Pied Piper of south shore

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Reserve your copy today!

The first printing is sold out. To purchase second printing books please contact me at:



or write to:
PO Box 366
Medinah, IL 60157

Second printing
books are $24.95
plus $7 shipping
by FedEx.


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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. Manny 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 elder daughter. It's also the story of two children of immigrants, their American dream, and their richly diverse neighborhood in which each fell 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 Lazar Amster's tale is a heady ride from persecution in Russia to freedom in America, from Hula Hoops to hit men, from a murder to a trial. It is the story of loss and survival, even forgiveness.

In his foreword, 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 Jeffery Avenue. The other tells the anecdotal stories about how some of the most popular toys and games in the 1950s and 1960s got their start.

The Poster by Mitch Markovitz

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 promises warm recollections.

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. He is 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. She was a member for several years and President of a chapter in California.

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.

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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.
$29.95 plus $7.50 shipping

Giclee special limited (150) editions (20"x30") of the 79th Street scene without the book text - signed, numbered, certificate of authenticity.
Giclees at $450 plus shipping to be discussed with artist at time of purchase

ORIGINAL painting of the book cover (oil on canvas), 50"x33", with book title lettering - $10,000.
Email Mitch Markovitz.

Personally autographed books, posters and prints make great gifts!


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