Tag Archives: History

Cheers! The Culture of Drink in Early Maryland @ Homewood Museum

If you know the Chop at all, you know that we’re the type to take our drinking very, very seriously. Of course, we strongly believe in drinking responsibly, but to us ‘drinking responsibly’ doesn’t just mean taking a cab or laying off the Jaeger shots… it means drinking the right way.

So, we’re trying to buy a dining room group at the moment. This is a task which has so far required no shortage of time and effort in straining our eyes to look online and driving to and fro from store to store to deal with salesmen and parse the differences between “cherry” and “cherry satin”. It will undoubtedly require yet more effort in painting, wallpapering, and possibly even installing new lighting. This is not to mention considerable expense.

A drawing room at 1515 Linden Avenue in Reservoir Hill, 1886. Photo courtesy MD Historical Society.

But you may ask, “Chop, you’re a single bachelor. Most of your meals consist of Midnight Snacks on the couch. What do you need with a fancy-schmancy table?” Well, you’re right. The table and chairs are mostly an afterthought. What we’re actually shopping for, and what will be the true centerpiece of the room, is the bar.

It’s well known that our grandfathers were better drinkers than we are. The Chop’s own grandfathers are a case in point. Do you think they ever drank beer from “aluminum bottles”, or asked if their wine was “bio-dynamic”, or mixed anything with Red Bull? Of course not. They learned to drink in World War II.

But what about our grandfathers’ grandfathers? The landed gentry and patriarchs of the Old Line State? How did they drink? For they are the ones we should be emulating if we really want to do it right. Cask Madeira, Terrapin Stew and 20 year rye? Yes, please.

This is why, before we rebuild our bar this Fall, we’re going to stroll over to the Homewood Museum and have a look at their exhibit Cheers! The Culture of Drink in Early Maryland.

The exhibition is on view as part of the regular Homewood tour, and focuses on how the Carrolls and other early families procured, stored, served and sipped their wines and whiskies.

While we’re at it, we might even come back tomorrow for the Museum’s Historic Home Brews talk and tasting featuring Baltimore native and Stillwater Ales founder Brian Strumke as part of the 2010 Baltimore Beer Week. If you can’t make it down to the Museum of Industry for the Official Opening Tap Ceremony you can still taste some of the best beer in Maryland right here at Homewood, just in time for Friday happy hour.

Cheers.

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Tapping ceremony and home brews tasting require advance registration. See bbweek.com for more information on all beer week events. The Culture of Drink exhibit runs from Sep. 16 until Nov. 28 2010 from 11am-4pm Tue-Fri and 12-4 Sat & Sun.

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The Chop Aboard the Liberty Ship SS John W Brown

“I’m on a boat!”

Not really. I’m actually on a ship. But if you want to get your little Foursquare badge-y thing, this would be a hell of a way to do it.

Today the Chop is visiting what is probably Baltimore’s most interesting and least visited attraction, the Liberty Ship SS John W Brown.

Length: 441' Beam:57' Draft: 27 Displacement: 14,245 tons

How do we know it’s the least visited? Because it’s really, really hard to visit. We know. We’ve tried to go aboard about four times already. The all-volunteer run ship is only open to visitors Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10 am until 4 pm, when and if she’s at her berth (as she is still operational and sometimes moves for tours, maintenance, goodwill port calls in other cities, etc).

Until this weekend, we didn’t even know she was open on Wednesdays. A trip down to the docks at 2 pm found the crew of the Brown filing down the gangway and raising it against visitors early, apparently just because they felt like it.

Engine: 19' x 21'/ 270,000 lbs./ 76 rpm max./ 2500 hp tunring an 18' 4 blade prop

But today is the day. No more fooling around. The Chop is going to get up and out of bed as early as possible and go down to Canton to see the ship, which is not only important to the history of WWII, but is an important piece of Baltimore history, as it was built at Sparrows Point.

Sparrows Point built 385 liberty ships, some in as little as 28 days each.

The full story of the liberty ships and the John W Brown can be found at the Project Liberty Ship website. The Brown is one of only two surviving liberty ships in the world, the other being the Jeremiah O’Brien in San Francisco (not to be confused with the later-built victory ships of a different design).

Armament: Three 3-inch/50 caliber guns; one 5-inch/38 caliber gun; eight 20mm guns.

We’ve actually been lucky enough to see the Brown steaming out of the harbor, and it was a fascinating site. We can’t wait to climb the gangway, ring the bell on the forecastle, stroll the quarterdeck, check out the view from the bridge, see what’s cooking in the galley, and gape and gawp at the authentic triple expansion steam engine down below and the .50 caliber guns on the fantail.

Yeah. The Chop’s a bit of a boat nerd.

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The John W Brown is berthed at pier 1 on Clinton Street in Canton, south of the First Mariner tower. Parking is available inside the wharf building on the dock itself. The gangway is generally down Wed. and Sat. at 10 am. Admission is free but donations are accepted.

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Filed under A Day in the Life of the Chop