Fond Memories of the Baltimore Mechanic

Being a theater person virtually from birth and an actor/manager/director in the Baltimore community, I was discouraged to read about the deterioration of the Morris A. Mechanic Theater (“Time to mend the hole in the heart of Baltimore”, July 25).

The mechanic was a centerpiece of Charles Center.

My earliest memories of the Mechanic date back to when I was a preteen and teenager in Baltimore in the 1960s. Mom and Dad took me to many shows there and then to a nearby restaurant for dinner if he it was a matinee or before the show if it was an evening performance. On the humorous side, I remember that the queues for the ladies’ toilets at intermission were long while the queues for the men’s toilets were short. Often, the women got in line with the men!

Many of my high school girlfriends at Western (the last class to graduate from Howard and Center streets) volunteered as ushers to see the shows.

Mom and I took my daughter to see the musical “Cats” just like my mom took me to many shows there when I was young. I remember seeing ‘A Chorus Line’ and The Scottish Play (theatre people don’t say ‘Macbeth’) with Christopher Plummer in the title role. A girl in my college dorm got me into Rod McKuen. I remember as a young adult my friend Sherry and I went to see him there. We went backstage and I got his autograph in one of his poetry books that I had.

I remember seeing shows there testing their Broadway readiness. When I was in limbo in early 1973 between college, marriage, and working life, a guy I was dating took me to see “Grease” there — just as I met my future ex. -husband who was jealous that I had a date that week (laughs out loud). I wasn’t canceling my date, who was a nice guy, or giving up on seeing “Grease.”

I fervently hope that the Mechanic and all of Charles Center, Lexington Market, Harborplace and all of Baltimore, both downtown and surrounding communities, will experience a vibrant, cross-generational, interracial and international renaissance. It hurts to see 2,400 miles away that the sixth largest city in the country of my childhood is now the 30th. Detroit is experiencing a comeback, as is Baltimore!

Let’s start with the arts scene, the shopping mecca of Hecht’s, Stewart’s, Hutzler’s and Hochschild Kohn’s department stores, the food scene, the wide variety of venues, shops and restaurants and all that was and can still be Baltimore !

—Patricia “Patsy” Gould Parker, Phoenix, Arizona

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