Anybody want to buy a boat? And not just any boat, either, but a ferry that traversed the Chesapeake BTB (Before The Bridge). The Governor Harry W. Nice, built in Baltimore in 1938 and assigned to Chesapeake crossings until the early 1950s, is sitting out in the state of Washington, dark, locked up and for sale.
The 207-foot-long ferry was sold for $226,000 by the Maryland State Roads Commission in 1953 to Washington. It was one of a handful of Chesapeake ferryboats sold off that year. One went to a Venezuelan company, another to a transport business on Lake Champlain. The Nice was renamed the Olympic and saw decades of duty on the busy ferry network in Puget Sound. The ferry, which still has its original diesel engine, was taken out of service only within the last year and is presently tied up at an island. The state of Washington doesn't need or want it any longer and is accepting bids.
In Baltimore, Sara Schmitt, secretary of the Chesapeake chapter of the Steamship Historical Society, says none of the old ferries that carried people and vehicles across the Chesapeake BTB is on display anywhere. There's been talk -- and some wishful thinking -- about bringing one home to Maryland and making a museum of it. Not a bad idea. But establishing and maintaining a vessel as a museum is not an easy thing to do. (See Constellation, Baltimore.) Still, it's an interesting opportunity -- bringing home a boat called Nice, rekindling memories of Maryland BTB and the Matapeake-Sandy Point run.
Ah, Fells Point
If you have a couple of free hours tomorrow evening and want to do something oh-so-urban and oh-so-urbane and even a little philanthropic, invest your time in Fells Point -- especially if the weather is pleasant and you're up for a stroll over the bricks that promises to be interesting. (When was a stroll through Fells Point not interesting?) Tomorrow is the first First Tuesday art opening in the Broadway bars and coffee shops. There will be plenty of visual and cerebral stimulation between 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. (and after that, of course, if you want to make this an all-nighter). This month, proceeds from the sale of artwork go to Moveable Feast, the group that provides meals to home-bound AIDS patients and their dependent children. Collections of art and works by, among others, Carol Campbell, Dolores Moran, Andrea Shreiner and Mary Biron, will go up in Max's, Birds Of A Feather, Friends and one of my old favorites, The Whistling Oyster. Framing is being offered at no charge by Custom Framing of Madison Street. If you miss the opening, don't worry. The show, sponsored by the Art Resource Center of Fells Point, runs through the month and artists will be hanging new works to replace what's sold.
Help for a grieving family
Here's another good thing happening in Fells Point this month: A fund-raiser for the family of Mike Armiger. He was the police officer, well known and well-liked by the merchants and residents of Fells Point, who died in June of a heart attack. He had just turned 41. He was married to Melanie Marne, who used to run Cafe Madeira, and they had twins who were only 9 months old at the time of their father's death. Armiger earned a lot of awards during his 21 years on the city force; he was The Sun's Policeman of the Year in 1983. Around Fells Point, he was known for his humane treatment of the neighborhood's many panhandlers and winos. Nick Filipidis, owner of Jimmy's, said: "Michael was one of the finest policemen I've ever met. He was close to everyone he talked to down here." And everyone who hears this story takes a hard hit to the heart. So that's why a bunch of the businesses in Fells Point have organized the fund raiser. It will be held Thursday evening, Sept. 22, at Brown's Wharf, which was on Mike Armiger's beat. It's called "A Taste of Fells Point" because all kinds of food and beverage have been donated by restaurants and taverns, says Larry Lichtenauer, of Constellation Real Estate and one of the organizers of the event. There will be live music and an auction of items, also donated by local businesses. "The Fells Point Community was so appreciative of Officer Armiger's contributions to the area that they wanted to give something in return to his family," says Lichtenauer. Ron Furman from Max's has his hand in this thing, as does Officer Ronald Starr. Tickets are $15 per person and are available from Ticketmaster (481-SEAT).
Don't forget your wallet
Flea market mogul Jay Harris says the Randallstown Flea Market, Liberty Road south of Old Court, is reopening Saturday, Sept. 17. The market is open Saturdays and Sundays. Visiting hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Harris is promising more than 350 vendors, a smorgasbord by Horn & Horn and video games for those "I-looked-at-all-the-baseball-cards-let's-go" kids. Man, it doesn't get much better than that.
Attn.: Susan Harrison's friend
You're a friend of Susan Hurley Harrison. You called me here at The Sun within the last year. Remember the conversation? You thought your friend had something important to tell me. So I called her. I spoke with Susan Harrison and she told me some things, but it turned out she did not want to be part of a newspaper column at that time. Remember? I do. Now I see Susan Harrison's photograph on missing-person posters. If you're out there and you read this, call on 332-6166, or write to me at The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.