Thursday, January 17, 2008

Not This Day In Knickerbocker Village History: Murder At The Madison Street Boys Club, 3/8/1927



Interesting is that at this time the famous Epstein Twins, who were born on Market Street, just a few doors down from PS 177, were living at 245 East Broadway at this time. Was the murder later part of the plot for some of their screenplays? Did they belong to the Madison Street Club?

Come Blow Your Horn

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Sammy Cahn's (Samuel Cohen of Madison Street) body of work certainly deserves a horn to be blown in salute:
* (Love Is) The Tender Trap
* Ain't That A Kick In The Head
* All My Tomorrows
* All The Way
* An Old Fashioned Christmas
* And Then You Kissed Me
* As Long As There Is Music
* Autumn In Rome *
* Available
* Brooklyn Bridge
* California
* Call Me Irresponsible
* Come Blow Your Horn
* Come Dance With Me
* Come Fly With Me
* Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are
* Come Waltz with Me
* Crazy Love
* Day by Day
* Dick Haymes, Dick Todd, and Como
* Don't Be a Do-Badder (Finale)
* Ev'rybody Has The Right To Be Wrong
* Everyday I Love You
* Five Minutes More
* Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry
* Hey! Jealous Lover
* High Hopes
* How Are Ya' Fixed For Love?
* I Believe (I Believe, I Believe In Wishing Wells)
* I Could Make You Care
* I Couldn't Care Less
* I Fall In Love Too Easily
* If It's The Last Thing I Do
* I Like to Lead When I Dance
* I Should Care
* I Wouldn't Trade Christmas
* I'll Only Miss Her When I Think Of Her
* I’ll Walk Alone
* I've Heard That Song Before
* Indiscreet
* It Gets Lonely Early
* It’s Been A Long Long Time
* It's Magic
* It's Nice to Go Trav'ling
* It's The Same Old Dream
* Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!
* Let Me Try Again (Laisse Moi le Temps)
* Look To Your Heart
* Love And Marriage
* Love Makes Us Whatever We Want To Be
* Mister Booze
* Monique
* My Kind Of Town
* Name It And It's Yours
* No One Cares
* Nothing in Common
* Only The Lonely
* Our Town
* Please Be Kind
* Pocketful Of Miracles
* Ring-a-Ding-Ding
* Same Old Saturday Night
* Saturday Night Is The Loneliest Night
* Saving Myself For You
* Say Hello
* Searching
* So Long, My Love
* Some Other Time (I Could Resist You)
* Star
* Style
* Teach Me Tonight
* The Best of Everything
* The Boys' Night Out
* The Charm Of You
* The Christmas Waltz
* The Impatient Years
* The Last Dance
* The Look of Love
* The Same Old Song And Dance
* The Second Time Around
* The September Of My Years
* The Tender Trap
* The Things We Did Last Summer
* There Goes That Song Again
* They Came To Cordura
* Three Coins In The Fountain
* Time After Time
* Tina
* To Love And Be Loved
* Until the Real Thing Comes Along
* What Makes the Sunset
* When No One Cares
* When Somebody Loves You
* You Never Had It So Good
* You’re My Girl
* You, My Love

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Shelter Drill Time

Not Necessarily This Day In KV History: 1/6/36


I just missed the 73rd anniversary of this. No relation to the Karneys. It's probable that Mrs. Carney was part of the original staff, since if you add the numbers she started in 1903.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Another Knickerbocker Author

The book was not a big seller and is out of print. I found an image of the cover online and added the titling.

Trommer Beer


More on Trommer Beer which was being sold in 1950 at 21 Pike Street:
from rusty cans
One of my favorite late 1940s cans. I like the design, especially the medals on the front. I think these are actually TWO medals, both back and front showing. The ones on the left read "S.A.R. Madame Contesse" and "Exposition Internation (sic) Envers 1911." The ones on the right read "International Dalimentation Exposition Et Dmygiene Paris 1912" (I think, those are TINY letters!) and "Grand Prix." The center medalion reads "Internale D'Alimentation 29th Exp."
Once again we have the story of a German immigrant who sailed to America and became a giant. of the brewing industry (I'm sensing a pattern here). John F. Trommer immigrated from Hersfeld, Germany in the 1840s and settled in Portland, Maine where he worked in a small ale brewery. He eventually moved to Boston and worked in several breweries there. He moved to Brooklyn's Bushwick district where a number of breweries were congregated at some point and became brewmaster for William Ulmer. By the late 19th century there were 58 breweries in a 12 block stretch of road in this area along what was called "Brewer's Row." In 1897 Trommer bought an interest in a new company called Stehlin & Breitkopf and soon changed the name to J.F. Trommer's Evergreen Brewery. John Trommer didn't have time to enjoy his success, however, as he died in 1898 and his son George Trommer took over the brewery. speakers!
At first making only lager beer, Trommer's beer was an all-malt beer. Here's how a buddy of mine who is a professional brewer explained it. Brewers called beers (in the old days, made with 100% barley and wheat malt) "all-malt" or "malt" beers to differentiate them from the newer, cheaper beers using proportions of corn, rice, or cane sugar. Any grain can be malted (germinated to grow like the grass seed that it is, just until all the starch in the seed has been solubilized and the enzymes made to break down the starch) to use for growth, then (cruelly, to the seed) kilned and dried to kill the growth and keep the starches intact). This all happens by the time the root is 1/8 in or so long. Wanna make cheaper beer, that's lighter in body and flavor than an all-malt beer, that will appeal to more people? Use adjuncts (add junk!) like corn grits, corn starch, cane sugar, rice, rock candy (Belgium), millet if you're in Africa, you name it. Old-fashioned or wintertime hearty brews called themselves all-malt to distinguish themselves as a mark of quality. Trommer's continued making an all-malt beer until they closed in 1951. It was a constant them in their advertising.

Who's Almost Who In Knickerbocker Village History: Sammy Cahn

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I always knew that Sammy Cahn, born Samuel Cohen in 1913, was a lower east side boy. He went to Seward Park High School. I didn't realize he lived close enough to qualify for the "Almost Knickerbocker Village" tag. I found him in the 1920 census living at 338 Madison Street, right near PS 12 and PS 147. He wrote the lyrics to this under appreciated song. Julie Styne wrote the melody. Here it's sung by Mel Torme
Like the folks you meet on
Like to plant my feet on the Brooklyn Bridge
What a lovely view from
Heaven looks at you from the Brooklyn Bridge
I love to listen to the wind through her strings
The song that she sings for the town
I love to look up at the clouds in her hair
She's learned to wear like a crown
If you've been a rover
Journey's end lies over the Brooklyn Bridge
Don't let no one tell you
I've been tryin' to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge
All the folks in Manhattan are sad
'cause they look at her and wish they had
The good old Brooklyn Bridge

If you've been a rover
Journey's end lies over the Brooklyn Bridge
Don't let no one tell you
I've been tryin' to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge
You'll miss her most when you roam
`cause you'll think of her and think of home
The good old Brooklyn Bridge

Pike Street Guys?


A young Sol Hellman is on the right. Sol's father had the Sewing Machine Shop at 19 Pike before he did, so Sol had a long history on Pike Street. I just recently found his census record. In 1920 he lived at 10 Montgomery Street. He was born in 1915. Neal told me his dad knew Zero Mostel and that they went to Seward Park High School and CCNY together. Zero lived on Columbia Street and was also born in 1915. The two of them probably knew Sammy Cahn as well.
Note: I don't know if this was taken on Pike Street or not. A slightly a gayish pose by the guy on the left, but in the 1930's when I suspect this pic was taken I don't think so. Not that there's anything wrong....yada, yada

Pike Street Blacksmith


No information on the address of the store, but Pike Street only extended between East Broadway ans South Street, so that encompassed just 5 blocks in length (Henry, Madison, Monroe, Water, South)

Pike Street Now


Sol Hellman's Sewing Machine Shop is now a herbal medicine store

Crossing Pike Street: Shul Collapse


I never knew there was a synagogue on the even side of Pike Street. I wonder whether Marvin Sonensohn went to PS 177?

Crossing Pike Street


More from the fabulous Hellman archives of KV West. These appear to be from around 1950. The first show Neal's mom, Molly with his older brother Bill, in front of the family Sewing Machine repair shop at 19 Pike Street. The second gives us a view of the eastern, even numbered side. Today that side is dominated by Chinese produce markets. Visible is a button on Mrs. Hellman's pocketbook. I wonder what it says. Also visible is a calendar from Trommers' Beer in the grocery store at 21 Pike.Trommers was located in Brooklyn and Orange, New Jersey. From rustycans
Immediately after the war Trommer's marketed their all-malt beer as "Trommer's White Label" which appeared in bottles but not in cans. The brand appeared before the war as well, but, judging from the advertisements, the brewery pushed this brand more after the war. The brewery seemed to be doing well, they even added a three-stoy stock house to the Orange facility in 1948. However, late that same year a 29 day brewery driver's strike hit New York. Drivers demanded a shorter workday and two man teams for each truck, rather than the then prevailing single-man units. Unfortunately for Trommer's strikers took over some of the plant facilities. Each brewery has its own strain of yeast that they use in producing their beer. The strikers did not properly take care of the yeast while they occupied the brewery and Trommer's strain died. As a result, when the brewery reopened they had to use a completely different strain and the beer tasted radically different. Sales began to drop. In 1950 George Trommer sold the Orange, New Jersey brewery to Leibmann and in 1951 the original Brooklyn facility went to to Piel's. Piel's continued making Trommer's until 1962 but the brand was then discontinued. The Brooklyn brewery was closed in about 1955 and the Orange facility in 1977

Monday, January 14, 2008

1893: Pike Street Anarchist Arthur Press


Could Arthur be a relative of PS 177 principal, Sol? In the 1920 census there is no Arthur living with the Press family on Madison Street.

The Pagoda Theater: Grand Opening 5/29/64


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Streetscapes

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These images come from Brian Merlis' terrific books on NYC history, as featured on this wonderful site on East New York history. Since "Sunday In New York" was on TCM today I decided to use the song from that movie (here by Shirley Horn).
I'M kind of a renegade,'' the Brooklyn-born Brian Merlis says about his obsession -- an obsession with collecting that in the last 20 years has cost him $250,000 -- and his marriage. Mr. Merlis doesn't gamble, scuba dive or fly fighter planes. He is an amateur historian and a collector of photographs and artifacts who has apparently published more books on the history of his native borough than anyone else. Mr. Merlis was born in Brooklyn in 1955 and spent part of his childhood in a 1940's house at 1302 East 51st Street in Flatlands, a neighborhood that at the time was only partly built up. ''I saw Brooklyn as it was still developing,'' he said. ''I could catch butterflies in vacant lots next to 18th-century farmhouses.''
As an adult he began collecting picture postcards of Brooklyn and soon expanded to ephemera -- old printed matter like posters, ads and theater programs -- and, especially, documentary photographs. ''Even as a kid, I wondered what things had looked like in the past,'' Mr. Merlis said. Mr. Merlis said that he loves to sink his eyes into the fine grain of a print from a glass plate negative: the store signs, the passersby, the life on the streets. He said he has collected more than 10,000 pieces of ephemera, 5,000 negatives and several thousand prints. ''Images are what run the world these days,'' said Mr. Merlis, whose full-time job is as a teacher of vocal music at Springfield Gardens High School in Queens. Mr. Merlis also runs Brooklyn Collectibles, buying and selling photographs, ephemera and other items. He has put out six books of historic photographs, through various publishers: ''Welcome Back to Brooklyn'' (1993), ''Brooklyn: The Way It Was'' (1995), ''Brooklyn's Gold Coast: The Sheepshead Bay Communities'' (1997), ''Brooklyn: The Centennial Edition'' (1998), ''Brooklyn's Park Slope: A Photographic Retrospective'' (1999) and ''Brooklyn's Bay Ridge and Fort Hamilton: A Photographic Journey'' (2000). Four of the books were written with other authors: Oscar Israelowitz for ''Welcome Back to Brooklyn,'' I. Stephen Miller and Lee A. Rosenzweig for Sheepshead Bay and Mr. Rosenzweig for Park Slope and Bay Ridge. Mr. Merlis said that he sees each book as a step forward in introducing new images to the public, rather than leaving them buried in a library or a historical society. ''So many books use the same stock photos,'' he said. ''You see them over and over again.''

Bronx Boys 3

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The boys talk about their old teachers. PG 13 rated

Bronx Boys 2

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The boys play stickball the way we used to in Coleman Oval, except we used the Manhattan Bridge as a convenient outfield.

Bronx Boys 1

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This is one segment from an award-winning documentary. Here the "boys" play touch football. The bronx boys website
As they recall schoolboy crushes, ice cream trucks and stickball, their reminiscences also conjure up a safer, simpler world. Maybe that's why what began as a video scrapbook of their joint 70th birthday celebration wound up an award-winning film, The Bronx Boys, which has appeared on Cinemax, played at a few film festivals and begun appearing on PBS stations this fall. Carl Reiner is the host of the film, which was edited and directed by Benjamin Hershleder. 'They have something special, these 15 guys,' Hershleder says

Vote For Hubert Humphrey

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Some baby boomer nostalgia from Ira Gallen's great collection on youtube

Route 66: Deep Thoughts

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I better get away from the Bloomberg topic or I'll have to rename this Pseudo-Bloombergism
I got the DVD set of season 1 of Route 66 for my birthday. Some of it is hokey, destroying a bit of the remembered reverence I had of this series, but some of it is great. The clips from the fourth episode, The Man on the Monkey Board (10/28/60), has a whole host of familiar actors. Here's part of an excellent review by Michael Barrett at popmatters
In the history of American TV, the four-season run of Route 66 was as personal a writer’s creation as Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, perhaps more so. The writer was Stirling Silliphant, who co-created the show with executive producer Herbert B. Leonard and wrote about two-thirds of the episodes. (Their previous achievement was the groundbreaking cop show Naked City.) The first 15 episodes are in this box, which shares a tendency with several recent TV-on-DVD packages that don’t provide an entire season at once. The show marries Shane to Jack Kerouac. Several westerns, an overworked staple in ‘50s TV bleeding into the ‘60s, were about peripatetic yokels wandering on their horses from one town to the next, passing through a weekly anthology series of new plots and characters before moving on, ever responding to the call of the unknown, never entangling themselves with any one woman or putting down roots. In other words, never growing up or getting a job—the better to serve out a romantic notion of knight errantry on the frontier. Some of these shows were quite panoramic and philosophical, such as Wagon Train or Have Gun Will Travel with its Paladin (who technically did have a home in a San Francisco hotel). Silliphant revised and updated this form via Kerouac’s beatnik image as a semi-intellectual wanderer down America’s open roads, an image created through his travels with Neal Cassady. This updating would in turn lead to the wave of fugitive dramas exemplified by The Fugitive, where the protagonist isn’t simply restless and disaffected with civilization but driven and persecuted by it. Here’s how Marc Alvey puts it in the Museum of Broadcast Communications website: “The search that drove Route 66 was both a narrative process and a symbolic one. Like every search, it entailed optimism as well as discontent. . . . The show’s rejection of domesticity in favor of rootlessness formed a rather startling counterpoint to the dominant prime-time landscape of home and family in the sixties, as did the majority of the characters encountered on the road. The more hopeful dimension of Route 66 coincided with the optimism of the New Frontier circa 1960, with these wandering samaritans symbolic of the era’s new spirit of activism. Premiering at the dawn of a new decade, Route 66 captured in a singular way the nation’s passage from the disquiet of the Fifties to the turbulence of the Sixties, expressing a simultaneously troubled and hopeful vision of America.” In this series, Jack and Neal become Tod Stiles (Martin Milner) and Buz Murdock (George Maharis). Tod is a rich college boy who cruises America in a blue Corvette left him by his late father. His pal Buz, a hard-nosed orphan who grew up in Hell’s Kitchen, comes along for the ride, or something. They have a curious dynamic, more or less Buz the fighter and Tod the thinker, though that isn’t quite fair. Still, these early episodes are top-heavy with unnecessary and tiresome bouts of fisticuffs, mostly to prove Buz’s street cred. At least once per show, somebody gets clobbered in rituals that range from senseless meanness to elaborate codes of sizing people up and making friends. These scenes function partly as gratuitous “action” in a show that would otherwise be all dialogue, and partly—let’s say it—as a spectacle of male intimacy, which is simultaneously provided and denied.

Live From Cooperstown Part 2

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So I asked K, my Hall Of Fame docent, and the Connie Mack look a like, what they thought of the New Hampshire primary results and ..... Can you imagine dissing, Tim Robbins the hero of many of my brother Stuyvesant High School graduates?

Live From Cooperstown

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I had my mp3 recorder on during my tour at Cooperstown to capture the sounds of the museum. Here's part 1:
K.. was a museum docent, in her 80's I'd guess. I kidded her that she got the job because she was related to Babe Ruth. Later we were then joined by an older couple from Chicago. He looked like Connie Mack. Things were going smoothly until I brought up the New Hamphsire primaries ( in part 2) "Connie" described a game he saw between the Cubs and Dodgers. He claimed Leo Durocher was the manager. I knew he was wrong. He must have meant Casey Stengel. Durocher started managing dodgers in 38-9, In 1935 he was playing for the Cardinals


I found the game on the internet

Saturday, September 14, 1935
» Defeated Dodgers (61-75), 18-14 Wrigley Field 90-52
» Starters: Johnny Babich vs Charlie Root

Strange Sightings At Cooperstown 4


I took a road trip to Cooperstown for my birthday. I guess you can say I saw this the same way that Mitt saw his father march with Dr. KIng.

Strange KV Sightings At Cooperstown 3

Strange KV Sightings At Cooperstown 2

Strange KV Sightings At Cooperstown

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Oldest Established Floating Crap Game In New York 2

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Nathan, you must concentrate on the game. the town is up to here with high players. the Greek's in Town. Freddie Bottle Bates, Scranton Slim.
Nathan: I know, I know, I could make a fortune, but to make a fortune, I need a fortune. a thousand
Bucks, where do I get it?

The biltmore garage wants a grand, but we ain't got a grand on hand.
And they now got a lock on the door to the gym at public school 84.
There's a stock room behind mcklosky's bar, but mrs. mcklosky ain't a good scout.
And things being how they are, the back of the police station is out!
So the biltmore garage is the spot, but the one thousand bucks we ain't got.

Why, it's good old reliable nathan, nathan, nathan, nathan detroit,
If you're looking for action, he'll turn it to spot,
Even when the heat is on, it's never too hot.
But for the good old reliable nathan, oh it's only just a short walk,
To the oldest established permanent floating crap game in new yawk.
There are well-heeled shooters everywhere, everywhere,
There are well-heeled shooters everywhere,
And awful lot of lettuce for the fella who can get us to play.
If we only had a lousy little crap, we could be a millionaire.
Oh the good old reliable nathan, nathan, nathan, nathan detroit,
If the size of your bundle you want to increase,
I'll arrange that you go broke in quiet and peace,
In a hideout provided by nathan, where there are no neighbors to squawk,
It's the oldest established permanent floating crap game in new yawk.
Where's the action? where's the game?
Gotta have the game or we'll die from shame.
It's the oldest established permanent floating crap game in new york.

The Oldest Established Floating Crap Game

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Originally aired: September 16, 1965 on NBC
Director: Greg Garrison
Show Stars: Dean Martin (Himself (host)), Ken Lane (Regular Performer (1965-1974)), Les Brown (Regular Performer)
Recurring Role: Bob Newhart (Himself), Joey Heatherton (Herself)
Guest Stars: Frank Sinatra (Himself) , Diahann Carroll (Herself) , Danny Thomas (Cameo) , Steve Allen (Cameo) , Jan and Dean (Themselves)
Premiere Episode of The Dean Martin Show.
Music:
--Frank Sinatra sings "Is It Love" and "September Song"
--Dean Martin - "Houston"
--Jan & Dean - "Little Old Lady From Pasadena"
Also appearing:
--Bob Newhart
--Danny Thomas
--Diahann Carroll
--Steve Allen
--Frankie Avalon
--Joey Heatherton.
The Sid and Marty Krofft Puppets – "Everything's Coming Up Roses"
Diahann Carroll – "I'll Never Go There Again", "Blues In The Night (My Mama Done Told Me", "Any Place I Hang My Hat Is Home"
Joey Heatherton – "I've Got Your Number"
Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra – "(Oldest Established) Permanent Floating Crap Game In New York"
Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and Diahann Carroll – "Witchcraft"

1955 Floating Crap Game

From the East Side News and NYTimes respectively:

Alexander Schwartzman: Letters Home From WW2 Part 2


Like many Lincoln Brigade vets who survived the Spanish Civil War, Alex also fought in WW2. There's a lot more video on the Lincoln Brigade that I posted on pseudo-intellectualism
american women in the spanish civil war part 1
american women in the spanish civil war part 2
a bbc history of the spanish civil war part 1
a bbc history of the spanish civil war part 2

Alexander Schwartzman: Letters Home From WW2


This is from the book The Good Fight Continues: World War II Letters From the Abraham Lincoln Brigade (Paperback) by Peter Carroll (Author), et al.
Written with passion and intelligence, the letters of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in World War II express the raw idealism of anti-fascist soldiers who experienced the war in boot camps, cockpits, and foxholes, but never lost sight of the great global issues at stake.When the United States entered World War II on December 7, 1941, only one group of American soldiers had already confronted the fascist enemy on the battlefield: the U.S. veterans of the Lincoln Brigade, a volunteer army of about 2,800 men and women who had enlisted to defend the Spanish Republic from military rebels during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). They fought on the losing side.After Pearl Harbor, Lincoln Brigade veterans enthusiastically joined the U.S. Army, welcoming this second chance to fight against fascism. However, the Lincoln recruits soon encountered suspicious military leaders who questioned their patriotism and denied them promotions and overseas assignments, foreshadowing the political persecution of the postwar Red Scare. African American veterans who fought in fully integrated units in Spain, faced second-class treatment in America's Jim Crow army. Nevertheless, the Lincolns served with distinction in every theater of the war and won a disproportionate number of medals for courage, dedication, and sacrifice.The 154 letters in this volume, selected from thousands held in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives at NYU's Tamiment Library, provide a new and unique perspective on aspects of World War II.

Who's Who In Knickerbocker Village History: Alexander Schwartzman


Alexander Schwartzman lived at 40 Monroe Street

Moe Fishman

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Here's Moe Fishman speaking at a convention in 2006. He passed away last year
August 12, 2007, Moe Fishman Dies at 92; Fought in Lincoln Brigade
By DOUGLAS MARTIN
Moe Fishman, who as a 21-year-old from Astoria, Queens, fought Fascists in Spain with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and was severely wounded, then led veterans of that unit in fighting efforts to brand them as Communist subversives, died on Aug. 6 in Manhattan. He was 92.
The cause was pancreatic cancer, said Peter Carroll, chief of the board of governors of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives.
Mr. Carroll said that about 40 of about 3,000 American veterans of the Spanish Civil War volunteers are living. It had been the job of Mr. Fishman, as executive form the XV International Brigade.
In 1937, Mr. Fishman was a college dropout working in a laundry and driving a truck. He was also a member of the Young Communist League, having joined partly to meet like-minded young women at dances the organization sponsored, he said in an interview with The New York Times in 2004.
He also liked how the Communists responded when a family behind on the rent was evicted and thrown on the streets with its furniture. He told The Times that party members would use an ax or hammer to break the lock on the door and put the family back in.
Many believe that at least half of the volunteers for the Lincoln Brigade were Communists, but Mr. Fishman’s reasons for joining were more complex, he told The Times in 1969.
“Why did I go?” he said. “That’s hard to say. That’s a key question. I was active in trade union work. I wanted to travel. I belonged to the 92nd Street Y.M.H.A., and we were very anti-Fascist, much opposed to Hitler, Franco.”
He was born Moses Fishman on Sept. 28, 1915, and grew up in Astoria. On the day he was to depart for Spain, he left for work at the usual time to deceive his parents. Halfway down the stairs, he realized he had forgotten his toothbrush, returned for it and broke it in half so it would fit in his pocket. (It was the only thing he brought back from Spain, he told The Hartford Courant in 2000.)Mr. Fishman called his parents when he got off the subway near the dock, and they cried when he told them his plans. His mother had never seen his father cry. He himself was unafraid. “When you’re 21, there’s no bullet meant for you,” he told The Times in 2000.
On July 5, 1937, during the Brunete offensive west of Madrid, a sniper hit Mr. Fishman’s thigh, leaving 32 pieces of bone and metal. He spent a year in Spanish hospitals, and a pin was put into his leg. At one point the leg became infected, he told The Courant. He was then in and out of hospitals in the United States for two years.
During World War II, Mr. Fishman was in the merchant marine. Afterward, he and other Lincoln veterans became involved in aiding refugees from Franco’s Spain. President Harry S. Truman’s attorney general labeled the veterans group subversive. In 1950, when such organizations had to register with the government, the entire executive committee of the Lincoln Brigade veterans resigned. Mr. Fishman stepped in to become secretary-treasurer.
After a federal court removed the subversive label in the 1970s, Mr. Fishman wrote a colleague that the change might not be good. He wryly suggested doing something subversive so as not to appear irrelevant to rebellious youth. (Mr. Fishman later dropped his party membership, Mr. Carroll said.)
Mr. Fishman is survived by his partner, Georgia Wever, of Manhattan, and his sisters Lilly Litsky, of Santa Cruz, Calif., and Pearl Fishman, of Yonkers.
He never tired of a lively demonstration. But he came to prefer sitting in a folding chair, as he did in 2004, when he hailed protesters at the Republican National Convention in Manhattan. When they saw his Lincoln Brigade banner, they applauded back. In an interview with The Villager, a neighborhood newspaper, he said, “They come up — these young girls — they want you to take a picture with them and they kiss you.”
Other late-life adjustments were harder. In 2001, an article in The Economist recounted how he stumbled over the word “globalization” at a protest against globalization. “It was so much easier to say when we called it imperialism,” he was reported to have said.
Correction: August 30, 2007
An obituary on Aug. 12 about Moe Fishman, a veteran of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, Americans who fought in the Spanish Civil War, referred incorrectly to his high school education. He was a graduate of Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan; he did not drop out. (He later dropped out of City College, primarily for financial reasons.)

Harry (Wolf) Arrives Home

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Harry Milton aka Wolf Kupinsky Prisoner Release


Harry had actually been imprisoned by the Stalinists who were trying to gain control of the Republican forces.

Harry Milton vs. Father Coughlin, 1939

No Pasaran

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This was posted on pseudo-intellectualism last April and I figure it belongs here with the story of Harry Milton. I really like this song by John McCutcheon and I struggled mightily to "karaoke" it.
There is a new Lincoln Brigade exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York and a new book out about the Brigade
"No men ever entered the earth more honorably than those who died in Spain," wrote Ernest Hemingway in 1939. Between the years of 1936-1939, an estimated 1,000 Americans, many from New York, died fighting to protect the elected government of the Spanish Republic against a rebellion led by General Francisco Franco and backed by Hitler and Mussolini. Facing Fascism: New York and the Spanish Civil War examines the role that New Yorkers played in the conflict, as well as the political and social ideologies that motivated them to participate in activities ranging from rallying support, fund raising, and relief aid, to fighting--and sometimes dying--on the front lines in Spain. The stories of these New Yorkers will be told through photographs, letters, uniforms, weapons, and an array of personal and historical memorabilia.

From the farms, from the cities, from every land
Came the Abe Lincoln Brigade
With a dream in their hearts, with a gun in their hands
The Abraham Lincoln Brigade
No pasaran, no pasaran
So sang the Abe Lincoln Brigade
Across the years and the oceans
We still sing the song
Of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade
Cries from the cities, shouts from the hills
The Abraham Lincoln Brigade
The fire in the hearts that is warming us still
The Abraham Lincoln Brigade
No pasaran, no pasaran
So sang the Abe Lincoln Brigade
Across the years and the oceans
We still sing the song
Of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade
All the teachers, the artists
The workers who died
Oh the Abe Lincoln Brigade
Their stories still thrill me
We work side by side
With the Abraham Lincoln Brigade
No pasaran, no pasaran
So sang the Abe Lincoln Brigade
Across the years and the oceans
We still sing the song
The Abraham Lincoln Brigade
So raise glasses and voices
Give them a toast
Of the Abe Lincoln Brigade
Those who die best are the ones who live most
Like the Abraham Lincoln Brigade
No pasaran, no pasaran
So sang the Abe Lincoln Brigade
Across the years and the oceans
We still sing the song
Of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade
No pasaran, no pasaran
So sang the the Abe Lincoln Brigade
Across the years and the oceans
We still sing the song
Of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade

Who's Who In Knickerbocker Village History: Wolf Kupinsky, aka Harry Milton



I think I was doing a search on the Rosenbergs and I stumbled on an incredible document, a list of the members of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade and their home addresses. Originally there were 2800, now they number in the tens. Those that are still alive are in their 90's. It set me off on the making another one of my google maps. What I do is plot their addresses and then go off to photograph the site, hoping that the original structure (in this case 70 years later) is still there. It's fascinating (at least to me) to look at two houses, maybe a block apart and then look at the names of two guys in their late teens and with no military experience, probably childhood friends, who came up with the idea in 1936 to go to Spain and fight Fascists. I think about a third of those 2800 never made it home. Survivors came home heroes, got no official recognition for their efforts, were lucky to escape recrimination (many went under alias' because of this) for breaking the law, but were later harassed and hounded because they fought on the side of the Communists. Anyway, when I checked the list there were two guys that came from Knickerbocker Village. One of them was Wolf Kupinsky, aka Harry Milton. He was lucky to survive the war and he is credited with saving George Orwell's life.
an excerpt THE MAN WHO SAVED ORWELL, David Jacobs
The American sentry I had been talking to had started forward. ‘Gosh! Are you hit?’ People gathered round. There was the usual fuss — ‘Lift him up! Where’s he hit? Get his shirt open!’ etc., etc. The American called for a knife to cut my shirt open. I knew that there was one in my pocket and tried to get it out, but discovered that my right arm was paralyzed. In the hazy photo (Orwell and Milton), a group of men and one woman pose for the camera behind a wall of sandbags, with their weapons at hand. They do not have the look of regular soldiers, and there are no uniforms. One individual stands literally head and shoulders above the rest. It is none other than George Orwell, or as he was known then, Eric Blair, his real name. The scene is the Spanish Civil War, and the photograph includes ‘the American’ who came to Orwell’s aid when he was shot: Harry David Milton. A small but interesting collection in the Hoover Institution Archives records Milton’s time in Spain, including his encounter with the future author of Nineteen Eighty-Four. The Milton collection sheds light on Orwell’s political development in the crucible of Spain and underlines the role played by American volunteers in Spain who were not members of pro-Moscow Communist Parties and who chose to serve in formations other than the largely Comintern-recruited International Brigades, which received much more attention. Orwell’s vivid description of being wounded on the front lines near Huesca occurs near the end of his memoir of the Spanish Civil War, Homage to Catalonia. Many years later, Harry Milton, describing the incident to a reporter in California, attributed Orwell’s misfortune both to his height and to his somewhat reckless habit of looking over the top of their unit’s fortified position: ‘I heard the crisp sound of a high velocity shot and Orwell [toppled] over. He landed on his back.’ Milton recounts giving first aid, as Orwell waited to be taken to the hospital. In another article about the shooting, Milton claims only a modest role for himself: ‘I simply stopped the bleeding.’ Milton does, however, claim some credit for influencing Orwell’s political consciousness as it developed during his time in Spain.

Refugee Instruction At PS 177

I wonder what position the candidates currently duking it out in New Hampshire would take on a modern day version of this?

Then And Now: Henry And Catherine Street


Notice the pharmacy on the corner is advertised as an "Italiama" one. I wonder what game those boys are playing?

Then And Now: Henry And Rutgers Street


Why was the 6 story building demolished? I suspect it had to do with the construction of the 6th Ave. (INDependent) subway line which runs under that site. Check out the pet store on the corner. I think the crippled children's school is next to the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School. Those must be school buses in front of those buildings.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Aerial View Knickerbocker Construction


I got a copy of this photo from Steve Stanley from the Knickerbocker Village Business Office last Thursday. I was looking to see if there were any back issues of the KV newsletter available. Steve was nice enough to share what he had, but the extra copies he had only went back to 1996. More to come. This photo (circa 1933 I guess) shows how the eastern court was constructed first, thus the reason those buildings were named A,B,C, etc. What is also visible are the buildings that were replaced by the Smith Houses in the 1950's and the activity of the docks on the East River. There's also in view, (if you look closely after clicking for an enlargement) the ubiquitous Fletcher's Kastoria advertisements of that era.

Who Can Turn The World On With Her Smile 2

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The season 2-7 Lyrics
Who can turn the world on with her smile?
Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?
Well it’s you girl, and you should know it
With each glance and every little movement you show it
Love is all around, no need to waste it
You can have a town, why don’t you take it
You’re gonna make it after all (2X)
How will you make it on your own?
This world is awfully big, girl this time you’re all alone
But it’s time you started living
It’s time you let someone else do some giving
Love is all around, no need to waste it
You can have a town, why don’t you take it
You’re gonna make it after all

Who Can Turn The World On With Her Smile

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a respite from the seriousness of Leonard Michaels to someone guaranteed to bring a smile to any depressed Knickerbocker Village baby boomer approaching 60 years of age
SEASON 1 LYRICS
How will you make it on your own?
Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?
Well it’s you girl, and you should know it
With each glance and every little movement you show it
Love is all around, no need to waste it
You can have a town, why don’t you take it
You’re gonna make it after all (2X)
How will you make it on your own?
This world is awfully big, girl this time you’re all alone
But it’s time you started living
It’s time you let someone else do some giving
Love is all around, no need to waste it
You can have a town, why don’t you take it
You might just make it after all.

Leonard Michaels And Gilda

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There's an online reference, from senses of cinema by Noel King, to Leonard Michaels' reaction to seeing the 1946 movie "Gilda" which featured the steamy (at the time) dance routine of Rita Hayworth.
Michaels' essay on watching Gilda has similar moments — he says that seeing the “zipper business” made more of an impression on him than WW II — and is similarly precise about the location of his film-viewing moment. “I saw this movie in the Loew's Theater on Canal Street in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.” After his libinal viewing experience, he says, “I went down Madison Street, passing under the Manhattan Bridge, then turning left on Market Street, walking toward the East River, until I came to Monroe Street, and turned right.” The person writing-remembering this New York street-walking so meticulously is aged 60 or so, across the continent, on the other coast, in California, but the point is clear, and kind of Hemingway-esque. The hard clarity of street names, recited, might undo the terrible moral lesson the film had conveyed: “The creep touched her. I understood that real life is this way. Nothing would be the same for me again.” I first encountered Leonard Michaels' essay on Gilda in the selection of Best American Essays 1992 edited by Susan Sontag. But when I noticed that it had appeared in the Berkeley-based broadsheet cultural journal, The Threepenny Review, it figured. In the early 1990s, while wandering around bookshops in Berkeley, I picked up some copies of The Threepenny Review (though not the issue with Michaels' essay in it) and have kept up with it on and off ever since. (It's partially available on the Net). The Threepenny Review publishes terrific pieces by people I've always enjoyed reading elsewhere — John Berger, Stephen Greenblatt, Luc Sante, Carol Clover, Carlo Ginzburg — and includes poetry, a film section, essays on photography. Hence, it's always a pleasurable and informative reading experience.

Who's Who In Knickerbocker Village History: Leonard Michaels

I was thrilled when I stumbled upon the information that a favorite author of mine, Leonard Michaels lived in Knickerbocker Village.
From Wikipedia:
Leonard Michaels (January 2, 1933- May 10, 2003) was an American writer of short stories, novels, and essays. He was born in New York City and earned a B.A. from New York University and a M.A. as well as a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Michigan, before spending most of his adult life in Berkeley, California. Going Places, his first book of short stories, made his reputation as one of the most brilliant of that era's fiction writers; the stories are urban, funny, and written in a private, hectic diction that gives them a remarkable edge. The follow-up, coming six years later (Michaels was perhaps not prolific enough to build a widely popular career), was I Would Have Saved Them If I Could, a collection as strong as the first. The Men's Club, Michaels' first novel, is a story-like, relatively short comedic work that simultaneously attacks and celebrates the absurdities of men as they gather in a kind of urban support group. In 1986, the novel was made into a popular film, directed by Peter Medak, with the screenplay by Michaels, and starring Roy Scheider, Harvey Keitel, Stockard Channing and Frank Langella. Sylvia is a fictionalized memoir of Michael's first wife, Sylvia Bloch, who committed suicide. Michaels was a professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley. His son Jesse Michaels was vocalist in the seminal underground punk rock band Operation Ivy, a precursor to Rancid.

From the threepennyreview of 2003
When I was five years old, I started school in a huge gloomy Vic-torian building where nobody spoke Yiddish. It was across the street from Knickerbocker Village, the project in which I lived. To cross that street meant going from love to hell. I said nothing in the classroom and sat apart and alone, and tried to avoid the teacher’s evil eye. Eventually, she decided that I was a moron, and wrote a letter to my parents saying I would be transferred to the "ungraded class" where I would be happier and could play ping-pong all day. My mother couldn’t read the letter so she showed it to our neighbor, a woman from Texas named Lynn Nations. A real American, she boasted of Indian blood, though she was blond and had the cheekbones, figure, and fragility of a fashion model. She would ask us to look at the insides of her teeth, and see how they were cupped. To Lynn this proved descent from original Americans. She was very fond of me, though we had no conversation, and I spent hours in her apartment looking at her art books and eating forbidden foods. I could speak to her husband, Arthur Kleinman, yet another furrier, and a lefty union activist, who knew Yiddish.

Lynn believed I was brighter than a moron and went to the school principal, which my mother would never have dared to do, and demanded an intelligence test for me. Impressed by her Katharine Hepburn looks, the principal arranged for a school psychologist to test me. Afterwards, I was advanced to a grade beyond my age with several other kids, among them a boy named Bonfiglio and a girl named Estervez. I remember their names because we were seated according to our IQ scores. Behind Bonfiglio and Estervez was me, a kid who couldn’t even ask permission to go the bathroom. In the higher grade I had to read and write and speak English. It happened virtually overnight so I must have known more than I knew. When I asked my mother about this she said, “Sure you knew English. You learned from trucks.” She meant: while lying in my sickbed I would look out the window at trucks passing in the street; studying the words written on their sides, I taught myself English. Unfortunately, high fevers burned away most of my brain, so I now find it impossible to learn a language from trucks. A child learns any language at incredible speed. Again, in a metaphorical sense, Yiddish is the language of children wandering for a thousand years in a nightmare, assimilating languages to no avail.

I remember the black shining print of my first textbook, and my fearful uncertainty as the meanings came with all their exotic Englishness and de-voured what had previously inhered in my Yiddish. Something remained indigestible.

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Crests: Sixteen Candles

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From an oldies' show
Happy birthday, happy birthday, baby
Oh, I love you so

Sixteen candles make a lovely light
But not as bright as your eyes tonight
(as your eyes tonight) (Oh)
Blow out the candles, make your wish come true
For I'll be wishing that you love me, too
(that you love me, too)

You're only sixteen (sixteen)
But you're my teenage queen (you're my queen)
You're the prettiest, loveliest girl I've ever seen
(I've ever seen) (OH!)

Sixteen candles in my heart will glow
For ever and ever for I love you so (for I love you so)

You're only sixteen (sixteen)
But you're my teenage queen (you're my queen)
Oh, you're the prettiest, loveliest girl I've ever seen
(I've ever seen) (OH!)

Sixteen candles in my heart will glow
For ever and ever for I love you so
(for I love you so)
For I love you so!!!

The Crests: Six Nights A Week

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a 1959 hit:
Well six nights a week I long for you
And then on Saturday night
I hold you in my arms again
I love you so but I'm a fool it seems
For six nights a week I see you only in my dreams
I want to hold you every night
But you won't give me a chance
I have to wait to hold you tight
Until the next Saturday night
So why must we spend six nights a week apart
When night after night I'd love to hold you to my heart

Who's Who In Knickerbocker Village History: The Crests

Not really KV, but certainly close enough. The Up On The Roof post recalled Richard Karney's remembrance that the Crests originated from the Smith Projects, "One of our classmates or grade mates' brother was one of the background singers."
an excerpt from billerocker note: the Patricia Van Dross mentioned was Luther Vandross's older sister
Johnny Maestro and The Crests
0ne of the most popular of the late '50s groups, the Crests were often thought to bean all black aggregation. In fact, they were about as integrated as a group could get, with four men (two blacks, a Puerto Rican, and an Italian), and one black female. Talmadge (Tommy) Gough (first tenor), Harold Torres (second tenor), and Patricia Van Dross (tenor) were all from the Alfred E. Smith housing projects in Chinatown on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. In 1955, while students at P. S. 160 Junior High, they teamed up with Jay (J. T.) Carter (bass) of Delancey Street to forma singing group. With influences ranging from THE MILLS BROTHERS to THE AMES BROTHERS(with THE HARP-TONES, THE CLOVERS, THE 5 ROYALES, THE FIVE KEYS, THE PENGUINS, and THE ORIOLES thrown in for good measure) the unnamed quartet started performing at hospitals and charity functions for experience while learning the craft of harmonizing from an old singer known only as Mr. Morrow.
In 1956, Mulberry Street resident John Mastrangelo met the group at the Henry Street Settlement House. John's previous group had also been integrated, and reportedly included a young Tony Orlando. Mastrangelo's strong voice and natural feel for R&B made him an instant asset to the group and they joined forces. J. T. Carter came up with the name the Crests (a good many years before the toothpaste). The group found the New York subway system to be an excellent place to polish their sound. On one occasion they boarded the Lexington IRT at the Brooklyn Bridge and took the opportunity to practice. To their astonishment, as the train pulled into the next stop, a woman got up, walked over, handed them a business card, and left the train without even mentioning her name. The card read "Al Browne and Orchestra," Mr. Browne being the well-known arranger who backed up THE HEARTBEATS and other acts. The group scrambled to call him, set up an audition, and by June 1957 were recording two original Mastrangelo compositions. The mysterious lady on the train turned out to be Mrs. Al Browne.
The songs "Sweetest One" and "My Juanita" were tremendous first efforts for a new group, especially considering the medieval production work and studio sound. "My Juanita" was an up-tempo rocker with a slow double-chime prelude, a smooth lead from Mastrangelo (now calling himself Johnny Maestro), and a tight background by the Crests. "Sweetest One" was an understated ballad. Its simplicity was classic, but most in the know would have put their money on "Juanita." On July 15, 1957, the tiny Joyce Records (run out of the back room of a Brooklyn record store) bet on "Sweetest One," putting all two minutes and four seconds on the national Top 100 chart peaking at number 86. "My Juanita7 subsequently became a standard rehearsal tune for every street-corner group.
The Crest's next single was "No One to Love," a beautiful ballad with an "Earth Angel" intro followed by wondrous harmony and an original arrangement. Lightning didn't strike twice, but Maestro recalls that each member received a $17.50 royalty for the tune. It probably went to buy the checkered sport jackets and thin black ties they wore at their local gigs (with Pat in her gown, the performers looked like four Bo Diddleys and a prom queen).
After almost a year of shows, the Crests got a break in the form of an introduction by songwriter Billy Dawn Smith to music publisher George Paxton, a veteran of the Brill building. Paxton formed Coed Records and signed the group just as they became a quartet. Pat was forced to leave when her mother refused to let her tour with the older guys (in 1958 the members were 18 to 19 years old). Had Patricia's younger brother been old enough to do more than hang out to hear the group sing, he would have been an interesting vocal addition to the Crests. His name was Luther Van Dross.
The Crests' first Coed single was "Pretty Little Angel" b/w "I Thank the Moon," the former written by Maestro, arranger Bert Keyes, and Luther Dixon (writer of several SHIRELLE's hits), and the latter by Billy Dawn Smith. "Pretty" did well in New York (for example one Rochester station, WRVM's survey had it at number 25 and moving up on March 31st) but soon fizzled out. The next release was "Beside You," a pretty ballad with loads of harmony and a mid250s sound. When deejay Alan Freed and TV's Dick Clark received their copies they both flipped it over and took a liking to a sentimental birthday song called "16 Candles." The record entered the Billboard pop charts on November 24, 1958, and the R&B charts almost two months later. The group then played the first of many shows for Alan Freed's Christmas party at the Loew's State Theatre along with three giants of rock who would all be dead within six weeks: Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper. In the week of January 26, 1959, "16 Candles" was number four nationally and Vileness' "Donna' was number three. J. T. Taylor had a friendly bet with Valens that week as to whose record would hit number one first. On February 3, 1959, Valens, Holly, and the Big Bopper J. P. Richardson) died in a plane crash while the Billboards chart of February 9 had "16 Candles" at number two and "Donna" at number three. Ironically, neither recording ever made it to number one. The record that kept both from that position was Lloyd Price's "Stagger Lee." At its peak, "16 Candles" was selling 25,000 records a day and well on its way to becoming one of the most popular birthday songs since "Happy Birthday." "16 Candles" actually started out as "21 Candles" written by Luther Dixon and Allyson Kent, but since the average age of targeted record buyers was much younger, the number of candles was brought down a few notches.
The Crests were now playing all the major venues from the Apollo to the Paramount along with the prime-time Saturday night radio version of "American Bandstand." (Dick Clark may remember his first encounter with the Crests at the Little Theatre on 47th Street in New York City. The Crests were cavorting in the dressing room when Clark peeked in to say hello. When one of the boys fell against the door Clark got a black eye for his trouble.) The boys appeared on what in those days were called all-star shows-and they really were. On a given night the Crests would appear with the likes of Jackie Wilson, THE MOONGLOWS, Chuck Berry, the Everly Brothers, Bo Diddley, THE FLAMINGOS, DION AND THE BELMONTS, Frankie Avalon, and more saxophone-led orchestras than you could shake a stick at, including those of Sam "the Man Taylor, King Curtis, Big Al Sears, Red Prysock, Earl Warren, and more. From 1958 to 1960 the group was almost always on the road.
Their first single after "Candles" was a swaying, dreamy stroll-styled ballad called "Six Nights a Week" (#28 Pop, #16 R&B). As was the case with many acts, the charts were a relatively accurate barometer of the quality of the Crests records from this point on. "Flower of Love" was bland in comparison to other Crest cuts and only attained a six-week run up to number 79. But the charting proved that the Crests were out in front with deejays and the public; far superior records of the time (such as "Millionaire Hobo ' by the Fantastics, "MY Heart7' by THE CAROLLONS, and "Lovers Never Say Goodbye" by the Flamingos) had less activity.