Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tiny Bubbles, Don Ho: What Were They Thinking?


Apropos my confusion about the popularity Patti Page, here's another one-time popular culture hero and trend that I could never understand. Also those are some pretty bad leis

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Ted Kennedy Tribute


An Irish lullaby suggested by one KVer in his honor. JFK was mentioned on the KV blog back in October 2008, in regard to his visit to the LES back in 1960 Also John Jr.'s softball playing in Coleman Oval in the late 1980's and early 90's, was mentioned in November of 2008.
As a personal aside from an early baby boomer, I never could understand the appeal of Patti Page. Also not all KVers agree on the legacy of Ted Kennedy. For some pros and cons I'll direct you here
Over in Killarney,
Many years ago,
Me mother sang a song to me
In tones so sweet and low.
Just a simple little ditty,
In her good old Irish way,
And I'd give the world if she could sing
That song to me this day.
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral,
Too-ra-loo-ra-li,
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral,
Hush, now don't you cry!
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral,
Too-ra-loo-ra-li,
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral,
That's an Irish lullaby.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Happy Birthday To The Twins


Among Knickerbocker's most loyal Dodger fans, by 1985 they were getting up in years for ball players, but the Dodgers still were able to use their great speed. Happy Birthday to two wild and crazy guys. The stunts we pulled and the trouble we were always in at PS 177 and Corlears JHS... they could fill pages

Sixteen Candles

video
A 2007 performance of Johnny Maestro doing Sixteen Candles
The song peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 charts and number four on the R&B charts in 1958
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!!!

Tanahey Park: Now And Then


On Saturday when I passed Tanahey on Cherry and Market I couldn't help capturing the scene above to contrast it with the below taken 52 years ago (a repost from back in February)

From left to right:
Moms are Diana Miller, Anne Greenfield, Ann Lackow, Ida Schnieder, Sue Schumer, Mildred Cohen, Ethel Feigenbaum and daughter Linda. I think her grandmother is the last on the right. The little girl is Melanie Miller. Anne Greenfield called everyone mamaleh.

Photo courtesy of Mark Schummer. Photo id's courtesy of Paula Romm Sanders.

Happy Birthday Mom


My mom would have been 90 today. I miss my mommy.

Smith Reunion 3


On Saturday I brought along many of the pictures of the Smith Houses' construction posted back in March They were a big hit. I left them with Herbie as a present for taking good care of me.

Smith Reunion 2


Above a group shot of many of those that were there last Saturday. I didn't know any of them, but there were many folks who we mutually knew. Earlier when I came looking for Donald Singletary I asked Herbie (bottom left of photo below) if he had seen him. Before he answered yes or no he insisted on getting me something to eat. Winds up I missed Donald by a few minutes. I left at 3:30 and he came shortly after.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Anthony Monaco At The Smith Reunion

video
Anthony told a story about the singer Johnny Maestro who was always reluctant to reveal that he grew up in the Smith Projects. I'm trying to make believe I know something about Doo-Wop. Anthony and his mom now live in Knickerbocker. He used to live on Oliver Street in the house that Al Smith lived in, #25.
from Joe Bruno:
In the original Crests, there were 5 people, Johnny Maestro, Patricia Van Dross, two black guys, J. T. Carter and Tommy Gough and Hal Torres, a Puerto Rican, who I thought was from Smith too.
When the Van Dross', Luther and Patricia, moved out of Smith the group became just 4.
Notice, Luther changed his name to one word instead of the original 2 words.
Johnny Motts was a mailman for awhile. And he did sing with a group called The Neighborhhood in the 80's. All guys from KV - Ross Aschutto -- a cop--, Frankie Fischetti, who lived under me at KG5, and Stevie Randazzo, the actor. They used to rehearse in Frankie's apartment, and I used to bang on the floor, telling them to shut the ...up. It's 2 in the ........ morning. I was kidding of course. Johnny quit in the early 90's and a guy named Carlo, from the 6th Ward, took his place. Not as good as Johnny Motts, but not bad.

Smith Houses Reunion Group: August 22, 2009

Smith Houses: August 22, 2009


I wandered into this event. I was looking for the Smith Reunion group and was encouraged to join a group called Creflo Dollar's World Changer's Church. What's the deal with that?
I did some research. Check out this youtube video and this site

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Class 1-4, PS 1: 1958


Another present from Donald Singletary

Class 5-5, PS 2: 1961


Frank Shih saw Donald Singletary's comment on this previous post and said...
Donald Singletary sent me this blog. This is incredible. I was in Vigilante's IGC class. Was that fourth grade? I went to P.S.2 for the second half of fifth grade, I think. I went on to JHS 12. I remember Carlos and Bruce the most. I also remember a Maria who was unstoppable in the spelling bee. Other names are familiar as well--Rochelle Murphy, Eddie Moy.
Billy Owens and I were really close at one point. We both lived in the Smith Projects and our parents even met once. Though we went to separate JHS and HS we were friendly through high school. I tracked down his brother (Isaac) several years ago and learned of Billy's (and his parent's death). Billy was married and had a child.
If some of you went to fifth grade in P.S.2 a teacher there--Leslie Kandell--that Donald mentioned has tracked down most of her class (including me). Go here to see the picture of the class and the article she wrote for the NY Times: I'm the one in the top row, third from right. Would love to be in touch. Contact me at fhmshih@gmail.com. If you know anyone in this photo, or anyone who was at P.S. 2 (Lower East Side) in the early 1960's, please help Leslie Kandell (Fieldston graduate, and teacher in photo) find them. Contact lkandell@aol.com with any information or ideas.

Above is the photo, (I enlarged it) from the site that Frank referred to. Below is the text from that site: It was written in 2003. What a story!
A Reluctant Reunion, By LESLIE KANDELL
ADDING what I've heard to what I'm sure of, I can now account for the whole front row of my class photo, and a couple of children in the middle and rear. By ''my class,'' I mean one of the fifth grades in Public School 2 on the Lower East Side, where I taught when John F. Kennedy was president.
I found that old photo after a friend transferred to a CD the decaying reel-to-reel tapes I had made when I lugged my newfangled recorder into the classroom just for fun. The CD, rising from the tapes' ashes, revealed a young teacher talking and singing with students and rehearsing ''Lonesome Train,'' the folk oratorio that was our class play.
Getting the children together again, to hear the CD and share memories, sounded like a great idea. With naive enthusiasm, I set out to round them up. After a series of dead ends, I'm thinking it's easier to find a witness in a protection program. New York City schools don't track their graduates, although Caroline Kennedy, in her new role as fund-raiser for the city's Department of Education, says she hopes to form an alumni association of some kind. But for now, the one doing the homework is me. Class records from before the computer era are unavailable. Colleagues are retired. Everyone I knew in the administration is dead. I don't find my kids on Classmates.com or through directory assistance. Private detectives want the moon -- Social Security numbers and girls' married names.
I wish my former students could reconnect -- with being 10, with what they once learned, with forgotten friends. During my search, someone suggests that I'm the one looking to recapture my youth. It's true: as I grow older, I become a nostalgia-seeker, a retriever of memories. Shared history makes time fall away. The bond forged by knowing someone early in life should endure. Perhaps I'm the one learning the lessons.
ONCE, long before P.S. 2 was built, the Lower East Side teemed with immigrants who arrived with nothing, sometimes not even their own names. Their children, among them the Irving Berlins, the Danny Kayes, the Al Jolsons, took advantage of free education and worked their way out of poverty, pointing with pride to the picturesque pushcarts and tenements of their beginnings.
But by the late 60's, the streets had an aura of incipient danger -- ''West Side Story'' with less charm and more drugs. It wasn't a neighborhood where boys fled the Vietnam draft by going to college or Canada. They left high school and went into the service. Not all came back.
I study the smiling boys in the class photo sitting cross-legged down front. (Notices were sent home, and the children who weren't going to doll up just didn't come that day.) Left to right: Chinese, Italian, Hispanic, Greek. In other rows more of each, and blacks, Poles, a Hawaiian -- the original Rainbow Coalition. But n my day at P.S. 2, teachers were busy scooping batches of students into the next grade and forgetting them, as they forgot us.
Eddie (front row, far left) joined a gang and Mike (far right) thinks Eddie is long dead (I certainly can't find him). A few are listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and I find two other death certificate matches. (Someone thinks Gary P. is dead, too, but about 35 years ago he looked me up and visited along with his fiancee. He wanted me to know that after reform school and prison, he had a job paving sidewalks and was taking night courses in algebra so he could be a construction manager. So I believe he's out there somewhere.)
Andrew (front row, red jacket) now lives in Minnesota. He had won a merit scholarship to Brown University from Seward Park, where most P.S. 2 graduates go but only 28 percent of entering freshmen graduate. (At Stuyvesant, within walking distance, it's 93 percent.) The number of Seward Park applicants admitted to Brown in the last decade is zero. I call Andrew. ''Maybe the best thing you did was show us what's out there,'' he tells me.
When Mike hears my name on the phone, he growls, ''Get out of here'' with inflections right out of ''The Sopranos.'' He startles me back when I ask, ''How old are you now, Mikey?'' I am ready to hear 30, but he's 52. (Surely that's older than I am, isn't it?) When I say I remember him as a perfect child, he shouts to his family, ''Hey, the teacher says I was a perfect child!''
When I find Effie, now an artist, she has a very old bone to pick: ''Do you remember when you took us on a trip to the Cloisters?'' Sort of. ''And you lost your watch?'' Oops. ''Well, you made us all look for it.'' I regret spoiling her trip. I remember that the watch had been a gift from my father. I speak of my worry over the loss, and my fear of disappointing him. Mollified by an unexpected apology, she speaks of her own father's savage temper. She goes on to recall being the narrator in the class play, and mentions my interest in the cello, the first time she noticed that a teacher could have a life beyond school. She has never had a reunion experience, and is suspicious at first.
We finally meet. She listens to the tape, and we talk and talk. ''You're not going to make me leave now, are you?'' she says after the afternoon is gone. No I'm not. We figure out a few more names on the photo. Later, she makes a date to meet with Mikey.
I ask Mike if he will get hold of classmates so we can get together. ''No,'' he says, ''I wanna meet witcha alone.'' I would have put on a pleasant expression on the way up the subway steps, but Mike is too quick not to guess that, and evidently wishes to see my face when I recognize him. He is down on the platform watching for me. We are both dazed. We sit in a downtown Greek diner, where he knows the owner, for three and a half hours, during which time we have one cup of coffee that we don't want. I remember Mike as someone I could rely on to get a job done, a stable child. ''Nam'' was devastating for him. What he saw there, and did, left him with post-traumatic stress disorder, documented in a government file as ''permanently unemployable'' because of ''episodes of unprovoked violence.'' So he goes to the V.A. hospital and lives on disability he would give up in a heartbeat for a decent job. I hear about heroin, armed robbery, prisons, diabetes, liver problems and Agent Orange. He says, though, that when he was in prison, he asked for the job of librarian ''because the morons and maniacs who can't read won't be in there.'' It turns out he writes a little, and what I see has none of the common grammatical errors that annoy me. ''Wonder where I learned that,'' he snickers. I'm beginning to grasp what courage it took to come out to that diner to meet me. I wonder if the sudden appearance of Teacher, assigning him to compare who he was to who he is, isn't a greater danger to him than he is to me. ''We're us,'' Mike says. ''You're them.'' But in those direct eyes I see again the reliable co-captain of the P.S. 2 safety squad -- the other co-captain's name is on the Vietnam wall -- and across an abyss of time and class, we remember each other with love. I'm sure of that. This isn't turning out like any reunion I have ever gone to. It will be a long time before my fifth graders sit in the same room eating cookies, or whatever I was imagining, and listening to that tape. What I've found is less complete but no less compelling. I persuade Mike to read his journal to his veterans' group. ''It's hard, but not impossible,'' he tells me after he has tried it. ''Just when I thought there was no more road, another half-mile showed up.'' And as my search continues, connecting with each of them is like a half-mile showing up for me.
Leslie Kandell, a journalist specializing in the arts, is working on a book about church choirs.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

JHS 65: Class 9-2, June 1966


Compliments of Donald Singletary

The Heinz Bauer above is 67 years old and is the 349th richest person in the world
Fortune: inherited and growing
Source: publishing
Net Worth: $2.6 bil
Country Of Citizenship: Germany
Residence: Hamburg , Germany, Europe & Russia
Industry: Media/Entertainment
Marital Status: married, 4 children
Education: University of Hamburg, Bachelor of Arts / Science
Third generation to run Verlagsgruppe Bauer, mass-media company founded by his grandfather 1875. The $2.2 billion (sales) group publishes everything from TV guides to special interest publications like Auto Zeitung (cars) and Kochen & Geniessen (cooking), to magazines like Neue Post and Das Neue Blatt. U.S. titles include First for Women, Woman's World and InTouch. Sells in 13 countries including Mexico, Russia and China.

in answer to Donald's comment below. I'm just kidding, but wouldn't it be a hoot if he was

The Courtship Of Eddie's Father Comics

Courtship
Issue 2 from 1970

An Antidote To Today's Headlines


It worked then and it probably works now.

Aunt Bee Meets Mark Toby


From 1937. Francis Bavier, Aunt Bee, plays Mary McGillicuddy and Mark Toby plays an auto worker. John Howard Lawson would later be blacklisted as one of the Hollywood Ten

Frances Bavier: AKA Aunt Bee


Above, Frances Bavier, I would guess in the 1930's-40's. Below, site where Frances lived in 1920. Former PS 177 student and Smith Project alumni Donald Singletary currently lives about a block away

Frances Elizabeth Bavier (December 14, 1902 – December 6, 1989) was an American stage and television actress. Originally from the New York theatre, Bavier worked in film and television from the 1950s. She played the continuing role of Aunt Bee on The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry R.F.D. from 1960 to 1970, and won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Comedy Actress for the role in 1967.
Born in New York City, Bavier attended Columbia University and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts before embarking on a career in acting. She first appeared in vaudeville, later moving to the Broadway stage. Bavier had roles in more than a dozen films, as well playing a range of supporting roles on television. Career highlights include the play Point of No Return, alongside Henry Fonda, and her turn as Mrs. Barley in the classic 1951 film The Day the Earth Stood Still.
Bavier had a love-hate relationship with her most famous role, Aunt Bee. As a New York actress, she felt her dramatic talents were being overlooked. At the same time, she played Aunt Bee for ten seasons and was the only original cast member to remain with the series from the original pilot episode to the spin-off Mayberry R.F.D. In contrast to her affable character Aunt Bee, Bavier was easily slighted and the production staff would often appease her by "walking on eggshells". Series star Andy Griffith addressed the fact that the two sometimes clashed during the series' run. According to Griffith (Larry King Live, April 24, 1998), Bavier phoned him four months before she died, and said she was deeply sorry for being "difficult" during the series' run.
In 1972, Bavier retired from acting and bought a home in Siler City, North Carolina. On choosing to live in North Carolina instead of her native New York, Bavier stated in an interview that, "I fell in love with North Carolina, all the pretty roads and the trees." She briefly returned to acting in 1974 in the family film Benji. While Bavier seemed awkward in one-on-one relationships, she seemed to be charitable to the needs of organizations and fans. According to a 1981 article by Chip Womick, a staff writer of The Courier Tribune, Bavier enthusiastically promoted Christmas and Easter Seal Societies from her Siler City home, and often wrote inspirational letters to fans who sought autographs. Overly zealous fans however, often invaded both her property and privacy, and Bavier became reclusive.
Bavier's medical condition prevented her from taking part in the 1986 television movie Return to Mayberry.
On November 29, 1989 (the day before Thanksgiving), Bavier was admitted to Chatham Hospital. She was suffering from both heart disease and cancer, and was kept in the coronary care unit for two weeks. She was discharged on December 4, 1989 and died at her home two days later of a heart attack.
Bavier was buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Siler City. Her headstone is emblazoned with the name of her most famous role, "Aunt Bee" and reads, "To live in the hearts of those left behind is not to die."

My cousin has a wacky Aunt Bee video on his blog

Opie Goes To School


I'm building a case for the Andy Griffith Show KV connection. Stay tuned

Let's Go To The Source

video
The video I was referring to on the last post. If you listen closely you can hear Eddie mention WEVD and Naked City

Summer Mini-Reunion


A few of the guys (Marty, Bob, Al, Ron, Joel, Eddie and a slimmer me photoshopped in) got together on July 29th at the Dinosaur Barbecue at 131st Street It was good to see Joel who was out of town for the big May 2nd event. The food was great but the noise was so loud that it was tough to have a conversation. Nevertheless I got to ask Eddie about his father. Listening to Neal's video from May I thought I heard Eddie say that his dad Mark had written some scripts for the great tv series Naked City. This was indeed true. Eddie also told us a story about going to radio station WEVD as a kid to help his dad on a weekly radio show he did. On the show Mark Toby did interviews with imaginary guests by using different voices! Eddie was not on the set of the making of the movie version of the Courtship of Eddie's Father, but he got to go to the NYC premiere and got to meet the stars including Ron "Opie" Howard who played him.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Leon Michaels



In Leonard Michaels' new book of essays he writes about his father, Leon Michaels and the barber shop that he had at 207 Henry Street. It was near the Madison Street stop on the F Train. The barber shop was also a place where all the local characters gathered to shoot the breeze. Once when Leonard took his secret girl friend, of the golden shiksa variety, to a basketball game at Madison Square Garden he arrived home to find out that his father knew where he had been. It was just Leonard's luck that one of the guys from the barber shop crew had been at the same game. On his return home Leon said to Leonard let's take a walk. They walked around the block, I assume the KV square block, in silence. When the journey ended Leon said simply, "I'll dance at your wedding." Leon must have been quite a guy. He was an elder at the synagogue he attended and I believe it was this one which was right near the barber shop

Adventures Of The KV Journeyman


I often wonder what the KV Journeyman does as he travels the globe. Is he on some kind of messianic mission? Is he working for this Moses? and promoting a red state version of that Moses' anthem?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

We're Having A Heat Wave

Happy Birthday Joe


Yesterday was Joe's birthday. He's still acting like that kid he was in 1959 to his right.
about the pic from Joe
I'm the bottom right, as usual.
Always the same spot in the team picture. But 150 pounds heavier than 1959. The needed a wide angle lens to get me in the picture.
Over 60 League. 250 players. Some really good ballplayers. Some so-so. Some stiffs.
I played left center, which means I ran about a mile a game chasing balls to the fence 300 feet away from home plate.
We won the championship of the Thursday League. They awarded us a case of Geritol, and a case of Ben Gay.
2 doubleheaders a week. We start at 8:30 am. Around noon, we need oxygen. There's an ambulance waiting by all games. Just in case.
A mortician too. But we chased him away.
I spend over a grand on all types of wraps. Knee. Hamstring . Groin. Ankle. Wrist.
My wife just doubled my life insurance. Just in case.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Leonard Michaels Gets Help From His KV Neighbors

to the left a self portrait of Leonard Michaels In the recently released book of essays there's a story that mentions two Knickerbocker Village neighbors of Leonard Michaels, Lynn Nations and Arthur Kleinman. Leonard lived in the L Building, 20 Monroe Street. An excerpt from My Yiddish
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. What it is can be suggested, in a Yiddish style, by contrast with English. A line from a poem by Wallace Stevens, which I have discussed elsewhere, seems to me quintessentially goyish, or antithetical to Yiddish:

I wrote to Leonard Michael's sister Carol to ask about Lynn Nations and Arthur Kleinman. I knew by checking SSDI records that they had passed. I wondered if they had offspring. They seemed like wonderful people. In another part of the story above Lynn encourages Leonard to go back to the playground to confront some bully tormentors who constantly teased him for his language problems.
From Carol:
Actually, they did not have any children, that's why they kind of adopted all of us kids. Their apartment was next door to ours. Since Arthur was Jewish he could speak to my parents in Yiddish which bridged the gap. Lynn was incredible, a real presence.

New Book By Leonard Michaels: KV's Greatest Writer

available from amazon and at the Washington Post's Book World Reviewed by Jonathan Yardley :
Leonard Michaels was a sublimely gifted prose stylist who died much too soon, in 2003 -- he had barely reached his 70th birthday but suffered from lymphoma -- and who left a slender but durable literary legacy. Primarily a writer of short stories, he made an improbable appearance on the bestseller lists in 1981 with his novel "The Men's Club," perhaps because it appeared at precisely the moment when its portrayal of male bonding coincided with feminist ridicule of male rituals. Such fame as that brought him was pretty much dashed five years later when the book was transformed into a dreadful movie, leaving Michaels feeling, as he says in one of the essays in this collection, "like a rape victim who not only suffers the opinions of cops but also feels guilty." That wry, self-mocking comment is typical of Michaels the writer, as it was of Michaels the man. At almost exactly the time that "The Men's Club" was published, I came to know him slightly -- he was teaching at Johns Hopkins, and I was living in Baltimore -- and to like him a great deal. In 1984 I served as chairman of the fiction jury for the newly revived National Book Awards and, hoping to have a jury whose members would have literary tastes diametrically opposed to my own, asked Michaels and Laurie Colwin to serve with me. No one was more surprised than I when we agreed, immediately and unanimously, to give the award to the unknown Ellen Gilchrist for her second book of stories, "Victory over Japan." To the best of my recollection, I never spoke or wrote to Michaels thereafter, but I remembered him with pleasure and was shocked by his death, just as I had been by Colwin's even more sudden and premature death in 1992. So I have been delighted to see his publisher bringing out his work in new editions over the past three years, first "The Collected Stories of Leonard Michaels" (2007) and now his collected essays. This is a considerably leaner book than the collected stories, but it packs a lot of punch and is filled, as was all his work, with sentences that border on poetry. If it is true that, as years ago someone said, Gore Vidal (as essayist) writes in perfectly shaped paragraphs, it is equally true that Leonard Michaels writes in perfectly shaped sentences. This would be cause for admiration and celebration in any writer, but surely it is far more so for one who did not begin to speak English until he was 5 years old. His parents immigrated from Poland to Manhattan's Lower East Side only steps ahead of the Holocaust -- "When the Nazis seized Brest Litovsk, my grandfather, grandmother, and their youngest daughter, my mother's sister, were buried in a pit with others" -- and in their tiny apartment the language spoken was Yiddish. That, and Jewishness, permeate his writing, as no one knew more keenly than he did: "Eventually I learned to speak English, then to imitate thinking as it transpires among English speakers. To some extent, my intuitions and my expression of thoughts remain basically Yiddish. . . . This moment, writing in English, I wonder about the Yiddish undercurrent. If I listen, I can almost hear it: 'This moment' -- a stress followed by two neutral syllables -- introduces a thought that hangs like a herring in the weary droop of 'writing in English,' and then comes the announcement, 'I wonder about the Yiddish undercurrent.' The sentence ends in a shrug. Maybe I hear the Yiddish undercurrent, maybe I don't. The sentence could have been written by anyone who knows English, but it probably would not have been written by a well-bred Gentile. It has too much drama, and might even be disturbing, like music in a restaurant or elevator. The sentence obliges you to abide in its staggered flow, as if what I meant were inextricable from my feelings and required a lyrical note. There is a kind of enforced intimacy with the reader. A Jewish kind, I suppose. In Sean O'Casey's lovelier prose you hear an Irish kind." Michaels said his literary influences included Franz Kafka, Lord Byron and Wallace Stevens (this last is frequently quoted in these essays), but reading that paragraph one can't help thinking that as a young man in the 1950s he must have spent a lot of time listening to Mort Sahl, Lenny Bruce and the other great Jewish comedians of the day, as his own comic voice and timing bear more than passing resemblance to theirs. In another essay, "A Sentimental Memoir," he recalls being "saved" as a young man by a professor of English at the University of Michigan named Austin Warren, and then he meanders into an account of falling "insanely in love" (which seems to have been a strong predilection with him) with a girl in Warren's class: "The girl had a slender boyish figure and blondish hair. I thought nobody but me considered her striking or had noticed the subtle perfection of her beautiful face. When I told my friend Julian that the most beautiful girl in Michigan was in Warren's class, he named her. He told me that she modeled naked for art students, she had a horrible reputation for licentiousness, everybody knew who she was, and that he was in love with her too. I decided that I was ready to forgive her everything. To forgive a girl was a very popular sentiment of the day. There were plays, novels, and movies about forgiving bad girls. As for the girl I was ready to forgive, I now suppose there were a couple of hundred other men who were forgiving her at the same time, all of us subject to a sort of spiritual narcissism that has long since gone out of the world. Too bad, I think, since it had extraordinary intensity and made a man feel tortured by goodness, which is a very high order of feeling." The phrasing ("tortured by goodness") and timing of that paragraph are absolutely perfect, and it points to a recurrent theme in these essays, not merely the autobiographical ones but also the critical ones about books, art and movies. Michaels certainly was no sentimentalist, but he strongly preferred the more modest, introspective, feeling culture of his youth to the arrogant, assertive, rude one of the present. Writing about the paintings of Edward Hopper, he gets to the point: "We rap, we shriek in the raving crowd, and wear clothing big enough to hold two or three people, and walk about wearing earphones, or talking into cell phones, lest we feel alone. There are no philosophers. In Hopper's day we wore tight clothing and held each other close, saying nothing, dancing slowly, shuffling a few inches this way and that, feeling possessed, possessed by feeling. People preferred feeling to sex." And, a few pages later: "There used to be obscenity. There used to be a distinction, as between day and night, between private and public. There used to be privacy." These are not the maunderings of one seized by nostalgia, but ones of an acutely sensitive man who was appalled by the coarsening of what now passes for adult civilization. As it happens this is a horror that I feel myself, which doubtless predisposes me to these essays, but what really matters is that you'll look for a long time to find writing as good as this and thinking as clear.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Transfiguration Two Bridges Little League Team 1959


When Joe Bruno was in the city in July I asked him if he had any photos of his little league team. He didn't but he managed to find one through Lou Mingione.
I didn't know this picture existed until I saw it on Louie Mingione's wall two weeks ago at his jewelry stand on the Bowery, near Canal. He has his display/office right next to the window facing the Bowery. He copied the picture from a copying machine somewhere in the building. I'll try my best to recognize the faces. I can't recognize most but it was 50 years ago. Top far left --Louie Bonnano, next to him is Peter Caminiti, skip one and the next guy is Joe Graziano, Dominick's older brother--the family owned Graziano Funeral Parlor on Mulberry St. That's all I know on the top row. Second row far right, sitting slightly below the row is Louie Pace. To his left Larry Venturato, to his left Vinnie Adimondo, to his left Vinny Mosco.
Bottom row-- far left-- Vinnie Pitcherelli, to his right Peter DeCaesar, to his right Bernard Massachi, to his right Louie Mingione, skip one and I'm on the far right bottom. Also on the team were Larry Izzo, Louie Marino, Jimmy Collela and Robert Vassallo. But I can't pick them out. Johnny Motts came over from St. Joseph's to play for us the next year.

The posted version above has corrections from his original attempt. Joe called upon a former grade school classmates Madeline Cunningham and Frances (Gancio) Corino for help as well as Vinny Mosco and Larry Venturato
more from Joe:
This was our first year playing hardball. We finished in third place, behind St. Joseph and St. James. The next year (1960), we beat St. Joseph in the playoffs, and St. James in the championship game. Vinnie Adimondo was the winning pitcher.
I remember Bobby D., the pitcher for St. Joseph, had tears in his eyes when we beat them in the playoffs. He had tears in his eyes for the next 40 years when I mentioned the game to him.
Ray Williams was the pitcher for St. James when we beat them for the title. I remember Ray -- tall and husky-- towered over the players on our team. But we hung in there to get the win. He hit me with a fastball in the ribs that I still feel.
I don't remember the score, but it was a fairly close game. 5-2, something like that.
Bottom line, we had the better pitcher. Ray Williams was strictly a fastball pitcher. Mondo had a curve that froze the opposing batter. He was out best hitter too.
50 years gone in a flash.

The picture was probably taken by the manager Frank Mosco, Vinny Mosco's dad.
Sadly, Robert Vassallo and Louie Marino have passed away.

From The Sam Silverstein Joke Archives


When Howie found out that Jon Stewart's father once lived on Avenue O in Brooklyn it reminded him of the time he recycled one of his father's routines back in the 1970's. Above, an attempt at recreating the scene.
Jon Stewart's father lived on Avenue O? ... my first place in Brooklyn was off Avenue M ... one time while on a date we were driving down Ave.O ...there were some people sitting on the stoop outside an apartment building .. so I pulled over, rolled down the window, and asked them if they knew what people say about the people who live on Ave O? ....stares .... "they have to walk a block to P ..." more stares .... sorry, I saw Ave O and couldn't resist ...

Not Who's Almost Who In Knickerbocker Village History


I was pursuing the possibility that there could be a Jon Stewart/KV connection. Not quite. He was born Jonathan Stewart Leibowitz. His paternal great-grandfather had a shoe store on Rivington Street and his paternal grandfather was a cab driver. On his mother's side his grandfather was Nathan Laskin, a struggling immigrant who owned a series of small businesses in New York. I had some email correspondence with John's dad Donald to see if there was any family connection to KVers Joe and Stephen Leibowitz or Harry Liebowitz. No luck.

Still Tasting the Sweetness of Growing Up in Half-Sours


It's great to see a picture of Guss. I recognized that face instantly
an excerpt from a recent article in the nytimes by SUSAN DOMINUS
I know it’s unseemly to brag about one’s illustrious family lines, but sometimes a historic turn of events invites the opportunity to name-drop. Some of my closest friends don’t even know it, but I’m related to Jewish royalty (by marriage, I should clarify, but still). My brother married into pickles — Guss’ Pickles, to be specific, the famous Lower East Side institution that announced this week that it would soon leave that neighborhood for the lower rents and enthusiastic pickle purchasers of Borough Park, Brooklyn.
The New York blogs have been outdoing themselves in fits of nostalgia about this loss of lingering history on Orchard Street. But for my brother’s mother-in-law, Marilyn Altman, and her sister, Goldie Daniels — the Guss girls, as they were known back in the day, along with their late sister, Elaine — the news about the business, which they sold in 1979, came as a shock. It was also an excuse for them to come in from New Jersey, where they both live, share some old stories about their father, Isadore Guss, and, in Goldie’s case, wolf down some of the half-sours she loves so well.
After greeting the current owner of the shop, Goldie, blond and petite at 71, in a gold watch and gold hoops, instinctively situated herself in back of the barrels, the vantage point from which she had sold so many pickles to long lines down Hester Street, the store’s original location. “I ate more pickles than I sold,” she said, dipping a pan — a schissel, she called it, Yiddish for pail — into a barrel. “I loooove pickles.” She took a bite and rolled her eyes. “It’s like my heritage.”
Of the three daughters, only Marilyn, the baby, now 65, was deprived the privilege of working at the store. That’s what you get for dropping a yo-yo in a pickle barrel and thinking maybe no one would notice.
Goldie, however, worked there until she had children. If her mother had thought a woman could run a business, Goldie would have taken it over after her father’s death in 1975. Those days holding court behind the barrels as the whole neighborhood stopped by were some of the happiest of her life.

an audio of Guss' daughters reminiscing

Thanks to Murray and Susan for reminding me of this story
an email from Susan
David-
I was friends with Goldie Guss for sometime. I met her on one of my trips to Israel and she lived in East Brunswick (about 15 minutes from me). We lost contact after a few years. There was just a big article about the two Guss sisters in the Times this past weekend. Her married name is Daniels. Small world.

More Photos Of The Rosenberg Vigil From Life

The first few slides are of David Greenglass and David Gold giving testimony before the grand jury. There are also images of the ongoings outside of Sing Sing
Rosenberg Life Pt2

The Closing Of Guss' Pickles


from the Tenement Museum blog
It's all over the local blogosphere: Guss' Pickles, the 90-year-old neighborhood staple on the corner of Broome and Orchard, is on its way out - to a larger, cheaper storefront in Brooklyn. Rent was getting too high, Lo-Down reports, and "when the city put a Muni Meter directly in front of [owner Patricia Fairhurst's] pickle barrels, blocking customers' access, it was the last straw."
Guss' may be famous for surviving decades of gentrification and demographic shifts, but it isn't the only place to buy briny cucumbers east of the Bowery. A quick browse on the web turned up a couple of relative newcomers that stay faithful to old-school preparation techniques (and may become, decades from now, the new neighborhood classics):
Pickle Guys
At his store on Essex Street
(once the center of the neighborhood pickle industry), Alan Kaufman makes pickles from "an old Eastern European recipe, just as my mom used to make them." At one point, he even got a chance
to work with one of the owners of Guss' Pickles.
Rick's Picks
Founder Rick Field, a former TV producer, translated a childhood hobby into a business in 2004. His artisinal corn, beet, and green bean pickles are fancier and less traditional than Pickle Guys' or Guss', but they stem from family recipes and are a regular fixture at the annual International Pickle Festival on Orchard Street.

The Obscure Connection Between Guss' Pickles And The Rosenbergs


In the 1930 census Julius Rosenberg was living in the same building, 128 Goerck Street (perhaps the same floor) as the Hollander family, a pickle royalty family of the lower east side. Nathan Hollander, who recently passed away, and Julius Rosenberg were the same age and probably went to school together. 128 Goerck Street was part of the famous Lavanburg Houses.
The Hollanders were mentioned on the blog previously last May
from Michael Blitz
I am very sorry to inform you that my grandfather passed away yesterday, May 18th 2009. We lost the last of the great picklemen. My great grandfather Louis Hollander started selling pickles and produce in 1903 with a horse drawn carriage. And yes it is true that Izzy Guss got his start in the business from my great grandfather. My father Bert Blitz and I were also in the pickle business for many years.

Michelle Alman Harrison: Like Mother, Like Grandmother


Above is David and Emily Alman's daughter Michelle. She's a doctor working in an orphanage in India called Shishur Sevay.
from Michelle's blog
Shishur Sevay is a Home for orphan girls, those who have lost connection to family and community and who would otherwise live in an institution. The girls are thriving, learning, and beginning to see different futures for themselves. Our children, abled and disabiled share their lives with each other and with Dr. Michelle Harrison, aka "Mummy." who lives in the home Our mission is to provide a non-institutional model for orphaned children where they are nurtured and educated so they can be participating members of Society.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

David Alman: World Full Of Strangers

World Full Of Strangers I believe was David's most critically acclaimed book. World Full Of Strangers

David Alman: Well Of Compassion

David Alman: Hourglass

David Alman was kind enough to send me copies of three of his out of print books. I'm in the process of reading them now. They were all very well reviewed when first published. Hourglass was published in 1947
Hourglass 2

On The Road Again


Another sojourn. The KV journeyman's reaction to the Yankee win last night in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Congratulations Slugger


A brief sojourn from the Alman story to congratulate LMRC's Slugger Silverstein on his winning the Hempstead Town Tennis Tournament with his double's partner Bill. Slugger Al is a force to be reckoned with on the USTA Senior Circuit

Monday, August 10, 2009

David Alman: Testifying Before HUAC: 1955

alman-huac
The anticipated revenge of HUAC for being involved with the Committee To Save The Rosenbergs
about Francis Walter from wikipedia
Francis Eugene Walter (May 26, 1894 – May 31, 1963) was a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Pennsylvania.
Francis Walter was born in Easton, Pennsylvania. He attended Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and George Washington University and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
During both World War I and World War II he served in the air service of the United States Navy. He was the director of the Broad Street Trust Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and of the Easton National Bank in Easton, Pennsylvania. From 1928 to 1933 he was the Solicitor of Northampton County, Pennsylvania. He was a delegate to the 1928 Democratic National Convention. He was elected as a Democrat to the 73rd United States Congress and served until his death in Washington, D.C.
Walter is best known for the McCarran-Walter Act, passed over President Truman's veto in 1952, which continued the quota system based on the national origin of immigrants introduced in 1924 and allowed the United States government to deport and bar from entry those identified as subversives, particularly members and former members of the Communist Party.
A noted immigration historian has characterized Walter's views as "reactionary and racist." A strong anti-Communist, Walter went on to serve as chairman of the United States House Un-American Activities Committee during the 84th through 88th Congresses. Walter also served as a director of the Pioneer Fund, a foundation best known for its advocacy of IQ variation among races.
Walter appeared in a central role in the 1960s-era U.S. government anti-Communist propaganda film Operation Abolition. Historical footage of Walter also appears in the 1990 documentary film Berkeley in the Sixties..
He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Emily Alman With Sophie Rosenberg: 1953

Photos Of Rosenberg Vigil In Washington D.C.: 1953

Rosenberg Dc Vigil
These are from Life Magazine. Many of them show Julius Rosenberg's mother Sophie with her grandsons Michael and Robert.

10,000 Rally To Save The Rosenbergs: May 4, 1953

Rosenberg Rally
A major part of David and Emily Alman's book Exoneration concerns the efforts of National Committee To Reopen the Rosenberg Case David and Emily were two of the leaders in that effort. The second page n the document above shows a vigil in Washington D.C.

David Alman: Husband Of Mayoral Candidate:1972

Emily Alman Runs For Mayor Of East Brunswick: 1972

The last page of the document is from a separate article about the eventual winner, Jean Walling, who tragically died in the iddle of her term in 1975
Emily Mayor

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Cecilia Greenstone Arnow


Image from Children of Ellis Island This was Emily Arnow Alman's remarkable mother.
from erraticimpact
Cecilia Greenstone: Born in Bialystok, in Russian Poland in 1887, Cecilia led an unconventional life from an early age. Her father owned a cigarette factory in their hometown, and Cecilia would frequently be left in charge in her father’s absence. By the age of 12 she had gotten caught up in the Socialist spirit of the times and had succeeded in organizing the cigarette factory’s workers. Though the factory did not last, Cecilia’s career in social work and issues had already begun. Cecilia, fearful of the pogroms, joined the Socialist Zionists and would frequently protest on the streets. Soon the Russian government accused the group of being anti-government and the police began to raid their meetings in battles that became increasingly violent. In 1905 the family fl ed for America. After arriving in New York, and turning down job offers until she could speak English, Cecilia went to the Astor Place Library (which would later become the headquarters for HIAS) determined to learn English. Spending hours on end at the library, she taught herself not just English, but also Hebrew, German and Yiddish, and eventually learned to speak seven languages. This feat brought her to the attention of the head of the Hebrew Division, where she became an assistant to the librarian. She later worked as a translator for the famed Jewish banker and philanthropist Jacob Schiff. It was while in this position that she came to the attention of the New York Section of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW,) an organization that worked hand in hand with HIAS. Founded out of concern for the hundreds of thousands of single and unaccompanied young Jewish women who came through the port of Ellis Island, the NCJW feared that these young women might be “mislead into immoral lives, and other girls will be subjected to great dangers because of the lack of some directing and protecting agency at Ellis Island.” At the time, it was not uncommon for young, newly arrived female immigrants to be taken advantage of, and many fell into lives of crime and prostitution. It was the job of the NCJW “to make sure that the ‘uncle’ who was waiting to meet the immigrant girl was truly her uncle and not a procurer.” “To rescue human dignity from this nightmare – that was the single thought my co-workers and I had,” recalled Greenstone in 1962. “To show them that in all the hard sorrow of their lives, they did not stand alone, and they did not have to succumb. To show them that if one person misuses or betrayed them, another would not; that their violated dignity could not be healed on the street, in theft, in drink, in drugs or suicide. To show them dignity could only be restored by that which a human does for oneself.” Beginning work in 1907, Greenstone would eventually work six days a week at Ellis Island, assisting single women, mothers and children through the immigration process. She personally intervened in countless cases where young women, who had been rejected by the health inspectors, were scheduled for deportation. She helped those, who because they could not speak enough English to answer inspector’s questions, were labeled “retarded” and set to be deported. She arranged for kosher food to be delivered to patients at the island’s hospital, and she established Shabbat and holiday services on the Island for Jewish immigrants. In 1910 alone the NCJW dealt with over 60,000 women and children, most of whom were helped by Cecilia. In her spare time she taught English classes and arraigned socials, theater outings and events that would bring newly settled immigrants in touch with American life. She helped to arrange marriages for young women whose suitors were moral and upstanding citizens, and she helped young women find work. Her motto: “ jobs, not charity.” By 1912 she was promoted to head agent for the NCJW on Ellis Island. A 1913 letter to an official at HIAS reads in part that “Miss Greenstone spends every cent of her salary to help the immigrants on the island… [She] renders her service without any regard to time or effort to any girl or woman who needs her service.” In 1914 Cecilia was asked by HIAS to travel to Riga, in Russian Latvia to inspect a new facility that had been built by the Russian government to house Jewish immigrants that were awaiting passage to America. Given the special commission as a “delegate” to Russia, Cecilia traveled to Europe aboard the Kursk. It was an uneventful trip, but a day before they reached Liverpool, England declared war on Germany, and the path of the Kursk was diverted. Cecilia became a witness to the first naval battle of World War I. By the time she returned to America, the number of immigrants arriving at Ellis Island was dwindling. With the war in Europe the number of immigrant arrivals dropped, from 875,000 in 1914 to 28,000 by 1918. After the end of the war, restrictive new laws limited the number of Jewish immigrants, and Greenstone was no longer needed at Ellis Island. Greenstone later married and had two children, but always continued her career in social work, first at Hamilton House, then Henry Street, and later through the depression years and the second World War at the Grand Street Settlement. She later worked as a social worker at the Sons and Daughters of Israel Home. She died in 1971 at age 84. “She was a liberated woman in Russia,” recalled her great grandson Jesse Peterson, “running a cigarette factory, marching into a hail of bullets with the young Socialist Zionists and emerging as the matriarch of the entire Greenstone family. This was not a woman who would accept second-class status in any culture or country, and throughout her career, she fought it, both for herself and her fellow women. In America, she took up the same struggle against injustice that she had fought on the streets of her native Russia, but here, rather than protest; she would fight injustice as a social worker, caring for one victim at a time.”

David and Emily Alman (of 10 Monroe Street)


No matter what your feelings might be about the Rosenberg case you can't help but tip your hat to the courage and conviction of the Almans.
from the Saratogian of 9/22/2002
Attorney revisits traitor case of Rosenbergs/Sobell at Skidmore
In 1953, Americans Ethel and Julius Rosenberg and Morton Sobell were convicted of conspiring to steal classified information about the atomic bomb on behalf of the Soviet Union. The Rosenbergs were sentenced to death, and Sobell was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Sunday, September 22, 2002, By MAE G. BANNER
From the outset of the case, many believed that a gross miscarriage of justice was being done. One of those who questioned the trial and sentence was Dr. Emily Arnow Alman, a professor emerita and former chairwoman of the Sociology Department at Douglass College, Rutgers University. Dr. Alman also is an attorney who has received many honors for her service to clients and to the field of matrimonial law.

Now a resident of Ballston Spa, Dr. Alman will give a talk, ''The Case against Julius and Ethel Rosenberg and Morton Sobell: Was Justice Done?'' at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23, in Wilson Chapel on the Skidmore College campus. The talk is free and open to the public.

Dr. Alman will describe the social and political context of the time, 1950-53, in which the Rosenberg-Sobell case arose. Also, she will present evidence to support her conclusion, arrived at through decades of study, that the defendants were wrongly convicted.

In 1951, Dr. Alman became interested and involved in the Rosenberg-Sobell case. After reading the trial transcript, she was convinced that a gross miscarriage of justice had occurred. She helped to form the National Committee to Secure Justice in the case. The committee's goals were to obtain a new trial for the defendants and/or clemency for the Rosenbergs.

New evidence surfaced, including a written confession by David Greenglass, the prosecution's chief witness, that he had agreed to testify to matters he knew nothing about first-hand, but that had been described to him by the FBI.

The committee published 10,000 copies of the verbatim trial transcript and sent copies to editors, government officials, scientists, members of Congress and prominent persons. Similar committees arose in major cities around the country, and their efforts culminated in a vigil at the White House. There was also an outpouring of support from around the world. The New York Times estimated that at least 3 million Americans eventually petitioned the White House for clemency for the Rosenbergs.

In 1956, three years after the execution of the couple, Dr. Alman and her husband David were called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee, where they defended the right of Americans to criticize prosecutorial and judicial actions that led to miscarriages of justice.

While on sabbatical leave from Rutgers in 1978, Dr. Alman used the Freedom of Information Act and other sources to obtain many definitive documents bearing on the case, including a pre-trial assurance by Federal Judge Irving Kaufman to the Department of Justice that he intended to sentence Julius Rosenberg to death. Other documents came from the Atomic Energy Commission, the State Department and the Department of Justice.

Dr. Alman and her husband are now completing a book on the case that will carry the first full account of the activities of the Committee to Secure Justice and of the campaign for a new trial and clemency that they spearheaded. The book will examine the case in light of David Greenglass's televised confession in December, 2001, that he had committed perjury at the Rosenberg-Sobell trial at the instruction of the prosecution.

The Skidmore lecture is co-sponsored by the Saratoga Springs chapter of Hadassah, which is the largest Jewish women's Zionist organization in the U.S.

from Emily's 2004 obituary
Emily Arnow Alman BALLSTON SPA -- Emily Arnow Alman of Ballston Spa died on March 18, 2004, at the age of 82. Dr. Alman was a sociologist and attorney.At her retirement from law, she was honored with a plaque by the Middlesex County Bar Association of New Jersey that read in part, 'The fact that you often faced overwhelming odds could not quench your indomitable spirit.' Dr. Alman was committed to advancing the causes of battered women, the poor and the rights of children in broken homes to have access to both their parents and grandparents. Dr. Alman received her B.A. at Hunter College in 1945 and her M.A. and Ph.D. at the New School For Social Research in 1963.She received her law degree at Rutgers University Law School in 1977.She taught sociology at Rutgers University's Douglas College from 1960 to 1986 and served as chairperson of the Department of Sociology for eight years.Her chief interests in sociology and law were family law, bias law and public policy law and interactions between social agencies and institutions and various population groups.
Dr. Alman's creative works include 'Ride the Long Night,' a novel (McMillan, 1963), and 'The Ninety-First Day,' a semi-documentary film on mental illness and shortcomings in institutional treatment (1963). 'We Were There,' a book in progress at the time of her death and co-authored with her husband, is based on government documents.
Dr. Alman was persuaded by the trial record to become one of the founders of a committee in 1951, the National Committee to Secure Justice in the Rosenberg-Sobell Case, to secure a new trial or clemency for the Rosenbergs and reduction of Morton Sobell's 30-year sentence. Dr. Alman was also a chairperson of the Concerned Citizens of East Brunswick, N.J., from 1970-78, which was instrumental in causing the New Jersey Turnpike to erect noise abatement berms along portions of the turnpike.She was also a member of the American and New Jersey bar associations and a number of professional associations and organizations for the protection of battered women.
Dr. Alman won first prize at the American Film Festival in 1964 for 'The Ninety-First Day' and the Appleton Award for dedicated service to the legal community.A short biography of her appears in Who's Who in American Women. Prior to becoming a sociologist and lawyer, Dr. Alman was a New York City probation officer.From 1957 to 1970, she and her husband and children were farmers in Englishtown, N.J. In 1972, Dr. Alman was an Independent candidate for mayor of East Brunswick, N.J. She is survived by her husband, David, whom she met at the age of 13 and married in 1940 at the age of 18 and with whom she celebrated every day of her life.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Spy That Got Away


an excerpt from the nytimes of October 2007 also referenced at the National Committee to Reopen the Rosenberg Case
A Spy’s Path: Iowa to A-Bomb to Kremlin Honor
By WILLIAM J. BROAD
He had all-American cover: born in Iowa, college in Manhattan, Army buddies with whom he played baseball.
George Koval also had a secret. During World War II, he was a top Soviet spy, code named Delmar and trained by Stalin’s ruthless bureau of military intelligence.
Atomic spies are old stuff. But historians say Dr. Koval, who died in his 90s last year in Moscow and whose name is just coming to light publicly, was probably one of the most important spies of the 20th century.
On Nov. 2, the Kremlin startled Western scholars by announcing that President Vladimir V. Putin had posthumously given the highest Russian award to a Soviet agent who penetrated the Manhattan Project to build the atom bomb.
The announcement hailed Dr. Koval as “the only Soviet intelligence officer” to infiltrate the project’s secret plants, saying his work “helped speed up considerably the time it took for the Soviet Union to develop an atomic bomb of its own.”
Since then, historians, scientists, federal officials and old friends have raced to tell Dr. Koval’s story — the athlete, the guy everyone liked, the genius at technical studies. American intelligence agencies have known of his betrayal at least since the early 1950s, when investigators interviewed his fellow scientists and swore them to secrecy.
The spy’s success hinged on an unusual family history of migration from Russia to Iowa and back. That gave him a strong commitment to Communism, a relaxed familiarity with American mores and no foreign accent.
“He was very friendly, compassionate and very smart,” said Arnold Kramish, a retired physicist who studied with Dr. Koval at City College and later worked with him on the bomb project. “He never did homework.”
Stewart D. Bloom, a senior physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, who also studied with Dr. Koval, called him a regular guy.
“He played baseball and played it well,” usually as shortstop, Dr. Bloom recalled. “He didn’t have a Russian accent. He spoke fluent English, American English. His credentials were perfect.”
Once, Dr. Bloom added, “I saw him staring off in the distance and thinking about something else. Now I think I know what it was.”
Over the years, scholars and federal agents have identified a half-dozen individuals who spied on the bomb project for the Soviets, especially at Los Alamos in New Mexico. All were “walk ins,” spies by impulse and sympathetic leaning rather than rigorous training.
By contrast, Dr. Koval was a mole groomed in the Soviet Union by the feared G.R.U., the military intelligence agency. Moreover, he gained wide access to America’s atomic plants, a feat unknown for any other Soviet spy. Nuclear experts say the secrets of bomb manufacturing can be more important than those of design.
Los Alamos devised the bomb, while its parts and fuel were made at secret plants in such places as Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Dayton, Ohio — sites Dr. Koval not only penetrated, but also assessed as an Army sergeant with wide responsibilities and authority.
“He had access to everything,” said Dr. Kramish, who worked with Dr. Koval at Oak Ridge and now lives in Reston, Va. “He had his own Jeep. Very few of us had our own Jeeps. He was clever. He was a trained G.R.U. spy.” That status, he added, made Dr. Koval unique in the history of atomic espionage, a judgment historians echo.
Washington has known about Dr. Koval’s spying since he fled the United States shortly after the war but kept it secret.
“It would have been highly embarrassing for the U.S. government to have had this divulged,” said Robert S. Norris, author of “Racing for the Bomb,” a biography of the project’s military leader.
Historians say Mr. Putin may have cited Dr. Koval’s accomplishments as a way to rekindle Russian pride. As shown by a New York Public Library database search, the announcement has prompted detailed reports in the Russian press about Dr. Koval and his clandestine feats.
“It’s very exciting to get this kind of break,” said John Earl Haynes, a Library of Congress historian and an authority on atomic spying. “We know very little about G.R.U. operations in the United States.”