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PM, December 26, 1940, p15

Weegee Covers Christmas in New York… In Pictures and Words…

By Weegee

Early Christmas Eve I received a phone call from Wesley Price, one of PM’s picture editors. Price told me he wanted a good holiday picture, something with plenty of OOMPH. Lots of Christmas spirit in it. in other words a masterpiece. Jokingly I replied you just couldn’t order a picture like that, like you would a box of cigars. It had to happen. However, I asked him if he had any suggestions. He suggested that I get the picture in for the first edition.

I left police headquarters in my car at 2:30 Christmas morning. I turned the two radios on. One the regular broadcast receiver, to get some holiday music to put me in the mood; and the other radio, a police short wave receiver to get the police signals so I would know what was going on.

The first police call I picked up was for West and Bank Sts. When I got there I found a car with a Jersey license, turned on its side, with a cop on top of it. Nobody seemed to be hurt. Soon a towing wagon arrived to take the car away. I made a shot of it and was on my way.

Then I picked up six fire alarm signals. They were all false. I didn’t think Santa did that.

Then I stopped at the All Night Mission at No. 8 Bowery. [Not the still extant Bowery Mission.] Every night in the year about 100 hopelessly beaten and homeless men sit on benches and sleep as best they can.

Except for a Christmas tree in front, everything was the same. The same despair and hopelessness. I tiptoed in at 4 in the morning, being careful not to disturb anyone. Everyone was asleep. The place was as usual playing to “Sitting up” only. The same electric sign was lit with the illuminated big letters, JESUS SEES, the only source of light in the place. I wondered if He approved…

On the way out, along a big stove near the door, I noticed a pair of stockings, turned inside out, hung to dry.

Next I picked up a police alarm for 102nd St. and Lexington Ave. When I got there I found a man had been stabbed to death and was lying on the corner. From the St. John’s Episcopal Church, on the opposite corner, came the sound of organ music and the singing of the Christmas worshipers. I made a shot of the scene and started back to police headquarters.

When I arrived at my home, in back of Police Headquarters, I found a package wrapped in fancy paper outside my door. It was a present from my Chinese laundry man, Willie Chu, of 95 Elizabeth St. It contained a pound of tea and a half pound of lichee nuts. I had been looking for the Christmas spirit all night long. And had found it, on my doorstep. Lichee NUTS to you, Santa Claus…

weegee-12-26-1940-map
Weegee’s Christmas day journey (on a Google Map), might look like this.

A soon-to-be classic New York City Christmas story…


PM, December 26, 1940, p15


The New York Times, October 18, 1948

The Office of Civilian Defense announces the following instructions to be carried out “When an air raid comes.”

Approaches to New York Harbor Mined by Navy.

New York Has Skyscrapers for Air Raid Shelters
Simple Safety Rules will Save Lives When the Bombers Come…”

Simple Rules Show How to Make a Home Safer in Raids

Blackout Curtains Will Hinder Night Bomb Raiding

What Are Bombs Like? Here Are Some of the Answers“.

PM, December 11, 1941

(For the first time ever, we present possibly useful information…)


PM, December 10, 1941
New York Has Its First Air-Raid Alarms, But the Enemy Fails to Make Appearance
A million schoolchildren were evacuated from their classrooms yesterday as New York had two air-raid alarms – the first of the war. These pupils at PS 23 on Hester Street looked on the whole procedure as a kind of game. The alarm found most New Yorkers calm, but left then puzzled as to what it was all about. There is one theory that somebody mistook American planes for the enemy; another holds that it was a staged dress rehearsal. The Army denied the latter theory. Whatever the cause, we needed the practice. PM Photo by Weegee


PM, December 2, 1941, p. 14 (photos by Martin Harris)

What Happens to These Men Depends on Mayor La Guardia
“Last week the Board of Estimate adopted a Council bill banishing itinerant peddling from city streets. The bill affects about 10,000 peddlers. Now in the Mayor’s hands, it exempts news dealers and others able to get licenses…”

PM, August 27, 1941 (Fire photos by Irving Haberman)

Storm Ties Up Subways…5 Pages
This inferno-like scene is one of the results of tortential rains that wept New York, causing the worst subway tie-up in history. A lightning bolt hit a gas main in a subway excavation, dropped an auto into the resulting cave-in, stated a three-alarm fire… (PM Photo by Irving Haberman)”

“The Weather Bureau also termed 2.13 inches of rain in that brief spectacular on and one-half hours “extensive precipitation.”” p. 15

Weegee Has a Salon: Arthur Fellig, the night-prowling cameraman who turns in many of PM’s choicest pictures of fires, wrecks, rescues and crimes, is having a one-man show of his own at the Photo League, 31 E. 21st St. The exhibit will run through Sept. 6.”