Gil Sandler's Baltimore Stories

Ain't the Beer Cold

Oct 30, 2015

On a night when Chuck Thompson was broadcasting Oriole baseball, he single handedly changed the history of baseball broadcasting. For years leading up to this one night whenever the Orioles would find themselves in a favored position --bases loaded with one out and cleanup hitter coming to bat---at such heady moments Chuck would send, with unbridled joy through WBAL’s 50, 000 watt coverage, from Pennsylvania through the Carolinas, his signature comment for such moments, “Ain’t the beer cold!” But broadcasting on a night in 1970 he came to such a moment—and didn’t use the line. Ever again.   This the story of why.

In 1939, Baltimore was known is show-biz circles as a "tryout town." One of the shows trying out, on the stage of the Hippodrome Theater, was called , Hollywood Stars in Review," MC'd by Louella Parsons, the famous Hollywood gossip columnist. In the review, trying out in Baltimore was a petite brunette named Jane Wyman - an a handsome, All-American type named Ronald Reagan. As things would work out, Ronald Reagan would go on to Hollywood and political stardom - not withstanding that in his try-out in Baltimore, he bombed.


Oct 16, 2015

In the 1950's wrestling was very big in Baltimore - and not just for the little bit of actual wrestling that went on but because of all the show-biz that accompanied it. At one of the matches a wrestler names Gorgeous George was wrestling Wild Red Berry, when it appeared that the referee was suddenly splattered with blood. Or was it blood? What is was, was surprising - but the promoters claimed that they were giving the fans what they wanted. Whatever that red stuff was  

Jimmy Wu

Oct 9, 2015

In 1946, a 25 year old James Fong Wu who has arrived in Baltimore at age four from Canton China, opened a Chinese restaurant at 2430 N. Charles Street, the New China Inn but which would come to be know as Jimmy Wu's. The going was hard, but one day after he had closed the restaurant for the long day, he sat down to eat his own Chinese dinner - complete with a fortune cookie. The fortune cookie read, he told friends, "you will have a long and successful life in the restaurant business." Which he did - all predicted by a fortune cookie.

Monroe Cornish

Oct 9, 2015

On the evening of July 22, 1983 ten candidates running for mayor of Baltimore sat in a circle in the TV studios of WBAL-TV - each was invited to make the case why he should be mayor. Included were incumbent Mayor William Donald Schaefer, prominent attorney William Billy Murphy, and one other, a town character of sorts with no political experience but plenty of eccentric carryings-on named Monroe Cornish--whom everybody called crazy. But as the election turned out there was a question of who really was crazy.

Rennert Hotel

Oct 9, 2015

About 8 o'clock  in the morning of December 1, 1939 , the telephone rang in the home of the Sage of Baltimore, H.L. Mencken, awakening him. The caller was the manager of the once and famous Rennert Hotel, then at the corner of Saratoga and Liberty Streets. The manager told Mencken that the Rennert was closing and and closing with it was Mencken's favorite dining room in the hotel, and invited him to a farewell party for the old place. What happened at the farewell party added to the history of the historic hotel.

Ethel Ennis

Sep 18, 2015

This is Ethel Ennis, Baltimore born and nternational renowned singer with the buttery soft voice, on opening night of Ethel's place, her cabaret-supper club across the street from the Meyerhoff. It is February 18,1985. This is the same Ethel Ennis who, born on Calhoun street in West Baltimore in 1938, was, by the time she was only seven playing a mean piano; by fifteen, she had cultivated her famous intimate style and was singing with blues and jazz artists: first in Baltimore, then throughout the country; then, London.


Sep 11, 2015

As a place to it it was strictly a second class cafeteria. But Bickford's on the east side of Calvert street between Baltimore and Fayette was called nothing less than "No. 10 Downing Street" - because  it was thought to be the center of Baltimore's political power, as No. 10 Downing Street was of Great Britain's. Here the politicians would crown kings and give them the power to remove the beaten. When the building was torn down in 1972 they who had decided who should be king and who should be removed were themselves removed.

Rice's Bakery

Sep 8, 2015

Up into the 1970's the driver of a Rice's Bakery truck would come to your door with a tray full to overflowing with sinfully delicious baked goods - Vienna bread, Parker house rolls, cherry pie - and Louisiana Ring cakes. Louisiana Ring cake was a house specialty whose recipe, owner Emory Rice said, remained secret, known only in these years to Rice's alone. The Rice's door-to-door delivery trucks are gone - and the legend is that nobody these days has the recipe for Louisiana Ring cake, and this is the story of that legend.

Ben Hur

Sep 8, 2015

In the early 1900's Baltimorean Francis X. Bushman was a down and out actor, who, to make ends meet, hired himself out as a model to artists and sculptors. In that hand to mouth existence, he became the model for the statue of Cecil Calvert, which stands in front of the Baltimore courthouse on St Paul Street today. Years later when he was rich and famous he had occasion to visit Baltimore-but he did not ask to see the stature of Cecil Calvert for which he had been the model. His explanation surprises...