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Weekend Activity Will Decide Fate of Coney Island Peddlers

July 29, 1934
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The future of the several hundred peddlers who ply their trade along the beaches of Coney Island will be decided during the weekend, according to Acting Borough President Charles E. Ward of Brooklyn.

Mr. Ward, who announced on Wednesday that he would ask Commissioner of Accounts Paul Blanshard to investigate reported connections between Coney Island politicians and the beach peddlers, said the inquiry would not take place unless the peddlers persisted in defying the ordinance against their activity. The weekend will furnish the test, he said.

“If the supply agents continue to send hundreds of boys to the beach we will have to show who is behind the supply agents,” said the acting borough president. “The ordinance prohibiting peddling is still in force. If the public doesn’t want it, it should be taken off the statute books, but while it stays it will be enforced.”


Meanwhile the controversy which has been going on during the past week among several magistrates, the police, city officials and Coney Island civic bodies on the treatment of peddlers arrested for selling their wares on the beaches, continues.

Magistrate David L. Malbin, who has been most outspoken in his criticism of what he characterized as the “inhuman” treatment of peddlers, sent a letter to Acting Borough President Ward taking issue with statements allegedly made by Ward.

Magistrate Malbin wrote in part:

“I personally visited the place of confinement of these peddlers at West Twelfth street and the Boardwalk and found that it was not an enclosure in the shade under the Boardwalk where lost children are kept, but, to the contrary, it was an old, abandoned beach chair storeroom, far removed from the beach and under a building fronting on the Boardwalk.


“After statements appearing in the public press made by you regarding this situation, I take sharp issue with you. Your observations could not have been made by a personal inspection. You could not have viewed this particularly dark hole under the building at West Twelfth street without agreeing with me that it was an outrageous condition that no decent thinking citizen could approve.”

The Magistrate also has written of his findings to Mayor LaGuardia. The Mayor said he would be interested in viewing photographs depicting some of the alleged scenes of misery and torture to which the peddlers say they have been subjected.

“Some are professional hawkers,” the Mayor said. “While others are unemployed men, on city relief rolls, who have no call to violate the laws of the city that is trying to help them.”

George F. Kister, president of the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce, continued his support of police in the drive to oust peddlers in spite of protests made by Mrs. Rae Josephs, chairman of the Ocean Front Women’s Democratic Club, against the method of arrests.


Mrs. Josephs, who said she also spoke in behalf of the Brighton Beach Chamber of Commerce and several women’s civic units, urged that summonses be issued to unlicensed venders in lieu of detention by the police.

Kister held that the peddlers gave police fictitious names and addresses last year and failed to appear in court.

The Coney Island Chamber of Commerce at a meeting in the Brooklyn Edison Building, 535 Surf avenue, adopted a resolution commending Captain Henry Bauer of the Coney Island police station for his “good” work in trying to rid the resort of peddlers.

Jack Krassner, executive secretary of the Coney Island Beach Peddlers Association, announced Friday that he had sent a letter to Mayor LaGuardia charging that youthful peddlers were held in excessive bail and denied food and water while awaiting trial.


“In the ordinary exercise of our right to make a few meager dollars towards the support of our families and towards the carrying on of our education, we have found ourselves at the mercy of police officers whose unfairness and harsh treatment towards us leads us to believe that they are prejudiced in favor of the real estate interests of Coney Island,” Kassner wrote the Mayor.

“We object, primarily, to the fact that the police, by repeated arrests, prevent us from carrying on our trade. Regardless of what the regulations may have to say on this matter, we want to ask you directly whether you think it is just that our only opportunity to obtain an income should be denied us. If you are opposed to having the law protect special interests, as we hope you are, then we ask you to take action immediately to protect our right to a livelihood.”

The communication further charged “brutal treatment” at the hands of the police after arrest. According to Krassner, the peddlers were “herded into stifling coops” until a vanload of prisoners had been collected.

“They are held in $100 bail each when, as you know, no peddler in any other part of the city ever has to put up more than $20,” he said. “They are denied food and even water while in these hot jails awaiting trial. They are confined with grand larcenists, pickpockets and any other criminals the police happen to pick up. Their stocks of ice cream, which constitutes all the capital they have in the world, is confiscated and ruined.”

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