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RECENT voter registration figures from Baltimore County...


RECENT voter registration figures from Baltimore County revealed the following ranking of political affiliations:

Democratic, 264,938 registrants.

Republican, 108,131.

Independent and "declined" (meaning no party chosen), 26,263.

Libertarian, 398.

Communist, 2.

That's right: two Communists.

Don't these poor, stubborn souls realize the Party's over?

Pieces of the Berlin Wall are on sale. China has been experimenting with its own stock market. Rumblings in Cuba suggest Fidel Castro's grip is slipping.

And the former Soviet Union is . . . well, the former Soviet Union.

How lonely it must be out there in suburbia for a couple of diehard adherents of the Evil Empire, surrounded by all those shopping malls, fast food joints, movieplexes, steel-and-glass office buildings, "Gucci" supermarkets and other examples of capitalism unabashed.

Don't misunderstand. We're all for freedom of expression and the right to join any political group that comes down the pike.

Still, if we could get through to the two Baltimore County Commies, we'd say, "Come home, comrades. Meet us at the mall for a burger and fries. Then it's off to the Octoplex for a Hollywood comedy. Whaddya say? Come in from the cold already."

* * *

L THE RECESSION means different problems for different people.

Standing along Conway Street in front of the Camden Yards warehouse, a black man in a tattered sweatshirt stands holding a sign: "Homeless. Will Work For Food." The drivers lined up at the stop light look at him, then look away and drive on when the light turns green. One man winds down his window and hands the fellow a fistful of change.

A day later, a big jowly man in need of a shave cruises along Route 100 in Pasadena. He's driving a beat-up maroon van with a U.S. Marine bumper sticker. A corrugated cardboard sign has been taped to the back window.

"Will Work for Beer," it says.

* * *

IN EARLY APRIL, a mallard was discovered mothering her eggs inside the Bolton Hill swim and tennis club, which was still closed awaiting the summer season.

Eventually the eggs hatched in early May -- before the club's board had to decide whether the duck needed a single or family membership.

All this had a happy ending, reports Lee Tawney, the club's treasurer. The duck and the newborn ducklings were moved to Worthington Valley "right across from Sagamore Farms -- what better place can you find?" As summer turned to autumn, they all flew away.

Meanwhile, members of the Bolton Hill swim club are eagerly awaiting for the surprises of next spring.

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