Thursday, October 27, 2011


Using my collection of old hotel, motel and assorted ephemera from Ocean City, MD I created this first of several collages. Many who have seen it get a big chuckle from the old brochures highlighting dirt-cheap room rates. One includes a $3 per day charge for boys and men who stay in the attic dorm at the Royalton Hotel on 11th St. Of course an electric fan is included for the guests staying up there. It's all great fun and endless hours of studying the assortment of authentic, vintage ads. Creating the collages has been  a very satisfying experience. Sharing some of this "stuff" that I have accumulated over the years gives my work an added focus. And it makes it somewhat easier for me to explain my overall  body of work to those who do not have the collector's gene. Get a load out of this brochure from the Majestic Hotel on 7th Street. My cousins stayed here every summer for countless seasons.
Majestic Hotel's 1969 Room Rates
There are floor plans, lists of kitchen accessories, details of room views, and winter home addresses included in my piece.  Here's a good example of the McCabe's rates and they even give you  S & H Green Stamps!
 It's all here at the McCabe - cheap rates, kitchen utensils and a private bath.

Speaking of private baths - one summer for two weeks, at the age of 12, my girlfriend Charlotte and I had a rented room at the Royalton Hotel. Her parents were on the first floor with an ocean front balcony and lots of privacy from us. We were happily situated on the second floor of the old hotel with twin beds and a sink. The toilet and bath tub were down the hall. It never occurred to us that we needed our own bathroom. We were overjoyed at the independence the modified American plan offered to us. We ate our full breakfast (included in the $50 weekly rate) served in the dining room, swam all day long,  and then consumed a big dinner in the same dining room attended by our young waitress named Judy. At night we judiciously spent our allowances, saved up all winter, on the rides and pinball machines. We checked in with her parents several times per day of course but I don't believe we ever ate a meal with them. After all, by the time Charlotte and I were wandering around OC's honky-tonk, her elegant parents were probably still having apĆ©ritifs in their suite. In the days of OC's tightly enforced liquor license laws, the hotel did not serve cocktails.
If you haven't bought or seen this collage in person stop in the Ocean City Lifesaving Museum at the end of the boardwalk. They have (16" x 20") posters of it on display and for sale, too. And check out their fabulous collection of Old Ocean City artifacts and stories.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


"Vacation Beach Ladies" oil on board (12" x 24") 2011

So the summer is officially over after this weekend. But we know there is still plenty of time to enjoy the beach if good weather prevails. When asked what their favorite form of relaxation might be, a large number of people reveal that they fantasize lying on the beach. I like to sit on the beach under an umbrella while reading. And truth be  told I like to eavesdrop on my neighbors from time to time. It has something to do with the way the sea breeze carries sound across the sand. The ground feels so warm and dense as you rest your head on it. The merging din of measured waves, dampened voices and mashed footsteps  are funneled into your ears as if  filtered through a muffler.  The women here in my painting " Vacation Beach Ladies" might be interesting to spy on.  Listening in on strangers while on vacation is a form of entertainment for some of us. While working on this painting I could not resist the addition of a bathing cap on one of the women. I wonder if she doesn't want to hear all the details. But they appear to be  old friends on a summer fling in the days of chaperones and "safe retreat" hotels for women.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


"Mayflower Hotel" oil on canvas (12" x 18") 2008

This big, friendly, brown-shingled hotel stood on the boardwalk at 12th St. in Ocean City, MD for all the years of my childhood. The cheerful gift shop on the ground floor called the Jo-Mar Driftwood and Gift Shop was a favorite stop during summer vacations. They sold pieced earrings which in the early 1960’s were considered very chic! According to a 1971 Ocean City Chamber of Commerce Guide, one could make a reservation at this “modern resort hotel” by dialing 289-7251 and speaking with Mr. or Mrs. J. T. Hopkins. The hotel also advertised “surf bathing direct from the hotel and bath house,” and “featured delicious southern style dishes” in their dining room. Mentioned here previously, as a teenager I was the  frequent guest of a dear family who spent summers in their cottage just one block west of the hotel. I can still smell the aromatic dinners cooking as we hungrily passed by the hotel’s back alley on our way home in  sandy, wet bathing suits.

Monday, July 25, 2011

If You Don't Own A Cow.....

"Cloverland Milk Truck" oil on board (16 x 20) 2004

Most Baltimoreans of a certain age can sing the Cloverland jingle including the phone number NOrth 9- 2222. This truck is from an earlier era when the bottling plant was on North Monroe street and the phone number was the Lafayette exchange. The building that housed that plant is still standing on that spot in NW Baltimore. You cannot miss it because it has a big milk bottle built right into the side of it.There are other relics of that era in plain sight if you just hunt around a bit for them.
The original Cloverland Dairy bottling plant on N. Monroe Street.

Divco truck painted in the authentic colors of the Cloverland dairy waiting to  be used as a movie prop.
 In polling Baltimoreans I question very few who cannot remember the name of the dairy that delivered milk to their homes. We had Royal Dunloggin Dairy and adored our milkman Mr. Ross. He was the only man besides my father to who my mother wrote notes. Sometimes after supper she would scribble a line or two on stationery and insert it into an empty, rinsed milk-bottle which would then be placed on the side porch. In the wee hours of the morning Mr. Ross would pull up in his Divco truck and hurry toward our house with his metal basket of half-gallon milk bottles. Then he would read the note which instructed him whether to leave us an unscheduled delivery of chocolate milk, orange juice or heavy whipping cream...or as the song says..."no milk today."

"Cloverland Crossing" oil on canvas (20" x 20") 2004

Sunday, July 10, 2011

GOOD HUMOR TRUCK - Ding-a-Ling-a-Ling

"Good Humor Toy Truck" oil on canvas (9" x 12") 2008

Everyone loved the Good Humor Ice Cream truck’s visits to their neighborhood during the summer. It had a set of bells that the driver manually rang announcing his slow cruise up and down the city and suburban streets. Most parents requested that the driver arrive after dinnertime and he happily complied so that he could sell more popsicles, fudgesicles or orange dreamsicles as dessert items for every member of the family. The odor of the smoky, dry ice, mixed with the gasoline fumes, was one of my favorite summertime smells. That aroma meant the “jingle man,” as we called the driver, was reaching into the back door of the truck getting out the more expensive treats like push-up rockets and of course “Good Humor” bars. Sometimes I diverted and got a Dixie cup that came with its own small, wooden spatula-shaped spoon. The slim wooden paddle and vanilla ice cream together made an excellent sensation in your mouth. The model here for my painting came from my vintage toy truck collection.

Monday, June 27, 2011

STEPHEN DECATUR Hotel - Ocean City, MD

The old Stephen Decatur Hotel at 12th Street and the Boardwalk in Ocean City, Maryland offered a terrific view for people-watching. The elegant hotel’s majestic front porch, shaded by enormous awnings, had comfy wooden rocking chairs for its guests. My father, who avoided sea water due to a painful ear condition, spent weekend afternoons rocking and watching all the tourists pass by. At dinner time he relished every minute of telling us the sights he saw while we, oblivious to the parade passing by, were swimming in the Atlantic Ocean .
In later years the old hotel served as a marker for some close family friends and me as they were lucky enough to own a charming cottage just down the street. Since the Stephen Decatur was higher than the neighboring hotels we could keep it in our view from the water on occasional days of strong riptides when we might easily be swept sideways down the beach. In recent years some have told me how sad they felt when this old Grande Dame of the boardwalk was torn down. But, no matter what, I can still hear her gigantic awnings flapping in the ocean breeze.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Baltimore Streetcars- The Overlea Loop

The Overlea Loop was the end of the line for many of Baltimore, Maryland’s streetcars until operation ceased 1963. Trusty Number 15 in my painting is about ready to pull into traffic on Belair Road and trolley across town to Walbrook Junction in Northwest Baltimore. I like this rest stop where passengers and motormen could relax and get a hotdog or a Seven-Up. It was probably a good place for men to gather to ride to work or talk about their ideas or accomplishments. Presently I cannot think of public places like this where you see men swapping stories or sharing advice. I guess they are on their computers like so many of us.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Harley's Sandwich Shop

"Harley's Nightshift" oil on canvas (14"x 18") 2011

Who cannot remember, at least one time, eating a Harley Burger very late at night? They cost 69 cents and were just what some of the underage drinkers needed to help sober-up after sharing too many six-packs of bargain beer or Bali Hai wine. In addition to families, Harley’s also served the night shift worker. My friend Al worked until midnight and like clockwork at 12:30 a.m. he rolled his salmon colored Corvette onto the Harley’s parking lot on Rt. 40 W in Catonsville, MD. In fact his timing was so dependable that the ladies at the counter had his favorite pizza waiting for him every week night. Harley’s was brought to you by Baltimorean Harley Brinsfield who in my memory had the best local radio show featuring jazz. Harley’s record collection was fabulous and his dedicated listeners tuned in regularly. His show included adds of course for his sandwich shops - located all over Baltimore.
At the close of each show Harley played "
Sailing Down the Chesapeake." Toot Toot!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Roadside Lures

"Lunch, Dinners, Cabins" oil on canvas (30" x 20") 2004

More often than not, the earliest roadside stops were family owned. I imagine these three women in my painting might have been sisters or sisters-in-law. In my mind they spent most of their days and nights together maintaining their overnight cabins and dining room for weary travelers. The lady in the middle of this trio probably was in charge of making the dinners and lunches. She certainly takes pride in her uniform with the matching cap - tilted at a jaunty angle. I like to think that the long, thin redhead was a manager type, eyeing guests and asking them to sign the register. She might be the bossy one. The blond on the end helped with the cleaning and was good-natured about keeping the business humming along. She had a habit of photographing their guests from time to time. She kept these photos with descriptions in a private album hidden in her room.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Ellicott City No. 9 Streetcar

The number 9 streetcar which turned around in Ellicott City, MD has a long history with great, big expectations that were never met. From what I have briefly read, there were plans to connect the line with Washington, D.C. But the top of the hill in Ellicott City was the end of the line for old number 9. The turnaround here in my painting was located on Main Street next to the old fire station on the corner of what is now called Ellicott Mills Drive. At the end of its life there was but one car on the line which outbound riders boarded near the Catonsville Junction on Edmondson Avenue. If you were heading home from downtown you had to transfer from the Number 8 or 14 and wait for the one and only car to return through the woods of Oella. Riders talk about standing in the cold at night waiting for the car. In winter when the trees were bare they could see the one headlight on the car as it slowly zigzagged toward them from miles away. Every night after the car finished its daily service the operator had to securely lock the car to the tracks. This was to prevent energetic teenagers from taking it on joy rides as they had in the past. Now I do not condone this sort of behavior but what a wild ride that must have been for the teens....operating a streetcar minus the supervision of adults. It might be like your very own amusement park ride....but as I said not a good use of Baltimore Transit Company property.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

DC Transit - PCC Streetcars

For almost 100 years the District of Columbia, our nation’s capital, had a very successful streetcar line. The early cars were pulled on rails by horses until the introduction of electric streetcars at a later date. It was a first class operation with a large rolling stock of magnificently maintained PCC cars. I remember my father marveling about DC’s wonderful underground conduit collection (power source for the cars) which meant that the overhead wires were not necessary in the busiest parts of the city. The power was changed to overhead wires farther from the center of town. So when the trolley went out to Glen Echo Amusement Park for example the over head wires were called into service. That meant that the trolley pole was raised to meet the wires suspended from poles on the streets. It was an amazing sight to watch the switch.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Elmer's Musical Bar- Pratt St. Baltimore

On Sunday after mass, followed by supper at grandmother’s house, my father used to drive his family around Baltimore city. One place that I always requested to drive by was Elmer’s Musical Bar at Pratt and Light Streets. Looking past the occasional boxcar sitting in the middle of Pratt Street, one could see motorcycles crowding the parking lot. It looked very exciting but I was warned that it was a very rough waterfront "joint." How rough? Well someone told me that the bands had to play behind a chicken wire cage to avoid being beaned on the head by flying beer bottles. Another man told me that patrons would ride their motorcycles right inside the bar on rainy days. Everyone agrees that the music was exceptional. Probably the draw for such a crazy mix of Baltimore males was the terrific musical venue that was open on Sundays--uncommon in those days. I don’t know if women ever ventured inside Elmer’s. For sure there was no “ladies’ entrance.”

Monday, March 14, 2011

MORGAN & MILLARD - Roland Park Pharmacy and Tea Room

In the days of neighborhood stores, retail window display was vitally important to most merchants. And in the world of independently owned pharmacies and lunch counters the competition was intense. But Baltimorean Mr. Charles J. Neun of the old Morgan Millard pharmacy and tea room in Roland Park was decidedly the king of window display -- winning two cars in 1953 for his clever exhibitions. You can read about it here in the following newspaper clipping. In my painting I liked to include the waitresses who worked in his tea room.

Baltimore News-Post Friday, October 30, 1953

“Lighting struck twice for a local druggist as Charles J Neun was awarded a 1953 Chevrolet, first prize in a contest sponsored by the Cliquot Club Company of Millis, Mass. Neun was the top contestant among more than 2,000 entries in a twenty-state area. But the payoff is that only last month Mr. Neun was also the winner of another automobile offered by a nationally know soap company. Mr. Neun participated this summer in a display competition... sponsored by Cliquot Club.The top prize winner in a brief ceremony at his place of business Morgan & Millard, Inc., 4800 Roland Avenue, was presented with the keys to the new Chevrolet by... Baltimore Cliquot Bottler, Mr. Joseph E. Scheiner, 1613-15 Aliceanna St.”

The Cliquot Club marketing department was really on the ball. They set up competitions for window display among 2,000 of their buyers. They motivated the merchants to decorate their shops with as much advertising for their product as possible. Mr. Neun was on the job after reading the announcement below.

Mr. Neun had much of his display photographed and cataloged so he could submit his car-winning application.

And even the customers got into the act.
I sure wish this kind of artistic resourcefulness among stores still existed. There would always be something new to grab your attention in the neighborhood. You just can't beat this for eye-catching creative clutter.

Monday, February 21, 2011


"Wilton Farm Dairy - Landscape" oil on canvas ( 12" x 16")

Wilton Farm Dairy cows lived on the Zaiser family farm in Catonsville, MD at the corner of Wilkens Avenue and Maiden Choice Lane for almost 100 years. It was always fun to see them from the Baltimore Beltway just grazing in the field behind their decorative fence. A photo of the dairy's fence is one of many which eludes me. It spelled out Wilton Farm Dairy in cursive letters. Additionally, whoever decided to emblazon the barn's roof with the name of the dairy was an advertising genius. That image of white block letters against the aqua roof has remained green in my memory.

"Wilton Farm Dairy Truck" oil on canvas ( 18" x 24")

A dear family friend named Carolyn was lucky enough to have a father who drove one of the farm’s delivery trucks which brought milk and all things dairy to many homes on the west side of town. She said her sister and brother would ride with her father sometimes when he drove his milk route. They loved it because their generous father said they could have anything that they wanted to eat on the truck. It was a day of dining on donuts, chocolate milk and juice for this lucky pair. My uncle Michael, who grew up in Irvington, remembers family trips to the dairy where the milk was so good that all seven brothers and sisters drank it on the spot. It was a sad night in February, 1979 when the farm was destroyed by fire. Following that tragedy the land was developed into houses which remain situated on the property. However whenever I ride past I still try to remember that fence with the cursive letters.

And bringing up the rear here is a photo from my toy truck collection... It is played with more often than some others. Moooo Moooo

Thursday, February 3, 2011


TECO line in Tampa/Ybor City, Florida
Streetcars rolling in Florida???? It had the same effect on me as hearing “elephants roaming in Florida” in my high school geography class. It was a strange but true fact, indeed. I always imagined Florida to be like Key West, Ft. Lauderdale, Sanibel Island or some other seaside resort. After all until my recent trip to the Clearwater/Tampa Bay area, this was the extent of my exposure to the peninsula state. The vision of urban mass transportation in Florida just never entered my imagination. But my friends took me to Ybor one day in January so we could walk around and eat Cuban food. Imagine my delight when I spotted the historic, bright yellow streetcars of Ybor City which dates from 1880. The neighborhood began as a Cuban/Italian community of cigar factories. The architecture is stunning. Lots of 1920’s style bungalow houses surrounding the big warehouses and factories which have been converted to retail shops and restaurants.

A nicely restored bungalow house typical of the region.

We boarded the TECO streetcar at Whiting, the beginning of the line. There was a bit of lag time so I took the opportunity to talk to the conductor. He said the cars were reproductions made in 2000 but the trucks of the cars were authentic. Tampa’s first streetcars reached their peak ridership in the 1920’s so more than likely the trucks that carried us were from that era….or so I imagined.

The line is barely three miles long and really just a right-of-way path but nevertheless we thoroughly enjoyed our ride as did all the passengers. I was wishing that there were a turnaround but these cars remind me of the double-ended Riverview car at the Baltimore Streetcar Museum – at the end of the line everyone stands and flips their seat to face the opposite direction. The conductor moves to the front and the overhead trolley is readjusted for the return trip. Adios! Ding Ding!

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Circle in Dundalk, MD

"BBQ" oil on canvas (18" x 24")

Affectionately referred to by many as “The Circle” this deco style diner is no longer located in the Highlandtown/Dundalk area in Baltimore, MD. It is rumored that in the 1960s it was THE big, East- side, hang-out for motor heads who packed it with jacked-up, souped up American cars. Conversations about “popping wheelies” and “laying rubber” could readily be overheard. Former patrons have said that until it was sold in the 1990s tasty Bar-B-Q sandwiches were prepared by the same husband and wife team for many years. If you walked up to the side window to order you could see the lady in the back room surrounded by gallons of milk and ice cream while preparing milk shake after milk shake. The husband kept a close watch on how the patrons behaved. In 1987 I had my first experience with the restaurant. As I pulled up in my huge 1976 Buick, we had the only car on the lot. So we casually parked and walked up to the service window on the side. Since we were inexperienced and new we had no idea of the parking regulations. The man sternly made us readjust our parking before he would make our Bar B Que sandwiches. You see since it was a round building the patrons were required to park on a diagonal representing angled rays around the building. Made sense to me once I knew the rules.