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While doing research, for my upcoming book on Baltimore’s Sewage History, I come across tidbits of information that I find interesting or that just hits home with me in a way that makes me grateful for my life today. Since re-doing this blog a while back, I have been trying to refrain from writing on my personal life; that this blog will be about historic information concerning the Department of Public Works. Water and Sewage. But as usual, something I read strikes a chord with me. As in the case of the paragraph below. This comes from The Reports of the City Officers and Departments Made to the City Council of Baltimore for the Year 1904. Of course the majority of this two volume report concerns the Great Fire of Baltimore for that year, but as in most reports, regardless of what was happening at the time – various wars, droughts, pestilence, etc. – the reports always, after a brief notation on whichever calamity was occurring, become ‘Business as usual’.

“Report from City Charities on addiction – Amanda Orr* is representative of a class of persons who cannot resist the temptation of liquor. She has been committed to Bayview and the House of Correction many times for drunkenness and disorderly conduct. The only remedy for this class is to be confined indefinitely until cured of their disease in some place where they can be held in restraint and given healthy work and proper treatment. Incurable cases should be confined for life. This method of treatment is the most humane for the victim of the drink or opium habit and discourages the intemperate use of liquor and drugs. It is also much the cheapest method for the public in the long run. We need legislation to provide for indeterminate commitments for such cases.”

*State’s Attorney’s Office, Court House, Baltimore, February 21, 1905.

To the Police Justices of Baltimore City.

Dear Sirs—Allow me to call your attention to Section 868 of the City Charter, which provides for the commitment of paupers, habitual beggars, vagrants and vagabonds, lately construed by His Honor Judge Stockbridge in the Amanda Orr case. Under the decision of His Honor Judge Stockbridge in that case, the magistrate committing under said section should always commit said paupers, habitual beggars, vagrants and vagabonds to the House of Correction, and not to Bayview, except in special cases provided for in said Section 868 of City Charter. Before the magistrate can lawfully commit such pauper, etc., to the Almshouse (Bayview), it must positively appear that the person to be committed is not able-bodied, or is aged, or is seriously crippled, or infirm. In case of any doubt on the part of the committing magistrate as to the physical condition of the party to be committed, the magistrate by a short detention of the pauper, etc., at the station-house, can easily satisfy himself as to the alleged infirmities of the pauper, vagrant, etc., by the examination of the pauper by a physician. It is suggested that if this policy be pursued the State may be saved the trial of many habeas corpus cases and illegal commitments avoided. If you will be so kind as to leave this letter on file in your office for the benefit of any magistrate sitting in your absence, you will greatly oblige

Yours very truly,

Albert S. J. Owens,

State’s Attorney.

What’s this have to do with Baltimore’s Sewerage History? Being an alcoholic/addict I have lived in the gutters of Baltimore – waiting to be swept away at any minute like the other garbage laying there. Washed into the harbor…but for the grace of God….

I was Amanda Orr. Think of all the Amanda Orr’s since the above was written, who didn’t know they had a choice to ‘not use’.