We here in Baltimore know that hon is a term of endearment, short for honey. Use of the word hon is wide-spread throughout the Baltimore neighborhoods of Dundalk, Essex, Hampden, and Highlandtown. The word is a way of being civil and polite, yet homespun and informal all at once. In essence, the use of hon is a way to draw closer to those one meets. If you capitalize the word, Hon refers to a woman.

With her poem about a Dundalk girl feeling blessed, Charlene Osborne won the title of Bawlmer's Best HON 2009. Not one to rest on her laurels, or rhinestone tiara to be precise, she decided to make the most of her year-long reign. She used her fame and renown to give back to the community. Her appearance at various events benefited such charities as the Johns Hopkins Children Center and the Maryland Special Olympics; boosted support for such community organizations as the Baltimore Art & Music Project and the Dundalk Renaissance Corporation; and drew attention to a variety of local small businesses. In general, as Bawlmer's Best HON 2009 Charlene served as emissary of the good will and all the charm that Charm City Baltimore has to offer.

I have had the distinct pleasure of photographing Charlene on many of her hon-derful adventures. It has been heart-warming to witness the joyful reactions of most people she meets, be they young children at a parade or senior citizens in a retirement home. It has been hilarious to watch the double-takes and curious side-long glances those unfamiliar with the Bawlmer hon tradition give to Charlene. And, it has been a true joy to meet a number of the women who preceded Charlene as Bawlmer Best HON, in particular Heidi and Rita Moore.

This book, My Year as Baltimore;s Best HON, allows you a glimpse inside the hive of beehive hairdo life. Marvel at the ever-present colorful outfits, blue eye shadow, and lots of hairspray (by the way, you do know that the higher one's hair, the closer one is to heaven, right?). Join the fun and excitement of an once-in-a-lifetime visit inside the secret Hon-cave. Accompany Charlene and her hon-derful friends on a sedate (that what she says!) night out on the town or on a weekend trip down the ocean. Rock along to the music of bands of renown and discover that the King (well, at least his many admirers) is indeed still in the house. Join her backstage at the theater, onstage at the Polar Bear Plunge, and out and about in a neighborhood near you.

I have enjoyed an uproarious and fun-filled adventure following Charlene during her reign. Now that your travels with Bawlmer's Best HON 2009 are about to begin, I trust it will be equally wild and rewarding.

My Year as Baltimore's Best HON celebrates the warm and generous spirit of Charlene Osborne, Bawlmer's Best HON 2009. She draws us closer together. It is we who are blessed to know Charlene.

To this daughter of Dundalk and Baltimore, I say thanks and best wishes for continued success. You are a real cutie-patootie, hon!

David Muse





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