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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Don Woodard: Ah, historic Baltimore – a mess or a songwriter’s paradise?

After hearing President Trump bad-mouthing Elijah Cummings as a racist and calling the congressman’s district a “rodent infested mess where no human being would want to live,” I was prompted to check out Baltimore in the encyclopedia.

I learned that Baltimore has a rich historic past. It was named for Charles Calvert, the fifth Lord Baltimore. He was a descendant of the Lords Baltimore who founded Maryland. Francis Scott Key wrote the words to The Star-Spangled Banner while on a ship in Baltimore Harbor. He was inspired by the sight of the flag flying over Fort McHenry after a British attack during the War of 1812.

The Star Spangled Banner now flies night and day over Fort McHenry. In 1829, Baltimore completed the first major monument to the memory of President George Washington.

In our day country western singer Bobby Bare had the song The Streets of Baltimore on the lips of Americans coast to coast, Baltimore to Los Angeles. His view of Baltimore differed somewhat from that of President Trump’s.

I sold the farm to take my woman where she longed to be

We left our kin and all our friends back there in Tennessee

I bought the one way tickets she had often begged me for

And they took us to the streets of Baltimore

Her heart was filled with laughter when she saw those city lights

She said the prettiest place on earth is Baltimore at night

Oh well a man feels proud to give his woman what she’s longing for

And I kind of liked the streets Baltimore

Well I got myself a factory job I ran an old machine.

I bought a little cottage in a neighborhood serene

Yet every night when I came home with every muscle sore

She would drag me through the streets of Baltimore

Well I did my best to bring her back to what she used to be

But I soon learned she loved those bright lights much more than she loved me

Now I’m going back on that same train that brought me here before

While my baby walks the streets of Baltimore

Ah, beautiful historic Baltimore! I choose Bobby Bare’s Baltimore over President Trump’s.

And what Francis Scott Key saw on the night of Sept. 14, 1812, in Baltimore Harbor:

O say, can you see by the dawn’s early light

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?

Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight

O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?

And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,

Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.

O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Ah, the beautiful Streets of Baltimore!

Don Woodard is a Fort Worth businessman and author of Black Diamonds! Black Gold! The Saga of Texas Pacific Coal and Oil Company.

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