At the southern edge of Baltimore, Maryland, in the median of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, there is a large sign that reads: "Welcome to Baltimore". Many cities have signs like this, but this one is special.

In the early 1990's, a cardboard sign appeared at the bottom of the official sign. It was hand-lettered with a single word: "Hon".   As it was in the city, the sign was then under the control of a division of the City Government, and thus Mayor Kurt Schmoke.

You have to realize that the direct address "Hon" appears at the end of many sentences spoken in Baltimore. Usually it'll be a waitress who calls you "Hon" first, after taking your order for a tuna melt in a little hole in-the-wall dinette in a rowhouse basement. But "Hon" wasn't dignified enough for the Powers That Be. His Hon-or was not amused, and the sign was taken down. A week later, someone had replaced it.

This continued for quite some time:  City crews would take it down, but no matter how switfly it was removed, or how thoroughly the sign was watched, the "Hon" would soon reappear at the bottom.

A single person was responsible for putting up the sign. The City Police staked out the location, imagining they could catch the culprit, to no avail. The day after they gave up, the "hon" sign reappeared. The Baltimore Sun was able to interview the fellow, on condition of anonymity. The Mayor threatened to take down the "Welcome To Baltimore" sign. This did not reflect well on him; it reinforced his reputation as a "give me control before I give you any progress" type of person, as well as one who thought he needed the support of only one constituency in order to lead.

Well, time passes and bureaucracies change; control of the city's highways passed to the State.  State Highway crews now have the honor of removing the sign, but the Hon Man still persists. Sadly, Hon Man is reported to be suffering from terminal cancer, but his son is reported to have picked up his father's task.

So, If you ever find yourself driving into Baltimore on the Baltimore Washington Parkway, you may be fortunate enough to arrive on a day when the sign reads


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