Flatter Familia

Family Fugue

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

January 21, 1936

Duelist — Acting Detective Captain Henry Flattery, head of the Jamaica squad, recently shared in a citation for “excellent police duty,” in connection with the arrest of the Rifle Gang of bandits who received long terms in Sing Sing.

However, if we were the police commissioner, we would award the captain another citation for courtroom fencing. We remember how, during the trial of the bandits in Long Island City last Summer, Captain Flattery was a witness and a certain Brooklyn member of the defense began to cross-examine with the purpose of breaking down the testimony.

“Were these defendants beaten in the station house, or was there any yelling?” demanded the lawyer.

“No,” said Captain Flattery. “We just asked them questions.”

“Oh, I suppose,” blurted out the attorney, “you just spoke to them easy – like you and I are talking now.”

“Oh, no,” was the retort, “not half as loud as you’re talking.”

The lawyer nearly choked. “I am sorry,” he sneered, “if my tone of voice is too loud for your ears.”

“Don’t apologize to me,” said the sleuth amiably. “If you want to apologize, give it to His Honor, the judge.”

“Don’t you tell me to apologize!” Roared the attorney.

“It was your own idea,” remarked the captain, admiring his fingernails.

WAR BULLETIN – Henry Renshaw, colored Hudson Ave. resident and one of our favorite elevator operators, told us the other day that Harlem is by no means 100 percent in sympathy with the Ethiopians. Seems it’s really almost a fifty-fifty proposition, with the Haile hailers making more noise.

He said: “You see, actually most of the folks in Harlem know thing about their ancestors beyond a generation or two in the South, maybe. The chances are that not one in a thousand Harlem colored folks have any lineal connection with the part of Africa where the war is being fought. Most of the American Negroes hailed originally from the other side of the Dark Continent or in the central part way down closer to the Cape.

“But all of that doesn’t keep men up there from picking their sides. There are many small groups formed to support the Ethiops and many of them have already sent over volunteers. But there are just as many groups supporting Mussolini.”

“You see, one or two fellows in Harlem happened to have friends in Eritrea and Italian Somaliland. And it’s of interest, and little known here, that the Somalis and Eritreans, for the most part, hate the Ethiops like poison. It’s doubtless just because the Selassie people are able to say that they are free from European dictatorship. The Somalis would like to see that boast corrected. There are many other Harlemites who feel the same way, although I’m afraid they couldn’t tell you why. Matter of fact, in upper Manhattan right now it’s becoming smart to support Italy and the Somalis rather than the Ethiops. A Harlemite, you see, doesn’t like to lose.”

BACK IN THE GROOVE – There’s an old tale about the reporter who got drunk one day, was fired after 20 years of service, took a new job, effected a great scoop, got drunk again and returned to his old office to write the story.

That was fiction, far as we know. But we heard a somewhat similar story the other day that we know is true.

The fellow in question left a job with a downtown Brooklyn title company several months ago after having held the same position for 12 years. He didn’t like the idea of going, but a Manhattan opportunity offered more money. So he took it.

Weeks passed and our friend got accustomed to new surroundings. Then he fell in love.

A bachelor he’d contended often he couldn’t fall for any woman, and, therefore, when he fell, he landed on his face and stayed there.

Anyway, he arose on recent morning, took the subway, went to work. But he went to his old office, felt somewhat piqued at finding a stranger sitting at his desk. Asked the man to move somewhere else, then suddenly realized. Tried to explain, couldn’t think of any good reason why he should be there and blurted out the truth. Admitted it was just a curious lapse of memory. But, he told us confidentially, he’s going to see a doctor or take a long rest if the same thing happens again.

ODDS: EEM-POSSIBLE!!!! – Only the other day we read a piece in the paper (again) about somebody holding 13 spades in a contract bridge game. We personally believe practically everything that is printed in newspapers, contrary to the point of view of skeptics who refer airily to “newspaper talk” as if reporters had nothing to do but dream dreams and print untruths…But we do not believe the story of the 13 spades.

We believe the 13-spade hands are always fixed or imagined. We have played bridge ever since contract was an infant, we have dealt and seen dealt thousands and thousands and thousands of hands and we have never seen 13 spades or 13 of anything. No, sir.

We have played bridge with new cards and old and middle-aged, with good players and bad, with slow, careful shufflers and the impatient kind who cut and riffle once and deal. And we have never held even 12 cards of any one suit, or 11 either.

Once we had 11 cards between our hand and partner’s, but that of course makes two hands. Once––ah, shall we ever forget that?–we had 10 hearts, lacking the ace. (Result: Down one doubled and redoubled on a four-heart bid.) But that’s absolutely the best. Maybe half a dozen times we have had with of the same suit.

Mathematicians have figured out that the chance of holding a 13-carder is one in we don’t know how many trillions. That’s what they say. Personally, we don’t believe it. Personally we are convinced (and we speak out of the depths of long experience) that it’s just impossible to hold 13 spades.