Though Some Have Changed – A Look at My Hometown Through a 1980s Lens

Glen Burnie is the kind of place where you can buy a gun, find a plumber, and get a tattoo, all in the same strip mall. I grew up in Pasadena and Glen Burnie, Maryland, on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. Everyone around here claims their property is waterfront, even if the water can only be seen across the street peeking through trees, or just a pond in the distance that you can only smell.

The old ladies will call you sweetie and doll and hon, and they bake apple pies that they probably left out on the windowsill. The young people will scare the hell out of you, and they have neck tattoos that they probably got in prison. In Glen Burnie, you can find a great hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant, as well as play Keno in a scuzzy lounge that serves expensive seafood.

Glen Burnie was the kind of place I was going to get away from as a teenager—as soon as I had a job, I was going to move to some place cultured, some place like New York City. But I never did. I only made it as far as Baltimore City, just ten miles north. Perhaps I’m just lazy, though I suspect I was never actually seeking “culture.” I wonder if anyone ever remembers what they were seeking when they were seventeen. Maybe those are the types of people who become famous.

The girlfriend and I are looking for a house to buy together. In the meantime, we needed an apartment to rent where we could feel reasonably safe and live cheaply for the time being. We chose Glen Burnie. It’s been a learning experience for the girlfriend who grew up in beautifully-landscaped Ellicott City—an upper-class area that was recently named the number two best place to live in America.

Needless to say, her parents didn’t take the kids out to dinner at the Taco Bell in Glen Burnie.

“I never even ate Taco Bell before I met you,” she says.

Around here, she’s afraid to enter the stores before me or pump gas at the station where the crazy man asked if she wanted to buy some CDs out of his bag. She doesn’t understand why the woman at the convenience store blow dries and hairsprays her hair up like that. She wants to know what that child is doing unsupervised in the parking lot. It looks like he has dirt smudged on his cheeks.

Alright. Look, I got this. Stick with me, babe. I know how to talk to these people. I can blend in. I’m from here. Don’t worry about that CD guy. I think I went to high school with him.

Glen Burnie was established in 1812. In the 1950s, my grandparents bought a house here. The area was sometimes known as “Glentucky” because of the people that came from rural parts of the country, but it was a growing hub by the 1960s and 1970s. Its main road, Ritchie Highway, was the only connector between Baltimore City, the state capitol of Annapolis, and the beaches of the Eastern shore.

Glen Burnie was so booming that it supported three huge shopping malls within just four miles of each other. The Harundale Mall was a landmark—the very first enclosed shopping mall east of the Mississippi, opening in 1958. It was followed by the Glen Burnie Mall in 1962, and the Marley Station Mall in 1987, each mall just a mile apart on Ritchie Highway.

You can still find a lot of strange old things around here.

Crab Towne is an old thing—a place where you can buy a dozen crabs and a case of beer. You drink a few of the beers there and take the rest home. In the back, there’s a complete 1980s arcade frozen in time, and all the games still cost just a quarter.

And the National Tourist Association recommends this place—at least, at some point in history they did:

Glen Burnie still has some charms, little flecks brushed off the shoulder of Charm City just north. But Glen Burnie is also changing, fading in sections and crumbling in others.

The Harundale Mall was where I was supposed to meet Scooby Doo during his whirlwind tour across America in the Mystery Van in 1985. On the way to meet him, I sat in the backseat chattering about how I also wanted to meet Fred, the leader of the gang, and shake his hand. I especially wanted to meet Daphne, too. I had a thing for red heads.

“I don’t think they’re all gonna be there,” my mother warned. But then she delivered the true gut-punch: that Scooby Doo wasn’t going to be real—he was just a guy in a dog suit. This news was so devastating to five-year-old me that I still remember it as one of my earliest memories.

I met fake Scooby Doo that day at the Harundale Mall, the first fully enclosed mall in America, featuring innovative designs such as sky lights that allowed natural light into the mall.

It’s now a Superfresh with a skylight. The other half is a Burlington Coat Factory.

So what? Stuff changes. Retailers close. New ones open. Maybe I’m too sentimental. Our grandparents lived when America was booming—when we manufactured cars and built shopping malls and saw films in ornate movie palaces. Our parents came of age as part of the youth culture of the 1950s and 1960s, when the progressive music and fashion and leisure shaped their identity.

My generation came in the late 1970s and 1980s—the Reagan Years—a time of optimism and decadence in which the national dept tripled, and when ketchup was considered a vegetable. We had three shopping malls, six or seven toy stores to choose from, and endless places to see movies and eat hamburgers. Yet the growth that Americans enjoyed during the 1980s came at a huge price for the generations to follow.

This is why I believe my generation has a sense of nostalgia generally reserved for war veterans. We have watched the places we used to eat, the places we saw movies, and the places we shopped disappear. They shuttered when Wal-Marts came to town, when the economy collapsed—and the buildings still sit, their signs and logos stripped away and fading in the sun, empty shells that have sat dark and vacant for years.

So perhaps you’ll understand my feelings of nostalgia—a word that literally means “a return to home.” I know what it means to be home again, and to be homesick. I am watching Glen Burnie become a ghost town before my eyes. I feel sad for a place I hate, this podunk town with nothing good in it, but maybe that I means I love it.

Here is the aforementioned “family” Taco Bell, where we once dined as though it were a three course meal. Nachos and cinnamon twists were the first course. Tacos and burritos were second. A Choco-taco came third.

Here’s the Friendly’s, where we ordered Fish-a-majigs and grilled cheeses, followed afterwards by sundaes with smiling Reeses Pieces faces.

This one has been vacant for years and years—maybe fifteen or more—and yet there are still Christmas green garnishes hanging in the dark windows.

Then there’s the former Shoney’s, still with the original awning.

Now a Woo Chon. And yes, it is next to an animal vet, stereotypical or otherwise.

Here’s the Jumper’s Hole Movie theater, where I first saw the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.

It was a strange, old purple building has sat there abandoned and chipping away for years and years. I thought it would be a great, haunting photograph. I just saw it last Tuesday, alone in the parking lot with blades of grass poking through the cement, biding time.

But I missed it by a few days—or maybe even by a few hours.

Of all these things, it’s the toy stores that make me saddest. As I mentioned, there used to be six or seven toy stores in the area in the 1980s and 1990s. Now there is just one left standing, the Toys R Us. I feel bad for kids today. Wal-Mart is the number one retailer of toys. Wal-Mart is also the biggest seller of bananas and dog food. To me, toy stores were vast, magical places that had nothing but toys. Wal-Mart has just seven aisles.

I think about the FAO Schwarz in New York City and how it was depicted in movies like Big and Home Alone 2. Watching those movies as a kid, that place seemed like a most perfect Heaven. All those millions of toys, life-size stuffed animals, huge playhouses that one could dart in and out of, and of course, the giant piano that you could play by walking on. Even the way those scenes were shot seemed to be bathed a golden luster. I didn’t just want to visit FAO Schwarz in New York City. That would not be enough. I wanted to live there forever and ever, amen.

I finally did visit the FAO Schwarz for the first time as an adult. The millions of toys were there, as well as millions of people. Mob hordes of them: screeching and poking at the Toy Story 3 display, hemming and hawing next to the stuffed polar bears, mugging and cheesing for pictures wearing every funny hat in the store. A spectacular nightmare. But I still had my hopes of accidentally wandering onto the giant floor piano in some remote corner of the store. At first I’d be modest as my feet tapped the keys, but then I’d enthusiastically hop into a rousing rendition of Chopsticks, just like in the movies.

I followed the signs leading me towards the giant piano. In the distance, I heard a crowd. So maybe I’d have to wait for a few others to take pictures on the piano. That’s fine. But then I turned the bend, where I saw the massive black hole of a line filled with bus loads of children and their families. They waited and clamored for tickets to a timed experience on the piano. Meanwhile, the current group of four-year-olds allowed past the velvet rope clumsily hopped around, creating a cacophony of sounds—discordant piano notes, screaming, crying—all to the rhythm of their parents’ flashbulbs.

But even FAO Schwarz isn’t immune to the economy, having filed for bankruptcy several times. It once was Toys R Us and FAO Schwarz that swallowed whole the mom-and-pop toy stores, but now even the giants are beginning to fall. Toys R Us is still alive and kicking as the number two toy retailer, but I wonder if children today still sing the “I Don’t Want to Grow Up, I’m a Toys R Us Kid” song while running in slow motion towards Geoff the Giraffe.

If you want to know the identity of America, look at the toy stores. We’re no longer one culture focused on the must-have toy like Cabbage Patch dolls, Game Boys, or Rubik’s cubes. We don’t all ride the same red tricycle. We’re a splintered culture with niche interests. Except for the occasional Zhu Zhu pet craze, there’s nothing the kids are begging for en masse. Add the Internet into the equation, and traditional toy stores are facing extinction.

So finally in my review of lost surburbia, I visited the sites of my favorite places to get toys growing up.

Lionel Kiddie City

Kiddie City was a relatively small chain of toy stores of one hundred locations, mostly on the east coast. Their slogan was “Let Lionel Kiddie City Turn That Frown Upside Down.” In the commercial, their Kangaroo mascot hopped on the frowning lips to invert it into a smiling face. I have a friend that contends the kangaroo was a pale imitation of Geoff the Giraffe, but I don’t know. I always liked the Kangaroo.

Today, Kiddie City is a Shoppers Food Warehouse.


While not specifically a toy store, Ames was a chain of discount department stores that at one time was the fourth-largest discount retailer in the country. I have fond memories of the place, wandering the aisles and picking out toys.

I also remember my mother’s burning, deep hatred of the place. You see, Ames was the kind of place that was always a wreck. The kind of place where you bought toys in beat-up boxes that always had a part missing when you came home with it. Where the return policy always wronged you, where the cashiers were always slow, and where the cart always hit your car in the parking lot.

That Ames,” my mother would say with disdain.

And yet, she always crawled back with her head down. You couldn’t beat their prices.

Though closed for years, Ames inexplicably still stands—perhaps even stubbornly, defiantly.

KB Toys

All KB stores closed about two years ago. In the Marley Station Mall, my childhood KB is now this frighteningly-generic “Bounce Party.”

I keep trying to convince myself I would have loved this as a child, if only to stave off the depression of a room full of inflatable bounces and typo-wrought printed signs.

Come on. That’s kind of depressing, right? Even for kids. There’s no kids in there. Just a man staring at me through the glass as I take pictures of his operation.


K-Mart is one of those things that should have died a long time ago, but it just keeps getting back up and coming back. It’s one of those things that would crawl right out of a solution of borax and bleach still alive and kicking somehow.

I particularly love the racks of clothes outside with purple balloons tied to them. I love K-Mart. I used to love getting toys here, too, even if it also meant I had to endure some back-to-school-shopping in the clothing section.

K-Mart still smells the same, that almost-sweet smell of the plastic that the clothes come shipped in. Forget the well-lit and organized aisles of toys at Target. If you want to remember the authentic experience of shopping for toys in the 1980s, find a K-Mart, where the lights flicker and the place looks post-apocalyptic scrap vendor. Even the employees look like they just emerged from a fallout shelter, their eyes still adjusting to the sun.

Toys R Us

Finally, there is Toys R Us. Everyone has “their” Toys R Us. This one is mine, the original still standing, the same one I shopped at with my grandmother, holding her hand and conning her into by buying me crap simply by smiling sweetly.

You got to love that dated tiled look at the entrance. I walked around inside. I often still come here, just to browse and get a sense of things. I still buy things that catch my eye, and yes, the occasional birthday present for actual children in my extended family. But I’m not gonna lie. I come here for myself. I’m still hoping to turn the bend and see Geoff the Giraffe and run in slow motion towards him, just like in the old commercials.

I decided I should buy something for the post. After all, I had visited all my old haunts. I felt needy. I decided a giant one-foot Mecha Godzilla could make me feel whole again.

When I took him to the register, the cashier examined him closely.

“Who is this?” she asked.

“Mecha Godzilla,” I said.

“I thought Godzilla was some dinosaur-lookin’ dude. He all chromed out,” she said in a perfect Glen Burnie accent, in between chomps and snaps of gum.

Indeed, he all chromed out. I knew I had made the right choice. And I knew Glen Burnie still has a bit of charm left in her.

129 thoughts on “Though Some Have Changed – A Look at My Hometown Through a 1980s Lens

  1. Before moving out of my hometown, I went on a trip to a mall where an Ames used to be. I was pleased to see the building was still standing, but–less pleasing–it was now a Gold’s Gym.

  2. I can identify which each one of these points as applied to my own hometown in central Illinois. We had that exact same Taco Bell (until it was abandoned then later turned into an Indian Restaurant). No Ames but a TurnStyle, where I bought most of my Megos, that morphed into a Venture, where I bought my Atari carts, until it vacated.

    This year I’ve already visited my hometown 3x and I’m due back this weekend. That’s more than the previous 3yrs combined. I’m not surprised by the changes there; however, I am a little saddened when I cruise the area. Anyways, very nice post. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I can so identify with this. I grew up in a relatively small town in Northern Illinois and have great memories of places and moments in them, forever lost to time.

    The thing about nostalgia is that going back to the “place” cannot evoke the “time.” So many things have changed; parenting attitudes, safety considerations, etc.

    I can remember blowing vast amounts of quarters from tips as a newspaper delivery boy at the local bowling alley on round after round of Space Invaders and Asteroids.

    Your point about toy stores is the most painful. My kids just don’t experience toys the way I did. And they never will. There is no way I can adequately describe the experiences I had in toy stores to them now. They have no foundation for that type of experience.

  4. I had an Ames, too. Going to Toys R Us was an extremely rare treat. My parents never go past a certain street in my city–Toys R Us was well on the other side of that street. So, besides the mall, Ames was my toy store. Today it’s now a worn down Sago Internet Business Center. Very peculiar business with very peculiar employees. I’m not sure what they do in there, but I suspect alien autopsies. I live and work in my old stomping grounds–it’s heartbreaking to see everything get demolished, stucco’d, or turned into Wal-Mart.

    Awesome Godzilla!

  5. I lived in South Carolina for the first 6+ years of my life. I vividly remember the Lionel’s Playworld and many of the purchases I made there before we moved to a town in Illinois that didn’t have a toy store until a few years later when a Children’s Palace opened up. My memory of Lionel’s is that it was HUGE. Of course, it probably wasn’t really. Just the six-year-old in me remembers it that way.

  6. Kmart really did have a unique smell. We also had Gee Bee’s which was the local cheap crap store. It eventually became Value City but not sure if it’s still there. We also had a whole mall that was the shit when we were kids. It had the Friendly’s, the McCrory’s with the huge candy aisle, the big fountains full of change, and of course the Time-Out Center arcade. Once that side of town and its starter homes in neat developments started to run down and lower income families moved in, all the parents of kids our age and new incoming yuppies started moving into the nice new condos and single family homes on the other side of town. Before long, the original mall had started losing a lot of stores and the mall on the other side of town started getting remodeled and expanding.

    Today it’s like that bad Chris Rock routine about how every town has the two malls. The newer mall is always full and crowded while the old mall is about half vacant now and all that is left is some sorry anchor department stores and crappy t-shirts and junk.

  7. I enjoyed reading your post a lot. I live in a microscopic little southern town. A town that time has forgotten. There’s a family owned pharmacy that sells shotguns as well as foot powder. If your baby is sick on Christmas Eve, Mr. Kemp will bring the medicine to your house. You can still go to the same bakery here that your grandmother went to and buy the same Italian Cream cake she loved.
    There’s a thrift store with a section of cool retro toys where I sometimes find a push puppet to add to my collection.
    Now there’s a new Wal-Mart in the next town just 28 miles from here. I’ve sworn I’m not going to buy anything there, but those sales papers…

  8. sleestakk- Central Illinois, you say? I’m in the general vicinity of you, then!

    Well, while many of the places of my childhood have died out, many of them are still standing. Granted, the Toys R Us is now a Harley Davidson emporium, and the KMart is gone too.

    Actually, now that I think of it, most of those toy places are gone. But they have all been replaced by things that I have come to know and love in their own way. In the place of the old KMart now stands a store called “Rural King” where you can buy old fashioned candies and mailboxes shaped like shotgun shells. And weird off brand toys.

    My childhood may be slowly vanishing, but it is being gently replaced with light nostalgia and new places to explore in new ways.

  9. Harundale Mall was the first air conditioned mall in the United States.

    I didn’t know that Korean place was a Shoney’s. I knew there was one on Ritchie Hwy, where the Olive Tree is now.

    And dammit, the movie theater! NO!

  10. You forgot about Children’s Palace in the Southgate Shopping Center. I stood outside with friends for hours there when Super Mario Bros 3 was released for the original Nintendo game system. No references to the 15 foot Air Mailbox or the Giant Pencil near Hospital Drive? Great article though, was a fun read.

    1. wow, Southdale shopping center? Where Zayres was, and Hutzlers was ? Oh, and dont forget Tylers store at Jumpers Mall. My mom used to shop there all the time. I also loved to go to Baskin Robbins after I got my pics done at Olan Mills across from Glen Burnie High. Two Guys, that was where Cactus Willies was, and Corvettes where Ballys is now! And the “wonderful” Montgomery Wards food in their resturaunt. lol..Oh, and Ritchie Drive in, and Sears used to be where Lowes is now. That was in the day where you would have to go to a News Center to buy

      1. don’t forget the Hechingers :) that was on the other side of the street from Sears, which is now a Uhaul storage – I think.

  11. Awesome post!! My grandparents still live in their house in Glen Burnie Park that they bought for $12,000. :) btw, the old Friendlys has Christmas greenery in the window because its a train garden every year.

  12. Great post. I still live in the town I grew up in, so I feel your pain. Though we have a great toystore downtown called Figpickles, with all sorts of vintage toys.. I may love it more than the kids do!

  13. Does anyone remember Child World or Geppetto’s?

    The latter may still exist, but if it does, it’s likely all “learning toys” now. When I was a kid, that’s where I would go to ogle the Ghostbusters and Visionaries. They had an entire basement filled with action figures. That’s where I first saw that 12″ Inspector Gadget that has always eluded me.

    Child World was great too. I remember stopping in there a lot when I was trying to find the Ghostbusters trap!

  14. I find being nostalgic for Ames kind of funny, as it was the second job I ever had. I had the fortune to work for them as they went under, right up until the day they locked the door. Not fun. My Ames is still an empty shell, waiting to be torn down for a grocery store expansion that will probably never happen.

  15. Growing up in Waldorf, we didnt’ have a mall until I was about 8 or 9 and there was no “Toys R Us” until then either. We had to go into PG County town to do any major shopping. But, there was a Peebles Department store that was just horrible yet we seemed to go there all the time.

  16. I grew up in The Bronx and Westchester County NY. I live in upstate NY now, and have lived here for the past 7 years. I have been to FAO Schwartz numerous times, and it is amazing! There’s a mall in Westchester, called The Westchester, that had a smaller FAO Schwartz on the upper level. It was bigger than a regular mall store, but the prices were the same as they were in the NYC location. I just liked to go in there and check out all the new toys they had. This one opened around 1993, so I was past the acceptable playing with toys phase. But, me and my friend Jeff always went to FAO Schwartz and the nearby Toys R Us all the time.

    The area you live in looks cool. We don’t have anything remotely loking like this in my general vicinity.

    Could you possibly take some pictures of the arcade in the back of Crabtowne USA for us? I’d really like to see what games they have for only a quarter.

    1. yeah the arcade has totally been on my “short list” of posts to do for a while now. i’ve also got board games of alf and home improvement to review…green bean ice cream…the list of never ends thankfully.

  17. so, I was at friendly’s in marley station when it shut down. my mom, me, and my cousin were all shopped out and enjoying a quick dinner. our entrees hasn’t come out yet but we were eating mozzerella sticks. all of a sudden I’m guessing the manager rolls out and announces “Attention, everyone needs to leave now. your food is free, have a good day”

    I have no idea what happened, but that was that… friendly’s has been closed since. I like to think it was a health code violation or something….

  18. To Paul: Child World owned Children’s Palace and operated stores under both banners until they went under in 1993.

    Hoorah for Wikipedia!

  19. I’m 21 years old and grew up in Glen Burnie. My mom used to work at that Ames and I used to work at that Kmart. I would definitely feel weird if that Kmart no longer existed. I also used to work in Marley Station Mall (teenager = retail job), and a lot of the stores are closing down. They closed Borders Books!! It’s now an indoor mini-golf course. I used to know all the stores in that mall; Now I can hardly find anything.

    I really loved Glen Burnie; my Grandmother graduated from Glen Burnie High School, when it was just one building- the “Old Main” building. When I applied for college, I decided not to go too far: I applied to Towson University in Baltimore, just 40 minutes away.

    It will be interesting- and a little sad- to see how GB continues to change over the years.

  20. Yes, at least we still have Kmart where time has stood still. I used to shop at that Kmart with my Mom in the early 70’s and I still pop in now and then for the ocassional odd item. I’ve spent many happy hours toy shopping there at Christmas time (when my kids still played with toys). Not much has changed there in all these years and I love the feeling of being back in time when I’m there, a simpler & less hetic way of life

  21. Funnily enough, I was in Glen Burnie a couple of weeks ago!

    As you really know the town, do you mind if I pick your brain? I’d heard that the “World’s Largest Pencil” was in Glen Burnie but when I was there, I couldn’t find it anywhere. I was wondering if it had been removed: do you remember seeing anything like that?

    Sadly, even if it’s there there’s now at least three pencils which are bigger (one in the United Kingdom, on in Malasia and one in West Virginia), but it’d still be awesome to find it if it’s still there!

      1. On Crain Hwy near Hospital Dr is Seaside Carryout. Years ago it was a stationary store. The giant pencil was out front in the parking lot. I remember it well.

  22. Oh my gosh, what an awesome site. Just found it today, and I’ve done close to nothing — at work — for the past hour and a half.

    –I go to Baltimore almost yearly, and I see signs for Glen Burnie like crazy! I should definitely head on over to Crabtown USA sometime! An 80s arcade, frozen in time? That sounds awesome!!

    Great site, man. Everything I’ve read so far (working my way down..) is gold.

  23. We still have Kmart in my town and it’s been less than 20 years since we got it to begin with. Almost all the Kmarts in neighboring towns have closed.

  24. We moved from Williamsburg, VA and Huntingtown, MD to GB not quite 10 years ago. Even in 10 years, things have changed a LOT. By the end of this you had me rolling with laughter, I’ve bought birthday gifts at that Toys r us, and watched that glen burnie mall get refurbished only to still sit and languish waiting for new renters, even a standby, the Hair 2000 moved to marley station! Great post!

  25. I grew up in Linthicum Heights, but Glen Burnie was where we shopped. My mom worked at Korvette’s, and I worked at Joann Fabrics and Record Bar in the GBMall in the ’80s.

    I remember the radio ads for “10,000 pairs of Levis/all under one roof/you’ll love the Pants Corral/and that’s the truth!”

    Do you remember the elderly man who stood outside his home on Crain Hwy and just waved to passing cars? The drive-in that was across from the Mall, and the big slide at the A&P end of it? Harundale Mall had the big fountain, and at Christmas, they put a ferris wheel in there.

    Was the biggest pencil outside a store on Crain Hwy visible from the 100 overpass? I have a very vague recollection, but I’m really not sure. Anybody?

    Somebody wanna cue Streisand singing “Memories?” ;)

    1. I have lived in Glen Burnie my entire life as I am almost 51 now.You are the only other person that remembers the huge slide next to the Glen Burnie mall.It sat there vacant for 15 years or so just rusting away.I worked at the Wards in the mall from 1982-84 and that was the place to be at the time.I miss all the old department stores and its a shame.My mother loved Korvettes and Two Guys spent many a Saturday as a kid in there.Does anyone remember Toy Barn it was located in the little strip mall in front of the Harundale mall.Also toy town USA which was located in another strip mall in Brooklyn Park up by Cooks department store….

      1. I used to go to the MW’s cafeteria for lunch now and then. Ward’s was also my first credit card. Loved to go shopping on my lunch break!

    2. I do remember the elderly man on Crain Hwy, i drove that way every morning to go to work and he was always there waving. if you honked your horn he would salute.

    3. Yes, the big pencil was visible from the route 100 overpass. If you looked to your right there was CrabTown USA and the big pencil right up from that. Ah the good old days.

  26. The giant pencil was in the parking lot of Glen Burnie Stationers (a family-owned office supply store). It was on Crain Highway at the end of Hospital Drive. I think it’s where the Seaside Carry-Out is located now. The 15 foot airmail box referenced above is in front of a house on Wellham Avenue, on the left side if you’re traveling from Ferndale to Glen Burnie. I think it’s still there (at least it was a few months ago). Fun memories!

  27. I grew up in Glen Burnie…and I, too, couldn’t wait to move away. I moved away in 1978 and have only returned for funerals and weddings. I can’t believe the tiny house we lived in and the tiny yard…even though we had the biggest home on the street. I don’t miss anything about GB. My great grandparents had 13 children who all lived their entire lives in GB, so lots of kin lived nearby. The schools were the worst. So thankful I was able to move away!!

  28. Wow i cant believe you didn’t mention one of the biggest historic places in GB, Honeybee Restaurant. Where all the true Glen Burnians go at 3am for a drunken breakfast. That place is a landmark here.

    1. You forgot the giant cockroaches that climbed the walls as you sat there and ate your eggs, bacon and home fries after a night of boozing at the Frigate Lounge on Furnace Branch road, just off of Ritchie Highway.
      Also my dad told me of the stories about hookers working the upstairs rooms as the truckers stopped in for a “meal”

      1. To add to my post, a lot of old glen Burnie folks remember the HoneyBee when it was on the east side of Ritchie Highway south of B&A Blvd. Then it move to a spot just north of B&A, on the west side of Ritchie Hwy. I am an old fart with more than 82 years association with Glen Burnie

  29. …No…Annes Dairy Cream…or Glen Burnie Carnival…you really were a deprived child.

    Was that ever a Shoneys??? I know Bobs Big Boy turned into one on Ritchie HWY…but that HU-NAN place was originally RAX ROAST BEEF, on Aquahart

    Sorry…. Cal-Dor went out of buisness, too…As well as Jumpers Mall which is now your K-mart, if you recall…but when SIZZLER closed , that was it for me!!!

  30. Reading this in 2011 I am happy to say we are seeing growth again though it is changing its great to see new store fronts and full parking lots. Though I do miss that Friendly’s. My Ganddad use to take me there. I remember wanting to bring my own kids someday.

  31. hi i lived in brooklyn all my life up until 6 years ago and moved to minnesota i went back home and went down to glen burnie, omg it really has changed, no more glen burnie mall, toys re us moved across the street, mars grocery store is gone, no more value city, just the furniture store, i used to walk from brooklyn down the the mall and korvettes when i was younger, i felt all grown up lol, i miss the drive in and also the theater that used to be on the corner right across where the malls was that has been a chuckey cheese for along time now, i worked at anns dari creme for 11 years, i miss it there, i still can remember as a child ging down ritchie highway and there was hardly anything there, i forgot to mention enses it was an italian restuarant that taco bell is now, me and my friends would go there and have late dinners, but one thing is still the same the honey bee restuarant, i was there this past april and it hasnt changed a bit and the breakfasts are still cheap and good, i do miss the fact that you can find anything on ritchie highway and you really dont have to go anywhere else, where i am now i have to go out of my way just to find a mall or a restaurant, and above all there is no ocean here lol thank god i have all of my memories

  32. Geez, old memories for sure. we were the 6th family to move into Glen Burnie Park in maybe 54 or 55. We had the most expenspenive model, $13.900. I used to pick black berries in the wild in back of the Doll motel and Crab town. Now there is a freeway there. I went to school with the guy whose grand parents owned the next motel, the Forest and in 56 I think it was he went home for lunch and didn’t come back. The next day the teacher asked him why. He said I wanted to watch the world series. It was the year of the cross town New York series, NY Yankes vs. the Brokklyn Dodgers.We moved to Ohio in 64 and while I’ve only been back twice, in 69 and 89 Glen Burnie will always be home to me!

  33. The large pencil was outside a stationery store on Crain Highway near Hospital Drive. The store was owned by Glen White. I’d love to get in touch with anyone from his family. They were old neighbors of ours in Brooklyn.

    1. Strayer – – – – email me at, Joe White. My brother Glenn and I owned Glen Burnie Stationers and Whitegate Realty.

      Most of these postings have missed the main players in Glen Burnie from years ago. Johnson Lumber Co. sit at the intersection of B&A Blvd and Ritchie Hwy., DeGrange Lumber Co. just South of Johnson on Ritchie Hwy.- Ed DeGrange is now Anne Arundel County State Senator. Robinson’s Clothing Store was located across B&A from Johnson Lumber and was the place to go for graduation dresses. Hein’s Hardware on B&A just North of Crane Hwy. The attorneys Demyan and the Kuethes, major factors in the beginning the Bank of Glen Burnie.

  34. I’ve lived in Glen Burnie since 1996, grew up in South Baltimore until 1976 and from 1976 – 1996 lived in Brooklyn Park. I enjoyed your story and the pictures. I can’t believe I didn’t see any photos of the famous impromtu CAR SHOWS that always seem to be around in the summer! :) LOL Great job!

  35. The “Woo Chon” resturant used to be Rax and not Showneys. The Showneys was on Ritchy Hwy and is now “The Olive Tree”

  36. Good article. I lived in Glen Burnie for a long time. I posted this on facebook to share with my friends who still live there or once did. I don’t miss this place at all. I always hated it. But I am glad someone has written an article helping to articulate what it is or what it was to be in this odd place.

  37. It was Korvettes.. with a K. The Taco Bell is now a Chik-fil-a and those of us that live here and are trying to make it a better place to live don’t really appreciate the negative connotations from this blog. There are a lot of good people who work very hard to make improvements. We could do without the disparaging remarks.
    But while we are reminiscing, does anyone remember the drive in across from, then, Glen Burnie mall. I saw a lot of movies there.

    1. I hope there is improvement in Glen Burnie, because when I used to live there, I did nothing but live in fear. Dare to even look at another teenager, and you got your ass beat by the other 15 guys that were all together. And back then, you’d have kids sit at the one entrance to Marley Station Mall. Better not go that way.

      But I do remember when the drive in was torn town and became a Hechinger’s.

    2. There are two Chik-fil-A’s in Glen Burnie, neither of which was EVER a Taco Bell. I have lived here since 1979 . The Taco Bell that was pictured was diagonally across from the McD’s near B&A and Ritchie HWY. It is now just an extension of the parking lot that it sat on. They built a small shopping center right beside it with a Mars Grocery store as the anchor. The other taco Bell, at Ordnance Rd and Ritchie HWY, has always been a Taco Bell and is the only one in GB now. The two Chik-Fil-A’s are in 1. in front of Glen Burnie mall, built in the parking lot, and 2. on Quarterfield Rd near the rt. 97 underpass. As for Glen Burnie’s “reputation,” yes its a hell-hole; but it’s OUR hell-hole, and no more of one than any other suburban town this close to a big city.

  38. Very good post! I remember Korvettes, Two Guys, and Farmers Market. The Glen Burnie Drive In theater and Hechingers, also Shore Drive In in Pasadena.

  39. Here’s one for you. Midgetville on Colony Road in Pasadena. I think it was bulldozed in 2004 but we used to go there at night as teenagers in the mid 80’s. I hung out in Glen Burnie in those days. Lots of great memories. Wish I could find some of the old gang from those days.

  40. I would love to go back to Harundale mall at Christmas when I was a kid in the early to mid eighties.I remember my mom taking me and my sister to see the talking reindeer in Hochilds or looking at the neat stuff in Turks window.Starting to seem like a long time ago.

  41. What about the church that was a movie theater I saw Star Wars there in1977. It’s across from Harundale on Bill Batemans side which was an Earls video store.

  42. I live in Westminster now,but lived my entire life in Linthicum Ferndale Glen Burnie Arundel Hills sit off B&A Blvd,love and miss the place .I am old now but love it when I go home to visit my friends and family.Its sad to see the changes in Glen Burnie.but who knows it may come back better someday. the start of the decline was the light rail and the implosions in the tentaments in Baltimore and everybody got section 8 housing in Glen Burnie,i saw this coming sorry to say.i worked with children all my working life and saw the change in the little ones just arriving in GB. hope that’s all we can do hope it gets better

  43. Oh my gosh!! I’m from Pasadena and you have totally encapsulated my childhood on one single post. I actually came across this while looking for articles about the music stores closing in Marley Station mall (it’s for a paper about how the internet has ruined the music business). I remember the slogan “turn that frown upside down”, but somehow over the years began to think that an old Chuck E Cheese or Toys R Us slogan. Thanks for this, I have been feeling extremely sentimental lately and I definitely needed it.

  44. Reblogged this on jnny22ja and commented:
    I know, we’re supposed to write our own posts, but I came across this while looking for articles about the music stores that used to exist in Glen Burnie Mall (so I could redo my paper). Just a crazy coincidence that it was on Word Press. This is my hometown and this article encapsulates my childhood perfectly. So here it is, enjoy!!

  45. Hey I’ve lived here all my life they destroyed almost all of what was cool about this town re developed the downtown area. To as they say get rid of the smut book stores and x rated theater in doing so they leveled all of what was cool about Glen Burnie. not to mention what they did to the Mall that was a crime. I once worked at that Ames store and the one that was E J Korvertes before that yeah they sucked. I came for the old school G C Murphy’s crowd and hated Ames they had no brains but a boat load of cash. not sad to see them go but I still miss the people most of them also came from the Murphy’s days

  46. I’ve left a few replies here, but as someone who lived in Glen Burnie for 19 years, no one mentioned Lucky’s or Roy’s Quik Corner. We’d always go into Lucky’s to get Lemonheads or whatever other candies they had. Oh and don’t forget that fateful day when the Greenway Bowling alley burnt down. I have a scoring book from the rubble still in the attic ;) And I have a Record Town receipt from 1994 too. And one of the best places to get our music was always Record and Tape Traders. Sooo many good memories of Glen Burnie.

  47. What amazes me, having lived in Glen Burnie from birth through ninth grade (about 1977) is not so much what has changed as what hasn’t. Jeanette’s School of the Dance is still there, and so, I hear is Jeanette Strauss herself. Every school I attended (Woodside, South Gate, Corkran, Old Mill) is still there and still running, along with the Baptist church where I went to Kindergarten. The Methodist church I attended as a kid, and where I sang in the choir, is still there. The public library on Eastway looks pretty much like it did when it opened; they took a bunch of us out of Woodside one day to get a tour before the opening. The Presbyterian church next door where I took piano lessons is still open as well. The General Cinema became a church but it still stands. The brick garage at Oakwood and Aquahart, which our school bus passed every afternoon, used to house C&P trucks; that’s still standing serving some other function. The post office and a lot of the office buildings on Crain Highway are still as I remember them.

    Somebody put a brick front on the house in Harundale where I grew up, and the rosebush my grandfather put there probably died long ago. The same four or five of us always congregated in this one girl’s driveway to play, and running letters to the mailbox on the corner was one of my regular errands. When an auto parts store on Ritchie Highway caught fire we watched the whole thing from the front porch. My neighbor successfully (for a while) kept me out of his yard by telling me the hedge was poison ivy. Later his Great Dane did a more effective job.

    We moved to South Gate in 1973. (The funny thing is, after we moved into that new development, my mother would always complain about all the new housing developments springing up!) Our house was on the corner of Shetland and Tam O’Shanter, and Shetland at the time came to an dead end a few dozen yards to the west. Oakwood Road also dead-ended just south of Majesty Glen and there used to be a footpath connecting the dead ends. My best friend lived on the other end and we used the path all the time. That got pulled up when they ran Oakwood Road through to Elvaton. Whoever occupies our house now can thank my father for the central air and the finished basement. He got all that done, nearly single-handedly, just in time for our move to Minnesota!

    The Rice Bowl was my mother’s favorite restaurant, but I didn’t like Chinese as a kid so I had the spaghetti. We switched over to Friendly’s when that opened. I saw The Exorcist at the General Cinema, along with Jaws, 2001, Airport, The Hindenburg, Earthquake!, the list goes on. If memory serves, they re-ran Song of the South, as well as Fantasia. The last film I saw there was Star Wars, just before our move.

    I still have the class portraits from elementary school, and you can spot the same dozen or so kids in each year. I wonder how many children grow up today with the same sense of continuity. I still confuse visitors and young people when I refer to BWI as “Friendship”.

  48. Does anyone remember the name of the nightclub that sat between Ritchie Hwy and Crain Hwy..not far from Furnace Branch Rd..theres a Red Wing shoe store. 7-11..tobacco store. You had to go downstairs for the club. This was late 70s to maybe mid 80s.

    1. Villa Sorrento. Restaurant/Carry-out upstairs. The Dungeon nightclub was downstairs. For a time, Tuesday night was Quarter Night. 25 cent drafts, 25 cent pizza slices. Walk in with a fiver and do a lot of damage.

  49. Aaaaaaaaahhhhhh…….The Burnie……The other Essex. I mourn the old Essex and Dundalk as you do the old Burnie. I don’t care what anyone says, they were great places to grow up. Great article.

  50. You are younger than I am, but just old enough to have seen the last vestiges of the old Glen Burnie, although culturally it stills sound like things haven’t changed. I grew up there right down the street from what was once a private airport called Friendship. There were woods all around. I lived there until I got married at age 20 and left and returning occasionally. I think my equilibrium got upset when I went home, and past the street I grew up on because the little two lane Hammonds Ferry Road upon which my friend and I used to ride our bikes became the massive four-lane Aviation Boulevard. I was so disoriented and upset because I couldn’t make a left hand turn onto MY street! Anyway, I got a job right out of high school in 1974 at that Toys R US in the Glen Burnie Mall. I was one of the original employees that helped open that store. And, yes, I saw Geoffrey Giraffe AND the 6 Million Dollar Man (Lee Majors) at the grand opening (That was when Grand Openings were really GRAND!!!). After all my travels over 40 years, I don’t know about Glen Burnie being a great place to grow up as Selena said about Essex (Isn’t that where the Eastpoint Mall with the penguins and monkeys was?) and Dundalk, but it’s home!
    Thanks for a great article!

    1. I was at the grand opening when I was a kid to meet Lee Majors, the “six million dollar man, in the long handshake line. My cousin did not wash her hand for a week.
      I now live in Maine. I still have a lot of family in Glen Burnie and surrounding areas.

  51. I STiLL live just outside of Glen Burnie and am friends with Barb Moeller who is always the grand dam of the Glen Burnie carnival each year and a very well known Glen Burnie personality. My most memorable thing about Glen Burnie is the Saturday trips into “town”(as we lived in Odenton) and shopping at my most favorite clothing store of all time…..Robinsons Dept Store. I remember every inch of it as well as Ms Snapper the lady’s clothing buyer and sales lady and Lyda Bone who worked in lady’s hat dept, the steps leading upstairs to the offices and everything in between. As I still am in Glen Burnie almost daily it’s not just nostalgia but just the feeling of it being my second hometown…..Odenton being my first.

  52. Another memory is Sidels Dept Store a few stores down from Robinsons and eating every Saturday in Reads drug store on the corner. My aunt and uncle owned Rogers Toy Store in front of Greenway bowling and across from old taxi stand. This was during the fifties when life was good and mostly innocent and SAFE…..miss so many bygone places, people and times

    1. Any chance of Dolores Smith of calling me Thanks Sharon Jernigan My dad worked at Rogers Toy Store too…410-787-9687

  53. Had the good fortune to attend Richard Henry Lee Elementary …..remember Ameche’s and then Gino’s? Shopped at Harundale Mall but Mom said ” no way” was her daughter going to just hang out there! Charm School at Montgomery Ward. Lee’s Drug Store @ 5th Ave and Crain Hwy. further down Ritchie Hwy was a restaurant called “The Wagonwheel ” w favorite waiter “Booze”! Thanks for the memories!

  54. Mjaj… I think you are talking about the Frigate nightclub. everyone’s favorite hangout in the 70’s till it burned down! I still live in GB…. and am very sentimental about my hometown….been here for 58 years. sure, it’s changed, but what hasn’t?
    I guess home is where your heart is!

    1. I worked at the Frigate in 1974/75! In the winter they made us where costumes behind the bar, but the rest of the time I wore very short skirts! I only worked Thursday-Saturday nights but the place was packed and I made a ton of money in tips.

  55. Loved reading the article. I grew up in Glen Burnie in the 50s and 60s, left about 1971. It had its flaws but I wouldn’t trade my experiences for any other. Came back in the late 70s for a few years to work on Central Ave. next to the YMCA and across from the fire house.

  56. I know this is an old blog. Not too old. But I grew up in Baltimore till I was 14. My family moved me to Pasadena in 99-2000. I also don’t like the place too much. I am 30 now. I remember all those places you talked about. Marley Station is a ghost town. Which is off because back in 2000-2005 the place was jam packed and it was where all the teenagers went. Like that move Mall Rats. I was talking to my older sister one day on the phone one day and she said her daughter had went to the mall. I said oh you mean Marley Station? She said no the mall in Columbia. I guess Marley Station is going down hill. I know a lot of people go to Arundel Mills. I also remember the old Harundale Mall. With an actual mall inside. This was in the early 90’s. There was a pet store and my parents bought my sister a Hamster and it bit her finger so they took it back. We lived in Baltimore when it was getting bad so going to Glen Burnie was an alternative to trying to shop in places in Baltimore. We would go to Sears and all those places. I still remember the Montgomery Wards and Walden book store in Glen Burnie. My nephew still says can we go to Toys R Us.

  57. Does anyone remeber the name or the record store which was in the plaza behind the Annapolis Mall? I worked there in the 80s but can’t remeber the name.

    1. Sound Odyssey was at Parole and closed in 1981. I was the last manager of that store and moved it to Dover DE that summer.

  58. You forgot about Children’s Palace, it was in that big shopping center where Mountain Rd meets Ritchie Hwy. I think it was where Michael’s is now, their mascot was Peter Panda. So back then you had Toys’R’Us, Kiddy City, Children’s Palace, a KB in each of those malls, and Be Beep in Severna Park. The Office Depot in that same shopping center with Children’s Palace used to be a Kids’R’Us… Which looked like Toys’R’Us but was just clothing and therefore felt like a sneaky trick to me as a kid. Though I think they had some sort of giant sneaker you could ride that I remember liking a lot!

  59. I’m so old I remember Shoney’s when it was on Crain Highway way before 100 was put in. From my home on Baylor Road it was a short walk up the hill and over to Shoney’s and on to school at Oakwood Elementary.

  60. what brand of soda was sold in a warehouse setting off 8th could chose your flavors like Chocolate and Cream

  61. Great story…an entertaining read. Hard to believe you wrote it (or at least posted it) in the Summer of 2010 if i’m reading that right. Things have gotten much worse all around..there as well I imagine. I grew up in Central MA. (Worcester..or lovingly called “Wormtown” by the cooler locals) and I know what you mean by the “smells” of some of these stores. Our Ames was previously a “Zayres” and it didn’t still smelled the same. The original Zayres had a little “snack shop” in the front that had popcorn, hot dogs, soda, etc. and that just added to the smell. You’re dead on about the toys and half the time there were missing parts and you could tell the box had previously been opened and was now taped shut (an obvious return) but so cheap. Funny thing…long after it became an Ames, I (as luck would have it) bought my first house nearby and bought pretty much all the basic things I needed (shower caddy, mop, buckets, towels, cleaning supplies, sponges, etc.) cheaply a few Months before it closed. I miss it bigtime even though I bought a bigger house in the suburbs and moved. Great memories though..thanks again.

  62. I read your story, and I am too a bit nostalgic. I grew up in Glen Burnie in the late 60s/70s. It was a time where the kids were outside with their friends all day, save coming homing home for meals. Parents on the most part had no excess income. Mothers on the most part were home or worked part time. It was a good time for the kids. They played outside, they were imaginative, they learned to be independent. I feel that is a big loss for today’s kids. I’m sure many don’t agree. I have great memories of my childhood.

  63. This is an awful thing to bring up. Back in the late 80’s, on Valentine’s Day. Two kids went to the glen burnie mall to get a card for thier mom. They were raped and murdered in the woods. There was a manhunt. The guy was gunned down by Baltimore city cops in s. B-more. He was shot 40 times and they planted a knife on him. Does anyone remember who the two children were?

    1. I’m still trying to get info on it. I’ve never forgotton it. We were young and my oldest was maybe a year old. I was in the process of becoming a cop and the cops planted a knife on him, after the filled his sick ass with like 62 slugs.

      1. Booker T. Jones (26) was the murderer. Crime was committed on Mothers’ Day ’89. Children were Brian Lee Lemmons (12) and Morgan Delayne DeLost (13).

  64. You really missed the heart of Glen Burnie in your length article.
    The reality of Glen Burnie was not the malls, the stores, the hamburger joints etc. What made Glen Burnie a legend was it’s sort of cloudy nightlife!! Remember The Glen Lounge?? The Paddock? The Barn? The Frigate Lounge?? The Pioneer Club? The Sunset? Tony’s “Inferno”? Emerson’s? And all the other in descript little bars and hideouts where we used to be bad, get a little high from National Boh? Up and down Mountain road, the hot spots??The late night after the bars closed eating joints??And who can forget the famous Tony and his gas cans??
    All those are now gone and Glen Burnie has become another annex of the inner city and south America.

  65. I worked in “About Faces” in Jumpers hole, known to my friends as, “Jump my hole,” mall. My first date with my now Ex husband was at Taco Bell. Do you remember the murder of the boy and girl, behind Glen Burnie Mall? We got a little house in Morell park. Baltimore city cops, shot the killer of those children, two blocks from me. U could hear the gunfire. I’ve tried to research that case and can find nothing. Any of you know anything about those murders?

  66. I too have resided in Glen Burnie all of my 49 years and have lived the changes. Some good some bad. I agree with your thoughts and comments. And would like to compliment you on a well thought out and written article of our hometown

  67. I stumbled across this site looking for something about Ferndale. I attended Corkran Jr. High School then went on to Andover High School. I recall many of the places in the article and responses.

  68. I love this. I grew up in Annapolis and remember a lot of these things – especially going to Kiddie City at Jumper’s Hole (where we could also see very cheap movies).

    They had the best deals. I remember getting a G.I. Joe Terror Drome for $39. If that toy were released today it would easily cost over 400 dollars!

    We eventually got a Kiddie City in Annapolis around 1989 or so, sadly at the expense of losing Juvenile Sales around that time. I don’t think Juvenile sold Nintendo games which was part of their downfall. And of course, Kiddie City itself was killed when Toys R Us opened in the early 90s.

  69. I to grew up in glen burnie , Does anyone remember the 2 horse back riding places on FT, Smallwood Road. Across the road from one of them was an old elementary school, i think its the maintenance facility for Anne Arundal public schools now, behind that was an old 1950 navy nikie missile site.

  70. Nicely written article. I love reading all of the comments. I remember All the places everyone mentioned. I lived in G.B. From 1964-1997. I still go back 3-4 times a year because most of my family and old friends live there or close by. Lots of great memories of my childhood and I get sad to see all of the changes and how run down some places look. Again, great memories of the past!

  71. Bob,
    I grew up in “The Glen” in the 60’s and early 70’s. I practically lived in the Harundale mall and the old Greenway Bowl on Crain Hwy. I moved to Florida in 1992 but I do miss the old Glen Burnie.

  72. If i remember correctly Greenway Bowl was Duckpins, and the paddock lounge and new glen theater were right down the street. Remember sidels.

    1. Yes. I remember all those and more. Sunny’s Surplus, Lee’s Surplus, Johnson Lumber, The Rice Bowl, Henry’s Hamburgers, Amichie’s, Read’s Drug Store and so many more. Downtown GB was really a fun happy place “back in the day”.

  73. I remember going to the little tavern hamburger place on Saturday nights after the bars closed down. I go back often and remember all the fun times we had. A friend of mine lived behind Ritchie Drive- inn movies and we could watch a movie from his bedroom. Great place to grow up.

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