Building Blocks (I was a ‘show stopper’)


I addressed the possible effect of changing city physical landscapes in an earlier Building Blocks.  What about the names that your characters use to refer to nationally familiar establishments?

I remembered the time in late 1967, or early ’68, when my father’s cousins came to a college theater production, and would then tell my father that I was a very good actor.  I had no lines; however my performance was the show stopper!  2

The play was Sweet Bird of Youth by Tennessee Williams, and I played the hired thug.  In my first scene I am sitting on a stool in a bar, and when Boss Finley walks past, and ‘discreetly’ points to Wayne, the play antagonist, I tap my sport coat inner pocket and nod.  The show stopper was when Wayne is standing stage left, dimming lights highlighting his crotch area, and I enter stage right and walk towards him.  At center stage I stop, pull a real switchblade out of my sport coat inner pocket, lift it above my head into a spotlight, and snap it open!  Lights out, play over!  And yes, the College Dean was not happy about the play’s closing scene.

Mind moves onward to connect the dots: what was the name of the restaurant we went to after the performance?????????  I remember an actor asking me if I gave the switchblade back to the Head of the Theater Department, who had directed the play. Another actor looked at my plate and said “snap to it…cut those pancakes!”‘

I was at a loss remembering the name of the pancake restaurant.  In the mid- to late 1960’s it was where my high school and college theater friends and I would go to after  rehearsals and play performances.  I could visualize the very distinctive building style, which was shaped like a chalet, and its brightly colored roof.

Thanks to the Internet, my memory was jogged; it was an International House of Pancakes.

6322 Reisterstown Rd, Baltimore, MD, 05/14/1965 BG&E Print and Negative Collection Baltimore Museum of Industry

6322 Reisterstown Rd, Baltimore, MD, 05/14/1965
BG&E Print and Negative Collection
Baltimore Museum of Industry

I drove by and the building is still standing at the intersection of Fords Lane and Reisterstown Road, in northwest Baltimore, Maryland.  I am not sure when it became occupied by Giorgio’s Restaurant.

Giorgio's Restaurant 6322 Reisterstown Rd, Baltimore, MD

Giorgio’s Restaurant
6322 Reisterstown Rd, Baltimore, MD

Should you use an International House of Pancakes in your writing, remember that the building style has changed in many locations.  The last chalet-style one was built in 1979.  In 2006 a “new ICON building prototype (was) introduced as the look for IHOP in the new millennium.”  Thus, readers today may not have the same Swiss/French atmosphere association one had in the chalet-style architecture.  More importantly, most readers now refer to the restaurant as ‘iHOP’ because of the changes to the sign and advertising starting in 1973.   A story character speaking in the 1960’s would not have referred to it as iHOP.



For more on the possible effect a changing city landscape has on our reader’s mental image, read Building Blocks (110 West North Ave, Baltimore).

Think about your ‘building blocks’; we can not write without them.

Fun with Homophones #9: Swiss Chocolate Palate

FWH9It’s time once again for Fun with Homophones


Swiss Chocolate Palate

In his favorite bar, Bob placed the fifth large bar of Swiss chocolate next to the gold bar that ran along the edge of the bar, and thought, ‘barring anyone taking it, I will be able to enjoy this treat for passing the Bar Exam this morning’.  Officially a lawyer, and no more intense studying, Bob was now intent to devote some time to his playwriting hobby.  The weeks of prep had barred Bob from his bard relaxation.  It was eight at night, and Bob’s ego soared as he ate the reward chocolate like the dual of a sword duel winning knight; savoring each bite.

More importantly, once employed as a lawyer in the capital, Bob would have the cash capital to have a large cache of Swiss chocolate.  His palate would be a pallet for the wood palette load of chocolate.  There was nothing discreet about his game winning ‘don’t waste a bite, forget my waist’ attitude; thus, his companions were discrete.  Bob had continued to maul the chocolate since they had left the mall.  At first his friends did not want to miss the chance for chants as Bob stuffed his face. Now however, enough was enough.  They thought they should wrest the candy away from Bob so he would give the munching a rest.

Sanity arrived when Bob said that his stomach hurt.  Thankfully, the answer was now in sight, and his buds had insight.  They could defuse the situation and not incite Bob’s wrath.   His friends suggested a draught of ale for his ail.  Once Bob took a sip, he realized the dryness of his mouth was a chocolate infused drought.  Each member of the group raised his Bud, and the new found joy diffused.

They won and would remind him the next day,”Oh, you owe us one.”

(Swiss Chocolate Palate, © Steven S. Walsky, June 2015.)