Tag: nostalgia

His Own World: The Mystery of My Uncle Steve

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salvador1st+picture University of Baltimore MFA student Mary Walters describes her eccentric uncle’s life, death — and legacy.

The brown paper bag.

A few days after my Uncle Steve died, my dad brought home a brown paper bag from the apartment where single, childless Steve had lived for 17 years. It was soggy and heavy with coins. He dropped the bag on the coffee table mumbling “your inheritance.” My cousins, siblings, and I paid it no attention until the conclusion of whatever television show we were watching, and then my brother, Andy, peeked inside and wondered how many dollar bills those pennies would add up to—pennies could add up to anything. He drove to the Weis with the coin machine in Damascus and I came along. They added up to $38.00, $3.80 per niece and nephew.

Father and Son: An Annotated Bibliography

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image via homewiththeboys.net
image via homewiththeboys.net

University of Baltimore MFA student Michael B. Tager remembers his father’s recommended reading, and vice versa — and invites us to read between the (loving) lines.

Berenstain Bears Go Out For the Team, 1983

I am in his lap, his stubbly cheek against the top of my head, his deep voice patiently reading the childish prose. The Berenstain Bears are all I want him to read, though I have dozens of other children’s books.

Brother and Sister play pee-wee baseball. I relate, though our umpires and coaches don’t wear menacing sunglasses. Brother and Sister also play catch with Father. My father isn’t very good at catch but he plays with me, saying, “Relax,” and “Straighten your elbow.”

Murtherfore: A Story of Alcoholic Inspiration

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1920s  Party

This New Year’s Eve, writer Lindsay Fleming remembers her father-in-law’s wit and wisdom, his whiskey sours and his elegant exit.

My father-in-law was famous for his whiskey sours.  When your drink ran dry, he’d be quick to notice and urge a refill.  If you hesitated, he’d settle it with the reminder, “No bird ever flew on one wing.”  When he died, copies of his recipe were posted by magnet on the refrigerator at the family beach house.  A backup was filed underneath the highball glasses in the art deco bar on the screened-in porch.

Myra and Mom

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image via weheartit.com
image via weheartit.com

Baltimore writer Gay Jervey remembers her mother’s most enduring–and exciting–friendship.

Not long ago, I received the news that I had been dreading for months: Myra Shannonhouse, my honorary Godmother, ally and bridge to so much that had come to shape me, had died after the long, wrenching free fall that so frequently accompanies illness, old age and the kind of greedy bad luck that just won’t back down.

Orioles Magic: Feel it Re-Happen

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The author's son, Charlie, on Opening Day.  Photo by Muffy Fenwick.
The author’s son, Charlie, on Opening Day. Photo by Muffy Fenwick.

As kids, my brother and I spent hours on the bottom bunk of his bed, trading autographed Orioles headshots.  The collection we had amassed (Eddie Murray, Rick Dempsey, Scotty McGregor, Ken Singleton) fanned out across his red bedspread, a tribute to our hometown heroes.  Our love of the Birds was fueled by our dad who not only helped add to our collection but took us to countless games at Memorial Stadium, just blocks from our house.  Even though we complained about the walk to the stadium, the excitement of chasing the Oriole Bird and scanning the field for our favorite players soon dispelled our grumblings.

Thanks to hours logged watching the Royals, my dad’s Roland Park Little League team, I learned to keep the scorebook.  Soon, I became a student at the Orioles games, tracking at-bats and stats on the blank pages of his score book.  Before the All-Star break, I scoured the ground around our upper deck seats for the punch out All-Star ballots, popping holes next to my favorite players.

I was nine when the Orioles took the World Series from their I-95 rivals in Philadelphia.  Like so many of my peers, this was a monumental moment in both my childhood and the history of my hometown.  My own excitement was fueled by the love of the game instilled in me by my dad.  As a parent now, I recognize that same urge to perpetuate the same joys of my childhood into my own children.  Trips to Camden Yards are highlighted by Oriole Bird sightings, renditions of “Thank God I’m a Country Boy,” and, of course, loud cheers for our beloved players.

Steamed Cranberry Pudding: A Sweet Ghost Story

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pudding

As Baltimore writer Sheri Venema reacquainted herself with her mother’s quaint church cookbook, she pondered “a time when a woman became a suffix to her husband” — once her baking was done, she realized much more.

The recipe for Steamed Cranberry Pudding did not speak to me at first. The directions seemed too cryptic: Waxed paper? Tin cans? Also, the tattered cookbook in which I found the recipe originated in the long-ago kitchens of women in my childhood church, and it seemed laden with dishes predictable and dull.

Tuna Noodle Casserole.

Miracle Cheese Cake (lemon Jell-O with cream cheese and sugar).

Oven Barbecue (Spam, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce).

Typed on a manual typewriter and then Xeroxed and bound with cheap plastic coil, the cookbooks were sold to raise money for a church society. My copy long ago lost its red cover. I sometimes took it out of its protective Ziploc bag to find a cookie recipe, but mostly I felt superior to this little book with its stains and misspellings. Clearly it came from a time when cream of mushroom soup and oleo ruled every kitchen in my neighborhood, and I had walked away from the Midwestern housewifery prescribed in its pages. I owned a wok and a Silver Palate cookbook. I made my own hummus. 

Newfoundland

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funeral

University of Baltimore Asst. Prof. and Bohemian Rhapsody Columnist Marion Winik discusses “neural storage,” the nature of memory, and the beauty of Mexican seven-layer casserole.

Recently my friend Sandye and I were drinking some local microbrew in Fells Point, and she reminded me of the time we were in Newfoundland and met these guys who served us delicious beer they had made in their garage. “It was the first time we ever had homemade beer, remember?” Sandye said. “And it was the first time I truly liked, even loved, beer.”

Weather or Not: A Greektown Story

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photo by Leslie F. Miller
photo by Leslie F. Miller

Growing up in Greektown, when Christmas break came around, all the kids in the neighborhood already had their summer and fall clothes packed away and were outside playing in their big puffy jackets. We would wear our pajamas inside out because it meant snow would come; most times it did.

“Shorondra Reynolds” or “The Siditty Clerk Typist in B-3”

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Tuesday feeling too typical? Check out Baltimore writer Willet Thomas’s highy readable stream-of-consciousness story of a fat baby named Shorondra Reynolds, who won’t budge from our narrator’s rich memory-scape.

When Shorondra Reynolds was a baby we lived in a Baltimore brownstone on the edge of Pigtown. Just me and my mother, when there were no single mothers, just Adele’s mother or Mary’s mama, or Kiki’s madear, and their like. It was a time when a five year-old, like the one I was, could be led by Mr. Mackey, the custodian, to the basement dark spot where kids older than my five years played nasty under stairwells. A time when all that was needed to see a fly go its way and me mine was a penny toffee and a flashlight held close to my ear.

1902 Hollis was a building where everyone knew everyone. We knew Miss Reynolds because Miss Carol in A-2 watched Miss Reynolds’s brother’s kids on weekends, and though big, hardheaded boys, if you were short a nickel, they’d give you one, because their daddy was a mechanic and he was rich. Just like Miss Reynolds knew my mother and which apartment was ours, not only because of the bronze mailbox’s name slot, but because 1902 was a noisy place, what my mother mistakenly called nosey. If mothers hollered children’s given names, this told of impending punishments, just as raucousness coming from Miss Reynolds’s Saturday evenings told everyone her one-dollar-to-play, 50-cents-to-gawk Bid Whist game was underway.

Coming Clean (about Baltimore)

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Artist, MICA instructor, world traveler, and well-meaning truth twister Marcus Civin faces (mostly) facts about his unexpected move back home…to Baltimore.

Originally, I’m from Saint Petersburg. When I learned to drink champagne, I learned in a castle back home. I learned to smash the empty champagne flute on the ground after a toast. My mother says a family of raccoons lived in our tool shed. Way back, I’m related to Dostoyevsky—yes, the great Russian novelist.

My father did his medical residency at the National Institutes of Health, outside of Washington, DC, in Bethesda, MD. I have an early memory of watching my brother and my father build a metal model fire engine. I watched them through a hole in the floorboards; they were in the basement of a little house in Bethesda, and I was upstairs with a stuffed Snoopy. I bet I was supposed to be napping.

My mother says my father used to bring bones home to that house from the hospital for study, that they were real human bones. When I was three, my father got a job at Johns Hopkins, and my family moved from Bethesda, Maryland, to Baltimore.

Wait — I lied. I am not from Saint Petersburg. I learned to drink champagne in Baltimore. Really, I was born in Boston, Massachusetts, then moved to Bethesda, then to Baltimore. My father, it’s true, worked at the NIH, then at Hopkins. I’m not related to Dostoyevsky, though this is not by choice. I’ve been to a couple of castles, but I haven’t been to in any castles in Saint Petersburg. The raccoons lived in our garage in Baltimore, this is completely accurate.

I grew up in Baltimore. My older brother and my sister-in-law, my nephew, my parents, the family with whom my family does all the Jewish holidays…they’re still here.

I left Baltimore for good in 1996. Since then, I have lived in Providence, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. I never thought I’d be back to Baltimore to stay. I’m back.

Really, why’d I leave? Really.

Maybe it was the preppies. At the Baltimore prep school my parents sent me to, I read Camus in the original French. I remember reading the opening passage of The Stranger (L’Etranger). It was 10th grade study hall. My French was pretty good; I understood what was happening. Sitting in study hall, I was reading when I got interrupted by a boy twice my size who put me in a headlock. I shook him off, looked around and decided to put a boy smaller than me in a headlock. This is all to say that I didn’t understand Camus’s existentialism. What is existentialism to a 10th grader?

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