November 5, 2010

Looking Back

Published October 27, 2010, issue of November 05, 2010.

100 Years Ago in the forward

In one of the city’s parks, alongside the naked trees, I walk. Only the autumn winds and me. The old park watchman trundles along slowly, broom in hand, sweeping away the memories of summer. I step on acres of dry leaves, crackling under my steps. Are they speaking? Are they saying something? Are they laughing, or are they crying? Who knows? I stop and look around. A squirrel runs out from underneath a tree, digs into the ground, runs back to the tree and then goes back to dig. “She stores her winter food supply there,” blurts out the watchman, still sweeping the dead leaves together into a small mountain. He has made many small mountains, small, tragic little mountains.

— Poet Morris Rosenfeld

75 Years Ago in the forward

In the wake of Dutch Schultz’s murder last week, a violent gang war has engulfed New York City. This week, the bodies of two of the Dutchman’s enemies were found near Monticello, N.Y. One of the bodies was identified as Charlie “the Chink” Sherman, also known as “The Chinaman.” The other dead man is thought to be Bo Weinberg, a former lieutenant of Schultz’s who had betrayed him and defected to a rival gang. New York City Police have reported that as Schultz lay on his deathbed, he repeated, “the Chinaman, the Chinaman,” over and over. They believe this to be an indication that Sherman was likely involved in the murder of the gangster.

50 Years Ago in the forward

In Buynaksk, the capital of Soviet Dagestan, a report has filtered out that articles in the local newspaper have appeared recently calling for the closing of Buynaksk’s only synagogue because “the Jews drink Muslim blood.” The reports of this medieval blood libel apparently rattled the area’s Soviet citizens so much that they sent a special delegation to Moscow demanding that the culprits be found and punished. While Jewish communist fellow travelers have indicated that those responsible have been punished, the reality is that it is not clear at all if Soviet authorities have even spoken to anyone.

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