Tuesday, April 27, 2010


The Hilton Dairy Cottage located on South Rolling Road in Catonsville, MD is one of the roadside stands that served the varying needs of locals in every age group. As a very young child I recall our family stopping by this wonderful stone cottage on our way home from Sunday drives in the city. They sold Delvale ice cream which in my father’s estimation was the best ice cream in Baltimore. Rocky Fudge was his favorite flavor and so it became my favorite, too. Later on as eleven-year-old youngsters out on our own, my best friend and I took badminton lessons on Sunday afternoons at the local public high school. We hurried through our lessons so we could visit the cottage to get ice cream cones as our reward. Ice cream seemed to be the major draw for us up to that point.

However, older students from the neighboring Catonsville Senior High used this place as their beloved hangout. Recently some former students bragged to me that they dined on coke, cigarettes and donuts for breakfast until 1969 when it closed. Others reported to me that the truant officer Mr. T would hide in the driver’s education car by lying down in the back seat and force the student and driver's ed teacher to turn into the cottage driveway while school was in session. When the driver's ed car pulled up to the “cottage” door, class cutting teenagers ran outside to give a cheery hello but Mr. T the truant officer popped up from the back seat and took names. It was a clever trick for him but the students had quite a different name for it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


Chubby elves obsessively ate popcorn and licked ice-cream cones on the big screen during intermission at the Edmondson Drive-In on Route 40 West, Catonsville, MD. Watching the cartoon characters gorge themselves between films in the open-air prompted patrons to get in line for all kinds of fun snacks at the concession stand. Hot dogs, hamburgers, french-fries and big soft-drinks were purchased cafeteria style and carried back to the cars for consumption. After a night of fabulous food and flicks sometimes drivers would forget to detach the theatre’s speaker from their car window. It was always a big embarrassment when your date yanked the speaker from its post.
Another source of embarrassment for this blogger occurred when I was paged in the middle of the Steve McQueen thriller, "Bullitt." There was no proper way for the theatre manager to find someone other than to interrupt the film on the sound system and announce your name for all the movie watchers to hear. It never occurred to me that some trouble had happened at home. After all, who tells their parents they are going to the drive in on a date? I had a hunch that my girl friend was on the other end of the line. This friend would often track me down in public places. This time she was bored at home and wanted to know how my date was going. The pay off for this embarrassment was that I was instructed by the concession stand clerk to go into the projection booth to accept the call on the wall mounted telephone. The room itself was spare and modest. I think the floor was concrete but I am not sure. It was manned only by one projectionist. The experience was thrilling--seeing the huge flickering projectors and hearing the clicking of the gigantic 70mm reels. So I have to say thank you to my old friend for obsessing over my Saturday night date at the Edmondson Drive-In Movie.

Here's Steve performing his own stunt driving in "Bullitt."
vrroooommm vrrroooommmmm

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


'Elkridge Drive-In Movie Theatre - 1984"
digitally altered photograph


A serious “passion pit” is how this drive-in movie theatre on Route 1 in Elkridge, MD is remembered. A group of high-school girls from a neighboring Catholic prep school patronized the theatre on a semi-regular basis. The young women made a pact that if any of them happened to be there with their date on a Saturday night they should always make an appearance at 9 p.m. in the ladies’ room. Once assembled they would catch up on the latest gossip about each other's boyfriends and take inventory of their outfits for the night. Being out of their dreadful gray uniforms for the weekend was such a thrill that their social outing clothing included plenty of colorful Lady Bug mini-skirts, Villager sweaters, Bandolino flats, beehive handbags and whatever the Casual Corner and Hutzler Brothers stores were promoting that season. They really dressed more for each other than their dates, I think.
The men have different memories of the old Elkridge. I will ask now. How many boys did you pack inside the trunk of your father’s car while passing through the admission booth of a drive-in movie? I know the theatre received its share of these non-paying customers until it closed for good in the early 1980s. I have received numerous confessions from grown men who relish in the recounting of how they “got in for free” while sharing a dark, cramped space with other dare-devil boys from surrounding public schools such as Catonsville, Woodlawn and Glen Burnie. The Catholic school boys from schools such as Mount St. Joe, Cardinal Gibbons, Loyola, Calvert Hall and Archbishop Curley participated in this unlawful past time as well. I have never heard from any women who as girls, were asked to behave in such an unladylike manner.
My last check on the visual status of the theatre occurred in 1999. A sorry looking hole on the side of the road was all that remained of the behemoth drive-in. Conflicting stories of the Elkridge’s demise still survive. Some have said it was a bankrupt contractor’s deed while others blame nature’s fury. I tend to believe the couple who told me that a tornado ripped through in the late 1980s and tore a down the giant screen. Presently I have heard it is being developed but have not seen it myself.

"Elkridge Drive-In Admission Booth-1984"
digitally altered photo
"Elkridge Drive-In Concession Stand-1984"
digitally altered photo

Monday, April 5, 2010


"Koester's Bread Truck" oil on canvas
(18" x 24")
Will the real Koester’s Twin please stand up? Until this painting was completed in 2007 I had no idea how many people claimed to be the baby on the side of the truck. It is possible that many children auditioned for this job but it appears that only one or two really got the assignment, In my youth I assumed that these babies were girls. However to date no women have stepped forward in my presence to proclaim that they were the model. Only men of a certain age have sincerely declared to me their past claim to fame . What ever the motive or ad campaign was behind the logo I have to say it was a clever one. Not too many Baltimoreans raised in the 1950’s have no memory of these adorable, cherubic bread eaters.