Mencken Graveside Memorial Service 2015

The 10th Annual Service will be held Sunday, January 25, 2015 at 2:00 PM at the Mencken Family Grave site, Loudon Park Cemetery, 3620 Wilkens
Avenue, Baltimore. Signs will point the way to the grave-site. After the brief memorial service attendees are invited, as usual, to the Spirits West Country Club, 2601 Wilkens Avenue.

Loudon Park Cemetery: enter at 3620 Wilkens Ave, Baltimore, MD 21229. Note: the Frederick Ave entrance is closed. Enter through the Wilkens Ave entrance.

Location of grave: N 39° 16.693′ W 76° 40.683′ (39.278217°, -76.678050°)

For GPS users: Google maps recognizes geographic coordinates and knows the cemetery’s roads. Note that the Frederick Ave entrance is closed. Split your trip into two parts: leg 1 will be from your origin to 3620 Wilkens Ave, Baltimore, MD; leg 2 will be 3620 Wilkens Ave, Baltimore, MD to 39.278217°, -76.678050°.

Spirits West Country Club: 2601 Wilkens Ave (Cor. Millington Ave), Baltimore, MD 21223. (Make a left turn from Loudon Park onto Wilkens Ave. and drive 1.6 miles. Spirits West will be on your right at the end of Baltimores’s longest block of row houses and across the way from St Benedict’s Church.)

Mencken's Grave-site

Map to Mencken’s Grave-site

Jennifer Bodine on The Dignity of Work

The heyday of industrial Baltimore was captured by A. Aubrey Bodine, Mr Mencken’s associate, in his photographs for the Sunday Sun Magazine. The best of these photographs, showing men and women at work, have been selected by Jennifer Bodine, his daughter, and are reproduced in Bodine’s Industry: The Dignity of Work. Mr Mencken considered the competent man, whatever his trade, to be “the only sort of man who is really worth hell room ”.

Jennifer was interviewed on WYPR’s (88.1 FM) weekly radio magazine The Signal and the interview may be heard here.

Listen to the interview and get the book to see what Baltimore was like before America’s migration to an increasingly service economy.

Calvin Kern Kobsa, 1927-2014

Image

July 31, 1927 – May 10, 2014

Calvin Kern Kobsa (1927-2014)

Calvin Kern Kobsa (1927-2014)

Calvin Kobsa, an architect for whom historic preservation was both a vocation and an avocation, involved himself from early on with The Friends of the H. L. Mencken House. In his career he saved some of the best of the City’s architectural fabric. Because of his work, another generation can have a link with the past, a link they can see and touch and use.

An old-school architect, he produced, by hand, a set of still-valuable architectural plans with detailed annotations directing how the house should be renovated. His experience in the architectural specialty of historic restoration and his historical sense of Baltimore will be missed.

Those wishing to make a gift in his memory may send a donation to The Society to Preserve H.L. Mencken’s Legacy, 1524 Hollins Street, Baltimore, MD, 21223-2418.

Bodine’s Industry: The Dignity of Work

Seventy prints of images showing people at work taken by A. Aubrey Bodine, Mr Mencken’s professional colleague, will be on display at the Baltimore Museum of Industry (BMI) from October 15, 2013 to February 6, 2014.

On November 7, 2013 from 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm, Jennifer Bodine, Aubrey Bodine’s daughter, will present a lecture and book signing of her latest book Bodine’s Industry: The Dignity of Work. Admission is $12 for members of the BMI, $15 for non-members.

The BMI at 1415 Key Highway, Baltimore, is open Tuesday–Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Note that the museum is closed Monday). Parking is free.

We leave Mr Mencken to have the last words on work:

“The most steadily attractive of all human qualities is competence. One invariably admires a man who is good at his trade, whatever it must be — who understands its technic thoroughly, and surmounts its difficulties with ease, and gets substantial rewards for his labors, and is envied by his rivals.” (HLM, Minority Report)

“The only sort of man who is really worth hell room [is] the man who practices some useful trade in a competent manner, makes a decent living at it, pays his own way, and asks only to be let alone.” (HLM, Minority Report)

Update: Mencken Oktoberfest at the Goethe Institut Is Now Free

The lecture and showing of Inherit the Wind at the Goethe-Institut are now free of charge but there will be no buffet and no Oktoberfest beer. Lunch may be had at any of the nearby restaurants. We hope to see you on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 10:30 am.

The registration deadline has been extended to October 24, 2013. Please email your reservations to Erica Joyce or call 703-237-0858.

The Goethe-Institut Washington is at 812 7th St NW. Some nearby places to have lunch are:

RFD Washington, 810 7th St, NW

Fado Irish Pub & Restaurant, 808 7th St, NW

Nando’s Peri-Peri (Portugese Chicken), 819 7th St, NW ‎(across the street from RFD Washington)

Clyde’s of Gallery Place, 707 7th St, NW

2013 Mencken Graveside Memorial Service

Over twenty people attended the Eighth Mencken Memorial Grave Side Service conducted by Oleg Panczenko. It was a bright, sunny day and the temperature was in the mid-to high thirties. The days before had been cold, with temperatures in the twenties, and there was a worry that few people would want to come on a cold day. There were small patches of snow here and there but the ground was mostly clear.

Mr Panczenko briefly spoke on “Do We Still Value Liberty?” “That Americans complacently endure insults and indignities when they travel by air speaks louder than words.” He also noted that ”Americans today are less aware of the ongoing diminishment of their liberties even though the means of dispersing news are far superior now to the newspapers, radio and newsreels of Mencken’s time.” The full text of his remarks can be read here.

After the brief ceremony a dozen people retired to Spirits West Country Club, 2601 Wilkens Ave. for beer, food, and good conversation. [OP]

Photographs by Stacy Spaulding.

The End Of A Pear Tree

There will be no partridges in the pear tree at the Mencken House this Christmas. Workmen from Forest Valley Tree & Turf LLC of Jessup, MD, arrived this morning to remove the remaining portion of the Bradford Pear which had split during the derecho of June 29, 2012.

The tree which was cut down was not original to the garden but had been planted to replace the one that was originally there. A reference from 1963 says that the original tree was a “Kieffer pear tree”. In Happy Days Mr Mencken writes that “[t]he pear tree survives to this day, and is still as lush and vigorous as it was in 1883, beside being thirty feet higher and so large around the waist that its branches bulge into the neighboring yards.” In 1982, the tree is described in a newspaper article as “a now scraggly looking pear tree.” The Mencken House was acquired by the City of Baltimore in July 1983 and was opened as a museum on June 15, 1984. Sometime between the acquisition of the house and 1990, the original pear tree was replaced. A Bradford Pear was chosen because it is self-sterile, that is, it will not bear fruit unless it is planted near other pear trees. Fallen fruit attracts rats, creatures not unfamiliar to Baltimoreans.

The Bradford pear was originally cultivated at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Plant Introduction Station in Glenn Dale, Md. and was named in honor of Frederick C. Bradford, a former director of the station. It was introduced in 1963 and was popular until its shortcoming became apparent: it is “a structurally defective tree, inadequate in the slightest wind, likely to split in half” and “highly susceptible to breakage by winds”.

Many thanks to Phil Hildebrandt who arrived early and erected a scaffold which made the workmen’s task easier and saved the garden bed from being trampled.