Archive

1943


PM, May 31, 1943, p. 26 (Photo by Weegee)

“The can-can girls in the When Paris is Paree Again number of the new show at Billy Rose’s Diamond Horseshoe.”

Billy Rose Retreats Into the Future

By Louis Kronenberger

Having purveyed nostalgia and Gay-Ninetyish frou-frou at the Diamond Horseshoe for several years, Billy Rise about-faced Saturday night and marched into the future…
Whatever its shortcomings, the thing has pace, color, and looks. At Diamond Horseshoe prices, it’s a good buy.

Billy Rose’s new show in the late spring of 1943, at his Times Square Diamond Horseshoe venue, was called “Post-War Preview,” (“The Musical Shape of Things to Come”).

It was in four or five parts: “The Night of Unconditional Surrender,” a post-war Broadway; “When Paris is Paree Again,” a post-war Paris; a post-war Vienna; the fourth part featured a post-war poet, Bob Hall; and the final “The Victory Ball” (in Washington) featured performers wearing masks of FDR, Churchill, Chiang Kai-shek, and Stalin, and an international cast.

It was a wildly successful, and well-reviewed, musical revue that played for over 10 months. Performances were at 8 PM and 12 AM; dinner from $3.50, (same buying power as $51.28 in April 2020).

And most importantly, a review in PM featured an obscure, almost unknown, not-published-in-77-years Weegee photo… A good example of his seldom-seen, war-time, home-front work…

Some of the performers included: Three Ross Sisters, Bob Hall, Herman Hyde, Billy Banks (died in Tokyo in 1967), Rosalie Grant, Vivien Fay, Four Rosebuds, Vincent Travers, and significantly Bobby Davis, (tap dances and “Puts one table on top of another and several chairs on top of the tables, leans down, takes a bite of the tables and lifts them up above his head with his teeth.” Brooklyn Eagle, June 1, 1943)

…There were no glasses, of course, on any of the girls last night. They are beautifully costumed in pink, blue and other colors, and Billy Rose told me that there wasn’t a single costume that cost him less than $360, which is considerable when you consider the amount of the gals that isn’t covered.
A radio announcer’s staccato voice starts the ‘Post-War Preview.”It is the Night of Unconditional Surrender and the announcer says that crowds in New York are dancing in the streets, 50,000 lights are aglow, and people are tearing up their ration cards into confetti… (The New York Post, June 1, 1943.)


The New York Post, May 28, 1943

May 22, 1943. (Published)

No mention of a portable darkroom in the (possible) first publication of this amazing selfie; (self) portrait of the photographer as an author. (Arthur the author:-) A “candid camera”?

Of course two years later that photo was an end page in the recently republished “Naked City”!!!

(To be continued…)


PM, May 20, 1943, p. 18. (Photo by Weegee, PM)

Potatoes au Bay Rum

If you think the potatoes you buy during the next few days smell like hair tonic, chances are they are part of the batch of 17,000 pounds Mayor LaGuardia, the cops, Market Dept. inspectors and the Office of Price Administration found in a midtown barbershop. Yesterday the jobber who brought them here agreed to sell them. They are being taken to Bronx Terminal market for distribution to retailers. The jobber is out on $300 bail for having put the potatoes in bags labeled wheat, oats and bran. PM, May 20, 1943, p. 18

Speaking of apples… Seventy-seven years ago today:

Potatoes with Cologne and Aftershave Lotion
might be a contemporary version of the title of this story. (“Bay rum is the name of a cologne/aftershave lotion. Other uses include as under-arm deodorant and as a fragrance for shaving soap, as well as a general astringent.” Wikipedia.) Why in the world were there tons of starchy, perennial nightshades in a midtown Manhattan barber shop? Why did Weegee take a few photos of the edible tubers leaving a midtown Manhattan barber shop? The Charles Barber Shop was at 1221 Sixth Avenue. And why was this newsworthy?

We wanted to get to the root of this potato mystery, or at least chip away at the truth. After spending a fruitful few hours planted in front of a microfilm reader at the NYPL in Midtown Manhattan, we now (our salad days) know a little more about the spuds in sacks on Sixth…


Daily News, May 20, 1943 (front page of two different editions)


Daily News, May 20, 1943 (NEWS foto)

Next! Some 18,000 pounds of tough-skinned potatoes, that haven’t even been shaved, get the vagabond’s rush from a barbershop at 1221 Sixth Ave. yesterday. The spuds, headed for a Bronx market, eventually will have their eyes picked out by New York housewives. City bought them. Benjamin Caplan, custodian of the potatoes, won a parole… $49.95 profit.


New York Herald Tribune, May 20, 1943, p.20, Herald Tribune-Acme

Sixth Avenue Barber Shop Loses Its Potatoes
Some of the 17,000 pounds of potatoes found in the barber shop of Charles Falcone at 1221 Sixth Avenue on Tuesday being removed yesterday by Bronx Terminal Market wholesalers for resale to the city’s closed markets.

The wayward potato story was front page news in The Daily News and New York Herald Tribune, while The New York Post covered the story, sadly it was photo-free. The Herald Tribune’s coverage was more digestible as it was a little more factual and less tongue-in-cheek. (The photos published in the News and Tribune are not credited to a photographer, were they made by Weegee?)

Apparently the potatoes, described as “scarce, more valuable than diamonds, and vital to the war effort” by Magistrate Anna Kross, were bought by Benjamin Caplan from a farm outside of Plattsburgh, New York, for 2 cents a pound (about 29 cents today) or $343.75 (about $5,036.21 today), where they were at risk of spoiling. Anthony Zubinsky drove them down to Manhattan, for $120 (about $1,758.10 today). Caplan asked his friend Charles Falcone, the barber, if he could store the spuds in Falcone’s barber shop while he tried to sell them, presumably legally, and not on the black market.


PM, May 20, 1943, p. 19

Apparently unloading 157 bags of the scarce, luxury food, in mislabeled bags, in the middle of the afternoon in midtown Manhattan caught the eye and ire of passersby who notified the authorities. The authorities came raining down on the Charles Barber Shop. Mayor Fiorello La Guardia (1882-1947), with a chip on his shoulder, the Commissioner of Markets , the Commissioner of buildings, (due to the weight of the potatoes, the barber was charged with violating a building code), fire and police departments, and members of the press, descended on the Charles Barber Shop, on Sixth Avenue, near 48th Street.

Mr. Caplan appeared before Magistrate Anna Kross at the Jefferson Market Court. In the end, the Office of Price Administration exonerated Benjamin Caplan, he sold his spuds for a legal price, they were brought to the Bronx Terminal Market, and were sold at the city’s markets below the maximum of 6 cents a pound.

A quote, almost like dessert, from The Herald Tribune, May 20, 1943: “You probably never want to see another potato,” a reporter said to Mr. Caplan.
“I’ll be back up there tomorrow,” he replied wearily, referring to his upstate source of supply, “and if there aren’t any potatoes, I’ll get apples.”


PM, May 20, 1943, p. 19

pm_1943_03_02_p16-17bprint-2
PM, March 2, 1943

“When fire swept the five-story loft building at 372 E. Houston St., Manhattan, the policeman, above, rescued these two kittens from a hallway. Later he gave them to Miss Sally Strumfeld, 218 Delancey St., who promised to give them a good home. Some small manufacturing firms and the Congregation Israel Anscheigal Icie Minhagsford occupy the Houston St. building. Holy scrolls were carried out by members of the congregation.” PM Photo by Weegee


Weegee, Naked City, 1945, pp. 60-61


PM, December 1, 1943, p. 16

“Proving the Cops Are Human
A look of grave concern crosses the face of this policeman as he watches an injured woman being removed from the Western Electric plant at 395 Hudson St. following explosion that killed two early yesterday.
Photo by Weegee, PM”

About 8 days after Weegee photographed “The Critic” (and about 5 days after photographing “How to Wreck a Tavern – Cold Sober!”) Weegee photographed “The Human Cop.”

About 8 Weegee photos of the Western Electric blast can be found in the extraordinary “Extra! Weegee” book…


The New York Times, November 30, 1943


The New York Times,December 1, 1943

Photography is not a competition.
Or, maybe it is…
I don’t know.


Weegee, from Weegee’s World, 1997, p.230


PM, June 28, 1943, p 15

When the Big Top Comes to Times Square
“Minnie the bear, who appears with her husband Bill in Larry Sunbrock’s Big Top Circus, knows when payday is – and gets in line early.”
“This is the ‘Big Top’ – first three-ring circus tent to be pitched in Manhattan for 100 years – in a former parking [lot back of the Roxy?]”
“‘Miss Victory,’ Eglie Zacchini, is shot out of a cannon at a speed of 360 feet a second. Weegee got this unusually difficult picture at a performance using a telephoto lens at 1/1000th of a second.”


Cornell Capa, “Young woman being shot out of a cannon as a human cannonball at a circus in Texas, 1947,” from Cornell Capa Photographs

7. Human cannonball, Texas, 1947.
Protected by an asbestos suit, twenty-six-year-old Egle Zacchini, a daughter of the great family of human cannonballs, is shot from a cannon. The challenge for me arose from the fact that because of the difference in the speeds of sound and of light, I would miss my picture if I snapped my shutter exactly when I heard the bang. Instead, I had to guess at what fraction of a second after the charge was set off the performer would fly out of the barrel. It was an exercise in frustration, and I had to try three times in three different cities before I finally managed to get the shot reproduced here.” Cornell Capa Photographs, Edited by Cornell Capa and Richard Whelan, 1992






The Zacchinis
A lively Italian-American family earns living being shot from canons”
Photos by Cornell Capa… words by John Kobler
LIFE, April 26, 1948, pp. 111-116

3 points for CC, Egle Zacchini, is the correct spelling.
Minus 3 points for PM and Weegee, Eglie Zacchini is not the correct spelling.
Weegee photographed ‘Miss Victory,’ Ms. Zacchini, first, five years before CC, plus four points.
Weegee and CC made “unusually difficult pictures,” plus 50 points for both photographers.
Silly bear caption, plus 1.5 points.
CC’s “great family of human cannonballs,” plus 150 points.
Weegee’s three circus photos were an entire page in PM, plus 10 points.
CC’s photos, about seven, were in Life… plus 15 points.
Weegee’s photo was made in NYC, plus 5 points.
CC’s photo was made in Texas, minus 5 points. (WTF? – editor’s note.)
CC’s honesty and humility about having to try three times… plus 100 points.
Quality and variety of CC’s photos… plus 200 points.

Round one goes to Cornell Capa!


Screenshot from getty images, three photos by Herbert Gehr of Larry Sunbrock’s Big Top Circus… (The Roxy, 153 West 50th St., between 6th and 7th Aves.)


Extra! Weegee, page 104

Fire Defies Test Blackout
When New York City and New Jersey went dark tonight to test new air raid signals, this four-alarm fire in a paper factory illuminated a large section of downtown Manhattan…” February 18, 1943
Extra! Weegee, page 104


PM, February 18, 1943 (photos by Weegee and Steven Derry)
Two Alarm Fire at Greene and E. Third St… The fire was in a paper bag company on the third floor.”

Same fire, other side…

Perhaps the fire was at:
Salwen Paper Co., 189-195 Greene street
Henry F. Fulling Co. Inc. paper, 202 Greene street
Henry Fuchs & Son, paper & twine, 215 Greene Street



New York Times, February 19, 1943, pp, 1 and 13

New Raid Signal Blacks Out City
Public Response Encouraging, Mayor Says, but He Orders Another Drill Tonight…
Lightless, that is so far as man-made illumination was concerned. The clear full moon converted the side streets, the wide stretches of Broadway and Seventh Avenue into deserted silver lanes…”


“60 Injured In Western Electric Blast,” November 30, 1943, “Extra! Weegee” pages 44-45.

There are many reason to love the book “Extra! Weegee” (Hirmer, 2017) this is one of them:
Making connections between photos. The two photos above and “…And the human cop” were all made at the same place, after the same explosion…


Weegee, “Naked City,” 1945, pp. 68-69
“…and the human cop.”

PM caption:
“Proving the Cops are Human
A look of grave concern crosses the face of this policeman as he watches an injured woman being removed from the Western Electric plant at 395 Hudson St. following explosion that killed two early yesterday.”

(To be continued…)