The phone rang in Burke's Bar and Grill and when the waitress repeated the words "Jury Order," the crowd of lawyers and journalist at the bar made a beeline for the door.
"They thought it was the Mandel jury going home for the night," laughed manager Mike Colocia, "but it was a jury in another trial. They were all back on their stools in a few minutes."
Burke's, which is two blocks east of the Federal Courthouse, is one of the hangouts for participants and observers who are waiting out a verdict in the political corruption trial of Gov. Marvin Mandel.
While the six defendants, dozen lawyers and nearly 100 who are standing watch at the Courthouse are fighting boredom, there are seven men and five women who have plenty to do, but after more than 90 hours of deliberation, even the jurors appear to be losing their appetites.
Burke's which offers "Baltimore Cuisine," has been filling the daily meal orders from the jury, and Coloccia has watched the size of the orders dwindle.
"When they first began deliberating," Coloccia observed, "the orders were pretty hefty. But in the last few nights, a couple of them have only wanted a soft drink or iced tea, though somebody is still really putting on the feedbag. Last night, he got a 20-ounce steak, baked potato with sour cream, two large milks and a Bavarian cream pie."
The remainder of last night's jury order showed two stuffed shrimp, two chef salads, a filet mignon, a chopped sirloin, a sirloin strip, a seafood platter, a fried chicken, and two iced teas only. The total bill come to $75, Coloccia said.
The monotony has created a community of the bored, who periodically overindulged in humor, food and drink. Walk in any of the half-dozen or so favorite watering holes - Burke's, Cafe des Artistes, The Crease. The Hilton Bar or the outdoor cafes along Hopkins Plazza and you to see someone connected with the trial.
One person who isn't anxious for a verdict is Steve Levinson, who owns the Cafe des Artistes, its Brasserie Bar and a beer and wine stand on the plazza. "If the jury hangs out until Sept. 17, when the Mechanic Theatre starts its fall season, this place will make some money this year," grinned Levinson.
"The night bartender left me a note that said this place was jammed at last call," at 2 a.m. today, said day manager Sam Hillenschmidt.
Robin Cohen, hostess at the cafe, is amazed at the cordiality of the various persons connected with the trial. She said that when the attorneys and reporters and defendants began coming to the restaurant she expected she might have to seat them in different corners of the dining room.
"But there's no tension. Everyone is friendly and on a first-name basis," said Cohen, who greets many of the trial regulars with a peck on the cheek.
Manager Bob Phillips said that since the trial watchers "discovered" the cafe, business has been fantastic." It has turned August, normally the slowest month of the year, into a boom, he said.
As the Lobby Corner, the newstands in the Lord Baltimore Hotel, owner Mildred Purcell credits interest in the trial in the warly sellouts of not only the three Baltimore newspapers, but the New York Times and the two Washington papers.
The long wait has produced an economic boomlet not only for several merchants, but also for a number of the news people assigned to cover the proceedings.
Sandy Cannon, a field producer for WJLA-TV (Channel 7) said "Our crews are getting rich." One member of a station, who said his regular paycheck is $215 a week, made $801 this week including overtime and allowances for meals and travel. One on-camera personality confessed receiving a take-home pay of $2,000 for the most recent two-week period.
Today marked the start of the second weekend away from the home for many, so the courthouse and its environs took on characteristic of a family reunion. Some reporters and attorneys brought their wives and children to the courthouse and spent much of the day introducing them to people whose names have become so familar over the past months.
Judge Robert L. Taylor began his day shortly before 9 a.m. by giving a grandfatherly chuck under the chin to Emily Krebs, the 8-month-old daughter of Baltimore newscaster Joe Krebs.
Emily's mother, Mary Lynne Krebs, like several spouses has been a trial widow since the first proceeding began here nearly a year ago, last Sept. 8.
As reporters and lawyers came by to squeeze the little girl, Mrs. Krebs recalled that "we were worried for a long time that the jury would be out when she was born. But that was a long time ago, during the first trial." Emily was born Dec.24, a few weeks after the first trial was terminated.