You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Crabtowne USA’ tag.

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.

photo1

photo2

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.

photo3

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.

photo4

photo5

photo6

photo7

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.

photo8

photo9

photo10

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.

photo11

photo12

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.

photo13

photo14

photo15

photo16

photo17

photo18

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.

photo19

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

photo20

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.

photo21

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.

photo22

photo23

photo24

photo25

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.

Advertisements

This month I’ve been dealing with tighter than usual finances because of the fallout from having to pay over $400 in car repairs. I needed an oil change, which isn’t bad. But then one of my tires shredded and it turned out that the shredded tire couldn’t be fixed because it had grown bald. Worse, the mechanic noticed one of the other tires had gone bald and was on the verge of completely blowing out as well. So I ended up with two new tires. Yesterday I had to call the electric company in order to avoid being disconnected.

Then I learned this week that my mother had gone back to the hospital with a urinary tract infection and sepsis. Really bad stuff. She’s currently at the hospital in Glen Burnie that used to be known as North Arundel Hospital (and it’s still called “North Arundel” by many locals) but it’s now known as the University of Maryland Baltimore Washington Medical Center. I visited her yesterday and the day before. The first day she was out of it but by yesterday she seemed better. I met the case worker who was assigned to her and she told the two of us that the hospital would make arrangements to release her either this weekend or sometime early next week. She also told us that if my mother disagreed with the hospital’s decision to release her, there are certain avenues she can use to appeal the decision and stay in the hospital longer. I doubt that she’ll want to stay in the hospital any longer than necessary.

As for visiting my mother in Glen Burnie, I tried to make the best of a bad situation. In fact, I purchased another Ty Peek-A-Boos for my mom’s smartphone. This one is a dog named Zelda.

photo1

photo2

photo3

My mother liked Zelda but she asked me to take it home with me because she feared that Zelda would get stolen by a hospital employee. I’ll give it to her once she returns to her home.

My mother is currently on the sixth floor of the hospital. Here is a photo of a window view that I took from one of the waiting areas on that floor.

photo4

After visiting my mom on the first day I decided to get a milkshake from Ann’s Dari-Creme. Here are a few photos of the place that I took on a previous visit last year.

photo74

photo75

photo76

photo77

photo78

photo79

On the second day of visiting my mom in the hospital, I decided to eat lunch at Crabtowne USA before the visit. That place has a value meal menu that’s only available on Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. where you pick one main meal, one side, and one can of soda for $8. I got the crab cake sandwich with onion rings and a Diet Coke. After lunch I played some of the vintage video games and pinball machines for a while then headed over to the hospital. Here are some photos of Crabtowne USA and its vintage arcade room that I took on previous visits to that place.

photo51

photo53

photo59

After that second visit yesterday I felt like I was in the mood for some ice cream. Last summer I took a driving tour through Southern Maryland where I discovered Bruster’s Ice Cream. There’s a location in Glen Burnie so I decided to go there.

photo5

After I took the above photo with my smartphone I got a notice from Google Maps indicating that it was interested in using that photo as a location photo. So I clicked the “OK” button and it’s now on that site. I took one other photo of the place as well.

photo6

I ordered the small double chocolate cone, which I found very delicious.

photo7

Across the street from Bruster’s Ice Cream is a building that used to be known as the Harundale Cinema. My parents used to take me there to see movies on a regular basis as a child. I remember that theater had one screen and it used to be colored blue because of the blue lights that were projected on it when no movie or preview trailers were being projected on it. At first it was the only movie theater in town but then the multiplexes started to open and the Harundale Cinema started to lose business because it could show only one movie at a time. The owners eventually decided to split that theater in half so they could show two movies at a time. It bought the Harundale Cinema some time but its two screens just couldn’t compete with other theaters that had four or more screens and it ultimately went out of business. The building was eventually remodeled and today it is occupied by the Arundel Christian Church.

photo8

The one thing I miss most about the old Harundale Cinema is that before the showing of each preview trailer or feature film it would show this short intro reel that had a very techno jazzy soundtrack and the logo for the General Cinema Corporation (which Harundale Cinema was a part of).

Today I won’t be able to visit my mother because I’m going to a funeral for a woman who had long been a fixture in the neighborhood and she was especially active in the local arts scene (which was how I knew her). She was a very active senior citizen and I even saw her just a few weeks before her death at the Greek Festival back in May. She seemed fine and healthy then. I heard it was one of those things where she was pretty lively and healthy until she suddenly suffered a heart attack or stroke and it killed her. I still remember when my mother-in-law died in a sudden similar fashion six years ago. At least the funeral is closer to my home so I won’t have as long of a commute.

I’ve just learned that former First Lady Nancy Reagan has died. I definitely remember her from my youth. She made her mark for making “Just Say No” regarding drugs the catchphrase that continues to this day. (Heck, I even used it myself to end this rant about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump I posted last week.)

Here’s a vintage anti-drug ad where Nancy Reagan reads a letter from a kid who supposedly was pressured into using drugs to his detriment.

Here’s another vintage anti-drug ad featuring Nancy Reagan and Clint Eastwood.

While she basically had good intentions, I also remember when the Reagan Administration cut funding to drug treatment centers while increasing funding to cops and the Drug Enforcement Agency, which resulting in addicts being sent to prison. To me, drug addiction is a disease like diabetes and cancer. No one would advocate sending someone to prison for coming down with lung cancer from chain-smoking cigarettes for many years yet people advocated the same to someone who had an addiction to heroin or cocaine. It’s ludicrous and so was Nancy Reagan’s simple message that just saying no to drugs would stop drug abuse.

People who are drug addicts should be given medical treatment not prison. (The only exception I would make is an addict who commits an actual crime like armed robbery and that’s on the basis of the armed robbery charge, not drug addiction.)

Yes, Nancy Reagan made her mark alright. Here’s art from a vintage pinball machine that I saw during a visit to Crabtowne USA in Glen Burnie, Maryland last September.

photo56

photo57

photo58

September 4 marked the start of the annual Labor Day holiday weekend. I was feeling kind of stressed out worrying about the future (not only my future but the future of this country as well but that’s a topic for another rant). That day I decided to take it easy and check out a few things that I’ve always wanted to check out.

For many years, whenever I made one of my infrequent visits to Lexington Market in Baltimore, I would make sure to hit two stalls. One was Berger, which makes the famous Berger Cookies. The other was Rheb’s Candies. Both are Baltimore institutions and their products are all made locally. About a couple of years ago I happened to show up at Lexington Market. I found Berger as usual but when I tried looking for Rheb’s Candies, I looked and I looked but I couldn’t find the stall. At first I thought Rheb’s had switched stalls so I proceeded to look around at nearly every single stall in Lexington Market. I didn’t find Rheb’s. I later looked online and I learned that Rheb’s decided to close the Lexington Market stall and, instead, just stick with doing business in its main location in southwestern Baltimore.

I had never visited the other Rheb’s location because I usually tended to make my purchases at Lexington Market. I especially became interested in visiting that location when I looked it up on the map and I made this discovery: Rheb’s is located near my old Baltimore neighborhood. That’s the one I lived in from the time I was born until I was five, when my family moved to Glen Burnie and my life really changed (and not always for the better—see this entry, this entry, and this entry).

So I became more interested in visiting the area where Rheb’s is located for many months but I kept on putting it off and putting it off. In the meantime I recently found something else in Baltimore that I wanted to check out (that had nothing to do with Rheb’s or my old neighborhood). Finally I decided that the Friday before Labor Day would be the perfect opportunity for me to check out all of the Baltimore locations that I wanted to check out since things would be slow anyway.

So I first drove to Rheb’s Candies, which is literally located in the shadow of St. Agnes Hospital. I can understand why Rheb’s is in that location—they can easily capture those who are looking for gifts for their hospitalized friends and loved ones. It’s located in a cute cottage-like structure.

photo1

The next photo shows the main reason why Rheb’s is such a popular institution in Baltimore. And, yes, their candies taste just as good as they look.

photo2

I basically purchased a quarter pound of coconut kisses (which you can see in the above photo) and a small bag of dark chocolate covered pretzels.

Afterwards I got back in my car so I can check out my old neighborhood. When I was born my family lived in an apartment on Yale Avenue.

photo3

All I remember is that the apartment building we lived in seemed to be folded in half from the outside. I found two apartment buildings that came the closest to my memories. Unfortunately I don’t remember the exact address where we lived so I’m going to post both photos here.

photo4

photo5

Given all the horrible news I’ve read about Baltimore over the last several months, I half-expected something that looked like a bombed-out wreck similar to the times I looked up Johnny Eck’s childhood home and walked down Pennsylvania Avenue from Mondawmin Mall to the intersection with North Avenue just one week after the riots that broke out in the wake of Freddie Gray’s death. But, as I drove up and down Yale Avenue, I was pleasantly surprised. The neighborhood is clean and tidy. I didn’t see any boarded up houses or broken beer bottles in the curb. In fact, my old neighborhood looks more suburban than the other parts of Baltimore I’ve been to. Here are a few photos that show how clean and tidy Yale Avenue really is.

photo6

photo7

And those photos are just the tips of the iceberg. Most of the homes are just like the ones in the above two photos. Just visiting Yale Avenue for the first time in literally decades brought back all kinds of memories. Like the times when my grandmother who lived with us would watch me during the weekday while both my parents worked. She would frequently take me to a nearby playground. On special occasions she would walk further to this pharmacy that had a sit-down lunch counter with a soda fountain and she would buy me a soda.

I remember after we moved to Glen Burnie and it was quite a shock that the developers had built houses with no playgrounds. (My parents had to install a swing set with a sliding board in the backyard to make up for it. There would eventually be public playgrounds but from where I lived I had to walk at least 15 minutes in order to reach it. Or sneak over to a nearby apartment complex that had a playground set but, technically, that was limited to children of the apartment residents but that rule was never enforced.) It was also a shock that there was no nearby place to walk to where one could buy a soda. I remember my grandmother expressing how down she felt about the new home for many years after the move whenever my parents were at work (she had previously spent her entire life in Baltimore where she never needed to learn how to drive a car because she was always able to either walk or take the bus). A now-defunct High’s convenience store was opened in our neighborhood a few years later but there were no sit-down lunch counters like that pharmacy in Baltimore (like all convenience stores, this one was basically “grab and go”) so my grandmother never walked there. She basically stayed home while venturing out only when my mother was driving her to the local mall or to a doctor’s appointment or to a local restaurant.

Well, anyway, I was starting to feel hungry for lunch so I decided to drive off to my next destination in Baltimore. This time I drove up to the Station North Arts District (which I’m well familiar with having gone to a few Artscapes as well as being a semi-regular at the Baltimore chapter of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School that’s held at The Wind-Up Space). As I parked my car and walked around the neighborhood I noticed a few things that I hadn’t noticed before on previous trips.

photo8

photo9

I didn’t do much walking because the weather was very hot and humid (the temperature reached the early 90’s). Instead I walked to the air conditioned comfort of the Station North Arts Cafe Gallery. I hadn’t eaten there in a year mainly because that place is only opened for breakfast and lunch and I usually reach the area at a time when the place is closed. It’s a really nice and homey place with wonderful home-cooked meals and funky decor. Here are just a few samples of the funky decor.

photo10

photo11

photo12

photo13

After lunch I walked around the area a little bit more on my way to the place that I really wanted to visit. I discovered this really cool window display for a place called BAMF Cafe. The outside signs makes it look like that it’s more than just a cafe—the signs listed books, action figures, and movies among the offerings. With that cool window (featuring a Dalek, Batman, and Star Wars among others), I really wanted to check it out. Sadly I discovered that the door was locked. There were no hours posted. I also don’t recall seeing a place like this before and there’s a reason for this, according to this article: It’s a brand new place that has just recently opened. I’m going to make a note of trying this place at a later date in the hopes that I can get inside and see it because it looks potentially wonderful.

photo14

photo15

photo16

photo17

photo18

I finally reached the place that I wanted to check out called Made in Baltimore. I first discovered this place the last time I went to Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School at The Wind-Up Space next door but it was closed that time because I was there on a Monday night and it’s only opened on the weekends.

photo19

photo20

I found that it’s a pop-up shop that specializes in selling items handmade by local artisans. That store was full of really nice stuff.

photo21

photo22

photo23

photo24

photo25

photo26

photo27

But there were some items that weren’t for sale but were simply there for display. I saw this 3D printed bust of Edgar Allan Poe and I suddenly remembered a few months ago when I saw a notice on Facebook about a crowdsourced project where the organizers were looking for people who own 3D printers to help print the Poe bust. I remember writing about that project in this blog back in May. I was amazed that it was finished that quickly.

photo28

photo29

photo30

photo31

This project was done by We The Builders, the same people who did similar crowdsourced busts of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. I was really glad that I made the effort to visit that shop because I got a chance to see the Poe bust in all of its glory.

After my visit to that store, I decided to drive south on St. Paul Avenue (Route 2) all the way to Brooklyn and the northern area of Glen Burnie. I had hoped to get a glimpse of Madonna Girl Dale (previously known as Britney Girl Dale and Ke$ha Girl Dale) walking down Ritchie Highway just like I did last summer when I found out that someone like her existed for the first time. Unlike last summer, I wasn’t lucky on this trip. (I later learned via Facebook that she had decided to take a trip down to North Carolina for the holiday weekend.)

So I continued to drive down Ritchie Highway until I was in Glen Burnie. I knew I was in Glen Burnie when I saw the overdeveloped areas complete with shopping centers (filled with chain stores), shopping malls, and automotive dealerships.  This next photo exemplifies the tackiness of Glen Burnie with a giant inflatable balloon shaped like a purple gorilla (!) wearing yellow sunglasses (!!) and yellow swimming trunks (!!!).

photo32

So my effort to find Madonna Girl Dale was a bust but, fortunately, I packed something else just so I can achieve something that I’ve always wanted to do. Here’s some background. Near the development where I lived (from ages 5-19 then again from the time I graduated college at 22 until I got married the following year at 23) there is the Doll Motel. It’s a pretty small motel with perfectly manicured hedges. It was there when my family first moved to the area, it’s still there now, and I’m sure that it’ll probably be still around long after I’m dead and buried. It was the place where my future ex-husband’s father and step-mother stayed the weekend of our wedding because it was the one place that was within walking distance of my parents’ home (where the wedding took place). We scheduled the wedding late Saturday afternoon but my husband’s step-mother was an Orthodox Jew while his father converted to the faith in order to marry her and traditional Orthodox Jewish law forbids driving cars on the Sabbath. (All of the other wedding guests from out of town stayed at the Red Roof Inn near Baltimore-Washington International Airport because it was a short driving distance to my parents’ home.) They basically walked to my parents’ home for the wedding then hitched a ride back to the motel from another wedding guest with a car after sunset.

photo33

I took some closeup shots of some of the motel including the lawn decorations on the property. (Some of them are classical-style artistic nudes so they are sort of NSFW-ish if you have a boss who gets uncomfortable at the sight of bare breasts and buttocks.)

photo34

photo35

photo36

photo37

photo38

photo39

photo40

photo41

photo42

photo43

photo44

photo45

The outside of this place looks practically unchanged from the years when I lived in Glen Burnie. But the area surrounding it has undergone this change and it’s not for the better. When I lived in the area I can recall that there was a wide amount of open space to the sides and back of the Doll Motel. It was all grass. Granted it wasn’t much of a view but it provided some open space that was restful on the eyes. All that has changed. The left side of the motel has this brand-new housing development that was mainly townhouses (or apartments—I can’t remember off-hand). The right side of the motel has a 7-Eleven/gas station combination. But here’s the kicker: There is a carwash that literally abuts the motel’s back property.

photo46

Just look through one of the car wash bays and you can see the manicured bushes that border what little of the backyard that the motel has left. Anyone who has those rooms with windows facing the back can look outside and see the carwash close by.

photo47

Well, anyway, I decided to do the one thing that I had wanted to try for years—bring one of my dolls and pose it next to the Doll Motel sign. That’s right, a doll next to the Doll Motel. I brought my new interactive My Friend Cayla Doll to this photoshoot. Here are a few shots of the doll at the Doll Motel.

photo48

photo49

photo50

The family who owns the Doll Motel (yes, it is a locally family-owned business) also runs another establishment just down the street known as the Doll Furnished Apartments. These apartments are fully furnished but they are meant for people who are going to stay in the area longer than a week or two (such as those who have recently moved to the area) but want something with an actual functioning kitchen and other amenities that a tiny apartment might have. It’s similar in concept to the Residence at Mariott hotels where it’s meant for people who are going to be there for a while but will eventually move into something more permanent or return home. I can remember my family used to frequently drive past the Doll Furnished Apartments but this is the first time I’ve actually stopped there. The outside looks really nice and classy.

photo51

photo52

photo53

photo54

Just because the name of the place is the Doll Furnished Apartments, I decided to pose a shot of My Friend Cayla doll next to that sign as well.

photo55

I finally arrived at Crabtowne USA. It’s the seafood restaurant that has a huge collection of vintage pinball and arcade games spanning from circa 1978-1995. Ever since I discovered that fact last summer (on the same trip as where I found out that there was such a person as Madonna Girl Dale), I’ve been going back to my old hometown periodically just so I can play the games. Sure, I have a bunch of the classic arcade games on collections for both the Playstation 2 and Nintendo Wii but it’s still not quite the same. At Crabtowne USA I can play the arcade games in an actual vintage arcade cabinet with the original joysticks and buttons. On top of it, while the modern consoles can do a decent job of replicating the old arcade games, there have been numerous attempts to try to replicate an average pinball game as a computer video game. I’ve tried the digital versions of pinball machines and I find them sorely lacking. You don’t get to press the buttons that results in hearing the flippers flipping. You also don’t get the feeling of the ball sliding down the hole (that ends a round) like you would in a real pinball machine. To be blunt, I’d rather go without playing pinball for the rest of my life than play those digital travesties. That’s why I’m totally in my glory whenever I see real pinball machines because they aren’t as common as they were back in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

So whenever I’m in Crabtowne USA, I’m basically reliving my youth. I also like their seafood menu. With crab season coming to an end soon, I decided to eat one more crab meal at Crabtowne USA. I picked the soft shell crab sandwich and it was good. I also love their fries. I may make one more trip to Crabtowne sometime before 2015 ends but it’ll probably to play the arcade games only.

Among the vintage machines I played was a pinball machine called Cyclone. This one just screams 1980’s for just one reason.

photo56

The clue is on the back art where one learns the name of the game and the scores are tallied.

photo57

There riding the front of that scary looking rollercoaster are none other than President Ronald Reagan (who has managed to keep his cowlick hairstyle mostly in place) seated next to First Lady Nancy Reagan wearing a “SAY NO TO DRUGS” t-shirt.

photo58

My last visit was to the Southgate Shopping Center. In my time that was one of the few places I could walk to on foot (which I didn’t do too often because it was at least a 30-minute walk). There was once a Carvel’s Ice Cream Parlor (which was the only Kosher certified restaurant in Glen Burnie—I still remember seeing that certificate on display when I was kid and I thought it was a novelty since I hadn’t seen anything like that anywhere else in that town). A barber shop now occupies the space where Carvel’s used to be.

I was intrigued when, between the roof signs that read “BARBER” and “LIQUOR” there was one that was spelled “COMIX.” I thought that it meant that there was a comic book store in the corner space that’s between the barbershop and the liquor store.

photo59

But, no, in the space where a comic book store should be (according to the roof sign), there was a sign that denoted a place where you can purchase insurance.

photo60

I looked elsewhere throughout the same shopping center and there was no comic book store located anywhere. It looks like someone forgot to update the shopping center’s rooftop signs. As a consolation I decided to briefly check out the liquor store. It was one where my family used to go to whenever they wanted to purchase alcohol—especially if it was something for a special occasion (like Thanksgiving). Sometimes I used to tag along with them (especially if they were planning on stopping at Carvel’s for some ice cream immediately afterwards).

photo61

Every time I went to that store with my parents, I would sneak over to the novelty aisle while they were busy picking out what booze they wanted to purchase just so I can laugh at the latest items on sale. I remember that this liquor store used to have a novelty aisle that was full of, shall we say, novelties that weren’t for kids. Some of them were raunchy. I remember there was one plastic squirting device shaped like an outhouse where you were supposed to to fill with water in a special hidden compartment. Once filled, you would encourage someone to open the outhouse door, which reveals a boy who’s naked from the waist down. The boy turns around and water squirts out of his exposed penis at the practical joke victim. I used to open the outhouse door in the store to see the naked boy without having to get wet (since you weren’t supposed to fill it with water until after you buy it).

Others used ethnic humor, which is something that is now about as popular as cancer or terrorism. One I remember was a box was marked “Polish Hand Gun.” You open the box and you’d see a gun (which was a fake) with the barrel twisted backwards so it looked like anyone who shot any bullet out of that gun ultimately shot him/herself. (Yeah, “Dumb Pollock” jokes were the rage in Glen Burnie when I was growing up.)

When I looked up at the liquor store window I saw this sign that said “GLEN BURNIE PARTY H.Q.”

photo62

I was curious to see whether the liquor store still had that area full of naughty novelty items. I entered it. I hadn’t been inside for so many years but the interior still looked the same as my childhood memories. I started to look on the shelves for the novelties only to find that there weren’t any. I looked all over the store and all I saw were various types of alcoholic bottles. It looked like the liquor store had done away with its novelties. I can understand why they would get rid of the ones that were ethnic jokes since they have pretty much fallen out of favor with most people these days because, to be honest, most of them were pretty demeaning to the ethnic group that was targeted. But it’s too bad they didn’t keep the ones that were simply raunchy but didn’t make fun of any ethnic groups (like the squirting half-naked boy in the outhouse). Oh well. Times change and that’s that.

After my visit to that liquor store, I basically headed home where I rested and prepared for the upcoming Labor Day holiday weekend.

I know I don’t always write fondly about how I grew up in Glen Burnie, Maryland. For years I only went back to that town to visit my parents. But then my father died and my mother’s MS overwhelmed her so much physically that she couldn’t live in my old childhood home so she moved in with other family members in Odenton so my visits there basically stopped. Last summer I discovered that Crabtowne USA had a collection of vintage arcade games and pinball machines from the late 1970’s-circa 1995. Stepping in that particular room was literally like a step back to my teen years when I used to spend plenty of quarters at the arcade. (At that time, nearly every mall and most of the larger shopping centers had a video arcade.)

Lately I’ve been feeling a desire to make a return to Crabtowne USA for the first time in 2015. (I would’ve gone earlier in the year except there were frequently snowstorms and ice storms and generally nasty cold weather.) The day before Memorial Day fell on a Sunday and I was going to go to worship service at my Unitarian Universalist congregation then help teach the local immigrants how to speak English through my congregation’s social action program to help the local immigrant community. That day was the last day of the spring class so I wanted to be there for that occasion. (That class was originally supposed to end earlier than Memorial Day Weekend but we had to cancel two classes in January because there were ice storms that happened two Sundays in a row.)

Usually I bring a bag lunch with me to eat between the end of the Coffee Hour (the socialization time that immediately follows the end of the worship service) and the beginning of the English class because it’s cheaper than eating at one of the nearby restaurants and fast food places. (These days even many of the fast food places charge at least $10 for a full meal.) Normally I would try to find available space in one of the buildings where Sunday school is held to eat lunch (which is easier said than done some weeks because there is always people using the classrooms for things like a book discussion group or a spirituality circle and there are times when I have to go back to the main building where Sunday service was held so I could sit down and eat my lunch). That last Sunday of class the weather was really lovely. It was warm but not too hot and the humidity was low. I decided to go down into the glen to eat my lunch for a change. There were a couple of other people who were also hanging out there so I managed to talk to them. Here’s a photo I took of the glen.

IMG_20150524_115440244-smallversion

About half the students showed up (because it was a holiday weekend) but the session went pretty well. When class finally ended at 3:30 p.m., I was ready to go on a trip to Glen Burnie. Not only did I decide to check out Crabtowne USA but there were a few other things I wanted to check out mainly because they were mentioned on Roadside America.

First I want to mention a few things about Glen Burnie. That town is the kind of town that other people tend to sneer mainly because it’s historically a working class town. The two parallel main roads through that town (Ritchie Highway and Crain Highway) are loaded with car dealerships, shopping malls, and shopping centers. If a developer decides to plop yet another shopping center in a previous open wooded area, you won’t get any protests from the locals or any petition drives calling for slow growth because the people there tend to be a bit apathetic compared to—let’s say—Takoma Park.

There is one area in the town’s northeastern part that’s upscale compared to the rest of Glen Burnie. This area is located along Marley Creek and there are all kinds of nice looking bungalows that look quite cozy. If you have enough money, you could even buy a house whose backyard faces Marley Creek so each day you’ll get picturesque views like this next photograph.

photo1

Unfortunately for me I was among the majority of Glen Burnians who lived in a neighborhood that wasn’t located anywhere near a major body of water. (Most of Glen Burnie is like that, with the exception of that one neighborhood.)

This house I wanted to check out wasn’t among the ones that were directly on the banks of Marley Creek (although the creek is located just a few feet away) but it stands out in other ways that led to it being mentioned on Roadside America. When you first arrive at the house, it looks like a normal cozy neighborhood home until you get a look at the front yard.

photo2

photo3

Everywhere you look there are mirrored sculptures. When you look on the ground, you see circle reflections similar to what you’d see in a dark nightclub with a disco ball dangling in the middle of the dance floor. (I tried to photograph the effect but, sadly, it didn’t show up on my camera.)

Since all this mirror looking glass sculptural goodness was on someone’s private property, I initially started taking a few photos with the telephoto function “on.” A next door neighbor saw what I was doing and he told me that it’s okay if I enter the person’s yard and take pictures because the owner doesn’t mind. I saw that the front gate was open so I took the neighbor’s advice and let myself in. The homeowner didn’t emerge. (In fact, I don’t even know if the person was even home at the time.) I quickly saw what the neighbor meant when he encouraged me to let myself in the front yard. The yard is an eclectic mix of mirrors, embedded colored lights in the bushes, and some gorgeous landscaping. Everywhere I went was a total burst of reflection and color.

photo4

photo5

photo6

photo7

photo8

photo9

photo10

photo11

photo12

photo13

photo14

photo15

photo16

photo17

photo18

photo19

photo20

photo21

photo22

photo23

photo24

photo25

photo26

photo27

photo28

photo29

photo30

photo31

photo32

photo33

photo34

photo35

photo36

photo37

photo38

photo39

photo40

photo41

photo42

photo43

photo44

photo45

photo46

photo47

It’s definitely worth the trip if you’re ever in Glen Burnie. The neighbor was right about his advice—you need to actually be in the yard in order to get a full sense of what this yard is like. My only advice would be to enter the yard only if the front gate is open because it is still private property. (For the address and directions, visit the Roadside America site.)

After that first visit, I continued on to another place that’s also mentioned on the Roadside America site. It’s known as the Tiny Church for Geese and, like the mirror yard, this one is also located on private property. It’s literally one of those “blink and you’ll miss it” kind of attractions.

photo48

photo49

It’s mostly hidden behind a hedge. Since this one is on private property and there were no indications that it’s opened to the general public, I basically used the telephoto feature on my smartphone.

photo50

It looks like the church is in the middle of this island with a moat surrounding it. There is a covered bridge leading to and from the island although if you were a goose or some other bird, you would probably just use your wings instead.

photo51

photo52

While I wasn’t able to get a closer look at the structures, the church looked like it would come up to my waist while the covered bridge is a bit shorter.

The only warning I would give about this place is that it’s located on a street that has a very narrow shoulder that barely fits a regular sized four-door passenger car. Also, Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard tends to be traffic-heavy at times so be careful when exiting out the driver’s side of the car. For the address and directions, visit the Roadside America site.

I went on to Crabtowne USA.

photo57

I noticed that the outside of the building has been painted in a different color since my last visit last year. (It used to have a white exterior but it’s now light gray.)

photo53

And there are also a few new promotional posters in the windows.

photo54

photo55

photo56

There was also a crab statue at the front of the building that I hadn’t seen before.

photo58

I sat at the front counter while taking a close look at the interiors.

photo59

photo60

At one point I had to use the bathroom that was near the counter. I was impressed with the bathroom’s decor.

photo61

I especially liked the fact that someone took an old wooden door and reused it as a countertop. Great example of recycling in action.

photo62

I ordered a soft shell crab sandwich and a side order of french fries for dinner. It was very delicious!

photo63

photo64

After dinner I made my way over to the arcade. It was still the same as before.

photo65

photo53

photo54

photo66

photo55

photo57

photo58

photo34

photo35

photo36

photo37

photo38

photo39

photo40

photo41

photo56

photo67

photo59

photo68

photo60

photo62

photo27

photo28

photo29

photo30

photo31

photo32

photo33

photo73

After I played for a while, I was running low on quarters so I decided to treat myself to dessert. I headed over to Ann’s Dari-Creme, which has been a Glen Burnie institution for decades. The family-owned restaurant specializes in just two things: foot-long hot dogs and ice cream.

photo74

photo75

photo76

photo77

photo78

photo79

The interior of the place is very small. While there are a few stools where customers can eat, they can frequently get crowded by people waiting for their orders behind them. This is why I have never eaten inside and I only consider eating there if the weather is nice.

photo80

photo81

I ordered a chocolate milk shake and it is just as good as my previous trips there.

I finished my trip to Glen Burnie with one final visit to a place that’s also mentioned on Roadside America. This place is located near the neighborhood where I grew up in but this building wasn’t built until long after I left Glen Burnie for good. It’s a dental office with a twist.

photo82

There’s a giant sculpture on the rooftop.

photo83

Roadside America calls it the Giant Rotted Molar Sculpture but, to me, it looks more like a volcano with flowing lava. I can remember when this building first opened it also included an ice cream parlor called Dino-Bites (or something like it) so I assumed that it was a volcano since many dinosaurs were buried under lava thousands of years ago. Even back then there was a dentist office, which I thought was an odd pairing. (Mainly getting some ice cream followed by getting your teeth cleaned and examined.) I’ve driven past this building numerous times over the years and I finally got around to taking a picture of it.

photo84

That’s it for my trip to Glen Burnie! I have to say that even though I enjoyed driving around and checking out the sights, I have zero inclination to move back there. But I will probably continue to visit from time to time as long as Crabtowne USA still has those vintage video arcade games and pinball machines. (LOL!)

http://www.nablopomo.com

UPDATE (December 23, 2015): Here’s some potentially devastating news regarding the church and bridge that were built big enough for geese.

Like I wrote in my last entry, this year I attended three out of four days that the 2014 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival took place. There was a good reason why I didn’t attend the second day of the festival.

I recently took part in the month-long Station North Arts District Salon Show in Baltimore and it had just closed on August 29. The following day, August 30, was the day that the organizers urged us to come pick up our art and/or any money for any pieces that sold from 12-3 p.m. We were also instructed to pick up our art directly from the venue that housed our pieces. So I went back to the Station North Arts Cafe one last time to pick up my two pieces. (No, they didn’t sell.) Unlike a few weeks ago, I ate lunch at home and I basically picked up my pieces from the cafe then left. On the way to and from the cafe I took some more photos of some of the interesting murals and other sights in the area.

photo1

photo2

photo3

photo4

photo5

photo6

photo7

photo8

photo9

photo10

At one point I got back in my car and drove just a few blocks further north into Charles Village.

photo11

I had learned about something interesting that I first learned about through the Roadside America website. This thing definitely stands out when you are across the street from it.

photo12

It’s a giant pencil that sticks right through the outside wall where Dawn’s Office Supply Company is located.

photo13

I was only able to get a glimpse through the front windows because Dawn’s Office Supply Company is one of those old-school office supply stores that are opened only on Monday through Friday during regular business hours and I was there on a Saturday afternoon. (Dawn’s Office Supply Company does have an online store that people can shop 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.) I know that this may be hard for younger people to believe but there was a time (before the creation of big box office supply retailers like Staples and OfficeMax) when office supply stores kept hours that coincided with average corporate business hours and they were closed on evenings and weekends. I still have memories of the time when I was either in the 12th grade or my freshman year at Anne Arundel Community College when I had to go to the nearby office supply store in Glen Burnie for some reason and I arrived at around 6 p.m. only to find that the store had already closed for the day. It’s such a throwback to find an office supply store that still keeps traditional business hours.

photo14

Here’s a photo of this nice wood dresser that’s on sale at Dawn’s Office Supply Company.

photo15

Directly across the street from Dawn’s Office Supply Company is this building that was once a car dealership and this concrete arch still has the Cadillac name inscribed in it.

photo16

That former Cadillac dealership location is now a Safeway supermarket.

photo17

The next two photos show some of the interesting architecture in the Charles Village area of Baltimore.

photo18

photo19

Before I went trudging around Charles Village I parked my car near the giant Easter Island statue that I visited previously and wrote about in a previous blog post.  Like the Dawn Office Supply Company’s giant pencil, I also learned about this statue through Roadside America. I decided to take a couple of additional photos because I last visited that statue prior to a major rainstorm and the weather was a little bit nicer. (That day it was cloudy with a moderate amount of humidity but the temperature was still low enough that it made walking outside pretty bearable.)

photo20

photo21

Even the giant wall mural that’s located near the statue appears more colorful and with more details in brighter weather.

photo22

After my brief jaunt through Charles Village, I got back in my car and decided to drive to my original hometown of Glen Burnie. I took the local roads instead of the highway because I was in the mood for some pleasure scenic driving. At one point I had to go to the bathroom so I stopped at a Guitar Center so I could use the restrooms.  I browsed that store long enough to take a quick photo of this really interesting looking travel guitar that’s supposedly small enough to pack in a suitcase yet has the same sound tone as the bigger guitars.

photo23

I basically drove to Crabtowne USA, which I had previously visited just a few weeks earlier.

photo51

There were two main reasons why I wanted to take advantage of being in the Baltimore area by making a special trip to Crabtowne USA. One was that I wanted to try eating the food there to see what it was like. The other was to check out its massive collection of vintage pinball machines and video arcade games from the 1970’s, 1980’s, and 1990’s—many of which can still be played for the low price of just one quarter.

photo53

photo59

The first thing I did was order this crab cake sandwich with French fries and a diet soda. That meal tasted very good.

photo24

I also noticed that there was a vintage 1970’s jukebox that still worked. (I saw customers select the songs.) Most of the music was 1970’s era songs.

photo25

There was even a sign saying that this jukebox is currently for sale for $595.

photo26

I took screenshots of the games that I actually played after dinner. First I played the video game Carnival, which is basically a glorified video shooting gallery.

photo27

I was delighted to find this Root Beer Tapper variant, called simply Tapper, which has the Budweiser logo and plays the Budweiser ad jingle at various times throughout the game. The Budweiser themed Tapper was originally meant for bars while the all-ages friendly Root Beer Tapper was meant for shopping mall video arcades and other places where kids are more likely to hang out at. Except, for some strange reason, I remember when I was attending the University of Maryland at College Park and the nearby mall, Beltway Plaza, actually had the Budweiser-laden Tapper variant clustered with a few other video games (like Pac-Man) near the movie theater entrance instead of the Root Beer Tapper version. In fact, I didn’t learn that there was a Root Beer Tapper version until years later when I had gotten a Sony Playstation 2 and I had purchased one of those classic arcade game compilation titles called Midway Arcade Treasures and that had the Root Beer Tapper version along with video clips explaining how there were two versions of this game. These days if you want Tapper for your mobile device, your only option is Root Beer Tapper. This is why I was so pleasantly surprised to find the Tapper game with the Budweiser logo.

photo28

photo29

Crabtowne USA also had a Baby Pac-Man video game. I vaguely remember maybe one or two places near the University of Maryland that had this game but it didn’t last long. After playing a few rounds I realized why. This game is a combination of a video game and a pinball machine and you have to play the video game part first before you can even play the pinball machine part. That game was also so hard to play that I never made it out of the video game part and I gave up on it out of frustration. According to the Wikipedia, Baby Pac-Man is the rarest of all the Pac-Man sequels that were ever released in the United States by Bally-Midway.

photo30

photo31

photo32

I also played Arkanow, which is basically a clone of Breakout except that it improved on the original concept by the opportunity of making your paddle longer or being capable of shooting lasers (among the improvements). In a way, I’ve long preferred Arkanow to Breakout because of these improvements.

photo33

I also played Popeye, a Nintendo arcade game that was once popular back in the day but it’s one that’s harder to find than, let’s say, Donkey Kong.

photo34

Thanks to Crabetowne USA, I now know that Popeye wasn’t just a video game. There was also a Popeye pinball game as well. I found that machine to be pretty cool with the boat shaped wall near the flippers.

photo35

I also played this pinball machine that’s based on The Simpsons and it had some pinball bumpers shaped like the nuclear power plant where Homer Simpson works.

photo36

I also played Eight Ball Deluxe pinball because it brought back some college memories. It was one of the early talking pinball machines where a man’s voice would say stuff like “Stop talking and start chalking!” I have this one college memory of a woman whom I knew at the time who was incredibly thin-skinned and could be prone to anger (she told me several times that she was an abused child when she was younger). She played Eight Ball Deluxe and every time she lost she would get angry and kick the machine. Luckily I attended a large university with over 30,000 students so I had no trouble with distancing myself from her after that incident.

photo37

I also played Mario Bros. for old time’s sake.

photo38

I also played Gorf as well. That game was among the most memorable because it combined Space Invaders with a few other games and I also remember that robotic voice very well.

photo39

I ended my time at Crabtowne USA by playing Mappy. Even though I have that game on my iPad and on the Playstation 2 video game compilation Namco Museum 50th Anniversary Collection, I found it pretty refreshing to be able to play it in its original arcade console form.

photo40

photo41

There were other games that I would’ve loved to play (such as Donkey Kong) but they were among the ones that were currently out of order. That’s one thing about having an arcade consisting mostly of machines that are at least 20 years old or more: they tend to break down more often and, when they break down, it can take longer to find the necessary parts or the person who’s skilled in repairing such a machine.

I finished my time in Glen Burnie by checking out this new store that had opened in the shopping center that’s near the neighborhood I grew up in. It’s called Gabe’s and I had never heard of that store. I became curious because it moved into a space that was once occupied by Walmart (which moved into Glen Burnie after I permanently left by opening that store, then opening an even bigger store located in the same town about 10 miles away, while finally deciding to close the smaller of the two stores). I walked in and found that it’s one of those big discount places similar to Big Lots, T.J. Maxx, Marshall’s, or Roses.

photo42

I didn’t stay in Gabe’s very long. After that visit I just got in my car and returned home.

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.

photo1

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.

photo2

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

photo3

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.

photo4

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.

photo14

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.)

photo5

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

photo6

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.

photo7

photo8

photo9

photo10

photo11

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

photo12

photo13

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.

photo15

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.

photo16

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.

photo17

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.)

photo18

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.

photo19

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.

photo20

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.

photo21

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.

photo22

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.

photo23

photo24

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.

photo25

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

photo26

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.)

photo28

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.)

 

photo29

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

photo30

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.

photo39

photo42

photo35

But most of the mall was empty with few shoppers.

photo31

photo33

photo40

photo41

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.

photo37

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.

photo32

photo34

photo38

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.)

photo43

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.

photo44

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

photo45

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.

photo46

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.

photo47

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.)

photo48

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.

photo49

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.

photo50

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.

photo51

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.

photo52

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.

photo53

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.

photo54

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.

photo55

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.

photo57

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.

photo58

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.

photo56

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

photo59

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.

photo60

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!

photo61

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.

photo62

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

photo63

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.

photo64

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.

photo65

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.

photo66

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.

photo67

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.

photo68

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.

photo70

The Elks Lodge has this small yet charming memorial garden.

photo71

photo72

photo73

photo74

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

photo75

photo79

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.

photo76

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

photo77

photo78

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

photo80

photo81

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.

photo82

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.

photo83

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.

photo84

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.

Previous Entries

Categories