News & Politics

A New Book Explores Maryland’s Quirks

“Hidden Maryland” is packed with fun info about the state.

Making the flower blanket for the Pimlico winner. Photograph by Eugene L. Meyer.

Starting in 2005, Eugene L. Meyer chronicled the Old Line State in “Hidden Maryland,” a column for Maryland Life magazine. The ex–Washington Post writer dug up undertold stories, penning about 50 columns before the magazine closed in 2013. Now most of them have been compiled in the book Hidden Maryland. Here are four of our favorite bits.

Elkton was a shotgun-wedding destination

The town was known as the Marriage Capital of the East, due to the state’s zero-waiting-­period policy in the early 20th century and its proximity to Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Billie Holiday and Babe Ruth each got hitched in Elkton, and the film The Philadelphia Story nods to the town’s rep.

Pimlico’s flowers aren’t what they seem

Maryland’s state flower, the black-eyed Susan, is a motif at the Preakness Stakes, from the race’s signature drink to the blanket draped over the winning horse. The catch? The flower isn’t in season during May, so florists at the Giant Food in Baltimore have to get creative. They used to paint black centers onto daisies, but now they use black-and-yellow Viking mums.

Expect to see double in Delmar

Nicknamed “the Little Town Too Big for One State,” Delmar straddles Delaware and Maryland. That means there are two mayors, and police must be certified in both states to join the force. Even the school system is split: Kids start elementary school in Maryland but graduate from middle and high school in Delaware.

You can time-travel in Havre de Grace

A postcard of the Outriders’ diner in Laurel, Maryland. Postcard courtesy of Mary L. Martin Ltd.

Mary L. Martin Ltd., currently located in this Maryland town on the Susquehanna River (it was previously in Perryville), is supposedly the world’s largest postcard shop. It was founded in 1962 by the store’s namesake and remains in the family. One highlight of the card collection is a section called “roadside America,” which features snail-mail time capsules of vintage restaurant interiors and motels.

This article appears in the January 2023 issue of Washingtonian.

Daniella Byck
Lifestyle Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in 2022. She was previously with Outside Magazine and lives in Northeast DC.