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February 8, 2008

100 Years Ago in the forward

Esther Shpiz, a 60-year-old resident of Hester Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, was on her way to visit her friend, Becky Shupinski, who lives nearby in an Orchard Street tenement. After trudging up to Shupinski’s fifth-floor apartment, Esther walked over to the hallway window to get a breath of fresh air. But on her way, she slipped on something and went flying out the window. With a terrible crash, she landed in the building’s courtyard. When the building’s tenants reached her, she was unconscious. They called an ambulance, and Shpiz was brought to Roosevelt Hospital, where she was — incredibly — revived by the doctors. Even more remarkable was the fact that Shpiz was not hurt. It was then discovered that her fall was broken because she fell onto Mrs. Zabrinsky’s double-roped wash line, which stretched and snapped only when she reached the ground. Upon hearing the news, Zabrinsky ran over to the hospital to see Shpiz and promptly demanded 37 cents for the broken wash line.

75 Years Ago in the forward

In each generation, the children make up their own games, which are very much a mirror of the society in which they live. For many years, American children played “Wild West” games, in which cowboys and Indians chased each other. The generation that grew up during The Great War played “generals and soldiers.” Nowadays, the kids on the streets of New York are playing “gangsters and racketeers” and other games in which the winners take the losers “for a ride” and “ice” them. Today’s children also know exactly what a speakeasy looks like, even though they’ve never been in one. A basement apartment where taxicabs keep pulling up is a sure sign. And any store window that says “Cordial Shop” and has some bottles of ginger ale in the window is obviously a liquor store. For the parents, the main issue is how to teach the kids that breaking the law is a bad thing. When the children see well-dressed gangsters walking into illegal drinking establishments, it’s hard for them to understand that these are the bad guys.

50 Years Ago in the forward

In the wake of last week’s announcement by Egypt and Syria — that they are uniting to form one country, the United Arab Republic — Israel’s premier, David Ben-Gurion, asked that North American and Latin American Jews aim for stronger ties with Israel. The special cable was read aloud at an Israel Bonds meeting at the Fontainebleau hotel in Miami, where nearly 2,000 leaders of Canadian, American and Latin American Jewish communities were meeting. The unification of Egypt and Syria, Ben-Gurion argued, poses new and special dangers for all of the Middle East.

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