Hello, Santa, looking for a good time?

The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore police Sgt. Craig Gentile retired this month after 22 1/2 years, half of that with the vice squad. After some 5,000 prostitution arrests and 1,000 gambling busts, he has a few stories to tell. He says he's saving them for the book. But keep him on the phone long enough and he starts talking.

"I did carry a stripper over my shoulder into the station one night, yeah, that happened," he volunteered. "I did dress up as Santa, yeah, that happened. I did get a city vehicle one night and close the street and say I was out there working for the water department. I'm yelling, 'I need this material,' and all. And I get solicited right and left.

"I can remember one time - and it'll definitely be in the book - the girl said, 'You're not a cop, are you?' I said, 'I'm a private investigator.' I said, 'My name's Jim Rockford. My friend Angel got locked up, and I had to come here and bail him out.' She said, 'That's really nice. Where's your car at?' I said, 'It's right around the corner. I got a gold Firebird.' ... Posed as a male hustler. [Religious expletive], I got picked up by clergy of just about every denomination.

"I think my squad could remark I was equal opportunity. I had a deaf girl, a blind girl - blind girl got in the front of the car instead of the back - and we had an amputee. Some people are into that. She said, 'I'm an amputee. I'll even take the leg off.'"

Um, what was that about Santa?

"Did that at Christmas one time. I remember the girl saying, she kept saying, I'd gotten her before, and she said, 'You're not leaving that beard and all on?' And I said, 'I have to. I'm in between Christmas parties.' She said, 'Going to be kinda weird doing Santa Claus.' I said, 'Not as weird as being locked up by him.'"

Just pour him a glass of the good stuff

You could say Gentile nursed beers for a living, letting them get warm and flat so he'd have his wits about him when strippers offered sex.

Now it's on to the good stuff: Pouilly Fuisse.

An oenophile with his own wine cellar, Gentile splurged on a couple of $40 bottles to celebrate his retirement.

After all that time on The Block, his idea of a good time: "To sit down and have a very good glass of wine and conversation without trying to make a prostitution case - to actually be able to sit and enjoy it."

He was missing but didn't know it

Dale Mumford didn't know it, but a lot of people were looking for him while he was fishing the other day.

Two people aboard a boat had sent out distress calls early Thursday morning, saying that they were "rapidly taking on water" somewhere between the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant and Taylor's Island. Officials determined that Mumford was fishing in that area in a 17-foot boat that matched the description of the one reportedly in distress. Officials tracked down his wife at work. Local TV and radio reported that Mumford - town manager for several places on the Shore - might be missing.

And then Mumford, who'd noticed lots of Coast Guard activity while he fished but wasn't approached by anyone, came in to the dock.

"Dale Mumford?" a marine police officer asked. "We've been looking for you."

The Coast Guard suspended its search Thursday night without having found the boaters. Officials said it was not clear if they were still in the water, had been rescued by other boaters, or made it back to the dock on their own.

But Mumford, 61, sitting down to a crab dinner provided by a relieved friend, was sure of something: "It's nice to be missed."

Connect the dots

Minnie Hargrow started working in the Johns Hopkins University cafeteria on Oct. 1, 1946. All these years later, at age 85, she is finally retiring from her current post on campus - as assistant to university President William Brody. "Miss Minnie," as she's known, has been assistant to the past four JHU presidents - Brody, Steven Muller, Bill Richardson and Daniel Nathans. "Someone once asked me how have I managed to work for all these different presidents," Hargrow told The Gazette, a campus newspaper. "I said, by doing it their way." ... The Jewish Times has a cover story on a city councilwoman with no opponent in the primary or general election. Title: "The Spector of Rikki." ... Surely Martin O'Malley has given Maryland Republicans enough material that they don't have to resort to flatulence puns. Nevertheless, the party sent out a press release about gasoline taxes titled, "O'Malley Should Pass On Gas."

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