Gil Sandler's Baltimore Stories

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Full Archive of Baltimore Stories.

Twistin

Jan 8, 2016

On the night of December 7, 1961, Fire Prevention Chief Michael Horan was making a routine check in the Las Vegas nightclub on Harford Road when he discovered to his considerable discomfort that infarctions of the city fire control were out of control. The dancers were dancing the Twist, a body shaking dance sweeping across the country - and on this night blocking the exit aisles of the Las Vegas club in Baltimore. He shut the club down only to see it re-open again - it's aisles jammed with dancers twisting again there was a reason for the way things were going for Chief Horan. This story explains . . . 

Eggnog

Jan 1, 2016

New Year's Day is, typically, the day Baltimoreans make the round of parties, where they are invited to partake of generous servings of eggnog. Some will remark that the eggnog one enjoys these days is not as good as the eggnog they used to enjoy here in Baltimore, they are right. From the 1930's through the 1950's the traditional eggnog most Baltimoreans partook on New Year's day was Hendler's - made with pure rum. This is the story of that Baltimore tradition.

White Christmas

Dec 25, 2015

  Baltimore has not seen an Irving Berlin "White Christmas" since 1966. Since, the city has had a lot of teasing snows on Christmas Day - snows of sorts but none a White Christmas snow. But in 1966 the city saw nine inches of snow - none since. So if you were hoping to wake up this morning, Christmas Day 2015 to a White Christmas you were disappointed. Maybe next year! Merry Christmas.

Baltimore Red

Dec 18, 2015

During WWII Volunteers stationed in the watch towers through the area peered through field glasses day and night looking for enemy aircraft, But day after day and night after night no aircraft was spotted - until one dawn late in 1943 a spotter thought he saw "a squadron of German Messerschmitt's flying due south at 2 o'clock." What the spotters really saw were not Messerschmitt's at all. What did they see?

Last Ride on the No. 8

Dec 11, 2015

Streetcars had been running on the streets of Baltimore for 104 years, when the decision was made by the city fathers to replace them with busses. The last streetcar run was the 4:40 a.m. on the morning of November 4, 1963 - the Number Eight, Towson to Catonsville. Souvenir hunters crowded aboard for the last ride, and at the end of the line, at 5:25 a.m., all disembarked - and all took souvenirs of the car with them - signal cords, window frames, light fixtures. This is the story of the last souvenir of the last ride of the last run of the last streetcar to run in Baltimore.

Anne Wiggins Brown

Dec 4, 2015

A gifted African American young lady from Baltimore, while studying voice at Julliard in New York, is fortunate enough to earn a part in George Gershwin's operetta - "Porgy" - as it was in rehearsal. After he audition , George Gershwin renames the operetta "Porgy and Bess," in recognition of her talent. When the show opened Ms. Brown not only was given the lead role as Bess, when the show opened on Broadway she sang the immortal "Summertime" and changed the history of American music.

Limplighters Ball

Nov 27, 2015

On the night of September 1, 1978, in the darkened ballroom of the Belvedere Hotel, a capacity crowd was watching a lone couple dancing in the dark. The male of the couple was Walt Lindeman, in his late 80's, and his dancing partner, his daughter. Mr. Lindeman was the last of the hundreds of former lamplighters, who in their era, before the 1950s when they were electrified, went neighborhood to neighborhood, climbing up the lampposts and lighting and extinguishing the gas lamps. When the gas lamps went out so did the era. This was the last dance in remembrance of the last gas-lit lamp in Baltimore.

Parade Commotion

Nov 20, 2015

In 1932 the city's traffic commissioner Bevery Ober did what he should never had done in Baltimore - he announced a change. He said that the start of the Annual Thanksgiving Day parade would be moved back from 2:30 to 11:30 - citing the congestion when at 2:30 the traffic from the City-Poly game was causing wild traffic jams his staff could not handle. But Baltimoreans were furious at the change and police commissioner Beverly Ober was close to being the only Police Commissioner ever to start a riot.

In the heart of the Great Depression, Baltimoreans looked to escape from its harsh realities by going to the movies, in particular the Century Theatre. There, an organist named Harvey Hammond, seated at the huge Wurlitzer organ, conducted sing-a-longs. The audience "followed the bouncing ball" on the silver screen, singing their cares away. But the sing-a-long came to an end and life in the real world began anew.

Ellis Lane Larkins

Nov 6, 2015

Thursday, December 12, 1935: In an auditorium of Douglas high school, then all African American, a crowd was gathered to celebrate the eleventh anniversary of the Baltimore Urban League. The keynote address was given by America's first lady, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, who then introduced an eleven year old boy named Ellis Lane Larkins, who then played a piano concert, a waltz by Moszkowski . At the same time across town at the Lyric, the great Rachmaninoff was also giving his own performance. A Sun review next morning held that Rachmaninoff was not at his best that night. The review failed to notice that across town in the auditorium of Douglas high school, Ellis Lane Larkins was... The story...

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