No 4th of July parade or fireworks, just memories | Mostly Main

Happy Fourth of July!

It will be sooo different this year, with no parades, fireworks or big parties. We can still celebrate the fact that we have all soldiered on during one of the toughest challenges any of us have ever faced and hopefully next year the (legal) sparklers will pop.


At least this year the dogs are happy.

Anyway, I have some great memories of parades past. I grew up in Catonsville and my high school youth organization always had a float that we spent many hours brainstorming about, creating, then finally riding on.

Mostly Main Street columnist has many fond memories of Catonsville's Fourth of July parade.
Mostly Main Street columnist has many fond memories of Catonsville's Fourth of July parade. (Karl Merton Ferron, Baltimore Sun)

I remember two especially well. The first, was when the parade had a space theme - Moon Teens. Someone thought it would be a good idea for us to dress up in tunics made out of plastic shower curtains with lightning bolts decorating the fronts. You can imagine how hot they were.

The next year was a more patriotic theme, and I got the honor of being the Statue of Liberty, draped in a sheet this time, holding a torch aloft. I can’t remember, but I sincerely hope I had something to rest my elbow on, as the parade route was a several miles down Frederick Road and Bloomsbury Avenue. The last year I participated was much more mundane; I got to ride on the back of a convertible. Good times.

Also, happy birthday to my daughter-in-law Kristen, born in Philadelphia on the Fourth of July, and to my husband Tom, born on July 9.

History is repeating itself on the Patapsco River this summer. For the first time in many years, dozens of people are tubing, swimming, kayaking and fishing in the Patapsco.

My friend Vickie Goeller saw families on the banks of both sides of the river, just north of the Frederick Road bridge. She said the weather was hot, the water was clear, and mothers were wading with toddlers while others enjoyed picnics or just floating on the water. It reminds me of the story Ed Lilley told about his father with his friends a century ago. I wrote about it in my book of oral histories, “Remembering Ellicott City.” He said that the kids would be playing in the water and the Dickey Mill (in Oella) would sound a whistle to alert them to get out when the mill was about to release dye into it. Glad those days are behind us.

I heard from reader Deborah Bennett, who lives in Elkridge. She said, “In your June 18th column, you mentioned taking Dad to Centennial Park. With the limited parking at Centennial Park since they blocked off the left side parking grounds, apparently to grow grass, that is next to impossible. I have enjoyed visiting Centennial Park ever since I moved to Howard County over the past 30 years ago. What a beautiful setting for a walk or picnic. It was a regular weekend activity for me and my husband. But two or three years ago, they eliminated the parking on the left side on the grass. Since then, we still drive to Centennial Park on Saturdays or Sundays, drive around all the parking lots, wait, drive around again, and then without luck in finding parking, we leave. I always feel saddened and heartbroken. My husband and I are in our 60s so the easy paved path around the lake is perfect for a walk. It baffles me why park authorities made this parking change. Isn’t it more important to provide parking for residents than having an expanse of green grass that isn’t used for any purpose that I have ever seen?”

I hope county officials will listen to this reasonable request and provide the additional needed parking.

We have lived in Gray Rock Farm for 33 years and in that time have enjoyed watching so many lovely young people grow up and make lives of their own. One of them who is noteworthy right now is Whitney St. Ours, who grew up next door to us, attended Centennial High School, and is now living in Queens, NY.

Whitney has created a brief film that has been accepted to multiple festivals, and she actually received a nomination for best director at one of them. The film, watchable on YouTube, is called “The Housesitters.” It’s a horror film, but not too scary! According to my friend, her mom Joan St. Ours, Whitney did it all—she had to find the location, hire the staff, cast the actors, manage the budget, plan the shots, rent the equipment (and the trucks to get everything to the location), direct the filming and then work with the editor and the sound editor to put it all together.

It’s been purchased for distribution, which was Whitney’s hope, so she could get a wider audience. Whitney found the experience the most fulfilling, creative thing that she’s ever worked on and she learned a lot. Here’s hoping she can continue with other projects in the future.

Another young neighbor is Phil Williams, who also grew up on my street. He went to school at Centennial and also in Japan for part of his high school education while his father was transferred there for his job. I recently saw Phil do an interview on YouTube about the path he has taken after graduation from the Japanese school. He majored in film in college, considering a career as an editor (he could have worked with Whitney!) but then turned his talents to education. He’s now teaching at a charter school in the District of Columbia and seems to have found his true calling.

Did you know that the “minor” flooding that occurred last week on the upper part of Main Street happened on the 48th anniversary of Tropical Storm Agnes? It’s heartbreaking to me that residents have to live in fear of the water climbing once again and destroying their homes. They did say that the alarm system worked but just the sound of that must have been devastating. I hope the county can work faster to ensure their safety.


There is no farmers market in the historic district this year, but the one at the Miller Branch library is alive and well on Wednesday afternoons from 2 to 6 p.m. I understand that it’s walkable now; you don’t have to drive through anymore, just be sure to wear a mask.

I also see that River House Pizza, which is at the market weekly, is now selling Faidley’s crab dip in addition to pizzas and sandwiches (at least at the restaurant). I need some!

In other summer food-related news, I am happy to report that our grill finally arrived on June 23, three weeks after we bought it at Clark’s ACE Hardware. We waited longer than we expected, but we are very pleased with our choice. Delivery, set-up and removal of the old grill took just a few minutes and the staff was polite and efficient.

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