Looking Back February 24, 2006

Published February 24, 2006, issue of February 24, 2006.
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The Hasidic Rebbe of Kopists, near the city of Mohilev, is known throughout the region for his wise ways — and not only among Jews. It is well known that nearby nobles as well as peasants often seek out the rebbe for his sage advice. Therefore, local gendarmes and police, sent out by the regional governor to keep control of the population during the current unrest, were confused when they saw a large revolutionary flag hanging on the outside of the rebbe’s house. The locals among the police and gendarmerie spread the word that if the rebbe put out such a flag, it must be okay. And so the town was left alone — despite its revolutionary sentiments.


Dozens of bullets flew into a restaurant at Suffolk and Broome on Manhattan’s Lower East Side as well-known racketeers, brothers Albert and Abie Wagner, sat and ate a late-night meal. Despite the hail of bullets, the two brothers managed to escape their as of yet unknown assailants, thought to be members of their own gang. The Wagners hightailed it to their hideout on 29th Street, where the gang caught up with them. Albert was riddled with bullets and left for dead on the spot. Abie was apparently “taken for a ride.” His body was later recovered in the Bronx.

The Forward’s Masked Ball, held last weekend, was a grand success. Decked out in all kinds of costumes, more than 10,000 young readers gathered for a festive party in the Armory at Park Avenue and 34th Street. The atmosphere was carnivalesque, but it wasn’t your typical carnival: The young people there were not only out to have a good time but also to promote high ideals and visions for a better world — in short, to promote socialism. The hall was filled with Jewish radical intellectuals, union leaders and the rank and file. Many of the costumes served as biting criticisms of the current world order.


Hattie Carnegie, the queen of women’s fashion, died this week in her famously well-appointed Park Avenue apartment after a long illness. She was 69. Carnegie was one of the best-known personalities to arise out of the Jewish immigrant milieu on the Lower East Side. Only 4 feet 10 inches tall, she was a larger-than-life figure in the world of women’s designer fashions. Dresses and hats with the Hattie Carnegie label are known to be of the highest quality and also of the highest prices. Carnegie was born in Vienna as Henrietta Kanengeiser. She said that she changed her name because when she was a young immigrant girl, she was impressed that Andrew Carnegie had donated so much money to good causes.

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