They knew him as "Buddy" in his youth, they sent him to Annapolis as their elected delegate for 16 years, they loved him when he was governor. And Yesterday, when Marvin Mandel was told to pack for prison, many of the people of northwest Baltimore mourned.
"I'm just devastated by it," said Al Davis, owner of the Pimlico Hotel restaurant where bagel and lox, crab cakes and Chinese dishes share the same menu and Marvin Mandel's inscribed picture still hangs alongside the likenesses of Milton Berle, Lefty Gomez, Alan Ameche and other luminaries. "What are the words I want to use?" Davis asked, answering, "Travesty of justice."
"I know all of them real, real well, and I'm sorry, I'm really sorry, said Al Stark, 78, a real estate investor, sitting at the bar in the restaurant's "Cavalier Lounge."
In the dining room, where middle-aged matrons gather for lunch, a platinum-haired woman and her companion expressed similar views. "Marvin Mandel did nothing different than any of the other politicians, only he got caught and they're socking it to him," she said.
"If they put as much time and effort and money into our bigger problems, we'd be a lot better off," her companion said. "The streets aren't safe, nothing is safe anymore, but that they're not doing anything about."
The second woman, who said she had lived a block from the Mandel family years ago, asserted that Marvin Mandel was "good for the state of Maryland, he was a fantastic governor." It was a sentiment spoken over and over around here.
"I believe he's innocent," said Shani Land, a volunteer at the Jewish Community Center, where 150 persons mostly senior citizens, received free helath tests yesterday. "I'm very disappointed, very disappointed. I just didn't believe the evidence, but they didn't ask me."
"Both Nixon and Agnew certainly did more harm than Marvin Mandel," said another volunteer, shaking her head."They got away with murder. So all right, he favored some of his friends; it's not so terrible.
A woman who had come for the tests suggested that anti-Semitism was to blame for the problems of Maryland's first Jewish governor. "That's what it is," she asserted. "I think our religion has a lot to do with it."
At nearby Pimlico Race Course, where Marvin Mandel sold newspapers as a boy, the fifth race generated more concern than the former governor's fate. There was little apparent sympathy.
"I know all politicians are crooks," said a retired jockey agent, "but those [people] took the Lord off the Cross. They stole everything in the state."
William J. McAllister, 84, a retired private detective sporting a white goatee and a plaid cap, said, "I don't know the whole story of the case. But I say this: anyone who premeditated, (who) acts to do wrong, they got to answer the consequences."