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October 3, 2008

100 Years Ago in the forward

An all-day shootout on the streets of Brooklyn’s Brownsville neighborhood last Sunday was so violent that people were too frightened to come out of their apartments, so they stayed inside all day. The shootout, which began at around 9 a.m., was between former members of Kid Twist’s gang who have been vying for leadership of the gang since the murder of their boss in Coney Island a few months ago. The whole thing started when Alexander Bank and Harry Cohen came under fire in a saloon. Bank was badly wounded. When police arrived, they caught Cohen picking Bank’s pocket. Not long thereafter, Charles Krizal was shot up in a dancehall on Pitkin Avenue. Bank and Krizal were considered two of the top candidates for Kid Twist’s throne, and both are badly wounded and in critical condition at St. Mary’s Hospital. A half dozen other gang members were also shot, but they were taken away and treated elsewhere. The police do not know their whereabouts.

75 Years Ago in the forward

Boxing fans were shocked by last week’s upset of former heavyweight champion Jack Sharkey by a young Jewish fish peddler from Chicago who goes by the name King Levinsky. The young Jewish fighter is not known to be a great boxer, but he does have one serious weapon in his armory: a powerful right hand. If Levinsky happens to catch his opponent with his right, chances are the opponent is going down. Levinsky is a happy-go-lucky young chap and reminds one of a shtetl wagon driver or butcher. Interestingly, his sister, Lena Levy, is his manager. Levy fired her brother’s first manager, who, she says, didn’t get her brother enough money for his early fights. As for her brother being in the fight game, she said, “He’s fighting anyway; he may as well get paid for it.” She is the only female boxing manager and a sensation in the ring. Among fans, she’s known as “Leaping Lena” because she gets excited during her brother’s fights and jumps up and screams at Levinsky, usually with a flourish of colorful curses.

50 Years Ago in the forward

A Jew who recently arrived in Paris from behind the Iron Curtain has provided us with the following story: In Grodno, which belonged to Poland before World War II but is now is under Soviet rule, a meeting took place at a factory. At this meeting the manager explained to the workers how they are now working to correct “mistakes” that were made during the Stalinist period. One of the only Jews, an engineer by the name of Oberman, commented to the manager that if they are correcting mistakes, it would be a great thing if they could begin printing Yiddish newspapers again. Oberman received a visit from the Soviet police the following day. In his apartment, they found a copy of the Warsaw-based Yiddish newspaper Di Folkshtime. For this he was arrested and given a prison term of three years.


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