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Culture

July 4, 2003

100 YEARS AGO

• After a long wait, the Jews of the Lower East Side finally have a park they can call their own. Seward Park, located on East Broadway, opened this week without much fanfare. The park is a godsend for the thousands of residents who seek respite from the stifling air in their tenement houses. When the police opened the park, more than 10,000 locals crammed themselves into it. Not long thereafter, what had been pristine swaths of green grass had been trampled and sullied with paper wrappers and banana peels.

75 YEARS AGO

• The Forward profiles “Shloyme hameylekh’s eyniklekh,” the grandchildren of King Solomon, otherwise known as the Falashas, the Jews of Abyssinia. Though their origins are murky, one of the legends is that the Abyssinian beauty, the Queen of Sheba, made a visit to King Solomon in Jerusalem, who fell in love with her. The union produced a son, Menelik, who became King Solomon’s most beloved son. Menelik remained under the tutelage of Solomon until he was ready to return to Abyssinia and become king. But Solomon loved him so much that he refused to let him go. Finally, after being coerced by his other progeny, Solomon returned Menelik to Abyssinia, but demanded that every Jerusalemite send his first-born son to accompany him. And Abyssinia received a new king who had been born and raised in Jerusalem, as well as a huge number of young Jerusalemites who became Menelik’s ruling class. Every king since then has been called Menelik.

50 YEARS AGO

• When boxing promoter Harry Markson signed Randy Turpin, the current European middleweight champion, to fight the American champ, Carl “Bobo” Olson, Turpin had one condition. He insisted that when he arrived stateside, he would get to train at Grossinger’s Hotel in the Catskills. It seems that the Jewish resort has become popular with prizefighters training for upcoming fights. Rocky Marciano is a regular, as are a number of other fighters. The Borscht Belt hotels enjoy the publicity they get from the boxers, and the boxers take advantage of the facilities, the natural surroundings and, of course, the food.

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