CAMPTown: O' Baltimore!
|by Marion McGrath|
With such diverse past residents as Edgar Allan Poe and Tupac Shakur, Baltimore (City) is well served with John Waters as film chronicler. Rehoboth Beach's Baltimore (Avenue), possibly the gayest of streets in town, has its fair share of characters and a wide range of shops to please them. What makes our Baltimore even more attractive this time of year is the absence of those evil parking meters. So park your car, get out, and visit Baltimore, Rehoboth style.
Last month's column went to the dogs (and cats). We gave you some ideas on where to park your pets while you travel. Now we'd like to encourage you to treat them with as much care and style as you lavish on your fabulous selves. You know that pets are welcome at Critter Beach (33 Baltimore Avenue) even before you read the sign telling you that. There, right on the sidewalk in front, is a huge double water dish that must look like an oasis to a thirsty dog on a hot day. Now in his fifth season, owner Tracy Rosetti has assembled one of the most unusual and fun shops that caters to the quadrupeds' every fancy. There's the usual array of crates, grooming supplies and chewies that you expect in any pet shop but the ordinary stops there.
Your pet will definitely be coordinated with designer leashes and collars to match from plain to jewel studded. Satisfying your urge to decorate, choose food or water dishes with bone or paw print dcor and, naturally, the matching treat canister for your countertop.
To help bring out your pets inner butch or femme, try decking them out in a frou-frou turtleneck sprinkled with stars, a lumberjack red and black plaid vest, the black muscle T-shirt that announces "My Daddy is a Biker", black leather jacket, or, our personal favorite, that knit tube Little Black Dress, pearl studded with built in pearl choker, perfect for evening wear. Spike barks out show tunes? How about a Mommie Dearest leopard print coat with matching hat that should make him feel quite queenly. Your animal is more practical? A yellow rain slicker, polartec jacket or knit sweater should suffice. Even a little something that could change YOUR life: a T-shirt that says, "Ask Me About My Owner. Single, Nice Looking, Kind to Animals. AVAILABLE." Critter Beach is a place full of whimsy and an obvious love for animals. Go there just to see the hats we haven't told you about.
A jewelry store with a dog water bowl out front? What's that all about? Albert Frank, owner of the eponymous Albert Frank's Fine Jewelry (29 Baltimore Avenue) says he loves dogs and even keeps a box of dog biscuits behind the counter for four-legged visitors. Inside the store is another matter. You say you'd really like to see your honey lookin' swell baby, with diamonds Woolworth's doesn't sell, baby? Well you've come to the right place. Precious stones such as diamonds, rubies and emeralds are the specialties of the house, set in gold or platinum only. Precious stones and precious metals: sounds just about right to us and the pieces displayed are gorgeous. There's a dazzling array of necklaces, earrings, bracelets, tie-tacs, cufflinks, and rings, rings, rings. Pearls? Need you ask?
One of the things that sets this sparkling jewel box of a store a cut above most is the emphasis on custom designs. Albert Frank is a craftsman who can create just about anything you can imagine. He showed us a specially created stud and cufflink set that left us breathless. This creation is in diamonds and gold and replicates a pattern which was designed on fabric for Napoleon and is known as, what else?, Napoleon's Bees. We held in our hands a drove of the most exquisite bees which were fashioned out of yellow gold with inset diamonds enough to make Liz Taylor do a double take. While the bees belong to someone already (they were just in to have a pair of yellow diamonds inserted as eyes in each one) they show what can be produced as imaginative custom work.
We couldn't leave the place without emphasizing its charm, actually charms. One of the display cases is devoted almost exclusively to gold charms. There are mermaids, starfish, sand dollars and a larger variety of shells than you'll find at the beach. Many of these are designed by Al in wax, then cast in gold and can be set as pins, earrings or pendants. Chesapeake blue crabs vie with the prehistoric horseshoe crabs for most wanted on our list. (Susan, are you reading this?)
Continuing our stroll down Baltimore, The Pelican Loft (45 Baltimore Avenue) with its brightly colored tin buckets full of flowers hanging on the porch rail, looked too fun to pass by, so we didn't and neither should you. In their second season of operating the store, owners Lauren Romig and Lisa Myers have put a lot of effort into making the place one-of-a-kind, and it shows. The shop is small and while it's treasure-packed there is no feeling of overcrowding. They concentrate on presentation rather than quantity and the result is a place filled with many things that just beg you to take them home. The flower holders out front, for instance, are Canadian sap buckets put to a use that the sap harvesters probably never thought of. There are unusual planters and dimpled gazing balls that would brighten any yard. This is Rehoboth Beach and this is Baltimore Avenue, and wine stoppers with two brides, two grooms, or, if you insist, a bride and groom atop simply belong here (and before you ask, they are not swappable). The pottery displayed is warm and beautiful and somehow conveys the feeling that it just left the potter's wheel a day or so ago. That may be because Lauren and Lisa go to great efforts to shop the Rehoboth market as well as vendors so that they can keep on top of what's out there and not duplicate what other stores in the area are selling. They also seek out vintage items which give more visual interest and balance.
While there are, naturally, many items on the premises that are "pelicananalia", the store is not fixated on the theme. That said, do take note of the whimsical and practical pelican dinner bell constructed out of iron that hangs in a prominent place in the store. But, don't ask the price of the spring ride pelican she's doing her job in the window and is not for sale.
Sure other stores sell greeting cards but not like the ones here. These are musical song cards, some complete with lyrics. How could you not buy a card from the Tallulah Bankhead musical, Something Gay, which has the complete lyrics to the song, "You Are So Lovely and I'm So Loud"? Or resist a coyly smiling Roy Rogers who looks as if he's about to burst into the song "Feeling Gay" from his A Gay Ranchero movie? And there are many more.
While in the Pelican Loft make sure you ask about the "loft" part. Above the store are three wonderful guestrooms that are wonderfully decorated, full of sunshine and are surprisingly large. It's a good time to take advantage of the reduced rates. You'll be a scant block and a half from the ocean, and will become an honorary resident of Baltimore (Avenue).
Here I am at the end of my column, and I've barely started with our look at Baltimore Avenue. Next issue, I'll show you where to shop to make a Splash; what Beach Essentials you shouldn't be without, and a show you something that is really Something Special. Then, we'll check out the Waterford filled Wooden Indian, the sumptuous furnishings at Twist and go slummingElegant Slumming that is.
LETTERS From CAMP Rehoboth, Vol. 9, No. 13, Sept. 17, 1999