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And you though Halloween was scary

November 02, 1998

You probably noticed that this was an extra-spooky weekend in Hagerstown, even for Halloween.

I mean the dual sensations of watching the Mummers' Parade and being dry at the same time was just a little too eerie for me to stand. Besides, I don't go nowhere without my laser pointer, man. You cut down my laser pointer, you're cutting down me.

I swear, if the City Council paid half as much attention to vacant buildings and downtown shopping as it did to kids with laser pointers and loud car stereos, this might be a decent city in which to live.

There. That's my low blow for the column. For health reasons, I'm trying to limit myself to three a week. I should cut them out altogether, but that's like asking a heart patient to cut out bacon AND the mayonnaise all in the same week.

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So I'm walking up Antietam Street and I see the parade has all the cops out waving flashlights at the traffic and I think oh great, how many hundred thousands of dollars is THIS going to cost us in police overtime and I - what?

Oh come on, that doesn't count.

All right, fine. Two and a half columns left to go this week and I'm already two-thirds used up. That's just great.

But I was trying to make a helpful suggestion here. That is, why not let all the kids with laser flashlights direct traffic? Put the little urchins to work, let the police officers enjoy the parade with their wives or husbands and families and save the taxpayers about two cents on the hundred.

Brilliant, huh? But do you think you would get that kind of creative thought out of our elected leaders? Pooh. They're too busy riding in their vintage convertibles, which is the one good thing about the fact that it usually rains.

Speaking of stuff falling out of the sky, I see by the looks of my car that the crows are back. It has gotten to the point where I sort of miss them when they're gone. There's something about all that cawing and all that frantic rustling in the trees and all the dropping-slickened sidewalks that says "home." If they left for good, it would create a void that somehow would be hard for me to fill.

Like those poor thousands of pigeons that have been displaced by the demolition of the big empty warehouse on Antietam Street, which is being taken down to make way for the new District Court building.

The birds are looking for a new spot to roost, but can't seem to find new quarters that are satisfactory. Probably all the husband pigeons would settle anywhere, but the wife pigeons can't find a spot with sufficient closet space.

I was splitting my time last week watching them launch a former senator into space and watching the pigeons.

They will fly up in one big mass, land briefly atop one of the city's old hotels and then repeat the exercise all over again. They just can't get comfortable.

And what with Vincent Groh selling the warehouse to the state and actually fixing up (and very nicely, I might add) one of his properties on Washington Street, we have a serious pigeon displacement problem.

Say what you will about Vince, but at least as long as he's been a major property owner in Hagerstown, no pigeon has wanted for decent shelter.

All right, maybe not decent, but who among us believes it is a pigeon's lot in life to be choosy? What's going to happen if all of a sudden we have a wave of homeless pigeons standing on the street corners hassling passersby for spare change?

And you thought Halloween was scary.




Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist

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