ASSIGNMENT HOMICIDE, BEHIND THE HEADLINES
A Woman Reporter in New York City in the 1940s
EAST RIVER DRAIN
The East River kept flooding Moochie's basement, a serious problem since merchandise which would have interested the Safe and Loft squad was to be found there, offered for sale to in-the-know locals.
On the Lower East Side in that area of docks and tenements, their source of warm coats and hats was of little interest to most residents. Moochie shrugged, gave us one of his philosophical smiles and later, a free round.
Breslin's columns about Moochie and his girlfriends made Jimmy famous. One of my favorite columns concerned the time Jimmy received a prize-consisting of money-from Columbia University.
He related that Moochie, carefully attired in a slightly soiled tuxedo, accompanied him to the dais. When the official of the School of Journalism announced the award, Moochie stepped up to the podium with his best customer, announcing, "I'll take that, please." He then had Breslin sign it, and carefully counted out perhaps forty dollars in change from the award of a thousand or so, after first deducting Breslin's always heavy bar tab.
"Under her armpits, she's a virgin!" declared Moochie of a lonesome young woman I had described to him as very innocent, the perfect virginal bride.
The East River regularly swept in under Moochie's and the Journal-American. The newspaper pumped it back out, but Moochie chose to disregard it, leaving it to time and tide.
The East River Drive was elevated in front of the Journal. One day, walking back in the rain from Sweets, a Fulton Street fish house, the water backed up and poured over me, just as I was about to enter the front door at 220 South Street, the Journal entrance. Mahar looked me over as I reported in. "Did you fall in the river?" he asked.
Back home, my marriage was foundering on the rocks of my alcoholism. Since that incarceration in Brooklyn State, I had come to resent Pete.