It documents the tragic drowning death of an 8 year old boy in the Gowanus Canal and the subsequent fight of two undertakers and their posse over the funeral business. So very strange, so very Gowanus.
One would be hard pressed to come up with a better story for a novel.
But wait, there is more. Additional information surfaced as I was researching the characters involved.
The instigating and surviving undertaker John Romanelli of 271 Third Avenue, who was also known as "The Mayor Of Brooklyn's Little Italy", obviously never went to jail for the incident. But just years later, during prohibition, he was accused and arrested for selling poisonous liquor, which blinded and killed many.
According to another New York Times article from 1919: "The authorities have not been able to trace the wood alcohol further than Romanelli. It is known that undertakers use wood alcohol in embalming fluid and have a license issued by the Collector of Internal revenue to make purchases of wood alcohol in connection to their business."
I am sure he was put in prison for a very long time for that crime.
That, my friends, is indeed a tale stranger than fiction. Wouldn't you agree?
To read the rest of the article in the New York Times, click here