A Weekly Column of Trivia and Observations By David Ansel Weiss
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
When the first municipal baths were established in Brooklyn in the 19th century, they were open every day except Sunday. Four days a week they were for males, two days for females.
How Walt Whitman described the almost two dozen breweries that once thrived in Bushwick in the 19th century: “They are the source of the mighty outpourings of ale and lager beer, refreshing the thirsty lovers of those liquids in hot and cold weather.”
Of the three major Coney IsIand amusement parks a century ago, only one — Charles Tilyou’s Steeplechase Park — was fenced. Once inside, the only way to get out was through the main entrance.
Unlike most Brooklyn neighborhoods where the prominent residents were of Dutch descent, in Brooklyn Heights the dominant families were New Englanders. The first Pierrepont in America, for example, was the original minister of colonial New Haven, Connecticut.
It’s hard to believe, but prizefighting was against the law in Brooklyn and the rest of New York State until 1898 when the law was repealed. Until then if there was a fight it was either illegal or held on private property.
The information published in the Jerusalem Post several years ago that said Winston Churchill was part Jewish because his father-in law Brooklyn’s Leonard Jerome was a member of the Jewish faith is considered absurd. However, not unbelievable — and even several times repeated by Winston himself — is the current thinking among historians that his mother Jennie Jerome had Iroquois blood in her.
There couldn’t have been a more dismal ending on September 24, 1957, the last day the Dodgers played at Ebbets Field, when the last batter — he was Gil Hodges — went to bat and struck out.
If anyone asks you which New York City mayor once studied — but didn’t finish — preparing for the priesthood, you can answer William Jay Gaynor, who served as Mayor from 1910 to 1913.
In 1914 when Brooklyn’s Vitagraph Film Studio released its movie epic “Battle Cry of Peace,” it advertised it as being the story of Hiram Maxim, the inventor of the machine gun, and said it had a peace-loving theme. But leading pacifists condemned it as being militaristic and Henry Ford claimed it was propaganda financed by the munitions industry.
Of all the well-known writers associated with Brooklyn, none was more prolific than Irwin Shaw, who once lived in Bushwick and was a graduate of Brooklyn College. He not only wrote plays like “Bury The Dead,” best-selling novels like “The Young Lions,” scenarios for hit movies like “Commandos Strike At Dawn,” and award-winning short stories like “Girls In Their Summer Dresses” and “Sailor From the Bremen,” but also several long-running television series.