Baltimore: A Not Too Serious History

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A teacher of English and English History at the Friends School in Baltimore, Letitia Stockett was inspired to write her whimsical history of the city when a friend told her that nothing much had been done in the way of a history of Baltimore since J. Thomas Scharf's The Chronicles of Baltimore (1874). Rising to the challenge, she spent all of her spare time on the book, telling curious friends and family merely that she had work to do. Baltimore: A Not Too Serious History was the result, a charming and anecdotal account of the city's history that is as fresh today as it was when first published in 1928. Would you know Baltimore? Then put deliberately out of your mind the fact that the town makes more straw hats than any other city in the world. Aesthetically speaking, that is a fearsome thought. Forget, too, that Baltimore is the centre of the oyster packing industry. Worse, far worse than a straw hat is a packed oyster; Baltimoreans ought to know better. In truth they do; they export the tinned bivalve to the unsuspecting, unsophisticated Westerner. These two enterprises are worthy and profitable, but a knowledge of these facts will not help you understand this city any more truly than the study of those long lists of products once diligently conned in school gave you an inkling of Tunis, Singapore and Wilkes-Barre. -from Baltimore: A Not too Serious History