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.

Out on Dulaney Valley Road at Dance Mill Road, a yellow school bus turns into a narrow road. In minutes, the school children-- as thousands did before and after —disembark. They have come this day in 1955 to Cloverland Farms—to see cows milked! But in 1981 the milking barn closed---leaving subsequent generations of children believing, this story goes, that maybe chocolate milk comes from brown cows.

Clockwork (5-31-19)

May 31, 2019

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!

Haussner's (5-24-19)

May 24, 2019

On the afternoon of December 18, 1999, watched anxiously in auctioneering house in Timonium, as the auctioneer rattled off the artifacts for sale from the once and famous and now defunct Haussner's restaurant - weeks earlier a reigning queen at Eastern Avenue and Conkling streets. In the end, the memories of thousands of lunches and dinners and of millions of dollars of artwork and 73 years of Baltimore times winds up in a ball of twine - on display in an antique shop on Fells Point.

On the afternoon of May 18, 2013 at the Preakness at Pimlico, a horse named Mylute came in third. She was ridden by Rosie Nepravnik—the only female jockey in this race. How a woman jockey got be right in there with all the male jockeys, in what was historically, an all-male society, is a Baltimore story. 

Betsy (5-10-19)

May 10, 2019

In October of 1955, Reuter’s Moscow newswire was crackling: A painter of genius had just been discovered in America. The artist-subject, a Baltimorean, had been soaring to fame and recognition world-wide; for the originality of her paintings. When the word came out revealing at long last who she was, this same admiring audience was stunned. Who was she?

On a day in late September, 1975, two men sat in the cockpit of small plane about to take off from BWI Airport for a four day trip to Nairobi in Africa and back.  They were off on a strange and historic mission: to get a witch doctor to put a hex on the Boston Red Sox. What is this weird story all about? 

In 1938, Baltimoreans crowded Dundalk Ave. and welcomed the American hero and aviator, Douglas "Wrong Way" Corrigan. Baltimore Mayor, Howard W. Jackson, staged the event to promote the city and, in particular, Baltimore's hot steamed crabs.

A fashion show breaks out in the middle of the annual Easter Parade on Pennsylvania Avenue in the mid 1950's.

Up until the late 1950s there was, every year going back nobody really knows how far, an Easter Parade on Charles Street. It started at the Washington Monument, and ended on 33rd Street, and 1959 turned out to be the last year for it. The story of the decline and fall.

Eli Hanover (4-5-19)

Apr 5, 2019

Eli Hanover was a grizzled, ex-boxer who ran a gym over the Jewel Box Night Club down on the old and now infamous Block in East Baltimore. He had a dream: to train the boxers who would make Baltimore America’s center for boxing. Fighttown Baltimore, he called the dream. But it never happened. The dream died with the dreamer. 

Up through the 1940s Baltimoreans knew it was spring when they saw the organ grinders and their monkeys appear suddenly on the street corners of downtown. One such organ grinder was Luciano Ibolito, and his monkey’s name was Julia. And this is the story of how together they would usher spring in Baltimore.

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.

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