“I sets ’em up and you knocks ’em down. Three balls for a dime, boys. It’s a game of skill and it’s good for your health. I sets ’em up and you knocks ’em down.”
Anybody who has ever meandered along Coney Island’s boardwalk or Surf avenue will recognize the barker’s spiel. He sets the funny-looking dolls upon bars a few feet from the counter, you buy three balls for a dime and you try the simple-looking job of knocking them over. If you win you get a box of candy or a kewpie doll or a pound of coffee. And if you fail to knock the dolls over, all you get is the exercise.
The rowdy Coney Island atmosphere is brought into the sedate precincts of the Day Book because it offers an aptâ€”at least we think soâ€”analogy to a charge that is being hurled at us from certain quarters.
This is the charge:
The Jewish Daily Bulletin makes big shots out of certain Yorkville midgets. It sets them upon a pedestal, offers them to the public’s sporting instincts as game to be fired at and then watches them being knocked overâ€”not without evidence of at least some satisfaction.
“I sets ’em up and you knocks ’em down.”
To a close observer of this newspaper’s daily reports on the machinations, rantings and droolings of the York-villains, the game seems to be just that sort of game.
One day, the news columns report the formation of a political committee by the German-American Conference which will control the votes of 200,000 Germans in the metropolitan district. The head of the committee is announced as Dr. Louis Ewald, a surgeon.
At once the machinery for placing Dr. Ewald on the pedestal swings into action. Our star reporter, Mr. Berkowitz, grabs hold of the innocent doctor, turns him inside out and comes up with a statement that gives the good doctor a decidedly anti-Nazi color. The good doctor sÃ³ars into the headlines. No sooner is he up thereâ€”on his Surf avenue spieler’s bench, as it wereâ€”than the public begins to take aim and fire.
The public in this instance, of course, is our Yorkville public. Surprising as it may seem, among the Jewish Daily Bulletin’s most ardent and constant readers are the Nazis of Yorkville. They never miss an issue; they’re among the best customers of the section’s Jewish newsstandsâ€”even the leaders of the anti-Jewish boycott group DAWA buy the paper.
Hardly had the print dried on the Ewald story than the announcement was made from German-American Conference headquarters that the kindly doctor, who was naive enough to express publicly a belief that the committee he headed might possibly endorse Jewish political candidates, had been knocked right off the pretty pedestal the Bulletin’s barker had placed him on.
Ewald gone but not entirely forgotten, the Bulletin began to look around for another likely doll to put up in his place. The public demands names, big names. It likes to build up heroes and tear them down; build up villains and destroy them; imagine ogres and fumigate them out of existence.
So the spieler digs down underneath the counter and comes up with a brand new doll. Its name is Louis Zahne. He’s a pretty thingâ€”large, pink, prosperous-looking and slightly reminiscent of the Prussian Goering, as our Mr. Berkowitz described him.
And he talks a blue streak. He has a suave way about him, but there’s anti-Semitic sulphur in his spewings. And he’s quite different from all the other Nazi Korkvillains that have been ogreing up the atmosphere. He’s apparently educated; native-born, he hasn’t the slightest trace of a gutteral accent of the kind sported, for example, by that other Nazi doll, Dr. Herbert Schnuch, who long ago was snapped up on a pedestal and proved a soft pushover.
Here, we decided, was the power behind the throne, the man who was pulling all the Nazi strings in New York’s Hitler colony. Here was the man to offer the public as Ogre No. 1, Public Enemy No. 1 of the Jews.
And so with a heave-and-a-ho! and a hearty alley-oop! we lifted smart, suave, pink, prosperous and damnably dangerous Mr. Zahne up on a fine pedestal.
No sooner was he up there than the Yorkville public, turned sharpshooter, plunked him one in the midriff and he toppled over.
It seems Zahne was making too much noise for his own good. Before the Bulletin picked him up and stuck him on a pedestal, he had been little heard from, and that little had been comparatively mild. But once he began reading those stories about himself, he evidently began to take himself seriously. As in the case of many a publicity-crazed celebrity, he probably tried to build himself up to the description given him. And, as with better men than he is, he woke up one morning with a headache and a realization that he had built himself up into such a great big, nasty mans that not even his own kind could stomach him any further.
But zippy Zahne, who boasts that Germans always remain Germans no matter how long they’re in this country, may be down for the moment, but he’s not out. Zahne is much too classy a doll to be an exception to the Salvation Army’s slogan.
Zahne’s place is up there on the pedestal. C’mon, Louis, we’re rooting for you to become chairman of the German-American Conference’s political committee as you’ve set out to be.
Yes, climb right back on that pedestalâ€”the Jewish Daily Bulletin has a couple of brand new baseballs the Day Booker is just itching to peg at your suave, pink and prosperous-looking phizz.