Sunday, January 24, 2010


This little painting probably evokes, more than any other piece that I have done in my nostalgia series, responses from people of all ages. It's funny -- one night in 1988 I was sitting around trying to remember what that Hess Monkey Town window looked like and so I started to paint what was inside my head. I thought it would be a private painting just for me. I did not realize at the time how many people would need to see it, too. The painting and memory are based on a true story. The two little girls are myself and best friend Charlotte. We are wearing our school uniforms from Trinity Prep in Ilchester, MD where we spent our formative years side-by-side laughing at everything.

Crazy live monkeys provided the distraction barbers required to buzz the locks of junior while mother and daughter shopped in the adjoining Hess Shoes store. Located in Edmondson Village on Route 40 West in Baltimore, MD this store and barbershop made even buying saddle shoes for school entertaining. Children ascended carpeted steps to a ramp where salesman and parent observed at eye-level the little darling’s feet in motion. There was an X-ray machine (later rumored to cause poisonous radiation leakage) where you could view medical-like images of your feet inside new shoes.
One night after seeing “A Ticklish Affair” at the Edmondson Movie Theatre my girlfriend and I were waiting for one of our parents to pick us up and so we walked down to visit the monkeys in the window. We quickly realized that the monkeys were very interested in us and we began to taunt them. Before long we had them so stirred up that a lady, flashing a badge, warned us to move on. I will never forget the terror she instilled in us as she waved her wallet in our faces and promised to have us arrested if we persisted in laughing out loud and provoking the monkeys to hurl themselves at us. We meekly apologized walked back to stand in front of the theatre hoping that she would not pop out and and tell our parents about our bad behavior. I realized years later that she more than likely was not a detective or policewoman, but merely an animal lover who wanted the crazy monkeys to be calm. But from what I understand from the residents of the neighborhood, those monkeys were rarely peaceful.


  1. My memories of EDMONSON VILLAGE, started as a baby in stroller with my grandmother. She would walk me up there so she could go shoe shopping. It indeed a a grander appeal. As I got older we used to pile in the one family car and ride up to see the Christmas lights. All tiny white lights. It was beautiful in deed. If mom couldn't find any outfit for whatever the occasion at the Princess Shop, we would head up to Hochel Kohn and always find something there. After you found your outfit to the shoe dept. The shoe department was elegant. Done in light pink carpet and lighted sconces on the wall, it was a beautiful place to buy shoes. It was high class to shop there. You didn't need to be rich, however it made you feel like you had a lot of money! The salesman were always so nice fitting your shoes and making sure that you did not leave until you had the right pair for your feet. My memories really lit up when reading the intro on this site. Mom would also go to Hechs across the street depending on how much time we had. My brother went to Edmonson High School. We moved to Balto county in 1964, but still drove in to shop at Edmonson Village, until it started to go downhill. Most of the major stores had closed by then and replaced with thrift shops. However, in its heyday it was the place to be!! I loved going there.

  2. My mother worked there and she also went to Trinity!