There is a window in a shuttered carry out restaurant, Mama Lucia, at the corner of Greenmount Avenue and E. 33rd Street in Northeast Baltimore. I first noticed this window because it appears to have cracks splitting it into an unimaginable number of pieces, yet, it stays assembled for my daily glance on my commute to work. But with a closer look, you can see that it’s not really shattered, not even at all…
Both the northeast and southeast corners house gas stations. One’s a BP with an outdated mural bordering it. The other seems to change hands a lot, maybe it’s a Crown. I remember a shooting there a few years ago but when I google shootings at this intersection, the results are peppered with more examples than I can sort. Two victims found in a car last year, a police involved shooting in 2016, another, a gun feud in the Giant Foods lot just a couple corners away. A neighbor is quoted in that article, “All I know is I was coming to get some treats for my cat and I don’t appreciate this at all.”
There’s an open food place called TEXAS Chicken & Grill. Why it couldn’t just be called BALTIMORE Chicken & Grill, I’m not sure. They’ve got platters and seafood and coffee and “NO LOITERING” signs.
Above the Mama Lucia, back on the southwest corner, is a carved sign from another generation that reads “Baker Block.” The “Baker Block” sign which looks like it’s part of a Mission-influenced part of the building led me down a rabbit hole that I don’t currently have the time to climb into, nor out of: The Waverly Main Street Historic District National Register of Historic Places application, approved in November 2013. It’s 97 rich pages of layered Baltimore History written about 6 city blocks I’ve been traversing for all of my 32 years. Just looking for Mama Lucia’s, I found this (from 2013, but now outdated):
“3240 Greenmount Avenue Originally 1-story ca. 1925 commercial building with 5 separate storefronts on Greenmount, combined with adjoining building on E. 33rd Street ca. 1950 Block 3882 Lot 012 Contributing Building This is an end-unit single story commercial building with Mission influences. The building has a painted stucco exterior and has a triangular parapet on the north and east side of the facade a well as pinnacles along the top of the facade. The building features multiple fixed display windows above a painted kneewall, and painted faux arches above each set of windows. It is listed as a ladies clothing shop in a 1928 city directory and then as Julius Adler’s clothing shop in 193 7. Stucco Spanish Colonial style building contains several storefronts. It is currently in use as Mamma Lucia’s restaurant and was recorded as a restaurant owned by Clarence Hasslinger in 1928. Each corner of the buildings has a front gabled look, although the masonry in fact acts as a pediment on the flat roofed building. Each pediment contains three prominent finials, probably constructed from precast concrete. The corner portions of the building have one or more arched openings. Between the corner pediments, the facade is covered by a short metal shed roof and the storefront openings are rectangular. The building’s name, Baker Block, has been embossed in to the stucco facade. The multiple storefronts include Mama Lucia’s restaurant, Luxx Nail Spa, Boost Mobile, Beauty Island, and China Express. A portion of this building was originally addressed as 3228 Greenmount Avenue. This was the site of Public School No. 51 before it relocated to 34th Street, and later housed a Woolworth’s department store.”
Within this 6 block area, there’s a 1920s potato shop that’s now a beauty salon, a once-upon-a-time-nightclub that is now the Community Mediation Center, out of which the Baltimore Ceasefire operates (Happy Ceasefire Weekend!), several former “confections shops” that are now serving fried foods, and many more make overs and repurpose-ments. I could keep summarizing the report for you, but I know you’ll read the entirety yourself.
For the past few months at this corner, the construction has been crawling–possibly backwards. More time waiting at that light has meant more looking around, but, construction moves more slowly in neighborhoods like this one. There’s often a large blinking arrow telling you the right lane (of two) is closed. There are orange cones, steel plates, random holes in the ground that have yet to be covered. Maybe someday, it’ll be worthy of its 97 pages, but right now, it’s really an annoyance.
A couple months ago while waiting at the light to cross Greenmount, I saw an old man planking on the median. Entirely held up by his own wrists, he held his body a foot above the ground. I waved to him and as he waved back, I realized that he is the man often doing yard work in the house across the street from my parents, where he lives. Just an elderly gentleman planking in a median surrounded by years of layers of history.
So when I look more closely at the shattered window, I realize that the cracks are just the reflection of the tree branches on the other side of the street.
Also, more importantly, please visit Shar’s piece here: https://medium.com/@sharhollingsworth/white-people-quota-reached-bc52767118db