It didn't take long to see why a retired city public schools teacher is hailed by her neighbors as Miss Auchentoroly or, to others, the Clean Up Lady.
Barbara Anderson-Dandy is one of those Baltimore community dynamos who say they work behind the scenes — and do. It's just that they never stop working, and along the way have established a reservoir of good will. She says she loves the challenge of stewarding a highly visible city neighborhood perched at the edge of Druid Hill Park.
Of her Auchentoroly Terrace neighborhood, she says, "I am bringing it back to its old glory." A person of lesser conviction and determination might have retired long ago from that task.
As a component member of the Greater Mondawmin Coordinating Council in Northwest Baltimore, she joins eight other neighborhood associations, a large shopping mall, as well as religious institutions, Coppin State University and Baltimore City Community College. Her neighborhood is also adjacent to Penn North and Reservoir Hill.
On a normal day, she is calling the Western District police station house to report loitering, or picking up trash, directing a crew to clean up a graffiti outbreak and or letting housing officials know about a vacant residence. She also finds time to promote her neighborhood, to get grants for planters and urns, to work with and encourage residents to make a difference. She gets up early on July Fourth to install little flags in the median around the Blue Star Veterans Monument.
"Barbara walks the streets, she twists people's arms. I would call her a major community player in the area. Everybody knows her," said Earl Arnett, a former president of the Mondawmin Council and husband of jazz singer Ethel Ennis. "And the rowhouses where she lives are striking architecturally."
He said she performs a thankless job. "It takes a lot of energy just to keep the status quo. She works tirelessly."
He said all the Mondawmin member neighborhoods face specific issues.
"The challenge is that as our residents age, and our neighborhoods no longer have the cachet they had in the 1960s, what is going to happen?"
The spot where she works is one of Baltimore's most visible – the stately rowhouses that overlook the southwestern edge of Druid Hill Park. The city's Historic and Architectural Preservation Commission described Auchentoroly: "Framing the boundary of Druid Hill Park, the nine rows of housing create an eloquent contrast with a synergistic composition of neighborhood and park."
In 1979, while she was still teaching at the former William Pinderhughes Elementary, she and her husband, Eugene Dandy, a retired Amtrak engineer, bought a circa 1900 home that had been split into three apartments. They made it a single-family home and for the past 34 years have enjoyed its spectacular views across Auchentoroly Terrace into Druid Hill Park and its Howard Rawlings Conservatory.
In 1999, she retired from teaching. She took a year off, she recalled, and then set about reorganizing her neighborhood through the New Auchentoroly Terrace Association.
Anderson-Dandy describes her work ethic: "You don't make excuses. You make a difference. There is no excuse if you see trash on the street and you do not pick it up."
One of the largest eyesores she has to deal with is a vacant, fire-damaged shell of a once-grand corner house at Gwynns Falls Parkway and Auchentoroly Terrace. The house, at one of the neighborhood's gateway corners, cries out for help.
Housing and sanitation issues are concerns she records in her little books, a practice that is perhaps a holdover from her years as a teacher. She also said she will not be terrified by the violent crime in West and Northwest Baltimore.
"I refuse to be afraid to walk into my house from my car," she said. "Over the years, I've been able to establish a rapport with the Western District. I think I worry them to death."