Sunday, August 12, 2012


“Old Bay and Natty Boh and News”  2011
oil paint on board (16” x 20”)
As a collector of McCormick and other brands of spice tins, from time to time I like to compare the old to the new. The 1950 container of  Old Bay Seafood Seasoning (included in the painting above) features a crab, a shrimp and a lobster on the cardboard package topped by a golden tin lid. Baltimore Spice Company is given credit as the manufacturer since McCormick did not yet have the label. At some point the Old Bay label changed from “Seafood Seasoning” to “Seasoning for Seafood, Poultry, Salads and Meats." Look for yourself, it’s there on your pantry shelf now with a red plastic lid. National Bohemian beer bottles have changed, too. I have a few of the early rocket style bottles (one included here in the painting).  Mister Boh has evolved from a vague, one-eyed, yet fully mustachioed, character to a much bolder graphic version of himself. Even though our hometown beer, brewed on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay, moved out of state several years ago, the loyal following remains in Baltimore. In fact the Boh-mania among young people seems stronger than ever.  We just love our steamed crabs and beer !

Monday, August 6, 2012


“Ingleside Shopping Center” 2003
oil on board (40” x 30”)
I have many memories of this shopping center which launched the migration of Catonsville's Frederick Road Village commerce to Route 40 West. The first Giant Food grocery store in Baltimore, MD was located right here.  No longer were we shopping at the A&P or Acme or Heidelbach's all located very close to home on Frederick Road. Now we drove to the big parking lot on the busy highway. The friendly staff at the new Giant became familiar with our family and learned our weekly shopping habits. First stop was the produce section where the clerk always smiled at me as I waited in line to have him weigh the bananas. I loved that he wrote the price in black crayon on the biggest banana in the bunch. The kind lady donning her dutch-girl hat and uniform in the Heidi Bakery always gave us a delicious cookie to two. The big, clean store had a lounge located behind the live lobster tank. There you could buy a coke for six cents from the bright red vending the machine. Next to that were the restrooms where the toilet seats sprung to an upright position and were illuminated with bright white lights as if to kill all the germs. I avoided using this frightening facility. It reminded me of the  mysterious atomic energy fairs.
 Another memory about this brick shopping center was the Woolworth’s Ten Cent Store as we called it. I could buy a wide assortment of things for under a quarter. One time I bought a mermaid for my fish tank and more often I brought home a colorful slab of modeling clay which sold for 19 cents. Spending my allowance in Woolworth’s was a good way to pass the time while my mother was standing in line at the Giant getting her Top Value stamps at the check-out.
The precious Top Value Stamps were saved and redeemed  by  housewives for an assortment of domestic items.