Geri Broccolino has worked on the Flower...


Geri Broccolino has worked on the Flower Mart for 32 years

Geri Broccolino can't imagine not working on the Flower Mart, the Women's Civic League's "annual rite of spring."

"I've always participated in the Flower Mart," says Mrs. Broccolino, who joined the Arcadia group of the 500-member non-profit civic league 32 years ago.

She is chairman of this year's 77th event, on its traditional first Wednesday in May at the place where it started in 1911, Mount Vernon Square. This is the third time she has held the leadership post.

Only World War I and teen violence at two marts in the early 197Os have stopped the event. "When it started, it was the first of its kind," says Mrs. Broccolino, who lives in the Mayfield section of Northeast Baltimore. "It's basically unchanged."

That means you can buy all manner of plants, cut flowers, lemon sticks and crab cakes, check out the crafts, see the mayor and his wife, sample entertainment, and see Clean City awards being presented. Proceeds go to preservation of 9 N. Front St., headquarters of the league and once home of Thorowgood Smith, second mayor of Baltimore.

The planning by Mrs. Broccolino's 20-member central committee done. In three days, on May 5, it's show time.

"It's always an exciting day," the 60-year-old chairman says. "It'a beautiful thing to see the plants and flowers, and wonderful to see these women getting together for a common cause."

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As a Johns Hopkins surgeon who specializes in facial reconstruction, John L. Frodel has a lot of experience treating gunshot victims. It's something he'll put to use in the next two weeks when he treats victims of another battlefield.

Dr. Frodel, 38, left for Croatia yesterday on a mercy mission to treat victims of the fighting that has torn apart the former Yugoslavia. He and eight other surgeons -- five from the United States and three from Switzerland -- will operate on adults and children at two hospitals in the Croatian capital of Zagreb.

"It's a good thing to do," Dr. Frodel says simply.

For Dr. Frodel, a native of Washington state who moved to Baltimore last summer, the trip is strictly humanitarian and apolitical: He's not sure which side the victims are on in the complicated ethnic and civil conflict, and it doesn't matter to him anyway.

"We were invited by the Croatian government, but if I was invited by the Bosnians or the Serbs, it wouldn't make a difference," he says. "I'd go anyway."

Coincidentally, the neighborhood he grew up in was also home to many Yugoslavian immigrants. "I was talking to my sister recently, and she went on and on about how relations have fizzled there among the different groups from the former Yugoslavia since the conflict began," he says.

The trip is sponsored by the Washington, D.C.-based American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, which in the past has sent surgeons to treat persons with congenital defects, such as cleft palates, in Central America and Russia as well.

"Having been to Honduras on a similar trip, . . . it's a big slap in the face," Dr. Frodel says. "You realize how spoiled you are here."

Jean Marbella

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