People - young and old - got all dressed up and staged costumed crawls through the streets. In Los Angeles, Chicago and other places around the country, newspapers ran stories of folks wearing elaborate masks and cloth veils. Thanksgiving mask balls were held in Cape Girardeau, Mo., Montesano, Wash. and points in between.
In New York City — where the tradition was especially strong — a local newspaper reported in 1911 that “Fantastically garbed youngsters and their elders were on every corner of the city.”
Thousands of folks ran rampant, one syndicated column noted. “Horns and rattles are worked overtime. The throwing of confetti and even flour on pedestrians is an allowable pastime.”
It must have been like a strange American dream.
In the early 1960s, Dallas became known as the City of Hate. The city was ground zero to many of the country’s major right-wing figures—and, on the other side, to Lee Harvey Oswald. (The era is the subject of an excellent new book by Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis, which is excerpted here.) But one thing that stands out today is how the era’s rhetoric—with a president from a new ethnic group derided as a socialist and a traitor—has in common with our own. A gallery of images from JFK-era Dallas:Air Force One arrives The president is greeted by a Confederate flag and anti-NAACP, anti-socialist signage.
Much More: Photos: Anti-JFK Protesters
Mark Strauss talks about the early anti vaccination movement and little it has changed. They use many of the same arguments today.
More than 150 years ago, the British government made smallpox vaccination compulsory, resulting in a massive political backlash. Opponents used tactics and arguments that are familiar today. If anything, the contemporary anti-vaxxer has regressed even further.
Widespread vaccination had begun in the early 1800s, after Edward Jenner presented his findings to the Royal Society of London in 1796, detailing his success in preventing smallpox by inoculation with infectious material. The Vaccination Act of 1853 made vaccination compulsory for all infants — parents who refused could face stiff fines and even imprisonment.
Widespread resistance began almost immediately, with violent riots in several towns — some of which didn’t even enforce the law. A group called the Anti-Compulsory Vaccination League was formed, publishing journals and pamphlets about the dangers of vaccination.
The note is just a single sheet gone yellow with age, typewritten and tightly spaced. It’s rife with typos and misspellings and sprinkled with attempts at emending them. Clearly, some effort went into perfecting the tone, that of a disappointed admirer, appalled by the discovery of “hidious [sic] abnormalities” in someone he once viewed as “a man of character.”
The word “evil” makes six appearances in the text, beginning with an accusation: “You are a colossal fraud and an evil, vicious one at that.” In the paragraphs that follow, the recipient’s alleged lovers get the worst of it. They are described as “filthy dirty evil companions” and “evil playmates,” all engaged in “dirt, filth, evil and moronic talk.” The effect is at once grotesque and hypnotic, an obsessive’s account of carnal rage and personal betrayal. “What incredible evilness,” the letter proclaims, listing off “sexual orgies,” “adulterous acts” and “immoral conduct.” Near the end, it circles back to its initial target, denouncing him as an “evil, abnormal beast.”
The unnamed author suggests intimate knowledge of his correspondent’s sex life, identifying one possible lover by name and claiming to have specific evidence about others. Another passage hints of an audiotape accompanying the letter, apparently a recording of “immoral conduct” in action. “Lend your sexually psychotic ear to the enclosure,” the letter demands. It concludes with a deadline of 34 days “before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”
“There is only one thing left for you to do,” the author warns vaguely in the final paragraph. “You know what it is.”
When the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. received this letter, nearly 50 years ago, he quietly informed friends that someone wanted him to kill himself — and he thought he knew who that someone was. Despite its half-baked prose, self-conscious amateurism and other attempts at misdirection, King was certain the letter had come from the F.B.I. Its infamous director, J. Edgar Hoover, made no secret of his desire to see King discredited. A little more than a decade later, the Senate’s Church Committee on intelligence overreach confirmed King’s suspicion.
Since then, the so-called “suicide letter” has occupied a unique place in the history of American intelligence — the most notorious and embarrassing example of Hoover’s F.B.I. run amok. For several decades, however, only significantly redacted copies of the letter were available for public scrutiny. This summer, while researching a biography of Hoover, I was surprised to find a full, uncensored version of the letter tucked away in a reprocessed set of his official and confidential files at the National Archives. The uncovered passages contain explicit allegations about King’s sex life, rendered in the racially charged language of the Jim Crow era. Looking past the viciousness of the accusations, the letter offers a potent warning for readers today about the danger of domestic surveillance in an age with less reserved mass media.
The F.B.I.’s entanglement with King began not as an inquiry into his sex life but as a “national security” matter, one step removed from King himself. In 1961, the bureau learned that a former Communist Party insider named Stanley Levison had become King’s closest white adviser, serving him as a ghostwriter and fund-raiser. The following year, Attorney General Robert Kennedy approved wiretaps on Levison’s home and office, and the White House advised King to drop his Communist friend. But thanks to their surveillance, the bureau quickly learned that King was still speaking with Levison. Around the same time, King began to criticize bureau practices in the South, accusing Hoover of failing to enforce civil rights law and of indulging the racist practices of Southern policemen.
Brooklyn, NY - A Borough Park woman who was instrumental in saving the life of the Bobover Rebbe during World War II is being remembered by her family for her courageous wartime efforts as well as her prodigious efforts as an artist.
Lola Lieber, author of the Holocaust memoir A World After This, died on Motzei Shabbos (Saturday night) and was buried on Sunday in the Bobover section of Washington Cemetery in Deans, New Jersey.
Mrs. Lieber was born to her parents Luzer and Shaindel Leser in Czecheslovakia on March 15, 1923. Born on Taanis Esther, her given name was Esther Leah, but she was known fondly as Leiku. One of five children, Mrs. Lieber spent several years of her childhood living with her maternal grandparents in Munkach, moving back to her parents and siblings in Krakow in 1937 after newly enacted laws forced her to leave Munkach.
Mrs. Lieber met her future husband Mechel at the wedding of a mutual cousin when she was just 15 years old.
“They took a liking to each other and the two families knew that they would get married, but the war broke out,” said Heshy Lieber, the oldest of Mrs. Lieber’s three children. “She was too young at the time to consider marriage so they waited.”
Both the Lieber and the Leser families were faced with the choice of staying in the Krakow ghetto or relocating to a smaller town in the hopes of living peacefully there. The Liebers elected to leave Krakow and, at their insistence, the Leser family joined them as well.
Despite deplorable conditions, the lack of food, and the desperate struggle for survival, Mechel and Lola Lieber got married in 1941.
In her book, Mrs. Lieber describes the wedding, an occasion that should have been filled with joy but was fraught with fear and despondency.
“I wept that night after the wedding,” wrote Mrs. Lieber. “I said that I had been married without a minyan, outside of a shul, had not worn a real wedding dress, and that our wedding feast was nasty and sour, and that his own mother would not loan me a tablecloth. When I had calmed down, Mechel put things into the perspective that was required for me to start down the road leading to me becoming the woman I would eventually become.”
Mechel Lieber assured his wife that better times were on their way.
“We will survive this era. It is temporary. There will be a world after this. And, if we don’t survive, Hashem forbid it, but if we do not, at least, Lola, at least we have been married.”
As circumstance worsened, the Lieber and Leser families moved to the Polish town of Bochnia.
“There made an aktzia, rounded up people, and everyone tried to hide,” said Heshy Lieber. “They pulled out my grandmother and two kids and they shot them. My parents, who were hiding in a different bunker came out later and they found them.”
Mechel Lieber and his wife snuck out in the middle of the night to bury the dead, carting them away on a pushcart. Despite the bitter cold and the snow, the young couple laid their murdered family to rest, digging their gravse in the frozen ground using a single shovel and a spoon.
In a video interview, Mrs. Lieber recalled how she had given her young sister in law Marilka a tiny doll.
“She still had it in the hand,” said Mrs. Lieber, who captured the emotional moment in a 1950 painting. “She was killed. She still held onto the doll. I don’t know, when I think, how did we do it? How did we survive it?”
A short time later a recount of Jews was held in Bochnia and Mrs. Lieber was asked where she was born. Replying that she was born in Munkach, she was excused and asked by the Gestapo commander to return the next day.
“She was a pretty young girl and everyone was scared what would happen,” said Heshy Lieber.
In her memoirs, Mrs. Lieber recalled being questioned by a commander named Schomburg, who spoke to her in Czechoslovakian, Hungarian and German to verify her claims of being from Munkach. With her excellent command of languages and her years spent in Munkach, Mrs. Lieber was able to pass herself off as a non-Polish citizen.
“He asked if I liked goulash and certain Hungarian pastries,” wrote Mrs. Lieber. “I knew all of these things, of course, and we chatted about them.”
After being questioned whether she knew a particular Hungarian song and answering in the affirmative, the commander ripped the yellow star from Mrs. Lieber’s clothing and told her she was free to leave the ghetto. Not content to walk away with her own freedom, Mrs. Lieber explained that she had other family members who were also from Munkach.
“She was told they were also free,” said Heshy Lieber.
An important post by Booth Gunter at the Southern Poverty Law Center, on claims of Voter Fraud and attempts to disenfranchise minorities. Make sure you also watch the video where Dorothy Guilford explains what it was like for her back in the days of poll taxes in the Jim Crow south.
Dorothy Guilford has a simple message for politicians who enact laws making it harder for minorities, the poor and the elderly to vote: “I don’t think that’s right.”
She should know. She’s seen it all before.
Born in 1920 in Montgomery, Alabama, Guilford lived through most of the Jim Crow years, when laws discouraged African Americans like her, as well as poor white people, from voting.
When she first became eligible to vote, she had to take a literacy test and pay a poll tax of $1.50, a sum worth about $25 today. Anyone who couldn’t read or couldn’t pay the tax, which accumulated, couldn’t vote. Most white voters, however - those whose ancestors were on the voting rolls prior to the Civil War - were exempt from the test.
Saturday morning, March 7, 1959
An icy rain pelted the Grand Concourse, so I waited in the vestibule of the apartment building for the taxi. From the rear window, the woman gestured for me to hurry, and I ran across the sidewalk without an umbrella.
I had only been to the Bronx a few times. I had no idea where I was.
The cab stopped at a high-rise apartment building. My escort brought me to the 12th floor and left as the door opened. A fiftysomething blonde woman invited me into the well-furnished apartment.
I could see into the dining room, the table covered with a white sheet. “First things first,” she said. “Do you have the money?” I handed her the cash and she counted it: five $50 bills. More than I earned in four weeks.
A tall man came toward me, managing a weak smile. I had been told he was an Italian doctor waiting for American licensing. He only knew my first name; I referred to him only as “Doctor.”
The abortions are part of my own history, and that of our 55-year marriage. I have no regrets about them, no wistful wondering of what might have been. Our children are grown now, and we have eight amazing grandchildren. They live in a post-Roe v. Wade world, and have access to effective, affordable birth control. I’ve told them all the story of my abortion; to me, it’s a matter of life and death. I think about the girls I watched die in 1958, their families, the lives they never lived. I think about the button I wore in 1970: Never Again!
A little over 22 years ago, shooting broke out on a lonely Idaho mountaintop known as Ruby Ridge. The violence left a U.S. marshal and a 14-year-old boy dead, led to the death of the boy’s mother in the 11-day standoff that followed, and became, in the end, a seminal lesson in how law enforcement should not act in such situations.
Earlier this week, Retro Report, a critically acclaimed video documentary series that is distributed by The New York Times, released a thoughtful piece re-examining the 1992 FBI siege of a cabin inhabited by white supremacist Randy Weaver and his family. In the aftermath of that siege, which helped spark the militia movement of the 1990s, Weaver and another man who was in the cabin were acquitted of the murder of Marshal William Degan, and the federal government ultimately paid the surviving Weavers $3.1 million to settle their countervailing legal claims.
The film features Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center and editor of its investigative magazine, Intelligence Report. “The Ruby Ridge standoff became a kind of founding myth of the radical right,” Potok says in the film. “It not only made the government look bad, it was bad. People, whatever views they had, whatever illegal activities they had [engaged in], should not be shot down by government snipers when they are not actively threatening the life of somebody.”
Duck and cover!
30 October 1961: Major Andre E. Durnovtsev, aircraft commander of a specially modified Tupolev Tu-95V “Bear A” bomber, dropped a RDS-220 three-stage radiation implosion bomb, weighing 27,000 kilograms, from an altitude of 10,500 meters (34,449 feet) over the Mityushikha Bay test range on Novaya Zemlya. The bomb, variously known as “Big Ivan” or “Tsar Bomba” was retarded by parachute to allow the Bear to escape the blast effects. At 4,000 meters (13,123 feet) above the surface, the bomb detonated.
Major Durnovtsev’s Tu-95 was approximately 45 kilometers (28 miles) away at the time of the explosion. At the same time, a secret United States Air Force KC-135A instrumentation aircraft, Speedlight, had flown closer to gather data about the air burst. It was close enough that its special antiradiation paint was scorched. After the data was analyzed by the Foreign Weapons Evaluation Panel (the “Bethe Panel”) the RDS-220 yield was estimated at 57 megatons. This was the largest nuclear weapon detonation in history. It was also the “cleanest”, with 97% of the energy yield produced by fusion. Relative to its size, very little fallout was produced.
Tsar Bomba fireball over Novaya Zemlya, 30 October 1961. The fireball has reached a diameter of 5 miles (8 kilometers).
All buildings in the town of Severny, 55 kilometers (34.2 miles) from Ground Zero, were destroyed. Wooden buildings as far as 200 kilometers (124 miles) were destroyed or heavily damaged. A visible shock wave in the air was seen at a distance of 700 kilometers (435 miles). The shock wave from the explosion traveled around the world three times.
The RDS-220 was 8 meters (26.25 feet) long, with a diameter of 2.1 meters (6.89 feet). It weighed 27,000 kilograms (59,525 pounds).
More: Boneyard Safari