“It’s a lot of police,” observed 6-year-old Mikai Pollard, turning to his aunt as the motorcade bearing William Donald Schaefer rolled into Federal Hill. “Oh, yes,” replied his aunt, Tracey Baker, “And isn’t it wonderful.”
What was most striking about the Schaefer’s “final tour” through Baltimore yesterday was not the pomp and solemnity of the official motorcade, but the good cheer and joy of the people who patiently waited for the procession to appear in a dozen city locales.
Under a hot sun and cloudless blue sky, city residents came out in droves to wave, salute, clap, snap cellphone pictures or simply look in silence as the motorcade zipped across downtown Baltimore for two hours before ending at City Hall.
They peered past the thunderous police motorcade and grave exchanges of politicians and former aides to once more see, if only in their mind’s eye, the man himself – a four-term mayor whose fierce pride in his city evoked a personal connection to him in return.
“He’s the man,” declared Carl Carter Sr., as the funeral convoy rumbled down Mulberry Street. “Before the Inner Harbor, there was nothing down there,” he said, referring to the old downtown waterfront. “He did it all.”
What did he like best about Schaefer? “He cares about people,” Carter said, using the present tense.
That was a refrain heard often yesterday. Housewives and day laborers and city employees agreed that the often-mercurial mayor never played favorites, never judged people by the color of their skin and never put himself, or his political career, above what he considered best for the city.
A Movable Mayor
The day began in Annapolis, with Schaefer lying in state at the Maryland State House for four hours. A little after 2 p.m., motorcycle police whisked a half dozen official cars from the State House to 620 Edgewood St., where Schaefer grew up and spent nearly all of his adult life.
A crowd of more than 100 greeted the entourage, which then hurried along Mulberry St. to Lexington Market, the first of a dozen locales within four-square-miles of the Inner Harbor where Schaefer made his greatest mark as a city builder.
The motorcade made stops at Mt. Vernon Monument and the Basilica of the Assumption. There Bishop Denis J. Madden blessed the casket and sprinkled it with holy water.
From there, the Schaefer procession traveled past the Hippodrome Theatre and Camden Yards to Federal Hill, where for nearly 10 minutes they stopped at the lip of the hill overlooking the Inner Harbor and viewed the redevelopment that the former mayor spearheaded. Then it was off to Little Italy, Fells Point and the Oldtown district before winding up at City Hall.
Led by Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the casket was placed for public viewing in the City Hall Rotunda last night. Among those waiting in line to pay his respects was film director John Waters.
Waters called Schaefer “an eccentric Baltimorean I always liked,” and explained that “he always supported us, even when the censor board didn’t.” Waters reminisced how the mayor liked to come to Fells Point in the 1970s and stop by the clothing shop of barmaid-turned-actress Edith Massey.
Many shared their memories of Schaefer, as they waited in the shade along Fayette St.
“I knew him for 50 years,” said Mary Redmond, who has been active in the Baltimore Teachers Union. “I used to eat dinner with him – him and I and (Clarence) Du Burns, every third Tuesday at the Palmer House.”
“There’s not going to be another one,” Redmond said, casting her eyes out to War Memorial Plaza, where the hoopla was just beginning to die down. “No William Donald Schaefers out there.”
Today, the public can view the casket at City Hall from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Funeral services open to the public will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Old St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at 233 North Charles St.
The four-term mayor, two-term governor and two-term state comptroller will be taken to the Dulaney Valley Memorial Gardens in Timonium, where he will be interred next to Hilda Mae Snoops, his longtime companion who died in 1999.
Here are photos of some of the people and places at yesterday’s procession: