J is for Jab and Jaw and -- hey! J's also for Jay!


Havre de Grace. -- In the interest of local literacy, herewith a regional reader to make the alphabet more meaningful to Marylanders.

A is for Annapolis, its harbor full of boats, and also for Assembly, where lobbyists buy votes. Allegany offers us another use for A. (Don't spell Allegany in any other way.) A is very useful when you mention Aberdeen, where the Army tests Artillery, and the Air is slightly green.

B is for Baltimore, Charm City sublime. It has certain little problems, not the least of which is crime, but it also offers hTC Baseball in a Ballpark which is nice, and Bars for Buying Beer in mugs all rimmed with ice. (B used to be for B'hoys, but it isn't any more. Today we must say P'ersons, though I cannot see what for.)

C could be for Crime, or for Courts, or for Cops; it would also do for Cows, with their fields full of plops, or Counties such as Caroline or Charles or even Cecil, or Columnists who irritate, as very likely this'll.

D is for Democrats, party in power; also for Daisy, a pretty spring flower. (Daisies at Preakness time, touched up with paint, are called black-eyed susans, which really they ain't.) D could mean Dis or perhaps also Dat. To "Dis" someone's Dangerous; do not do Dat.

E is for Easton, where retired folks in tweeds vote to keep the tax rate down and ponder Unmet Needs. It's also for Essex, and Ethnic Enclaves where nobody borrows and Everyone saves.

F is for Fairs like the one at Timonium; Flacks who will write you (for pay) an encomium; Fish Festivals (those with Fried Flounder are best); and Frostburg and Friendsville way out in the west.

G is for Governor -- ours is quite Grumpy -- and hilly Garrett County where the rural roads are bumpy; Graffiti that Gang members spray-paint on walls; Gathland state park, and Gunpowder Falls.

H is for beautiful Havre de Grace, which rhymes, don't forget, with "pie in the face;" "Haver de Grass" is acceptable too, but don't try no French. It simply won't do. Highlandtown's also an H-place that's fun. It's right in the Heart of East Baltimore, Hon.

An Island's an obvious place for an I: Smith, Kent or Solomons; Bloodsworth or Wye.

J is for Johns Hopkins, both the hospital and school; Jessup, where they send you if you break a law or rule; and Jousting, which requires one to snag a little ring, while riding on a horse, with a long pointed thing.

K is for Kal, who Kreates Kartoons of Kaptain Keno and other buffoons.

L is for Lennie's (great Lox, says my neighbor); Left-leaning Leaders of organized Labor; Linthicum, Laurel and Lottery Losses; and games which are Locally Loved, Like Lacrosse is.

M is for Maryland! Calverts lived here, and the brewers of (sigh!) good old National beer. Home to H.L. Mencken, home to John Wilkes Booth, home to Spiro Agnew and to George Herman Ruth.

N is for New Carrollton, New Windsor and North East; New Market and North Brentwood -- Nice towns, to say the least.

O is for Orioles, gracefully in motion; Old Otterbein, and Overlea, and goin' downy Ocean.

P is for the People, whoever they may be. Politicians always want to give them stuff for free. It's also for Pimlico, Preakness Parades, stopping the Presses and Playing charades, old Princess Anne and Pocomoke City, Pulaski Highway and Parkton (still Pretty).

Q is for Quaaludes and other little pills, Quite popular in Queenstown for real and fancied ills.

R is for Republicans, although they're Rather Rare, and Radio, where Ron and Rush and others on the air Rap with Ruth from Reisterstown on federal baby care.

S is for Sailing Ships such as the Pride; Skipjacks and Schooners away with the tide; Suspended Sentences given in court; Skirts which this Season are Said to be Short.

T is for Teens Talking Trash in the mall, Towson, and Traffic that moves at a crawl, Thoroughbreds winning a race by a nose, and Timid Types from Taneytown in out-of-fashion clothes.

Use U to show: the Unwashed masses snarling at the Upper classes, Undressed dancers' Undulations, United Way solicitations.

V is for Mt. Vernon place, where stands a Virile pillar, erected for George Washington but not for Henry Miller.

W's for Welfare which some Wackos want to cap, a proposal that created an extremely nasty flap; for Washington (the college, which gives a good degree), and Williamsport, Wicomico and Washington (D.C.)

X is just a rating. We see it all the time. It's used for certain films distinguished for their grime. It ought to be for EXree, whose last name is Hipp, and who helped take our Terps on an NCAA trip.

Y is for the Youghiogheny, faster than most rivers. Canoeing Youths who challenge it get soaked and catch the shivers.

Z is for Zzz, the sound of a snore as it comes from a reader who just can't read more.

Peter A. Jay is a writer and farmer.

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