Now a City in Decay
When I was a kid, many summer evenings were spent in the backyard. Grills were blazing. The smell of hotdogs and hamburgers enveloped the neighborhood. Sometimes picnic tables were decorated in old newspapers that served as welcomed mats for hot steamed crabs, corn on the cob and watermelon. Transistor radios filled the air with the dulcet sounds of Chuck Thompson and Bill O’Donnell who with words, painted the action on the field of Orioles baseball.
Collectively such scenes colored the canvas of life in Baltimore.
And just like the National Bohemian beer commercials reminded us, this was “The Land of Pleasant Living”.
What happened to my Baltimore?
When the Orioles first moved into Camden Yards the stands were almost always near capacity. The Maryland Stadium Authority built a jewel of a ballpark and people did come. But somewhere along the way, they stopped coming in such impressive numbers. Crowds thinned measurably. Empty seats far outnumbered occupied ones.
Were the climbing costs of attending games ascending too fast? Was the convenience of watching from home in HDTV too inviting? Did the dawning of the Washington Nationals syphon away the DC Orioles fans that dramatically?
Did the increase in violent crime chase families away?
Critically-acclaimed Baltimore based TV shows like Homicide and The Wire depicted our port city as a cesspool of junkies, needles, STDs and violent crime. Native Marylanders defended Charm City’s reputation and argued that the town was rich in character, accentuated by ethnicity, endearing neighborhoods and a lovable quirkiness.
Lately, protectors of the realm, defenders of the city, have weened. Many born and raised Baltimoreans have moved on. The metropolitan area that was reinvigorated by the vision and guiding hand of the late William Donald Schaefer is now toxic. The TV depictions are accurate.
Life now imitates art.
Charm City may as well be labeled Harm City and living within its boundaries is no longer pleasant. Today it’s just downright dangerous.
Recently a friend’s nephew and his girlfriend left a restaurant in Little Italy following a family Mother’s Day dinner. During their walk to the car they were mugged. On the wrong end of a 12” butcher blade, the couple was robbed. The young girl was tossed to the ground. Both were physically unscathed, mentally scarred.
A few days later WBAL’s Brett Hollander’s wife and infant daughter were held up at gunpoint outside their home. Again, no one was physically harmed, yet it would be easy to understand after such an experience, if Mrs. Hollander’s approach to her own community will be forever altered.
And there’s little reason to believe that Baltimore will ever be the same.
It’s the worst day of your life when your wife tells you she she robbed at gunpoint outside her home holding her 7 week old daughter…
— Brett Hollander (@BrettHollander) May 16, 2017
Yes, these are dark days for a city in decay. Instead of backyard grills that blaze, it’s the city that burns.
I feel for my kids and yours. Today’s generation and future generations may never know the wholesome goodness that we all once harvested from this Land of Pleasant Living – a land that now, appears to have been foreclosed upon by violence.
Perhaps the town’s leadership, inspired by the traditions and wonderful Baltimore memories, will help to unwind the madness and restore goodness and pleasantries.
Is that too much to ask?