Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Tough Jew Redux 2

Another part of my Brownsville trip was to photograph the sight of Midnight Rose's Candy Store on Saratoga and Livonia. I had read about it in the graphic novel "Brownsville" above. From famed novelist's Warren Adler's biography: "Pitkin Avenue, the great white way of Brownsville, was as crowded as Broadway. In front of Hoffman's cafeteria, men argued into the night about the joys of socialism and die heartlessness of the bosses. Social ferment was everywhere. Candy stores were everywhere, along with delicatessens and Chinese restaurants. Young men hung out with their buddies in front of the corner candy store. The candy store on Saratoga and Livonia, owned by a shadowy woman dubbed 'Midnight Rose Gold," was the headquarters of Murder, Inc., that band of Jewish gangsters who serviced the Mob's killing machine. Pay phones in the back of the store were used to assign hit men to their jobs. But in the vicinity of Saratoga and Livonia no one considered street crime a problem." From Amazon's review of "Brownsville": "A beautifully moody evocation of a bygone Brooklyn inhabited by Jewish gangsters, Brownsville follows the career of some of the biggest names in the hoodlum business. The authors trace the way in which a young boy might be seduced by the wrong side through relating the story of Allie Tannenbaum, who first meets the wiseguys on the grounds of his own father's place in the Catskills. Later, the action moves to the Lower East Side, where Allie is an older man, well ensconced in the shadow world of the men who make up Murder Inc.: Louis Lepke Buchalter, Abe Reles, the Shapiro brothers, Dutch Schultz—all wind through this tale of 1930s corruption. Tires are slashed, guns are hidden in toilet tanks, rapes and murders and retaliatory hits are carried out. One difficulty is that there are few sympathetic characters, other than Allie's somewhat bewildered father, who doesn't love his son's choice of career. At times, the story's convolutions can be tough to follow; along with the various shifting loyalties, Allen's lush black ink, while atmospheric, can make different characters look confusingly similar. Nonetheless, the work is a fine addition to the archive of Brooklyn's once outlaw world. From School Library Journal

I thought if I ever taught depression era history to a Brownsville group this could be an engaging piece. If you have seen ATL, note the protagonist's salvation is as a "Boondock" style cartoonist. Here's another review and I agree with both in regard to the hard to follow plot line.
Grade 9 Up–Set in Brooklyn during the height of Prohibition, this atmospheric novel focuses on the infamous Jewish gangsters known as Murder, Inc.: Louis Lepke Buchalter, Abe Reles, Dutch Schultz, and the Shapiro brothers. It's a tale of power, murder, and corruption as seen through the eyes of Allie Tannenbaum, beginning in the 1920s when he is still a teenager and continuing through the mid-1950s. This coming-of-age story provides readers with a powerful glimpse into the brutal and violent world of the Mafia, a world with few sympathetic characters. Allen's heavily shadowed, black-and-white illustrations are effective in creating a film-noir-style atmosphere, but his depiction of individual characters often lacks distinction. This problem, combined with a convoluted subplot about the shifting loyalties among the bad guys, often makes this story hard to follow. Still, it will appeal to fans of crime fiction and Prohibition-era history buffs and is a good choice for large collections.–Philip Charles Crawford, Essex High School, Essex Junction, VT
Here's the scene. The current 779 Saratoga is in the lower left panel of the collage

8 comments:

Eliza said...

This is fascinating. I stumbled on your site looking for Brownsville history--I'm writing a historical novel about a girl from Brownsville -- and I really appreciate these posts. I'll be back often.

Anonymous said...

Contrary to popular belief, Rose's Candy store was not the hang-out for Murder, Inc. Frankly, how many individual's do you think you can seat in a candy store. Most people from Brooklyn's East New York section known as Brownsville might recall that seating was limited. And, do you think that men who just finished completing their 'tasks' ran to get an egg cream or malted? The real hang-out for Murder, Inc. was a bar/restaurant with the letters B.O.B. in the window. And, I speak with some authority. Anyone out there have a clue what those letters stood for? And, B.O.B. was an appropriate name for this place which was notoriously known as the "pay off" place for members of Murder, Inc.

Anonymous said...

Virtually every researcher on the net and otherwise names the 779 Saratoga location as the meeting place for Murder Inc. They did not need a huge board room, they just needed a pay telephone. The pictures are great, and don't let "BOB" mess with you....he doesn't even offer a shed of supporting evidence for his "authoritative" statements

Arthur Nash said...

Calling all Midnight Rose enthusiasts - I'm pleased to announce the release of my new photo book, "New York City Gangland", which contains nearly 200 uncirculated images recalling a half century of organized crime in the boroughs: from Izzy & Moe to Crazy Joe.

Best of all, in the chapter titled "Guns & Gelt", it has a previously unknown shot of Midnight Rose's front door, during the period when O'Dwyer was seeking to dismantle the outfit.

Please pick up a copy via my website, major retailers or from Amazon dot com. You won't be disappointed!

Arthur Nash said...

PS my new book also has multiple views of Joe Rosen's candy store on Sutter Avenue, both inside and out.

Check it! www.NYCGangland.com

Anonymous said...

How far was the bar BOB from Midnight Rose candy store . Is the place BOB was located in still standing . Can any body find old photos of BOB and Midnight Rose store , also old photos of customers in and outside both places .

Anonymous said...

my parents owned a candy store between Amboy and herzel on Sutter in the late 50's early 60's. we lived above the candy store at 152 Amboy. all the brownstomes are torn down. most of the place was set on fire in 60's. I have some pictures of me in front of the store but not of the brown stones on Amboy

Anonymous said...

I grew up on Saratoga and Livonia Ave. My mother told me never to go to the candy store across Livonia and Saratoga under the El. I now know why. This was in 1950.Murder Inc was a myth and legend by then just like the boogey man. My Grandfather owned several gas stations and Levy Auto Supply. Many bullet ridden cars were repaired false bottoms checked and no one said a word. Street crime did not exist it was safe to work and play just don't get involved with the wrong group.