NOW THAT Baltimore is sending police to...

NOW THAT Baltimore is sending police to chase down truants, expect a book soon on "Truancy -- A Year on the Class-Cutting Streets." Some scenarios:

My name's Friday. I'm a cop. I've worked narcotics. I've worked homicide. I've worked rackets.


The captain called me into his office. "Okay, Friday, we're rotating you to the truancy squad."

"But captain," I said, "I thought they had social workers to track down the truants and, you know, talk to their families and stuff."


"Wise up, Friday. There are only three social workers in the city to handle 2,000 truants."

"Instead of spending $140,000 on police overtime, couldn't they hire more social workers?"

"Wise up, Friday. You know how the mayor says that drugs aren't a law enforcement problem, they're a social problem. Well, truancy, that's a law enforcement problem."

So I hit the streets. The cruiser radio crackled to life. "Friday, proceed to the 1800 block of North Fulton. We've got a 10-82 in progress -- eighth grader cutting history."

I approached warily. "OK, punk, up against the wall. Now, reach in your pocket real slow and let me see your hall pass."

My name's Friday. I'm a cop. It makes me proud to patrol in my truancy squad cruiser, with the motto on the door: "Baltimore. The City That Reads. Or Else."

* * *

IT MAY BE hard for contemporary Baltimoreans to believe, but a flock of some 300 sheep used to graze in Druid Hill Park until 1945.


Equally hard to imagine are magnificent terraced gardens, complete with statues imported from Italy, where the Emersonian apartment tower currently stands. But real estate investor William Braverman dug up old clippings and pictures to prove it -- in preparation for next Friday's auction of 2500 Eutaw Place, next to the Emersonian.

This imposing mansion has been an office building since the 1950s. Before then, it was occupied by the Mercantile Club. And before that it was in the family of Dr. Isaac Emerson, inventor of Bromo-Seltzer, who built it for his residence in 1895.

Although the formal gardens -- which were added in 1904 -- have been long gone and the building altered, some remainders of its past glory still can be found. A huge, hand-carved fireplace mantel on the second floor, for example. Or the entrance hall, with its columns and its ornate plaster work.

Eutaw Place used to be one of Baltimore's premiere addresses. In recent decades, some daring urban pioneers have taken over many of its mansions and substantial town houses and done wonders in returning them to their former elegance.

With the Emersonian, the Esplanade and the Temple Gardens now undergoing a $35 million modernization, there is again optimism about the area. Who knows, maybe someone will restore 2500 Eutaw Place as well.