Howard "Mo" Scroggins once said he'd be better off a-rabbingby truck because he'd wear out "two or three horses" in a day before he would get tired. And his friends agreed.
"He just loved being out in the streets walking and talking and having a good time of it -- even if he didn't sell anything," said Calvin Weems, a longtime friend. "He just never seemed to get tired. Just pour a little water in him and he can go on forever."
Mr. Scroggins, 50, who died Saturday of heart failure at his West Baltimore home, had been an a-rab for about 15 years and enjoyed selling fruits and vegetables on city streets from a horse-drawn cart.
He usually worked the West Baltimore neighborhoods, but some days he wound up near the Johns Hopkins Hospital and Morgan State University.
"He never put a time limit on how late he stayed out, just until he felt he was finished," said his sister Jean Brown of Baltimore. "This was a way for him to make some money, but it was also fun to him."
A small, stocky man who usually wore a wide-brimmed hat, Mr. Scroggins had a distinctive hawker's yell when a-rabbing.
"He drawed out his words when he was working, like he'd say, 'Graaaapes, 'nanas,' like no one else could. You knew when he was coming," Ms. Brown said. "Everyone had a certain flair, like some yell real loud. Mo, he just drawed out his words. He never changed his style, so people would know it was always him."
Mr. Scroggins also had a generous side and frequently gave away some of his produce to those he deemed needy.
"People would always come up to him and ask for pears or cherries and say they'd pay him back and never would," Mr. Weems said. "You can only use the same trick once, so he must've known they really needed it."
A native of Baltimore, Mr. Scroggins attended city public schools and enlisted in the Army in 1964. Upon his discharge in 1967, he worked for many years in the city as a Yellow Cab driver and at the old Montgomery Ward building on Monroe Street.
He married Brenda Douglass in 1968; she died in 1988.
Some friends believed the real reason Mr. Scroggins was an a-rab was because he enjoyed being around horses.
"He had a way with horses and he had a way with people, which is all you can ask for anyone who wants to a-rab," said Joe Broderick, who worked with Mr. Scroggins from the stables in the Sandtown-Winchester community of West Baltimore.
Because of his concern for horses, Mr. Scroggins never rode in the carriage, fearing the additional weight might harm the animal, friends said. He also wouldn't take out the horses on hot days.
"He just cared about everybody and everything," Mr. Broderick said. "There's no other way to describe Mo."
A private service is planned.
Other survivors include his mother, Iris Smith of Baltimore; a brother, Charles Scroggins of Catonsville; and a sister, Cloris Cannon of Baltimore.
Pub Date: 12/26/96