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Perry Hall's Ravens Roost No. 60 upholds a tradition that started with the Colts

At a meeting of Ravens Roost No. 60 of Perry Hall, you hear stories of the fans' good luck rituals.

For one member, it's the color of the undergarments she wears during the game.

For another, it's touching the statue of Johnny Unitas outside the stadium.

But Sue Robin, executive board member of the Roost, recalled an interesting development that emerged when she and her late husband, Ray, gathered to watch the games with friends.

"As soon as he (Ray) went into the bathroom, they (the Ravens) scored. When we needed a score, he went to the bathroom," she said.

Eventually, she added, the crew of fans bought a 4-inch TV set that could be played in the bathroom so Ray Robin did not miss a play while he pressed his luck.

Ray died five years ago, but in his honor the Roost now gives out the annual Ray Robin Award to an exemplary club member.

Ravens Roost No. 60, whose membership is almost entirely from Perry Hall, gathers on the first Monday evening of the month in a back room at The Harp (formerly Raffi's), a pub at Belair and Silver Spring roads.

It is one of the smaller Roosts, down to about 20 active members, but they are on a rebuilding campaign.

On Sept. 4 (a Tuesday meeting because of the previous Monday night game), spirits were high. The Ravens had steamrollered the Bengals the night before.

"This is our year," said Charlotte Krause, Roost president.

Krause, who is unusual in that she lives in Essex, works for a gas station equipment supplier. It's also unusual that she didn't grow up a football fan.

"I wasn't interested at all," she said.

But then her boss at work gave her what she calls "Football 101." She got hooked.

She is now a keystone on more than one level. She heads the local Roost and is active in the Council of Baltimore Ravens Roosts. Also, the local Roost includes her mother, also named Charlotte, the club's recording secretary; her brother, Mike Holt, the treasurer; and Mike's wife, Karen Holt, who is sergeant at arms.

Krause is now spearheading the Roost's membership drive, using everything from word-of-mouth to raffles.

"We're trying," she said.

Another mainstay of the club is Jim McCray, a State Farm insurance agent. A passionate Colts fan, he recalled enduring the football "drought" between the ignominious departure of the Colts for Indianapolis in 1984 and the arrival of the Ravens in 1996.

"I said that if they ever get another team in Baltimore, I am putting my money up," he said.

And he did. Now a Ravens season ticket holder of two seats, he takes his wife or one of his two sons with him to games. He always touches the Johnny Unitas statue outside the stadium before a game.

For Ravens Roost members, the Unitas-Ravens connection is explicit. The organization emphasizes that it is about Baltimore football, not just the Ravens. In its charter, the group is dedicated "To support professional football in Baltimore."

In fact, the Council of Baltimore Ravens Roosts, the umbrella organization, is the continuation of the Council of Colts Corrals under a new name. On the history page posted at its website, the current council dates its origins to 1957, when the earliest Colts Corrals came together and formed a council.

At present, about 50 active Roosts with a membership of 3,500 meet in Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania. Individual Roosts engage in promotions and charitable activities and the council holds a mammoth bull and oyster roast in February and a three-day convention in Ocean City in June.

Kathy Cobry, a member of Roost No. 60's executive board, said she grew up in a baseball-loving family, but got swept up in Ravens fever when the team arrived.

She has the T-shirts. She has the Super Bowl flag, which always flies from her car.

And she has the house. On Vale Drive in Perry Hall, where she lives, her home is universally known as the "Ravens House" because it is covered in Ravens banners.

"It's up all the time," she said. "I'm crazy. My husband's crazy. We're all crazy.''

Roost treasurer Mike Holt, who does deliveries for The Baltimore Sun and for Gordon Florist in Stoneleigh, said he inherited his football passion from his mother, Charlotte Krause (mother of the indentically named club president). Getting into Memorial Stadium to see the Colts was a mission from an early age.

"I had a paper route. I saved that money to buy Colts season tickets," he said.

His wife, Karen Holt, who works at Home Depot, "grew up with the Ravens." She's often sporting a jersey with Willis McGahee's No. 23.

Asked to name the team that has the most bad blood with the Ravens, the answer is unanimous — the Pittsburgh Steelers.

McCray put it down to city similarities, not differences.

"You got two working class, blue collar towns without a lot of glamour," he said.

Karen Holt said it's not so much the team. "It's their fans. When they come to our stadium, they are obnoxious."

What does it take to become a Ravens Roost member? Do you have to know team trivia?

"It's not like the movie 'Diner.' You don't have to take a test," Robin said, referring to Barry Levinson's 1982 comedy in which a character requires that his fiancee pass a Colts trivia test before he will marry her.

Roost membership, in fact, is restricted only to those 21 or older. Enrolling costs $20 ($30 for a couple) and dues are $25 annually.

At the start of the 2012 season, the Ravens smashing success against the Bengals was tempered the following week with a narrow loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

But scores and seasons come and go. For Roost No. 60, it's about upholding tradition.

"Baltimore's just a football-loving town," McCray said.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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