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Catonsville Maryland Memories

I must give full credit to a friend who after seeing my travelogue videos suggested maybe a walk down memory lane: Catonsville MD in the 1950's and '60's.

While specific to a place, it reflects a shared experience with many of you. We were fortunate to be born in the post-war period of relative peace and tranquility. We saw an explosion of housing, manufacturing, and growth of the middle class in America. Some contracted Polio but most benefitted from the vaccine. We shared that dark day in November, 1963 when Camelot ended in Dallas Texas. Some went to another war, while some protested. We marched for equal rights for our fellow Americans.

As we approach July 4 every year, my heart returns to Catonsville, MD. Its iconic parade has made national news in recent years. The parade isn't unique, but the tradition of setting up your chairs along Frederick Road up to a week before the 4th is special. We want the best vantage point and we know that no one will touch our chairs for the 7 days they sit as silent sentinels.

I lived near the parade route and specifically in the neighborhood where the parade was staged prior to the start. My dad and I would walk the route, greet friends, politicians, and old Ollie from the VFW. Mom was home shucking corn, making potato salad, frying chicken, and prepping other treats for the feast. We would meet up on the lawn of the Catonsville Presbyterian Church, our annual perch. It was shaded and elevated enough to see over the heads of the folks on the curb. The Bauer's would be nearby as would other friends from the church. Excitement would grow and peak when we'd hear the sirens and the Baltimore County motorcycle police leading the procession. A color guard waving Old Glory was always at the head of the column.

Being a political junkie from an early age, I'd look forward to seeing the politicians and occasionally Dad would actually be in the parade representing the Catonsville Democratic Club. One year I made it into the parade myself after being elected Attorney General at Boy's State in Annapolis. White convertible with a red interior and me waving from the back seat. Priceless.

And even in the dark years when Baltimore had no NFL football franchise, we still got to clap and sing along to the Colts Fight Song as the team band would march by festooned in blue and white. "You will march on to Vic-tow-reee!”

There is a glimpse of the 1951 parade marching past Spittel's Drug Store in the following video along with other Catonsville landmarks familiar to many of you. I was going to label more, but it occurred to me that the names don't matter. It was the times that mattered and the memories that we carry in our hearts.

(Some of you will note that the title picture is not in Catonsville at all, but in Ocean City, Maryland. However, Catonians know dat "Downee Ocean" is as Baltimore as it gets, Hon)


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