Sunday, November 21, 2010
Someday I'll Write About . . .
Fredericka "Marm" Mandelbaum. One of the most notorious criminals in 19th century New York was a portly Prussian woman. She worked out of a store at 79 Clinton St. in Manhattan (the building still exists today). Marm made a living fencing stolen goods. She also planned and financed some of the most impressive capers in New York history. But Marm was no "common" criminal. She threw swanky dinner parties for the city's finest citizens. And she was said to be a stickler for good manners.
But what interests me most about good old Marm is the school she started. The Grand Street School was Manhattan's elite academy for young criminals. There were classes in pocket-picking, safe-cracking, blackmail, and confidence games. Children under the age of ten were welcome to apply and those who graduated at the top of their class were hired by Marm herself. Hmmm. Sounds like a Dickens novel, doesn't it?
Here's Marm's obituary from the New York Times. She led an interesting life.