In Weegee’s day culture clashes between the haves and the have-nots happened at Sammy’s Bowery Follies (267 Bowery, between East Houston and Stanton Streets), which from 1934 to 1970 attracted what The New York Times once described as a mixed crowd of “drunks and swells, drifters and celebrities, the rich and the forgotten.”
Sammy's was the place Weegee celebrated both his books being published as well as other major events.
Weegee (who disparaged The Times as a paper for the “well-off Manhattan establishment”) called Sammy’s “the poor man’s Stork Club” and wrote in the newspaper PM in 1944: “There’s no cigarette girl — a vending machine puts out cigarettes for a penny apiece. There’s no hatcheck girl — patrons prefer to dance with their hats and coats on. But there is a lulu of a floor show.”
Norma Devine is Sammy's Mae West, December 4, 1944
Bowery Savings Bank, December 4, 1944
Among the regulars, he wrote in his 1945 book, “Naked City,” was a woman they called Pruneface and a midget who walked the streets dressed as a penguin to promote cigarettes. When the midget got drunk, Weegee wrote, he “offered to fight any man his size in the house.”
in 1946 at the party for Weegee’s second book, “Weegee’s People.” Pretty uptown blondes and dowagers in pearls mingle with toothless crones and panhandlers, as models parade in their foundation garments, and a man with a flea circus puts his tiny performers through their paces.
The club, long gone, now is the site of a less eccentric clientele.
The proprietor of a cafe at 10 Prince Street, where a coffee shop is today, was smoking a cigarette outside on the evening of Nov. 16, 1939, when an unknown gunman shot him dead. When Weegee arrived moments later, the body was still lying in the doorway, and the fire escapes of all the tenements on the block, which remain largely unchanged today, were crowded with gawkers. He captioned the photograph “Balcony Seats at a Murder.”