Chesapeake Living gets SPOOKED!

Mike Carter - Thursday, May 12, 2016

Originally posted in Chesapeake Living:

Annapolis Haunted Pub Crawl: So Scary Even the Guides Are Jumpy

Typically, ghost stories are simply tales. But sometimes they reach out, grab you and scare the living shit out of you. In Annapolis, that happened to me when I took the Haunted Pub Crawl.

Living Social popped into my inbox and topping the list was “Annapolis Haunted Pub Crawls.” That was the first I’d heard about it. I immediate dashed off an email — Can I tag along one night?

The response popped back fairly quickly — How about this Saturday? I showed up at the historic Maryland Inn at the 8pm meeting time, still dark on this early Spring night.

Annapolis haunted pub tour sign
Annapolis Haunted Pub Tour starts at Maryland Inn.

I arrived downtown a bit early so I could grab some spooky photos, which is relatively easy in Annapolis, a colonial town that was started in 1649 by Puritans. It was the seat of the Continental Congress for one year after the signing of the Treaty of Paris  in 1783. Annapolis was a key slavery port from the colonial times until the Civil War. This is where Kunta Kinte landed in the U.S.  There was a prisoner of war camp in Annapolis during the Civil War.

In the undertow of the Saturday night bar hopping by U.S. Naval Academy middies and St. John’s College hipsters, all out for a happy time, Annapolis has some spooky history.

None of the pictures I grabbed early compared to later that night.

Michelle Emond, a Eastern Shore high school social studies and history teach, was the night’s guide. She’s a wholesome-pretty, long-haired brunette with a sense of fun about her. A friend of her’s took the tour and convinced Michelle to apply for the part-time job to make a little money on the side.

Everyone checks in on the Maryland Inn’s porch, gets a glow-in-the-dark braclet and merrily heads down to the Drummer’s Lot, a pub in the Inn’s basement.

Drummer's Lot Pub, Annapolis, MD
Drummer’s Lot pub through the basement window of the Maryland Inn

About one-drink in, after tracking down some late people, Michelle joins us. She begins with safety info: it’s dark, watch where you walk, etc. Then, she gets into a different kind of safety talk.

“I’m a person who can take groups of people to these locations (haunted pubs), and I’m okay with that ’cause you’re all with me,” Michelle says.

“I’m just telling a story, (and) we’re all together. (But) maybe I couldn’t stand staying in a room by myself,” as a jus’ sayin’ aside.

She then pulls it together and continues with, “What I’m going to ask is that for tonight, you signed up for a ghost tour for the next two hours, let’s just buy into it.”

Everyone glances around at others in the group, smiles break out and to show agreement, we slightly raise our drinks and do the ‘what the heck’ shrug.

All the people I’m talking about, you can’t fight me on that part. It’s researched by historicans, diaries, obituaries., etc. The ghost part, we have stories from people who’ve told us what they’ve seen and experiences. You can choose to believe those people, or you can choose not to. – Michelle Emond

In the dark basement pub of the Maryland Inn, the TV in the background fades, Peanut-the-bartender silently cleans the recently abandoned far end of the bar while the story begins on our end, in a mahogany-paneled corner of dimly lit tables.

I share these stories only for you to understand that night.


Capt. Campbell and His Bride

She’s known only as “The Bride.”

U.S. Navy Capt. Campbell brought her to Annapolis in 1817. They’d met in North Carolina but their engagement was interrupted by British piracy that spilled into the Chesapeake Bay after the Revolutionary War, which then started the War of 1812.

When the war ended and his commission was over, Capt. Campbell wrote for her to come to Annapolis to marry him. She moved into his room at the Maryland Inn to await his arrival. Ships were at the mercy of the prevailing winds back then and there was no telling when the ship would actually arrive.

Finally, the ship arrived in port, much to the relief of the Maryland Inn. But The Bride had to wait for the ship to unload before the Captain was free to be hers. She dressed for the wedding and waited next to the fourth floor window, watching for the Captain. But in an anxious moment she got up to pace.

That’s when she hears a crash on the street. Running to the window, there’s a crowd in the street. She runs down the stairs and outside. A man lay trampled and dying in the street.

Witnesses say Captain Campbell had been walking up the main street, the few blocks from City Dock, on same side of the street as the Inn. He’s watching for his fiancee in the fourth floor window and sees her for a second. With a huge smile, still looking up at the window, he steps into the street for a better look.

Captain Campbell is run over by a horse and rig. The trampled groom lay dying in the street. The Bride stays with him until he dies, according to the newspaper account.

The Maryland Inn maids take her back to the fourth floor room. She runs to the window, throws it open and leaps out. She died, broken, in the middle of the street.

Some say The Bride and Captain Campbell never left the place where they were finally reunited.


There’s more about the hauntings. I’ll leave that for the pub tour. But I will share this: The Bride is said to haunt the Maryland Inn ladies room. After Michelle ended her tales, she gave us time to make a pit stop before going to the next bar.

The ladies in the group paused for a minute, then one brave 20-something woman said, “I have to pee,” and off she went. Several of us pause, then follow her upstairs and into the hallway. It looks like something out of The Shining. We walk in as a group.

The woman who had to pee dashes for the first stall. Sometimes ghosts don’t matter. But before going up Michelle told us there’s one stall where the door is always open, welcoming ladies into the stall. That’s the haunted one. There are three stalls in all. But now there’s seven women. No one goes into the open stall.

I’m here for a story. I go in. Nothing unusual happens. But by time I’m out, everyone is gone. Women are never that fast in a bathroom. I’m alone. I need to take pictures. The hair on my arm tingles. I force myself to take photos and dash out, relieved to be gone.

Nothing unusual happened. “It’s just stories,” I tell myself. When I get back to the group, everyone’s paid up and off we go to the next bar: Ram’s Head Tavern.

This is  happy group out for a good time and ready to be entertained. When we get to the Ram’s Head, about a two-block walk away, Michelle asks “who has a ghost story or believes?” About half raised their hands, and a couple of people shared their stories, bringing us deeper into night’s theme.

After everyone has a drink in hand, Michelle begins the next round of stories.


Amy’s Story

The building where Ram’s Head Tavern (est. 1989) is located — 33 West Street, Annapolis —  has been around since the late 1700’s, when it was called “The Crown and Dial.” In addition to a pint of beer, men could hire women and go upstairs. Amy was one of those women.

Amy’s history is bit disputed, but her death at age 16 isn’t.

A sailor in port for a bit made Amy’s acquaintance. They went upstairs. Downstairs patrons were, at first, amused by the enthusiastic banging above. But then, parts of the ceiling started dusting down into their pints.

Michelle continues the story from here:

We went down into the basement pub after the stories for a look at Amy’s bed leg that is embedded in the ceiling. The dark bar is small with brick walls and a low ceiling. There’s a fireplace off to the side and cubby holes that are perfect for private conversations. The ceiling over the bar has rows of hanging pewter mugs used by Beer Club members.

The bed leg is in the back-half of the bar, among the pewter mugs. We took turns getting a look.

And that’s when things really got weird.

I was taking pictures with two different types of digital cameras. The pictures seemed in-focus when I checked after each snap, but when downloading later, this is what I found:

While I was snapping away, a woman’s cell phone froze as she was texting her boyfriend in the basement pub. She heard the return beep and put in her code. The smartphone was trapped with a half-picture showing. She couldn’t get it to work… until she left the bar.  She ran over to tell me what happened.

Amy? Or just a bunch of adults “getting into” ghost stories?

Next stop was the cemetery surrounding St. Anne’s Episcopal church in Annapolis’ Church Circle.


St. Anne’s Church Cemetery

St. Anne's church steeple in Annapolis, MD
St. Anne’s church steeple

The historic St. Anne’s church is surrounded by a circular road. The sacred ground between the church and the street has been used as a cemetery since 1692 and it’s filled with bodies, although many of the markers have been removed, misplaced or stolen over the years. The graves once extended to the “Government House”. Meaning, the street was built over the consecrated ground.

A few crypts still remain, so while the group goes to look around, I start snapping pictures.

Most of the group walks around in twos or threes, too nervous to be solo. After a bit, Michelle gathers up the tour and starts herding folks out of the cemetery. I’m near one of the crypts and someone screams.

My heart leap up barely faster than my body. Everyone is scanning to find the cause.

I’d left my black, puffy, nylon jacket over a pole. Michelle had been walking backwards while talking to the tour. She whirled around, saw the coat and thought it was a body.

It shows the impact of how these ghost stories build, and emotions heighten, even for the tour guide.

Annapolis haunted pub crawl
Leaving the St. Anne’s cemetery and head to Reynolds Tavern across the street. And, apparently followed by blue lights. Similar blue lights show up later in the story.


Reynolds Tavern

The last pub of the night is 1746 Pub in the basement of Reynolds Tavern. It’s the original kitchen of William Reynolds’ hat shop in 1737, with the original stone and brick walls, a low ceiling, walk-in fireplace and brick floor.

There’s live music and the glow of a dying fire on the night of our crawl. A pleasant welcome after what we’ve been through as a group. Most of us belly-up to the bar for a drink. I order a hard cider, my first drink of the night. My nerves are tingling after the scream, caused by me. We’ve all gone through the experience together and have bonded. Friends for the night, now.

The singer takes a break and it’s time for stories by the fire. A bright TV is on in the background so it doesn’t seem so scary here.

But it turns out that strange events have been taking place in Reynolds Tavern since Jill and Andrew Petit bought the place in 2002. Kitchen items move around without explanation. A woman singing Christmas carols in an empty room. The Petits even brought in paranormal researchers in 2004 to check it out. They saw signs of ghostly activity. A sudden drop in temperature followed by a spike in heat in one corner of the room. In the end, paranormal researchers found five ghosts hanging around Reynolds Tavern.

But the most haunted house in Annapolis, according to Michelle, is the Brice House . The James Brice House was not part of this tour, but Michelle suggests we stop by the house on the way home. It’s a Georgian mansion originally built in 1767 and is now headquarters of Historic Annapolis, a not-for-profit which owns several of the Colonial mansions in Annapolis.

“Stop. Turn off the car. And just feel,” Michelle recommends. “I’m not kidding, there’s an energy, there’s just something.”

“That house is creepy as fuck!” a nearby women shouts. She then apologises for interrupting because she’s not part of the tour and got caught up in the story. But they’re right. That house IS creepy.  Michelle points out that while the other Georgian mansions are used for weddings and other special events, Brice House is not.

James Brice House, Annapolis
Brice House, an 18th century Georgian-style merchant’s mansion in Annapolis, said to be haunted (Photo courtesy Historic Annapolis)
James Brice House haunted window
Brice House photo taken by a previous tour. Zoom into the upper window. Some people see something. Others don’t. The house was closed, dark and vacant. Or was it?

At the end of the night, the group disperses. Many say their goodbyes and leave. A few stick around for another drink. As I’m walking out the door, I turn to a young, blonde, all-American guy who was part of the tour and ask, “Was it worth it?”

“Drinking and history?” he responds happily. “Absolutely!”


Just When You Think It’s Over

After the tour ended, while walking back to my car, I decide to double back to the Maryland Inn and take a photo from the street where the Captain was killed. I used two different cameras, trying to get a good picture.

I did not go by the Brice House on the way home.

A few days after the tour, I decided to call Maryland Inn to see if they think their boutique hotel is haunted. An older woman answers the phone. I explain who I am and ask her.

“I’ve been here 46 years and haven’t seen anything haunted yet,” she says. They’ve gotten reports from tours, she says, but not the guests. Any unusual sounds or occurances are attributed to the age of the building.

When I ask for her name, she refuses to tell me and says she’ll have one of the managers call me. I have yet to hear from them.

I then called the Annapolis Police Department. Michelle said police have gotten calls about a woman’s scream from the dark Brice House.

Public Information Officer, Corp. Amy Miquez, cheerfully tries to help me out. She didn’t know of anything recent. “We’ve never encountered anything that couldn’t be explained another way,” she says.

I push a little further and she flips through records, stopping in October of 2003. They had a call that reported a female yelling for assistance from the Brice House. Nothing was found.

As for the occasional reported screaming from the historic buildings in Annapolis, it could have been a fox. Corp. Miquez says, “it’s pretty freaky when you hear a fox scream.”

So I ask if officers have talked among themselves about seeing spooky things.

“There’s a lot of old things in Annapolis,” Corp. Miquez says. “It can be pretty spooky when (you’re) by yourself in one of those places.”

She goes on to say that with a good story, told at a certain time of night, you can believe almost anything.

True dat! It took me more than a month to write this story. I was too scared to look at the pictures.

Why do we say that?

Mike Carter - Thursday, September 17, 2015
Do you know why we use certain expressions even today? The truth might shock on!

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot & then once a day it was taken and sold to the tannery...if you had to do this to survive you were "Piss Poor"!

But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn't even afford to buy a pot...they "didn't have a pot to piss in" and were the lowest of the low.  The next time you are taking a shower and complain because the water pressure or temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be.

Here are some facts about the 1500s:
Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June.. However, since they were starting to smell...Brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it...Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water!"

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof... Hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs."

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, "Dirt poor." The poor had their bare earth and the wealthy had slate floors that would get muddy and slippery respectively in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed on end in the entrance-way. Hence: a thresh hold. In the Spring, after the snow and ice melted, the dirty, nasty decomposing thresh would be cleaned out of the home and used in the garden or farm fields as compost...this practice was called "Spring Cleaning"!

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire.. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme: Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old. Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, "bring home the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and chew the fat.

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the upper crust.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a wake.

England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive...So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night to listen for the bell, hence: working the graveyard shift; and thus, someone could be "saved by the bell" or was considered a "dead ringer".

And that's the truth....Now, whoever said History was boring?

Baltimore...City of Firsts

Mike Carter - Monday, June 15, 2015

Shout out to the folks at Welcome to Baltimore, Hon for sharing the knowledge! 

One of Baltimore’s many nicknames is “City of Firsts”….These “firsts” are testament to the innovations that Baltimoreans have developed throughout the city’s history. Numerous advances and innovations in industry, transportation, science, and education have been pioneered in Baltimore. SOURCE

The first umbrella in America arrived in Baltimore from India in 1772. In 1828, the first American umbrella factory opened in Baltimore.

The world’s first dredger – the Baltimore Mud Machine, was invented by Andrew and John Ellicot in 1783.

The Methodist Church in America began on December 27, 1784 at Baltimore Town’s Lovely Lane meetinghouse.

The first electric refrigerator was invented by Thomas Moore in Baltimore in 1803.

The oldest stationer in the Western Hemisphere, Lucas Brothers, began in Baltimore in 1804.

Baltimore is the birthplace of American railroads (1828). To prove its practicality, America’s first steam locomotive, the Tom Thumb, raced a horse drawn carriage out to Ellicott’s Mills, and lost the race.

Samuel F.B. Morse sent the first telegraph message, “What hath God wrought?” from Washington DC along the B&O Right-of-way to Baltimore’s Mt. Clare Station in 1844.

The first ice cream freezer was patented by W. G. Young in 1848.

Baltimore’s Thomas Kensett is credited with perfecting the technique of canning fruits and vegetables in the 1850′s. Canning became a major Baltimore industry.

Ottmar Mergenthaler introduced his Linotype machine in 1886.

First commercial stomach antacid seltzer, Bromo-Seltzer, was made by Captain Isaac E. Emerson in 1891.

The Ouija board was invented and patented by Isaac and William Fuld in 1892.

First portable electric drill with pistol grip was developed at Black & Decker in 1916.

First producer of venetian blinds in the United States was the Eastern Venetian Blind Company, 1932.

Baltimore is the home of Noxzema skin care cream, originally called “Dr. Bunting’s Sunburn Remedy.”

Baltimore’s Public Works Museum is the first US museum dedicated to the history of municipal services.

The Battle Monument is 52 feet high and is dedicated to those who lost their lives defending the city…the first monument in the US to honor the soldiers instead of the generals.

First American city to win a championship in the Canadian Football League, the Baltimore CFL’s or “Stallions” (1995).

50 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Baltimore

Mike Carter - Monday, June 15, 2015

50 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Baltimore
Charm City, I hardly knew ya!

1. Just so you know, In Baltimore It's illegal to throw bales of hay from a second-story window.

2. Also It's illegal to take a lion to the movies… there’s nothing about tigers and bears though, so there is that.

3. Put away those sexy elbows if you want to hit the jungle gym, because It is against park rules to be in a public park with a sleeveless shirt.

4. It is a violation of city code to sell chicks or ducklings to a minor within one week of the Easter holiday. This is just good advice.

50 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Baltimore
Source: Flickr user the sweet house

5. Francis Scott Key wrote The Star Spangled Banner while watching the attack on Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor during the War of 1812

6. Baseball legends Babe Ruth, Cal Ripken, Jr., Billy Ripken, Lefty Grove, Frank Baker and Harold Baines were all born in Baltimore

50 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Baltimore
Source: public domain via Wikimedia

7. Baltimore's nickname is Charm City.

8. The first professional sports organization in the United States, The Maryland Jockey Club, was formed in Baltimore in 1743.

9. The Ouija board was first marketed by Charles Kennard of Baltimore who who pulled together a group of four other investors to create the Kennard Novelty Company specifically to make and sell the boards.

50 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Baltimore
Source: Flickr user Ann Larie Valentine

10. Snowballs—grandfathers to slushies, snow cones, and shaved ice—were invented in Baltimore during the American Industrial Revolution. Also invented that day: the brainfreeze.

11. This may or may not have lead to the first dental school in the world being founded in Baltimore in 1840.

12. Notorious gunslinger Doc Holliday was called "Doc" because he was a dentist. Holliday learned his trade at the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery.

13. Edgar Allen Poe died, and was buried in Westminster Church Cemetery at Fayette and Green. It’s tradition for visitors leave coins on the grave. But you might want to bring some cat treats too for all the cats that keep watch over Poe’s final resting place

14. Since 1949, every year on the night of Poe’s birthday, a mysterious stranger in black left a bottle of cognac and three roses on his grave. And just as mysteriously stopped in 2010.

50 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Baltimore
Source: Flickr user kezee

15. If you love Neo-Impressionism (and really, who doesn’t) take note of this fact: The Baltimore Museum of Art is home to the internationally renowned Cone Collection, and it holds the largest collection of Henri Matisse's works in the world.

50 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Baltimore
Source: Flickr user Dave Hosford

16. The first post office system in the United States was inaugurated in Baltimore in 1774.

17. The first telegraph line in the world was established between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore in 1844.

18. The first umbrella factory in America was established in Baltimore in 1828.

50 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Baltimore
Source: Flickr user Edd Prince

19. Baltimore was the first city to implement 311 service as a non-emergency hotline.

20. The first civic monument dedicated to President George Washington, Baltimore's Washington Monument, is located in Baltimore.

21. The first successful manned balloon launch in the United States launched from Baltimore and was operated by 13-year-old Edward Warren in 1784.

22. Baltimore is the 26th largest city in the country.

23. Actors Jada Pinkett Smith, Edward Norton, and Tupac Shakur all attended the Baltimore School for the Arts

24. James Brown once owned the number one radio station in town. Kwesi Mfume worked for him there while attended Baltimore Community College.

25. America's first Catholic cathedral, the Baltimore Basilica of Assumption, is located in Baltimore.

50 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Baltimore
Source: Wikimedia user Basilica1

26. Using hydrogen gas, Baltimore was the first United States city to illuminate its streets in 1816.

27. The first bloodshed of the Civil War, a clash between pro-South civilians and Union troops in Baltimore, happened in 1861.

28. The first African American-owned shipyard in the United States is now an African American heritage site, the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park Museum.

29. Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) is the first and only United States airport to have a dedicated trail for hiking and biking.

30. Baltimore caused the standardization of firefighting equipment across the country after a fire in 1904 wiped out most of the city.

31. Michael Phelps, the most medaled Olympian of all time, with 22 gold medals was born in the city

50 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Baltimore
Source: Wikimedia user Eric Draper

32. The 1,200 foot Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore is the second longest continuous truss bridge in the nation.

33. Baltimore is home to the USS Constellation. This ship is the last Civil War vessel afloat. It was built in 1854 and is the last all-sail warship built by the U.S. Navy.

34. Baltimore was the birthplace of the American railroad. In 1829, the B&O Railroad (Baltimore & Ohio) was built, serving as the country’s first commercial railroad and long-distance track, with the nation’s first passenger station as well.

35. Both the 1988 and 2007 releases of Hairspray were filmed in Baltimore.

36. According to the Brookings Institution, almost a quarter of the jobs in the Baltimore region are science, technology, engineering and math positions.

37. Thurgood Marshall, the grandson of a slave, a champion for civil rights, and the first African American to serve on the Supreme court, was from Baltimore. Before being appointed a judge, Marshall won the most cases before the Supreme Court than any other American.

50 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Baltimore
Source: Wikimedia user Public Domain

38. The city is named after Cecilius Calvert, Lord Baltimore, a member of the Irish House of Lords and the founding proprietor of the Maryland Colony.

39. On February 7, 1904, the Great Baltimore Fire destroyed over 1,500 buildings in 30 hours, leaving more than 70 blocks of the downtown area burned to the ground. Damages were estimated at $150 million—in 1904 dollars.

40. The Lloyd Street Synagogue in Baltimore is one of the oldest synagogues in the United States.

50 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Baltimore
Source: wikimedia user Kuduzvine

41. I.M. Pei's World Trade Center (1977) is the tallest equilateral pentagonal building in the world at 405 feet (123 m) tall.

42. Baltimore is a city of more than 220 neighborhoods.

43. The 40-story Legg Mason Building is the tallest building in Baltimore.

44. Reginald F. Lewis, the first black owner of a billion dollar company, was born in Baltimore.

45. Billie Holiday, the jazz singer, was born in Baltimore. A monument in her honor stands on the corner of Lafayette and Pennsylvania Avenues.

50 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Baltimore
Source: Wkimedia user United States library of Congress

46. The Mother Seton House in Baltimore celebrates the life of the first American to be sainted, a Baltimore resident.

47. The Indianapolis Colts were actually the Baltimore Colts. Johnny Unitas, in most probability the greatest quarterback NFL has ever seen, helped the Colts win over 17 seasons in Baltimore.

48. Johns Hopkins Hospital was built on the site of an insane asylum. Hopkins bought the 13-acre site for $150,000 instead of following through on plans to build the hospital on his 330-acre estate in Clifton.

50 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Baltimore
Source: wikimedia user LizardRaley99

49. Johns Hopkins’ library collection includes more than 4.3 million titles.

50. The Baltimore Ravens could have been called the Americans or the Marauders. We’ll leave it up to you to decide if they made the right choice.

Things to do on Valentine's Day in Maryland!

Mike Carter - Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Yup, it's Valentine's Day! It's that time of the year again! Awash in a sea of reds, pinks, lace, flowers, hearts and cute little angels with bow and arrow in hand! And, like many people, as much as we pretend we hate it all, we are still searching for ideas to make the day perfect for that special someone in our lives.

Dinner out has become difficult with the crowds, limited reservations, and the often exorbitant fixed price (prix fixe) menus which can make a huge dent in the wallet! What seemed like a good idea, can easily become a night of frustration, punctuated by "not as good as usual" food with matching service and which ends up far from the perfect romantic evening you had in mind.

So, what's a soul to do? Take a step back and rethink the concept! The point of the day is to celebrate love and caring. Not a bad excuse for a holiday if you really think about it...So, rather than trying to find the perfect restaurant or the perfect gift, what you should be thinking is "what truly shows this person I love and/or care about them?" What makes them happy? How do I make them smile? And then start there. While we don't have all the answers, here are a few thoughts! Whether setting up a first date, a first Valentine's Day together or celebrating another successful and happy year of loving and caring for each other, here are some outside of the box ideas to truly make the day and evening special!


  1. Flowers: We know this seems cliché, but is also a very necessary component for many people on Valentine's Day. But, why stick with convention? Try something different! Bypass the roses and the pink carnations and do something memorable! Make them the flowers she'll always remember and blast out pics of across social media! Consider something tropical, it's winter after all and your choice of vibrant tropical flowers not only show you took time to think about her, but it also helps to take the mind someplace warm and fun, with people drinking colorful cocktails! Sets the stage for a fun Valentine's! And, tropical flowers are surprisingly cost effective if you find a good florist! Consider bright flowers like Hibiscus, Anthurium, Birds or Paradise, Heliconia or something else you'd find on a tropical island! Really want to break the mold and be memorable? How about a beautiful orchid! Unlike cut flowers, an orchid should stay in bloom for several months of enjoyment and will bloom again and again! Hopefully, just like your love!
    Suggested Florists: Annapolis (Studio H Floral Design), Baltimore (Flowers & Fancies)

  2. Candy & Chocolates: There's always something special and possibly sexy about sweets on Valentine's Day! Much like with the flowers, take a pass on the everyday! Say "NO" to the Whitman's Sampler or Heart Shaped Box of Russell Stover Chocolates! There are so many great chocolatiers, and readily available premium confections out there these days, that finding something unique and special is just a gourmet grocer or Google search away! Try a crazy combo chocolate, like Bacon Chocolate or Jalapeno Chocolate! Or if you really want to make an impression, head to Godiva or a local chocolatier for chocolate-dipped fresh strawberries or for some unique hand-crafted truffles, yum! Which brings us to the sexy part. Want to win over your lady's heart, feed her one of those strawberries...with a side of whipped cream for dipping first (pssst, chicks LOVE this)! Who knows where that chocolate and whipped cream might lead? You can thank us later!
    Suggested Chocolatiers/Confectioners: Annapolis (Annapolis Chocolate Bar), Baltimore (Wockenfuss Candies)

  3. Skating at the Inner Harbor Ice Rink (Baltimore, MD): What's more romantic than ice skating in the city, under the stars, next to the waterfront with that someone special? Not much. How about recreating the ice rink scenes from the movie "Serendipity" ? Never saw it? Trust us, she has...many times! So watch it first! Tips: Don't forget to bring along a thermos of hot cocoa or coffee and a cozy blanket to snuggle under during those skating breaks. Create a night to remember! Located at McKeldin Square – 101 East Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD, 21202 – directly across from Harborplace at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the Inner Harbor Ice Rink is open until February 16th, so you're covered for Valentine's weekend! Situated along the Baltimore waterfront, with a breathtaking view of the city's skyline, the Inner Harbor Ice Rink offers family-fun or the perfect setting for a romantic holiday date! And, it's a bargain at only $9 for adults and $7 for children, with a $3 skate rental for those in need!

  5. Haunted Pub Crawl or Walking Ghost Tour (Annapolis and Baltimore, MD): Looking for something fun and different to do on either a first date or your 50th date? Then consider a haunted pub crawl or a walking ghost tour. While some people are thinking "that's for Halloween", what you should be thinking is "scary and romantic!"...Something to make your date pull you close and keep you there all night! We happen to know of several couples who met on first dates on haunted pub crawls and who are now married! Tours & Crawls of Annapolis and Baltimore offer some of the highest-rated walking tours and pub crawls in the country! Even changing up their tours for Valentine's Day, adding in some tales of romance spanning centuries and love which transcends even death! So head to Fells Point or Historic Annapolis for a fun and memorable night on the town! Tips: On a pub crawl, be a gentleman and always order something special for your date without her having to ask. Spring for glasses of champagne along the way and toast to love or to the characters in the tales you'll hear! She'll appreciate the effort and you'll look like a hero. For a walking ghost tour, consider bringing along a cozy blanket to wrap around the both of you and to snuggle under while walking around these historic towns at night!

  6. Dinner & Movie: Yes, but not out! At home with a delicious, well- thought out menu of romantic cuisine. Roll out the dough and make your own pizza! Or maybe a nice pasta, for that "Lady and the Tramp" moment! Why fight the crowds when a nice dinner with either fun cocktails, tasty beers or a nice bottle or two of wine can be just as romantic. Make the meal together. Give your evening a theme and pair your food, drink and movie to that. Light some candles and enjoy (and if you're like me, bribe your kids to stay upstairs or send them to Grandma's). After dinner, a nice scary movie or something romantic under a blanket together.

  8. Tastings (Throughout MD):    

    Here's a Valentine's fact that lots of people seem to's Valentine's DAY, not just Valentine's Night! That means you have the entire day to do something special or romantic to show someone you care for them! Which brings us to tastings. Saturday is a great day to go out and taste some local wines, beers or distilled spirits. And, it still leaves your evening open for something else. Here in Maryland, we are blessed to have so many wineries, breweries and distilleries where you can taste local spirits fresh at the source! It's a really fun way to spend and afternoon and most are located in scenic areas of our beautiful state. So take a daytrip together! Here are a few options in each category... 

    • Winery Tastings:
    Linganore, Boordy, Elk Run, St. Michael's Winery, Great Frog, and more...
    • Brewery Tastings:  Heavy Seas, Union CraftJail BreakEvolution Craft Brewing and more...
    • Distillery Tastings: Lyon Distilling (Rum), Blackwater Distillery (Sloop Betty Vodka), Twin Valley Distillery (Vodka & Rum)
    • Meadery Tastings: Charm City Meadworks

Things to do in Maryland during the Holidays!

Mike Carter - Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Holiday Season is upon us! Friends and family have begun showing up on our doorsteps; young and hip, those leading a caravan of children, and they all want to have fun! So, here is our list, in no particular order, of "Things to do in Maryland During the Holidays 2014!"


Annapolis during the Holidays
  1. Visit Historic Downtown Annapolis, Maryland: Travel + Leisure Magazine gives Annapolis, Maryland the #15 spot on its list of "America’s Best Towns for the Holidays!" This military town along the Chesapeake Bay does plenty of pomp, circumstance, and tailgating during the holiday season. Annapolis ranked well for Christmas lights, notably the drive-through Lights on the Bay in Sandy Point State Park, which starts up in mid-November. Downtown Annapolis also keeps its shops lit and open until midnight on a few Thursdays during December. Don't miss the Eastport Yacht Club's Lights Parade, where every year on the second Saturday in December (12/13/14), magic happens on the water of the Annapolis Harbor—boats suddenly appear out of the cold winter night illuminated with thousands of colored lights and crewed by jolly revelers. Families and friends gather at their favorite viewing spots along the waterfront to see this yearly spectacle and to celebrate the holiday season together. To celebrate alongside the military locals, you can hear Handel’s Messiah performed by the Naval Academy Glee Club in the Naval Academy Chapel, or just sit tight until the Military Bowl, which falls on December 27, 2014, at the U.S. Navy–Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. No surprise, the locals also scored well for being passionate sports fans. Also, for those who want to see Annapolis at night, consider one of Annapolis Tours & Crawls' holiday events like Santa's Naughty Pub Crawl or the Ghosts of Xmas Past Walking Tour!

  2. Inner Harbor Ice Skating
  3. Skating at the Inner Harbor Ice Rink (Baltimore, MD): Located at McKeldin Square – 101 East Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD, 21202 – directly across from Harborplace at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, the Inner Harbor Ice Rink is open seven days a week, including holidays from November 21st – January 19th! Situated along the Baltimore waterfront, with a breathtaking view of the city's skyline, the Inner Harbor Ice Rink offers family-fun or the perfect setting for a romantic holiday date! And, it's a bargain at only $9 for adults and $7 for children, with a $3 skate rental for those in need! Come on out and get your inner Brian Boitano on!

  4.     Olde Tyme Christmas in Historic Fells Point
  5. Olde Tyme Christmas in Historic Fells Point! (Baltimore, MD): This year marks the 11th annual Olde Tyme Christmas Celebration in historic Fells Point, where you can enjoy the popular activities and events offered in "Christmas Past" celebrations and also some new events. December 6th, 2014 the neighborhood will be arrayed in fragrant green garlands, red bows, and twinkling lights. What better way to get in the holiday spirit than an authentic Holiday Market, Eggnog Contest, Breakfast with Santa, Horse-drawn Sleigh Rides, Reindeer Run Pub Crawl,  Family Holiday Activities, and the Annual Parade of Lighted boats scheduled at 6:00PM. Fell's Point offers a traditional Christmas celebration that will charm and delight you, your family, and friends!

  6. Santa's Naughty Pub Crawl (Annapolis, Fells Point or Federal Hill):Santa's Naughty Pub Crawl

    For the adults ONLY! Want to go out drinking, carousing and caroling with Old St. Nick? Then take Santa's Naughty Pub Crawl! And while Tours & Crawls Entertainment don't have a direct line to the big guy (besides, he's kinda busy rechecking his list and making sure you're in the right column), you can enjoy a two-hour pub crawl and naughty caroling trip through the streets and pubs of Annapolis, Fells Point or Federal Hill led by their very own Bad Santa or one of his "Naughty" Helpers! Guests are encouraged to dress as the Jolly Fat man himself, as perhaps a naughty Mrs. Claus, the traditional Mrs. for the more inhibited or maybe one of Santa's little helpers on this rip-roaring holiday party crawl! Guest will be visiting numerous taverns, enjoying festive holiday cocktails and seasonal artisan beers all the while singing raucous carols from the "Naughty Xmas Carol Songbook" (to be supplied to each guest).

  7. Maryland Seasonal Holiday Beer
  8. Indulge in Maryland's Holiday Beers!: Tis the season to be of Maryland's many fine locally-brewed seasonal craft beers! Here's a short list of beers you should not miss:  Heavy Seas Brewing's Winter Storm, Union Craft Brewing's Snow Pants Oatmeal Stout, and then there's the Flying Dog Brewing Holiday Collection, which comes out of a collaboration between the brewery and Baltimore's own Otterbein's Cookies to bring out a line of cookie-flavored seasonal brews, YUM!

  9. Maryland Seasonal Holiday Beer
  10. Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade (Annapolis, MD): Every year on the second Saturday in December, magic happens on the water of the Annapolis Harbor during the Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade  — boats suddenly appear out of the cold winter night illuminated with thousands of colored lights and crewed by jolly revelers.  Families and friends gather at their favorite viewing spots along the waterfront to see this yearly spectacle and to celebrate the holiday season together.  The Eastport Yacht Club Lights Parade is one of Annapolis’ signature events and we invite you to join us as a participant in the parade or as a spectator cheering on the decorated boats and their crews. Our tips, get there early to scope out a great viewing spot, bring a blanket (and a flask, wink wink), it can get cold out there!

  11. Mayor's Christmas Parade
  12. Mayor's Annual Christmas Parade (Baltimore, MD): Mark your calendars! The 41th Annual Mayor's Christmas Parade will be held on December 7th, 2014 at 1PM. Sponsored by community associations and businesses in North Baltimore's Hampden and Medfield neighborhoods. The attendance along the 2.5 mile route reached 25,000 people last year at the Annual Mayor's Christmas Parade to view Santa Claus and about 160 marching units. The parade will feature floats, local TV and Radio personalities, over 100 Harley Davidson motorcycles, a steam calliope, great bands, Mummers of Philadelphia, Miss Yuletide and Jr. Miss Yuletide and of course Santa!

  13. Miracle on 34th Street
  14. Miracle on 34th Street (Baltimore, MD): This is a must see during the holiday season! Check out Christmas Street in the Village of Hampden, located in North Baltimore! Millions of lights on dozens of homes, all along one city block!  The lights come on for the season THIS Saturday the 29th between 5:00 and 6:00 PM depending on the TV coverage so they can sync up with there respective networks. Looking forward to seeing everyone there. For the season the lights will be on everyday from 5:00PM to 11:00PM.  For Xmas eve and New Years eve the lights are on all night. The lights go off for the season on Jan 2nd.

  15. Holiday Lights Drive-thru Spectaculars
  16. Drive-thru Holiday Lights Spectaculars (Sandy Point & Columbia, MD): Pile the family in the car and head on out to check out some really cool holiday lights in these drive-thru light shows! Two of the best are the Lights on the Bay, at Sandy Point State Park near the foot of the Bay Bridge, which benefits Anne Arundel Medical Center, and the Symphony of Lights at Symphony Woods in Columbia, MD, which benefits Howard County General Hospital!

  17.     Holiday Lights Drive-thru Spectaculars
  18. "Tours for Toys" Charity Toy Drive (Annapolis & Baltimore, MD): Taking place every December, these events in Annapolis (12/23) and Baltimore (12/12) are a great way to get out and explore these great cities on FREE Walking Tours and Pub Crawls, while providing toys to underprivileged children through a charitable donation. The event's organizers, Tours & Crawls Entertainment and Intrinsic Events are offering up an entire evening of Tours and Crawls at NO CHARGE...all they ask is that guests bring an unwrapped toy which will be donated to two local charities who then distribute them to families in need so that every kid can have a very Merry Xmas! In Annapolis, all toys go to "We Care and Friends" and in Baltimore the recipient is "The Family Tree of MD"! Both great organizations and worthy causes! Come on out and make a difference! Don't forget your toys!


Tours & Crawls on TV

Mike Carter - Friday, November 21, 2014

For those who missed it, Tours & Crawls CEO, Mike Carter spent the early hours of Halloween morning on location at The Admiral Fell Inn talking with WMAR-TV2's reporter Adrienne Green about ghost tours and the history and hauntings in Fells Point, Baltimore! Watch them here: 

Part 1:


Part 2:


Part 3:

How Baltimore Became "Charm City"

Mike Carter - Monday, October 06, 2014

Special thanks to The Baltimore Sun and Baltimore storyteller Gilbert Sandler for sharing this knowledge!

How the city's nickname came to be 

WHEN IT comes to news reporting, the old city-room edict is always: first, get the story; and second, get it right. When the writer gets it wrong, it's a mess. It gets the reader who knows better all upset, confuses history and puts an error in the record books. I know; I've had my share of errors.

Recently, the New York Times, which is known for its excellence, included what some of us around Baltimore consider a glaring error. On Sunday, July 9, the Times published an article about Baltimore in its travel section, called "What's Doing in Baltimore," by writer Melinda Henneberger. "H. L. Mencken," she wrote, "that old charmer, dubbed his hometown 'Charm City.' "

Well, Ms. Henneberger, you got it wrong.

The nickname "Charm City" traces its origins only back to 1975 (Mencken died in 1956); it grew out of creative conferences among four of the city's leading advertising executives and creative directors: Dan Loden and art director Stan Paulus of VanSant/Dugdale; Herb Fried and writer Bill Evans from W. B. Donor. As leaders of the city's largest advertising agencies, they had come together at then Mayor William Donald Schaefer's request to "come up with something to promote the city. And do it now! I'm worried about this city's poor image." Mayor Schaefer had reason to worry.

It was the Baltimore before Harborplace, the Maryland Science Center and the Aquarium. Charles Center was going up, but more was coming down. "Baltimore," native son Mark Kram wrote in Sports Illustrated at the time, "is an anonymous city even to those who live there, a city that draws a laugh even from Philadelphia, a sneer from Washington, with a hundred tag lines that draw neither smile nor sneer from the city: Nickel Town, Washington's Brooklyn. A Loser's Town."

It was that reputation the mayor was fighting. So, the challenge was there for Messrs. Loden, Paulus, Fried and Evans. Mr. Loden recalls, "Stan Paulus and Bill Evans came up with the thought that Baltimore had so much hidden charm and started to work out how the idea might be translated into advertisements." Recalls Mr. Paulus, "It was Bill Evans who wrote the line that set it all going: 'Baltimore has more history and unspoiled charm tucked away in quiet corners than most American cities out in the spotlight.' "

Soon, Dan Loden recalls, the four of them at work began calling Baltimore "Charm City." Indeed, a charm bracelet was displayed at the bottom of each ad; there were only about five of them. But "Charm City" had been born, and set into Baltimore legend.

The ads ran in The Sun, and featured the charm of Charm City: White steps, steamed crabs, beer, Mount Vernon, the Preakness, Mencken, museums, quiet neighborhood streets, Babe Ruth, row houses and raw bars.

Local disk jockeys created music to promote the slogan. "They gave it their best. But it was an idea whose time had not come," Mr. Loden recalls. "The city did not have the money [or, yet the attractions] to sustain the program and it died."

Mr. Evans said: "I would be flattered to have my work attributed to H. L. Mencken, if the idea weren't so absurd. Nothing could be more un-Mencken than 'Charm City.' Copywriters are not above stealing, but they aren't stupid. No one in his right mind would take credit for material originating with H. L. Mencken in a city that has almost as many Mencken scholars as we have Oriole fans."


To be charitable, according to Mencken scholar Vincent Fitzpatrick, Mencken often used the word "charm" in talking about Baltimore. An example from The Evening Sun of May 11, 1931: "The old charm, in truth, still survives in the town. . . ." But that's a long way from having dubbed Baltimore "Charm City."

As for Ms. Henneberger's getting it wrong -- hey, hon, it happens -- even among the pros.



10 Things Only People From Baltimore Will Understand

Mike Carter - Thursday, September 04, 2014

Thanks again to Movoto and writer Erica Zane for dropping some more Baltimore knowledge! 

10 Things Only People From Baltimore Will Understand
It's all true Charm City!  

1. It’s Perfectly Acceptable To Address Everyone As “Hon”

10 Things Only People From Baltimore Will Understand
Source: Facebook user Honfest


Some Marylanders take offense to the stereotype of the “hon” but not Baltimoreans. They’re loud and proud about it, hon! They even have a “Honfest” that celebrates true hon culture. (If you want to meet a true Baltimore Hon, be sure to take one of Baltimore Tours & Crawls' Walking Ghost Tours or Haunted Pub Crawls with Stacy, winner and champion Bawlmer "Miss Hon" 2013!)

So get your hair done up, put on those fake eyelashes, and get ready for a hon parade cause this is Baltimore.

2. There Is Nothing Better On The Planet Than Berger’s Cookies

10 Things Only People From Baltimore Will Understand
Source: Flickr user Emily-Carlton


This classic, chocolatey, delicious Baltimore snack is not meant to be eaten lightly… you need at least a pound of Berger’s or you’re doing something wrong with your life. Quit being an amateur.

3. Except Maybe Kicking Back And Drinking Natty Boh All Day

10 Things Only People From Baltimore Will Understand
Source: Flickr user newskin0


National Bohemian Beer was brewed in Baltimore before recently being bought out by Pabst. But Baltimoreans don’t care. To them, it will always be the beer that defines their city.

This is, and will forever be, the beer any true Baltimorean craves on a hot summer day at the beach or while watching an Orioles game. It’s Natty Boh, or nothing.

4. Baltimoreans Have Complicated Feelings About “The Wire”

10 Things Only People From Baltimore Will Understand


No matter how much they deny it, Baltimoreans secretly love “The Wire” and the notoriety it gives the city. Plus, watching the show and seeing their neighborhoods, stores, and schools as sets is actually a pretty awesome thing about living in Baltimore.

5. Utz Potato Chips Are The Greatest Thing That Ever Happened To The Potato

10 Things Only People From Baltimore Will Understand
Source: Facebook user Utz Snacks


Utz Potato Chips are a way of life in Baltimore. Sprinkle a little J.O. Spice on them and you’re golden. Yum.

6. Wondering Who The Heck The Poe Toaster Is, And Where The Heck He Went

10 Things Only People From Baltimore Will Understand
Source: wikimedia user midnight dreary


If you’re a true Baltimorean, you’ve undoubtedly tried to get a glimpse of the Poe Toaster—a mysterious man who visited the grave of Poe on Poe’s birthday, leaving only a rose and a bottle of cognac behind.

The tradition went on for 75 years, and though it has since stopped, many Baltimoreans still visit the grave on Poe’s birthday to see if he’ll return. This is just one of those Baltimore traditions that’ll never really die.

7. Love The Orioles Or G.T.F.O (Especially You Nationals Fans)

10 Things Only People From Baltimore Will Understand
Source: blogspot user nats55


There’s nothing better than a good old-fashioned baseball rivalry to make a city. Almost all Baltimoreans (with any good sense in them) root tirelessly for the Baltimore Orioles. However, an unfortunate few still pledge loyalty to the Washington Nationals (for God knows what reason…)

So, Nationals fans beware. This is the Orioles’ city. And they’re proud of it.

8. The Need To Eat All The Delicious Crabs You Can Get Your Hands On

10 Things Only People From Baltimore Will Understand
Source: Facebook user Schultz’s Crab House


Everyone knows that Baltimore has the best blue crabs in all of Maryland. Don’t believe me? Head to the Baltimore Crab Festival. Or, better yet, the Baltimore Crab and Beer Festival.

Baltimoreans know how to make crab in a million different ways and could serve it to you for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Tip: you eat crabs with your hands. Utensils are not for true Baltimoreans.

9. A Holiday Hubcap At Nacho Mama’s Makes The World A Better (And Drunker) Place

10 Things Only People From Baltimore Will Understand
Source: Nacho Mama’s


All Baltimoreans know the best place to drink on a Friday night is Nacho Mama’s. Where else will you get to have a cheap, hubcap-sized margarita? The answer is nowhere. So drink up and enjoy. Plus, the nachos are, well, amazing.

10. Yelling At People About J.O. Spice Being Better Than Old Bay Just Comes Naturally To Baltimoreans (*Though they are wrong) 

10 Things Only People From Baltimore Will Understand
Source: J.O. Spice


All Baltimoreans know that J.O. Spice is where it’s at. If someone tells you its Old Bay, they’re clearly an outsider. So away with you, Baltimorean posers.

*As the founder and CEO of Tour & Crawls and an Annapolitan, I must disagree with Baltimore on this one...Old Bay on Chesapeake Bay caught crabs is the only way to go! With ice cold Natty Boh...of course!

Did we miss anything? Tell us what you think is unique about Baltimore in the comments below!

Fells Point Hanted Pub Crawl in Baltimore

Mike Carter - Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Baltimore Tours & Crawls tour guide extraordinaire Amanda went on Fox 45 News this morning to talk about our Fells Point Haunted Pub Crawls and Walking Ghost Tours...take a look! 

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