Steve and Ellie Whitworth were our hosts for the Baltimore Reunion. The reunions are getting bigger and better each time with lots of new faces joining. There were 83 of us descending on the Hyatt during the week of 20 September. We met up Thursday in the Bistro 300 for the “sign-in and sign-up/meet and greet” festivities where we renewed old friendships and met some new faces. Everyone grabbed a few friends and made their way out for dinner in one of the many great restaurants that were within walking distance of the hotel.
Friday, during the morning, we had our choice of sleeping in (if you came from far away and a different time zone) or walking along the Inner Harbor to see some sites. There were a lot of choices to pick from: Touring some of the sailing ships, submarine, shopping, the Aquarium, taking a water taxi, or just strolling around looking at the harbor and all of the activities that are constantly going on. They also have some buses that are free that will take you on a couple of routes thru the city. One of the times we were walking in the Harbor area there was an A cappella group singing ’60 and ’70’s songs. They were very good.
During the afternoon, we had a narrated tour aboard the Spirit of Baltimore out to the Bay Bridge and back. This was a good way to see some of the different areas that surrounded us. We could then take a water taxi back to some of the places (i.e. shopping areas) that we’d like to explore a little more in-depth. This activity was NOT enjoyed by some of our group – also referred to as...husbands.
Friday evening our “Welcome to Baltimore” meal was in the Hyatt’s Pisces Room on the top floor overlooking the Harbor. We had a delicious meal while gazing out over the lights of the city. We had a special treat near the end of our meal – Tess Johnston was on hand to remind us of how Shanghai was...and how it is today. She was there in the 1980’s and had some very interesting stories of her introduction to China.
Tess also told us how much Shanghai has changed since most of us have been there. She said we wouldn’t believe our eyes but that if we ventured off the beaten path, we could still find some of the things we remembered from ‘way back when’! She told us about the new times...instead of 0 subway lines in 1997 – it’s now progressed to 13 lines that run thru-out the city. They’ve gone from hardly any cars to millions of them stalled on the freeways. A driver’s license today cost around $5000 and the Mini-Cooper is the favorite car of high-class Chinese mistresses!
Saturday began with a guided bus tour of the city. We toured the Federal Hill area, and some of Central Baltimore. The views from Federal Hill was outstanding since it overlooks the Inner Harbor. You can see that it was a great vantage point for defending the area during the Revolution and Civil War. We learned about the flag and Jenny Pickersgill who made the GIANT (30’ x 50’) flag that flew over Ft. McHenry so that the British could see it as they came in and know we weren’t going to give up. We went by Edgar Allen Poe grave and heard about the ‘anonymous toaster’ that comes every November and leaves 3 red roses on his grave...Supposedly one for him, his wife, and Mother-in-law.
Later, we had a Ranger guided tour of Ft. McHenry, got to unfurl a replica of the huge flag that Ms Pickersgill sewed to fly over the Fort. It took over 60 people to unfurl it. We saw the cannons that were positioned to defend Baltimore from invasions. Luckily, no one tried while we were manning the cannons -- the Fort was well protected during OUR visit!
The Farewell Dinner was held at the Rusty Scupper which was a short pleasant walk along the Inner Harbor. We had a another fabulous place to eat with views of the city lights. Christine Cullen got up and invited us all to the next reunion in Shanghai 2011. Emil and Luzie Schlumpf are planning the 2012 reunion to take place in Montreal, and Bill and Marie Fischer have taken on the 2013 reunion in New York. The evening was topped off with drawings for the packages that some of the attendees brought from their home states.
Everyone had a wonderful time, no one fell into the Harbor at any time, and Steve and Ellie were wonderful hosts – they can now relax!