June 18, 2004

100 YEARS AGO

• Elderly Jewish millionaire Meyer Guggenheim one of the major players of the uptown crowd of “Yahudim,” has been slapped with a lawsuit for breach of promise, which demands damages of $100,000. One Hannah MacNamara, who says that she and Guggenheim lived a clandestine existence as man and wife under the name “Mr. and Mrs. Meyer,” has brought the suit. Though Guggenheim was married and had seven sons with his legal wife, he put up MacNamara in an apartment just a few blocks away and when he went away on business, he often took her with him. MacNamara claims that Guggenheim promised to marry her after his wife died, and she wants him to make good. As for Guggenheim, this week he met with his high-powered attorneys to see how to deal with this sensational case.

75 YEARS AGO

• Well-known Warsaw Yiddish poet Meylekh Ravitsh, in a heartfelt essay on the state of poetry in Jewish literature, writes, “It’s no secret that that no one reads poetry. Writers of prose look upon us with pity, with comradely compassion — which, by the way, doesn’t cost them anything — and often give us advice: Write prose. And we do it sometimes, to the detriment of our abilities and to the detriment of Yiddish literature. Publishers laugh at us when we suggest putting out a book once in a while. Usually they ask for money to cover the printing expenses — and not just a portion, but all of it, because they claim that not one copy will sell.” The situation here in America is even worse. Poetry is especially ignored by the younger generation.

50 YEARS AGO

• The latest sensation to steal the hearts of America’s women is 34-year-old pianist named Liberace. Not long ago, he packed Madison Square Garden with 15,000 women who screamed themselves hoarse. After multiple encores and curtain calls, Liberace was exhausted and left the stage, only to have his dressing room stormed by hordes of hysterical women. It was hours before he could get out safely. But if you were to think Liberace to be a virtuoso pianist, you’d be wrong. Vladimir Horowitz, he’s not. So what is the secret of his success? Even his manager shrugs his shoulders. Some people say he’s a musical hypnotist.

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June 18, 2004

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