Loud, colorful and brash, Hons are a Baltimore staple. But what makes one of these larger-than-life locals?
In some towns, local folks will greet you as sir or ma'am. In others, you might get a sweetheart or a dear. In Baltimore, you get hon', short for honey, and said with Baltimore's own inimitable drawl, which makes it sounds kinda like "hawn."
Over time, a subculture formed around the word. It became a style, a way of life. Local women, particularly those from mostly white, working class neighborhoods like Highlandtown, Canton and Hampden, came to be known as "Hons," creating a style all their own — one that is not only distinctly Baltimore but celebrated by locals, particularly in Hampden, home to Cafe Hon (cafehon.com) and "Honfest" (June 9-10, honfest.net), an annual celebration where Baltimore's Best Hon is crowned.
The picture below features Baltimore's Best Hon 2008, Agnes "Punkin'" Hurley (center) and 2009 winner Charlene Osborne (right). After winning, Punkin' demonstrated a classic Hon sense of humor and lack of shame by proclaiming, "Folks, I'm tellin' ya, I don't know whether the water's gonna run down my leg or out my eyes!"
So what makes an authentic Hon?
Hons are anything but quiet, and their style is as loud as their mouths. These brash women love to turn it up with floral prints, hot pink and bold animal prints, making them hard to overlook.
Along with handkerchiefs in the hair, curlers define the more domestic Hon. This common variant can still be seen strutting down Baltimore's byways in clothes not meant for the light of day, as happy and comfortable as can be.
The throwback hairstyle, achieved with cans of Aquanet — and still delivered perfectly at Phyllis' Hair Design in Highlandtown (528 S Conkling St; 410-675-6715), is part of the motif for the more glamorous Hons.
The color, and particularly pink flamingos, are a frequent Hon trope — Cafe Hon has a three-story ceramic pink flamingo out front — in tribute to the same-named John Waters film.
Hons make up for their lack of fine-gem sparkle with dime-store volume, sporting endless embellishments. Find Hon accoutrements at Fells Point's Killer Trash (602 S Broadway).
Comfort reigns in the wacky world of Hons. Like curlers, these formless muu-muus, usually in gaudy floral prints, are part of the more domestic Hon look.
CAT EYE GLASSES
This peculiar brand of eyewear — high fashion circa 1955 — found favor among Hons. Choose from a wide array of styles at Hampden's HonTown (1001 W 36th St; 410-243-1001).