Gil Sandler's Baltimore Stories | WYPR

Gil Sandler's Baltimore Stories

Friday 7:46 am and 9:38 am

Gilbert Sandler was one of Baltimore's most-read and well-known local historians. For more than thirty years, through his articles in the Baltimore Sun, the Baltimore Jewish Times, National Public Radio and his books and lectures, he showed Baltimoreans, through anecdote and memory, who they are, where they have been and, perhaps, where they are going. He was educated in Baltimore's public schools and graduated from Baltimore City College; in World War II, he served in the United States Navy as a ship-board navigator in the Pacific. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and received a master's from Johns Hopkins.

WYPR was pleased to present Gil Sandler's Baltimore Stories for almost 17 years. Baltimore Stories will air every Friday for the foreseeable future, and with this online archive, the show can continue to delight listeners for many years to come. 

Archive prior to December 2014.

Joe Howard (3-22-19)

Mar 22, 2019

On December 2, 1968, in the Baltimore City Courthouse, Joseph Howard, the very first African-American ever to be elected to a 15-year-term as a judge serving on the Supreme Bench of Baltimore, was being sworn in. But before the afternoon was over, the newly appointed judge would have an experience that as a Judge he did not expect.

On the afternoon of July 11, 1953, the Chairman of the Maryland Board of Movie Censors emerged from the viewing room, the fifth floor of the Equitable Building on Calvert Street, and made an announcement that shook the town: the Board would not allow the movie “The Moon Is Blue” to be shown. What happened next was historic.

Danny's (03-08-19)

Mar 8, 2019

Motorists driving north on Charles during March of 1989 were delighted to see, off to their right, high on the two story building at Biddle, a sign, “The Run Is On!” That sign appearing in late March every year was cheering: a favorite Baltimore dish was again available at Danny’s Restaurant—boneless shad and shad roe. But Danny’s is closed, there is no longer public notice that it’s shad season in Baltimore.

At precisely five minutes to 5:00 on December 31, 1959 at Walters’ Public Bath House No. 2 at 900 Washington Boulevard, a man was taking the very last shower in the very last public bath house in Baltimore. It was 5:00 exactly when he shut down his shower he shut down, too, the era of public baths in Baltimore.

Ethel Ennis, the Baltimore vocalist with the buttery-soft voice, was born in Baltimore but enjoyed international renown performing in London and Paris and cities around the world—and received many tempting invites to live in any one of them. Yet she chose to come home to live and work in Baltimore. She explained, “You don’t have to move up by moving on. You can bloom where you were planted.” And so she did.

Gil tells us about a time before WWII when strawberries were grown and picked by Baltimoreans.

On the night of January 16, 1967, the sidewalk under the marquee of the Mechanic Theatre at Charles and Baltimore streets was the scene of bright lights and cameras flashing and celebrities working the crowd. The occasion was the Grand Opening of the Mechanic—which would close after three years, stay dark for two years and reopen nine years later in n 1976. It closed for the last time in 2004—after 37 years, As they say in show biz, not a bad run.

On the evening of August 10, 1908, Baltimore entrepreneur and socialite Isaac Emerson was having dinner in the then very fashionable Belvedere Hotel. It was a very hot and humid night and so Mr. Emerson felt inclined to take off his coat. Whereupon the maitre de rushed to his table and admonished him on the impropriety of taking off one’s coat in the Belvedere dining room. Emerson got furious, and walked out, murmuring that he would build his own hotel. And he did.

Gil tells us about Louie Goldstein, who spent more than a decade advocating for his beloved Calvert County to be the home of a third Bay Bridge span.

On today's Baltimore Stories, Gil tells us about a transportation option that allowed riders to take in the "charms of Charm City" from a high perch.

Gil on the (Minor League) Orioles' play-by-play announcer Bill Dyer and his so-called "lucky chair."

Gil tells us about the last voyage of the Howard W. Jackson ferry boat.

The Littlest Angel

Dec 21, 2018

Gil tells of the 1953 "street theater behind glass" in the window of the Hochschild, Kohn department store in downtown Baltimore.

December 6, 1943--The audience at The Hippodrome waited to see the Benny Goodman band with drummer Gene Krupa take the stage. But it wasn't Krupa behind the kit. Gil tells us how a Baltimore boy stood in for the famous drummer, without anyone knowing. 

To hear a famous Benny Goodman tune, click here

Gil tells us how the seasoning staple began. 

Number, Please!

Nov 30, 2018

Gil recalls a time in Baltimore before 10 digit phone numbers, when "Idlewild" and "Tuxedo" helped the telephone operator find who you were looking for.

Tulkoffs

Nov 23, 2018

On a morning in 1932, a woman customer walks into Tulkoff fruit and vegetable store at 1018 East Lombard Street. She could not know it and neither can Harry Tulkoff, the stores' woebegone owner, but she would soon open a spectacular chapter in the history of Baltimore and the world. 

Gil tells us more. 

Thursday, Nov. 25, 1962 (Thanksgiving Day)

Miller Brothers Restaurant--then on Fayette and Hanover Streets--was packed. Diners had turkey on their mind, but the maître d had another focus...he was counting the house. 

Gil explains. 

In the early afternoon of Thursday, March 9, 1933, in the heart of the Great Depression, the popular department store Hochschild Kohn's and the teachers of Baltimore City Public Schools were facing a crisis. To deal with a severe economic depression President Franklin Roosevelt had closed the banks taken out of the marketplace all available cash.

Gil tells us about a plan to pay the teachers that involved Hochschild Kohn's, City Hall, Walter Sondheim, and a Brinks truck.

On the afternoon of October 10th, 1945 the streets of downtown Baltimore were packed with people. 50,000 had come out to cheer Baltimore native and hero of World War II, Brigadier General James Devereaux. 

Gil tells us more.

Every year Baltimoreans hear about the National Spelling Bee where 12-year-old contestants are successfully spelling such esoteric words as tenebrous, dysphagia and retrogression. Up through the 1950s students from Baltimore City's junior high schools, under the sponsorship of the Baltimore Sun, competed in the National Spelling Bee. And here is where we begin the heartbreaking story of a little, 12-year-old African-American girl named Gloria Lockerman.

Phillip Goodman

Oct 19, 2018

December 7, 1962: 

Baltimore's City Hall was flag-draped. Outside bands are playing. Inside in the ceremonial room, officials busied themselves. TV cameras hovered. A new mayor was being sworn in though he had not been elected.

His name was Philip Goodman and he took the oath of office as mayor because the elected mayor, J. Harold Grady, had resigned to accept the position as a judge on the Baltimore City Circuit Court. So Goodman, then president of the City Council, automatically became mayor and the history that led him to this moment and the time he would serve in office make up not just a Baltimore story, but an American saga. 

Marconis' Last Plate

Oct 12, 2018
Morton Tadder

Gil tells us about the last dinners to be served at Marconis restaurant, a Baltimore institution that was in operation for 85 years. 

Pumpkin Papers

Oct 5, 2018
Sean Loyless/flickr

How a December 1948 trip to a pumpkin patch broke a spy case wide open. 

Dorothy Lamour

Sep 30, 2018
Morton Tadder

Famed movie star Dorothy Lamour married no less than a descendant of John Eager Howard and took her place among the city's elite in 1944. Baltimore high society may have laughed, but it was she who had the last laugh: she was perhaps the only former elevator operator ever to make the pages of the Baltimore Society's famed "Blue Book."

Poetry and Parkway

Sep 14, 2018
Alessandro Bonvini/flickr

Up into the 1970s, Baltimoreans could tune in on their radios to station WCAO at midnight and listen to—poetry! It was an hour of readings, to the accompaniment soft organ music, originating from the Parkway Theater on North Avenue.

“The last reading of the last night of the poetry hour read here comes a time to say the song is through.”

And for Baltimore’s first lat and only poetry hour it was.

Tommy's Wedding

Sep 7, 2018

When Congressman Tommy D'Alesandro, Jr. married Nancy Lombardi, Little Italy - where they were both born and raised - became one vast, day long party of wining and dining.  A little too much of it caused Tommy and Nancy to change their honeymoon plans!  

Henry Barnes

Aug 31, 2018

August 12, 1955: There's traffic and chaos outside of Gordons, a popular crab carryout at Orleans Street and Patterson Park Ave. It's a typical summer scene. Gil tells us about the time Traffic Commissioner Henry Barnes put himself and his reputation smack dab in the middle of the craziness. 

Eddie Rosenfeld

Aug 24, 2018

On an afternoon in 1946, a small crowd of spectators were gathered in front of a broken down, boarded up row house on tiny Tyson street, between Park and Read. Looking up they saw a strange sight: several men working on scaffolding set against the exterior wall of a house were panting the front exterior wall yellow...  The owner of the house was Eddie Rosenfeld, whom people called crazy to rehab the house and then to pint it yellow—on the street of broken- down houses. Time would show that in Baltimore, when you speak of people making lifestyle choices, you need to be careful who you call crazy. 

Nobska

Aug 17, 2018

The Inner Harbor along the Light Street quay on the soft spring evening of April 12, 1976, was alive with crowds and music. More than 500 of Baltimore’s beautiful people were milling about, shaking hands, congratulating one another.  The center of the festivities was the Grand Opening aboard the three-decker excursion steamer “Nobska,” majestic in white, sparkling in the late afternoon sun. It was presented as  Baltimore’s first floating—appropriately glamrous--restaurant. But the Nobska could not open because it was closed. Here’s the story.

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