Hard times for numbers bookies in the ’70s

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As the ’60s subsided and the ’70s ensued, the whole tenor of the numbers racket in Jersey City changed. Before, being a bookie to a large degree was a licensed profession. With the appropriate law enforcement tithing, arrests generally were avoided. And if someone with a badge saw themselves as the Hudson County Eliot Ness, judges were open minded — after the sight of an open wallet. This all changed when gambling cases began to go in front of Judge Lerner; suddenly jail time became expected instead of unknown. Locals in the biz thought that this was due to the state having started a legal lottery and so wanted to eliminate competition.

And for an aftershock there was a police officer with the dream of retiring as the richest man in Puerto Rico. To reach this goal, he squeezed bookies — now no longer with any reason to be optimistic about a day in court — for all that they were worth. As this wasn’t enough to fund a grandiose retirement plan, the crooked cop then took over the numbers betting himself. This he did by locking up the bookies who’d paid for protection. The mobsters valued honor and so said nothing.

Success didn’t satisfy the wayward policeman’s greed — if anything it increased it. A decade or so later there was big money to be had in cocaine and this seemed just as easy to grab as had been the illegal lottery. But this new environment’s compass was the law of the jungle, not the code of silence and the deceiver very quickly was himself deceived. Expecting to meet a “good” customer the holder of regal ambitions found himself greeted by a far from understanding group from the prosecutor’s strike force and was ordered by a superior officer to “empty your pockets.”

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The extended family of a significant Jersey City illegal numbers lottery figure like my uncle Gus enjoyed prosperity by association.

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The extended family of a significant Jersey City illegal numbers lottery figure like my uncle Gus enjoyed prosperity by association. Anyone out or work — or just experiencing a tight week — was welcome to bounce in for a substantial supper.

As Gus made his rounds about Jersey City, Little Italy and even the entire Metro area, he’d stop at bakeries and fruit stands and buy whatever caught his eye. This might mean boxes full of delectables. On the way home, he’d make visits to his circle and present the items as gifts. Whatever he brought to the house, he’d send the dinner guests home with — along with a big plate of leftovers so they’d have something to put in their fridge.

Before Christmas, everybody got two large babkas, one with cheese and one without, (I still remember the happy sight of those large light grey cardboard boxes.) and a container of chrusciki, the fried dough with powdered sugar Polish pastry.

And for those without any income, there also was cash to be had. Students and others of the extended unemployed were able to expect an annual call. Gus would have a winning horse race ticket — either his or some Syndicate associate similarly allergic to declaring with the IRS. The tickets were cashed in the name of the financially challenged who then received 10% of the take as a thank you.

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List of Local History Web Sites

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By John Hallanan

The oldest such organization in the country dating back to the night of Lincoln’s death. Assisted in having the route of the Lincoln Highway marked in the County for the Highway’s 100th anniversary. Sponsors a presentation for the Lincoln High School Jr. ROTC of reenactors portraying the 26th US Colored Troops. On February 12 every year there is a ceremony at the monument on the Blvd. at the Park then a dinner at the Casino. Details are in the website.

Founded by John Gomez, a teacher in Jersey City, they are interested in landmarking and preserving Jersey City’s architectural past. Members conduct walking tours in different sections of the City. Sponsor Preservation Month in May to give awards for preservation efforts in the City.

Family history oriented, they assist people looking for past records of their family. They also construct databases for general research. History articles in their blog.

The George Washington Commemorative Society for the last 30 years has been involved with the preservation of the Apple Tree House near Bergen Square. It participates in ceremonies commemorating the Revolutionary War battle of Paulus Hook in Jersey City. On President’s Day they will be at the Apple Tree House at 11:00 AM. August 19 is the anniversary of the battle of Paulus Hook. The Paulus Hook Association usually sponsors a small parade and a presentation at the monument at Grand and Washington.

The Morris Canal Greenway project in Jersey City which is waiting for funding .The canal reached here in 1836 and closed in 1924, you can walk the filled-in canal bed behind Country Village. The available funding allocated for this study of the Canal was used in planning the project. The proposal for the actual construction of the pathways and greenways did not receive the expected funding in 2014. We hope to have a tour in the Spring. Berry Lane Park along Garfield Ave. is built on part of it. More portions can be seen behind Tsigonia Paints on Communipauw Ave.

Sites.google.com/site/morriscanaljc website of the Morris Canal in Jersey City, work in progress. Bus tour of the Canal in Jersey City to be scheduled.

The Lincoln Highway, 100 years old in 2013, ran along Kennedy Blvd from Union City through Jersey City making a turn to the West through Lincoln Park and out to San Francisco. You can see pictures of some of the cars on the Centennial Tour on the website for the Lincoln Association of Jersey City that is mentioned above.

website of the NJ Chapter of the Lincoln Highway Association. Bus tour of the Highway in Hudson County to be rescheduled.

Celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and the contribution of NJ residents. Several books have been published and are available online. The official commemoration is now complete so I don’t know if there will be updates or how long the publications will be available.

Local museum.

Website for the Weehawken Historical Society.

Indexed list of Jersey City historic places and people

The official website to commemorate the 350th year of New Jersey.
In addition, if you GOOGLE “jersey city african american museum”, you will go to a Jersey City site that will then get you to an interesting site operated by local computer expert, history buff, and book exchanger, Anthony Olszewski. The museum is the only museum in Jersey City, the other City sponsored museum is closed due to funding problems.

Website for Bayonne History

Save the railroad embankment on 6th Street in Jersey City

NJ Military Museum in Sea Girt, took a beating from Sandy Hook

The 69th Infantry, last surviving unit of the Irish Brigade of the Civil War, now a unit in the NY National Guard, much military history of the unit

Veterans Corps of the 69th, speakers on for a treat.

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One man, one vote by David Friedland

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By David Friedland

My father told me that in all the years he served as an Assemblyman he was not able , not once, to get any of the Bills he sponsored released from committee , much less voted upon. When I was first elected, I was determined to break the back of that system.

For most of pre-modern New Jersey, the Senate was controlled by Republicans. There were 21 counties and 21 Senators. The smallest county, Cape May had 58,000 or so voters. The Senate Republican Caucus was ruled over by Senator Hap Farley. He needed only 7 votes from the 7 Southern Counties to block all legislation. His 7 Senatorial votes were elected by voters in Counties having in total less population than Essex and Hudson combined. Thus for most of the history of New Jersey , it was impossible for the large urban areas to get any legislation passed. The minimum wage, and most legislation granting urban aid, languished while bill after bill passed appropriating money to kill Gypsy Moths, or to build highways, or schools in the Southern Counties. That is how the Republicans held on to their power.

As you know in 1963-1964 I started the One Man One Vote case that changed all that. I was a young lawyer. I asked Chris Jackman (who was then a client of our law firm) to serve as Plaintiff. He hesitated, fearing to look ridiculous. In the days following the filing of the lawsuit, we were ridiculed in the State Newspapers. The Jersey Journal and Star Ledger carried comments by some of the State’s most prominent attorneys claiming that my lawsuit was frivolous foolish vexatious litigation instituted by a boy lawyer. They opined that I had NO chance of winning. After all New Jersey had the little federal system. How could a Court possibly declare unconstitutional the very system permitted for federal elections?

Jackman twice threatened to withdraw. Later he claimed the suit was his own idea.

I argued the suit before the New Jersey Supreme Court. I left feeling like a nudist in a mosquito colony punctured by the Courts deft questions, I was deflated and certain I had lost.

The Chief Justice called my father and congratulated him “You should be proud of your son, Jake- he made an excellent argument”

I called the Chief the following day to complain. I told him that I was very upset that he said I had done well. He asked “Why?”

I said ” Mr. Chief Justice, when I left the Court, I was depressed. I went home. I told my wife that I done miserably and certainly lost the case and as a result ruined my career. Beth never questions my legal opinions. Now my father will tell her about your call. My wife will never trust my opinions again.

He laughed.

Shortly after the argument the Senate adopted a weight voting rule. Under it, we would still have 21 Senators but some Senators would have twice or even three times the vote of others. I filed another suit to have that declared unconstitutional.

The Chief asked me to describe the progress of the Legislature in obeying the Court’s Mandate.

I said ” Chief Justice, the legislature has not moved forward, nor has it moved backwards. It moved sideways, slowly…. like a crab!”

The Court declared the weighted voting system unconstitutional. The rest is history. Both houses of the legislature were redistricted. The Senate was increased to 40. Hudson received additional assemblymen and senators. For the first time in New Jersey’s History the large urban counties
had legislative power and shortly took control of the assembly with Maurice Brady (another of my clients ) as Speaker. The suit actually changed the dynamics of South Jersey politics as well and in recent years Democrats were elected in counties that had never failed to elect republicans. Indeed many of the Democrats who later castigated me for the deal I made with Tom Kean, were elected to seats created by the suit I brought.

Hap Farley era had ended forever. Or so I thought!

I reintroduced updated versions of most of the bills my father had fought for unsuccessfully during his 12 year stint in the legislature, including a number of my own.

And waited.

I could not get my bills out of committee for a vote.

Maury Brady , my own client, and Speaker would not allow my bills to be voted upon.

So, I did the unthinkable. I challenged and then upbraided the Speaker publicly, and literally caused parliamentary chaos. It became so heated, Brady complained to Kenny. Kenny called me into the hospital. Asked me what I was doing. I told him. He laught. He said “Go for it kid!

The result? Bill Musto reintroduced some of my bills under his own name, and allowed me to cosponsor them.

They passed!

In or about the same time I was retained by Lenny Bruce to argue the appeal of his conviction for pornography in New York.
He wanted me to argue that the only word in his act that was NOT obscene was the word “mother-fucker” He said he uttered it in the idiom of the negroes, and as such it was a term of affection. He told me. “The only word in my act that is obscene is the word ‘BUT’. It is the universal subtractor. It denies meaning whenever it is used. I love you….but. I would do that for you but……..”

# # #


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Bryna Raeburn of Jersey City

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Bryna Raeburn was a remarkable voice over actress who was born and raised in Jersey City. She performed in many radio dramas, The Mad Magazine TV Special (1974) the audio version of Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium is the Massage and a large number of commercials.

The Jersey City Heights being what it is, Bryna Raeburn is perhaps best remembered here as the Josephine XV who did the follow-up record to They’re Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!

Bryna Raeburn lived one block away from us. One day while waiting for a taxi at Journal Square, my mother noticed Bryna at the end of the line and so suggested that she ride with us. In the cab, my mother asked Bryna Raeburn about her work. What followed was like a daytime seance with a multitude of different voices filling the air.

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Jersey City Campaign Buttons And Graphics

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Some Campaign Buttons From The Kenny Era

Another Kenny Button Shown Actual Size

John R. Longo Was Jailed Over What Was Generally Considered To Be A Fabricated Charge

A Glimmer Of A Forgotten Scandal?

A Set From The Late 60’s And Early 70’s

For Over Fifty Years, Nick Baffa Sold The Graphic Weapons To All Sides!

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Victor Mravlag, pastor in an Online Deliverance ministry, is from North Hudson

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Victor Mravlag is from North Hudson, NJ. I’d not thought of him in nearly forty years, but for some unknown reason his name came to mind last week. I typed it into Google — that wonder of the invisible world and learned that Victor now is a pastor with an Online Deliverance ministry.

Below is a Link to a Podcast from 2011:
He often appears on live episodes at the same Site.

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The Greene Street Boat Club in Jersey City

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The Green Street Boat Club in Jersey City circa 1973 -- Photo by Jack Sember

The Greene Street Boat Club in Jersey City circa 1973 — Photo by Jack Sember

For generations, the Greene Street Boat Club was the hub for Downtown Jersey City fishing enthusiasts. Though the club did not have title to the property, members maintained squatter rights to their docks.

Supposedly to make way for development, Mayor Gerald McCann (during his first term) evicted the Greene Street Boat Club.

Now part of Peninsula Park, this section of Waterfront remains unused.

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Major developer Web Sites hacked?

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Lefrak Web Site hacked?
It strikes me as sorta strange that there are billionaire big shots playing Monopoly with the real thing who don’t bother to do a Google search on themselves — or pay someone to do it for them. And another sour note, I wanted to tag LeFrak in a Facebook post — either the business or one of the family — to give them a heads up. Strange to relate, the LeFraks seem to be Social Media-phobic with the only presence on Facebook for LeFrak City — with not but 194 Likes one might add.

Panepinto Properties Web Site hacked?
While on the topic of hacked real estate Sites — though I posted it in the Jersey City Politics Facebook Group like WAY BACK WHEN — Google STILL thinks that the Panepinto Properties Web Site has been hacked. The Panepintos — both business and principals — ain’t showin’ up when I try to tag them. Are theys all Social Media off the grid, too? Now the Panepintos used to be big on Google searches. (They’d email me when people were talkin’ nasty about one of ’em on my Hudson Count Politics Message Boards.) I wonder if the Panepintos don’t bother doing Web searches anymore or what? Robert Torricelli ain’t in either as far as Facebook goes. Too bad. Maybe he’d know who’s supposed to be watchin’ the shop for the Panepinto Properties Web Site goes.

One BIG developer plus one big developer equals two hacked Sites. Does this — like — indicate a trend? Is it only 3rd rate work letting some silly spammers in? Or, could this be industrial espionage?

And in the CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER department, for both of the heavy hitters, not a single lawyer, not a single contractor, not a single copy writer, not a single photographer, not a single architect, not a single engineer. . . not one of the army for hire of professionals firing away with invoices night and day ever did a Google search and noticed THIS SITE MAY BE HACKED. Or, they saw it but didn’t bother to say it? Or, they dutifully brought it to the attention of their organization contact — who didn’t do anything? Or, there really is no problem, but Google is bad mouthing both LeFrak and Panepinto?

panepinto properties whois
And dig this for the PanepintoProperties.com Domain registration — an invalid email address.

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Mayor Frank Hague’s New Year’s Day

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Mayor Frank Hague's New Year's Day early morning reception -- January 1, 1947, the last year of Hague's rule

This photo dates from January 1, 1947 – the last year of Hague’s rule.

Mayor Frank Hague (right), a teetotaler, held an early morning reception on New Year’s Day.

His followers had the choice of imbibing moderately the night before or suffering silently through the ceremony.

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