Monday, December 31, 2007

The View From I Am A Legend, 12/2007

The View From The Ninth Floor Of 40 Monroe Street, 1950's


From the Neal Hellman archives
an email response from a fellow Kver 12/31/07
The view out of Neal's window brings back memories. We had a similar view from the 10th floor (of 14 Monroe) but it caught a lot of the Brooklyn Bridge as well. True story - one day my father cleared out his desk and moved all furniture away from the window. He set up an easel and spent the next two days creating a water color rendering of the bridge with a car on fire subtly woven into the scene. My sister has the painting. He, to my knowledge, never tried to draw or paint anything before or after but I guess he probably had done some drawing when he was younger because the execution was fairly impressive.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Google Street View: Pike Street South To Cherry Street West

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This street view movie goes past the old synagogue on Pike mentioned in the previous post. It continues south until it turns west to go under the Manhattan Bridge arch on Cherry Street.

Auld Lang Syne Pike Street

From the Neal Hellman archives,
aka the KV Man West
That's Neal's father, Sol Hellman, in front of his store, which was on Pike Street (east) between East Broadway and Henry. The other picture shows some guys hanging out in front of the shoe shine place (19 Pike) which was on the same block as Sol's shop. Check out the left hand of the guy on the left. The block has an old synagogue that now houses a 99 cent discount and variety store

from the landmarks commission:
The Pike Street Synagogue (13-15 Pike Street), constructed in 1903-04 for the Congregation Sons of Israel Kalwarie, is a rare surviving synagogue building from that period of New York's history when the Lower East Side served as America's main portal for millions of Jewish immigrants. Designed by the architect Alfred E. Badt,this limestone-fronted building with its twin, lateral staircases up to the porticoed main entrance,and double stair towers projecting from the main facade creates an imposing presence on the crowded street. The basic form and massing of the building followed a stylistic precedent deriving from the Romanesque Revival and the German Rundbogenstil. At the same time, the architect included details which relate to the general classicizing tendencies in American architecture of the turn of the century. When constructed, this synagogue was one of the largest on the Lower East Side, and one of the few built specifically for this purpose. The Congregation Sons of Israel Kalwarie, started in 1853, continued to worship in this building until the 1980s. The building stood vacant for several years, but recently has been rehabilitated for a variety of uses with a Buddhist temple on the main level, apartments above, and commercial space on the ground floor

Auld Lang Syne

Here's some pics for KV Auld Lang Syne, Molly and Sol Hellman and Sol and Eva Bellel

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Look For The Union Label 2

Some background on the Union Label campaign and an excerpt from an article from the Forward by Gus Tyler, who's still going strong at 95. Gus was at the commencement ceremony when my farher graduated from the ILGWU Institute : In 1958, the ILGWU and New York dress manufacturers signed an historic contract which mandated the manufacturers' insertion of the union's label and the union's sponsorship of a two million dollar campaign to promote labeled products. Between 1959 and 1975, the ILGWU used multiple media to promote its label, focusing on television advertising after that period. This study determined the rationale for ILGWU's promotional targeting of retailers and consumers between 1959 and 1975, as well as messages designed for these audiences and means used to reach them. Primary sources used included materials in ILGWU Archives, union documents, and contemporary periodicals. The union advertised in local newspapers, consumer magazines and Women's Wear Daily, and produced and distributed booklets, films and varied press aids about apparel. Two themes dominated the campaign: (a) the ILGWU's contributions to American society and (b) the excitement of American fashion.
My 75 Years at the Forward, From East Broadway to the Blogosphere
Tyler, Too
By Gus Tyler
Fri. Jan 05, 2007
This issue is the first of 2007, the Forward’s 110th anniversary year. It is a personal landmark for me, too: the 75th anniversary of my own association with the Forward. Over the years, I’ve gone from a young editorial assistant to a senior commentator. I’ve worked in print, broadcast and now on the Internet, riding the successive waves of the media age. Looking back, I’m struck by the evolution I have witnessed in the communications media and the resulting changes in our American democracy. I joined the Forward in 1932, the year of my graduation from New York University. Louis Schaefer, the labor editor of the Jewish Daily Forverts, asked me to meet him at the famous Forward Building at 175 East Broadway. He knew of me because I was the editor of Free Youth, the publication of the Young People’s Socialist League. I was all of 21. When I got to his office, he asked me to be his assistant. He offered me a salary of $15 a week — which, in those days, was money.
The Jewish Daily Forward had been founded 35 years earlier to serve as a voice of democratic socialism among the Yiddish-speaking immigrants. By 1932 it was the largest of the Yiddish dailies, with a circulation of a quarter-million nationwide. It was also a major force in the rapidly growing American labor movement.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Look For The Union Label

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From 1972: Look for the union label when you are buying that coat, dress or blouse.Remember somewhere our union's sewing, our wages going to feed the kids, and run the house.We work hard, but who's complaining? Thanks to the I.L.G. we're paying our way! So always look for the union label, it says we're able to make it in the U.S.A.! That's my father, a former 60 year ILGWU member below.

There Once Was A Union Maid

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My father was a lifelong ILGWU member. In his 60 years of working he was a cutter, marker and grader, a union organizer, business agent and a pattern maker. I remember the ILGWU chorus singing this song at a graduation event when he became a organizer.
He only lasted a few years in the job because he felt it was too corrupt.
I resuscitated this old slide show from 2002 that had triangle shirtwaist images for the google video player. Images are bad, but the songs (2 versions) still rouse the spirit. You can download a better version here
Union Maid by Woody Guthrie
There once was a union maid, she never was afraid
Of goons and ginks and company finks and the deputy sheriffs who made the raid.
She went to the union hall when a meeting it was called,
And when the Legion boys come 'round
She always stood her ground.

Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union,
I'm sticking to the union, I'm sticking to the union.
Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union,
I'm sticking to the union 'til the day I die.

This union maid was wise to the tricks of company spies,
She couldn't be fooled by a company stool, she'd always organize the guys.
She always got her way when she struck for better pay.
She'd show her card to the National Guard
And this is what she'd say

You gals who want to be free, just take a tip from me;
Get you a man who's a union man and join the ladies' auxiliary.
Married life ain't hard when you got a union card,
A union man has a happy life when he's got a union wife.

Nathan's House Furnishing On Catherine Street

A post Christmas present in my email box.
Just happened to stop in at Bob's on my way back to Martha's Vineyard; You might remember my grandfather, Nathans House Furnishing, on Catherine street, between Henry and Madison. NEXT to the Rug Place, NEXT to Savoia..., and of course CARVEL on their right;You know my grandparents would close down some Xmas times and get driven up to Boston by a guy named JOEY... Could never forget you guys...knowing Bob, Marty Sklar, Alan gave me an entree onto a paved playground with all you guys...who believed they were speaking 'ENGLISH'. Also the Submarine Sandwich...HERO, and where could you find a Pizza the size of a STEERING WHEEL for $1.00...I'm talking the 'OLD' car steering wheels. So I'm MIKE ZANE signing off

Mike must be referring to #27 Catherine, as #25 (Sweet Spring Restaurant) is where Carvel's used to be.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Come Back Shane

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A favorite of mine and my father's. One of the first movies I remember seeing at the Loew's Canal
Note: I added my own text track with quicktime pro
I came to get your offer, Ryker.
I'm not dealing with you. Where's Starrett?
- You're dealing with me, Ryker. - I got no quarrel with you, Shane.
You can walk out now and no hard feeling.
- What's your offer, Ryker? - To you, not a thing.
- That's too bad. - Too bad.
You've lived too long. Your kind of days are over.
- My days? And yours, gunfighter? - The difference is I know it.
So we'll turn in our six-guns to the bartender,
and we'll all start hoeing spuds, is that it?
Not quite yet.
We haven't heard from your friend here.
I wouldn't push too far if I were you.
Our fight ain't with you.
- It ain't with me, Wilson? - No, it ain't, Shane.
I wouldn't pull on Wilson, Shane.
Will, you're a witness to this.
So you're Jack Wilson.
What's that mean to you, Shane?
I've heard about you.
What have you heard, Shane?
I've heard that you're a low-down, Yankee liar.
Prove it!
Shane, look out!
Shane!
I knew you could, Shane. I knew it just as well as anything.
Was that him? Was that Wilson?
That was him. That was Wilson, all right.
He was fast, fast on the draw.
Joey, what are you doing here?
- I'm sorry, Shane. - You don't have to be.
- You'd better run back. - Can't I ride home behind you?
I'm afraid not, Joey.
Please! Why not?
I gotta be going on.
Why, Shane?
A man has to be what he is, Joey. Can't break the mould.
- I tried it and it didn't work for me. - We want you, Shane.
Joey, there's no living with a killing. There's no going back from one.
Right or wrong, it's a brand. A brand sticks.
There's no going back.
Now you run on home to your mother, and tell her...
...tell her everything's all right and there aren't any more guns in the valley.
Shane...
It's bloody! You're hurt!
I'm all right, Joey.
Go home to your mother and father and grow up to be strong and straight.
And, Joey...
Take care of them, both of them.
Yes, Shane.
He'd never have shot you if you'd seen him!
Bye, little Joe.
He'd never even have cleared the holster, would he, Shane?
Pa's got things for you to do! And Mother wants you!
I know she does!
Shane!
Shane!
Come back!

Street Name Origins 2


The historical guys below are those mentioned on the list to the left, with the exception of Delancey. The one pictured is the son of the Delancey for whom the block was named after.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Street Name Origins

That's Henry Allen on the bottom left and John Chrystie on the right

Katz's 2

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Send A Salami To Your Boy In The Army

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Something I did with a kindergarten class about 5 years ago to celebrate their visit to Katz's. I don't know if this a blasphemous to mention, but I prefer the pastrami from Junior's and it's not as expensive.
Oh, hot diggity, dog ziggity, boom what you do to me
It's so new to me, what you do to me
Hot diggity, dog ziggity, boom what you do to me
When you're holding me tight

Never dreamed anybody could kiss thattaway
Bring me bliss thattaway, what a kiss thattaway
What a wonderful feelin' to feel thattaway
Tell me where have you been all my life

Oh, hot diggity, dog ziggity, boom what you do to me
It's so new to me, what you do to me
Hot diggity, dog ziggity, boom what you do to me
When you're holding me tight

Never knew that my heart could go "zing" thattaway
Ting-a-ling thattaway, make me sing thattaway
Said "goodbye" to my troubles, they went thattaway
Ever since you came into my life

Oh, hot diggity, dog ziggit,y boom what you do to me
It's so new to me, what you do to me
Hot diggity, dog ziggity, boom what you do to me
When you're holding me tight

There's a cute little cottage for two thattaway
Skies are blue thattaway, dreams come true thattaway
If you say I can share it with you thattaway
I'll be happy the rest of my life

Oh, hot diggity, dog ziggity, boom what you do to me
It's so new to me, what you do to me
Hot diggity, dog ziggity, boom what you do to me
When you're holding me tight

Oh, hot diggity, dog ziggity, boom what you do to me
How my future will shine
Hot diggity, dog ziggity, boom what you do to me
From the moment you're mine

Hot dog!!

What Was I Thinking? Don Rickles

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I watched an HBO special on Don Rickles last night. I was looking for a good laugh. It was directed by John Landis and it was done with all kinds of editing flourishes. The bottom line, "Why is this guy considered a comic genius?" I laughed at him back in the 60's and 70's etc with my father, especially when Rickles was on the tonight show. But the insult act is so tired and his rationalizations so bogus. It's one thing to "shoot down" a Sinatra and the rich and powerful and pretentious, but not a Mexican immigrant.
Compare him to the timeless comic genius of a Steve Allen and a Sid Caesar, not a chance. Ok, I'm thru pontificating.
Now the above clip I find funny, Rowan And Martin roasting Rickles with his own material

Famous Fat Dave's Five Borough Eating Tour

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No, the Fat Dave is not me, but he certainly visits some of my favorite eating haunts.
A description from youtube, the above only shows the LES segment:
It's Famous Fat Dave's Five Borough Eating Tour on the Wheels of Steel! Chow your way through the real New York in an authentic NYC yellow taxi with a pickle man/ cheesemonger/ hot dog vendor/ food writer/ cabbie who has eaten it all.
This Episode's tour features food from Brooklyn and Manhattan. Learn Dave and Roger's Pickle Call at Guss' Pickles (Orchard Street between Broome & Grand, Lower East Side, Manhattan) as you nosh on 6 varieties of pickles. If you're lucky Dave will introduce you to the best skin care product known to man, pickle brine. Then walk down the block for a sesame pancake Chinese sandwhich loaded with pickled carrots, pot roast, soy sauce, cilantro, and hot sauce at the Dumpling House (Eldridge Street between Broome & Grand, Lower East Side, Manhattan) featuring live entertainment from a small Chinese boy and his purple guitar. Next ride over the Brooklyn Bridge into Redhook for chocolate dipped key lime pie at Steve's Authentic Key Lime Pies (Pier 41 off Van Dyke Street, Red Hook, Brooklyn). You'll get a great view of the Statue of Liberty while you digest before Dave tours you around Red Hook's mean streets where the smell of gunfire still hangs in the air. And don't fill up yet...next up is the weekly Latino Food Fair (Bay Street between Clinton & Henry, Red Hook, Brooklyn). Tacos, empanadas, madoros, horchatas, papusa, and Ecuadorian & Salvadorian food recommendations from locals. Hop back in the cab and get some views of Rockaway on the way to Sheepshead Bay where you'll chow down on the finest Roast Beef Sandwhiches from Roll 'n Roaster (Eammons Avenue & Nostrand Avenue, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn). And it's okay to make fun of Dave when somehow the cheese ends up in his ear. You'd think he'd learn how to avoid that by now. Our final destination for your last 2 meals is L&B Spumoni Gardens (86th Street & West 10th Street, Bensonhurst, Brooklyn). You'll get one of the few $1.75 slices left in the city (much bigger than your normal slice) and because there's always room for desert, finish up with L&B's famous spumoni! Any food you don't finish will happily be eaten by cute puppies you meet along the way or Dave, himself (Dave prefers you choose him).
Think you're up to the challenge? Book your eating experience email Famous Fat Dave at Dave@FamousFatDave.com
Hop in the cab, hold on tight. You're gonna be eating all through the night. He'll take you where you've never been in the Bronx and Queens and South Brooklyn. It's Famous Fat Dave's Five Borough Eating Tour on the Wheels of Steel. Pickles, Pastrami, Dumplings, Salami! Take a look, grab a bite, put it in your tummy.

Google Street View: Delancey Street Loop

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This starts on Delancey Street and proceeds west to Essex then south to Broome, west on Broome to Clinton and then north back to Delancey. The empty lot on Delancey (approx 129 Delancey) is where Gluckstern's used to be. Marvin and Jerry Kuperstein had their bar mitzvah there. The building at 184 Broome is used as movie production studio by
one of the former St. Elsewhere directors. It used to be a fire house and I believe a primary school in the early 1900's. At 82 Essex you see Seward Park High School and at 84 Essex a building that used to be a Health Dispensary in the early 1900's. Below is a 1930's ? commercial for Gluckstern's from the Yiddish Radio Project. It's sung by the Pincus Sisters video

Google Street View: Madison-Market Street Loop

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This street view starts on Catherine and Madison Street and proceeds in this way:
West on Madison, North on Oliver, East on East Broadway, South on Market, East on Monroe to Pike Street

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Google Street View: Catherine Street Loop

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This loops from Catherine and Madison westward to Oliver, then north to Chatham Square,
east to Catherine and then south back to Madison.

Google Street View: Chinatown

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This is the path we took from our parked car (on Madison, near Oliver) to Hop Kee (at the 00:48 mark) and then afterwards along Mott, past Transfiguration Church, to Canal. Not shown, turn on Canal to the Bowery, turn right on Bowery to Catherine, walk south on Catherine 3 blocks to Madison, turn right on Madison.

In Chinatown, A Church Speaks In Several Languages, But With One Strong Voice

As often happens one story just leads to another. After mentioning eating in Chinatown yesterday, near Transfiguration Church, this article was in today's NYTimes An excerpt
At the church, pots of red and white poinsettias were carefully arranged for midnight Mass. With the funeral service for an 82-year-old Irish-American parishioner completed in the morning, the Italian-American priest spent part of his afternoon on Monday reviewing his homily, to be delivered in Cantonese and English. A sign announcing a Christmas Eve vigil for Fujianese immigrants was taped to the window.
The preparations to celebrate Christmas at the two-century-old Church of the Transfiguration in Chinatown, like the history of the church itself, were multilayered, reflecting the nimble adaptation of a church once dominated by Irish and Italian immigrants that now claims the largest Chinese Roman Catholic congregation in the United States.
The English-language Mass, scheduled in part for the Italian-Americans, was said early, at 6 p.m., because those parishioners are now old enough that their children have long since grown up and moved away to Long Island or Staten Island. They do not like to stay out too late.
The Mass in Cantonese, which still prevails on the stretch of Mott Street where the church stands, was said at 8 p.m. And at 9:30 p.m., immigrants from the southern Chinese province of Fujian, holding Catholic prayer books printed secretly in China away from the watchful eyes of the government, gathered for their vigil to await the midnight Mass, to be said in Mandarin and English.

LES Meets Harlem, 1956

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I found this amazing clip on youtube. A rehearsal recording of Billie Holiday from 1956 singing My Yiddishe Momme. The images are those of Barbra Streisand and her mother. Billie has a rough beginning but ends up strong
lyric source
My Yiddishe momme
I need her more than ever now
My Yiddishe momme
Id like to kiss her wrinkled brow
I long to hold her hand once more
As in days gone by
And ask her to forgive me
For things I did that made her cry

How few were her pleasures
She never cared for fashion styles
Her jewels and her treasures
She found them in her baby's smiles
Oh I know that I owe what I am today
To that dear little lady who's gone away
To that wonderful Yiddishe momme
momme, momme of mine

Who's Who In Knickerbocker Village History: Edward Strickland

I don't know how long Edward Strickland lived in Knickerbocker before he was evicted (I'm assuming he was), but he seems to have a been an artist of note as referenced here in an article about famed artist Raphael Soyer. I found an exampe of his work, a still life on-line. I'm still looking for more information on him. He's mentioned in this book, Mutual Reflections: Jews and Blacks in American Art
By Milly Heyd.
I wonder whether Soyer or his twin brother Moses ever lived in Knickerbocker? It mentions that Raphael displayed his work at the Educational Alliance.

Not Necessarily This Day In KV History: Eviction Sought For Negro Tenant


From April-May 1952. No "Holiday Spirit" for Edward Strickland and one can see the battle lines are being drawn as traditional segregation practices are challenged. If you enlarge the images to get a better view you can read that the sub-letting practices were not unusual, yet when it involved a "negro" ....

Postcards From Buster

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An excerpt from a yesterday post from Pseudo-Intellectualism. It's traditional that Jewish people eat their Christmas dinner at a Chinese restaurant. I dragged my wife and daughter to my old childhood one at number 21 Mott Street. It's now Hop Kee instead of Lichee Wan but it's still good. Christmas hymns were coming from Transfiguration Church. Here's a previous post about #21 Mott Street
This is another example of great resource "transfiguration." I'm using that word because my family had dinner at a Chinese restaurant near Transfiguration Church in Chinatown. I don't know what the favorite buzzword of the talking heads is, but what I'm referring to is when accessible and motivating multimedia curriculum appear on the scene and teachers can take advantage of it and modify it for their students. That's the case with Time Warp Trio and here with Postcards with Buster. Yes, I know this is San Francisco's Chinatown, but there are many similarities to Chinatowns in many major cities The pbs show has a great site with games and songs. This link takes you to the episode that the show above refers to Perfect for geography and perfect for third grade social studies' themes. They even have the lyrics of the songs so kids can read along

That Holiday Feeling

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what a combination! Steve and Eydie with archival NYC/Christmas images from the nypl digital collection. Many of them from nearby KV of long ago
The lyrics
That Holiday Feeling
Words and Music by Bill Jacob and Patty Jacob
Look how the snow is snowing
Your eyes are soft and glowing
Jack Frost is nipping at our feet
I'll bet your lips are warm and sweet
We've got that holiday feeling
That happy holiday feeling
Let's roast chestnuts by the fire
Any little thing you desire
Those reindeer soon will be here
Won't mean a thing to me dear
When Santa Claus begins his flight
I hope he gets a flat tonight
We've got that holiday feeling
That happy holiday feeling
Our favorite holiday of the year
I better leave
It's been so lovely like this
A chance I'd never miss
But it's so late
On New Years Eve
At twelve o'clock we'll stop to kiss
And while the whole world will be whistle blowing
We will still be mistletoe-ing
You think you're such a smarty
Come on let's have a party
I know what's running through your mind
This is the season to be kind
We've got that holiday feeling
That happy holiday feeling
So come and snuggle close to me
Right here where you're supposed to be
Let's kiss, 'cause it's the season, dear
Let's kiss, who needs a reason, dear
We've got that holiday feeling now

What Was I Thinking? A Great Day In Harlem 1958

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Now what was I doing in the summer of 1958? Probably playing a lot of punch ball in Tanahey Park, when I could have been a kid sitting on a curb in front of this collection of all time great musicians. Harlem was probably thought of as a foreign country to those on the LES
A Great Day in Harlem or Harlem 1958 is a 1958 black and white group portrait of 57 jazz musicians photographed on a Harlem street.

Art Kane, a freelance photographer working for Esquire magazine, took the picture at around 10 a.m. in the summer of 1958. The musicians had gathered on 126th Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenues in Harlem, New York City.

Esquire published the photo in its January 1959 issue. Jean Bach, a radio producer of New York, recounted the story behind it in her 1994 documentary film, A Great Day in Harlem. The film was nominated in 1995 for an Academy Award for Documentary Feature.


The photo was also a key object in Steven Spielberg's film, The Terminal. The film starred Tom Hanks as Viktor Navorski, who came to the United States in search of Benny Golson's autograph to complete his father's collection of autographs by the jazz musicians pictured in the classic 1958 photo.

When I was working in Harlem the last few years I went back to locate the spot to see what it looks like now. It's at 17 East 126th Street.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Route 66

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One of my favorite shows. When I was 12 or so I viewed it thinking "this is deep" but not knowing why. I wished then that I could break away from my mother's apron strings and travel with Todd and Buzz. Now I see it's finally arrived on DVD
from Amazon reviewers
Finally someone is listening! First the Fugitive and now Route 66! Television with meaning. I guess it was well worth the wait for the studios to get all the crap out of their system so they could start releasing the real quintessential jewels of American television. This show was so innovative for its time - It was shot on location around the country. The entire cast and crew literally traveled from one spot to the next and filmed each episode. ...
The story-telling event that made me want to become a writer was the premier of the classic TV show, Route 66. I was 17, doing so-so in high school, lacking plans and ambition, going nowhere. But all that changed at 8:30 p.m. on the first Friday of October in 1960 when a drama about motion gave me a destination. The series was about two young men (brilliantly portrayed by Martin Milner and George Maharis, the latter eventually replaced by Glenn Corbett) who drove a Corvette convertible across the United States in search of America and themselves. Providing a time capsule of 1960-64, every episode was filmed entirely on location–from Poland Springs, Maine, to Huntington Beach, California; from Seattle to St Louis to Tampa and a hundred communities between. Two-thirds of the episodes were written by Stirling Silliphant, who eventually received an Oscar for In the Heat of the Night and whose scripts for ROUTE 66 were an intriguing blend of intense action and philosophic/poetic speeches that sometimes lasted five minutes, with a flavor of Tennessee Williams combined with William Inge and Arthur Miller. As a bonus, the great arranger-composer Nelson Riddle contributed a new musical score every week, often with a jazz flavor. The series so knocked me over that I wrote to Silliphant, explaining my sudden ambition to follow his path. The long letter he sent in return gave me all the advice any writer needs. "Write, write, keep writing, and then write more." That letter is framed next to my desk. Eventually, Silliphant and I became friends and colleagues. In 1989, I was thrilled to see him listed as the executive producer of my NBC miniseries, Brotherhood of the Rose. Twenty-nine years after Route 66 debuted, a circle was completed, even as the road continued. -- David Morrell, New York Times bestselling author of FIRST BLOOD and CREEPERS

Duvid Crockett

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This is probably the Yiddish view from old Delancey Street. It's pretty funny, even if you don't understand yiddish. From albert diner on youtube
Mickey Katz's (June 15, 1909 - April 30, 1985) unique blend of Spike Jones, klezmer music, and Borscht Belt humor proved a successful formula for much of the space age pop era. Studying the clarinet as a child, Katz began a proficient performer and was playing with local bands in his teens. He started introducing comic routines into his act and attracted the attention of Spike Jones, who hired him into his City Slickers band in 1946. Katz can be heard on a number of classic Spike Jones recordings, most notably making the astounding poly-glottal "glug-glug-glugs" on Jones' version of "Hawaiian War Chant". Katz eventually mentioned to Jones' RCA producers that he had been working on his own parody tunes, combining popular tunes with Yiddish lyrics and instrumentation. RCA decided to record Katz and released his first single, "Haim Afn Range" backed with "Yiddish Square Dance." It proved a surprise hit, selling over 30,000 copies in one month. Like Jones, part of Katz' success was due to the very high quality of musicians he used. Fellow City Slicker Mannie Klein (later replaced by the great Ziggy Elman) played trumpet, the young Si Zentner played trombone, and Sam Weiss played drums, and Nat Farber, a studio orchestrator, provided the arrangements. The popularity of his RCA singles led Katz to organize a road show, which he called "The Borscht Capades." Among the cast was Katz' own son, who later became famous as Joel Grey. Ironically, one place the show never appeared was the Borscht Belt itself. Katz switched to Capitol Records in the early 1950s, and remained with the label until he retired in the late 1960s. Most of his material remained the same throughout his albums--Yiddish interpretations of American tunes, rendered in Katz' heavily-inflected comic Jewish accent ("ecch-sent"). But he did play it straight for the album, Mickey Katz Plays Music for Weddings, paying homage to the klezmer music he heard as a child. He also recorded one straight comedy album, Mickey Katz at the U.N., and The Katz Pajamas, a collection of fairy tales told in fractured Yiddish. Katz reprised the "Borschtcapades" idea in the mid-1960s with a Broadway revue titled, "Hello, Solly," but the show was short-lived. He published an autobiography, Papa Play for Me in 1977. In the early 1990s, black clarinetist Don Byron, who had learned klezmer music as a member of the Klezmer Conservatory in the mid-1980s, paid tribute to Katz's work by recording the well-received Music of Mickey Katz.

Davy Crockett

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A history of life at Knickerbocker Village for those who were kids in the 50's and 60's would be incomplete without including Davy Crockett.

Whatever Happened To: The Social Club Of Lefty Ruggiero At 43 Market Street

from gangstersinc site
Lefty grew up just a few blocks from Little Italy and never left. When he got older he moved into the apartment complex called knickerbocker village on Monroe Street a few blocks south of Little Italy. Lefty would soon be involved in criminal business and became connected to the Bonanno Crime Family. Lefty owned a social club at 43 Madison Street where he would meet with other Mafioso and connected guys. One of those mafioso who would drop by was Anthony "Tony" Mirra, a Bonanno Crime Family Soldato, who would introduced Lefty to Donnie Brasco. To Mirra and Lefty, Donnie Brasco seemed like an alright guy, something that would cause them and their Family a lot of trouble later on.

Whatever Happened To: The Associated Market At 49 Market Street


Whatever Happened To: Max Werclove

He owned the Blue Bird Cleaners on 23 Monroe Street. The Social Security Death index has a Max Werclove listing: MAX WERCLOVE born: 31 Jul 1897 died: Jul 1976 last residence, 11230.
I belief that's the Max who owned Blue Bird Cleaners, because the 1930 census has a Max Werclove, born in 1899 and living at 3031 34th Street in Queens, who worked as has a presser in a tailoring business. He was born in the Ukraine and he spoke Yiddish. His wife was named Adele.

Whatever Happened To: Morton Scudder


He owned Warren Dry Goods at 50 East Broadway. The ad is from my JHS 12 yearbook, "The Pioneer," of 1961. Well in 1969 he won a heroism award from Mayor Lindsay. This is what the store looks like today

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Gregorian Chants

I was thrilled to receive a response today from Mr.Gregor's son, Thomas.
Great detective work and thank you so much for getting in touch and passing along the NY Times piece and your own blog. I was so touched by it. My father was a wonderful man, and although it has been ten years since his death I still miss him. This all brought him a little closer. I did not recall the NYT piece, and I am very happy to have received a copy! I notice that as of tomorrow it will be exactly fifty years since it first appeared. Your Knickerbocker Village blog preserves history and identity, and there is little that can be more important than that. Thanks again,

I wasn't aware of the significance of that 50 year anniversary until Howie informed me of it last night. I was in the city today to photograph 38 West 9th Street. I also found another article in the Times that Mr. Gregor wrote in 1964. I had forgotten that he went on to become the principal of PS 2 on Henry Street. I had thought he retired from PS 177 and that Mr. Press replaced him. I guess he wrote this letter from the Fire Island house mentioned in the previous post about "Does Poppy Live Here."

Hoover Planned Mass Jailing In 1950

I was discussing the McCarthy era with an old KV friend recently. While revisiting the past here its intrigued me that many of my KV friends' parents had strong progressive political connections. At the time, I always thought we were all Democrats, but in the very traditional sense, What is America to me, A name, a map, or a flag I see, A certain word, democracy, brotherhood, etc . My friend told me that his mother was so paranoid that she hid her views and organization affiliations because of the witch hunt going on in the 50's. Another "alumni" recently revealed that his parents moved from Knickerbocker for fear of being tainted "Red." The possible repercussions, blacklisting and the loss of a livelihood. I now recall reading a few years ago about the Rosenberg Case (which has always intrigued me) that the FBI had just about tapped everyone's phone in KV during the time they were dong their investigation that case. Anyway just last week I posted an interview that Robert Meeropol gave about the similarity in political climate between now and the 50's and coincidentally yesterday this story appeared in the news.
A newly declassified document shows that J. Edgar Hoover, the longtime director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had a plan to suspend habeas corpus and imprison some 12,000 Americans he suspected of disloyalty.
Hoover sent his plan to the White House on July 7, 1950, 12 days after the Korean War began. It envisioned putting suspect Americans in military prisons. Hoover wanted President Harry S. Truman to proclaim the mass arrests necessary to “protect the country against treason, espionage and sabotage.” The F.B.I would “apprehend all individuals potentially dangerous” to national security, Hoover’s proposal said. The arrests would be carried out under “a master warrant attached to a list of names” provided by the bureau. The names were part of an index that Hoover had been compiling for years. “The index now contains approximately twelve thousand individuals, of which approximately ninety-seven per cent are citizens of the United States,” he wrote. “In order to make effective these apprehensions, the proclamation suspends the Writ of Habeas Corpus,” it said. Habeas corpus, the right to seek relief from illegal detention, has been a fundamental principle of law for seven centuries. The Bush administration’s decision to hold suspects for years at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has made habeas corpus a contentious issue for Congress and the Supreme Court today. The Constitution says habeas corpus shall not be suspended “unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it.” The plan proposed by Hoover, the head of the F.B.I. from 1924 to 1972, stretched that clause to include “threatened invasion” or “attack upon United States troops in legally occupied territory.” After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, President Bush issued an order that effectively allowed the United States to hold suspects indefinitely without a hearing, a lawyer, or formal charges. In September 2006, Congress passed a law suspending habeas corpus for anyone deemed an “unlawful enemy combatant.” But the Supreme Court has reaffirmed the right of American citizens to seek a writ of habeas corpus. This month the court heard arguments on whether about 300 foreigners held at Guantánamo Bay had the same rights. It is expected to rule by next summer. Hoover’s plan was declassified Friday as part of a collection of cold-war documents concerning intelligence issues from 1950 to 1955. The collection makes up a new volume of “The Foreign Relations of the United States,” a series that by law has been published continuously by the State Department since the Civil War. Hoover’s plan called for “the permanent detention” of the roughly 12,000 suspects at military bases as well as in federal prisons. The F.B.I., he said, had found that the arrests it proposed in New York and California would cause the prisons there to overflow. So the bureau had arranged for “detention in military facilities of the individuals apprehended” in those states, he wrote. The prisoners eventually would have had a right to a hearing under the Hoover plan. The hearing board would have been a panel made up of one judge and two citizens. But the hearings “will not be bound by the rules of evidence,” his letter noted. The only modern precedent for Hoover’s plan was the Palmer Raids of 1920, named after the attorney general at the time. The raids, executed in large part by Hoover’s intelligence division, swept up thousands of people suspected of being communists and radicals. Previously declassified documents show that the F.B.I.’s “security index” of suspect Americans predated the cold war. In March 1946, Hoover sought the authority to detain Americans “who might be dangerous” if the United States went to war. In August 1948, Attorney General Tom Clark gave the F.B.I. the power to make a master list of such people. Hoover’s July 1950 letter was addressed to Sidney W. Souers, who had served as the first director of central intelligence and was then a special national-security assistant to Truman. The plan also was sent to the executive secretary of the National Security Council, whose members were the president, the secretary of defense, the secretary of state and the military chiefs. In September 1950, Congress passed and the president signed a law authorizing the detention of “dangerous radicals” if the president declared a national emergency. Truman did declare such an emergency in December 1950, after China entered the Korean War. But no known evidence suggests he or any other president approved any part of Hoover’s proposal.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Bowling For Dollars

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As mentioned before the early 60's meant Saturday morning league bowling at City Hall Lanes and a trip to the Automat for many of us. Today there are only three bowling alleys in Brooklyn, in the 60's possibly 15 or 20. Bowling was so popular that this hokey show was on starting in the early 70's. I recall seeing Bobby Darin (of 60 Baruch Place fame) on one episode. It was aired after he died and the host Larry Kenney asked him the usual scripted question at the end, "So Bobby, what are your plans for the future?"

Not Necessarily This Day In KV History: PS 177 Kid Lights Yule Tree

From 12/15/1960. No luck so far in trying to find whatever became of Mark Hoyte of 180 South Street, a third grader at PS 177

Son Of Gregor

The obituary of Arthur Gregor mentioned a son named Thomas. Mr. Gregor had a daughter as well, but it would be more difficult googling her if she had married. I came up with several Thomas'. One further exploration yielded a google anthropology book excerpt that had a dedication to an Arthur S. Gregor. Bingo!

Thomas A. Gregor is a professor and chair of the anthropology department at Vanderbilt University. His latest book, edited with Donald F. Tuzin, is Gender in Amazonia and Melanesia: An Exploration in the Comparative Method (University of California Press, 2001).
Featured Faculty - Fall 06 Thomas A. Gregor (Ph.D., 1969, Columbia)
Professor Gregor is interested in psychological anthropology, gender roles and sexuality, peace and aggression, psychoanalysis and culture, anthropological ethics, and native peoples of South America and anthropological film. He is the author of Mehinaku: The Drama of Daily Life in a Brazilian Indian Village and Anxious Pleasures: The Sexual Lives of an Amazonian People. His edited books include A Natural History of Peace and The Anthropology of Peace and Nonviolence (coedited) and Gender in Amazonia and Melanesia: An Exploration of the Comparative Method (coedited). He has worked as a film maker for the BBC, Grenada Television and NET in making the television films Mehinaku, We are Mehinaku, Feathered Arrows and Dreams from the Forest. Professor Gregor is currently completing a book on peaceful relations among tribes in Central Brazil, and an article on ethics and contemporary anthropology. My work as an anthropologist as largely been among the Mehinaku Indians and their neighbors in the Mato Grosso of Central Brazil. My first visit to the Mehinaku was in 1967, and my most recent visit was in 2005. The peoples of the region live along the headwaters of the Xingu river, which is one of the major tributaries of the Amazon. The area is home to ca. 2,000 native peoples living in the Terra Indigena do Xingu, a vast reserve of some 10,000 square kilometers. The Xinguanos, as they are known to Brazilians, are divided into nine separate ethnic communities speaking five unrelated languages and, within three of these groupings, mutually unintelligible dialects.

Let's Take An Old Fashioned KV Walk

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These orphaned pictures I've taken over the last few months were looking for a "home" so I gathered them together with a soundtrack I just extracted from a Doris Day youtube
movie.

Colonel "Ashley" Yogi Berra

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Episode Number: 73 Season Number: 3 First Aired: October 1, 1957 "Bilko's Bombers" are dragging themselves back to the barracks after being shellacked, 24-0, in a baseball game. "It's more like Bilko's misguided missiles," says Ernie in disgust. They fact the motor pool team lost to the WAC typists is all the more insulting. Bilko takes turns picking on some of the players. What really upsets him is that he has $50 bet with Ridzik and Grover on the game next week against Company A and now thinks "I can kiss that money goodbye."

The next day, while on the shooting range, they get a new recruit, "Hank Lumpkin," a Hillybilly from Tennessee (talk about a stereotype). He demonstrates you don't need bullets to hit that target 150 yards away. He throws rocks that hit the bullseye every time with an assortment of pitches. Bilko, of course, is excited: he has a pitcher, and someone who nobody would be able to hit! He rushes back and suckers the opponents into upping the ante for the baseball bet.

He wins the bet, even though Lumpkin hurts his left hand and has to pitch his right. He can also hit the ball out of sight. Now Bilko sets his sets higher: the Yankees. He can make a fortune as this kid's agent.

What happens next with the Yankees is very funny with several unexpected twists and turns. We also get cameos from four New York Yankee players of the era: Yogi Berra, Gil McDougald, Whitey Ford and Phil Rizzuto.

This episode was extremely entertaining and the type of show that helped make this program so highly-rated."

Teacher's Pet 2004

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But back to the 1958 era. I've gathered together some PS 177 memories. Evidently some of us were teacher's pets and some weren't;
Perrins was the green toothed, alkie instructor of our third grade class. She performed the litmus test and then was stumped over how to interpret the paper turning green. She became confused and rageful. If memory serves correctly she hung Reginald Wiggins out the window by his heels until Ms. Lipman -Eleanor Lipman that is, the ass't principal - rushed into the room and saved him. It was about this time that Peter Levine revealed that 'antidiestablishmentarianism' was not only a part of his spelling vocabulary but that it had been filed in the word of moderate difficulty section of his brain.


Ok, I've always meant to add to this list: Skipped kindergarten, so no teacher for that year. (I got my library card at age 4 at Chathan Square because I could read and write,) First grade: Miss Bosser; Second grade: Mrs. Grant? Third grade: Mrs. Wachspress (aka Mrs. Wash and Press), who may have been the only teacher to experience a rat running through her classroom (or at least while I was in it.). Fourth grade: That's when they formed the special IGC (Intellectually Gifted Children, known to the other kids in the school as the Idiots Gifted to Chatter and the International Garbage Collectors. We were put in with the 5th grade new IGC with Mrs. Perens, a very old lady (at least to us 4th graders). 5th grade: Mrs. Perens, who became ill and I think later died. Our substitute became our permanent teacher. Remember her name: MISS VIGILANTE! She was young, and had a hell of a temper. When she didn't think we were learning the state capitols fast enough, she threw chalk and erasers at us. I guess it worked - - I still remember most of them pretty well. Amazing what you coukd get away with back then. Sixth at PS 177 was with Mrs. Meyer, I think, though I may have her and Mrs. Grant confused. I remember sixth grade quite well, because of the presence of Carlos Alejandro and Leo Martinez keeping it so lively.


And of course this was Esther Lapping. Was she an assistant principal? I remember as very old, very mean, and with kind of [avert your ears, squeamish ones] long dangly old-lady boobs. We used to joke that she had to carry them around in a shopping bag! (Not to her face, but we were still pretty mean...)
So, some questions for the gang: What ever happened to the beautiful stained glass in the auditorium when they demolished the school?
Does anybody know what happened to Sol Press and his daughter Lori Press? He was a remarkable man - he made our 6th grade class read the NY Times each day. No WONDER I was reading at 12th grade in 6th grade! He was also the camp director for Camp Madison-Felicia, one of my favorite leftist settlement house camps on earth (and Whoopi is an alum, too) which sadly, no longer exists. His daughter was a camper with us, and a nice human being. I felt sorry for her - - she got to go to school in Riverdale. Do you know my brother was once interested in dating a girl from Riverdale and her mother wouldn't let him because he was from the LES?


You had them right the first time, Mrs. Grant was 2nd grade and Meyers was 6th grade, missing from the list is our 4th grade teacher - Mrs. Hommell, reddish hair, fair skinned, she was the first of our I.G.C teachers ... Vigilante was feisty, I thought she hated me - always telling me I needed a haircut, but she gets credit for setting us up with penpals in Huntington and eventually organizing that trip to Long Island .. back then the LIE only went as far as exit 43 (Syosset), not far from where I live now ..sometimes when I pass a school in the Huntington area I wonder if it's the one we visited in Spring, 1962? .....one of my favorite recollections of the auditorium was that great red stage curtain with the word A S B E S T O S embroidered across the top, guess if 177 ever burned down, that curtain would have been the only thing remaining ...Sol Press...I had two close encounters with him, the first (probably 5th or 6th grade) when he sent a monitor to bring me to his office..what did I do? there must be some mistake?? turns out I really was in a bit of trouble but at the expense of my freedom of speech..Press was bent out of shape when I arrived at his office over a composition I wrote about 177 in which I stated that it should be preserved as a historic landmark..it seems he was active in a movement to have it torn down and replaced with a modern, safer structure which he described to me in no uncertain terms, I really struck a nerve with my preservation ideas and was out of my league in that debate ....the better encounter was in the 6th grade when I was called down along with seven girls and told we were accepted into the S.P. program, I was especially honored to be the only boy in the school to 'make' S.P. and smart enough that day to keep my mouth shut about preserving the old school as a landmark.