Raynor Heights in Linthicum was once a thriving neighborhood, complete with its own improvement association, a carnival, two groceries and a tavern.
All of this was lost, though, after the Baltimore Beltway and the Baltimore Washington Parkway divided the community. But, thanks to the newest volume of Linthicum Vignettes, the memories will endure.
Skip Booth, a member of the Linthicum-Shipley Improvement Association’s (LSIA) board of directors and vice president of the Ann Arrundell County Historical Society, wrote about Raynor Heights and more than a dozen other topics in Linthicum’s past, as he has for about a decade. The seventh volume of Vignettes was published a couple of months ago.
Booth said he felt a sense of accomplishment at the feat.
“Having done 90 articles on Linthicum, well, yeah,” he said. “I originally thought I’d do 10.”
Booth started writing the Vignettes for the LSIA’s monthly newsletter at the request of President Rik Forgo. The two had served on then-County Executive Janet S. Owens’s BWI Small Area Planning committee, who created a document advising the county how to deal with growth and development. One part of that document dealt with Linthicum’s history.
A lifelong Linthicum resident, Booth admitted to a little trepidation at first.
“I had never done anything like this,” he said. “I wanted to write, and I figured this would help me become a better writer and editor.”
The Vignettes were so popular that LSIA decided to create an anthology and sell them as a fundraiser.
“We’re very lucky to have Skip in our community,” Forgo said. “He easily could sell them by himself, and no one would begrudge him for that, but he doesn’t do that. All the proceeds go back to the LSIA.”
Booth mixes anecdotes of growing up in Linthicum and attending the original Linthicum Elementary and former Andover Junior-Senior High Schools with research from the Maryland State Archives and the Maryland and Ann Arrundell historical societies.
“It was a great area to grow up in. We had fun. We built forts, and we explored,” he said. “I could say, ‘I’ll be home at lunchtime,’ and Mom didn’t worry. It was a carefree time and a great place to grow up in.”
Besides the Vignette about Raynor Heights, the newest compilation features accounts of patent holders who have lived in Linthicum, whether turkeys ever lived on Turkey Hill, the historic Locust Grove home, and U.S. Rep. J. Charles Linthicum, whose legislation helped make “The Star Spangled Banner” America’s National Anthem.
While Booth said picking a favorite article is difficult, he especially enjoyed writing about two. The first was about a girl who faked a kidnapping threat against her in 1934 because she wanted to live with her father. The county at the time didn’t have a police department, so if the community paid enough money, it could hire officers to patrol the area, Booth said.
“We didn’t have a police department. We had the sheriff and Officer Ford and Bunny Brown,” he recalled.
After Booth published the article, media like The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun all picked up the story, he said.
The other article he especially enjoyed writing was one of the few not to make it into the compilation: when The Beatles came to Linthicum. In 1964, the "Fab Four" flew into Friendship Airport, now Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall International, to play a concert at the Baltimore Civic Center on their first American tour.
But as an April Fool's Day prank, Booth changed the story so they got a flat tire and detoured to Tauber’s, a local towing business. George Harrison and Ringo Starr went out for ice cream, while Paul McCartney and John Lennon played pinball as the tire was being repaired, Booth alleged.
All jokes aside, Booth says The Beatles really did come to the airport for the concert. But the flat tire? Pinball? The ice cream run? He made that up.
“Of course, people didn’t turn the page to see that I explained the joke. People still ask about it,” he said.