August 22nd, 2017 § 1 comment

A favorite weapon of garment center workers and hoodlum strikebreakers during the labor battles in New York (1915-20) was the “schlammer.” This was a metal pipe wrapped in newspaper (HG presumes the bloody newspaper was divested. No fingerprints). The men (and some women) using these weapons were known as “schlammers.” HG’s late lamented father, Hershel Zvi Freeman, was such an effective breaker of criminal heads that he (wife and infant son Bernard) had to leave New York in a horse and wagon. Long journey took them to the Ohio farm of Fanny Howitz, HG’s Mom’s sister. The three spent a happy time there (HG’s mother and father especially loved community square dancing) before returning to New York when they thought things were safe. HG’s father was in his 50’s when HG was born. A quiet and gentle man, he was plagued by various ailments until his death in the 1960’s. Never spoke about his violent days. However, when HG was 14, HG ran an arcade game in Rockaway for a couple of tough Jews.( “Five Balls. Five Roses. Roll ‘Em Easy. Roll ‘Em Slow. Every Game A Winner.” chanted young HG as he collected money and made change.) A grifter cheated HG out of ten dollars which was deducted from HG’s measly pay by HG’s nasty bosses. HG told his father. Father went down to the basement of the boarding house where HG’s family summered. Picked up a lead pipe. Wrapped it in newspaper. HG and father went to the arcade. “Schlammer” in hand, HG’s father, in a soft and courteous voice, said the deduction was unfair and asked for ten dollars owed his son. The tough guys looked at the “schlammer”. Silence. They forked over the ten bucks.

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