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January 12, 2007

100 Years Ago in the forward

As people went out to the local vaudeville and variety theaters this past weekend, they discovered that the performers had gone on strike. A huge crowd gathered in front of the Grand Music Hall at Orchard and Grand Streets on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and waited for the strike to end. The owner of the Grand, one Mr. Fleisig, came out onto the fire escape and began giving a speech berating the actors to the audience. But the crowd turned out to be on the actors’ side. They shouted down Fleisig and began throwing garbage at him. Things also got wild on Eldridge Street, where a crowd that had gathered in front of Annich’s Theatre shouted down local police who had come to disperse the disappointed audience.”

75 Years Ago in the forward

For any business, slack season wreaks havoc on the lives of its workers, but no one is suffering worse than people in the theater world. Since the current economic depression began, more than half the theaters around Manhattan’s Times Square have gone dark, meaning there’s no work to be had in them. Instead of going to see the bigger shows, people are spending their money on cheaper cabarets and small nightclubs. For the people who once worked on the Great White Way, the Great Depression has hit harder than ever. Some people are even beginning to eulogize the institution of theater, saying that radio and the movies have killed it.

Without printing names so as not to embarrass people, the Forward published an interesting story about a Jewish man in Brooklyn’s Coney Island area who married a Catholic woman and lived his life as a non-Jew. Although he lived in a Jewish neighborhood, no one knew he was Jewish. And his children were raised as Catholics. One of his daughters ended up marrying a Jew just like her father — one who never admitted to being Jewish — while the couple’s son, who was a brilliant student, died in an accident while at college. In preparation for the funeral, priests and nuns began to arrive at the house. This upset the father, who called a rabbi, thereby crowding the house with clerics. A battle began between the Jews and Catholics of Coney Island, who each wanted to claim the boy’s soul as their own.

50 Years Ago in the forward

In a speech to Congress, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles said that President Dwight Eisenhower’s plan for the Middle East was created in order to prevent a third World War. Dulles added that America was prepared to use the full force of its military might in order to prevent a Soviet takeover of the region. However, Dulles also noted that America will not help Israel directly if it is attacked by the surrounding Arab countries — even if they attack using weapons provided by the Soviet Union.

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