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.

4 thoughts on “Building Blocks (I was a ‘show stopper’)

  1. I used to like going down the road to Florida with my parents. It was a treat when we got to stop at International House of Pancakes! I liked to order crepes or ‘blintzes’ which were light and delicious. One kind came with strawberries and cream, the other a lemon and lingonberry sauce. I felt sophisticated 🙂 My brothers liked trying the different flavors of syrup while my Mom who was always dieting would order eggs and whole wheat toast. Your finding the restaurant on the Internet brought back your memories but also helped bring back some of mine.

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