“Happy National Mushroom Day!”

Michael Somoroff, Vegetable Series, 1980 (4.1980)

Patrick Nagatani, Simulation/Simulation, the Trestle, Nuclear Effects (Electromagnetic Pulses) Simulation Facility, Air Force Weapons Laboratory, Kirkland A.F.B, Albuquerque, New Mexico, from the “Nuclear Enchantment” series, 1990 (2243.2005)

To quote the The Mushroom Council:

“Happy National Mushroom Day!” October 15 is one of the greatest days of the year: National Mushroom Day (not to be confused with Day of the Mushroom). While we believe that every day is mushroom day, National Mushroom Day means all eyes are on mushrooms, so get ready for a fun(gi)-filled day!

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Geronimo, Apache Chief and Medicine Man

Collins Studio, Geronimo, Apache Chief and Medicine Man, Lawton, OK, 1903 (181.2003)

Collins Studio, Geronimo, Apache Chief and Medicine Man, Lawton, OK [verso], 1903 (181.2003)

An Apache leader, Geronimo (1829–1909) was legendary for his courage and determination in resisting white colonization of the American West. He was born in the Southwestern Apache Territories, now roughly Arizona and New Mexico. After years of battle, Geronimo eventually surrendered in 1886. In the 1890s he made a conscious decision to adopt some customs of the “white man,” and this move most likely explains his Western clothing in the photograph. Geronimo lived his last decades as a prisoner of war and died in exile in 1909. He was granted special permission from the US War Department to sell photographs of himself at expositions, which highlights the ambiguous nature of his celebrity around the turn of the twentieth century. Your Mirror: Portraits from the ICP Collection, February 8 – June 16, 2019, International Center of Photography, (181.2003)

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Art Blakey Centenial

Art Blakey, Nothing But the Soul, (A drum improvisation), 1954.

Herman Leonard, Art Blakey, Paris, 1958 (2008.3.13)

(c) Herman Leonard Photography, LLC

Art Blakey (1919-1990), one of the greatest and most influential drummers and bandleaders, was born in Pittsburgh on October 11, 1919. Blakey performed with many brilliant musicians including Mary Lou Williams, Fletcher Henderson, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk (who called Blakey his best friend), and co-founded with Horace Silver the Jazz Messengers.

Art Blakey and Sabu, Message from Kenya, 1954.

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Jill Freedman

Jill Freedman, Chester, Washington D.C., from “Resurrection City,” 1968 (143.1981.k)

Jill Freedman at ICP, October 5, 1978.

Jill Freedman Hands Like Shawls, Poor People’s Campaign, Washington D.C., from “Resurrection City,” 1968 (143.1981.h)

Jill Freedman at ICP, October 5, 1978.

Jill Freedman, Phantom Peace, South Bronx, from “Firehouse,” 1975 (143.1981.f)

Jill Freedman at ICP, October 5, 1978.

Jill Freedman, Brotherly Love, South Bronx, from “Firehouse,” 1975 (143.1981.d)

Jill Freedman at ICP, October 5, 1978.

Jill Freedman, Sam and Star, County Leitrim, 1981 (19.1988)

Jill Freedman, Bennett and Topsy, from “Circus Days,” 1971 (143.1981j)

Jill Freedman at ICP, October 5, 1978.

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“Brooklyn School Children See Gambler Murdered in Street”

Weegee, Their First Murder, October 8, 1941 (13.1997)

A few days after Weegee’s photo of oblivious New York squirrels hoarding acorns in Battery Park was published in PM and a few days after the record-breaking heat in the beginning of October 1941, Weegee went to Brooklyn and photographed a small crowd, with some people responding to, and others perhaps oblivious of, a crime scene. He also photographed a bloody body lying in the street, the same body half-covered in newspapers, and a pair of fellow photojournalists on and near a police van.

We know some information. Who the victim was: Peter Mancuso was shot in the head and heart. We know when it happened: 3:00-3:30, Wednesday afternoon, October 8, 1941. Where it happened: Roebling and N. 6th Street in Brooklyn. We know the weather: It was a seasonable 76 degrees. In an attempt to figure out exactly what happened on a Wednesday afternoon, 78 years ago, and why it happened, below are contemporaneous newspaper accounts:

PM, October 9, 1941, p.15 (2007.15.254)

Brooklyn School Children See Gambler Murdered in Street

Pupils were just leaving P.S. 143, in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, at 3:15 yesterday when Peter Mancuso, 22, described by police as a small-time gambler, pulled up in a 1931 Ford at a traffic light a block from the school. Up to the car stepped a gunman, who fired twice and escaped through the throng of children. Mancuso, shot through the head and the heart, struggled to the running board and collapsed dead on the pavement. Above are some of the spectators. The older woman is Mancuso’s aunt, who lives in the neighborhood and the boy tugging at the hair of the girl in front of him is her son, hurrying her away. Below is what they saw as a priest, flanked by an ambulance doctor and a detective, said the last rites of the Church over the body.
PM, October 9, 1941, p.15

“Comforting News About Bombs” is a favorable book review of “Bombs and Bombing” (Modern Age Books, $1.25) by the prolific writer (speculative fiction database) Willy Lev. (Lev was also editing “PM‘s New Weapons Page.”) The slim, 121 pages, volume provides information about the war in Europe (“New Nazi Advance Threatens Moscow From South,” a headline from PM, October 9, 1941), bombs, and bomb-dropping that “every citizen should know” – essential, practical information, and useful in understanding the news. “And in these days who knows when such information may come in handy?”

The New York Times, October 9, 1941, p.13

Buffalo Evening News, October 10, 1941, and Hudson Register, October 10, 1941

School Children See Street Killing
Varying reactions are mirrored in the faces of these Brooklyn school children who saw Peter Mancuso, 23, shot to death in a busy street. The killer, darting into the group of children, escaped pursuing police. In the rear, weeping is Mrs. Angelina Derazio, aunt of the victim, attempting to push her way through the crowd.
Hudson Register, Hudson, NY, October 10, 1941, p.1

Eyewitness to Tragedy. Mrs. Angeline Derazio, center, attempts frantically to push through a group of school children who saw her nephew, Peter Mancuso, 23, shot down in a busy Brooklyn street Wednesday. The lone slayer darted into the crowd of children as they quit school and police were unable to shoot at him.
Buffalo Evening News, October, 1941

Auto Driver Slain On Brooklyn Street
New York – (AP) – A man identified by police as Peter Mancuso, 22, was shot and killed yesterday by two unidentified assailants who fired at least 10 pistol shots at him as he passed in his car and sent frightened women and children scurrying to cover in a crowded Brooklyn street.
Knickerbocker News, October 9, 1941, p.A9

Weegee, [Press photographers cover shooting of shakedown artist Peter Mancuso, Brooklyn], October 8, 1941 (2234.1993)

Dice Racketeer’s Slayers Hunted In Gang Dives

Pair Escape in Throng Of School Children as Cop Withholds Fire

Police today searched gangster hangouts in Brooklyn for two men who yesterday afternoon shot and killed Peter Mancuso, 22, of 7505 15th Ave., on a Greenpoint street swarming with children on their way home from school.

Mancuso, in a car owned by Vito Pellicrio of 230 S. 4th St., drew up at Roebling and N. 6th Sts.at 3:20 p.m., when two men walked up, opened the car door and entered into a conversation – apparently a quarrel – with Mancuso.

Cop Hears Gunfire

Patrolman Theodore Hanson of the Bedford Ave. Precinct, on duty at Roebling and N. 5th Sts., a block away, was told by a passing sanitation truck driver that there was a quarrel down the block. He started toward the scene and before he reached it two shots were fired and Mancuso, with one bullet in his head and another in his heart, dropped out of the car to the street.

The patrolman saw two men hurry away and he started in pursuit, drawing his service revolver as he ran.

Both Make Their Escape

Schoolchildren were everywhere on the streets and Hanson did not dare shoot at a distance for fear of striking one of them. At N. 7th St. one of the fugitives disappeared and the other slipped into a building at N. 7th and Havermeyer Sts. Police surrounded the block, searching every apartment, hallway, cellar and roof, but the second fugitive escaped.

Deputy Chief Inspector William Reynolds, in charge of detectives, said Mancuso was a petty racketeer, who, with several partners, ran street dice games from which they took a profit of about $20 per game. The shooting may have developed in a quarrel over a split of the profits.
Brooklyn Eagle, October 9, 1941, p.3

Man Surrenders For Murder Quiz
Accompanied by his attorney, Anthony Darrigo, 24, of 147 North 7th St. surrendered last night at the office of District Attorney O’Dwyer in connection with the shooting of Peter Mancuso, petty gambler, on Wednesday afternoon. He was booked on a charge of homicide early today.

Mancuso, who was 22 and lived at 75-05 15th Ave., was shot to death in an automobile parked on Roebling St. near North 6th St., while waiting for friends to finish shopping.

Two men, police said, approached the car, opened the door on the driver’s side and fired several shots, two of which took effect. The assailants were pursued by a patrolman but disappeared in the neighborhood because the officer had to hold his fire due to the large number of children on the street.

Police reported that Darrigo had argued with Mancuso over their respective underworld heroes and that on Tuesday afternoon the pair had a fistfight which was won by Mancuso.

Police said that Mancuso and several buddies went to Darrigo’s home and dragged him to the street and slugged him. Darrigo later hid on the roof of his house and slept there until morning.
Brooklyn Eagle, October 10, 1941, p. 15

The photo now known as Their First Murder was distributed by the Associated Press and was widely published in newspapers throughout the country. It was published as a two-page spread in US Camera, October, 1943, pp.18-19, (“…it is a great picture, one that really deserves the overworked phrase, ‘great.'”). It (and three other Weegee photos) were included in the exhibition “Action Photography” at MoMA, August 18 – September 19, 1943. Last, but not least, the photo was published in the soon-to-be-republished Naked City, 1945.

Weegee, Naked City, 1945, pp. 86-87 (2011.75.2)

A woman relative cried… but neighborhood dead-end kids enjoyed the show when a small-time racketeer was shot and killed…

Here he is… as he was left in the gutter. He’s got a D.O.A. tied to his arm… that means Dead On Arrival.
Naked City, 1945, pp. 86-87

Weegee’s Naked City

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“This squirrel is perfectly oblivious…”

Weegee, Hoarding for Winter, October 5, 1941 (14899.1993)

Weegee, Hoarding for Winter [verso], October 5, 1941 (14899.1993)

PM, October 6, 1941, p. 14

Hoarding for Winter on one of the hottest days of the year, this squirrel is perfectly oblivious to the shoeless sleeper in Battery Park. Weegee, who took this PM photo, said the leaves were falling all over the man, but he slept right on through the chatter of squirrels, the photographer’s flash and the heat. PM, October 6, 1941, p. 14

Weegee, Hoarding for Winter, October 5, 1941 (14897.1993)

There are eight million stories in the Naked City… and this is three of them:

On a very hot October day in New York, 78 years ago, Weegee photographed squirrels and sleepers in lower Manhattan. The temperature in Central Park has reached 90 degrees in October only five times since 1868, including October 5th and 6th, 1941. Today might be the sixth.

The two unpublished photos, 14899.1993 and 14898.1993, are about 11×14 inches, and the published photo, 14897.1993, is surprisingly small, about 5×7 inches. Other relevant and newsworthy stories published in PM on October 6th, 1941, included an obituary and tribute to the recently deceased Louis Brandeis (1856-1941), and two tales that illustrate friction between Mayor La Guardia (1882-1947) and Robert Moses (1888-1981). La Guardia was a standout figure at fires during his mayoralty (1934-1945). In the soon-to-be-republished book Naked City (1945) Weegee wrote that he made Mayor La Guardia “famous by always photographing him at fires.” Another story sheds light on the origins of J.F.K. Airport; construction started two years later and the airport in Queens opened in 1948.

Mayor Explains It’s Duty When He Goes to Fires

Mayor La Guardia didn’t like the crack made by Park Commissioner Robert Moses in a political speech:

“He takes up room at fires that might better be occupied by a pumper.”

Yesterday at memorial services for 44 firemen who died in the last year the Mayor sandwiched into his speech of condolence an explanation:

“I know the risks the men of the Fire Department take. I know it because it is my duty to know it, and no commander-in-chief can learn about actual dangers and risks from a book, even a report. I have yet to see one member of the Fire Department flinch in executing an order.”
PM, October 6, 1941, p. 14

Mayor Picks Site For Queens Airport

This expanding city is thinking of building yet another airport, for training flyers and for military use and, in a more peaceful period, to serve as the first air-freight terminal in the U.S.A. Mayor La Guardia, long a patron of airplanes, tipped his hand on the new proposal yesterday, saying that he and Robert S. Hinckley, Assistant Secretary of Commerce, had tentatively picked 1200 acres in the Idlewild section of Jamaica Bay, Queens, southwest of Laurelton, as the cite.

How this idea will be received by Park Commissioner Robert Moses, who has long fought to make Jamaica Bay and its environs a residential and recreational region, is not known; he was not consulted.
PM, October 6, 1941, p. 14

Weegee, Hoarding for Winter, October 5, 1941 (14898.1993)

Weegee, Hoarding for Winter, October 5, 1941 (14898.1993)

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Jessye Norman (1945-2019)

David Seidner, Jessye Norman, ca. 1995 (2007.65.5)

Yousuf Karsh, Jessye Norman, April 4, 1990 (1992.1330)

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