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Please, for the love of Hon, keep your mitts off the sign


I WOULD LIKE to ask the usual suspects - state highway crews, state police, U.S. Park Police, Anne Arundel County police and other Hon Man contras - to respect the "Hon" placard Hon Man placed on the Welcome-to-Baltimore sign on the BW Parkway on Saturday morning. That's the first such "Hon" posting since March, when a doctor told Baltimore's unofficial greeter he had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. The man is up and around again, and doing his thing. So, in the strongest Bawlmer accent I can muster, I'd like you all to leave his sign "A-lone!"

Just this once, OK?

You've been out there for years, tearing down - sometimes within minutes - what Hon Man hath wrought.

I think you should back off now - at least for a few days.

Hon Man, 67, has had a rough time. Not only did he have to undergo treatment for cancer but his wife, Mrs. Hon Man, has been in surgery twice since December for similar maladies. Hon Man even asked his 39- year-old Hon Son to follow in his father's large footsteps by stealthily attaching Baltimore's "Hon" greeting to that otherwise boring sign on the parkway.

Hon Son, of course, agreed.

But, for now, Hon Man is back in action. Saturday was the retired cab driver's first time behind the wheel since March, and he drove directly to the northbound side of the parkway to post one of the many laminated "Hon" placards he's kept in his trunk for years. He went out again yesterday morning to see whether it was still there, and it was.

Let's see that it stays. Let's have a little respect. (Posting the sign keeps Hon Man happy and healthy; in a strange way, it's probably a good thing the Hon Man contras remove his placards. I'm just asking for a longer-than-usual interval between counterattacks, OK?)

Hon Man is heroic. As they say in some parts of Hon Towne: "You go, buoy."

Miracle near 36th St.

More evidence of Baltimore's comeback and the sizzling real estate market? Supposedly a detached house in Hampden, a few yards from 36th Street and just around the corner from the 7-Eleven, sold for $250,000. I did some checking and discovered inflation in the rumor - the asking price was $224,000, the bids were a bit higher than that, and the deal apparently fell through - but it was still the hot talk of The Avenue for a while. The house, a former rectory with a wraparound porch, could go back on the market. Watch for a listing that boasts, "A little bit of Roland Park in Hampden."

Free 'fridge forgone

The heat, the humidity, the lack of rain, the ill-looking crow in the maple tree, and the tight turn on the landing to his basement - all that led to Joey Amalfitano's decision Saturday to turn back an offer of a free refrigerator. "I felt a little guilty," Joey said yesterday. "Couple of nice guys, Bob Fox and a bathroom-tile guy named Fred Maskeroni, came over in a pickup from a rowhouse they've been fixing up in Remington. Bob said we could have this old refrigerator. But it was too wide to make the turn into my basement. Fred measured twice. We saw ourselves scraping knuckles and getting wasted in the heat trying to get a refrigerator with a dubious future down the creaky cellar steps. So we left the 'fridge on the truck and had breakfast instead. It was an easy decision."

The morning wasn't a total loss, Joey said. "We had a nice talk, and before Bob and Fred left, I took the Utz Potato Chip 75th anniversary magnet off the refrigerator. I'm going to post it on eBay."

The persistent suitor

Shoppers in the Target store in Towson on Aug. 11 might be wondering what all that noise was over in the electronics department. That was the sound of Robert Matthews proposing to Tammy Fagan, and some who know those two might be saying, "It's about time."

Robert had a crush on Tammy when they were students at Hamilton Middle School and took the bus there from East Baltimore each day. Everyone knew that Robert, a "student government kinda kid," had his eye on Tammy, and Tammy always thought he was a nice guy. "But he was kinda nerdy and I didn't think it would be cool to date him," she says. Robert was too shy to ask for a date anyway. After eighth grade he entered City College. A year later, Tammy went to Poly-Western.

They didn't see each other until about three years after high school - in 1996, when Robert spotted Tammy in the library at the University of Baltimore. They were happy to see each other and exchanged phone numbers. "I called her once or twice, but she never called back," says Robert, who's 27 now and works in advertising downtown.

In December, a couple of days before the turn of the year, Robert spotted Tammy again - this time in Target. "And this time there was a click," Robert says, and he's not talking about the sound of a television shutting off.

On Aug. 11, surrounded by TV sets and stereo equipment, Billy Preston's "With You I'm Born Again" piped over the store PA, Robert asked Tammy, a 26-year-old labor/delivery nurse, to marry him. She said yes. "I had a secret prayer that I would find someone whose heart is like mine," Robert says. "This is proof that God is love and his love is still alive."

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