ABOUT THE BOOK
"The Pied Piper of South Shore
Toys and Tragedy in Chicago"
When Manny Lazar was murdered by a gang member in
1970, he died in the place he loved best: the Wee Folks toy store
that he and his wife, Belle, had run for 25 years in the South Shore
neighborhood of Chicago. "The Pied Piper of South Shore,
Toys and Tragedy in Chicago" is the true crime story
of the tragic death of this beloved retailer, told in gritty detail
by his elder daughter.
It is the story of Manny and Belle, 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
Lazar Amster's true tale is a heady ride from persecution in Russia to
freedom in America, from Hula Hoops to gang members, from murder
to trial. It is the story of loss but also of survival, even forgiveness.
The story interweaves outside forces like racism, guns, drugs, gangs
and the Nation of Islam that impacted this little store, the couple,
and the neighborhood. It includes over 100 quotes from former customers
who remember those years fondly.
This true crime book about Chicago's South Shore
-- murder, gangs, toys and the Nation of Islam was written just for
Reminisce about the time when kids played with their toys outside
all evening and front doors were never locked. You may identify
with the people in this story who fought outside influences and
pulled together when things got tough.
Former Chicago and South Shore residents will recall fun times spent
in the neighborhood and at Wee Folks. Take a walk down 79th Street
again in The Street appendix chapter. Stores are remembered and
Joliet, Illinois Residents
Joliet, Illinois residents will share Mom's fondest memories of
her youth as well as identify with the place she met and married
Antique Toy Collectors
Antique toy buffs will enjoy the Toy Stories Appendix featuring
amazing stories of how many famous '50s and '60s toys were created.
True Crime Readers
If you love a good true crime story, this one takes you from murder
to conviction with lots of twists and turns.
Movie Theater Buffs
Learn about South Shore's favorite movie and make-out spot, The
Avalon. Depicted on the book cover, the Moorish temple design captured
the hearts of everyone who entered.
For those who love old movie theaters, you will enjoy the descriptions
of one of Chicago's best
..the Moorish styled Avalon.
Learn how retailing was done in the 50s and 60s. Retailers
will relate to the story of small business in the 50s and
60s when retailing meant relationships.
History buffs will like the retelling of major stories in the '50s
and '60s and how they impacted small business and the community.
Learn how gangs and the Nation of Islam impacted one Chicago neighborhood.
Women's American ORT members
The book honors Womens American ORT. Mom was an ORT President
and believed in its good works. Because of Moms involvement
in the organization in her later years, a donation from the sale
of every book goes to ORT.