The ‘Mayor’ of Silver Spring
The ‘Mayor’ of Silver Spring.
Norman Lane 1911-1987.
Remembering the Loving Kindhearted Forbearance of the People of Silver Spring
The “Mayor of Silver Spring” was our official town drunk. Although he was born into a prominent DC family, Norman go off to a rough start. His mother had TB and the stress of bringing him to term took her life and left little Norman with life-long problems. He ran away from a school for retarded children when he was six. He grew up as an outcast, drifting around the country doing odd jobs, farm work and washing dishes. He was an odd shaped piece that never quite fit into society’s jigsaw puzzle.
Norman’s was the picture of misery. Often wearing his shoes on the wrong feet, his rumpled clothes hung off his 90 pound frame like a scarecrow. He looked like a gargoyle peering out from under a hard hat. After returning to the DC area, he spent the winter of 1966 in Glenmont, sleeping in the fire department coal bin. That spring he wandered down Georgia Avenue.
In Silver Spring he found a home. The Phillips family set up a cot for him in the back of their auto body shop. For 25 years Norman lived in that back alley garage, which was directly behind this statue. It was the only real home he
“Don’ worry ‘bout it” was Norman’s answer to everything. As our “Mayor” made is rounds he generously shared a bit of his permanent vacation with us work-a-day shut-ins. He owned nothing. He shambled through these streets happily living out our worst fears for us. After seeing Norman, we really didn’t worry about it quite so much. Fridays were his big day. He retrieved armloads of flowers from the flower shops’ trash and passed out bouquets to the ladies (Norman loved the ladies). His weathered, toothless face looked like a rusty ax stuck in the midst of those brightly-colored flowers.
One day he put out his last cigarette in his last beer and just like that he quit. But the truth is he wasn’t much different sober. Silver Spring’s loving care allowed Norman to live out his life on his own terms. Silver Spring’s finest hour lasted 25 years.
This monument was sculpted and donated by Fred Folsom in 1991
Erected 1991 by Fred Folsom.
Location. 38° Touch for map. Bust faces the sidewalk in the walkway between two storefronts leading to the parking lot behind the stores. Marker is in this post office area: Silver Spring MD 20910, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Visions Realized (a few steps from this marker); Finding a Niche (a few steps from this marker); The Burger King (within shouting distance of this marker); Land, Lumber & Lyrics (within shouting distance of this marker); ‘Most Lonesome Spot’ (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Enticing Business (about 300 feet away); Spirited Entertainment (about 400 feet away); First Bank, First Heist (about 400 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Silver Spring.
More about this marker. Fred Folsom sculpted this bust and had it erected at his own expense in 1991. The plaque has changed over time. The original plaque had a short text referring to the "kindhearted forbearance" of the people of Silver Spring. A long form plaque, added in 2006 contains an eloquent biography of Norman Lane. It was originally gold (brass) colored with dark lettering; the
Also see . . . The Artist's Eye: Downtown Silver Spring. For background on Norman Lane scroll halfway down the page. (Submitted on June 16, 2006, by Elia J. Prats of Columbus, Ohio.)
Categories. • 20th Century • Notable Persons •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 16, 2006, by Elia J. Prats of Columbus, Ohio. This page has been viewed 2,415 times since then and 95 times this year. Last updated on November 28, 2014, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. Photos: 1. submitted on June 16, 2006, by Elia J. Prats of Columbus, Ohio. 2, 3, 4. submitted on July 25, 2012, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on November 28, 2014, by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.