History Matters: British musician Ray Noble performed in Baltimore 75 years ago

100 Years Ago

Phone passion


"Miss Agnes Howard Kemp is visiting friends in Washington.

Rev. T.F. Hennessy of Kentucky, is visiting relatives in Howard County.


Mr. Irving Brown of Baltimore spent Sunday with Miss Leila Stall of Hood's Mill."

I wonder if a Brown-Stall romance was brewing in Hood's Mill a century ago, back when dating would have been much different. The biggest difference dating now compared to then is that young people today on a date have an additional temptation; that urgent, gnawing need to, about every 30 seconds, check their iPhones.

75 Years Ago

Noble Brit

"Thrill to the music of the world's most famous radio orchestra!" was the headline of a large ad in the Times. "In Person; RAY NOBLE and his celebrated continental band plus a sparkling Vaudeville Show. Lowe's Century Theatre in Baltimore."

Noble, of British birth, also composed songs. One was a Grammy winner: "The Very Thought of You." He also co-wrote a song played by thousands of bands to let dancers know it was time to go home: "Goodnight Sweetheart." One musician, ultimately more famous, who played in a Noble band was Glen Miller.

50 Years Ago

Southern style

"Blue and Gray Ball" The officers and directors of the Howard County Historical Society have issued invitations to the Blue and Gray Civil War Costume Ball to be given on May 12 in Ellicott City. The ball will be the second in a series of festivities marking the Howard County Historical Society's Civil War Centennial pageant. "The Raid of Ellicott Mills."

Mrs. Joseph B. Rogers, Chairman of the ball, has requested the guests to wear costumes of the period or black tie. Members o the North-South Skirmish Association in full dress uniform representing both the blue and the Gray and accompanied by their wives in gowns of the 1860s will be the guests of the Historical Society at the ball.

Adding much to the antebellum atmosphere that evening will be the decorations. Mrs. Carroll Jenkins, Mrs. Rudolph C. Blancke III and Mrs. W. Irvin Counsins, Jr. do-chairman of the decorations committee are planning to transform the Ellicott City Armory into a Southern Plantation for the occasion.

Helping with the decorations will be Mrs. A.B. Leache, Mrs. John Malkmus, Mrs. Ian C. MacCallum, Mrs. Paul McDonald and Mrs. G.H. Washington. ... ."


Now 150 years ago in south-of-the-Mason-Dixon Maryland, there were thousands of Southern sympathizers. The Union even trained the cannons of Ft. McHenry on the city of Baltimore and its mayor and city council members were jailed to convince folks that they needed to be in the Union. In Howard County there were many prominent citizens on the Confederate States of America's military roles. So it was all a might contentious. But after four years of war, the agrarian South did have to bow to the industrial North and Lee did surrender.

So one might wonder why the armory was decorated, 100 years after Lee's surrender, in any kind of Southern motif at all. But the decorating committee wasn't thinking of the negatives. I imagine they let the imagery of swaying Spanish moss, mint juleps and magnolia blossoms capture their imaginations. They could have tried northern themed decorations, but a faux assembly line, the smell of burning coal and a soundtrack roar of a locomotive might have been just a bit off-putting to ball goers.

In Maryland's own south land there is a Tidewater plantation, sans the Spanish moss, that's open to the public for tours. It's Sotterley Plantation in Patuxent, Maryland. In addition to events, this National Historic Landmark in Southern Maryland has education programs that include: Colonial Tidewater Life, Slavery to Freedom and Archeology Rocks.

Sotterley is older than Mt. Vernon. The first owner was Londoner James Bowles, who had the buildings built on his property in 1703. Though the lower Patuxent seems far from the bustle of Annapolis, Baltimore and Washington, we have to remember that in early Colonial times, that's where the action was, and until 1695, the capital of Maryland was St. Mary's City.

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