The Little Mayors of the Lower East Side
My ninety-seven-year-old father Julius recently amazed me by describing how, when he was hungry during the Great Depression, he would get an occasional free slice of salami from Izzy Pinkowitz, the “official” mayor of East Broadway, who happened to own the Hebrew National sausage factory on his Lower East Side block. How official? “Back then it was official,” he answered, after finishing his favorite old-fashioned cookie, the chocolate-covered Mallomar. “Look into it if you are so curious. The old street mayors of New York would make a good story.”
Father knows best. It is a good story.
Read the full story at Lapham’s Quarterly
How an Author Used the Polar Archives in Ohio to Write about an Antarctic Stowaway
A few months after I began to research The Stowaway, my narrative non-fiction book about the teen stowaway on Byrd’s first expedition, I thought I had enough material to write my book. In March of 2013, I had stumbled upon the story while researching the history of St. Stanislaus Church in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, which is the first Polish Catholic church in all five boroughs of the Big Apple. The stowaway, William “Billy” Gawronski, and his family were parishioners there, and I located the records of Billy’s celebration by the church.
Read the full story
I have a read up today at Aeon that looks at the long history and appeal of stowing away — from Balboa, to Shackleton’s stowaway Blackborow, to interplanetary stowaways of the future. (Think Mars.) Hope you’ll give it a read! Not long! (This picture is of stowaway Perce Blackborow and Mrs. Chippy aboard Shackleton’s Endurance.)
Read the article at Aeon
The Man Who Made Violins Out of New York City Buildings
In the 1940s, luthier Samuel Stochek created stunning instruments from the wood of demolished houses.
Read the full article at Atlas Obscura
The Stowaway Craze
In the roaring twenties, sneaking on board a ship became a way to go viral.
Read the full piece on newyorker.com
Image courtesy Gizela Gawronski / The Pilsudski Institute of America
The online version of my recent print piece at New York is up. 91-year-old Ben Heller looks back at his legendary apartment and art collection that even he can’t believe he owned. In collecting Jackson Pollock he became best friends with him. These photos have never been seen by the public before.
Read now at New York Magazine