Celluloid Strangers by Eric Wasserman

Four brothers leave their home in the northeast in the 1930′s and converge in Los Angeles after WWII. A lawyer, a mobster, a screenwriter and a shopkeeper, each of these men makes a profound impact on the emerging world of postwar California as they deal with the impact their shared history has had upon them.

Celluloid Strangers evokes a time and place in American life: Los Angeles before and after the HUAC hearings, blacklistings, and betrayals.


January 1948 — Los Angeles, California

Morris stared at the sun reflecting off the swimming pool’s surface, wondering what his fraternal twin brother, Benny, needed to see him about. 1938 had faded into 1948 the way a baby yawns; ten years without a word and just the day before the telephone rang.

The pool was clear, like recently cleaned coffee table glass. It was one of those Los Angeles Sundays that reinforced Morris’ conviction to never return to the concrete-sky winters of his childhood. The shadows of palm trees and sequoias in his Beverly Glen backyard collided on the tan patio tiles, creating borders for the ants and spiders that crept out from the rose bushes. A lawnmower from the neighbor’s yard diluted the radio news he had been listening to. The air smelled of fertilizer and the smoke from his Lucky Strike. His lips tasted of the scotch he was sipping.

Morris loved the pool more than the actual house, even though at thirty-five he still carried his childhood embarrassment from not knowing how to swim. As kids in Dorchester, Massachusetts, he and Benny had relieved themselves from the annual August heat by removing their shoes and dipping bare feet into the pond at Franklin Park. Now the pond was dried up, gone—never to be seen again. Morris had thought the same of Benny, until the day before.

When Morris first came to California he told himself that one day he would have a swimming pool of his own to dip his feet into. He now looked about this backyard and felt he had “made good,” as his father, Henry, might have said.

A turn of the wrist, a look to the new Bulova timepiece his wife, Helen, had given him just a month before for Christmas. Benny was late. Morris held his breath; hoped his brother might not show. The lawnmower stopped and the news from the large Philco radio box facing out the patio door could be heard clearly. Helen had bought the wood-sided Philco during the war, when Morris was away, but it still had perfect reception.


Morris looked to his drink. Empty. The news made him wonder about his younger brother, Simon, a contracted screenwriter with Sunrise. Mostly, the lawyer in Morris took over; he wasn’t really interested in Simon, he was curious to learn if his brother knew any of the ten indicted. He was certain his younger brother was no Red.

Another look to his wristwatch. Where the hell is he? Morris thought. He had no desire to see Benny, but he wanted him to be on time. Morris smothered his cigarette in the ashtray, took his empty glass and left the umbrella shade of the patio table to pour another drink inside, trying to recall anything about the last time he had been with Benny.

Ten years. It might as well have been ten decades. It had taken Morris a few moments to recognize his twin’s voice on the telephone the day before. The last time he had heard that voice was when Benny moved from Boston to Los Angeles in 1938. Benny had slept on the couch of Morris and Helen’s one-bedroom apartment on Wilshire Boulevard for two weeks, living out of a suitcase with three changes of clothes and a shaving kit. Their mother had been dead for years. There was nothing left in Boston. Benny had been the last of the four brothers to let go. When he arrived out west, Helen was working as a receptionist in an accounting office; Morris was finishing his law degree as a night school student. After two weeks, Benny said he had made contact with old friends from Dorchester and that he was moving. He didn’t mention where.

Morris knew who his brother had contacted and had said nothing. After that, the last Gandelman boy to move to California vanished. In the time since then Morris had completed law school and heard rumors about Benny; some he wanted to know, others he wished he had not. But he never saw his twin.

Morris went to the front room of the house, stopped and thought of how far he had come in ten years. He worked for almost nothing those first years out of law school and held to the idea that if he could just make a name for himself—a decent, respectable name—he would one day “make good.” When he had told Helen he was going to run for Los Angeles City Council five months ago, she was perplexed. She never thought her husband had a chance. No Jew—not even a lawyer who had taken his gentile wife’s surname—was going to be elected. She tried to conceal her frustration when Morris dreamed aloud: “If I make it to city council I can run for District Attorney, then State Legislature, maybe even Governor after that. If I become Governor, anything’s possible.” Helen admired her husband, but they were living in a two-bedroom with poor plumbing then. Still, she made telephone calls and passed out information literature on sidewalks after work, figuring that every man had something he needed to attempt. She rode the bus from neighborhood to neighborhood; going door to door in her best pin-dots on cinder red dress she bought at Bullock’s. She campaigned as if Morris was running for President of the United States.

When her husband won in November, she was shocked, but not as much as when the mayor announced that Morris G. Adams was to head the City Commission on Crime Enforcement.

This finally gave Morris the joy of telling Helen that she could quit her job. More than that, it gave him the respectability he had desired his whole life. He would have a reputation for being tough on crime. Helen kissed her husband and immediately informed him that he would be supporting somebody else as well: she was pregnant.

Three months later, just after 1948 arrived, Benny had called.

“Got your number from the telephone listings. I heard the good news,” Benny had said in a gravel-raked voice. “Congratulations, Mori. God, you’ve been married almost eleven years now. We were starting to get worried—no kids yet—thought there might be bad blood between you and Helen.” Benny laughed. Morris did not.

Morris had hung on how Benny had said, “we.” He did not want to speculate.

“It’s been a long time, Benny,” Morris had struggled to say.

“Long time, yes,” Benny had said. “We should see each other.”

“Sure. Maybe sometime in February.”

“No, Mori, we should see each other as soon as possible. You free tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow?” Morris had said, more to himself.

“Great, tomorrow it is.” And the clap of Benny’s hand on a countertop rang through the receiver. “I hear your new house has a swimming pool, is that right?”

Morris and Helen had bought the house two weeks before Christmas. They never thought they would ever be able to live in Beverly Glen. Baldwin Hills or Silver Lake had always been the practical foresight.

“Yes, we have a pool,” Morris had said.

“Big man now, that’s what you are, big man living in Beverly Glen. Who would have thought back in Dorchester that one day Mori Gandelman would have a pool? See you tomorrow at noon.” Benny hung up. He had not asked for directions to the house.


Eric Wasserman was born and raised in Portland, Oregon, where he attended Lewis & Clark College. He holds an MFA from Emerson College in Boston and is the author of a collection of short stories, The Temporary Life (La Questa Press, 2005). His short story, “He’s No Sandy Koufax,” won First Prize in the 13th Annual David Dornstein Creative Writing Contest, and his work has appeared in many publications, including Glimmer Train and Poets & Writers Magazine Online.  Celluloid Strangers, Eric’s first novel, is set in late 1940s Los Angeles and tackles the anti-Semitic nature of the early McCarthy witch hunts in Old Hollywood. He is currently working on a new novel based on the biblical story of Abraham being instructed by God to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Eric lives in Ohio with his wife, fantasy writer Thea Ledendecker, and is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Akron.

Click here for an interview with Eric Wasserman, Author of Celludoid Strangers

Click here to buy: Celluloid Strangers

One Hot January by J. Conrad Guest

In One Hot January, Joe January, an emotionally aloof private investigator from the South Bronx, gets more than he bargains for when he uncovers this seemingly impossible plot of time travel and alternate realities by grudgingly agreeing to help a pretty young woman locate her missing father. Her father, a Professor of Archeology from Columbia College, must prevent the secret location of Hitler’s body, which lies in a cryogenic state awaiting a cure for cancer, from falling into the wrong hands. By the end of the novel, January is thrust one hundred years into the future, where he must survive on a century-old sagacity as he endeavors to find his way back to his own time and the woman he loves but lacked the courage to tell. The tale concludes in January’s Thaw, to be released later this year.


I stood on the brake pedal. The front brakes bit harder than the rear brakes; a high-pitched squeal sounded as the tires fought against the car’s forward momentum. I heard Melissa’s quick inhalation of air and her single syllable exclamation “Oh! ” underscore Lance’s “Jee-sus, Joe, what are you doing?” as he braced himself against the dashboard.

The rear tires lost traction amid blue smoke and the back end of the Ford started to pass me on the right. I allowed the car to come around ninety degrees before correcting into the skid. A moment later the Ford came to a halt in a position perpendicular to the flow of traffic.

Through the windshield I watched traffic in the southbound lane flow past. In the rearview mirror I saw Melissa’s surprised face. A ragged line of bright red streaked her right cheek; she had been applying lipstick when I’d locked the brakes. Beyond her face, through the rear window, I could see the Mapes Gates of Columbia College, and beyond them, University Hall. Grunting my amusement at the irony, I glanced at Lance, who looked somewhat shaken.

“What’s the matter, Lance?” I asked. “You look like you’re about to lose your breakfast.”


Ignoring Lance’s question, I looked to my left to find the surprised face of the bespectacled driver of the Packard staring at me over the steering wheel he still clutched. Due to the Packard’s close proximity I was unable to open my door.

“Huh,” I grunted in contempt, suddenly aware of the many different uses of the three-letter interjection Lance had used but a moment ago. Had he intended interrogation, or had his response been simply reflex, an expression of surprise the result of shock?

“Hold this,” I said, handing my hat to Lance.

“Where are you going?” Lance asked dumbly, the color drained from his face.

“To make an acquaintance,” I said, hauling my bulk through the window frame.

I stepped one leg out, then the other, landing lightly on the Packard’s bumper. From there I bounded down onto the brick that was Broadway and made my way around to the driver’s side of the Packard. Flinging open its door, I reached in, grabbed the still startled driver by the lapels of his cheap tweed suit, and shook him violently several times. The last of the repetitions partially dislodged the pince-nez from the bridge of the nose it spanned. The blue eyes, now just inches from my own, swam beneath water that wasn’t tears. One eye, the left, focused its terror on me while the other, due to a weakness of its tendon an optometrist would diagnose as strabismus, seemed to focus furtively on some distant object behind and to my left. I resisted the urge to turn around to see what it was that held that other eye’s interest.

“Now that I have your attention,” I rasped, “maybe you’d like to tell me just what it is you’re doing tailing us.”

The great eyes blinked; yet the pools of water still threatened to spill over their levees.

“I haff no idea vat you are talking a-bout.” The man spoke, his high tenor surprising me, in a carefully metered pace that betrayed an uncertainty of the English language and I felt my stomach sink. We had yet to leave New York and already my worst fears were confirmed.

The man’s a Nazi! I concluded.

“Shit!” I said. An image of the man whose lapels I still firmly held dressed in the black of the German Gestapo flashed before my eyes.

And to think I was concerned over the likelihood that he was an agent of our own government. Dammit!

“You always make a point of enjoying a cup of coffee while reading The Wall Street in front of my office on 59th before following me uptown?”

“I haff no idea—”

“Yeah, yeah,” I broke in, giving him another violent shaking. The action provided a release for my slightly trembling hands, the result of my surging adrenaline. “I’ve already heard that.”

I snorted aloud and a new strategy began to take shape. I released my grip and fussed over the rumpled lapels.

“Obviously you’re a tourist,” I said, righting the glasses that still teetered precariously near the end of his nose.

“Ja, a tourist,” the German answered with a slow nod.

I watched the conspiratorial gaze that had been residing in the right eye make its way none too stealthily to the good eye. In the vacancy left behind, I thought I detected a certain nonchalance that surely was intended to disarm me.

“Ja,” I mimicked. “Well, being a local maybe I can help you find whatever landmark it is you’re looking for, Herr Tourist.”

“Land-mark?” the big German enunciated carefully. Neither eye looked like it comprehended what I was talking about.

“Ja,” I repeated. “You know ¼ sightseeing.” I watched the light come on in the cerulean of the left eye and the thin lips parted in a good-natured smile to reveal a good-sized gap between the two front teeth.

“Ja, sight-seeing,” the stranger acknowledged with a nod, and his smile broadened.

“Ja,” I repeated a third time with a nod of my own. “What would you like to see?” The smile inverted itself. Neither eye met my penetrating gaze. “The Statue of Liberty?”


I nodded. “I see. Been there already. Well how about the Empire State Building, then?” Like all native New Yorkers, I slurred into one syllable the second and third words of the proper name that identifies New York’s most famous landmark. The stranger brought one eye to bear on me while the other stared off into the distance. I wondered if any object it might focus on would register an image for the German. “No? Well what about Columbia College? You seen that yet, Herr Pal?”

“Co-lum-bia Col-lege?” The German enunciated each syllable carefully, uncertainly.

“Great!” I said, allowing my own manufactured smile to break out. “I know just where Columbia College is. Why don’t you slide on over and I’ll have you there in no time.”

“Nein. I do not vish to ¼ trouble you. I vill find land-mark.”

“Oh, it’s no trouble at all,” I said with finality. “Now scootch.”

I stared hard at the one blue eye and saw it consider several alternatives, discarding each of them in turn. With a nod, the German, resigned to his one and only option, the one that had been forced upon him, relinquished his place behind the wheel of the Packard, and I hauled myself in beside him.

Firing the ignition, I stuck my head out the window and called to Lance, “Go ahead and park the car, Lance. We’ll be back in a few minutes.”

“But, where are you …?” I heard Lance call back as I brought my head back inside the Packard, just in time to see my unwilling passenger fumbling with the catch on the glove compartment. With catlike quickness I grabbed the German by his wrist.

“I don’t believe you’ll be needing that tour guidebook for this one,” I said.

With that, I dropped the Packard’s automatic transmission into reverse, glanced over my right shoulder, and backed up the few feet I needed to steer clear of the Ford. A moment later, with the Packard in drive, I slowly accelerated past my own car, giving a wave to Lance and Melissa, and on up Broadway.

“You know,” I said as the automatic transmission smoothly shifted from first to second gear, “you rubbernecks would get around our city a whole lot easier if you just kept in mind that the Avenues”—I glanced over at the German’s profile, a mask of contrived sincerity on my face— “you know avenues—Park Avenue, 5th Avenue. Avenues?”

“Ja, avenues.”

“Right, avenues. The Avenues in New York all run north and south, along the length of the island. Now the Streets,” I continued patiently. “The Streets all run east-west. Now if more of you tourists understood that concept—that the Avenues run north-south while the Streets run east-west ¼ well, you’d all have a helluva lot easier time finding landmarks and such and you wouldn’t have to pester us locals. You understand what I’m saying, Herr Rubberneck?”


“Ja.” I noted our speed had crept up to thirty miles per hour.

“Now take Broadway for instance—the street we’re on now? It’s not a Street, so it doesn’t run east-west. It runs north-south—like an Avenue. But it’s not really an Avenue, I mean like Park Avenue, see? But avenue is another name for a broad roadway. Which is where Broadway derives its name.”

Our speed had risen to thirty-five miles per hour by now, well above the limit for the city. I kept a close lookout for any police cars that might be patrolling.

“So you see, Broadway really is an avenue, which is why it traverses the island in a more or less north-south direction. Just a little something for you to keep in mind while touring the sights here in our fair city, ja?”


Even from his profile I could tell the German was more than a little edgy.

The speedometer now registered forty miles per hour. The traffic light at West 135th Street was red. I sailed right on through it—as I had the red at 125th Street.

“Oh, what am I thinking?” I said, pressing the palm of my right hand against my forehead. “You know I got so carried away with my advice, I didn’t realize we just passed Columbia College twenty or so blocks back.”

With a glance into the rearview mirror, I slammed the gear selector into reverse. The Packard came to a stop in a hurry and filled up with smoke, as much from the tires as from the transmission. Reverse was stripped out but that was no problem; I had allowed the Packard to do a tight one-hundred-eighty-degree spin in the middle of Broadway so we’d be facing south. Pale as a ghost and staring straight ahead, the German clutched the dashboard as I crossed into the southbound lane and drove back down Broadway.

“Well here we are, Mac, none the worse for wear,” I said once I’d finished parking the Packard in front of Columbia, just a few yards from where we’d started our little jaunt.

Nose-to-tail with the car in front, the German would effectively be dead in the water. With no reverse, he would have no choice but to wait until the car in front was moved before he could continue his pursuit, and by then we’d be miles away.

“Sorry about all the confusion,” I said. “I guess I’m just not used to driving one of these new automatic transmissions. Although,” I added as an afterthought, “I’ve got a buddy who tells me they’re turning them out like hotcakes in Detroit.” 


J. Conrad Guest’s writing credentials include January’s Paradigm, first published in 1998 by Minerva Press, London, England. Backstop: A Baseball Love Story in Nine Innings,  available from Second Wind Publishing, was adopted by the Illinois Institute of Technology as required reading for their spring 2011 course Baseball: America’s Literary Pastime. Several of Guest’s short stories and non-fiction pieces have appeared on Internet publications, including Cezanne’s Carrot, Saucy Vox, River Walk Journal, 63 Channels, The Writers Post Journal and Redbridge Review. Blood and Thunder: Musings on the Art of Medicine published in November 2005 Mother’s Day: Coming to Terms with the Cruelty of Parkinson’s, a memoir chronicling his mother’s battle against Parkinson’s. 

See also:
Interview with J. Conrad Guest, author of One Hot January
Interview with Joe January, hero of One Hot January by J. Conrad Guest
Chapter One – One Hot January by J. Conrad Guest

Click here to buy: One Hot January

What Do You Do When You Have Too Much Background Information?

Researching a novel can become addictive. Like with money, you feel as if you never have enough background information. You tell yourself you need one more piece before you can sit down and begin creating your opus, but as the days, weeks, months go by, the pieces pile up. Eventually, however, even the most exhaustive research ends, and you begin writing. Now what do you do with all that background information? You use, it of course. You earned it, right?

If you’re smart, or lucky, or have a good writing coach, you discover that all those facts sink the story, and you jettison most of them during the rewrites. You hoard those facts, though, and later add them to your blog.

Among my jetsam is this piece about Jacob Simon Herzig, (AKA George Graham Rice) one of the most successful bucket shop operators in history.

A bucket shop was an ostensibly legal brokerage firm. Some of the firms operated within the law, but most did not. They cheated their customers, stole from them, misused their money. In New York State, in one five-year period early in the twentieth century, bucket shops went into bankruptcy owing their customers more that two hundred twelve million dollars, the equivalent of several billion in today’s dollars.

Originally, bucket shops were markets where flour and grain were sold by the bucket to poor people. The wealthy, of course, did not patronize those places since they could afford to buy in larger amounts. The modern equivalent of a bucket shop began soon after the Civil War when railroad stocks were placed on the market and sold in small lots to investors who didn’t normally buy stocks. Financiers like Daniel Drew, Jay Gould, and Jim Fisk were all early bucketeers; in fact, they set the standard. They created artificial markets, issued false proclamations concerning the value of the stock, kept printing fresh stock as long as there was a demand. At the beginning of the twentieth century, when the early bucket shops had grown into rich, powerful brokerage houses, they attacked the bucketeers. It took three decades, but these so-called legitimate brokerage houses, the New York Stock Exchange, and the big bankers managed to put the bucketeers out of business, though there was a reincarnation of them in the penny-stocks of the l980s.

George Graham Rice sold a great deal of stock, milking each scheme as long as he could then moving on to a new venture. He began to print a financial newspaper called The Iconoclast. The Iconoclast lambasted the financial powers of the country, blaming Wall Street for all the ills that affected the people. It claimed that the multi-millionaires and insiders were using the Stock Exchange to cheat hundreds of thousands of innocent people out of millions of dollars, which they were. He promised his subscribers that he’d help even the score by disclosing his own private information. His daily circulation grew to over 300,000 subscribers nationwide, giving him the biggest sucker list in America. He sold parts of his list to other bucket shops, but only after he’d squeezed some money out of the people on that partial list. One of his scams was the Columbia Emerald Company. According to The Iconoclast, the mine was operating and producing emeralds valued in the millions, and he bilked people out of half a million dollars before anyone discovered there were no emeralds. As long as there was actually a mine in South America, however (which Rice had purchased for eight hundred dollars) Rice was not liable to prosecution.

Rice also owned almost a million and a half shares of Idaho Copper Mine, for which he paid ten thousand dollars total, almost eight cents a share. Though the mine had not been worked in twenty years, was in fact completely flooded, it had two big assets: it actually existed and it was listed on the Boston Curb Exchange. The Iconoclast touted the stock, and it went up to $6.25 a share as thousands of suckers rushed to get in on the ground floor. The whole thing eventually fell through, but Rice walked away with millions.

My con man Teach told this story — he was trying to explain to Mary why he needed a played-out gold mine — but you won’t find it in Daughter Am I. It was one of the bits I cut out to make room for the most  important aspect of the story — the characters.

Daughter Am I is Bertram’s third novel to be published by Second Wind Publishing, LLC. Also available are More Deaths Than One and A Spark of Heavenly Fire.

Dead Darling From Daughter Am I

Faulkner advised us to kill our darlings, those bits of our novels we love that don’t advance the story. I had way too many darlings in Daughter Am I, but I did steel myself to remove some of them. Today, for your edification, I am posting one dead darling that made it through all the edits except the very last one. You won’t find it in the book (well, except for the last paragraph or two. I wanted to make sure what you read here made sense so I added a bit that was included in the novel). 

“The Cleveland Syndicate was dominated by four Jews,” Teach said, “Moe Dalitz, Samuel Tucker, Morris Kleinman, and Louis Rothkopf. An Italian, Chuck Polizzi, and an Irishman, Tommy McGinty, achieved near equality.”

“Chuck Polizzi wasn’t Italian,” Spaghetti said. “His parents were Jews from Russia. When they died, he was adopted by the Polizzi family.”

Teach arched his eyebrows. “I didn’t know that.” Pointedly ignoring Kid Rags’ chuckle, he stroked his chin. “I often wondered how a non-Jew got so high up in that organization. I did know the Polizzis belonged to the Mayfield Road Mob, which became part of the Cleveland Syndicate. While the Mayfield Road Mob, composed of both Jews and Italians, had a reputation for utter ruthlessness, the Syndicate believed the bribe, as a general rule, was more effective than the bullet. Families like the Polizzis, who accepted the new way, lived to become old as well as rich.”

“So how did an Irishman get so high-ranking?” Mary asked.

“Tommy McGinty—Thomas Jefferson McGinty—was the circulation manager for one of the Cleveland newspapers. Contrary to the legend that gangs and gangsters were a product of prohibition, many of the principals of the Syndicate-to-be were assembled and trained in violence years before by the newspapers in their fight for local monopolies. Tommy McGinty and his counterparts on the other newspapers would recruit thugs to beat up their rivals’ employees, particularly the newspaper boys, especially those on lucrative corners.

“In the early prohibition years, McGinty became one of Cleveland’s most powerful bootleggers.

“The Cleveland Syndicate was truly formidable. Moe Dalitz, probably the smartest guy in the business next to Meyer Lansky—”

“You said Johnny Torrio was the smartest,” Mary objected.

“So I did.” Teach smiled at her. “It’s nice to know I haven’t been talking to myself. In point of fact, all three men were smart. Always looking to expand. Always looking for new venues.”

“You sound like you admire those people,” Mary said.

In the silence that greeted her remark, she could hear Spaghetti and Lila Lorraine murmuring softly to each other. Looking around to check on the rest of the group, she noticed that Iron Sam, Crunchy, and Journey all appeared to be sleeping. Kid Rags and Happy were passing the hip flask back and forth. Tim had his head cocked while he drove, as if he were listening for Teach’s response.

“Not at all,” Teach said finally, his voice harsh. “People tend to romanticize prohibition, to romanticize the so-called Mafia, but they don’t get it. It’s about the unholy trinity—criminals, politicians, and businesspersons—all working together to sell out the little people. And make no mistake about it—no matter how rich and successful we might be, the vast majority of us are the little people.”

DAIClick here to buy Daughter Am I from Second Wind Publishing, LLC. 

Click here to buy Daughter Am I from Amazon.

Download 30% of Daughter Am I free at Smashwords.

Brooklyn Dodgers: The Last Great Pennant Drive, 1957

product-1Brooklyn Dodgers: The Last Great Pennant Drive, 1957
“No baseball summer is as memorable for me as that July when the Dodgers began a winning streak in a suddenly torrid, topsy-turvy National League pennant race.”

Fifty years after they played their last baseball game, the Brooklyn Dodgers are still remembered by millions of people. From 1947 to 1956 the Dodgers captured six out of ten National League pennants and they defeated the mighty New York Yankees in the 1955 World Series. The year 1957, however, is recalled mainly for the decision by Dodger president Walter O’Malley to move his team to Los Angeles the following year.

Author John Nordell tells the story of the Dodgers’ mid-season surge in the standings during that last year in Brooklyn. Using research from a variety of sources, Nordell recreates the excitement of following the Dodgers and their National League rivals in the daily drama of a five-team pennant race. The author also draws on his own youthful memories of that year and describes the unforgettable thrill of seeing a game at Ebbets Field. The book includes numerous photographs and a concluding chapter that discusses the outcome of the 1957 pennant race, the major factors and personalities involved in the Dodger move west, and the end of an era in baseball.

CLICK to read the first chapter.

When Coal Was King by Jay Luke

product-29When Coal Was Queen:
The History of the Queen City – Olyphant, Pennsylvania
ISBN:9780982256527 (paperback)
Published by the Olyphant Coal Miners Memorial Association

A Look into a Small Town’s Past

Journey into the history of what was once called the “Jewel of the Mid Valley” — Olyphant, Pennsylvania, “The Queen City.” This journey takes the reader through the earliest days of the township and notable events of the past. Included are some famous residents and visitors who passed through over the years, and of course the storied Anthracite Empire that built the town. Check out a wealth of photographic documentation as well as many interesting facts about Olyphant, such as:

  • A mine disaster occurred at the location of Olyphant’s mining memorial statue in 1903 that swallowed an entire hotel into the ground below.
  • The first woman ever enlisted in the U.S. Navy was from Olyphant.
  • Patricia Crowley of Olyphant once graced a Life magazine cover in the 1950s.
  • Nestor Chylak of Olyphant is in the National Baseball Hall of Fame for his work in the major leagues as an umpire.
  • President Theodore Roosevelt came to Olyphant to try to find a solution to mining relations in 1910.

“There can be no better tribute to a people than to keep their stories alive. With exceptional detail and a wonderful sense of time and place, When Coal Was Queen captures the history and the stories of the Queen City and its mining heritage. A wonderful book for those who call Olyphant home — and for anyone who loves history.” – Cheryl A. Kashuba, co-author of Scranton & Scranton Times-Tribune local history columnist

“It is wonderful to see the valley’s coal mining history promoted through this project. The support shown to the monument fund drive from the local community truly demonstrated the pride we all share in our industrial heritage.” – Mary Ann Moran-Savakinus, Executive Director, Lackawanna Historical Society

CLICK to read sample pages.Available from: Tribute Books