Dundalk Ave. All us kids got out carrying towels, picnic basket and bathing suits. We stood at the Dundalk street car stop that was by many still called the train stop. None of us kids ever saw a train on those tracks. But there was a time when trains ran from Baltimore to Sparrows Point.
In a few minutes we could see the Red Rocket swaying it's way toward us. The old car stopped and after a massive merging and separating people some headed off across the tracks to Dundalk as well as the other way to St. Helena. ( pronounced back then as Sanealina). Baltimoreans couldn't or wouldn't say any two words separately. They ran them together or left some of the letters out and maybe both.. As a result most that I know can't spell anything correctly including me. To get aboard the Red Rocket you moved in close to the back door so that nobody could get off. By some mirical of maneuverability The comers and goers kind of merged and at the same time separated as streetcar riders were prone to do. Through some unspoken understanding everybody wound up where they were supposed to be,and good naturally at that.
Riding the number twenty six streetcar was a was a thing that a book could be written about. If You paid a nickel to get on anywhere east of downtown you could go anyplace south, North or West. At the same time If you didn't get a transfer you could get a return ticket free. If you got a transfer you could buy a return ticket for a penny. If you got on anywhere East of down town and headed East you could go to bay Shore Park and use the transfer to go back home.
Well after we got our fairs all settled we made our way forward to find seats. The old wooden cars creaked and groaned as they swayed from side to side. The front was swaying one way and the back the other way. If you were in the middle you hardly rocked at all. There were straps hanging from the overhead for standing passengers to hang onto and they swing so violently the slapped the celling. The car was steady picking up speed and and did not stop often after Dundalk. It rolled along threatening to jump off the track at breakneck speed.
A sudden loud roaring sound passed over as an airplane taking off strained to clear the streetcar lines over head. With windows open you could stick your head out a few inches to the metal grate that was there to keep you from getting your head cut off on the side of a truck or other streetcar. We rumble too a stop in Turners Station a few got on and off and we were rolling again. We came to a stop in what looked to be the middle of nothing and people got off carrying fishing poles and some got on with strings of fish and bushels of crabs.
There to the right was the Sunken Barges. Old sailing ships set rotting on the bottom some with masts but most without. People set all around the edges of the hulls fishing and crabbing. We all craned our necks to see as we rolled on. And then the car slowed for the Bear Creek bridge. The trolley eased out on the rickety wooden structure with its crooked rails. Some hid their faces in their hands and the look of concern was on the face of all but the most practiced riders.
My brother sat unconcerned as he road the streetcar across this bridge everyday on his way to Sparrows Point High School where most Dundalk High School kids attended. My sisters were soon to go there as well.
The car came to a halt at the swing section in the middle and then proceeded at a walking pace until on solid tracks again. It picked up speed and was flying just before leaving the bridge The motorman could be seen standing there looking in the mirror at everyone and smiling at us and plainly enjoying the tense faces behind him.
Heading through Sparrows point was a thing to see, Everywhere steam engines pulled rail cars , some were loaded with molten ore or slag to be dumped along the Chesapeake bays shore line, making land as the went. You could feel the heat on your face and arms as we rolled past those fire y cars. Huge blast furnaces stood in a row billowing smoke. Red fires and smoke showed through a hundred openings. Solid tire chain driven trucks trundled their earth shaking loads along cracked and crumbling roads. Roads that could in no way stand the loads carried on them. We road past wooden and brick houses covered in soot and coal dust, that appeared to rust like ancient metal.
In a short time we broke out into clear air and sunlight. The Bay shimmered in the sunlight Its blue gray and green water rolling in the breeze. We soon crossed a bridge and were now looking at the roller coaster in the not to distant Bay Shore Park. Now in full view were buildings, rides and a parking lot full of cars and a most beautiful beach stretch out in front of us. A full football field length wide and people standing standing in the water better than a hundred yards out. The water was about four feet deep out at that distance.
We all got off the street car while the conductor and motorman traded ends flipping the seats back so that the boarding passengers would be facing forward.
The smell of hot dogs, popcorn, steaming crabs and the salty bay filled the air. A caliapy played John Fillip Susas marches both schrill and loud. Barkers yelled out to the crowds while imploring them to win a doll, see a wild man, or go just one round with the local champion boxer. The roar, clatter and screams of the roller coaster suddenly drowned out all else as we all ran to the bath house to change cloths.
In a few minutes we were all in the water. In only a few more minutes some Dundalk boys came running over to spend the day with my sisters. Those boys the girls and my brother were soon off to dance in the huge dance pavilion to the music of a dance band. There was jitterbug, waltz polka, and tango contests all day long an late into the evening.
Most people there were from Baltimore. There were Germans, Italians, Poles and Jews who had always been a big part pf Baltimore. They all spoke in their native lounges all trying to be heard above the din. The most recent immigrants were the German jews they weren't much liked by most people. Not because they were jews I don't think. More because the were aggressive in doing business. Baltimore was kind of small townish and for someone to come out on street and try to force you in the store was hated by everyone. That was their way. There were more coming all the time and with them they brought a sadness. All the different factions in Baltimore stuck together. Italians did not gather on the beach with Poles. The Jews would spread their towels out in the middle of a bunch of Welshmen and shout back and forth in Yitish. All those immagents were wiser than we were they knew Europe and they knew the horror that was coming. After hundreds of generation with war in Europe they could smell war three thousand miles away and years in advance. They knew.
Thinking back I think the young men and girls were trying to make up for the lost time that was coming. They talked about it at our house, the war in Europe that would come to America and they were frightened. I think people tried to ignore the coming horror and at the same time there was a little bit of sadness in gatherings for conversation.
The grown ups drank huge quantities of beer. They danced, laughed and had one big blowout. But it wasn't just the grown ups the children were a big part of the party. Here is where we had the beginnings of learning to dance. We were welcomed good naturedly on the dance floor with the adults.
The revelry continued until midnight. My brother had caught a ride home and brought our car back. All us kids sleep on the way home.
Friday, December 8, 2006
Dundalk was not long out of the depression. The town was still feeling its effects but was to some degree feeling prosperous. People had money to spend and could have spent a lot more than they did. We kids were daily treated to the wisdom that at any time the bottom could fall out and the horror stories of many that had lost everything and without care it could be our families at a time in the near future. The use of credit would have pushed things along faster and there was now plenty available. There were few takers though.
Across from the Dundalk streetcar stop was Dundalk Taxi Cab Company owned By mister Graff. Next door was Jimmy Mark's Boiling Ally. A lot of teenage boys set up pins here Those long boys with big hands did very well. If they were fast enough the tips would slid down the alleys. These kids worked till midnight on bolling league nights. Teachers were somewhat understanding about their homework and the fact that they often dozed off in class. Many of the boys were from immagent families who came to this country without a trade to work at. They were the first hit by the depression and the last to recover. In some cases that bolling ally money was needed by the family. All us boys were treated to the saying "Learn a trade be somebody and you will never be out of work." It worked for me. I doubt it was true but some said the bowling ally was built in a marsh and that they drove five thousand pileings to set it on. Like most tales of this nature there were probably some pilings underneath the place.
In the next block was Dundalk Hardware. To paint a house many people who did not trust canned paint, would buy ten pounds of white lead, a gallon, of boiled linseed oil, and a little turpentine along with that a quarter pint of Japan dryers. All mixed together you had a fine coat of paint that killed rot, fungus, bugs, germs and children if they ate it. I don't think any kids I knew ate paint, we ate food. We did chew tar. Gosh! Who knows why, it didn't taste like much. Seems I remember that it was good for your teeth. Now there teeth was something some of the kids could have used some help with. They had green teeth, I guess from a lack of brushing.
There were local town rivalries, that I think were inspired by baseball. Dundalk and every town around had a ball team. In Dundalk ball games were always played on the diamond at the school. Spirits ran high and nearly the whole town attended. It seemed every kid in town had a desire to climb the backstop. There was usually a policeman standing at it's back who could with one knot raising smack across. your calves, keep a fellow off of there for the rest of the day.
Dundalk had the nicest tennis courts around. There were three or four red clay courts all fenced about ten feet high. It was a strange thing, the boys all thought it was a girls game. Boys hung around but never played. Our next door neighbor Otts Mc Clelland got so angry when they asphalted over the red clay tennis courts he built his own and envited everyone to play on his courts, many did
Dundalk Bathing beach was the local place to go for a swim. It's local name was Snake Hole. Just around the bend was a marsh and snakes on occasion came from there. There was some truth, that on occasion, a snake would swim right through the middle of the place creating quite a stir among the swimmers. The beach was owned or run by Don Might and was really quite nice with picnic tables, and grassy areas that were dotted with thorny trees with white washed trunks. You didn't climb them!
Don was the only prominent man in town that the kids called by his first name. Don was short but built like a small bulldozer. He was an ex professional wrestler at a time when they really competed. You could pick him out in a crowd. Wih a neck, as big as his head and a barrel chest with long muscular arms. He walked with his own pecular gate that had a way of looking mennacing. A mark of a wrestler was coliflour ears and he had'em. His body was covered with red hair and I don't think his red head ever got wet it shed water like a duck. Now here was a fellow that ran a pretty tight ship. His gravelly voice over a megaphone was usually enough to command respect. Sometimes someone would try him but he usually just called the police. Across the creak from the beach was a place called HOLIDAY PARK. Sometime before the war It became part of the Maryland orphanage system. A large side wheel steamboat named Ann Arundel would come in there and spend the day and hundreds of orphans would get off to swim and play. You could see they were having a good time. It also made a boy or girl glad he had his Parents.
Maybe someone can correct me on these names I think they are correct but I wouldn't bet the farm on it.
Thursday, December 7, 2006
Being a young man or a young women in Dundalk must have been a fine time. There was plenty to do if you were over twenty-one. There were night clubs all around town but none in town. There was plenty of drinking to be sure but dancing was really what it was all about. This was the time of the big band and every night club in the Dundalk area of any size had a six to nine piece band. Some smaller places had a three piece group. Even the smallest joint in town had a piano and a player. There was good music and large crowds at Dovies night club at the corner of Stansbury and Merritt Avenue. John Deluca's Place in St Helena packed them in. Down Dundalk Ave. was Peanut Hall. Peanuts were free and the shells went on the floor till they were several inches thick. Right around the corner from there was the Woodland Inn,. Friday, Saturday and Wednesday nights were all a big time. When people went out back then, they were dressed to the nines as the saying goes.
A fellow would say “What'ya wanna do tonight baby,” and the answer was sure to be “Lets go dancing.”
You could drive out to Josenhans corner in Essex and they had free steamed crabs all you could eat. All you had to do was buy beer. Crabs were so cheap you couldn't buy less than a bushel I think about 25 cents was the price.
So getting back to Dundalk, what did us little kids do? Well out on Robinwood Rd. we often walked to Dundalk with our mothers, down Midland Rd. to Sollers Point Rd. and across the Railroad tracks to Dunman Way, past Dundalk Elementary and the junior high school on Play field St., on across the park, past the Bandstand and over to the Community Department Store.
Mr. Sax the owner was a wise man. He knew the taste of most of his customers. I remember him saying to my Mom, “Mrs. Pollard, look at the sewing in that dress I know that won't measure up to your needs.” “Now look at this it's the kind of thing you like and look how it is stitched.”
He would open the dress so the seems could be seen. My mother would touch the threads and say, “Yes, I believe your right Mr Sax, but the price....”
“Mrs. Pollard, consider this, I and some other shop owners in the city bought a case of these so you won't have to walk down the street and see yourself coming.” 'There is only one of these in Dundalk and because we bought a case, I can let you have it at $ 2.39.'
She could squeeze a dollar until the Eagle hollered but sometimes she bought it.
About all my clothes came from there as well as my “Poll Parrot” shoes. When after a time they were relegated to being play shoes my father would rivet harness leather on the toes. Because I was prone to kicking tin cans as I walked and would ruin my shoes in a short time.
If my father needed a pair of pants or a shirt we all went in the car. Sometimes he and I would go off and leave the women, He would go into Lillac's Pharmacy to buy cigarettes they sold them loose two for a penny. Dad would buy three. He made them last, he would take a few puffs and butt it sticking it in his shirt pocket. His shirt pockets were all black inside showing through where the ashes had stained the inside. He also kept a corn cob pipe at work and he would smoke the buts in that.
Dr. Lillac always had a older teenage girl or boy working at the soda fountain. If the father or mother of a house hold came in to buy at the fountain he always came out to talk. Teenage boys and girls setting in the booths drank Vanilla, Chocolate, or phosphate Cokes. Mr. Lillac liked talking to the kids and would lean against the booths like a kid while talking. Whether he was friendly or not the kids behaved in his store.
Sometimes Dad would give me a few pennies to go to McKevers delicatessen where I could get two pieces of candy for a penny. Then I'd put another penny on the counter and fish around in the pickle barrel for the biggest pickle I could find. It's hard to say how many hairy arms had been in that barrel up to the elbow in saltbrine, before all the pickles were gone? I saved the other penny to put toward a “Captain Midnight Secret Decoder Ring” even though I couldn't spell yet. While I was at McKevers, Dad would be in Sheff's Stag Bar having a beer.
My brother Charlie almost never went with us. He was in high school and I'm sure was loathe to be seen with his Mother and Father. Besides he was an ice man and that kept him plenty busy in the summer. They also moved furniture during the winter using the ice trucks to haul it around. A fellow could build up a muscle or two doing that.
We always went to Knoop's Hardware and Dad would buy some needed thing. I liked that place. Mr. Knoop bought nails that us kids pulled out of boards and straightened with a hammer and then he resold them at half the price of new ones. My first batch of nails was rejected by Mr Knoop. I took them home and worked on them some more. He found them strait enough to sell and I had a nickel. That was a pretty fair income for a boy that hadn't even started to school yet. The boy that could get his nails straightest had a certain amount of respect from the rest of us. A few were darn near perfect. I think they might have had a roller to straighten them with.
There were a lot of other store's there along Shipping Place. There was a bank, a shoe shop, a couple dress shops and the Strand Bakery. The Police Station was there along with the Fire Department.. The place got to be a local hangout and there were a few cracks made toward women shoppers passing by that started a scandal. Somehow it was all worked out to everybody's satisfaction and life went on.
The big thing in town was the Strand Theater and it was the only one for a long time. Sunday night with standing room only the balcony and side isles full the temperature would skyrocket. Air conditioning had yet to arrive.