My neighbors will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 2500 block of Guilford Ave. next week. They promise the name and spirit of Patricia Trimp will be honored as they toast the centenary of a classic Baltimore stand of porch-front rowhouses.
Pat Trimp didn't quite make it to her block's centennial. She died at home March 14, just short of her 85th birthday.
A visit to her 1907 home was a trip to a section of the Smithsonian not yet open to tourists. She had a classic parlor with a Philco radio, rotary dial phone (it had a nondigital shrill ring) and highly varnished furniture.
Hers was perhaps the block's most historically original residence. No wonder today's young renovators are drawn initially to this variety of gracious antique living but then realize it's the neighbors who make the real difference.
Pat had a gift for getting right to the facts and gently speaking her mind. As a young woman, she overcame polio and underwent surgeries at Kernan Hospital. It appeared that walking would have been difficult for her, but Pat trotted along everywhere or boarded a bus.
She worked for the old Hub, then took over the accounts receivable when O'Neill's, the legendary department store, went out of business in 1954. She had a lengthy career at the May Co., later the Hecht Co.
Pat's family moved to the 2500 block of Guilford about 1940; they had earlier lived at Guilford near Chase. She was a fabulous storyteller.
For the past 10 years, I had a history lesson each Sunday morning. My father sat at the steering wheel, Pat was in my late mother's spot and I was in the back, as we'd sail off to St. Ignatius for the early Mass. Along the way, with a little coaxing, Pat would divulge who lived in which old Chase and Biddle street homes.
At St. Ignatius, Pat had a role beyond parishioner. She was the volunteer custodian of the altar linens. Her O'Neill's background was much in evidence.
Pat's mother was a bookkeeper for the old Doebereiner's bakery on North Avenue and left that job with a stash of recipes.
One of my happiest recent December memories was seeing Pat at the Charles Street Safeway, piloting a cart through the aisles and filling it with sugar, flour and spices. A few weeks later, she would distribute a tin layered with cookies. A cup of tea accompanied by her ginger snaps could make you weep.
Earlier this year, I had the sense to return that tin (empty, of course), along with a pound of Rheb's candy for her. We sat in that Guilford Avenue parlor and chatted a few minutes.
As it happened, it would be my final visit to the house built in 1907, a home filled with Pat's natural good sense and ebullient personality.