Spend half a century in public service and you can expect to get your name on a building or two, but never an honor of this magnitude: a William Donald Schaefer tattoo.
Drew Pumphrey, a 31-year-old Glen Burnie native and complete stranger to the ex-mayor, ex-governor, ex-comptroller, has Schaefer's likeness needled into one arm.
"About three or four years ago, I started work on a sleeve that was completely Baltimore-themed," he said. "It has the Baltimore flag in the background, big blue crab, Baltimore skyline, big Natty Boh on it, big anchor on it for my grandfather, who was in the Navy in Baltimore. I decided that, you know, kind of like the crowning jewel to the whole thing, I was going to put Don Schaefer at the top of it because I had always seen him as the new father of Baltimore.
"He embodies Baltimore. He is everything. He's the Baltimore everyman. He's irreverent, he's hilarious, but he takes his mission - what he thinks is important - he takes seriously. But he doesn't take himself seriously."
A land surveyor who is applying to become a city police officer, Pumphrey recently had the chance to show off his inky tribute to the real thing.
Pumphrey and Schaefer crossed paths at Ale Mary's pub in Fells Point last week. Even though the tattoo was not quite complete - the line work and shading were done, but the color hadn't been filled in yet - Pumphrey bared his arm for his childhood hero.
Schaefer was taken aback - but honored.
"This guy came over. ... He was big, he's a big fella," Schaefer told me. "Pulled up his sleeve, and there I was. I didn't know him and he didn't know me, but there's the tattoo."
Schaefer has never been big on body art, but he was won over.
"I'm neutral" on tattoos, he said, "but when I saw mine, I was no longer neutral. I was favorable to them. ... That's quite an honor. Never had that before. I've had buildings, parks and streets [named for him] but never had a tattoo."
The Lord looks after his own
The bishop has a Bentley, a Howard County McMansion and, until it burned down last month, a city church that couldn't pay its water bill. And that's because First Mount Olive Free Will Baptist Church has its priorities straight, Bishop Oscar E. Brown tells the Afro.
"It's okay for a CEO of a public corporation or a major business to live well, but when it comes down to the servants of God, they think we are just supposed to have less than," he was quoted as saying. "And I'm not sure that's how God operates. Especially as we study the scripture, we notice how God's servants were taken care of in a wonderful fashion. So, I think we just do not understand what ministry is. ... I don't think there is a car out there or a house that's been built that compares to touching a life that was headed for destruction. Maybe they feel they can put a price tag on it. But I think that's really missing the big picture."
I think I missed that part in the Bible where the disciples get $150,000 custom cars. But I must confess: The head of my church has a Popemobile in his driveway.
Connect the dots
Park School librarian Laura Amy Schlitz, author of the celebrated children's book A Drowned Maiden's Hair, is getting great reviews for her new book, a collection of medieval monologues called Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Raves all around from Kirkus Reviews, Booklist and Library Journal. But wait, there's more: Baltimore magazine just named her best children's author. ... Aug. 24 is Comptroller Day at the state fair. And no, this isn't more Peter Franchot pushing the boundaries of state bean-counting. Folks at the fair say there's been a Comptroller Day going back at least to Louis Goldstein. ... Thanks to Baltimore mayoral hopeful Mike Schaefer, William Donald's dining companion at Ale Mary's the other night, for tipping me off to the WDS tattoo guy. Mike Schaefer, no relation to Willie Don, has his own offbeat tribute to the ex-mayor: his long-shot campaign, which is premised almost entirely on voters confusing him with the original.