What is there to see in Baltimore any more these days?
Those skeptics of the city’s wearing and tearing would be surprised to hear that Baltimore still has plenty of positive aspects. Driving through the city’s once famously known and popular streets, it’s hard to imagine Baltimore as an entertaining and secure place. Up and down the busy, polluted, and garbage-covered streets, the houses, stores, shops, and markets just don’t look appealing or well kept.
Former Sun reporter and Editor David Ettlin guided the bus tour of about twenty-five students, faculty, and more through areas of Baltimore where he grew up.
“Pennsylvania Avenue used to have a Harlem feel to it. There were a lot of night clubs and it used to be a popular street but, by the 1960s it fell out to drug dealing,” said Ettlin.
The bus also made stops at the Mencken House and Edgar Allan Poe’s grave.
Several students from Stacey Spaulding’s Journalism classes attended the tour. They were initially shown a grand tour of Henry Louis Mencken’s house. Phil Hildebrandt, president of the Friends of the Mencken House, spoke to the group about Mencken’s house, his life as a reporter, and his interests and hobbies.
Hildebrandt talked about Mencken’s cigar factory, frequent drinking, and association with music.
“Mencken had his own cigar factory, and he was into German music. He played violin,” Hildebrandt said.
In addition he showed the tour around the small and enclosed backyard that glowed with sunshine on a cold and nippy autumn day in November.
The second part of the tour featured Mark Sanders, author and performer of the one-man play “Portrait of Poe.” Sanders impersonated Poe quite well, and showed the group around the cemetery. At the end he stopped to read some of his famous poems in addition to accepting roses placed over his grave by the students.
A nearby market that reeked of fish and body odor marked the group’s last stop Baltimore. As Dr. Spaulding rushed to buy her beloved crab cakes and burger cookies, the students explored the busy and chaotic market like new children on the first day of pre-school.
Twenty minutes passed by in a glimpse. Everyone met back up at the bus in a hurry and shared stories of what they ate and saw inside that lively market. From crabs to fried chicken, and even muskrat to raccoon, the Reporters tour was nothing short of brilliant.