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The Day Before the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival
Greenbelt Labor Day Festival (Day 1)
Greenbelt Labor Day Festival (Day 2)

What a difference a day makes! Like I wrote in my last entry, I briefly attended the second day of the festival due in large part to the rain. The third day of the festival was different. It was sunny outside, the temperature reached into the low 70’s, and the humidity was low as well. It was the perfect outdoor weather for the festival!

When I arrived at the festival I saw that the STEM center Makerspace 125 had created a small miniature golf course consisting of handmade decorations that were miniature replicas of various Greenbelt landmarks and the local wildlife.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

This mini golf course was especially a big hit with the kids.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Even though the third day fell on a Sunday, I blew off church that morning because I wanted to make sure that I would arrive at the Greenbelt Museum on time for another event I wanted to take part in. This year the Greenbelt Museum was the site for the Retro Town Fair, which was the first time I participated in it since 2014.

I submitted two hand-knitted clothes for dolls. One was the funky “fur” coat for 1/6 dolls, which I had my Blythe doll model mainly because she was the one doll I had who looked best wearing it. The other was the Alice’s Tea Party knitted dress for 18-inch dolls. I had my Addy Walker doll model it because she looked like those African American church ladies I frequently see in my area on Sundays walking in public all dressed up in their finest dresses and hats (or a hair accessory).

Basically I had to submit my entries between 11 a.m.-2 p.m. then wait until between 2-4 p.m. before I can see the entire Retro Town Fair. So I submitted my entries then walked back to the main part of the Labor Day Festival where I hung around for a bit while I ordered a giant crab pretzel for lunch from one of the food booths. After lunch I walked back to the Greenbelt Museum while I took these pictures.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

I came upon my dolls and I found that I won two white 3rd place ribbons. I was pretty happy with that award even though the organizers had them laying down the entire time. (I guess it was probably easier to display them that way without worrying about them falling down.)

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

The festival area was full of people once again since Tropical Storm Harvey went away. Here are some pictures I took.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

The bingo tables were reopened as well with people eagerly playing bingo.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

There was this very long line at the ice cream stand.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

There were a couple of pint-sized Stormtroopers from Star Wars.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

That day was also the first day of the Craft Fair, where the vendors were blessed with ideal weather for selling their handcrafted wares.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

What was really wild is that I got lucky when I met a prominent person whom I’ve seen on TV a few times (back in the days when I still had cable television). The former head of the NAACP, Ben Jealous, is running for Maryland governor in next year’s mid-term elections and he was at the festival talking to the people and asking them for their opinions. Here are a couple of pictures I took of him.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

If he gets elected next year, I’ll definitely have these photos to show people while telling them “I met Governor Jealous when I was at the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival back in 2017.” (LOL!)

Makerspace 125 had a busy day. Not only were the volunteers there running the miniature golf course but they were also putting the final finishing touches on their parade float for the next day. When I was there, they were making giant LEGO blocks.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

I even went to the Greenbelt Theater, which was running classic cartoons (Superman, Betty Boop, Popeye, and various Looney Tunes shorts) for free on the big screen.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2017

I walked back to the Greenbelt Museum where I picked up my dolls and my award ribbons then I headed back home feeling exhausted yet happy at all the good things I experienced that day.

Next in This Series

Greenbelt Labor Day Parade
Greenbelt Labor Day Festival (Day 4)

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Previous in This Series

The Day Before the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

I really got into shooting a bunch of photos with my new Canon PowerShot ELPH 190IS camera (which I purchased used on eBay for $80) throughout the entire weekend-long Greenbelt Labor Day Festival. My time began when I submitted my artwork to be shown at the Art Show portion of the festival.

The one thing I noticed about this year’s festival was the weather. Usually the weather tends to be on the warm to hot side with some years being in the 70’s with low humidity while other years the temperature rises somewhere between 85-95 degrees with high humidity. This year’s weather was really unusual in that the temperature was in the 60’s and it was so cool outside that I wore long pants for the first night instead of the usual shorts.

On my way to and from submitting my art I shot the very early phases of the festival as it was opening to the general public for the very first time.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

The most memorable food booth was this one which not only sold funnel cakes but also fried Oreos, fried Rice Krispies treats, fried cheesecake, and even fried Twinkies.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

For the many years that I’ve appeared at the annual Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, the one thing I have never done before is sit in on the opening ceremony. I decided to finally do this for the first time ever. As I sat in the stands, I took a photo of these nice textured clouds that were floating over our heads.

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

The opening ceremony included an appearance by the color guard and we all stood as they played the national anthem.

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Here’s a photo of one of the photographers who was shooting the opening ceremony.

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

I managed to figure out how to use the zoom button on my new camera so I can take a few close-up shots of the stage, which was just in time for the next part of the opening ceremony. For the first time I actually saw the awarding of the annual Greenbelt Outstanding Citizen. Paul Downs, a local artist and environmental activist, won this year’s award. Here he is on the right receiving the award.

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Paul is flanked by Greenbelt Mayor Emmett Jordan (second from left) and the members of the Greenbelt City Council.

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Paul’s friends and family were invited to go on stage so they can have their photograph next to him.

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Paul Downs gave a short acceptance speech.

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

The general public was invited to a reception for Paul at the nearby Greenbelt City Hall, which would begin in about 15 minutes after the opening ceremony ended. I killed some time by taking a few more photos of the various festival attractions at twilight.

The first day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The first day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

I arrived at the reception, which was well attended.

The First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Cake and punch were served at the reception.

The First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

The First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Paul Downs can be seen taking to a well-wisher on the right in the next photo.

The First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Greenbelt Mayor Emmett Jordan (on the right) hosted another ceremony to honor Paul Downs.

The First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Paul was awarded a miniature replica of Greenbelt’s iconic Mother and Child statue.

The First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

The First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Paul Downs posed with some of the winners of the previous years’ Greenbelt Outstanding Citizen award.

The First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Here’s a closeup shot of Paul with his miniature Mother and Child replica.

The First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Up until this point I had the camera set on the automatic function. By the time I stepped outside again I found that the sun had set. I decided to change the camera settings to night so I could continue to take pictures of the festival.

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

I spent some time at the bingo table while I played a couple rounds of bingo.

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

This next photo shows a bingo variant where the winner was required to simply spell the letter “P” on the bingo card. Instructions were handed out on the acceptable way of spelling that letter.

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

Greenbelt Mayor Emmett Jordan (left) stands next to a couple of Greenbelt police officers.

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

The First Night of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival

I purchased two items at the festival that night. Both of them were at the used book table that was run by the Greenbelt Elementary School PTA. One was a DVD set of the first season of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which I only purchased for $4.

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

The other is this book titled Songs of the Gilded Age. It’s a music book full of songs that were written between 1890-2000 that I only purchased for $2. I can’t wait to plug some of these tunes into MuseScore, just like what I did with a few vintage sheet music that I purchased for 25 cents each at a yard sale last summer. This book also has some very lovely watercolor illustrations, such as what you see on the front cover.

First Day of the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 1, 2017

Next in This Series

Greenbelt Labor Day Festival (Day 2)
Greenbelt Labor Day Festival (Day 3)
Greenbelt Labor Day Parade
Greenbelt Labor Day Festival (Day 4)

I was invited to a party at the home of a woman I met through my support group for people who are separated or divorced. The party was in Crownsville but I decided to do some extensive driving through my old stomping grounds a few hours before the party.

I was doing some browsing on Facebook just a few minutes before I left home when I saw that Madonna Girl Dale was going some more highway dancing in Brooklyn Park. I decided to start my driving tour in Brooklyn Park just to catch up with Madonna Girl Dale. On the way I needed to use the restroom so I stopped at this large place known as Bingo World.

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Bingo World provides a designated smoking area outside its doors, which is such a throwback because I’ve seen signs at so many businesses forbidding smoking near the doors.

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After I went to the bathroom I took a brief look. Bingo World is incredibly huge. One half of the large room has the usual Bingo tables while the other half have slot machines. I’ve played Bingo before but I’ve never seen a Bingo hall that large before. Plus there were all kinds of kitsch decorations to boot. If I wasn’t trying to manage my tight finances, I might’ve given the slot machines a try.

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I saw on that Facebook video that Madonna Girl Dale was dancing next to this temporary fireworks stand and one of the employees was speaking about how they were having a buy one get two free sale (especially since it was the day before the Fourth of July holiday). I found the fireworks stand along Ritchie Highway but Madonna Girl Dale was gone by then. I took a few brief pictures of that stand before I left.

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I drove south along Ritchie Highway until it branched off into Crain Highway and I took Crain going south. I found this building that I recognized from my childhood growing up in Glen Burnie yet it has changed since I moved away years ago. In my day Tony’s Barber Shop was simply a building with a false brick front and aluminum siding on the sides. The only decoration touches it had, besides the “Tony’s Barber Shop” sign, were a couple of red, white, and blue barber poles. Imagine my surprise when I found how more decorated Tony’s Barber Shop had become since I left Glen Burnie.

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There are all kinds of political commentary along with rooting for sports teams. I’m just going to post these photos without any comment from me.

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After checking out Tony’s Barber Shop I went to Crabtowne USA where I played some of their vintage video games and pinball machines. (I didn’t eat anything on that trip because I was on my way to a party where there would be plenty of food there.)

I also visited what used to be the Harundale Mall. My mother loved to take my grandmother and I to Harundale Mall most Saturdays when I was growing up. (Occasionally we would go to Glen Burnie Mall or Jumpers Hole Mall for a change but we mostly stuck with the Harundale Mall.) The Harundale Mall was one of the first enclosed indoor suburban shopping malls that was opened on the East Coast of the United States and it was said that then-Senator (and future President) John F. Kennedy had attended the mall’s grand opening. After I left the mall began to falter when its main anchor store, Hochschild Kohn’s, had gone out of business and gradually more stores began to leave that mall like rats leaving a sinking ship. The opening of Marley Station Mall just a few miles away hastened Harundale Mall’s demise. Eventually the mall closed and it was converted into an open-air shopping center now known as Harundale Plaza.

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The shopping center is very spread out with a small park and a few park benches in the middle of the complex.

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None of the stores and restaurants I remember from the old Harundale Mall are still around. Some stores just went completely out of business while others just moved to other nearby malls and shopping centers. While Harundale Plaza have a few stores and restaurants, I’ve also seen more empty storefronts with “For Leasing” signs such as the one in the photo below.

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During my numerous shopping trips to the Harundale Mall over the years I remember there was a water fountain that had this carved rock commemorating the opening of that mall back in 1958. Even though Harundale Mall is now known as Harundale Plaza, the rock from that mall is still there.

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Seeing all those empty storefronts at the Harundale Plaza was a bit of a bummer since I still remember that shopping area’s better days. After that visit I just headed on to the party, which I’ll write about in another post.

The weekend of July 18-19 were noted as being the hottest days of the year with temperatures soaring to as high as 95 degrees Fahrenheit and very high humidity. Fortunately there was some indoor air conditioned fun for me on the first day of that very hot weekend as I decided to go to this Bingo event at the Moose Lodge that’s located outside of Annapolis. It was a fundraiser for my support group for people who are separated or divorced and it was opened to the public.

Before I went to the event, I made a brief visit with my mother since where she’s living is on the way to the Moose Lodge. She’s doing well these days despite her MS. She has a team of very competent professional home health care nurses (all of whom I’ve met at various times) who stop by the house and take very good care of her. I’m very glad that she’s in such good hands. My mother currently lives with my cousin and her family, which includes Purdy the Cat, whom I’ve already written about in a previous post.

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Eventually I arrived at the Moose Lodge, which is located in a mostly nondescript white building with the exception of a few touches.

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Before I went into the main hall where the Bingo game was held, I went to the women’s restroom, where I saw a few other nice touches as well.

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Here are a few photos of the desk and electronic board where the Bingo numbers were called (along with a stuffed moose hanging from the front of the desk).

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The admission fee of $35 included lunch (which was basically limited to hot dogs, baked beans, and potato chips) and enough Bingo cards to last an entire afternoon of playing. The fee also included a green ticket for a door prize that would be handed out later that afternoon.

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I had a bottle of Bingo dauber ink, which I discovered that I left at home after I arrived at the Moose Lodge. So I ended up forking over an extra dollar to buy another bottle of dauber ink. At least this bottle had a really colorful psychedelic label on it.

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There were these Smokin’ Hot cards that were a few bucks extra. At various times the Bingo caller would call out the numbers on these cards. I purchased a few of them but I wasn’t lucky with any of them.

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I’ve played Bingo many times over the years at the annual Greenbelt Labor Day Festival. I once played a Bingo game aboard a cruise ship that my then-husband and I took to Bermuda a few years ago. (The grand prize was a free cruise from the same ocean liner. I was one space away from winning until someone else called out “BINGO!”) I also took part in the Bingo Bag Game that was held at the Elks Lodge in Glen Burnie last summer (which also benefitted my support group for people who are separated or divorced). But it was at this event where, for the first time in my life, I actually won something.

This game was a Bingo variant known as 9 x 9. Basically you had to form a perfect square in order to call out “BINGO!” Well, I actually achieved that square and I managed to call out “BINGO!” I won $75 that round. Here’s a photo of my winning Bingo card.

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But that wasn’t the only thing I won that day. When it was time for the door prize to be awarded, my ticket number was called out. I won a basket filled with three bottles of wine. For the record, the wine I won was 2013 Vintage Line 39 Petite Sirah made in California (red wine), 2014 Vintage Gnarly Head Pinot Grigio made in California (white wine), and 2014 Vintage Tres Ojos Rosado made in the Calatayud region of Spain (rose wine). Here’s a photo of the basket of wine.

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And here’s a closeup of the winning ticket.

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I was in a really great mood after winning $75 and a basket full of wine. Since I was in Annapolis anyway, I decided to make a stop by Third Eye Comics just to see if there was anything of interest I could treat myself to with my winnings. It turned out that I found this bound volume that reprinted the original 1970’s Marvel comic book series Howard the Duck. I read one or two issues of it as a child and I never forgot it mainly because of its satire that was similar in tone to Mad magazine. I remember as an adult turning my then-husband on to buying back issues at the old Geppi’s Comic Book Store that was located in Silver Spring and he loved them as well. I thought that mediocre George Lucas movie had forever ruined that series until earlier this year when it was revived. I’ve been reading the new series since I wrote my previous post about how pleasantly surprised I was at seeing Howard the Duck being revived. I find the new series to be pretty good so far (even though only four issues have been released as of this writing) but it’s such a treat to see a reprint of the 1970’s original issues in a bound volume. I paid $35 out of my winnings to get it and I don’t regret it at all.

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Over a week ago I had quite a day. My support group for people who are separated or divorced held a fundraising bag bingo at a local Elks Lodge located in Severn near my original hometown of Glen Burnie. Since I had wanted to visit my two art pieces that are on display in the Station North Arts Cafe as part of the Station North Art District Salon Show and that cafe is only opened until 3 p.m. most days and Glen Burnie is located just south of Baltimore, I decided to make a long day out of being in the Baltimore area.

First, I traveled to Baltimore where I arrived in the area just an hour before the cafe closed for the day. The weather was warm with low humidity that day and it was incredibly sunny and beautiful. I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the cloudy blue sky after I arrived in the area.

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I walked past the Chicken Box where I saw this chalk window display showing the map of the ongoing Station North Arts District Salon Show.

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I also took a photo of one of the many murals on display in the Station North Arts District.

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I finally arrived at the Station North Arts Cafe. As I was taking the photo below, a man approached me, introduced himself as being the cafe’s owner, and invited me into his establishment while saying that his place is the best restaurant in Baltimore.

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I walked inside and looked around at all the art on the walls until I finally found my two pieces located outside the door leading to the next room where the kitchen, counter, and cash register were located.

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Here are my two pieces as they are currently on display at the Station North Arts Cafe. (You can click here for brighter and clearer versions of the pieces.)

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The cafe has a very funky decor that I found charming, such as the area behind the counter.

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I ordered my lunch then I went to the bathroom. I found the decor in the bathroom was so incredibly cool that I couldn’t resist photographing it.

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The rest of the cafe had funky decorative touches everywhere that I found very charming.

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I ordered the All-American Grilled Cheese & Tomato while paying a little extra for a couple of strips of smoked bacon with a bag of Utz potato chips and a Diet Pepsi. I found my lunch to be very tasty. The rest of the menu looks very interesting and I’d love to try the other items but I would definitely have to plan any future trips to that cafe since the place is only opened until 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

After I finished eating my late lunch, I decided to travel south so I could check out the place where I grew up from ages 5-19. I took Route 2 out of Baltimore and I drove through Brooklyn. I remember when I was a teenager, my family used to go out to a family-owned seafood restaurant in Brooklyn called Gunning’s Crab House on special occasions. The place looked run-down on the outside but when you entered through the doors you’d see brightly-painted rooms with wooden furniture and wall panelings. The food was excellent and I still have memories of eating that restaurant’s signature crab fluff dish. Sadly Gunning’s went out of business years ago. Otherwise, I would’ve planned on just ordering a drink at the Station North Arts Cafe and saving my appetite for Gunning’s. 😦

As I continued to drive, I decided to pull into this local Roses lot. I’m well familiar with Roses because there is a Roses in Ocean City and I remember when I used to go on vacation with my then-husband and sister-in-law, my sister-in-law used to insist on spending some time shopping at Roses because she’s pretty hooked on shopping for items at the cheapest prices. (She’s been known to shop in at least four or more stores if she’s looking for a certain item because she wants to but it at the cheapest price.) I haven’t been to Ocean City since 2011 (just five months before my husband abruptly walked out on me) so I’d thought it would be fun to visit the Roses in Brooklyn just for old time’s sake.

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Roses is a discount store that’s similar to Big Lots in that it sells consumer items at cut-rate prices. There are basically two kinds of items sold at Roses. One is overstocked items, such as these toys based on that controversial reality show, Duck Dynasty.

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The other kind of items that Roses sells are ones that are cheap Chinese-made knock-offs of more well-known products, such as these $5 articulated 1/6 scale big-eyed dolls available in a variety of funky skin colors that remind me of Mattel’s Monster High dolls.

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As I parked in the Roses parking lot, I saw these two guys walking along Route 2 and they definitely caught my attention. One was a person that I initially thought was a topless woman until I realized that it was really an overweight man with long blonde hair and man-boobs. The other person had long blonde hair and was wearing a cowboy hat and a western-style shirt. I also wasn’t sure if the person was really a woman or a cross-dressing cowgirl. This cowgirl definitely stood out on the streets of Brooklyn. The cowgirl also shook her hips as she and her friend walked past Roses. I tried to get a picture of these unusually looking pair but they walked too fast for my camera and I didn’t feel like running down the street to catch up with them.

A day later or so after my trip, I was still on a mental high from my recent trip to the Baltimore area, I was checking out a few YouTube videos about my hometown of Glen Burnie when I found a video featuring that cowgirl I saw walking past Roses in Brooklyn.

It was through YouTube that I found out that the cowgirl I saw walking past Roses in Brooklyn was none other than Dale Crites, also known as Britney Girl Dale. Damn, I was close to a local celebrity who once tried out for America’s Got Talent and I didn’t realize it until later. Man, I now regret not running down the street so I could get a photo of Britney Girl Dale and Dale’s friend.

After my brief visit to Roses, I continued traveling south along Route 2 until I hit the northernmost border of Glen Burnie and Route 2 becomes known as Ritchie Highway. Here are a few things about my life. I was born in Baltimore and I lived there with my family for the first few years of my life. When I was five my family moved to Glen Burnie because my parents—especially my mother—had an ambition of living in the suburbs and the housing in Glen Burnie was cheap compared to other places they checked out.

The next photo shows the former location of a chain of chicken restaurants known as English’s Fried Chicken. That place used to be among my favorite restaurants growing up. Sadly the Glen Burnie location closed soon after I left for college but there are still a few English’s Fried Chicken places left on the Eastern Shore, especially in Ocean City. English’s former Glen Burnie location is now occupied by another chicken place known as Hip Hop Chicken. (No, I haven’t tried eating there. I was still full from that lunch I ate at the Station North Arts Cafe.)

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Across the street from the shopping center where Hip Hop Chicken is located is the Motor Vehicles Administration (MVA). This was the building where I took my driver’s test when I was 16. I flunked the first time but I practiced my driving some more and I managed to get my driver’s license on the second try. Recently I saw the MVA’s Glen Burnie location mentioned on Roadside America’s site for one reason.

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There is a giant Crash Test Dummy statue located in the front of the building. I don’t recall seeing this statue when I was growing up. I think someone installed it after I permanently moved away from Glen Burnie. I have to admit that it’s impressive looking.

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Glen Burnie consists of two major highways that run parallel to each other—Ritchie Highway and Crain Highway. Both are full of car dealerships, shopping centers, shopping malls, and all kinds of fast food outlets. The next photo shows the dashboard view of Ritchie Highway.

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The next three photos show why Glen Burnie has been dubbed “The Car Capital of Maryland.” There are all kinds of auto dealerships that are located throughout Ritchie Highway.

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There are so many auto dealerships that are located next to each other that some of them have to resort to attention-getting gimmicks, such as this Ford dealership’s giant inflatable fox.

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The next photo shows Crain Highway, which runs through downtown Glen Burnie. Yes, the next photo shows the main downtown hub of Glen Burnie. Now you know why Glen Burnie isn’t exactly a tourist destination.

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Here’s further south along Crain Highway. Now you know why Glen Burnie is synonymous with the term “suburban sprawl.”

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I decided to enter one of my favorite shopping malls from my teen years. When I was growing up, it was known as Glen Burnie Mall. Nowadays it’s known by the more pretentious-sounding The Centre at Glen Burnie.

photo27In my time the mall had two large anchors—Toys R Us and Montgomery Ward—with a bunch of smaller stores that I loved. My favorites were the Record Bar, where I bought plenty of albums with my allowance money, and Walden Books, where I loved to check out the books and magazines on sale there. There were also trendy clothing stores like Merry-Go-Round and Chess King as well as this great video arcade where I spent plenty of quarters playing the classic video games of the era like Space Invaders and Pac-Man.

Montgomery Ward went out of business years ago but I noticed a Target in its place. I saw that Toys R Us was still there in its original place but it has been joined by an h.h. gregg. (It looked like the mall went through an expansion on one side in order to accommodate h.h. gregg’s arrival.)

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I decided to enter the mall for old time’s sake just to see what’s still there. I saw that the old video arcade is long gone. The closest thing to an arcade video game that’s in the mall is this claw machine in the photo below, which is giving away Starbucks plastic cups with a gift card inside. (Judging from the sign, it looks like you have to spend the quarters and win one of the cups in order to learn what kind of gift cards are being given away.)

 

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There’s a nice glass case display devoted to the Baltimore sports teams (Orioles and Ravens).

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I saw that Lane Bryant’s was still there and the jewelry kiosks were also there in the center of the mall but the vast majority of stores I saw in that mall were ones that came along after I left Glen Burnie.

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But most of the mall was empty with few shoppers.

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There was a children’s play area that looked relatively new. (I don’t recall a play area like that when I was growing up.) I only saw one young girl in the play area when I was there but she left with her mother around the time that I walked by there.

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photo36There were also a few stores there that were running Going Out of Business sales, which means that this mall will become even more empty in a few weeks.

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I felt so sad at seeing my once-favorite shopping mall turning into a dying shopping mall that I decided to briefly stop in Toys R Us for a brief pick-me-up. That store is one of the few original stores that’s still in the mall and it’s still standing even though other Toys R Us stores have been closed in recent years. (There were once three Toys R Us stores near my current home and they all eventually closed. These days if I have to go to Toys R Us for any reason, I have to drive at least a half-an-hour.)

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Toys R Us sells the usual classic toys like Barbie dolls and Hot Wheels cars along with some technologically advanced stuff, such as this tablet for kids that was on sale the day I was at that store.

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Toys R Us had a really cute Dumbo ride that’s patiently waiting for a child willing to ride his back.

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I left that mall feeling sad that my one-time favorite mall has become one of those malls that get documented on sites like DeadMalls.com. At the fork that splits Crain Highway off from Ritchie Highway, I decided to drive down Crain. I kept on driving south until I ran into another place I recognized from my past—The Doll Motel.

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The Doll Motel has long been a landmark in the southern part of Glen Burnie and this place looks exactly the same as I remembered it. Even the trimmed bushes and the decorations around the place are exactly the same.

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The Doll Motel also played a big part in my wedding. My fiance and I decided to hold our wedding in the backyard of my parents’ home because we were into the idea of a spring garden wedding but we were also on a tight budget. We decided to hold our wedding on the first Saturday in June because we bought into the tradition of holding a June wedding and we also decided on a Saturday because my fiance invited his friends and relatives who were literally scattered all over the United States (in contrast, most of my friends and relatives lived in Maryland) and many of them preferred Saturday because they could fly in on Friday then leave on Sunday so they could return to their jobs on Monday. We encouraged our out-of-town wedding guests to stay at the Red Roof Inn that was located near BWI Airport (which is located near Glen Burnie—I still remember when the planes used to fly over our neighborhood flying to and from that airport). But there was a problem: my fiance’s Orthodox Jewish step-mother and his father, who converted to the Orthodox Jewish faith so he could marry his second wife. His father said that our Saturday wedding was the Sabbath and he asked us if we could hold the wedding on a Sunday instead but my husband told him that we were having guests flying as far away as California and we had to schedule our wedding around their work schedules so they could attend. (In contrast, my husband’s father and step-mother lived—and still continue to live—in New York City and they had recently became self-employed so they had more flexible work schedules.)

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Staying at the Red Roof Inn by the airport was out of the question since Orthodox Jews are prohibited from driving on the Sabbath (among other prohibitions). We suggested that they stay with my parents since the wedding was going to be held in their backyard (and they were even willing to host them in their home) but they turned that idea down. We ultimately arranged to have them stay at The Doll Motel so they could make the long 1.5 mile walk along the very busy Crain Highway to my parents’ home to attend our wedding. We arranged to hold the wedding late enough in the afternoon so it would be past sunset by the time they were ready to return to their motel room and they could catch a ride from another wedding guest. My ex-husband’s father and step-mother never talked about their experiences with The Doll Motel so I have no idea if they liked the place or not.

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After I finished taking the above photo of the house that serves as The Doll Motel’s office, I decided to keep driving south on Crain Highway. I decided to pull into the parking lot of another Glen Burnie business that still exists long after I moved away.

Crabtowne USA was the nearest seafood restaurant nearest to our home when I was a young child. (In later years there was another seafood place that opened ever closer to our neighborhood and there have been other nearby seafood restaurants that have opened since I moved away.) It also once had a reputation for attracting a rough redneck crowd and fights used to break out every now and then (especially on Friday and Saturday nights). I remember my parents decided to eat there on a rare date night out as a couple but they never went back. For years my parents would occasionally make a reference to Crabtowne USA as the place they vowed they would never go back to because they were pretty unnerved by the fellow diners they saw during the one time they ate there.

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I had originally decided to just take a couple of photos of the exterior of Crabtowne USA for old time’s sake then move on.

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But as I got closer to the sign so I could take a close-up shot of it, I noticed a smaller sign that’s underneath the large sign that promoted its Classic Arcade.

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As someone who spent plenty of quarters playing video games when I was in both high school and college, I became intrigued enough by the sign to actually go inside the building. Off to the side of the main dining area is this large room full of video games.

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There were a few rows of vintage 1970’s and 1980’s video games and most of them were ones that I played years ago.

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Not only did this room have the most famous of the video games (such as Pac-Man) but it also carried some of the less famous video games that were popular back in the day but, for some reason, they are relatively obscure. And, yes, that’s a foosball table in the above photograph.

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I felt like I had just stepped back in time and entered an old video arcade circa 1979-1985. Or I had entered one of the video arcades on Ocean City’s Boardwalk that have a row of the older vintage arcade machine.

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Over the years I purchased some of these old arcade games for both the Playstation 2 and the Nintendo Wii and I still play some of these titles from time to time. However, it’s still not quite the same as standing at a real arcade cabinet, dropping a quarter in the slot, and pushing a joystick or pressing a button.

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In addition, Crabtowne USA had a few video games that I’ve never seen released on any console, computer, or mobile platform, such as this Nintendo game in the above photo that’s based on the Popeye cartoons.

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If all that weren’t enough, along the walls there were vintage pinball games from the 1970’s, 1980’s, and 1990’s.

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There were all kinds of pinball games based on movies, TV shows, sporting events, and even one that was based on the rock band Kiss.

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The best thing about Crabtowne USA’s retro arcade is the fact that all the games still cost one quarter to play. That was totally sweet!

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For the young ones, there were also kiddie rides similar to what one used to frequently find at the shopping mall or inside some stores.

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There were also some kitschy decor in that room such as the sign below.

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The biggest irony about all this is that I don’t recall Crabtowne USA having anything like this when I was a teen. If I wanted to play pinball, I had to go to one of the many shopping malls and shopping centers that are located all along both Ritchie Highway and Crain Highway in Glen Burnie. (Back in the day it seemed like nearly every single shopping mall and shopping center had a video arcade.) I assumed that the restaurant had set up the video games and pinball machines after I moved out of the area because I previously known Crabtowne USA for the stories I’ve heard about drunken brawls from my parents and the other adults in my neighborhood. For all I know, the people who run the restaurant could’ve set up this vintage arcade in an effort to move away from its redneck reputation (as well as tap into the nostalgia market of people who grew up playing these vintage video games).

Like many video arcades there were change machines so people can get quarters to play the old games. I was in my total glory as I played a few video games and pinball machines. If I had more time, I would’ve ordered dinner and played these games until I ran out of extra cash. But I had to cut my time at Crabtowne USA short but I plan on returning one day in the future. (In a way, Crabtowne USA has given me a new reason to visit Glen Burnie on a more regular basis than once every two or three years. I haven’t visited the town as much since my widowed mother sold the original family home six years ago and moved to Odenton.)

After Crabtowne USA I decided to drive further south along Crain Highway where I decided to make a detour through my old neighborhood. The photo below is my childhood home. My parents bought this house and I moved there with my family from Baltimore when I was five. I lived there until I was 19 and I decided to transfer from Anne Arundel Community College (where I spent my freshman year) to the University of Maryland at College Park. After college graduation at 22 I moved back home for a year until I got married at 23. My husband and I were married in my parents’ backyard.

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This house is a two floor, three bedroom house with one and a half bathrooms and a garage. It was a nice house even though I hated the neighborhood it was located in due mainly to the kids who made my life hell (such as the ones I had the misfortune of running into when I was at Artscape in Baltimore last month) and the fact that if you were someone without a driver’s license (like I was as a kid), you had to rely on someone else willing to give you a ride because there were very few places within easy and safe walking distance.

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Both of my parents were avid gardeners. Over the years they purchased a lot of trees, plants, and bushes from Evergreen Gene’s (which I actually drove past during this trip but I didn’t stop there). After I got married and moved away my parents grew tired of mowing the lawn so they replaced the lawn in both the front and back yards with lots of trees, bushes, and shrubs. It’s nice to know that the current owners have kept the original plantings in the front yard even if some of the trees and bushes could use some pruning. I would’ve loved to have seen the back yard but it didn’t look like anyone was home at the time and I wasn’t about to break in to the back yard and risk arrest for the sake of a few photos and satisfying my curiosity.

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Here’s a dashboard shot of the street where my old childhood home is located. As you can see it’s very sprawling with lots of homes (which were all built in the 1960’s and 1970’s). My neighborhood was located so far south in Glen Burnie that it was literally up against the border with the next town, Severn. When my family first moved there were no playgrounds. In fact it would be a few years before we got a playground that was at least a 15-20 minute walk from my home. When I was growing up there were no stores within safe walking distance except for the local High’s convenience store. In later years there was a shopping center that was built that had a Giant on one end and a Fortune Cookie on the other but you literally had to dodge traffic on Crain Highway if you wanted to walk there. The nearest bus stop was an hour’s walk along Crain Highway. (A closer bus stop was finally set up closer to the entrance of my neighborhood long after I permanently left Glen Burnie. One would still have to walk at least 15 minutes since this bus stop isn’t in the neighborhood but it still beats the old days of having to walk an hour.) The nearest library was also an hour’s walk. You needed a car to go anywhere.

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Another dashboard view of the street where my childhood home is located. When my mother’s multiple sclerosis grew so bad that she could no longer drive, she was in the same boat as I was before I was able to legally drive except she couldn’t walk so she was totally housebound and relying on friends and family to bring food and do errands. Which was why she ultimately had to sell the house and move elsewhere.

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I didn’t stay long in my old neighborhood because it was getting close to the time for my support group’s bingo event and I wanted to arrive in time to buy myself some dinner before the bingo began. So I went from my neighborhood and drove a mile down the road until Crain Highway became known as New Cut Road and I was in Severn. Ironically the bingo venue is located near the church my family took me to when I was a child, St. Bernadette Roman Catholic Church. I briefly drove around in the church parking lot while getting a glance at the rectory next door but I didn’t have much time to explore so I just drove on down Stevenson Road until I reached the Elks Lodge.

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The Elks Lodge has this small yet charming memorial garden.

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Here are a couple of wide shots of the room where the bingo event was held.

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It was a bag bingo that was a fundraiser for my support group, Changing Focus. The next photos showed some of the bags that were donated to this bingo and they included such designer names as Vera Wang and Coach. The bags looked lovely but I attended the bingo more for the chance at socializing with some of the people I’ve met through the support group. I had already decided that if I had won any of the bags I would’ve immediately sell it on eBay in order to raise some much-needed cash for myself.

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You can tell that the Elks Club holds bingo events on a regular basis because it has some pretty fancy bingo equipment.

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The decor of the Elks Club seemed like it was stuck in the 1970’s yet I found it quite cozy and charming.

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I ate dinner at the Elks Club and it was quite good and affordable. The next photo shows my bingo pack before the event began. I was provided with a bunch of paper bingo cards in a variety of colors along with a schedule of which bingo games would be played, which bingo cards would be used, and what the prize would be. For a dollar extra I bought this special red bingo ink that could be used to mark off the numbers on the cards.

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Bingo night turned out to be a long one and it ended around 11 p.m. As the evening went on I gradually went through and discarded the bingo cards. I ended up not winning anything that evening even though there was a couple of games when I was only one or two squares away from winning until someone else called out “BINGO!” I only took photos of the last two bingo rounds of the evening. The photo below shows a regular bingo game.

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The final photo in this post shows a bingo variation called “Coverall” where you had to cover all the numbers on a card before you call out “BINGO!” As you can see, there was one card where I was three squares away from winning but someone else beat me to it.

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When I attended my weekly support group meeting the following Thursday (August 21), I learned that this event raised over $2,000 for Changing Focus. Sweet! 🙂

I was totally exhausted from such a long day. I got confused as to which way to turn out of the Elks Club parking lot and I soon realized that I made a wrong turn when I saw Stevenson Road turn into Quarterfield Road. I found a parking lot where I could make a quick turnaround and, when I entered, I saw a sign saying that the building was Quarterfield Elementary School. That was the first school I had ever attended and I was there from grades 1-5. (Anne Arundel County Public Schools didn’t even have kindergarten at the time I started school. I think the school system eventually got wise and added kindergarten classes when I was in the fourth or fifth grade.) If it weren’t for the fact that my the battery power was low on my smartphone and it was after 11 p.m. at night time, I would’ve walked around the school and taken a few photos. It was kind of neat to accidentally blunder across my old school.

In any case I eventually found my way back to the main roads so I was able to travel home without any incident. The next day I decided to do a Google search on both Glen Burnie and Crabtowne USA and I found this post on The Surfing Pizza blog that’s also about Glen Burnie and, like me, he also grew up in that town but he moved away as an adult. (He moved to Baltimore while I moved closer to DC.) That post covers similar ground to this one except he goes into two other malls from my childhood that have undergone radical changes—Harundale Mall and Jumper’s Hole Mall.

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