The Place

Part 1
In  1951, my father bought a tavern  in Highlandtown, at the corner of  the East Kresson and Fairmount, from a Mrs. Mary Menniger.  Before that, the building was,  a tavern, when first built in 1900,  a confectionery and a bakery during Prohibition, and by the late 1930’s, a tavern once again. Dad installed an orange and green neon sign outside, a very long arrow that surrounded the very long name, Spigelmire and the word BAR underneath.

imgres-2We lived a 20 minute drive west of Highlandtown, in the northmost part of  Hamilton. We called  the tavern  The Place.

The first time I saw it, as a four-year old, I thought, this place is OLD. The side street it sat on was not paved with asphalt. Instead, it was black cinder, and it led to a junkyard and a long distance truck dispatcher office. Factories lined Kresson street when you looked west.To the east, two blocks of  row houses, not the kind with the famous Baltimore white marble stairs. These houses, all built at the start of the twentieth century, had worn wooden stair, formstone here and there, and a few of those fancy painted screens. Kids playing on the sidewalk in front of their houses. No trees within sight. The railroad bridge crossed over Kresson street at an oblique angle, and at Lombard Street, Hudak’s  stood on one corner, another bar faced it on the opposite one.

To the locals on Kresson Street, my dad’s bar  was  “Spigelmires,”  in Baltimore parlance, “Spigel Marr’s,” and that was how my dad answered the pay phone on the wall, at the far end of the bar: Spigel Marr’s, Jim talkin’.”

Like Cheers decades before Cheers, the Place was where everybody knew your name. If they didn’t, they asked. There were regular customers, and there were the daily customers, about a dozen, each of whom claimed his spot at the bar. And they were all men. Ladies did not sit at the bar. A woman might appear with a large, washed out-and-dried pickle jar and ask the barmaid to fill it up with draft beer to take home. Or  she might come in by the side door  Ladies Entrance on  a Saturday night with her husband or a girlfriend, and take a seat at one of the tables  in the large room adjacent to the bar…

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3 thoughts on “The Place

  1. Interesting. I can identify with this, my father bought a bakery in Carney, from man named Bill Schmidt, around 1951. He moved it to Winters Lane in Catonsville. We lived in Catonsville. My mother worked there and I went to work with them and played with cookie dough, pretending I was making cookies, too. The bakery was called Dad’s Old Fashioned Cookie Company. We called it the shop. He moved again in 1961 to1949 W Pratt Street. I worked at both locations on Saturdays and summers. We only made oatmeal cookies. Corner groceries and public schools in Baltimore and DC were our main customers. He also sold them at the shop? The aroma of the cookies baking would lead people to the door. Dad retired and sold the shop in 1971. It passed through a couple of owners and was sold to a company that closed it down and “buried” the patent.

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