Currently viewing the tag: "Philadelphia"

written by James Rada, Jr.

A serial fiction story for your enjoyment

1: Arrival

Timothy Ross stepped off the passenger car at the train depot near the Maryland Tuberculosis Hospital. He was used to the large platforms in cities like Baltimore, Washington, and Philadelphia. This was a small 15×30-foot wooden building surrounded on all sides by a wide porch. It could fit inside of the washroom of Penn Station, where he had boarded the train.

He noticed he was the only person on the platform. He expected more activity here, but it was still a bit early in the season for vacationers to be heading to Pen Mar, the nearby resort area. Green was starting to appear on the trees, and the sky was a bright blue. He felt just a hint of chill in the air. It wouldn’t be long before vacationers sought to escape the heat and humidity in the cities and headed for higher ground.

“So this is where I’ll die,” he whispered to himself.

He wondered if he had made the right choice coming here. He was a city boy, born and raised. He had never been able to escape the city, even in the heat of the summer, to come to a place like this. Tim lived in the night, in the gyms and arenas where he made his living in the ring…or at least he had.

His chest heaved, and he started coughing. He grabbed for his handkerchief and covered his mouth. When the hacking stopped, he pulled the handkerchief away and saw phlegm and spots of blood. So much for the clean, fresh mountain air helping him.

Tim walked into the station. He saw no people, just empty benches. There wasn’t even a stationmaster. It was as if people were only dropped off here, and no one ever left on the train, so no one needed to buy a ticket. That thought sent a chill down his back.

A door opened, and a man walked out of the washroom, drying his hands. He was a large man, almost as large as Tim had been before he had gotten sick. He was dressed in white, so Tim guessed this was the man he was supposed to meet.

“Are you from the sanatorium?” Tim asked.

The man nodded. “I’m Frank Larkins, one of the orderlies there and a driver when they need one.”

“I’m Tim Ross.”

Frank smiled and clapped his hands together. “Great! Let’s load your bags in the car and get you to the administration building.”

“Is it far away?”

“Not at all. You’re actually on the sanatorium property now. This is our station.”

“I thought this was the station for the resort.”

Frank shook his head. “That’s Blue Ridge Summit. It’s a little further up the line, just across the Mason-Dixon in Pennsylvania.”

Frank grabbed the two suitcases Tim had brought with him and headed out the front door. He walked down the steps from the front porch to the waiting car. It was a gray four-door Ajax sedan. Tim had seen plenty of them in Baltimore, but this was a newer model that had come out in 1926. Frank went around to the far side and put the suitcases in the back while Tim climbed into the car.

Then, Frank climbed into the driver’s seat. He started the engine and drove along a dirt road that led uphill.

“I used to live in Baltimore until I got this job,” Frank said. “I saw you fight Rusty Barrett last year. I won five dollars when you knocked him out.”

Tim grinned. “Seems like a lifetime ago.”

He hadn’t fought in three months. His stamina and speed were gone. He was withering away. Even if he got rid of the tuberculosis, he wondered if there would be enough of him left to recover.

Frank seemed to read his mind. “Don’t you worry, Mr. Ross. You got diagnosed early enough that this place can help you. You aren’t even in the main hospital. You’re in a cottage. That’s where they put the people who are in good shape.”

Tim shook his head. “No, they put them on top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere. There’s as many trees here as there are people in Baltimore.”

“And that’s why you’ll get better. You aren’t in Baltimore. That’s what made you sick. They did a study last year that said there’s an area of the city that has the highest death rate in the country from TB. The best thing you could do was get out of that cesspool.”

He turned onto a drive that swung around in front of a three-story stone building that could have passed for one of the rich people’s homes in Mount Washington. Frank turned off the engine, and they walked onto the porch and through the front doors. They were in a hallway that led to a staircase to the second floor or the rear of the building. The rooms off the hallway all had closed doors. At a desk near the door, an attractive young nurse sat smiling up at them.

She looked at Tim and smiled, showing bright white teeth.

“Emily, this is Tim Ross, a new patient,” Frank said. He glanced at Tim. “Emily is one of the student nurses at the training school here, and if she wasn’t behind that desk, you’d see she has great gams.” Emily blushed and giggled. “I need to know what shack he’s in.”

Emily nodded and looked at her notes. “He’s in pavilion five. Also, I’ll need you to come back here after you finish putting your things away. I’ll have the paperwork you need to sign, your schedule, a map of the grounds, and a few other things.”

Frank and Tim walked back outside. Frank drove the car around the side of the administration building. Tim saw two rows of long, wooden buildings leading away from the back of the administration building. Frank stopped in front of one, and they walked to the entrance. Tim saw four people sitting on chairs on the porch that ran the length of the front of the building. The building was wood frame, but it sat on brick piers.

Inside, there were two wards, one off to either side of the entryway, which was a large sitting room. Frank looked at a chart on the wall, turned left, and walked to an empty bed near the end of the ward. Tim saw that all the windows on the ward were open, as well as doors that led onto the porch. More fresh air.

“So, this is your bed, but you’ll keep your things in the back,” Frank said.

He walked through a doorway behind the bed that led into a long rear room that nearly ran the length of the building.

“These compartments are where you can change and store your stuff. You have compartment three, which is also your bed number. The toilet room is in the middle.”

Tim nodded numbly.

Frank laid a hand on his shoulder. “Don’t worry, Mr. Ross. It’s confusing now, but everything will be all right.” Then, he looked around, leaned closer, and whispered, “Be careful. Don’t wander off alone and don’t trust anyone. No one is safe. Don’t say anything about this.”

Frank then straightened up and smiled, but Tim could tell it was a fake smile.

“I’m going to leave you to unpack, because I have some other things to do. Once you’re finished, head back and talk to Emily.”

Tim nodded. “Thank you.”

Frank left and Tim walked out onto the porch, although with the large sliding windows between the wall columns, it was almost as if the ward was part of the porch.

He had to admit, the view was nice if you liked to look at trees and lawn. He started coughing so hard, he nearly dropped to his knees. Instead, he leaned on the rail and watched Frank drive off.

What had the man been talking about? More importantly, what had Tim gotten himself into?

by Lisa C. Cantwell

Dear Reader: This is a column to help you determine the history and value of your heirlooms, attic finds, flea market purchases or antique items.  Please send a picture and description of your piece, such as how you acquired it and any details about its history to  I’ll research any item, whether it’s a piece of furniture, a painting, a tool, a doll, a figurine, or an article of clothing.  An approximate value will be determined to inform you if it’s a “Trinket or Treasure.”  Please submit all pictures and questions by the preceding 15th the month for possible publication in the next monthly issue of The Catoctin Banner.  All inquiries will be answered; however, only those selected for publication will include approximate value assessments.  Furthermore, not all submissions may be published in the Banner due to space considerations.  Please include your name or initials and where you reside. Thank you and happy treasure hunting!

pub-plate2-1“I bought this plate from a gentleman who said a lady gave it to him, and she had bought it from an estate sale in Philadelphia. She further said it came from a villa in Italy. It’s made of bronze or thin brass and is about three feet in diameter.” 

RL Eyler, Thurmont

You have a decorative treasure! After much research, so far, I’ve not found another with a Roman or Biblical scene of the slaughter of innocents by Herod. The portraits of the explorers are unique, also. It makes a nice focal point and is very detailed, but these plates are common. Many were made in the 19th and 20th centuries in England, of brass, primarily. They were affordable décor, often came in pairs, and depicted pub scenes, ships, fruit, the fox hunt, and historic themes. France, Italy, Germany, and Holland also produced these plates of bronze, copper, and brass. So far, I’ve found one “Adam and Eve” plate, made in the 16th century in Germany of repoussé and chased brass. It was quite valuable, of course. Because there’s no identifying mark as to its Italian heritage, I’d value this plate between $18.00 to $24.00 as a fair price. If your plate had a mate, you could expect to ask $35.00, or a bit more for the pair. Thank you for sharing this brass plate.

small-chair-1“ I am interested in having two chairs appraised. They are in very good condition and the wood is beautifully carved. I
have attached several photos of each one. The chair with red fabric has a small wooden end broken off on the left side. There is also a split in the top rail on the right side. The chair with beige fabric has nothing broken or missing as far as I can tell. They have been in my husband’s family for many years. We had them re-upholstered several years ago. Can you give us an idea of their value? We have recently moved to a smaller house and are interested in selling them and want to know a fair price.

— Christine Joyner, Thurmont   large-chair-2

These chairs are heirloom treasures! These two lovely heirlooms are antebellum fireside or parlor chairs in the Rococo style and made  of walnut. Chairs such as these were made throughout the 19th century and graced Victorian homes. Yours may date to 1860. Finely carved, the large eagle on the beige chair is highly desirable among collectors and sets it apart. More common images are found on the red, smaller chair, with its Grecian lady’s profile on the back and noble ladies’ heads carved on the arms. The upholstery is correct for the period in shade and pattern. These chairs were originally part of a larger parlor set and would be of more value as a unit. My sources indicate that the larger beige chair is of most value and $275-$300 would be a good asking price in the current market. The smaller, red chair, with its tassel carvings and ladies’ faces, might fetch $175 due to its cracks and missing piece. Demand is not high for these parlor chairs, as there are many available at auction. Less ornate chairs have sold for as little as $75.00. A carved, high back, red-tufted Victorian chair is selling at a local antique market for $175.00. Still, your chairs have beauty and character and, if you are in no hurry, the right buyer may make you an offer you cannot refuse.  Thank you for sharing them.


Please note: Prices realized at actual market may differ from those printed here. Neither The Catoctin Banner newspaper, nor the author, bear responsibility for a difference

St.-Johns-appts-PastorThe congregation of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Creagerstown wishes to announce the appointment of Wayne Blaser as interim pastor (pictured right). He is an ordained Presbyterian minister.

Pastor Wayne was born in the Philadelphia area and was educated in the Princeton Seminary. He graduated in 1973. His first charge was in Hagerstown, where he met his wife Donna. He has served several congregations from Ohio, his last congregation being in Florida. His second calling was Poke Run in Pennsylvania, where he spent eighteen years ministering to a congregation that was established in 1785. He served in Bradenton, Florida, for three years as a congregational care minister, and eighteen months as interim pastor in two different churches. The life of an ordained Lutheran minister is quite different from that of a Presbyterian minister as far as the ruling body is concerned, but the message is the same to spread the word of God and minister to those in the congregation and community.

He retired and moved north to be near his children and grandchildren but retirement was not in the cards, and he is now a part-time minister. He is married to his wife, Donna, who is a reading specialist, and he is the father of two children and a grandfather to six. The congregation feels very fortunate that he chose St. John’s to continue his lifetime calling.

Pastor Wayne is usually at St. John’s on Tuesday or Thursday if you would like to talk to him or if you need help with a problem. You can also reach him at 941-932-5429. You can reach the church’s office at 301-898-5290 or by email at