Hampden Heritage

Archaeology, History, and Heritage in Central Baltimore

Friday, January 27, 2006

"About Hampden"

One of the most interesting things included in Notes On History (in the second issue, 1938) is a poem apparently written for the Hampden Golden Jubilee Celebration by Rosa Lohr titled "About Hampden." This verse reveals several things at once about the way in which Hampden was conceived by its leading citizens in the late 1930s (or at least, the way in which they wished to conceive it). First, personal relationships were very important, as revealed by the use of personal names. Mr. Heil, a grocer, and Mr. Grim, owner of a lunch room, were singled out for mention. Second, consumption was an important social activity: six of the poem's nine stanzas are about local businesses such as grocery stores, bakeries, candy shops, furniture places, hat cleaners, taylors, and so on. Third, industry played only a minor role in Hampden; the textile mills merited only a single mention, buried in a list of other businesses in Hampden in the penultimate stanza. Finally (and perhaps a bit paradoxically for a community that was spending so much energy remembering and memorializing the past), Hampden was conceptualized as a thoroughly modern and even progressive community, as evidenced by the last stanza.

Here's the text of the poem:

As we go around thru these busy streets
Many familiar faces and acquaintances we meet.
Saturday evenings the folks go shopping
Crossing streets the autoes keep them stepping.

Hampden has many stores from which you can buy
On the price and purse you must keep your eye.
Mr. Heil has a big grocery store on Falls Road
He's a butcher and dealer, has meat by the load.

Mr. Grim has a nice large lunch room
For home cooking 'tis the place to come
They serve meals, done in the best of style;
They'r congenial, and greet you with a smile.

New System and Rice Bakery on our main street
There you'll find good things that's very sweet
Candy kitchens, another name for candy store,
Where many folks go once a week and more.

Here friends and acquaintances so often meet
Have a friendly chat and an ice cream treat.
At Freelands' corner, there's been an alteration
There they have built a Sinclair filling station.

Ten Cent stores, only two are in the town
And furniture places, a number are around.
Barber shops galore to shave and to shorn,
And beauty shops since bobbed hair is worn.

Many of our people have a moving van
With all the facilities, they can
Move any cargo to far cities in the land.
Parrish's specialty is rug cleaning grand.

Most every business in this town you'll find
Hat cleaners, taylors, and the shoe shine.
Textile Industries, sewing and laundry work
Churches, Ministers, Doctors, Lawyers, Clerks.

Here's to Hampden, a town in Baltimore
With its achievements, and improvements in store
Greetings we offer on this day you celebrate;
The past is gone, and you are more up to date.


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