After 11 years in office, Annapolis Alderwoman Classie Hoyle has decided to retire. There's just one thing she has left to do first.
As she rolled around her district this week in her red Cadillac DeVille — with personal license plates reading "HOYLE" — the three-term Democrat recalled what inspired her to run for office in the first place and the legacy she would like to leave behind as she takes more time to care for her ailing husband.
"Look at those sidewalks," said Hoyle, 76, as she turned on Forest Drive. "Can you imagine that less than 10 years ago, we were walking in the street?"
The Parole neighborhood Hoyle knew as a child was one of segregation, disparity and collaboration, she said. She rolled past streets named for doctors who delivered babies at home because African-Americans were not allowed at Anne Arundel Community Medical Center. She drove the boundaries of what was Camp Parole, the military camp established to exchange prisoners during the Civil War that eventually became a working-class African-American community. She drove past the building, now used as apartments, that was once the four-room school she attended as a kindergartner in 1941.
To Hoyle, keeping the reminders of the past alive is the greatest service she can do for her constituents.
"A lot of upscale people are coming to this area," Hoyle said. "It's important for them to know what came before them."
Among her accomplishments, Hoyle also counts installing those sidewalks, creating rules about including affordable housing in new developments and amending the city's charter so that female members of the city council were called alderwomen, not aldermen.
But her greatest legacy, she said, is a project she began over a decade ago to install historical markers around Parole. As Parole has gentrified, the markers have become reminders of what the shopping centers and condominiums have replaced.
Hoyle pulled into a parking space at 1901 West, a sprawling complex of apartments, shops and restaurants built atop what were once baseball fields and tennis courts.
While Hoyle chatted about her plans to continue her fundraising schedule, including one to be held in March in honor of her 77th birthday, supporter Peter Tasi slipped into a Starbucks for a glass of water and napkins, and to give a once-over to the three markers installed in the courtyard.
"These were communities where white men bought land and sold it to workers at the hospital and the Naval Academy," Hoyle said as Tasi admired the newly gleaming marker describing that.
Tasi, one of the founders of the Annapolis Maritime Museum, said the photos and stories of what the Parole community used to be came from homes of Parole's residents. One resident, William Swann, now dead, had kept decades of records.
"He was just so eager to see all of this coming out of his scrapbook," Tasi said. "There was a lot of hard times."
None of it, Tasi said, would have been possible without Hoyle's neighborhood connections.
"She opened all the doors that lead to all the information that we needed," he said.
So far, Hoyle and Tasi have raised more than $15,000 in grants to install about a dozen markers. Before she leaves office, Hoyle said, she thinks she needs at least one more, though she has not settled on the final thing she'd like to commemorate.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun