The wayward bank bag: tale of honor in a time of expediency


"I'll tell you what," says Steve Rose. "I'd have been headed home with the money, singing, 'Thank you, Jesus!'"

Or so he says. I'm betting Steve is a little more honest than that. Maybe, had he been strolling toward the First National Bank, Parkville branch, and had he found what a certain elderly woman found -- a deposit bag loaded with cash -- he might have done what the woman did: Brought the loot inside and turned it over to a teller.

"This happened last Friday," Steve says. "I heard there was $10,000 in the bag."

Not that much, but a few thou' anyway. First National confirmed that a courier for one of its customers had dropped the deposit bag on his way to the branch. Soon after the slip-up, an elderly woman recovered the bag and turned it in.

Steve Rose thought the gesture extraordinary. But the heroine of this tale didn't. "I don't see where it's newsworthy," she insisted when I called her. "No, indeed not. I don't want the publicity."

But we like to hear tales of honesty, I said. In the age of fallen heroes, we want honorable people named and praised. Steve Rose, for instance, thinks it's stunning that an elderly woman on a fixed income would pass up free money.

"The thought never entered my mind," the woman said firmly. "As I say, I don't think it's newsworthy. Don't use my name. I've done greater deeds that I never told anyone about." Which makes them even greater deeds.

Withdrawal symptom

The scene in a downtown luncheonette, the day after Baltimore Got The Stall: A woman with a dark-blond page-boy cut rushes to meet a friend for lunch. She's breathless.

"I'm late," she says, "because I had to withdraw all my money from my bank."

"Oh?" asks her friend. "Is it closing?"

"No, it's based in Charlotte."

The thunder rolls

James Brown had a song called, "Funky President (People, It's Bad)." Let's cover it and change the title to "Funky Governor." Don Donaldo is feeling blue about the NFL deal. Last time he went into a football-related funk, the Colts had just left town. The Don was mayor at the time, and so grim his beloved African violets were starting to wilt. Staff members were sufficiently concerned about The Don that they came up with Pink Positive Day, one day devoted to a single civic mission: Cheering up the mayor. They painted the curbs pink and strung pink balloons on lamp posts. TV anchorpersons wore pink carnations. The News American printed an edition in pink. It was a day of bizarre images, as if Frank Capra and John Waters had collaborated on a film. But enough nostalgia. (I don't want to give anyone any ideas.) Cheer up, Guv. Have some Halloween candy.

A low-tech longing

An urgent call went out this week to support staff of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra from Susan Anderson, operations manager: "Desperately seeking an old-fashioned typewriter. Upcoming Tiny Tots concerts for kids (November 10-13) will feature Leroy Anderson's 'The Typewriter,' which uses as soloist the clack of an old-fashioned typewriter throughout. Now that the BSO has entered the Age of Technology, our electronic typewriters and computers are inappropriately demure for this work. Does anyone have an old typewriter -- one where the keys actually make noise -- that we might be able to borrow?" Anderson got a good response. Auditions are tomorrow at the Meyerhoff.

Forgotten footage

The other day at the Stouffer hotel, the Pride of Baltimore organization previewed a new fund-raising film. In it, we saw footage of Helen Bentley breaking a bottle over the bow of the Pride II. We saw her getting soaked with champagne. Following VTC the film, Chris Hartman, longtime Pride booster, made some nice remarks and a financial pitch, thanked everyone for coming and stepped away from the podium. People began to leave. Hartman returned to the mike. He'd forgotten something important: Helen Bentley. She'd been standing by, stern-faced, waiting to make remarks. Hartman reached for a smoke.

Housing the house

If you enjoy weekend gawking, do a drive-by on an amazing but true sight just north of Jarrettsville on Route 165.

Rodolfo "Noel" Garin, an auto mechanic with small hands and gargantuan ambition, personally is building a new house around his old house.

Mr. Garin, his wife and in-laws still reside in the old house. Once the new house is fully enclosed, Mr. Garin plans to demolish the old house and haul it out. Then he'll construct a new interior. Why is he doing this? The old house needed too many repairs, Mr. Garin says, and drainage was insufficient for a new house elsewhere on his property. So, with a Harford County permit, his one-man project commenced last year. Roof's on. Siding goes up soon.

It's so nice to have a house around the house.

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