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This morning I came across a brief video rant from Ed Schultz where he tells it like it is on how Baltimore got so bad that it made yesterday’s riots possible. As someone who grew up in the Baltimore area, I can easily verify what Schultz said.

Baltimore’s problems are multi-faceted and they go back several decades, including chronic underfunding of public education, segregation, white flight, zero-tolerance policies on drugs, and outsourcing of manufacturing jobs to places like India and China. My story focuses on just one aspect of Baltimore’s problems. I know that certain members of my own family, especially those on my late father’s side, may be upset that I’m being so open about this. But I’m at an age and position where I really don’t care about what other people think. My husband has since divorced me and gotten remarried. I don’t have any children. I don’t have any brothers or sisters. My mother is currently busy dealing with her ongoing MS. Thanks to my circumstances I have a certain freedom where I can be this open about my family without much blowback from immediate family members because I don’t have many of them left and I don’t have to worry about any disapproval at the next family get-together.

When I was a child my paternal grandparents lived in Ellicott City and my parents would take me to visit them a few times a year. Things weren’t perfect. While my grandfather was very doting towards me, my grandmother was always so standoffish and I later learned that she didn’t even like children. I didn’t notice this while my grandfather was alive because he made up for my grandmother’s disinterest. It was after he died when I was 12 when I noticed this more and, well, we never developed a close grandmother-granddaughter relationship but that’s another story.

About a year or two before my grandfather died, my grandparents began to invite a friend of my grandfather’s over for dinner while I visited with my parents. I don’t know how my grandfather met him in the first place or why they became friends. I only knew him as Mr. Multz or, alternatively, as Mr. M because I was told to address him that way. (I don’t even know the man’s first name.) I remember he was an elderly guy who was about 60 or so. He usually arrived to my grandparents’ home alone. I don’t know if he was a widower or if he had ever been married. I don’t recall him mentioning any grown children or grandchildren but, then again, he mainly socialized with the adults and he didn’t bother much with me. While the man could be charming at times I remember he was also obnoxious. He was a bit of a loudmouth. He made Archie Bunker seem like a sensitive caring creative type by comparison.

Mr. Multz was a landlord who basically purchased what were once stately homes near the Pimlico Race Track (whose biggest claim to fame is being the venue for the annual Preakness, the second jewel in the Triple Crown) then broke them up into rental apartments where he didn’t do much maintenance or upkeep on them. Thanks to people like him, the area around the race track went from being a white middle class Jewish area with a low crime rate to being a predominantly poor African American area with all the crime and other social problems to match.

When it was time for the family to sit down to dinner would be when my parents and I got a glimpse of Mr. Multz at his worst. First he would rant about the Jews and how inferior they were while they had a lot of money and they’re trying to take over the world and stuff like that. So, yeah, he proclaimed himself a big anti-Semite. Then he would go on about African Americans and people of color and how inferior they were compared to whites. He may have even dropped the “n” word (I don’t remember). So he proclaimed himself a racist.

My grandparents would nod politely while not even protesting what Mr. Multz said. My parents would just sit there stunned but I don’t recall them saying anything either.

Finally Mr. Multz would start going on an anti-Catholic rant and my grandfather would speak up and ask him not to go any further mainly because his daughter-in-law (my mother) was Catholic and I was being raised in that faith at the time. Then Mr. Multz would change the subject. (Here’s some family background. My father was raised Episcopalian. My mother was raised Roman Catholic. When they decided to marry, my mother wanted a Catholic wedding and my father went along with it mainly because he had dropped out of his own church. The priest told my parents that he would marry them only under two conditions: they first had to attend a series of private lessons and consultations with the priest for a few months before the wedding and any children they had must be raised as Roman Catholics.) Despite my grandfather’s intervention, one can still conclude that Mr. Multz hated Catholics just as much as he hated Jews and people of color.

Mr. Multz would also brag about how he purchased those one-time stately homes and rented them to people of color while bragging that he wasn’t doing much to take care of those rental properties while he was raking in the cash. To be honest, I think he thought of his own tenants as being little more than feral animals who didn’t deserve anything other than the roof over their heads (which may have even been leaky at times) that he was charging rent for. Basically that man was a slum lord.

My parents couldn’t stand Mr. Multz yet my grandparents kept on inviting him over to dinner during our visits. I remember my parents basically just gritted their teeth and bared it.

My grandfather died of cancer when I was 12. Not long afterwards, my uncle had contacted my parents about something that totally distressed him. While he was calling friends and relatives in the days following my grandfather’s death he called Mr. Multz to inform him about the death. While Mr. Multz was initially friends with my grandfather, he told my uncle (my father’s brother), “That’s okay. I’ve always liked your mother better anyway.”

Yeah, Mr. Multz was a nasty piece of work.

I think I may have seen Mr. Multz one other time after my grandfather’s death when my grandmother had him over for dinner but that was it. I think my parents had put their foot down and told my grandmother that they would no longer visit her while Mr. Multz was at the house. I don’t know if anything ever happened between my grandmother and Mr. Multz because my grandmother never remarried.

In the years since that time, my grandmother has also died and I never saw nor heard from Mr. Multz again. I doubt that he is still alive because he was elderly when I was a child.

Which gets back to the present. When you have enough people like Mr. Multz, who basically felt that anyone who isn’t a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant is a sub-human, renting properties they allow to fall into disrepair to people they basically disdain for decades, you create a powder keg that explodes when something happens like the brutal murder of Freddie Gray at the hands of the Baltimore police.

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