In my last semester at UMBC, having knocked out all of my required credits, I took a photography class just for the fun of it. For my final project, I chose my neighborhood at the time, the area near Hollins Market, Baltimore. I lived there because it was fun and affordable and a reasonable distance from UMBC.
The photos are all in black and white, as that was the focus of the class. As I recall, I used a very fast film, ISO 3200, for many of the photos. The effect is grainy, but there was no need for a flash, even inside Hollins Market or Scallio’s Tavern. The digitized versions here were done on the cheap, photographs of the prints which I found in storage at my parents’ place.
People were such good sports. The guys working the fish counter at the market, the mother and son in the alley, the guy selling candy, snacks, and carry out chicken-fried-steak (or was it steak-fried-chicken?), all happily smiled and let the young stranger snap their photographs. I wonder how they are doing…
There is the picture of my friends Paul and Beth, sitting on our stoop. Ours was the one that was not covered by plywood. A boarded up storefront not far away became someone’s canvas. The Sowebohemia festival took place each year, and there were many artists about.
There is a St. Patrick’s Day photo of Frank and Sonny Scallio [pronounced with the accent on the first syllable], proprietors of Scallio’s Tavern, a local hangout where I worked as a bartender on the odd Saturday night. I use the term “bartender” loosely. Mostly I just poured National Bohemian drafts which we sold for 50 cents a glass. (Try to find a deal like that today.) You can guess their favorite sport by the photos on the wall.
The wind cooperated and blew the flag at the local firehouse horizontal. I learned from a friend who works for the Baltimore City Fire Department that this was a station on S. Carey Street that has since closed.
I didn’t learn until years later that I have roots in that Hollins Market neighborhood: Just a few blocks away my great-great-great-grandfather and his wife lived with an extended family including my g-g-grandfather. A family of millwrights, it seems. My Dad, the one who did the research to make this connection, reckons that living in Baltimore not far from the rail line was convenient for hopping on trains to go work at the local mills and factories, as millwrights do.
The photos were taken in the spring of 1988—thirty years later, I enjoy thinking about that time and place.