Highlandtown Pissed Off Over Mattress Saturation

Not another mattress store, say residents

(The Baltimore Guide, 9/24/2014)

“We are super tired north of Eastern.”

This was one online explanation offered for the proliferation of mattress stores in the Highlandtown and Baltimore Highlands neighborhoods.


Message-board wisecracks aside, some residents feel that there are enough mattress vendors, and the area doesn’t need one more. Yesterday, after press time, Ronald Rinehart was scheduled to appeal to the Board of Municipal and Zoning Appeals to use a portion (unit 1B) of the property at 3243-49 Noble St. as a bedding and furniture store.

Rachel Timmins, president of the Baltimore Highlands Community Association, says that the majority of the officers in BHCA are opposed to the use of that property as a store that sells mattresses.

“I am personally opposed because, for one, we have a major mattress dumping issue,” Timmins said.

… Data from Americorps National Civilian Community Corps members, who surveyed alley dumping in Highlandtown and Baltimore Highlands in May and June, shows that discarded mattresses were indeed found in alleys, particularly in Baltimore Highlands in alleys near Esther Pl. and Baltimore St.

Timmins said that she recently had an “enormous pile,” including four mattresses and two sofas, picked up from behind her own residence.

Continue reading at The Baltimore Guide.

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True Detective Stories from the Annals of the Maryland Police

28 Articles by Alexander Gifford in the “Baltimore News-Post” and “Baltimore American” from April 13-June 3, 1936

In the spring of 1936, legendary reporter-broadcaster Alexander Gifford selected 28 of the most sensational turn-of-the-century crime stories culled from Baltimore and Maryland police files, and published them as part of a true crime series in the now defunct News-Post and Baltimore American newspapers.


Crime doesn’t pay, but it stays – at Pratt Library

Only one copy of a book made from the original clippings that comprised Gifford’s series exists and that reference-only title, True Detective Stories from the Annals of the Maryland Police, resides at the Enoch Pratt Free Library/State Library Resource Center. It was compiled in 1938 by members of the Enoch Pratt Free Library staff but remained largely unknown and virtually untouched in the stacks of the library’s Maryland Department for decades.

Almost 70 years later, the Maryland Department staff dusted off the book, researched old and worn microfilm, and reformatted the articles to recreate copies of what the staff called “the stories that must have thrilled Baltimore readers during the era of the Great Depression.” The new edition’s preface adds, “Pieced together much as a kidnapper’s ransom note, the stories have been painstakingly laid out in the order the crime series appeared in the News-Post.”

On October 8, 2007, the library presented a copy of Gifford’s series to “our friend and supporter” John Waters, when Baltimore’s famous filmmaker-author-and-true crime aficionada was the featured guest speaker at Enoch Pratt’s Staff Day. From the looks of the custom-made copy currently available in the Maryland Department, Waters may have returned the book to Pratt for safekeeping – and for the reading pleasure of future generations of true crime fans.


If It Bleeds, He Reads: John Waters gets carded at the Enoch Pratt Free Library.

Though he made his name as a political writer covering Governor Huey Long’s administration for the New Orleans Times-Picayune before coming to Baltimore, Alexander Gifford proved himself to be a great story-teller when it came to recounting sensational crimes, and his series covered everything from elaborate bank robberies and arsons-at-sea to gruesome hangings and ax murders. His prose is at once elegant and engaging, as in this opening to the story of the “Torch Murder On the Bay”:


“The hand of Fate, that goddess who snips the thread of life, seems to destroy just at the moment when the sister god, Fortune, is smiling most brightly.

Captain Oliver Caulk, of St. Michael’s bought at fine cargo of oysters to Baltimore, added $200 to his “roll” and smiled delightedly as he put out on the bay again with a full cargo of shingles.

“Luck is with us,” he cried to his mate, the Negro, Frank Collier.

And suddenly, Snip! went the shears of the goddess Fate – and Caulk and Collier never returned from that voyage.”

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words and the illustrations (artist unknown) accompanying Gifford’s penny-dreadful tales are great come-ons encouraging readers to turn the page.

Following are some samples from the series:


Through snow he silently moves with his ghastly load.


The killer who dreamed too much.

Killer slew two women with an ax.


The last voyage of the “Dream” was a nightmare.


Old chisel handle betrays murderer.


Patricide makes elaborate efforts to conceal crime.


“Black Charlie” describes the candy store murder of Caroline Link.

If you’re a fan of true crime stories, especially Victorian-era murder cases from the mid-1800s to the turn of the 19th century, Gifford’s series is essential reading in the library’s Maryland Department. Just don’t be tempted to purloin this rare and valuable treasure – that would be a true crime!

Related Links:

Gifford, Alexander. True detective stories from the annals of the Maryland police. Maryland Dept. (HV6533.M3 65). Enoch Pratt Free Library. Baltimore, Maryland. 1938.

Baltimore City Newspapers on Microfilm, Listed by Title (Periodicals Department, Enoch Pratt Free Library)

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Posted in 1930s, Baltimore Babylon, Crime, Decades, Media, Murder, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

John Waters on hitchhiking adventures and his long-ago arrest at Johns Hopkins

By Bret McCabe (Johns Hopkins University “Hub,” 9/22/2014)

carsick_cover“…In the prologue of the book you write that your parents expected you to hitchhike to school.

When my parents wanted me to hitchhike—I went to Calvert Hall—and in private schools and Catholic schools, everybody hitchhiked. It wasn’t thought of as an eyebrow-raising thing to tell your children to do then. It should have been. The same perverts were out there that are out there now.

That’s what I was wondering. What has changed? I don’t spend much time driving on the interstate, but when I did in the 1990s I don’t recall seeing many hitchhikers.

I never saw any the whole way to San Francisco—well, I saw one hitchhiker. The last time I saw one in Baltimore, I picked him up. It was the daytime on Eastern Avenue, and I was there innocently—Eastern Avenue didn’t used to be an innocent place to pick up hitchhikers, believe me. And he got in the car and immediately started huffing glue. And I said, “Just make yourself comfortable.” He offered me some. I said no—it wasn’t a Friday night, it was a Tuesday morning or something. If I’m going to huff glue in my 60s, it ain’t going to be on a weekday morning. It would have to be a really bad night, late.

What do you think happened to all the hitchhikers? Did more people get cars? Did other forms of transportation become more affordable? Or did we just get more fearful of each other, worried that hitchhikers or the people who pick them up are serial killers?”

Continue reading at JHU Hub.

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