News of the city’s days gone by
by Roland Moskal
Special to the Baltimore Guide
A big part of growing up in Canton was actually in Highlandtown—”The Avenue,” Eastern Avenue.
For me it extended from the Patterson Theater to the underpass going into Greektown. Yes, there was a lot more going both ways, but I was a kid, and the Avenue from the Patterson to the underpass supplied all I needed.
There were department stores like Epstein’s and Irvins, shoe stores like Levy’s, Thom McCann, Miles and Hanover, clothing stores like Lee’s, A&G, Tru Fit, Lew Morgan, and more.
For a kid like me, it was a big deal to “go out”—go shopping and go out to eat.
My mother would take my brother Art and me on a yearly pilgrimage up the Avenue for the Washington’s Birthday sales. For Mom this covered a lot of ground, so to speak. She would shop the sales for spring clothes for my brother and me. My birthday was three days after the big sale day, so the clothes were also birthday gifts.
To top off the afternoon we would go to the White Coffee Pot, which was next to what was then Maryland National Bank at Eastern and Conkling.
So, as I recall it was sometime around my 10th birthday and it was snowing like you would not believe. My mother called in advance, and both Irvin’s and Eppies were open, and the weather was in our favor since not many people would venture out in the snow.
We trudged up Highland Avenue, stopped by the Kay Jewelers and made a payment on a layaway, and then continued half a block to Irvin’s.
Once in the Boys’ Department, we both tried on all kinds of pants and jackets from the “husky” rack—lots of fun!—and, adding insult to injury, the advice was always “Get it bigger, they’ll grow into it.”
When we finished at Irvin’s we hit Epstein’s for a thousand other things. All the while the snow kept coming. My brother is a weather nut and he was loving it. (When Hurricane Hazel hit in 1954, my brother gloried in watching the schoolyard across the street slowly fill up.
We headed back up the Avenue to the White Coffee Pot carrying more bags than a Sherpa could carry in the Himalayas. Once inside we had to have the booth in the window so Art could watch Mother Nature.
I always had to have the hot roast beef sandwich with french fries and gravy. Maybe that was one of the reasons for the husky clothes.
We walked home as the snow got deeper. I don’t remember seeing plows. But the big, heavy cars everyone had then kept running, and the trolley continued up and down the Avenue, and we all lived through it.