Friday, December 26, 2008

Abbe Lane

a video from the 1960's.
Abbe Lane (born December 14, 1932) is an American singer and actress.
Born Abigail Francine Lassman to a Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York, Lane began her career as a child actor on radio, and from there she progressed to singing and dancing on Broadway. Quickly establishing herself as a "femme fatale", Lane found popularity in Italian films but was often criticized for her flagrantly sexual persona.[citation needed]
Married to Xavier Cugat from 1952 until their divorce in 1964, Lane achieved her greatest success as a nightclub singer, and was described in a 1963 magazine article as "the swingingest sexpot in show business". Cugat's influence was seen in her music which favored Latin and rumba styles. In 1958 she starred opposite Tony Randall in the Broadway musical Oh, Captain!. Unfortunately, her recording contract prevented her from appearing on the original cast album of the show. On the recording, her songs were performed by Eileen Rodgers. Lane later recorded her songs on a solo album. The most successful of her records was a 1958 album collaboration with Tito Puente titled Be Mine Tonight. Fans either didn't know or care that Abbe's roots were as far away from a Latin bombshell as a Jewish girl from Brooklyn could have. Apart from working solo, Lane would frequently make the talk show rounds with Cugat. After their break-up, Cugat would introduce his new wife/discovery, Charo.
She attracted attention for her suggestive comments such as "Jayne Mansfield may turn boys into men, but I take them from there", and also commented that she was considered "too sexy in Italy". Her costume for an appearance on the Jackie Gleason Show was considered too revealing and she was instructed to wear something else; however she appeared on the shows of Red Skelton, Dean Martin and Jack Benny without attracting controversy.
In addition to her Italian films, Lane was a frequent performer on the television show Toast of the Town during the 1950s. She also played guest roles in such series as The Flying Nun, The Brady Bunch (as cosmetics maven "Bebe Gallini"), Hart to Hart and Vega$. Lane fans got to see her once more in the 1983 film version of The Twilight Zone, in the role of an airline stewardess.
She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contribution to television, at 6381 Hollywood Boulevard.

Marv's Marvelous 2009 Predictons

All the way from Portland, Oregon, the fastest fellow of the Jewish and other persuasions in KV history, and putting some fast moves on Abbe as well, checks in with these predictions:
I know you Yankee fans are kvelling with your recent "acquisitions" but I believe there's trouble brewing for 2009. I predict the following developments:
1) Mark Teixeira announces that he does indeed go both ways and reveals he and Barry Manilow will be wed at the Eldridge St. synagogue the day before opening day.
2) A-Rod and Madonna also announce their marriage plans also to be held at Eldridge St. synagogue the day before opening day as Madonna has now totally converted to Reconstructionist Judaism which allows you to adopt any part of Judaism that suits you.
3)Xavier Nady announces that in honor of his idol Xavier Cugart he is marrying both Charo and Abbe Lane. As Abbe Lane is Jewish and Eldridge St. synagogue will not allow Charo to do the "cuchi-cuchi" at the ceremony, their wedding will occur at the Pike street synagogue also the day before opening day.
4) Rabbi Dick is hired by all 3 "couples" to perform the staggered ceremonies that day-he requests the presence of Prof Bob to both test the orange juice to make sure it has not been spiked with vodka and provide a lecture based on his book.
5) Opening day there is tension in the clubhouse-Ron S's anticipating this sends massive amounts of Koopala urging all the Yankees to calm down and concentrate on baseball. Hideki Matsui is particularly pissed as none of the weddings served sushi at the receptions only gefilte fish, smoked whitefish and fried plantains.
6) Second day of the season Nick Swisher announces that he is indeed gay(he changed his name many years ago to reflect that), not that there's anything wrong with that and is wedding Fritz Peterson who after 2 failed marriages came "out of the closet".
7) Third day of the season CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett buyout the Steinbrenner's and move the team to Brooklyn with all games to be played at Gil Hodges field.
8) The Brooklyn Yankees go on to a 160-2 season sweeping all playoff games and the World Series.
9) Jim Bouton announces that his new book "Ball Five", based on the 2009 Brooklyn Yankee season, will be made into a movie with Pee Wee Herman (who is Jewish and was married at the Eldridge St. synagogue the day before opening day), will play the role of Joe Girardi. Directed by Peter Jackson this trilogy (extended versions will be 15 hrs. long) will feature a soundtrack by, yes you guessed it, the previously unreleased recordings of Xavier Cugart featuring Charo and Abby Lane!
So these are my predictions for the coming year. A Happy and Healthy New Year to all of you!

Max Weintraub: 129 Monroe Street

Taken in 1934. This was the exact block Max grew up on. It's between Jefferson and Rutgers. I wonder whether Max's mother is visible. She had her own pushcart. You can see, upon clicking, that the 123 Monroe St. storefront is called Monroe Dry Goods, Hosiery and Underwear

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

1900 Ethnic Data Map Of The 7th Ward

This is where Max grew up. It's hard to distinguish the differences in the shades of yellow, but this area was more Russian and Polish, whereas in the 10 Ward, north of here, it would be more Hungarian, German, Romanian and Austrian. Going northeast, ward 13, the same as Ward 10, but less German. Going west, 4th Ward, it would be more Italian, Irish and Greek. Going northwest 6th Ward, it would be Chinese and Italian. Going further east it would be more Irish.

1920 LES Ethnic Map

From Eric Homberger's Historical Atlas Of New York City

Miguel Figueroa: 127 Rivington Street

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Return Of Max And Miguel (and Miguel's Mom)

We haven't seen the dynamic duo of Max and Miguel for over a year. I'm trying to sponsor Max, from 129 Monroe Street, and Miguel from 127 Rivington Street, as oral history subjects.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cool Yule

From Coney Island to The Sunset Strip
Somebody's gonna make a happy trip
Tonight, while the moon is bright
He's gonna have a bag of crazy toys
To give the groanies of the boys and girls
So dig, Santa comes on big
He'll come a callin' when the snows the most
When all you cats are sleepin' warm as toast
And you gonna flip when Old Saint Nick
Takes a lick on the peppermint stick
He'll come a flyin' from a higher place
And fill the stocking by the fire place
So you'll, have a yule that's cool
-Instrumental Jazz Break-
Yeah, from Coney Island to The Sunset Strip
Somebody's gonna make a happy trip
Tonight, while the moon is bright
He's gonna have a bag of crazy toys
To give the groanies of the boys and girls
So dig, Santa comes on big
He'll come a callin' when the snows the most
When all you cats are sleepin' warm as toast
And you gonna flip when the Old Saint Nick
Takes a lick on the peppernint stick
He'll come a flyin' from a higher place
And fill the stocking by the fire place
So you'll, have a yule that's cool
Have a yule that's cool
Yeah, cool yule

Lost In Paradise: Samuel J. Chotzinoff's Autobiography, Chapter 4

Chap 4 Lost Paradise

NYC: Back On The Block

an excerpt from the nytimes of 10/17/08
The Jump Rope Girls, 20 Years On, By SUSAN HARTMAN
TWENTY years ago, six girls lit up a troubled Brooklyn block. Gunfire could be heard in the distance. There was a stream of visitors to the apartments of drug dealers. But these girls had claimed a patch of sidewalk in front of their building, and from April to October, on a strip of Parkside Avenue just east of Prospect Park, these 8- and 11-year-olds were unstoppable.
GeeGee Goodwin, top, with her son, Aaron Jr.; Peachie Navarro, middle, with her son, Cleveland, in background, and a nephew, and Jackie Rendon, bottom, with her son, Josiah.
No matter what was going on in their lives — financial problems, divorces, family illness — they showed up. Some days, they played double Dutch, but many other days they performed what they called “cheers” — a clapping, foot-stamping game that drew from rap music, from traditional childhood games, from cheers they had learned in school and from their own lives. They worked these bits into short, dramatic routines.
The girls had personality galore: Jackie and Steffie Rendon, the twins, were strong-willed, green-eyed 11-year-olds, their ponytails flying as they jumped. Always nearby were two other 11-year-olds — Elbe Vasquez, their ebullient, curly-haired cousin, and Peachie Navarro, who was quieter and had almond-shaped eyes.
The two 8-year-olds, joined at the hip, were Starr Bryant, who was tall, athletic and had high cheekbones, and GeeGee Goodwin, who had slightly bowed legs and a megawatt smile.
In the fall of 1988, the girls’ cheers and their lives were described in an article in The New York Times. Ten thousand turns of the jump rope later, Parkside Avenue looks much the same — a tree-lined mix of brick apartment buildings, and two- and three-story row houses and town houses.
Two of the girls who were part of this world have moved on — Elbe moved to nearby Sunset Park in 1998, and Steffie to Florida in 2004.
But the other four are still powerfully connected to the block, and are negotiating the world for their children, a task likely to be even more daunting, given the waves of economic distress hitting the city and the nation.
Three of the women live in the apartments in which they grew up: Peachie, a pharmacy technician who has two children and helps support a four-generation household; Starr, who is raising two daughters; and GeeGee, mother of an 8-year-old son.
And although Jackie, the one who made it into the middle class, moved away, she returns to the block every day at 5 p.m. to pick up her son at her mother’s apartment.
“There’s a homey feel,” Jackie said of Parkside as she sat in her Nissan Altima waiting for her child. “My mother’s here. My sister’s here. Even if they weren’t, I’d come back.”
Parkside, part of the Prospect-Lefferts Gardens neighborhood, sits within the 71st Precinct, which, along with the rest of the city, has seen a sharp decline in crime in recent years. The murder rate has dropped 69 percent since 1990; rape is down 80 percent, according to police data. But despite signs of gentrification on Parkside — a house that cost $76,000 in 1984 recently sold for $760,000 — safety can still feel elusive.
Drug dealers sit on boxes and folding chairs at the end of the block. As Peachie summed it up: “If I can see it, smell it, what does my daughter see?”
Many current residents have vivid memories of the 1980s and early 1990s, when Parkside was hit hard by the citywide crack epidemic. Thirty-six murders were reported in the precinct in 1990, and the block felt the tremors from nearby events, among them a riot the following year involving blacks and Hasidic Jews in nearby Crown Heights.
Throughout this turmoil, the girls stayed focused on their cheers.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Another Little Italy

From Shorpy
New York's First Avenue at East 29th Street during the annual Little Italy festa circa 1908. 5x7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection.
comments that accompanied the photo
The the danger of fire was not the greatest of the problems caused by living in close proximity to the gas tanks. Before the Second World War, New York (and many other cities) were not supplied with natural gas. They used manufactured gas, which was made by heating cheap grades of bituminous coal or bunker oil in a retort. This process produced several byproducts, including noxious, sulfurous fumes which permeated the air in the surrounding district. These tanks were located in very close proximity to several large gas manufacturing plants.
What a fire and explosive hazard - gas tanks in a residential and commercial neighborhood. I guess there were no restrictions at that time.
That would absolutely put it in the East Village, though in 1908 I think it would have been the Lower East Side.
First Avenue ends at Houston Street. Little Italy is south of that, around Mulberry and Grand Streets. This was probably another Italian neighborhood. The area around lower First Avenue is now called the East Village (as opposed to the West Village, which is really Greenwich Village). The East Village area is being gentrified with new restaurants and upscale condos. The photograph really belongs in a Godfather II scene, it is amazing.
If we use the address number 489 as a clue, the first cross street in the photo would be Those are two of the many huge natural-gas storage tanks along the East River waterfront that gave the Gashouse District its name.

Louis DeSalvio: The Map Of The Planned Highway

Stephen Van Resselaer House

From The Masterpiece Next Door

85. Stephen Van Rensselaer House

Location: 149 Mulberry Street (originally 153 Mulberry Street)
Built: 1816
Architect: Unknown
National Register Number: 83001751
Listed: June 16, 1983
Visited: October 12, 2008

Stephen Van Rensselaer House
From the masterpiece next door
Before it was a cheap jack clothier for touristic delectation--and, let's face it, probably also some immigrant's entrée into The Good Life--149Mulberry Street was a Little Italy restaurant, Paolucci's.And some time before it was a restaurant, it was home to the Italian Free Library and Reading Room, serving the local community with what one account says was 3,000 books in Italian and 32 Italian daily papers from various parts of Italy. (Lord, what happened to the contents of this library?)

None of this is why 149 Mulberry was landmarked, though--neither the 1969 landmark designation report from the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission or the 1983 National Register of Historic Places nomination form say anythingabout Little Italy. Newer ones are somewhat more ecumenical, but many of these earlier reports are remarkably unconcerned about matters beyond a somewhat narrow architectural aesthetic (the NYC LPC reports from the '60s use words like "quaint" and "charming" a lot) and the Great Men of New York history.
It was landmarked because, well,it was (and is) a surviving wooden-frame Federal Style rowhouse, for one--as you'd imagine, not many survive because of the whole fire thing--and because it was one of the homes of Stephen Van Rensselaer III. He was...well, Fortune called him the 10th richest American of all time. Like many of the ultra rich New Yorkers of his day, he could trace his family back to the some of the earliest Dutch settlements in the New World--and like those families, too, he left his name on our landscape, specifically in the name of the engineering university he helped found.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Louis DeSalvio Playground

images of Little Italy from the bridge and tunnel club and Robert Chin's nychinatownThe first image of the historic 215 Mulberry Street was where Paolucci's used to be-the Italian restaurant of choice for the Bellels and Genees.
I have but one heart, this heart I bring you,
I have but one heart to share with you,
I have but one dream that I can cling to,
You are the one dream I pray comes true.
My darling, until I saw you, I never felt this way,
And nobody else before you, ever has heard me say,
You are my one love, my life I live for you,
I have but one heart to give to you.
(musical interlude)
*Dicimo o mari, facimu l'amore,
*A curi a curi che ci passa,
*Ca u mare parla e na' carezza,
*Ma a tia la brezza, fina murir.
You are my one love, my love I live for you,
I have but one heart to give to you.
*Not Italian, not Sicilian, but Neapolitan, the free translation of which is:
Let us tell the sea that we are making love,
Heart to heart till the end of time,
Because the sea whispers and caresses us,
So does the breeze till the time we die.

from nyc parks department historical signs
When John Desalvio was elected district leader of the Second Assembly District (West), he became one of only a few Italian-American members of the notorious Tammany Hall political organization. Tammany Hall may have ended in a blaze of corruption scandal, but it originally drew support by addressing the concerns of New York City immigrants. Notably progressive, Tammany Hall addressed employment, legal aid, and naturalization issues through elected or appointed neighborhood politicians such as district leaders and precinct captains. As a political boss, DeSalvio proved to be a great humanitarian and earned the affectionate nickname “Captain” in Little Italy. When he opened a second, more exclusive restaurant and club, “Jimmy Kelley’s Momart,” it attracted clientele such as New York State Governor Al Smith, Mayor Jimmy Walker, and entertainers Jimmy Durante and Eddy Cantor. John used a portion of his profits from the club to prepare Christmas baskets of canned goods and to pay bills for the neighborhood’s poorest residents. His weekly attendance at Yankees and Giants baseball games convinced Yankees’ slugger Joe DiMaggio to aid in the distribution of the Christmas baskets. DeSalvio died in the Bronx and was buried in Calvary Cemetery in Queens.
Louis DeSalvio followed in father’s political footsteps, and was elected Second District New York State Assemblyman. In that capacity, he sponsored the creation of this playground on the corner of Spring and Mulberry Streets, in the heart of Little Italy. The neighborhood is bounded to the south by Canal Street, to the west by Broadway, to the north by Houston Street, and to the east by Mulberry Street. Northern Italians first settled in the area in small numbers during the 1850s. These early immigrants were predominantly Roman Catholics, and some of the first Italian cultural activities centered on the parish at the Church of St. Anthony of Padua founded in 1866. The parish’s current church stands at 153-157 Sullivan Street. The unification of Italy in 1870 caused widespread political changes that particularly affected Southern Italians, therefore the second wave of immigrants hailed primarily from Sicily or south of Rome. The small community had firmly established itself by 1880, when Carolo Barsotti founded the Italian-language daily newspaper Il Progresso. Though a small vestige of its teeming heyday, Little Italy is still known as an enclave of Italian culture and is best known for its shops, restaurants, and bakeries.

This park honors two generations of leaders in New York City’s Italian-American community – John DeSalvio (1881-1948), and his son Louis (1913-1972). John DeSalvio was a first-generation American; his parents, Luigi DeSalvio and Maria Rosa Vozzo, were both born in Italy. John was raised on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, where he became interested in boxing at an early age after watching fights in local clubs. The majority of prizefighters at that time were Irish, so John adopted the name of his manager, Jimmy Kelley, when he began to compete. He became a local welterweight champion, but never achieved national success in the ring. Following the conclusion of his boxing career, John opened a saloon just down the street from 202 Hester Street, where he lived most of his adult life. In 1910, he married Stella Formachelli and their marriage produced his son Louis and two daughters, Lillian and Viola. As the owner of a successful business and a family man, John soon became an influential member of New York’s Little Italy community.
The City of New York acquired the property in 1954 by condemnation and assigned it to Parks that same year. In 1955, Louis DeSalvio saw the City Council enact a local law naming the property John DeSalvio Park, later shortened. When the playground opened on December 15, 1955, it was equipped with swings, slides, seesaws, play equipment a shower basin, game tables, and benches. In 1995, it was renovated with $289,000 allocated by Council Member Kathryn Freed. DeSalvio Playground now features modular play equipment in the colors of the Italian flag (red, white, and green), a basketball half-court, benches and game tables. In 1997, the playground hosted the Citywide Bocce Ball Championships.

Friday, December 12, 2008

July, 1969: Louis DeSalvio And The Rare Defeat Of Robert Moses

Louis DeSalvio was born in New York City and resided in Manhattan. He was married to Elvira Mongillo. As a Democrat DeSalvio served as a member of the New York State Assembly from 1941 to 1977,the longest-serving member in history. He represented the following: New York County 2nd District 1941-1965, 66th District 1966, 60th District 1967-1972, 62nd District 1973-1977. DeSalvio was a Catholic, a member of the Elks, and a member of the Knights of Columbus. DeSalvio died in 2004. In 1962, DeSalvio urged against the construction of the Lower Manhattan Expressway through Soho: "Except for one old man, I’ve been unable to find anyone of technical competence who is for this so-called expressway. And this old man is a cantankerous, stubborn old man who has done many things which may have, in their time, been good for New York City. But I think it is time for this stubborn old man to realize that too many of his dreams turn out to be nightmares for the city. And this board must realize that if it does not kill this stupid example of bad city planning, that the stench of it will haunt them and this great city for many years to come." The 'old man' DeSalvio was referring to was the project's mastermind, NYC Parks commissioner Robert Moses. The LME was defeated by a neighborhood coalition led by Jane Jacobs.

Impellitteri, DeSalvio, The Orphan Asylum and The Tenement Museum

images are both mine and from the great forgotten-ny siteTenement Ads
The commentary about these from Kevin Walsh at forgotten-ny
In addition there are a couple of ads for Hersh's sacramental wine. Haven't been able to find out anything about the company, though.
You can see old phone number notation (the initial letters were eliminated in the 1960s) and pencilled-in inning-by-inning recounts of long-ago stickball games.
This just in...(8/22/05) Pamela Keech has sent along the old billboard ad for an underwear wholesaler that was under the modern billboard, but over the posters, for many years. Pamela: "When we pulled down the Trenk sign about 40 rubber balls rolled out and bounced all over the street. There were also Tab cans, beer cans that till required a church key, an O.J. Simpson football card and a cap gun."
The streets of the Lower East Side are still full of underwear wholesalers.

actually as of this date the underwear wholesalers are fading from the scene

Vincent Impelliteri 2

Many of these are from the 1952 mayoral campaign. Wagner, with backing from the regular Democrats, including FDR Jr. won. I was looking to see if my father was one of the onlookers at one of the rallies that took place in the garment center. The last picture is one of his car when he was mayor

Vincent Impelliteri

A residence of his. He was also a lower east side boy, but I don't know exactly where.
From his 1987 nytimes' obituary
Vincent R. Impellitteri, an immigrant cobbler's son who defied the Democratic machine of Tammany Hall and became Mayor of New York from 1950 to 1953, died of heart failure yesterday at Bridgeport (Conn.) Hospital. He was 86 years old.
Vincent R. Impellitteri, an immigrant cobbler's son who defied the Democratic machine of Tammany Hall and became Mayor of New York from 1950 to 1953, died of heart failure yesterday at Bridgeport (Conn.) Hospital. He was 86 years old.
Mr. Impellitteri, who retired as a Criminal Court judge in 1965, had been ill with Parkinson's disease for the last four years and, though he maintained a residence at the New York Athletic Club, had stayed in convalescent homes, most recently the Carolton Convalescent Hospital in Fairfield, Conn. He entered Bridgeport Hospital early this week with an infection and died at 2:40 P.M. yesterday.
In an era of flamboyant politicians and corruption scandals, Mr. Impelliteri - deliberate, scholarly, mild to the point of shyness - struck a responsive chord with New York voters and became the first person to become mayor of New York without the support of a major political party.
The stage was set in September 1950 when, with a political scandal about to break, William O'Dwyer resigned as Mayor to accept President Truman's appointment as Ambassador to Mexico, and Mr. Impellitteri - an O'Dwyer protege who had been City Council president since 1946 - became Acting Mayor. An Upset Victory
A special election was called to fill the three remaining years of Mr. O'Dwyer's term, and Mr. Impellitteri, who had been squabbling off and on with the Manhattan Democratic machine known as Tammany Hall, did not get his party's nomination.
Defying the Tammany Tiger, Mr. Impellitteri - who had been Acting Mayor during Mr. O'Dwyer's frequent vacations - ran as an independent under the banner of the Experience Party.
He was a slightly built, courteous man with little of the turbulent energy or whimsical humor of former Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia or Mr. O'Dwyer. His speech was devoid of colorful language and his gestures seemed limited to clasping his hands or slowly twisting one of the dozen cigars he smoked daily.
Even astute political observers gave him little chance to win, but a volunteer organization sprang up almost overnight, and his fight against the machine captured the imagination of New Yorkers, who gave him a 225,000-vote plurality in a three-way race to become the city's 101st mayor.
After the election, he made peace with Democratic leaders in all the boroughs except Manhattan, but he continued to deny patronage to the Tammany leader, Carmine G. DeSapio, and this contributed to his political downfall. Proposed Transit Agency
Though not of his own making, a series of inherited scandals - most of them involving payoffs by gamblers to the police and shakedowns of businesses by firefighters - beset the Impellitteri administration, along with postwar inflation and fiscal worries stemming from entrenched budgets based on stop-gap measures.
Mayor Impellitteri instituted plans to cut costs and to create long-term financial stability for the city government, proposed what was to become an independent Transit Authority to take transit affairs out of politics and named a former United States Attorney, Thomas F. Murphy, as police commissioner with a widely acclaimed mandate to root out corruption.
But the brush of scandal touched some members of his staff and, though Mr. Impellitteri himself was never accused of wrongdoing, his administration was hurt by it. What political observers called his lack of forcefulness in dealings with Gov. Thomas E. Dewey and the Republican-dominated Legislature also raised doubts. Defeated by Wagner
And when he sought re-election in 1953, the opposition of Tammany Hall proved decisive. He was easily defeated by the Manhattan Borough President, Robert F. Wagner, who went on to serve three terms as mayor. Mr. Impellitteri stepped down on Dec. 31, 1953, and two days later was named to a judgeship by Mayor Wagner.
To say that Vincent Richard Impellitteri rose from obscurity would be an understatement of the first magnitude. He was born on Feb. 4, 1900, in the village of Isnello, Sicily. His father, Salvatore Impellitteri, was a shoemaker who brought the family to the Lower East Side when Vincent was a child. The family later moved to Ansonia, Conn.
The boy graduated from Ansonia High School in 1917. He joined the Navy and served in World War I as a radioman on a destroyer. After the war, he attended the Fordham Law School, going to classes by day while serving successively as a night bellboy and manager at a Broadway hotel.
He became a United States citizen in 1922 and earned his law degree in 1924.
After admission to the bar, he joined a law firm in which Martin Conboy, an influential Democratic figure, was a member. From 1929 to 1938, Mr. Impellitteri served as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan. He then returned to private law practice, mainly handling criminal cases.
Since his college days, he had been active in Democratic politics, and, through these associations, was named in 1941 as law secretary to Justice Peter Schmuck of State Supreme Court. Later, he became secretary to Justice Joseph Gavagan. A Reputation for Honesty
A modest, unassuming man, Mr. Impellitteri was virtually unknown to New Yorkers when he was elected president of the City Council, the No. 2 position at City Hall, in 1945.
It was said that when Democratic leaders were looking for a likely candidate for the Council presidency, they thumbed through the ''Green Book,'' the city's official directory, until they came upon the name Vincent Impellitteri, then a judicial clerk. He had a reputation for honesty, ability and party loyalty, and it was thought that as an Italian-born Roman Catholic he could help the O'Dwyer ticket.
Mr. Impellitteri had one drawback. As a report in The New York World-Telegram put it, he had had ''the injudicious good taste to snub Frank Costello, the gambler and racketeer who often has been called the czar behind the scenes of Tammany.
Tammany Hall opposed Mr. Impellitteri's selection, but Mr. O'Dwyer insisted upon it, and the ticket won handily in 1945.
In the next four years, Mr. Impellitteri worked quietly, overshadowed by Mr. O'Dwyer, and was rewarded in 1949 by being named to the ticket again. While they were re-elected, the effects of the growing scandal were already being felt, and Mr. O'Dwyer polled only 1.2 million votes to Mr. Impellitteri's 1.3 million.
Mr. O'Dwyer, who was increasingly preoccupied with the scandal, resigned on Sept. 2, 1950, and Mr. Impellitteri succeeded him as Acting Mayor. Two days later, he announced that he would run in the special election. Won Many Endorsements
Though he lacked Tammany support, he won endorsements from citizens' groups and newspapers, who called him ''Impy,'' and he attracted a wide following. The New York Times, in an editorial, said:
''He doesn't jump into decisions; in fact, he seems to make up his mind very deliberately, especially on financial matters. He does not create emergencies. He gives the impression of dogged earnestness and good intentions.''
In those times of upheaval, he seemed to be just what the voters wanted.
In an interview in 1965, when he retired from the Criminal Court bench, he recalled having been ''keenly disappointed'' at not being re-elected Mayor. But, he added, ''I never became bitter.''
He also noted that fame was fleeting. He often walked through the streets of New York, he said, and people smiled at him and called him ''Impy'' or ''Judge.'' But many others did not recognize him and had no idea that he had been mayor.
Mr Impellitteri married the former Elizabeth Agnes McLaughlin in 1926. The couple had no children. Mrs. Impellitteri died in 1967. He is survived by a sister, Mrs. Rose Concowich of Derby, Conn.
A funeral will be held Monday at 9:15 A.M. at Spinelli-Malerba Funeral Home in Ansonia, Conn., followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 A.M. at Holy Rosary Church in Ansonia. Burial will be in Mount Saint Peter's Cemetery in Derby.

1952: The Opening Of The Baruch Houses

from Life Magazine, featuring such luminaries as President Eisenhower, Bernard Baruch, Robert Moses, Governor Thomas Dewey, and Mayor Vincent Impellitteri
Baruch Opening

An Interview With Nicholas Dawidoff, Part 2

continuing from the last post. A touching story. I'll forgive Dawidoff for being a Red Sox fan. btw a great source for baseball card images is card junk
.......But before any of those investigations, there were hours of the night still to go, and as I tried to calm myself with less upsetting thoughts, invariably my mind turned to my favorite baseball team, the Boston Red Sox. There in the dark I evaluated the feats and virtues of the players I liked best. This was the early and mid-1970s, and their names were Griffin, Siebert, Tiant, Aparicio, and Yastrzemski. We had no television, did not subscribe to the newspaper, and my bedtime was not long after the evening broadcasts of games began on the radio, so I knew very little about the Red Sox. In those days, everybody knew less about ballplayers. Yet my desire for familiarity with them was intense, and I arrived at strong impressions, most of which placed peculiar emphasis on the players’ own boyhoods. Griffin, for instance, I had heard was nicknamed “The Dude,” which led to my belief that he’d grown up playing second base in cowboy boots. Because Siebert was always called “Sonny,” my illogical conviction was that he’d been taught to pitch by his father, out behind the barn stalls on the family farm. The musically cadenced name Tiant led to my certainty that the pitcher had taken fife lessons as a child and entertained his teammates after games with Cuban melodies. The diminutive Aparicio, I knew, played shortstop by creeping forward on tiptoes as each pitch was released, an eccentric technique I supposed he had first employed in youth to make himself seem taller, and one that I—tinier than he and intimidating to nobody on the playground—slavishly imitated. I had yet to visit Fenway Park where the Red Sox played their games, and I thought of it as a public greensward, not unlike East Rock Park in my neighborhood, dappled with shade trees, seesaws, basketball courts, picnickers, the ball field itself surrounded by slatted city benches from which cheering citizens took in the game. Because very few of the player names on my baseball cards presented challenges to pronunciation, as a Dawidoff I was grateful to Yastrzemski. That someone had become the leader of the Red Sox despite that less-than-sibilant thicket soothed my concerns that I might somehow be held back in life on nominal grounds. I used to repeat Yastrzemski over and over, always with the tongue-rolling inflection that my Russian-born grandfather, Alexander Gerschenkron, used to make a diphthong.
Naturally, I wanted the best for all these Red Sox men, which in baseball terms meant winning the World Series. I spent a lot of time imagining how it would feel when this baseball apotheosis happened. The Red Sox had not won the World Series in a very long time and by now had something of an accumulating reputation for disappointment, but I was not deterred. Like most people who believe they are awaiting a miraculous occasion, my anticipation took on exalted forms. As I think back now on those moments, mysterious to me is the extent to which my private worldly desires were infiltrated by my aspirations for the Red Sox, how the team brought up the fundamental questions of possibility. At various moments of my early youth, the great victory was conflated with the news that a traveling circus with clowns, trapeze artists, and a sword-swallowing lady was coming to town to perform for an audience of one—me; word that my younger sister, Sally, would be going off to permanently live elsewhere, with another family; a declaration of love from a succession of adored female personages including: Mary Elizabeth, a girl I first encountered on the swings at nursery school and after whom I’d named my tabby cat; the haughty Claire, who had French parents and a propensity to be “out jump-roping” when I called up on the telephone to invite her over to play; and yellow-haired Christine, who wore colorful jumpers and, to my sorrow, moved away after third grade. The most recurrent of my Red Sox World Series reveries made me part of a large, noisy family gathered around a laden table for Thanksgiving dinner with a cheerful father at the head to say the blessing and carve my mother’s turkey.
There were plenty more variations on this theme, and on those sleepless nights, no matter what bumped and rolled outside my window, the Red Sox were there to stand by me. If things grew truly desperate, I had a fail-safe. I was no tabulator of sheep; I counted Yastrzemskis, a brief doxology that never amounted to much of a total before all anxieties faded and the terrible wakefulness was gone.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

An Interview With Nicholas Dawidoff, Part 1

Nicholas Dawidoff's first book was The Catcher Was a Spy: The Mysterious Life of Moe Berg, published in June 1994. It follows the strange life of third-string major league baseball catcher, lawyer, and OSS spy, Moe Berg. Here however, Dawidoff talks about his new book The Crowd Sounds Happy: A Story of Love, Madness and Baseball (May 2008). It's a memoir of his experience growing up in New Haven and New York in the 1970s, histroubled family, and how baseball helps him find his place.
From on the point radio, broadcast in August of 2008
When Nicholas Dawidoff was a boy in nineteen-seventies’ New Haven, Connecticut, Red Sox radio broadcasts from a distant Fenway Park filled his room at night.
As he writes in his new memoir, “men like Williams and Yazstremski … were knights errant, giant killers, young men of magical valor roaming through the American League.” They were also roaming through his imagination and standing in for the mentally ill father he saw only occasionally.
The Red Sox of the 1970s were the team of near misses and lost chances, the team that couldn’t win. That suited Dawidoff just fine. “I had come to believe,” he writes, “that nothing worthwhile comes without great suffering.” So it was with his favorite baseball team, and so it was with his childhood.
This hour: A tale of love, madness, and baseball, with Nicholas Dawidoff.
You can join the conversation. Is it only a game, or is baseball an allegory for wins and losses of every day life? Why is it that we root for the underdog on the playing field, but not in life?
I grew up in a city of dying elms called the Elm City, on a street with no willows named Willow Street. Uncelebrated trees shaded our part of the road, sturdy oaks and mature maples, their branches so thick with leaves that they created a blind curve just before the intersection where the street straightened past our house and made its hard line for the highway. Cars traveled at a clip down Willow Street, especially at night, and because of the curve it was impossible to see them until they’d nearly reached the streetlight glowing out beyond my bedroom window. Yet lying awake under the covers I could hear those cars coming, and never more distinctly than on rainy fall evenings when the wind had blown a scatter of acorns across the pavement. I’d be tensed against my pillow, listening to the whoosh of tires closing fast over wet asphalt, and then, an instant later, a brief, vivid flurry of noise, the rapid, popping eruptions of a dozen flattened acorns, before the whoosh receded into traceless silence as someone else hurried out of town. Long before I knew that I came from a place people wanted to leave, I saw how eager they were to get away.
Every so often a car wouldn’t make it to the highway. From my bed I’d hear the familiar swelling murmur of onrushing rubber—it was like nearing a riverbank through parted woods—and I’d be picturing the car flowing through the blind curve just as the night detonated in a cry of brakes and tremendous thudding impact. I’d crawl to the end of my bed where I could peer at the window glass, but all I could see was the fine silvery mist of rain drifting past the street lamp. Retreating, I’d tug the blankets over my face as my bedroom filled with the hiss of punctured radiators and revolving flashes of hot red light. My mother would come through my door and sit by my side for a few minutes. Then she would run her hand through my hair, give me a pat, tell me to sleep tight, and the door would close. My room felt remote, bigger than usual, and every shadow playing along the ceiling terrified me. By morning, when I went outside for a look, all remnants of the accident would have been swept away so that I might have doubted that anything had truly happened were it not for the chips of headlight glass or the laciniated chunk of engine grille that I’d find in the gutter with the acorns.

The Double Life of Moe Berg

From J Grit, the internet index of tough Jews
After graduating college magna cum laude in 1923, he was drafted to play shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers, where by most accounts he began a rather mediocre professional baseball career. Of Berg, one teammate quipped "He can speak seven languages, but he can't hit in any of them."
Standing 6-foot-1, 185-pounds, Berg played a total of 15 major league seasons, where he was a lifetime .243 hitter. Although he started out as a utility infielder throughout the majority of his career he primarily played as a catcher and mostly as a backup player. He also played for the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Washington Senators and Boston Red Sox. In 1939 he retired from baseball after a knee injury had forced him to play for some time as a reserve player.
While an average (for a major leaguer) ballplayer, Berg's real strength was in his intellect and daring. In fact, during his baseball career he managed to graduate from Columbia Law School second in his class, and study at the Sorbonne in Paris, despite the rigors of his schedule.
In 1934, Berg participated in a tour of Japan with an all star team that included the likes of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. It was here that it is believed he started his career as a spy. Before the trip Berg had been recruited as a spy for the United States. It is said that after he gave a speech (in Japanese) as a lecturer at Meiji University, Berg climbed to the rooftop of a Tokyo hospital where he proceeded to remove a camera concealed by his kimono and take photographs of the skyline, harbor and industrial sections of the city. Apparently during World War II, U.S. pilots used these very photographs for bombing raids of Tokyo.
In 1943, after Berg had completely retired from baseball and had begun working full time for the United States government as a goodwill ambassador to Latin America, he became an officer in the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) the forerunner of the CIA.
Some of his assignments included: Planning a plot to assassinate Werner Heisenberg, the head of Nazi Germany's atom-bomb project, which was aborted after coming to the conclusion that Germany was not close to building this kind of bomb; being parachuted into Yugoslavia and meeting up with the partisan Tito; traveling throughout Germany in 1944 and 1945 helping arrange the capture of prominent German atomic scientists by the U.S., before the Soviets could get to him; and traveling throughout Czechoslovakia as a spy with fellow agents.
In the late 1940s Berg was forced out of the spy business. Never married, he spent the rest of his life living with various relatives as what could be called a freeloader. In fact, his brother Sam once was forced to send him two eviction notices to get him to leave his house.
Some biographers and historians conjecture that Berg's baseball career was merely a cover for his spying activities, however, Berg always maintained that he truly loved baseball and that his career as a spy began in earnest.
Berg planned to write an autobiography detailing his career as a spy but died in 1972 of an abdominal aortic aneurysm, never having written the book.
Interesting Facts
* According to biographers, Berg was prone to many blunders as a spy, once dropping his gun into a neighboring passenger's lap, and often forgetting to remove his OSS issued watch before undertaking secret missions abroad.
* During World War II, Berg made a radio address to the Japanese people speaking in fluent Japanese and pleading with them to surrender.
* At seven years old Berg began playing baseball on a neighborhood team under the pseudonym, Runt Wolfe, which he invented.

Moe Berg: 86 Ludlow Street, Almost

Contrary to the wikipedia bio below, I found Moe's parents and his older brother and sister living at 86 Ludlow in 1900. In 1910 the family was in Newark
Morris "Moe" Berg (March 2, 1902 – May 29, 1972) was an American catcher and coach in Major League Baseball who later served as a spy for the Office of Strategic Services during World War II. Although he played 15 seasons in the major leagues, almost entirely for four American League teams, Berg was never more than an average player, usually used as a backup catcher, and was better known for being "the brainiest guy in baseball" than for anything he accomplished in the game. Casey Stengel once described Berg as "the strangest man ever to play baseball".
A graduate of Princeton University and Columbia Law School, Berg spoke several languages and regularly read 10 newspapers a day. His reputation was fueled by his successful appearances as a contestant on the radio quiz show Information, Please! in which he answered questions about the derivation of words and names from Greek and Latin, historical events in Europe and the Far East, and ongoing international conferences.
As a spy working for the government of the United States, Berg traveled to Yugoslavia to gather intelligence on resistance groups the US government was considering supporting. He was then sent on a mission to Italy, where he interviewed various physicists concerning the German nuclear program. After the war, Berg was occasionally employed by the OSS's successor, the Central Intelligence Agency, but, by the mid-1950s, was unemployed. He spent the last two decades of his life without work, living with various siblings.
Moe Berg was the third and last child of Bernard Berg, a pharmacist, and Rose Tashker, a homemaker, both Jewish, who lived in the Harlem section of New York City, New York, a few blocks from the Polo Grounds. When Berg was three and a half, he begged his mother to let him start school. In 1906, Bernard Berg bought a pharmacy in West Newark. In 1910 the Berg family moved again, to the Roseville section of Newark. Roseville offered Bernard Berg everything he wanted in a neighborhood—good schools, middle-class residents, and very few Jews.
Berg began playing baseball at the age of seven for the Roseville Methodist Episcopal Church baseball team under the less ethnic pseudonym Runt Wolfe. In 1918, at the age of 16, Berg graduated from Barringer High School. During his senior season, the Newark Star-Eagle selected a nine-man "dream team" for 1918 from the city's best prep and public high school baseball players, and Berg was named the team's third baseman. Barringer was the first in a series of institutions Berg joined in his life where his religion made him unusual. Most of the other students were East Side Italian Catholics or Protestants from Forest Hill, but there were not many Jews, just as Bernard wanted it.
After graduating from Barringer, Berg enrolled in New York University. He spent two semesters there and played baseball and basketball. In 1919 he transferred to Princeton University, and never again mentioned that he attended NYU for a year, presenting himself exclusively as a Princeton man. Berg received a B.A., magna cum laude in modern languages. He had studied seven languages: Latin, Greek, French, Spanish, Italian, German and Sanskrit. His Jewish heritage and modest finances combined to keep him on the fringes of Princeton society, where he never quite fit in.
During his freshman year, Berg played first base on an undefeated team. Beginning in his sophomore year, he was the starting shortstop. He was not a great hitter and was a slow baserunner, but he had a strong, accurate throwing arm and sound baseball instincts. In his senior season, he was captain of the team and had a .337 batting average, batting .611 against Princeton's arch-rivals, Harvard and Yale. Crossan Cooper, Princeton's second baseman, and Berg communicated plays in Latin when there was a man on second base.
On June 26, 1923, Yale defeated Princeton 5–1 at Yankee Stadium to win the Big Three title. Berg had an outstanding day, getting two hits in four at bats (2–4) with a single and a double, and making several marvelous plays at shortstop. Both the New York Giants and the Brooklyn Robins desired "Jewish blood" on their teams, to appeal to the large Jewish community in New York, and expressed interest in Berg. The Giants were especially interested, but they already had two future Hall of Famers at shortstop, Dave "Beauty" Bancroft and Travis Jackson. The Robins were a mediocre team, where Berg would have a better chance to play. On June 27, 1923, Berg signed his first big league contract for $5,000 with the Robins.

A KV Major Leaguer?

I'm not aware if KV has sent one of its sons to the major leagues. Vinnie Adimondo almost made it. Dr. Serafin would always talk to me about Frank Malzone as if he was a KVer. Hank Greenberg spent some time in Greenwich Village before he moved to the Bronx. Joe Torre lived in Bushwick for a while. Lou Gehrig hailed from Washington Heights. I learned that Al Schacht went to PS 42, not the one on Hester Street however, but in the Bronx. Now with the Mets signing J.J. Putz? Well a lot of guys were called putzes in Tanahey and Coleman Oval. Can't wait to see those headlines

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Not This Day In Knickerbocker Village History: September, 1959

While we await the news of the naming of Obama's cabinet, Archie's gang had already announced theirs. From Archie's Madhouse Comics, number 1 from September 1959.

Judy Holliday: 1952

She was living here when she had to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC)
Born Yesterday(1950) instantly made Judy a star. That year, she won the Academy Award for best leading actress over established actresses such as Bette Davis and Gloria Swanson. She followed her victory with The Marrying Kind, a sweet, but minor movie. Cohn was more interested in promoting his new discovery Aldo Ray, who played her husband. Judy was suddenly forced to take a break from making movies when the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) called her to testify. To date, every performer called to testify had been pressured to name people who they suspected of Communist activity; those who hadn't named names had sacrificed their careers.
Though Judy was nervous about losing her career, she did not want to reveal information about her friends. She prepared herself well and Harry Cohn hired a private investigator to comb her past for potentially dangerous organizations she had associated with in the past. She gave one of her best performances for the committee. Hiding her sharp mind, Judy convinced them that she was similar to her dim Billie Dawn character. She pretended not to understand many of the questions and with ditzy word play, she confused the committee into dismissing her. The brilliant move saved her career.

Judy supposedly had a genius I.Q. of 172

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

George Cukor Highlight Reel

A combined clip of two of his films. Both feature Judy Holliday in an under-appreciated Cukor film called, "It Should Happen To You" and the trailer from "Born Yesterday."
Judy Holliday (June 21, 1921–June 7, 1965) was an Academy- and Tony Award-
Born Judith Tuvim ("Tuvim" is Yiddish for "Holiday") in New York City, she was the only child of Abe and Helen Tuvim, Jewish immigrants from Russia.

1918: The Opening Of The Orphan Aslyum

Notice how Justice Gerard slips in some early anti-Russian revolution commentary.

A Close Up Of The Orphan Asylum Advertisement

From Mrs. May Hartman's 1997 obituary
HARTMAN-May W., 97. Widow of Judge Gustave Hartman. Mother of the late Kenneth Hartman. She is survived by daughter Alicia Ashe, grandchildren Theodore, Andrew and Catherine Hartman and her daughter-in-law Polly Hartman, many nieces and nephews. She was the Founder of the Gustave Hartman YM-YWHA and for 25 years she was President of the Gustave Hartman Home for Children. Mrs. Hartman annually presented its world-famous All Star Shows in Madison Square Garden. She was active in many other philanthropies and the recipient of numerous awards and testimonials. She was an author and speaker. In lieu of flowers the family suggests contributions to the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies. Services will be held at Frank E. Campbell, Madison Ave. at 81 St., Thursday, Feb. 27, at 1:30PM.

An "Archaelogical Find": An Orphan Asylum Benefit Advertisement

Gustave Hartman's Last Residence, 141 E. 3rd Street: The Aglehoff Towers

from ny songlines
This apartment building with cool Assyrian detail was built by developer Samuel Ageloff for $2.5 million in 1928, hoping to lure the affluent to what was then the Lower East Side; the 1929 stock market crash put a crimp in this plan, but it's not true, as the Songlines once reported, that Ageloff committed suicide by jumping off his tower. His grandson informs me that the developer bounced back from the Depression, "enjoyed life very, very substantially," and lived to be 92.

a link to the Aglehoff Towers web site

Gustave Hartman's Obituary

The Site Of The Israel Orphan Asylum

To give you an idea of how many kids were orphans, here's a list from the
DIRECTORY of Jewish Orphanages,Societies, Social Services and Orphan Train Destinations
in the United States
(just in New York State)

*JCCA Is the successor organization to the following orphanages, societies and others in the New York area which includes the five boroughs and Westchester County. Historical information on most JCCA orphanages are found on the JCCA Page of the web site. (JCCA Institutions are marked with *).
*1895 Hebrew Home For Infants [HHI]
--------Hebrew Infant's Asylum [HIA]
--------Hebrew Infant's Home [HIH]
--------Hebrew Kindergarten & Infant's Home [HKIH] (and Far Rockaway, NY)
1903 Hebrew Children's Home (Bronx and Rockaway Beach, NY)
*1905 Home For Hebrew Infants
1933 Shield Of David Home For Orphan Girls
*1938 Edenwald School (HOA Auxiliary)
--------Edenwald School for Boys
--------Edenwald School for Girls (also in Pleasantville, NY)
*1878 Brooklyn Hebrew Orphan Asylum [BHOA]
1914 Council Home For Jewish Girls (Brooklyn And Jamaica, NY)
*1917 Independent Daughters Of Israel Orphan Asylum Of Brooklyn
*1919 Infants Home Of Brooklyn
1919 Pride Of Judea known first as Israel Orphan Asylum Of Brownsville and East New York
*1921 Children's Day & Night Shelter
*1921 Daughters of Zion, Hebrew Day & Night Nursery
*1954 Girls Club of Brooklyn [BHOA]
*Jewish Youth Services of Brooklyn
*1946 Children's Service Bureau [BHOA]
1977? Ohel Children's Home
1879 Jewish Orphans Asylum Society affiliated with Jewish Orphans Asylum
of Western New York at Rochester
1927 Jewish Mothers' Club Nursery and Temporary Home;
Jewish Mothers' Club;Jewish Welfare Service
Far Rockaway:
1914 Children's Haven
*1954 Gustave Hartman Home for Children (and Yonkers, NY)
*1906 Hawthorne-Cedar Knolls School
and Jewish Board Of Family & Children's Services
*Jewish Protectory and Aid Society
*1919 Friendly Home For Girls
New York City:
*1822 Jewish Child Care Association of New York
*1822 Hebrew Orphan Asylum of the City Of New York (HOA)
*1832 Hebrew Benevolent & Orphan Asylum and
Hebrew Benevolent & Orphan Society of the City of New York
*1896 Jewish Board Of Guardians
*1902 Jewish Big Brothers Association
*1913 Hebrew National Orphan Home (HOH) (a/k/a Homecrest) (See Yonkers)
*1913 Fellowship House For Boys
*1913 Hebrew Sheltering Guardian Society Of NY
*1916 Wise (Louise) Services
*Jewish Unmarried Mother's Services
*Manhattan Residence (Wise Services)
*1919 Central Committee For Friendly Aid to Jewish Girls
*1919 Corner House
*1919 Friendly Home for Girls (auxiliary of HOA)(also Lawrence, NY)
*1919 Home for Boys of the Junior League of HOA
*1921 Israel Orphan Asylum [IOA]
*1921 Free Synagogue Child Adoption Committee
*1922 Jewish Children's Clearing Bureau
Joint Planning Service For Jewish Young Women
*1960 Hartman-Homecrest or Hartman Home for Children
*????Wayside Day Nursery (No information found)
Other New York, NY Jewish Orphanages Not Associated With JCCA:
1878 Lady Deborah Nursery and Child's Protectory a/k/a
Lady Deborah Nursery
Deborah Nursery and Child's Protectory
The Ladies' Deborah Nursery
Lady Deb Nursery
1889 Educational Alliance, Inc. a/k/a Hebrew Institute
1911 Busker Orphan Asylum Foundation
1914 Harlem Hebrew Day And Night Nursery possibly akin to Harlem Hebrew Day Nursery
1915 Brisker's Orphan Home
1923 Ninth Street Day Nursery and Orphan's Home a/k/a
Associated Hebrew Day Nursery; Hebrew Day Nursery
???? Hebrew Mutual Benefit Society
???? Judah Tourah Widow and Orphan Fund
???? Isachar Widows and Orphans Benevolent Society
1851,1854 Hebron Society for the Support of Widows and Orphans,
of Hebron Lodge #5, B'nai B'rith.
1848 The Montefiore Widow and Orphan and Benefit Society of the City of New York, later known as the Montefiore Society [not specifically for widow and orphan benefits].
1849 Widow & Orphans Society B'nai B'rith
1850 New York Hebrew Sick Burial Widow and Orphans Society
1851 Lebanon Widow and Orphan Society (incorp. ), of Lebanon Lodge #9, B'nai B'rith.
1851 Zions Widow and Orphan Society, of Zion Lodge #2, B'nai B'rith.
1852 Ber Sheba Widow and Orphan Society, of B'er Sheba Lodge #11,B'nai B'rith.
1857 Manhattan Widow & Orphan Assurance Society. [known to be a Jewish organization]
1857 Ruben's Widow and Orphans Benevolent Society of New York, of Reuben Lodge #3, Free Sons of Israel.
1857 Widow and Orphan Fund of Jordan Lodge No. 15, I.O.B.B. [B'nai B'rith].
1858 Levy Widow and Orphan Society, of Levy Lodge #5, Free Sons of Israel.
1858 Noah Widow and Orphan Assurance Society, of Noah Lodge #1,Free Sons of Israel.
1858 Phoenix Widows and Orphans Aid Society
1858 Washington Widow and Orphans Benevolent Society of New York, of Washington Lodge #19, B'nai B'rith.
1859 Jew's Asylum for Widows and Orphans
1860 Aryeh Widow and Orphan Association, of Aryeh Lodge #6, Free Sons of Israel.
1935 HIAS
1940 European Jewish Children's Aid,Inc.

The Gustave Hartman Triangle

From the nycparks
This plot of land is located at Second Street and Avenue C. In 1969, Gustave Hartman Triangle was transferred from the Board of Estimate to Parks for permanent use as parkland. The triangular mall is lined with London plane trees, a species known for its ability to survive in harsh urban environments, including dry soil and polluted air. A hybrid of the American sycamore and the Oriental plane tree, the London plane tree resembles the American sycamore, but its fruit clusters are borne in pairs rather than singly. The tree takes its name from London, England, where London plane trees have flourished despite the city’s coal-polluted air. New York City’s early park designers, who planted many of Manhattan’s most formal parks, considered London planes highly elegant trees. Due to the trees’ enduring popularity, Parks uses the silhouette of a London plane leaf as its official insignia. Once populated by, Native Americans, Dutch settlers and free black farmers, this Lower East Side neighborhood was in Hartman’s time a largely Jewish enclave. It was home to a flourishing Yiddish theatrical and artistic community, radical intellectuals, and tens of thousands of immigrant families. After World War II, the Lower East Side’s ethnic makeup shifted as the neighborhood became one of the first racially integrated communities in the city. In recent years, the neighborhood’s legendary color and vitality have attracted residents of all nationalities and walks of life.

Across The Street From George Cukor

Lived Gustave Hartman at 311. Now it's a community garden.
Gustave Hartman was a municipal court judge and philanthropist who spent most of his life in this neighborhood. Gustave Hartman (1880–1936) was born in Hungary and immigrated to the United States with his parents while still a young boy. He attended P.S. 22 on Sheriff Street (now Columbia Street), the College of the City of New York, and received his law degree from New York University in 1905. After teaching for several years at P.S. 22, Hartman was appointed municipal court judge in 1913. In 1914 he was elected to serve a full term. Hartman also served as judge in the City Court from 1920 to 1929. Hartman’s greatest devotion, however, may have been to the Israel Orphan Asylum, which he founded in 1913 and ran until his death. The asylum, which Hartman financed out of his own pocket and through aggressive fund-raising, was located just across the street, on East Second Street between Avenues C and D. It served the needs of children ages one to six (and later girls up to age 14), many of them wartime orphans. In 1928, Hartman married May Weisser, superintendent of the asylum. The couple had two children and remained in the neighborhood, living on East Third Street and East Fourth Street. When Hartman died in 1936, at age 56, the New York Times reported that community members were so distraught that the “twelve hundred who attended the funeral service in the temple refused to leave to make room for invited mourners. . . . The throng was so great on Second Street that 85 policemen were needed to make room for the procession.” Soon after Hartman’s funeral, the Board of Aldermen named this strip of land (then under the jurisdiction of the Board of Estimate) in his honor. After Hartman’s death, his wife took over as president of the Israel Orphan Asylum. In 1944, the asylum moved to Far Rockaway, and in 1950 its name was changed to the Gustave Hartman Home to honor its founder. It merged with the Hebrew National Orphan Home in 1957, and in 1962 was consolidated with the Jewish Child Care Association.

Monday, December 8, 2008

East Houston Street Area In 1933

Click to enlarge and check out that old time baby carriage and the Billiard Academy

1903: The Largest School In The World

The lower east side was bursting at the seams at that time. I'm pretty familiar with the current state of that Houston Street school and now it's not the biggest, but one of the worst. Notice the mention of PS 136 which was right near Knickerbocker Village and adjacent to the soon to open PS 177.

1891 Map Of East Houston Street Area

This map shows the relationship between the location of the 1920 Schumer apartment and the picture from the previous post. PS 188 would be built 10 years from the date of this map and would be considered the largest public school at that time.

Around The Corner From George Cukor

Lived Nat Schumer, Mark and Stuie's dad, i.e. the rational for Cukor's who's who status. In 1920 Nat lived with his younger brother Joe and his dad Morris at 346 E. 3rd Street. Nat's mom had passed away I believe in giving birth to Joe. Mark is named after his grandfather. The 346 address was between Avenue D and Goerck Street. Goerck is no longer there as the Lillian Wald projects, built in the early 1950's, absorbed it. The 1933 image above shows 397 E 3rd Street. Rather than PS 15, Nat probably went to the closer PS 188 on Houston and Lewis.

Who's Almost Who In Knickerbocker Village History: George Cukor

George lived across the street from PS 15. It's very possible he attended there. In the 1910 census his father is listed as a shirtwaist manufacturer! The block at that time was fairly well off. In the census George and his small family are the only inhabitants at that address. I suspect that it's wrong. They might have lived at the tenement to the right, number 328. How does George warrant "who's almost who status when this address is close to two miles fro KV? The explanation awaits.
George Dewey Cukor (July 7, 1899 – January 24, 1983) was an Academy Award-winning American film director. Cukor's career flourished at RKO and later MGM where he directed a string of impressive films including What Price Hollywood? (1932), A Bill of Divorcement (1932), Dinner at Eight (1933), Little Women (1933), David Copperfield (1935), Romeo and Juliet (1936), and Camille (1937).
Cukor was born in New York City to Hungarian Jewish immigrants, Victor F. and Helen (Gross) Cukor. As a teenager, he was infatuated with theater and often cut classes to attend afternoon matinees. Following his graduation from De Witt Clinton High School in 1916, he spent a year with the Students Army Training Corps. He then obtained a job as an assistant stage manager for a Chicago theater company. After gaining three years of experience, he formed his own stock company in Rochester, New York in 1920, giving set designer employment to a young Russel Wright, and worked there for seven years. He then returned to Broadway where he worked with such formidable actresses as Ethel Barrymore, Dorothy Gish, Estelle Winwood, and Jeanne Eagels.
When Hollywood began to recruit New York theater talent for sound films, Cukor answered their call and moved there in 1929. His first job was as a dialog director at Paramount Pictures for the film River of Romance (1929), followed by All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) at Universal Pictures. He then co-directed three films at Paramount before making his solo debut directing Tallulah Bankhead in Tarnished Lady (1931). Cukor left Paramount after a legal dispute resulting from his dismissal from an earlier Paramount film, One Hour With You (1932), and went to work with David O. Selznick at RKO Studios.
Cukor's directed a string of impressive films including What Price Hollywood? (1932 ), A Bill of Divorcement (1932) at RKO, Dinner at Eight (1933), Little Women (1933), David Copperfield (1935), Romeo and Juliet (1936), and Camille (1937) at MGM.
By this time, Cukor had established a reputation as a director who could coax great performances from actresses and he became known as a "woman's director," a title which he resented. One of Cukor's first ingenues was actress Katharine Hepburn, who debuted in A Bill of Divorcement and whose looks and personality left RKO officials at a loss as to how to use her. Cukor ended up directing her in her most successful films and they became close friends off the set.
Cukor was hired to direct Gone with the Wind by David O. Selznick in 1937 and he spent two years with pre-production duties as well as spending long hours coaching Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Havilland, the film's stars. Cukor was replaced after less than three weeks of shooting, but continued to coach Leigh and De Havilland off the set.
Following the firing of its original director Richard Thorpe, Cukor also played a similar role in the production of The Wizard of Oz. Brought in on a temporary basis he made crucial changes to the look and feel of the film. In particular, he adjusted Judy Garland's makeup, costuming and performance, encouraging her to act in a more natural manner that greatly contributed to the success of the final film.
Cukor's next film, The Women (1939), a popular film notable for its all female cast and The Philadelphia Story (1940) starring Katharine Hepburn. He also directed another of his favorite actresses, Greta Garbo, in Two Faced Woman (1941), her last film before she retired from the screen.
The 1940s was a decade of hits and misses for Cukor. He was off track with Two Faced Woman as well as Her Cardboard Lover (1942 ) starring Norma Shearer. However, he did achieve more success with films such as A Woman's Face (1941) with Joan Crawford, Gaslight (1944) with Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer, and Adam's Rib (1949) with Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.
Cukor's reputation as an actor's director continued as he helped several actors win Academy Awards. James Stewart won a Best Actor Oscar for The Philadelphia Story, Ronald Colman won a Best Actor Oscar for A Double Life (1947) and Judy Holliday won for Best Actress for Born Yesterday (1950 ). In 1954, Cukor made his first film in color, A Star Is Born which featured an impressive come-back performance by Judy Garland. He directed the ill-fated Something's Got to Give in 1962. Progress on the film was arduous throughout, and Cukor's relationship with the film's star, Marilyn Monroe, was consistently difficult and he was openly hostile towards her. Monroe was found dead in her Los Angeles home several months after the production began and the film was never completed. Two years later, Cukor won an Academy Award himself, for Best Director, for My Fair Lady (1964), for which Rex Harrison also won a Best Actor Oscar.
He continued to work into his '80s and directed his last film, Rich And Famous (1981) with Jacqueline Bisset and Candice Bergen.
It was an "open secret" in Hollywood that Cukor was gay. He was also a celebrated bon vivant; during the heyday of Hollywood his home was the site of weekly Sunday parties. Cukor's friends were of paramount importance to him and he kept his home filled with their photographs.

Not This Day In Knickerbocker Village History: December 7, 1941 pt 2

Not This Day In Knickerbocker Village History: December 7, 1941

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Organ Grinder Swing 4

Finally here's Jimmy Smith's version

Organ Grinder Swing 3

Here's Popeye's version from the 1930's

Organ Gringer Swing 2

The Mills' Brothers from 1937
Whose that coming down the street
Good old organ grinders beat
He's the latest rhythm king
With his organ grinder swing
Da De Ya, Da De Ya, Da De Ya, Da De Ya
When he turns that handle down
Music goes round and round.
Everybody starts to sing
To that organ grinders swing.
Tra La, Tra La, Tra La, Tra La
All the children tag along
Just to listen to his song.
Monkey dancing on a string
To the organ grinders swing
Uh huh, Uh huh, Uh huh, Uh huh
Well, whose that coming down the street
Good old organ grinders beat.
He's the latest rhythm king
With his organ grinders beat
Uh ahuh, uh ahuh, uh ahuh

Organ Grinder Swing

audio by Jimmy Lunceford's great band

Organ Grinder 2

Another great organ grinder photo from shorpy circa 1904 in London
About organ grinders
The organ grinder was a musical novelty street performer of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century, and refers to the operator of a street organ.Period literature often represents the grinder as a gentleman of ill repute or as an unfortunate representative of the lower classes. Newspaper reporters would sometimes describe them cynically or jocularly as minor extortionists who were paid to keep silent, given the repetitious nature of the music. Later depictions would stress the romantic or picturesque aspects of the activity. Whereas some organ grinders were itinerants or vagabonds, many were recent immigrants who chose to be street performers in order to support their families. Those who actually owned their barrel organs were more likely to take care of them and pursue the "profession" more seriously. A few organ grinders still remain, perhaps most famously Joe Bush in the United States.
Exceptionally, the grinder could be a woman, or small child, cranking away on a smaller organ or on a large organ mounted on a pushcart that was sometimes pulled by a donkey. More often than not the grinder was a man, bearing a medium sized barrel organ held in front of him and supported by a hinged or removable wooden stick or leg that was strapped to the back of the organ. The strap around his neck would balance the organ, leaving one hand free to turn the crank and the other to steady the organ. A tin cup on top of the organ or in the hand of a companion (or an animal) was used to solicit payments for his performance. There was an endless variation in the size of the organ. The size varied from a small organ with only 20 notes weighing only 18 pounds to a huge barrel organ with hundreds of pipes weighing several hundred pounds. Larger organs were usually mounted on a cart, although organ grinders were known to carry an instrument weighing over 100 pounds. The most elaborate organs could even have mechanical figures or automata mounted on top of or in the front of the case.
The grinder would crank his organ in a public place (either a business district or in a neighborhood), moving from place to place after collecting a few coins or in order to avoid being arrested for loitering or chased by persons who would not appreciate hearing his single tune over and over again. The grinder would often[citation needed] have as a companion a White-headed Capuchin monkey to do tricks and attract attention. The monkey would collect the money from the audience and sometimes collect other shiny objects that attracted his attention. Other attractions might be parrots, dogs, dancing bears and members of the organ grinder's family who would dance and sing.
Many cities in the United Kingdom had ordinances prohibiting organ grinders. The authorities often encouraged policemen to treat the grinders as beggars or public nuisances. In Paris there was a limited number of permits for organ grinders, and entry in that reserved circle was based on a waiting list or seniority system. In New York City (USA), there were as many as 1500 organ grinders on the streets at a time - one on almost every block.
Music lovers usually hated the organ grinders, since most grinders seemed to be tone deaf and lacking any sense of rhythm.[citation needed] They apparently were not interested in keeping their instrument in tune or cranking at a rate suited to the music which was "programmed" in their barrel organ. This was most likely true of the organs that were rented for the day from "organ liveries". The organ grinder would pick up an organ in a small store-front shop and then walk or take the streetcar to his chosen neighborhood. After moving from block to block throughout the day, they would return the organ to the livery and pay a portion of their take to the owner.
Often, they would make more money than was earned by the people who made donations. Of course, they dressed shabbily to conceal this fact. City dwellers who needed some measure of quiet for their writings or their scientific reflections could absolutely loathe organ grinders.
Charles Dickens wrote to a friend that he could not write for more than half an hour without being disturbed by the most excruciating sounds imaginable, coming in from barrel organs on the street. Charles Babbage was a particularly virulent enemy of the organ grinders. He would chase them around town, complain to authorities about their noisy presence, and forever[citation needed] ask the police to arrest them. Yehudi Menuhin on the other hand is quoted to have said: "we musicians must stick together" while handing an organ-grinder some change.
According to Ord-Hume the disappearance of organ grinders from European streets was in large part due to the early application of national and international Copyright laws. At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century European publishers of sheet music and the holders of copyrights to the most popular operatic tunes of the day often banded together in order to enforce collection of performance duties from any musician playing their property in any venue.
When faced with notaries and the hounding of other legal representatives of the "music industry" of the time, in addition to the other sources of hostility mentioned above organ grinders soon disappeared.
Street organs were banned in New York City in 1936 by Fiorello La Guardia. An unfortunate consequence was the destruction of hundreds of organs. This was unfortunate because the barrels in these organ contained a record of the popular music of the day. Before the invention of the cylinder record player, this was the only permanent recording of these tunes. The law that banned barrel organ in New York was repealed in 1976 but that mode of musical performance had become obsolete by then. However, organ grinders did return to New York on the 9th of April 2006, when the first organ rally in the area was held on Coney Island.