Crane honors Hilda Mae Snoops
The late friend of the former governor is remembered as 'a big
proponent' of the harbor facility.
By Meredith Cohn
September 9, 2005
Famous Marylanders have had streets, airports and libraries named for
Hilda Mae Snoops has a ... crane.
The port of Baltimore posthumously named one of the machines that lifts
big metal containers on and off ships for Snoops during a dockside
ceremony yesterday. The naming of the crane for the late, longtime
companion of Comptroller and former Gov. William Donald Schaefer drew
several state officials, including Schaefer, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.
and First Lady Kendel Ehrlich.
"Hilda Mae was a big proponent of the port," Schaefer said after
climbing onto a pier in the late-morning sunshine from the state tour
boat where the ceremony was held. "The port just did it. They called
and told me. ... I think it's a great idea and a great tribute."
And did Ehrlich - a Republican whom the Democrat Schaefer has often
served as an ally - have anything to do with bestowing on Snoops
literally one of the state's highest honors (the cranes are 170 feet
"He didn't hurt it," Schaefer said. "I can tell you that."
Many of the nation's largest ports assign numbers, not names, to their
cranes. But the Baltimore port years ago began what has become a
tradition. There are now five cranes named, all for women. Others
honorees are former congresswoman and port consultant Helen Delich
Bentley, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, port Deputy Executive Director M.
Kathleen Broadwater and former state treasurer Lucille Maurer.
Bentley, Mikulski and Maurer got their names painted on the sides of
cranes in 1990, at the opening of Seagirt Marine Terminal, home to the
machines. Broadwater, who served as interim port director briefly this
year, was surprised by the honor this spring at a news conference to
introduce the new port director, F. Brooks Royster III.
Aaron M. Ellis, spokesman for the American Association of Port
Authorities, a trade group, said he had not heard of another port
naming cranes, or other equipment, but after snickering a bit, he
opined that if cranes are to be named, they should be named for women.
Although billed as a media event, the naming ceremony ended up being
held largely out of the media's eye. The Snoops party aboard the Mary
Lynn could hold only 27 people. Invited newspaper reporters apparently
put the vessel over capacity and were asked to decamp to a spot on the
pier mostly out of earshot of the speeches on a malfunctioning
The christening of the crane also was done from the boat, with a faux
champage bottle tied to a rope. When Schaefer let it go, the bottle
swung into the pier, not the crane.
The Snoops family was touched, nonetheless. Larry Snoops, Hilda Mae's
son, said the crane-naming would preserve her legacy. A retired nurse,
divorced mother of three and grandmother of seven, Snoops was among the
bachelor Schaefer's closest friends for 30 years. She was described in
her 1999 obituary in The Sun as one of the few people with whom he felt
It was the second time Snoops has been accorded a crane-naming honor.
One was named for her in South Locust Point in 1987, just after
Schaefer became governor. It was decommissioned and sold and, port
officials said, is in Algeria.
The governor said it was fitting that Snoops get a replacement crane
because of her relationship to Schaefer and Bentley, two of the port's
strongest advocates. This is the second time Ehrlich has pleased
Schaefer by preserving the memory of Snoops, who died at 74 in 1999.
In 2003, Ehrlich famously returned water to the fountain that had been
officially dedicated to Snoops in 1990. Schaefer had fumed when it was
cut off during the administration of Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who
claimed he was trying to save water during a drought.
Port officials said three cranes remain without names.
Copyright © 2005, The Baltimore Sun