Friday, February 26, 2010

New Willie Mays Biography

An excerpt from the Sunday New York Times Book Review by Pete Hamill
Willie Mays, the Say Hey Kid, The Life, the Legend, By James S. Hirsch
Illustrated. 628 pp. Scribner. $30
A long time ago in America, there was a beautiful game called baseball. This was before 30 major-league teams were scattered in a blurry variety of divisions; before 162-game seasons and extended playoffs and fans who watched World Series games in thick down jackets; before the D.H. came to the American League; before AstroTurf on baseball fields and aluminum bats on sandlots; before complete games by pitchers were a rarity; before ballparks were named for corporations instead of individuals; and long, long before the innocence of the game was permanently stained by the filthy deception of steroids.
In that vanished time, there was a ballplayer named Willie Mays.
He came to a Manhattan ballpark named the Polo Grounds in 1951, when he was 20, to play for the New York Giants. Within a few months, he showed that he had the potential to become one of the greatest players ever to walk on the green grass of the major leagues. He could hit, he could run, he could catch, he could throw. And he brought to the playing of baseball a mysterious, almost magical quality that has disappeared from the professional game. Willie Mays brought us joy. All of us.
Even those of us who from birth were fanatical acolytes of the secular church of the Brooklyn Dodgers. The ­Dodgers were in my DNA. My father was an immigrant from Belfast and didn’t become truly American until he got baseball. I’m sure that passionate embrace was true of millions of other immigrants, and was swiftly passed to their American children. My father took me to my first ballgame at Ebbets Field in 1946. I went with my own friends one June day in 1947, just before my 12th birthday, and saw Jackie Robinson in his first brave season, saw him get hit by a pitch, then steal second, then drive the pitcher nuts with his jittery feints, and then score on a single. And heard the gigantic roar from all the Brooklyn tribes. Bed-Stuy was joined at last with Bensonhurst and Park Slope, Flatbush and Bay Ridge. For Robinson and the team president, Branch Rickey, had done more than simply integrate baseball. They had integrated the stands. From the box seats to the bleachers, we were consumed by love of the Dodgers. The phrase “Dem Bums” was uttered with deep affection.
All those old passions rose in me again when reading James S. Hirsch’s fine new book, “Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend.” Above all, I remembered Mays getting a thunderous round of applause when he first came to bat in games at Ebbets Field (the only other visiting player to hear such cheers was Stan Musial of the St. Louis Cardinals). Even the most fanatical Dodger fans wanted Mays to go 3 for 4, steal two bases and make one astounding catch in center field, as long as the Dodgers won, 6-4. Here I must plead guilty to nostalgia, but not to sentimentality, which is always a lie about the past. Like millions of others, I was there. And I remember the joy of watching a young man named Mays play the game for everything it was worth. To all of us then, it was worth a lot.
“By the time he retired,” Hirsch writes, “he was an American icon whose athletic brilliance and stylistic bravado contributed to the assimilation of blacks during the turbulent civil rights era, a distinctive figure of ambition, sacrifice and triumph who became a lasting cultural touchstone for a nation in search of heroes.”
In his long, fascinating account, Hirsch tells the full story of Mays’s baseball life. He was born in 1931 in a mainly black mill town outside Birmingham, Ala., where he was raised by his father, Willie Mays Sr. (known as Cat), and his mother’s two younger sisters. His mother, Annie Satterwhite, never married his father, but the strapped Depression household was full of feminine warmth. Beyond that small community, the world could be ominous with danger. In Alabama, there were still living Americans who had been born into slavery. The Ku Klux Klan, the most enduring of American terrorist organizations, remained the ultimate enforcer of the iron rules of segregation. When Willie was 7, the family moved to Fairfield, a nearby town that was biracial. By then, the boy had discovered baseball, and he was tutored by Cat, who played semipro ball. Young Willie learned to hit and run and slide and catch and throw. The full curriculum. Most important, he learned the rules of the game. They were at once a challenge and a comfort.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Waiting For Lefty

No, that's not Waiting For Lefty above. And I'm not talking about waiting for such great KV lefties such as Rambo Murray and Mark, The Cutter. I wish, however, there was a quality video of Odets' Waiting For Lefty. Especially one that equaled the quality of the performance that the Theater 808 group gave last night at the tenement museum. Odets wrote much of the snappy dialogue for Sweet Smell of Success. It was one of Seward Park's Tony Curtis' best performance.
Clifford Odets (July 18, 1906 – August 18, 1963) was an American playwright, screenwriter, socialist, and social protester.
Odets was born in Philadelphia of immigrant parents, Lou Odets (born Gorodetsky) and Esther Geisinger, and raised in the Bronx, New York. He dropped out of high school to pursue acting. He helped found the Group Theatre, a highly influential theatre company in the U.S. that utilized a new acting technique, closely associated with the thinking of the Russian master Constantin Stanislavski.
After briefly trying acting, Odets decided to become the Group Theatre's first original playwright. At the urging of Group co-founder Harold Clurman, he wrote Awake and Sing! in 1935. Although his first play, it is often considered his masterpiece. It follows the story of a large Jewish family in New York.
Mainly due to the misgivings of Group leader Lee Strasberg, Awake and Sing! was not produced right away. Odets's first play to be produced was the one-act Waiting for Lefty. This is a series of interconnected scenes depicting workers for a fictional taxi company. The focus alternates between the drivers' union meeting and vignettes from their difficult, oppressed lives. The climax is a defiant call for the union to strike. The play can be performed in any acting space, including union meeting halls and on the street. The play's wild success brought Odets unexpected fame and fortune. Odets would soon move to Hollywood to begin writing for the screen as well as the stage. His play The Flowering Peach was the preferred choice of the Pulitzer Prize jury in 1955, but under pressure from Joseph Pulitzer Jr., the prize went instead to Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, which the jury considered the weakest of the five shortlisted nominees.
These plays, along with Odets's other major Group Theatre plays of the 1930s, are harsh criticisms of profiteers and exploitative economic systems during the Great Depression. They have been dismissed by some critics as mere propaganda, but Odets asserted that all of his plays deal with the human spirit persevering in the face of all opponents, whether they be the capitalist class or not. In later years, Odets's plays became more reflective and autobiographical, although class consciousness was ever in the background. The playwright George S. Kaufman gently tweaked him about his innocuous turn: "Odets, where is thy sting?"
In 1952, Odets was called before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). He disavowed his communist affiliations and cooperated by "naming names"; as a result, he did not share the fate of many of his colleagues who were blacklisted. Odets didn’t provide the names of anyone who hadn’t already been mentioned to the committee, but he later expressed guilt and “revulsion” over his testimony. Odets was reportedly tormented by his testimony until his death in 1963, and he wrote relatively little for stage or screen after his 1952 subcommittee appearance.[3]
Odets's dramatic style is distinguished by a kind of poetic, metaphor-laden street talk, by his socialist politics, and by his way of dropping the audience right into the conflict with little or no introduction. Often character is more important than plot, which Odets attributed to the influence of Anton Chekhov. In general, Odets's political statements reflect the Marxism that was common in the 1930s; he often points to the Soviet Union as an example of a perfect socialist state.
His first wife was Academy-Award winning actress Luise Rainer; his second wife was actress Bette Grayson, and he also had a relationship with actress Frances Farmer. Grayson's death at 32 left Odets to care for their two children, Nora, born in 1945, and Walt Whitman[1], now a clinical psychologist, author and painter, born in 1947. He was a close friend of Jean Renoir, who was also working in Hollywood during the 1940s. Renoir dedicated an entire chapter of his autobiography to his friendship with Odets including a moving visit to the playwright on his deathbed.
Clifford Odets died of colon cancer at the age of 57 in 1963 and was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

9 Essex Street: The Madoff Turkish Bath?

The Last New Yorker, Bernie Madoff And A LES Connection

A stock market scam was part of the plot of the Last New Yorker. It made think of something which I had neglected,i.e. is there a LES connection to Madoff? From a article about Madoff in which his brother Peter, a Tenement Museum trustee, wrote
Peter Madoff, a trustee of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, wrote a line on that institution's website about his family's roots: "My grandparents ran a Turkish bath in the area that served as a focal point for many new immigrants of different nationalities." Census and marriage records show that the Madoff grandparents came to the U.S. from Poland, Romania, and Austria between 1900 and 1905.
Bernie, when he rode through the area many decades later, would occasionally point out places where his family had lived or worked. But though he embraced the family's gritty immigrant success story, he avoided talking about his own parents and his more suburban upbringing. Bernie and Peter Madoff were raised in Laurelton, a middle-class area of Queens. Located beyond the end of the subway line on the border of Long Island's Nassau County, Laurelton felt more like a village in those days than a part of New York City. Families would run into each other at the local Chinese restaurant, the ice-cream parlor, and the Laurelton Jewish Center. The Madoffs -- the parents, Ralph and Sylvia; the boys, Bernie and Peter; and their older sister, Sondra -- lived in a modest three-bedroom brick house with a detached garage on 228th Street, a broad, tree-lined street with a grassy median.

I began searching for Madoff's in the census. I found none on the LES. Actually, I later discovered the Madoff paternal ancestors were mostly in the Scranton, Pa area. Then I realized that Peter was talking about his maternal grandparents. His mother was Sylvia Muntner. Sure enough I found Harry, with a daughter in the family named Sylvia, running a bath house on Essex Street. Hmm? Some Kvers knew a LES Muntner at Seward Park High School. I know one too. It's not a common name.

Harvey Wang's New York

from his 1990 book I chose a few that lived and worked in close proximity to KV
Harvey Wang is a widely published photographer and Emmy Award winning filmmaker. His short films, ranging in style and approach from documentary to experimental, have been seen in festivals all over the world. Wang’s film Milton Rogovin: The Forgotten Ones won the prize for Best Documentary Short at the 2003 Tribeca Film Festival, and Triptych was chosen as Best Experimental Film at the 2004 Rhode Island International Film Festival. He has published five books of photography, all critically acclaimed portraits of Americans from many walks of life. Wang has exhibited widely at museums, including the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, the New York Historical Society, and the Museum of the City of New York. He is also a commercial director and is currently represented by No Smoke films in New York City.

Locations From The Last New Yorker

Wang Places

KV In The Last New Yorker

The Last New Yorker

above clip from the film's site
Three former KVers and their spouses were at the 2/20/10 showing of this excellent film. After the viewing they had the opportunity to see and hear the director, Harvey Wang and one of the co-stars, Kathleen Chalfant. Those who are knowledgeable of NYC locations were able to spot some KV favorite shopping destinations, Beny's, on Canal and Eldridge and Lismore's on Grand Street. Unfortunately, these stores are gone. Their loss coincides with a central theme of the film.
The film synopsis:

Lifelong friends Lenny Sugarman (Dominic Chianese) and Ruben Liebner (Dick Latessa), both in their 70s, both dyed-in-the-wool New Yorkers, barely recognize the Manhattan of their youth. The city they've loved for decades has become a playground for the too-rich; their places, the ones they've frequented for years, are now refuges from a changing world theyre increasingly unable to keep up with. When Lenny—a lone schemer all his life—finally gets in over his head, he decides to seek the one thing hes never had: true love. But to achieve it, he may have to abandon the only place hes ever known.
THE LAST NEW YORKER is a tale of friendship, love and the worlds greatest city -- and how all three keep us young and make us feel alive. The film also stars Kathleen Chalfant and Josh Hamilton, and a host of renowned New York character actors including Joe Grifasi, Ben Hammer, Sylvia Kauders, and Gerry Vichi. Directed by acclaimed NYC filmmaker, documentarian, and photographer Harvey Wang.

Opening Soon: The Museum Of The American Gangster

Big Dick enters The New Museum from David Livingston on Vimeo.

from the Museum Site
Previews begin Sunday, March 7, 2010, 12:00pm - 5:00pm, with a day of special programming and entertainment throughout the day. Click here for more information.
Located in a former speakeasy, the Gangster Museum's goal is to objectively present the role that crime has played in shaping the politics, culture, myth and lore of New York City -- and beyond.
Mission:The Museum of the American Gangster (MOAG) presents an opportunity to visit the hidden, inside world of the American Gangster through artifacts and stories told by those involved. It is a common ground for gangsters, their families, law enforcement, and those who lived the stories from every angle to put the story back in history. This museum is a place for the casual visitor to view life in the American Underworld, and come away with questions as well as answers, and a place where serious enthusiasts and scholars can find original source documents and artifacts to learn more about this often hidden part of American history. A visit to the Museum of the American Gangster will leave one wondering how a balance will ever be struck between American individualism and societal control. The Museum Space: The MOAG boasts 800 sq feet of gallery space, an authentic speakeasy, a maze of hidden rooms in the basement left over from Prohibition (which are all part of the exhibit), and dedicated research facilities where visitors can access original source documents, articles and more. Frank Sinatra was a singing waiter in our restaurant as a youth, and our gallery space served as living quarters for Leon Trotsky in 1917. The 160-seat, professional Off-Broadway theater on site premiered You're A Good Man Charlie Brown in 1967 and is the site of Lord Buckley's final performance before his death in 1960. (And that is just the tip of the iceberg.)Beyond the photos and artifacts, MOAG will offers workshops, walking tours, live performances, historic reenactments, lectures, movies and presentations throughout the year. Behind the Scenes: The MOAG was realized through the vision of Eric Ferrara and Lorcan Otway, with the help of dozens of criminal historians, authors, scholars, journalists and the descendants and estates of pivotal crime figures in history. Eric Ferrara is the founder and director of the Lower East Side History Project, a non-profit research and education organization, and also the founder of the East Village Visitors Center. Ferrara is the official historian of the E.4th Street Cultural District (the only official cultural district in Manhattan), an educator at Brooklyn College, and a published author. His newest book, A Guide to Gangsters, Murderers and Weirdos of New York City's Lower East Side (The History Press) has sold out at major retailers nationally and is entering its second edition. Ferrara sits on a number of local boards, including the Tenement Museum's Immigrant Program Advisory Committee and is a consultant to various movie/tv/media outlets, journalists, authors and universities worldwide. Above all, Ferrara is a fourth-generation, native New York/Lower East Sider; his family immigrated from Sicily to Little Italy in 1888. Lorcan Otway is the second generation to manage Theatre 80, a historical off-broadway theatre housed in a former Jazz club and speakeasy. He has worked in the family's theatre business since he helped build the theatre with his father, at the age of ten. He has worked as a photojournalist and with marginalized cultural isolate communities, such as the Romany people, on issues of political asylum and political inclusion. He has a Juris Doctor degree from New York University School of Law. Museum Consultants: Cynthia Duncan Estate of Meyer Lansky, Patrick Downey Author, Historian, Rose Keefe Author, historian, Seth Abrams, Historian, producer, Pat Hamou Historian, artist

Bette's Big Noise From Winnetka

This is the story of a young girl who was the Einstein of the dance.
They called her Big Noise from Winnetka, against her no one stood a chance.
Big Noise blew in from Winnetka, stole each fellow's heart and then,
Big Noise blew in from Winnetka, Big Noise blew right out again.
Boys were sighing, their girlfriends crying, hearts were pounding when;
The Big Noise dances, hence romances, it's just astounding when;
Big Noise blew in from Winnetka, Big Noise blew right out again.
Stop! Look! Listen! Listen to the Big Noise.
Stop! Look! Listen! Listen to the Big Noise.
I am the one they call the Big Noise. I got to dance my way to fame.
I just blew in from Winnetka, that town will never be the same.
Now I had my fun, and yet there's just one who's got me from the start.
I'd love to conga a little bit longer but it keeps us apart.
Exit Big Noise from Winnetka, enter Big Noise in his heart.
Big men move me out. Senors zonk me out.
Zim zom zup ma ma. Big men boo bop ba, bah ba doo wop.
Boodeeah baby boodeeah baby boodeeah baby.
Boodeeah baby boodeeah baby boodeeah baby baby baby over 'n' out.
She loves the bass. She loves the drum.
She loves to stay out late and dance the samba, samba, how she loves to samba,
rhumba, salsa, limbo and pachenga.
She's so restless she's on every guest list.
None can please her. She'd say no to Ceaser.
Teach me, why don't you teach me. Show me how to let go!
There she goes 'round again, up and then down again, in and then out. Hooo!
When Big Noise waltzes through the door the bouncer has to clear the floor,
'cause everybody wants to see the girl get down, the girl get down.
And if you try to hold me tight, I'll disappear into the night.
My lover's waiting home for me (she don't do that! She don't do that!)
Everyone's got a bit of Big Noise in his heart,
everyone likes to toot his horn.
I've been the Big Noise from Winnetka for so long,
time for a new noise to be born.
'Cause I had my fun and yet there's just one who's got me from the start.
Exit Big Noise for Winnetka, enter Big Noise in my heart.
Onc she was pickin' up the big boys . . .
Now I'm pickin' up my little kids' toys . . .
Big Noise we miss you.

Big Noise From Winnetka

That last post caused some big noise
Big Noise From Winnetka is a jazz composition co-written by composer and bass player Bob Haggart. It was first recorded in 1938 and featured Haggart and drummer Ray Bauduc, both members of a sub-group of the Bob Crosby Orchestra called The Bobcats. The title is a reference to Winnetka, Illinois.
The recording is remarkable for its unusual duet feature: Haggart whistles the melody and plays the bass, while only Bauduc accompanies him on the drums. Halfway through the solo, Bauduc starts drumming on the strings of the double bass, while Haggart continues to play with his left hand, creating a very percussive bass solo.
After the success of the initial recording, they performed this song frequently for the rest of their careers. They performed the song in several films, most notably in 1941's "Let's Make Music" and 1943's "Reveille with Beverly". The original recording was featured on the soundtrack of Raging Bull.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A 6th Ward Judge Keeps His Word.....And Sparks Words From Old Neighbors

an excerpt from the nytimes of February 19, 2010
Judge Keeps His Word to Immigrant Who Kept His, By NINA BERNSTEIN
The judge and the juvenile had grown up on the same mean streets, 40 years apart. And in fall 1996, they faced each other in a New York court where children are prosecuted as adults, but sentenced like candidates for redemption.
The teenager, a gifted student, was pleading guilty to a string of muggings committed at 15 with an eclectic crew in Manhattan’s Chinatown. The judge, who remembered the pitfalls of Little Italy in the 1950s, urged him to use his sentence — three to nine years in a reformatory — as a chance to turn his life around.
“If you do that, I am here to stand behind you,” the judge, Michael A. Corriero, promised. The youth, Qing Hong Wu, vowed to change.
Mr. Wu kept his word. He was a model inmate, earning release after three years. He became the main support of his immigrant mother, studying and working his way up from data entry clerk to vice president for Internet technology at a national company.
But almost 15 years after his crimes, by applying for citizenship, Mr. Wu, 29, came to the attention of immigration authorities in a parallel law enforcement system that makes no allowances for rehabilitation. He was abruptly locked up in November as a “criminal alien,” subject to mandatory deportation to China — the nation he left at 5, when his family immigrated legally to the United States.
Now Judge Corriero, 67, retired from the bench, is trying to keep his side of the bargain.
“Mr. Wu earned his second chance,” the judge wrote in a letter supporting a petition to Gov. David A. Paterson for a pardon that would erase Mr. Wu’s criminal record and stop the deportation proceedings. “He should have the opportunity to remain in this country.”
The letter is one of dozens of testimonials, including appeals from Mr. Wu’s fiance, mother and sisters, who are all citizens; from the Police Benevolent Association, where Mr. Wu used to work; and from his employers at the Centerline Capital Group, a real estate financial and management company, where his boss, Tom Pope, calls Mr. Wu “a shining star.”
But under laws enacted in 1996, the same year Mr. Wu was sentenced, the immigration judge hearing the deportation case has no discretion to consider any of it. For Mr. Wu, who remains in a cell in the Monmouth County Correctional Institute in Freehold, N.J., the best hope may be that the Manhattan district attorney will retroactively allow him the “youthful offender” status that would scrub his record clean.
“The law is so inflexible,” said Judge Corriero, now executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York City and the author of “Judging Children as Children: A Proposal for a Juvenile Justice System.” The 2006 book calls for a justice system that reduces future crime rates by nurturing those who can learn from their mistakes, instead of turning them into career criminals.

Some of Judge Corriero's 6th ward childhood friends and former neighbors have a different view
Mikey "Black" Corriero must be getting senile in his old age. And to think I shared a firescape with him at 134 White Street.
And this is the typical NY Times liberal BS story. Grieve for the criminal, because it fits in with our left wing philosophy. No wonder the newspaper is going out of business. Writing crap like this.
There are about a million illegal Chinese, just in NY City. They should all be, by law, deported back to China. Like last week. There is absolutely no rationale for not doing so. But no, let us grieve for this poor unfortunate immigrant, who was forced into a life of crime, supposedly rehabilitated himself, then told he had to go back to China. Boo hoo. All bull. This guy didn't belong in America in the first place. He came here ILLEGALLY!!! Sending him back is no tragedy. It's the right thing to do. The legal thing to do. He'll get no tears from me. As for Mikey Black, time has shown he's certainly a good man. A very good man. His distinguished career speaks for itself. In this matter, his heart was in the right place, if not his head.
Joe Bruno

a reaction to Joe's opinion from a known source who wishes to remain anonymous
You are right, it was a good hearted but misguided judgement. There has to be a complete mind set change for too many. Illegals (not undocumented) have to be treated as priority law breakers, NOT as a state of being. The times are too dangerous and economically tenuous to tolerate a drip invasion of our country. The funny part is that putting an end to it is easy:
1) Issue biometric work cards to those illegals who have jobs and no criminal offenses. They would remain temporary workers and not have a "path to citizenship." Their offspring born here would have to apply for full citizenship at sixteen years old.
2) Fine anyone who hires someone without a card $10,000 for a first offense per person, then more.
3) Build detention centers with hearing facilities for illegals in Nome, Alaska. Too cold? Boo hoo. Can't get visits? Boo hoo.
Believe me, they will go home on their own.

Joe follow's up
This issue was especially sensitive to me, since hundreds of Italians were forced out of Little Italy all though the 60's to the 80's. The Chinese bought the buildings on Mulberry and the surrounding streets, then tripled the rent, forcing the Italians to move to places like Knickerbocker Village, Chatham Green, Chatham Towers, Southbridge Towers and Independence Plaza. Then the apartments in Little Italy were filled with Chinese illegal immigrants, sometimes 20 people to a 2-bedroom apartment. There was nothing but mattresses on the floors in all the rooms, including the kitchen. I know personally of about a dozen Italian/American families that were forced to relocate. And it's especially crushing for me, that one of us, former Judge Michael Corriero, who lived next door to me at 134 White Street (I lived with my parents in apartment 21, his family lived in apartment 22), is spearheading this move to keep an illegal, Chinese immigrant, who by the way, turned to a life of crime, in our country. I know he means well, but his actions are a slap in the face to all of us who had to endure decades of the Chinese crowding us out of our own neighborhood.
And I like your suggestions. They could work. The problem is, most of these illegals work, off the books, in one of the hundreds of Chinese restaurants in the Lower East Side. As far as the government is concerned, they don't even exist. And many of them are part of the Chinese organized crime syndicate, which specializes in shaking down legitimate Chinese businesses, among other things. The Chinese are very smart. They keep their mouths shut and keep to themselves. This allows them to continue to do what they are doing, under the radar of our legal system.

A follow up:
The opinions expressed above, i.e. after the Times' article, were not those of blog writer. I published them to show the other points of view that existed and still exist in the neighborhood. An anonymous commentator follows up mentioning that "it is disturbing to read such comments on a website dedicated to objective history and nonjudgmental observations." I'm flattered, but the objective history is such that these differences of opinion exist.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tenement Talk, February 18: The Bagel

above, a vintage Lender's Bagel commercial. Lender's, feh!
Below, since I didn't bring my camera, a photoshopped facsimile of Maria Balinska and Ed Levine at the Tenement Museum last night. It was excellent and well-attended.

Ed Levine spoke with Maria Balinska about her book, The Bagel: The Surprising History of a Modest Bread
Some highlights:
Of special interest to KVers and old 4th Warders is the link of the Italian ciambella to the Jewish bagel. Something I never knew.
The might of the bagel union. An excerpt from wikipedia
The Bagel Bakers Local 338 was a trade union local that was established in the early 1900s in New York City and whose craftsmen were the primary makers of New York's bagels, prepared by hand, until the advent of machine-made bagels in the 1960s led to its end as an independent organization in the 1970s.
Jewish immigrants brought the bagel to the United States at the turn of the 20th century, with hundreds of small bagel bakeries sprouting up in Manhattan's Lower East Side, in which workers worked under difficult conditions for minimal wages. To represent these workers, The International Beigel Bakers Union was established. Local 338 was established by 300 bagel craftsmen who joined together in Manhattan, establishing standards for bagel production by hand and mandating that new spots in the union be handed to sons of existing local members. All of the local's members were Jewish and meetings were conducted in Yiddish. By 1915, the local had contracts with 36 bakeries in the New York City area.

Who knew of a Montreal bagel
In addition:
Ed Levine's excellent site called Serious Eats
A 2008 nytimes' article about Maria Balinska and the publishing of the hard cover version of her book
An interesting article about the final resting place of the old bagel makers in Staten Island by Benjamin Feldman

86 East Broadway: Kester Motors

Kester Motors On East Broadway

Kester Motors 86 Broadway
Who would have known there was a car dealership on East Broadway?

Former KVers At Spring Training

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Life On Mars: Scenes Shot Near Old Corlears' JHS

Mars Corlears

It Happened In Sun Valley

by Harry Warren (music) and Mack Gordon (lyrics), sung by Jo Stafford
Howdy folks, let’s go for a ride
Get your favorite one to sit by your side
Cuddle up in a sleigh, gitty up, Nellie Gray, and away we go
While you listen to the sleighbells ring
You‘re yodeling to your baby
You’ll feel nice and warm
No matter how cold it may be
Take a look at little Jack and Jill
They ski down a hill
That‘s a snowplough turn
And look, there’s a spill,
There‘s a spill on a hill
When you’re down it’s a thrill
To go up again
Ev’rybody ought to learn to ski
For that is how we first met
We were that Jack and Jill
That came down a hill
When I looked at you
My heart took a spill
Took a spill on a hill
It’s a thrill that I can’t forget...
It happened in Sun Valley
Not so very long ago
There were sunbeams in the snow
And a twinkle in your eyes
I remember oh! so clearly
That you nearly passed me by
Then it happened in Sun Valley
When you slipped and fell, and so did I...
It happened in Sun Valley
Not so very long ago
There were sunbeams in the snow
And I fell in love when I saw that
Twinkle in your eyes
I remember oh! so clearly
That you nearly passed me by
Then it happened in Sun Valley
When you slipped and fell, and so did I...
Now ev’ry year we go back and then
We recall that fall and that moment when
We were there on a hill
So we both take a spill
And we’re Jack and Jill

Sun Valley Serenade

The soundtrack of this movie got a lot of spin time at 14 Monroe Street

Winter Olympics With Famed KV Skating Pair

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Probably from the The 1956 Winter Olympics, officially known as the VII Olympic Winter Games, in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. It's Leonard Michaels and Mario Fox

Monday, February 15, 2010

Game 2 Of The 1955 Basketball Championship

from the youtube description
George Yardley (Fort Wayne Pistons), "the Bird", was the first NBA player to jump shoot. Dolph Schayes (Syracuse Nationals) is another of the best NBA player's of all time, I repeat: of all time.

from wikipedia
The 1955 NBA Finals was the championship round of the 1954-55 NBA season. The best-of-seven series was won by the Syracuse Nationals, who defeated the Fort Wayne Pistons in the final game when Syracuse's George King made a free throw with 12 seconds left to put the Nationals up by one point. King then stole the ball from Fort Wayne's Andy Phillip with three seconds remaining to clinch the victory for Syracuse.
It has been alleged that some Fort Wayne players conspired with gamblers to throw the series to Syracuse. The suspicious nature of the seventh game in particular has raised concerns about the legitimacy of the series. Fort Wayne led Syracuse 41-24 early in the second quarter, then allowed the Nationals to rally to win the game. Andy Phillip, who turned the ball over with three seconds left in the game, was believed by at least one of his teammates, George Yardley, to have thrown the game. "There were always unwholesome implications about that ball game," Yardley told the author Charley Rosen. However, Phillip may not have acted alone. Other Pistons players were strongly believed to have thrown games during the 1953-54 and 1954-55 NBA seasons. In fact, Yardley himself turned the ball over to Syracuse with a palming violation with 18 seconds remaining in Game 7. The foul that gave Syracuse its winning free throw, meanwhile, was committed by Frankie Brian.

February Madness

KV's best senior league basketball player ventured north to Syracuse to see his favorite team lose to Louisville. He narrowly missed an encounter with the Syracuse great Dolph Schayes who resides nearby.

How To Make It America: KV Views

A new promising HBO series uses images of KV in its introduction. The first episode can be viewed in its entirety on youtube

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Say Hey Kid


Halloween 1959 At 20 Monroe Street

left to right, front row:
Renee Leder, Sheila Suss, Alison Shue, Marcia Hieger
2nd row:
Susan Miller, Nancy Bueller, Valerie Hammel, Elaine Aaronson, Larry Levy
back row:
Shawn Bayer, David Bellel, Chester Kaplan, Robert Simmons, Joe Maldonado, Richard Karney, Glen Farber
True it's not Valentine's Day, but there were a few pre-adolescents in love.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Love Makes The World Go Round: 1961, Carnival

One of the reasons I never watched Ed Sullivan. She was on over 50 times! It retrospect, she wasn't so bad for me to harbor bad memories, but she wasn't that good.
Anna Maria Alberghetti (born 15 May 1936) is an Italian-born operatic singer and actress. Born in Pesaro (Marche) she starred on Broadway and won a Tony Award in 1962 as Best Actress (Musical) for Carnival (she tied with Diahann Carroll for the musical No Strings). Alberghetti was a child prodigy. Her father was an opera singer and concert master of the Rome Opera Company. Her mother was a pianist. At age 6, Anna Maria sang in a concert on the Isle of Rhodes with a 100-piece orchestra. She performed at Carnegie Hall in New York at the age of 13. She also entered into film as a teenager. Her cinema appearances include The Medium (1951), Here Comes the Groom (1951), The Stars Are Singing (1953), The Last Command (1955), with Dean Martin in Ten Thousand Bedrooms (1957), Duel at Apache Wells (1957), and as Princess Charmein opposite Jerry Lewis in Cinderfella (1960). Alberghetti appeared twice on the cover of Life magazine. She sang on the CBS variety program The Ed Sullivan Show more than 50 different times. She guest starred in 1957 on NBC's The Gisele MacKenzie Show. She has toured in many theatrical productions and continues with her popular one-woman cabaret act. She had roles in a pair of 2001 films, The Whole Shebang and Friends and Family. Her sister Carla also became a musical artist who appeared in many stage productions. She eventually became Anna Maria's replacement in her Tony-winning role on Broadway. Alberghetti appeared in television commercials for Good Seasons salad dressing during the 1970s. She was married to television producer-director Claudio Guzman from 1964 to 1974.
Love makes the world go round
Love makes the world go ˜round!
Somebody soon will love you
If no one loves you now
High in some the silent sky
Love sings its silver song
Making the earth twirl softly
Love makes the world go round

Happy Valentine's Day: Let There Be Love, Julie London 1964

Bobby Troup was the pianist of the quintet and didn't play in this performance. The other musicians were Joe Burnett (trumpet), Don Bagley (bass), Dewells Barton (drums) and Dennis Budimir (guitar)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Saturday, February 6, 2010

"You Live In Knickerbocker Village?'

Old Law Tenements

from ephemeralnewyork.
This must be an old-law tenement; the apartments in these buildings weren’t required to have ventilation in each room. The window facing the kitchen appears to look into a smaller room or closet.

Avenue B And 4th Street: Two Views

The overhead view (using Bing maps) allows us to see the courtyard in the new law tenement on the corner, 46-50 Avenue B.
New York State Tenement House Act
One of the reforms of the Progressive Era, the New York State Tenement House Act of 1901 was one of the first such laws to ban the construction of dark, poorly ventilated tenement buildings in the state of New York. Among other sanctions, the law required that new buildings must be built with outward-facing windows in every room, an open courtyard, indoor toilets and fire safeguards.
This was not the first time that New York State passed a public law that specifically dealt with housing reform. The First Tenement House Act (1867) required fire escapes and a window for every room, the Second Tenement House Act (1879) required that windows face a source of fresh air and light, not an interior hallway. An amendment of 1887 required privies interior to the building. The failures of the Second Act - the air shafts proved to be unsanitary as they filled with garbage, bilge water and waste -- led to the 1901 "New Law" and its required courtyard designed for garbage removal.
Prior to these housing laws, most reform was undertaken by philanthropists and private individuals or organizations. This sequence of laws serves as an example of the Progressive belief that cleaner cities made better citizens. Jacob Riis, in his ground-breaking, muck-raking journalistic expose of 1890, How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York attributes the reform movement to the fear of contagious disease emanating from the ghettos, especially following an outbreak of smallpox, far more contagious than the cholera and tuberculosis that had long dwelt in the Lower East Side of New York, the hub of immigrant ghetto life. He views the laws and the progressive reform movement that motivated them as a confluence of the cynically-minded with the civic-minded, eventually working towards the benefit of the burgeoning city's labor force.
The reform movement culminated in a prominent Tenement-House Exhibit of 1899 held in the old Fifth Avenue Sherry's, a Gilded Age center of elegant society. The comprehensive exhibit, marshaled by Lawrence Veiller , covered a wide range of urban concerns including bathhouses and parks, pushing reform for the first time far beyond mere building design into the broader concerns of urban planning. The exhibit was followed by a two volume report to the New York State Tenement House Commission, leading directly to the writing of the 1901 New Law. Aesthetically, the New Law coincided with the introduction of Beaux-Arts architecture. The curious sandstone faces and gargoyles and filigreed terracotta of the previous twenty years of tenement design gave way to the more abstractly classical ornamentation of this urbane, international and more grandiose Parisian style. Because the New Law's required courtyard consumed more space than the 1879 law's air shaft, New Law tenements tend to be built on multiple lots or on corner lots to conserve space for dwelling units which are the money-makers and purpose of the structure. A typical Lower East Side or "East Village" street will be lined with five-story, austerely unornamented pre-law (pre-1879) and six-story, fancifully decorated old law (pre 1901) tenements with the much bulkier grand-style New Law Tenements on the corners, always at least six stories tall.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

From The 9th Floor Of 14 Monroe Street, 1961

My father smoked Marlboro's, but eventually quit cold turkey. Between my mother and father was my Aunt Rose. At Seward Park she was a classmate of Tony Curtis.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Stories Of St. Francis Hospital Off Avenue B

St. Francis Hospital

Tompkin's Square Parks' Current Aviary

photos by francois portmann

The Poolroom

A scene not unlike what was going on at the second floor of 95 Avenue B in 1939

Harry Leiner Of 95 Avenue B And His 1930's Tenement Aviary

Harry Leiner 95 Avenue b

80 Years Ago On Avenue B

Avenue b Census
Listed in the census is Gertrude Greene of 102 Avenue B, the girl scout honoree of 1924

The census inspired me to write "Welcome To The World Of Avenue B" in keeping with Mrs. Santa Claus' "Welcome To The World Of Avenue A"
Welcome to the world of Avenue B
Where you hear Dos Vidonya, Spasida
and Arrivederci!
Janet Sobel and John Capotosto are still going steady
Mrs Green is yelling out there window, “Breakfast is ready.”
And that’s the way it goes on Avenue B
Where Ida Clapper invites Dora Oxman over for tea
Vendors selling their Pierogies and Goulash all over the street
Part of all the great big treats called Avenue B

Captain Garrett Nagle And 37-39 Avenue B

Avenue b News
Go know, a Civil War hero on Avenue B along with juicy story of will tampering!

Archival News Of Avenue B

Avenue b News

The View From Above Of Avenue B

Earth School Bing
I patched together screen shots from bing maps (which has superior photos than google) of this area

100 Years Ago On Avenue D

Bromley East 6th
for another, 75 year old, view of this block

Almost 100 Years Ago Off Of Avenue B

100 Years Ago On Avenue B

St.francis PS 105
There was PS 71 off of 7th Street, St. Francis Hospital off of 5th Street and PS 105 off of 4th Street

What Were Those Short Buildings On Avenue B?

I suspect that they were stables, like the one in Washington D.C. below

above from shorpy
You can tell it used to be a horse stable, what with the "hay door" above the entrance.

Joe E. Ross: He Was Russian Too

We mentioned Joe E. Ross previously

"My" Russians

an excerpt of a letter written to my wife
Now to the Riga, Latvia Burlak.. connection.
Your maternal grandmother known to all as Anna Sosnovsky, was born Hinde Luchkovsky in Tal'noye, Ukraine, Imperial Russia to Zipporah Burlakov, who was married to Gershn Luchkovsky. Baba Tsipoyra, as she was called us, was daughter of Feivl Burlak...
Feivl had a number of siblings -- I've forgotten their first names -- one of whom was father to 4 or 5 sons and one daughter. The oldest son was Ulyi and youngest Grigory. Ulyi left Tal'noye in about 1921 0r 22 and made it to the US a few years later after quite a set of tribulations. Here he adopted Tsipoyra's sister Ruchl as his mother, although she was "merely" his aunt. That made Ida (Bea Jaffe's mom), Fannie (my mother), Hinde, whose name translates as Anna into English, and Leah (who took the name Liza) a first cousin of Ulyi Burlak.., who adopted the name Lou, and after WWII changed it to Louis Burle.
That makes me a first cousin twice removed, maybe, or a second cousin. I don't know quite how to figure that stuff out.
About 18 months ago I got an email from an unknown person named Mary Klevit... in Harrisburg, PA, who claimed that she was inquiring on behalf of Burlak... in Riga and Ukraine: was I a Burlakov from Tal'noye. My answer was a resounding yes. She then telephoned me, we spoke at length, and then I received a few emails from Ukraine together with pre-Revolutionary and current photos of people, two of whom I recognized as Baba Tsipoyra and Ruchl when they were in their late teens or early 20s. I responded by some old and some recent photos of Yulyi, who we called either Lulyi or Lou, his wife Minna, ac concert pianist, and other in the family including Anna, Abe, Rina, and Tisa. That established our tie. The correspondents in Ukraine knew no English and my Russian is rudimentary and rusty enough that I couldn't ace up to the prospect of taking a few days to write only a paragraph or two of unidiomatic Russian.
That put an end to the correspondence until this past January when I got a phone call from a young woman named Iri.. Burlak.. who was telephoning on behalf of her father, Leonid, in Latvia, to wish me Happy New Year. She also passed on the news that she was coming to New York to work for a perfume company there. I asked her to call me and I would come to NYC to meet her.

To make a long story short, the birthday girl is a cousin of my wife's who she recently became aware of. The cousin's part of the family stayed in Russia while the other branch emigrated in the early 1900's. A story very similar to Across The Sea Of Time.

Gene Barry: He Was Russian Too

but not Carpo Rusyn
Burke's Comics 2
Gene Barry (born Eugene Klass; June 14, 1919) is an American actor.
Barry adopted his professional name in honor of John Barrymore. He was trained in violin and voice and spent two years at the Chatham Square School(when it was on Madison Street) of Music on a singing scholarship.

previously post about Gene Barry

Carpo Rusyn On Maps


Carpatho-Rusyn Folk Dance

The Living Traditions Folk Ensemble performs a Carpatho-Rusyn dance number from the SW corner of Ukraine. They are wearing costumes from the Zemplin region of Slovakia at the annual One World Day celebration in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. for more info from the folk festival where this was performed in 2009

East 4th Street, 1935: PS 15 And The Carpathian Russian Orthodox Church

below, a map view of the block in 1891

This is something new to me About the Carpo Rusyns
Have you ever been asked the question: "What is your ethnic background?" Most of us have been asked this question many times, especially by fellow genealogists. We all have the ready answers: "I'm German; I'm English; I'm Irish; and on and on.
Yet, there are about one million descendants of an ethnically distinct people who came from the Carpathian Mountain region of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire who have a confused or non-existent sense of ethnic identity. These descendants of late 19th and early 20th century immigrants know that they are of Slavic ancestry, but are unsure to which specific ethnic group they belong to. This is understandable when you examine the origins and history of the Carpatho-Rusyns.
These people came from a specific geographic area with defined ethno-linguistic boundaries in the north east region of the former Austro-Hungarian empire. This area encompassed part of the then district of Galicia , the former old Hungarian counties of; Saros, Zemplen, Szepes, Abauj, Ung, Ugosca, Bereg and Maramos. These areas are now contained within the modern day boundaries of Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine and a few villages in Romania and Hungary . These immigrants originated in a small area of a very large empire. They did not come from a specific country. Furthermore, they were members of the Greek (Byzantine) Catholic Church (also called Uniate) and the Russian Orthodox Church, both of which were totally unfamiliar to native born Americans.
Their clergy were not required to be celibate. It was indeed a difficult thing for Americans to comprehend. Even the Roman Catholic bishops in the United States, in some cases, refused to believe that Catholic priests could be married! As you might imagine, this caused many an unpleasant incident when Eastern rite Catholic priests came to America and presented themselves to the local Roman Catholic bishop as per the custom. In some cases, communications between the two sides were strained to the point that Roman Catholic bishops refused to grant faculties to the Uniate priests. These priests were often insulted and angry because they were refused permission to exercise their religious rituals which were allowed by the Holy See and defected to Orthodoxy in many cases along with their congregation. This "conversion" required no change in their religious rituals.
Confusion extended to secular life as well and it was no small wonder then that the Rusyns did not know how to respond to their American friends and neighbors to the question: "What is your ethnic identity?" Some of the immigrants responded that they were Austrian or Hungarian because they were subjects of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Some said they were Slovaks because they came from a village that was later incorporated into Czechoslovakia. Some said they were Ukrainian. These persons of Ukrainian national orientation came primarily from the eastern reaches of Galicia, the area east of the San River, where ethnic Ukrainians were numerous and very nationalistic. This Ukrainian identity was reinforced by the clergy and was instituted by Metropolitan Josyf Sembratovych. Some countered that they were Russians because they were members of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Orthodox priests reinforced this identity. This was a very confusing situation to say the least!
The immigrants within their own ethnic communities called themselves: Rusyn, Rusnak, Ruthene, Ruthenian, Carpatho-Russian, Carpatho-Ruthenian, Carpatho-Ukrainian, and Lemko. These terms have a religious connotation signifying membership in either the Greek Catholic or Russian Orthodox Church. Some of the immigrants and their offspring called themselves "Slavish" which is a slang term that they used meaning like "Slovak" - but not really! The Rusyns have a phrase in their language in which they refer to themselves as the "Po Nashomu" People. This in effect meant to them: people like us who speak our language. This was often a response to the question "Who are you?" Such an answer leads one to the conclusion that a nationalistic identity problem did exist, and still does, for this East Slavic group of people.

A Fels Naptha Sponsored Podcast

from home town sketches
Today, we present the flip side of a disc heard last week on the blog featuring the series “Home Town Sketches”. This rare program was syndicated circa 1936 and sponsored by Fels-Naptha laundry soap.
“Home Town Sketches” was heard four times each week and took a light-hearted look at life in the small town of Centerville. The plots centered around the owner of the radio station, his family and friends. Program 50 in the series takes the form of a “broadcast” from Lem Weatherby’s station FELS, where he gives us news about Captain Alberry and Anna Watts wedding, a commercial for a local furniture dealer and mortician, and a poem for a sick shut-in.

Home Town Sketches

Elsie Fels: 1930

This could be our Mrs. Fels. The Fels' came from Virginia originally. Perhaps she was married to the namesake son or the grandson of the the Fels' family, Joseph. The daughter's name of Barbara? There were Barbara's in the Fels family before. Maybe this namesake decided to seek another means of livelihood by coming to New York? Here he manages an oil business, a gas station? btw that(319 E. 125th Street) address is currently a gas station on First Avenue and 125th Street. Maybe in later life Mrs. Fels was a widow and worked as a substitute teacher.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pre-Detergents Wash Days: Fels Naptha

At PS 177 we had a substitute teacher named Mrs. Fels who told us she was part of the Fels family made famous by this soap. Joseph Fels seemed like a pretty interesting character. He supported the single tax made popular by Henry George
Fels Naptha Soap

Wash Day: 1952

Various Wash Days

Some old LES versions included
Doing Laundry 2

The Charles Theater

Charles 1
The last three images from the pdf above are from evgrieve
next, below from
the nytimes from Victor Washkevich
Dear Diary:
Growing up on 16th Street between Avenues B and C before Stuyvesant Town was built meant that respite from summer’s heat was available only if you went to the upscale movie theaters like the RKO Jefferson or the Academy of Music, both farther west on 14th Street. No such luxury could be found at the local movie house, the Bijou Theater, on Avenue B between 11th and 12th Streets.
This two-story theater was strictly a no-frills neighborhood flick house. But when the summer temperature inside became unbearable or cigarette smoke blurred the screen, the ceiling of the Bijou began to ever so slowly slide open from the center toward the edges to provide egress for both heat and Lucky Strike’s blue vapors.
For a 10-year-old like me it was magic — until a sudden thunderstorm came up and the rain began pelting the seats. The roof’s closing speed was also ever so slow, and people scrambled in all directions like it was a fire drill. When it finally closed, we all went back to our seats, gave them a swipe with a handkerchief and never took our eyes off the screen.
The Marx Brothers had their “Night at the Opera.” We had our nights at the Bijou.
Victor Washkevich

separate entries from cinema treasures
I suspect that this was originally the 595-seat Bijou Theatre, which was situated at 193 Avenue B, according to many editions of the Film Daily Year Book. The owners may never have bothered to report a name change because there is no listing for the Charles in any FDYB. But the name was being used at least by 1949, as evidenced by a photo of the Charles marquee at the New York City Housing Authority website. The theatre was a late-run "nabe" and may have even closed before it became an avant-garde showcase in the 1960s. About five years ago, I found the building still standing, but converted to non-theatrical use (partially as an Hispanic church, if I recall correctly).

In research yesterday at the Library of the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, NYC, I discovered that this was definitely the Bijou Theatre before being re-named the Charles. In 1961, Daniel Talbot, who ran The New Yorker Theatre, took over the Charles, which was then showing Spanish movies, and converted it to a policy similar to that at The New Yorker, but with more emphasis on "new" filmmakers, who were given one night a week to show their latest works to the public at a reduced admision price. In 1969, the Charles was taken over by Radley Metzger, who also owned Audubon Films. He might have been the last person to operate the theatre before it closed.

During the 60's when the neighborhood was hispanic/puerto-rican and hippies, my loving, now deceased aunt and her frisky handed boyfriend took me to the Charles theatre to see " the Killing of Sister George". I guess I was about 6 or 7, strange movie, I do remember breasts and murder, but mostly what I remembered was that my aunt and boyfriend only watched a quarter of the movie (lol). It was a small theatre, sat about 500, and a big " CHARLES" on the marquee. Thanks Aunt Dolores.

I also believe the Charles Theatre opened as the Bijou Theatre with the name change occuring around 1945.

In June of 1968 the Charles had a double bill of "Guess Whos Coming to Dinner" & "Luv".
I believe Radley Metzger's steamy "Camille 2000" got audiences hot and bothered there for a while in 1969.

I re-call seeing "Claire's Knee", "2001", and perhaps "Satyricon" there circa 1970. I can't rememberwhen it actually closed but must have been shortly afterwards, perhaps 1972-73