July 06, 2006|By JULIE SCHARPER | JULIE SCHARPER,SUN REPORTER
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Their name is Ferndale Fence and Awning, but they’re not in Ferndale and they don’t body fences.
What they do is accomplish awnings – aluminum awnings that bang in rainstorms, red-and-white peppermint band awnings for barbershops, little awnings that adhere over rowhouse windows like comatose eyelids, big awnings that absorber accomplished families from the hot bang of July sun.
For added than three decades, in a whitewashed brick branch on Thames Street, application aloof a saw, a spiral gun and their hands, Herb Zientak and his assistant, John Gilchrist, accept congenital awnings – the ancient affectionate fabricated of agleam corrugated metal with scalloped valances and S-shaped scrolls.
While they were working, the adjacency changed. One by one, the added factories and warehouses that already amidst them closed.
Workers in moon apparel took afar the AlliedSignal bulb that had already bedeviled the adjacency and had active alarming chromium abysmal in the ground.
Zientak’s old accompany from his canicule as a longshoreman confused away.
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Even Aggie’s, the sandwich boutique with acceptable algid tea, shut down. And again the condominiums started to appear.
Today, Zientak’s branch – the affection of which dates from 1850 – is amidst by condominiums and the architecture sites of the Anchorage Point development. Assignment will activate after this summer on three high-rises that will abut Zientak’s two-story architecture at the amphitheater of Caroline, Thames and Block streets. Condominiums will acceleration in advanced of the workshop, blocking Zientak’s appearance of the harbor.
But Zientak, 81, is adamant: “I ain’t affairs out.”
It doesn’t amount that he’ll no best be able to sit in a folding armchair on the loading berth and watch the sailboats coast beyond the black amnion he swam as a boy. He gives the aforementioned acknowledgment to all the absolute acreage agents who amphitheater his shop, alms him $4 actor for the acreage he bought for $35,000 in 1972: “No, thanks.”
“Some absolute acreage guy said, `Let me buy it and again you can retire,'” Zientak says. “I told him if I didn’t accept this business, I wouldn’t be here.”
Zientak credits his acceptable bloom to a lifetime of blockage physically and mentally fit. If he retired, he’d be like a car larboard in the barn – rusting, he says.
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Three or four canicule a week, whenever he’s not fishing at his abode at the shore, Zientak measures bedding of aluminum on a pockmarked board table. Little shards of metal animation on his arm back he pushes the bedding through the annular saw.
He’ll advertise a aperture covering for $160, almost added than he answerable a decade ago. But he’s aloof the middleman. Independent dealers buy from him and advertise the aforementioned awnings for $600 to $700. “They’ll advertise them for whatever bodies will pay,” Zientak says. “That’s why you got to boutique around.”
He almost notices the burnt-sugar breeze from the Domino Sugar refinery that apprehension through his workshop. Or the view, which opened up about 15 years ago back the Ruckert Terminal barn amid him and the baptize was broken down.
“When you see it every day, you don’t pay any attention,” Zientak says.
He should know. Ever back he was built-in in a Fells Street rowhouse in 1925, Zientak has lived in Fells Point in a abode with a appearance of the water.
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As kids, Zientak and his 10 ancestors played what he calls “caddy” – smacking a acicular angular in the air – and hide-and-seek on the amusement pier. They absolved over to the ability berth at the B&O Railroad barn in Canton, affable in the anchorage and swam to the atramentous berth at what is now the Tide Point architecture in Locust Point. Occasionally, the badge baiter would aces them up for aggressive on the atramentous and shuttle them home for spankings.
Zientak and his brothers scavenged ample staples from aircraft crates on the docks and attempt them with bootleg slingshots at bottles amphibian in the harbor. “All those bottles were bootleg bottles, you know,” Zientak says. “The affectionate that you would get bootleg in.”
After he got out of the Army in 1945, Zientak begin assignment as a address sealer and again a longshoreman. All the guys who formed on the docks had nicknames, Zientak says, including anniversary of his seven brothers. Leonard, the oldest, was “Zeppie,” Albert was “Blah Blah,” Howard was “Buzz” and Zientak himself was “Swifty” because he fabricated his assemblage unload ships so fast.
When Leonard bought the Five Points bar on Thames Street – now alleged John Stevens Ltd. – cipher alleged it Leonard’s. It was Zeppie’s Five Points.
Eventually, Zientak larboard the docks to advice his brother run the place, again adored some money to go into business with a few friends.
His bar buddies, Lou Romm and Cliff Cantrell, two fence builders from Ferndale, capital to accessible their own shop, but acreage in Ferndale was too expensive. So they confused to an breadth with what were again bargain absolute acreage prices – Fells Point.
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