The holidays flood Market Street. When Pushkin took me for a Thanksgiving stroll, there was nobody in sight. Stores were not open downtown. Few cars prowled about.
In a peaceable cloud, my old car headed for French daughter’s delicious duck; Anne Folliet’s children always make my cup brim over. With Frederick Memorial Hospital-born Kevin living in Paris, Corcoran Arts’ student Diane and Maryland University’s Tibaud greet me with three kisses. Sempre.
The next morning the people deluge started; the holidays promise to surpass my early Frederick years’ when all was new to my Louisiana-born eyes; the fact that I had a mortgage on a Historic District house certainly helped. Ron Young was then comfortably mayor; his delight was expressed in twinkling eyes. Everybody that crossed my path struck me as cheerful. There were still three banks and Routzahn’s at the Square Corner. My then-wife’s Lady on Skates was in an East Patrick Street cellar. Patrons did not simply enter; they burst down the steps. In other words, when I “sat” the shop I had a holiday elf’s view of shoppers’ feet.
Much has changed. Ron now sits in the Maryland Senate. Routzahn’s is gone; where it once loomed, there’s a Sun Trust branch. Colonial Jewelers occupies the opposite corner where a now-forgotten bank vanished; the diamonds store was across and up West Patrick. The Weinberg Center gloriously beams its magic still on the neighborhood. The venerable Francis Scott Key Hotel, then occupied by Homewood, closed and reopened as a condominium with a basement mainly occupied by the Maryland Ensemble Theatre, not yet in existence. McCrory’s five-and-dime has been replaced by the Cultural Arts Center.
Bill and Nancy Floria’s Provence Restaurant represented high cuisine; there was a French place across North Market that soon vanished. South on Market, Griff’s Landing continues to feature seafood. The Bushwaller boys opened a couple of years earlier in an ex-retail establishment. Where Firestone and The Tasting Room now feed educated palates, I remember department stores. And, of course, Volt’s was not a gleam in the eyes of Brian Voltaggio and Hilde Staples. My neighborhood pub, Olde Town Tavern, opened its bar in the bicentennial year of the Revolution.
Cataloguing Frederick’s downtown was not how the idea for this column first started. These days some people look away at my ever-cheery “Hello!” Grumps are everywhere. Still my old English pointer and children find each other — to mutual delight.
When I stopped writing columns for The Frederick News-Post, people occasionally came up to me and Pushkin asking if I intended to move back to New Orleans. I answered, “Not a bit!” This town rived by Carroll Creek continues to entice, most of all the children on Market Street, during our twice-daily walks.
For the record: I moved from Bethesda to 107 East Fourth in the spring of 1983. Pushkin came along 15 years later. Buddy Joe Welty concurs in my desire to be cremated when the time comes and we are quibbling about where our — Pushkin and mine — ashes should be scattered.