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Culture

April 11, 2003

100 YEARS AGO

• A policeman found Lower East Side celebrity and restaurateur Big Dave Bernstein stumbling around the Bowery with a revolver hanging out of his pocket. Big Dave, known locally for his strength, had blood pouring out of a wound in his chest. When the cop tried to help him, he pushed the officer out of his way. Five more policemen came to his aid, but some of them ended up with black eyes. Big Dave finally ran out of energy and was brought to the hospital, where it was determined that he had been stabbed. When asked who did it, Big Dave replied, “It’s nobody’s business. I settle my own debts.” The doctors said his condition was critical.

75 YEARS AGO

• A report from Vienna details a split in the antisemitic Austrian Nazi Party over whether to permit female members to bob their hair and wear short dresses. A related issue, over which there were also sharp debates, was whether to allow members to listen to American jazz. One faction argued that these newfangled trends were antithetical to European culture, whereas the opposing faction argued that the party was losing a large number of members because European youth loves jazz culture so much.

• One of the people American women have to thank for the right to vote is Earnestine L. Rose, the daughter of a rabbi from the shtetl of Petrikov. Rose (born Zisl Pototski) fought for women’s rights even before Lucy Stone or Susan B. Anthony. Born in 1810 in Petrikov, she came to America in 1826. She arrived under the impression that this was a land of freedom and equality. She was surprised when she discovered that not only did women, 50% of the population, have no rights, but slavery existed. Her first political act after arriving was to approach the New York state Senate in 1827 to demand that married women be allowed to own real estate. She later became a frequent lecturer, publicly decrying slavery and promoting women’s rights.

50 YEARS AGO

• A report in the Dutch newspaper De Telegraf claims that many Jews who were saved from the Nazis by the Soviet Union are still being held in Soviet gulags. Bernard Slier, a Jew from Rotterdam who was freed last year from a gulag near Kiev, said that he personally knew Jews who arrived in the USSR as refugees from the Nazi onslaught and who were imprisoned without any kind of trial. In unrelated Soviet news, Pravda announced that the government had rehabilitated famed Yiddish theater director Solomon (Shloyme) Mikhoels, who had been slandered in connection with the Doctor’s Plot.

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