The Free Lance Rides Again

On the 8th of May, We begin daily publication (with the exclusion of Sundays) of Mr Mencken’s Free Lance columns, each column posted on its its anniversary date.

Mr Mencken produced this column six days a week for four-and-a-half years. In the first years (1911-1914), he took on political and other follies of Baltimore City and such fusty material is likely to be of interest only to very hard-core Baltimoreans. Mencken becomes far more interesting to the general reader after the eruption of the First World War when he is a severe corrective to British and American war propaganda.

The title of the column was at first “The World In Review”. That lasted one day, for the following day, the 9th, “The Free Lance” was affixed at the top.

“The Free Lance” was placed on page six, in the eight column, a space which, beforehand was filled by any type of article. Interestingly. the item the day preceding the appearance of “The World In Review” was a piece by Mencken on “Alcohol”

Thanks are due to S. T. Joshi for allowing us to make use of his corpus of OCR scanned Mencken material, Oleg Panczenko for proofreading and HTML5 markup, and Marion E. Rodgers for sharing material from her scholarly Mencken collection.

2015 Mencken Graveside Memorial Service

The 10th Annual Service will be held Sunday, January 25, 2015 at 2:00 PM at the Mencken Family Grave site, Loudon Park Cemetery, 3620 Wilkens Avenue, Baltimore. Signs will point the way to the grave-site. After the brief memorial service attendees are invited, as usual, to the Spirits West Country Club, 2601 Wilkens Avenue.

Loudon Park Cemetery: enter at 3620 Wilkens Ave, Baltimore, MD 21229. Note: the Frederick Ave entrance is closed. Enter through the Wilkens Ave entrance.

Location of grave: N 39° 16.693′ W 76° 40.683′ (39.278217°, -76.678050°)

For GPS users: Google maps recognizes geographic coordinates and knows the cemetery’s roads. Note that the Frederick Ave entrance is closed. Split your trip into two parts: leg 1 will be from your origin to 3620 Wilkens Ave, Baltimore, MD; leg 2 will be 3620 Wilkens Ave, Baltimore, MD to 39.278217°, -76.678050°.

Spirits West Country Club: 2601 Wilkens Ave (Cor. Millington Ave), Baltimore, MD 21223. (Make a left turn from Loudon Park onto Wilkens Ave. and drive 1.6 miles. Spirits West will be on your right at the end of Baltimores’s longest block of row houses and across the way from St Benedict’s Church.)

Mencken's Grave-site

Map to Mencken’s Grave-site

Calvin K. Kobsa, 1927-2014

Society member Calvin Kern Kobsa died at the age of eighty-six at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson on May 10, 2014.

Calvin, the son of Charles J. Kobsa, a piano maker and tuner, and Marie Kern Kobsa, was born in Baltimore July 31, 1927. He was graduated from Polytechnic Institute and earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park. After serving in the Coast Guard, where he attained the rank of Lieutenant, Junior Grade, he established his own architectural firm in 1960. He performed both residential and commercial work but his specialty was historic properties. A personal interest of his was old motion-picture theaters.

He was always in a good humor, always ready with an anecdote, and always ready to assist. He drew and painted and possessed the Baltimorean’s love of his City and also the Baltimorean’s love of reminiscing about the “old days”

In addition to being a member of the Society, Calvin was also a member of the Friends of the H. L. Mencken House. For the latter organization he produced a set of valuable architectural plans with detailed annotations directing how the Mencken House should be renovated. For several years would set up his boyhood model train set at the House during the annual Christmastime open house.

Calvin Kern Kobsa is interred in the Garrison Forest Veterans Cemetery, Owings Mills, Baltimore County, MD.

Update: Mencken Oktoberfest at the Goethe Institut Is Now Free

The lecture and showing of Inherit the Wind at the Goethe-Institut are now free of charge but there will be no buffet and no Oktoberfest beer. Lunch may be had at any of the nearby restaurants. We hope to see you on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 10:30 am.

The registration deadline has been extended to October 24, 2013. Please email your reservations to Erica Joyce or call 703-237-0858.

The Goethe-Institut Washington is at 812 7th St NW. Some nearby places to have lunch are:

RFD Washington, 810 7th St, NW

Fado Irish Pub & Restaurant, 808 7th St, NW

Nando’s Peri-Peri (Portugese Chicken), 819 7th St, NW ‎(across the street from RFD Washington)

Clyde’s of Gallery Place, 707 7th St, NW

Mencken Day 2013

Mencken Day 2013 will be held on September 7, 2013 at the Enoch Pratt Free Library, 400 Cathedral St, Baltimore, MD.


10:30 a.m. — Mencken Society annual meeting

1:30 p.m. — The 2013 Mencken Memorial Lecture — “An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted and the Miracle Drug Cocaine” by Dr. Howard Markel. Guest appearance by H. L. Mencken.

Dr. Markel is the George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor of the History of Medicine and Director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan and a professor of psychiatry, public health, history and pediatrics. He has been a regular contributor for National Public Radio’s Science Friday. Dr. Markel’s most recent book is An Anatomy of Addiction. Of particular interest to Menckenphiles is his book, written with Frank A. Oski, The H. L. Mencken Baby Book.

A reception and book signing will follow in the Poe Room.

The Mencken Room is open to the public from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

New exhibits: “H. L. Mencken and Dr. Louis Cheslock (1898-1981)”, “Mencken and Arthur J. Gutman: 1911-2012” and “Mencken and Anthony Turano: 1893-1991.”

Arthur J. Gutman was a collector of Menckeniana and a former Treasurer and President of the Mencken Society.

Anthony Turano, an Italian-American lawyer who practiced in Reno Nevada, made many contributions to the The American Mercury. A noteworthy contribution was his “The speech of Little Italy” which appeared in the July 1932 issue. Like Mencken, he was enchanted by language and possessed a Menckenian repository of words. “Because of my early habit of looking up every unfamiliar word in a battered copy of Webster, my vocabulary became so top-heavy that my supply of words was far in excess of my ideas.”

Mr Mencken on CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley

Mr Mencken was used to introduce the final segment of the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley for 2013-08-05. The story was about Carol Ott of Baltimore who shames owners of run-down property in the city by posting their names and photographs of their falling-down buildings on her website

The introductory part of the segment begins at approximately 17:09 and lasts about sixteen seconds. The whole story may be viewed at

The newsreader is Maurice DuBois (Scott Pelley was out on assignment).

[17:09] DuBois: “The legendary journalist H. L. Mencken wrote that his row house in Baltimore was as much a part of him as his hands and that such feelings for one’s home were more enduring there than in any other big city in America, giving Baltimore its superior charm.”

A picture of Mencken and then of the house follow. Oleg Panczenko provided the picture which he on took August 8, 2008. CBS removed the color and cropped the image.

Charles Fecher to be Honored 2012-10-20

“The Baltimore City Historical Society is honoring the late Charles Fecher at its annual  Mayor’s Reception on October 20, 2012 at Mount Calvary Church, 816 N. Eutaw Street [cor Madison Ave.], from 12 to 2:30 p.m., tickets are $20.00 and may be purchased at the door. Fecher was a distinguished Mencken scholar and editor of the Mencken diaries. For information call 410-625-4828.”

What: Mayor’s Reception Honoring Charles Fecher
When: October 20, 2012 12-2:30 PM
Where: Mount Calvary Church816 N. Eutaw Street, Baltimore, MD