The first clue that magic is afoot on North Howard Street is the collection of oversized alabaster clown masks that smile enigmatically through the dusty display windows of A.T. Jones & Sons, Inc. Enter the costume shop, and you face more sentries: a row of medieval suits of armor line the wall. A few are Victorian antiques, but most of the armor was fabricated from fiberglass. You can’t tell the old from the new, and that is the point.
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The black and white world of workers conquering tasks large and small is the subject of Bodine’s Industry: The Dignity of Work, a recently released book of A. Aubrey Bodine photographs edited by his daughter Jennifer Bodine. It’s also the subject of an exhibit of 70 photographs at the Baltimore Museum of Industry that runs from Oct. 15, 2013 to Feb. 6, 2014.
Clip, clop, jingle, jingle. Next comes the sing-song holler: pe-eee-aches and ca-aaa-ntalopes, wa-aaa-termelon, su-uuu-gar bananas and swe-eee-et grapes…” This musical rhythm section cuts through the humdrum sounds of traffic, turning a routine city scene into something special. An Arabber, no longer a common sight on Baltimore’s streets, has arrived. Leading this musical band is Yusuf Abdullah, known as B.J., followed by his horse Tony, decked out in bells and a red feather plume and harnessed to a vintage wagon laden with fruit.
The Charm City Roller Girls roller derby team is used to bruises, fractures, sprains, tears, and all manner of pain. This is the price derby athletes willingly pay for the exhilaration of the sport. Women undergo a grueling 10-week boot camp to learn the basics before trying out for the league. It may take more than a year of mastering further skills to be drafted to a team. Roller Girls train hard for long hours to stay in shape, improve, and avoid injuries.
I saw the old house first, set behind a row of faded 19th century houses strung along Falls Road a mile north of the city-county line. It was a caved-in box that had given up being a home many winters ago. The dried vines that clambered up the weathered wood couldn’t hide the gaping holes where windows had been.
Harry Foote Jr., 74, a retired waterman with craggy features, surveys the setting sun gleaming through trees over the fishing boats docked on Armstrong Creek, and remarks, “What killed crabbing this season was that the market dried up. It wouldn’t matter whether we had a hurricane or not. People are broke. Not enough customers. Earlier in the season the crabs were immature. By the middle of September, the crabs are prime, full of meat. September and October were probably our best two months.”
This is the second season for the Druid Hill Farmers Market, which offers farm produce, friendly faces and fun activities for all ages. The vendors are arrayed along a tree-shaded path, south of the Howard Peters Rawlings Conservatory, every Wednesday, 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. from June 6 through September 26. The Farmers Market was launched by the Conservatory, the Friends of Druid Hill Park, and the Baltimore City Recreation and Parks to foster a sense of community in the neighborhoods adjoining the park.
If you need an excuse to visit New York City before summer’s end, here’s a suggestion: Dive into the dark world of Weegee, a tabloid news photographer-extraordinaire. His work is the subject of a fascinating show, “Weegee: Murder is My Business,” at the International Center of Photography in midtown Manhattan through September 2, 2012.
Sun photographer Amy Davis discusses a recent assignment to photograph the Ambassador Theatre after hearing a fire had broken out in the Baltimore landmark.