May 21, 2004
100 YEARS AGO
• In a driving rain, at 3 a.m., the Aksel family was evicted from their apartment on 89 Columbia Street. Mr. Aksel, a tailor, only learned of the eviction after a long day of toiling in the shop. When he arrived home, he didn’t know that he, his wife and their three children would be spending the night on the street. Mrs. Aksel also didn’t know they were being evicted until she came home that afternoon to find all her furniture in the street, getting sopped in the rain. A group of approximately100 people from the block gathered around and furiously cursed the landlord who evicted them, Joseph Isaac, and swore to run him out of Columbia Street.
75 YEARS AGO
• A new talking picture called “The Valiant” came out this week, starring an actor named Paul Muni — a new name in the entertainment world. He is better known to Yiddish theatergoers by his real name, Muni Vayzenfraynd. About nine years ago, Vayzenfraynd was an unknown actor in Maurice Schwartz’s Art Theater troupe. A bit later, he became a big name in Yiddish theater. It wasn’t long after this that the English-language theater grabbed him and he was critically hailed as a great talent. But before the Broadway producers could sink their teeth into Muni, the talkies lured him away to Hollywood.
• Just after home runs by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, two people were killed and dozens wounded at Yankee Stadium during a game between the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. The tragedy occurred shortly after a massive thunderclap and a driving rain began pouring onto the 9,000 people in the bleachers. All of them jumped up and ran to the one available exit. A panic ensued, and many were trampled. In a short time, there were heaps of wounded baseball fans unable to move and groaning in the pouring rain. Sixty-three of the wounded, the majority of them Jews, were taken to area hospitals.
50 YEARS AGO
• In the most important decision since Lincoln freed the slaves 91 years ago, the Supreme Court has declared the separation of races in public schools unconstitutional. It is expected that it will take at least a year before the decision has any effect in the 17 Southern states and the District of Columbia, which have segregated school systems. In the decision, Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote that education is a right and that segregating school children according to race prevents them from receiving equal protection under the law. The news of this epoch-making decision was immediately broadcast by the Voice of America in eastern Europe, where the communist governments frequently baited the U.S. over the issue.