Glendening is off track with Preakness request


I SEE WHERE the governor wants politicians, such as himself, to refrain from campaigning at the Preakness tomorrow so as not to disturb "the family atmosphere" of the day. Has this guy been on the infield? You can connect the word "family" to the phrase "Preakness infield" only if you're talking about those that have been conceptualized there, under the blankets. And sometimes

not under the blankets.

We scratch our head in puzzlement, class.

What's with our governor?

He must worry that Larry Gibson will hang another Eileen Rehrmann sign on the Pimlico cupola. Maybe he's had nightmares about a Schoenke-for-Governor bumper sticker showing up on Real Quiet's hindquarters. (I know I have.) Maybe the governor expects Kent Desormeaux to endorse Chuck Ecker. (Don't you?) Privately, he must worry that Ellen Sauerbrey will convince a naive ABC producer that she's Toni Tennille just ++ to get her face on national television.

Tell you what I'm watching for: How that highly sensitive Baltimore mayor-Maryland governor Rift Thing plays out when it's time for the presentation of the Woodlawn Vase. I hear the mayor doesn't trust the governor with the vase. And I hear the governor is bringing only half a vase to Baltimore. We'll have to wait and see, I guess.

Meantime, a little advice to the governor's handlers: You know how your man remains opposed to slot machines? I wouldn't have him make any bets or collect winnings from the parimutuel windows while the TV cameras are hot. OK? He did it last year, and he was just about drooling as a clerk paid out his winnings. My advice? Put the governor in an infield tent near a table with a lot of cocktail franks and spicy wings. He'll have a ball.

Politics and pies

TJI cultural minister Joey Amalfitano reports: "Saturday, Maxine and I sauntered to one of our favorite occasions - a political fund-raiser/church supper in old White Marsh, in the basement of Cowenton United Methodist Church, Red Lion Road. The host was Adam Paul, a community activist running for the House of Delegates. It was one of those small affairs where Paul made the apple, the blueberry and the cherry pies, and his wife, Sarah, made the cole slaw. Politics were in the air as was the bouquet of delicious food, at $12 a plate. Also making an appearance was Jane Bickel, a local historian who can spin yarns with a certain charm that makes you want more. And I wanted more - of the cherry pie."

A moment with Rita

Readers sometimes say the content of this column makes them cry. Sometimes you readers get me where it hurts, too.

A 40ish woman named Carol, who asked that her full name not be used in this space, made a Mother's Day trip to Druid Ridge Cemetery and the grave of 9-year-old abuse and murder victim Rita Fisher. I asked Carol why she went there. I suggested she sit down and write about it.

"The Rita Fisher case scraped at the rawest parts of my insides," Carol wrote. "Maybe it's the memory of hiding in a closet to escape the violence when I was a child, or the vision of my mother breaking a glass over my baby sister's head. Or the grim and painful reality that, in my case, like Rita's, no one helped - not the priests, the police, the schools, the neighbors, the doctors, the relatives and, oddly enough, the Baltimore County Department of Social Services."

Suddenly, I understood why Carol went to Druid Ridge on Sunday.

"I felt compelled to find Rita and remember her," she wrote. "I didn't know what to expect. A cemetery worker named Jeff was very nice, and together we walked through the maze of markers and stones looking for Rita's grave. A car drove up and another worker named Barbara motioned for me to come with her. We drove just around a corner, then stepped out of the car in the rain. Barbara pointed to a large stone with the name Andrew on it. Below the stone was a not new but not old grave. 'There she is,' Barbara said. 'She's buried with her grandparents.' There was no marker, no flower, not a stick. Nothing for Rita. My insides sank. I stood there, and Barbara walked back to her car, leaving the moment to Rita and the little girl inside of me. I'm all grown up now, with a loving husband and great friends. With a lot of hard work and some luck, I survived. Rita never had a chance.

"I cried a little, prayed a little, lingered and left some flowers and a Beanie Baby for her."

Carol thinks money should be raised for a headstone for Rita. I told her I'd look into the matter and report back in a future column, though folks at the cemetery haven't returned my several phone calls.

Remembering Dr. Sam

Pardon the additional melancholy of today's column, but TJI readers have offered some profound sentiments of late.

George Jenkins got out the typewriter - remember those? - after he read Monday's note about the closing of Block's Pharmacy near Patterson Park. Jenkins was one of many teen-age soda jerks hired by Sam Block, owner of the drugstore from 1933 to 1968, according to the East Baltimore Guide. "He was a kind man and counselor to us, especially in affairs of the heart," Jenkins wrote. "We were all his children. After his retirement, all of us drugstore cowboys gave him a party where he spoke kindly of his experiences with each of us. He told his wife, Mary, that he was very proud and happy that we thought so much of him. In the parking lot, Dr. Sam had a heart attack and died. This was long ago, but I remember it as if it were yesterday. Monday, I went to my attic and found the yarmulke I was given at the funeral service, and wore it in his honor."

Pub Date: 5/15/98

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