Tuesday, April 17, 2007


Fairfax mentions a diminishing breed in Baltimore City, the (mostly) African-American cart salesmen that are known as (and call themselves) A-rabbers (pronounced "Ay-rabbers"). The name may sound derogatory to those who are unfamiliar with this subculture of Charm City, but it certainly isn't. To be sure, A-rabbers are very proud of this title. A student of mine wrote a paper about the A-rabber culture that many Baltimoreans don't know so much about anymore.

I have no idea why they are known by this name, so I looked it up. The etymology is British, perhaps named after nomadic Arab traders, rightly or wrongly. And the name was applied to all street vendors. In Baltimore, this has always been their name.

Read more about this ever-smaller group of roving salesmen on their own web page, the Arabber Preservation Home Page.


Fairfax said...

Thanx John... I would love to see the paper your student wrote. I know so little about them, but see them around all of the time. I think the stables are in West Baltimore, but don't know where.

Jake Slagle is the uncle of one of my cousin's husband... It's tiny-town, hon!