First of all, understand these names are fictitious.* I wanted to use monikers that convey some sense of dignity for two individuals holding the title of “Bums of Northern Parkway.”
I worked in Baltimore. Many times, on my way to the office, I end up sitting at the intersection of Northern Parkway and Falls Road (since I rarely beat the light), in the right lane to turn south on Falls. This is considered the most dangerous intersection in the city (not relevant, just an interesting side note). In the median strip by the left turn lane to go north on Falls Road, one of two interchangeable bums is probably walking back and forth seeking financial assistance from the cars waiting for the light to change. I know bums is a lousy word. We can call them homeless, derelicts, hobos, or some other derogatory term used to poke fun at two fellows who were obviously down on their luck. They didn’t have a lobby group or enough people who cared to force us to be politically correct. To avoid being mean, we’ll call them Maynard G. and Crowell.
What strikes me is how many people ignored them. Regardless of the weather, the windows that may have been down were hurriedly closed, and the eyes of the drivers focused on anything other than Maynard G. and Crowell. No one seemed to be reaching in their pockets or glove box to scrape together a dollar or some spare change to give. It’s easier to think, “Get a job, ” or “I work hard for my money, why should I give it to these beggars?” I understand. But let’s weigh the situation with regard to Maynard G. and Crowell.
Maynard G. appeared to be the victim of a stroke, industrial accident or birth defect. His right side was mostly paralyzed, yet he trekked back and forth at a lumbering pace to gain the attention of anyone who would look. His ability to obtain employment seemed thwarted. Crowell, on the other hand, bordered on healthy enough physically, but probably sufferer from a mental condition, handicapping his prospects of a real job. If you watched for a while, Crowell always went to the sign at the top of the median at the end of his walk and touched it in four distinct spots, in a very regimented pattern (some say a cross). Crowell wouldn’t have been browsing the Business Casual section of Men’s Wearhouse. Maynard G. and Crowell’s alternatives are slim.
One time I landed in the left lane on the other side of the street (the dangerous side) with Maynard G. approaching me. He had been relegated to this location after being dislodged by candy sellers who took over his other spot. Business for them was very good. I reached into my pocket, grabbed a handy dollar left over from lunch, and held it out for Maynard G., who dragged himself as fast as he could, while I worried the light might change. It was only a dollar, but you should have seen his face.
A lot of costumes worn on Halloween are in the Maynard G. and Crowell vain. When I was a kid, Freddie Freeloader was one of my favorite characters on the Red Skelton show. I laughed, and he received accolades. I didn’t think it was mean; it seemed kind of funny. Pan Handling for a living was an acceptable skit. Maynard G. and Crowell were not amused.
Out of a total population of three hundred million Americans, we spend $ 6 billion dollars a year on ice cream (2019); candy rakes in $3 billion; $254 billion dollars on alcohol (2018); NFL Franchises have a combined worth of $205 billion; and sales during Thanksgiving and Black Friday combined must exceed the annual budget of not just a few small cities.
So, the next time ice cream is on the tip of your tongue, while extravagant chocolate melts in your mouth, probably dessert following the Turkey Dinner you’ll take hours to absorb on Thanksgiving . . . . . just take a nano-moment to think about Maynard G. and Crowell.
Have a nice Thanksgiving with your family. Enjoy the football. Don’t run out of beer.
Bake My Fish
* The photos were extracted from the Internet. They are not pictures of Maynard G. and Crowell.
2 thoughts on “Maynard G. and Crowell – The Bums of Northern Parkway”
Keep up the good work.