Saturday, October 31, 2009

67 East 4th Street

Allan and Howie's mom, Yetta Goldman, was living at this address in 1920. It's between the Bowery and First Avenue. East 4th Street is one of the most historic blocks in the city.
The Lower East Side History Project has a lot by lot history of the block.
The Village Voice chose it as one of the best in the city
The West Side has its Lincoln Center. Nice, but a little garish for our taste. The East Village, on the other hand, has East 4th Street, a block-long cultural retreat boasting no fewer than 12 theaters, eight dance and rehearsal studios, and a screening room for avant-garde films. East 4th Street between the Bowery and Second Avenue is where La MaMa, the New York Theater Workshop, the Rod Rodgers Dance Company, and Millennium Theater all present their works. Sandwiched in between are an array of fine shops and artisans, including Barbara Shaum (the expert leather maker), a pair of marvelous musical instrument shops, the 4th Street Food Co-op, and the great KGB Bar. This little Bohemia was long ago targeted by Robert Moses's wrecking ball, and much of the housing—mostly six-story tenements—passed into municipal hands. But it was rescued by the efforts of the Cooper Square Committee, a local citizens' group that has never given up trying to create and save affordable housing and commercial space even in the torrid real estate market of the East Village. The result is a veritable People's Republic of East 4th Street—right here in Bloomberg Town!

175 E. 4th Street, 1942


From the Cushman Archive at the University of Indiana This part of East 4th Street was demolished to make way for the Village View Projects. The Lower East Side History Project has a lot by lot history of the block.
The Village Voice chose it as one of the best in the city
The West Side has its Lincoln Center. Nice, but a little garish for our taste. The East Village, on the other hand, has East 4th Street, a block-long cultural retreat boasting no fewer than 12 theaters, eight dance and rehearsal studios, and a screening room for avant-garde films. East 4th Street between the Bowery and Second Avenue is where La MaMa, the New York Theater Workshop, the Rod Rodgers Dance Company, and Millennium Theater all present their works. Sandwiched in between are an array of fine shops and artisans, including Barbara Shaum (the expert leather maker), a pair of marvelous musical instrument shops, the 4th Street Food Co-op, and the great KGB Bar. This little Bohemia was long ago targeted by Robert Moses's wrecking ball, and much of the housing—mostly six-story tenements—passed into municipal hands. But it was rescued by the efforts of the Cooper Square Committee, a local citizens' group that has never given up trying to create and save affordable housing and commercial space even in the torrid real estate market of the East Village. The result is a veritable People's Republic of East 4th Street—right here in Bloomberg Town!

Happy Halloween: The Witch Of Fourth Street

Here's an ancient slide show (2002) I just unearthed. It uses the book the "Witch of 4th Street." I narrated the first few pages of the story and added pictures to help give the story more context. Yes, I know I made a mistake in the first line, it's just too labor intensive to redo. click here to link to movie, you have to click the arrow to move it manually
The Lower East Side History Project has a lot by lot history of the block.

Happy Halloween: Yip And Ella, Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead

video
Yip Harburg wrote the lyrics, but Ella changed some and had her own unique interpretation
Once there was a wicked witch
In the lovely land of Oz
And a wickeder, wickeder
Wickeder witch that never,never was
She filled the folks in munchkin land
With terror and with dread
Till one fine day from kansas way
A cyclone caught a house
That brought the wickeder, wickeder witcher dome
At she was flying on her broom
For the house fell on her head
And the coroner pronounced her: dead
And through the town the joyous news was spread
Ding Dong! The Witch is dead. Which old Witch? The Wicked Witch!
Ding Dong! The Wicked Witch is dead.
Wake up - sleepy head, rub your eyes, get out of bed.
Wake up, the Wicked Witch is dead.
She's gone where the goblins go,
Below - below - below. Yo-ho
Let's open up and sing and ring the bells out.
Ding Dong' the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low.
Let them know
The Wicked Witch is dead!
[instrumental]
She's gone where the goblins go,
Below - below - below. Yo-ho
Let's open up and sing and ring the bells out.
Ding Dong' the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low.
Let them know
That Wicked Witch...
That Wicked Witch is dead!

Happy Halloween: From Finian's Rainbow, That Old Devil Moon

A Tribute To Yip Harburg


In honor of Hallowen and his "Old Devil Moon." I just found this video tribute on Democracy Now It was recorded on 12/25/2008
A Tribute to Yip Harburg: The Man Who Put the Rainbow in The Wizard of Oz
Harburg
His name might not be familiar to many, but his songs are sung by millions around the world. Today, a journey through the life and work of Yip Harburg, the Broadway lyricist who wrote such hits as “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?” and who put the music into The Wizard of Oz. Born into poverty on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Yip always included a strong social and political component to his work, fighting racism and poverty. A lifelong socialist, Yip was blacklisted and hounded throughout much of his life.
Taking us on today’s trip through the music and politics of Yip is his son, Ernie Harburg. First, we’re going to go through Yip’s early life, his collaboration with the Gershwin’s, through “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?” Then we’re going to take an in-depth look at The Wizard of Oz. And finally, we’ll hear a medley of Yip Harburg’s Broadway songs and the politics of the times in which they were created.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Max Hochstim Association, AKA The Essex Market Court Gang 2

Martin Engel

The Max Hochstim Association, AKA The Essex Market Court Gang

Eastman Smith Engel
much from the pdf above comes from the Rise and Fall of the Jewish Gangster in America by Albert Fried
Hochstin, along with Tammany boss Martin Engel, had saloons/houses of prostitution at 102, 121, and 123 Allen Streets and 33 Madison Street.

Charles "Silver Dollar Smith" Solomon

Silver Dollar Smith
from wikipedia's entry on historical criminals of New York
1843-1899 Tammany Hall political organizer known as "Silver Dollar Smith". Solomon was the political boss of the old Tenth Ward district and owner of the Silver Dollar Saloon in Essex Street across the street from Market Street Court.

There's more about Charles "Silver Dollar Smith" Solomon and his association with Monk Eastman over at the Lower East Side History Project
an excerpt
Smith's saloon was one of the sites of operation for the Eastman Gang, run by Jewish gang leader Monk Eastman, who worked as a bouncer for Silver Dollar Smith. Smith himself was a corrupt local politician and member of the Max Hochstim Association, also known as the Essex Market Court Gang due to the saloon’s proximity to the Essex Market Court. The Silver Dollar Saloon was notorious for housing Tammany Hall leaders, politicians and false witnesses, and Smith was reported to physically threaten local saloon owners in the neighborhood. In one such instance, Smith was arrested for stabbing August Gloistein, owner of a saloon on 354 Grand Street.
 

134 White Street: Then And Then And Now


As is often the case you're searching for something and you find something else much more interesting instead. The above was found using a search query of baxter street on the life images site. 134 White is where KVer Joe Bruno lived until 1963, the year he moved to Knickerbocker Village. Baxter Street on the right is where a favorite KV dining spot, Forlini's, is located. The Bail Bonds' office can be seen in lower right of the "then" picture below. A story about the picture below can be found on this prior post

About Mr. Paris who is headed to the Tombs in the 1947 picture. (btw, I believe the caption is incorrect in stating "being led from")
Alvin J. Paris (born 1918) was a New York bookmaker and gambler who, as a "front man" for a gambling syndicate based in Elizabeth, New Jersey, fixed college sporting events through bribing of star athletes, including Rocky Marciano.[1]
After being recorded on federal wiretaps on December 15, 1946 in an investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Frank S. Hogan, a former assistant to crusading New York District Attorney Thomas Dewey, he was convicted of attempting to bribe professional football players Merle Hapes and Frank Filchock of the New York Giants with $2,500 each to throw the NFL championship game against the Chicago Bears. Paris was eventually convicted of bribery on January 8, 1947 and, although Hapes and Fitchcock were cleared of bribery charges, both men were initially suspended by then league commissioner Bert Bell (with Filchock being allowed to play the final game against the Chicago Bears).
During his trial, Paris chose not to take the stand in his own defense and later testified against his partners David Krakauer, Jerome Zarowitz and Harvey Stemmer, for which he would later receive death threats. Paris's sentencing had been deferred until after the second trial and he received a one-year sentence on April 7 of which he served nine months before his parole.

postscript from Joe:
Only problem is, he's walking toward the Tombs, not away from it. You can see where Forlini's was in the background right and Cecila and Denis Maruffi's building is a few doors before Forlini's. When I was a kid, Frankie Russo had a bail bonds office in the bottom of my building on the corner.

The Monk Eastman Story: From Gangster To Hero Doughboy

Eastman
There's also a very interesting site about a character who recreates the Monk Eastman
of the past

New Bowery, 1920


Just down the block to the right of this site is where James Donovan had a saloon in 1901. He was the individual who shot Monk Eastman on April 14, 1901.

"Halloween" 1901: A Scary LES Dude Of The Past: Monk Eastman


You wouldn't want to mess with Monk. Image by Pat Hamou. Pat has a great mobster site six for five and he sells his art work, very reasonably, on etsy

There's another story about Monk and the Silver Dollar Hotel/Saloon over at the Lower East Side History Project
Monk Eastman, aka: Joseph Morris, William Delaney, Edward Delaney, etc., was born around 1873 in Brooklyn under the name of Edward Osterman. His parents were respectable Jewish restaurateurs and set Edward up with a pet store on Penn street, near their restaurant. Edward grew bored and soon abandoned his store for the excitement of street life, gangsters, prostitutes, stuss games and all of the ilk associated with it. However, Monk (Edward) always held an extreme fondness for cats and birds and he later opened up a pet store on Broome street. Monk trained a pigeon to sit on his shoulder while he went about his street travels and sometimes carried a cat with him. This "sensitive" trait contrasted sharply with his fondness for backjacking assignments and other violent deeds. Monk boasted that he had never struck a women with his club or killed one. When a lady suffered a severe lapse in manners, he blackened her eyes.
"I only give her a little poke, just enough to put a shanty on her glimmer. But I always takes off me knucks first."
Around 1895, Monk moved to lower Manhattan and established himself as Sheriff of New Irving Hall. The "Sheriffs" acted as armed bouncers and were responsible for keeping order (of sorts) in the social clubs or resorts that were frequented and owned by gangsters/politicians. Monk developed a patois of clipped, slangy speech and an indifferent dress style. The artist's rendition of Monk shows him at his best, usually only when he was before a magistrate. Monk became very popular with the hoodlums of the East Side and they began to imitate his slang and sloppy clothes. Monk's outfit usually consisted of a derby hat several sizes too small, a blackjack tucked into his pants, open shirt, and brass knuckles adorning each hand. He carried a large club and enjoyed using it, "sending so many men to Bellevue Hospital's accident ward that ambulance drivers referred to it as the Eastman Pavilion."
After a few years, Monk quit his position as Sheriff of New Irving and moved up the crime ladder towards gang leader. Monk had established his kingdom by 1900 with more than twelve hundred warriors under the Eastman banner. The Eastman headquarters was a dive on Chrystie street, near the bowery, where they stockpiled slung-shots, revolvers, blackjacks, brass knuckles, and other tools of gang warfare. Their main sources of income were derived from houses of prostitution, stuss games (a form of faro), political engagements, blackjacking services, and the operations of pickpockets, footpads, and loft burglars. Tammany Hall, the political power in New York City, frequently engaged the services of Eastman to bring in the votes at election time. In return, Tammany Hall lawyers bailed Eastman out whenever he got arrested.
Monk Eastman's feud with Paul Kelly began over a strip of territory between Mike Salter's dive on Pell street and the Bowery. Eastman claimed domain over the territory from Monroe to Fourteenth streets and from the Bowery to the East River. Paul Kelly and his Five Pointers believed that their kingdom included the Bowery and any spoils found in this area. Eventually, the constant feuding would cause the downfall of both Monk Eastman and Paul Kelly.

Happy Halloween: Bossa Rio, That Old Devil Moon


Lyrics by the lower east side's Yip Harburg
I look at you and suddenly,
Something in your eyes I see
Soon begins bewitching me.
It's that old devil moon
That you stole from the skies.
It's that old devil moon
In your eyes.
You and you glance
Make this romance
Too hot to handle.
Stars in the night
Blazing their light
Can't hold a candle
To your razzle-dazzle.
You've got me flyin' high and wide
On a magic carpet ride
Full of butterflies inside.
Wanna cry, wanna croon,
Wanna laugh like a loon.
It's that old devil moon
In your eyes.
Just when I think, I'm
Free as a dove.
Old devil moon,
Deep in your eyes,
Blinds me with love.

KVers Dance To Empire State Of Mind

video
Someone made a suggestion that at the next KV reunion that Empire State Of Mind be sung.
Although many object to the hip hop lyrics, Marv, aka the fastest KVer ever, wondered if the song could be danced to. Evidently he and his lovely bride have no problem.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Witchcraft 2009: Chris Connor

video
From a great singer who just passed away this past August. part of her bio
Chris Connor (November 8, 1927 – August 29, 2009 [1]) was an American jazz singer.
She was born as Mary Loutsenhizer in Kansas City, Missouri to Clyde and Mabel Loutsenhizer. She studied and became proficient on the clarinet, having studied for 8 years throughout junior high and high school. Mabel Loutsenhizer died in 1940 and young Mary moved in with her older sister, who took over the responsibility of raising her. She first sang publicly in 1945, at the Jefferson City Junior College's graduation.
She moved between local bands from 1946-1947 and in 1948, she moved to New York City with the intention of having a glamorous career. Unable to find a singing job, she became an office stenographer. She spent the next seven weeks trying to secure any kind singing job. She met a man acquainted with orchestra leader Claude Thornhill's road manager, Joe Green. Thornhill was seeking a new singer to round out his vocal group, the Snowflakes. She successfully auditioned and joined Thornhill's group, touring around the United States and recording harmonies in the studio. Of her time spent with the Snowflakes, there is only evidence of her vocal contribution on two recorded songs: "There's a Small Hotel" and "I Don't Know Why", both performed in 1949. She continued to tour with the Thornhill band sporadically until March 1952, when she joined Jerry Wald's big band and recorded five songs: "You're the Cream in My Coffee", "Cherokee", "Pennies from Heaven", "Raisins and Almonds", and "Terremoto". She also reunited with Claude Thornhill in October 1952 for a radio broadcast from the Statler Hotel in New York City. She sang four songs: "Wish You Were Here", Come Rain or Come Shine", "Sorta Kinda", and "Who Are We to Say".
When Connor was singing live on a radio broadcast from the Roosevelt Hotel in February 1953, June Christy (then vocalist for Stan Kenton's band), was listening and heard her sing. By 1952, Kenton had rotated several female singers as replacements. In late 1952, Christy returned to the Kenton band for some sporadic engagements. When she informed Kenton again of her impending departure to pursue a solo career, she remembered Chris Connor and recommended her to Kenton. Connor auditioned and began touring and recording for the Stan Kenton band in February 1953. On February 11, 1953, Connor recorded her first sides with the Stan Kenton band. Her first song, "And The Bull Walked Around, Ole", peaked at #30 on the Billboard music charts. Other songs recorded with the band were "Baia", "Jeepers Creepers", "If I Should Lose You", "I Get A Kick Out Of You", "Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen" and the song that would forever be associated with the vocalist, "All About Ronnie". Additional songs Connor sang on the road (but never recorded with the band in studio) were "Taking A Chance On Love", "Don't Worry About Me", "I'll Remember April" and "There Will Never Be Another You".
By June 1953, Connor was finding the constant traveling and vocal demands of nightly performances with a big band exhausting. She abruptly left the Kenton band and by fall of 1953, she had relocated back to New York. Soon after, she hired Monte Kay to manage her impending solo career. He found work for her at Birdland. One night after a show, the owner of Bethlehem Records, Gus Wildi, offered her a recording contract on the spot. She signed with the label in 1953, and in 1954 released dual long play LPs, Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland and Chris Connor Sings Lullabys For Lovers. She became a best-selling solo artist for Bethlehem Records aged 26 and the label rushed her into the studios to record additional songs. Bethlehem Records released the successful follow-up albums Chris and This Is Chris in 1955. When time came for Connor's contract to expire, she signed for an album deal with Atlantic Records (she recorded for Atlantic from 1956-1963). Connor was the first white female jazz singer to be signed by the label. Ahmet Ertegun and his brother Nesuhi Ertegun's Atlantic label was, at the time, primarily a rhythm and blues label, with artists such as Ruth Brown and Ray Charles.
Chris Connor died on August 29, 2009 from cancer, aged 81. She is survived by a nephew and her longtime partner and manager Lori Muscarelle.

LES History Of Vice And Crime At The NY Historical Society


Eric's Ward Map above

LESHP director Eric Ferrara gave a presentation on the history of vice and crime in New York City at the prestigious New-York Historical Society on Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ward Maps

ward-maps-1904
I helped Eric Ferrara get information on ward map boundaries for his presentation at the New York Historical Society. I then realized that I had made some mistakes previous posts in locating their story point of origin. It will take a while to correct. I mostly overlooked stories that originated in the 14th and 17th wards.

Happy Halloween: Clifford Brown, I Don't Stand A Ghost Of A Chance With You

Happy Halloween: Joni James, I Don't Stand A Ghost Of A Chance With You


I love you oh so madly
I need your love so badly
But I don't stand a
Ghost of a chance with you
I thought at last I had found you
But other arms surround you
And I don't stand a
Ghost of a chance with you
If you'd surrender just for
A tender kiss or two
You might discover that
I'm the lover meant for you
And I'd be true
So what's the good of all my scheming?
I know I must be dreaming
For I don't stand a
Ghost of a chance with you

btw Joni is Giovanna 'Joan' Carmella Babbo

Witchcraft 2009


Above: Patrcia Barber in Paris. For last year's version by Frank
For those KV jazz lovers and all other appreciators of fine music, the son of the KV Rambo, Todd Schefflin, will be appearing in two concerts a William Patterson College. On Sunday, November 1st with Vocalist Carrie Jackson and the following week, November 8th
in a big band setting with the great Frank Wess

Happy Halloween From Knickerbocker Village


It's the west courtyard above.

Coney Island Rowdyism At The Mardi Gras

Coney Mardi Gras
Probably some of the gangster characters from Dreamland must have been present

Coney Island Images: From Library Of Congress

Coney Island Dreamland
The last image is from the Coney Island Mardi Gras in 1906. More about the Mardi Gras and what went on there.

More On Coney Island Of Old

Coney Atlas 2
from a great new york city history resourc, The Historical Atlas of New York City

Old Coney Island In Film: 1905


from the youtube description
The young ladies from Miss Knapp's Select School have an outing at Coney Island, NY in 1905.

Old Coney Island In Film: 1940-1956

Historic Map Of Coney Island


from a great new york city history resourc, The Historical Atlas of New York City

An Historic Tour Of Coney Island

video
My curiosity being aroused by Kevin Baker's talk on Dreamland led me to an excellent site on Coney Island history which had this tour along with other gems.
The Coney Island History Project, founded in 2004, is a not-for-profit organization that aims to increase awareness of Coney Island's legendary and colorful past and to encourage appreciation of the Coney Island neighborhood of today. Our mission is to record, archive and share oral history interviews; provide access to historical artifacts and documentary material through educational exhibits, events and a website; and honor community leaders and amusement pioneers through our Coney Island Hall of Fame. Emphasizing community involvement, the History Project teaches young people the techniques of oral history and develops programs in conjunction with local schools, museums, and other organizations.
Amusement Area: Past & Present
The first audio tour covers the Amusement Area: Past & Present. Highlights include Coney Island's four New York City landmarks: the 1920 Wonder Wheel and 1927 Cyclone Roller Coaster, which are operating rides; the 1939 Parachute Jump, refurbished by the city and celebrated as "Brooklyn's Eiffel Tower"; and the 1924 Childs Restaurant building on the Boardwalk, which is currently Lola Staar's Dreamland Roller Rink. Sites endangered by change of ownership and redevelopment plans are another component of the tour. These sites include the Grasshorn Building (Coney's oldest, circa 1888); the 1925 Shore Theatre; Ruby's Bar and other vernacular architecture and signage along the Boardwalk, Bowery and Jones Walk.
The tours contribute to preservation of an authentic sense of place by telling the stories of Coney's landmarks as well as its endangered sites. For example, the former Grasshorn Hardware Store (Coney's oldest building) and Henderson Vaudeville Theatre (where Harpo Marx made his stage debut in 1908) are considered ineligible for landmarking because they have been altered too significantly. The process of landmarking the Shore Theater is expected to begin soon. CIHP's Audio Walking Tour will help keep these endangered sites in the public eye while there is still hope to save them.

Kevin Baker Discusses Dreamland At Long Island University


a good segue from the Strawberry Blonde to Dreamland?
From a 10/26/09 book talk that was part of Long Island University's excellent Voices Of The Rainbow series.
Kevin Baker's site
The series is coordinated by Professor's Louis Parascandola and Maria McGarrity.
Voices of the Rainbow: Celebrating the Oral Tradition
Since 1993, the English Department of Long Island University's Brooklyn Campus has been hosting a series of poetry and fiction readings entitled "Voices of the Rainbow: Celebrating the Oral Tradition." This series, funded by the Brooklyn Campus Provost's Office and the New York State Council on the Arts, is free and open to the public.
We have presented over 70 programs, bringing to our campus such prominent literary figures as Chang-Rae Lee, Piri Thomas, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Amiri Baraka, Ntozake Shange, Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Cristina Garcia, Gloria Naylor, Gwendolyn Brooks, Fae Myenne Ng, Maryse Conde, Junot Diaz, Tracie Morris, Jessica Hagedorn, Edwidge Danticat, Ishmael Reed, and Dorothy Allison.
Several programs have been presented in collaboration with the Department of Teaching and Learning, the Women's Studies Program, and the English Club. For the past several years, we have also presented programs at the East New York and Ridgewood/Bushwick extensions of the Brooklyn Campus of Long Island University/

George Tobias: Born On The LES


George is living at this address in 1910. In 1920 he's living at 314 E. 5th Street, where PS 15's school yard is now.
George Tobias began a colorful life on luly 14, 1901, on New York's Lower East Side. Coming from a theatrical family, he started his own career at the age of fifteen at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York. At nineteen, he went into a Provincetown Playhouse production of The HairyApe, a new Eugene O'Neill play that was destined to become an American classic. Shortly afterward, he was chosen for the original Broadway cast of What Price Glory by Maxwell Anderson and Laurence Stallings. The play was highly successful, and George stayed with it from 1924 to 1926.
He later appeared in such plays as The Road to Rome, The Gray Fox, and Elizabeth the Queen, and went on to work in summer stock with Jose Ferrer. When he returned to New York, he landed in another new production that was to become one of Broadway's all-time hits, You Can't Take It with You. From 1937 to 1939, Tobias played the Russian ballet master in the famous George Kaufman-Moss Hart comedy, then he went on to the musical Leave It to Me! with Mary Martin (famous as Peter Pan, George Tobias and mother of I Dream of Jeannie's Larry Hagman).George then came to Hollywood to make movies for MGM, including Ninotchka (1939), which years later became a hit on Broadway in a musical version called Silk Stockings (1957, with Don Ameche and Hildegard Neff). Silk was turned into another MGM film with Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse. George was in all three versions
For many years he was under contract to Warner Brothers and appeared in Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) and Air Force (1943) for the studios, as well as Mission to Moscow (1943) and My Sister Eileen (1955), a Columbia release which also featured Dick York.
Tobias made several other movies, including The Set Up (1949), Ten Tall Men (1951), The Glenn Miller Story (l954), The Seven Little Foys (1955), Marjorie Morningstar (1958), and The Glass Bottom Boat (with Alice Pearce in 1966).
In addition to his regular role as Abner on Bewitched, Tobias made many other TV appearances, including a continuing part in Adventures in Paradise from 1959 to 1962, and with former Bewitched costar Sandra Gould on the Bewitched sequel, Tabitha, in which they both reprised their Kravitz roles.
Though Abner may have been a softer role for him to play in any series, Tobias was active and rugged in real life. Tobias was quite the equestrian. He owned and trained many horses, loved to play polo, and was a volunteer mounted policeman.
In fact, according to Bewitched costar David White, the off-screen Abner was a sheriff out in Peach Blossom, California, where he lived. "He had a badge and everything," recalled White. "He Was told that if he ever saw something suspicious, he should call it in. I mean, he had a two-way radio in his jeep, and I guess he used to be quite the rambler out there."

his wikipedia entry has a funny story about his funeral

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Raoul Walsh, The Strawberry Blonde And Another Son Of The Lower East Side

George Tobias, who co-starred in this enjoyable Walsh film, was born on the lower east side not too far away from Jimmy Cagney. He's the character playing horseshoes with Jimmy.

A New Look At The Other Half

Riis New Book

Daniel Czitrom co-authored a recent book which re-examines the work of Jacob Riis.
An excerpt from the nytimes review
Today one of the last Bowery flophouses leans up against the futuristic steel facade of the New Museum, and a bed at the Bowery Hotel can run $750 a night. After such gentrification, it can be difficult to conjure up the squalid New York that Jacob Riis documented in his groundbreaking 1889 work of photojournalism, “How the Other Half Lives.” Riis was well aware that the “other half” in New York City had become the other three-quarters, with 1.2 million impoverished New Yorkers living in slums, 19th-century tenements that were a public health catastrophe, rife with typhus, diarrhea, cholera and tuberculosis. Employing unsentimental storytelling, reportage, social statistics and the latest advances in flash photography, Riis shed a stark light on the horrific living conditions of New York’s vast population of poor immigrants.
In “Rediscovering Jacob Riis,” Bonnie Yochelson and Daniel Czitrom have undertaken a rigorous, scholarly re-examination of Riis’s life and work. While Czitrom, a historian at Mount Holyoke College, places Riis in the context of other 19th-century social crusaders, Yochelson, a former photo curator at the Museum of the City of New York, offers a more critical assessment; she re-evaluates Riis’s photography and questions the mythos that surrounds him.
Riis was beloved in his time. Teddy Roosevelt called him “the best American I ever knew,” and even coined the term “muckraking” to describe the fierce advocacy journalism practiced by Riis and others. But Riis was far from an infallible social reformer. In Czitrom’s estimation, he refused to acknowledge his debt to predecessors like the activist-journalist Charles Wingate and too often indulged in ethnic stereotyping. An industrious Danish immigrant, he seemed to find moral failings in nearly every other group: Polish Jews, Italians, Chinese, the Irish. Riis was also critical of interracial socializing; he said of so-called black-and-tan saloons that “there can be no greater abomination.” But Riis’s real anger was saved for the tenements themselves, whose dire conditions he called the “murder of the home.” He pursued his campaign with evangelical zeal. Riis believed that defective character led to poverty and that conscience-driven capitalism was the best solution. Although he pitied them, his reform crusade “ascribed little or no role at all to tenement dwellers themselves,” Czitrom writes. This brand of noblesse oblige perhaps anticipated the public housing failures of Riis’s 20th-century admirer Robert Moses.
But regardless of his philosophy, Riis’s photographs remain indelible. Making use of newly invented magnesium flash powder, he brought the brilliant light of a new medium to bear on a netherworld that had never been photographically recorded. He shot the down-and-out occupants of darkened Bowery basements and Chinatown opium dens, his subjects caught unawares. The dingy and cluttered rooms, lighted bright as day for a split-second exposure, are immediate and revelatory, and remain extraordinarily persuasive as evidence of the squalor Riis sought to combat.

The Notorious Fourth Ward

From a recent South Street Seaport Museum Magazine. (I added several images) The author, Daniel Czitrom, is a quite prolific historian as well as a playwright. Mention is made in this article of the charade pulled by dance house owner John Allen referred to in the previous post on the Howard Mission
Ward 4 Article 2

The Howard Mission And The Home For Little Wanderers

Alfred E. Smith, St. James School And The Howard Mission



I visited St. James' School last week after I did a Fourth Ward tour. I wanted to know if the school was in fact the same structure of the old Howard Mission. The Mission was on 37 New Bowery. The school is at 37 St. James Place, which replaced New Bowery. No one knew. While I was there I volunteered to do some neighborhood history work with their kids. I took a picture that they had of their most famous graduate that was in the lobby.
About The Howard Mission From Peter Baldwin's great Fourth Ward site
It was opened June 10, 1861, by the Rev. W.C. Van Meter, who, for 10 or 12 years, has been engaged in rescuing the "children of the street," and placing them in carefully selected homes, chiefly in the country. As, in the prosecution of his beneficent work, he walked through the purlieus of the city, he met with children who were homeless, or who needed temporary shelter and protection -- "cinder wenches," "gutter snipes,""wharf rats" and beggars of cold victuals -- others whose parents were worthy but very poor. Many were sick and dying from want and neglect. Many mothers who would gladly earn their living were compelled to remain at home without employment because there was no place where they could leave their little children during the day while they should go out to work. He found others who would gladly work if they could obtain employment; feeling that it was degrading to them to be supported wholly by charity when they might earn at least a portion of their subsistence. The greater part of these unfortunate people were indifferent to, or deprived of religious privileges. This was a sad state of things and Mr. Van Meter resolved to try to remedy it.
He knew from long experience in the work that the task would be a heavy one, but his experience had also taught him that the best method to grapple with it. He had learned that when the perishing stretch out their hands for the "bread" of help, it will not do to turn them off with the "stone" of advice. To the hungry, bread first, then preaching; or rather, let both go together, or in Mr. Van Meter's words, "My object was to the utmost of my ability to do good to the souls and bodies of these sorrowing and perishing ones, and as I thought it not necessary to 'stamp a particular creed upon a loaf of bread,' I invited to an earnest co-operation with me all who sympathized in such a work."
His plan, though so comprehensive as to meet all these wants, was very simple. For the homeless, shelter, food, clothes, and kind, intelligent, Christian homes, were to be provided. In their new homes they were to have a seat at the table with the family, and move in the same social circle. They were to be tenderly cared for in sickness and in health, receive at least an ordinary common school education, go to Sunday-school and church, and be trained to habits of active industry; and that he might not lose his power to protext them, he would not bind them, but retained the power to remove them if they were not properly treated.
Another class of children who needed a temporary shelter, but whom Mr. Van Meter was not authorized to provide with homes, were to be kept in the Mission until their friends should provide for them. A third, and by far the most numerous class, who attended no school, and were not engaged in any employment, might come in the morning, enjoy the benefits of the bath, wardrobe, dining and school-rooms, and return to their places or homes in the evening. The schools were to be conducted by the best and kindest teachers he could obtain.
The sick were to be visited, encouraged, and according to his means supplied with food, clothes, medicine, and medical attendance.
A Day Nursery was to be provided, in which mothers could leave their small children while they should be out at work, and employment was to be sought for those who wished to earn their living as far as possible.
In addition to these, families whose children were connected with the Mission, and who on personal visitation and investigation were found to be deserving of assistance, were to be supplied, according to the necessities of the case, with bread, shoes and coal, at less than cost, the price being varied according to their abilities to pay, Mr. Van Meter's theory being that true charity consists in helping a man to do only what he cannot do without assistance.
This was the plan, and he at once put it into execution, and the unprecedented success which has attended his work, shows the wisdom of it. The Rev. R.G. Toles, now Superintendent of the Home for Little Wanderers in Boston, said "I will stand by you and assist you," which he did, until he took charge of the institution in Boston.
The premises [at] No. 37 New Bowery, were rented and fitted up, and the day the Mission was opened 183 children were received. Last year the number received was 1,543. During the last four years over 3,000 children have been received, hundreds of whom have been placed in good homes all over the country. The last four months 1,237 of these little wanderers have come under the protecting roof of this Home. Daily 400 to 550 are at its table. Frequently more than 100 baskets of provisions a day are distributed among the sick and destitute.
Although the cost of this work is about $25,000 a year, it has neither asked nor received an appropriation of a dollar from the School Fund, City or State. It has not turned from its door a homeless child nor gone in debt a dollar. It is sustained entirely by the free-will offerings of those who take pleasure in placing their benefactions for the poor in its hands.

Al Smith On His 60th Birthday

Maybe Al Smith would know if Raoul Walsh's parents lived in the 4t Ward
Al Smith Remembers

Raoul Walsh: Who's Almost Who?


Raoul Walsh was a great director and ahead of his times in his views on race, as mentioned above, in a fascinating analysis. My father always enjoyed his films and so did I and now I understand a little better why. He was born in New York City in 1888 but I don't think it's the Fourth Ward, but the upper west side. Who knows, maybe his parents had their origins there.
Sequence analysis of They Died with Their Boots On (1941, dir. Raoul Walsh), #911 (51) in the Shooting Down Pictures project. Commentary by Matt Zoller Seitz, film critic for the New York Times and host of The House Next Door

The Fighting 69th Goes Off To War

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fourth Ward Civil War Draftees

Many of them probably fought in the Irish Brigade, the Fighting 69th Regiment.
From Peter Baldwin's great Fourth Ward site
Civil War Draftees

Garry Owen And The Irish Brigade And The Fourth Ward

The Irish Brigade was an infantry brigade, consisting predominantly of Irish immigrants, that served in the Union Army in the American Civil War. Many of them came from New York's Fourth Ward. The designation of the first regiment in the brigade, the 69th New York Infantry, or the "Fighting 69th", continued in later wars. The "Fighting 69th" adopted Garry Owen as their song.
They Died with Their Boots On is a 1941 western film directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Errol Flynn and Olivia de Havilland. Despite being rife with historical inaccuracies, the film was one of the top-grossing films of the year, being the last of eight Flynn-de Havilland collaborations.
The film follows the life of George Armstrong Custer (Errol Flynn) from attending West Point, wooing of Elizabeth Bacon (Olivia de Havilland) who becomes his loving wife, the American Civil War, and the Battle of Little Big Horn. In the film, the battle is blamed on unscrupulous corporations and politicians craving the land of Crazy Horse (Anthony Quinn) and his people.
Custer is portrayed as a fun-loving, dashing figure who chooses honor and glory over money and corruption. Though his "Last Stand" is probably treated as more significant and dramatic than it may have actually been, Custer (Flynn) follows through on his promise to teach his men "to endure and die with their boots on." In the movie's version of Custer's story, a few corrupt white politicians goad the Western tribes into war, threatening the survival of all white settlers in the West. Custer and his men give their lives at Little Bighorn to delay the Indians and prevent this slaughter. A letter left behind by Custer absolves the Indians of all responsibility.
...The character of "Queen's Own" Butler, while English, is essentially a composite of two real-life officers who were from other parts of the British Empire: Canadian William W. "Queen's Own" Cooke, and Irishman Myles Keogh, who is linked to an apocryphal account of introducing the song "Garryowen" to the 7th Cavalry.

the origins of Garryowen are unclear, but it emerged in the late eighteenth century, when it was a drinking song of rich young roisters in Limerick. It obtained immediate popularity in the British Army through the 5th (Royal Irish) Lancers, who were garrisoned in Limerick and was played throughout the Napoleonic War, becoming the regimental march of the 18th Foot (The Royal Irish Regiment).
Garryowen became the marching tune for the 69th Infantry Regiment, New York Militia, (the famed "Fighting 69th" ) in the mid-1800s. The "Fighting 69th" adopted Garry Owen before the Civil War and recently brought it back to combat in Operation Iraqi Freedom
It later became the marching tune for the US 7th Cavalry Regiment during the late 1800s. The tune was a favorite of General George Armstrong Custer and became the official air of the Regiment in 1867. According to legend it was the last tune played before the Battle of the Little Bighorn.
The name of the tune has become a part of the regiment, the words Garry Owen are part of the regimental crest, and there is a Camp Garry Owen, north of Seoul, Korea, which houses part of the 4th Squadron of the regiment.The Seventh Cavalry regiment became a part of the US 1st Cavalry Division in 1921, and "Garryowen" became the official tune of the division in 1981.
The word garryowen is derived from Irish, the proper name Eóghan ("born of the yew tree") and the word for garden garrai - thus "Eóghan's Garden". The term refers to an area of the town of Limerick, Ireland.

Instead of spa, we'll drink brown ale
And pay the reckoning on the nail;
No man for debt shall go to jail
From Garryowen in glory.
2. We are the boys who take delight
In smashing Limerick lamps at night,
And through the street like sportsters fight,
Tearing all before us
Chorus
3. We'll break the windows, we'll break down doors,
The watch knock down by threes and fours,
And let the doctors work their cures,
And tinker up our bruised
Chorus
4. We'll beat the bailiffs out of fun,
We'll make the mayor and sheriffs run
We are the boys no man dares dun
If he regards a whole skin.
Chorus
5. Our hearts so stout have got us fame
For soon 'tis known from whence we came
Where'er we go they fear the name
Of Garryowen in glory.
Chorus

They Got Caught With Their Watch On


from Civil War Women
...After Custer's death, Libbie moved to New York, where she sought work to supplement her small widow's pension. She wrote three books about their life at frontier posts in order to ensure that Custer's memory would always be honored. In Boots and Saddles: Life in Dakota with General Custer, published in 1885, she describes her life from 1873 to 1876, and compellingly presents the shared anxiety of wives left at Fort Lincoln while their husbands fought and died at Little Big Horn.
In Tenting on the Plains: General Custer in Kansas and Texas (1887), she describes her experiences following General Custer in Kansas and Texas from 1865 to 1867. Insects, illness, and scorpions dominate her recollections of the march to Texas, and her Kansas memories include prairie fire, flood, and cholera.
In 1890, Libbie published her last book, Following the Guidon, in which she picks up the story when her husband returned to duty in Kansas in 1868 to join the campaign culminating in the Battle of Washita. She vividly recalls her fearful visits with captured Native Americans and tribal peace council delegates, while glorifying her husband's honest treatment of those he helped defeat.
Throughout her 57 years of widowhood, Mrs. Custer worked untiringly to defend her husband's reputation and transform him into a hero. She influenced a number of writers, and in all her works, her husband emerged as an exemplary son, brother, husband, and conscientious commanding officer. Since the army and the public saw Libbie as a model wife and a devoted widow, many Custer critics withheld their comments during her lifetime.
Known throughout her life for her undying devotion to her husband, Libbie was the only officer's wife to live in a tent on the edges of a Civil War battlefield, ride in the ranks with the soldiers, and accompany the 7th Cavalry on many of its expeditions. During those adventures, she wore her own uniformed dresses to show her dedication to her husband and the US Army.
Libbie Bacon Custer remained utterly devoted to her husband and never remarried. She died at her home in New York City on April 4, 1933, a few days before her 91st birthday. She was buried at West Point Military Academy next to her husband. They had no children.

The Folks Who Live On The Hill


Many men with lofty aims,
Strive for lofty goals,
Others play at smaller games,
Being simpler souls.
I am of the latter brand;
All I want to do,
Is to find a spot of land,
And live there with you.
Someday we'll build a home on a hilltop high,
You and I,
Shiny and new a cottage that two can fill.
And we'll be pleased to be called,
"The folks who live on the hill".
Someday we may be adding a thing or two,
A wing or two.
We will make changes as any fam'ly will,
But we will always be called,
"The folks who live on the hill".
Our veranda will command a view of meadows green,
The sort of veiw that seems to want to be seen.
And when the kids grow up and leave us,
We'll sit and look at the same old view,
Just we two.
Darby and Joan who used to be Jack and Jill,
The folks like to be called,
What they have always been called,
"The folks who live on the hill".

Sidney Hillman

on excerpt from wikipedia. The last 4 paragraphs (bold-faced) mention the ILGWU/mob connection which Hillman tried to put a stop to after it had got out of hand.
Sidney Hillman (March 23, 1887 - July 10, 1946) was an American labor leader. Head of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, he was a key figure in the founding of the Congress of Industrial Organizations and in marshaling labor's support for Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Democratic Party.
Born in Zagare in Lithuania, Hillman left home to attend rabbinical school at age 14, but soon left school and became a member of the General Jewish Labor Union, a Jewish and socialist labor union within the Pale which the Czarist authorities tried to repress. After being arrested twice for political activity and spending several months in prison, Hillman fled the country in the wake of the suppression of the Russian Revolution of 1905, moving first to Manchester, England, and then in 1907 to Chicago.
Hillman found work there as an employee of Hart Schaffner & Marx, a prominent manufacturer of men's clothing. When a spontaneous strike by a handful of women workers there led to a citywide strike of 45,000 garment workers in 1910, Hillman was a rank-and-file leader in the strike.
That strike was a bitter one and pitted the strikers against not only their employers and the local authorities, but also their own union, the United Garment Workers, a conservative AFL affiliate. When the UGW accepted an inadequate settlement, the membership rejected the offer and continued the strike, winning some gains at Hart, Schaffner. Hillman became a business agent for the new local.
The leadership of the international union mistrusted the more militant local leadership in Chicago and in other large urban locals, which had strong Socialist loyalties. When it tried to disenfranchise those locals' members at the UGW's 1914 convention, those locals, representing two thirds of the union's membership, bolted to form the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America.
Hillman had taken the position of Chief Clerk within the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union in New York in early 1914. He found that job, in which he tried to maintain the stability imposed on a ferociously competitive industry by the Protocols of Peace, and in which the internal rivalries within the union threatened to flare up into all-out conflict, frustrating. When the insurgents who had walked out of the UGW convention to form the Amalgamated sent him a telegram imploring him to accept the Presidency—followed by another telegram from Bessie Abramowitz, one of the original leaders of the 1910 strike, an important figure in union politics and his fiance—he accepted and left the ILG after less than a year.
Hillman knew the risks he was taking. The AFL refused to recognize the new union and the UGW regularly raided it, furnishing strikebreakers and signing contracts with struck employers, in the years to come. He helped the Amalgamated solidify its gains and extend its power in Chicago through a series of strikes in the last half of the 1910s and to extend the union's membership into important garment centers in Baltimore and Rochester, New York, where the union had to overcome divisions within garment workers on ethnic lines and the opposition of the Industrial Workers of the World.
The ACWA also benefited from the relatively pro-union stance of the federal government during World War I, during which the federal Board of Control and Labor Standards for Army Clothing enforced a policy of labor peace in return for union recognition. Hillman was particularly receptive to the opportunities that government intervention in labor relations presented the union; he not only did not have the ingrained distrust of governmental regulation that now marked Samuel Gompers and other leaders of the AFL, but had a firm belief in the sort of industrial democracy in which government helped mediate between labor and management. The government's interest in maintaining production and avoiding disruptive strikes helped the Amalgamated organize non-union outposts such as Rochester and control the cutthroat competition that had prevailed in the industry for decades.
That policy ended in 1919, when employers in nearly every industry with a history of unionism went on the offensive. The ACWA not only survived a four month lockout in New York City in 1919, but came away in an even stronger position. By 1920, the union had contracts with 85 percent of men's garment manufacturers in the city and had reduced the workweek to 44 hours.
The ACWA pioneered a version of "social unionism" in the 1920s that offered low-cost cooperative housing and unemployment insurance to union members and founded a bank that would serve labor's interests. Hillman had strong ties to many progressive reformers, such as Jane Addams and Clarence Darrow, who had assisted the Amalgamated in its early strikes in Chicago in 1910 and New York in 1913. While other unions, notably the railroad brotherhoods and building trades unions within the AFL also founded banks of their own, the Amalgamated also used its banks to supervise the business operations of those garment businesses that came to it for loans.
Under Hillman's leadership, the union tried to moderate the fierce competition between employers in the industry by imposing industry wide working standards, thereby taking wages and hours out of the competitive calculus. The ACWA tried to regulate the industry in other ways, arranging loans and conducting efficiency studies for financially troubled employers. Hillman also favored "constructive cooperation" with employers, relying on arbitration rather than strikes to resolve disputes during the life of a contract. As Hillman explained his philosophy in 1938:
Certainly, I believe in collaborating with the employers! That is what unions are for. I even believe in helping an employer function more productively. For then, we will have a claim to higher wages, shorter hours, and greater participation in the benefits of running a smooth industrial machine....
Hillman's belief in stability as the basis for progress was coupled with a willingness to embrace industrial engineering approaches, such as Taylorism, that sought to rationalize the work processes as well. This put Hillman and the ACW leadership at odds with the strong anarcho-syndicalist tendencies within the union's membership, many of whom believed in direct action as a principle as well as tactic. On the other hand, it made Hillman receptive in the early 1920s to the Soviet Union's reconstruction efforts, particularly during its New Economic Policy phase. Hillman led the union into a joint business project with the Soviet Union that brought western technology and principles of industrial management to ten clothing factories in the Soviet Union.
Hillman's support for the Soviet experiment won him the enthusiastic support of the Communist Party USA in the early 1920s; it also further alienated him from those in the Socialist Party and associated with the Daily Forward under the leadership of Abraham Cahan, with whom Hillman and the Amalgamated already had strained relations. While Hillman's relationship with the Communist Party ultimately broke up in the conflict over whether to support Robert La Follette, Sr.'s candidacy for President on the Progressive Party ticket in 1924, Hillman never faced the sort of volcanic upsurge that nearly tore apart the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union during this period and never undertook the wholesale purges that David Dubinsky and other leaders of the ILGWU used to stay in power. By the end of the decade, after fighting and losing battles in Montreal, Toronto and Rochester, the CP was no longer a significant force in the union. While battling the CP, Hillman turned a blind eye to the infiltration of gangsters within the union. The garment industry had been riddled for decades with small-time gangsters, who ran protection and loansharking rackets while offering muscle in labor disputes. First hired to strongarm strikers, some went to work for unions, who used them first for self-defense, then to intimidate strikebreakers and recalcitrant employers. ILG locals used "Dopey" Benny Fein and his sluggers, who were more often hired by unions than employers although they were thugs for hire.
Internecine warfare between labor sluggers eliminated many of the earliest racketeers. "Little Augie" Jacob Orgen took over the racket, providing muscle for the ILGWU in the 1926 strike. Louis "Lepke" Buchalter had Orgen assassinated in 1927 in order to take over his operations. Buchalter took an interest in the industry, acquiring ownership of a number of trucking firms and control of local unions of truckdrivers in the garment district, while acquiring an ownership interest in some garment firms and local unions.
Buchalter, who had provided services for some locals of the Amalgamated during the 1920s. also acquired influence within the ACWA. One of his allies within the ACWA was Abraham Beckerman, a prominent member of the Socialist Party with close ties to The Forward, whom Hillman used to inflict strongarm tactics on his communist opponents within the union. Beckerman and Philip Orlofsky, another local officer in Cutters Local 4, made sweetheart deals with manufacturers that allowed them to subcontract to cut rate subcontractors out of town, using Buchalter's trucking companies to bring the goods back and forth.
In 1931 Hillman resolved to act against Buchalter, Beckerman and Orlofsky. He began by orchestrating public demands on Jimmy Walker, the corrupt Tammany Hall Mayor of New York, to crack down on racketeering in the garment district, Hillman then proceeded to seize control of Local 4, expelling Beckerman and Orlofsky from the union, then taking action against corrupt union officials in Newark, New Jersey. The union then struck a number of manufacturers to bar the subcontracting of work to non-union or cut rate contractors in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. In the course of that strike the union picketed a number of trucks run by Buchalter's companies to prevent them from bringing finished goods back to New York.
While the campaign cleaned up the ACWA, it did not drive Buchalter out of the industry. The union may, in fact, have made a deal of some sort with Buchalter, although no evidence has ever surfaced, despite intensive efforts of political opponents of the union, such as Thomas Dewey and Westbrook Pegler, to find it. Buchalter claimed, before his execution in 1944, that he had never had any deal with either Hillman or Dubinsky, head of the ILGWU. He did claim to have murdered a factory owner and labour opponents of Hillman at Hillman's behest, a claim which was never corroborated.