A Bar with a View

Unflappable Esther Martin Has Run the Club Charles Since 1951. Who Better to Tell of Her Block’s Boom, Bust, and Possible Rebirth?

By Brennen Jensen (Baltimore City Paper, 2/16/2000)

“There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.”
— Samuel Johnson

It’s the sprawling, penciled scrawl of a young sailor. A lonely sailor. A serviceman on the eve of shipping out to an uncertain fate in the Pacific waters of World War II.

“To a swell girl,” he writes, “I’ll remember you always and hope we meet again soon–real soon. Your tops, Hun, I only wish I could spend more time with you. Please think about ‘Pinky.’ ”

Esther Martin squints down at the message and the accompanying black-and-white photo, now turning sepia with age. It shows a radiant young girl with a Colgate smile and brunette tresses tumbling over her shoulders. This much she recognizes–it’s herself, 55-odd years ago when she was barmaid at the Band Box, a nightclub that once enlivened the 1300 block of North Charles Street. Across the bar from young Esther perches a grinning, fresh-faced seaman in dark sailor suit and neckerchief.

Continue reading “A Bar with a View” at the Baltimore City Paper.

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