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Holiday on the Avenue: Pennsylvania Avenue Lafayette Market Association

I was fortunate to interview my friend Herman Katkow on December 19, 1997 about memories of his parents immigrating from Russia to Baltimore; the Beverly Shop, a clothing store he and his wife, Ethel, owned at 1721 Pennsylvania Avenue; and other personal reminisces.

I spent the bulk of the interview discussing the founding of his beloved #PennsylvaniaAvenueLafayetteMarketAssociation, otherwise known as #PALMA.

I was pleasantly surprised many years later when Herman contacted me to come to his Mount Washington residence to pick up a donation of rare material that turned out to be the PALMA archive.

PALMA was a business association of Pennsylvania Avenue merchants, both black and white, which included the Lafayette Market; Charm Centre, a ladies' apparel shop owned by Victorine Q. Adams, wife of entrepreneur Little Willie Adams and the first African American woman to serve on the Baltimore City Council; and countless other businesses.

The association also published the PALMA News which spans from 1956 to 1958 (in the archives) and is filled with magnificent advertisements for businesses that were members of PALMA, along with prices we can't fathom today: Turkey necks, wings, gizzards or tails for 29 cents a pound at Hendler's Poultry, located at 1216 1/2 N. Fremont Avenue and Stalls 110-137 and 98-99 in the Lafayette Market. Today it's worth $2.55 a pound.

The overall Katkow/PALMA Archives covers 1954 through 1962 and contains meeting minutes, rare photographs, receipts, invitations, numerous correspindence with community and business leaders, and radio broadcast contracts with #WEBB , #WBMD and #WSID.

The group also hosted a variety of events for the community, including the Easter Parade and Christmas decorations and music on the Avenue. They also sponsored voter registration drives for the African American community with an incentive: anyone who registered to vote could show their card at any of the PALMA stores and received a discount.

The images below are just a sampling of the vast PALMA Archive within Nanny Jack & Co, LLC:

1) Photograph of Herman Katkow

2) November 1957 issue of PALMA News announcing Christmas sales

3) PALMA Letter requesting donations for Christmas decorations on the Avenue

4) Cassette tape of my 1997 interview with Herman Katkow

5) PALMA Poster Advertising PALMA Green Stamps Contest

6) Letter from Victorine Q. Adams on Charm Centre letterhead

7) Postcard addressed to Herman Katkow

Broadside announcing opening of new Lafayette Market

Keepin' it historically significant ✊🏽


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