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.

Gil tells us how the seasoning staple began.

Number, Please!

Nov 13, 2020

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.

Tulkoff's 2020-11-06

Nov 6, 2020

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.

On an evening in 1935, in the living room of a house in Baltimore, a husband and wife are sitting at a small table, facing each other. On the table there is a flat, two-foot square of cardboard. The woman leans over close to the board, and whispers,” Mother, can you hear me?” The woman is talking to the Ouija Board. In its time, it was the way Baltimoreans talked to the dead…Really? Really!

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.

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. 

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

Clockwork 2020-09-25

Sep 25, 2020

On July 7, 2007, Baltimoreans whose habit it was to look up nine stories to the top of the Bromo Seltzer tower to check the time on one of its four clocks --  facing east,  west, north, south—were bewildered. The clocks were out of sync, one with the other, and showing different times. The story--when Baltimoreans didn’t know the time of day!

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

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 2020-08-28

Aug 28, 2020

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.

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... 

Nobska 2020-08-07

Aug 7, 2020

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.

Cat Rodeo 2020-07-31

Jul 30, 2020

On the evening of July 12, 1929, a small crowd was gathered at the entrance of the Richmond Market. They stood staring at unexpected “Closed” signs on the door to the Market “due to a problem with mice.” And so began 'The Great Baltimore Cat Round Up.' The scheme, to turn cats loose to do what cats do to mice, turned out to be an embarrassing failure. The market management blamed the cats.

A story about how Rivers Chambers and his band changed a country western lament to keep the party going. 

Gil tells us about what led up to the 'opening' of the Orleans Street Viaduct in 1935. 

On the summer night of July 11, 1962 at the Republican National Convention in Chicago, those in the hall and millions watching television saw and heard Theodore R. McKeldin, former Mayor of Baltimore and incumbent Governor of Maryland, nominate General Dwight David Eisenhower for president of the United States...

Gil tells us how our beloved crab could've been second fiddle to another civic symbol: the banana.

Gil remembers a complete surrender of the Orioles management to the neighborhood boys of Baltimore.

In the 1930s, so many kids were "hooking in" to the old Oriole Park at 29th and Greenmount that Orioles management decided to take firm action: they let the kids in free. With that face-saving gesture, they admitted defeat and started the "Knothole Gang."

Eli Hanover 2020-06-19

Jun 19, 2020

Baltimore, 1940: In the gym of the Jewel Box Girly Club on 'The Block,' a 'trainer' worked at his dream: teaching contenders how to box and making Baltimore a world-renowned center for boxing.

Civic Center

Jun 11, 2020

Gil remembers the conflicts that laid the foundation for the Civic Center.

Gil remembers the end of the line at Mt. Royal Station.  

WKC Signoff 2020-05-29

May 28, 2020

The story of the very first radio station to broadcast in Baltimore is lost in the dustbin of Baltimore history - never to realize the full recognition it deserved.  That's because the father of the young builder of the station threw the station out - his son's most promising and historic creation!  

Odds Maker 2020-05-15

May 15, 2020

Rosemary 2020-05-08

May 7, 2020

It was on the cold morning of February 3, 1964 when the wrecker’s ball smashed into the south wall of Ford’s theater, between Eutaw and Howard streets, where it had stood since 1871. A pile of rubble was all that was left of the grand store house of theater memories. Later that morning, two elderly ladies, could be seen sprinkling on the debris what was later reported to be rosemary. One of the ladies was heard to say, “As Ophelia said in Hamlet, ‘Here’s rosemary, for remembrance.’” The ladies remarked that it was a cold morning. For Baltimore theater goers it was a very cold day. 

The weather on August 6,1995, the day of the funeral of City Councilman Dominic “Mimi” DiPietro, was unseasonably pleasant—low humidity in the low 80s, and bright sunshine, and some among the mourners, noting the out-of-season weather, wondered whether there was a connection between Mimi’s reputation for “going to the top” to get things done for his constituents and the gloriously fair weather. Father Esposito, in his eulogy, wondered out loud about the question. The citizenry is left to decide.

Danny's (2020-04-24)

Apr 22, 2020

Motorists driving north on Charles Street in late March of 1989 were delighted and excited to see off to their right, high on the two story building at Charles and Biddle streets housing Danny’s Restaurant, a sign that read, simply, “The Run Is On.” Motorists saw that sign there every March since Danny’s Restaurant opened in 1961. It alerted them to when the shad season started in Maryland. But Danny’s closed in 1961 and the sign hanging on building is gone. So how do Baltimoreans know when the shad season has started in Maryland? They don’t. This is a lament for the days when Danny told them when it had...

Pages