Monday, December 31, 2007

The View From I Am A Legend, 12/2007

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

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

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Google Street View: Pike Street South To Cherry Street West

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

Auld Lang Syne Pike Street

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

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

Auld Lang Syne

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

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Look For The Union Label 2

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

Friday, December 28, 2007

Look For The Union Label

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

There Once Was A Union Maid

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

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

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

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

Nathan's House Furnishing On Catherine Street

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

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

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Come Back Shane

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

Street Name Origins 2

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

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Street Name Origins

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

Katz's 2

Send A Salami To Your Boy In The Army

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hot dog!!

What Was I Thinking? Don Rickles

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

Famous Fat Dave's Five Borough Eating Tour

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

Google Street View: Delancey Street Loop

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

Google Street View: Madison-Market Street Loop

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

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Google Street View: Catherine Street Loop

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

Google Street View: Chinatown

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

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

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

LES Meets Harlem, 1956

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

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

Who's Who In Knickerbocker Village History: Edward Strickland

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

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

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

Postcards From Buster

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

That Holiday Feeling

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

What Was I Thinking? A Great Day In Harlem 1958

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, December 24, 2007

Route 66

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

Duvid Crockett

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

Davy Crockett

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

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

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

Whatever Happened To: The Associated Market At 49 Market Street

Whatever Happened To: Max Werclove

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

Whatever Happened To: Morton Scudder

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

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Gregorian Chants

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

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

Hoover Planned Mass Jailing In 1950

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

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Bowling For Dollars

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

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

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

Son Of Gregor

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

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

Let's Take An Old Fashioned KV Walk

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

Colonel "Ashley" Yogi Berra

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

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

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

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

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

Teacher's Pet 2004

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

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

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

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

Teacher's Pet 1958

I don't know about you, but I prefer this 1958 version to the 2004 version
Peaked at # 56 in 1958
Title track from Doris Day's 1958 film, co-starring Clark Gable and Gig Young.
(Pum, pa dum pa dum)
(Pum pa dum pa dum)
(Pa dum pa dum)
(Pum pa dum pa dum)

Teacher's pet (pa dum pa dum pa dum)
I wanna be teacher's pet (pa dum pa dum)
I wanna be huddled and cuddled as close to you as I can get
(That's the lesson we're guessin' you're best in)

Mm, teacher's pride (pa dum pa dum)
I wanna be teacher's pride (pa dum pa dum)
I wanna be dated, paraded, the one most likely at your side
(Ya got a burnin' yearnin' to learn)

I wanna learn all your lips can teach me
One kiss will do at the start (are you really?)
I'm sure with a little homework
I'll graduate to your heart (to your heart)

Teacher's pet (pa dum pa dum), I wanna be teacher's pet (pa dum pa dum)
I wanna take home a diploma and show Ma that ya love me, too
(That ya love me, too)
So I can be teacher's pet long after school is through

(Oh, teacher's pet) Mm, mm
(You wanna be teacher's pet) Ah. ah
(You wanna be huddled and cuddled as close to him as you can get)

I wanna learn all your lips can teach me
One kiss will do at the start
I'm sure with a little homework
I'll graduate to your heart

Teacher's pet (you love the teacher), I wanna be teacher's pet (pa dum pa dum)
I wanna take home a diploma and show Ma that ya love me, too (Wow!)
So I can be teacher's pet (yeah!) long after school is through
(Teacher, teacher she loves you)

Who's Who In Knickerbocker Village History: Arthur S. Gregor

Perhaps I was to hasty in dismissing Mr. Gregor's principalship vis a vis Mr. Press.' Certainly I discovered that Mr. Gregor appeared to be a man of substance and scholarship. I also discovered that he lived to the ripe old age of 91 and passed away in Laguna Hills, Ca. GREGOR-Arthur S., on October 14, 1997. Beloved husband of Margot. Devoted father of Laurie and Thomas and brother of Lester, and six grandchildren. Educator, Writer and Thinker.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Who's Who In Knickerbocker Village History: Alfred E. Smith

There have been several clips posted about Al Smith but I don't think he has garnered a very deserved "who's who" tag. Here's a segment from a History Channel show on the Empire State Building that had some good Al smith footage. Quite a voice. I still say he's a better entertainer than Rudy G even without a dress.

What Was I Thinking In 1959?

Lamberts, Hendricks and Ross singing "With The Spirit Beat" in 1959 accompanied by Count Basie. It looks like one of those "Live At The Penthouse" Shows. And to think I was listening to the McGuire Sisters and Jimmie Rodgers! One of the precursors to rap music?

Duck And Cover

Something we dis a lot of at PS 177 in the 50's. From the prelinger archives. Selected for the 2004 National Film Registry of "culturally, historically and aesthetically significant" motion pictures. 1951/ Famous Civil Defense film for children in which Bert the Turtle shows what to do in case of atomic attack.

Strange Fruit

Abel Meeropol was the adoptive father of the Rosenberg children.
This film won 4th place at the 2006 National History Day. It is the story of Billie Holiday and Abel Meeropol in their quest to shed light on racial injustice, especially lynching, in America. A film directed and produced by Daniel Weidlein.

Who's Who In Knickerbocker Village History: Sol Press

Sol Press became the principal of PS 177 in the late 50's. My stay under his leadership was not long, but I seem to recall a change in style and energy from the very proper Mr. Gregor.
A recent email from Susan and some subsequent research convinced me he deserved recognition as a Who's Who.
From Susan:
Does anybody know what happened to Sol Press and his daughter Lori Press? He was a remarkable man - he made our 6th grade class read the NY Times each day. No WONDER I was reading at 12th grade in 6th grade! He was also the camp director for Camp Madison-Felicia, one of my favorite leftist settlement house camps on earth (and Whoopi is an alum, too) which sadly, no longer exists. His daughter was a camper with us, and a nice human being.

I'm pretty sure the picture above is of Sol umpiring a college baseball game in 1950 and I found Sol in the 1920 census living at 237 Madison Street, which makes him officially LES. A Times' article from 1965 has him doing innovative things at his later school, PS 46. The only thing principals are allowed to do innovative now is what time of day to do test preparation.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

As Good As It Gets

From 1965. The Chairman of the Board and a Riddle arrangement! Looking back how could Fabian, Avalon, etc. be so popular? I know every generation needs to define itself and bring with them their own music, but I don't think this happened in the 30's and 40's. I remember, I was about 15 and I played this as a 45 and I thought, "How did I miss this?" Appreciating Frank, the music, not necessarily the man, should be part of a mandatory test for those seeking political office.
Those fingers in my hair
That sly come hither stare
That strips my conscience bare
Its witchcraft

And Ive got no defense for it
The heat is too intense for it
What good would common sense for it do

cause its witchcraft, wicked witchcraft
And although, I know, its strictly taboo

When you arouse the need in me
My heart says yes indeed in me
Proceed with what your leading me to

Its such an ancient pitch
But one I wouldn't switch
cause theres no nicer witch than you

Venus If You Will

Number one from the spring of 1959 and the #4 hit for all of the year. My mother would actually help perfect my cha cha breaks to Venus so I could be smoother dancer with Nancy Bueller. Why does it feel like it's gone downhill for me since?
Hey, Venus
Oh, Venus

Venus, if you will
Please send a little girl for me to thrill
A girl who wants my kisses and my arms
A girl with all the charms of you

Venus, make her fair
A lovely girl with sunlight in her hair
And take the brightest stars up in the skies
And place them in her eyes for me

Venus, goddess of love that you are
Surely the things I ask
Can't be too great a task

Venus, if you do
I promise that I always will be true
I'll give her all the love I have to give
As long as we both shall live

Venus, goddess of love that you are
Surely the things I ask
Can't be too great a task

Venus if you do
I promise that I always will be true
I'll give her all the love I have to give
As long as we both shall live

Hey, Venus
Oh, Venus
Make my wish come true

Light, But Pleasant Thoughts: Let It Snow From The Chairman Of The Board

A post that has very little to do with Knickerbocker Village, but..

Deep Thoughts: A Knickerbocker Village Mother Lode

This is a great story and an example of the deepest of thoughts suggested by the last post. I make occasional trips back to nytimes archive and use differing search queries. I had started with "Knickerbocker Village", but I've exhausted that "vein." Now I try the names of surrounding streets. Now "Market Street" could lead me to Philadelphia or "Madison Street" could lead me to an old story on "Madison Street" in Bed Stuy. It's tedious, but I got the above on a "Henry Street" search. I then wondered, "Whatever happened to the Alexandra Kliatscho of 1910?" A new google search led me to the story below which was written in the Times about Alexandra Werner (Kliatscho) in 1998
The Neediest Cases; A Life of Thrift and a Generous Heart
Fourscore and eight years ago, when Alexandra Kliatscho won The New York Times's Lincoln Essay Competition at the age of 9, she spent her winnings on a tricycle. Had the contest been held four years later, after The Times established its Neediest Cases Fund, she would probably have shared her prize with the poor and the hungry she read about in the newspaper.

Alexandra, a Russian girl whose essay praised Lincoln as ''kind, unselfish and thoughtful,'' grew up to become Alex Werner, a complicated, compassionate New Yorker who lived to give.

Mrs. Werner, a tiny woman with a quick wit, never wanted presents on her birthday. Instead, she asked friends and family members to give to the Neediest Cases Fund, which supports seven of the largest charities in New York City.

The amounts varied, but for more than 50 years, Mrs. Werner contributed faithfully to the fund. In 1993, she gave twice, explaining in a letter that she had seen ''more suffering and more destitution'' than usual. In 1994, her check arrived with a note that read, ''I am grateful just to be able to write a check, sign it and mail it in the box on my corner.'' Mrs. Werner was 94 years old.

This year, for the first time in half a century, the fund will not receive a check from Alex Werner. She died on Aug. 19, after weeks in a coma that followed a stroke.

But many of the people who knew her have rallied to contribute to the fund in her memory. Since late November, when this year's appeal began, 14 donors have sent gifts they said were inspired by Mrs. Werner.

Several expressed surprise that she had supported the Neediest Cases Fund. Doris Kaye, a distant relative who sent $100, said that Mrs. Werner had never considered herself an underdog.

''Her father was a doctor in the Czar's army,'' Mrs. Kaye said. ''I guess she gave because, after surviving pogroms in Russia and chaos in New York, she just felt fortunate.''

Mrs. Werner was 6 years old and spoke only Russian in 1906 when she, her four siblings and her mother left their hometown of Vladimir to join their father on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

She had spoken English for just three years when she wrote her essay celebrating the 100th anniversary of Lincoln's birth. Her competitors were older students, many of whom were more familiar with the legend of Lincoln. Yet out of 10,000 submissions, hers was deemed one of the 10 best, and a contest judge wrote, ''Her achievement seems worthy of respectful attention by persons who have views on either side of the immigrant question.''

The Times praised the ''little alien's wisdom,'' gave her a medal and a $5 gold piece, and published a copy of her handwritten essay on the front page of The New York Times Magazine on Feb. 28, 1909. It began, ''I am a little foreign girl, and I have been here only a short time, but when I read about Lincoln, I thought I might grow up a great woman as Lincoln was a great man.''

Writing came easily to Mrs. Werner, who graduated from Teachers' College in 1922. But she never mastered arithmetic, the gentle art of handling appliances or ''the ability to assemble even a Fisher-Price children's puzzle,'' said her daughter, Julie Stern of Newtown, Conn. ''She had trouble thinking logically, and she never thought she was bright, but she knew so much,'' she said.

It was one of many contradictions in Mrs. Werner's life. While she gave money freely, she never squandered a dime. During the 42 years she taught art at Jane Addams Vocational School in the Bronx, she walked a mile and a half to work each day. On snowy mornings, she eschewed taxis and stuffed hot hardboiled eggs in her pockets to keep her hands warm. When the lunch bell rang, she peeled the eggs and ate them.

Mrs. Werner traveled to Russia, Asia and the capitals of Europe, yet lived 40 years with her husband, Dr. Abraham Werner, and two children in a South Bronx apartment that cost $125 a month. She loved classical music and Impressionist paintings, but her favorite artist may have been Alfred Hitchcock. She wrote serious poetry, but also enjoyed composing limericks. Just before her death, she dictated this ditty about her doctors:

Iraci and Bornstein went up to heaven

And knocked at the pearly gates,

They said to St. Peter,

Just look at the meter:

We never reduce our rates.

Mrs. Werner was passionate about books, tackling histories by Sir Martin Gilbert and novels by Trollope. But she never amassed a large library. She taught her grandson Joe Stern that ''the second half of reading a book is finding the next person to read it.''

When her grandchildren grew too old for storybooks, Mrs. Werner bought them for the children of her neighbors, maintenance men and superintendents.

This network of family and friends sustained Mrs. Werner. Twenty-five years after she visited a foreign country, she continued to correspond with people she had met there.

One companion, Lottye Johnson, became a constant presence during the second half of Mrs. Werner's life. They met in 1941, when Dr. Werner was stationed in New Orleans as a physician for the Veterans Administration. Lottye, a teen-ager from Florida, was hired to help raise Julie. Even after Julie was grown, Mrs. Johnson stayed on, and she and Mrs. Werner became ''like lichen and moss,'' said her grandson.

In 1974, Dr. Werner died, and Mrs. Werner's children grew concerned about leaving their mother in the old neighborhood, where she loved to walk alone at night. They found an apartment for her on East 86th Street. There, she threw a birthday party each December for herself and three of her four grandchildren. This would have been the 25th year in which she brought together distant branches of her family for a celebration of life.

The menu never changed. Mrs. Johnson baked a sweet potato pie. Mrs. Werner did not learn to cook until she was 70, but she took pride in her efforts and would earnestly ask everyone if the franks and beans were as good as last year's.

At one of the first parties, Mrs. Stern found herself in the kitchen with her mother. Mrs. Werner had recently opened a bank account to obtain two free gifts: a blender and an electric can opener. Mrs. Stern rifled through every cabinet and drawer, but she could not find either item. She confronted her mother.

''Well, I broke the blender,'' Mrs. Werner confessed. ''And I couldn't figure out the can opener, so I gave it away.''

Deep Thoughts: Knickerbocker Village Metaphor

A deep thinking KV birthday boy came up with this. It creates yet another blog label and will become part of our layout on the right (literally, that is)
Annie Dillard talks about her fascination with science and minerals in particular. Then she goes on to detail anecdotes concerning various Americans who became obsessed with the possibility of discovering valuable or interesting mineral deposits or rock formations within or close to their home environments. She speaks about men - almost all these scientific minded people are male - who discover veins of coal, copper, bauxite, and so on. She depicts the ordinariness of their fascination and the fact that it tapped into the extraordinary. Like nature had these incredible finds waiting to be unearthed all around. People who could see the worth of what was all around them or, in some cases, beneath them, excavated and found, just beneath the surface of their obsessive preoccupations, depths of riches and fascination. So in exploring the history of KV we go back into what had been the ordinary and find it layered in a criss-cross of historical significance. A transmutation of the lungblock, redeemed as a bold social experiment tinged with ambitions as immodest as a revolution and as commonplace as sandwiches - ordinary though it may be but still - the most delicious sandwiches of the twentieth century. Buried beneath the surface of the KV heritage are connections to so may aspects of our culture and NYC's greatness as to be not only unfathomable but irrefutable. Do you know what I'm saying here?

Rebecca Of Knickerbocker Village

Like Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Get it? Rebecca lived there for a while in the 1950's
Life on the Lower East Side: A Profile of Photographer Rebecca Lepkoff from NY Voices original airdate: 1/19/07
Since Jacob Riis first took photos of the slums on Mulberry Street in the 1890s, artists and reformers have used the Lower East Side to make social statements about the people who lived there. In the late 1930s, a young photographer named Rebecca Lepkoff simply went out into the streets and took pictures of the people she saw. Today she's 90, and her new book, LIFE ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE , provides an unusually clear window into what the neighborhood was like when she was young.

Not Necessarily This Day In Knickerbocker Village History: Bow Tie Influence Of Sinatra Felt In Chinatown

From June 23, 1946 and the winner is 5 year old Philip Liu of 10 Monroe Street.
From the nytimes archive with added image

The Other New York, New York

The NYC scenes look pretty fake at times, but is that the real "Gusses" on Hester Street that they pass at about the 00:58 mark?
I feel like I'm not out of bed yet, oh, oh, oh
Oh the sun is warm, and my blanket's warmer,
Sleep, sleep in your lady's arms,
Sleep in your lady's arms.
(Ship's whistle, the sailors rush down from ship to dock)
Sailors Gene Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Jules Munshin sing:
New York, New York, New York, New York,
New York, New York, it's a wonderful town!
Dockhand: Hahaha, hey fellas, what's the big rush?
We only got 24 hours! We've never been here before!
What can you see in one day?
What do you think you're gonna do?
New York, New York, it's a wonderful town!
The Bronx is up and the Battery's down
The people ride in a hole in the ground,
New York, New York, it's a wonderful town!
(musical interlude)
The famous places to visit are so many,
So the guys would say,
I know my grandpa wouldn't miss any in just one day
Gotta see the whole town,
From Yonkers on down to the bay, in just one day.
New York, New York, it's a wonderful town,
The Bronx up and the Battery's down,
The people ride in a hole in the ground,
New York, New York, it's a wonderful town
(musical interlude)
We sailed the seas and played a bit of poker way in Mandalay,
We've walked the streets till the night was over,
And we can safely say, the most fabulous sight is New York
In the light of day, our only day.
New York, New York, it's a wonderful town,
The Bronx is up and the Battery's down,
The people ride in a hole in the ground,
New York, New York, it's a wonderful town
Manhattan women are all dressed in satin, so the fellows say,
There's just one thing necessary in Manhattan,
When you just one day

Not Necessarily This Day In KV History: Mayor Gaynor Addresses Students At PS 177, March 4, 1910

The Mayor, who later in his term would be shot by an assassin, mentions the Chautauqua salute. I never heard of it. Here's a reference from a book about Chautauqua
"The very same, they tell me. The Bishop opened the responsive reading with the words : ' The day goeth away; the shadows of the evening are stretched out.' But what I started to describe was the memorial scene. Do you know the ? Then you understand what a strange effect is produced by the simultaneous flutter of countless white handkerchiefs. Can you imagine what it would be to see at least five thousand of them held aloft motionless for a single solemn minute, the only sound in the great assembly coming from the great organ softly tolling out a requiem? That is the way they paid tribute to the Bishop's co-laborer, and to other great souls who put their shoulders to the wheel in the early days of the enterprise. I never saw a more impressive sight in my life. By the way, there is to be a unique salute today; where is my purple program? Ah, here it is; Stebbins is most anxious that we should help to swell the wave. You see they have imitated the colors of the pansy in their programs --yours is amber, isn't it?--and at a given moment they are to be gracefully waved; see that you do your part."

The article is from the nytimes archive. This is just a partial posting of it. I added the image of Mayor Gaynor

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Paul Solman Explains Hedge Funds

I still have no clue

Who's Who In Knickerbocker Village History: Paul Solman

After posting yesterday the slide show movie that featured Robert Meeropol the thought occurred to me to try and reach out to Robert and his brother Michael. Don't ask me how I did it, but today I got email responses from both. Note: A very rare event, this even impressed my wife. As suspected Robert has little memory of Knickerbocker but Michael did. It was Michael that told me that Paul Solman was a KV brother. I don't remember Paul, I believe he's a few years younger. Here's his bio from the lehrer news hour site (a former cab driver? maybe he knows Neal Hellman):
Paul Solman, Business and Economics Correspondent
Updated: February 15, 2007

The founding editor of the alternative Boston weekly The Real Paper (1972), Paul began his career in business journalism as a Nieman Fellow, studying at the Harvard Business school in 1976. He has been the business reporter at WGBH Boston since 1977, was named a member of TV Guide’s "Dream Team" of television reporters, and was the co-originator and executive editor of PBS's business documentary series, ENTERPRISE.

His work has won numerous awards, including Emmys in the '70s, '80s, ’90s, and '00s and two Peabodys, the most recent in 2004 for his reporting on the undercounting of unemployment

Paul has also served on the Harvard Business School faculty, teaching media, finance and business history. He co-authored a better-than-average-seller, Life and Death on the Corporate Battlefield (1983), which appeared in Japanese, German and a pirated Taiwanese edition. With sociologist Morrie Schwartz, he helped create -- and wrote the introduction to -- the book "Morrie: In His Own Words," which preceded "Tuesdays with Morrie" but did not outsell it, by several orders of magnitude.

Solman lectures on college campuses, has written for numerous publications, including both Forbes and Mother Jones magazines; he was for years East Coast Editor of the latter. A one-time cab driver, kindergarten teacher, crafts store owner and management consultant, Paul is also the presenter for and author of "Discovering Economics with Paul Solman," a series of videos distributed by McGraw-Hill to accompany the company’s introductory economics textbooks. He's also working on ways to teach economics and entrepreneurship in America's community colleges, and similar institutions throughout the world.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

And There Used To Be A Carvel Right Here

Writer(s): Joe Raposo
And there used to be a ballpark
Where the field was warm and green
And the people played their crazy game
With a joy I’d never seen.
And the air was such a wonder
From the hot dogs and the beer
Yes, there used a ballpark, right here.

And there used to be rock candy
And a great big fourth of july
With fireworks exploding
All across the summer sky
And the people watched in wonder
How they’d laugh and how they’d cheer
And there used to be a ballpark, right here.

Now the children try to find it
And they can’t believe their eyes
`cause the old team just isn’t playing
And the new team hardly tries
And the sky has got so cloudy
When it used to be so clear
And the summer went so quickly this year.

Yes, there used to be a ballpark, right here.

Edward G. Robinson: Little Caesar

The trailer from Little Caesar along with a short clip. "What's the matter, Tony, losing your nerve?'
How about you boys?
No hard feelings, Sam?
We gotta stick together.
There's a rope around my neck
right now, and they only hang you once.
If anybody turns yellow and squeals... gun's gonna speak its peace.
What's the matter, Antonio?
Why you don't sleep?
- You sick, maybe?
- Yeah.
- Oh, what...
- No, can't a guy get up when he wants...
...without answering a lot of questions?
You stay out late nights,
you drink lot of wine.

- Leave me alone.
- Oh, listen, Antonio, l...

I have some spaghetti for you
on the stove.

If you feel better, eat some.

Yes? It do you good.

You used to be a good boy, Antonio.

Remember when you sing in the church?

In the choir with Father McNeil?

You in white.


Who's (Almost) Who In Knickerbocker Village History: Edward G. Robinson

I've tried unsuccessfully to find out where Edward G lived on the Lower East Side.
If he went to the old PS 137 and later to my father's alma mater, PS 20, then I suspect he lived in the area of Delancey and Orchard/Ludlow Streets, The slide show has a clip of an old radio broadcast of Key Largo. The visuals have some scanned segments of Edward G's autobiography where he talks about attending PS 20.
from Wikipedia:
Edward Goldenberg Robinson, Sr. (born Emanuel Goldenberg, Yiddish: December 12, 1893 – January 26, 1973) was an American stage and film actor of Romanian origin.
Born to a Yiddish-speaking Jewish family in Bucharest, he emigrated with his family to New York City in 1903. He attended Townsend Harris High School and then City College of New York, but an interest in acting led to him winning an American Academy of Dramatic Arts scholarship, after which he changed his name to Edward G. Robinson (the G. signifying his original last name).
He began his acting career in 1913 and made his Broadway debut in 1915. He made his film debut in a minor and uncredited role in 1916; in 1923 he made his named debut as E. G. Robinson in The Bright Shawl. One of many actors who saw his career flourish in the new sound film era rather than falter, he made only three films prior to 1930 but left his stage career that year and made fourteen films in 1930-32. He married the actress Gladys Lloyd in 1927 and the couple had one son, Edward Goldenberg Robinson, Jr. (1933-1974) known as Manny Robinson.
An acclaimed performance as the gangster Rico Bandello in Little Caesar (1931) led to him being typecast as a 'tough guy' for much of his early career in works such as Five Star Final (1931), Smart Money (1931; his only movie with James Cagney), Tiger Shark (1932), Kid Galahad (1937) with Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart, and A Slight Case of Murder (1938). In the 1940s, after a good performance in Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet (1940), he expanded into edgy psychological dramas including Double Indemnity (1944), The Woman in the Window (1945) and Scarlet Street (1945); but he continued to portray gangsters such as Johnny Rocco in John Huston's classic Key Largo (1948), the last of five films he made with Humphrey Bogart.
On three occasions in 1950 and 1952 he was called to testify in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee and was threatened with blacklisting.[3] Robinson became frightened and took steps to clear his name, such as having a representative go through his check stubs to ensure that none had been issued to subversive organizations.[4] He reluctantly gave names of communist sympathizers and his own name was cleared, but thereafter he received smaller and less frequent roles. Still, anti-communist director Cecil B. DeMille cast him in The Ten Commandments in 1956.
A cultured and urbane man, Robinson built up a significant art collection, especially of abstract modern art. In 1956, he sold it to Greek shipping tycoon Stavros Niarchos in order to raise cash needed for his divorce settlement with Gladys Lloyd and because his financial fortunes had been seriously damaged as a result of being being under-employed during much of the 1950's due to Hollywood's communist witch hunt. That same year he returned to Broadway in Middle of the Night.
After DeMille brought Robinson back into movies, his most notable roles occurred in A Hole in the Head (1959) opposite Frank Sinatra and The Cincinnati Kid (1965), which showcased Robinson alongside Steve McQueen. Director Peter Bogdanovich was considered as a possible director for The Godfather in 1972, but turned it down, later remarking that he would have cast Robinson in the role ultimately played by Marlon Brando. Robinson indeed tried to talk his way into the part (which was how he had won the role of Little Caesar forty years earlier), but Francis Coppola decided on Brando instead, over the initial objections of the studio.
Robinson was popular in the 1930s and 1940s and was able to avoid many flops over a career of over 90 films spanning 50 years. His last scene was a euthanasia sequence in the science fiction cult classic Soylent Green (1973) in which he dies in a euthanasia clinic while watching nature films on a wall-sized screen.