Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Maryland, My Maryland, Part 1

Not far from the tiny town where I was born (and where my great-grandfather, grandmother, uncle and later a second uncle lived) lies the cute little town of Berlin, Maryland. Please note that this Berlin is pronounced "BUR-lin" with the accent on the first syllable rather than how one pronounces the name of the capital of Germany.

Because of its proximity to my grandmother's house (which is still standing but occupied as office and showroom space by a building contractor), it still holds a warm spot in my heart. Admittedly, we did not visit Berlin that often when I was young — it was considered a bit of a distance — even though it is only about 6.4 miles between the two towns. In those days, folks just did not travel that much for pleasure.

Looking at the town through my old adult eyes, I can see that the current collection of shops would have been interesting to myself, my sisters and cousins. Somehow, I bet the shops were different then.

Wow, what a coincidence — another award-winning cupcake shop just like the one we found in Blue Ridge, Georgia. If I recall correctly, they won second place in Cupcake Wars. My sisters and I were tempted by their goodies but we actually had something else in mind — more on that in a moment.

This shop looked like an old-fashioned toy store but, in fact, was more of an antique shop specializing in old toys. My sisters and I found this a delightful place to reminisce about the toys of our youth — no video games here!

In the center of town was Calvin B. Taylor Bank, established in 1890. Every small town had to have a bank. Things were so different then — no credit cards, no ATMs.

Of course, to us kids (and to our mom) the most important shop in small town America was the soda fountain — in Berlin it was named Rayne's Reef, established in 1901. This was our destination that I alluded to in a previous photo.

One of the reasons this place is so special is that our mom and dad used to come here on dates. I suspect it has been remodeled from time to time but my mom did tell me that even with the changes, it still brought back fond memories for her.

Note on the far wall, above the booths, there is a movie poster from the 1999 romantic comedy Runaway Bride, starring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. It turns out that the movie filmed many of its location shots in Berlin. The Berlin Visitors Center provides a walking-tour brochure celebrating the filming locations. All of the shops filmed for the movie were renamed — "Rayne's Reef" became "Falcon Diner". I guess I need to watch the movie to pick out the places I have seen live and in-person.

For now, let's just grab that empty booth and order an ice cream soda or other delightful concoction.

Just a stone's throw from Rayne's Reef is the Globe which is now a restaurant, bar and nightclub.

In the old days, the Globe used to be a movie theater. Interestingly, our grandmother used to play the piano there to accompany the silent films of the day.

The day we stopped by, we talked to some of the people working there and told them our connection with the building and they were so nice — wanted to know all about our grandmother and then invited us to tour the entire facility. Way cool to feel our historical family connection to this place.

Back outside, I am always drawn to the old facades. Especially those that tell a bit of their history — such as the Powell building, constructed in 1895.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com