Two weeks ago I referred to Judge Joseph Crater, who got into a New York
City cab in 1930, headed for the theater, and vanished. Most theories attempting
to account for his disappearance centered around political corruption. The
judge was generally conceded to be involved in payoffs and kickbacks, often
involving the Mob (the term "organized crime" was not the euphemism
of choice back then). Conspiracy theories abounded. The judge was fooling
around with a mobster's mistress. Or the mob rubbed him out for what he
knew. Or people backing Roosevelt for the White House wanted a possible
embarrassment like Crater out of the scene. Whatever happened, the police
closed the books on the case in 1979.
What else was happening in the future "Big Apple" in 1930? While
the judge was vanishing, other New Yorkers were making their first appearances
in city delivery rooms. The musical world stood to gain the most, as singer
Julius LaRosa, composer Stephen Sondheim, and opera star Roberta Peters
all debuted. The literary world gained authors Stanley Elkin and Clifford
Irving. A new arrivalòteinbrenner was actually born in Ohio, but
little George would have quite an impact on New York sports. (As well as
being a character without a face on Seinfeld.) Speaking of the Yankees,
on March 8th, slugger Babe Ruth signed a contract with the team that paid
him $80,000 per annum.
The city was growing. Its population passed six-million persons. 96% lived
in apartment buildings, including the new San Remo Apartments and two new
18 story towers at the London Terrace complex. Construction began this year
on the Empire State Building. The West Side Highway opened. Gotham was well
on its way to becoming a major media center, as well. Publisher Henry Luce
debuted Fortune magazine. NBC opened an experimental television transmitter.
David Sarnoff became president of RCA. And the New York Times hired a new
reporter. Who would soon move into another part of the newspaper. Will Weng
would make his name as editor of the crossword puzzle in the Sunday magazine.
If you didn't want to sit home and do the puzzle, you could join Judge Crater
in heading off to the theater. (You'd be more likely to arrive). The Gershwin's
Girl Crazy and other musicals would have New Yorkers, and then the rest
of the world, singing I've Got a Crush on You, On the Sunny Side of the
Street, Ten Cents a Dance, Body and Soul, and But Not for Me.
Even if they weren't busy snatching judges, the Mob was not sitting back
and taking things easy. Oh, no. On October 12th, unknown assailants pumped
five bullets into the chest and forehead of gangster John Thomas "Legs"
Diamond. He survived. For a while. He wouldn't be as lucky in Albany.
For Classical ninety-one five, this is David Minor.
David Minor / Eagles Byte