Weegee Wednesday: Bowery Savings Banks

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Weegee (1899-1968), [Billie Dauscha and Mabel Sidney, Bowery entertainers, New York], 1944

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Weegee (1899-1968), Naked City, 1945, pp. 150-151 (“Ladies keep their money in their stockings…”)

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PM, July 18, 1945

In an early review of Naked City, PM editor John Lewis wrote:

It is unfair to use a single illustration as typical, but I am using the one in the next column of the Bowery floozy’s gam because I like it, and because I like Weegee’s caption: Ladies keep their money in their stockings… PM, July 18, 1945.

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Weegee (1899-1968), “The Bowery Savings Bank,” 1944 (2022.1993)

There were a few Bowery Savings Banks in Weegee’s world. A photo: Billie Dauscha’s right leg, with cash stuffed in her stocking and her shiny shoe, at Sammy’s Bowery Follies. (“At 267 Bowery, sandwiched in between Missions and quarter-a-night flop houses, is ‘Sammy’s,’ the poor man’s Stork Club. Naked City, p. 138.) And a building: the bank at 130 Bowery, five blocks south of Sammy’s and four blocks and a five minute walk from Weegee’s “combination crime museum, photo studio, and love nest behind police headquarters.” (Weegee by Weegee, p.98.) The savings account began on December 20, 1943 with a balance of $600 (same buying power as $8,223.50 in 2016), reached its acme in June 1946 with a balance of $4,754.89 (same buying power as $57,817.27 in 2016). Naked City, published in July 1945, sold well, was very successful and was lucrative for Weegee. Fortunately he didn’t keep his money in his socks, it was deposited in an interest-bearing savings account. The account was closed on December 23, 1947. “I had decided to leave New York. I was off to Hollywood. I thought that 1947 would be a year of new discovery for me.” (Weegee by Weegee, p.98.)

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Bowery Savings Bank, [Arthur Fellig’s Bowery Savings Bank Book], December 1943 – December 1947

Weegee Wednesday is an occasional series exploring, or just enjoying, the life and work of Weegee.

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