Gil Sandler

Host, Baltimore Stories

Gil Sandler was born and raised in Baltimore -- a circumstance he considers fortunate and one he does not want you to forget. He attended public school (P.S. #59, Garrison Junior High, Baltimore City College, Class of 1941) and then served in the United States Navy.
Returning, he completed his college education at the University of Pennsylvania (Class of 1949). In 1967 he earned his Master's Degree in Liberal Arts from the Johns Hopkins University. He began to write features for the Sunday Sun and a weekly column ("Baltimore Glimpses") for The Evening Sun. "Baltimore Glimpses" would continue for 31 years. He is the author of six books (Johns Hopkins University Press): The Neighborhood, Baltimore Glimpses Revisited, Jewish Baltimore, Small Town Baltimore, Wartime Baltimore, Glimpses of Jewish Baltimore.
He has received numerous awards for his writing and lecturing, including the Emmert Award for Feature Writing for The Sunday Sun and election to Hall of Fame of his alma mater, Baltimore City College.
Asked how long he thinks, he can continue telling “Baltimore Stories,” he replies, "I'm just getting started." Gil Sandler's Baltimore Stories is made possible in part by

Odds Maker

May 20, 2016

On the afternoon of October 22, 1933 something unusual was going on at the Pamlico Race track. It was a Sunday, not a racing day, and not a horse in sight, yet more than 7,000 fans had filled the stands. The crowd was there to see a ghost race, run by ghost horses. And the very first trial of the TOTALISATOR, later to be known as the Tote Board. The Tote Board modernized the way odds were displayed at the track between races, replacing manual displays with electronic displays, and because of it, the bettor was thought by many to have more of a chance at winning. Asked about that point of view, one of the officials said,”Absolutely not.” and gave a surprising explanation!

Oriole Cafeterias

May 13, 2016

It is 1960 and you are dining on a starched white linen table cloth with gleaming silverware, enjoying a choice of five appetizers, eight entrees, eleven vegetables, a dozen salads, seven  desserts. From the balcony comes the soft slow dinner music of Jack Lederer’s orchestra. You might think you are dining in one of Baltimore’s most expensive restaurants, but you are dining in a most modesty-priced Oriole cafeteria.  All six Oriole cafeterias closed by 1975 because management said, “the dining community preferred hamburgers and colas and eat and run.” Oriole cafeterias took pride in offering plenty of choice and their customers made one:  fast food over slow music.

First Day of TV

May 6, 2016

At exactly 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 30, 1947, about seven hundred Baltimoreans who owned television sets sat watching Baltimore's first television show telecast over its first television station, WMAR, then Channel 2, in black and white on six inch screens. The show being telecast was the sixth race at Pimlico. There were a lot of winners that day: seven hundred or so TV owners watching he race on their TV Screens, The techie gang that produced the show; a come-from-behind horse names Blue Yonder who would come in first, and mayor D'Alesandro - who told everybody that he would.

“Mimi” DiPietro

Apr 29, 2016

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

Apr 22, 2016

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...

Bill Haley

Apr 15, 2016

In the 1950s Baltimore’s downtown movies were suffering—so many of its patrons had moved to the suburbs. Among the movie theaters abandoned in the exodus was Keith’s, at Lexington and Liberty Streets... The management of Keith’s was at long last faced with a decision—try to keep the movie theater open by bringing in sure-fire live attractions, or close the place. It decided to do the former and so brought in super-rock star Bill Haley and His Comets. In a quirky Baltimore twist, Bill Haley, whom Keith management brought in to keep the place open, was the one who closed it down. This is the story of how.

Rosemary

Apr 8, 2016

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. 

Black Aggie

Apr 1, 2016

On a moonless night in 1938, a Hopkins undergrad was taken on a fraternity initiation—a teen-age ritual through the 1960s, a visit to see “Black Aggie.””Aggie” was a bronze statue, weather-darkened hence the “black” description, created to honor a well- known Baltimorean, Felix Angus. “Aggie” stood dark and mysterious in the Druid Ridge Cemetery at Stevenson Road and Park Heights Avenues. The sculptor was Augustus Saint Gaudin—who started out to create a beautiful statue, but through years of visits by teenagers to his dark statue on a dark nights in a darkened cemetery--wound up changing the pop culture of Baltimore.

Bowling In Baltimore

Mar 25, 2016

On a cold morning in 1904, two aging baseball players, Wilbert Robinson and John McGraw, sitting in a duck blind on the Eastern Shore, were waiting for the ducks to take flight. They got to talking about how their bowling business back in Baltimore was falling off because, the concluded, the and the pins then in use were too heavy. Suddenly, a flock of ducks took off and headed skywards, but the incident started a chain of events that would make Baltimore the world center for duckpin bowling, and produce a champion whose favorite bowling ball would wind up in the Smithsonian. Here is how all of that happened.

Baltimoreans opened the Sunpaper on the morning of October 1964 to read this modest announcement. Each city recreation center will be conducting a Yo Yo contest." (a Yo-Yo being a wooden disc you twirled, wound and unwound. The winner of the contest was promised a huge prize - a trip to Disneyland by Duncan Yo Yo - the manufacturer of the Yo Yo. The winner turned out to be a young 15 year old Carl Pund - who won the contest but in a quirky turn of events, lost the prize. This is Carl Pund's story.

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