Football…in the Archives?

Posted on February 26th, 2018 by

Blog post by JMM archivist Lorie Rombro. You can read more posts by Lorie here.

A few weeks ago, while processing a collection I came upon a list of addresses and I was unsure how it connected to the collection. As I was looking over the list I noticed the very last name: John Unitas. This piqued my interest andso  I began looking up the other names on the list.

What I found was five players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame! Maybe you recognize them: Raymond Berry, Gino Marchetti, Lenny Moore, Jim Parker, and Johnny Unitas.

As it turns out, all the names on my mysterious list were players who were on the Baltimore Colts between 1961-1963 (many were also on earlier and later, but this is the period they all overlapped).*

The collection was donated from the estate of Bernard S. “Bucky” Levin. Mr. Levin was a lifelong sports fan whoalso owned a pharmacu in Baltimore. His pharmacy not only provided medical supplies to the Baltimore Colts, but also filled prescriptions for many players. One of Mr. Levin’s philanthropic interests was the Eddie Block Memorial Courage Award dinner, which is named for the late Colts trainer and raises money to help abused children.

I found additional information on the Colts inside a folder labeled, “From Ed Block” including articles and information on the 1977 NFL Draft.

Check out pick #26 for Baltimore’s choice!

All this research made me think about growing up in Baltimore. As a child I had no interest in football, but I knew who the Colts where. My father, grandfather, and uncles all watched the games and were on the phone throughout a game discussing each play and every call.

I think if you are from Baltimore and are old enough to remember the Colts, everyone has a story to tell. My first real experience understanding how important football was to the city was when I was 7 and attending summer nature camp at Goucher college. I remember the doors to the building where large and very heavy and getting them open could be difficult. Luckily there where very large men running around on the field next to the building who were happy to help. After a few days of camp, I told my father that I had met the largest men I had ever seen and that they always waved and said hello when we passed them.

Photo of 1958 Baltimore Colts (signed by Ordell Brasse and Alex Sandusky, both of whom were on my mystery list). JMM 2001.113.99

After a series of questions starting with “what are these men doing?” and moving on to “are they playing a game?”, my parents discovered I was waving hello to the practicing Colts! I’m not sure if my father had driven me to camp before that, but he certainly did afterwards.

The 1958 Baltimore Colts radio and television schedule, produced by National Bohemian. Gift of Steven Sklar, 2016.10.130.

I saw first hand how excited people where to meet them and watch ever step they took. Although 7 year old me was really only impressed with their size, it left a lasting impression on me on how important sports can be to a person and a city.

*Please don’t try and grab an autograph at any of these addresses! But you can get a taste of “Where Are They Now” in this feature from the Baltimore Sun!

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Posted on February 23rd, 2018 by

Here’s a little Friday Flashback from the Archives that Lorie brought to my attention!

March 7, 1923

Devotees Of The Dance Who Have Passed 100 Mark

Invited To Event At Hebrew Home For Aged:

Youths 80 And Over To Make Debut.

Every active disciple of Terpsichore who is 100 years old or more is cordially invited to attend the centenarians’ Ball to be given at the Hebrew Home for Aged March 1, the beginning of Passover. The list of eligibles is limited strictly to devotees of the waltz, quadrille, polka, tango, turkey trot, pigeon-wing cutting or other popular expressions of the poetry of motion, who have reached their tenth decade.

Rush of Eager Applicants

Already Dr. and Mrs. Sigmund Friedler, joint superintendents of the Home, at 2102 East Baltimore street, have organized themselves into a floor committee and received the eager applications of the following eligible, who are inmates of the institution:

Mrs. Chaye Norowitz, 110 years old, born in Poland, “and,” smiled Dr. Friedler, “still going strong.” (“A lot of young people would like to have her appetite,” parenthetically interjected Mrs. Friedler, handing a cup of broth to Mrs. Norowitz.)

Mrs. Rosa Kessan, 100 years old, “who asked my husband on her birthday just a few days ago,” confided Mrs. Friedler,  “to write a letter to God, thanking Him for her continued good health.”

Abraham Cauff, 101 years old, a former Talmudist, who daily reads the Old Testament without glasses – never wore ‘em at all, in point of fact, as he so informs a questioner – and proudly lifts a head that would enrapture a painter of patriarchs.

Isaac Goldman, 101 years old, blind, but as merry as a youth, singing and dancing with the best and most agile of them, with a special preference for Indian dances.

Abraham Cohen, 101 years old; paralyzed to be sure, but insistent upon being present at the Centenarians’ Ball, calling off the figures and in other ways taking a far from passive part.

Mr. and Mrs. Chaye Ezersky, respectively 107 and 105 years old, of 800 North Carey street, have applied for admittance to the home; “and they surely will be here in time for…”

“…the ball,” assured Dr. Friedler, warmly.

“Youngsters” Not Neglected.

This, undoubtedly the most extraordinary ball ever held in Baltimore, will be given in the especially decorated main assembly room of the Home and will open with a “Centenarian Waltz” of such dreamy, yet inspiring measures that the waltzers are expected to perform some amazing feats in Terpsichorean grace and sustained agility.

Of course, there are some younger people in the Home who will not be neglected and for whim dancing will be provided at the conclusion of the ball proper. There are at least a dozen “youths” within their adolescent nineties, to say mothering of Joseph Levi, “a bright kid of 80,” according to the good-humored teasing of the older “boys;” and almost as [???] maidens and matrons who also have reached no further than the 80th milestone in the journey [???]. For these will be given a sort of “Debutante dance.”

You’d be surprised to know how mentally clear our centenarians are.” Proudly declared Dr. Friedler. “Take Mrs. Norowitz, our oldest inmate, for instance. She was married at the age of 14 years and has great-great-great-great grandchildren. Mrs. Norowitz says she has never taken medicine when ill, not even when she had double pneumonia, with a temperature of 104, several years ago. She has an amazing appetite; arises at 6 A.M. every day for tea and cakes, and has a full quart of coffee, two scrambled eggs and lots of bread.

One Of First Jews Here.

“Then, there is Abraham Cauff, the Talmudist, who says that when he came to Baltimore there were less than 15 Jews in the city. He thinks there will be found in the tomb of Tut-Ankh-Amen some books which belonged to Moses, abandoned when he fled from Pharaoh’s palace and which will readily disprove the assertions made by some scientists that Moses never led the Children of Israel from Egypt through the Red Sea in which the pursuing Egyptian forces were drowned. He has read much about the discoveries in Tut-Ankh-Amen’s tomb and pronounces the repudiation of Moses’ flight from Egypt all rot.

“Mrs. Rosa Kessan, 100 years old, things the girls of today will be short-lived, because of their general subscription to pills, paints, powder and sweets.”

The building and ground for the Hebrew Home for Aged Incurables, pictured here, were donated by Jacob Epstein in the memory of his parents, Isaac and Jenny Epstein in 1919. JMM Vertical Files.

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Two souvenirs from a European vacation, 1911

Posted on February 21st, 2018 by

A blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.

Isaac Hecht (1864-1913) was a prominent businessman in the small Maryland town of Havre de Grace. He owned a hotel and saloon; served as president of the several banks, the local taxi cab business, and the Havre de Grace chapter of the Fraternal Order of Eagles; and was active in city politics and local philanthropy. He and his wife, Elizabeth Weis of Baltimore, had two sons: Lee I. Hecht, born 1888 (later a well-known judge in Baltimore), and Lawrence, born 1899.

Isaac Hecht (at far right) and others in an automobile donated for a raffle held by the Fraternal Order of Eagles, Havre de Grace, ca. 1910.  Gift of Isaac Hecht II. JMM 1991.198.3

All of that biographical background is to set my readers up for this delightful souvenir plate from our collections.  It is made of fine porcelain, hand-painted in gold, with holes on the reverse – this was definitely intended for display, not dinner – and features a photograph of a well-to-do family above the caption “Karlsbad 1911.”

Porcelain souvenir plate, hand-painted, 1911. Made by A. Hoffman. Gift of Eleanor Hecht Yuspa. JMM 2010.8.4

We know, thanks to the donor, that the photograph shows Isaac, Elizabeth, and Lawrence.  Conveniently – and this is why I love souvenirs since, after all, they’re supposed to remind you of a specific time and place – the plate itself gives us the time and the place.

Elizabeth, Lawrence, and Isaac Hecht, on vacation in Karlsbad, 1911 – as shown on their souvenir plate. Gift of Eleanor Hecht Yuspa. JMM 2010.8.4

A little further research tells more of the story. Karlsbad, also known as Karlovy Vary, was a spa in Bohemia; now in the Czech Republic, at the time of the Hechts’ visit it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  It was a fashionable resort for many decades, though its fortunes faded after WWI; in 1911, the year our Hechts visited, it saw over 71,000 visitors, and even hosted a fancy chess tournament.

Though his businesses were in Havre de Grace, not Baltimore, Isaac Hecht was important enough to rate notice in the Sun’s social news.  Articles from the summer of 1911 tout the maiden voyage of a new luxury steamship line from Baltimore to Europe:

“The date when Baltimoreans will have their first chance to secure first cabin accommodation on a trans-Atlantic liner from this port is now only a short time off – June 28. On that day the magnificent North German Lloyd liner Friedrich der Grosse will make its first trip from Baltimore. Besides being the largest passenger ship ever to sail from this port, it will be the first vessel to carry first cabin passengers from this city, and, if patronized well enough, will be the first of a regular series of sailings by the finest ocean liners in the service of the North German Lloyd.”  (“Rush for First Cabin,” Baltimore Sun, June 8, 1911)

“Greetings from the ship Friedrich the Great.” Image courtesy Passengers in History.

The article continues, “Prominent person from all parts of Maryland in nearby States will also be on the ship, and the list of passengers is increasing daily. Among the most recent entries are Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Hecht, together with their son and Mr. Hecht’s brother, all of Havre de Grace…. Mr. Hecht is president of the Havre de Grace Banking and Trust Company.”  (I. Lee Hecht, older than his younger brother Lawrence by 11 years, was already off on his own.) A few months later, social news from Havre de Grace includes the tidbit that “Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Hecht and son, who have been spending the summer in Europe, have sent home quite a collection of pictures, bric-a-brac, needlework and other things for the various booths at the coming hospital bazaar.” (Baltimore Sun, October 8, 1911).  The trip to Karlsbad was even referenced in Isaac’s 1913 obituary, when the author noted that Mr. Hecht had leased his hotel “a couple of years ago. . . in order to go to Carlsbad, Germany [sic], for the benefit of Mrs. Hecht’s health.” (Baltimore Sun, May 21, 1913)

Two close-up views: hand-painted flowers (left) and the makers’ marks (right). Gift of Eleanor Hecht Yuspa. JMM 2010.8.4

I particularly like the bit about the family acquiring “bric-a-brac,” as it ties in nicely with their fancy “Porzellan-Fotograf” plate.  This was a substantial souvenir, more costly than a spoon or a fan, and more personalized than a book of photos, or a mug with the town’s name printed on it; it was meant for display, a reminder to yourself and your visitors of that pleasant visit to a prestigious, high-society resort.

But I promised you two souvenirs of the Hechts’s visit to Karlsbad, so here’s the other one; this one is of a much more plebian, transient nature, but is no less informative, and a bit more poignant.  Amongst a small collection of postcards received by Emanuel and Fanny Weis Hecht of Havre de Grace is this one, sent from Karlsbad on September 18, 1911.  The two families were double-in-laws; Emanuel was Isaac’s brother, and Fanny was Elizabeth’s sister. Emanuel ran the Hecht’s Hotel during Isaac’s long absence; he and Fanny had just had a baby daughter, Hannah, the year before. This postcard carries Rosh Hashanah greetings in German and Hebrew on the front, with an illustration of “The discovery of Moses.”

Gift of Elizabeth Hecht Goodman. JMM 1997.45.9

Addressed to Mr. & Mrs. E. Hecht and “Miss Hannah,” the message on the back reads, “Dear Brother and Sister and Little Hannah. A Happy New Year and many of them. Hoping you [are] all in the best of health. I wish I was home to spend the Holiday. With love, Isaac Elizabeth and Lawrence Hecht.”  After all, vacations are well and good … but sometimes you’d rather be home with family during the holidays.

Gift of Elizabeth Hecht Goodman. JMM 1997.45.9

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