Gil Sandler's Baltimore Stories | WYPR

Gil Sandler's Baltimore Stories

Aquarium

Feb 5, 2016

On the evening of November 2, 1976, Baltimoreans were glued to their TV and radios—following the election results of Question 3 on the ballot—whether or not the city should build and operate what would be known as the National Aquarium in the Inner Harbor. It was a controversial idea from the outset, with City Councilman Emerson Julian calling the proposed aquarium, derisively, “nothing but a fish tank.” This is the story of how that so-called “fish tank” became one of the most visited tourist attraction in the world.

Number Writers

Jan 29, 2016

In the 1940s and 1950s, before the Maryland lottery and the casinos, the betting action on the street was “on the numbers” --  and illegal.  It was the bookmakers who took the bets and who controlled the action that were the target of Captain Alexander Emerson’s raids on their “places of business.”. His continuing raids, staged to get them to shut down their operations and send them to jail, made him a threat to and the nemesis of their livelihood. When he died there was a coffin-side eulogy for him by a former victim…

It was on an afternoon in August 1914 when Dr. George Bunting stood at his worktable in his pharmacy 6 west North Avenue in midtown Baltimore mixing a container of equal parts camphor, menthol and eucalyptus. When the mix has reached the density of a cream Dr. Bunting began to pour the contents carefully into small blue jars labeled, 'Dr. Bunting's Sunburn Remedy". The cream sales were modest and largely unnoticed, until one day a customer came in and asked for it by describing its cure. And THAT is when this modest sunburn cream began its history to national prominence in the marketplace - under the name of NOXEMA - born in Baltimore . . .

Capone

Jan 15, 2016

On the night of Nov. 16, 1939, notorious gangster Al Capone was released from Lewisberg penitentiary - and headed for Baltimore. Capone was a sick man and planned to seek treatment at Johns Hopkins. He settles in the Oswego Avenue home of Manasha Katz, Captain of the Maryland State Police. But because he planned to stay in Baltimore a while, he though to arrange to have his favorite Italian food personally prepared for him at the then well-known restaurant, Maria's, in Little Italy. So he sent a lieutenant there to meet Maria and asked if he might inspect her kitchen. Very bad mistake. This is the story of why.

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.

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