Gil Sandler's Baltimore Stories

Baltimore Stories
5:19 am
Fri December 12, 2014

The Time Baltimore's Mighty Boys Lost At Jump Rope

The Great Baltimore World Series of Jump Rope, 1960 edition, was going to be different. In that year's contest, the boys were invited to compete along with the girls. The girls protested - they said it wasn't fair, what with the boys reputed to be stronger. But when the contest ended, there was a big surprise. Not a single boy finished in the running.

Baltimore Stories
5:00 am
Fri December 5, 2014

The Time The BSO Said Farewell To The Lyric

The May 27, 1982 performance of the Baltimore Symphony was the Symphony's last show at the Lyric. The orchestra said goodbye to the venue one musician at a time: in the middle of Haydn's Symphony 45 in F Sharp Minor, each musician left the stage individually. The first violinist remained to finish the piece. When the piece concluded, the first violinist walked off the stage, leaving Maestro Commissiona alone. With no musicians left to lead, Commissiona walked stage left and flicked the light switch to "off." The auditorium went dark. It was a poignant goodbye to the Lyric after 66 years.

Baltimore Stories
5:49 am
Fri November 28, 2014

The Time Dorothy Lamour Got The Last Laugh On Baltimore

Famed movie star Dorothy Lamour married no less than a descendant of John Eager Howard and took her place among the city's elite in 1944. Baltimore high society may have laughed, but it was she who had the last laugh: she was perhaps the only former elevator operator ever to make the pages of the Baltimore Society's famed "Blue Book."

Baltimore Stories
5:01 am
Fri November 21, 2014

The Time Vacuum Cleaners Saved Baltimore's Thanksgiving Day Parade

On the afternoon of November 22, 1936, Hochschild Kohn Department Store was feverish with preparations for the next day's Toytown Thanksgiving Day Parade. It was learned that the Mickey Mouse balloons were on a truck, frozen in, in upstate New York. They would arrive very late in the morning - too late to be inflated with the commercial balloon pumps. But the parade went on, because the Mickey Mouse balloons did get inflated - in a very surprising way.

Baltimore Stories
5:48 am
Fri November 14, 2014

The Time Ellis Larkins Outperformed Rachmaninoff

On December 12, 1935, the great Sergei Rachmaninoff gave a performance at the Lyric. That same night, a young African American pianist named Ellis Lane Larkins gave his own show across town at Douglass High School. The next morning, The Baltimore Sun's music critic wrote that Rachmaninoff was not at his best. He should have been at Douglass High: no less than Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt was  there to hear Larkins.

Baltimore Stories
5:51 am
Fri November 7, 2014

The Time Romance Beat The Great Flu

The great flu that struck Baltimore was so deadly, contagious and debilitating that it pretty much shut down the city--schools, movies, department stories, even hospitals. But life went on for two determined and inventive young lovers who, each down with the flu and confined to their beds blocks apart, found a way to keep up their romance.

Baltimore Stories
5:56 am
Fri October 31, 2014

The Time The Beatles Came To Baltimore

On Sunday afternoon, September 13, 1964, crowds of teenagers were circling the Civic Center, where the Beatles were set to play. They tried every ruse they knew to get through the gate without a ticket. One dressed herself in costume and told the guards she was the Beatles' personal maid and that they must let her in--the Beatles were expecting her. But the policeman in charge was no novice. 

Baltimore Stories
5:53 am
Fri October 24, 2014

The Time Gustav Brunn Created Old Bay

In 1941, the Baltimore wholesale fish market on Market Place was hectic, noisy and wet. It was also filled with buyers of fish and crabs. The seasoning used for steaming those crabs was ho-hum - some would say boring - until a man named Gustav Brunn came along with the mystical combination of spices. Now known as Old Bay seafood seasoning, its formula is secret to this day.

Baltimore Stories
5:50 am
Fri October 17, 2014

The Time Harvey Hammond Gave Baltimore A Break From Hardship

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.

Baltimore Stories
5:05 am
Fri October 17, 2014

The Day Joe Howard Got A Judgeship - And A Surprise - From Baltimore

Joe Howard was the very first African American judge to run for and win a 15-year term as judge on the city's highest court. His swearing-in ceremony was historic for at least two reasons. The first was that he represented a breakthrough in civil rights. The second was a small (and unwelcome) surprise from his new employer, the City of Baltimore.