We get together and scream. We have done this every New Year’s since the first New Year’s after the Great Depression hit. Of course, I wasn’t there. Only Manny was there at the first safe cracking party. He was just a boy.
There were many Junkman that came out of that Great Depression.
As Manny says,”We were just looking for food in the Garbage, when we would find a jewel which was accidentally thrown out when someone died and an apartment was cleared. That jewel or antique could feed us Street Roamers for a couple of days.”
At first, Manny and a bunch of other Street Roamers were hired to crack open safes for families of people who had jumped out of windows and neglected to tell their combinations to the loved ones they left behind.
So, though Widows just assumed the safes were empty, still in that first New Year’s of 1930, the families felt they needed to find something. Even if it were a life insurance policy, or some birth records or a photo, but what they really wanted was cash and jewels.
Manny says,”That first year all the safes were empty. By the third year, families gave up on looking in safes. They knew it was empty. We would get paid to remove them from offices. They were heavy and we would scrap the metal. In 1932, I was helping Wilhelm schlep a safe to the scrap yard. He didn’t crack it open. Later it was found out that the safe was loaded and that the scrap yard owner sold the business and retired on the contents of that safe. Wilhelm screamed down the streets of the Lower East Side for the next twenty years. It makes my blood thicken and stop when I think of Wilhelm. Of course, if I helped him open it up, I could be telling my twenty something nurse this story in Key West, instead of you. My Nurse would have great tits and sucking my 80 year old cock… So, my advice to you is when you get a safe, crack it open no matter what, it could be the difference between getting your cock sucked or just sucking cock.”
Manny always had a way with words…
All the Junkmen from the five boroughs were coming by with their safes to my shop in Williamsburg. I created it into a Performance of sorts. I mean it has always been a performance since the Wilhelm Scream really. Everybody took safe cracking very seriously since that blunder of Wilhelm’s. It didn’t matter if the safe was empty, it just needed to be checked as a matter of mental clarity.
Sonny was the first one to wear a Santa outfit to the event because he didn’t want the growing population of people watching us crack open the safes, to recognize him. He was a Paranoid guy and there were good reasons for a Junkman to be paranoid. We have been robbed in all sorts of ways;we have been held up after good days at the store or flea market. We have been shot at, at our homes because people think we have money because we always come home with crap from other people’s estates. We have been robbed by the people who sell us their estates; they will tell us a price for an entire estate,we will buy it, and then when it comes time to pick up the violin which is why we bought the estate, it will be gone,”Oh, I gave that to my nephew who likes to pick on the instrument.”