Exploring Park Avenue’s Chinese past and Ethiopian present.
The Baltimore Sun
Photos and text by Algerina Perna
Members of the Tsao family have been faithfully washing Baltimore’s shirts, blouses and linens at the T.C. Wing Chinese Hand Laundry in Roland Park since 1932. This is the city’s only remaining Chinese laundry.
Chak Wing Tsao, an immigrant from China, started the business. Since his retirement in 1978, grandson Ricky and his wife Shirley have been carrying on the tradition of customer care and personal attention. Each garment is carefully cleaned and ironed, then wrapped in brown paper and tied with string.
Shirley Tsao is the friendly face behind the counter, who considers her customers members of her family. “I am so fortunate to have the most wonderful customers,” she said. Over the years she has visited them in their homes and attended weddings and special events for 5 generations of families.
Shirley quips that one day, if she ever gets to retire, she’s going to write a book about all the small-town Baltimore stories she hears from her customers. She has the title, but needs time to write the novel. “Dirty Laundry,” is what it will be called, she says with a laugh.
Volunteers aboard the SS John Brown are maintaining more than a boat. They’re keeping alive a symbol of Baltimore’s industrial heyday and the World War II homefront, when jobs were plentiful, and people were united in a common purpose. The SS John Brown, which turns 75 next week, is one of the last Liberty Ships still in operation.
While the rest of us were busy watching the eclipse, another rare event was happening down in Washington. Three corpse flowers went into bloom at the U.S. Botanic Garden, the first on Sunday, August 20.
Despite a 2012 city initiative to ban Formstone on new construction, the cladding remains intact on many blocks throughout the city. Here, a look at the siding that filmmaker John Waters once called “the polyester of brick,” whose history is closely linked with Baltimore’s.