This week’s edition of the Jewish News publishes on the same day (May 3) that a sold-out audience will gather at JN75 for the paper’s 75th Diamond Anniversary Legacy Gala, the most prestigious event at the synagogue since my wedding 34 years ago.
The evening features the Klezmatics, the only klezmer band to win a Grammy, winning Best Contemporary World Music Album in 2006 for “Wonder Wheel,” lyrics by legendary folk singer Woodie Guthrie.
Some interesting Jewish trivia: According to woodyguthrie.org, “Guthrie’s Jewish lyrics (Guthrie was not Jewish) can be traced to the unusual collaborative relationship he had with his mother-in-law, Aliza Greenblatt, a prominent Yiddish poet who lived across from Guthrie and his family in Brooklyn in the 1940s.”
Proceeds from the Legacy Gala will benefit the Detroit Jewish News Foundation (DJNF) that, according to the organization is, “through its William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History, the Michigan Jewish community’s indispensable source of primary information that educates, illuminates and makes relevant the community’s past, strengthens its present and shapes its future.”
I urge you visit the archives at djnfoundation.org. I scrolled my way back in time to the very first issue, March 27, 1942. In keeping with the tradition of a loyal Jewish News reader, I went immediately to the back of the paper to read the obituaries first. But there wasn’t a single death notice to be found! Instead, I found an advertisement for Cunningham’s Drugs that featured Dr. Lyon’s Tooth Powder for only 26 cents. Such a deal.
For those of you who can’t resist reading an obituary first, go to page 16 of the inaugural issue. You’ll find two notices adjacent to an ad for Ira Kaufman on Dexter Boulevard.
Can you imagine the obituaries when the JN celebrates its 150th anniversary? By then, people will be living well into their 100s and, God willing, you’ll still be able to talk Star Deli into taking their $5 coupon for the shivah even though it expired in 2078.
Flip to page 17 of that first issue, and you can get updated on how Hank Greenberg was doing since he traded in his Detroit Tigers uniform for one in the U.S. Air Force. Hank “discounted all stories by Eastern newspapers who stated that he will retire from baseball after the war.” And he didn’t, returning to the Tigers’ lineup in 1945 after three years of active duty.
If anybody knows about the JN’s past, it’s columnist extraordinaire Danny Raskin. Try wrapping your brain around this: Danny has been with the paper since the first issue! Page 19 to be exact. Mazel tov, sir!
Back then, Danny was offering his 2 cents worth of tidbits when the paper sold for just 10 cents an issue! For $3, nearly the price of a gallon of gas today, you could’ve purchased a year subscription to the paper in 1942 and saved yourself $2.20 off the newsstand price — enough to buy five tins of Dr. Lyon’s Tooth Powder.
Congratulations to JN Publisher/Executive Editor Arthur Horwitz, Managing Editor Jackie Headapohl, Story Development Editor Keri Guten Cohen and the entire award-winning staff at the Jewish News on 75 years of journalistic excellence and dedication to our community.
And thank you to everyone who supports the DJNF. Your contribution not only supports the archives but also funds my being cryogenically frozen so that I can be brought back to write a column on the occasion of the paper’s 150th anniversary. To future generations, allow me to thank you in advance for reading that historic column … even if it’s after you read the obituaries.
Alan Muskovitz is a writer, voice-over/acting talent, speaker, emcee and guest host on the Mitch Album Show on WJR AM 760. Visit his website at laughwithbigal.com and “Like” Al on Facebook.