Pied Piper of south shore

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"The Pied Piper of South Shore, Toys and Tragedy in Chicago"
By Caryn Lazar Amster

Toy store owner Manny Lazar, known as the Pied Piper of South Shore, was shot and killed in front of his wife, Belle, by a Chicago gang member in 1970. He died in the place he loved best, the Wee Folks Toy Store that he and his wife had run for twenty-five years in the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago.

"The Pied Piper of South Shore, Toys and Tragedy in Chicago" is the true story of the life and death of this beloved retailer told in gritty detail by his eldest daughter. But it's also the story of two children of immigrants, their American dream, and their richly diverse neighborhood each falling prey to the brutality of gangs.

Enhanced by her own recollections of working in her parents' store and the fond reminiscences of hundreds of customers, Caryn Amster's tale is a heady ride from persecution in Russia to freedom in America, from Hula Hoops to hit men, from murder to trial. It is the story of loss but also of survival, even forgiveness.

A foreword by Mandy Patinkin, a long time Wee Folks customer, thanks Mr. and Mrs. Lazar for providing an oasis, a place to dream and feel safe.

There are two appendices at the end of the book: One recalls the stores of 79th Street, from Stony Island Avenue to Jeffrey Avenue, and the other tells the stories about how some of the most popular toys and games in the 1950s and 1960s got their start.

The Poster

Mitch Markovitz created the amazing book cover you see on this site. He has also created posters and limited edition fine art prints of the cover for sale.

Mitch was born and raised in Chicago’s South Shore and fondly remembers his years there. The poster represents the area as he remembers it and will bring warm recollections from many former residents.

Mitch was educated at the American Academy of Art, Chicago, and the Chicago Academy of Fine Art. He is a professional commercial illustrator, art director and fine artist based in Knox, Indiana and known for his true to life poster campaigns.

Caryn Lazar AmserCaryn Lazar Amster, a marketing specialist in Chicago, grew up working side by side with her parents in Wee Folks, their South Shore toy store. "The Pied Piper of South Shore, Toys and Tragedy in Chicago" is her first book. A portion of the proceeds from its sale will be donated to Women's American Ort in honor and memory of her mother, Belle Lazar.

Women's American ORT is a national Jewish fund-raising organization that strengthens the worldwide Jewish community by empowering people to achieve economic self-sufficiency through technological and vocational education. This is accomplished by providing financial support and leadership within the global ORT network of schools and programs. In the United States, Women's American ORT ensures the continued growth of our post-secondary technical schools and develops technical resource centers for Jewish students, teachers and community groups nationwide.

The "Pied Piper of south shore" book cover
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The "Pied Piper of south shore" book cover
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Poster and special editions

The "Pied Piper of south shore" book cover

Full color lithographed posters (24” x 33”) of the book cover painted by Mitch Markovitz.
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Giclee special limited (150) editions (20"x30") of the 79th Street scene without the book text - signed, numbered, certificate of authenticity.
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ORIGINAL painting of the book cover (oil on canvas), 50"x33", with book title lettering - $10,000. Contact Mitch Markovitz at artist@chicagospiedpiper.com.

Personally autographed books, posters and prints make great gifts!



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