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The End

by Linda Ferguson

Memorial Stadium, former home of the Baltimore Colts and the Orioles, is scheduled for demolition in December 2000.

On a dreary Saturday that matched my mood, Memorial Stadium was auctioned. Well, not the stadium itself, which will be imploded in December 2000, but the contents. This marks yet another chapter in the end of Baltimore as I know it. In fact, I believe it's the beginning of the end of America as we over a certain age know it.

Because of the weather, I didn't expect a huge crowd. I figured there would be a throng of dealers, some die hard Colts and Orioles fans, and a sprinkling of curiousity-seekers. I was wrong. The auction opened at 10:00 am, and by 9:00, there were already at least a thousand people in line. And they weren't all dealers. One guy bought ten or so seats to add to his 18-seat basement stadium, which was partially made up of seats from other defunct baseball stadiums around the country.

I didn't get to Memorial Stadium until 11:30 -- way too late. There was a giant line that snaked all the way around the stadium. So I missed out on getting some goodies. Oh well. $75 for a seat wasn't exactly a Big Score: those hard metal seats always scorched my buns in the heat of the summer anyway. I would have liked to have some momento, like an aisle sign where my family's season tickets used to be, but I'll settle for the memories. I have plenty of those and they don't cost any money.

Carrying a stadium seat at the Memorial Stadium auction, September 23, 2000.

I started going to Memorial Stadium when I was a young girl. My dad would take my brother and me to Orioles games. That was back when the Orioles gave us something to cheer about, and Baltimore fans used to really go wild. That sure has changed. At the upscale Camden Yards stadium, where I stopped going because of sky-high ticket prices, loud cheering is almost a no-no. I know someone who was actually told to BE QUIET at a recent game. And I used to get nasty glares in my direction when I yelled for the home team. I guess the yuppies couldn't hear their cell phone conversations.

Can Baltimore survive in spite of the current wave of yuppification and commercial development?

When I got went home from the auction and read the newspaper, my stomach turned and my heart sank. Another one of Baltimore's unique treasures will be lost. Some selfish developers are going to turn one of the coolest duckpin bowling alleys in the city into ritzy loft apartments. This alley (Southway) is one of the last remaining duckpin alleys in the city where there were once dozens. It's also one of the very few left that's on the top floors of a building. These soulless bastards are going to rip out the heart of the community as well as that of the alley's owners, who are devastated the impending demise of their family business. Something that benefits an entire community will be replaced by something that benefits only nine loft dwellers.


For those of you who don't understand why I'm so upset, duckpin bowling was invented in Baltimore. It's part of what makes Baltimore unique. The alleys are social places for kids and adults. Duckpin bowling is great for kids because the balls are smaller and much easier to deal with than those huge, heavy 10-pin balls. I grew up bowling in duckpin lanes. I also grew up watching "Bowling For Dollars", where locals would get the chance to hurl the ball down the lane for cash. The sport has declined in recent years (what hasn't in the face of home computers, DVDs, etc.?) but it still has a very loyal following.

Different place, same deal

Inside the now-closed Kahiki, Columbus, Ohio

In August, the CoolOldStuff staff went to Columbus, Ohio, where one of that city's landmarks recently was lost. The Kahiki supper club is now closed and will be razed to make room for yet another Walgreen's drugstore. (Footnote: there's another drugstore across the street from the Kahiki site. How many drugstores do we need?) We visited Kahiki during its final week. It was one of the last tiki-themed supper clubs in the country. Although the food wasn't so good, it was well worth the experience. Kahiki was comprised of a series of indoor huts with wonderfully tacky decor filling every available space. There were indoor waterfalls, a bandstand with a HUGE tiki head behind it, and an aquarium with tropical fish on one side of the restaurant. Hard to describe, weird and wonderful to experience.


I am not against change. But I am concerned about how quickly things are changing. What kinds of values do we place on things in a world that considers a one-year old computer obsolete? America's (and Baltimore's) unique landmarks are disappearing so quickly it's dizzying. They are replaced by cookie-cutter buildings or by ones that are made to look "vintage". There's a reason so many of us collect cool old stuff -- because it's well-made, or interesting, or just different. What will life be when everything around us looks the same or replaced by sad fascimiles of the real thing? Unfortunately, we may find the answer very soon.


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