Growing up in Canton

Written by on July 20, 2011 in For Seniors - 4 Comments

How ‘bout those prices? An ad from the 1953 Baltimore Guide had the sales.

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.

4 Comments on "Growing up in Canton"

  1. Michael Bender March 6, 2014 at 7:49 pm · Reply

    I also remember Kurek’s Hardware Store on O’Donnell and Clinton Streets, . . his son and I were both in the same grade school at Sacred Heart of Jesus. The old German School. We had Jimmy Martel, Ken Demient\chek,, F\rank Delein, Henry Huffnagel, Linda Foster, Nancy Duval, Linda Saunders, Melvin Henson, Paul Reynolds, and Martha Saunders. Great class of German neophytes in Highlandtown. Don’t forget Lillian Klingelhoffer, and the rest of our 7th grade class.

    If you were part of this class, call 443-676-4047 and we’ll see if we can get a 50 year reunion

  2. Michael Bender March 6, 2014 at 7:38 pm · Reply

    I grew up in Canton in the late 50’s and early 60’s, living in the old 1200 block of S. Decker Avenue. I remember the old Canton Rec Center, with the playground and soccer field. I also remember the old tomato factor where we used to take the :maters: and hop the old freight trains on Boston Street. Loved the old days. Pudgie, Crab and his two sisters, Ronnie, and my brother Wayne were always getting :cuffed” around the head by the old folks because we did something wrong. Then they would tell our folks of our miscreant activities and then the retribution would hit the ‘wall”. Loved Canton, the water’s edge and playing in the wood pile.

  3. Al January 23, 2012 at 6:01 pm · Reply

    I grew up in Canton in the 1950s through the mid sixties…my parents owned a Confectionary store on the corner of Dillon and East Ave. My parents Frances (passed on 1975) and my dad (passed on 1981) were the owners. i worked in the store until 1966. The stor sold snowball, icre cream cones , sundaes, milk shakes…real milk and icecream….thin and thick as well as malt, banana slpits, greeting cards, hosiery, penny candies, candy bars, cigarettes, cigars, pickles, poatoe chips, milk, bulk ice crean, pizzas, bottled sodas…small and large, lunch meats , french fries, can goods/groceries, over the counter medicines, fountain sodas….remember cherry cokes, chocolate cokes, strawberry cokes, vanilla cokes and lemmon phosphates, bromo seltzer and alka seltzer drinks for those who over indulged , spirits of ammonia cokes for those who had upset stomachs or headaches…..those were the days we were there for everybody….there Zinn’s bakery, Perry Jewelers, Mr. Kliens grocery store, Mr. Murdock and Mr Kurek”s hardware store, Wolfe Bakery, Milkulski bakery, Sled rides down Robinson Street, Patterson Park Cannon ball (Pagoda) hill down to the Pulaski Monument, Boy Scouts Troop 19, St Bridget, Sacred Heart and Fatima CYOs and Rec Center dances…I was also a newspaper boy for the Baltimore News American between Ellwood ave and Stripper and O”donnell and Boston St. I remember when the 1st super tanker visited baltimore at the foot Ellwood Ave, Patterson High School, St. Casimir , St Bidgets, and Sacred Heart Churches, clean streets and sparkling marble steps ime.. well groomed…..will never be the same….it was all fun and hard work…..what an era ….and what a time…we did it all!…..and the “Baltimore Guide” was there!

  4. JC Warner July 21, 2011 at 2:49 pm · Reply

    Yes I remember all of that as well. I grew up around Chester St., Fairmount Ave., Lamley Street. I went to school at #27 and then moved to Patterson Park Avenue right across the street from the Pagoda. I had a girlfriend who worked at the White Coffee Pot for many years. I loved ice skating over at the park and going to dances at the casino in Patterson Park. I live in the Midwest now and do not get back there very often. A lot has changed since I left in 1974 in Baltimore. I still miss tasty cakes, snowballs, scrapple, pickled onions at Mrs Nat’s on the corner of Baltimore and Patterson Park avenue. I also miss all the bakeries that were on the corners and the little stores and bars. What I don’t miss is the heat, all the people, the crime even back then. I miss all the diversity in the neighborhoods. I had friends that were Greek, Indian, Hispanic, Spanish you name it. I grew up in a melting pot of diversity. The Midwest is finally catching up but they have a way to go. I don’t miss having to take the bus everywhere. Sometimes two or three buses to get to work downtown. I do miss looking out my front door and looking at the harbor from Patterson Park Avenue. Who would have ever thought I would be living here in the Midwest. Oh forgot to mention crab cakes and steamed crabs, crab soup as well. When I grew up there in the 60’s and early 70’s the infamous Harbor was nothing but just empty warehouses and a very run down area. We did get to Lil Italy once to eat for a high school event. But when I come back to Canton, Highland-town now it has all changed or maybe I have changed and gotten more mature. REMINISCING IN THE MIDWEST!

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