Dedicated to I.L. Glutz
Since at least 1791, when Saint Patrick himself miraculously landed at the foot of Broadway in Fells Point, Baltimore has been home to hoaxing of all kinds. On April 1, 1829, Edgar Allan Poe infiltrated newspapers with stories that a man would fly from the top of the newly built shot tower to the old Lazaretto lighthouse. The gathered crowds were not pleased to find themselves on the wrong side of a joke (NOTE: A more recent Cryptanalyst Research Team investigation suggests this hoax may never have happened or that if it did, Poe may not have been involved. Presently, the first printed report of this hoax only dates to a 1920s era Poe biography.) H.L. Mencken perpetrated many hoaxes including "The Bathtub Hoax" in which he claimed bathing was a recent invention. Scholarly journals continued to quote the invented materials for years, believing them to be genuine. In 1935, Charcaol Club President John McGrath announced the rediscovery of Ignatius Lancelot Glutz, Baltimore's greatest painter, who died of starvation in a Paris garret in 1929. McGrath (and his compatriot Baltimore artist Laurence W. Sagle) mocked the mythologies of artistic genius and the dubious nature of historic documentation. They were able to sell several Glutz paintings before the hoax was revealed (Noting the general mirthful behavior surrounding the rediscovery and sensing they were on the receiving end of some sort of impropriety, officials from Baltimore's Municipal Art Society called in a group of critics and historians who proceded to page through the indices of various art history books in search of the elusive Glutz).
The CCC chooses to refrain from revealing more recent hoaxes, although we would like to point out that individuals from around the country have repeatedly hoaxed nationally syndicated talkshows. We can give no more information because of the legal issues involved (Talkshow participants are generally required to sign legal documents attesting to the "truthfulness" of their stories)
Recreation Novelty Co. was an amazing store filled with boxes of gags, practical jokes, woopie cushions and the like. Run for years by Meyer Finklestein, the storefront shop was an archaeological sit for pop culture. Looking for original stick-on lambchopsideburns or a beatnik goatee? Mr. Finklestein had them. Finding objects of value had to do with the shopper's mentality as much as anything.
The store appears to have moved several times before finally closing in the early 1990s. The location chosen was the last site and our documentation comes from a 1968 Baltimore telephone book.
For more information on Menckenís proclivity to hoaxing, check out:
H.L. Mencken, Tall Tales and Hoaxes of H.L.Mencken: Menckenís Baltimore Sunday Sun Hoaxes, 1908-1910, ed. John W. Baer (J.W. Baer, Publisher, c.1990) or H.L. Mencken, The Bathtub Hoax, and Other Blasts and Bravos from the Chicago Tribune, ed. Robert McHugh (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.,1958)