On Feb. 19 my beloved wife Dianne died peacefully at our home on Lanvale Street. The Baltimore Sun obituary provides a good account of Dianne’s professional life and involvements as a professor emerita of Montgomery College and as a Senior Lecturer and Program Coordinator for the Master of Liberal Arts Program at Johns Hopkins.
Dianne called herself a “country girl” from rural Pennsylvania, and she was somewhat apprehensive about embarking on life in an urban environment when we moved into our Lanvale Street home in 1982. How quickly Dianne fell in love with our neighborhood and our block — and that was not a honeymoon romance, because her love only grew deeper as the years went on. She would often say how privileged she felt to live in the most beautiful place not only in our city, but anywhere.
She loved taking her daily walks in the neighborhood and made many “wave-by” friendships with other walkers or people at their doorstep. She was a devoted patron of our local businesses and became good friends with people like Shawn at Park Avenue Pharmacy or Alex at Bolton Hill Grocery, the staff at Belle Hardware and everyone at On the Hill and Park Avenue Cafes.
Her day began with the neighborhood, as she would sit on her meditation pillow in the front parlor while it was still dark, with our cat Cassie at her side, watching Lanvale Street gradually awaken. Dianne liked to quote one of her favorite authors, Charles Williams, a friend of C. S. Lewis, who had written about the magic and spirituality of “a city at work,”
She took joy in early morning sounds: Reginald Scott, our faithful paper carrier, bringing the NY Times every morning at 5; or if it had snowed, Miles, our friendly shoveler, scraping away at our steps, walkway and around our two cars even before we were up.
Dianne felt lucky to have such wonderful neighbors alongside and across the street, and we saw generations come and go. She missed her dear friend Bobbi Hahn, happily relocated in New Orleans, with whom she’d share everything from election night marathons to visits to the Waxter Senior Center. As seems common in Bolton Hill, Bobbi’s place was taken with wonderful new neighbors Hari and Sami and their beautiful baby, Amaya.
Being able to walk to the BSO at Meyerhoff was always such a treasure, as was easy access to CenterStage and Everyman, to Lexington Market and Trinacria’s, to Red Emma’s, and to Amtrak’s Penn Station for our runs up to NYC for theater weekends. All this made Bolton Hill incredibly special to Dianne. As a lover of poetry, Dianne always felt as serendipity the fact that our backyard garden design was created by a previous owner, Barbara Holdridge, who had founded Caedmon Records, which was devoted to recording live poetry performances, including such poets as Dylan Thomas, e e cummings, Archibald MacLeish and Marianne Moore.
In every way, Dianne and I have felt that living these almost 40 years in this neighborhood has been a blessing. Thank you, Bolton Hill.