The Selkes never tire of hubcapsThe shiny...


The Selkes never tire of hubcaps

The shiny hubcaps hung on the fence at Hubcap City on U.S. 1 gleam and glitter like shields of the fallen in a Valhalla of road warriors.

Those hubcaps bouncing off potholes into infinity actually have a good chance of ending up at Hubcap City spots around town. In fact, the hubcap you buy may be your own.

In the ancient remains of one of the first gas stations on U.S. 1, thousands of hubcaps are strewn, strung, stacked and racked like artifacts at an archaeological dig, shards of the automotive age.

"We have maybe 150,000," says Faye Selke. Faye and her husband, Dan Selke, are the king and queen of hubcaps in Baltimore. They have three shops, but the oldest is here on U.S. 1 near Bonheur Memorial Park, "One of the Only Cemeteries in the World that Can Bury Pets with Their Owners."

The Selkes started out about 15 years ago with 53 hubcaps spread out on a hillside just down the highway at Kit Kat Road.

"They looked like mirrors shining in the sun," Dan says. "They caught people's eyes."

The Selkes made $15 that weekend and found their niche. And it's still mostly found money.

"Eighty-five percent of our hubcaps are found on the highway," Faye says.

Their sources are road crews, retired gents out for walks and school kids on their bikes. But Dan and Faye have never stopped looking themselves.

"If I see the road is rough or potholed, I watch for hubcaps on the side," Faye says.

Their biggest sellers are for Nissans and Tauruses. Their oldest hubcap fell off a 1926 Ford. And their most expensive come from a Rolls Royce and a Bentley: $150 each.

"Real nice" hubcaps average about $30, a third of what they might cost new. Which is not a bad deal, unless you scour the ditches yourself.

@ If 18-year-old Stephen Kiehl were to write his biography today, he'd title it "A Reach In The Dark."

"I'm always searching for something beyond my grasp, yet I continue to strive to overcome obstacles and dominate the impossible in my life," the Catonsville resident says.

A graduate of Mount St. Joseph High School, he is the founder and editor in chief of the Oak Crest Village retirement community newspaper, Our Village Voice.

Stephen is not a typical teen-ager. He's worked for his high school newspaper, the Quill, and spent his senior year as editor in chief.

John Cochrane, director of operations for the Parkville retirement community, says, "My first impression of Stephen was that he's amazingly poised, accomplished and insightful."

In June, Stephen and Mr. Cochrane met. So impressed was the operations director with Stephen's idea that he hired him on the spot. "I wish I had thought of it [publishing a community newspaper] first," Mr. Cochrane says.

Our Village Voice, not to be confused with New York's Village Voice, is a monthly publication with a circulation of 45,000. Resident reporters write stories on various topics. The paper has its own cartoonist and columnist.

"The level of the writing and enthusiasm they show [for the newspaper] is far beyond what I expected," Steven says.

Although he has begun his freshman year as a journalism major at Northwestern University in Chicago, Steven will continue to work with the Oak Crest newspaper through the Internet. Students at Mount St. Joseph High School will also assist residents with the project, he says.

Tarsha Burton

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