Fulton Street

He didn’t have to stay, that was the thing. He had people in St. Louis.

“Not gonna sell,” he said. Replaced the bars with plywood and painted it green cause it was the color of money.

He was born on Fulton Street, in a brownstone three blocks up, east side. Back then no one lived on the west side—least not no one black.

“You just watch,” he said as he pasted up signs. “The neighborhood is coming back.”

He sold Coors fifty cent cheaper than Lees, but it ate away his profits. “I’ll make it back on smokes,” he said.

Then we watched the Murphy kid shot for no reason. Him just standing there, hand in pocket. And in six months’ time, he was robbed three times by the very people he was staying for. He watched the bank man tap up the notice.

“I didn’t sell,” he said.

150 words

This particular story was inspired by the history feature of Google maps. As I time traveled back to 2007, a story unfolded. Ultimately, I was not very happy with how my version turned out. It’s one of those stories Google Maps can tell better than I.

551 Fulton Street, Baltimore MD, circa 2007 © Google Maps

551 Fulton Street, Baltimore MD, circa 2009 © Google Maps

551 Fulton Street, Baltimore MD, circa 2011 © Google Maps | Note the memorial on the telephone pole


551 Fulton Street, Baltimore MD, circa 2014 © Google Maps


551 Fulton Street, Baltimore MD, circa 2016 (Still in business) © Google Maps


551 Fulton Street, Baltimore MD, circa 2017 © Google Maps | Note the notice of foreclosure tacked on.


551 N. Fulton Avenue, Baltimore MD | July 2018 Zillow Listing


  1. Wow. I love how you took that progression and boiled into a tight, emotional narrative. I especially like how he was robbed by the very people he was staying for. Bravo.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re very kind. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Aw, thanks Lish! That means a lot 🙂


  2. I loved the ending “I didn’t sell” because it showed principle and maybe other things – but you grabbed something prideful in a respectful way (even if maybe foolish)
    and I did not know they had history features with the maps now – wow – very cool – and enjoyed the variety of images you shared after the piece…

    oh and the “had people in St Louis” was really connected well to east coast living – so many folks did have family that ventured west and ended there….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words! I love the history feature of Google, but it’s a little addictive.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 🙂 yes – rabbit trails can lure us here and there


        Liked by 1 person

  3. Dear Karen,

    Love the voice here and the shop owner’s dedication to the neighborhood. History feature on Google…oh dear. I dare not look. 😉 Well written as always.




    1. Thanks Rochelle! Yes, all we needed was another way to waste time on the internet. Google history is a rabbit hole for sure!


  4. Au contraire, my dear. I think you did a wonderful job with the story. It is a sad state of affairs that he was robbed by the very people he was staying for… and says much about these neighbourhoods


    1. Thanks so much Dale, glad you liked it.


  5. An all too apparent story, I fear. I liked the denial and the narrative tone you used, indicative of the narrator outside of their speech.


    1. Thanks for reading Kelvin!


  6. I really like the way you put over the shop owner’s inner commentary, about what’s happening and why he’s sticking with a tough situation. Makes me feel connected to him, and sad about what happens around him. Good story.


    1. Thanks so much, Francine!


  7. Very believable narration and use of language in this one. I saw the picture and thought “food desert.” But what a clash of calamities in one life: competition, not enough business, a recession, and violence. We would not have blamed him if he had sold up, but his loyalty to his community makes undergoing a foreclosure seem a noble act. Well done!


    1. Thanks so much for reading! Glad it came across.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh, Karen, I disagree with you. This is a spot-on story. The accent within the dialogue. Yum.


    1. Oh super! That is good to hear. One never can tell if it’s working.


  9. Karen, I love this story! You’ve found a terrific voice for your MC, and a wonderful tough character, indeed, a quintessential American. Really well done!


    1. Thank you for your kind words Penny! Glad you found him the quintessential American, rather than any other er…Americans I could name just now. 😉 Thanks for reading.


  10. peterkirsch

    Amazing! Great researching to flush out the story. And such a sad one to tell.
    You’ve sure got the chops, KR.


    1. Peter you have a knack for coming along at just the right time and living my spirits. Thanks for reading and commenting!


  11. Wow, that was mighty fine writing, and a sad tale.the history you’ve managed to garner from Googlemaps is astonishing, I wonder how many times they’ve updated our little corner of the world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s interesting time traveling with the maps! Thanks so much for your kind words.


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