Once, we were all packed and ready to leave, but it proved to be a false alarm. The money my father had sent over turned out to be stage money. We didn’t know that he had sent it as a joke… the money looked real enough to us. On one side each bill said, “20.” On the other side was the joker… on the back of what looked like gorgeous twenties, the Madison Avenue boys of 1910 had printed advertisements for everything from sewing machines to phonographs. To my mother in Austria, Father had sent a dozen of these beauties… two hundred and forty dollars. Overjoyed, she took them to the bank in our town of Zlothev. The bank, without a question, exchanged these “throwaways” for good Austrian money. Mother bought steamship tickets for the whole flock of us and still had money left over. We were ready to leave for Hamburg, where we were to go aboard, when the bank officials came after us. They had made a mistake. The money Father had sent was phony! So we had to unpack and wait until he could send real money.
Father kept on working. By this time, he had decided that he could do better as his own boss with a pushcart. When the second shipment of money came to Zlothev, it was O.K., and the five of us, Mother, my three brothers and Weegee, could leave by first-class steerage.
Weegee by Weegee, pp. 8-9
Even in those days, I was one of the night people. We lived next door to the public school but I just couldn’t get up in the morning. When I heard the school bell ringing, I jumped out of bed, dressed quickly and dashed to class . . . no breakfast. Lunchtime, I returned home. My mother had a light, warm lunch for me and, also, a penny for a piece of candy.
Weegee by Weegee, p. 10
After the sweat-shops I stationed myself at the elevated station at the Third Avenue “L” at Bowery and Grand. Often I was chased by the special cops of the elevated because the candy stands up on the platforms considered me unfair competition. But I always came back. I stayed on until I had sold out my stock, at about eight o’clock at night, and then proudly went home to hand over my money, in pennies and nickels, to my mother.
Weegee by Weegee, p. 12
Every day to work I wore a white shirt, reasonably clean, with a hard Arrow collar and tie, and knickers. My mother gave me a couple of sandwiches and fifteen cents, ten cents for carfare and a nickel for a pint of milk. Many mornings, when there was no money, I had to take my alarm clock to the pawnshop. I hocked it for half a dollar. On pay day, I always redeemed that clock. Big Ben spent more time in the hock shop than with me.
Weegee by Weegee, p. 15
(Weegee’s mother, Rivka Felig , in Chapter 1, Tintype, from Weegee by Weegee, 1961…)