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.
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.
Alejandro Barbosa removing the branches of the pear tree
Not quite at the Top of the World
Almost finished with the hard part
The stump goes
All that remains
Richard D Pickens II
(January 18, 1962, Huntington, WV–November 27, 2012, Annapolis, MD)
Richard Pickens at the Mencken House (2008)
Richard Pickens, President of the Friends of The H. L. Mencken House, died on Tuesday, November 27, 2012. He was the son of Richard and Babette Pickens. There will be a celebration of his life on Monday, December 3, from 6 to 8 PM at the George P. Kalas Funeral Home, 2973 Solomons Island Rd., Edgewater, MD. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Friends of the H.L. Mencken House, P.O. Box 22501, Baltimore, MD 21203-4501.
“Richard Pickens was a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design. He was the owner of MGP Interiors, LLC, an interior design company operating within the Washington, D.C. area. His clients ranged from the White House, numerous law firms, embassies and museums to private residences. For several years he was the Director of Historic Preservation for the Union Square Association. He also was a founding participant with the Historic Districts Council-Baltimore. Previously, Mr. Pickens was a registrar and exhibitor relations coordinator for the Smithsonian Institution. He was the recipient of a Guggenheim Studentship for the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, Italy. Additionally, Mr. Pickens was the President of The Friends of the H. L. Mencken House. He lived near the Mencken House, and was an admirer of H. L. Mencken’s work since college.”
The Friends will now be using WordPress for their webstite. There will be some rough spots as we learn WordPress’s ins-and-outs (so please bear with us) but the effort will be worth it.
Our new mailing address is:
The Friends of the H. L. Mencken House
Baltimore, MD 21203-4501