While researching her geneaology, kids book author Anna Olswanger found the kernel of her picture book, Shlemiel Crooks
in a Yiddish newspaper article she had uncovered. The article was about the attempted robbery of her great-grandfather’s kosher liquor store in 1919.
This is the English translation of the article:
Shlimazel crooks, their work was unsuccessful. Last Thursday at 3:00 a.m. in the middle of the night, several men drove to the saloon of Reb Eliyahu Olschwanger at the corner of 14th and Carr Streets. They opened the saloon and removed several barrels of brandy and beer. Mr. Mankel who lives on the second floor, upon hearing what was going on in the saloon, opened the window and began shouting for help. Benjamin Resnik from 1329 Carr Street, hearing the shouting, shot his revolver from his window. The band of crooks got scared and left everything, including their own horse and wagon and ran away. Police immediately came and took everything to the police station.
Crooks who left with less than they came with!! Now that’s a story. From that Yiddish article of long ago, she wrote Shlemiel Crooks which has now been translated to a charming Passover musical, performed by the Poppy Seed Players at the Kaufman Center. It’s still playing, so if you can, stop cleaning already and see a show!