Gil Sandler's Baltimore Stories | WYPR

Gil Sandler's Baltimore Stories

Friday 7:46 am and 9:38 am

Gilbert Sandler is 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 has shown 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 is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and has a master's from Johns Hopkins.

Archive prior to December 2014.

To control traffic flow at one of the world's busiest intersections, Baltimore City used a horse named Bob and policeman named Bill. They were stationed at Pratt and Light streets as late as the 1970s. They kept traffic moving - in their own way!

In April, 1973, the Lord Baltimore Hotel staged a grand opening and served exotic dinner fare never before seen on the same table. The results were not exactly what the management had in mind.

  

Carl Pund, a young boy from West Baltimore, entered the Baltimore City yo-yo contest in 1964. The winner was to be awarded a trip to Disneyland. Carl won the championship, but he didn't win the trip.  A story of a winner's luck gone bad...

The sudden appearance of a dazzling new body of work by an unknown Baltimore artist caused an international stir in 1955. When the artist was discovered to be a chimpanzee, this same international art community was quite surprised--and not a little embarrassed.

There were so many mice in the old Richmond Market that the merchants, frustrated by the failure of all previous attempts to eradicate the pests, tried loosing cats throughout the market. But that scheme failed, too. The cats, it seemed, misunderstood the mission.

 The story of the song nobody knows: Baltimore City's "song" was written by a Sun paper reporter who wrote poetry on the side.

During a memorable week in 1933, President Roosevelt closed all the banks to prevent a bank run and to bring stability to a reeling Depression economy. Area cities and businesses could not meet their payrolls - except for Baltimore City, which in another day and time had all the money.   


The story of the young girl from the Baltimore City public schools who came very close to being America's champion speller in 1955.

An unknown artist living in a broken down house on a little-traveled street decided to paint the front of his house pastel blue. He stunned his neighbors, started a city-wide trend and changed the look of the city.

After a gifted, young African American singer from Baltimore landed the part of "Bess" in George Gershwin's opera "Porgy," the opera was renamed "Porgy and Bess." She was that good. Along the way, the history of American music changed, too.

During WWII, Baltimore's Penn Station was a busy, frenetic point of arrival and departure for thousands of servicemen and women.  The station had a lot going on within it - including perhaps what was the first wedding ever to be performed in a railroad station.  A lot of soldiers and sailors got to kiss the bride!  

Two ex-baseball players sitting in a duck blind on the Eastern Shore, see a flight of ducks take off and scatter upwards.  The moment proved inspirational, and brought into being "duckpin bowling".  It changed an industry and a national pastime. 

Gone With The Wind

May 2, 2014

Lexington Street, between Charles and Liberty streets was one of Baltimore's busiest, boasting a department store and three theaters.  One theater was The Century - where the Baltimore premiere of "Gone With The Wind" was shown.  It turned out that this busy and storied street with all its memories, would, like the era depicted in the movie, be a victim of time - and, be "gone with the wind...".    

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!   

Abe Sherman's (unsightly, some thought) newsstand was located in the pocket park on Calvert Street at Lexington Street. City Hall leadership thought Abe's shack-of-a-newsstand didn't fit into the new Baltimore renaissance and started a war to have him and his shack removed.  But Abe fought back - and won. 

When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt died in 1945, his funeral train passed through Baltimore's Penn Station - but only a few people were allowed to stand trackside and bid final farewells.  Among the onlookers was Congressman Thomas D'Alesandro, Jr and 12-year-old Franklin Delano Roosevelt D'Alesandro.  

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!  

In 1946, Hochschild Kohn's department store decided to install automated elevators - dismissing the operators, management thought, forever.  But when the automatic elevators were installed and the operators dismissed, the management was in for a very big surprise. 

On the day of the Baltimore riots, police stopped all incoming vehicles at the city line and turned them back - save one.  This is the story of that one. 

    

Harborplace today is among the busiest tourist attractions in the world - but it almost wasn't.  Baltimoreans let it happen by a very slim majority.  

History was made in a pumpkin patch in Carroll County when microfilm was found inside one of the pumpkins.  The discovery changed the course of history! 

The Last Ride Of The Old No. 8

Feb 28, 2014

The last streetcar to run in Baltimore was the No. 8 .  But by the time the car's run had been completed, so had the riders' dismantling of it!   

Outrage On The Streets Of Baltimore!

Feb 17, 2014

The city fathers had in mind locating the new civic center in Druid Hill Park.  The didn't get it, but they got more than they bargained for! 

The B&O Mt. Royal Station provided rocking chairs for its patrons and when the rocking chairs mysteriously disappeared, Baltimoreans got furious. 

Remembering The Ol' Penn Hotel Gang In Towson

Jan 31, 2014

The country and the world would be a lot different if what happened in the old Penn Hotel had not.  Hear the story if "what if"...

Biggest Crab Ever!!

Jan 24, 2014

Learn why the biggest crab ever caught in Maryland waters goes into the record book with an asterick and an explanation!

When Maryland's movie censors had the power to declare a movie indecent, it did - with a movie

called "The Moon is Blue".  Hear how the decision backfired.

A Ditty For "Our Land Of Pleasant Living"

Jan 10, 2014

When Baltimoreans sorely needed an uplifting song to sing - one that would bring them together - along came Mr. Boh, singing, "National Beer, National Beer..."  

Pure McKeldin!

Jan 3, 2014

The moment in history when Maryland;s Governor McKeldin announces to General Eisenhower that he (McKeldin) is "thinking of running for President myself"!

The story of a taxi cab abandoned on the Guilford Avenue El - two stories up.  But then again, it was

New Year's Eve in Baltimore...  

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