Thursday, August 29, 2013

Streetcars, Buses and Independence

"Eutaw and Howard" oil on canvas (22" x 20") 2011
The Baltimore Transit Company's streetcars and buses offered independence to many local pre-teens like myself who could travel downtown with just her best friend (Charlotte) for the day.  On Saturday morning there were the obligatory piano lessons at the Peabody but sometimes  they were rewarded with a grilled hamburger at the Rexall lunch counter on the corner of Charles and Centre Streets.  After a  quick tour of the mummies at the Walter’s Art Gallery we walked to the Joke Shop on Park Avenue near Lexington Street.  There we discovered rubber vomit, fake dog-do, peppery-hot trick chewing gum and the adult joke section. Numbingly mild by today’s standards we spent hours supressing giggles at the assortment of dirty jokes.
We varied our shopping habits some weekends by browsing in the four major department stores (Hutzler's, Hochschild's, Stewarts and Hecht's) that served as the hub of that downtown Baltimore universe. Afterwards, we found the time to wander east on Lexington Street to explore McCrory's for pierced earrings, Read's Drug Store for a tuna salad, pickle and chips, Brager Gutman's for bargains on clothing and Kresge's for the newest resident in the pet department. If our time and weekly allowance had not yet run out then we stopped at the Hot Peanuts store on the corner of Liberty Street for a late afternoon snack.
We chose to wait for our ride home at the Fayette Street stop across from the the Town Movie Theatre.  It was fun to speculate about the movie titles advertised on the marquee. We also anxiously read the destinations on the front of each car hoping to see Number 8 Catonsville to board for home.
"Fayette and Eutaw" oil on canvas (30" x 48") 2007
"Fayette and Liberty" oil on canvas (30" x 48") 2007

Thursday, August 8, 2013


"Cape May - Lewes Ferry" oil on canvas (18" x 36") 2013
Every July when we visit Lewes, Delaware I always reserve the time to wander around the docks of the Cape May - Lewes Ferry. I bask in the energy and the upbeat atmosphere generated by people on vacation slowing their pace to float across the 17-mile-stretch between Lewes, DE and Cape May, NJ. The system has five vessels that cross the Delaware Bay during the  daily 16 hour schedule.
The ferries began their service in 1964 with a fleet of boats that had been previously crossing the Chesapeake Bay between Cape Charles and Virginia Beach, VA.  At that time they were still steam powered but a decade later they were replaced with the current collection of vessels which includes names such as  M.V. Twin Capes and M.V. Cape Henlopen. The terminal in Lewes is staffed by cheerful men and women who not only load the passengers and their cars but they sell tickets, tend bar and operate a gift shop.

I love the clattering sounds of the ferry being loaded.
 The terminal itself can be a destination with a gorgeous view of the bay from the outdoor lounge and piers. If you go you will be reminded of a time  when vacations were true getaways from the grinding pace of every day life. Even though the ferries run on a schedule no one makes you feel in a hurry. After all, if you miss one ferry another one will arrive soon.
Ferries arrive and depart on a daily 16 hour schedule.