Tag: H.L. Mencken

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Mencken Day At Enoch Pratt Free Library

H.L. Mencken (via Mencken House)
H.L. Mencken (via Mencken House)

Calling all curmudgeons: The Enoch Pratt Free Library is set to honor H.L. Mencken at Saturday’s Mencken Day festivities with guest speakers, exhibits and other things that aren’t the Star-Spangled Spectacular. One special guest will consider the Sage of Baltimore’s place in civil rights history, while another will dress up like him and entertain cocktail-swilling fans at his house.

Born on West Lexington St. on Sept. 12, 1880, the early 20th century writer and critic spared few subjects from his acerbic barbs, and wrote with a style that influenced plenty of other writers you may have heard of in the process. Having already dedicated a room to honor him, the main branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library (400 Cathedral St.) rolls out a full day of events every year on the weekend closest to his birthday.

In fitting fashion for an event about a famous writer, the main event is the Mencken Memorial Lecture, which considers the finer points of Mencken’s biography and legacy. Climbing into the rhetorical ring this year is University of Maryland law professor Larry S. Gibson, who will consider whether Mencken was a “racist or civil rights champion.” The talk begins at 2 p.m.

Drunk Horse-Driving, a Mencken Mystery, and More Strange Baltimore History



Do you follow the various Baltimore history blogs that are out there? If you don’t, you’re missing out on a lot of great historical weirdness.

Charm City History recently posted about how much lawbreakers had to pay for violating various city ordinances in 19th century Baltimore. The figures are in 2013 dollars, for comparison purposes:

  • Throwing stones in public – FINED, $27
  • Running wagons without license numbers – FINED, $27-$50
  • Improper conduct in the presence of ladies – FINED, $121
  • Throwing a nuisance in the street – FINED, $27
  • Killing or attempting to kill, or in any manner injure or molest sparrows, robins, wrens, or other small insectivorous birds in the city of Baltimore, to include their birdhouses – FINE, $85 per offense