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  • Charlene lives out in Dundalk, Maryland, in the kind of suburban neighborhood where the houses may not be cookie cutter, but everyone takes care of their lawns. Her house is a typical bungalow with a carport on one side. But if you head back beyond the carport, to a side door on the garage, you find something very… different.

    The first sign is the plastic pink flamingos in the garden bed.
  • The Hon Cave is proof that for Charlene, Hondom has become a kind of personal mission. By day, she works as a transportation engineer, but on her off hours, she transforms herself—with the help of a six-inch blond beehive wig—into the ultimate Hon.
  • In Baltimore, the word Hon is far more than an endearment.It’s a word with layers of cultural history, a word that refers to a kind of golden era in Baltimoreans collective memory. Hons are women who say the word, casually: "Thank ya, hon." Or: "Love ya, hon." Hard-working take-no-bullshit kind of women—the kind of woman who would be out on the street, sweeping the gutter in front of her home in a house coat, as one Baltimorean described it to me. The white working class mothers of Baltimore, circa 1960. The bedrock of neighborhoods like Hampden and Dundalk. A breed getting older now, maybe almost gone.
  • And so, it may look like silly John-Waters-caricature-inspired dress-up when Charlene puts on her wig, heels, and cats-eye glasses, but what she’s doing is celebrating a better time in Baltimore. A time when working class people had good jobs and the pride in home and city that comes with them.
    So, the beehive is a gag, yes. But it’s one that Charlene knows grabs at the hearts of her community.

    It’s a beehive of pride.
  • For more on Hons—and a controversy over the word “Hon” that threatened to consume the whole city—check out State of the Re:Union’s Baltimore episode:
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