By Tiffany James
An interview with James Chase of the Arabber Preservation Society.
How was the turnout at the Arabber Center for Doors Open Baltimore?
The turnout was wonderful! We had a lot of people coming in and checking out the horses and other little animals here. We had a lot of families come in and a lot of elderly folk from all around—they were from everywhere. They weren’t just from Baltimore. They were here from the time we opened until the time we closed.
What inspired you to get involved with Doors Open Baltimore 2017?
I don’t mind doing things for the community. It helps shed a little light on us because not a lot of people are aware of the arabbers or how our horses live. Because our past history—we had some little run-ins with the City—for people just to keep reading it and never see it for themselves. They’ll just go on with what somebody else said instead of coming and experiencing and see that it’s not that bad at all. These horses are living good. It’s a good thing. I like helping out the community. I like people coming around. I love people. I’m a people person. So it was a wonderful experience for me. We did it last year—this might be the third year we’ve been involved in it. Each time the turnout was O.K. and we met a lot of interesting people.
What do you wish more people knew about Arabber Center?
Yes! I wish they knew it was here and we’re still here. We aren’t extinct yet—they’re trying to get us to that point but we’re still around. It’s getting rough but we’re still fighting.
When is the Center open?
Everyday between 11am – 8pm. We’re here everyday and our door is always open. It’s not just for this event. Anybody can come in any day. We don’t turn anyone away.
Why do you think it’s important for the community to learn about Baltimore through it’s history and architecture?
Because it’s history. A lot of people don’t actually know where things started from. With Doors Open helping to explain Baltimore’s heritage, it informs people of where things started from and where it is now. A lot of people don’t know—a lot of people don’t know much about arabbers or who are the arabbers. For us to be a part of Doors Open Baltimore helps bring people around and introducing them to arabbers and that everything once was ran by horse and wagon such as delivering milk, cotton, ice cold. Everything was done by horse and wagon.
If you met someone who did not know what an arabber was, how would you define an arabber in one or two sentences?
An arabber is a person who loves his city and loves providing fresh fruit and vegetables to the elderly to the young to everybody. We’re the ones that bring the fruit to you so you don’t have to go to the market—we’ll bring the market to you as far and fruits and vegetables are concerned.