Thursday, April 23, 2015
Much has been written about the criminal mastermind Arnold Rothstein, his fondness for subdued but well-made clothing, as well as his penchant for educating his underworld acolytes in matters pertaining to the cloth, among other things. Here, then, is a description of the Great Brain's attire at the time of the shooting that took place at the Park Central Hotel in midtown, which ultimately proved fatal for Rothstein. The notes are from the autopsy of Dr. Charles Norris, first chief medical examiner of New York City at the time of Rothstein's death in 1927, and were reprinted in Nick Tosches excellent piece on Rothstein, "A Jazz Age Autopsy," which appeared in the May 2005 edition of Vanity Fair. You can find the full article here.
High tan shoes, marked Robert Whyte, 38 West 45th Street, New York.
Fancy multicolored tie. Label: F. Georges, Boulevard Des Capucines, Paris, France.
Blue Garters. Lisle socks with white feet.
Turned down blue Lane 15 1/2 collar, laundry mark 2633 (covered with dry vomitus).
Blue coat with red pinstripes. Label: Wm. Wallach, New York. (With vomitus on the collar and shoulders.) There is a single hole just below the front edge of the lower pocket. No flares. Trousers of the same material. On the right side, upper portion, there is also a hole which passes through the label of the tailor attached to the pocket: Wm. Wallach, New York, New York Custom Tailor. Arnold Rothstein, 10/29/27.
Silk shirt. Label: Harry Beck, Custom Shirt Manufacturer. With the initials A.R. and a hole in a corresponding position.
Rothstein, of course, knew the game and took his chances like everyone else. Nevertheless, there is something sad about a dandy who has had his new suit damaged beyond repair after acquiring it from the tailor less than a month ago.
Friday, April 17, 2015
A few people have asked recently why I haven't been posting much of anything for the last few months. The truth of the matter is, I've been working on a historical fiction novel that's been taking up most of my spare time. I'm hoping to have it completed in the fall, but its still very much a work in progress so we'll see how it goes. As many of you can probably guess, it has quite a bit to do with racketeers in and around East Harlem and the Bronx, but more on that later.
While in the course of doing research about some of the events that took place around the city back then, its interesting to take a walk sometimes to see if some of the buildings or other landmarks are still in existence, which isn't often the case in New York City. One building that I was surprised to find still around is the old New York Polyclinic Hospital. Located at 50th street between 8th and 9th Avenues, the building houses loft apartments now. However, in 1935, Madison Square Garden was on the south side of 50th street and the hospital was just a few blocks west of the north end of Times Square and and a stone's throw from Damon Runyon's Broadway.
So it was that on the night of October 23, 1935, Marty Krompier was brought over to the Polyclinic with gun shot wounds to both shoulders, the stomach, and the crotch area. Of course, that was the night that Arthur Flegenheimer, also known as the Dutchman, and three of his associates were shot and left for dead across the river at the Palace Chophouse in Newark. About an hour after that massacre, Marty the wolf was sitting down to his regular haircut and a shave at the Hollywood barber shop (located in a subway arcade near Times Square), when a couple of guys walked in and tried to put Marty on the spot.
When asked about all the commotion later on, Marty played coy with the cops but at that time he was keeping an eye on the Dutchman's interests in the Big Town (Schultz having been declared persona non grata by Mayor LaGuardia after his acquittal upstate on tax evasion charges). Krompier had recently been promoted to the position by the recent disappearance of one Abraham "Bo" Weinberg, the celebrated gunman and former right hand man to Schultz who had apparently become too close for comfort with one Charles "Lucky" Luciano (Weinberg's cozy relations with Luciano went way back, perhaps all the way back to 1931 when he was allegedly one of the gunmen that went into the New York Central Building above Times Square and put an end to Salvatore Maranzano). So they put the kimono on Bo and that was the last anyone ever heard of him. Krompier took the promotion in stride until that night at the Chophouse, when the Schultz organization went belly up.
Fortunately for Krompier, he actually survived the shooting that night, thanks in large part to the Doctors on call at Polyclinic, who worked tirelessly in an around-the-clock effort to save him.