Looking Back

By Guest Author

Published July 14, 2006.
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100 YEARS AGO IN THE FORWARD

In a surprise move, more than 1,200 neckwear makers from a number of Lower East Side sweatshops went on strike this week. Making this strike different from others is the fact that most of the striking workers are children, some of them as young as 9 years old and none of them older than 20. The strike broke out on account of a lockout by a number of bosses who were opposed to the union organizing in their shops. The lockout was like gasoline on a fire: Within a few hours, all of the neighborhood’s neckwear workers were on the line.

75 YEARS AGO IN THE FORWARD

When one thinks of life in the Soviet Union, one normally does not think of fun or parties, especially during a time when the economy is completely moribund. However, Soviets, just like anyone else, like a good time and party heavily. But life in cooperative apartments is not easy, and party preparations must be made at night, when the neighbors are sleeping. Parties start late, usually after 11 p.m., and guests tend to keep their voices down. Most parties are done “Philadelphia” style, a kind of potluck where guests bring food and drink. But people are willing to risk trouble with the police just to have some fun for a few hours. Parties, after all, that are not in the name of communism are not well regarded by the Soviet administration, and must be had secretly.

A group of gangsters broke into 26-year-old racketeer Irving Shapiro’s Brownsville apartment and shot him 10 times in the back before he could even turn around. The shooting took place in one of the most heavily populated neighborhoods and caused panic in the streets. Word on the street is that the gang that shot Shapiro was really after his older brother, Meyer, who runs a number of rackets, including slot machines, money laundering and beer-running, and is considered the real boss. At the time of the shooting, Meyer Shapiro was at the local shvitz, so the gang shot Irving instead.

50 YEARS AGO IN THE FORWARD

The British pharmaceutical company Meda-Chemical Limited is being lauded for breaking the Iraqi government’s boycott on Jews. The company, which had shipped a large transport of medicines to Iraq four months ago, was informed by the Iraqi ambassador in London that the shipment would not be accepted until it was clear that the company had no Jews on its board or among its managers. The firm steadfastly refused to give information regarding either the race or religion of any of its employees, and the Iraqi government, which had locked the shipment up in Baghdad, finally caved and allowed the medicine to be distributed.






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