Gil Sandler's Baltimore Stories | WYPR

Gil Sandler's Baltimore Stories

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...

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.

Wrestling

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.

Pages