Doctors told Parker he had recently suffered a stroke and needed to take it easy. He was released after three months and returned to the store that had become his life. But he knew he had to get out of the business.

Plans have been under way for several months to close about a dozen businesses on Liberty Heights Avenue. A Walgreens will replace those businesses, which include a laundromat, pizza parlor and hardware store. The corner where Parker's business sits will be converted to parking spaces, said LeRoy Adams, director of the business assistance group with the Housing Authority of Baltimore City.

Walgreens is a sign that the neighborhood is on the mend, Adams said.

"We have to try to form a functional business association, one which actively advocates for the small businesses that are in the district," Adams said yesterday. He added that officials are trying to determine the best use for an abandoned fire station across the street from Parker's business.

With Walgreens coming, some of the displaced businesses are moving to other locations. But Parker is out altogether.

None of his children or grandchildren wanted to carry on the business.

And Parker, although stubborn at times, has accepted his limitations.

"When I came back from the hospital last year, it was real hard," Parker said. "Getting in and out of the truck was hard. Waiting on the people behind the counter was tiring me out. I didn't get up and wait on them. I asked them to come behind the counter and get what they wanted and they'd bring it over to me and I'd ring it up. Most of them had gotten used to doing that. I just didn't feel up to it."

Changing routine

Instead of getting up at 6 a.m. to shower, dress and rush to the liquor store for a 14-hour workday, Parker sleeps until 10 a.m., a luxury. And he tries to work out for at least 30 minutes a day.

"I just ride the bicycle, and I do arm presses and neck presses," he said.

In Baltimore, sports fans haven't let go of their beloved Colts, now in Indianapolis, though the city has the Ravens. Likewise, Parker can't seem to get the liquor store out of his system.

He went to the store yesterday to wait on the last of the trucks that are coming to haul away his liquor. And he sat outside the store in his Jeep Cherokee for several minutes before realizing the men aren't due there until today.

But he didn't sit there in vain.

"I was down there [yesterday] morning, and I bet you 200 people came over to the truck and told me they were going to miss me and they hated to see me go," he said.