Monday, November 13, 2023

Holding On to Yesterday, and Frank Borman


A recent blog entry about Baltimore triggered some memories, aromas, and other observations.

To get you up to speed, I used to vacation frequently in Baltimore in the 80's and 90's.  It was close and affordable.  Fun.  I'd visit friends in Harrisburg on the way down, or on the way back.

It was the same thing every time.  I'd grab a hotel room in a suburb just north of Baltimore.  I'd spend one day wandering about the Inner Harbor and downtown.  Another day would be devoted to shopping malls around the city.  Back then, places like Baltimore had a lot of stores that we didn't have up here.   Malls were cool back then, not the ghost towns they are today.   If I stayed for another day, which I occasionally did, I'd venture down to Washington.

Being a newsie, and pre internet, I always made sure to check out the local TV newscasts.  Outsiders see things differently than the locals.  My favorite afternoon/evening newscast was on the station that was in last place.  The number one station was fine, but I thought the last place station was doing a better job.

Parenthetically, the number one station's morning newscast was a thing of beauty, an absolute joy.  It was a low key anchor and a vibrant weather man.  It worked.  It was one of the best combinations in the history of local television, anywhere.

I'd always watch the 6 pm news, then head out to a mall just down the street for a really good pizza, or Chinese, or a chicken sandwich.  There was also a delicious Italian restaurant in a strip mall across the street from the hotel.

You Tube has a wonderful collection of news intros from this last place station.  Some were very good.  Others, fair.  There was a catchy theme for several years, almost a rip off of the number one station.  I have the same reaction any time I see and hear and see the theme on the internet: I can still smell the hotel room!

I know that sounds totally bizarre, but you know how hotel rooms smell-- a combination of air freshener and disinfectant.  This chain hotel had a unique aroma, not unpleasant at all.

Times change.  Even though the last place TV station is still in last place, it's quite a bit different now.   My favorite mall has been torn down.   The hotel has switched franchises.  I wonder if it smells the same.

One other note today...  retired astronaut Frank Borman died last week.  95.  Borman was aboard Apollo 8.  It was the first manned spacecraft to circle the moon.  The Apollo 8 astronauts were famous for many reasons, including that breath taking shot of "earthrise."  Apollo 8's mission took place during Christmas week of 1968-- a horrible year in this country.  The men of Apollo 8 helped end the year with a little promise.  Frank Borman is among the people to thank.