Synchronized families have maternity ward reunion


SUPPOSE TWO women have babies on the same day in the same hospital and share the same hospital room. No big deal, right? But suppose that, 30 years later, both these women become grandmothers within the same hour when their babies have babies in the same hospital with the help of the same doctor.

Would you call that incredibly coincidental or incredibly confusing? Do you need to go back and read the first paragraph of this column again? If so, go ahead.

The rest of you follow along at home:

About noon Aug. 25, 1971, Joyce Forrest gave birth to a girl at St. Joseph Hospital in Towson. She named her Kelly. Five hours later, in the same hospital, Bonnie Bruff gave birth to a boy. She named him David.

Joyce Forrest and Bonnie Bruff roomed together during their time at St. Joe's, then went their separate ways. The years passed, as is the tendency of years.

Bonnie Bruff's son, David, grew up and got married. On May 17, 2001, his wife, Katherine, went to Franklin Square Hospital Center and, at 9:01 p.m., gave birth to a girl, Jacquelyn Marie.

Joyce Forrest's daughter, Kelly, grew up and married a fellow named Michael Groth. On May 17, 2001, Kelly went to Franklin Square Hospital Center and, at 9:43 p.m., gave birth to a son, Justin Alyn.

So, you got that? The daughter-in-law and daughter of, respectively, Bonnie Bruff and of Joyce Forrest, one-time maternity ward roommates, had babies within 42 minutes of each other.

And they had adjoining rooms at Franklin Square.

And the same obstetrician -- Michael Magan.

This was all unbeknownst until Joyce Forrest visited Kelly at the hospital and caught the name of the couple in the next room. "Oh my God, I was there when you were born!" she told David Bruff.

The world, she's a petite, no?

Holding on to a post, a dream

For years, Martha Jones had a three-part commute to work -- a bus from her home in Woodlawn to a Metro station, then the Metro to Owings Mills, then a bus to the Ames store in Reisterstown. Several years ago, during a fierce winter storm, Jones was so afraid of falling on the icy sidewalk she grabbed a lamp post and would not let go.

"Then this old man came along," she says. "He had wool socks pulled over his shoes and he gave me his hand. He said, 'If you want to get to the bus stop let go of that [lamp] pole.' I held his arm and walked with him, then I held onto the newspaper boxes 'til the bus came." And by the time she arrived at Ames, the store had closed. "It took me three hours to get home."

That's a little war story from Martha Jones' many years as working single parent. It came up Saturday night as she prepared to play, for the second week in a row, proud mother of a college graduate. Jones had two children. She first lived with her mother on 20th Street in Baltimore, then moved the kids, Shawn and Natisha, into a small apartment. "Gave up my bedroom so they would have a place to study," she says.

She worked for Ames and for a bank. Her days were long because of the commute, but she expected her children to have their homework done by the time she got home -- and they usually did. She expected them to do well in school and to do what no one in the family had done -- graduate from college. They did.

Natisha was to receive her undergraduate degree in computer science from Bowie State yesterday. Shawn got his degree in business management, summa cum laude, from Coppin State last week. "I am so proud," says Jones, now a day care provider in Randallstown. "I raised those kids by myself. There's a lot of single parents out there who did the same." And who know what Martha Jones knows: That, while the hard stuff about raising kids is twice as hard, the good stuff feels twice as good.

Not ducking values

Thirty years a truck-driving man, Tom Haubner is a soft touch for a mother duck. Wednesday night, about 6:15, when he came out of the Fort McHenry Tunnel and maneuvered his rig down the Key Highway exit ramp, he spotted a duck by the jersey wall. It looked stuck or hurt, potential road kill either way. Traffic was light on the two-lane ramp, so Haubner pulled his truck over, turned on the flashers and went to have a look.

Right away he knew why the duck was there -- her five ducklings had fallen through a storm-water grate. Haubner couldn't lift it with his hands, so he fetched a tool to pry it loose.

Just then a tow truck appeared, followed by a Maryland Transportation Authority police officer. Haubner thought he'd get a hand. He almost got the hook. Neither the tow-truck driver nor the police officer would help him free the ducklings. In fact, the police officer threatened -- with profanity, according to Haubner -- to arrest the trucker if he did not move his rig off the ramp.

"It would have taken all of two minutes to free the ducks if they'd helped me," says Haubner, who hauls new cars for Active Transportation Co. "I just left. I still felt guilty, though."

So he made several calls with his cell phone, looking for help for mother duck. Eventually Haubner connected with a sympathetic call-taker for the city's Department of Public Works, one Cynthia Young.

"She said, 'Don't worry, honey, I'll take care of it,'" Haubner says. "And I said, 'Are you serious?' About 8 o'clock, when I called back, she said, 'As we speak, I have crews out there, and those ducks are being rescued.'"

Young kept her word. A city crew made a stop on the exit ramp and freed the fowl. The ducklings and their mama were gone when Tom Haubner, that softy, stopped to check the next day.

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