For our inaugural Baltimore “Three Things …” post, we are going to highlight three people whom you might not know were from Charm City.
1. David Abercrombie
Yes, that’s right. The dude responsible for all the preppy douchebaggery was born and raised in Baltimore. Now, let’s cut him some slack. He was born in 1867 and died in 1931, well before Abercrombie & Fitch became the uniform of the preppy asshole. His partner, Ezra Fitch, was not from Charm City, being a lawyer from New York. The two formed their company in 1892 as an upscale sporting goods store.
He grew up in the city, going to the public schools of the city, after which, he studied at Baltimore City College to become a civil engineer and topographer. Early in his career, he served as an explorer and the chief of survey for Norfolk & Western Railroad in West Virginia.
In the 1880 U.S. Census, we found him living with his parents, John (originally from Scotland) and Elizabeth (originally from Canada), living at 336 N. Eden Street. His father was selling periodicals and his mother was a homemaker. Also in the house were three brothers, and a sister. They also had one female servant living with them, Annie, a 20-year-old African-American from Maryland.
In the 1895 city directory, he was listed as an engineer, living at 827 Eutaw St.
2. Frank Zappa
Source: Prog Magazine
This one was a surprise to us. We had no idea that Zappa was born in Baltimore in 1940. He moved around a lot because his father, Francis Zappa (Frank Sr.), worked in the defense industry. His father was an immigrant, originally from Italy, and his mother, Rose Marie Colimore, was of French and Italian descent.
In the 1930 U.S. Census, Zappa’s father was listed as living with his parents, Vincent and Rosa, both from Italy. Interestingly, it appears that the youngest sibling, Sedio, was born in D.C.
In the city directory that same year, Francis was listed as a student, living at 4904 Midwood Ave., a house that appears to still exist today. It was built in 1922, and last sold in 2009 for $82,000. Check out what the home looks like today on Google Street View.
3. Jada Pinkett Smith
The mother of the “Whip My Hair” superstar Willow Smith (top 10 worst song of all time), Jaden Smith, and wife of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air — and, a notable actress herself of course — was born in Baltimore in 1971. Her father, Robsol Pinkett, Jr. ran a construction company and her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Jones, was the head nurse of an inner-city clinic. Adrienne became pregnant while still in high school and married Robsol, but quickly divorced a few months later.
Jada was raised by her mother and grandmother, Marion Martin Banfield, who was a social worker in Baltimore. While growing up in the city, Jada went to school at the Baltimore School for the Arts and was friends with Tupac Shakur (we could have included him in this post, but he was originally born in New York). She graduated from the school in 1989, well on her way to stardom.